Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Education on the Dashboard

I’m having a terribly sad day. Terribly sad of the “sit in front of the computer and cry my stupid eyes out” variety. It’s made all the worse because I should have known. You’d think I was stupid er sumpthin’.

Back in the summer of '93, I was all set to graduate from Weber. I had my generals filled, my major filled, thought I owed one class on my minor. Took the National CLEP to fill my English requirements, and life was good.

But. Always one of those, right?

Because I was planning to register for that one course come fall quarter, I decided to wait on filing my CLEP certificate with the Records Office.

Stupid me.

Two weeks after receiving my CLEP certificate in the mail, I was in a wowser car accident. The kind of accident where the police don’t put a neat little “x” on the damage sticker, but rather scribble off the entire front end of the car. I suffered substantial facial fractures, deep tissue bleeding in the hips and belly (seat belt), a lasting back injury, and, most importantly, a traumatic brain injury.

At the same time, my then-husband left the country, leaving me buried under an avalanche of unpaid debts I hadn’t even known existed. Oh, and my boss fired me—apparently the Frankenstein-like black stitching all over my face was “scaring the customers.”

So there I was. Dain bramaged, maimed, jobless, spouseless, and being sued from all sides by my then-estranged husband’s creditors.

By the time the mental fog cleared (somewhat—those who know me well know I never was the same), I was in serious arrears with UHEAA. Yes, I filed a deferment. Who knows to whom I actually MAILED the request? Considering I sent Columbia House my five hundred dollar Citgo payment, the deferment request could have gone just about anywhere. "Addled" doesn't even begin to describe what a mess I was in the months after the accident.

Obviously, no student aid meant no tuition at that point. No tuition meant no degree. At some point I tucked my bright pink CLEP certificate into an envelope and slid it into a folder. A folder marked, apparently, “Space this off for a decade or more, Dain Bramage Girl.”

Fast forward to 2010. I’m moving out of state. I’m 44 years old. There are things I would like to do someday that can only be done with that degree. So I’ve spent the past few days on the phone. Turns out that one class I thought I needed? I didn’t. In fact, all I needed to do was check off with my advisors and file that CLEP certificate and I had graduation sussed. I earned my degree in FULL.


Weber State’s Records Office tells me they won’t recognize my CLEP certificate. They’ve changed the crediting system, and the certificate isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Never mind I paid for the test AND took it TWICE as part of a study focused on the implementation of computers in CLEP administration. That’s right—I took it twice. Once in pencil, once on computer. And it means nothing. I suppose I could retake the CLEP for English, but these days you can’t clear your English Requirement with a CLEP. I know, I asked.

I’m still making calls. I’m still dropping emails. Arts and Humanities, Child and Family, Psychology, English, Records, Graduation, Academic Advisement—I’ve had all of them on the phone over the past couple of days, and the wonderful folks I’ve spoken to have been as helpful as they can be. But I’m so discouraged, and so angry at myself for being stupid enough to get my hopes up. Had I not let a friend wrap me and my car around a tree at 60 mph en route to Arby's, I’d have that degree.

To sum it up? I appear to have traded a BS for a roast beef sandwich from Arby’s. What really sucks? I didn't even get to EAT the sandwich; I found it festering under the driver's seat a few weeks post-accident. Maybe if it had been a really good sandwich, the very BEST sandwich I'd ever had, it wouldn't sting so much.

Boy, don’t I feel utterly stupid?

Friday, January 1, 2010

All I Want for New Year's is a Shiny New Home

Well, here it is again. Came frighteningly fast this time, didn't it? When Stephen King spoke of “short time” for the grownups, he sure as spit knew what he was talking about. Time moves so fast anymore it brings me to tears. If it only took this few blinks to get from bright-eyed 18 to here then here to dead must only be a flash away, you know?

Weee! How very positive of me!

I’m really not that negative a person. In fact, I am brimming with hope for this new year. Sure, I have the usual hopes: be more patient with our son, lose weight, write more, write better, exercise more, get healthier. But I have one more hope, one very special desire this year. One resolution that I can’t imagine surviving failure.

What is it?

Gettin’ the hell outta Dodge. That’s right—after spending the better part of 38 years here in Utah, I am OUTTA here with the people I love the very most! Back to where I came from, back whence my family came, back to where the world is green and the air is alive with possibility.

I won’t lie—I’m not just running to something, I’m running away from something. Away from dysfunctional relationships that have sucked the joy from me for years. Away from the dry and the yellow, brown, and grey. Away from being forever the outsider, the one who must join fringe groups and minority cliques in order to be not alone. Away from almost everything Utah is for me.

I know I seem to be “dissing” Utah. What can I say? I actively dislike this place. I know some say, “Well, if you only KNEW Utah!” I do—and familiarity has bred just a bit of contempt. From Grafton to Logan, from Vernal to Vernon, I’ve driven, hiked, backpacked, camped, and all-around explored this place. And I’m all done with it. I’ve been here. I don’t want to be here anymore.

Let me say from my heart that I’m not “dissing” the people who DO love this place. Great! Seriously! I am absolutely sincere when I say that I am very glad that you love Utah, that Ogden (or Salt Lake City) rocks your world! I think it would be terribly sad if that weren’t the case! The way you feel about Utah? That’s how I feel about the East Coast. The warm pride that rises up in you when you think of Snow Basin, Ben Lomond, the Union Station, or the Pie Pizzeria? That’s how I feel about the Franklin Institute, Sturbridge Village, the beach at Wells, Maine, and Pat’s King of Steaks. They’re mine, and that’s where I want to be. Where I need to be.

I’m not saying that Utah has nothing to offer. I’m not saying that there’s nothing beautiful or worthwhile here. Of course there is! What I’m saying is that I’ve done that, and I don’t want to do it anymore. My heart isn’t here, and I need something else. I need my home.

Be happy for me. Please. Don’t wrinkle your nose and declare that I’m “missing out.” Instead, understand that we’re all different, and what works for you is killing me. Love your Utah, make it everything you can, and spare a hope or a prayer that my dreams for the east coast come to pass and are everything I wish for. Will you do that for me? I don’t want a whole lot. Just new home with my wonderful husband and magical boy. Please, cross your fingers and wish me luck!