#585 – Luck, Both Good and Bad

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First, let’s get the bad luck out of the way, because it’s not that much fun to talk about. I had an algebra test last Thursday and I did abysmally on it. Like, might have dropped my average two whole grades bad. I still don’t have a score, but it will not be high. I also did not, on purpose, turn in a homework assignment today. I’ve had this assignment for about a month and like an idiot I waited until the last minute to try and get it done, and doing that drastically affected my test score. Based on that, I opted to cut my losses and start in on the semester’s fourth homework assignment, to be sure I’m doing the work pretty much as we cover the material in class.

That botched test is 21% of my final grade, as are all four tests for the semester, for a total of 84%. We’ll drop the lowest two quiz scores for the semester and average what’s left for 12% of my final grade. That means the four homework assignments will be averaged to give me the remaining 4% of my final grade, so in the broad scheme of things, taking a zero on today’s assignment won’t affect my final score that much.

There’s a backup plan for the poor performance on the test, too. There will be a comprehensive final exam given the last day of class, and that score, should it be higher than my lowest test score, will replace that score in the computation of my final grade. I received a 94 and a 95 on my first two tests, so the chances that my final grade will be better than what I turned in on Thursday is very high. I just need to spend some time in the learning lab between now and then to catch up on the concepts that I’m missing from the third test. Hopefully, that final will be good enough to get me back up to an A for the course.

Okay, on to the good news. We’re moving!

Those of you that regularly follow my blog know that the place that my wife and I live now is an older apartment on a boiler system, with pipes that regularly fail, leaving the complex without water for hours. The complex was built in 1983, so it’s seen better days.

While the condition of our current apartment is enough to warrant moving at the end of our current lease, the real impetus is to get me in-district for Austin Community College to drop the price of a three credit hour course from over a thousand dollars to below three hundred.

On Saturday we looked at one apartment and fell in love with it, so much so that we asked for an application on the spot and dropped it and the deposit off yesterday. Late yesterday afternoon we received word that we were approved for the unit, but that a move-in date would be dependent on when the apartment would be ready. Today we got that confirmed, and we’ll be picking up the keys on Friday, January 26.

But here’s the really cool part of this. The new complex was built in 2008, and is currently undergoing renovations. The unit that we’re getting is not currently renovated, but will be so before the move-in, making us the first occupants of the newly renovated unit.

The new place is on the first floor, a very welcome change from the second floor apartment we’re currently in. My wife has chronic back pain and the stairs have been aggravating that for years. There are at least a couple of handicapped spots right by the walkway our front door is in, in case she needs it after a rough day.

The complex is extremely nice. It’s a gated community, and there’s a 24-hour fitness center, a gorgeous pool, a rec center with TVs and a pool table and even a Starbucks-branded coffee bar, a cyber cafe, a dog park, and a gift wrap station. It’s nestled in a quiet community that’s close to everything – the closest H-E-B (that’s the local grocery store chain here in central Texas, and it’s hands down the best store we’ve ever had) is within walking distance and doesn’t require even getting on a main road, and there’s a medical center right beside that. If I could get in there after I get my degree, it would be amazing to be that close to work. The apartment is less than five minutes away from the ACC campus my degree program is taught at.

We knew we were going to have to downsize when we started looking, so the move from a two bedroom, two bath unit to a one bedroom, one bath was expected. That’s pretty much the downside to the place. There are hardwood floors everywhere but the bedroom, a washer and dryer included in a laundry room large enough to hold both the washer and dryer and our small chest freezer, a garden tub, a security system, ceiling fans in the living room and dining room, a sizable patio with additional storage off of that, a good size coat closet, a nicely sized walk-in closet off the bedroom, and built-in shelves between the bedroom and bathroom, plus valet garbage service. And then there’s the kitchen.

The renovated kitchen will have all-new granite counter-tops, an all-new tile back-splash, all-new stainless steel appliances (including a full-size refrigerator, a built-in microwave, a glass-top stove for easy cleaning, and a fantastic dishwasher) a pretty big pantry, and a new sink with garbage disposal and fixtures including a retractable hose. It is the largest kitchen I have ever seen outside of a single-family home.

We’re also taking advantage of a move-in special that cuts our application costs somewhat and shaves our first three full months of rent in half. So really, the only two downsides that I can think of are that we’re moving to a 1/1, and that the kitchen sink isn’t double-sided. That’s it. Everything else in the place is a plus.

We got so lucky with this place.

We’re already trying to determine what’s going where, and what we need to get for the new place, and starting to think about what needs to go to our off-site storage facility.

There is one more downside that I can think of, but it would be a downside regardless of where we moved to – this move is taking place the second weekend of the spring semester. My ability to help with the move is entirely dependent on what my course load is going to be like at that time. That can’t be helped, though, so we’re going to have to be extra nice to the folks that come help us with the move.

We’re both so excited about this move, and I’ll keep you posted on how things are going.

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#581 – From One Extreme to the Other

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On Monday I wrote about being late for class because of construction along my usual route, and about how I was planning on leaving a little earlier than usual tonight to make up for it. Well, it’s been a cold, rainy day here in Austin and so I bumped up my departure time a few more minutes because of the weather.

Class starts at 6:00. I pulled into my parking space at straight up 5:00.

Somewhere in there is a sweet spot for me to arrive early enough to catch my breath from the walk before class, without waiting for the better part of an hour to do so. I aim to find it soon.

Classes went well today. I learned quite a bit in both classes, and the rest of my day was pretty good also.

#579 – May You Live In Interesting Times

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And boy, was today interesting.

Algebra class went off without a hitch, although it was a close thing – I used the last sheet of notebook paper I had taking my final notes, so once class was over I had to go buy another pack. While I was at Office Depot I perused laptops for school and got some fairly good information on a few. And then I headed home.

The afternoon passed fairly quickly and I went to go pick my wife up from work. We came home, ate a dinner that we’d cooked yesterday, and then I headed off to biology, giving myself my usual hour to get there and get settled before class. I always arrive 15-20 minutes early to avoid being rushed.

And that’s when things started going off the rails.

I take back roads to get to campus, rather than chance getting caught in interstate traffic and being late. If there’s traffic – and there always is – it’s usually pretty consistent. Not today. Today started a construction project on my usual route, and for over a mile five lanes were reduced to two, one in each direction. The backup was horrendous, but despite this I managed to get to campus and park pretty much as class was starting, so if I missed anything it wouldn’t be much.

Come to find out, when I walked into the classroom my instructor was sharing the last touches of a recipe for some Italian dish he’d made over the weekend, and I didn’t miss a thing.

So class went as class usually does, and as I was pulling out of the parking lot I noticed a familiar and unwelcome sensation – my blood sugar was crashing, and I didn’t have a thing with me to counter it. I called my wife to tell her I was stopping to get something in my system, and she stayed on the phone with me as I picked up something to immediately counter the crash and something else to smooth things out in the longer-term. I stayed in the parking lot and ate and waited until I felt the crash subside then drove home, talking with my wife the whole way.

Once home, we queued up our newest movie purchase – Wonder Woman – and enjoyed an impromptu movie night to close out the day.

All in all, not a bad day, just full of little things to make life interesting. Sometimes those are the best days.

#575 – Registration and Revelation

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Today’s big story is that I completed my registration for spring classes, and I have a monster of a semester ahead of me. I’m taking anatomy & physiology I, applied physics, composition I, and effective learning, a skills class that Austin Community College requires all students to take prior to the end of the first semester of their degree program. That’s 14 credit hours, but that’s not the brutal part.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’ve got composition in the mornings and effective learning in the afternoons, finishing up my school day at 4:20. The trick is that I’ll need to leave and go straight to my wife’s office to pick her up – she gets off at 4:00 and will have been waiting for close to an hour by the time I can get there.

Mondays and Wednesdays are going to be the test of my ability as a student. Anatomy & physiology starts at 12:00, and applied physics starts at 3:00. Both classes have lecture and labs, so from noon to 5:50 I’ll have only three ten minute breaks.

The real trick is trying to figure out how to manage my time to handle that kind of a workload. The recommendation is that I spend about 40 hours a week outside of the classroom studying, and that means that a lot of things will have to be put on hold for the four months I’ll be working that schedule. I think this is going to be the most difficult semester I’m going to have throughout my degree program, and certainly will be the heaviest courseload.

I went to meet with Student Accessibility Services to arrange registration for my final class today and was told that in the 15 years that she’s sent students to take the A&P entrance exam that I took and passed on Tuesday, I’m only the second one that she’s aware of that passed that exam on their first try. I’m rather surprised at that – I thought the entrance exam was a little easier than my biology midterm, and certainly more straightforward.

Tomorrow I have no obligations, other than to work on homework, and I cannot wait to kinda stick to home. It’s been another busy week.

#573 – Double Celebration

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Today is mine and my wife’s fifteenth wedding anniversary.

We arrived at the date pretty easily. I asked her, while we were in the beginning stages of planning what was supposed to be a trip to the justice of the peace, what I could give her as a wedding present. She told me that she’d always wanted to get married on Halloween, ever since she was a little girl. I didn’t even think about it. “Done,” I said immediately. And that’s how we arrived at our wedding date.

We’re each other’s rebound relationships, hers from an unhappy first marriage and mine from the worst girlfriend I’d ever had. Neither one of us thought we were going to last, and I don’t think either of us intended for it to at first. We were both sort of licking our wounds and we were helping one another heal.

We’ve never stopped healing one another.

She is very literally the best thing that ever happened to me. She is my inspiration for wanting to fight so hard to be better and to improve myself, something I’ve spent a long time striving for and only now am I able to make some concrete moves to better our situation. She is my cheerleader, my confidant, my partner in crime. She understands me better than I understand myself most of the time and no one has ever known me better, not even my parents.

I’m very lucky to have her.

Happy anniversary, babydoll. More than there are stars.


So yesterday I told you that I was planning on spending the day studying for an anatomy & physiology entrance exam that I intended to take on Wednesday following algebra. I studied for a while and then had a dentist’s appointment, and on the way home got a wild hair to go take the exam today while I had time. So I did.

There were fifty questions on the exam, covering a wide range of topics. Passing is 70 percent.

I missed ten questions. Good for an 80. Passing.

What this means is that in a few days, hopefully as early as tomorrow, the automatic hold my college places on registration for anatomy & physiology I will be manually lifted, and I can add it to my courseload for spring.

Thanks to the anniversary and the passing score, what was initially plans for a quiet, simple dinner at home morphed into a very special night out at the local Brazilian steakhouse. We had a magnificent meal and a lovely dessert and came back home to watch our traditional Halloween movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas, just her Jack and my Sally on the couch together.

It’s been a glorious day worthy of celebration.

#572 – Shifting Gears

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A few days ago, I was spending about a week concentrating on nothing but algebra, trying to get ready for a test and to finish a homework assignment. Last night, things shifted towards preparation for my biology midterm this evening. I was prepared to have to cram for this midterm – I’d been studying along, but a lot of the details weren’t fresh on my mind, and so I wanted to try and rectify that before the exam.

And then today happened.

I started this morning out early. On school days, I drive my wife to work and then usually head back home for about 40-45 minutes before driving part of the way back to my wife’s office to go to algebra class. Today, however, I needed to get to school and talk with Student Accessibility Services regarding spring registration with accommodating instructors. This morning was a walk-in day for SAS, and I knew I needed to be there early to have the best shot of being seen in the hour I would have between the time they opened and my algebra class. So rather than head home, I just stopped off at school, waited until 7:30 for the doors to open, then headed in to stake out my spot in line.

I shouldn’t have worried, however. I was the only one there for some time. The problem with my plan started when 8:00 came and went, and no one was opening the SAS office. Around 8:20 or so a guy came by, asked if we (there were more of us now) were waiting for SAS, and then informed us that SAS staff has been delayed and they weren’t going to open until around 9:00 -= which is what time my algebra class started. I gave up at that point and went to class.

Class went well – I received my second test score back (got a 95!). Afterwards, I was walking to the car when I decided to take a chance on seeing SAS today rather than calling for an appointment later in the week, so I swung by and found that no one was waiting – I could be seen immediately. I wasn’t there too long, but I registered for three classes next semester.

But it’s the fourth class I needed to enroll in that threw a monkey wrench into things. The college won’t let anyone register for anatomy & physiology without first having successfully passed the AP entrance exam, which is what my biology class this semester is supposed to be preparing me to take. I thought about it and decided to throw caution to the wind and went next door to assessment to see if they gave that exam at that campus or if I needed to go to the campus my biology class meets at. They said they’d do it and in fact started the process of me taking it right then and there before I told them I’d need a day or two to prepare. Armed with that info, I went home and started studying for the midterm.

I admit I didn’t get in as much studying as I would have liked to have done, but before long it was time to head to class and face the music.

There were some questions on the exam that were trickily written, but I think I caught most of them, and did at least passably well. We’ll find out late this week or early next week how we did.

So that leaves me with tomorrow to study for my entrance exam, which is made up in part of stuff that we haven’t covered in class yet. I’m going to have to do my best to trust in the stuff that I already know, and bone up on the stuff I’m missing tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s going to be long, but productive. Looking forward to getting that entrance exam behind me.

Don’t Worry, Little Brother, There’s More

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I’m so tired right now I’ve tried three times now to write this blog post so it makes sense, so at this point I think I’m going to do something quick and dirty.

Today was another algebra day. That’s what I get for putting off a month-long homework assignment until the last week. Next assignment I won’t be doing that. I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve got a half-day’s worth of work to do tomorrow in between my algebra class in the morning and my biology class in the evening, plus I also need to be studying for a biology quiz tomorrow night. Then on Tuesday, I have a full day’s worth of homework to do to wrap up the assignment, as well as an algebra test on all this material at the Testing Center sometime before it closes Tuesday evening. Then Wednesday morning I turn in the homework. Going to be another busy week for me.

It makes me wonder if I can handle a full class load. Handling these two have been challenging enough, although I am doing quite well in both classes, so there’s that. I just hope that when I move from two classes this semester to four next semester I won’t get overly stressed about it. That’s one of the things my therapist and I have been working on together, preparing me for this level of stress and human interaction.

It still seems strange to me that at the beginning of 2017 I would barely leave the house for anything other than a mandatory trip to a doctor’s appointment. I would sometimes go out to eat on a slow night at a slow restaurant, or go see a movie I really, really wanted to see, but those occasions were uncommon. I never drove unless I had to, I usually had to be coaxed out of the apartment when I left it, and I was going out of my mind with boredom. But this year has been transformative. I can’t believe how far I’ve come in a relatively short period of time, and I have my excellent, excellent therapist and equally wonderful psychiatrist to thank for this. The therapy that I’ve been receiving for years worked up to a certain point, but things really started to click when I got on a more effective medication regimen earlier this year. The meds helped the therapy stick, and it’s been that way every since.

Whatever happens next semester, I’m sure I can handle it. Might be tough going, but I got this.

(Okay, that wasn’t so quick and dirty. Sorry for rambling, y’all.)