I’m tired this morning, even though I got plenty of “quality” sleep last night. I’m so tired, in fact, that if I could, I would do nothing today; but since I can’t, I’ll have to get moving eventually (by 1:00 p.m. at the latest, if I want to make it to class on-time… which I do).
Why am I so tired, you might ask. Well, returning to campus for my courses this semester has been a bit more challenging than I imagined it would be…
You Have to Get Dressed… Go Figure
First, taking online courses doesn’t require that you get up every morning and make yourself presentable for the world; taking courses in person requires that, at the very least, you shower and throw on something other than clean pajamas.
Second, online courses don’t really require that you interact with your peers. Occasionally, you have to email one another or comment on someone else’s work; but you do all of that from behind the anonymity of your laptop screen. In person interactions take a lot more energy, and require that you deal with many different personalities (some of which will grate on your nerves, and test your ability not to slap a bitch).
Outdoor Obstacles, Fitness and Coordination
Third, you need only go as far as your living room to attend online courses. In person, you have to trek your chubby middle-aged behind (in my case, anyway) up and down multiple sets of stairs, and across wide swaths of campus. This journey also requires that you be somewhat coordinated (an area in which I am sorely lacking).
Yesterday, for instance, on my way to my creative non-fiction writing class, I walked under the low hanging branches of a mesquite tree and managed to get the thorns tangled up in my braid. Eventually, I had to throw my bookbag down and attempt to free myself from said branches with both hands… but only succeeded in making things worse. Thankfully, a very nice young man stopped and helped me to get clear of the nefarious tree. As I picked all of my things back up and expressed my gratitude, the savior student said, “No worries. My mom does that kind of stuff all the time.” LOL! (When I later recounted this story to Mitchell, he laughed and said I was lucky people didn’t stop to film “the weird old lady who managed to get attacked by a tree”; and I realized, he had a good point. 😂)
When You’re No Longer Young
Fourth, online courses offer you the option of whether or not to disclose your age. In person classes do not, because everyone can see that you are obviously older.
When we did introductions in my literature analysis course last week, most of the students said their names, their ages, where they came from, etcetera. Here’s how my introduction went:
“My name is Cassie and I am majoring in Environmental Science and Creative Writing…”
Another student immediately interrupted, and asked, “How old are you?” He was sincerely curious, and meant no harm by asking; but my professor jumped in and said, “Rude! You don’t have to answer that.”
To which, I laughed and said, “I don’t mind. I’m forty-four.”
“Do you have kids?” the same student asked.
“As a matter of fact, I do. I have a grown son.”
“How old is he?”
“He’ll be twenty-five in November.” In response to this answer, there were several audible gasps, and one whispered, “Holy shit!” from somewhere behind me.
“That’s awesome!” said the student who was asking the questions.
After class, my professor apologized for this scene; and I laughed again and said, “It’s really okay. They’re just curious, and if I’m ever uncomfortable with something, I’ll be sure to say so.” She then asked if I would prefer to be called Ms. Alegria, to which I said, “No, Cassie’s just fine.”
I will admit that it’s a lil’ weird to have professors that are younger — far younger — than me; but I still view them as knowledgeable professors, deserving of respect (a perspective that is not shared by all of my younger peers).
Finding a Balance That Suits the Dog
Tocho has had a very difficult time adjusting to my new schedule. I’ve been home with the fuzzy lil’ bugger every day since we adopted him earlier this year. Sure, I’ve left to go the gym; but I was never gone for long and always made sure to run my errands afterwards, so that I was only gone once each day.
In order to return to my workout schedule this week, I’ve had to leave in the mornings for the gym; and then once more in the afternoons, to attend class. As a result, Tocho has been more anxious than usual and has greeted me with a sullen, moody air about him when I return.
Thankfully, Mitch and I anticipated this change and stocked up on chew toys, which Tocho has been very good about focusing his anxiety on (instead of chewing up the rest of the house, as he did when we first adopted him).
Tocho-Bear Giving Me the “I’ve Got My Eye On You” Stare
He does well on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because I have a morning class and just go directly to the gym afterwards; but on Mondays and Wednesdays — when I’m forced to leave twice — Tocho’s far less pleasant to be around.
This past Monday, he planted himself in front of the door to the carport and staunchly refused to be moved (even when I physically attempted it). Eventually, I had to shove him aside by opening the door; and I could hear him crying (which he never does, he’s very quiet) as I pulled out of the drive.
It was heartbreaking; but I have faith that he will come around and accept that Mommy, too, has to leave on occasion.
The Spirit is Stronger Than the Body
My middle-aged knees are also adjusting to the rise in recent activity.
On days that I work out before going to school, my knees stiffen up as I descend the stairwell in the parking garage; and grumpy, sloth hamster shouts, “Hey Lady! We already did some physical activity today? What the hell?!” 😜
The upside is that on the days that I don’t have the energy to make it to the gym, I still have to rise and hike around the campus for a bit. It’s a tiring win, but a win none-the-less.
When It’s Over, You Have to Do It All Again
Exhausting as it all is, it’s nice to have somewhere to go each day… to have a schedule that forces me to adhere to an even stricter schedule behind-the-scenes. Laundry must get done between workouts and class. Workouts have to be more carefully planned into my daily routine. I’m eating more often, because I’m up and moving around and hungry at more regular intervals. I’m also in bed by 8:30 at night, but hey… my streaming content isn’t going anywhere.
All-in-all, being perpetually worn-out hasn’t been as terrible as it sounds. I’m a lil’ older than most at the university, but my dream of acquiring a degree is as vibrant — maybe even more so — than that of my peers. It’s never too late… and I need to hit the gym before I hit the books today!
Soundtrack: “Smiling When I Die” by Sasha Sloan
“Yesterday felt like my first day working
Now I’m not the youngest on the clock…
Don’t wan’na look back
Thinkin’ I could have done this
Or I could’ve tried that
Don’t wan’na look back
‘Cause it’s goin’ by fast
I’ll be smilin’ when I die...”