Monday, January 30, 2012

Climbing My Own Mountain

Image via the USGS.

It was decided last night that June 16 was the day my friends and I were going to climb Mt. St Helens. It seemed like the day to most work within our schedules and, because they had done it in May of last year, they were thinking that June would be a better month to do it in. I didn't work on the 16th, so that day worked for me. I have been super excited about climbing Mt. St Helens since there was first talk of this. I mean, climbing a mountain that's new to me! And a volcano, to boot! Cool! I was excited because a date was decided upon and so at 9am on Wednesday I will be anxiously awaiting purchasing my permit to climb that day in June.

It was only when I lay in bed last night that I realized something important... June 16 is the date that I am planning on graduating with my bachelor's degree. I mean, June 16 is the date that Eastern Oregon University is graduating people on and Jonathan and I were planning on driving to La Grande, a place that I have never been, to visit the school that I have never seen, and I was planning on walking with the class of 2012. As far as I know, no one from my family was planning on attending (I know my mom has previous plans and I don't know if my dad knows about it?), although I think Jonathan's family was thinking about going (which makes me feel all gooey inside :o)?

If you don't know already, the story of why my bachelor's degree has taken me a decade to get (some people become doctors in this time!) is that I graduated with my associate's degree back in 2003 (I think?) and, because I love to learn and because the University of Alaska Southeast is so AWESOME, I just kept taking classes and learning new things. I took all the math they had to offer, including petitioning to have trig (even though I was one of two students - really) and calculus (which I got such a low score on the first time that I took it AGAIN). I took both Russian and Spanish at the same time, which made me feel so good to exercise my brain and speak to people in a new way! I ended up going to Russia in 2005 for awhile to speak Russian and take Russian history classes at the University of St. Petersburg. Going to Russia is one of the most important and cool things I have ever done in my life. 

Anyway...I digress.

When I moved to Oregon in 2008 I thought, "You know? I bet I have enough credits from Alaska that I have most of a bachelor's degree by now" and, because AK does semesters and OR does quarters, I had something like 200 extra credit hours or something crazy like that. Basically, I just needed to do 45 credits for EOU to get my bachelor's of anthropology from them. So I've been working on all the classes from them that I've been needing to do. Last year I took statistics at PCC to transfer the credits over and then I was going to do my senior project and graduate in 2011. Well, that didn't work out and life got all goofy, and I went to Alaska for six months, and now I'm back in Oregon and I'm now doing statistics for the THIRD time, people. I am effing doing this class again and paying for it myself again and I am going to kick the tail out of statistics this time. And after I do that this term I will just need to do my senior project, which is supposed to be a 25+ page research paper on god-knows-what, and then I'm supposed to graduate on June 16 with the rest of my class, albeit one year "late."

Except last night I agreed to climb an active volcano on that day. Oops.

I hadn't even put my graduation date into my iCal.

I realized this as I was in bed, all cozied up, and going to bed LATE because Jonathan and I had had some quality time on the couch, talking about our Un-Valentine's Day plans (going to the Observatory on the 9th!!) and enjoying our living room's new setup (we rearranged it around yesterday), and then I'm all, "I'M HUNGRY!!!! Let's make popcorn and watch some Michael Palin!" because his travel shows are only on Netflix until the 31st, which is SOON and I dearly love me some Michael Palin travel shows. So it was only when I was fiiiinally in bed that my brain went, "Excuse me, Brittany? You're supposed to be in Eastern Oregon on June 16, wearing your cap and gown. You said last year that it was Really Important that you walked this year and you cried about it last year that it wasn't going to happen. Just sayin'." (My brain is a little snarky sometimes.)

So. I am now climbing a mountain on a date that was so important to me at some point, because it represented this Final Thing. I am getting a degree from a college I've never been to, but I am actually the very first person getting my distance anthropology degree from them because it was a brand new degree offering when I started! And so I thought it would be cool to go there and be all, "I'm the first person getting this degree from you and it has taken me ten years to get here and yeeaaahhhhh!!!" and now I'm going to be spending that day hiking very steeply up a national monument and have my picture taken at the top, probably with other mountains in the background.

And, so, I think it is fitting that I am now climbing a cool mountain on the day that signifies me completing another "mountain" in my life - my degree.


  1. Lady! I didn't know you studied Russian! I did too :) It's been WAY too many years since I've done anything with it, but I often dream of going back and studying it again.

  2. Whoa! That's a tough choice ... but I totally vote for the real mountain. That way, I can live vicariously through you, and your badass mountain climbing self! So many high-fives for getting your degree too. June is shaping up to be quite the month for you!

  3. If you decide on St. Helens, just bring a graduation cap, have your own meaningful ceremony at the summit, take a photo and have it be an extra monumental day! I'm applying to a University as a Junior and I graduated High School in 2001, got my AA in 2007. There is no "right" way to do anything - but there are ways that mean more to us than others. Enjoy your day, whatever you do!

  4. Just wanted to note that the previous plans your mom has are that your brother is coming up to visit Alaska from Texas and we had already gotten the airline tickets and days off arranged before we knew about your walking at graduation. Don't want anyone to think that your mom doesn't think walking for graduation isn't important, because it is HUGE! :-)

  5. Ha ha ha!!! Mom, I love you! ;o) MY MOM IS GREAT AND SHE HAS A GOOD REASON TO NOT COME TO GRADUATION!!! There, now everyone knows. :oD

    Becca, I took it for years! It is SO COOL! I really want to start taking classes again here in PDX, but there seems to only be language classes out in Beaverton and that's a little too far out of my reach to just casually take classes.

    Jenny, I like your idea of the graduation cap! That would be awesome! Jonathan says he think he has his graduation cap still so this could be a reality!

    Ravyn, oh, the vote is on for the mountain! I would still love to visit La Grande someday and see a part of Oregon I've never seen, but it will just have to wait a little longer!

  6. When you get to the top it will be a double victory! Best day ever?!