Back to School, Back to Reality

As summer wanes and autumn slinks quietly upon us, the nights get distinctly cooler and the leaves gradually get crisper. The streets are less outspoken and with most of its inhabitants now locked up for most part of the day a sense of resurrected calm has taken hold. This is the new school year. Fresh notebooks, brand new clothes, and not-yet-sick-of-school eagerness cloud the hallways of educational institutions across the country.

Cut to me sitting in a classroom, fresh notebook in hand full of ready-to-learn anticipation. After a two-year break, I am back in school. Fall semester started for me last week.

Welcome back.

“Kan…ja,” attempted the professor.

Before I could let her finish, “Here,” I said with a slight sigh masked by a half-attempted gracious smile and reluctant hand raise.

The class ate it up. The air of awkwardness broken mostly with polite chuckles sprinkled with a few obnoxious forced guffaws. Touchdown. The teacher had made contact. He or she is funny. They made a joke. They could be fun too. The self-fulfilling prophecy slowly sinks in and the robotic stance melts into a more humanly shape.

That was my role and I played it well. I was the Sideshow Bob to the teacher’s Krusty the Clown, except the villainous homicidal maniac part, at least for now. I bet Sideshow Bob had am intimidating last name too. Hmmm, that would explain a lot. The back-bending supporting role as the teacher has their moment to strike a familiar chord amongst a group of strangers staring back blankly at them.

Yeah, at the expense of my family’s name.

Since kindergarten without fail, teachers and professors have always been petrified by my name. Eighteen years of butchered massacres of my genealogical trademark, I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve heard it all. Accidental funnies, opportune funnies, sacrificial funnies.

“Ka-ka-ka”, “Can-the-johnnie-punk-kid”, “Canyon Grand Mesa”, “Um”, “Isabella?”

The funny thing is that, phonetically, my last name is actually quite easy to pronounce. The thirteen letters just overwhelm the senses. It is half the length of the alphabet. Mix that with performance anxiety and you have a nervous freak out. Then all normal sense of what is original flies out the window and makes “Why did the chicken cross the road jokes?” sound innovative.

I’ve come to the realization that I like school. I like learning. I am a bonafide geek.

This fall semester I am enrolled half-time at Santa Monica College. I am taking a photography class and a magazine article writing class. I am excited to learn all the features on my Canon Rebel XT and shooting subjects with a thematic collage. I am also doubly excited about learning how to pitch query letters to editors and about putting together contracts for freelance writing gigs. We didn’t learn this stuff at Newhouse. The writing part I got down pat. The refresher course is nice but I’m in it for the money. Well, I’m in it for the how to make money from writing portion of the class.

The greatest thing about all of this, and I just found this out today, is that my loans are put on deferment while I am in school and the government picks up the tab for any interest accrued on my subsidized loans. Loving it.

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