So, I signed up for WRT 102 for the third time in my life. Such damned irony. I was at one point going to be an English major and get a PHD and all of these grandiose stupid plans. I was going to be a writer. But my writer’s block always got in the way of the writing aspirations. Because fate has a sarcastic sense of humour.
WRT 102 attempt number one: Fall 1992. I actually aced the class this time. Loved the class. The teacher was, how shall we put it, colorful. She put a very multicultural, anti-colonialist spin on traditional American literature, I recall. I dominated many a heated debate in class. My letter grades were A’s. All was well.
But in order to get credit for the class, she required that our journal be 100% complete and there was, I think, one essay or so that I never quite got off the ground and I turned the thing in anyway. So she gave me an incomplete. and proceeded to go on a two year long sabbatical. I was told I could not get a complete in the class until the instructor provided requirements for changing my status. No one had an answer for what to do since the instructor was unavailable.
I gave up and singed up to retake the class in the Summer Session, but ended up dropping it to take something else, don’t recall my reasoning at the time.
Retook it in earnest in Spring of 1994. Honors level, this time, and again I was doing well. Then got a nasty bout of the flu and was out of school for two weeks straight and ended up dropping most of my classes, including that one. After that, I moved out of the house and out on my own and tried working full time while going to school, but could never quite get the hang of that.
The list of my dropped and incomplete coursework is about 36 credit hours long. I still don’t understand how I can have been so bright and so good at the college courses I actually manged to finish and yet so quick to give up entirely. I have about half of the credits I would need for a philosophy degree wit a minor in humanities, but still need a math, a science and stupid writing 102 to even get an official associate’s degree.
A fine representative of gifted education am I – one of the best educated Community College dropouts you will ever meet.
Now a year and a day after my father died, I am taking the stupid class again and trying to go back to school a tiny bit at a time. Trying to get my money under control, and keep my household managed and my children well parented. Trying to be a force of unification and responsibility at work. But I look at my college transcript online or the years old neglected debts in my mailbox, or my messed up teeth in the bathroom mirror and I wonder what the hell makes me think this time is going to be any different?
I am, by nature, a bit of a fuckup. Everything that I touch I am either effortlessly brilliant at or hopelessly faltering, and with a lot of effort I can pass for normal and average and well balanced, but my nature is that I am uneven. Clever, but sloppy. Well intentioned, but chronically behind schedule. Clumsy and susceptible to bruises and spills and the accidental breaking of things I didn’t quite know how to operate. Maybe I can’t help this and my efforts are heroic. Or maybe I just don’t try hard enough.
And the thing is, it FEELS like I’m trying. It feels like I’m trying so hard. But my Dad would sit me down for a lecture every couple of years about how irresponsible he thought I was. Not out of malice – I really think he thought it would help – but all it ever did was make me feel more helpless and failed. And now he’s gone, so matter if I ever finally graduate or get my affairs in order, so to speak, I suspect he left this world (even though we were on good terms) thinking I could do better and not knowing if I ever would.
And yesterday, on the fucking anniversary of his death, my significant other of 5 years spits out an angry diatribe about how I “always let him down” because I had spazzed a couple of things he had asked me to do for him. Pretty much gave me a lecture that echoed word for word a thousand verbal battles with my father when I was in high school/junior high and early college. And even though I think he was just irritated and prone to exaggeration, I thought to myself “See? I’m just like this. I can’t reliably live with other human beings unless I gave birth to them. ” and since then I’ve been curled up into a ball of exhausted despair.
My kids are gone for the weekend, so it is safe to go catatonic. I can’t talk to L. without bursting into angry tears. My mom wants to meet me for dinner, but I don’t know whether to tell her what a mess I am, although my face is all puffy and red and it’s obvious. Probably 90% of this is hormones and stress, lack of sleep, time delayed grief and simply not having had a weekend to myself in over a month.
The other 10% is seeing my damned transcript in black and white – a testament to my terminal lack of discipline and drive spanning the course of many years. I should be happy – most of my credits still count, some of them over 19 years old.