Chapter Five – Step Into The Light
By Steven Maisenbacher
Well it seems like it’s a done deal, only not done the way I initially had planned. It looks like I won’t be taking Computer Sciences. I was contacted by the success counselor who advised me that the Computer Sciences program is a rigorous, in-depth, two-year course of studies designed for computer-adept individuals. The course basically involves writing programs in several computer languages, all new computer technology. These are the things that I don’t have the basic skills for; I’m still trying to learn the basic skills. So, instead, I might be doing what I have wanted to do for the past 10 years.
I might just go ahead and start the prerequisites and a couple of electives toward earning an Associate Degree in psychology and sociology with public speaking as well. Once I hit the associate mark I’ll have the credentials I need to go ahead and start shopping around for a job as a youth counselor or drug addiction counselor. Hopefully I would have the ability to serve a residency towards the remaining credits needed, or at least that’s the way it is in my mind.
I have an appointment with the success counselor for next Thursday October 20th at 9:00 a.m. to discuss my options. On the phone, she was very nice as if she wanted to be helpful. Keep your fingers crossed for me; I’m going to need the extra luck. I’ve been out to the college several times now, each time with less and less stress. It finally occurred to me during the orientation process that I’m exactly where I need to be, that I have just as much right as anybody on the free planet to better myself with an education in order to help other people. For me that’s what it’s really about, what it’s been about for decades.
Even while inside, teaching youngsters the ceremonies and the traditions, helping them return to their native roots, even encouraging them and helping them learn their languages, that’s mostly why I now speak three native languages. It seems ironic that my English is atrocious but I have an extensive vocabulary. That can only come from the upwards of 5,000 books I’ve read in the past 25 years. I know that number seems crazy but it’s probably well under the mark. That doesn’t make me smart, it just means I was able to conquer my dyslexia and seek the education for myself that I couldn’t get anywhere else.
Now I’m insistent upon getting the education I can’t get for myself at the one place I can get it – college. Sixty-two years old, beat up, battered and bruised, I still want to learn and I still want to help even if it’s only one person. That would be worth it. I ain’t trying to come across as no superhero, I’m just the man I’ve become. And then becoming this man, I’m coming to terms with all that I didn’t do in my life – the things I should have done I neglected or ignored, the things I shouldn’t have done I did with vigor. Which leaves only one comment. What a bonehead I was! But being the stubborn bonehead that I was, I finally got bored with being bad. Somehow in my mind I came to the point where I thought to myself: I’m My Own Worst Enemy! That won’t happen ever again not in this life or the next.
I went through the orientation test, probably the most difficult thing I’ve done in decades. I was asked about career goals and expectations. The test had me draw a mind map of where I wanted to go and where I am now in my journey to get to where I want to go. My map was all stick figures, a bit of a catastrophe on paper; Yeah my drawing skills are lacking to say the least. Smile. But I got it done.
In the middle of orientation, I discovered that I was going to be late getting back to the halfway house so I did what I was told to do. I called, and I told them I was still in the middle of orientation and I was going to be late. This is what my case manager told me to do if I was confronted with the situation. So I did it. I finally finished the orientation after asking the student counselor for help several dozen times just navigating a computer that I knew nothing about – files and tiles and drop downs and enters and deletes and all sorts of alien things.
I went to the bus stop to come back to the halfway house. By this time I’m an hour late, so I called again and told them I was at the bus stop. I’d be back as soon as the bus drops me off. I’m waiting for it now. This is the second call that I made when really I was only required to call once. So I get back to the halfway house and the first thing out of the staff member’s mouth is, “I’m going to call your counselor, you’re late!” Well imagine that! I did what I was told and still they want to gang up on me for it.
I’m finding that this place is nothing but all the speed bumps in the world, all the tests, all the trying situations and all the petty, stupid rules that aren’t in the manual or the handbook that they make up as they go. I don’t know if it’s all meant to see what I’ll do but I do know it’s ridiculous, oppressive, and lacking in sense. But that’s not going to stop me. It’s going to take more than some silly rules to stop me, it’s going to take more than some aggravating staff members to stop me, because I am thoroughly and absolutely convinced that I’m going to succeed in spite of it.
I didn’t make it this far to fail and I owe it to those who love me and to myself, but most of all, I owe it to the Creator to be the man that I have been blessed to become. I know a lot of you don’t know me, some never will other than these writings, and I’m so glad you didn’t know the man I was before. That’s not who I am and I will not let them make me be that man by trying to put speed bumps and trials in my way or hindering my progress in my reentry into society. School is going to be super difficult but I’ll overcome that too. After all nobody there is going to use a taser on me and I won’t be handcuffed behind my back. The only hurdles I have to pass are my own mind and the assimilation of the knowledge that will be presented cuz that’s what they will do when Walks goes to college.
Y’all have a good day, I will in being Walks.