ONE OF THESE DAYS
Back in August it was a no-brainer. Three great-granddaughters, one grandson, one son – three generations of Cheshire’s had received the Phoenix College A.A. diploma.
I was the only hold-out. A lot of credits showed on my transcript, dating from 1944 and the campus of Indiana University. They continued strong at Phoenix College.
Those were the days I burned that candle at both ends. Work took maybe 50 or more hours a week – writing at a time when I was selling stories to small magazines filled the evening hours – and ah yes, maybe a few fun social kind of engagements. So, I dropped out, with intentions of “one of these days.”
My youngest great-grandkid walked out on Hoy Field at Phoenix College for her diploma last spring. I was astonished. Where had those 71 years gone to?!! I knew I had to search once more for my assortment of credits and make it four generations from P.C.
First I had to find Hannelly Center where credit and counselors are kept. Back in 1967, when I had the honor of introducing Dr. Hannelly for the dedication of the new Student Center, this building had been the bright spot of the campus. But now other buildings had grown around it. After some legwork I acquired an Advisor, filled out the paperwork to enroll and once more became a student.
A Nutrition course, that would fulfill the needed Science requirement, was available. Online! Hooray! The bonus would be the ease of taking it. I could study when it suited me, hot coffee at hand’s reach, no bother to dress or even comb my hair. Teacher would not be asking for answers on a chapter I hadn’t read yet. I intended to ace this Course with ease and an A plus.
My first clue that the Science of Nutrition might not be as painless as I pictured came with the arrival of 900 loose leaf pages. Glancing through this scientific volume brought a small chill. There were words . . . phosphorylation . . . gluconeogenesis . . . phytochemicals . . . were these English or Greek? Chapters looked ferocious . . . Digestion, Absorption and Elimination . . . Ugh!
I considered backing out but my sister and son had paid for the hours ($299.00) and the book ($143.50) and I couldn’t admit I wouldn’t even try it.
My easy planning began falling by the wayside. I could study whenever I pleased and this began to be constantly. Push the book away . . . I couldn’t remember, I couldn’t understand. Time to take a break. Then the lessons pulled me back. Try once more. Morning hot coffee would be at my side . . . . As well as afternoon cold coffee . . . and evening hot tea.
I missed my classroom teacher. No longer could I stay late and ask questions. Luckily Christine was patient and worked me through answers when I couldn’t explain the questions.
My short term memory had abandoned me and the page I had read ten minutes ago had become a blur. Slowly, in spite of my reluctance, I began to decipher those foreign English words. The pink hi-liter in my hand marked out reminder words as I read. The green A on a pink sentence substituted for my lost memory.
It was not pretty, it was not easy. I waded through each chapter, not looking ahead. Every day had hours of deciphering: Find the catabolic and anabolic reactions, which require ATP, glucagon, glycerol, losing or accepting an electron. Through sheer drudgery I acquired an acceptable grade on each lesson.
Luckily I didn’t know what waited ahead on the midterm and final test or I would have found a way to forfeit the $450 bucks, get the beriberi fever or something.
Then the instructor emailed the procedure. Two tests. 45 questions with 50 minutes. 25 questions with 30 minutes. Click the “next” button and no return. We could take the test anytime within three days but we were locked in to just over a minute per question.
I gave it the best possible. For 24 hours I crammed through lessons, arranged my color charts, organized the subject with colored words circled and underlined. All preparations made. Papers spread around me in order and reviewed. A cup of hot coffee on my table.
I clicked my mouse and the 50 minute test was before me. Get the worst over first. And I panicked. I knocked the mouse to the floor, grabbed my coffee to keep it from spilling. Then counted to ten and focused. It didn’t make any difference if I failed, I would know I tried.
Questions appeared in three categories. If I had a recollection of the answer, I clicked and moved on. If the words brought a total blank, I clicked a guess and went to the next one. When it might be one of these green or red or blue circles on my study sheets, I allowed 30 seconds to find it. Sometimes this worked.
The 50 minutes flew by. I arrived at the last question without realizing it. Only 32 minutes showed on my clock. I wanted to cry, I wanted those lost 18 minutes back.
I didn’t take a break which turned out to be another mistake. But I had to get it over with. Do the 35 minute test now instead of dragging it out. My state of concentration had exhausted me. I knew the answers were there but they would not show up.
Yep, I flunked both of them. My grade average showed a good possibility that I would flunk this course, my goal would be finished. There would not be another try now, I had put too much into this one.
The lessons did not get easier, at least to my way of thinking. We delved into the Diet Review, that little Exercise whereby we kept track of every miniscule of food we ate or drank. A know-it-all program then spit out scary details about the good and bad in our individual nutrition. Our assignment would be to further analyze the results and hopefully improve our diet.
In my years of putting meals on the table my family put up with burned potatoes and store bought cookies. I considered it reasonably healthy. However, this program did not agree. When I tried to justify my methods on a lesson, the computer came close to putting me out of business.
I wouldn’t accept it; I had gone too far to give up now. I wrote a pleading letter to teacher with my reasons for the answers. She understood and gave me points where the computer program wouldn’t.
The home stretch began. Nutrition for pregnant women, for babies and then for senior citizens. I had a few opinions on this old age stuff but I made my keyboard give text book answers instead of mine and I made it through.
Now came the last hurdle. The speed tests were ahead. Another challenge of a question per minute, click or pass, hit the answer or guess. I set aside 24 hours to give this full attention. When I finished it, and looked at the computer-given grades, I poured a small glass of wine cooler – a mixture of white zinfandel and orange Gatorade (durned good). Then, with no attempt to rhyme, just tell the news, I typed the following to family.
My wrist is taped with Ace bandage
Back is aching
Head is aching
Eyesight is a Fuzzy Blurry
Papers with red, blue and green colors
Spread in a semi-circle on chairs around me.
Teacup sits perilously on left edge of stand,
Timer sits threateningly on right edge.
And here are the results:
Final test scores
Low C (on 45 questions in 50 minutes) 73%. Class average 76%
Low B on (30 questions in 35 minutes), 83%. Class average 81%
AND I DID IT
FINAL SCORE IS 87.65 %,
A HAPPY “B”
A HAPPY “B”
Hooray! After 71 years I am going to graduate!