It’s been a few weeks since I’ve updated my life begins at 48 blog; a few eventful weeks to be sure. I originally intended to update the blog every week, but I quickly realized something. Sharing hopes and dreams and plans in such a public way is easy when the subject matter is introductory. My life’s an open book for the parts that are fun to share. But the past few weeks held more downs than ups for us. I tried putting together a post describing a recent letdown, but I found myself struggling for the right words. I wrote an entire post that would have made Eeyore look like Pollyanna. Thankfully I deleted it.
I do want to write about those downs. I just need to figure out how to do it well. But I’m glad to be on this side of these past few weeks because now I’m focusing on one of my favorite… hmmm, ya know? It’s actually my favorite part of life begins at 48 – college. Adelante!
In 1994 I graduated high school certain I’d never find a reason to look at the inside of another classroom. Needless to say I ended up taking whatever jobs I could find, because walking away from high school with absolutely zero plans for the future (other than that I thought I was gonna be a rock star) doesn’t often lead to a rewarding career. I was fortunate, however. As the years rolled by, one job led to another, better job, and so on. Ultimately, I landed the amazing job I have now.
Anywho I never got that sheepskin that so many teachers and guidance counselors enjoined me to go to college for. A lawyer? Seriously? I’m a punk-rock rock star who has no use for school. Next you’re gonna tell me I’ll be a cop someday! Gimme a break… Yeah, so anyway now I’m a cop who wants a second career as a lawyer, and I need a college degree. See how that works? #life… who knew.
In 2012 I took my Accuplacer test and matriculated at Ocean County College. In the fall semester of that same year I embarked on my first ever college course. It was an online English Composition course. I posted this picture on Facebook as the very first grade I got on anything college. I think it was like a quiz on how to use the college’s online system or something. I don’t care… a hundred’s a hundred, and I was damn proud.
For the next two years I took one class per semester, all online. I learned about History, Philosophy, Sociology, and Criminology. I learned how to read more critically, write critically, think critically, how to research, how to cite sources, how to make a sound argument. I learned how to appeal incorrectly keyed answers to tests and used my newly forming critical writing skills to do so. I took my education oh so seriously and worked hard to earn an A on every single project and assignment. I loved every minute of it. It wasn’t only the good grades that were rewarding. The knowledge and insight gained from a formal education is a thing in itself (Kant fans, say it with me, “noumenon”). Needless to say, I am now a yuuuge fan of formal education, even though I still fancy myself a punk rocker, at least in some residual form anyway.
The magic really started to happen for me in the fall of 2015. I eschewed the online option to get into a classroom and get some real-time experience as a college student. I signed up for Public Speaking (after all, who takes a Public Speaking class online?). All the younglings were intrigued by the old guy who came to class dressed to impress, studiously sitting up in his seat, offering full attention to every syllable issued from the professor’s lips. After that I was sold on the in-class version of college. No more on-line courses for this A student. One girl in that class called me a “try-hard.” Damn right I’m trying hard. She’s a good kid; not doing so bad herself either. But I do try hard, and I’ve been rewarded for my efforts. This is me heading out the door to the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society induction ceremony at the end of that fall semester.
My Lucy already knew I wanted to do the whole lawyer thing, so she saw that there was an ultimate purpose to my college career, beyond, of course, a simple lust for knowledge. But I was enjoying college so much that I wanted to take on a more aggressive schedule. I wanted to try for three classes in the spring semester. Three classes per semester wasn’t going to go easy with her though.
Shift work makes life hard enough on the spouse of a cop. I work during the afternoon, so I miss most dinners, helping with homework, driving kids to practices, and general evening family time. It was going to take some salesmanship on my part if I wanted to take three classes. I laid out my ambitious idea at what seemed to be the most advantageous time to strike (timing is everything with her). The argument was sound. She agreed to it. Three classes it was! The spring semester of 2016 was completely amazing. The inside of the classroom was exactly what this punk-rocker-cop-wannabe-lawyer needed. Below is a picture of what was my (almost final) grade in my PoliSci class. I was told not to bother showing up for the final exam.
Ultimately, the timing of the thing had to be examined.One class per semester is manageable. Three classes in a semester while juggling the rest of life… not so much. I realized that with the one-class-per-semester pace, graduation would come sometime around the spring of 2076, and at a hundred years old I didn’t think I’d be able to walk in the commencement ceremony. So I began re-evaluating my road map, and the seedlings of Life Begins at 48 were planted. In addition to PoliSci, the other two classes I took that semester were Intercultural Communication and English Literature. Le sigh… such great subjects; such great teachers. As I say… amazing.
So that brings us to today. As I had mentioned in my previous post I was studying for a promotional exam at work, and because it’s a tough exam and the competition is fierce, I didn’t take any classes for the fall semester. Honestly, I missed it. I am very excited to get back into the classroom. I’ll be taking three classes this semester again. Seriously, if I want to earn my baccalaureate in eight years I gotta get on it.
One of the greatest rewards of this plan-in-action is the example we’re setting for our kids. They watch; they learn. They learn so much more from what they see their parents do, and how their parents act, than all of the half-hour long lectures combined. Some of you have shared your thoughts on this whole shebang regarding how it could affect our kids, lending encouraging advice to not miss those precious moments with our young children, and to heed their lives, and their dreams, and their hopes, and their aspirations. Indeed. My answer? I couldn’t think of a more powerful way to inspire them to reach, reach, reach, and never stop reaching; to make decisions now that will affect their lives eight years from now. It’s never too late to dream and strive to make those dreams reality. Get it!
Soon (maybe next post) I plan on interviewing my son and posting that interview. I plan on doing the same for my daughter, and also for my Lucy. Stay tuned for the interview with her – that should be enlightening for not only y’all, but for me as well.
So for now it’s nose-to-the-grinding-wheel to get this college education I need in order to apply to law school. I love daydreaming about living in the city. I love going to school. I love browsing closet-size apartments in the Upper West Side on the interwebs. There is a lot of fun and good stuff to share here. But there are also a lot of hurdles and obstacles that could indeed shut this whole thing down. I aim to be candid in this blog, even with the downsides of Life Begins at 48. But for now I’m focusing on the positive and keeping my eyes on the goal.
Here she is… she knows me, and she always has my back. There are so many things I absolutely adore about her, but that is my favorite. And when I’ve got a gal like that in my corner, I feel like I can conquer the world, ups and downs, wife, kids, college and all.