College - Day 2


Aug 22, 2019
By: Jerry A. Goodson
In: College

Well that was an oddball question!

The "newness" of college still hasn't worn off, but at least we've gotten started.

Composition I 

Before classes started this past Tuesday, Boogie and I had already visited the bookstore.  We purchased one set of all the books our schedule called for, but today, we learned they had sold us the wrong copy of "Easy Writer 7th Edition" that's required for this class.  I don't know what the difference is between our copy with a white cover and the professor's copy with the blue cover.  Anyhow, she told us the book store didn't have the correct ones in right now, but we would be able to exchange ours when they do come in.

We took a diagnostic test.  There were 50 questions on it, and the first half of them were about citations using the MLA style.  I've never heard of the MLA style, and I don't recall seeing parenthetical citations, but it looks like that's what I'll be using in this course.  As I was muddling through the diagnostic test, the professor started playing a video from https://owl.purdue.edu/.  I made a note of which video she was playing, because I couldn't concentrate on the test and watch/listen to the video at the same time.  

That's pretty much all we covered, today.  She assigned us pages 2-10 in our packet for homework.  I haven't opened it, yet.  I have no idea what our assignment is, but I have until class next Tuesday to get it done.

Federal Government

This class was much more engaging!  Well, it was for me and the occupy guy.... I'll refer to him as "Mr. Occupy" from here on out.  The professor questioned why we thought there was relatively little voter turnout in our nation's elections.  After a few brief moments, I blurted out, "apathy."

Mr. Occupy immediately retorted his disagreement.  I turned around to look at him, waiting for him to justify his opposition to my assertion.  "Voters feel powerless."  

What?  WHAT!?!  Wow!  From his perspective, his assertion was.... VALID!  I wrote it down.  

The professor gave another answer she had students come to her with in the past, "I don't want to be wrong."  She, also, mentioned some students simply "didn't like the options."

The "group discussion" segued into information abundance versus information reliability.  The professor alluded to CNN, although putting a little "spin" on their reporting, was pretty credible while discounting the credibility of Fox News and MSNBC.  She was subtly dismissive of my offering that journalistic standards and ethics have declined over the past decade.  Oh, well.

Note to self:  The professor referenced the book, "The Death of Expertise."  I'm gonna have to put that on my "to read" list.

Our homework is to read the Declaration of Independence, then write a paragraph on what we personally find "the most interesting" thing about it.  Here's my submission:

Thoughts on the Declaration of Independence

Thomas Jefferson was a strong proponent of the separation of religion and government, yet he referenced God four times when he penned the Declaration.  The arguments over the government recognizing Divinity over embracing Divine inspiration persist even today, and will probably never cease as long as we continue to live and govern ourselves on the original founding documents (God was referenced in the US Constitution, as well).  The document wasn’t just written to publicly and officially our separation, but to justify that separation by brandishing a higher authority than the throne, itself.  In the document, Jefferson levied the most serious of charges against King George III.  I suspect he wanted to not only inspire rebellion against the throne by the colonists here, but also to the king’s other subjects in England.  What I found to be most interesting in reading the Declaration of Independence was the resolve stated in the last sentence… and the demonstrated intestinal fortitude of those would sacrifice their very lives backing it up.

United States History I

Just as I suspected, the professor picked up where she left off on her lecture.  When we finished the lecture, she handed out our "Semester Project," which was nothing more than writing prompts for a 4-page paper she wants for the next ten weeks.

For that class, we take an exam over the week's chapter.  The exam is done online out of class, and we have until noon on Sunday to complete it.  We get thirty minutes and only one attempt.  This being my first one, I was quite apprehensive about how well I was going to do on the test, but I scored a 92%.  

When Boogie took the test, he asked me about a question that was obviously out of place.  I googled the answer, so he got that question right... and he made a 100%!  Good for him.  I sent an email to my professor about the question, and she said it wasn't supposed to be in the question bank for that test. 

Back to our "semester project," the writing prompts are various questions about us.  For Week 1, the prompt is to write a four-page autobiography.  Only four pages???  The challenge for me was figuring out what I felt to be important enough to include within the confines of four pages, not figuring out how to fill up four pages!  We're talking four decades packed with experiences!  Fortunately, I will be able to easily fill up four pages for the subsequent prompts...

It’s All About Me – Week 1

            I was born on December 26, 1976 in Texarkana, Texas.  I am the oldest of four children, having two brothers and one sister all one year apart.  I enjoyed growing up in a traditional nuclear family until my parents divorced when I was nine.  During that time, our Saturday’s were spent traveling to various churches in southwest Arkansas, northwest Louisiana, and northeast Texas, as my father played bass guitar for the southern gospel group, The Good News Singers.  My father wasn’t the most stable in regards to where we lived.   I remember living in several different places in the Texarkana area, to include two different houses on 5th Street, Cherry Street on the Arkansas side, and on FM 2148 just outside of Nash.  We were living in Atlanta when my parents separated, and that is where I consider “home” to this day. 

            My mother re-married in 1986, and remained in Atlanta with her husband.  My father had custody of us kids, but didn’t really provide a lot of stability for us in regards to providing a steady place to live.  We found that stability in being bounced between my paternal grandparents, who lived in Liberty Eylau, and my mother and her husband.  I attended multiple schools, including Liberty Eylau three different times, and Atlanta four different times.  My obnoxious personality, combined with my uncertainty of where I was going to live from week to week, made it difficult to make a lot of friends.  That mindset and circumstance fostered my development as a “free spirit” and proverbially “marching to the beat of my own drum.” 

            Upon realizing popularity would not be attainable for me, it quickly became unimportant.  Having grown up going to gospel music concerts, I developed a passion for music.  The hallmark of my school career is marked by my participation in the band.  While it’s typical for beginners to start in sixth grade, I didn’t start until seventh.  I started on baritone at T.J. Rusk Middle School in Nacogdoches, then switched to French horn a couple of months later when we moved in with my grandparents in Liberty Eylau.  Having four kids became too much for my grandparents, so my father signed over custody of us kids to my mother a few months later.  When we transferred to Atlanta (now, for the third time), I switched to trombone.  I had just became proficient enough to keep up when the band director asked me to switch to tuba because her one single tuba player had quit.  That’s what I played for the rest of my school career.

           I went to Houston to visit my father in the summer of 1992, after my freshman year.  I had every intention of returning home to Atlanta at the end of summer, but I met a girl.  As the summer progressed, we grew quite close.  We never dated, but I was sure we would.

            As the summer came to an end, I decided to stay in Houston, leaving my life in Atlanta behind.  I started my sophomore year at Elsik High School, and it was quite a culture shock.  The school building, itself, was larger than Central Mall, and there were more students enrolled than the entire population of Atlanta.  The band had more kids than my entire graduating class.  Coming from a rural area, you would think I would have hung out with the “kickers,” but I didn’t.  I hung out with the “metal heads.”  The “kickers,” to me, were phony “wanna-bes,” and I made that point one time when one of them showed up with a brand new rope he bought.  There I am, wearing a Metallica t-shirt, blue jean shorts, and high top sneakers when I walk up and ask to see the rope.  I started working it a little when the drugstore cowboy popped off, “What do you know about roping?”  At first, he thought I was joking when I told him to take off running.  When he realized I wasn’t kidding, he took off in a dead run.  The reaction from all of his friends when I landed that rope around him was epic!    I had grown up riding horses, roping, and all the other rural stuff these guys just dressed to do.

            Day by day, the relationship between me and the girl grew stronger, but it never materialized into anything romantic.  I was still quite sure it would, and I didn’t mind waiting.  She had her crowd at school, and I had mine, but when we weren’t in school, we were inseparable.  As badly as I missed home, I couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing her every day. 

            In October of 1993, my father and his new wife decided to move from Houston to Fort Worth.  I fought this decision vigorously, until we settled that I would at least finish out the school year in Houston by staying with a friend.  That plan was initially agreeable with my father until my step-father’s mother died in Atlanta.  He wouldn’t take me home to attend her funeral, then take me back to Houston.  If I wanted to attend her funeral, I would have to come with him to Fort Worth.  It broke my heart, but I decided my step-grandmother’s funeral was important enough to me to leave Houston behind.

            I showed up with a “skater” haircut, and my mother broke down and cried.  My step-father didn’t want to be seen in public with me, and at the time, it was so “out of place” for Atlanta than I didn’t blame him.  I got a “respectable” hair cut the day after I arrived.  I really missed home, and contemplated coming back, but I really thought I could figure out a way to get back to Houston.  I was sadly mistaken.

            I was enrolled at Brewer High School in the Fort Worth suburb of White Settlement.  The “kickers” in Houston were now referred to as “ropers.”  The school was only about twice as big as the school in Atlanta, not bigger than the entire population.  I was faced with new challenges and new problems.  I didn’t even feel like I “fit in” with the high school band, much less any other click.  It wasn’t Atlanta, and it didn’t have the girl that I stayed in Houston for.  I just didn’t want to be there.

            My step-father had severe heart issues that had caused him and my mother great financial strain for several years.  Over Spring Break of my junior year, my father brought me home to visit while he visited his parents in Texarkana.  He told me we would be going back to Fort Worth on Saturday, so I had planned to sing and play guitar for a fundraiser a church was doing for my mother and step-father.  My father showed up on Friday afternoon, just a few hours before the singing, to go back to Forth Worth.  After a brief argument, he ended up leaving without me.  I dropped out of high school for the rest of the year so I could get a job and start paying for a place to live.  I was excited about finishing high school in Atlanta.

            The first day of my senior year, I woke up wearing handcuffs.  In short, my brother and I were playing around, and it escalated from horseplay to fighting.  My mother was in Dallas with my step-father, and couldn’t handle the situation at the time.  The deputy sheriff told me he had already called my father.  He gave me the choice of living with my father or going to jail.  If I had known then what I know now, I would have told that deputy what he could kiss and where he could go.  I ended up going back to Fort Worth, and graduating from Brewer High School.

            The girl remains my nearest and dearest friend.  She put that friendship to the ultimate test a few years after we graduated from high school.  She took me out to a nice dinner at Riva’s in Houston when she revealed to me she was gay.  It wasn’t something she told me lightly.  It took her a long while to work up to it, and she had prepared herself, the best she could, to lose me as a friend.  I would say her friendship is just as defining, for me, as my relationship with my family.  Had I not met her, I don’t believe I would be as well-traveled and have experienced everything I have up to this point in my life.



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