by Lisa

My student status may change, as of Wednesday.  I may not be one at all.  The God of Financial Aid has laid his eyes upon me, weighed me, measured me, and found me wanting.

Taking an Incomplete last semester dropped my completion percentage too low.  Boom.  No more money for me, says the federal government. Good thing I paid attention to a creeping feeling of paranoia which turned out to be not-paranoia, and checked my online records.

So, I wrote the God of Financial Aid to explain why I took that Incomplete, complete with a carefully edited-by-the-detectives police report.  No photos, which I didn’t want to see anyway, and no names, which I very much wanted to see: a real name to attach to the face I last saw on the other end of a fist. My excuse for the Incomplete seems valid, and I have data to back it up.  However, writing another description of why I wouldn’t let my small person go back to her babysitter in our old neighborhood was a trial.  The beater-upper still lives there, within blocks of The Yellow Cottage.  Loss of childcare is a valid excuse, as is a medical emergency.  We had both.  Making both and all easily digestible and not pitiful for the ears of the financial aid committee wasn’t easy, but I think I managed.

Tomorrow, the decision will be made.  If my university wants me back, I’ll keep on this track of working a bit and studying a lot and plugging away in the same fashion next fall.  If my university deems me too much a pain in the ass, I’ll adopt a different life and make the most of it.

Working more comes high on the list, and without too much effort.  I already work at a place that will be happy to have more of me around, especially if they can afford to pay me to be around more.

With more work comes more money, and a healthier savings account.  The cushion I usually maintain has gone flat, and I like things puffier, for softer landings.

If I am not a legitimate student, I still have classwork to complete from last spring, when I fell off the face of the earth post-break-in at The Cottage.  That constitutes only two hefty essays, but I’ll enjoy writing them.  Writing keeps the gears greased…and I have plenty to say, even on the stressful eve of my academic future’s fate-naming.  Imagine what my poor professors endure from me on a good day with a good topic to focus my rambling!

Speaking of rambling, a non-college life will free up time for my mind to dally around within itself more deeply.  Why do I compulsively journal?  What standards do I enact regarding what  may be public and what I hold private, bookbound, longhand?  Am I a narcissist?  If I am, how can I undo THAT mess?  Note to self: look up standards for NPD.

Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

In order for a person to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) they must meet five or more of the following  symptoms:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

No, no worries there.  I do believe that I’m unique and special, but I think everyone else is, too.  That belief system sort of negates the status of unique and special, so never mind.

I’ll certainly read less if my university doesn’t want me back, but what I do read will be more entertaining.  Not that Sociology books aren’t absolutely the most entertaining academic material I’ve ever read–seriously, I usually buy them when they’re assigned–but I’ve read enough journals and textbooks to fill my brain twice.  I miss my evenings with cookbooks, and planning themed meals, and shopping for the weird ingredients for those themed meals on my days off.

Another change will be what I cook and when I cook.  My food prep skills suffered during my alone time.  We ate when we were hungry, whatever sounded good enough.  Once, supper was ice cream with a fruit salad chaser.  Other times, we snacked on nibbly things all day and went to bed full.  My small person knew where to find all of “her” kinds of foods, and sometimes went days in summer without asking for help with something to eat.  The bowl of her foods lay within her reach–protein bars that I called chewy bars which made them palatable–and the fruit dish stayed stocked, and the fridge’s middle shelf kept her juice and yogurt and port wine cheese spread cool.  She learned to spread peanut butter on bread by herself without tearing up the bread too badly.  Summer was easy.  Winters, I kept a crock pot of something noodly on hand, or we dug into bowls of mashed potatoes.  With raw carrots and ranch dip, we faked our way through meals, and other veggies slipped in, incognito.

Now, I want to make entrees and side dishes that feed our souls as well as our bodies.  My go-to shelves of vegetarian cookbooks are boxed up somewhere, for now.  I don’t need a recipe for a few things, but the joy of cooking lies in the details.  MFK Fisher didn’t title her book The Art of Eating for nothing.  A trip to the library  to pick up some fresh inspiration is in order.

When I work more than I study, little projects happen more easily.  Being a student and a mommy means that time off should be spent studying or playing or cleaning.  Remove the load of studying, and hobbies pop back into focus.  A crocheted blanket in the making waits for me in a basket under my desk as I write, just in case my fingers run out of words.  Maybe I’ll finish it by summer.  Big blanket this time, a real bedspread, even though it’s just a giant granny square destined to wear fringe.

In my future without an education, maybe I’ll really sell my detested, reliable two-door coupe and buy a four-door anything but sedan.  I never did get around to painting the Accord.  I fixed up her insides, instead, and she’s running as smoothly as ever.  My small person dreams of not having to crawl through a slit to reach the back seat.  I dream of cargo space for necessary things, like a tool box and a tent.  This is one of my dream cars:

dream car

I have simple taste.