Thursday, December 10, 2009

Semester Wrap-Up

I'm sitting here going over the last 5 months.  They've gone by really fast.  From getting admitted into UNLV, registering for classes, meeting new people, being woken up from a marriage-induced coma, to dealing with the ex, reconnecting with old friends, making my own rules and finally giving myself some love, the last five months have really been, for the most part, an extraordinary journey.

Today, I found out I got a B+ for my final grade in Nevada School Law.  Given that the course was one that I'm not sure I was prepared for by my life experiences, I still think it's really good.  Ok, to put it another way, since I flunked out of the University of Central Florida because I didn't have the proper guidance to choose the right courses combined with working nights at Disney, I think my first grade at college for the second time being a B+ isn't half bad.  I'm a little disappointed, but it's not the end of the world.

I'll be honest, a lot of the materials in NV School Law flew over my head.  I found that during the semester, I didn't really get an opportunity to really participate in the discussions because I really didn't understand the relevance of the materials or what the logic was behind them.  But as one of my fellow students put it, the course was really not about memorizing facts, it was about understanding the relevance of the cases in a work situation.  Outside of teaching my classes in an online world, my experiences put me in a position where I really didn't understand what my professor was driving at.  So a B+, I'm not surprised.  It is what it is, I passed it, I'm moving on.

I have not gotten back my final grade for my Comp II class yet.  I'm waiting patiently for it because right now, my Comp II professor, on top of all of his other classes, is having to read twenty-three 7 to 10 page papers.  I'm under the impression "he asked for it, he got it". So because I do feel the pain of having to read all of those, I'm just going to sit back and wait for my grade and not grouse about it.

My final draft of my paper, "Centerfield", ended up being exactly 10 pages long.  I walked in on Tuesday, handed it to him and said one word.  "Ten."  He smiled at me and said "I'm proud of you."  As you recall, I've been having length issues all semester long.  My paper went from 12 pages to 16, back down to 12 then finally to 10 pages.  It was something my professor told me that struck home: When you write, you are your own deity.  You control what you put in there, but you've got to have the guts and audacity to be able to kill your favorite sentences and artfully crafted sentiments if needs be.  Oh, and I did.  During the final hours of editing, I killed some of my darlings.  I looked at them and said, "I'm sorry, but you're not necessary, so I'm going to save you for another time.", then hit delete.  Doing something like that is very heartbreaking when you're like me.  You have such gorgeous little tidbits, but you MUST for the sake of meaning, sense and clarity be able to weed them out.  It killed me to do it, but I swallowed the bullet and in the end, it taught me that to do justice to my work, I have to be courageous enough to hack and slash, showing no mercy for the sake of having a wonderfully crafted paper.  Outside of throwing my ex out, hacking down my paper was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

I really loved my Comp II class.  I got to engage in the arguments, I got to take part in things and really immerse myself in it.  That sense of engagement to the material was really rewarding, and as I've read over the last 5 months of entries, I've noticed that my writing style has changed quite the little bit.  Kudos to my Comp II professor for helping me do that.   Comp II really assisted in waking me up from my coma.  It made me reach out, challenge myself and grow.  Those are all good things that wouldn't have been possible had I not taken that class.  It really was a life-changing experience.

Every day on the way to my Comp II class, I made sure to listen to a song by John Mayer called "Say" that was written for the film "The Bucket List".  If you've not seen "The Bucket List", go rent it.  It's worth it.  It's the story of two men with cancer who are told they only have six months to a year to live and they make a list of all the things they want to do before they "kick the bucket".  It's a journey of two men finally giving themselves love.  I can't think of a more relevant movie to parallel with the last 5 months.  But, to the song for the ending credits, "Say", well, take a listen...

Here are the lyrics:

Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so-called problems,
Better put 'em in quotations

Say what you need to say [x8]

Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you'd be better off instead,
If you could only . . .

Say what you need to say [x8]

Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You'd better know that in the end
Its better to say too much
Then never say what you need to say again

Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open

Say what you need to say [x24] 

Looking at the song in the perspective of Comp II, it's the simple phrase "Say what you need to say" that was the most poignant to me.   In a world where I use too much detail, it is easiest to think of things in terms of saying what is necessary, but no more than that.  A single sentence should be strong enough to make the point without further embellishment.

The rest of the song has little jewels along the way.

"Take all of your wasted honor":  The departure of my ex.
"Every little past frustration": Anger at being ignored and feeling ineffectual.
"Take all of your so-called problems; Better put 'em in quotations": The life experiences that I was able to put in context, learn from them and use all those things as a reason to keep moving forward, along with putting them all in my writing so that maybe I could help someone else along with helping myself.

"Walking like a one man army": Living on my own, making my own rules, being alone without anyone to fall back on, yet still pushing forward.
"Fighting with the shadows in your head": Fighting against all of my self-doubt, the imposed feelings of inadequacy, memories of all the neglect and hopelessness.
"Living out the same old moment": The long days of complacency and allowing people to hurt me.
"Knowing you'd be better off instead, If you could only say what you need to say":  Standing up and doing what needed to be done.  Waking up and yelling at the top of my lungs that I'm here and I won't be diminished by the drama that the selfish people around me see fit to impose on me.

"Have no fear for giving in": To have moments of asking for help when it's not in my nature to.
"Have no fear for giving over": To allow people to be close to me.
"You'd better know that in the end; It's better to say too much; Then never say what you need to say again.":  That I have to speak up and make myself known, because no one else will do it for me. 

"Even if your hands are shaking": Even though I've been broken down and beaten,
"And your faith is broken":  When I feel that I can't trust anyone,
"Even as the eyes are closing; Do it with a heart wide open":  No matter what's happened to me, when it comes down to it all, I have to make sure I'm giving love to everyone around me.  That I'm better than all the things people have done to me.  That I'll rise above it all and be better than those that would drag me down.

That sums up the semester.  I'm saying what I need to say, no more, no less.  Thanks Doc T.

I'd like to thank everyone who's gone on the journey with me this semester.  My pal Kathy, my sister, my awesome nephew, my friends Barry and Chris, my surrogate mom squad, Susan, Dana, Lisa and Jeannie.  To Doc T, whom I owe so much, Becky and the rest of the great people in Comp II, y'all are awesome.  And a special shout out to my number one reader Gail, thanks for believing in me.

I'll be back with more entries for the holidays and I'll be keeping y'all abreast of what's happening going into the spring semester.

If you haven't today, reach out and tell someone you love them.  It's good for your heart.

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