Semester 1 – Week 4

Like most important decisions of my life I did it on a whim. What if? One weekend day I completed an application to go back to college and then returned to my life of cooking, cleaning, doing work from home, taking care of my 11 year old kid. I kind of forgot about the application until they called me to interview me and then accepted me.

Mural in Austin Texas. Background paint is deep blue with a zebra skin pattern border and the text of the Violeta Parra song "Gracias a la Vida"

Oh shit.

So on a sort of whim I accepted. It was such a whim that I didn’t even tell anyone. I have to admit that part of me was ashamed. I wasn’t ashamed that I didn’t finish college when I was supposed to. People who have been following my writing online in its various forms know that as I have gotten older, struggled with raising one then two kids as a mostly single mother, worked my ass off as a writer, stripper, furniture and men’s clothing salesperson, organizer and now executive director of a nonprofit – I have often stressed how not having a degree doesn’t make me (or anyone else) less smart, less valuable. I’ve done, accomplished enough, in fact a lot. Maybe from dumb luck but more than likely it’s because I’m kind of smart (my sister says my intelligence makes her sick).

So what was I ashamed of?

I bought my books and jumped into classes (I’m doing a 100 percent online format- once again the internet comes to my rescue) and two weeks and four papers into classes I still hadn’t told anyone.

I was ashamed that I dared to do something that was just for me. I don’t need the degree to get a promotion. I’m not looking for a job. I’m not applying to grad school (yet?). I don’t have a grand plan of eventually getting such and such title. I was doing it because it was something I wanted to do. I want to read and write and discuss things and analyze. I’ve always liked that about school and since I’ve been out of school I still like it. Deep down I’m kind of a nerd.

I was ashamed because I was being selfish and didn’t feel like I deserved it.

It felt like an indulgence. I am working at a job that requires long hours and honestly I’m a little bit of a workaholic so I never really am “off”, despite the admonishments of my family and even my work team. I, like many women, carry the bulk of the household duties and the planning behind that from cooking, cleaning, kid school shit, kid life shit. Plus, something that I have alluded to but haven’t gone into explicitly here or other online spaces where I share pieces of my life, is that my personal/romantic life is in somewhat of a crisis.

So who the fuck do I think I am that I should, that I can, that I would dare to do this thing that I don’t really have to do but kind of want to do? Who says I can or should make the time from my already heavy, busy life that requires and uses so much of my brain, heart and spirit energy.

I slowly started to tell people. Casually. I posted a few things on social media and I recieved so much support. I didn’t (don’t) think I deserve that most of the time so that was nice and affirming.

I’m now deep in week four. Yesterday after a grueling day that started at 4 am so I could take an early flight to Oakland for a meeting and then come back to LA to cook dinner for my kid I stayed up past midnight working on a draft paper I needed to submit. I’m definitely not getting enough sleep. My body, heart and head are tired but my spirit is pushing me. Plus I’m getting all A’s.

No shame in that.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarahliz says:

    You and I have never met but I knew and adored your partner what was now a long time ago. It’s complicated but when I get nostalgic sometimes I look at what you’ve written, hoping to find signs of happiness between the lines, I guess. It always makes me sad to see how much you seem to be holding the weight of your family life unsupported.

    I’m glad to see you doing this thing for you. I debated reaching out because I’m a nobody in your life and it’s kind of weird but I really wanted to add my voice in support. For me school was this magical thing that I loved for it’s own sake. Sure, I benefited professionally as well but even if I hadn’t the experience would have value. It makes me sad that in our culture education that doesn’t have an end professional goal is so devalued for those outside the upper middle-class.

    So I’m rooting for you. Your fight to get the education you want is much harder than mine was. My hope is that, despite that, it is as just as rewarding or even more so. And I hope you continue to get the support that you 100% deserve.

    (I apologize if this comes through twice. I had some issues with logging into wordpress to comment and wasn’t sure it went through the first time.)

    1. lamamitamala says:

      Hi Sarah Liz, Thank you for commenting. Nostalgia is a hell of a thing isn’t it as is seeing the life of someone you know (once knew?) through someone else’s eyes. I genuinely appreciate your support and words. In many ways it’s these moments that I write for, those moments of interconnection and worlds colliding. It reminds me how interconnected we are and how our lives intertwine with others and where they came apart.
      I just finished my first semester and feel accomplished and also hopeful for whatever comes next with it.
      I hope you are well.


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