It’s Never Too Late, Exhausted or Not

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.

Clashing Personalities

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...”

Where Were YOU?

Those of you who follow politics in the United States know that women’s rights (along with minority and LGBTQ rights) are currently under siege; particularly after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. This decision abolished federal protections for reproductive rights, returning the issue to each individual State.

In response, the state of Kansas addressed this issue in their primary election earlier this month; and there was a record voter turnout, where many voters voted only on the abortion issue. Thankfully, for women, the choice to keep the State’s constitution in tact (and preserve abortion rights) won by a landslide vote… but I can’t help but wonder: Where were these voters before we got to this point?

Does My Vote Really Count?

I’ll be honest, I fall into the “my vote doesn’t honestly count” side of the answer to this particular question (especially in Presidential Elections, which are determined not by the popular vote but by the Electoral College); but my husband believes that every vote counts, and as such, I have voted in nearly every election since marrying the man.

Mitch taught me how to research the candidates (and their voting records) and the issues; and in doing so, I found that it takes far less time to educate oneself about these things than I previously imagined it would.

For instance, in the most recent Arizona Primary (2022), it took me ninety minutes to do the legwork required to make informed decisions about our representatives at the state and federal levels.

I choose not to pay attention to slanderous campaign ads; nor do I subscribe to popular opinion about the candidates. Why? Because once you start paying attention to how our representatives actually vote (which can be found in the public records), you’ll find that many of them do not keep their campaign promises.

So… is voting in a democracy a frustrating endeavor that often leaves one feeling as if their voice goes unheard? Absolutely. (i.e. My choices won’t always win in the end.) But if we don’t participate in the democratic process, then our voices most certainly go unheard.

In the 2020 Arizona Primary, only 36.44% of registered voters cast a ballot. (This is the most recent voter turnout reported by the Secretary of State’s Office.) That means 63.56% of the (registered) voices in Arizona chose not to speak on their own behalf.

63.56% more ballots cast most definitely would have made a difference; and it would only have required — at most — two hours of the voter’s time (to research the candidates, travel to their polling place, and cast a ballot).

In my opinion, that’s not a lot to ask of us as citizens of this nation.

Pay Attention BEFORE It Goes Up In Smoke

It’s important to remember that many, many smaller decisions happened before the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade.

Most notably? The Senate blocked President Obama’s Supreme Court appointments, and then approved those of President Trump.

Therefore, voting for your House and Senate representatives is even more important than voting in the Presidential Election. Why? Because the President can’t get shit done without the approval of the Senate, and the Senate depends on approval from the House of Congress.

It’s also incredibly important to vote for State representation within the State itself. And just in case you haven’t been paying attention up to this point, your State’s government now controls access and/or denial to reproductive rights. (And not only reproductive rights.)

Education is also currently under siege. The conservative right has waged a war against science education and critical thinking; and if you don’t vote for the Superintendent of Public Instruction in your state, then you’re blatantly ignoring the only opportunity you have to guide what kind of education your children will receive. (And even if you don’t have kids, making sure that the next generation is educated is vital to our survival as a democracy.)

The bottom line is that we need to be voting before we lose our rights.

It’s all well and good that women are turning out in record numbers at the polls; but if they had bothered to do so before now, we may not have ended up at this point.

Make YOUR Voice Heard

Humans — in and outside of the polls — like to be heard. We are social animals that thrive in a pack. Sure, each person’s pack may be different from another’s; but we have more in common than we don’t.

To cast a vote isn’t only a right of the pack; it’s a privilege. It ensures our survival against other packs, all competing for the same rights and resources; and if we can’t be bothered to choose our pack leaders, how can we expect to thrive as members of said pack?

We have the power to change the course of history, and to shape our circumstances… but only if we show up at the polls and use what little influence we have.

Please, exercise your right to vote. I don’t care if you disagree with me at the polls. I only care that you show up and harness the power of your own voice.