Random bits and bobs on life in general.

So after getting an email from an SEB member who was cool enough to look up instructions on how to replace a washer fluid pump on my Grand Prix I went out to Auto Zone and bought a new one to slap in there for about $25. Got home, popped the hood, and started looking around for anything that matched the illustrations included with the instructions. Based on the instructions the washer reservoir should have been easily accessible and the swap of the pump wouldn’t require any tools at all. Except that the reservoir is not easily accessible without tools and, in fact, I couldn’t begin to fathom how the hell I was supposed to reach it. So I went back inside and did a couple of searches online and found two different sets of instructions one of which suggested removing part of the fender guard until you could reach it from underneath and the other suggesting you haul the battery out and reach down from that side. Nether prospect seemed like the sort of thing someone who has no mechanical aptitude at all should be undertaking especially when he doesn’t have access to a garage. Had this been summer time I might have attempted it out there in the driveway, but I opted instead to call a shop today and see if they’d be willing to slap the part in for me for the cost of labor. There’s one not far from home that said sure thing and told me to swing on by immediately after work which I will do.

Speaking of work, they’ve decided to change my location once again. Next week I’ll be working at a site in Ypsilanti Michigan and who knows where the hell I’ll be after that. The week of Christmas I’ll have off though I’ll only be getting paid for Christmas, New Years, and possibly the Eve’s of both though I have to double check on that point. I have no idea what kind of access I’ll have to a terminal in Ypsi so posting may slow down again for a bit, but I’ll try to squeeze more of it in when I get home as per usual. The two weeks here in Milford have been nice because not only have I had access to a terminal, but it’s been somewhat busy with minimal downtime so the day’s have just flown by. There were a couple of days where we didn’t do much as all deployments were on hold while they worked out some nasty bug with one of the builds that was eating user’s data (always a bummer), but otherwise it’s been steady enough that I go home at night feeling like I’ve at least accomplished a thing or two during the day.

The past few mornings I’ve been waking up and feeling like I really don’t know what the hell I’m doing. As a kid I always thought that by the time you reached middle age you’d have figured out what you’re supposed to be doing as though someone handed you a Life Instruction Manual at some point in your late 20’s and pointed you in the right direction, but every day I’m faced with new problems that I haven’t a friggin’ clue how to solve. I’m not talking about my job either, but relationships and career choices and father/husband stuff. For example: Anne and I had a bit of a blow up last night because I managed to hurt her feelings without realizing it. It involved a mistake Courtney made, one that she’s made more than once in the past, that had irritated Anne and I managed to open my mouth and put my foot fully in up to the ankle with a passing comment about it. Anne tried to let it slide, but she eventually came downstairs to confront me about it and I felt totally blindsided by it because I had completely failed to recognize the taste of my own shoe leather at the time I made the comment. This, of course, made me defensive and that, of course, led to a bigger argument which drudged up a lot of stuff we’ve argued about before not the least of which is the fact that I can be an amazingly clueless and insensitive jerk at times. This is a fact I do not deny, but it’s not for lack of trying to improve.

I’ve always been a little obtuse when it came to being able to pick up on subtle emotional cues from other people. It’s a fact I’ve lived with my entire life and probably explains why I went through so many relationships before I found someone who could put up with me enough to actually marry me. By the time I started dating Anne I had completely given up on ever finding anyone to settle down with because I was apparently either too stupid or just plain incapable of holding a relationship together and I was resigned to the idea that I’d be a bachelor for life. Some of it is just the nature of being ADHD, but I’ve managed to improve a bit at a time over the years by learning to think twice before I say things around most people especially if they’re not overly familiar with me. I’m much less blunt with the average person than I once was so I’ve developed a little tact and it has served me pretty well in my career, but around family members I tend to relax and let my guard down which inevitably means I’ll end up pissing someone off sooner or later. It’s not intentional nor is the fact that I often fail to pick up on the fact that I’ve just stepped on someone’s toes, but it appears to the folks I’ve harmed that I just don’t care enough to watch where I’m stomping my feet. It’s a problem I keep working on but am far from having overcome and it’s incredibly frustrating. Inevitably people accuse me of not caring and I can’t get across that that’s not the issue. I do care and I’m not happy that I’m hurting feelings unintentionally, but it’s something I haven’t been able to figure out how to fix.

One of the ongoing sources of tension in my life is my lack of a college degree. This is another area where I often feel overwhelmed because of a number of issues. First off I recognize that it was a mistake to have dropped out of college after only a year and a half back in my 20’s and I recognize that I really need to go back and get at least a bachelors degree in… something. By the same token I also recognize that I should really lose some weight, but I’m not exactly busting my ass to do that, or go back to school. I know what my problem is. Namely I try to avoid things I find unpleasant and I find both attending school and exercising to be unpleasant. I don’t recall what kind of a student I was prior to high school, but my memories of high school are that I struggled with it. Courses I had an interest in, computers for example, I tended to do very well in and I had a hard time with everything else. The weird part is that it’s not an issue of being incapable of doing some of the work, but the fact that even when I do it right I often don’t understand how I managed to accomplish it. Math was a killer for me and the only math class in high school I got an A in was Geometry and I can’t even begin to tell you how the hell I managed to do that other than I’d been programming for awhile at that point and it made a weird sort of sense to me despite the fact that I had to take Algebra twice to get a passing grade. History was another subject I did horribly in which is bizarre because I enjoy reading and watching historical documentaries all the time as an adult.

I think a lot of it has to do with the regimented structure of school leaving me overwhelmed. I’m expected to learn X things by Y date and demonstrate said knowledge on a test at Z time whereas when I’m learning on my own I can take a week or several months to digest the material and absorb it. This isn’t a criticism of how school works so much as an admission that I suck at it. So that’s one thing I worry about. When you add in the fact that I have to figure out what school to attend, what degree I want to pursue, and the fact that I need to do well because it’s costing me money this time around then, well, in all complete honesty, I’d rather not think about it and I end up doing nothing. Maybe it’s laziness—I’ve had plenty of people tell me that’s what my problem is over the years—but I’m not inclined to think so because when I have tasks that I enjoy or have a deep interest in I can work at them all day long. I told Anne last night that going back to school is like a dark storm cloud on the horizon that I’m headed towards. I know I’m going to have to deal with it sooner or later, but I keep trying not to think about it because I don’t know what to do about it. When I get to it I’ll plow through it as best I can because that’s all I really know how to do. Even when I try to plan things I usually end up having to scrap them and just plow through it once push comes to shove. My thoughts are only on doing everything I can to get to the other side of the storm and put it behind me before I get zapped by lightning. I can’t get excited about it because I dread it and I have to really psyche myself up to try and tackle it.

I know why it takes me so long to tackle unpleasant tasks: because I’m trying to find a way around it. I can be a fairly clever guy and I often come up with creative solutions to problems that surprise even me. To go with the storm analogy once more, it’s like I’m biding my time trying to see if there’s a path available that would lead me around the storm rather than straight through the middle of it. I am, indeed, a path of least resistance type of person. I know a lot of folks think that’s a kind of personal failing and I admit it has its drawbacks, but there are also advantages to this approach. Which is not to offer excuses for it, it’s just the way I am and it works for me. For the most part anyway. There are times, however, when I have to roll up my sleeves, take a deep breath, and come to grips with the fact that there’s no way around the problem and that I’ll have to plow right through it. The anxiety that realization brings is only amplified when I feel like I don’t really know what the hell I’m doing. Going back to college is one of those sorts of problems.

So, yeah, too often I feel like I don’t know what the hell I’m doing or, for that matter, am supposed to be doing. I think this is part of why I have a hard time reconciling the fact that I’m a 40 year old guy at the moment. I feel like I should have my shit together a lot better than I do at this point in my life. Like I shouldn’t be so overwhelmed by things other people seem to manage just fine like swapping out a stupid washer pump or going back to school. I’d like to be more like normal people in that regard and I am trying, but so far to little effect. Overall I’m fine with who I am, but I’m trying to improve the rough edges where I can. I don’t know if I’m doing a very good job of it, but I’ll keep trying just the same. I feel like a bit of a fuck up at times, but at least that means I’ve got room to improve.

26 thoughts on “Random bits and bobs on life in general.

  1. Don’t feel bad Les, I am the same way with my wife and family, blunt and oblivious to how I hurt their feelings.  I’m 54, and I’m still trying to learning how to tone it down.  I’m also a great procrastinator on losing weight, and I have given up on returning to school to finish a degree. wink…  Thanks for posting this, you have described my feelings better than I am able to express them, I’m going to have my wife read it.

  2. Wow, reading this was kinda scary cause at some points it seemed like you just interviewed me.

    When it comes to laziness and ADHD, I try to battle it by setting goals and by doing important things that interest me. For example, I was never that found of school till I went to College. Once I graduated from a Community College I went into an area at a 4 year that was interesting to me, Technology. This made working and studying do-able.

    Also, as a motivational tool, there are plenty of gov grants and programs designed for people going back to school. So you could not only get your classes and books paid for, but a stipend to live off of. It aint much, but a guy I met worked a part time job to help ends met. Either way I recommend going to a local Community College first. It helped me a lot.

    When the misses gives me chores to do, I try to do them first then do the other shit I like better. She still catches me laying around on my duff, but I have better luck doing first things first.

  3. Les – please read, seriously, I really think I might be of help, please give me a chance…

    Les: As a kid I always thought that by the time you reached middle age you’d have figured out what you’re supposed to be doing as though someone handed you a Life Instruction Manual at some point in your late 20’s and pointed you in the right direction, but every day I’m faced with new problems that I haven’t a friggin’ clue how to solve

    I used to be absolutely certain about what I wanted to do, but now, from doing it I have no clue because I see things more as they are.

    Even if it feels like it, it’s not a bad thing because it leaves other options open to your consideration and is more realistic. You are under no obligation or expectation to have figured it out – nobody cares, it doesn’t matter so long as you’re OK.

    Anything you wouldn’t volenteer to do free is little more than a means of making money anyway, go there, do stuff, forget about what happened in the day, get paid, have fun with your free time.

    Anne and I had a bit of a blow up last night because I managed to hurt her feelings without realizing it. It involved a mistake Courtney made, one that she’s made more than once in the past, that had irritated Anne and I managed to open my mouth and put my foot fully in up to the ankle with a passing comment about it. Anne tried to let it slide, but she eventually came downstairs to confront me about it and I felt totally blindsided by it because I had completely failed to recognize the taste of my own shoe leather at the time I made the comment. This, of course, made me defensive and that, of course, led to a bigger argument which drudged up a lot of stuff we’ve argued about before not the least of which is the fact that I can be an amazingly clueless and insensitive jerk at times

    Well out of this whole thing you are more aware of the effects things have so this same incident is less likely- and you wouldn’t be talking about it if you didn’t care. No need for a defense though, that’s hiding from what it’s trying to get across without dealing with it, see things for what they are, otherwise the same situation will likely come back, and it’d certainly leave bitterness if undealt with.

    But I will say – it’s not a strictly bad thing to hurt the feelings of the easily hurt – it builds their character and resiliance, and that can be intended, but be aware of what you’re doing and be prepared for retaliation. Also be aware that persuing this goal can set back others (i.e. building the relationship).

    I’ve always been a little obtuse when it came to being able to pick up on subtle emotional cues from other people.

    I struggle here, so I predict the outcome from paterns I’ve seen in the person

    tend to relax and let my guard down which inevitably means I’ll end up pissing someone off sooner or later. It’s not intentional nor is the fact that I often fail to pick up on the fact that I’ve just stepped on someone’s toes, but it appears to the folks I’ve harmed that I just don’t care enough to watch where I’m stomping my feet

    This is why I said it’s not a bad thing to hurt people – you shouldn’t feel like you should have to live permanently on guard – you are a slave to their needs and insecurities if always trying to please them. As always, be aware, but as with anyone you can never be someone you’re not for too long before the tension shows.

    Inevitably people accuse me of not caring and I can’t get across that that’s not the issue. I do care and I’m not happy that I’m hurting feelings unintentionally, but it’s something I haven’t been able to figure out how to fix.

    Unfortunately we cannot feel what others do, I think a lot of problems are caused by the inability that all humans have of not being able to know what others feel, or get others to feel what we do.

    But – the trained eye can see/predict how others feel (see how it’s manifested in certain paterns). I can tell just how far I can push someone too… I try also to make it that the only possible explanation for the way I act is how I feel – I.e. I’ll help people at work as much as I can, and do things that help them but not me as a way of saying “this is only for your benefit, because this is how I feel”

    and I recognize that I really need to go back and get at least a bachelors degree in… something

    Need it for what? You’re not starving, so it’s not survival. I predict it’s to feel better in comparison… But does that really need to matter? Why let it get you down? You’re alive, that alone makes you a winner in my book. If all you do is live, that is enough for me to consider you a sucess.

    but the fact that even when I do it right I often don’t understand how I managed to accomplish it

    Subconciously known…
    I went through a time of trying to become conciously aware of what I knew naturally. Ultimately this doesn’t change my nature but it’s useful to aim my thought and also helps me explain to others a little

    This isn’t a criticism of how school works so much as an admission that I suck at it

    I would criticise school as being a completely unnatural, uncomfortable pace with little regard for freedom, and some of it seems unnecessary – but, like life it is good at pushing the boundries of what you can do – If you stay in school and it makes you need to learn quickly, you’ll develop the ability out of need, and then you’ll have that permanently, mind infrastructure never goes, only lies dormant.

    in all complete honesty, I’d rather not think about it and I end up doing nothing. Maybe it’s laziness—I’ve had plenty of people tell me that’s what my problem is over the years—but I’m not inclined to think so because when I have tasks that I enjoy or have a deep interest in I can work at them all day long

    Perhaps running away? (an ability we all have as part of our freedom)
    When you dread something, you’re joints get achy (which is why you put it down to laziness), you get bored, etc, it’s all dread – a state of mind. Dread cannot win against you’re determination, but it always calls for your surrender.

    there are also advantages to this approach. Which is not to offer excuses for it, it’s just the way I am and it works for me

    True, it has true advantages nomatter how much people try to blacken it, and I like it that you use analagies to explain, they are powerful ways of comminicating.

    Y’know, there is no right or wrong way to be, just pros, cons, feelings, intentions and effects, in practically everything.

    BTW – an excuse is a reason, it’s just one that’s inexplicably frowned upon – I could only frown upon an excuse if it wasn’t true, and even then only if I could see bad intention behind it – but then I’d see the reason why they did it, and understand it – everybody does things for reasons, and always to benefit at least one person (if only self) in some way. They may have things out of proportion, but they will still have reasons…

  4. Les:

    A few random acts of unsolicited commiseration and/or advice to follow, for whatever they’re worth.

    No, there’s no manual for becoming and adult.  If
    there was, most folks wouldn’t read it anyway.  (As a former technical writer, I can speak with authority to that. [grin])

    But I’ve been…shall we say…overly blunt too many times in my life.  Sometimes stuff just slips out, even with the people I love most dearly.  Not that one shouldn’t try to exercise tact and consideration and—as my mother puts it—putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, but in other ways it can be a great time-saver.  At least you’ll know who your friends are.  Unless you become ridiculously rich or influential, anyway.  Then you’re screwed.  But until then, it’s an almost foolproof filtering mechanism…

    Learning to balance the responsibility to live your life to the fullest with the responsibility to not get in the way of others may well take me the rest of my life, for all I know—not being the quickest learner in the world, ‘spesh’ly for the important things.  Like the fact that I was in my late teens or early twenties before I realized that my parents were pretty much just winging it, raising me and my sibling.  That’s scary and liberating at the same time.  There’s plenty of scary to go around in this world, so I choose to focus on the liberating part, thank you very much.  So far, the freedom had been more than worth the responsibility.

    So far as school goes, I don’t think that you should be stressing as much as you are.  You and I are less than a year apart and age, and trust me, it’s not that bad.  I’m going back to school for the second time, and it’s WAAAAAY different than it was in the authoritarian atmosphere of the 80s.  And not just because I actually have the discipline to knuckle down and do the homework, either.  For one thing, the colleges are better at making the distinction between someone who can actually *teach* vs. someone who is very versed in a particular subject.  That’s much different from the first time I went to college. 

    Another big, BIG plus is that the professors—as an (almost absolute) rule—looooove people our age.  Simply because there’s more to our lives than what bars we’ll be in and who we might hook up with this weekend.  And, more importantly, they know that we’re in school to (gasp!) actually *learn* something, rather than to humor our parents or to kill time between ball practice.

    And one more thing:  You’re far better than average at writing.  Regardless of what you pick as a major, that will play a much bigger role now than it ever did twenty years ago.  My last two math classes have required five papers between them.  Back in the 80s, that would have been un-heard of for undergraduate work, until you reached maybe the 400-level classes.  For love of the FSM, don’t sell yourself short on that! 

    The only caveats I can think of are:

    1.) Be prepared for the culture shock of sitting with people young enough to be your kids. (I had a bad moment when I re-took calculus and realized that I had calc. notes that were older than most of my classmates—-gaack.)

    2.) When in doubt, take the class with a younger teacher.  Don’t get me wrong:  I’ve had some great folks in their 50s, but my husband got burned big-time by a geezer who had been teaching since 1966.  A good working definition of “old school”, that!  (Dearest ended up dropping out.  Thank goodness the geezer retired before it was my turn…)

    Seriously, you will do just fine, even with the ADD.  You’ve developed workarounds since high school, which a huuuuge advantage in itself.  That being said, don’t be surprised if you’re a little overwhelmed at first.  I’ve always scored relatively high on standardized tests, and I thought that the 7-week summer session of Algebra (after an 18 year hiatus) would either kill me or destroy my marriage—it took me that long to get back in he saddle.  “School skills” (note-taking, doing your homework diligently instead of the last minute, not freaking out during tests—or if you do freak out, moving on to easier problems instead of spinning your wheels on the killers) will take time to come back.  But they *DO* come back, and that’s the important thing.  So go easy on yourself your first semester back.  Better to be bored half to death than flunk out.

    So, if you’ve managed to make it all the way through this long-winded spiel, I hope that you realize that you’re beating yourself up with very little provocation, Les.  High school and college are in no way similar:  Don’t make the mistake of comparing them.  Or even of comparing college from the Reagan era to now.  Like I said, the profs are not going to think of you in the same terms as the 18-22 year olds they deal with all the time.  And you can actually write instead of text.  Don’t discount either advantage:  Both are huge.

  5. I’ll second what Webs said about starting in a community college.  And what cubiclegrrl said about age and life knowledge helps with class participation.
    My fifth try at college (yes I had to write to 4 previous places to request transcripts), I took one itty-bitty Children’s Literature course to sorta get my toes wet again in the college experience.
    And then some major meetings with the Guidance Counselor to see what I remembered and what courses I needed to take.
    I earned an Associate of Arts degree, and walked across the stage just 3 weeks before my 50th birthday.
    Now I am in process of deciding if I want more classes towards a Bachelor’s degree.

    About the money, yes there are grants and scholarships for “returning” students.
    Finding those meant several meetings with a Financial Aid Advisor.
    My 5 semesters at the community college were fully reimbursed.

  6. Hi Les:  I read your post and have a few comments.  One, often when DH and I fight, it’s about our perceived attacks on our perceived insecurities.  Doesn’t make sense?  Let’s review: We all have secret insecurities (SI) that are probably not apparent to others.  When someone (even accidentally) needles one of those SI, we respond more vigorously than, say, they asked what time it is.  Everybody has them, so it’s easy to trigger.  The trick is to find out what your SI’s are and RECOGNIZE when they’re being tweaked.  Then you can respond appropriately, instead of getting defensive.

    Part deux:  I’m teaching at a local community college (science, yes) and am having a great time.  Even the “C” students like my class.  When I have evening classes, I have grown-up students.  Even if they’ve been out of school for a while, they jump right back in.  All of my teaching colleages have the greatest respect for those older students.  They’re battling schedule problems, kids, jobs, elderly parents, etc, but are committed to an education.  We do the best we can for them.  The school has tutors available, a Science Learning Center where they can review class and lab material.  In short, the community colleges are set up for students like you.  You are their bread and butter, so to speak, and they’ll do their darndest to make it right for you.  Give it a shot, take something you’ll enjoy as a first step.

    Remember my mantra:  If you’re afraid to fail you will never succeed.

    SG

  7. c-grrl:2.) When in doubt, take the class with a younger teacher.

    Second that motion.  My Adv. Engineering math prof had been teaching SOO long that he actually admitted to not feeling like working problems out b/c they bored him.  I’m one of those who learns by watching examples, so I had a harder time b/c of it.

    I got the “damn I’m getting old” from mentioning the LA riots to a friend, and he asked me what I was talking about.

  8. Thanks for the comments, folks, though I have to wonder if Bahamat has had many relationships. There’s a couple of points in his comment that lead me to think he’s got a few hard knock lessons coming along sooner or later. I only say that because I’ve passed those courses already.

    I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but the 1.5 years of college I have already under my belt was from a community college (Oakland Community College in fact) and I’ll probably end up back there next fall depending on how things go. Right now the plan is that if we end up staying in Michigan then once Courtney graduates we’ll probably end up moving closer to my current job which would put us back into Oakland county and thus make attending OCC worth pursuing. From there I may make the jump to Oakland University, assuming I do well enough.

  9. Oh, and I mentioned to Anne that I wasn’t even sure I knew what I wanted to get a degree in. She said she could see me becoming a college professor. I was surprised to say the least. I’ve never considered myself much of a teacher.

  10. Yes, I do think SEB would make a great instructor/teacher/professor in say the History, Political Science, Sociology and Religious Studies arenas.  He has already proven he has the patience and expertise for computer science instruction (not just technical support).  I know that he has been a superb teacher/tutor with myself and his daughter, thus far {not to mention THE MOMMA (SEB’s mom) and his mother-in-law}.  He has also been a great instructor for new Bloggers both online and in person. 

    C-girl I can not thank you enough for sharing with SEB the exact information I have been trying to convey to him about higher learning. I know that becoming a student as an adult, in the current day and age, would be a completely different experience than anything he has had in the past. You said, what I have been trying to say (and in part repeated things I have said) and I think it helps SEB to no-end to hear these things from someone other than myself.  I was (am) the nerdy, good grades, great study habits by nature type of female.  So I think he sometimes doubts my words, because we are very different in this way. 

    I think getting all this information and supportive assurances from people like yourself, Webs, Mrs. DOF, Ragman and Science Goddess about their own experiences with education after high school (from both student and instructor points of view) have been extremely encouraging for SEB.  A little light to brighten the path that fear has painted black with shadows of doubt.  My thanks to everyone who has responded to SEB and given their unique supportive encouragement and kind words.

  11. Les, like everyone else, I feel for ‘ya.  I could write a long comment drawing parallels between your life and mine. As directed by my culture I am haunted by the notion that somewhere out there must be the One Great Thing that I am supposed to do.  But I have not found it yet.  And my great skill with relationships is attested by the fact that my oldest son cut off all contact with me years ago. 

    One aspect of our culture is to hide our injuries and deficits, so we tend to think our suffering is uncommon and therefore a sign of some moral failing, and our society is not set up to help.  There are millions of people in our position, or heading into it without realizing. 

    All I can think of is wish you insight to light your path, and the forbearance of your loved ones.

  12. Amen to what DoF said.  I can well believe, as your lovely wife does, that you would make a good teacher.  At least here online, you have a knack of explaining things very clearly, which is not to be taken for granted.

    I am also not sure I’ve found the best thing to do in life for myself.  Luckily, I too have a patient partner, and we do have fun, if not lots of money.

    All the best to you and yours from snowy Vienna, zilch.

  13. Honestly it doesn’t really matter what you get a degree in at first. Often it doesn’t matter much what you get your Bachelor’s degree in either. Sometimes it’s best to just go up to an employer with a job you’d like to have and go, “What educational requirements would I have to have before someone like you would trip over themselves to hire me?”

  14. Dear Science Goddess,

    I have a BA in Elementary Education, but hated teaching in the public schools. (I enjoyed the actual classroom instruction, but it was all the rest that burnt me out). My career as a public school teacher ended before it really began.  However, I do know I love to teach, to facilitate learning… I find it exciting and I’m pretty good at it. 

    A few years back I was presented an opportunity to teach mathematics to a small group of adults. (Volunteer tutoring of Advanced Algebra to a group of about 10 adults with an age range of 19-47.) Though it was supposed to be a study group, tutoring set up, I ended up re-presenting almost every lesson to the group. Though their instructor knew his stuff, he wasn’t a fabulous “teacher.”  The entire group finished the class with not only “good grades,” but a full understanding of the material and how to apply it.  The group members not only learned the processes, but were able to use that newly learned knowledge to bridge into other skills. I am so proud of them and the experience helped me to realize that I truly am a good teacher.

    My new goal is to become an instructor/teacher on an adult level. I’m aiming for Community Colleges and other Community Adult Education. Do you, SG, have any tips on how to pursue this goal?

    To become qualified to teach mathematics, I would need some more undergraduate mathematics classes before pursuing graduate level ones. However, I am seriously considering pursuing such a path.  I have a background in reading with teaching experience and an educational emphasis in beginning reading and literacy instruction.  In the past I have also taught basic grammar/writing skills.  I’m partial to the idea of working in the areas of Literacy, Reading, Writing, Computer and/or Mathematics Education.

    SG, how did you reach the point wherein you are teaching at a Community College?

  15. It’s pretty hard to get into CCs without a Masters, but it can be done on a part time level without Masters. The Masters will make you more competitive and give you full time opportunities.

  16. Happy to help, Mrs. SEB.  I don’t know whether it’s the same in MI, but at the two-year schools in my area, advanced degrees were pretty much optional.  Some profs had PhDs, but the lady who taught the AS/400 classes taught English at my jr. high when I was still going there.  And the 2-year schools here make the distinction between day-classes for degree-seeking students and non-degree “continuing education” classes offered to working adults.  For the latter, they’re always scrambling to get anyone qualified to teach.  Which means that the bureaucracy is a sliver of what you’d get if you taught during the day, if that was what drove you out of the profession.  Granted, it won’t make you rich or offer insurance benefits.  But if you still have the hunger to teach, maybe that would be a way to dip your toes back in???  Just a thought…

    Mrs. DOF, you even topped my Mom for “returning student”—that’s just so cool!  I was so proud of her when whe finally finished out her Bachelor’s at a mere 39 years of age, but you rock!  Bravo!

    Finally, Les:  I don’t think that it really matters all that much what the degree is (although I wouldn’t recommend something exceptionally “fluffy”).  It’s the fact that you gutted it out for four-plus years that gives that piece of paper its magic.  In a nutshell, I write code and herd other programmers and generally try to keep one of my firm’s “trophy clients” happy for a living.  My B,A. is a double-major in History and English.  One of my co-workers majored in Psychology and Philosophy.  Our alpha-geek has a two-year degree in Welding.  My husband (also a programmer) holds a B.A. in Manufacturing Engineering.  And one of my dearer friends has a highfalutin’ software QA job with a Masters degree in History.

    Okay, I think I’ve banged on with more than enough anecdotal argumentation—you get the point.  Just get the d—ned degree, already, and with the experience you already have under your belt, you should be absolutely unstoppable.  Particularly because any employer you’d want to work for will take one look at the chronology of your resume and realize that Mommy and Daddy didn’t bankroll your degree—that you had to sacrifice and scrap for it.  That in itself tells a story about you, even before you walk in for the interview. 

    Is it gonna be scary?  Will there be roller-coaster ups and downs?  Will you be up at two in the morning wondering what in Mordor you’re doing to yourself?  Will you be fighting the urge to blow off some courses because they’re boring and totally useless?  Will some of your profs be bloviating morons?

    A big ol’ “@#$%^&*, YEAH!” to all of the above.  But…once you square with that, you’re pretty much set.  And if you have a natural competitive streak like I do, it just becomes a contest between you and the material.  But here’s the deal:  Even when the material hands you your @$$, you still walk away smarter than you were.  And, in the long run, that’s the *only* thing that matters.  The material is shut back up in its textbook, waiting to be-devil some other poor b@$+@rd who might not have the same reasons for sticking with it.  But you are experienced enough to look on those scars as trophies, not blemishes. 

    But you obviously have a voracious curiosity, the ability to absorb new material quickly, are articulate, and seem to know yourself rather well.  You’ll sharpen the “school skills” soon enough, don’t worry.

  17. I’ve never commented any of your blogs before, SEB, but I am a regular visitor and love when an author really reaches out to their fanbase like this. I don’t know if I can provide any real help for you, though, as I am still relatively young at 25-years-old.

    My life has really had some serious havoc sprinkled on it in the past. I won’t go into the details, but I was homeless for 2 years and semi-recently succeeded in ostracizing myself from all of my family except for my biological father and sister.

    I am getting off subject here, but the point is that I’ve had very good reasons to not be able to complete my college education. I have a good 2, if not 3 years of college under my belt without a degree. My original intention was to go into a degree pertaining to systems analyst or webmaster, but now since I’ve been sitting on it so long I am not so sure that is what I want to do.

    I think I have a psychological problem, because I pretty much just sit on my ass all day doing nothing at my current job. However, it pays enough for my current needs and I have absolutely no problem whatsoever sitting on my ass and getting paid for it.

    What I think about pertaining to this subject is this: no matter what you do, it isn’t going to matter in the long run. There are over 6 billion people on this planet. Librarians, plumbers, cashiers, truck drivers, ditch diggers, factory workers, telemarketers, the list goes on to practically infinity. No one makes a difference.

    The real question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I satisfied at my current job?” If not, is it because you want something more challenging or enjoyable or different, or do you just want to make more money? If you just want to make more money, is struggling through school for another 2 or 3 years worth $3,000 more per year? $10,000? $15,000? See, this is a question that should easily sway me into going back to school, but at 40 it’s a question that needs more time to be reflected upon.

    I hope you don’t take that the wrong way. I don’t want to slink you into a depression, but I just don’t want to see you beat yourself up over some goal that isn’t even yours. Rather, it’s the American goal that’s been instilled in every U.S.-born child at a very early age. At 40, and even much younger than that, you’ve got to push that out of your mind and simply focus on what’s making you happy and what you honestly think you want to put yourself through for a slight increase in that.

  18. Hi Mrs SEB:  Ah, how did I get into CC teaching?  Not by a traditional route, and certainly not a route any of you would like to take.  I got a BS in biology in 1966, MS in radiation biology in 1968, PhD in immunology in 1979 (a few years of lab tech work in between).  Post doc at the NIH in Bethesda, Associate Professor of Pathology at an east coast medical school where I ran a lab of ~10 students, post docs, medical fellows, military officers, etc.  Couple million dollars in grants. Taught medical students, graduate students, wrote grants, papers, reviews, attended big conferences, did the “University Professor” thing for over 20 years.  THEN retired and looked for part time work.  When I went to the CC open house w/my resume, they asked “when can you start?”

    But not all of my colleagues have taken the long route.  Most (at least in the sciences) have a PhD in their field and went directly to CC.  Others, like history, English, etc maybe a Masters.  Why don’t you look on your local CC website and check the degrees of the faculty?  You could volunteer to tutor, just to get the feel of the thing.  My CC has a volunteer tutor center, where students can go for extra help.  I know one of the science volunteers, and she has a bachelor’s.  Also, schools need teachers for evening and weekend classes, maybe you could start there as a part-timer.

    Does this help?  My experiences in science are probably different from those of other disciplines, but just look around.  See what you can find out.

    SG

  19. Science Goddess—your route reads the same as my HCC Instructor in Educational Psychology.  She has a PhD, did one-on-one counseling for years, then decided that teaching Psyche classes would fit her style better.
    My Kiddie Lit Instructor went directly into a Master’s in English, and is quite content teaching Composition and Literature classes right up the road from the high school she graduated.

    I sat in for a class period on what I think of as Remedial Composition—some of the assignments were as low as 6th grade level writing style—but that’s where she needed to begin with students who have English as a second language, or who dropped out of high school, or were returning to school after 20 years away.

    My Algebra Instructor has Master’s in Math Education (which I learned is quite different from a degree in Mathematics), retired from a school district, and now teaches a couple classes of the same algebra lessons at HCC for us folks who needed to brush up before going into higher Math classes.
    The HCC Calculus class is the same curriculum our middle son had in AP Calculus in high school—and which he earned college credit for.

    The lines for academic achievement are somewhat blurry at the community college.

    I know some of my co-worker teaching Assistants show me a bit more regard when I say I earned an AA degree at my age, even though they have more years of work experience and passed a test to get the same job and same union wages.

    As mentioned above, you have to set your own goals and decide whose other standards you are willing to meet.

  20. Javil, I’m not so sure you realize what has motivated SEB to finally carry through on getting his degree.  I do not think you realize, SEB was where you are now, around your age and allowed a false sense of security to grow from it. He has now reached a point wherein he needs to get the degree to secure the quality of life he wants for himself.  I’m know my husband wants to pursue the degree for intrinsic reasons, as well.  He loves to learn and grow his knowledge base. It is more a question of fear of difficulty and indecision on where and how to begin.

    I think I have a psychological problem, because I pretty much just sit on my ass all day doing nothing at my current job. However, it pays enough for my current needs and I have absolutely no problem whatsoever sitting on my ass and getting paid for it.

    For your current needs… Your needs will not stay the same? )Even if it is simply a matter of cost of living increase not matching the stagnant current job compensation package.) Do you really think this job will be there for you as it is for the rest of your life or even for the next 10 years? By the way, there is nothing wrong with liking to get paid for “sitting on your ass.” Besides, what you perceive as sitting on your ass may not be perceived in the same manner by those who pay you to do it.  To them, apparently, it is something they deem necessary… Hence they pay you to do it. However, you may not always derive the same level of satisfaction from it as you do currently. 

    Your comfortable.  Life has been seriously hard on you in the recent past and you have now made a safe little spot for yourself. Creating a zone of immediate safety and that is good. A place to give yourself room to breath, so to speak.  You survived the hardships and I do offer a most sincere congratulations for that real accomplishment, but I wonder when are you going to begin living and not merely surviving? 

    SEB has had much the same experience, but tempered by very different circumstances.  Be wary J, do not allow yourself to become ambivalent or oblivious.  The price you will pay will be dear and it can be devastating.  It has been for SEB, for us…

    SEB got comfortable (as you seem to be) with the status quo and allowed himself no semblance of thought in regards to his near or far future security or how that might affect his quality of life. He stopped in the break zone (that catch your breath area) and got too comfortable.  The seduction of not allowing himself to ponder “What next” was strong and until now, he allowed himself to be seduced.  It seems you might be making a similar misjudgment. 

    SEB, like you seem to be, did not care to contemplate the possibilities (either positive or negative) regarding his continuing quality of living (income, health care, shelter, family health, retirement/elder years, his own personal self-satisfaction and his own psychological health) that the future may hold. It makes the road now more difficult to travel, but we will traverse it and we are determined to live, not merely survive.

    … but I just don’t want to see you beat yourself up over some goal that isn’t even yours.

    Who said achieving a higher education isn’t a goal SEB has for himself?  It is one he not only needs to accomplish to reach other goals he wants to attain in his life style, but learning and broadening his own mind are elements SEB finds deeply self-satisfying and are true to his character/personality type.

    Rather, it’s the American goal that’s been instilled in every U.S.-born child at a very early age.

    An education is not just some arbitrary social standard our society has randomly assigned or brainwashed it’s civilians into attaining. Some do use education as status symbol.  However, that is not the basic need fulfilled when attaining education beyond High School.  The truth is our world is growing and advancing, in leaps and bounds, technologically.  Even the core base of knowledge in areas like (but not limited to) medicine, finance & investment, history, political & physical geography, transportation, air & water purity, entertainment, food/agriculture and communication is growing, changing, expanding.  The world is ever changing.  It has always been so and will continue to be so, forever.  Continuing education is necessary to keep up with life and it is a necessary step in attaining and/or maintaining that quality of life each of us wants. 

    At 40, and even much younger than that, you’ve got to push that out of your mind and simply focus on what’s making you happy and what you honestly think you want to put yourself through for a slight increase in that.

    Working through attaining the education leads to a quality of life that all of us wants.  Even if the actual goal of THE DEGREE is not something you want; the benefits (in regards to quality of life) one will gleam from through higher pay, more job satisfaction, even social status are highly desired and not attainable without said education. That education does not necessarily equal a traditional degree or industry certifications, but it is necessary. Whether attained through self-instruction or a more formal schooling process education is necessary to life for human beings. Not to mention, yet again, that SEB truly loves to indulge in the process of learning.  He is proud of himself when he gains that new knowledge.

    No matter what you do, it isn’t going to matter in the long run. There are over 6 billion people on this planet. Librarians, plumbers, cashiers, truck drivers, ditch diggers, factory workers, telemarketers, the list goes on to practically infinity. No one makes a difference.

    You are wrong. They all make a difference.  Every decision made influences your life. You make a difference.  We all make society.  But on a more personal level… With every choice each of us makes we make a difference in our own life and that is quite significant.

    It is going to take both of SEB and Mrs. SEB, having permanent, reliable employment to support ourselves and enjoy life.  I hope you do not find yourself at 30, 35 or 40 alone or with a family and facing the likelihood of poverty level living, deeply restless and bitter.

    Take the time to breath deeply and rest your weary head after the obviously difficult times you have had J.  You have navigated through them successfully.  You are still here, alive and gathering your courage, strength, and determination to move forward and build an even safer, more desirable life for yourself. But, please, J, do not allow yourself to stagnant in a false sense of “happiness.”  I believe you will want and do need to eventually move beyond your current state of mind.  I do not believe you are truly satisfied with your current life.  You have demonstrated that in the very negative, bitter tone of your comments here.

  21. Every decision made influences your life. You make a difference.  We all make society.  But on a more personal level… With every choice each of us makes we make a difference in our own life

    Bravo!!

    Les:

    Good luck to you, though, I doubt that you will need it.

  22. To all whom have offered me information about my personal career goals:

    Thank You for your advice and supportive comments.

    I have full intentions of going to graduate school and obtaining a Master’s degree in Mathematics Education, Computer Education, Reading Specialist and/or English Literacy Education (reading and writing). I’m still debating which (or which one first) to pursue in the very near future. 

    Our current “loose plan of action goals” (though always tentative and flexible) include: 1) Daughter’s HS Graduation, 2) Relocated ourselves at the end of June, 3) SEB begin his college education in September 2008, 4) Encourage daughter to work toward higher education goals 5) Mrs. SEB begin her own Graduate level education, 6) SEB & Mrs SEB achieve their desired degrees, 7) SEB Family owning a family home & both senior members attaining enjoyable, gainful employment, 8) SEB & Mrs SEB pursuing any other education they desire if any.

  23. Les: There’s a couple of points in his comment that lead me to think he’s got a few hard knock lessons coming along sooner or later. I only say that because I’ve passed those courses already.

    Please specify – if it is indeed true that I have shit coming to me it’d be kinder on all involved that I learn it now in a safe environment, rather than make a mistake.

    I will open my self up completely to attack – by all means be as brutally honest as you want, get it all off your chest, hold nothing back – it cannot hurt me, only allow me to gather feedback for my own improvement. Send by email if you’d rather others didn’t see.

    Thanks for the comments, folks, though I have to wonder if Bahamat has had many relationships

    I’m going to make a few predictions here:
    (1) I’ve said essentially this before so you knew it was a relatively safe bet before even knowing my comment above. It was also easy to say given that I went into unconventional teritory.
    The difference however is that I analyse situations a lot more than most, so I can learn stuff through observing without direct involvement
    (2) You predicted it likely that this would be an insecurity for me, and wanted to play on it (as I’ve seen you do with trolls)
    (3) You didn’t like something about my comment (tone/content), at least when it comes from me (which I get a LOT outside SEB, because of the type of person I am)
    (4) You’ve been wanting to challenge me/my (sometimes arrogant) tone, which is perfectly understandable. I welcome challenge because it provides me with practise and new ideas.

    I hold that if you really have passed these points in life, you can be specific about what I am to learn, and defeat me in debate about that learned thing being better than my alternative. Age doesn’t equate to what someone’s experienced – you should know that from your encounters with full-grown fundies

  24. Bahamat, I can’t speak for Les, but in a nutshell—if you think you have any right to decide that hurting someone’s feelings is “good” for them, then I agree with him:  you have a lonely life ahead of you.  I’ve seen plenty of people with that attitude go down in flames once that arrogance is turned back on them.  Either they get wiser, or they stay lonely and clueless.

    (The other tip-off is that you think you can completely understand something without “direct involvement”—i.e. without actually experiencing it yourself.  This will lead you to give a lot of stupid advice to people.)

  25. Bahamet,

    What you are to learn is that a personal post by another is not about you, nor is it an invitation to unsolicited debate.  Such posts are just what they purport to be-personal posts.  Treat them as such.

  26. GM: but in a nutshell—if you think you have any right to decide that hurting someone’s feelings is “good” for them, then I agree with him:  you have a lonely life ahead of you. I’ve seen plenty of people with that attitude go down in flames once that arrogance is turned back on them.  Either they get wiser, or they stay lonely and clueless

    I was trying to point out that good things can come out of bad deeds, that does not meen I actively go around doing it, I’m trying to make Les feel better that something good might’ve come out of some event like that, so when he looks back on it he won’t feel quite so bad. If any readers have deep regrets about things in their past, I want them to feel some restbite, so they can move on from the past.

    I always want to give people food for thought, offering alternate perspectives, that is the idea behind debate, and this is a debate blog. I will vary between extreemes of thought that I’ve explored in hope that any reader may have something new to think about. I believe that no knowledge is bad to have, because it can only contribute towards the jigsaw, and they can use their own judgement as to what would be best to do.

    Don’t assume I endorse the ideas I put forward – I put them forward knowing two steps ahead how to shoot them down should the need arise, all with the intention of exploring ideas.

    (The other tip-off is that you think you can completely understand something without “direct involvement”—i.e. without actually experiencing it yourself. This will lead you to give a lot of stupid advice to people.)

    Not completely understand a person or situation, but to notice paterns. I look into why something happened the way it did, and I notice the same reasons get repeated over again, I then look for an explanation that makes sense. I don’t take this as gospel, but I test out ideas in debate to see if they hold water (i.e. what, if anything can shoot down that explanation – is there a better explanation I can get elsewhere for what I saw…)

    Consi: What you are to learn is that a personal post by another is not about you, nor is it an invitation to unsolicited debate. Such posts are just what they purport to be-personal posts. Treat them as such.

    This is a blog that allows debate on entry topics. Les decided to post this here without any indication he didn’t want it debated, making it essentially a topic for debate in my view. If he didn’t want it discussed, he shouldn’t have made it available – because he has absolutely no method of preventing us discussing what’s now in the public domain outside of SEB, and I’m sure he’d rather see what’s being said for himself

    Also (in part) I was trying to help in a alternative way that he wouldn’t be likely to get from anyone other than me, as I described above I’m trying to make him feel that at least some good might’ve come out’ve it. It is rare that one can make an attempt to get across some of the other points, and to me it would’ve seemed shallow and meaningless to merely echo what everyone else was saying – I want people to think about the problems + cause, and move on.

    Also, in my view, people only take offense at something if they havn’t previously defeated the idea in their own mind with their competing idea – if they had they’d not be frightened of it being said.

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