Wednesday, October 21, 2009

8 years of College

I started going to college when I was 18 and I basically never stopped. So by the time I was about 42 in 1990 and finally just gave up because of how expensive it is to raise children since 1974. And since I first Started college at Glendale College in Fall 1966 I started to calculate how many units and how many books and how much I had studied over the years. I calculated about 8 years worth of study in total. So, if I hadn't been married at raising kids since age 25 I might have 3 or more degrees now.

So, my first major was Computer Data Processing in 1966 at Glendale College. At that time what I wanted to do with computers and robotics I didn't yet know was impossible at that time(at least to make a living doing). So after a couple of years in the field I became frustrated and decided to do something else other than program computers and operate computers. At that time there were no micro computers like we use today. There were only warehouse sized windowless rooms filled with millions and milllions of dollars worth of mainframes and peripherals and most things were still done with punch cards at that time in 1966 to 1969 when I worked in that field. So, by 1969 I had burnt out at working 12 hours a day 7 days a week and I was only 21 at that time. By the way my hours were midnight until noon which is a shift I have never ever chosen to repeat after age 21.

Next, I studied psychology which began with my reading Psychology Today, the magazine. I was having difficulty finding reasons to stay alive at the time another day and Psychology Today and its pop psychology ideas helped me to see the reason not to end my life then. Then I read Herman Hesse's works like Sidhartha, Narcisus and Goldmund, Demian, and Magister Ludi and the Glass Bead Game. I tried to read Steppenwolf but thinking of myself as an animal at that level sort of made me feel like a living Wolf Man. And at that time it wasn't something that I could relate to. It wasn't until I studied with Native American Medicine Men in my early 30s that I could make sense of that side of life. And I could relate to it then because I realized everything living on earth including humans were at core animals and to deny that only created neurotic people who couldn't function on any level of reality or pragmatism that was required for basic survival on planet earth.

Next or rather simaltaneously I studied Philosphy. Because I was about 22 at the time I no longer felt like students 18 to 20 were my peers exactly. Because I had really suffered and lived and worked as a full time adult by then. So the 18 to 20 year olds seemed to me like children just out of high school who hadn't had enough life experience to take seriously yet. So I was very outspoken in my Philosphy Classes because I knew what I had to say would save the lives of some people there.

The professor who was only a couple of years older than I and who was married to a native American girl from New Mexico befriended me and gave me an "A" in the class and even when I tried to drop out of college because I was troubled at that time, he called up and said the other students needed to hear what I had to say and that I should come back to class.

So, about 60 units later I met the woman that I was going to have a son with and marry. She took a sociology class with me over the summer that taught about the dangers of pesticides which was incredibly informative and useful but then my goal then to become a Psychologist specializing in Parapsychology went down the drain when she got pregnant and I had to work more to take care of us all. So, by age 25 I was married and by 26 I was raising our son and by 29 I was a single father raising my then 3 year old son. You see, my wife was only 21 when she got pregnant and I soon realized that I was the only real adult in that relationship even though I loved her dearly.

So, after the birth of my son college classes became more hit or miss. Which means I started a lot of them but couldn't ever finish most because of family obligations like jobs, taking care of my son, etc.

However, one of my favorite stories is when I rode to college (Palomar College in San Diego County) to my Welding Class on my motorcycle. I wore flat nosed cowboy boots to protect my legs while riding a motorcycle and bellbottom Levi jeans. And the style then was to have the bottoms of your jeans frayed which means to cut them off a little and then about 1/2 inch up from the bottom you stitched them off so the fray couldn't go all the way up the leg but only be able to fray about 1/2 inch up the bell.

So, anyway, I was practicing Arc Welding with a protective face plate on so I wouldn't go blind or take pieces of molten metal to the face when I noticed my right leg was getting warm. When I looked down my right frayed pant leg was on fire up about 6 inches. And I wasn't being burned physically only because of my high top cowboy boots that I wore while riding my motorcycle which was a Honda 250 XL, probably my favorite motorcycle of all time that I ever owned. I love my Kawasaki KLR 650 that I bought last spring but there was just something special about that Honda that could be licensed for the freeway or riden anywhere in the dirt with knobby tires that was incredibly special for me then in my life.

So, over the years I also studied Business and book keeping and Anthropology and about 1990 when my wife and I both wanted to become cultural Anthropologists together. However, this didn't work out as we broke up before this dream manifested.

I struggled for several years trying to complete my 4 year university degree with no success. The final straw for me was filing for grants and loans and receiving the letter but not the money when I came to the University four hundred miles away from where we lived then. When I moved out of our house and put everything in storage I expected to be able to receive the grants and loans just like the letter told me on the date they told me. But no, that wasn't to be. So, I found myself in a terrible position as husband and father of having already moved out of my house and having put everything into storage and finding I was only being given books and tuition for the first few months. (there was no fine print) One just had to know this I guess. So the end result of that was that we lived in my Chevy window van in below freezing temperatures in the Mt. Shasta Forests until we could once again to afford to rent a house for our family. This was such a bad and unforgiving experience for the whole family that it took away permanently my desire to get a 4 year degree. I have the brains for it but I finally decided my family's well being was more important than my having a 4 year degree.

So after that the nightmare of my 40s went into full force and I went through a divorce I didn't think I could survive, didn't get full custody of my then 5 year old daughter but I did get Joint Legal Custody. And then because I was very upset about all this almost died from a Heart Virus. However, by then I was remarried with another daughter by age 47 (one month before 48). I remember at the time thinking how I had to create my next life before the one I was leaving killed me or drove me insane. I succeeded unlike many people I have known that never really recovered from something like this in their 30s, 40s or 50s. I think what saved me is that I had dated so many people from age 15 to 25 that dating people was still pretty natural for me if I wasn't married and so because of this was able to find someone good to marry. And so I survived and started a new family unlike many people I know. So by the Grace of God my life is still a good one even at age 61 I have a happy marriage, all my kids are healthy and alive, and our finances are okay so by the Grace of God we are all okay.

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