What Are The Odds?

I take a test today but I’m up before the sun and the birds this morning studying, cramming more into my brain and actually laughing my um off.

Um, “I hate statistics.” Um, “If I study for that long with that much focus, I’ll surely lose the data. Focus overload brought on by stress.” That’s the conclusion you draw when you’re mapping a course through a territory foreign. You cringe and fret but parts of you are surprised at how the hours melt away and not one ounce of you complained. Okay, the um part of me did.

I ran in the direction of what I previously hated (ignorantly) and found that I waken on the morning of a test with quartiles dancing through my head and images of data sets and bell curves, skewness and histograms, yawning and saying out loud “a quartile is…the class width is determined by….empirical rule states that 68% of the data…” and I realize something. It’s pouring out of my brain and onto a conscious screen in my own words with images depicting their meaning. I’m humming with that energy inevitable. The stuff of jiving enjoyment. I mean, more specifically, the supremely best kind of energy without having sex (the best sex, of course). I like it this much? I don’t think we could’ve predicted this. This is one of those random acts of good energy it seems.

I’m the relationship, psychology, human behavior, spiritual, history and language woman, right?

It turns out there may be more to me than even that.

But we can pretty much guarantee that 68% of the data lies within 1 standard deviation of the mean, when working with symmetric distribution. Of course. And symmetry is great stuff.

Barring any pesky outliers (or ants stalking – Scorpio’s minor prediction for the week already fulfilled), I predict I’ll keep loving statistics since it makes my brain sing. And it probably won’t make a difference if I get a good grade on the first test or not. I’m enjoying it too much to stress.

But a nap is inevitable.

The Week in Rear View, Rather?

By Friday evening, I felt like I’d rather just show my ass to the world than be nice. I don’t mean literally, of course. Overall, this was not the week of transcendence. I rather think it good. Rather.

I found courage. I went ahead. I got’er done. I. I. I.

But pissy was the word for me all week and I could not blame the cycles of nature. (I don’t do that anyway.) I was pissy with a smile and a snarl under the surface. Why?

I don’t know exactly. Some of it is sheer frustration. I am 2 months away from 42. I am being asked to do some things that I have mastered already. And some things I have not. And you put it all in a pot and turn up the heat and blamo. Put the learning curve in there and my nice settled routines are gone to hell in that handbasket I thought was so pretty! By Friday evening I was flattened. And my kids were gone with their father. And the 22 year mark of my first and only marriage came and went on a Saturday silent and without relent. Ah. Ha.

Mayhaps that is the piss of it? No. That’s not all. It’s that things are not finalized yet due to financial lah tee and dah. But still, even that is not all. I was re-visited by a painful scenario I felt I had finally managed to transform enough never to attract again! Ha! and Ah!

But I am still kicking. And I am still grinning. Just don’t get too close, you may hear me snarl and decide I’m not someone to cuddle just yet. I have moments of appreciation and gratefulness and all that good stuff we all want to hear to keep us feeling we’re growing and “perfect” and.

Trance' n' Dents
Smile? Heck no.

And I just felt pissy with occasional waves of blissful wonder (it’s a wonder, truly). Anyone going under the speed limit got to experience the crispness of my moves oh baby oh in my snappy little 14 year old car. Get OUT of my way.

Ah but I am love…

a pissy love this week. And it’s true…all of it…all…at…once. And I’ve gotten AHEAD on my homework while Statistics is mocking my love of it. Mocking me to shame. It’s like learning a language you never get to hear enough. And you love it but it laughs at you when you do so well in class and then sit with the book and die.

This is my evening to whine. Now, I’m done.

Week Two – A Review and Barefoot Worldview

Life tossed me more obvious challenges with my feet this past week, turned up the heat on my efforts to retain the influences of each class and spit me out into a weekend of reflection. My kids and their demands for help with homework, organization of their schedules and the matchless value of connection time reminded me of how easy it is to lose track of vital threads.

My first essay for Critical Thinking is asking me to clarify my worldview. This would not be the first or even the third time I have done so. But it has the feel of solidity hard won, of confidence still cooling after the fires of struggle and an awareness of life’s propensity for tossing more challenge my way. I thought of posting it as a page on my blog, went to do so and realized there were some major threads left out in my rush to get on with the rest of my homework.

A worldview unfolds a rich tapestry of life’s vicissitudes of prosperity and loss on so many levels. When tailored around carefully constructed inquiries, it challenges a life to see clearly and to define a personal foundation of meaning. It’s great stuff.

But in the meantime, my lawn languishes, feet not ready to add the strain of pushing uphill with a Reel mower while still adjusting to carrying a heavy bookbag on my back across long stretches of parking lot. I remind myself that some front lawns suggest so very much but tell precious little. I tell my mind to shut up and let go of the fear of parents’ wrong conclusions when they drop their kids off to walk with my daughter to school.

It is, after all, a minor thing and rains have been rare, turning lawn into desert patches. But I have often worried far too much about what people think of me, how I am perceived. It’s a chance to let go of vanity on deeper levels while promising myself that my worthwhile longing for an attractive yard and home will find fulfillment. It’s a timely venture since vanity gets to go flying out the window when you’re stumbling for good expression in front of a whole class. Not that I’ve had what would even qualify as bad moments but the experience of putting myself out there is a wonderfully liberating work. And it underlines how much richness I have at my disposal, that I do identify with the basic struggles of humanity because of the path my life has traversed.

I’d say this week has done at least one thing for me. It has stripped me of more extras, of those layers that I was unaware of wearing as defense against what turns out to simply be…life. I’m looking around for those tidal pools in my soul, the ones that invite me to kick off my shoes, shed any pretense or defense and just flow …

Barefoot Beckonings
Barefoot Beckonings

Looking Back On Week One (And Brain Drool?)

The sum of it: I’m not who I was in 1986. I suppose that’s a no-brainer but the difference (besides the obvious physical!) is epic. In 1986, I dropped my philosophy class because I knew it would cause me to walk out of Christianity. I sat there listening to the professor dissect his outline for the course and my leg started bobbing up and down in auto-flex rapid-fire impatience and anxiety. No way. Get me out NOW. You know what you’re ready for, it seems. I wasn’t ready to change that part of me yet. I had some things to heal first. And Christianity provided the atmosphere to begin that depth healing work, believe it or not.

I couldn’t be more delighted with what I’ve experienced this week all things considered. My feet are the one big drawback. When I fell down the stairs in July, the pain was surreal but then I had wisdom tooth extraction and that pain was considerable enough to cause me to give in and take the meds. Those meds (narcs!) put me in the denial zone about my feet. I had no idea, basically. Now that all meds are gone, my feet are screaming their protest of everything from high heels to lawn care. By the end of Thursday, I was limping. I love to wear heels. I hadn’t. And I won’t for a long time. But that’s trivial enough, except when the backpack gets extra heavy and the half a mile trek to class with hairline fractures looms. The college is experiencing record enrollment this year. I have to get to school over an hour before my first classes of each day. I’m not complaining. Homework and pointillism time abound.

Here’s the biggest shock of the week. I love this class and was sure I’d loathe it:

Elementary STATISTICS!!!
Elementary STATISTICS!!!
My brain drools, if that’s possible, when I sit and listen and take notes in my statistics class. Then there’s lab. 2 hours. I was sure I’d drop it. So far, I’ve no desire to do that. In fact, it’s great. Go figure. I’m getting to know this Ruth. She’s full of surprises.

The biggest delight for me is the discovery that re-introducing myself to college at the age of almost 42 is wonderful. I have hands to grasp the material and the import of it all. The ease with complete strangers is another fun change. I was terribly shy 22 years ago. Now I have fun taking potshots at the public speaking prof as he says to me “back when WE were kids…” “WE?! Our childhood?! Now wait a minute…” He’s one of the “old” ones.

Then there’s the need for reading glasses far too big for even my big nose. That’s a change I’m not heralding with appreciation today anyway. I had no idea how ridiculous they looked since the store mirrors were smaller than a rearview mirror.

Foster Grant Ain't What it Was!
Foster Grant Ain't What it Was!
I’m especially pleased to discover so many women and men fresh from the fields of their own decades of life experience, encouragement coming at me from every direction. It is a little strange to be older than 3 of the 5 professors who have had life paths vastly different from  my own. But one gentleman, not my professor, kindly bolstered me as we both waited for the elevator. His grey beard seemed to explain the need to avoid the stairs and I felt a bit out of place. But to hear him share about his path to teaching, to watch him balk at my age (it’s official. i look much younger than i am. thanks mom!) and then bend over backwards to encourage, sharing his own story, was well worth the frustration of temporary disability.
Each one of my classes insists on participation. I’ve a great big chance to get rid of any lingering effects of my former identity as the quiet kid in the cubicle or corner with her nose in a book. I might just pull this off. Especially since I get to retreat to study and hug my kids.