Alabama, where abortion is just another team sport

I spent a large portion of my childhood in Alabama. Birmingham to be exact. It’s called the Magic City, but I never figured out why because there’s was nothing magical about it.

There were some great parts about living in Alabama. You could ride a new bike on Christmas morning. You were only a few hours away from a beautiful coastline, although the beach never seemed warm enough during spring break, at least not for people who lived in the South. The trees and flowers and greenery in Alabama were beautiful. As a child, there was no shortage of “woods” to get lost in. Plus, foods like monkey bread, boiled peanuts, and moonpies tasted great (yes, I do love boiled peanuts but I accept that it’s an acquired taste). Oh, and people were incredibly nice. Really nice. Unbelievably nice. Frequently with an emphasis on the unbelievable part.

See, what I remember most is that everything in the Deep South centered around outward appearances. You looked like you were being sweet, so obviously you were sweet. You looked sincere, therefore you were. You looked put together and in control (that’s why you put on lipstick and fixed your hair before running to the Winn-Dixie to pick up tampons and toilet paper), so you must be. You looked like you cared, so you did, right?

Probably not.

That’s why it didn’t surprise me when I heard about this week’s bullshit abortion legislation in Alabama. It’s a show. Legislators in the state have even admitted as much. In this case, it’s an empty effort to try to get some high court to overturn Roe v. Wade. But I’d argue that the show is actually deeper than Roe v. Wade. I’d argue that these people don’t give the tiniest rat’s ass about the 1973 decision that deemed restrictive rules prohibiting abortion as unconstitutional. Their goal instead is to show that they have power. And for some reason, abortion has always been caught of this political pissing match.

Look, if any of the Alabama legislators (or any pro-life activist) actually gave a shit about babies that weren’t their own, they’d be equally as focused on what happens outside of the womb. Our healthcare system would be accessible by everyone. There would be no poverty. Hunger would be eradicated (and healthy food choices would be available and accessible to everyone). Gun violence wouldn’t exist. Children would be guaranteed at least one parent who was supportive and gave a damn. Homeless would be nothing more than a literary concept. Acceptance and tolerance would extend to every child and every person, regardless of religion, gender identity, color of skin, ethnic background, who they fell in love with, or what they wanted to do with their own bodies. Our education system would be incredibly well-funded rather than weak and anemic, and it would provide equal opportunities and access for all, no matter how much wealth a family had or hadn’t accumulated. And every child who exited the womb would honestly have a chance to do something amazing — a real chance at success, not some bullshit one filled with societal hurdles that are easily maneuvered only by light-skinned, native English speakers with a wallet full of cash.

That, however, isn’t what’s driving any of these legislators. What is driving them is the opportunity to show that they can effect change through their attempts to turn the clock back almost 50 years, which, 46 years ago, was at least 50 years too late.

These are the same legislators and Alabamians who were also obsessed with football and team sports when I lived there. It’s something I never really understood either, especially since it was college football and the state then and now has a lower-than-average percent of residents who even attend college. They’ve applied this same my-team v. your-team approach to social justice. The right-wing team has the ball and is doing its damnedest to get it into the endzone, which is now overseen by fresh, new referees (or judges) who might be willing to let some sketchy maneuver through.

It’s not sincere. But if the moves they’re making to overturn abortion rights work, these team-players will finish the game looking like winners. No, they won’t do anything that would actually ensure the lives they claim to be protecting have the “chance” that they also like to claim all babies (more accurately, fetuses) deserve, but that doesn’t matter. Deep down, what appears to matter most to anyone who’s trying to eliminate abortion access is that they’re finally on the winning side, and that their team is able to go the distance and surmount a 46-year losing streak. The impact of the game? Well, it really doesn’t matter now does it.

 

 

Make America Skeptical Again (Or Why Am I Still Doing This)

I’ve spent the last nine months, give or take some vacation time, in school taking classes to become a teacher. Yes, a teacher. Something that will pay about one-third of what I have been making in marketing, will likely be twice as frustrating, and frequently be less fulfilling than helping useless companies make money off of other useless companies. But I think teaching is what I want to do.

“Think” is the operative term here. I don’t know yet for sure. I’m a skeptic, you know?

While the skepticism likely started the day I was born, the teaching-people idea stems back to a very dark day in 2016, somewhere around November 10, by which time I’d had a day and a half to realize that everything happening around me wasn’t some really bad joke. That’s when I finally had to accept that Trump had really been elected president. By people. Who share a country of residence with me. Who were my age (and older and younger). Who shared my bland-ass skin tone. Who should know better than to vote for a racist, homophobic, sexist assclown.

It was less about the person elected than the act of electing him that really bothered me. We had embarked upon a complete shift in direction from a stalwart, progressive society to an anti-intellectual time-out corner.

I tried to understand the people who flip the knob for Trump. Turns out I regularly try to figure people out, quite unsuccessfully I might add. Somehow I was sure this time would be different. I knew these people must be getting their bizarro info about Hillary’s child-sex-trafficking pizza ring from somewhere, but I didn’t know where. I mean Fox News was/is crazy AF but even they’re not that batshit, right?

I turned to Alex Jones. I’d learned about him previously from my son, when my son revealed that he and other teen gamers were regularly targeted by alt-right messaging in gamer chat rooms and on message boards. I also learned about Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars, and a bunch of other whack-ass sites I try to keep out of my brain that way. Oddly, Alex Jones seemed like the most mainstream of the bunch. I found his podcast and tuned in during my daily run.

I lasted four days before admitting defeat, knowing that I had learned nothing about his audience except that they had the patience of Gandhi to be able to listen to the same toad croak on for four hours at a stretch about nonsense that was pretty obviously bullshit. Alien lizard people? Lefties stealing children out of backyards and sucking out their souls? People actually believed this?

Plus, Alex Jones’ anger was infectious. I would finish my run really pissed off for no reason, which is the exact opposite of what running usually does for me. I tried a few other podcasts, like Michael Savage’s, someone whom I knew my mother listened to and she was all over that Trump bandwagon (and parents wonder why their children never call), but I didn’t even last a day with him because he was so intensely dull. Apparently people who listen to the drivel vomited by right-wingers possessing a microphone have low expectations in terms of entertainment. That probably explains the popularity of a lot of television shows, too.

I was quickly realizing I wouldn’t be able to think like a Trump voter (something to be proud of), and walking a mile in their shoes was beyond my capacity to reason. This was more apparent when my boss at the time informed me that he was tired of people calling him a racist because he voted for Trump. He followed this proclamation by showing me a handful of texts from a friend of his that justified his vote. One was a link to a video in which Hillary Clinton was said to be laughing at her defense of a child rapist. Another was information about Evan McMullin, the savior candidate for Utahns who couldn’t bear to vote for a woman and weren’t so keen about that pussy-grabbing stuff either. According to my then-boss, McMullin was working for the Clinton campaign to divert votes from Trump so Clinton would be the state’s winner.

Now here’s the thing. I’m pretty aware of what’s going on in politics, and both of these seemed like they should have been big big big big big news (plus, everyone knows a democrat can’t win Utah, not to mention a WOMAN, why would someone bother paying a third-party candidate just in case?). So why hadn’t I heard of either? In less than three minutes online, I learned from reputable sources that both “facts” were complete bullshit. I also had time to cross-check and fact-check, that’s how little effort it took.

Why hadn’t my soon-to-be former boss done the same? He was a grown adult — do adults just accept what they’re told now?

This became the singular idea that drove me for the next year and a half as I tried to figure out how to Make America Skeptical Again. For a long time, I’ve defended the rights of anyone to say any dumbass thing they want to. Freedom of speech ROCKS! Freedom to believe, however, doesn’t. We all have the responsibility to find the facts before accepting anything hook, line, and sinker. And for some reason, people had stopped doing this.

When I was a kid, almost everyone I knew had two newspapers delivered to their home daily. Usually, the a.m. and p.m. papers had different political bents, but people (a.k.a., adults) read both anyway. In my house, my dad would read them cover to cover, do the crossword puzzle, take the sports section into the bathroom, etc. We all knew the drill. He’d complain about something he read in one paper and deem one of the editorial writers a clown. But what mattered most was that he was trying to see at least two sides to an issue.

In short, no one believed anything back then. Whether it was in print or broadcast, it deserved to be questioned.

Eventually, however, this changed. Most towns lost their second newspaper in the early 2000s. And most papers that survived are still existing by a thread. The message today from most news sources, and I use the term “news” loosely when personal blogs and social media platforms are seen as forms of news, says that no one bothers looking for the full story any more. A one-sided, biased opinion is good enough, thank you.

But as the Internet took hold, something else happened — people became too busy to look at the facts. Google and Facebook and other ad platforms started feeding us info that spoke to our exhibited biases, and in return, those platforms were rewarded with higher click thru and ad rates. Real news outlets, which have always been whores for cash, took notice and also started publishing stories that people WANTED to read, watch, or hear, rather than the ones people NEEDED to hear. A super-objective piece? BORING. Lizard people is where it’s at.

Anyway, back to November 2016 … or maybe by this time, it was December or 2017. I have two teens in my house so I know for a fact that we all reach adulthood as skeptics. I question why people have lost their natural skepticism and drive to prove authority figures wrong, why we read headlines and 140-character sound bites. Is it that we’ve become too comfortable and complacent? Do we have so much more Netflix to watch that we can only be bothered to pay attention if someone pre-chews the information for us?

Somehow society needed to change. Somehow I decided it was up to me to fix it. It took me a year and a half to figure out how. My decision: maybe I’d become a teacher. I could try to help the next generation to fix all the shit my generation and the ones that preceded us keep getting wrong.

Will it work? I have no idea, but I’ve finished my coursework and have only student teaching left before someone unleashes me on a class full of students and I get to find out. I think. I’m a little skeptical so I really don’t know if this will work or if I’ll be able to engage single mind or if this could be the single dumbest idea I’ve ever had.

Is anyone else offended by Happy Mothers’ Day?

Quick digression from the usual here, but is anyone else bothered when they’re told “Happy Mother’s Day!” by someone who isn’t their child?

I know this probably seems silly, but when the term is tossed around all willy-nilly by passersbys at Walmart, the person in front of my house picking up recycling, or a guilt-ridden employer with a credit at the flower shop, mother’s day feels even cheaper and wronger.

If mother’s day actually means anything, then it’s something personal — wishes and from a child to his/her/their mom or any other parental figure they choose. When a mother’s day greeting are extended by some third party, the whole day becomes about as meaningful as the Hallmark holiday that it is. That goes double when your creepiest, most annoying client ever texts “happy mother’s day” to you before you even wake up. Eww.

I have a 16 year old son. No, this isn’t a bad time for him.

Yesterday. I’m in class when my instructor — a woman about my own age with a Ph.D. in education — says that this is a dangerous time to be a man, that we should fear for our sons.

The statement hit home for me, but not because I agree with her. Because it’s complete, utter bullshit.

“Now” is only dangerous for males who should have been stopped long ago.

My 16 year old son agrees. He’s not scared. He’s smart — and he knows that assault isn’t “poor judgment.” If you have the ability to assault someone, regardless of your degree of inebriation, there’s something much bigger wrong with you.

My guess is your son and most sons feel this way, too. Ask around. Almost every one of the men you talk to will say they’ve had a few too many beers, eaten too many wrong things at Taco Bell, taken too many wrong busses or told too many Uber drivers the wrong address. But they still made it home with their clothes in place and intact. What they haven’t done is assaulted someone along the way.

We women have been there too. I remember waking up one morning in high school after having too many drinks to see my parents leaning over my bed asking where my car was. I had forgotten the night before that I had one somewhere with me (yeah, I like beer, too, Brett), so I caught a ride home. It was probably one of the smartest things I’d ever done.

We women have also taken wrong turns, gone on the wrong dates, packed the wrong shoes, chosen the wrong door on Let’s Make a Deal, invested in scams, bought the wrong wine — all lapses in judgement.

What most of us haven’t done is try to force someone into a sexual situation. Because most of us understand, regardless of how much beer we’ve had, that you really want two for the tango — two people willing to take the dance wherever it goes.

If we’re looking for dangerous times, let’s fear for women. It’s always been a dangerous time for us, but not because of most men — only because of the ones who can find ways to justify assault. Oh, and because of attitudes that say the woman has to be making this shit up because that confident little powerful man must be telling the truth. He’s likeable, right? (That, btw, is surely open to debate).

I’d like to think “now” is a dangerous time for attitudes we’ve perpetuated, like the one from my all-male senators who are sure that nice, upstanding Yale grad who refused to answer simple questions and got really angry when a mean lady lawmaker asked him, well, anything, is the perfect person to rot on a bench in a judicial robe and forever remind me that our society believes the memory of a man who admits to heavy drinking over a highly educated woman’s. Maybe now is when we finally obtain and accept that we all have equal rights AND deserve equal respect and ask ourselves why we didn’t demand this long ago, like in the 1960s and 1970s when the U.S. society couldn’t pull its collective head from its asses long enough to adopt the metric system. Or ratify the ERA.

I’d like to think now is when both men and women do something about EVERYTHING, when we stop making excuses, stop sitting back and playing nice. When we take the Colin Kaepernick approach and make the sacrifice, if needed. And fight to ensure it’s never a sacrifice again.

Maybe now is when WE, as women, stop enabling a society that doesn’t value our contributions and intellect, and start calling bullshit on men who play the victim card (nope, don’t deal me in). Maybe now is when we stop defending men with tender feelings, because from what I’m seeing, no one gets to have those any more.

And maybe now is when we start questioning other women — our sisters — who still don’t get it. Who make matters worse by stating that other women are full of shit when they come forward with deeply personal accusations against a male. These are the same women who think their sons could be at risk of a false accusal or think it’s okay to support someone who wants to turn back the clock on women’s rights and everyone else’s too. These are women who accept things as they are, who won’t rock the boat. If we don’t confront them, it’s not just their sons we’ll need to worry about — it’s their daughters, too, — because their generation won’t speak up either.

Insanity: Wasting time on a definition when there’s actual shit to do.

You know how they say “insanity” is doing the same shit over and over again and expecting a different result? That’s total bullshit that originated in mind of some out-of-touch brainiac who never had to run a house, shuttle kids, go to Costco, do laundry, balance a checkbook, run a business or make a new career.

My guess is that said brainiac had a partner who did everything for him. His partner probably thought that definition was bullshit, too … although she didn’t really have time to think because it was Saturday and she had to get to Costco before it closed.

Every day, I wish for more time. It never materializes, but I hang my hat on that hope that it will.

Instead, I get a late start. To everything. And I take more time to complete all tasks. I dream of dinner that’s magically “ready” and delicious (sorry, Chipotle, that rules you out), and lunches that are made by the picky kids who will start complaining any second now. I envision a world where the really old cat is pre-injected with his insulin and where the even really-older cat stops shitting on the floor. Where I’m finished with homework, where laundry is clean and folded. Where the gold fish are fed, rugs are vacuumed and litter boxes exhibit no signs of use. The dog does her part to help me achieve the latter (thanks Zizzy!).

Nothing else really changes, except my bed time, which keeps getting later, and my wake up time, which is now even earlier. Fortunately I’m positive that I’m fully capable of keeping it all together, even on <4 hours of sleep. (Not insane!)

I hadn’t really thought about any of this before going back to school because I was too busy. I knew time would be tight but all I really considered was the time I’d spend in class. Homework? Do they still give that?

Unfortunately, even without homework, I was finding my schedule a little fuller than expected. After the first two weeks, where I regularly saw 1a AND 5:23a (WTF? Do people willingly wake up in the 5a hour? Even roosters know better. I know — I’m now up early enough to hear them after I get out of the shower), I knew I had to do something. So I did what any mom/working woman would do: I scheduled it. I planned that motherfucker out. Every last second of every last day. I am a rockstar.

Then my goddamn instructors ruined my plans: homework.

WTF again??? Now I’m expected to prepare for class, show up (occasionally on time) AND do something to apply my new-found knowledge? That’s a truer definition of insanity, cuz I can’t see any way it’s gonna’ to happen.

I add the homework into my schedule. It doesn’t fit but whatever. My ingenious plan shifts so I start working on next week’s homework and prep work the minute my Wednesday night ends. It’s busy but I’m sure it’s manageable.

Except there’s cat barf on the comforter so the bed needs to be stripped and changed. And those promises that I made to children. And clients who need something that I have to pretend to care about.

Ultimately it comes down to this: I’m now forcing myself out of bed at 5:25a each weekday — even on the days I don’t go to class — so I can get a head start on the schedule. In theory, I start everything sooner. Complete everything faster. Laugh in the face of time because it won’t get the best of me.

That, BTW, is bullshit, too.

Realistically, when you have a family, a job, geriatric cats, a dog and an eating habit that needs continual reinforcement, there’s no way you’re getting a jump on things. You have 10 minutes? Someone’s taking 15. You can change your schedule all you want but you can’t control anyone else’s. You’ll spend more time trying to maneuver around everyone else’s hopes and dreams than you’ll ever spend on trying to realize your own.

In reality, I spend all week finishing up the homework that never makes it onto the schedule because it’s assigned during class. It’s Sunday afternoon before I start any actual studying. Bedtime gets closer to 2a. I think of the overnight hours as a light nap, which should be enough to get me through each day.

If you ask me, because I’m still in school. I finish everything assigned to me, except for the assignments that never actually registered in my brain. I remember to wear pants or shorts each day and thus far have kept them seasonally appropriate. I’ve only to burn down the house with my flat iron once, which didn’t actually burn down the house, but did melt parts of itself. I’ve found only one errant tampon (unused, which was a relief because you never want to think you’re so spaced that you leave a used one somewhere). I only had to re-read paragraphs 2-3 times or tell my kids to ask me the same thing repeatedly before the meaning registers. And, from what I’m been told, I only actually nap in my 2p class (which has nothing to do with lack of sleep — the shit is boring).

Best part: I do this every week now. At least until they change my schedule and throw a few more things at me, which is fine because my morning class is dull, too, so I can get a little more sleep.

But here’s the deal: if insanity really is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result, then we’re all insane. Face it, we hope and dream every day but nothing changes. We go to work each day imagining it will get us ahead. It doesn’t. Insane! We expend effort hoping to raise kids to be wonderful, caring, brilliant societal contributors  and they sit around watching YouTube and playing video games while they text-curse their friends, who are also not insane. Insane! We get in arguments on social media because we think we’re going to change the minds of the really old right-wingers that we’re all harboring in our family trees, but they still vote for Trump. Insane! We pass up an empty seat on a standing-room-only bus so the woman behind us walking with a limp can sit, but it doesn’t matter since some guy’s backpack finds the seat before she does. Insane! We let people behind us at Costco who only have one or two items … wait, no one at Costco has only one or two items. INSANE!

To paraphrase Syndrome from The Incredibles, “When everyone is insane, no one will be.” So if you keep trying and dreaming, you’re actually not insane. Just hopeful. Because if you’ve ever read the news, you know the only thing we have going right now is hope, even though it’s getting more and more obvious that it’s not changing anything.

The true definition of insanity is probably closer to this: spending the time it takes to come up with a logical definition of insanity, while your partner gets stuck doing everything short of wiping your ass before heading to Costco for more toilet paper. That, my friends, is truly insane.

Our education system: where good enough is just perfect

I’m running on about 3.5 hours of sleep right now and, yeah, it’s my own fault.

I’d like to blame it on Jaegermeister (not really because I’d probably be puking now instead of writing), but I’m blaming it on my stupid self instead. The problem is that I sometimes strive to be perfect.

Stop laughing (besides, that just means you know me). Yes, I realize I’m not perfect, and that I look, act, seem nothing like a perfectionist. I have mountains of un-opened mail heaped on my desk and paint splatters on the tile in my laundry room, a cat who will only pee in front of the dishwasher (I don’t get it either but there’s now a litter box there), and two teens who are, well, teens. I’m reminded of my flaws hourly, even more often when people are awake.

But my work, that’s different. Whether I’m researching, writing, planning, studying, whatever, I have to make it perfect. If I don’t, someone might look past this work and see all the messes listed above.

This, BTW, is obviously not the right approach to school.

When you’ve been out for a while like I have, you forget how much reading and other bullshit that isn’t really bullshit they load on you in school. And you forget that it’s expected you’ll half-ass most of it, which is why they give you more.

It’s that ask-for-a-mile thing. The instructor assigns three readings. All she’s really hoping for is 1.5, but if that’s all she actually asked for, you’d read the first paragraph of the first article and go have a beer.

In the 20 years that I’ve been out of school, I’ve forgotten this. So I’ve been reading every word of every assignment, sometimes re-reading, and taking detailed notes, which means staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning to do it, then starting over again at 5:23 a.m. the next day.

Ugh.

This same shit — this innate (or inane) desire to make everything perfect — is part of what spit me out of the workforce, too.

I’d like to think my kids are actually to blame for this and so many other things. For example, before I had them, I’d grab something from the ‘fridge for lunch and eat the crumbs on my floorboards for breakfast on the way to work. Now I dedicate time each night to making real lunches for everyone and ensure breakfast is ready for the next day, too, so everyone makes it out on time. No one ever actually does but that’s a different story.

Then there’s their inadvertent impact on my work. Kids caused me to care about stupid things like job security. (Before kids, I’d go through a job a year. Hello unemployment!) But when you’re in marketing, job security can be hard to come by. You’re the first ones to go during hostile takeovers, which happen all the time (or almost never), and stock market crashes (there’s been one in my lifetime). You pretend to be upbeat and positive, even though colleges continue to pump out newer, cheaper, less-bitter replacements for you. You know you’re expendable. If you’re a writer, you’re likely an introvert who hates being called out or called upon, and who hides in the corner pretending to be invisible when someone mentions layoffs. Your only form of job security is obsessing over every word and comma placement.

I was both a marketer and a writer. That’s a double whammy. Like a neurosis speedball.

Did I mention I’m also a procrastinator? Maybe the fact that I’m blogging when I have homework and angry clients nagging at me speaks for itself.

I know I’ve got to find a way to convince myself not to be like this. I’m pretty sure that, as a teacher, “perfection” is a pipe dream, kind of like a living wage. Perfection doesn’t fit into the education world, where you’re juggling 150+ students and 150+ individual styles. Kids learn differently, think differently. You’ll never hit it out of the park with an assignment because there will always be a kid in the class, like my son, who hates it.

“She’s making us write tweets,” he told me once about an assignment in his English class, “… from Ben Franklin’s point of view.” Ahh, Ben, the air-bathing, syphilitic wonder (why didn’t they tell us that in school? I might have given a shit.)

“Add French whores. He was quite the fan.”

“I hate social media,” he reminds me. “This is stupid.”

See? What seems like a really fun exercise to me (I’m already writing tweets in my brain) is dreadful to the super-smart-and-utterly-unmotivated-pain-in-the-ass teen who lives in the west bedroom. And I’ll have 150 other kids who are completely different and just like him to contend with, too. No matter what I do, whether it’s a social media writing assignment or giving them the recipe to poop gold coins, someone is either going to hate it, not understand it, not listen to it, or just not care.

No, I’m not dressing as Ben Franklin to get their attention. Well, maybe.

Even as a business owner, “perfect” was pretty stupid. I’m pretty sure I spent (and still do spend) way too much time making someone else’s blog or promotional email copy absolutely amazing, knowing full well no one really reads that stuff.

My ROI is in the toilet.

So, yeah, “Good enough” is sounding like a goal I should get behind, even if I’m not so happy about it. Approach school like I would approach cleaning a bathroom, closet or, god forbid, the junk drawer, where “good enough” is still a few rungs up the ladder compared to their current state. In fact, with “good enough,” I’d probably be giddy.

Side note: how many times do I say “giddy” in a blog post? I think it’s a lot. That tells me I should probably sleep or get a thesaurus. I’ve got more reading in the morning.

When you’re really old, really in school and really don’t know where the bar is.

One of the big differences in being an adult in college — with kids, a mortgage and a goal of achieving something this time rather than just going to school to hide from the real world: you’re ticked when your class is cancelled for a day. Particularly when it happens on the first day of class.arizona-asphalt-beautiful-490466

This was my day 2. I had one class at the satellite campus that’s only about 25 minutes from my house (the real campus where I’m taking the rest of my classes is an hour 10 minutes away). I was excited to get to go the hometown branch. My adviser was thrilled that someone was taking this class. I jammed on my work for the day so I could wrap up everything that needed to happen for clients before class…and the instructor no shows.

If I had been a 19-year-old undergrad in Texas, I would have celebrated at happy hour. But I’m 52. And I’m in Utah. Which means I don’t even know where the bars are any more. K, that’s probably difference number two.

As an old person, I’m in class to learn. I’m not just doing time in my classes or jumping hoops — I save both of those for trips to the gym. I’m trying to get everything out of every last second and every last dime that I’m putting into this.

There are five other students in the class when I arrive. I’m two minutes late. No instructor. For the first few minutes, we all sit in silence. Then I start asking questions. Who are you? Why are you taking this class? What’s your major? Silence in public places freaks me out.

I learn that I’m the odd woman out in here – everyone else is studying elementary education, which I think would be cute and charming and utterly frustrating. Ask my kids: I’m not the sweet, motherly type. I still think the best part of their elementary years were the Cheezits I justified buying for their lunches.

“Mom, why do we never have Cheezits?”

“Shush, Mommy’s trying to zip her pants. I don’t know why they don’t fit anymore.”

I also learn that elementary ed students are on a super-tight track intended to ensure they graduate on time. Some of them need this class to happen at this very moment or they’ll be delayed another semester. They’ve bribed babysitters and workplaces to be here.

Finally someone tells us what’s happening, which amounts to “Go home. We don’t know where the instructor is.” I look the instructor up on LinkedIn and learn where he is right now: teaching at a local elementary school. I also find another section of the course that I can take, although it means I’ll be in class at the main campus, which is where I take most of my classes, even if it is approximately 1 hour away, for 10+ hours on Wednesdays. I almost sign up, but then have a change in heart. I’ll wait another day.

The next day, I ask the department what’s going on with the class at the satellite. They tell me they just found out that the time will have to change because the instructor can’t be there (I could have told them that yesterday). Oh and if I drop, they won’t have enough students to carry the class and all of the other students will have to find an alternative because no one wants to teach at the satellite campus.

So now it’s on me. I can stay with the class and when the hack instructor decides not to teach it or not to show up anymore, I get to be SOL (college makes me talk like it’s 1990), or I can take care of myself and sign up for a different section and those other five people will be SOL or get stuck driving an extra two hours to take this single class. Easy choice right? I should drop the class and ruin it for everyone. I get to be the asshole!

But I’m not cool with that.

Alright, if you were personally acquainted with me, you’d probably think, “Aren’t you normally an asshole?” Yeah, on the surface, I usually come across that way. I yell horrible things at dumbass drivers from the security of my SUV. I’m open and honest with my children, telling them that their shoes make them look like clowns or hookers or hooker clowns, remind them that they’re already a zit factory as they cram a candy bar down their gullets, make my son fold his laundry before he can rot his brain with video games (although Grand Theft Auto did teach him how to drive), tell my daughter that cats are already peeing on the towel she left on her bathroom floor. I create a stink until my cable TV provider gives me a discount, complain in stores when coupons aren’t added properly, once publicly outed a utility for an error in a promotional email because it was putting my $100 rebate at risk. I send hate mail and messages to politicians. And I think unicorns are dumb. I’m. An. Asshole.

But then you get to know me and you realize that it’s all show. Deep down, except for that unicorn thing, I really just want to see people be treated fairly (unicorns should be annihilated). If I forfeit my desired outcome because someone else’s seems more important, I just have to deal with it. I’d be the suckiest lawyer ever.

BTW, this kind of approach does nothing for your dreams of becoming a corporate executive. Back in my full-time marketing days — like two weeks ago — I watched people sprint up the corporate ladder with the help of lies and sketchy ethics. I knew I’d never make it to the top the day I told my boss at a late-stage tech startup that we had thousands of fake social media followers AND that someone had been creating fake websites that pointed to our site. When I reviewed his next presentation to the board touting our incredible social media growth and boost in Google search rankings, I realized he was the one purchasing all the fakes and that I’d never make it to the top if I kept approaching lies like a Boy Scout. I never even thought of making stuff up to make my work look better!

These are the kind of things that go through my head when I think I’m about to make an asshole move. I sweat the small stuff that I shouldn’t even be thinking about. Frequently that means I don’t decide anything.

This time, however, it’s different. I let my bank account and its abundance of zeros in all the wrong places, which cry of missed opportunity, make the decision. I drop the satellite class and enroll in the other one. Safe!

It’s empowering. I’m strong, invincible, capable of making a decision. All those “asshole” thoughts leave my head.

If only college had done this to me last time, I could be rich right about now.