Skill U: 1.6

The college journal of Honey Walker — If found, please deliver to Casas Dulces, Magnolia Promenade.

Week One, Day Six – Freshman Year

Editor’s Note: Honey’s journal entries are numbered according to week and day of the week. Due to her busy schedule, she does not keep daily entries, so gaps appear in the numbering. Please see the Table of Contents for the full listing of entries.

Casus Dulces

Draining. Boring. Stressful. Tedious. And endless. That’s how college felt three-quarters through first semester.

Sometimes I’d get home so wiped out that studying or practicing violin, piano, or guitar was the last thing I wanted to do. But at the same time, I was so worried that if I wasn’t always doing something productive, I’d fall behind everyone else and flunk out. Plus, we’ve got bills coming up soon, and if I don’t bring in the full scholarship, I don’t think we’ll make it. We might not even make it if I do.

There’s so much to worry about.

When I lived at home, Mom would always have snacks waiting for me when I got home from school.

“Honey,” she’d say, “eat this slice of pie. Watch some tv while you do, dear. Not a lot! Just 15 minutes, ok, Honey? Eat your pie and watch your tv, and then you’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle your homework like the star you are!”

And I would be able to cruise right through my homework after that.

Now that I’m responsible for myself, I don’t want to turn to pie and tv every time I’m stressed. But Mom’s advice to refresh myself first is probably a good idea. Since I need to gain some skills in physical fitness as part of the general studies for freshman year, I’ve decided that when I’m feeling wiped out, I’ll take a nice relaxing swim or jog on the treadmill.

It’s amazing how the cool water and a little movement help the stress and worry melt away.

Honey Walker

At least for the moment. Once I opened up my books again, my brain just felt so tired. I can’t take in anything more!

Honey Walker

I left my open book on the table. I moved to another seat and just sat there for a moment, so I could talk to myself.

I thought about what was happening inside my brain as I learn new things. I form new dendrites. I develop new synaptic connections. My brain is actually changing, in its capacity to recognize patterns.

Thanks to my dad always pushing me to work harder, I’ve come to learn to love the feeling of having sore muscles. It’s not pain to me–it’s the sensation of getting stronger.

This is my mind getting stronger. This tired feeling–this discomfort as new connections form–I don’t have to resist it or find it uncomfortable. It’s the feeling of getting smarter.

Honey Walker

After my pep talk, I was ready to go back to my studies. Now that I can look at these sensations in my brain in a new way, I don’t feel the need to avoid them. I feel happy when I feel that little bit of tugging and pulling–I’m growing new dendrites!

Honey Walker

I won’t say that I’m able to breeze through homework, but I will say that I’m willing to tackle it to see what I can learn and how I can develop my thinking.

Dad always told me that one of the first things he learned in the Marines was that if something’s broken, you fix it, even if you weren’t the one to break it.

So I’ve been fixing the stuff that breaks around the house.

I got a rash–it was like chicken pox or something, and it felt like a million mosquito bites. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been working so hard through all this stress, or if maybe it was from trying to fix the tv and the electricity goofed up my nerve endings, or what.

Honey Walker

But I took some of the medicine that Mom insisted I bring with me, and it cleared up the rash almost right away. I’ll have to write Mom and ask her to send me some more.

Honey Walker

The stereo was broken, too. I don’t really care if the tv’s broken, since I don’t watch it, but I’m lost without the stereo. There’s just something about music–I’ve got to have it!

Honey Walker

I gotta admit, even if they don’t fix the broken stuff, the room-mates are pretty cool. Nathan was trying to boost our spirits.

“You know, we’ve got to be the smartest dorm on campus. Three Wonder Childs and you two. Plus our dean is like the awesomest dean in the whole university, right Dr. Leslie Dean? See? Even her name spells ‘Dean’!”

Honey Walker

My room-mates and Dr. Dean chip in with the dishes, sometimes, and that helps so much. But when it comes to fixing plumbing and mopping, there’s nobody like yours truly to step in.

Dad also says, “If there’s a mess, you clean it up. Even if you didn’t make it.”

So I’ve also been spending a lot of time cleaning up.

Honey Walker

I don’t mind because it’s how I was raised. And I learn something new with every thing I fix, and having a clean living space just feels good and makes it easier to concentrate on studies.

Honey Walker

Dr. Dean is some sort of amazing artist. She painted this masterpiece the other day. I wanted to keep it to hang up in my room–there was just this quality that the brown-haired woman in the painting had that filled me with inspiration and confidence.

We had to sell it, though. She said she’d painted it to help with the bills.

Honey Walker

It must be nice to be carefree. Tatum doesn’t seem to worry about anything. As long as he’s got his chess set, he’s happy. I guess if you’ve made it through the Wonder Child program, nothing else is really so important. It must feel like you can just relax and take it easy.

I don’t think I’ve relaxed since I came. Well, maybe when I was losing myself in my violin practice.

Honey Walker

But with all the class assignments, it doesn’t seem like there’s much time to play the violin, most days.

Honey Walker

There’s hardly even time to talk or visit.

Honey Walker

I’m not complaining, though. I’m just stating how it is.

One thing’s for sure–with all this reading, I’ve always got something on my mind. Maybe it’s Darwin, or maybe it’s Schoenberg–but there’s always some theory for me to think about.

And, once I remember to slow down and let myself actually think, that’s actually pretty exciting.

Honey Walker

I slept in on Friday morning–I meant to get up around 4:30, but I slept in until 5:30. I can’t believe it! So by the time I finished my regular assignment, I didn’t have much time left for my extra credit assignment.

I tried to fit it in, but by the time I finished, I was late for class.

Honey Walker

Shouldn’t matter, right? It’s better to have the extra credit done, and just miss the first part of the lecture, right?

Honey Walker

Wrong. I was penalized for being late, and the extra points for extra credit didn’t make up the difference. I’ve still just got a B+ in class.

Honey Walker

Well, it’s the weekend. Our class grades don’t count towards our scholarship grade, anyway–just the skills do. I couldn’t really understand the rubric for determining the first semester grades, so I decided that I’ll just try to complete the requirements for the A for the first year–that way I’ll be sure to earn a first semester A.

I’ve already met the requirements in violin, and all I have to do is get one more piano point, one more physical fitness point, and three guitar points. By Sunday morning. I can do that, right? There’s always Zzzz juice.

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