Monday, September 20, 2010

Confession: part II

(This picture was taken in the airport on the last day of our Call's in Cali family reunion. Quinn wasn't sure if he qualified as a carry-on or personal item.)

My friend Stacy Miller inspired me to finish this degree, sooner than later. She was in a similar situation with school: a husband getting his PhD, three kids, a busy life not looking like it would be slowing down. But she started back (and just finished this Spring), and I decided I could too.

Right after Quinn was born; (about a year ago) I decided to go back to school. I thought I might be able to do two classes per semester and I’d find out about those credits in Guadalajara (UAG). Hans was supportive and excited. I registered and paid for the classes, hoping that I might get financial aid later, purchased my books and got ready for my online classes. I had planned pretty well in taking classes when we were first married, so all of my required psychology classes were done. History of Psychology and Anthropology 101 were my classes of choice and requirement. They were just what I needed. My anthropology online lectures were hilarious. Dr. Jankoviak was one of those teachers who was trying to be funny, but was failing miserably at being funny and that made him even funnier. He also liked to say An-TRO-pology instead of An-Thro-pology. Good ol’ Dr. Jankoviak.

With a bit of momentum, I decided to revisit navigating UAG (in English) to figure out where my credits were and how they could be transferred. I called and tried to talk to the first person. I didn’t mince any words, “Hi, do you speak English?” So I got transferred a few times before I spoke to the right person. She was nice and knew what I was talking about and told me she would air mail them to UNLV ASAP.

And so I waited. I would call UNLV weekly to see if the papers had arrived, but they had nothing for a month. I emailed my UAG friend, thinking that they might be toying with their “Spanish-immersed”ex-student who only wanted to speak in English. Finally, on the day I found out that I would get financial aid, my counselor Valerie called and told me she had my UAG credits and that they would be transferring 8 credits. I think I screamed in her ear and was totally choked up. It was a miracle. That little event made the word graduation suddenly run away from the words ‘if” and “some day” to the welcomed words “when” and “this year”.

This past summer Quinn and I flew to Vegas to take the only class that required I attend in person (a lab) at UNLV. I also took two other classes. It was an intense month, but I got 2 A’s and a B, which was fine by me.

I am now in my last semester and I am set for graduation on December 14. Valerie said that I have exactly enough credits to graduate and not a “penny more.”

I’ve learned through this experience how much we depend on those around us to give us an idea of what we can do. I think that I probably would have graduated eventually, but I know that I gained confidence sooner because of the example of my friend Stacy. Part of achieving our goals comes from choosing with whom we spend our time. I also learned how I can fit a few more important things into our lives at the expense of some of the fun, but unnecessary things like “Lost,” “House,” “The Office” and other shows.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Confession: part 1

(My Grandma Call has exquisite taste. This is a lamp that has hung in the girls' room forever)

I have been dreading this post. Okay… deep breath… here I go…I have not finished my psychology degree that I started back in 1997, (what is that 13 years?) I have been totally unmotivated to complete it and yet I felt guilty that I wasn’t at least making some progress towards its finale.

It is ALWAYS embarrassing for me when people ask, “Now what did you get your degree in?” (Most of these people are super nice and have at least a Masters in something way more impressive than psychology.) I stammer and say something to the affect of, “I haven’t finished my psychology degree, I would get cracking on it after Hans got his PhD, and that I wished I’d picked something different, yada yada yada.” The general response would be, “We’ll you’ve been busy with 4 kids, and traveling and supporting Hans with his endeavors, etc.” and we’d quickly move the conversation to something less awkward.

Hans had brought up this subject millions of times prior, with such gentle and encouraging words like, “Hey maybe you could sign up for a class this semester…” or “You have some great friends here, I bet they’d watch the kids for a couple hours if you wanted to take a class..” I’d get upset because I knew he was right. I SHOULD take a class; I should ask for help, I should want to want to finish my degree. I’d tell a couple of close friends that my unfinished degree was like the pocket of fat the clung to my thighs or a dark rain cloud that followed me and kept me from doing everything I wanted to do.

More guilt piled on me as I thought about how little I had left to finish. (It was about 10-12 classes.) Then I’d remember how I took a couple of Spanish Language classes, back when we lived in Mexico. I never followed up with getting any credits transferred to UNLV. Frankly, I was afraid to call the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara (UAG) because my Spanish was/is not good and my understanding is about the same. So being the avoider that I am, I just didn’t do it. It made me sick to think about all that wasted money and time. It made me feel even sicker to think that Hans felt sick about all that wasted money and time.