…where J. has asked C. to quiz him on information for his business law class’ upcoming exam. For some clarification of the following snippets, it is helpful to note that his study guide seems to have been compiled by blind monkeys tap dancing on a typewriter. Let’s listen in, shall we?
“Name the conditions for unconscionability.”
“One party is Comcast?”
“Talk to me about minors.”
[J. grins slowly]
“Not the ones in Chile!”
“Term meaning that the Court will leave you as it finds you.”
“Impere-” “Delecto. I was mixing that up with In flagrante delicto, but I knew that wasn’t right.”
“Um, no. No it’s not.”
“What is a ‘covenant not to complete?'”
“Uh, I think you mean ‘compete.'”
“Look. It says ‘complete,’ right there.”
“Oh, so it does. It’s wrong, though.”
“I could write a more coherent study guide than this!”
“Help, help, I’m being duressed!”
“Hold on! Are they making up legal terms?”
“Looks like it.”
“But they can’t do that! ‘Assign-ee?’ ‘Offer-or?’ ‘Oblige-or?’ These sound like video game character names! And I’ve counted six spelling mistakes on this page alone.
“Calm down, C..”
“I can’t! This is wrong!”
“That reminds me! Have I showed you that YouTube clip -”
“The one from the Simpsons?”
“I don’t care.”
“You need to see it -”
“Pay attention or I will papercut you to death with this thing, so help me!”
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” – Woody Allen
Ever feel like God/the Universe/Fate/Whatever is doing that thing when you make plans and They laugh at you? Well, recently it’s felt like God/the Universe/Fate/Whatever has been having a benevolent but enthusiastic chuckle at our expense. Plans that we make, good plans, solid plans, with all necessary effort behind them to accomplish them, have just…not been happening.
Not to sound vain, but this is really the first time in my life that I’ve come up against so many game-changers (not counting my university’s Football team). I don’t know if that means I’ve been extremely clever, extremely lucky, or more than extremely pig-headed about getting what I plan on…but likely some combination of the latter two.
But I digress. Yesterday, the God/the Universe/Fate/Whatever decided that It had had enough of yanking our chains and allowed our hard work and single minded effort to pay off. Wiping the last of laughter tears from Its eyes, It gave a last little sigh of amusement and waved Its finger benevolently at us.
J. has an internship!
Granted it’s not the one we’d thought he’d have, but that’s not a bad thing. If he’d gotten the one we originally wanted, he’d have been shipped off somewhere for 6-8 weeks and I’d have stayed behind holding down the home front. Perfectly doable, but not at all fun (and the amount of Netflix I’d have consumed would have been perfectly shocking by any standards). But now he’s got an internship with a Fortune 500 company, local, that pays very well, and adds additional sparkle to his resume.
“We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb.”
– Jane Austen
So, we are right in the middle of what could be arguably one of the most important weeks of our lives. Certainly at least one of the most stressful for J..
He is interviewing for internships with the Big Four accounting firms this week, he also has two major tests, and tomorrow we’re flying out to California to celebrate the finalization of my brother and sister-in-law’s adoption of our little nephew.
We went to Firm #1’s reception the other night and I had an interesting time. Early in the evening the spouses of the interview candidates were shunted off to a different room, meaning that about 99% of the women there were removed. We all filed into a conference room where a string of partner’s wives were sitting at the front, looking very like the parish’s women’s organization presidency. And the whole hour continued very much in that vein, which was slightly uncomfortable for everyone concerned.
Then at dinner we were seated at an awkward table, people were either trying to say something extremely clever or were absolutely silent. However J. got to meet and ask the interviewer some questions and all indications so far are that his interview went well.
Firm #2’s reception was last night and was luau themed. Points for food and entertainment as they had Polynesian dancers and pyrotechnics. There was much fewer awkward silences, and the women weren’t kicked out which was a huge plus as far as I was concerned. This time we weren’t seated and got to jostle for position to meet with the representatives, again with the requisite attempts to be memorable. J. interviewed with them this morning, also went well.
Firm #3’s reception is tonight but I will be cleaning our house and packing for California so I won’t be able to report on that, ducklings.
However, a few thoughts! Last year when they first started recruiting overtures, we were introduced to The Swag. Sweatshirts, bags, all manner of stationary. This year Firm #1 gave us a canvas tote and an aluminum water bottle, as opposed to the rather cheapish, fall-apart-as-soon-as-look-at-it ones we got from Firm #2. But! Firm #2 pulled ahead when won a raffle prize at their reception, styled as a collapsible cooler, actually more like an over sized lunch box, and we also got real orchid leis as opposed to the cheap plastic kind you normally get at parties. However due to sheer bitterness, they dropped below pre-reception rankings when the guy called after us won an iPad. Firms #3 and #4 have only given pens, a shameful showing.
“Alright, just stop panicking.”
“Who said anything about panicking? This is still just the culture shock.”
– The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Last week was a trial, kittens. No question of it. But J., perhaps sensing my deep inner need to hurt something, wisely diffused me by taking me out twice, once to my favorite restaurant and to see a movie (Easy A. Quite funny. Go see it). And so, having lost my initial hatred for humanity, I had very little choice but to be happy and content over the weekend.
This week is going to be much calmer and less interesting…
Oh wait. J. has three interviews with Big Four firms, we have three business receptions to go to pre-interviews, he’s got two major tests, and we’re flying out to California to celebrate the adoption of our little nephew being finalized. So, with the exception of that happy last item on the list, this week is going to largely impact the rest of our professional lives. And of course, J. and I are both coming down with something.
“Of course there’s a lot of knowledge in universities: the freshman bring a little in, the seniors don’t take much away, so knowledge sort of accumulates.”
– Abbott Lawrence Lowell
I swear, every year the Freshmen get younger! It’s orientation time/first week of school so herds of these infants are roaming across campus with dazed and confused looks on their faces, prodded along by overbearing parents.
These parents are walking their “children” (who are usually 18 and above) to classes, arguing that their little darlings should be able to park in the Provost’s parking space because it’s closer and widdle babykins can’t possibly be expected to walk all the way from the dorms to class, and if they are out of state, calling us in a state of panic because they their kids didn’t answer the phone when they called, and can we send out a search party now?!
We at the University Police department, hate such parents. We hate even more explaining to them, that if their child has been robbed, accosted, or got a splinter, we actually have to work with the child (who again, is over 18) and not the parents themselves, as said child is a legal adult. Ooh, they hate that.
All I’m saying is, my parents dropped me in middle America somewhere and bunked off to Belgium. I got myself to school, into a dorm, registered for classes, text books and supplies , and off to classes in two days, requiring only a ride from Fairy from the airport to campus.
Round about finals, we all get a little loopy. J.’s schedule affects me just as much as it does him because we only have one car so where one goes, the other must follow. Meaning, that because J.’s exams start at 7am, guess who also gets to come into work an hour early?
The disruption to our sleep schedule means that C. becomes a walking zombie of ludicrousness.
But I knew I’d reached critical mass last night when driving home from my sister-in-law’s (Milly) bridal shower (her fiance spent his evening with the future-brothers-in-law and assorted children), J. was talking about his friends, “Tim and Heidi,” and I furrowed my brow in tired confusion.
“Wait? Tim and Heidi? As in Gunn and Klum?”
Sidenote: do they not (his friends, I mean) have the potentially most awesome Halloween costume?
“At least she’s eating better things than macaroni and cheese.”
– Heidi Klum
Throughout my life my mother has been in school, in some capacity or another. When I was about three or four, she had to leave Dad and I for a few weeks to finish up something or other with one of her degrees (I misremember which. Which isn’t me being a bad daughter, it’s her having one in Asian Studies, one in American History, and now another in Classical Studies from Cambridge because she decided to learn Greek and Latin. In other words, my mother is exceptionally awesome). Time has blurred the details a bit but as I recall, this was an absolute highlight of my short life because Dad and I subsisted on mainly pizza.
I didn’t realize this during the Great Pizza Blitz, but it turned out that my Dad hated cooking. Really hated it. He encouraged my Mum to go to school, continue her education throughout her life, and work if she wanted, but by golly the one thing he wanted was dinner to be on the table, because left up to him, dinner would come grudgingly from a frozen package.
So, a few years down the road when she decided to teach for a semester or two at a local university, I thought the Pizza Affair would be reborn. I was sadly, terrifyingly mistaken.
Mac and Cheese. From a box. Every night. Some days even for lunch. Sometimes we varied it up with chunks of hotdog, but mostly not. Again, I’m sure both time and horror have worked their magic on me and the vile orange sludge was not as prolific as I remember, but it sure seemed like it at the time. When my mother’s teaching finished, I refused to eat another disgusting, processed bite, and I’ve never touched it since. Once when shopping J. picked up a box for himself on days when I’d be at school late or he needed a lunch, I had to swallow escaping bile.
However, watching Food Network the other day, I saw a recipe for ‘Grown Up Mac And Cheese’ and thought suddenly to myself, “That doesn’t look so bad.” It sounded pretentious enough that I could assure myself that it would be as un-Kraft-like as possible, but looked really easy to make. So, on Sunday I girded my loins and made Mac and Cheese for the first time in years.
And you know what? It was pretty darned tasty!
**I’ll still never make the packaged stuff again. My children will not be subjected to this powdered cheese monstrosity, except to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. And even then, I might choose death.
“And by the way, everything is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
– Slyvia Platt
I’m in a bit of a bind, darlings. I signed up for a creative writing class this semester(after work hours so Chief can’t quash it) both to get me back into the school mindset and to make me start writing again. I’ve lapsed of late, so I thought this would be a great way to spur me on a bit. I got good and excited for the class and then I walked in on the first day and immediately realized Creative Writing was not going to be a comfortable class for me.
See, I want to be a writer. Most of the (mostly freshman) class want to be creative.
This is not the same thing at all. When we shared what our favorite books are most of the class said Twilight (blech and sigh) or named a fantasy series of some type or another. Then when we went around talking of what we wanted to do with our writing almost everyone said poetry, a couple said songwriting.
My teacher is a poet as well, but talking about “snow melting like a woman crying” and trying to bring “the magic and mysteries of the cosmos to the page” is not really…what I do. He gave a long, rambling lecture about how he wants us to create art, ART (said in a rolling voice with a dramatic fist shake towards the skies), and that’s what he expects. I immediately blanched.
Now, I think I may be a talented writer but by no means do I think I’m a Great Writer (I’d paraphrase an evaluation of someone I heard once and say that I’m mediocre with flashes of brilliance). Mostly I just like to tell a good story. To be honest, I’d have to say that my sense of humor is probably what makes my writing at all readable, but I have a feeling that humor in this class would not go over well. So, whilst I was floundering in this sea of doubt, my teacher volunteered me to write a piece for class this coming tuesday. I have to submit it by email tonight to be ripped to bloody shreds by the rest of my artistic and suffering classmates in peer evaluation.
Of course, I probably shouldn’t tease them so much because this assignment plunged me into a pit of despair and I wandered about in a pretty artistic slump of my own for a couple days as I was seized with Writer’s Block and whined about the lack of poetry in my soul. Not that I’d ever want to write it, but that I’m shallow enough to want to impress my teacher.
Quick, someone tell me to suck it up and get to work! I’ve been telling myself for three days but my inner wanna-be-writer is actually pretty fragile and seems to be ignoring me out of fear of scathing peer reviews. Or the realization that I’m not actually any good. Yikes.
“I don’t need to compromise my principles because they don’t have the slightest bearing on what happens to me anyway.”
– Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes
Chief has squashed my plan of taking a class this coming semester to prep for grad school. The reason given is that Wise (who is enrolled in the very program I’m after) has a lot more leeway to take classes since she doesn’t have a front desk position and work with the public as I do. A decision that makes sense on paper, and which I can grudgingly understand…if it were not for the fact that several police officers and other supervisors for the department take classes very frequently, often for multiple semesters in a row (and shouldn’t police officers deal with the public just as much, if not more than me?). AND if it were also not for the department history and manifesto I retyped and edited four days ago, containing an entire paragraph about how the department strongly encourages and accommodates the further education of its employees through university classes.
Although I find the logic painfully baffling, I also understand that it’s an executive decision on the Chief’s part which, in all fairness, he did mull over for several days (before crushing it into tiny, tiny pieces). And though I admit I wish I could throw my level-headed acceptance of this ruling out the window and throw a (mild) tantrum, that’s not really my style.
I prefer weaseling around the problem. I’ve enrolled in some independent study courses and am looking into evening classes as well, which fall outside supervisor oversight. It’s annoying to try to get into them at this late date, but I have at least three terms between now and when my application would be turned in so I have plenty of time to formulate a new plan of attack!
I could switch departments (unlikely with the hiring freeze, but I won’t rule it out). My French course, offered through independent study, could potentially count as my final language requirement and remove all obstacles. I could say, “To Hades with it all!” and become a full-time student again (plunging us back into poverty, but only for a year or couple of semesters towards the end of J.s degree – very unlikely, but still possible depending on my level of desperation). I could stage a coup and overthrow the school, take the president hostage, and demand he let me take my one single class (extremely unlikely).
“Why the HELL didn’t I continue with French?!”
“Why the CUSS didn’t I continue with French?”
“Well, you can take classes.”
“Yes but if I don’t do well, and I haven’t studied it for three years, it will affect my GPA which will affect my application. CUSS CUSS CUSS!”
– C. and J.
We all have them, but for about a month or so I’ve been going through a right awful funk. And although I wish I could say I’ve been keeping it under wraps, I’m afraid it’s been spilling over a bit. I’ve gotten noticeably sharp with people, even friends, short-tempered at work, and bitter about small things that have just seemed to mount on top of each other. It culminated last night in a meeting for J.’s new fraternity for accountants when I was exhausted and stressed. I tried to be funny but only succeeded in being rude, and collapsed in a sobbing pile of guilt when we got home.
Unfortunately, I’m a bottler: I keep things locked up inside until the inevitable explosion that tends to leave a wake of destruction. And even though we’ve all been told time and time again that this is not a healthy way to live, so many of us keep doing it because it has some obvious immediate benefits.
My problems are petty and selfish, but that doesn’t make them irrelevant or mean they don’t affect my life.
– I’m in a state of constant frustration that I spent four years getting an education, but work in a job that has nothing to do with what I studied (the European Studies field is not exactly conducive to jobs in the Western United States).
– I don’t really like living where we do.
– Truthfully, I had this plan post-graduation, which involved me moving back to England. I am an ENTJ, I frame my life in these little plans and get frustrated when they don’t come to fruition. It wouldn’t matter if common sense, good counsel, or God changed my plans, I’d still get annoyed/angry if things didn’t work out the way that I had intended. (Which I absolutely think happened in my decision to get married and stay in the States, and which I still think is probably the best decision I’ve made for myself. It’s just not what I thought was in the cards a year and a half ago; that’s what makes my little control-freak, inner Napoleon jump up and down howling, “Zees was not le plan!”)
– I miss being in school and recently came to the conclusion, after much deliberation, that I wanted to pursue grad school. And seeing as I can take classes for free, a perk of working for a university, why not? Problem A) my major, which I loved and would not hesitate to choose again, did not really prepare me for any of the graduate degrees offered here. My emphasis was in history and they have removed the MA in History degree (an idiotic move if ever there was one!).
Problem B) the next best degree, and one I am really interested in due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, requires more classes in French. Which, if I want to get into the program beginning this coming fall, I’d need to complete in record time. A troublesome goal if one works full-time. Oh! And I’d need to take the GRE in about a month.
Mostly, I feel stuck. I can’t progress (at least immediately) in the way I want my education to go, we aren’t leaving this area (at least immediately) for a small eternity, and I can’t pursue my own interests (at least immediately) due to duty to my family.
And I’m the most impatient person I know!
There are treatments. Obviously I need to take better care of myself. I don’t work out anymore [again] and I’ve noticed that I haven’t been eating enough, which would put anyone in a strop. I also don’t have any pursuits outside of work right now, and that’s soul-numbing. I’m committed to grad school, but will I kill myself trying to make it happen all at once (or at least before the March application deadline)? Maybe I should make it a goal for next year and work more slowly and steadily towards it instead of trying to rush it.
Weigh in, friends. Had a minor life crisis recently? Plans get disrupted? Get impatient with goals that are attainable, but seem so far off?