January 19, 2023

All in...even with precalculus

Y'all, I might be a little crazy.

For some reason, I decided that I needed to attempt a full load of classes at UGA this spring. Up until now, I've only taken one or two classes at a time, all online, all asynchronous, but I guess I decided that I needed a challenge...because life hasn't been challenging enough over the last few years?

Never mind the fact that I work multiple writing jobs (though I haven't actually worked in a glorious month and as I get back to it this week, I am being choosy about what I take on). Never mind the fact that I have 20+ animals to care for and two houses and a good bit of land that I'm slowly but surely cleaning out and working on updating/repairing/fixing up. Never mind the fact that I've got two booths in a shop to keep stocked, and I've been on this crazy health kick of cooking more and working out daily. Never mind a million other projects I'm working on...

Let's just add four classes to the mix.

School started last Monday — I'm nearing the end of my second week — and I have to be honest, I kind of love it. I just wish there was a little bit more time during the day.

I'm taking a class about the history of landscape, as well as a marine science course. The third one I'm taking is the one that I was the most excited for — it's about the role landscapes play in literature, films, and art. Thankfully, those three courses are pretty laid back so far.

Because my fourth class, precalculus, is not.

Up until now, the classes I've taken during my Great Return to School have been fairly easy for me. This one isn't going to be like that. It's not so much that I'm bad at math. It's just that I hate doing math. But silly me chose a slightly difficult science major at a school known for its rigorous math and science programs, and precalc is a prerequisite for some of the upper level science courses I have to take. And while I knew it would be difficult, I didn't know it would be so demanding. I have to attend three classes a week. No excuses. Homework is due three times a week. I got a bit behind at first because when the professor said "you can skip the first chapter in the book; it's just algebra review," I realized I needed to not skip that first chapter because it's been a little while since I took algebra. Though I did well in it, so there's that.

Anyway, I think I'm slowly but surely getting the hang of it. Last Friday, I spent seven whole hours on it. Tuesday, I spent about four on it, and last night, I spent about three and a half hours working on a homework set that was due at midnight. So, that's progress, right? And it may not have taken that long last night except there was one problem that I just did not know what to do with it. I almost just submitted it incomplete, but I wasn't ready to give up just yet, even though I was exhausted. I'd been going for about 14 hours straight yesterday, and it was 11 p.m., and I just wanted to take a bubble bath and go to bed.

Thankfully, unlike my previous college experiences, we live in a world of Google and YouTube, and after realizing I was not going to find the answer in my head or my textbook or my class notes, I searched the Internet. Eventually, I found this amazing high school teacher who makes YouTube videos about math problems. In one, he did sort of a smaller, easier version of the problem I had, but I was able to take his advice and plug it into my situation.

And after about 45 minutes, I had the right answer. I couldn't believe it. I double-checked my work. I liked the video and gave the dude an appreciative comment. I ran around my living room squealing like a maniac.

What I did not do is look at the clock. I sat back down to fill in my answers and digitally submit the homework. I was so darn proud of myself. But I was met with a message that essentially said "This can't be submitted." What? Oh yeah, it's midnight. The homework deadline is 11:59 p.m. I guess it's sort of like the football player who is penalized for excessive celebrations. I got so cocky that even though I had the right answer, I still missed it and ended up with a B on my homework and an incomplete for that problem. One minute. Go figure. But whatever, I got the right answer.

I hate hate hate when people tell me I have too much on my plate, but realistically, I probably should have stuck to two classes this semester while I took precalculus. It is fast-paced and demanding of my time, energy, and brain cells. But I'm not going to back down now. I'm just gonna have to work a little harder and a little smarter and sleep a little less maybe.

Throughout my previous kindergarten through some college school career, taking the lazy way out was my thing. It worked for me. I didn't have to try too hard to get myself into the colleges I wanted or to pass my classes or to do well on the SAT. Hell, not to brag, but I got into Duke without even trying. They literally came to me. School was boring. I had better things to do.

When I went to my freshman orientation at the University of Georgia many years ago, I absolutely fell in love with the school, the campus, the people, and the city of Athens. I knew I'd found my place. But I know now I just wasn't meant to be there at that time for a variety of reasons. From the day I packed up my Jeep and moved to Atlanta to screw around at Georgia State and study acting, I've felt UGA calling me back as I worked through those other reasons, but the timing was just never right. I guess it is now. At least, it feels that way.

It's just a whole new ballgame. I crave knowledge. I want to read textbooks and write essays and take tests and do projects (well, not group projects — some things never change). I want to do well. I want to make As in my classes. I want to get a degree that I have absolutely no use for. Maybe it's maturity. Maybe everyone should take 20 gap years? I don't know what's changed, but I'm excited to see how long it lasts and where it might take me.

I just have to get through precalculus first.

January 03, 2023

On Football Highs and Lows

My 2023 is off to a pretty decent start. I'm currently on a hiatus from work to focus on some personal writing projects, which means I haven't been stuck to my laptop 12+ hours a day. And it feels great. I'm working out. Cleaning out my mom's stuff again. Working on the old house a little bit. I'm actually sore from boxing, weight-lifting, and clearing some small trees off my property yesterday, and that feels so good. School starts back in about six days. I've been spending time with my animal pals. I'm reading daily. Just booked a fun trip for March.

And literally, during the first seconds of 2023, I experienced what was easily one of the most exciting moments in my life as a football fan. My beloved Georgia Bulldogs played Ohio State in the Peach Bowl on New Year's Eve, and it was not the smooth sailing we've grown accustomed to this season in Georgia. The game was oh so close, and by the last minute of the fourth quarter, I figured we'd blown it. Ohio State just needed a field goal, and CJ Stroud is damn good. There was no doubt he would get the Buckeyes there, and that would be the end of the ballgame.

I resigned myself to the fact that we just wouldn't make it to the championship game this year. I couldn't even bring myself to watch the last few plays. No sense in rubbing salt in the wound. With my hands over my eyes, the clock struck midnight, and Ohio State's kicker, Noah Ruggles, lined up to make those three game-winning points. Only he didn't.

My dad was sitting across the room, and he began yelling, and my dog danced around, and I was screaming, "What happened? What happened?" with my hands still over my eyes. Of course, we all know now that he missed by a mile, and Georgia got the win. As a fan, it was exciting. I was happy for Stetson Bennett. I was thrilled for the whole team, the coaches, the school, and the state of Georgia. It was the highest of highs for some of us football fans.

And just a couple of days later, the sport would experience one of the lowest of lows. Buffalo vs. Cincinnati. One of the biggest match-ups of the week. Of the year maybe. Two great teams going head-to-head. Two of the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL right now. Playoff implications. It was a game that it would be hard not to get excited about if you're a football fan.

I was pretty busy yesterday, and by the time last night's Monday Night Football game started, I decided to spend the rest of the evening chilling on the sofa, watching the game and reading. I was cleaning up a few things I'd been working on during the first quarter when I saw that someone was hurt. I didn't think much of it at first, and I wasn't really watching what was going on in those moments, but I could hear it in Troy Aikman and Joe Buck's voices, and by the second or third commercial break, I realized something was terribly wrong. And then I saw how upset those men on both teams were, and I realized this wasn't your typical sports injury.

By now, you've probably heard that Damar Hamlin, a safety for Buffalo, went into cardiac arrest during the game, and medical staff had to perform CPR for several minutes to bring him back. As I write this, he's in critical condition in a hospital in Cincinnati. I can't speak to the situation beyond that, but I can tell you what I witnessed last night.

Like everyone else, I wanted more info on what was going on than ESPN was able to provide (though I will say, I thought the analysts and announcers handled it all really well), so I went to Twitter. People like to knock social media, but Twitter is and always has been a great tool for news if you know how to do it right. Aside from a statement put out by someone on Hamlin's PR team, there really wasn't much of an update, but what I did see made me feel a little better about people in general.

With the exception of a few assholes, everyone was praying and hoping for the best for this guy. I saw it on Twitter. I saw it on other social media. I saw it in my texts and messages as friends started contacting me to talk about it. I saw it on TV as the coaches consoled their players, the players didn't hold back their emotions, and the reporters and analysts' voices cracked as they attempted to talk about something that no one ever thought we'd see on a football field.

Hamlin, who is just 24, also had a fundraiser set up to raise money for a toy drive he was doing for kids in his hometown. His goal had been $2,500. As I type this, it's at around $5 million.

My point to all of this is that, in an instant, we all went from football fans to humans. It didn't matter what team you liked or didn't like. It didn't matter that this was a critical time for figuring out the playoffs. It didn't matter if you'd never heard of Hamlin or you were his biggest fan. Your fantasy team didn't matter. Stats and records and numbers didn't matter. Nothing else in this world mattered than whether or not that guy would be okay.

I've been a football fan for as long as I can remember. It's not lost on me that these guys choose to play a brutal game for my entertainment. And one of my biggest pet peeves is the negativity that surrounds the sport. Some of the media and non-fans especially like to focus on the bad things that happen. I won't get into that right now, but there is also so much good involved in football, in the football community, and in sports in general. Much of the time, the bad drowns it out. I don't foresee that changing, but I always try to do what I can to focus on the good stuff, and I hope others do too. It doesn't hurt to be a decent person.

Anyway, I've got some more ideas about that, but right now, the most important thing is Hamlin's life, and praying for him to pull through and praying for comfort for his loved ones, teammates, and coaches. I know I couldn't sleep last night after witnessing the incident from my living room, so I can only imagine how they feel.