Math is done! Hurrah!
I kicked it’s ass! I didn’t just get an A, I got a 97.5% for the entire course kind of A. I don’t usually brag a lot about my grades, but the work and dedication I put into getting this grade has made me very proud of doing so well. Wow, what a way to begin going back to school. This has been an amazing summer for many reasons. Odd as it sounds, I’m going to let my last writing assignment for this class sum up my experiences of the last two months.
The only thing not mentioned in that essay is the amazing person Zain has been this summer and how instrumental he has been to my success. This didn’t seem like the sort of thing to put in my class essay, but it must be said. I would never have done this well, possibly not made it as far as the first exam even, were it not for Zain. His support of my efforts and unending belief that I was more capable than I could believe for myself, have helped me to achieve this marvelous feat. Thank you, Zain!
Last, though a little confusing, the only other women in my class this summer oddly enough are both named Jess. Each is pretty damn awesome and I’ve been a very lucky person to have a chance to get to know them inside and outside of the classroom. After our final test, we went out on the town and I had a night that left me feeling incredibly alive once more. I didn’t feel like someone who’d lost the last 13 years to illness, but instead I felt like someone who’d found the ability to live and play once more. We ate tasty Mexican food, drove around town picking up various things we needed from each of our homes, and ended the night with them playing guitars and me on a drum out in a park as the sun and moon both set while the stars came into being. We saw dozens of shooting stars and shared so much of our lives, it was a brilliant time.
On with the show! Hopefully I’ll have pictures I can put up here soon now that I’ve the time to work out some bugs that came up recently with my photo hosting.
Pre-Calculus: A journey of growth and numbers. (last essay for my class)
I’ve been looking forwards to this question and am happy it has been asked. What is the most significant thing that I learned in this course? I have been finding out who “Cat” is at this stage of my life and developing in marvelous ways.
When I began this class, I was a 37 year old returning student fresh out of a life of very long term disability. I’d disappeared over the last 13 years as my life was dramatically changed and terribly hard to gain back. I knew I was a strong woman or I’d not have been sitting in that classroom jumping into pre-calculus after having just finished a self taught course in intermediate algebra two weeks earlier, but it was a strength born of need. I had to be ready for calculus this fall semester at CSU in order to enter the mechanical engineering program next spring and I trusted in myself enough to reach well beyond my boundaries with this class and give it a try.
It was a whirlwind the first few weeks; frightening and many times I doubted myself and my abilities. Thankfully, though I may have lost many things during my long hiatus from life, I also gained many skills in return – such as the ability to persevere even when I feel completely overwhelmed at the task before me. The first unit test was a terribly nervous affair in which I was now faced with proving the knowledge I wasn’t really sure I was actually learning. It was also a completely new experience as the last time I was taking class tests I was a healthy woman in my early 20’s taking my tests with the rest of the class and being fueled by classroom competition. Instead I now had to learn how to overcome a great deal of anxiety and other symptoms caused by my disability and which threatened to leave my mind completely blank or make horrendously simple errors.
I honestly did not expect to achieve an A on my first test. I left feeling that I really hoped to see a B, but not even sure I had managed that much. However an A was a great surprise, almost like an echo from my past who always easily found such grades in math because it all came very naturally. This time I’ve had to work hard at my grades, but they feel much more like I’ve earned them rather than showing up and being handed a good grade.
I’ve grown considerably more confident in my abilities and my testing shows this. I am absolutely amazed at having once again earned a yet higher grade than my last test – I had thought I’d peaked with my 98% on unit 3. To sit here now and think of how I doubted my abilities at the beginning of the class, even considered the possibility of not passing the class – I just shake my head with a bemused smile on my face at the amazing ability of the mind to heal.
I feel ready for CSU this fall. I am now excited by the prospects before me and feel tremendously more confident that I will be able to walk this new path of an engineering student. Thank you.
I also must thank the two Jess’s and the time I’ve spent with them. I certainly would not have met them in other settings and they have also played a part in my personal growth this summer. Combined, they are less than a year older than I am – yet they’ve helped me to shake off some of the more stoic traits I had to learn while dealing with the depths of my disability and find again the young woman I once was.
In the younger (blue haired) Jess, I found a vibrant spirit filled with much of the innocence of her age and a wonder at just starting to explore the adult world around her. Her zest and ways of looking at things are marvelous. In the somewhat older Jess, I’ve been completely surprised at finding a kindred spirit and the friend I’ve needed for many years. Our friendship has been transforming my life back into a place of beauty instead of the stark realities I’d been living in for so many years of hardship.
In every way possible, I have grown into more of the person I truly am instead of who I had been forced to become by circumstance. This class has been a wonderful experience for me. I am incredibly grateful for the spark of fate that came to me while napping just four days prior to the first day of instruction and left with me the thought that I must look up pre-calculus at FRCC and ignore the cost of non-resident tuition because some things are more important than money.
Summer school has been crazy paced. I am keeping on top of things, mostly, and feel fairly good about our first test tomorrow. Quizzes have gone well and homework is challenging at times, but with the help of the math center’s tutors, everything is being completed.
Scuba is going well too. It was a major challenge to overcome the smell of the chlorine at the pool – to feel safe in a place that a person with MCS would be afraid to go. However, last Wednesday night I put on all the scuba gear and happily swam underwater in the pool for a couple of hours.
Thursday morning saw me getting hugely sick, I’m ok now, but I actually had to go to the emergency room for IV fluids and antinausea medication. After several doses of meds, I was good to go home where I then slept the next 22 hours away. Needless to say, I missed math class that day.
What a weird week.
Yesterday saw me in a study group with a girl from class, Jess, who’s a surprising 17 years old. I couldn’t help but be curious about the coincidence in life to bring us together. She began college at 16 – as did I. When I was 17, I met up with a study buddy who became a friend who was older than me and married – as I am now. Its like I am looking back at time and now participating on the other side of an experience I had twenty years ago! Heck, when I was having this experience, Jess wasn’t even alive yet. Wild!
Then today was I driving to an appointment that’s a little outside of town. It’s a little more wild there, fields on one side of the two lane road, houses on the other. I do this drive twice a week and its very common to see small roadkill because of the traffic and proximity to the fields. As I was driving behind someone and seeing traffic coming my way, I spotted what looked like a very recently killed bunny in the road. It was only a few inches to the side of the center line. When I drew nearly abreast of it, I was looking at it some more because it seemed a little too upright for roadkill.
Wait! That rabbit is alive!
I didn’t have to give it much thought. Immediately I pulled over to the side of the road and went back, hoping it wasn’t going to jump into a passing car’s way because of my presence. Thankfully, the poor rabbit was completely petrified with fear and I was able to easily pick it up and hold it to my chest.
After a little searching nearby, I found a very nice spot to leave the rabbit about 50 feet or so from the road. He’s right next to some tall grass, under a shady tree, with a small pond about ten feet away. Lovely little spot. I set him down and he fell over, stiff with fear. One thing my time in those woods taught me though, is that the rabbit will be ok. The best thing I could do at that point was to leave and trust that in five or ten minutes he’d snap out of it and hop away.
As I neared the road again to cross back to my car, a large dump truck came barreling down the street. A truck that size wouldn’t have swerved or stopped for a bunny in the road. Without a doubt, I save that little guy’s life by just a few minutes.
Life is weird and then it gets weirder. This week looks to be keeping that trend. Still… at least I have this bright new memory of holding the little body in my arms and keeping him safe until I could find a good spot for him to stay while recovering.
Two years ago, a little Winter Wren started frequenting our camp. We often see them in the bushes in the woods, flitting from one spot to the next without ever a having a care for the giant who stands watching them. They are so small, other than hummingbirds they are one of the smallest birds we have locally. Yet they are also the bravest. As though they trust themselves and their own abilities to escape danger much more than the larger, often times more clumsy, sparrows and juncos.
The wee one who became our regular visitor during winter a couple years ago was a small bit of joy every day. It did not matter what we were doing, when he came around we would pause life for a moment while we watched his beauty.
He moved on during that next summer as bugs became more plentiful and easy to find. We briefly saw him again in the fall but then he disappeared one day. We would allow the spiders to make homes in the corners knowing the wren would find them a tasty snack. But eventually, we had to start clearing them out ourselves and accept that our friend was not coming back. This made us sad because of how easily it could mean he was no longer alive. Old age, a predator, starvation, or the elements could all have taken such a small being.
Now and then we would see a wren in camp and always wonder if he had found his way back to us, but when the little bird would only briefly stay and look in the obvious places for bugs, we knew it was just another traveler passing through. Time passed and we stopped looking.
A couple days ago another wren came through camp. It did not stay long before flying away. Then we saw it again later that same day. This was new; they don’t usually come back twice, not since our wee friend left. Then there were two of them at the same time, both looking for bugs and double checking where each had just been, that a morsel was not left behind.
You learn personalities of birds when near them enough. Based on this, I can say that the second one has not come back through having only found the remains of the first one’s feasts. But the first wee wren we saw that day has been back many times since.
He visits at least twice each day, hopping around and eying every surface under our tarp for prey. At times we are treated to some amazing acrobatics as he snatches a bite to eat. Jeremy’s monitor is beside an open window in our tent and our bird has found this to be a good resting spot for spying around inside. Never any fear from him, you can see this when he looks right at you from atop the monitor.
As with our first wren, this one also is learning all the spots bugs hide that the other, less curious wrens always miss. I love watching him hop around on the outside of the tent, his antics when he spots something but it turns out to be on the opposite side of some screening and out of his reach. Sometimes his little feet will make small scratching noises on the nylon walls as he scales the side seams of the tent. A quizzical look will appear on his face at times, as he peers around looking for his dinner. You can almost see his thoughts… “If I were a spider, where would I hide?”
I do not think this is the same Winter Wren we had two years ago, but I am very quickly finding myself growing fond of the newcomer to our home. I am looking forward to my wee friend’s visit today and the bit of peace he brings. That ability to take me out from my own world and step into his much more simplistic life for a few minutes.
I had a wonderful birthday yesterday. It was a very relaxing day. Here are the things that made yesterday one of the best birthdays I have ever had:
Perfectly blue skies and sunshine.
A quiet hour spent at my spirit rock, contemplating the remarkable changes taking place in me in recent months.
Time spent with my sweetheart, not doing much of importance but simply enjoying each other’s company throughout the day.
Organic chocolate truffles arriving by UPS just in time for dessert.
An amazing amount of birthday greetings from equally amazing people all over the world. Thank you to everyone who wrote to me yesterday, it was spectacular in its awesomeness. hehe
A very enjoyable time spent day dreaming with a friend of possible futures in store for us, sandy beaches, coffee shops, and remembering that in daydreams there are no earthly limits to what you can do or where you can go. First round of tequila sunrises are on me when the dreams meet reality.
A good night’s rest at the end of a beautiful day.