September 03, 2007

'Twas the Night Before Grad School

So, tomorrow is my first day. I'm nervous and can't sleep. Surprise.

It's hard to believe I'm really going. They really let me in. I never thought I would even go to college, growing up. Have I written about this before? Maybe, probably, but I really feel like writing about it now. So I will.

When I was little, the church I grew up in really discouraged college. They said it was a place where people went to be turned against God. They said it was a haven of immorality and sin. Mortal peril. A nice, Christian girl or boy wouldn't be able to walk down the typical hallway in college without getting an invitation to sin, to hear them tell it.

Granted, a person can get into a lot of trouble in college. But when I was the more normal age for going, I got into plenty of trouble, anyway. None of my friends at the time were going to college, nor the people I worked with. We were just in our late teens, early twenties, bored, and full of ... high spirits. Yeah, that's it, spirit.

I love words with at least three meanings. They make me unaccountably happy.

Anyway, when I was a kid, they put me in accelerated classes sometimes. And the teachers would talk about getting ready for college. Which sounded interesting. But I didn't want to be turned against God and become a sinner, I wanted to be good. So I decided pretty early on to plan on not going. While I was at it, if I wasn't going, why bother paying attention in school? The books I read in my spare time, and homework time, and at night with a flashlight, and at recess and lunch, were way more interesting than most of my classes. Definitely more interesting than homework, and the only reward to doing that was that other people who were related to me would get to feel good about telling their friends that I was getting good grades.

As you can imagine, my grades were a fright.

Bowing to the economic times, the church I grew up in no longer tells young people that college is little more than a ticket to sin. My family now maintains that the church never did say that. Yeah, and Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. Whatever. I was there. I remember the skits and the talks. I was an imaginative child, but I didn't dream up out of whole cloth the idea that it would be a bad thing to guide my life towards a place where your main job in life is to read and write. Please.

It's been a long time since then, and it doesn't define my life anymore, as though I would even yet feel it as an injury. I don't want you to feel bad for me about it. That isn't why I wanted to write this. It's because I wanted to remember why I'm so nervous, and ultimately, so grateful for this opportunity.

I had to fight so hard for it; to leave everything and everyone I knew, going upstream all the way against the core of what I was taught to be. There are a lot of people who deserve my thanks for their help and companionship along the way, whose presence made all the difference. There are a lot of seemingly insignificant decision points that could so easily have tilted things entirely the other direction. So it's a little hard to believe that things are really happening like this, when it all hung on such a fragile string of events.

In a while, I'll settle in and get used to it. Just like getting used to a new city. At first everything's very exciting and strange and disorienting. Then you get comfortable. Then it's no big deal and it's hard to remember why you ever made such a fuss about it.

So I guess I wanted to make sure to write down what was on my mind tonight. Somewhere I wouldn't lose it. Otherwise, it ends up in a spiral bound notebook in a box and gods know whether or not you can find it later. I can barely keep track of things I wrote down in January of this year. So there.

Anyway, I've just let out a ceremonial "Eeek", and I'm going to sleep. (Was that "Eeek" really a direct quote? Why yes, yes it was. No, I won't do it again. Today.) I promise. Good night for now, folks.

Okay, one last thing - One of my grandmothers used to start nearly everything she said with a "So," taken with a long pause. It drove me crazy. I swore to excise the offending word from my vocabulary. Which I was reminded of immediately on previewing this entry, for reasons that are surely obvious.

Posted by natasha at September 3, 2007 10:50 PM | Random Mumblings | Technorati links |

Wait a minute - we're at war with Eurasia. Or is it Scotland?

Good luck with grad school. Hard to believe your grades were ever bad, but then mine were once upon a time ...

Posted by: Cujo359 at September 3, 2007 11:45 PM

Chris in Paris asks where all the Rumsfeld critics were when the war started

Posted by: ccoaler at September 4, 2007 04:32 AM

I knew, from the first conversation we ever had onward, that some kind of seriously upper-crusty graduate study was in your future. I know it'll be hard to have a lesser affair with soil science, but hey, readin' and writin' for a livin' ain't half bad. ;-)))

So, as you might say on occasion, "Eeek, indeed."

And congrats.

Posted by: palamedes at September 4, 2007 07:58 AM


In 1982, as I was about to start college, my grandmother told me I wouldn't have to go the whole 4 years - I'd find a nice man to marry there. She meant it kindly! I had a woman friend in the late 1980s who had to drop out because of her husband's religious ideas... The bias against women going to college and having careers is less than it was in the 1980s for most Americans. But there are still too many barriers.

Posted by: Noemie Maxwell at September 4, 2007 10:27 AM

BREAKING: IRAQ DOESNT MEET 11 of 18 benchmarks

Posted by: ccoaler at September 4, 2007 12:29 PM

We gonna party like itīs 1992

Posted by: ccoaler at September 4, 2007 12:52 PM

So, how'd it go?

I was thirty-nine my first day of grad-school - not my first choice, sort of a marker while waiting out the waiting list for law school - as an old logger raising four kids alone.

Posted by: Thomas Ware at September 4, 2007 04:19 PM

The first day ... wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. And I did manage to not only wake up on time but get there early. Though a big sigh of relief goes out that henceforth, most everything will happen in the evening.

Thank you, folks. You're all too kind and very cool, I'm so glad that I've gotten to know you in one way or another :)

Posted by: natasha at September 4, 2007 09:37 PM

Glad you had a good first day. Are your classes interesting?

Posted by: Mary at September 4, 2007 10:09 PM

The class I've been to so far does indeed seem interesting. Lots of reading and papers ahead. Wow.

In other news, I regretably deleted a very nice comment from Scott on this thread when it was caught at the bottom of a spam dragnet. Bloody spammers. Sorry, Scott, you know I'd never do that to one of your comments on purpose. Particularly not that one, which would have been something to come back and look at during times of low morale.

Posted by: natasha at September 5, 2007 11:14 AM

Pssst....Scott...that was your cue to resend the morale booster...

Man, this soto voce stuff is hard on the fingers... ;-)

Posted by: palamedes at September 5, 2007 11:52 AM