Thursday, September 05, 2013

Maybe a Little Pricey but Worth It

I finally and officially earned my bachelor’s degree in January 1998. The road to that B.A. in English was a long one, both figuratively and literally. And, unlike a lot of college students then and now, I was lucky that I didn’t have to go into debt to do it.

I estimate that, over three and half years, I probably spent a minimum of $5,000 of my own funds to earn my B.A. as a part-time, non-traditional, transfer student at a public liberal arts college. I paid for my tuition, books, transportation, supplies, and occasional lunches. And, oh yeah, coffee and a donut in the morning before class (an old boyfriend from Way Back When scolded me about that).

How did I keep myself out of debt? Well, I'll admit it wasn't that easy. I do like nice things, and some of those nice things are pricey. But I managed to keep my personal expenses to a minimum. For example, I bought most of my clothes at Wal-Mart, bought school supplies at the dollar store, and used the college computers instead of buying one of my own.
I used a combination of resources to pay for my education expenses: wages from a part-time job, savings, and a very good tuition payment plan that let me spread my payments over ten months.
Was my undergraduate degree in English worth the money? Yes, for me it was. I realize that many English majors end up with jobs that have little or no relation to their studies. I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to put my skills in English and writing to use as an editor at a non-profit organization. No matter how good those skills are (and professors, employers, and clients have told me they are very good), I would not have been hired as an editor if  I did not have that B.A.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Introducing the Sprinter

I started writing a post about something that happened while I was waiting for the Sprinter. Then I thought, if I'm going to write about the Sprinter, maybe I'd better explain what it is.

So, here goes.

The Sprinter is the name of the light-rail train system that operates between the cities of Oceanside and Escondido, California.

Although riding a bus is tolerable for travel within each of the four cities the Sprinter serves, the train is the most efficient way to travel between cities. That's because the Sprinter doesn't stop every forty-five seconds to let passengers board or depart. And the Sprinter doesn't stop for red lights. And the Sprinter never gets stuck in the middle of rush hour gridlock. (Actually, the train contributes to that mess. Can you guess why?)

Anyone who frequently uses bus transportation will tell you that riding a bus can get a little bizarre (and even creepy) at times. I've witnessed too many obnoxious individuals acting out on buses (blog fodder for future posts?). However, people usually behave on the Sprinter. I suspect that's because armed security officers ride the train.

I began riding the train in February. After enduring the trip to Escondido aboard the Snail Special a few times, I realized that the Sprinter was a faster and less stressful way to travel to my Wednesday morning volunteer job. I was very pleased with the train service.

That is, until the Sprinter shut down indefinitely.

(to be continued, also see 10-11-2012 semi-related post, They Can't Arrest You, but They Can Shoot You) 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Another Hiatus (Sorry About That)

Yes, I know. I haven't been blogging for a couple of months. And I won't be until July (June is almost over, y'know). My excuse, um, reason is that I'm waiting for my new computer to arrive.

In the meantime, I’m doing some writing the old-fashioned way—with a pen and notepad. I’m making notes for the Camp NaNoWriMo challenge that I’ll be attempting (again) in July.

I participated in the April challenge. Well, sort of; I had the best intentions. I signed up to write ten-thousand words, but, with other things going on, I ended up writing about five-hundred words.

Maybe I’ll do better this time. Maybe….

Monday, March 04, 2013


On hiatus for a while. Finalizing plans for a family member’s memorial service. Be back soon.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Parents Are to Blame for This

[Note: As short as this post is, I’ve incorporated material from two previously published essays (Tucson Citizen, July 1987; Themestream, January 2001). The revised Themestream essay eventually will be posted in its entirety on another (sorry about that) site. Until then, here is a preview.]

Give me a task, and I’ll do it well, unless, of course, it involves some sort of housework.

And there is a good reason why. As a toddler, I was terrorized by Mom’s vacuum cleaner, a baggy brown behemoth that roared through the house two or three times a week. When Mom wanted to run the vacuum cleaner, she had to conscript a relative to take me somewhere—anywhere.

My parents couldn’t figure out why I was so frightened by the darn thing. Who knows? (I certainly don’t.) Maybe the noise drove me crazy. Then again, one morning the machine came dangerously close to sucking up the cat. Maybe I thought it would get me next.

My histrionics, I mean hysterics, drove Mom and Dad a little crazy. Mom hoped it was just a phase I was going through. Even then, she looked forward to the day when I could start helping out around the house.

That finally happened when I was eight, and it lasted about ten minutes. I was no longer afraid of the vacuum cleaner. However, on my first try, I lost control of the machine, crashed into the china cabinet, demolished two table lamps, and knocked my little brother into a magazine rack.

“For Pete’s sake, Mary Frances,” Dad yelled, “do it yourself before she destroys everything.”

Unfortunately, Dad’s instinct for self-preservation condemned my mother to doing most of her own housework forever.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Newsletter That Never Was

When I was ten, I got the bright idea to create a newsletter. I never followed through with that idea for several reasons. Reason one: I was ten. Reason two: I didn’t know how to type, which was a requisite for creating a professional looking newsletter.
However, reason three was the one that really shot down the idea. A newsletter has to report news, but I had no idea as to where to find some. Nothing exciting ever happened in our small town. And, at ten, the people I knew didn’t seem at all that interesting.
By the time I was twelve, I suspected that at least a few of those individuals were, or had been, involved in some really interesting stuff. Unfortunately, the adults who knew all the details usually tried their best to stay mum about them in front of the kids. By the time we were teens, though, my friends and I had figured it out for ourselves, thanks to keen observation and a little surreptitious eavesdropping.
At sixteen, I was more interested in dating than I was in writing a newsletter, which was probably just as well. I don’t think a newsletter would have gone over big then. By that time, several of my peers were adding grist to the gossip mill, and a couple of those peers had issues that seemed to appear in the newspapers on a semi-regular basis. Anything I dared to write about them would probably have made some people very unhappy with me, people like their parents, their probation officers, and whoever else was involved in whatever they did.
And even if I had wanted to resurrect the newspaper idea, it wouldn’t have worked. As a high school junior, I had to take a requisite typing class. Two weeks into the class, I discovered that I hated typing.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Hope to Get Back to Blogging Soon

Haven't been blogging much during these last two months. We lost a family member in November.
Hope to get back to blogging and working on other writing projects soon. Also resuming editing services in February.