I have been on a roller coaster ride as of late. Only, this time around it’s been for the sheer joy of it.  You see, a few weeks back I was finally given the green light to return to school.

The first day was nerve-racking to put it mildly.

I haven’t been near any kind of institution of learning since 1998, and was honestly unprepared for what I was in for.  In the first place, I found myself in a classroom that looked like no classroom I had ever attended. Banks of computers, all crammed in rows. Shiny and black, and filled with malfunction, these electronic teachers were more of a lesson in patience than numeration and communications.

And nary a frat house anywhere in view.

The teacher is wonderful. A highly underpaid and overly stressed woman who tries to do right by her pupils, whilst abstaining from grim acts of murder. I think I’ll have her canonized upon her death as Saint Teach. She certainly is earning it.

What this woman is up against is hell on earth. She has not the power to control the “mature students”, yet she must have the class keep up a grade point average. Kinda difficult when your classroom is half empty on day two.

So while trying to settle into the routine of learning, I’m introduced to my curriculum. A curriculum that will eventually include calculus.

Hello??? Who served this up! God certainly does have a twisted sense of humour. I have to admit, shamefully, that I was an atrocious student in high school. Math was the one thing I could never comprehend. You may as well have asked me to do a neuter on a rabid pit bull. I’d likely have been more successful and yet endured less pain. Two plus two equals rivers of tears as well as an exploding aneurysm or two. I certainly will never be a threat to Stephen Hawking.

Yet, despite my cranium crammed with concrete and dust, I found myself open and eager to learn. Surprisingly so. My lacklustre ability to comprehend basic math aside, it amazed me how quickly I seemed able to compute math in my head. This from the dolt that got math questions wrong with an abacus. Must be the insulin. It’s gotta be the super unleaded brand.

I cannot in good conscience thank the electronic teacher for my new-found intelligence. It clearly is  infected with some sort of programmed narcolepsy.  You push the keys it asks, read the content, and then try to do. But that happens on the programs time. It appears it’s playing electronic chess someplace on campus, or perhaps has found itself occupied  in some tawdry internet orgy elsewhere. Whatever it’s distraction, it certainly isn’t focused on your task. Question after repetitive question, minute after excruciating minute, this compu-stall keeps throwing the same content at you, leaving you to daydream “Beuller, Beuller, Beuller”. Perhaps Ferris’s be-speckled teacher was the inspiration for the math “challenges”.

Things that make you go “AAARRRRG!”

Yet, I patiently wheel and deal, knowing that down the line I’ll actually get to prove what I learned the hard way, yet again, in some winsome test scenario on campus. A reward for not taking a sledgehammer to the computer.

With all this learning going on, I note that day after day I am actually absorbing the lessons, and better yet, getting decent marks in the process.

Communications, however. That’s a different matter. You see, I know a great deal about English, being a writer and all. But I wasn’t prepared for how much I didn’t know. I’ve been able to write for some time now, albeit without detailed knowledge regarding the rules of grammar. It’s simply a natural response to me. I type, proof, sometimes send out to my bestest online buddy, Claudene for an edit, and voilà! Instant feat of grammatical satisfaction. So imagine my surprise when the teacher asked me what a participle was in class. My response was to put on my helmet and wipe the drool from my chin as I headed out to my short bus. Pointy hat has a “Reserved for D. M.” written across it.

Yet, despite my inept responses to the defining rules of grammar, every time the flesh and blood teacher asks the class a question, she makes a point of saying “anyone but Dave, please”. I might as well be flattered.

During my submission to the college when I wrote the pre-entry exam, from what they told me, I apparently blew them out of the water. I guess I  may as well be pleased. However, not knowing an adjective from a pronoun was a very humbling experience.

So, with all of this, each day I awake, eager to tackle yet another challenge. School is fast paced, and you can’t let your concentration slip for even a second. Did that once, and paid a heavy price for it. And in doing so, awoke some sort of educational monster deep within me. It seeks out my text books, and actually seems to enjoy ingesting new-found ideas and equations. The monster even had me pulling my gym mat out of the cupboard, and forced me to tune into Netflix for the Pilates instructional video.

Is this where he is?

What happened to Dave. Was he swept out to sea? Perhaps abduction is the answer. Well, whatever the reason, the guy with nothing between his ears but pain and suffering seems to have been overtaken by some fur-laden pod bear. One that actually has a working noggin. I can see Dave out there, someplace, in a wheat field, tied up upon a rickety stake, singing Wizard of Oz melodies. I hope he’s happy waiting for the Dorothy and Toto to come along and give him inspiration as well.

Have a Merry Christmas, dear readers.

Dave (The Taz)