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monday, september 24, 2001

i am rediscovering one of the things i hate about school all of a sudden, something that i haven't really thought about until recently: feeling restricted in what i can do.

when i first went back to college a lifetime ago (or, at least, that's how i feel), i discovered i loved learning and seeing how the subjects interconnected. but i wasn't doing much creatively at the time either. my marriage was over, a relationship i had shortly after the separation had failed, and society was breathing fire over families on public aid. there wasn't much choice really, i had t push myself through school because i had no idea what the government was going to do. what it looked and sounded like is that we all were going to be completely kicked off any kind of help. it never quite materialized that way, but i was taking 17 to 24 units a semester because i had to - with four kids to support i knew i needed something, any thing, that would help me get a reasonable job (or anything above minimum wage). at the time i didn't realize just how much i would miss my kids, but i was driven by necessity. and i got a's all the way through, graduated with my a.a. and moved on to the university for my bachelor's.

the summer between colleges i found out one of the costs of my 'type a' behavior: i became severely anemic. i was put on iron and by the time classes started in september i was back up to snuff, and taking 16 units per quarter. quarters are 10 weeks and try to stuff the full learning of a 16 week semester into that time. sometime during that year, the doctor took me off the iron to see if my body would produce enough on its own. it didn't, i crashed, started flunking and decided i needed an l.o.a. and that'
s when i discovered things i had been missing.

first, my kids. i was astonished to see how much they had grown. i mean, i finally really saw them, and discovered how much i missed them. don't get me wrong, i love my kids, always had, but school had taken over my life and i missed a lot in my 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. days. even when i was home i usually had my nose buried in a text book or some assignment. i needed to make sure i could support my children if we were tossed off public aid and i was doing everything i could to make sure i was prepared to do that. but coming up for air showed me just how much i missed.

i also discovered i couldn't not be doing something. so i opened dominodesigns, which flopped. and i started writing again. not school assignments but stories. i even began working on a novel i started over 10 years ago. and i rediscovered how much i loved to write. not only that, i discovered that people actually liked my writing! i don't really know why i gave it up before, frustration with my life, the need to survive, lack of self-confidence, all of the above? it doesn't even matter why i stopped for awhile. the things is i started again, this time more seriously.

when i was a kid and as i grew up i have always been a jack of all trades artistically. my favorite form of image expression was pencil and i drew a lot until recently (and i don't draw as much any more only because when one has a busy life like i do, one has to make choices in what to focus on, it's the only way to become good at anything for most of us). i wrote poetry as a kid, sucky, bubbly, overly simple stuff. later i went to more emotional, "dark" poetry, which is why you don't see much poetry from me now days; i really have to be emotionally there to write like that. i tried short stories but i sucked at the time. ;D as an adult i got into graphics design of a sorts, making web sets from tubes, fonts and my imagination. and it wasn't until i was an adult that i discovered that i just had to express myself artistically and creatively or get bored.

this past year i have been writing a lot. i kept my initial quarters back in school at the 12 unit level (the minimum required) which gave me time to do other things. maybe not a lot of time since i realized that my anemia and adhd were interfering with my ability to read and absorb as fast and as well as before i had/discovered these challenges in my life, but some time.

as much as i wanted to keep my units low this quarter, circumstances are forcing me into a high load (although, admittedly, the next quarters should be less stressful). this weekend, as mentioned earlier, i had quite a load of homework. unfortunately, i am still waiting for some of the books so i did what i could of the reading then wracked my brain over the short for my intermediate writing class. i destroyed 2 story drafts before settling on the one i am currently working with and hoping to use. but the big kicker is i really wanted to work on assassin's choice and felt i couldn't. i couldn't because i knew i needed to get as much done as possible so i would be as caught up as possible. you can't drag your feet on the quarter system. unlike the semester system, once you are behind, you are messed up and playing catch up for the rest of the 10 weeks and it's a nightmare. in semesters you can usually find a way to catch up and stay caught up without too much pressure, not so quarters. there is no time to breath, much less fall behind.

my hope is that part of this pressure to not work on my own personal writing has to do with not having all my books yet. they arrive today and i will be spending most of the afternoon reading and doing a paper for my women writers class. but once i get all that done, i am hoping i can pace things in such a way that if i have time to work on my novels or shorts i will take the opportunity to do so. i can't let classes take over my life so completely that my personal pleasures are pushed aside.

the good news is that it's only 10 weeks. after this quarter i will be taking, i hope, 18 and 13 units. 18 units may not sound like much less, but the honors class is entirely different than a lit class or a full writing class. in the honors class, my understanding is, that we work on one piece for the whole quarter and we present that piece in a public forum. it's odd to say that there is a huge difference between 16 units and 20 units when the difference is "only" one class, but there is. we all have limits and there is often a fine line between a lot of work but manageable and overloaded.

apparently my line is around 2 units.

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