Grandma goes to CUNY

For one hot moment I returned to college. Forget about the fact that I have a PhD. A degree that had more to do with my writing than my nursing career but I’ve never given it much credit. Research and theory development? What could be better for a writer? Instead, I pined over the ever elusive MFA in creative writing. I applied for that degree a year ago in the CUNY system and was rejected. I was disappointed but since I believe the Goddess knows much more than I, I thought I let it go. I didn’t.

The pangs of I-must-be-missing-something continued to be strong. As an over fifty Latina there weren’t many opportunities for us to pursue art and writing degrees back in the day. Many of us stuck to school programs that would guarantee beef in our sopa de fideos. Our families dictated our choices. A few of us were able to pursue those creative degrees and I have no idea how.

I drew creatively as a child and the drawings helped me to make sense of lonely days without my sister by my side. Pencil and paper constructed the worlds I lived in after school. I believe my pictures were early attempts at storytelling. I had a friend in grammar school who pleaded with me to help her enter into her first choice of high schools. I did most of the illustrations for her application portfolio to Art & Design. It was meaningless to me until I met her years later and she told me that she designed baby clothes for a living. Then it mattered a bit more. I realized how out of touch with myself I’d been as a teen and felt the first pangs of regret.

To fill that longing I recently registered for an editorial processing course at CUNY. These  in-person classes took place for me after a nine hour work day. I thought I could overcome that. I decided to ignore my fear that the professor would call on Ashley… Jordan… and then me, Grandma. My grey hair was a beacon among the twenty year old blondes, candy apple reds, and brunettes.

I hesitated to share with my spouse the two episodes when the security officer asked to see my ID or some proof I belonged in those hallowed corridors. She loudly asked me whether I had an adjunct faculty badge and when I said no, asked if was I a professor. No, I am a student, I replied. Twice.

I shared my tale with my spouse, in spite of my ego. It turned out that during her recent return to CUNY for undergrad music courses her experience was worse. She’d been escorted out of the music room when she’d attempted to practice the piano by security officers who couldn’t believe she was a student. Twice.

I found I was exhausted in the morning without the pleasure of a real hangover. I didn’t have time to create in my mind the lovely stories that tend to bubble up there when I am calm. The informational sheets the professor handed out covered either something I already knew or my real-life-editor had discussed with me. I didn’t need to spend two and a half hours in class with two and a half hour commutes for validation or to revisit an old dream that had already been fulfilled.

I didn’t go back to class last night. I’m finally a college dropout and I’m proud of it. I ate dinner with my spouse, worked on my new novel outline, and chatted on the phone with my dear Uncle Louie. I woke up this morning refreshed.

I am a writer. An author. I’m growing my creative life as I hadn’t for years. It’s never too late for us. This growth is something that I’m now sharing with like minded individuals who have also woken up and said, it’s my turn. The kids are grown. The parents have been satisfied. We’ve survived and now we will flourish in creating those parts of ourselves that have been patiently waiting for us to reawaken.

What is your dream?

xoxo
Theresa

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