Sunday Lowdown #205

THIS WEEK IN REFLECTION

I honestly think I could waste hours looking for gifs to help you understand what this week has been like. My new school start date: January 5th. Was I enrolled on Monday? Nay! It was considered a holiday here (and maybe in other countries?). Monday was “New Year’s Day observed.” I’m convinced this is an American thing because we get so few vacation days off. If a national holiday that we would normally get off lands on a Saturday, we get off Friday and then have our weekend per usual. If the holiday is a Sunday, we get our weekend per usual and Monday off. But there were definitely companies that said, “Christmas and New Year’s Eve are on the weekend, lol, see you Monday!” And thus some people I know had no break at all, just really, really full weekends.

Anyway, my new school was closed for “New Year’s Eve observed,” giving their staff a good rest. On Tuesday I was able to meet with my new advisor and get me set up based on a plan of action that I thought would work after several conversations with various departments. Then, at the end of Tuesday, I was told my plan would not work. There had been miscommunications because my education situation is atypical and confusing.

TL;DR: I was under the impression I could have very inexpensive tuition if I was non-degree-seeking and had no more than 9 credit hours each semester. The reality is you can have very inexpensive tuition for 9 credit hours total — ever. What to do?

New course of action discussed: 1) become a traditional student and get another bachelor’s degree, using many credits transferred from my previous bachelor’s degree, or 2) be a traditional student and take all the ASL/interpreting classes without ever declaring a major and not graduate. The goal is not to earn a degree, but to be ready to take state and national licensing tests after a solid education. Either path would cost the more expensive tuition, but one route would be more classes, hence, more money dollars. I was concerned someone would say, “Hey, this lady doesn’t have a major! She can’t do the internship!” Which no one could guarantee would not happen. I was also concerned the standard for interpreting would evolve to requiring a bachelor’s degree from an interpreting program to take the national test. Currently, it’s any bachelor’s degree, but who knows what will happen in the next five years.

So, I’m working the system to the best of my ability. Summer classes are 53% less in cost than fall and spring tuition. If I take 11 or fewer credit hours in the fall and spring, tuition is $4,795 less than if I were to take 12 credit hours. It’s some kind of tiered system. The decision: just get another bachelor’s degree. Honestly, I feel so seen as a person when I look over the requirements I need after factoring out what transferred in. I’ve never taken philosophy, the study of language, theology, sociology, or *gulp* fitness classes. Somehow, back when I was a traditional college student, I worked the system so I almost entirely took what I was good at. Did you know I’ve never taken a chemistry class in my entire life? I guess this means I have a solid history of being a problem solver. So, until May 2025, I will always be in school with around 10 credit hours: summer, fall, spring, possibly winter. All year. Well, that last semester will be an internship. *quietly panics*

That gets us to Thursday morning. Where I sat on my couch, drinking coffee, watching Poltergeist to try and ignore the deep terror I felt on the first day of school. Would the students be kind, would they think I’m weird, would anyone even talk to me? These are not unfounded fears, by the way, and I’m not talking back in high school. Biscuit and I talked for a while, and she decided I was experiencing frisson. Apparently, it’s something like an experience between thrill and fear. It’s French. We had to look it up to learn it’s a noun. Biscuit has been a wonderful support this week (although she is currently texting me loads of memes while I try to write this blog post, which is distracting but hilarious!).

Thursday was Fundamentals of Interpreting. I walked in, and a student asked if I was the teacher. I said, “No, just an old student.” She then asked if I was only visiting and I felt like she didn’t want me there, until I realized by “old” she thought I meant “former.” Which makes sense. I shouldn’t have been so quick to feel fighty, and that’s my fault. The professor is a wonderfully vivacious, outgoing, flexible person who has her national interpreter certification, so I’m excited to develop a relationship with her. The class is Tue/Thur from 11:00-12:20. Right through lunch! But, as I am not a hobbit, I will adapt.

At this point in the blog post, I feel like I’ve been writing forever, but I know folks, especially Bill, are eager to know how things went.

On Friday I went to ASL 4. Since the ASL/interpreting major works with cohorts, all the same students from Fundamentals of Interpreting were there. We went over the syllabus, and I got to know more about the ASL labs, which are rooms with technology that allows you to record videos or run software that helps you practice things like reading fingerspelling. There are also two people who are staff interpreters, who help with classes, labs, tutoring, and organizing/finding events in the Deaf community. ASL 4 is Mon/Wed/Fri from 8:00-9:50.

I considered staying on campus and packing lunch to bridge me from ASL 4 to my next class. I could use the library or a computer lab or the campus coffee shop, but ultimately decided it’s really hard to feel “still” when I’m away from home, so I went back to the house (a 20 minute drive) to have lunch and read blogs and washed dishes and paced around, waiting for the next class. I could have taken a nap or watched a whole movie. I hadn’t realized just how long that break would feel, but now I have a better sense.

Off to Introduction to the Study of Language. Class meets Mon/Wed/Fri from 2:00-2:50. It’s mostly ASL/interpreting majors, plus four other students. The professor is a kind man who has been teaching for a long time, describing how the course has evolved from being directly about linguistics and application to ASL (I think that’s what he said) to what it is now. We’ll discuss phonemes and morphology and syntax, etc. Hang your mouths open if you’d like, but I’ve never studied that stuff. I’ll write a paper on a spoken language that isn’t English (I’m thinking about contacting the local Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, as I have an interest in Native American languages and culture based on my experiences growing up within a reservation area). Then, a paper about written dialect, and you know I’m turning to Zora Neale Hurston.

After class I realized one student was saying, “Ask Melanie.” They wanted to know if I was a Millennial, and I said I was on the older end of that, close to Gen X. I gave them permission to ask me questions, which included, “What was Y2K like?” and “How long did you worry about Y2K?” To that I responded, “Oh, well there was 1999. And then in 2000 it was over.” I hope someone, anyone, gets the humor in that.

And then they wanted to know if I could explain what a Tamagotchi was. I said it was a key chain that everyone had to have, and on it was a digital pet — the height of technology! — that basically you fed and took out to poop, and if you didn’t, it died. However, if they saw a Tamagotchi today, the technology would offend them so greatly they would likely put it in a trash can. I hope that helped! Later, Biscuit sent me a TikTok in which a mom asks her fifteen-year-old son questions about the 90’s, one being, “What is a Tamagotchi?” (spoiler: he answers it’s a type of Chinese food). Is that why my classmates asked? Did I just experience my first run in with TikTok?

And thus, I survived the first week of both 2023 and my second bachelor’s degree.

THIS WEEK’S BLOG POST

I was surprised so many folks had read Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts when it came out, suggesting she was ubiquitous at the time. The cover looks like a classic Oprah book club pick, so maybe that’s what happened. That, or people have seen the movie from 2000, which stars an incredibly young Natalie Portman. I’ll be rewatching that one soon. Bill commented that the house is up on blocks, which I hadn’t noticed but feel it suits the story.

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG POST

Oooooh, you know Heart rocks so hard. If you live in the U.S. and listen to music but haven’t heard a Heart song, what is happening with you?? The audiobook is read by Ann and Nancy Wilson, the sisters behind one of the biggest female rock bands in history. Of course, some people are awful at reading their own words. And many of us readers agree that celebrity memoirs are an excuse to justify bad behavior and name dropping. So what did I think? Review Wednesday.

BOOKS i bought

This is a new section on the Sunday Lowdown, one I’ve added to remind myself to stop buying books. In the past, and especially when the pandemic affected authors’ abilities to go out and do public readings, promotions, etc., I was buying books to show support. However, now that I’m paying for pricier tuition, I really want to lean into the public library. So, other than textbooks, I do not want to buy more books until May of 2025. I don’t mean no gifts or free books, but actual buying. I’m more than happy to put in a purchase request at the library. Do you think I can do it?

Books Bought Since January 2023: 0

BOOKS ADDED TO THE TBR PILE

I seriously just love the plot of this book, lol.

43 comments

  1. May of 2025?! (Laila faints.) I wouldn’t last two months. But I bet you have stronger willpower than I do.

    You’re SO BRAVE to go back to school. Kudos!! I love how the Gen Z kiddos are quizzing you about the olden times of yore. You’re like the wise aunt they can turn to when they need advice. 😊 Anyway, now that I think about it, you can do the book buying ban for three years , because in my mind, if you go back to school you can do anything!

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  2. When I was younger (and before the pandemic) I bought most of the books I wanted to own after checking them out from the library and seeing that I’d want to reread them. If you know how to request new books from your library, you can do it!

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    • It’s such great advice to read a book at the library and then buy it, because I’ve purchased a couple in the last year that had me thinking, “Maaaan.” Then again, I bought them to support a bookstore in Georgia that does free online author events.

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  3. Oh wow, what a week! It sounds stressful, figuring out all the course stuff; I hope you feel good about the conclusion you’ve come to. I think I would go for the full degree option too because I would worry about the requirements changing in the future. I was laughing at you being quizzed by your classmates. It’s so hard to describe the Y2K fears to anyone who wasn’t there and it sounds so silly now!

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  4. Oh Melanie, all the school stuff must have been so stressful, but you did it! You got through it! Sorry you have to go for the degree, that really sucks. But I hope it ends up being worthwhile. Your classes and professors sound great. I laughed at your classmates quizzing you about the 90s. Not buying books until 2025 will be hard, but it is not impossible. The hard part about using the library is if the book is really popular and you end up being #415 for 20 copies of the book. Waiting is the hardest part 🙂

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    • My library system is large and robust enough that I don’t typically end up waaaaay down the line. I think the longest I’ve waited is 6 weeks, which isn’t bad. I think this week has been more stressful because I don’t have my schedule for each day all figured out and put into my Google calendar, which is an anxious tendency I wish I did not have, and my throat muscles keep trying to strangle me, so that’s fun.

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      • I hope your schedule settles soon and you can get it onto your calendar. I love my google calendar and also the task lists on my phone. Your poor throat.

        On a completely unrelated topic, the series Witcher Blood Origin has a minor character in it who is deaf. She is the cherished assistant to the power hungry mage. She signs a little and somehow magically manages to read lips when the speaker isn’t even looking at her. But I thought of you, wondered if you knew about it, and what your thoughts about deaf characters in shows like this are 🙂

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        • Since I don’t have Netflix, I wasn’t aware that Witcher was still ongoing (I saw one episode of the original Witcher series back when I did have Netflix).

          Personally, when I hear stories about hearing actors working with Deaf actors, it seems like they always say the same thing: “Wow, Deaf people’s hands are cool; everyone should learn sign language!” And you never get a follow-up story about that hearing actor learning sign language. Anyway, I believe it’s not up to me to develop thoughts about d/Deaf characters on screen because I am a very new guest in Deaf culture. Out of curiosity, I will do a Google search of movies with d/Deaf characters to see if the actor playing the character is actually d/Deaf. Then, I’ll look around to see the different opinions the Deaf community had about the character. I do all this for information purposes; I still don’t develop an opinion about the portrayal of D/deaf characters. I will say I really enjoyed Sound of Metal and thought it was interesting the director chose a hearing actor to play the main character, explaining that because the main character isn’t culturally Deaf in the film, only medically deaf, it makes sense to have a hearing actor navigating his deafness and introduction to the Deaf community.

          *Deaf = culturally Deaf (language, history, art, etc.)
          *deaf = medically cannot hear

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  5. Omg those 90s questions are precious. Tamagotchis are actually coming back. Why? I don’t know but my coworker’s kids got some recently and he was having 90s flashbacks every time they beep.
    I remember for Y2K (I was 12), I was super paranoid something bad was going to happen. So, my dad let me stock a bunch of stuff in our root cellar to make myself feel better. I felt mildly prepared and then of course, nothing happened. It makes me laugh remembering it though.
    I’m so happy for you that your new school feels more like a solid place to learn interpreting! Just your descriptions so far make it sound so much more professional.

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    • When I Googled Tomagotchi to double check my memory, a whole website came up, which surprised me. I guess they ARE back and still doing whatever (pooping and eating?). So, Y2K I was 14 and I don’t think we had a home computer yet, and I didn’t understand anything about banks being worried the computers would revert to the year 1900, so I guess I didn’t really care. Coders are gonna code and make it better, lol.

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  6. Whew! Big week for you. That’s amazing that you are getting so good at working the system/asking for help/pointing out the ridiculousness of the credit system and how unfair it can be to certain people’s situations. That in itself is a huge deal, so congratulations on that.

    I love the story of your classmates asking you questions about Y2K, I guess the young folks around me don’t feel comfortable enough asking me questions about that time yet LOL

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    • Because interpreting students become part of a cohort for 4 years (in my case, 2.5), you get to really know each other, so I agreed to answer these questions right away, whereas with someone else I might feel weird about it.

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  7. Ahoy there! I am so glad ye gave us an excellent introduction to yer new school. I am highly intrigued by yer journey into interpreting. As someone who also got a second bachelors (after getting a masters) I am also interested in how that goes as well. My second bachelors was with mostly undergrads and I took classes around my work schedule. The program I was in was considered one of the best in the state but I was disappointed in general by how the program worked after having taught at the college level meself. Yer program sounds very up-to-date, especially in terms of the technology. Between the first bachelors degree and the second, computer technology had skyrocketed in terms of inter-disciplinary techniques (and continues to). Now I often want to take classes at the local colleges just to continue to learn (cause who needs four degrees) but it be hard with the schedule I have. I love the younger set asking questions about the 90s. I did not have a Tamagotchi. I have co-workers in their early 20s and exchanging information about the generation gap is often weird and entertaining. I don’t do social media or tik tok or faceplace or any of those things. Often the conversations just make me feel old. Paper maps? What? I love yer long posts about yer week. I hope ye continue to have time to write them.
    x The Captain

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    • Oh, man, it’s ME! I’ll get getting a 4th degree, LOL. I have two master’s. I didn’t realize you went back to school, too. Of course, your identity is super secret beyond you have a first mate 😛 What was your perception of going back to undergrad? I’m struggling right now with the 100-level class feeling way too easy, even though it’s content I didn’t know beforehand. I’m trying to temper expectations.

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  8. Good on you for successfully navigating that week. I think, given you don’t know how interpreting qualifications will change and given the chances are they will become tighter, you’ve made the right decision. I hope it’s enjoyable and not too financially stressful. We’ll be with you in spirit.

    I love the word frisson. It’s one of those words that sound a bit like they mean, don’t you think?

    But Melanie, this “She then asked if I was only visiting and I felt like she didn’t want me there” made me so sad. My mantra is to always assume the positive, to react as if positive, with just an awareness at the back of my mind that it may not be. Most people – even if we might have little assumptions in our minds based on how others look (because that seems to be human) – are genuinely interested and trying to understand who a new person is. Don’t you think? It breaks my heart to hear the anxiety in this.

    PS I never did chemistry after year 10, so I understand you completely.

    I note that Bill has not responded yet. I emailed him last night, which was early evening his time, and had not heard back when I went to bed. I think he was to be back on the road in early January so my guess is that he is out in some remote place. There are awful floods in the NW of his state. I’m assuming he is not part of the convoys going there – I imagine his truck is too big – but I guess we’ll hear.

    Enjoy your week, dear Melanie.

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    • Yes, my anxiety often dictates how I enter a situation, but I’m still working on it. Due to holidays and an illness (her, not me), I haven’t seen my therapist in several weeks. Also, I’m aware that I’ve gone backwards a year after transferring schools, so everything about my is very vibrate-y right now.

      Frisson was interesting because Nick and I looked it up and Google tell us how to say it, and you say it just as the French would, so then it sounds way too fancy for what it means, too. I want to say it with “z” sounds to make it more sharp.

      Thank you for all your kind words and for thinking of me. You all uplift me in the best of ways, and I think of you all often.

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  9. Bill is still at his desk. Got home from taking Milly out to dinner reasonably early last night, but put off answering my friends till this morning (I know I get Sunday Lowdown at the perfect time, but sometimes I like not to be first in Comments).
    I certainly agree that it’s safer to go on and complete the degree. Sad that it costs real money. I did my degrees in that perfect moment, in Australia, when education was free.
    Never had a tamagotchi. I wonder if my kids have (they’re slightly older than you).
    My understanding of Y2K is that the programmers, having sufficient warning, stepped in and upgraded all those systems that might have reverted to year 1900 (date forms stopped having two numerals for the year and have since always had four, so our next problem year will be Y10K, if we last that long. ).

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    • No rush, as there is no prize for being the first in the comments! If it were a race, it’s possible you are always beat by Sue, who seems to sleep odd hours at times (insomnia). Okay, now I must insist you ask your kids what the fad toys were when they were growing up. I wonder which were national and which international.

      I heard about it all being connected to computer programmers, but I have no idea to what extent there was any real threat, tech wise, going into 2000.

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  10. It sounds like a very busy and stressful week – well done for getting through it! Your new university sounds really promising – I’m looking forward to hearing about all your studies. I think I would actually enjoy doing an undergraduate degree much more now than I did at the time, because I’ve learnt how to study so I would be able to make the most of all the extracurriculars – when I was nineteen I mostly just studied and hung out with one friend, because I was too nervous to do anything else. Though I would also be old compared to my peers. I had a little Christmas party with my lovely final year students before the break and we did a festive quiz. One of the questions was about the song “White Christmas” but none of them had ever even heard of Bing Crosby, until one of them whispered to her friend “I think he’s someone old people know about”. So that was me told!

    We have New Year’s Day (observed) in the UK, too – whenever a bank holiday falls at the weekend we get a Monday or Friday bank holiday instead. Employers either have to give their staff the day off or another paid day off at another time, and if you work a bank holiday you normally get time and a half (or at least I always have when working bank holidays, though I don’t know if it’s the law). Scotland has more holidays than England and Wales, and I nearly missed my first day of work this year because I got in a muddle – 3rd January was a bank holiday in Scotland, which was in my calendar, and for some reason I assumed it was here as well. Thank goodness I realised in time, because I was teaching first thing!

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    • Lou, I ended up doing my accountancy degree in my 30s. And the problem I found was that 19 year olds are just idiots, they’re barely on the same planet. In particular, they brought nothing to class, no knowledge of the world at all, they were just empty vessels into which were poured great strings of words, some of which they retained and dribbled back out as assignments.

      But you have to teach them! And Melanie did too, once upon a time. Learning in old age – and I remember when Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra were still on the pop charts – is so much more preferable.

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      • Thankfully the students on my course have a rigorous admissions process in which they have to demonstrate (some) understanding of the role of a nurse, talk about their life experiences, explain why they are interested in the course etc. Nursing tends to attract people who have had somewhat challenging lives, so often my students will have e.g. been a carer for a family member before they get to university. Also, the specific topics I teach are ones that have to be taught and assessed via debate and discussion, so it’s impossible for them to just regurgitate what they’ve been taught if they want to do well (and at the institution where I teach now, they almost all want to do well, a stark constrast to my previous job where they just wanted to pass). But I definitely feel like I’ve hit the jackpot both with my employer and with my students – my last job was very different, more like what you describe among your peers.

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          • I switched jobs in October 2019, so a while ago! (By “switched jobs”, I mean “was made redundant”. But it worked out well, because I got a much more enjoyable job straight away and my redundancy payout paid for the deposit on my flat!)

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              • My old employer threatened redundancies in an attempt to force us all onto less favourable contracts. They were genuinely furious that so many people took the redundancies and got better jobs elsewhere! About half their nursing faculty left and they have really struggled to rehire because of the pandemic. Very silly of them!

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      • I do find it odd to look around and see people not taking notes, so I wonder where that comes from if Bill had the same experience when he was 30. Perhaps students aren’t aware that what is discussed comes up again on assignments, or that what is said isn’t always in the book, etc. Bill, I forgot you have an accountancy degree, and now I can’t remember why you decided to get it.

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    • I was working a lot of hours my first go around in undergrad, because I wanted to live in an apartment instead of at home. Later, perhaps too late to correct course, I realized just how much information I missed regarding campus resources because I was a commuter. Students in dorms got quite a bit of information from older students and resident advisors that I didn’t have. Simple things, like where I could eat food I’d packed or if there was a computer lab, etc. I didn’t do any extra curricular activities, and I had no routine for studying beyond cramming before an exam. Oh, well. We all rise to meet the challenge set before us with the information we gained before in order to survive.

      I’m glad you made it back to teach on time; when you forget to teach the first day, you never live it down.

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  11. I’m so behind on my blog reading, sorry! But I always read these … so here I am! That tuition thing sounds SO confusing! I think you’re all sorted out now, though, right? The bank holiday thing is interesting – here if it falls on the weekend, we get the Monday (or at Christmas, the Tuesday!). So because Christmas Day was Sunday but Boxing Day was Monday, which we get off, too, we had Tuesday off in lieu of Christmas Day. Then on New Year’s we got the Monday. I worked that one; actually I worked the Tuesday, too. But in general the non-self-employed get those days.

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    • The Sunday Lowdown always recaps the posts, so there you are, all caught up 🙂

      I’m confused by tuition, too. I’ve never been to a school where they change tuition based on time of year and full- vs. part-time status. Typically, it’s the same for everyone, all year round. Probably trying to encourage students to continue school through the summer while reducing tuition. I will say the one that confuses me is why full-time tuition is the same whether you have 12 or 17 credit hours. A small financial break, perhaps?

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