Eighteen Days, Baby

Eighteen days, and I’m done. Eighteen days, and I’m no longer a student. Eighteen days, and I can put homework aside forevermore. Eighteen days, and my free time is my own to do with what I will.

I won’t lie and say it’s been easy. I won’t lie and say I’m glad I did it. I won’t even lie and say it’s been worth it. I certainly won’t lie and say it’s been fun.

bscIt’s been hard. It’s been very hard. The first Associate’s degree I earned in December 2013 was easier. That makes no sense whatsoever to me. The first degree was in web design, something I knew next to nothing about. The Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies that I’m wrapping up now has been much more difficult to get through. I’ve worked at law firms for 18 years. I’ve been in Intellectual Property law for 10 of those years. Paralegal Studies should have been more of a no brainer for me. Parts of it have been. Parts of it have been mind-numbingly complicated and just plain confusing.

Maybe it’s because IP law is a fairly narrow focus and it’s a specialized area of law quite unlike the rest of the legal arena. Two of my classes have had a Trademark infringement litigation case at the center of their multi-part Portfolio projects. My classmates have complained bitterly that Intellectual Property law makes no sense. All I could think was, “ahh, at last, something that makes sense (to me)!”

I struggled the most with the criminal law class and its graphic descriptions from an actual court case where a man killed his stepson. I won’t give details because I don’t know them. I was honest and told the teacher and my classmates that I wouldn’t be reading the case word for word. I couldn’t. It made me physically sick, and it made me cry. I didn’t read that case or any of its minute details, and I still passed the class.

My least favorite assignments have been the silly ones geared towards the younger students who’ve never had a job in the real world. I don’t need to know how to put together a resume, search for a job, research a company and practice interviewing. This week we had to research budgeting and paying bills. Please. I’ve been fortunate in that the instructors have worked with me and have allowed me to do alternate assignments when I ask for them. I’m paying for this, too. I won’t do assignments that are a waste of my time, and I’ve politely told them so. I get that most college students are just kids, but in online classes where the students come from across the country, they need to also consider the adult learners.

Throughout the second degree, I’ve also been busy writing. My novels (racy romances) may never see the light of day, but I have two full ones written, and a third volume is three-quarters complete. I love them. I have enjoyed every moment of researching and writing them.

With all this homework and working full-time in a mentally demanding, detail-oriented job and also spending all my free time (lunch hours and downtime at home) furiously scribbling down chapters in my books, something had to give somewhere. I stopped blogging because I no longer had anything new or original to say. This post itself really says nothing profound or new, but I felt like writing it. My sleep schedule has also suffered. I wake up at night, and I have a mind that I can’t shut off. It churns a million miles an hour non-stop. I end up grabbing my phone and jotting notes to myself, and then I’m wide-awake. Hubby comes home on weekends, and I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve stayed up too late, then come to bed and watch him sleeping while I’m awake. I’ve had a few nights where I’ve been up until past 4:00 a.m. Thank goodness, those have been on weekends and not on work nights.

My light at the end of the tunnel is finally in sight, and my reward is already planned and purchased. I finish school at the end of April. I’ve elected to forego my graduation ceremony this time around. I walked the stage in 2014. I don’t need to do it again. I felt silly at 54. I figure at 57 I’ll just look like someone’s Grandmother, and I don’t have it in me this time. It’s not special this time. My graduation gift to myself (and to hubby) is two tickets in a great location at the Lakeside Amphitheatre in Syracuse, NY to see Def Leppard the end of June. I bought the best tickets available the first day they went on sale, and I spent a lot of money on the tickets – way more than I should have. I can’t wait to see them.IMG_0049

I have loved Def Leppard for thirty-three years ever since I first saw the video for Photograph on MTV in 1983. I finally decided I’d waited long enough to go see them! Every year they toured, I wanted to see them, but for one reason or another, I never got there. At first it was no one to go with when my partner in crime (my cousin) moved to Texas. Once I got married, it was either finances that kept me from buying tickets or the kids were too small and we couldn’t get a sitter, and I never got to go see them. It broke my heart every time. As the years went by, I’d say every year that I really wanted to see them at least once. Well, this year is my year.

So in eighteen days, I will be done once and for all with school, and all that will remain is paying back the mountain of debt that is my student loans. I’ll try not to focus too hard on that. I have the end of June to look forward to. I can’t wait!!!!

To prove that Def Leppard still rocks, here’s my favorite song off of their latest CD released October 30, 2015.

Images courtesy of bryantstratton.com, defleppard.com

Videos courtesy of youtube.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreshadow

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/category/photo-challenges/

20130719-201913.jpgWe have had some incredible cloud formations this summer when cold fronts have come through after a hot spell.  This one had me a little nervous at first as that point came down out of the cloud over my neighbor’s house.  I’ve never seen a tornado before, but that one looked too close for comfort before it disappeared.

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Here’s another one that was creepy.  The clouds rolled in along with the cold front. I was on my way home from dinner out with a friend, and I almost felt like I should hurry and get there before the sky exploded.  It rained a bit after I got home, and it cooled off a lot. The creepy clouds foreshadow a drastic change in temperature around here.

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Daily Prompt: Tables Turned

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/daily-prompt-discomfort/

For years I refused to have my picture taken.  We would have family gatherings or we’d celebrate holidays, and I was always so careful to make sure I remained just out of the camera’s range.  If I couldn’t run, I’d hide.  I stood at the back or behind the kids. Low self-esteem, weight issues, one too many photos that caught me at an unflattering angle – all added up to make me cringe when the cameras came out.

Me at the back, hiding behind Matt and two Barney toys
Me at the back, hiding behind Matt and two Barney toys

I was photogenic and cute when I was little.  I liked having my picture taken although I was always shy.

Me on the right with the dolly
Me on the right with the dolly

Everyone goes through that teenage, gawky awful stage where we are struggling with teeth that are uneven or don’t fit our still-growing face.  Maybe we’ve recently gotten glasses, and we aren’t quite sure we like ourselves wearing them. Maybe we have teenage acne and our skin looks bad.  I know very few people who don’t have some goofy-looking pictures from their pre-teen or teen years.

My (horrible) 6th Grade Picture
My (horrible) 6th Grade Picture

We all also have a day where we really shine.  Maybe it was our wedding day.  That’s usually a day where we look our best.  Some brides survive on salads for months beforehand to make sure they fit into that teeny tiny dress.  Some brides go tanning for weeks beforehand to make sure they aren’t too pale and ghostly in their white dress.  I didn’t do any of that.  I am who I am.  My husband fell in love with me as I was.  My wedding dress was a size 22-1/2, and I still think I looked beautiful that day.

November 11, 1989
November 11, 1989

Then came babies.  If we are not skinny to begin with, having babies will do a number on our figures.  Every woman talks about “losing the baby fat”.  We all go through it unless we are genetically blessed and come out on the other side of childbirth looking like we’d never ever had a baby.  I hate those women!

August 1995 - Alex was a newborn
August 1995 – Alex was a newborn

As my kids were growing and holidays and birthdays were being celebrated, I became more and more camera shy. Looking back on some of the family occasions, you wouldn’t even have known I was present.  (Yes, it bothers me now that I was so vain and self-conscious that I let myself be left out of the picture.) I was usually behind the camera.  The few times I let hubby snap a picture, it ended up being some unflattering angle. I couldn’t possibly look that bad, could I?  I was thin for awhile (my first go-round with Weight Watchers), and I let myself be photographed more in those years.

Donna - May 1993
May 1993

As my boys grew, they often had a camera in their hands.  They like to photograph or record videos of trains a lot.  Since I was there, I would occasionally end up in a photo.  They weren’t always the best shots either since I was trying hard NOT to get photographed.

I was miserable here not only because I didn't want to be in the shot, but it was hot out that day
I was miserable here not only because I didn’t want to be in the shot, but it was hot out that day

When I turned 50, something changed.  Maybe it was hubby’s comment when I mentioned how much I missed my Mother.  He told me, “Look in the mirror.” Maybe I finally accepted who I am.  I don’t have to answer to anyone.  I am proud of who I am.  People laugh at other people who take “selfies”, but I have found that the one who photographs me best is ME.  I can get the proper angle, the proper lighting.  (I also have a Photoshop app on my phone, and I can blur some of the edges to hide some imperfections!)  I can make me look good. I finally like who I see. (But, yes, I am still a little vain and a little self-conscious).

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

IMG_0002My “blast from the past” is a picture of me and my brother and our dog, Missy.  I am probably somewhere around 9 or 10 in this picture which would make my brother 17 or 18, and Missy would be 1-2. She was a collie-shepherd mix who was as gentle a dog as you’d ever meet.  We had her for 15 years.  I think we are out camping in this picture.  She is begging (one paw up) for the treat that my brother is holding. She was such a good dog.

Check out my brother’s “skinny” pants and desert/Beatle boots.  He dresses much the same now, and he’s 62! I no longer wear knee high socks with shorts – thank goodness.