Saturday, May 7, 2011

♫...there'll be peace when you are done...♫

There is a good reason they call these ceremonies “commencement exercises.” Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning.
– Orrin Hatch
I graduated today.
I FINALLY graduated today!!!

Let me tell you exactly why this is such a big deal for me.

I didn't start college immediately after High School. I had my first college classes at UAB in the Spring Semester of 2002. I was 22 years old. Because I had a full-time day job I went to classes at night and on the weekends...Unfortunately, at that time UAB didn't have a wide variety of classes available at night or on weekends (I don't think they have many now either)...Also, I worked on Saturdays and soon after I started school my employer started requiring us to come in on Sundays as well. This made it VERY hard to go to school.  There were MANY semesters that I didn't take any classes...and when I was able to attend, I could often only get ONE class that I needed and then I would have to take a class that I didn't need just so that I would qualify for financial aid. This made the process very, very, very, very, very long and frustrating. There were countless times when I just wanted to throw in the towel and say, 'to hell with this'. Finally, I left that job and then proceeded to get laid off from my new job a year and a half later...after that, my parents were amazing and supported me while I finished my degree...and I worked my butt off.

There are quite a few people in my life who said that I'd never finish...or who mock how long it has taken me. It hasn't taken me this long because I failed, or because I didn't try. It took this long because I had obstacles...and I worked around them.
I'm proud of my accomplishment...



Which leads me to today...oh. my. god. I wanted to beat my head in...or someone else's head in...with a brick for most of the morning.
This graduation almost didn't happen. I seriously almost decided to climb up a tree in our backyard and throw acorns at anyone who tried to lure me down.

I don't wear pantyhose. I wear stockings (the kind held up with garters) or thigh highs. That's just how I am. I hate pantyhose...they are a cruel form of torture created by sadists on acid. I can handle stockings/thigh highs because they are not confining and stockings make me feel like I'm a screen goddess of the 1940s...or Dita von Teese. Pantyhose should die in a fire. Die. Die. Die. You confining, lycra hell beast.
I had to wear pantyhose today.
I have $1.10 in my checking account. My mother had an unopened pair of pantyhose, and I took them...because I had no other choice. It was that or have my ultra white legs blind everyone at graduation.
The pantyhose were too small.
...and they were the kind without a waistband.
So every time I sat down, they rolled down my hips...
...and continued rolling down to my thighs.
A contortionist would be green with envy over some of the moves I made to get into that pair of pantyhose...and I had to pull them back up every few moments...lest they end up around my ankles.

Then my car wouldn't start.

I had to be at school an hour before the ceremony was to start. When I arrived in the poorly ventilated and seemingly air condition-less gym they had set up for us, I was told to fill out a card with my name and information and get in line....
....okay, first I need to tell you that this was the graduation for the School of Arts and Sciences and The School of Education. As a Sociology student, I was designated to the School of Arts and Sciences area.
There were three polls, each poll had a sign on it with something like P-Z, so that you could line up according to last name.
Sounds simple, right?
We were told to get in 'approximately' alphabetical order and to make 2 rows (so we'd be walking in in pairs). The School of Education had zero problem with this. They were in 2 uniform rows the majority of the time. The School of Arts and Sciences...not so much. We were more of a big blob. Some had 3 or 4 people in their rows...this one front of me, of course...was alone until right before we walked in. You could pretty much tell who was Arts and who was Sciences...'Arts' were willy nilly wherever they wanted to be...and 'Sciences' were inwardly panicking that we weren't in lines and people weren't were they were suppose to be...
...also...remember those poles with the sings? Yeah, I was in the P-Z line and the system devised to find out where you needed to be was to go down the line saying, 'What are you?" and the answers would be "P" or "R" or "S" and so on.
There were several girls who came to our line and were like, "Oh muh gawd. What are you? You're an 'S'. I'm an M. I must be further up the front of this line!"

The young lady I walked in with, gods bless her, she had worked all night and just gotten off in time to come to graduation. She kept falling asleep...standing up.
We stood in the gym for an hour...then we marched in...and stood there for 20 more minutes as everyone filed in...then as some really kickass bagpipe players and drummers marched around the room playing...and as the pres spoke...on and on and on...and then as the Star Spangled Banner played. When they FINALLY said, 'You may be seated', there was a collective sigh of relief/endless bitching from all the grads. Our feet hurt...and my partner was very close to passing out on the people in front of us.
The girls on the other side of me were snotty bitches about everyone...and kept texting through the whole ceremony...and I wanted to punch them in the throat but I was too busy trying to make sure that the girl on the other side didn't start snoring again. I'm just going to say this about the snotty bitches...if you're going to be a cow (that's not the work I wanted to use) about other people, maybe you shouldn't get tattoos about how you should love everyone...just a suggestion.

Okay, so blah blah blah, people gave speeches and then it was time for the grads to come up and basically walk across the stage through a gauntlet of handshaking. When I made my way closer to the stage, to an area next to an exit...a young lady with a sorority sash on breaks our line and asks the security guard where the restrooms were...but he didn't answer her quick enough and she threw up all over the place right beside didn't get me...and it was all liquid...but it did hit the person next to me...and it was ever so gross.
Word to the wise. Don't go out drinking all night the night before graduation...


I gave my name card to the dude...and he called me Ruby Dion, the corrected it, Ruby Diane and he actually pronounced my last name right...people usually ALWAYS mispronounce it as Strawberry.
I shook the Dean of the school of Arts and Sciences' hand...then the presidents hand...and then I was corralled quickly through a photo session thing...and trust me when I say that you WILL NEVER EVER SEE A PICTURE OF ME AT GRADUATION...because they are ALL AWFUL.

It went on and on and on for a good bit...

...then it was over...and we clapped...because we were so glad that they weren't going to be calling anymore names.

Then the moment came for us all to move our tassels over from the right side to the left side. And that moment, ladies and jellybeans, is when I choked up. I actually started tearing up then.
...but then it passed and audience members started shooting us with green and gold streamer was pretty...and startled the sleepy girl next to me.

...and then it was over...and the fact that I hadn't slept at all last night (nerves) hit me like a ton of bricks.
I found my family, gave them hugs, took GOD AWFUL pictures in which I look like a beached whale...and then drove home.

It all feels sort of unreal...a little anticlimactic...but I don't care...I'M DONE (for now...I'll probably go to graduate school eventually)...I'M DONE, I'M DONE, I'M DONE....


Someone bring me a drink...or 12....
Now on to other today is Doctor Who day! Woot.
Here's me now...and a slideshow...Enjoy, and pardon me while I pass out until Monday, when the job hunt begins.



...sarah. said...

*sniff* I am SOOOOOO proud!! I got one better than McDonald's for you, though. Try working at Lowe's for 4 years post-diploma. At least at McDonald's you can get french fries and chocolate shakes to make yourself feel better for a while.

Amanda said...

Rubylicious, I am so, so, so proud of you. You are an inspiration! :)

Oh and ew about the throwing up girl.

Ruby LeBeau said...

Many, many, many thanks!
It's still a bit unreal to me. Like, I have to wake up and tell myself that I actually DID graduate and that I don't have to go to school...but then the panic sets in...OMG I NEED A FRACKIN' JOB!!!

Of course, grades are posted until tomorrow, so maybe I DIDN'T graduate after all...

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