Today, I woke up thinking about how everyone else has to go to school.
My younger sisters and my younger brother all have school for this week. But I graduated on Saturday. I graduated. I will never be going back to high school again.
It is both a scary and glorious feeling, this newfound freedom. I can go to college because I want to -- not because I have to. I can get a job. Move out of the house, if I had any money. Shoot, I can sit in my room all day without worrying about my school attendance and whether I'm doing all the homework I need done. Because I don't have any homework. There's no school attendance anymore. I'm done with that.
And yet, I keep this almost obsessive need to repeat those patterns. I signed up for two free online classes this summer on Coursera: one of Greek&Roman mythology and one on how, sociologically speaking, innocent people can end up in prison for a crime they never committed. (They sound interesting. If anyone's interested, you can easily search coursera.org for the classes -- it's actually a pretty well-organized site, with tons of different classes taught for free by various colleges and universities.)
Why would I sign myself up for more classes, with homework and learning and stuff? I'm not actually a fan of how education is orchestrated in this country. There's too much telling, dictating what should be memorized for a quiz/test. There's not enough emphasis on showing, on learning and that "Eureka! That's why this works!" feeling.*
But I did. I still want to learn. It's worth it, for those "Eureka!" moments when I'm trawling through the lectures and the supportive readings and the grueling agony of having to come up with an intelligent response to what I've just been lectured on. For that moment where I'm like, "So that's how Tabasco sauce is made. Wait, there are concerns for the Pompeii site today, because all the traffic that goes through wears it down? That makes so much sense!"**
That's why I'm going to college. That's why I thirst for a higher degree, a Bachelor's, a Master's, a Doctorate. That's why I plan on majoring not in English or Creative Writing, but in archaeology -- because archaeology actively searches for more knowledge about a place, through digging, through interpretation and scientific techniques. Worst case scenario: I hate my day job as an archaeologist, but unconsciously incorporate all of the history and psychology and science I know from the job into my writing. Best case scenario? I get all of my interests satisfied -- not just writing, but the culture and day-to-day details of history. I get to know more, learn more, in inter-disciplinary field, and still combine it with the fiction writing craft I love.
I've also got quite a few reference books waiting to be read. From several collections of fairy tales, legends, and myths, to writing craft books, to library books on beekeeping, forensic science, and ancient inventions, I plan to keep reading and researching all summer long. Not because I have to for some class. Just... for fun. For writing purposes (research is amazingly relevant for otherworldly fantasy). To broaden my base of knowledge, so I'm not left in the dark when it comes to any references to mythological works in literature. (And for when I go off to college!)
This summer, I am probably going to get a job at the factory where my parents work (well, my father -- my mother's busy with Master's classes at the moment). Eight hours a day, or four if it's part-time (obviously, nothing's been decided or talked about -- I graduated two days ago, for glory's sake), doing menial work with people I may or may not like, but it won't be my choice to just not work with them. From my parents' complaints, some of them won't even be industrious workers -- just people who'll watch me work and take the credit for working hard.
It'll be a lot like high school. And that's why I'm hoping that I will be able to cover the cost of college (~$5k) with scholarships and grants, and get the editing done on my novel in record time, and sending out queries and getting like, an instant response, all before college starts and maybe I'll have an advance in my pocket to spend on books and groceries. (I realize how impossible a dream that is, by the way -- even with all the free time in the world, I have a particular habit of procrastination which'll keep me from spending all that time productively.)
But I've got books to read and notes to take and two online classes to listen to. I'll be filling out paperwork for college, going to B&N and the library, pretending I know what on earth I'm doing while I experiment in cooking my own meals. (I'm going vegetarian, but the rest of my family isn't. They seem to think foregoing meat and junk food will kill them. "The protein!" they cry. "The iron!")
So, I don't think falling into the routine of familiarity will be entirely a negative experience this summer. I just got out of school, yea, and taking more classes over the summer while I wait for college classes to start seems crazy. But I've got this. I've got books. I've got the thinking capacity. And, if I'm honest, I desire to be productive this summer, not just lazing about on the couch or on my bed.
(Though, to be even more honest, there are documentaries to be watched. I will spend a goodly portion of my summer watching documentaries and reading random internet articles. Where else would I learn how Tabasco sauce is made? Programs on the History channel, the Science channel, and the -- what's it called? The Bio Channel. It's changing its name to the FYI channel, apparently, come July. Anyways, I consider such educational TV channels and shows to be a supplement to my research.)
Maybe I'll get some more scholarships. Maybe I'll finish my edits and query. Maybe I'll be researching while I watch Food Tech and How It's Made. And maybe I'll find a few talents in cooking, or in working with the clay that sits beside my desk and calls my name, or in building worlds and characters with precise words. Even while a heavy weight sinks in my chest at the thought of what can bind me and drag me down this summer, I can still hold out hope of acquiring new skill or knowledge.
Have a blessed day.
*Yes, that is an overt reference to the writing maxim, "Show don't tell." We can all learn that lesson, writers or not.
**The site gets worn down by tourists, by the way. Yea, there's a recreation of Pompeii, with all the plaster molds and everything, and people like archaeologists and managers and stuff are legitimately concerned. People who take small "souvenirs", the crowds wearing down the roads, people with heavy backpacks who accidentally knock against a section of wall or something? All wear it down. I read some articles on it a few months ago, when I was taking an online course on Coursera about archaeology.