My Papa’s Lighter

image(6)My grandfather worked his way up from being a janitor at Conoco Oil, to becoming Vice-President of the company. It sits front and center on my desk, always directly in my view. It’s an urgent, daily reminder to keep working and pushing on. Dreams do come true, but you have work hard at them. This lighter represents how my Papa achieved the American Dream, and I love it. For me, these daily reminders are an absolute necessity.

From “The Bestiary Of People We Know and Love and Hate”. Release Date 4/17/2015

The Chief of the Boat wields immense power and influence onboard a submarine. The pecking order is like this: the Captain is God, the Executive Officer his enforcer, and the COB is DAD. And what dad says to his kids, which were all of the enlisted men like myself on the boat, goes. I was told repeatedly by my shipmates to avoid the COB if possible, and when talking to him I should only answer direct questions. So that’s exactly what I did, for about a month.

The Bestiary Of People We Know and Love and Hate

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An Offspring of Library Learning

As an adult student and veteran, I have a particular aversion to groups, crowds, and anywhere many “peoples” congregate together. You might be thinking, “I get the veteran part, but why would an adult student hate crowds?” The answer is this: crowds promote immaturity. This is especially noticeable on  college or university campuses, but can you really blame your classmates?

No, absolutely not. Youth, after all, is the time to be immature. So where oh where  can a grumbling, almost middle-aged man like myself go when the maturity police start to rant inside my head?  Why, the glorious and resplendent confines of the campus library of course!

For any adult learner or veteran going back to school, I urge you to become adamantly familiar with your institution’s library. I’m not talking about becoming familiar with the content the library stocks on it shelves (you will undoubtedly learn this as time goes on), what I really want you to do is explore the physical spaces inside the building. Find the most comfortable, most encouraging, and most serene places for you to work

Do you like to look out the window when you study, or do you need to recoil in a  basement hovel to focus? What about open rows of chairs and desks, or do you prefer a tight, well-lit study corral? Chances are, you know what environment best suites your needs. I recommend choosing several different spots because, inevitably, at some point your “spot” will be taken and you will need to find an alternate. This may sound silly, but I’ve left campus because of this! I know, I know – it sounds a bit eccentric, but it proves just how much the right environment can make or break your studies.

The library represents sanctuary: a glorious repast from the turbo-charged schedule of an adult student’s life. Enjoy the silence you find there.  You don’t get it that often, do you? My strongest essays, reports, and test results were all offspring of library learning. At school, my only job is to be a student. At home, though, I’m dad, hubby, professional dish-scrubber and dog-bather, etc… the list just never ends. Sure, I can get work done at home when need be, but the quality of that work suffers. My test scores go down, my reports become jumbled, and my essays tend to ramble (really, I’m filling space until the word count is full). There are just too many distractions at home, period.

If you really want to make a go of your adult college experience, I urge you to find that peaceful spot in the library. A bit of silence will improve your concentration, your production, and most likely your mood. You deserve to feel good while working on your degree, and the library just might be the environ you need to make that happen.