The editors of The College Reporter asked for bloggers; I foolishly raised my hand, and they foolishly accepted. I thought I’d start with a little perspective on myself, and in subsequent posts launch into three topics: being an old, full-time student at a college that has no others; anything interesting I can slip past the editors; and pedagogy. Regarding the first, sorry about the egocentrism, which will be at its worst this week. Regarding the last, my comments, which are often likely to be offensive or strange, are of course not the editors’ fault. The post title is Faulkner’s fault.
I am the epitome of the “nontraditional” student. I’m 59; I have children; I’ve worked a bit; I’m kind of nuts. I’ve had ADHD since I was a kid, though in that era it was referred to as “laziness.” I dashed forward every September, confident that the strength of my resolution would finally win the day. I’d do pretty well for a month or two, convincing my parents and teachers that I, the lazy SOB, could work just fine when I wanted to; but then I slid downhill, wondering what was wrong. I escaped high school and fled to the desert in Eastern California, where I briefly attended the weirdest college in the United States. (Perhaps a subject for a later post.) But I couldn’t stop that familiar descent, and dropped out. A bad life choice, and one that depressed me, because by this time I had also burst forth as bipolar (manic depressive, for those readers who do not yet possess a DSM-IV). Here again, I didn’t know I had it; I just, at times, thought the world sucked. Except during manic episodes, when everything was incredibly great and I made horrible life choices that later depressed me. Etcetera.
I worked a few jobs: cab driver, machinist, tax collector, law library clerk, construction, bank clerk, payroll specialist, one or two illegal things, network manager, sales, marketing manager, vp of marketing in California tech companies. I got stuck in that last one for about twenty years. If there’s an upside to bipolar it’s that it takes you down interesting paths.
Then I started to identify and cope with some of the craziness issues. And two years ago, my wife took a job teaching at a small liberal arts college on the East Coast, and I decided to rerun my late teens. So here I am: medicated to the gills, and in the tech industry habit of working like a pack mule on Adderall. I may be the only full-time student over thirty at this school right now. (My apologies to anyone I haven’t noticed or heard about, and let’s have lunch.)
Lastly, a stake in the ground: I don’t think my “life experience” means much at a liberal arts college, even for an English major, though I deeply honor F&M’s remarkable commitment to involving students in Lancaster and the rest of the world. But I can say that, having earned a living, I know how much fun this place is. And perhaps that’s worth writing about.