Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Polynomial Expressions

As a part of living my Best Life, I have decided to return to school and finish the degree I put off for so long. When I got married and had children, that “piece of paper” saying I was a contributing, intelligent member of society lost its luster….became less important. Now that I am on my own, the lack of intellectual “pedigree” is a Vegas-sized flashing light beckoning me to come back….come back…

As if my life wasn’t complicated enough……

But….it’s for me….and I have decided to jump back into the world of academia… 40+ years old… How bad can it be??

Registering for classes was somewhat simple. Gone are the endless lines at the registrar’s office…everything is now online. Of course, my transfer credits are not at the number I would like for them to be (who knew that courses like English Composition and Philosophy had expiration dates…) but I figure I will get that all sorted out after I get my feet a little wet.

First on the agenda is taking a math placement test so I can get a math class out of the way. Now mind you, math is not my strong suit… a matter of fact…..the thought of doing math problems makes me break out in hives, but the test must be done and I am determined not to take remedial math.

I enlisted the help of my favorite person….my man….The Man. In my book, having a math degree is one degree shy of being a super hero. Bursting into my living room, cape flying….The Man declared, “Madam….I’ll save you!!!!” The Man began explaining the complexities of Polynumeric-binomial-triconfuso expressions…. I cocked my head to the side….squinted….sipped my glass of wine….and paused…. “You have no idea what I just said, do you?” the Man patiently declared….. I retorted, “If I did, I would already have a math degree…” The Man spent the next hour and a half patiently explaining….re-explaining…and listening to my endless questions of “why are they called irrational?” .. "why is f(x) really “Y”….why don’t they just call it “Y"?” He is a saint…it was past midnight already…I have put in a nomination for canonization with the Pope…..

Why are we frantically studying math at that hour??

Well……ahem….on a whim, I decided that the time to take the test was now and scheduled the seemingly benign math placement test….tomorrow. After all, I am a good shopper (and hence good at shopping math) and the reason I would TAKE algebra was to learn algebra….so how hard could the test be? After scheduling the test, I researched what I needed to know….. Horror of horrors……I was clueless!! Help was needed!! I frantically wrote the following Rescue Me! email to The Man.

Subject: OMG!! I think I need a wee bit of help!!!!!!!

Did a bit of prelim looking at skills needed to “pass” the placement test (and not have to take a stupid remedial class)…..

TO BE PLACED INTO: Math 104, 108, 118, 150, 170

• Add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers and decimals. Check
• Solve simple word problems involving the above operations and numbers. Check
 • Make comparisons and perform calculations with fractions, decimals, and percents. Check
 • Solve multiple-step word problems involving fractions, decimals, ratio, percents, average, and proportional reasoning. Check-ish
 • Solve word problems involving perimeter and area. Check – I think – Perimeter is simple adding and area is height*width – correct?
 • Find square roots. Um………I can define it……but I don’t remember how to find it…..
 • Solve simple equations using a variable. Check
 • Understand order relationships between signed numbers. What in the hell is a signed number??? Are they in counseling??
 • Perform simple operations with negative and positive integers. Those are negative and positive numbers, correct??
 • Know and understand the order of operations. Um… first….drink second?? Maybe – Parenthesis first….then…???
 • Perform simple operations with radicals. Like Osama Ben Laden?? Help!!!!!
 • Factor polynomials and quadratic expressions. Factor?? Quadratic Expressions?? Like Yebese?? (Serbian swear word) Help!!!
 • Solve simple quadratic equations by factoring. I am so sunk!!!
• Perform simple operations with polynomials. Like taking out a spleen?? What is a Polynomial? Are they friendly?
• Solve simple rational equations. Obviously, I do not hang out with rationals….only irrationals….
 • Simplify and evaluate algebraic expressions. :) =good  :( =Sad ;)=Sassy
 • Graph linear equations. Um…..Help!!!!
 • Solve word problems involving algebraic principles. I think I can do this…..

TO BE PLACED INTO: Math 105, 107, 119

• All of the above plus
 • Solve systems of linear equations (equalities) with two variables by graphing and/or algebraic manipulation. Manipulation – aaaahhh something I can finally understand!!!!
 • Manipulate factors to simplify complex fractions. Um….is this to actually GET a math degree???
 • Work with algebraic expressions involving real number exponents. I know that I *should* know what an exponent is….
 • Solve absolute value equations. I am absolutely going to have to take remedial math!
 • Graph simple parabolas. Sounds like something you would need hand sanitizer for….
 • Have a basic understanding of function notation, such as determining the value of a function for a specific number in the domain. What??
 • Show a limited understanding of the concept of function on a more sophisticated level, such as determining the value of the composition of two functions. Conjunction junction….what’s that function…..Ahem....English Major!!! 
 • Have a rudimentary understanding of coordinate geometry. Um – I can find Mexico…..
 • Have a rudimentary understanding of exponential functions and logarithmic functions. I hate math!!!!!

Well….Here’s to growth…..and to exploring things unknown…things undiscovered!! And kudos to the people in my life who encourage me….help me….and even, from time to time rush in….cape flying in the wind…and rescue me from the scary things in life (even if they are just a math problem).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Match Game

It took me almost two weeks on Match to finally decide to come out of my nice, comfy, protective shell…..and actually meet a Match “prospect” in person. This process is much like the game we play as kids… know, the one where you put all the cards face down on the floor and turn over two at a time to find a match. It’s time consuming….it’s frustrating…..but when you find something that looks like a match, you go for coffee. I should have bought shares in Starbucks, Inc.!!!!

Date Number 1

I was a bit nervous….heck I was a LOT nervous!!! The Rebound Guy was the first guy I dated after the divorce…..AND…..before him, I had only gone out on two first dates. I strategized with my girlfriends (who were so excited that I expected to see them incognito at strategic places in Starbucks). Googling first date “rules” seemed to help a bit…what to do if I arrived first (wait to order a drink..) (does Starbucks add liquid courage to their coffee???)….. how long to stay..(be aware of the time--don’t over-linger) what to wear…(nice sweater and a dark pair of jeans…scarf)… whew!!!

DateMan 1 was there waiting for me when I walked in. A moment of fear gripped me! What now?? How do I greet someone I have never met…never talked to on the phone …who is not a business contact but a “date” of sorts?? Pulling myself together, I walked up to him and decided to “wing it.” He smiled and mentioned something about this moment always being awkward gave me a hug and bought me a Grande Earl Grey Tea.

We sat down in front of the fire and the conversation flowed easily. After an hour or so, it was time to leave. He walked me to my car and said what a great time he had. He asked me if we could go on an “official” date and I said “Yes!” Later that afternoon, he texted me a couple of times……the next day he texted me…..and then…….then…. then…. nothing! What the heck?? Okay….maybe he read the “Rules” and was waiting for the opportune moment…..waiting that three day grace period so he didn’t seem too interested…….I waited….and waited…and waited…..calling my girlfriends…my guyfriends….the telephone operator….the founder of….the mailman…. wondering what is the procedure from here on out??

Finally after 5 days, I decided that any guy who was EVER going to date me might as well get used to me being…well…me. He might as well get used to the impulsive….complicated …and sometimes emotional being that I am… I broke every dating rule on the planet and emailed him with the following…..

     Dear DateMan1:

     I had a wonderful time on our date and feel like we had great conversation and a good connection. As you know, my dating experience has been pretty limited and the majority of experience I had was from the 80’s….. so….. in that spirit….. are you interested?? Check yes or no. If yes, then some contact would be helpful…. If no, I had a delightful time and wish you well on your search.  Becky

DateMan1 responded back with the following:

     Dear Becky:

     One of the hardest things to do in dating is choosing. You never know if the one you didn’t choose would end up being the right for you… We had a great connection and I enjoyed our time together. However, I have found a girl that I want to get to know better and I am not the type of guy who can date multiple girls at one time. If things don’t work out, maybe we can get together again… DateMan1

Back to the drawing board!!! Frustration sets in….. on to Date 2…3…4…5..6…

Interesting side note - - I saw DateMan1 on a date this fall.  He was waiting for his date to show and hitting on a girl in my group before the date’s arrival…. He mentioned that he really wasn’t “into” the girl he was waiting on…. But of course, after her arrival he was staring into his date’s eyes and sharing her food…. Suddenly, a year later sitting next to my wonderful, caring man, I felt lucky….so very, very, very lucky!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Adventures on

Last year, after the Rebound Guy and I called it quits, my girlfriends and I had dinner at this cute, quaint Italian restaurant in Broad Ripple. After we had all deconstructed every relationship under the sun, the girls suggested I create a profile on an online dating site….namely Appalled, I announced….”I do not have trouble meeting men…” to which they responded…. “WHO?? Who have you met that is dateable??”

Still….I was not convinced…..not sure that an online dating site was for me….it just seemed so….so….mercenary!! The girls assured me that it wasn’t so….that online dating could be a positive thing…after all, one of the girls actually married her “Match.” Thanking them for their concern, I said I would look into it…..knowing that there was no way in Hades that I would ever do it……

After a lonely night on the couch with my other girls….a box of Tagalongs and a bottle of red wine…….I decided to stick my toe in the water and see what happens. I created a profile….not one of “come hither” or “looking for a life mate..” but one that was a little sassy….a little “I dare you to date me!” The photo I put up was not exactly the most flattering. It was of me waiting at the airport after a looooong flight from Paris….waiting….waiting….waiting…. (hmmm….maybe there is a little symbolism there)….
Looking back, I think I was more curious than anything of just what would happen….

Day 1
6am……I wake up….check my email….and holy holy cow!!! Emails--lots and lots of emails!!! This was completely unexpected…..and a little strange….I had created my profile at 11pm….do these people work??

5pm…checked again…more emails….great!! Not lonely anymore!! I have people to email with… talk to… be e-flirty with!! Life is good!! I have fan mail!! Yay!

Day 2

Return emails……check out my “winks” and wonder why some people wink and some people email….is there a difference?? Is one method better than the other?? I wish I had a guidebook as I am suddenly clueless as to the “rules” of the game.

Day 3

What??? They want my phone number??? Really??? Why?? I am not sure I’m comfortable with strangers being able to call and text at any time…. My phone is the most important part of my being… is with me 24/7/365…. No way Jose!!

Day 4

Getting some hate mail…..from those whom I initially responded to (I always thought anyone who takes time to email me should get some sort of response…but the emails grew insistent and a little bit cr-azy and I stopped responding).  Obviously on Match…. Response=Interest…. Holy cow!! This is sooo complicated!! I was just being nice….and encouraging…not playing games.

Day 5

Meet?? I am not ready to meet anyone…. I want to email them a bit first to see if we click.  Called my guyfriend wondering what the heck is up with this meet thing…. why are they so insistent??  They don't even know me.  He informed me that, “Becky…’s called because they want to meet somebody….it’s not called or” Somehow, I thought the time frame would move a bit....well....a bit slower.  Obviously…..I am much too guarded for this type of process….. Meeting a stranger I have emailed once or twice and who already wants to date me seems a bit……well….odd.

Day 6

Emails……avoiding phone conversations……avoiding meeting in person….. but...I like fan feels good to my wounded little heart...  Realized I can see who has checked out MY profile….. reconciling the list of viewers with the list of winks and emails…… asking myself….. why didn’t this one wink….or email……why didn’t that one like me?? Suddenly, I felt under a microscope……and finding myself irritated at people who judge the worthiness of a person based on a few arbitrary parameters (this coming from the woman who is looking for a man at least one inch taller than her X….)…..

Day 7

Sigh…..this is so very time consuming…..

Day 8

Friday night…..why are these people on Match?? Why aren’t they out meeting people?? Oh….wait…..why am I on Match and not out??  Added some better pictures… Thinking I should actually meet someone in person and resolving to do so…

Day 9

Fan Mail!!! Yippee!! I have found the one….well….the one I have decided to meet in person….for coffee….I have had hundreds of one-on-one networking meetings…so this should be no different……. Famous last words!!!

******To Be Continued*******

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Colors and Hues

In my year of blogging, I’ve spent a lot of time writing about my journey as a divorced woman - - a journey of discovery….in discovering who I am and who I want to be. My mission is to be as transparent as I can appropriately be.  Recently, I've discovered that there is one place where I have not been so transparent - - both in my blog and in my life. I have hidden a painful place so deep inside me that it doesn’t see the light of day. These forgotten fears/emotions/hurts are like weeds…..waiting dormant until the opportune moment (or in my case, typically the most inopportune moments).

Why bring up something that is past history?? Why dredge up old feelings?? Is it appropriate?? Is it helpful?? Will I look like a victim?? Well…’s time. As the old Randy Travis song says…..I’m digging up bones…..exhuming things that are better left alone.  It’s time to let those things see the light of day.  Left in the dark, they subtly color my feelings…..cast a hue on circumstances…distorting them ever so slightly….and then….my coping mechanisms kick in and I want to run and hide…..walk out….leave the room…..end a relationship……or better yet….hide in my anger….or in my harsh words.

My ex-husband’s affair with a close girlfriend shattered my world….it pierced the illusion I had that our marriage was good and was strong - an illusion I completely bought into. People would ask me, “How could you not know??” or simply state, “you must have known on some level.” Those words pierced my heart even deeper… could I have not known?? I am pretty perceptive……how did I not pick up on it?? How did I not see it?

In truth, the x and my friend were very good in their deception - - they lied, they manipulated, and they were careful….very careful. I felt like such a fool! I lost trust in my X, I lost trust in my friends, and most devastatingly, I lost trust in myself….in my gut.

Their affair caused me to feel:

Less of a woman - - I was not enough for him….emotionally….physically.  My friend seemed to be all I wasn’t - creative….beautiful….tall…..model thin body… with an air of “please rescue me..” The hardest part was his explanation...... “Becky, it wasn’t about the sex…..I just liked her better….she is my best friend.” Ouch!! The sex I could attribute to a midlife crisis (a Porsche would have been better)…..but the emotional connection screamed simultaneously….. “You aren’t enough” and “Becky, you are just too much!!”  

Alone - my friends had to pick sides as we were all “one big happy family” and now they had four very unhappy people in a big mess. In one fell-swoop I lost my husband, my girlfriends, my position as a pastor’s wife, my support group…. People would call……. but sometimes I wondered if it was more for the latest gossip than to actually support me.

Angry - so.. so very angry - angry at God for allowing this to happen….angry at myself for allowing it to happen…..angry at my life…..angry at my house out in the country isolating me……just freaking angry! I wanted to build a big bonfire and burn every memory we had together!! Instead, I took apart my beautiful king sized four-poster Rice Bed,…put it in the basement…..threw away my sheets, pillowcases, and comforter…. and slept on the floor.

Afraid - what would happen next?? Would anyone want me again?? I felt like a chipped and broken tea pot on the clearance aisle at Home Goods….unwanted…..headed to the Island of Misfit Toys….lost in oblivion…… I was ashamed....ashamed of telling people that my husband had an affair.....ashamed of what it seemed to say about me as a a wife.  Like Hester Pryne....I felt like I had a big A on my chest for all to see and for all to judge...and I didn't even commit the offense.. 

How would I support myself?? Where would I go?? What would I do?? My fear paralyzed me for a good year….I couldn’t function…I couldn’t think….all I could do was sit on the floor and cry. Nights were scary.  I was used to having a man in the house. Living on a 650 acre farm….every noise….every creak terrified me….screamed to me that I had no one to protect me.

Lost…….so…so utterly lost…..and hopeless….feeling unattractive ….unloved. My ex was more worried about the “other woman” and what she was going through than with taking care of his wife whom he had promised to love and to cherish….. I had spent 16 years with him….does that not count for something?? Everything I had worked for…sacrificed for… my carefully built home was damaged. I had made the decision to stay home with my family for 11 years….to take care of them… to love them. Everything I knew was about being a wife and a mom and about running our small businesses…..Now what??

After about a year of being a victim….feeling powerless…..I decided to get up….put on my big girl boots….be strong…..and create my life the way I want it. I pushed all thoughts and fears into the recesses of my soul...never to see the light of day again.  The problem is….. the issue can be…. that I never…ever want to go back there again! I don’t want to be in a position where I don’t know….can’t see….or just am not aware that the love is gone. I am like a sentry - on guard - searching out possible threats….creating scenarios in my head of danger…..and allowing beautiful things to be colored with shades of fear.

Those colors and hues affect my relationships....even the relationship I have with my children - - I am terrified that they will find me lacking just as my X did - - that their lives are forever changed.  I know I am not the mom that I used to be...with family quite honestly, it makes me defensive....very, very defensive. 

In 30 days, it will be 5 years since the discovery of my X’s affair and it is finally time to face the scary things…. to know them… to allow the hurt to come to light… be open and not hidden….and be a beautiful part of who I have become…not to wallow and get stuck…. but to acknowledge where I have come from and what I have gone through….. acknowledge it…. respect it…. And not be afraid of it.

So this is the year of Reclaiming.  Reclaiming my hope.....reclaiming my life.... Restoring the things that were lost...that seemed forever gone.  Last year was about finding out who I want to be - - this year is about remembering who I was.....and more importantly....remembering the beauty and not just the pain.