Happy Wednesday! If you are new to Sharon Wheatley's blog, start at blogisode one of this story. This blogisode is brought to you by The Muppet Show, which is currently playing on my TV, and if we are being really specific, it is Season Two, episode fourteen starring Elton John. And if we are being really, really specific (and why not since we've come this far), we are playing the skit where Elton John sings "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" with Miss Piggy, which Beaz loves so much that she actually covers her mouth with her hand to hide her ecstatic smile. Finding movies and TV shows that make BOTH a thirteen-year-old and a three-year-old happy can be a challenge, but The Muppet Show seems to hit the mark. This household is very excited for Thanksgiving Day, not just because we will get to eat my Mother-in-law's delicious dinner, but also because The Muppet Movie opens that day. I hope Beatrix will sit through it even if her beloved Elton John isn't in it.
Okay! As per my promise to keep the blogisodes more story and less me farting around and talking about every little thing that's happened in a day, let's get to it. Oh man, but I really want to tell you one more thing. If you are friends with me on facebook, or have watched the videos on My Own Space TV (go to the "videos" page of this blog) you'll know we have a mouse problem. And you also know that I have a big problem with mice, as in, I'm scared of them. A couple of hours ago I went to get a sharpie marker to write Beatrix's name on her new lunch box (a Kermit lunch box, but only because there was no Elton John lunch box to be had at any store since 1976--if even they ever existed). I opened the junk drawer in the kitchen and sure enough--you guessed it--a mouse ran out of the drawer narrowly missing running over my fingers. I screamed so loudly that I hurt my throat and now (as all singers would) I have put myself of voluntary vocal rest and am drinking a hot tea. Because of a frigging mouse. Of course my family laughed at me--as they often do--and Beatrix said--as she always does--"It's not scary Mommy, it's Jerry! He's funny!" (Jerry as in Tom and Jerry, the cartoon, just in case that pop culture reference is beyond you, and if it is, quite frankly I am kind of concerned about you). Point being, as I told Charlotte a few minutes ago, I am really scared of mice and even while I can tell you it is totally ridiculous....the scene from Dumbo where all the giant elephants freak out over the tiny mouse comes to mind....I can't help it. Roaches? Spiders? I'm totally fine. A mouse or a rat, forget it. The fact that our cat likes to catch the mice and let them go and then re-catch them and then walk around with them in his mouth and then deliver them to us on the couch, well, it's a nightmare for me. Not as bad as jumping into a tank full of sharks, that would put me into instant cardiac arrest, but it's nightmarish enough.
Now I am in Beatrix's room, typing in the dark while she goes to sleep. She's been sick this week, but is well on the road to recovery. Rob and I, who have taken turns getting up in the middle of the night to take care of her are on just about our last legs, but I think tonight will be a good night's sleep for all. I hope. If the Lord Elton John smiles down on us, it will.
Here we go, we're heading back to college.
We left off with me signing up for what I thought would be a "cake" class in Romantic British Literature. A class about Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice which includes watching the Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth version filmed by BBC is my idea of heaven and sounded so blessedly easy--like how people sign up for a pottery course as an elective to get an easy A. This was my pottery class. So easy and done in a month. Make a pot, get an A.
Uh. Not exactly.
Do you know much about online classes? I didn't. Let me break it down for you.
1) Everything is done online. I know you understand that because it's right there in the description of the class, but I'm not kidding. There is no other interaction at all, the professor keeps track of how long you've been online, how many times you've looked at a certain page, and grades all of your responses. The gist of it is that she gives assignments (questions to answer) and you get assigned one of about 12 questions--which you have to write a mini essay on based on your readings. No big deal, right? One question? Wrong. You also have to go through and respond to everyone else's posts in a thoughtful way, and then respond to the responses to your responses, and so on and so on and so on to infinity and then you're dead because the course swallowed you alive and all that's left is a corpse on the couch that still manages to reflexively type.
2) The idea that you can "go to class while wearing your pajamas" is true, and is appealing until day three when you are still in your pajamas because you have not had a single second to get off the couch to take a shower. Seriously, I was on that couch and chained to my computer for so long that I now understand how truckers can justify peeing in cups because they have to keep driving. Gross, yes, but you get my point.
3) The idea that you can maybe blow off a day or two, or a week and then cram it all in at the end is a big lie. It is all watched and logged like Big Brother. She sees you when you're sleeping. She knows when you're awake. She's grading everything so be good for goodness sake.
4) How can there be tests, you might wonder? (as I did). I assumed there wouldn't be. Wrong. There are. They are timed and you can't go back and check, you just have to go, go, go and they are those annoying multiple choice questions that when you are in a hurry everything looks right. And wrong. And tricky. I'm here to tell you that I read every one of those readings multiple times, studied, took notes, used my notes during the test (that was allowed) and never once got 100%. Not once. I managed to get my grade to a 90 something once because I argued the answer and she accepted it. And right after that she most likely looked at her husband and said, "I have an over achieving adult learner in my class who is driving me batty."
The idea I had going into the class was that we would read Pride and Prejudice, watch the movie, and then maybe write a paper on it. Easy. I'm Sharon Wheatley. I've read that book so many times I practically have it memorized. A paper? No problem. Somehow I over looked the little chunk in the course description about doing the poetry of Wordsworth and Blake. I just skimmed right past it in my excitement over Colin Firth in riding pants.
Have you read Wordsworth and Blake? I hadn't. Let me tell you, it's not easy, especially Blake, who writes all these pretty little poems about lambs and children that aren't really about lambs and children, but instead are about social justice and Jesus and The Garden of Evil and death. Wha? But the little pictures are so pretty! It's practically Mother Goose! Wrong. Oh and Wordsworth, poems that are pages long and all about a simple walk in the woods but they are really about life and heaven on earth and, and, and....I didn't get it.
Oh God, I was stupid again. My idiotic ways of high school had finally returned and I couldn't make heads or tails of these poems. I would answer the questions and it felt like a total shot in the dark, "Ummm, the tyger represents....the devil?" This class was kicking my ass.
I was in trouble. And then I got an e-mail from the professor.