The NonTraditional Life: Welcome back!

The NonTraditional Life: Welcome back!

Al Fairchild, Staff Reporter

I’m beginning to wonder if these winter breaks are worth it. Three weeks off at a time when many of us inevitably come down with a cold that turns into either a sinus infection or pneumonia, and sends us back to spring semester with almost no memory of having had any time off. It’s one of the joys of returning to school at an old age… uh, as mature adults.

What happens, you see, is that most of us older non-trads have been away from virus factories like schools — and the germ-infested creatures that inhabit them — for so many years that we’ve once again become at risk. Our immunity is gone, while youngsters who come here just out of high school are still protected by the invisible hull plating that’s been built up naturally over their last dozen-or-so years.

Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. If you happen to be one of the young super men-or-women living on campus, I’m happy for you. Uh-huh. I’m just saying that the rest of us have to get used to becoming a bunch of snot-nosed six-year-olds with beet-red noses to whom a simple cold can suddenly turn into a bunker-busting bomb carrying a biological warhead again.

And there’s another aspect to this coming-back-from-winter-break stuff that transports us old-timers back to our nostalgic youth. Actually, this one affects most everyone, I’m told.

I awoke at about 2 a.m. the Tuesday before classes were slated to begin, realizing that I had forgotten an assignment for a really tough literature class. The instructor, a Professor Waldo Stubington, had assigned a 12-page style analysis of Homer’s Odyssey that needed to be turned in by 8 a.m., written in Homer’s original language. I jumped out of bed and raced to the computer, where I spent the next three hours sweating like a pig and completing the assignment. Then I set my alarm for 6 a.m. and returned to bed.

When the alarm went off an hour later, I awoke wondering what in the world it was trying to tell me, and why I was so exhausted. I vaguely remembered dreaming about being at the computer sometime during the night, so I stumbled to the next room and, sure enough, a dozen pages of some sort of gobbly-gook were stacked neatly in the printer tray. I tried a couple of times to read what they said, but — to be honest — it was all Greek to me.

Even the title page — the one part I was able to read — was puzzling. Who’s this Professor Stubington, I wondered, and why don’t I remember signing up for a literature class?

By the time classes for the new semester began, I was becoming fearful for my sanity. The first day back I stopped by the student center and stumbled across a friend who was pursuing majors in both literature and psychology. I asked her why I had been hallucinating lately.

“Probably stress,” she said. “Or maybe not.”

“Duh?” I replied.

“Besides,” she continued, “I dropped my psych major.”

Sheesh!  Welcome back.