Reflections (of a 32 year old freshman)
At thirty two, I had never attended college. It was always an intention, but as I graduated high school four more years of school was not high on my list of priorities. I secured a position in a local doctor's office and was quickly promoted to manager. When I moved, I sadly left my employment and worked as a temporary fill-in at multiple locations until I was referred to the title industry and began my career. I was in the title industry for twelve years and I loved the different positions I had in the company. The industry is a high-stress and high-demanding job, but thrilling at the same time.
It wasn't until I fell in love and made a difficult choice to move further away that I had to take a hard look at driving almost two hours one way per day for a job I loved. I began combing the internet and newspaper for a new position and was sadly disappointed as I noted that every position required some sort of degree. My family was always suggesting going to college and getting my degree, but I didn't realize until I actually looked for a different career closer to my new home that I grasped just how important a degree was. I am incredibly marketable in the title industry and that alone.
I applied to college at Purdue North Central on a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon as I visited my father in Grand Haven, Michigan. I was elated that I had taken this first step, but at the same time bittersweet in that if it worked out, I would have to leave the job I loved. I was overjoyed to receive my acceptance letter and settled in for the long wait for Financial Aid. As a person from the customer service world, waiting for Financial Aid is torture! If I had made any prospective customer of mine wait three months for an answer, I wouldn't have had any customers! It wasn't until the second week in November, a week after my father unexpectedly died, that I received the call from Financial Aid that my award information was in and it would be enough to cover my college expenses.
I was delighted that I would be able to attend college, though I dreaded handing in my notice. I loved my job and my co-workers, the colleagues with whom I had worked and had built friendships with over the years. This was a major decision on my part and I knew it would shock those surrounding me in the business world. But when I broke the news, everyone amazed me with their support and I retain my friendships through social networking.
As I began my first semester in college, I was incredibly daunted by English 101. I haven't written other than out of necessity for years. I would start a journal one day, write in it a couple of days, then never again. I proficiently emailed on a business level throughout my career. I can speedily text and talk at the same time. I don't remember any time that I wrote for enjoyment. I do have a poor memory, so maybe that's why I don't recall any love and joy for writing. Instead, I am an avid reader, I adore books and one of my dreams is to own a small used and new bookstore in the Michigan City area. Being surrounded by books would be a dream come true!
As I stared at the syllabus and the essays required in English 101, my anxiety kicked into high gear. I was not comfortable writing. I laughingly remember that when I tested for English placement at the Student Success Center, I almost had a mini-heart attack when they told me the placement essay needed to be two pages! I had practiced at home with essay questions I had found on the internet and I think I had five paragraphs; introduction, two for the body and conclusion.
Our first assignment was the Literacy Narrative and I could not wrap my mind around one instance that had changed me into the reader/writer I am today. I think it created a block and sent me in the wrong direction initially. Once we peer reviewed our essay I realized the wrong turn I had taken. I was rather flummoxed on re-writing the paper and then inspiration struck. As I sat down to write about the day my father died, and the journals his girlfriend had given me that were written by my grandmother, the words flew off my fingers and onto the screen. I had plenty to work with after I was finished writing the first draft.
The first draft was me—emotionally raw from writing of a time not that long ago. A time I think of daily with love and regret. I turned to trusted friends and family for assistance in cutting the words down as I had bypassed the word count. That was rough. I wanted memories of my father in the story, vivid memories I recalled as if they were yesterday, and fought to keep them in until I came to the realization they had to go to obtain the required word count. The Literacy Narrative I wrote is my favorite paper. It is, by far, the best I have ever written. I often wish that I didn't compare my future papers with my first. Everything in comparison seems just not quite as good.
I was initially thrilled to write our second paper, a movie review, though now I wonder why. It was a difficult paper for me to write. The biggest struggle I faced was properly summarizing. I would begin summarizing the movie and found myself a page in just explaining the opening scene. My sister was a real godsend when she suggested I e-mail her why she should see the movie. After my shock and dismay that she hadn't yet seen Hairspray I began feverishly typing an e-mail to her as to why she should see the movie. It was exactly what I needed to push me in the right direction. I really loved this paper and showed it off to substantiate my love.
When we received the rubric for the third essay, an Analytical and Response Essay we also received the next assignment, as they go hand in hand. I immediately gravitated to the Proposal Essay which was the fourth essay assignment. I knew instantaneously that I would be writing on gay marriage rights for the Proposal Essay. I am passionate regarding equality for all no matter sexual orientation, though I am not close to anyone that is gay. However, I do love Ellen DeGeneres and watching her talk show on a daily basis and the love she shares with Portia DeRossi inspired me to write on the controversial essay of Freedom to Marry.
The third essay though, was a chore as soon as it began. I printed out all of Paul Goodman's essays and attempted to sit down and read them all before choosing which one I was to write about. That didn't work out. I find Paul Goodman very… hard to read. I was fascinated by the Banning Cars from Manhattan essay as I wildly imagined big cities such as New York or Chicago without traffic. I thought what a brilliant idea to remove cars—just think of the people that could be saved if emergency vehicles didn't have to wind through traffic in busy cities, the lack of pollution (or as much pollution), the Big 3 and their financial woes may never have happened. But then we discussed the essay in class and the "superblocks" were brought to my attention. That did it in for me. I thought, "What a mess that would be!" Giving even more people little fractions of power would never work! I chose to write on The Chance for Popular Culture, which is frankly the only other one that I fully understood. I also did not agree with what I feel is Paul Goodman's generalizations and I liked that I was able to combat that in my writing.
The third essay is the first time I've used sources since high school. Life was so much different in those days. We would go to the library and get books, encyclopedias or other reference material we could find in the actual library to use as source material for writing. Now the world wide web can be overwhelming in its vastness. I had a difficult time finding materials to source and properly back up my opinion and then my boyfriend found a website that was the answer I had been looking for. It provided a breakdown of the 1940's art and culture, the era in which Paul Goodman initially wrote The Chance for Popular Culture. It assisted me greatly and I am ever thankful for my boyfriend's brilliance in locating what I seemingly could not find.
Once I finished the third essay I thought I would jump right in to writing the Proposal Essay. I didn't. In fact I procrastinated, which is quite unlike me. I overwhelmed myself with books from the library and articles from databases regarding equality, same-sex marriage and the gay community. I went through articles with highlighter in hand frequently using it to mark sentences or paragraphs of interest.
When I sat down to type the Proposal Essay, I felt my ire rising at the prejudice and inequality the gay community faces every day. I didn't want to come across as angry or condescending to the reader and I really struggled with a solution to the ban on same-sex marriage. It seems so simple to me; the ban needs to be abolished. I really enjoyed writing the paper overall and felt comfortable using the sources. I feel my solution is sound and I hope that one day, sooner versus later, the ban will be abolished and all Americans are met with equality.
I have survived my first semester and found a love of writing I did not know I had. I blog regularly, following in my grandmother's footsteps of keeping a journal, albeit electronically. I no longer fear writing, though I believe that my best paper is the Literacy Narrative and that style is where I feel the most comfortable writing. I truly have a desire to have clean and succinct papers and my proofreaders, family and friends, I heavily rely on. I am so thankful that they have been here with me, holding my hand, throughout this semester. I am glad that I took the leap that brought me into the college world, I look forward to what the following years has in store for me. What's next? "I'm going to Disney World!"