by Lisa

Today, I sent off my final paper for a class on sociology research methods.  I think I did okay. I think I’ll pass.

This is the fourth time I’ve taken the class.

The first time, I failed the first two tests so solidly that I was told that dropping and trying again would be in my best interest. I had never failed a test in my life, and now I had two under my academic belt. Nothing was sticking in my brain; I was full of anger and confusion about other things in my life, and I worried incessantly about how to pay the bills and how to feed the whole family and how to spend enough time with them between work and school.  The “get out of class free” offer was a blessing.  I gained spare time to fix some broken things.  One of them was me.

Once I fixed my broken self, I took the class again.  It was great.  I got it. The only little issue was that once I had fixed what was ailing me, for me, the man in my life didn’t like me any more.  He did like to call me while I was on campus to tell me how useless I was, how useless my degree would be compared to the nursing program I’d left in favor of finishing a bachelor’s, and what opportunities he was missing because he had married me and settled here.  So, I cried too much for my own good, I apologized for my uselessness, and went to work fixing that, too. I’d been what he needed me to be for years before; the transition to servitude was effortless, but I chose not to break myself again.

It didn’t work.  I left him that semester, and dropped the research methods class and every other class along with it. Moving to a new home with my small person and working to pay for that home came first.  I also needed the extra time to play and be silly, to make homemade waffles and chase mice out of the kitchen and make memories of a very sad time a little happier for the both of us.

The third try at research methods was even better.  I scored the highest of all sections on exams and assignments.  Things like that mattered to a nerd like me, and I needed a little win after the losses stacked to the sky. I had sharp, hard discipline earned by doing the sharpest and hardest of things. Life was beautiful, and my grade point average was perfect.  Then, perfect turned into a nightmare: my small person and I were beaten bloody by a neighbor’s godson for no reason.  We left that wonderful little cottage we called home, and I stopped going to research methods class. Class started before her school bus came, and I couldn’t continue to leave her in the hands of our dear, helpful, genuinely good neighborhood friends to deliver her to her bus.  They knew the bad person well, even called him “family”, but I must believe that they did not know what he did to us, their neighbors and friends.

This time, try number four, has gone by shockingly swiftly, uninterrupted by break-ups or break-ins.  My little girl and I have a safe haven and so much love; love changes everything, just like losing it does.

I do not want to take this class again, so I’ll do well on the final exam, and hope for the best on the paper I sent to be intellectually shredded by a woman much smarter than I am.  Maybe, if the stars and my methodology are right…

If not, I will enroll again, but this time, I could probably teach the damned thing myself.

I think I’ll pass.