All posts for the month December, 2013

Out With 2013 …

Published December 31, 2013 by mamapossum1954

This is the last night of 2013. It’s been a year filled with struggle, challenges, worries, excitement, achievements, and successes. So, basically they all balance out each other (more or less).

I’ve struggled with my college classes the past two semesters; gotten angry with my caseworker at the County Assistance Office for ineptitude; worried over an internship and then grieved that it didn’t turn out; struggled with Espanol and managed (by the skin of my teeth) to complete the foreign language requirement of my degree; celebrated with my son on his first ever job as a wage earner; been bored out of my mind during the summer break & anxious for the start of my final semester; learned more (almost) during my final semester than my entire college career; FINALLY had my first Holy Communion and been Confirmed in the Catholic Faith (yes, it’s taken nearly 50 years); agonized over whether I would pass my final 4 classes (mainly due to too many days off ill)….and graduated from IUP with a B.A. in Sociology and a GPA of 3.18 on my 59th birthday.

I didn’t have a large cheering squad at my graduation…..Marcia said she would come if the roads & weather permitted – but WE were even lucky to get to KCAC that day!!  Lisa and the kids were going to come, but in the end she just dropped Tyler off (he had a friend graduating as well that day). I didn’t know that Tyler was there, of course, and definitely had no idea whether Lisa & her other kids or Marcia was there. But I did have my son Nathan and my bestie Murphy there for me.  Commencement was… experience.  No other way to describe it really. Naturally I was the oldest person graduating that day.  But I have to admit I was proud. At my achievements….at my (sometimes) hard work… my being a first generation college student AND a first generation college graduate. And it was so nice that some of the students I’d taken classes with were there as well. Sabrina – I only had one class with her (I think) but she seemed genuinely pleased that I decided to attend commencement. And there was Kelly – from my Social Welfare Policy class – definitely a unique individual in some ways but extremely endearing. And last, but certainly never least, was Sara – being her friend, basically since we had the Profe (Zambrano-Paff) for SPAN 102, and sharing almost daily cheers and rants (both in person and on Facebook) made all the difference.

Some people have commented on how much I’ve changed since I started college. I’m not really sure that I have. It’s been on ongoing process for several decades really. However, since being at IUP, I’ve learned how to investigate more, how to not take things for granted, how to research and do critical thinking. I’ve matured in a lot of ways. I’ve changed in many ways, too. Some would say ‘not for the better.’ I say that my changes have occurred through life experiences and knowledge gained – both on & off campus – and I am more like myself now than I ever was…and not nearly afraid to actually BE that person (okay, I do have times where I try to hide away, but I AM getting better).

A major asset to my “blossoming” into the person I am now has been my friendship with Murphy. She really has no idea how special she is, nor how important she is in my life. She brings something unique, something necessary that I desperately needed. Because of Murphy, I am free to actually be myself without any fear of:  what I look like; how old I am;  how I act; if I say something stupid:  if I act like a teenager;  if I act like a tired, mature woman; …. I don’t have to put on that “public face” that I’ve used throughout my life in an attempt to “fit in” with those I’m around.

One friend that I’ve known several decades, who is like a sister to me, sent me a message on FB not long ago. I could tell she felt somewhat hurt and disappointed that my friendship with Murphy seemed more important than my friendship with her. As I tried to explain, I don’t have very many friends – not ones that I can count on, that I consider my “true” friends or “part of my family.”  I don’t make friends easily – I never have. I have always been shy and awkward and introverted. But I stressed that each of my “true” friends bring something special, something unique, something necessary to our relationships. This is true! Without each of the friends I have, I would be like a puzzle missing essential pieces. And the same can be said of my son Nathan, as well as my companion Marky.

On this last night of 2013, I am reminded of how truly blessed I am to have the friends I do. They all complete me – some more than others (thank you, Murphy), but all are necessary to complete the whole picture. And I am thankful for the achievements I’ve made thus far. I can only hope that I will continue to succeed in the coming year – hopefully in the Masters program at IUP, as well as in the social services job market.

Here’s to a wonderful 2013!! And to an equally wonderful coming 2014!!!


Nearly the end of the Year….

Published December 28, 2013 by mamapossum1954

Had a great time with Murphy!!! First we went to Michael’s and looked at frames. Saw a “shadow box” type for a photo and tassel – which wouldn’t do much good for my diploma – still it was really nice & I’d like to display my tassel. Then I looked at the various frames. When we went to another section with more frames, I saw the PERFECT ONE!!!  Wooden and kind of ‘scooped’ but not flat. I remembered Nath saying that we should get one that looked ‘scholarly’ and that really fit the bill! That one was $29.99 (on sale, I think); the tassel/photo one was $24.95; the matting was about $6.99.  I’m trying to talk Nath into getting both of them. I did see one on the internet that would hold a diploma and tassel for just over $20…only problem is that it’s no longer available. All the others were roughly $76 and up.

So then we went to Fortune Buffet. That was cool. Then caught the Green to Walmart – Carl was driving & said the jerky was finished, so I arranged to see him on the 2nd of January (he’s working day shift) to get some. Didn’t get much at Walmart really. Got a pack of 2 lightbulbs for my crappy lamp, a full zip fleece for Nath, some blackberries and yogurt, and got a refund for the other fleece. We mainly “window shopped” since we had to wait for the Yellow.

Found out most of Murphy’s comments – the ones where he and Marcia were debating – were totally gone on my FB account. I checked my time line and the news feed….nothing. Marcia had told me that she blocked Murphy (due to bad language) and I wanted to check the comments to see if she was exaggerating. Well, when I couldn’t find any of the comments, I thought: hang on; you can block someone, so I wonder if you can delete their comments if they aren’t friends. So I went to Marcia’s timeline and tried it with one of her friends. Found out if you click on someone’s comments, it comes up with options like “Unhide” and “Report” and “Send this person a note”… I wondered if she’d done that with Murphy’s comments. That made me more angry with her than I had been in the past, so angry that I was “calm” rather than wanting to vent.

Told Murphy about it, then sent Marcia a message, politely tearing her a new one! She said she didn’t do any of that. Well, later on, she said she’d changed her settings back and Murphy’s comments were visible on my timeline….so I checked. Managed to click on the monthly posts and a lot of her comments were visible….but Marcia’s weren’t. Not sure if that has anything to do with it, but I’d wanted to save the “exchanges” for future reference. Murphy is so damn good at debate and was so eloquent – something I’m not – I thought the comments would come in handy in case I do end up in grad school.  Oh, well….water under the bridge.

Happy Boxing Day!!

Published December 26, 2013 by mamapossum1954

Yes, it’s Boxing Day….in Australia, at any rate.  I just spent a large amount of time trying to find the “notes” I made for my Personal Statement for grad school.  Looked in the computer – nada.  Looked on FB in my PMs to Murphy – zilch.  Same for gmail.  Then I thought, “Wait a minute…I think I wrote something about it on my blog.”  So I went there.  Unfortunately, it was “old” blog…So I went to my new one, and couldn’t remember the password, so had to reset it.  Geez!

It’s been snowing off & on since about midnight (nearly 10:30 am now). Nath and I went up to Sheetz for cigs around 8:30 and the driveway was awful (so, what else is new?? 😦 ) and Warren Rd. wasn’t much better.  Anyway, Nath had Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. We were supposed to go over to Lisa’s yesterday – but not enough quarters for laundry (especially since Nath works today). I did get one gift: a wolf calendar from Marcia. Gifts aren’t really important anyway.

So, I’m supposed to catch the 12:30 bus and meet Murphy today. We’re going to go to Fortune Buffet for lunch (she’s treating me, tho I hate for her to spend her hard-earned money, especially when her brother hasn’t finished doing the fafsa paperwork), then to Michael’s to look at frames, then to sprawlmart.

Received my diploma in the mail a few days ago!  Was really surprised it came so quickly, since they usually say it takes 4 to 6 weeks. I guess it gets processed much faster for the December graduation….which, by the way, was pretty awesome!! I’m glad I went to Commencement. Saw a few friends there (especially my friend Sara)….Marcia didn’t show up, of course, because it was snowing really bad (WE even had trouble getting there!). Picked up Murphy and went to KCAC, where I had to stand from about 12 noon until roughly 12:50. Tyler showed up, but Lisa just dropped him off. So, really, I didn’t have much of a cheering squad, but….not to worry. Murphy took a few photos, some of which turned out pretty good (considering the subject). Had 4 photos taken by the professionals and chose one of the 2 with myself and the President (I didn’t look so awful in that one). That should be coming in the mail within the next 3 or 4 weeks.

I’ve been sick since the week before Thanksgiving. First, Tyler came over to use the computer because their internet isn’t on. He’d been sick. He and Nath went to lunch that day….then Nath gets sick and has to call off work one day. I think that was the Friday he got sick. By the next Wednesday, I was sick!! More or less the same time as last year, too. Anyway, I managed to make it to class on Wednesday & Thursday….on Friday, Dr. Sandhoff took one look at me and sent me home (since I only had her 2 classes that day). Of course, as per usual, once the virus or whatever it is, settled down, it decided to take up residence in my ears. So, basically, since the week before Thanksgiving, I’ve had 50% hearing. Great right??? NOT.

Of course, getting a “D” on my policy paper for Dr. Bonach really bummed me out. Then I thought that maybe I wouldn’t pass all 4 classes and would have gone to commencement under false pretenses.  But, my friend Sammi showed me how to access Ursa the old way (rather than through MYIUP) and I was able to see my final grades before they actually came out on the 20th of December. Boy! was I ever surprised!! Considering how many days I missed, and the “D” on my paper, I got 4 “A”s and 1 “B”!!! “A”s in Contemporary Social Problems, Race & Ethnicity, and Sociology of the Family; and a “B” in Social Welfare Policy. I ended up with a final GPA of 3.18. Of course, I would have loved a higher GPA, but at least it was above 3.00. So I’m not really complaining.

Anyway, time for me to jump in the shower, I guess. I’ll write more later. Lots to tell, if I can manage to keep my brain clear enough.


Published December 8, 2013 by mamapossum1954

I forgot to mention one major player in my life!!! And for that I am extremely embarrassed and sorry.

Murphy:  You have brightened my days, provided strength & laughter & acceptance & understanding….Without your unconditional friendship, I would not have made these last couple of years as unscathed as I am.  You are truly an inspiration!  I consider myself fortunate to have you as a friend and confidant. In truth, you are my soulmate. You have my undying love and friendship.  Thank you!


Published December 8, 2013 by mamapossum1954

As I go into my final week at IUP as an undergraduate, studying for finals and anticipating commencement next Saturday, I can’t help but be reminded how fulfilling and challenging the past four and a half years have been.  Not only was I a mature-age, non-traditional, first generation college student….I was a previous high school drop-out, single mother, married and divorced twice, only child….I experienced numerous successes, failures and challenges throughout my life. I often struggled to understand how disappointments can sometimes be a blessing. 

When I lost my job at Central Tax in Kittanning, I went through the entire grief process, alternating between despair, anger, and acceptance. When I lost my part time job as a telephone interviewer at TNS, I was both relieved and despondent. What could I, at 54 years old, do with my life?  Where were the jobs?  I was hardly trained for office work in the 21st century, and ill-suited for many other positions (by virtue of experience or age). So I decided to apply to IUP, never imagining I would be accepted. But the joke was on me! Accepted I was….and thus began a journey of discovery for the next 4+ years, facing challenges with “peers” much younger than myself, courses that I’d never attempted before, and self-disappointment when I failed to do my best.  I guess I hold myself to a higher standard than others hold me or themselves. Yes, I can achieve things if I try hard enough….but I also know my capabilities and lack thereof.

I have survived college, in part by the support of my friends and my son, in part from the generosity and understanding of the many professors who have not only instructed me in a variety of subjects but also taught me to question and explore and investigate…and to have faith in myself.

I have been evolving for many years, but especially the last few years. Yes, I am more confident than I was as a child or adolescent or young adult….but there is still a major part of me that is frightened of the unknown.  Where do I go from here?  Many questions flood my mind – my brain often “stuck on the spin cycle” – and I know I have options.

To those friends who have encouraged and supported me in various ways – Marcia, Barbara, Lisa, Fiona, Nea, Leanne, Kim, Sara, Karlee, and others – I offer you my undying appreciation and gratitude.  To my son, Nathan – you are the bright light in my life, always supporting me, sometimes challenging me, always believing in me; at times, I thought I’d done a mediocre job in parenting you – but nothing could be further from the truth!  To my friends at St. Thomas More – Judi, Mary, Tom, Father Michael – thank you for your guidance and support in my journey of faith!

So commencement – and my 59th birthday – fall on Saturday, December 14, 2013.  I’d also like to personally thank those professors who have been instrumental in shaping my college experience: Dr. Dana Hysock-Witham, Dr. Kathryn Bonach, Dr. Marjorie Zambrano-Paff, Dr. Cora Lou Sherburne, Dr. Laura Delbrugge, Dr. Mark Palumbo, Dr. Lisa Newell, Dr. Anson Long, Dr. Laura Knight, Dr. Tara Johnson, Dr. Todd Thompson, and many others. You all have made my college career an extremely enriching experience.