Now What?

So yesterday was the big day. Talk about Antique Antics!

Convocation. Cap ‘n gown. The ceremony. The walk. It was a day of pride and satisfaction, and reflection, and even as I was seated in the auditorium enjoying the speeches and the parade of talent crossing the dais, I was thinking about the journey. 

And what a journey! From orientation to classes, from research, methodology and the finer points of my assignments I cannot overstate the personal importance of this journey. My trip through the minefields of communications and culture has brought me to a far greater understanding of the benefits and pitfalls of modern technology. We all know what we like about it, but do we really understand the price that we pay for our freedoms? Anyway, that’s a subject for another time.

The ceremony went off without a hitch – I managed to get across the dais without tripping and falling flat on my face. It was nice. I was never nervous. I felt good in my cap and gown. I have to say that a strange sort of calm settled over me during the ceremony which I identify as pride, at being there, and getting it right. I missed distinction by a hair’s-breadth in my GPA, but that doesn’t really bother me. I still got it done, and with room to spare.

As I climbed up on the dais my favourite prof was there, giving students instructions. She smiled wide when she saw me, said “hey, look who’s here!” and actually gave me a hug. Later she told me there were only two students she hugged – me and a PhD student she’s also rather fond of. She hunted me down after the ceremony too, and just about the first thing she told me – in the presence of my loving friends and family – was that she really thinks I should carry on with my Masters and a PhD.

Well, let me tell you: when I went out the door yesterday morning I was not thinking about further education. I was trying to figure out my work future – how to get a job with my eminent but quirky combination of degrees and experience. I was thinking about what I would need to do to either negotiate with the system and find employment, or blow right past it and create something for myself. 

But now the idea of a Masters is oddly intriguing to me. Hearing that I can do it from a distance (technology makes this possible) means my family’s plans to move don’t have to change. Understanding how willing my Prof is to supervise me makes me feel really, really appreciated – frankly, more so than I’ve felt in years. Believe me, it’s a recognition far beyond what I expected to enjoy yesterday, and it is causing me to revisit some of my other, less positive relationships.

We’re going to have coffee sometime soon to discuss it a little more. Meantime I’m researching the cost and the availability of grants, and even without them I’m trying to figure out how it would look for me, financially and logistically.

So maybe this blog isn’t winding down after all. Perhaps there’s a whole new process about to unfold. Having secured the Bachelor’s, maybe there’s something a little more in-depth coming. If I do it, it will be thesis-based and I’ll start sooner rather than later – I don’t want to forget everything I learned chasing down the Bachelor’s. But there’s information to gather and I need a lot of answers before I make that commitment. 

Here’s the Old Fart on Convocation Day. Not too bad for forty-nine. I’m twice as old as the students I graduated with, but my mind is still young. 

Thanks for joining me on this exhilarating journey. If we all hold our tongues just right, there might just be more.

 

Silence

 

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Broken Dreams, Broken Hearts

I never dreamed that I would be writing a post like this, just days after finishing my studies.

I never dreamed on Monday when I was driving through the university grounds and past the annual celebration of Bermuda Shorts Day that twelve hours later some of my fellow students would be gone.

I never dreamed when I drove from the university to a Brentwood drug store and looked into the grocery store beside it that in twelve short hours a young man would walk out of there and change the lives of hundreds of people forever.

I am still dumbfounded by yesterday’s events – the senseless murder of five young students who were only doing what I was doing – decompressing after a long semester. I was shocked when I heard about it, and I’m still shocked – at the loss as well as at the level of violence that was so unexpected.

There isn’t a lot I can say. I’ve been able to confirm that I did not personally know any of the students involved, but that doesn’t help much. The fact is, they were siblings in study, and they did not deserve for this to happen.

Senseless. Sad. Shocking.

Don’t ever doubt it. There is pressure in university life. Youngsters must live up to the standards of a lot of different people even as they try to establish who they are in the world. They work very hard to figure out what is needed, and the best way to get it done. At the same time they are working hard emotionally to finish their own personal foundations and launch themselves into a successful life. Pressures come from everywhere. There is nothing easy about the university experience. It is a purification by fire that no one can fully appreciate until they have gone through it.

I contacted the university as a mature student and offered to volunteer in any way needed. They thanked me, but they do of course have professionals handling it. “Reach out to your community,” they said, so I am.

Pray for the victims and their families, and for the perpetrator and his family. Then reach out to people you know who you feel might be dealing with stress. Make sure they know that you care, and that you can spare time to listen if they need it.

And you: if you need to talk, I’m here to listen. Contact me. I’ve felt and dealt with overwhelming stress in my time, and I can attest to the fact that simply talking about it – no matter what it is – exposes it to the air and makes it seem less important. Two heads are better than one. There’s strength in numbers.

Talk.

No one is completely alone.

You are welcome to re-blog this post if it strikes a chord with you.

* * * * *

Visit the University of Calgary website for further information.

Click here for a gallery of images honouring the victims of this tragedy.

History

I just finished my history paper. It was only ten pages in length, but I think it was the most difficult paper I’ve ever had to write. Why is this, you ask? Let me tell you, I answer.

They scare the bejeebers out of you about plagiarism. I’ve never plagiarized or cheated in my life, and the thought wouldn’t even occur to me, but the literature basically says you have to reference every idea that is not your own, or face the wrath of the judiciary! Well, kick me and call me a cowboy, but is there any such thing as a unique idea in a history paper? Surely everything we learn came from someone else!

Sigh. 

Not. Allowed. To. Use. The. Textbooks. 

For some reason the $60 text books are not good enough to be used as sources for this paper. I have no objection to doing research, but the text book should at least be a starting point. The reason given is that they are not peer-reviewed and footnoted, but does that make them inaccurate?

Sigh. 

I had a really hard time organizing my thoughts on this one, and not repeating myself. This is a big deal. Usually I can set paragraphs and talk up a storm, but this time it was hard to organize. Even as I’m writing this I’m trying to figure out why this is and I think because it’s history, and the salient points are relevant in all different directions. Something like this… ‘The decree of 1832 was an influencing factor in the dictum of 1874, and caused Sir Bolt to react as a total loonie against the Foofar tribe of Borneo whose primary modus operandum was the feeding of their families and the pursuit of the Decree of 1832.” You get the picture – it works in all different directions and my poor brain had a hard time, this time, compartmentalizing it. Believe me, I can’t wait for the next paper – it’s a simple, supported opinion piece. 

Sigh.

Chicago style citations. Citations in general drive me crazy, although I do understand their purpose, but most of my degree program has required APA style, so to suddenly throw Chicago at me now I consider a definite hardship. I don’t mind using footnotes – in fact I think they’re pretty cool – but the other stuff is just meshuga. 

Sigh.

Oh, and I had a nasty cold.

Speaking of the next papers – there are two of them due next Tuesday. Each has its challenges, but I’m sure that neither one will vex me like the history paper did. 

It occurred to me today that it’s November the 13th. That means that as of tomorrow there are precisely three weeks left in this semester. Man, how the time flies!

Here’s a picture. Sorry, I couldn’t afford a proper frame. I’m just a struggling student. 

Quiet Study Area

 

 

Full blown attack

The thing about school is that it just doesn’t stop when a student gets sick. If a paper is due, well, it’s due, and that’s all there is to it. Of course, there are exceptions (like a death in the family), but me being unable to see straight for most of the past week, being unable to tell the difference between my cheek and my eyeball due to an ugly sinus infection, and being unable to cauterize the constant stream of booger bags flowing from my face to the trash can is not an excuse that any self-respecting professor would accept for work not turned in. 

The ice remains decidedly uncut on consideration of the fact that it has hurt like the dickens for me to even look at a screen or a page this week, let alone read volumes of research material, compiling, rationalizing, sorting and organizing it all into a coherent whole. There will be no sympathy for me and my silly little tissue pile – no concern for how deficient I feel or for how the pressure is building minute by minute because truly this encounter with a less-than-healthy me is rendering my usual standards of work unreachable. As the bard said, Lo, how hardens the professorial heart, how stiffens the administrative resolve! Verily, though I toil and toil, my sickly sweat dripping unbidden on the page, I – oh, never mind. 

The last time I got sick at school it was the second week of the semester. That time there was nothing but reading to be done. This time there are deadlines and a standard to maintain. Am I going to be able to do it? 

Stay tuned. 

Now, a picture. 

Ah, school.

 

Push back

Almost sure-fire recipe to push away a cold

Ingredients

  1. 200 capsules garlic. You didn’t really want a girl/boy friend, did you?
  2. 200 capsules Cold F-whatever. Hold the jar up in two hands, face the camera and smile from ear to ear. 
  3. 1/2 antihistamine tablet daily to aid in nasal aridity. Fact is, it’s only dogs who are healthy when their nose is wet – in humans it’s an undesirable thing.
  4. Tylebuprofenspirinvil as required or according to taste, preferably sprinkled on your morning bagel.
  5. 6 gallons orange juice. Orange juice has a shitload of vitamin C. Drink this while sitting on a tanning bed for maximum dosage and effect.
  6. 14 coffees a day. Coffee is a diuretic and the more often you pee the quicker you expel all the poisons. 
  7. Daily hot bath to sweat the crap out of you. Boil the water in the kettle – when you scream the cold germs run for the hills.
  8. Micro filtering face masks for use on train and bus when sitting next to annoying people who cough and sneeze their crap all over the place. Just be sure to take your mask off to sneeze on them.
  9. Massive doses of distraction to make time pass more quickly – this means interesting but useless books and mindless television. It also means sitting in the hallway at school writing blogs instead of reading school work or preparing for your exam this morning.
  10. Glad-handing freely with people you don’t like. It’s a fact: the more people you share your cold with the quicker you get rid of it. People, this is not the time to be stingy.
  11. Meditation centred on the word ‘no’. Breathe deeply, in between hacking coughs and sniffles. Inhale falteringly as nature intended, then exhale like a death rattle for dramatic effect. The chief benefit of this is that you will be able to ride the elevator alone.
  12. Brandy and lots of it. Nuff sed.
It’s not scientific, but if you do all this you are all but guaranteed to get rid of your cold quickly. 
 
Unfortunately, something else will probably get you.
 
Ok, now I really must study for this morning’s exam.
 

An Old Fart’s Strategy for Cold Management

 
 
(No really: you’re not actually going to do this are you? Please don’t.)