To Be Or Not To Be OCD

I have never been the organized type. I’m not a candidate for “Hoarders,” mind you, but there’s always room for improvement (just don’t go into my bathroom). I’ve gotten better over the years. Not perfect, but better. Does this mean my pantry looks like Ina Garten’s? Or my closet is neatly arranged by color? Or that my desk is spotless? Nope. Not even one of these things.

Instead I open my pantry cupboards with caution so I’m not knocked unconscious by a flood of canned goods. My closet has more non-clothing items than clothes (oh, there’s that old hoola-hoop I’ve been looking for!). And my desk…well, there’s an empty water bottle from three days ago that I could easily throw in the trash.

Organization – or the lack thereof – goes for undergraduate life as well. Again, I’ve gotten better about organizing, and this full-time semester has helped.

Let’s take a look at the weekly schedule photo I posted above. This is about as organized as I get. Quite frankly, I’m particularly proud of it. Screw the ‘A’ on my 8-page auto-ethnography essay I just got back – that pales in comparison to the joy of this hand-written schedule.

When I look at it, I smile. My five courses are listed beautifully like a treasured family recipe. Under each course are the assignments I need to work on for the week. I highlight all that is important. Most important, I adorn it with cute little stickers, a suggestion from my 7-year old to make the paper “look happy.” And it does look happy, doesn’t it??

This would not have come about 20 years ago. I had an agile mind back then. My community college assignments were categorized right in my noggin, and I never forgot a one. And I was working one or two jobs. Now I’m lucky to remember if ate breakfast or, worse, if I made it but forgot to eat it. Hey, it’s happened.

This organizational skill is nothing to brag about, really. It hasn’t seeped into my normal day-to-day life. Just today I got a notification that my child’s eye appointment is tomorrow – an appointment I made two months ago. An appointment I should have cancelled because we’ve already seen the optometrist.

I’m just happy that being an undergrad at 45 means learning more than just academic knowledge. Who knows, by this time next year I might be doing something as crazy as, I don’t know, going to bed at a reasonable hour!

Hey, one can hope.


Group Class Work, or Hand Me the Noose

If you have taken a college course, you understand there are unspoken rules. For one, the professor will always be late. Next, anyone who sits in the front is definitely an ass-kisser (I sit in the front so shut up). Also, if you sit near the door, it will be your job to “get the lights” from that point forward. The seat you pick on day one is marked with your scent; when someone else sits there you will feel the fire of hell rage in your blood – you won’t do anything about it, but you’ll want to.

And there will always – always – be group work.

Group work is the bane of my educational existence. When the syllabus is passed out, it’s the first thing I look for. But watch out, for sometimes professors are sneaky. On Week 7 the syllabus might read that your 10-slide PowerPoint on The Sand Child by Tahar Ben Jelloun is due. No Late Work Accepted. Well, gosh, that’s not too bad. A PowerPoint is eezy-peezy!

But no. Suddenly your glee is shattered when the professor says: “Sorry, guys, the syllabus has a misprint on Week 7. The PowerPoint project is a group activity. So go ahead and break off into groups of four…”

These are times it would be nice to have brought a flask to class. Or a noose.

I’m by no means an introvert. I’m not frightened of group work. I’ve met some really interesting people this way. But it NEVER FAILS: there is always that One Student who slacks off. That One Student who has more excuses than a six-year old with chocolate smeared across his face. That One Student who is taking the class as an elective and Just Wants it The Fuck Over With. Sometimes it’s two students.

I get it. I do. An elective class is basically bad sex, with text books.

This semester I had to do the exact PowerPoint project listed above. Even with COVID destroying everything, like in-class activity, it didn’t manage to bring group work down with it. Via text I had to join forces with three 19-year olds with selfie-ready school profile photos and jaunty emojis in their messages. “OMG!” “LOL!” *insert eye roll*

We knew for two months this project was due. We picked the book. Two weeks prior, one of my teammates – let’s call her Sandy – began a Google Slide document. I started it. She added to it. I edited, so did she. For a week we spruced up our presentation with photos, quotes, themes, and analytical content. It was a thing of beauty. Our other two teammates graced us with a text or two, but they may as well have just farted into the ether.

The day before the project was due, I was ready to cut a bitch. Sandy and I did everything. I sent one last group text that read: “This is done and I’m sending it in. It would have been nice if Sandy and I didn’t have to carry this whole thing, but I guess she and I don’t have bitch-ass shoulders.”

Project sent. Grades dispersed. My complaint to the professor was worthy of a Pulitzer. Did anything come of it? Who knows. In the past I always let it go, so sending the email was a big step. I’m not looking to ruin academic careers here, but I sure as hell hope karma wants to cut a bitch once in a while.

Or hand out nooses.