I sat in my philosophy class with a few other students, listening as they debated with passion the validity of mini-mesters. For those of you who aren't acquainted with that term, it's a ten day course that garners you a full 3 credit hours. You go to class for four hours a day for ten class days. Sounds easy enough, huh?
That's what I thought too.
"I'm thinking of taking a Wintermester." I threw this thought into the hot debate.
"You know they are suicide courses, right?" One of the girls whipped around in her chair and stared at me with wide eyes. "You should only take these if they are a last resort. You know, like only if you have to have that credit immediately. Otherwise...STAY AWAY FROM THEM!"
I admit, I came close to taking her advice. However...
It was a communications course, for crying out loud. How difficult could it be? In my very limited way of thinking, I rationalized that it would be the quickest and most painless way to get through a course that makes me very nervous and uncomfortable. It made me feel better to think that in a mere ten days I could, not only have yet another course behind me, but also have climbed that difficult mountain labeled PUBLIC SPEAKING and lived to tell about it.
Ten class days.
I could do this. I just knew it.
Fast forward to the first day of Wintermester when Professor Rhodes, my new and very funny Communications professor, stood in front of the class and asked, "Before we get started, can I just ask...why in the world you are CHOOSING to spend your holiday in a Wintermester course?"
She spread her hands out in question and raised arched eyebrows. "Do you people HAVE no lives?"
This should have been my second clue.
Instead, I buckled up my proverbial seat belt and prepared for what appeared to be a very bumpy ride. I wasn't disappointed, but I did suffer through a bit of whiplash and maybe even a smattering of amnesia. I had been naive enough to think that the course would be an ABBREVIATED version of the real thing. I know, I know, can you say blonde...?
Instead of abbreviated, the course turned out to be more of an ACCELERATED version. All the work, all the projects, all the papers...just completed in ten class days instead of the normal sixteen weeks. When I broke it all down, I calculated that we were covering two weeks worth of material each and every class day. The four hours I spent in class was only the prelude to the hours I spent once I returned home.
The funny thing is, I DO have a life. Or did. I hope I still do. I'll let you know as soon as the dust clears and I can see, think, and breathe with some semblance of normalcy again. There are things and people and events from the past three weeks that I can't readily recall just simply because my days and nights have been one big blur of projects, speeches, group role-playing, tests, and papers to write.
Yesterday at three o'clock, the ride finally came to a swift, yet painless, end. I survived multiple papers, a self-disclosure speech, a demonstration speech, role-playing, a term paper, a Pay-it-Forward project, and a three-scene group skit using all the listening and communication skills we've learned from the course. All in ten days.
Now that it's over, I feel something really, really great. It's a unique combination of near exhaustion and heady exhileration. I have to admit that it feels good to push your body and mind to extremes that you didn't know they were capable of reaching. While I certainly won't make this way of life a habit, I do feel a great sense of accomplishment today.
Or maybe that's just sleep deprivation talking, I'm not sure. At any rate, thanks to all of you who have been my cheerleaders during this endeavor. Mike - you were my rock! Nate and Jorge - thanks for all the Sonic runs you made to keep me in Diet Coke. It's now almost a sure thing that I'll be remembered most for this
addiction requirement and - although I hope you remember all the hugs, conversations, and warm, fuzzy times more - it's kind of cool when your sons just surprise you with a big 'ol Sonic Diet Coke, just because they know you'd like one.
On Monday I begin a brand new story, which always thrills me. I'll keep you posted here on the progress and I really look forward to sharing these characters with you. And then on Tuesday, I'll begin Spring classes. But until then, I'm now on "vacation." For the next three days, I will be wearing pajamas, taking naps, catching up on housework and errands that have been neglected, and basically just enjoying the ability to breathe deep and savor the things around me again.