Remember when I said I was going to crash at Dad’s Wednesday night, get up and go home first thing Thursday morning, and have a nice leisurely day to finish up the ECE 101 homework I’d gotten a nice early start on the previous weekend? I sounded so cheerful and optimistic there, despite having just tripped over a math test and bumped my head.
So, naturally, when I climbed into Mom’s MINI (which I’d borrowed because it had gas in it) Thursday morning, it wouldn’t start. For no reason anyone has been able to determine, the battery had gone stone dead overnight. So dead that the guy AAA sent couldn’t get it started with one of those portable jumpstart battery pack things, but had to go back to his garage for proper jumper cables and start it off his truck. So instead of heading home bright and early to finish up my work, I spent the morning taking the car to the Foreign Car Center in Hampden so that they could try and figure out what the hell was the matter with it.
This was a tall order, and one they couldn’t fill right away; electrical problems are always hard to track down, and the MINI’s is apparently particularly subject to the Automotive Defect Uncertainty Principle. Its electrical system blinked innocently and asked, “Who, me?” when queried by the tech tool. I waited around for Mom to pick me up, and was then trapped running a million and one errands around Bangor with her all afternoon, because, she declared, gas is too expensive to waste it on a round trip just to pick me up. I got home at nightfall, worn out and pissed off.
The homework… didn’t get finished. I got the big ol’ current/voltage analysis done, which I consider an accomplishment given my frame of mind, and I already had the first and last questions finished, but I ended up making several blundering attempts at the others with the distinct sense of unmeshed gears spinning fruitlessly inside my head. Eventually I ran out of time and cope at about the same time, and ended up scribbling a rather pathetic note to that effect on the page where the answers for questions 4 and 5 should’ve been. If I were my instructor, I’d probably dock me a couple more points just for being a whiner. (And at least one for having had part of one of the missing questions personally explained to me in a one-on-one meeting Tuesday afternoon, and managing somehow to uncomprehend it within 48 hours.)
The only plus side is that I did manage to perform one act of prioritization. By the time I got home, I was fairly sure I wouldn’t have enough time and energy to get everything done that I needed to do. So instead of starting with the remainder of the ECE 101 work, which would’ve taken me all of the time and energy I had and still wouldn’t have been finished at the end, I started by completing my outline and notes for CMJ 103. Cutting my losses, you might say. So at least I was ready (more or less) to deliver the speech.
And then today, once I got all that done, I had to spend the afternoon stranded in Bangor with more of Mom’s strangely multiplying errands, because they’re keeping the MINI over the weekend to keep scrutinizing the mysteriously nonchalant electrical system. And I had to go and wrangle with the homecare people about the problems with New Nose Machine, which it occurs to me that I haven’t actually written about here because it’s not directly relevant to the college thing. Or at least it wasn’t until having to take care of that this afternoon, on top of everything yesterday, made me blow my first newspaper deadline… um… ever by being unable to put together a piece I owe the Campus this week. Not that I have the mental bandwidth to have gotten involved with a newspaper anyway now that the technical half of my semester’s course load has started fraying in the slipstream.
I know this post reads like it’s basically just a litany of excuses for lousy performance this week. But it’s not really about excuses. They say that one should be able to overcome all the difficulties and inconveniences life unexpectedly throws at us all and get one’s work done anyway; it’s one of the central premises of the College Experience because, they say, it’s what the Real World will expect of us when we get there. Failing to meet one’s responsibilities because of unexpected life screwups is like being the car behind in a collision – it’s your fault regardless of the circumstances, because you should’ve been paying more attention. And in that respect, I’ve simply not been on the ball enough.
The thing is, I don’t think it is just a question of Trying Harder. I was trying as hard as my shrunken old brain could at those last couple of ECE 101 questions, and they just weren’t happening. I consulted my own notes, notes I took with my very own hand in class, and they might as well have been in Martian. And I’ll be honest with you, that scares me more than a little. Some say certain neurological conditions which normally have overtly physical effects can occasionally cause subtler harm, slowing thought patterns and making it harder to concentrate or recall. I’m starting to wonder if that’s what’s going on here… or if that’s just some part of me looking for another excuse.
So, uh, yeah. This hasn’t been my most impressive week. Like I mentioned a while back, test pilots talk about being “behind the airplane”, a situation that usually ends in a fiery crash. They say you can feel it happening. This week, I really know what they mean.