Blog by Yessica Maher, los Angeles Native.

She explores life after marriage, starting a career in her late 30's, relationships, breaking cycles of abuse, online dating, self care, fertility and depression. 

It's all over the place, but so is living. 

The Education of a Reluctant Student

I liked leaving high school more than I liked being in it.  I graduated with honors because it was never hard.  I was in theater arts and play production.  I hung out with football players and I was fairly popular.  Years later I would see people that remembered me and I couldn't place them. It was an empty existence.  It was so empty that when I left school, I didn't have contact information for most of the people I looked forward to seeing in class, because I never looked for them when I was home.  Facebook has rekindled many friendships, but I'm the same person, so hanging out offline is a major accomplishment if I ever do it. I started in college because my parents wanted me there. They had dreams for me and taught me going to college after high school was like brushing your teeth.  It's not optional. It's what you do.

I was rebellious though.  I was afraid of the SAT test and refused to take it.  I went straight to Glendale Community College instead.  Actually, in the fall of 1996 my Dad went there, registered for my classes and bought my books that first semester.  I started registering, buying books funded by my parents, dropping classes and getting cash back.  I did this for years and they never stopped believing in me or supporting me. By 2004 I wanted to get through it.  I picked up the college catalog and my transcripts, and started marking off classes to see if I had taken enough to get an AA.  I had taken enough for my Certificate in Communications and a few classes later in 2005 I got my AA in General Education Transfer Studies.  I think it was a blanket term for those of us that loved taking classes but still couldn't declare a major because indecision was a skill in Junior College but  I was excited to transfer.

I transferred into Cal State L.A. as a Geology major. I had taken a few classes and did really well in them. I loved the science. I used to daydream about camping along an active volcano, donning a heat suit and scaling the inside for measurements.  It may sound crazy but I really wanted to be a volcanologist.  I've always had a love of minerals and crystals.  Eventually I thought earthquakes would be a safer, more mom like job. I was struggling though.  My professors were amazing, but college level algebra was kicking my butt.  I got through it, but my reality set in.  I was already Mom to two autistic sons, and a third was on the way.  I would get home from class, and if the nausea of cooking didn't leave me dry heaving, I was exhausted from growing a human and studying didn't happen.  I couldn't go on field trips where we would spend a few days studying the earth because I couldn't leave my family behind. Geology is the study of the earth and I couldn't do that from our apartment in North Hollywood. I ended up taking a break for a few years and in that time, I made peace with math not being my superpower.  Every time I thought about the chemistry, calculus and physics required (all math), I would put it off another year.

Finishing school became important to me again.  I had kids and I wanted to be the example they deserved. Coming to terms with my math deficiency was hard, but I did it. I decided what I loved was reading and writing.  My love of reading started when I was 9 or 10.  My oldest sister used to read grocery store novels and I would pick up anything she put down, warping my sense of love and romance for the rest of my life.  Don't buy into the lace and heavy sighs.  It's a formula and just as damaging to relationships as porn.

I applied to the college when enrollment was high and was accepted in 5 quarters which was the fall of  2010. At the time, I didn't know I would be in my third trimester with my second surrogacy. If I didn't enroll, I might have had to wait another year to go back.  I figured I would try 8 units, and if anything I could get an incomplete.  I didn't realize how much I would love it though.  In September I greeted both professors right after class and explained I was determined to get through their classes, but I let them know I was due in October and I had no idea how it would work out.  One professor didn't notice how knocked up I was.  She was a great professor and loved to geek out on the British novels with their sighs and carriage rides and hints at naughtiness.  The other professor knew I was about to go into labor from my waddle. He was a grandfather and very kind.  I missed two class sessions. It was my fifth birth and while I was able to get around, childbirth makes you leak.  Everywhere.  Staying home for a week was a prudent decision.  In the end I earned a B and a C+.

The next quarter I was encouraged to apply for scholarships.  I didn't have the grades for it with my earlier years of not caring, and I banged out an essay in 20 minutes. I wrote about being a mom and wife while being a student.  I wrote about being expected to take care of house and home and school was treated like it was my hobby and I didn't feel supported at home.  I ended up earning six scholarships in 2 years.  One was a fellowship that was inadvertently given to me. It seemed odd that an undergrad would receive a fellowship.  I talked to the office handling that. They gave me the correct scholarship, but let me keep the fellowship for my honesty.  Apply for everything.  The worst answer you can get won't affect anything but will give you practice in writing an essay. The best answer is free money and the prestige of Honor's Convocations.

My most memorable Convocation happened during my last surrogacy.  It was a gnarly pregnancy because twins were hard for me to carry.  The hormones made my heart race. The morning sickness was off the charts.  I was on and off bed rest so often that I ended up taking a year off of school.  That was emotionally hard.  After giving birth in the middle of a quarter I couldn't understand why I couldn't handle going to class while still at the start and middle of a pregnancy.  I went back for the Convocation.  Of course they had us stand in line for too long to make an entrance.  I was overheating and dehydrated. I ended up feeling weak and faint and puking in the middle of it.  I think I even nailed the poor woman in front of me.  For the second ceremony for the College of Arts and letters I was feeling better until I ended up sitting next to a woman that was wearing way too much perfume. It was a night of memories that make me laugh now.  For my very last Convocation, I couldn't find anyone willing to go with me and I skipped it, but the department mailed my certificate to me.

Here's a hint, natural body scents on a clean body can smell amazing. Perfumes and colognes should compliment your natural scent and be used so sparingly that others are encouraged to get close enough to smell them.  That was a public service announcement and my free little nugget.  It's pure gold so take it and love it like your own. I used to wear Red Jeans by Versace and I love most women's scents by Givenchy, but I typically only wear deodorant. 

I can understand Chaucer and explicate Shakespeare, but my love of minerals and nature keep me grounded.  I love jewelry stores for the research, but one day I want to go on a rock hounding trip. I would love to dig up a vug and find my own treasures.  I don't know if I'd polish them.  Honestly I'd be happy finding quartz.  One day I might start back in school to retake some math classes and raise my GPA.  I always thought I'd go back to school.  I don't know if it will be law school or if I'd go back and attempt that Rock Doctor goal.  Suddenly single has so much potential that I nearly gave up on.

Today I have Mom duties.  My first born is now 14 and has his first invitation to his IEP.  It's his triennial so it's a big one. My second child has an amendment IEP.  I never did housework last night, so that is one of my goals this afternoon, but perhaps after a nap.  Stress had me up at 4 and by 5:30 I decided to stay up. Stress also has me breaking out all over the place like a teenager. If I have teenage skin, I should have teenage boobs too, right?  I'll contact my temp agency and hope she's moved mountains and if she hasn't, I'll start submitting resumes again.  I'm waiting until after my nap because job hunting is emotionally draining. After this last job, the bar was raised significantly and I don't know that I could settle as easily as I was trying to before.  Tomorrow morning I plan to walk along the LA River because it's here and it is full of amazing and just enough trash to feel like the LA I grew up in.

Owning Up to Falling Apart

A Fond Farewell in Hollywood