I Have No Privacy Anymore in Baker City

The other day at church someone came up to me and congratulated me for my grades. Since I don’t know this person very well and don’t generally wear t-shirts emblazoned with my current transcript, I was confused. “You were in the paper!” she said by way of explanation. She was starting to look doubtful, like she knew she was about to be sorry for bringing it up. I asked her to confirm my name and the school I attend, then asked her if she was joking, the answer to which I made her repeat maybe 5 or 6 times. This exchange is probably reading as either really mundane or really awkward to you, and let me assure you: it was absolutely both.

I should probably work for the CIA (or at least tell people I do, like this guy) because after only about 24 hours of hard-hitting detective work, I came upon it:

honor roll baker city herald with arrow

Sort of awesome, right? Or maybe just really unsettling and kind-of violating. There is apparently no law against a newspaper printing my legal name, along with my major, which year I am in, a general idea of my grade point average, and which university I attend without mt consent. Not even a quick phone call or email! You could argue that they don’t have my phone number or email, but come on. These people obviously know everything about me.

This kind-of scares me because – what else can be published about me without my consent? How often use a treadmill? How frequently I clean my bathrooms? The pregnancy-and-nursing-induced fluctuations of my bra size? My name is out there now! I feel like if my grades qualify as printable news, nothing is off limits. Perhaps I should call the paper next time I put a meatloaf in the oven.

On top of that, the Baker City Herald has now created a really high expectation of me and whored it all over town. This is bad because it is an expectation that I will in no way be able to maintain. Baby #3 is coming in March, and everyone knows that newborn babies do not care about your academic success. No matter how many textbooks I read aloud to my baby while he’s in the womb (“And now, baby, we are going to cover the triad of epidemiology!”), I don’t think it’s like if you eat carrots while pregnant your baby will come out liking carrots.  I’m pretty sure this baby is going to come out wanting to eat constantly, poop his pants, and, most importantly, fail to be even the least bit supportive of my academic career. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, BABY?

The same person who put my name in the paper in the first place will probably have to do a follow-up story. The headline will be something like: Forget What We Printed Last December: Corinne Allen Actually Sucks. Or maybe it will be a cautionary article: CLOSE YOUR LEGS AMERICA! New Data Confirms: Having Babies Causes Terrible Grades in School.

Finally, printing my GPA with no other information creates a frighteningly incomplete picture. For example, in order to maintain my grades, I had to cut back my work hours and my paychecks got really sad for a few months. I had trouble paying my water bill! So yay GPA, but I almost had to stop taking showers. I could easily have been Baker City’s eccentric genius who is so busy formulating quantum physics that she doesn’t have time to bathe herself. CLOSE CALL, EVERYONE.

My kids also started getting extra time in front of the TV so mama could squeeze out a bit more time for schoolwork. So yay GPA, but my kids may have suffered an enormous deficit of enriching, Pinterest-worthy activities. Oh, yes, Corinne Allen? She’s smart and motivated, but she smells terrible and her children don’t know any vocabulary except what they picked up off Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Yo-ho-ho!

In all honesty, it was such a tough term for me, my first as a full-time student with kids, that I was shocked that I did so well. And I know that printing my name was a nice thing and not as creepy as my instincts try to tell me.  And another thing is that no one pays nearly as much attention to me as I do. I could probably try to explain myself to, say, a checker at Safeway, but it is 99.9% likely that she’s not going to have any idea what I’m talking about. Then I’ll look like an even bigger wierdo for even mentioning it, and behold! We’ve come full circle.

Delusional Living, by Cor (and a few pregnant belly shots)

When I was about 19, I bought a really, really good CD called Ultimate Dance Party 1997. Tonight I was thinking about the fact that at some point, I actually made a conscious decision to purchase this item. It sort-of scared me because if I can buy Ultimate Dance Party 1997, then spend like a year blasting it while driving around the SCV and eating a Filet O’ Fish, what other questionable decisions am I capable of making in total ignorance?

Speaking of questionable decisions, I am just finished my second week of Operation Go To School Full Time. And since I assume you’re a concerned citizen of this blog who also values education, you deserve to know how it’s going so far. Then after that, if you scroll down a bit, you’ll see a few shots of me and my pregnant-ness from our yearly family photo shoot.

Although I’ve been going to school part time for 4ish years now, I chose to make the switch to full-time because big girl school is really expensive and a lot more scholarships are available to full-time students. So going to school part-time actually turns out to be more expensive than going full-time.  This is one of the great enigmas of higher education, along with the fact that OSU thinks I’m smart enough to get into their college, but I still must be reminded daily to refrain from giving strangers my email password.

So. I am a full-time student. I am also the mother B.T. and Baby Ham, I’m growing a baby, I’m working, and I’m being a supportive wife as my husband works and takes his classes. Tack on a little late night Hulu and a bag of peanut M&Ms and that’s pretty much  my entire life condensed into two sentences.

I’m totally not telling you this so you can be like, “See how amazing I am!!” because it’s a lot more like, “See how delusional I am!!” The last 2 weeks have been like I gained 200 pounds but I’m still trying to squeeze into a size 2 string bikini. The triangle top is barely covering my nipples and my crack is definitely showing.

All that extra airflow is making me reeeeaaaal edgy. My brain is always moving very, very quickly and the majority of my thoughts sound like military barking: “CORINNE! Is baking monster cookies the most productive thing you could be doing right now? Is it? IS IT??!! ANSWER ME, SOLDIER!!!”

monster cookies: always the right choice.

monster cookies: always the correct decision.

I had to take a quick (and in no way comprehensive) stress test for one of my classes this week, and I scored “stress level way above average.” Really! This stranger is asking me for my email password…what should I do??

I basically plan to handle my new life as a crazy person by living a cliche: taking things one damn day at a time. Every day I repeat to myself that I can only do what I can do, and this little mantra actually helps. So if get all my assignments done, and write a paper about early Japanese poetry and my husband gets time to read about emergency medical technician-ing people, I’m going to count that as a successful week – even if I had to skim the last 20 pages of a reading assignment or parts of my paper maybe didn’t make all the sense.

I plan to keep approaching each week with the understanding that I always find a way to get the important things done. And if I don’t, maybe it wasn’t that important, and I’ll figure out something else that works just as well.

I am learning to manage my time in a different way, and the adjustment is tough, but it is not impossible. And when it’s over, I am probably going to petition OSU to add “bad ass human being” to my degree. Because while I don’t expect employers to be clamoring to hire me when they see “Bachelor’s of Human Development and Family Sciences” on my resume, if they see “Bachelors of Being a Bad Ass Human Being,” I’m probably getting to have to up my cell phone minutes just to handle the tsunami of job offers.

Now hows about those pregnant lady pictures?

IMG_6467_pp

It’s just you and I, baby. Waaaay out here with the hay bales.

IMG_6472

My hair started out as a gloriously high and puffy bun. Thirty minutes after my hair appointment, my crazy superman hair defiantly snapped the rubber band that held it together. So I ended rocking a sort-of deflated blob look.

Thanks to Joyclynn, our amazing photographer. The rest of the pics will surface sometime after the holidays!

So Long, Suckas

I am sitting here, trying to block out the sounds of the XBOX (a machine that is living up to its full potential only when streaming episodes of Say Yes to the Dress) while I bask in my last night of freedom before the next chapter in The Book of Corinne (very similar to the book of Mormon, but with a lot less Joseph Smith and waaaaaay more levels of heaven).

Tomorrow is my first day of class at Oregon State University. I’m crazy excited, but honestly I’m a little nervous, too. I’ve spent the last 3 years rocking community college. I even gave birth to two children without taking time off and managed to do pretty well – and I’m not even a genius! (See the end of this post for evidence.)

But I’m shaking a little in my snowboots at the prospect of going to big girl school while also being a wife, the mother of two busy boy children, and a dedicated rater of webpages. I’m expecting OSU to be much harder than good ole Blue Mountain Community College and I’m nervous I may fail, weep while trying to write papers, or finally discover that I am supremely stupid.

I'm worried homework might interfere with my see-saw time.

Also, I’m worried homework might interfere with my see-saw-ing time.

Maybe something that will make me feel a little more confident is to take a moment to marinate in a few very special memories, while also saying goodbye to some cherished co-students. Won’t you sit with me in a freezer bag filled with the barbeque sauce of my experiences?

1. Goodbye, T-Rex Man

In case you don’t frequent Blue Mountain Community College, T-Rex Man is an adult male with the social skills of a really annoying 6 year old, who also happens to be missing most of his arms.

source

(sourced here)

I know I sound like an enormous a-hole for making fun of someone who was born with so little by way of arms, but this dude is rumored to be a sex offender (although the logistics of it puzzle me) and is pretty much always trying to force me to have a conversation with him while I’m quite obviously taking exams. (Chatting = cheating = YOU DO NOT PASS).

So goodbye, T-Rex Man. I’m sorry about your arms and your social skills. Please stop talking to me or I may be forced to pull out my conversational weapons of destruction, which are basically furrowed eyebrows and asking you to stop talking to me, followed by the acceptance of your  lengthy and awkward apologies.

2. Goodbye, Girl Who Snores When She’s Awake

I took a Spanish class the summer before B.T. was born but I didn’t learn much because the loud snoring of one of my classmates drowned out most of the words coming out of my instructor’s mouth. When this girl was awake, her breathing sounded like snoring. When she was asleep, which happened frequently and spontaneously, the snoring was kicked up a couple of volumes (like, all the way to 11). The instructor’s frustration told me she probably didn’t have narcolepsy or some other pre-approved disease that made it okay for her to drown out every other sound in the universe. Maybe she had an awful illness and was keeping it a secret. OMG.  Secret narcolepsy.

In this picture, I'm the fed up Chinese kid in back.

In this picture, I’m the miserable-looking Chinese kid in the background.

Goodbye, Snoring Senorita. I give you my props for trying to get a college education even though it’s probably really hard to concentrate over all that noise.

3. Goodbye, Class Full of Humans Too Young to Attend College

I have nothing against the next generation, but referring to a college class as “this period” and heckling over whether or not you did the homework is so 15 years ago, which incidentally is the last time I heckled about homework. I, too, was kind-of a huge jerk in high school, but now I’m in my 30s and pretty well over the heckling stage. Really the only things I heckle about these days are stories about poop (I know it’s not classy, but I really can’t help it), “that’s what she said,” or most things posted on Engrish.com.

EVERYONE is. FYI.

I’ve often been like, “Who’s shouting black music these days?” and now I know. EVERYONE is.

I should also mention that during the class o’  Beliebers, I heard the following gems:

a. Small town delusions: “There’s so much traffic on the freeways in Boise, I couldn’t go faster than sixty miles an hour.

b.  Agism: “Hey, elderly one, join our group.” (SPOKEN  TO ME)

c. Big-city scare stories: “Yeah, and my cousin? She moved to Salem [the capital of Oregon] and someone got shot.

DON'T MOVE TO THE BIG CITY, GUYS. Things will explode, and sleazy guys in wife beaters with big guns will run. IT WILL BE VERY DANGEROUS. (Sourced here.)

DON’T MOVE TO THE BIG CITY, GUYS. You will be eating at a diner, and it will suddenly explode and an unshowered Nicolas Cage will come running out in a wife beater. IT WILL BE VERY DANGEROUS. (Image sourced here)

And d. “I hate Asians.”

And now, as promised, here’s just one piece of solid evidence that I can’t possibly have a genius-level IQ.

B.T. once brought a pile of tiny rocks into the house, stuffed in his little boy pockets. I confiscated them, then had a small window of time to get rid of them before he noticed and became upset that they were gone. When the opportunity was upon me, I panicked, bypassed the front door (where I could’ve thrown the little rocks outside into the dirt) and sprinted the significantly further distance to the bathroom, where I DUMPED THEM INTO THE SINK.

Later, I spent a decent chunk of B.T.’s nap time picking tiny rocks out of the bathroom drain.

I did not happen to mention this story in my college application.

New Schoolventures

See what I did there? I fused the words “school” and “adventures” to create “schoolventures.” Toooootally worth all those school loans, right?

As many know, I am a student. In the school of hard knocks. Ha! ‘Cause I’m so hard core? No? But really, I am a college student, and have been since January of 2009, a mere three months before finding out I was pregnant with B.T. Which means that most of the time I’ve been in school I’ve been either knocked up, nursing, the mother of a toddler, or some combination of those things. I’m on the 8-10 year bachelor’s degree plan which means I’ll probably earn my degree by the time I’m 50. Fingers crossed.

I have been attending the prestigious Blue Mountain Community College (a.k.a BMCC). And since I’m all about  keepin’ it rizz-eal I will go ahead and let you know that the “prestigious” part of that last sentence is a filthy lie. Want to see a picture of the school? Of course you do!

This place is about the size of a small doctor’s office:  two classrooms that won’t fit more than 15 or 20 people, a testing room with four computers, and a couple of offices where some employees like to pretend they’re working while I’m waiting for help in the lobby when they’re really blabbing on the phone with Susan in HR or whoever. So, pretty typical small school.

Now, please note that the image above is my own mad photography skillz on display. I did try to find one floating around on Google images first, though, just to stay as lazy as possible. But I didn’t have much luck. Or maybe I did, you can decide, because when I typed in “blue mountain community college baker city,” this came up:

Which, if you really think about the essence of Baker City, actually makes a lot of sense. In fact, I bet anytime “Baker City” is typed into Google Images, Google is required by law to show this photo. Wait, I think I saw that guy in Safeway the other day! No, just kidding! He’s totally one of the original pioneers. He got here and was all like, “Hark! We have come to a beautiful place we shall call Baker City! And we shall build nothing but gas stations and terrible-quality Asian restaurants and our lawns shall be rich with plastic figurines!”

Pioneer Man up there totally distracted me from my first  point. Which is that I have had some excellent teachers at BMCC, but it’s not exactly Harvard. For example, I took a Spanish class one summer. When I asked my teacher how to say “prenatal” in Spanish, she summoned her most condescending tone and answered, “Oh, you don’t want to know.” Fifteen minutes later, she must have reconsidered my basic intelligence because she revealed the word to me….”prenatal.” Yes, EXACTLY THE SAME WORD. But, you know, pronounced like a Spanish word.

Now, I am not saying my teacher should have understood how incredibly smart I am, even though credit for intelligence greater than the average lamp would’ve been nice. The point more is that she assumed, as an average student of BMCC, I could not grasp a concept that many monkeys could probably understand, given the right conditions. But how often are monkeys given the right conditions? Almost never, I’d say.

one of the few times monkeys have been given a chance to shine.

After so many years of plugging away at my degree, I was a bit shocked a few months ago when I realized that I have a mere one term left before I’m ready to transfer to a university. Now I will express my feelings via  many exclamation points: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have long assumed that I would transfer to the only university within 50 miles of this town, Eastern Oregon University (EOU). If the mere name gets your curiosity going, here is a convenient link to the university’s homepage. I’m sorry Pioneer Man doesn’t appear on the website. I assume he didn’t achieve a college education. He was probably too busy fixing a wagon wheel or trying not to die of the flu to educate himself. Damn, I get so distracted thinking about Pioneer Man! My brain juices just find him so seductive.

Back on the (Oregon) trail: I aim to earn my bachelor’s in social work. EOU offers a social work degree, but there are a few probs. That’s how I say “problems” now. Probs. It’s one of my new policies. Here’s a quick list of the probs:

1. The school is 45 minutes away, and…

2. Ryan and I share a car. There’s a pretty big difference between the length of a class plus an extra 10-12 minutes (what we do here) vs. the length of one or two classes plus an extra 2 hours (what we’d have to do there). And since I can’t complete the degree online, I’d be driving to and from school at least three times a week. This would have to somehow be squished in between jobs and childcare. Maybe B.T. can babysit. Awesome! Three year olds are good babysitters, right? That’s what some heroin users think, anyway.

3. What if I procreate again? Nothing in the works or anything. Baby Ham is, after all, only 7 months old so I still haven’t forgotten how much sleep you do not get when you have a baby. Bearing offspring also tends to demand its own schedule, and it would be pretty tough to figure out how to get to and from classes while giving birth. And not just because both of my birth experiences have involved unintentionally getting high.

So since I am all about solving my probs, I did some research on the degrees EOU offers that I can complete entirely online. I didn’t find much that interested me, and then I had a revelation: what if I look at other Oregon state schools for their online degrees? That’s when I found it!…

That’s a little screenshot-e-doo-da (yes, I speak Computer) of a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences through Oregon State University, Corvallis. I can complete this degree entirely online, which means I have all but solved the above probs! I can also continue to attend classes like I do now, with my children screaming in the background. YAY MEEEEEEE! This is how my emotions feel about it:

Yeah, that’s right. I am totally going to have my bachelor’s degree nekked by the end of this song. Or, you know, by the end of 2021.

And not only can I earn the degree I want, I can even pursue a minor in writing. I’m not sure how I found something so perfect! (Except that one of the ways it that I know how to use the Google.)

I am working on my application so I will keep you posted whether I am accepted and can fulfill my wildest educational dreams, or rejected and have to apply to McDonald’s instead. I plan to transfer in January of 2013, so I will probably be drunk on erotic holiday spirit for my first day of classes. In my mind, there’s no better preparation for university than a little swig off the bottle of erotic holiday spirit. Can I get a witness?