It started in 2015. I had a couple choices: keep working at a gas station in Idaho, or maybe move back home to Montana. Neither of those options would have moved me forward. A friend who was studying at North Idaho College to become an elementary teacher suggested: why don't you go back to school? I've prattled all my life about how I didn't believe people needed a formal education to be a creative writer--and that was my dream: to write novels. Why should I go back to school? There had always been a sort of disconnect for me.
In high school: the communication between the school counselor and myself was poor. I didn't know how to apply for college. I didn't know what I was doing and I wasn't certain how to ask. When I was accepted to Westwood College of Technology in Denver when I was 17: I had plans. I'd go to school for Graphic Design! I had money at the time (social security support from the loss of my father) and I knew everything at 17. I could move over to Denver and go to school and--
then I lost my social security money when I turned 18 (3 months after being accepted), and probably had a boyfriend at the time that I didn't want to leave. There would be no Graphic Design degree for me or moving out of the state of Montana. So I started working. I worked as a dishwasher (a job I was eventually fired/let go from because I kept sleeping in and showing up late); a sales person (a job I was laid off from when the company started to lose money); I got a belly button piercing and years later found out the needle had already been used and I had contracted Hepatitis C; a year or so on unemployment, some terrible, dark months at a Veterinary Clinic--and a few years I wish I could forget while working at DirecTV call center.
[Insert a series of other awful jobs, mostly poor relationship choices, a few good ones; one failed marriage, somewhere in the mix I applied to the University of Montana and Spokane Falls Community College and it never went anywhere. See above note about me feeling disconnected and not understanding the process. I eventually moved to Washington, then back to Idaho, depending on which relationship I was in.]
Fast forward to age 31, turning 32. Somehow I managed to rush through orientation at North Idaho College, pick out my classes, and then head back to Spokane to volunteer at WorldCon for the weekend. I started school. I was a college student! I WAS A COLLEGE STUDENT! First generation, low-income, loan-wielding but I had finally done it.
I couldn't have done it without Catherine and Mama-Michelle encouraging me, Mason and my family supporting my decision to apply--and then all the people I met along the path: Jonathan, Crystal, Allie, Rebekah, Aaron and the English Club, Laura, Cynthia, Dana, Kim, Ellie, the entire class of British Murder Mysteries, Molly~ I hope to see you all soon.
And I loved it. It's hard realizing that there are few things in life I've ever been good at--but until that point in my life, I'd never had said I was good at being a student. Probably age and knowing that I was paying loans for my education had a lot to do with it. Maybe I knew I was taking a step in the right direction. Maybe it was just the chance of getting the right teachers at the right time that saved me.
And over the next two-and-a-half years I never received a grade lower than a B in any of my classes. I took Math 015 twice (because I got a C the first time. Pro tip: don't take a math class at 5 p.m. if you are not so great at math and get hungry, it's a bad combination). I dissected a pig for Biology. I managed to survive Speech class (again, due to the support of an amazing teacher). I joined English Club and became the Princess (Vice President: we changed our bylaws to update our titles!), I went to Portland for the first time, I got to listen to Anne Lamott talk about life and writing. I met some people and made friendships that, I hope, will last a lifetime. I was able to travel to Europe for my British Murder Mystery class and visit Scotland, Wales and London. And now that journey is over and I'm starting another one: I'm headed to Eastern Washington University in September 2018 to begin another adventure.
My blogs about being a student
at North Idaho College
Fall 2015 Semester
Spring 2016 Semester
- From First to Final Draft: My First College Essay January 6th, 2016
- Creative Writing: A Perspective Exercise January 28th, 2016
- Ebony Stewart: Someone to Admire January 29th, 2016
- Story Submission: "Hope in the Darkness" March 11th, 2016
- Story 1: Miss Sparkles March 22nd, 2016
- Losing my Literary Voice (for a better one) March 29th, 2016
- Creative Writing: A Dialogue Exercise (Jaq and Nox argue) March 30th, 2016
- Creative Writing Exercise: Post-Modernism Weirdness March 30th, 2016
- Story 2: The Devil loves Banana Bread March 31st, 2016
- Creative Writing: Individuals vs Character Details April 1st, 2016
- Student Art Exhibit April 14th, 2016
- Creative Writing Exercise: Metafiction April 15th, 2016
- Creative Writing Exercise: Fabulism April 19th, 2016
- Trestle Creek Review: Launch Party May 2nd, 2016
- Video! Reading "Hope in the Darkness" like a scared girl May 4th, 2016
- Crash course in Publishing! May 6th, 2016
- A letter to convince myself to write May 18th, 2016
Summer 2016 Semester
- Summer update: Math 025 and NOT Chemistry June 10th, 2016
Fall 2016 Semester
- Longitude and Time September 6th, 2016
- A Creative Nonfiction Exercise September 16th, 2016
- Shotgunning Memories November 21st, 2016
- Winter Break December 20th, 2016
Spring 2017 Semester
- Spring Semester and a note about cats January 9th, 2017
- Disappearing tutors and angry rants February 8th, 2017
- Fetal pig dissections and shit sandwiches March 19th, 2017
- Portland and the Literature Conference March 28th, 2017
- Dragons and Bald Men and Demons, oh my April 26th, 2017
- Trestle Creek Review: Issue 31 May 7th, 2017
- Annual Awards Ceremony and other good fortunes May 10th, 2017
Fall 2017 Semester
- Michelle writes poetry?! November 28th, 2017
- August - December 2017, a bulleted list in some order December 15th, 2017
Spring 2018 Semester
I noticed a serious trend in the number of my blog posts compared to the progress towards my Associates Degree. I started waiting for months before writing blogs, and then would just cram them all together into one post. Some things that are missing from this list: Annual Awards Ceremony in May 2018 I won an award for Overall Outstanding English Student. Said goodbye to some teachers that I love dearly. I will always love learning and I'll never stop.
A few weeks later and my degree finally arrived in the mail! We have a small mailbox, so that must mean that you make the mail fit, even if it says do not bend.
Luckily, it's just a piece of fancy paper that sums up two-and-a-half years of my life.