Education is important, or something. When I first went to school… I didn’t realize that. I was 5. One of my earliest memories is walking down the street to the grade school, that first day ever. Pretty sure I had an entourage; my mom, brother and sister were with me. It was playing out like some sort of action sequence in my head, because we were a formidable group, probably (not).
The first few days, I was in one teacher’s class, but after that, I was in this new teacher’s class. This upset me, I remember. Even though this other teacher was nice. Also, she reminded me of some cartoon character-like, a street smart, male, cartoon dog-because that’s what my brain did back then. Later in the year, there was a Christmas gift exchange, and I got this teddy bear another kid had made himself, and I was like, “I don’t want this!” I was a very thoughtful little asshole, wasn’t I? This was also the year I burned my hand on my godmother’s stove at her old house, I remember. Took a while to heal.
Throughout grade school, we had these swimming lessons at the local high school. The first two groups swam exclusively in the shallow end, but in group three and on, you started swimming in the deep end. I was deathly afraid of swimming lessons, months before we actually had to go to swimming lessons.
To my relief, when I was in group three, they decided I should move back down to group two. To my embarrassment, however, I moved down from group three to group two, as it made me feel inferior. I think mostly younger kids were still in group two… Also, there was something about a teacher having to help me put my underwear on, that supposedly another kid had a picture of… but we’re probably not talking about social anxiety/shaming in this blog.
Towards the end of Grade School, I was put in classes that consisted of kids in my grade and kids in the grade below. On a scale of E for Excellent, S for Satisfactory, and U for Unsatisfactory, I think I got mostly S’s. The way the other kids talked, too, made me feel less intelligent. I remember there was some state or national test thing that we took, and mine came back with the name “Iam Mellman,” because whoever it was who graded it couldn’t read my handwriting correctly. Regardless, I remember scoring pretty low on that thing. I also remember making “animal signs” at the local weather reporter when he came in to film us, and getting crap for that for a few years, but yeah.
When I got to Middle School, my sole interest was video games and fantasy novels. Somehow, I didn’t seem to get in trouble with my grades during my first year there, but starting in seventh grade, I was getting low enough grades that my mom started noticing, and I started getting in trouble for it. Didn’t really change how I performed, however, until the next year; in my eighth grade science class, I basically did none of the work, and sat in class reading some MYTH-Adventure of Aahz and Skeeve.
Eventually, it caught up to me that I was getting an F in the class, and my mom grounded me from doing anything but school work until I caught up. There was some balloon project that I got in way late, but was given a C on, saving my grade. My mom said she was proud of me. I just remember thinking that it wasn’t High School yet, so it didn’t matter…
…but when High School came, I still didn’t particularly apply myself. I was getting decent enough grades for the most part-nothing lower than a C-through my first couple years. I even got placed in AP English my Sophomore year… A friend and I found a worksheet from that class, in which I got like no points, even though I wrote down all the correct answers. I guess I didn’t write them down the way the teacher wanted them to be written down (we found this because I had drawn one of my comics on the backside of this worksheet). So the next year, I was back in regular English class, getting A’s again. However, in my Spanish and Math classes, I wasn’t doing great. I generally blew off the Spanish class, and barely passed both the years I had to take it. It was more fun to goof off with my friends than actually put in the work, I suppose. So I got C’s in those two classes, and in most my science and math classes, but whatever math level I had my Junior year… I got a friggen’ D.
Not sure what happened there, but it totally messed up my GPA. Also, I never took the SAT’s… So, even though I mostly got straight A’s my senior year, it was too little, too late, and I ended up going to the local Community College.
Finally in a place where I had to spend some of my own money on my education, with other friends making it to Universities, I started to take this crap seriously. Somewhat. Did pretty good my first two terms, but then in Spring Term, I took macroeconomics, trigonometry, and a weekend physical fitness class, altogether. The weeks I had that weekend class sucked, and in general, that macroeconomics and trigonometry class sucked. The tests in that macroeconomics class were open book, but they kicked my ass anyway, because the instructor thought he ought to be teaching at the university level, or something. And the Trigonometry class… I was struggling with it, even when I was trying. When the final came, I could’ve done well enough to get an A in the class overall, maybe. However, I was so burnt out on it that I didn’t study at all, and I got forty out of one hundred and twenty points. I got two C’s that term, the only C’s I’ve gotten my entire college career. There was at least one biology class that I thought I was in danger of getting a C in, but I got a B instead, so yeah. I was in the honor roll multiple times at that Community College… but big deal, it was a Community College.
Finishing up at the Community College level, I had an Associate of Arts Transfer Degree… that I had no idea what to do with.
So the next few years, I just kinda existed. I remember, too, being happy when I was done with school. Why? There was no plan for what to do next. I worked in Yellowstone as a dorm custodian, I came back and worked at a gas station for a while, and then I started subbing as a custodian for the school district (there was other work here and there, as well as a few significant life events, but eh.) It just kind of felt like going nowhere a lot of the time, like I was accomplishing nothing. Other people were doing things with their lives, like advancing at their jobs or getting married, and there I was… a substitute custodian.
Eventually, I joined the Air Force, just so I wouldn’t be doing nothing for forever… and also because of a girl, but I’ve told that part of the story before. I’ve also talked about BMT in the past, although I suppose I haven’t talked about studying for the ASVAB (some kind of military placement test). Before I took that thing, I wasn’t sure if I was particularly smart. Then I took that thing, and I scored high enough to where I could go into any career field I wanted to, basically. For the final test at BMT (that went over all the information we learned in our classes), I got a 90 out of 100. Then I got to Tech School. If Tech School would’ve just been the school part, I would’ve been golden, because I scored in the 90’s in nearly all of the tests, there (but it wasn’t just the school part; it also involved marching and being around asshole MTLs all the time. One of whom accused me of lying, and backed me into a yes or no answer for a question that wasn’t a yes or no question. And then after that, he apparently totally forgot about it. But I didn’t.)
When I got to Little Rock, I was given my CDCs (Career Development Course). Essentially, five volumes of really friggen’ bland, horrible-to-read military textbooks. I was given a year to get through all of them, take pretests, and then take the actual test. When you first got to that office, that was your job, pretty much; studying that material. So once I got through all the material and answered all the questions at the end of each chapter, I started memorizing what the answer to each of the questions were, and there were a lot.
I wouldn’t move on from a page until I memorized all the answers. Because the pretests were pretty much just those questions, I scored like a 92 on my first pretest, and then like a 96 or 97, I think. I think there were supposed to be three of those pretests, but after the second one, they just interviewed me and decided I was ready for the end of course exam. Which I got an 85 on, because not all of the questions on the exam were from the end of chapter questions in the CDCs, heh. Still, that was pretty good, but if I’d gotten a 90, I would’ve gotten a day off.
After that, I took some military tests that counted as college classes (forget what they’re called) so I could get my Air Force Associate’s. And then I had two Associate’s; one in Arts, and one in Applied Science. Not sure why I thought I needed that second degree, but it looks nice on top of my chested drawers, next to the other one, I suppose.
Anyway, at that point, I decided I should use military Tuition Assistance and apply to start taking online classes at Oregon State. It had always been my dream to be an OSU alumnus, for whatever reason. Maybe because of my brother and sister who graduated from there, maybe because of watching OSU sports all my life, maybe because I really like Corvallis, OR. For whatever reason, I was taking classes through them, and I was kinda nervous, because I hadn’t taken any real college courses for a long time… My first term, I got an A and an A-. Second term, A-. Third term, A and A- again. Fourth term, A and A-, including my first ever A in a math class (though it was statistics).
Then, as I was getting ready to exit the military, I get this message from someone at the Tuition Assistance office, saying they audited me, and that I owe them over $2,000. Because I had gotten a message from the education center saying that they had to review my TA request the first time I put in one, and let it go through, I had assumed that I was doing it right (I had also been told by higher ranking individuals in my office that I could do it the way I did it; there was a waiver they could use). So I was like, “I was told there was a waiver,” and even forwarded the guy an email sent by my supervisor to the school, explaining that there was a waiver (he had been told the same thing by the same coworkers who had told me that). I also called the Education Center, and I probably wasn’t super nice in my tone, because I’d just been told I owed over $2000, and I was pissed off. Well, I was getting pissed off at a Master Sergeant, and as a Senior Airman, that’s not gonna be good for you. So she gets all pissy with me, tells me there’s no such waiver, tells me to talk to my first shirt, etc. And the guy also emails me back in this curt response saying that there’s no such email, I did it wrong, etc.
So the next day, I go in to the Education Center, because I was told they could help me use my GI Bill to pay off the debt. Well, the friggen’ guy there claims he doesn’t know how to do that or something, and also tells me I better not say that it was their fault that it went through, because I took the training and read the thing, etc., and that it’s my responsibility. I told him about the email, and he’s like “Oh, that’s not what that means! That means this other thing! Do you think we have time to do that for everyone?!” I was like “I guess I didn’t understand the scope of your review process, then.” So I’m just getting irritated with all of them, and I have the money in the bank, so I just pay the $2000+ off, thinking that would be the end of it.
Except it wasn’t. When I was getting signatures from all the different places as I was being discharged, having them sign off whether or not I owed them money, this asshole I talked to at the Education Center the other time looks at my file, and is like, “Oh no, it says you still owe $2000+.” I had paid the school, but the TA site apparently said I still owed that money to them or something, even though the guy in the email had told me I would pay the school. So I told this guy I already paid the school, and I don’t know how he got from point a to point b, but he starts accusing me of knowingly committing fraud. I told him I didn’t knowingly do anything, and he was like “Oh yes you did! You took the training, you read the thing!” And wrote down that I still owed $2000+.
I didn’t say anything else, but I was pissed, and if I hadn’t still been in the Air Force at that point, he might’ve found his ass on the floor. Luckily when I got to the office and talked to my Superintendent, she called the TA guy and advocated for me and my personal character, and made things better. The TA guy was also accusing me of fraud and talking shit about me, which she told me she didn’t like. I was very grateful to her, and have to note that she helped me out more than once during my time there. Of the good people I met in the Air Force, she was certainly one of the best.
So now, I’m back home, and taking classes this Summer. Of the two classes I’ve completed already this term, I have two A’s. So far on my online class (which is the whole term), I have 100%, so that’s probably going to be an A too, if not an A+. We’ll see how this last course goes… But boy oh boy, I’ve been kicking ass in all my classes at OSU thus far. If only I’d applied myself when I was in High School, my life probably would’ve been way different, and there probably wouldn’t have been that period between my community college years and my Air Force years where I did nothing.
Let that be a lesson, kids: apply yourselves, or you will have to clean toilets and get yelled at by a Training Instructor.