IN A JAM

Back in my day as a university student, some twenty odd years ago, everything was paper based. I read from textbooks that were heavy as bricks and thick as the tree trunks they were made from. I would read, highlight and put sticky notes on printed papers. I went to face-to-face classes where lecturers would drone on and lull me into deep sleep. The only technology I owned was a computer that composed of a microwave-sized monitor, a hard drive that took an age to wake from sleep mode and a bunch of floppy discs. Yeah, yeah… I’m old. 

These days everything is cloud this or zoom that. While I wouldn’t call myself a tech noob, I’m not tech savvy either. Learning as a mature-aged student on cloud campus is challenging. Not so much that I can’t use the technology but rather I’m not used to this form of learning. Reading off a screen for large amounts of time and using software programs to take notes seems foreign to me. It doesn’t seem right, like eating a carb-free burger (i.e. burger minus the bun). Push comes to shove I could do it, but do I really want to?

For one of my research units, I have to write a literature review. What’s that? Don’t ask me, I still haven’t quite figured it out yet and it’s due in just over a week. All I know is that it involves a lot of research of journal articles, reading said articles, note-taking and then writing something. I’m at the reading stage and I’ve found reading small print on a screen difficult for my already deteriorating eyes. So tonight, I decided to drive to the university to do some printing at the library. I think printed papers are the way to go for me. It’s a shame a few more trees will perish as a result, but if it means a pass…

You know what’s different about being a mature-aged student? You don’t have the same misplaced confidence and care-free attitude as the average twenty something year old student. But most importantly, you don’t have the same time pressures. As a mature-age student, you’re likely to have work, family or life commitments that takes priority. So by the time I got to the library, it was getting towards closing time.

It didn’t help that I have poor night vision or that I drove around in circles looking for the University multi-level car park. Eventually, I found my way to the library using their app. I still can’t believe how advanced things are these days – fancy app and everything!

I managed to find a computer, figured out how to print my articles and located the printer to collect the prints. The only problem was half way through its mammoth print job, the printer spasmed and died. Flashing red lights appeared and I thought I saw smoke billowing from the vents.

Now, most people can follow instructions and figure out simple troubleshooting problems by themselves without too much difficulty. I however, got nervous when I heard an announcement over the speakers saying they were closing in fifteen minutes. I started panicking and fumbling around trying to find the source of the printing problem. 

When I saw the side profile of a dude in a blue shirt with a tie and wearing a name badge walk past, I called out “Hello, do you know how to fix printers?”

Unfortunately, he replied with “Nuh” and walked off. You see, he couldn’t have helped me because he was a security guard and not a library administrator. I might have noticed the difference had I not been in such a flustered state but then again, being observant has never been my forte.

Slightly embarrassed, I went to the front desk in search of a librarian for help but they were closed. Beyond the desk were some admin rooms and I could see the silhouette of two men. With nothing to lose but my printing, I called out for help.

“I haven’t been at uni for a long time, and I didn’t want to break your printers so I thought I should ask for help.” You know how I ramble when I’m nervous? Well, you can bet that I did a massive word vomit. 

The young man who came to assist looked at the flashing words on the printing screen and said (quite condescendingly) “It has instructions so you just have to read and follow it.”

I bet if I could mindread, he would have thought “These bloody boomers and their moronic IT problems!”

And I would have vehemently protested with “I’m not a boomer, thank you very much!”

Was it a surprise when he couldn’t fix the “simple” problem? No. Did I feel slightly vindicated that he couldn’t “follow the instructions”? Yes.

He gave me a shrug of the shoulders, told me to reprint on another printer and get a credit from IT the next day, then he went home.

Annoyed and determined not to be beaten by a stupid printer, I attempted to give it another crack. Seriously, how hard could it really be? If I could put together an IKEA product (those things are brutal), I could fix a stupid printer. And did I fix it! I stuck my fingers into its body like a field surgeon removing shrapnel and pulled out the jammed paper. I might have done a fist pump and yelled out “Oh Yeah Baby!” too.

The point of this story is that if I had taken a calming breath and refused to allow my anxiety to consume me, I would have been able to use my problem solving and critical thinking skills to deal with the printing problem.

Imagine what I could do if I didn’t just cave to this beast at every whim and used higher level thinking instead? Most likely, I wouldn’t have asked a security guard to fix a printing jam.

Copyright © 2021, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK

Anxiety is my tormentor, an insidious beast that loves to creep out from the darkest corners of my mind, causing immeasurable destruction in its wake and leaving me in damaged pieces. I’ve been stripped bare emotionally and drained of confidence on so many occasions that it’s hard to believe I’ll ever feel whole again. It’s a draining dance of one step forward, two steps back. Sometimes in my darkness hours, I recklessly wonder if I should continue. Luckily, these thoughts are rare, and my family keeps me grounded. 

This week has been hard. The beast reappeared bearing unwanted gifts – three to be exact. Three panic attacks that left me gasping like a fish out of water, unable to draw breaths deep enough to ease the screaming desperation of my mind and the burning of my lungs. Death by suffocation is a scary thought.

I suppose I should have anticipated these panic attacks. I’ve got too much on my plate and stressed to the max.

My brother’s wedding is in three weeks, and I’ve been playing arbitrator between my brother and our parents – there’s been a lot of in-house fighting. There’s been bruised egos, drama divas, shattered illusions and a heck of a lot of screaming.

I’ve worried about securing and undertaking 200 hours of professional placement, only to discover from the lecturer that I’m in the wrong course – an oversight by the enrolment officers and lecturer. I feel let down and unsupported by the university. Not sure what’s to happen now. 

I have a kinder meeting tomorrow about my four-year-old son and I’m praying that his teacher doesn’t give me negative feedback. I’m worried about my eight-year-old daughter and her issues at school. 

My mother-in-law has been having radiation therapy for cancer these last five weeks and we’ve supported her and my father-in-law with cooked meals and company. Seeing her unwell has made me feel emotional and I feel the worry emanating from my husband. 

I’m still on my stupid low-carb diet and losing weight but it won’t make a shred of difference for my confidence when I’m at my brother’s wedding and faced with snide or condescending remarks from an uncle or aunty. The possibility is real. And despite disowning my dad’s family two decades ago, I’m loathed to admit that I’ll probably crumble under their cruel comments.

Everyone has had a cold this week, and I’m still not fully recovered from mine. I’m not sleeping well as I keep waking throughout the night to check on the kids. The image of my four-year-old choking on his vomit still burns in my retina, and I haven’t quite dislodged those feelings of mother’s guilt.

It’s really no wonder that I started getting panic attacks. Strangely, I think not blogging/writing has added to the stress. I stopped blogging to relieve myself from the expectation of weekly posting and instead of helping, I took away the only outlet I had to vent and feel centred.

So I’m back but not really back back. And before anyone asks… I’m ok or at least I will be. This is a bump in the road, a blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things. So I guess I’ll keep doing this dance until it becomes two steps forward, one step back. Eventually I’ll get there.

Copyright © 2021, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

HIATUS HERNIA

Hello everyone! I’m probably going to be offline for a bit. I’ve resumed my studies to become an adult educator and have probably taken on more than I can chew.

Studying as an adult is not as easy as people make it out. Sure, you’re supposed to know how to study more efficiently and be better with time management, but in reality, it’s much harder with all the added responsibilities of being a parent and having family commitments.

I have to find a place to take me as a student teacher and volunteer 200 hours over the next few months. This equates to about 3 days of non-paid work that will have to fit around school pickups and drop offs. As a result, I’ll have to find additional childcare for my four-year-old son to fulfil this hurdle requirement, which is fine. But you’d think the University would give a non-teaching background student with no industry contacts a bit of bloody support in finding a placement!

I haven’t been successful in securing a placement and I have no idea how I’ll do the hours. And no one from the University seems to want to respond to calls or emails.

Anyway, I’m ranting because I’m annoyed and anxious and angry. It has me wondering if I’ve made the right decision with this particular course.

Out of all the things I could have chosen to do for a midlife crisis, I just had to pick a bloody difficult one – changing professional careers. I should have just stuck to Botox instead. Certainly would have been easier and less costly!

Sorry, I’m still ranting. Point is, I’ll be absent with posts until I get my shit sorted. Unlike the hernia that I’ve developed, this hiatus should be short lived.