I am...a New Yorker

[Previous entry: "A Diamond in the Rough"]

Tuesday, January 21, 2003
A Coed

Words like hegemony, which I've actually missed.

I am...excited and scared all at once. I suppose that is how any great adventure begins.

Oh, there are prickly bits, of course. It's all coming back to me -- the long lines at the bookstore and not having enough money for books. Being on financial aid meant not just the regular first week of class hassles, but a 4-6 hour wait in line for my checks and waiting for them to clear so I could buy books. By the second week of class, I was already behind in the reading. Not only were the book lines horrible by then, but I also spent more on my books than wealthy kids because all the used books were long gone. Ironic, eh?

There have been some advances. People finally figured out how to integrate things and use computers to the best advantage. That's all the more important now that I'm working 40 hours a week instead of 20 and going to class most nights and on Saturday. There just wouldn't be time for me to wait in line at the bookstore for that amount of time.

Now you can plug in your student info into the bookstore website and get a list of every book (required and optional) for every class). Books can be ordered online through the bookstore. Amazon has most of mine, many are discounted and with the SuperSaver shipping, I don't have to pay shipping for the ones I don't need just yet. I have a real thing for systems and organization, so nothing bothers me more than systems that don't work (cf. Cal State Redneck transcript saga) and few things please me more than systems which do.

And then there is the financial aid god, for whom I will have to name my first born. He went so far above and beyond the call of duty, I can't even tell you. It definately warrants a commendation to the supervisor letter.

Last night was my poli sci class, which will be intense, but in the good way. I can't wait to sink my teeth into that. I hope my book arrives before next Tuesday, so I can be a fully-informed and engaged participant.

It's funny, but NYU has been right here, all around me for a year and a half. Last May I stumbled upon a graduation ceremony, my neighborhood filled with anxious grads and proud parents.

Indeed, the building across the street was converted to an NYU dorm beginning around the time I moved in (I went there to apply, as it had been a residence before NYU bought it) and opening last fall. NYU is one of, if not the largest holder of real estate in the Village, so hardly a day goes by when I don't pass an NYU building. Naturally, tons of NYU students live in my building. Heck, there's even a new student center near where I transfer buses during my commute.

No rest for the wicked, as they say. Now I must figure out what to do for grad school and apply my newly-restored tenacity to applications for scholarships, grants and such.

I cannot say how irritating it was to be criticized and even ostracized by people I considered friends for being a screw up. Yeah, my credit's bad and I floundered and didn't finish college. I didn't flunk out, or anything, I just intended to take a year off to work and pay off bills and discovered the hard way that I made less money working than I did going to school. I mean, jeebus, it's not like I'm on drugs, have 5 kids by 6 different men that I can't raise or a criminal record. The sick thing is there are programs for people who have made such mistakes, while people with bad debt are made to feel like they don't have the right to such basics as housing. I've been living like a fucking fugitive for a decade.

Needless to say, this last year and a half has been a wonderful lesson in who my true friends are. It's always difficult to lose people, but if their opinions of me were so low, if they thought me so very vile -- they weren't really my friends, were they? On the other hand, those who have always been there, the true friends? They rush in when everyone else goes out -- John, Dorothy, James, Rosie, Andrea and probably more I've forgotten in the moment. There are a handful of people in my life who I know will be there, through thick and thin and I for them. I need to remember to be thankful for that more often. True friends are a treasure I cherish more the longer I live.

I know the difference between how strong and able I feel now, versus how decimated I felt on September 12th, 2001. It has been a long road and a great deal of work. In the intervening 16 months I loved, lost, quit a job that would have killed me (chest pains, bad), was broke, felt hopeless, tore through miles of red tape, rediscovered books and the joy of painting, rehabilitated my student loans, found a reasonable job, and returned to college. I'm by no means now miraculously perfect, nor was I then pathetic or suffering from low self-esteem or somesuch pop psychology affliction.

There are natural periods of ebb and flow in life. Sometimes you have to fight the good fight, but sometimes you have to know when you have no fight in you, when the best thing to focus on is self-repair. I wasn't ready before to set sail on the high seas of life because first I had to spend a lot of time and energy alone to patch up this little dingy that is my life.

[Next entry: "Whelmed"]
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