"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Golden Age

I am all but finished with the Lady and the River art quilt and have posted a ton of photos on Quilting Along the Ley Lines.  I've pinned on the binding, machine stitched it to the front and just need to hand stitch it down on the back.  I may want to to do some more tinkering with the tree trunk and also need to stitch on the belt a little but it is pretty much there, otherwise.  Here are a few photos:
Been a busy few weeks.  Husband was out of town for over a week (he's gone, again) and while he was gone, I was up to no good.  I'd wanted to take a drawing class over at the nearby community college, last spring, but was sick with poison ivy and the deadline came and went.  At the last minute for the fall semester, I decided to sign up for the class at the community college around the corner.  By that time, all the drawing classes were filled up but I signed up for a half day a week painting class, instead.  I figured someone would drop out of the drawing class the first week and, sure enough, they did, so I enrolled in that one, too.  So now, I don't have a job but I guess I am a student.  Husband took it with good grace. Have I mentioned that he thinks art is ridiculous?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor.  Life got in the way and, instead, I ended up finishing high school a year early because I was married and 7 months pregnant (my Catholic high school could take the pregnancy but being married was just too much).  Wanting to be a doctor came in handy because I had taken many hard classes and only had a few easy ones to take in order to graduate early.

Before we got married, my husband-to-be and I had a plan.  He was nearly 6 years older than me and had dropped out of college.  Our plan was that he would go back to college and finish up his degree (it would take 2 - 3 years).  After that, I would go back to college.  I figured by the time we were thirtiesh, we'd have caught up and overcome most of our foolishness in having kids so young. 

Anyone with a grey hair or two could have told me that the odds were against that working.  My husband worked hard for low wages but didn't really want to go back to college.  For years, I actually thought he was going to follow through but he made this excuse and that excuse.  Finally, my grandfather offered to subsidize his education and that brought the matter to a head - he just didn't want to do it. 

It was hard for me to understand because I had been positively yearning to go to college for years and was patiently waiting my turn.  The life we had planned wasn't going to happen.  We were broke, we could barely manage our responsibilities and at that point, it dawned on me that this wasn't a phase in our life.  It was a lifestyle that really didn't have an end in sight.  And I confess, I felt betrayed.  That was hard to work though.  It took me a long time to understand that it was less a deliberate betrayal than just a poor match.  He could no more be what I wanted than I could be what he wanted.  But I just kept trying to cram a square peg in a round hole. 

If I had been older, I would have seen that "our" plan was really just "my" plan and that my husband was giving it lip service to please me.  Anyone with an ounce of common sense would have been able to predict how this was going to play.  In fact, my grandmother had warned me of this very thing but I simply ignored her.  I was young, in love and still pretty much took people at their word.  Plus, I wanted to believe that we both had the same goals.

So there I sat with no education, no job skills, a difficult marriage and three babies.  I had some decisions to make and difficult choices. 

First Husband had mixed feelings about my going to college.  It took time and money away from the family, it reminded him that he had abandoned our plan, it was something that he didn't really have much interest in, and I think he was worried that it was indicative of a widening gulf between us.  On the other hand, he wanted to support my decision, which I appreciated.  So I enrolled at the Junior College - the same one where I just signed up for art classes. 

I will never forget how I felt when I drove into the parking lot for my first morning of classes.  I was worried I was too old to keep up or too out of practice (I was 23!).  My books were expensive and I felt guilty about spending the money.  I took out student loans.  But I was absolutely giddy with excitement. 

I went to school part-time, at first.  Nights, mainly, so the babies would be asleep while I was gone.  I LOVED college.  Just loved it.  The end of the fall semester was always tough because I would be taking finals at the same time I was preparing for Christmas. 

Three years later, I transferred to a four year university and finished up my undergraduate degree going full time.  Three years later, I went back to law school (another three years of school).  The family joked that I was a school junkie and they were certainly aware of how much I loved it.  All the same, I overcame my addition as evidenced by the fact that I haven't been back to college for 17 years. 

The parts of the college that existed when I first enrolled TWENTY-NINE YEARS ago look just about the same.  Colleges have much greater online capacities, these days, and I was a little shocked that with a tap of a finger, the young admissions clerk pulled up my transcript from the early eighties.  Wow. 

I thoroughly enjoyed standing in line to be re-admitted because it gave me the opportunity to people watch.  There were a number of young people standing in line, all looking terrified and most looking to be about 12 years old.  Several had parents there running interference for them.  Unlike the first time when I started classes, I KNEW I would be just about the oldest person in the class (I had actually expected the instructor to be younger but he probably has 15 years on me - maybe).   And I didn't care if I was the oldest or even if I was the one with the least talent.   What a joy to just not WORRY about all that stuff. 

Having been this route, before (many times) I patiently stood in line for my ID, my parking sticker, enrollment confirmation, to pay the bursar, blah, blah, blah.  No worries.  Compared to law school, the in-state school tuition at the community college was peanuts.  I had the money set aside for the classes so it wasn't like the old days where I sweat bullets when I wrote out checks for tuition and books, afraid they'd bounce.  I felt complete sympathy for my fellow young students who all looked like they'd eaten too many boiled eggs. 

They have a nice gym and an Olympic sized pool - none are used in the early morning because most of the youngins are still asleep.  I've gone to work out and it is primarily retired people. 

Am I in my Golden Years?  A friend of mine who is also a lawyer says I am living the dream.
 On the first day of class, I watched the instructor (clearly an old hippie) struggle to not express his frustration at what he knows is coming - students wandering in late, texting in class, not doing their assignments, etc.  I stayed pretty quiet - the last thing he needs is to have an old hide watching him try to herd the cats that are young art students.  The kids looked eager and excited to be there although several wandered in up to an hour late, chagrin on their faces while the instructor's jaw was twitching.  

The professor, during his lecture, made a number of cultural references to individuals who were at their height of popularity in the 70's and 80's.  The young female next to me (bless her heart) is a sympathetic soul.  She made sincere tsking noises and sweet sounds of sympathy and sadness as he told stories that off hand mentioned a certain movie star or rock star or politician who had done this or that and had since died. "Oooohh!," she moaned sympathetically, each time (these people all died thirty years ago).   She did this, repeatedly, and clearly had no idea who the professor was talking out.  I am not being snide.  I honestly was getting a kick out of it.  I probably do the same thing but unlike this sweet, sympathetic innocent, it is primarily because I can't hear worth a darn on one side and find myself doing a lot of nodding and smiling. 

Two days ago it was 103 degrees with a heat index of about 106.  It was OPPRESSIVE.  A cold front came through and it was in the fifties, this morning.  The girls are ecstatic and Evelyn is acting like a puppy.
And speaking of puppies, it is time to give them their late night snack and send them out on their last run.  I need to get to bed - I've got class in the morning.

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl


Florida Farm Girl said...

Now, is this the sound of a happy woman? Even one of the Golden (age) Girls?? Sounds wonderful to me, so go inhale all of it you can get.

Florida Farm Girl said...

Oh, I forgot to tell you how much I love that shot through the wine glass!!

Penny said...

Thanks!!I love that photo, too. That was a sweet evening the night I shot it.

SandyQuilts said...


Miriam said...

Love your new blog layout.

I am blown away by your Lady and the River!!!

Sounds like you are going to have a ball at college!

Anonymous said...

This is soooo cool. I admire you for going back - each and every time you did it. Keep it up - you might inspire me to go back and finish.