Sunday, May 8, 2011

To Begin...

 This weekend, my dream of continuing to further my education ascended one more ladder rung. On Friday, I commenced... walked... took the next step... evolved... graduated... proceeded... progressed, and any other word connoting "move forward." Mr. Webster defines the word commence as "to begin", which I find appropriate in every way. Though many of us (grads) felt we were closing a chapter, finishing our degree... it was really much more of a beginning of something else. It's a starting line. We are moving forward into the unknown. Rather than "finishing" my MPA I am "beginning" something new and can finally be part of that old fail-safe eye-rolling cliche "it is not the end... but only the beginning." And it really is. In a less ominous but still sort of free-failing type way. School is an anchor for me... and I guess it's time to pull up anchor and sail on. And I think I'm ready to move on... whatever "moving on" really means.

Here are some of the memories:
Ms. Kelsey and I, classmates and buddies. Both SO happy to be graduating.

I'm ready for my close-up... in the sun...
My madre and me. Aren't we a couple of hotties? I was attempting a SMIZE.

Left to right - Grandma Jo, Grandpa Petty, Nick (brother), and that hottie in the pink is yours truly.

Grandma Jo, Me, and Grandpa
 Honestly, I'm pretty proud of myself. Not an entirely encouraged Christina value, pride; but hey, turns out getting a Master's degree is HARD WORK! And anyone who embarks on the journey that is higher education, whether it be Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Ph.d (shudder), and finishes the journey, deserves to pat themselves on the back a little bit... and for some a lot. Particularly when I think back on this past semester; I submitted approximately 95 pages worth of written work. That's ONE semester. I wish I were exaggerating, but the twitch in my eye is a reminder of the many MANY late nights and 8 hour days working on paper after paper... 36 of those pages dedicated to my Major Research Paper (i.e. thesis to put it in perspective) which I submitted the day before commencement. In addition to those 90 some-odd written pages, I probably read a little over... oh man... 5,000 pages of text? Give or take? Wow. I think my other eye started twitching at the memory of all that. Calm down little twitches... it's over now... all over. Well... FOR now.

So I'm finishing... and also beginning. And I'll be honest, I'm not ENTIRELY done so I guess there's a slim chance I could ridiculously fail my 3 weekend Capstone course or my Public Budgeting class this summer, but I'm going to go ahead and say that's NOT going to happen. After a semester like this, lets just say its like signing up for a 5k after running a marathon. It's like going from a chain-smoker to slowly easing out of the habit so your body doesn't totally freak out. Right? Just got to ease on out of "school mode" and thus the summer classes will help me do that... begin filling in what was once "school time" with "leisure reading time... weekend movie night time... Boxing is for Girls time (MORE!)... training for half marathon time... volunteering time.... dating time (?? yes! As soon as the eye twitches stop)... writing time... writing time... and enjoying the beauty of summer time." It's a fearful and exciting prospect to have such discretionary time! Even today, my first weekend WITHOUT reading or writing, I feel sort of lost... even bored... and a little anxious thinking there's probably something I should be doing or reading but really, there's not. There's NOT! There's really nothing I "have" to do... and I hope I don't discover that school being my anchor may have functioned in some way as my self-contained cocoon. A safety net of "have to's" and "sorry I can't's." For the past 2 years I of schooling, it was something to run to when I didn't want to face other things... it was steady and legitimate and understandable. It was accepting and validating. I put in the work and received the reward. There was little risk and a lot of solidarity. School made me feel valuable and contributing. But now, now I guess I'll have to face some realities that school helped blur a little. I may have to stop making excuses and start participating... an entirely new eye twitch.

There's also my future to consider. The question posited to every grad upon their commencements is "So, now what?" Hmmm, now what. Now what. Now what. I'll be honest, I've thought through some things - and being a planner and a doer - always having this or that goal to be working towards... I'm drawing a blank this time. The future for me, it's bright I know that, but it's also obscured. Now what? Hmmm, I dunno. I guess I just get to live and see what life chooses to do with me. Maybe let fate... or destiny... or God... or whatever force it is you believe shapes or paths, have greater control of the reigns for awhile and see what pans out. Ph.d? Well, yes... it's there. It's out there floating with other things and it will happen. Probably sooner rather than later unfortunately because as much as school is an anchor, it's also a key to the future I envision. One surrounded my classrooms and eager students and research and academia and cheese parties. The next great American Novel? Yep. Out there too. And I've never had such a thought as "I'm going to focus on writing" as I have this year. And I'm scared out of my mind to start taking writing seriously. But what better time then at the beginning? Career? That tends to shape its own course... and the shape right now is still where I want to be. Travel? Hell yes!! There's never soft edges around that decision. No not ever.

So even with all this future haze and a little fear and anxiety sprinkled with excitement, possibility, and always a dash of faith... I will continue to commence... to finish... and at the same time to begin. I guess it's time to get started!

(And yes... you may refer to me as Master Cox ;) if you so desire)


heidikins said...

Congrats again, Ms. Master Cox!!


jaime said...

Yay!!! Congrats Master Cox!!! This is super awesome news for your social life! Whens the party to celebrate??

Unstoppable Lindsey said...

This just makes me ache....and REJOICE!! YAY for you! Me...just peeing myself with excitement. You are incredible! Yuppers, sure are!

Marisa Jean said...

Yay! Master Cox! Post-graduation sounds scary. Even with a bachelors degree it scared me...I can't imagine what the feeling would be like with a Master's. The future is yours! :) I'm excited to see what it brings for you!

Michele said...

Congratulations, Andrea! I think you are amazing. I am so excited to see what the future holds for you. Also, I can't wait to say, "You know that famous writer, Andrea Cox? Yeah, I'm friends with her." Can't wait!


(By the way, love your new hairdo.)

Nasher said...

Actually wouldn't you be Mistress Cox? I don't know the rules of English grammar all that well (because I don't have a Masters degree in it), but I think Master is the masculine form. Again, I could be wrong.

The Sevy's said...

CONGRATS To you!!! A big Pat on the back is very well deserved! You is so smarty :)