Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Don't Believe In Destiny, or the Guiding Hand of Fate...

Okay, so that's not ENTIRELY true...

Sometimes fate doesn't just guide you. On occasion, fate can grab you by the cajones with all the subtlety and tact of a rabid pit bull and just yank you along the right path.

Case in point:
I started my Bachelor of Music Education degree in Septemer 1993. Marriage, kids, house, apathy, laziness - all factors that have slowed me along the way. Nonetheless, I have plugged away at it over the past 16 years. Now, all that remain are 3 classes, my student teaching...and 4 credits of private lessons. These are only offered at 1 credit per semester, which means that despite being able to finish my coursework in 1 year, I am a minimum of 2 years from my degree. It seems so daunting and far off.

I started taking private lessons my first semester at Wayne with Ron. Helluva player, fun to talk shop with, never one to pressure you, but insisted on improvement. A GREAT teacher. I took 4 semesters with him and passed each one. Not always with stellar grades, but enough to pass.

I took some time off school to start a family. When I returned, Ron had been replaced with Ken. Ken expected you to START at a minimum conservatory level, and if you weren't there, you weren't worth his time. I took 5 semesters with him and only passed once - when he didn't show up to my jury. This man became the gatekeeper of my degree. In order to finish, I needed to pass 4 semesters with him, and I couldn't. So, I decided to wait him out. His students were dwindling and sooner or later, the administration would notice. (see more on this in my original post from 9/06 HERE)

So, my obstacles for a long time were time, money, and my private lessons. Flash forward to this present day. Last month I watched the premier episode of Glee. I truly identified with the director character and between the odd parallels in the character's story and the inspirational music, I started thinking real hard about what I might have to do to finish my degree and start teaching.

Next, after not taking classes for 3 years and being rather consumed with other areas of my life that are exploding right now, I get a form letter last week from the WSU Music Department, inviting me to return to school and finish, complete with numbers to call to find out what I need to do. I'm sure they sent the same letter to several students, but it came just as the thought of returning and finishing my degree popped to the forefront of my mind.

Next, I get this new job at Starbucks. Not much money, but MUCH greater flexibility in the schedule to be able to fit in my student teaching durring normal school hours. Having had jobs that run 9-5 as my only available work time, and my primary income, that hasn't been much of a possibility at all.

Finally, I'm running into the warehouse today to talk with one of the guys about a customer's order, and who's sitting at the counter picking up supplies...but my old teacher, Ron. Apparently, he's now the primary trombone teacher at WSU. Ken is gone, and Ron's who I would be learning with. We start to talk about how close I am and that lessons are the longest part, taking a minimum of 2 years to complete. He suggests that there is precedent to double up the lessons to 2 credits per semester, getting me out in 1/2 the time.

Time and private lessons have been taken care of for me. Time for me to take the bull by the balls and get the money. I have to find $850 to pay off my old balance so I can register. I have a few days next week. I will be researching every grant, scholarship, and loan I can find to make this happen.

It's now within the realm of possibility (and I can't believe I am saying this) that I could have my degree by May. It depends on several factors and paying my balance this month, but that's the earliest I could have it.

My heart just sped up to about 120bmp just typing that. And I'm a band guy. I KNOW 120BPM!

Paul 2.0 Beta

The revisions to "Paul 2.0" continue. The latest programming breakthrough involves the revision of the "job.exe" operating system to fix processing bugs and unpredictable system failures. The old template utilizing "commission.dll" has proven to be insufficient to provide the system resources for complete functionality and user-friendly interface, as well as caused regular failures in "bankaccount.dll" and caused basic operating subroutines like "mortgage.dll" and "eating.dll" to be underalocated or ignored completely.

The new "hourly.exe" platform promises to provided the minimum required system resources to fix the aforementioned bugs, increased reliablility, and more flexibility to run multiple processes simultaneously, as well as the addition of the "bennies.exe" virus scan and auto-fix program, which also covers peripheral applications such as "kids.exe".

Research will resume shortly on a "degree.exe" programming platform that will provide a MUCH broader system base, and the capacity to run the much anticipated "career.exe" operating system. This will allow the much anticipated "Paul 3.0" to operate at peak efficiency, provide a friendlier user interface, and allow for the development of more recreational applications like "vacation.exe", as well as allow the "Paul 3.0" to interface with other systems more reliably.

Okay...I probably ran with that a bit longer than necessary. Oh well. I found it amusing.

Bottom line, I resigned from my commission-based job in wholesale music supply yesterday. I wrote a very respectful resignation letter, presented it, respectfully, to the VP, and was it was received with gratitude, respect, and kind parting words. All bridges remain intact, with pretty little flowers on them. :) My last day is Friday. I could just coast through the next 3 days, but being that my last paycheck will STILL be based on commission, I still have to hustle. Meh - 3 more days I can handle.

Next week, I start working at Starbucks. My friend, Sam, works there and clued me into the opening. I'm not crazy about another low-paying, just-above-minimum-wage job, but after interviewing with the manager, meeting a few employees, and considering that I was averaging HALF of minimum wage on commission, it didn't seem all that bad. Add to that the benefit package they offer, with medical, optical, and dental at HALF what I'm paying at Blockbuster for just medical and dental, plus the more flexible hours to finish my degree and deal with day-to-day stuff durring business hours, it seemed a very good choice. Oh, and of course, FREE COFFEE!! There's a chance I may move up to shift leader a bit sooner than later, so the extra money would be nice there. I'll still keep the Blockbuster job for some extra cash, and to be honest, I enjoy it.

Weekend with the kids was great. We visited my mom and grandpa, watched movies, made pancakes, and got to go to one of my oldest friends' daugghter's birthday party. My kids played with my Godkids, I hung out with some dear friends, and a great weekend was had by all. The best part was just kissing my sleeping kids' foreheads before I turned in on Saturday night. It's the simple things...

Last night I went to Rosie O'Grady's again for what is becoming a weekly meeting with my friend Pashka for their Trivia Contest. I got there a bit before her and bumped into my old friend and Sigma Pi Grand Big Bro, Matt. We spent about 45 minutes just BSing and catching up, and he bought me a couple beers (which is good, since I figured I had the budget for 1 the whole night). He's doing great and running his own marketing business (no, not direct marketing like Amway). He explained it and it makes a lot of sense! He may have an event or two he could use my quartet for and maybe even some freelance work for me on occasion. God, I love networking! You never know where it may lead you!

About 9ish, after Pashka joined us, we took our leave and joined in the team trivia contest they have there. We were hoping for more friends to show up and give us a bit of a broaader knowledge base to work with, but it ended up being just us again. We swapped stories for a bit, moved up and down in the team rankings, and ended up getting our asses handed too us, soundly. Once again, the sports category killed us. We need a jock on the team. Oh well. No bag of cheap swag for us that night.

After the contest, as we're wrapping up, the guy running the trivia contest comes over to talk to us and was CLEARLY testing the waters to see if Pashka was "with" me. I made it clear by giving a dramatic yawn and excusing myself for the night. I was eager to get home to make a call, anyway. It was a great, fun night!

I'll have a few days next week to chill before starting the new job, so I can get my mind wrapped around budget planning, finances, and paperwork, as well as yard maintenance and other household chores. Lots more going on these days, but I gotta get to work and try to look like I'm still "THERE" rather than just "there".

Eagerly anticipating the completion of Paul 3.0.. Hopefully, it'll allow for the addition of a few peripherals (better car, bigger house, travel budget)!