Avian Squatters

Last week we heard the sound of birds in the house -the attic specifically. While Mike and the boys were shut safely in my office playing Minecraft, I donned gloves and grabbed a hand towel from the hamper to catch and remove my unwanted guests humanely. Pulling down the ladder/trapdoor that leads to our attic, I discovered a juvenile bird (not sure what kind -sparrow perhaps?) was actually trapped under the rungs and covered in dust bunnies. As I struggled to pull the poor kid out, his cries were answered by what I can only assume was a mama bird who swooped down from the attic and straight into our bedroom.

Long story short -I got both birds out the front door and felt, for just a second, like I could still be a hero to someone.

I wrote my final email to NIU’s math chair just a few days before this, pleading with the chair of the math department to have mercy on me and consider all the aspects of my situation (past and present in my ten year journey to the bachelor’s degree I’ve been anticipating in August). My expectation is that he will refuse to give me the transfer credit I need and I will be forced to enroll in Math 101 this fall, losing my graduate assistanceship and possibly the chance to go to graduate school as I had planned.

It’s been a huge blow in just about every way. Failing the math core competency exam by seven points earlier this month, I thought my whole world was coming to an end. I had been so excited to move into a new chapter of life, having fulfilled my father’s final wishes and the goal I set for myself ten years ago as a scared lonely single mother with no idea what kind of future my son would have.

Things are incredibly different now than I expected them to be -obviously I had no idea what the future would hold (which is what made everything so much more difficult and intimidating for me at the time) but looking back at my misery the last few weeks I feel a strange mixture of relief and shame. I’m ashamed of myself for being so damn inept at mathematics -although to be fair, I took Math 101 nine years ago and haven’t used it since. I’m also ashamed of myself for hitting rock bottom so hard when I have so many other things to be grateful for.

I’m relieved because I came out of a very dark place and I can see light again, and reason as well. The whole future isn’t screwed for us just because I messed this up. It’s no one’s fault but my own, and only I can jump through the flaming hoops of academia to get where I’m going. Still, I wish this final letter would come -for good or for bad- so that I can know whether to cry out of sheer joy or utter dissapointment. This man has the power to decide whether I’ll be enrolling in a freshman math course this fall or teaching a freshman COMS class. I have to keep up momentum or I’ll sink like a rock.

…or maybe like a diamond. Either way, I’m sure it’ll be entertaining to watch.

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