I am trapped in this window-less basement room. Twenty five nonprofit students are screaming at me for showing up to class five hours late. Wearing only a t-shirt and underpants, I stand ashamed at the front of the class, the words of someone's power point presentation glowing across my face. Paper airplanes are hurled at me and the professor banishes me to the back of the class, telling me that I have failed the course. "No, Ms. Sands, you cannot give your presentation. I don't forgive tardiness."
I bolt awake and frantically look around, a side glance at the clock telling me it's 4:15 am. Panic and dread fighting in my stomach, then I realize I haven't missed class. And logically the most I'd get for showing up late would be some slightly judgmental glances and very minimal heckling. Shrimp with spaghetti at midnight is the culprit. I was starving when I got home after working at client's gala, not thinking about the ludicrous late night dreams that would certainly be visited upon me for eating dinner right before bed. I fall back asleep and am promptly dreaming again. This time some combination of an episode of Hoarders with myself as the star, mixed with some light gardening. I am aware that I'm dreaming the whole time. Weird.
The alarm goes off at 7:00, snooze button until 7:15 and then manage to force myself up and start getting ready for class. I am 35 and I'm in school again. It's a warm familiar feeling. But it comes with the stress and performance anxiety that I remember less fondly. Yet it's invigorating. I have an assignment to present to the class today. I'm confident that I've done a solid job, but now I have to present it to a class of 25 other non-profit fundraiser types. My class is filled with sharp, dedicated people. A wide age range, from early twenties to late sixties, one actual nun wearing a habit, one older professor filled with war stories about his Jerry Lewis telethon days and a abundance of politically incorrect jokes, a woman who manages to don more scarves than even I do, the cackling laugh girl who rolls in the aisles over EVERYTHING and yet does not take criticism well, another woman who has worn these bright purple boots at both class sessions (boots so desirous that I completely relate to teens who beat each other up over Air Jordans or Starter jackets, I promise I didn't hit her over the head with my book and steal her footwear, her damn feet are too small.)
In case I didn't mention, these classes are for my fund development certificate at the University of Missouri Kansas City, and this was the last session of my first complete course. I'm taking two this fall and two next spring, and when I finish I can cross off #41 on my life list! Officially crossing it off still leaves me with some other decisions to make. I need to get a Master's degree at some point, and probably in Public Administration. I'm just not ready. These current classes can be used towards graduate level credit hours which is useful, once I decide to go back to school. I don't want to yet. Part of my delay is the cost, part of it is the time commitment, and part of it is, I just don't want to right now. So there, decision made. But I'm crossing off #41 either way, next spring once I get my certificate, and framing that sucker right up on the wall with hipster giraffe.
All morning, this session, will be filled with presentations. It's decidedly harder to fall asleep when you are expected to speak and not just take notes, so this is a good thing. I want to present first and get it out of the way so I don't have to sit all afternoon dreading it. I like public speaking. But like the balance of the population, it makes me nervous. I talk entirely too fast, escalating the speed with which I talk normally, already fast, to the point where I sound like the Micro Machines' pitch man. So the mantra "SLOW DOWN" is constantly running through my head as I stand facing the class and winging it. The professor arbitrarily decides to have us present in the order that he received our assignment in the mail. I have no idea if this is good or bad until I get called to go fourth. Aaah, good. Some of my fellow students prepared lengthy and elaborate power point presentations. I didn't. It's just me and my direct mail fund raising piece standing at the front, ready to be ripped apart. I got a few laughs, some truly positive feedback and constructive criticism and overall I felt good. I ended up with 100% on the assignment, and the class. I am still so driven by receiving those grades. I feel like a little kid receiving a gold star for cleaning my room or putting away my shoes. I feel accomplished. My professor liked my work. I reek of teacher's pet.
After a morning of presentations and feedback, we break for lunch. Over in Midtown Kansas City, with so many restaurant options, I tend to grab cheap fast food, eat in my car with the windows down while reading a book. But for some reason that just seems kind of wrong today. Fast food is crappy and the weather is warm and humid, so sitting in the car for some peace and quiet would be sticky. I went to lunch all alone at Cafe Europa instead. I don't feel very comfortable eating by myself in nice sit down restaurants. This is silly. I just so rarely do it that I feel like I stick out in the room, sitting by myself with my book. My waiter was chatty and funny and certainly gay, based on the way he outrageously flirted and touched the gentlemen seated next to me, my quiche and soup were scrumptious and once I got over the fact that the woman sitting on my other side really was looking at me a lot, (I was slightly eavesdropping on her conversation about liposuction, maybe she noticed) she leaned over and said "Sorry, I keep staring, but I love your bracelet, where did you get it?" Ok, so I'm unnecessarily self conscious and no one could give a crap whether I eat lunch alone.
After lunch I browsed at the little boutiques and shops around the restaurant. Trying to hide my sticker shock in one lovely austere shop, I turned over a price tage and saw $550 dollars for a scarf and had to reconnect my jaw to my face. For a scarf? Huh? A scarf that I think I've seen at Marshalls for $20. I think I was in the wrong place. $550 for a scarf. I wandered into the little stationary store next door and bought a couple of little presents and a small "Keep Calm and Carry On" print for myself. And then back to class.
The afternoon dragged. Once the other presentations were over, the last hour of class felt like slow torture. Coming down off of the double whammy adrenaline high of the special event the night before and the presentation that morning, my serious lack of sleep, I was looking rough. I hung on, attempted to take some notes, though on closer inspection yesterday they are a bit incoherent. 4 o'clock finally meandered up and I dragged myself home. A brief blessed nap later and I felt like myself again, like myself who had just gotten an A+. Nerd.
So are you totally grade driven? Are you still giddy when you get an A? Do you still get nervous giving speeches? Do you talk so fast during presentations that you should be in the Guinness Book of World Records? Tell me, tell me!