Bad Surprises 

When it was clear that my graduate school career was pretty much dead, I had to do some hard thinking about what I was going to do next. I was deeply depressed, out of money, way in debt, and had met enough homeless people to know that I was only just a few steps away from sleeping out on the street.

I had spent eight years supporting myself with a bad job and going to Community College. After earning my Associate of Arts degree, I took a leap, got expensive college loans, and transferred to a State University where I spent three years earning my Bachelor of Arts in English. Then, I spent three years trying to meet the demands of grad school. In one way or another, I had been in school for fourteen years in school. Let me repeat, FOURTEEN.

But during grad school, personal troubles, most of which I couldn't help, overwhelmed me, and I found myself facing a personal crisis that, in many ways, is ongoing. In a period of months, I lost my apartment, my girlfriend, my career, and my remaining self-esteem. With the help of counseling and medication, I picked up what pieces I could and re-enrolled in Community College, this time in a design program. However, as a result of the grad school disaster, I am left with my share of emotional scars, one of which is anxiety about being out and around people. It may not make any logical sense, but there are days when I can get ready to go to school, put on my jacket, get my keys, and then find myself sitting on my bed unable to move. This happened to me on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Sunday, I had to work.

So, in class this Monday morning, I find out that the major design project that I believed was due next week is actually due this Wednesday. I am way behind on it. If I had found the emotional fortitude to go school on those three days the previous week, I would still be slightly behind, but I would be in much better shape.

Also, in a discussion of due dates for the remaining weeks of winter term, the instructor asked how many people had their own copies of the software we use in the course, software that costs hundreds of dollars by the way. Everyone--except me--raised their hand. This means that the other students can work on their stuff at home without being required to drive into campus, an hour away from home for me, and can work without having to worry about when the computer lab opens or closes. (The hours for the lab are pretty restricted for a College in my opinion.)

Suddenly realizing this morning that I was imminently facing a poor grade, or a zero, for this major project was depressing. So depressing in fact, that after class I drove the hour it takes to get home, turned off all of the lights in my room, closed the blinds and went to bed and slept for four hours in the middle of the day. When I awoke, I drove back to school and skipped my evening class so I could spend until 9:00 p.m. in computer lab working on the project. At 9:00 p.m., the lab closed.

Desperate, I called my sister and asked her if she could give me the number for the library at her University, which she did. When I called, I found out that it was possible for me to use their computers as a "community member," but only for a limited time, two hours a shot at most. My best option, I realized, was to go home and try to do as much on this project as I could offline. On a hunch that only comes to those who are truly panicked, I discovered that I can download a 30-day trial of the software I need, something I am in the process of doing now. I've spent three hours downloading it so far, and it will probably take a few more hours. The trial software is not going to help me tonight, but it is possible that it will help tomorrow night if I am still not done by then.

It is not at all certain that I will be able to finish this major project in time. Tonight, I was in the lab until it closed, and early Tuesday morning, I will be back again to work all day. And, I am still depressed, but not as much as before.

05 November 2007
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