Basically Still a B Student

I was a straight-A student.

Well, allow me to qualify that.  From kindergarten through eighth grade I was an A student.

I experienced my first B and then my first C in a semester during my freshman year of high school.  I had an asshole teacher for World History who I still despise over thirty years later.

I went all the way through high school, undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and then worked my way through graduate school on a part-time basis over the course of four years at night while serving as a Probation Officer as detailed in my one published eBook.

I do not write that to detail how educated I am, but to stress that the teacher that I had for freshman year of high school history was the meanest son of a bitch that I ever had as a teacher in over twenty years of classes.

I am not dishing on him due to receiving my first sub-A grades, but that did not help.  I had never had a teacher write “Wrong!” “Horrible!” and “Did you even listen or read it?!” in all red letters on nearly every paper that I wrote.

Now I admit to being no Hemingway or Shakespeare, but believe me, my papers did not merit grades like F-minuses with red letter diatribes on them.  Not to mention how he spoke to me and my friend and treated us.  Also by the way, my best friend at the time and a classmate in that class was an extremely dark-skinned African American named Michael P. who was also from the south side of the tracks in our town.

It was not until many years later that I realized that he did not like us partially for my friend’s dark skin and from the working class grammar school and junior high that we attended.  As they say, hindsight is 20/20.  My former friend who I have not seen in twenty years is a firefighter in Chicago and I am an economic development professional for a middling town in the northwest suburbs.  The vast majority of the other students in that honors class went on to bigger and better things than we did including Ivy League schools, high government positions and executive positions in high-technology firms.  Several started their own successful businesses.

Anyway, that was my first taste of not being loved by all of my teachers and of easily obtaining an A in every class.  I went on to more B’s that year including in Spanish.

For the remainder of my high school career, I mostly got B’s, with a smattering of A’s mixed in.  I will not speak about the D’s that I got in my final semester after committing to attending the UW and suffering from a major case of a senior slump.

Not to overstate my lesser grades.  I graduated with a GPA in the 3.8 range, aided by taking mostly honors and two Advanced Placement courses senior year (AP English and Calculus).  Being the generally smart dude that I am, I nearly aced the ACT and SAT when it came to math (33 and 740), slightly better than on the English and Science portions.

I was admitted into Kenyon College, but did not go.  I was rejected from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where my Black buddy got in despite a lower GPA and lower test scores than I had.  Those were the glory days of Affirmative Action, and boy did he gloat over getting in through that policy while I did not.

I was wait-listed at Grinnell College largely due to my so-called guidance counselor never sending my transcript.  There was no Internet in those days and we had to rely on the least competent people in the educational system to send things via snail mail back then.  When I inquired as to why I was wait-listed, the admissions counselor detailed not having received all of the documents on time and encouraged me to keep checking on my status.  Not being the type of middle class teenager who would abide by a wait list, I told her that I was no longer interested.

I ended up attending my “fallback” school which today is fairly selective and extremely expensive in comparison to what it was at the end of the eighties.

Without detailing the many struggles, exploits, heartbreaks, raptures and loves of my undergraduate experience, suffice it to say that I got more B’s than A’s in my undergraduate year, with a smattering of C’s and D’s to boot.   My undergraduate GPA was about 2.8, which is amazing considering that I was on the verge of being kicked out prior to meeting my wife at the end of sophomore year.

Graduate school, which I referenced earlier and worked my way through from 1994 to 1998 was a different story.  I had a steady dose of the “real world” day in and day out in a difficult depressing job and I also helped pay my own way toward the end of it since both my younger sister at Northwestern and younger brother at Oberlin were taking up the bulk of our parent’s income at the time.

I got straight A’s once again in graduate school with the exception of my half-assed independent project, in which I wrote a scathing analysis of the probation department where I toiled at the time.

A Middle Aged B Student

My current grades are administered by myself and based upon my list of resolutions made early this year in a post entitled New Years Resolutions Suck.

The list was as follows, with my final grades for the year:

1. Remain gainfully employed at my current position or a comparable or better position within a half-hour drive from home.  A

2. Be a great father, husband, son, brother, uncle, nephew, co-worker and employee.  C

3. Set a new personal record for vacation days.  As much as I would like to resolve to take 20 or more vacation days, I would settle for taking 18, which I never have in 23+ years of full-time employment.  I would like for these 18 days to include a week in Da U.P. and would like to take my wife and son to Disney World next December to see our daughter march down Main Street U.S.A. with her high school marching band.  F

4. (Comfortably) wear my size 36 waist shorts purchased from Menard’s this past summer.  B

5. Fix at least one major item on our house or make an improvement that would make my wife happy.  D

6. Write a lot of blog posts, final number to be determined.  Since I may commence work on two or even three very good book ideas that exist in my head and in my ideas notebook, I may scrap the blog altogether to begin working on those.  A

7. Filter out at least fifty of the books piled up in our house.  As you may have read in an earlier post, I am using the Middle Class Guy blog to write about books that I have read, so that I feel more comfortable donating them instead of holding on to them forever and ever.  F-minus

8. Make some dough besides my day job.  I wrote a 600 or so page book that I posted on Amazon about six or seven years ago.  It does not have a cover, it is not well edited, and I have not accessed that account for years despite their frequent emails to me to modify the format.  Some day, I will post about the book, which I think is very good, but it does not look good enough on Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s website to attract more than one or two buyers per month, which nets me about $3 to $5 bucks per month. I have told my wife that I would like to break it up into two 300-page books or, better yet, three 200-pagers with separate covers and to format them correctly, maybe even get them professionally edited and invest a little to help make that project that I worked on for years sell-able.    D                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              9. I would also like to add Google AdSense or Yahoo! ads to this site, so I could make a few bucks showing ads for my many hours of writing, although I do enjoy doing this.  I know that I am not the only solidly Middle Class Guy who could greatly benefit from making some extra money, but I am certainly solidly in that category.                                                                                   

10. Resolve our car situation.  We need a new family car with air conditioning and without constant problems, like our lemon of a Chrysler Town & Country minivan.  I currently own and alternate driving two old cars, a trusty 1998 Subaru and a problematic 2001 Nissan.  I know, these are not cars befitting someone with a professional job and high aspirations, but I choose to spend money on items besides cars, although I have sunk thousands into keeping these three cars on the road.  B

Without boring you and me with great detail, I have remained gainfully employed and expect to remain so for the coming months.  I have been a better-than-average husband, son, brother, son, nephew and father in many ways and not in others.  I could do much better and very much want to next year.

I would have taken more vacation days had I not been transferred to a new department and boss this past July. However, with Friday, December 29th scheduled as a vacation day, that will be my fourteenth and final vacation day of this year, four short of what I expected and six short of the twenty that I wanted to take.  We never made it to the U.P. and I will be staying behind next week as my wife and both children journey to Disney World.  I am a failed vacationer in 2017.

I did comfortably wear my size 36 shorts from Menards throughout most of the summer, but my cookie consumption has been catching up with me.  I can still wear them, although not comfortably.

I give myself a D instead of an F on home improvements because we had our gutters repaired over the summer.  We were also forced to replace our central air unit, our stove and our washing machine this year, but none of those were planned and anything that I would categorize as a home improvement.  I still need to take care of some of those, although in my case it is hiring and paying contractors to do the work.

I did write a lot of blog posts, probably too many.  With two more following this, it will be 180 for the year.  Next year, my resolution is going to be writing less posts, but more valuable and better written ones.  Practice makes perfect!

Pardon my French, but I royally fucked up my goal of netting fifty less books than I started the year with.  I had already surpassed that number by July first, but then fell off the wagon.  I have since stopped keeping track due to my shame in doing so poorly on this.  I have probably purchased thirty more books than I have moved along in the past three months and that is being conservative.  It might be more than forty.  I give myself an F-minus on that one, much like my freshman year history teacher would have.

Altogether, I am earning about a thousand dollars on eBook sales this year.  Better than in past years, but a mere fraction of the kind of money that I expected to make this year via eBooks and blogging.  It is not a difference making amount, but is helping with some spending cash for my family’s trip to the Sunshine State next week.  I previously broke The Probation Officer up into three books, but those sold zero copies during several weeks and I returned to having it for sale as one long book.

I gave myself a D rather than another F on adding AdSense.  I successfully added it earlier in the year, but then WordPress “deprecated” the plugin and I have not succeeded in adding it again.  Pardon my French again, but fuck it!  I do not give a shit and will be repackaging my better posts (not this one) into eBooks.

Regarding our car situation, I finally had my old Nissan towed away and donated it to the American Cancer Society.  As part of a future post about charity, donations and giving, I received the minimum $500 donation receipt for this.  Last month, my trusty and rusty old 1998 Subaru broke down and I leased a new one that same day.  Now I drive a suburban mama minivan, not that I am complaining.  The old Subaru is completely inoperable and sitting in front of our house waiting to be donated or scrapped.  Thus, I cannot fully report that our car situation has been completely resolved yet.  But the Nissan is gone and we have a great new 2018 Outback with many bells and whistles.

I have been working on my 2018 resolutions for months, including an eBook that I have been working on putting together and should have launched already or later this week.

I actually have most of the above goals, only this coming year I am going to add some measurements.  Instead of saying “be a better husband or son,” I will quantify it a bit, like taking my wife out and making love to her a certain amount of times and visiting my mother at least once per month.  Not just reporting that I am a good husband or son because my wife or mother say that I am.

I do not want to keep preaching to make SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) and then not do so myself.  I recognize that it would be very hypocritical of me to self-publish eBooks urging others to do that if I do not do so as well.

Wanting to improve ourselves and our lots in life in a New Year is not anything new or Earth-shattering or groundbreaking.  But what would be new or groundbreaking for many of us would be to actually achieve our goals.

I once again repeat the system of doing so by taking baby steps.  I do not expect to go from $1,000 to $100,000 in income from eBooks within a year, but I certainly would be disappointed not to exceed this year’s total.  I do not expect to turn young ladies’ heads with my svelte physique at the beach next year, but it sure would be nice to be less embarrassed by my middle aged Dad body.  I do not expect to become a sex machine, but I know that my wife would appreciate me increasing the times when I feel in the mood.  These are measurable things.

Nothing worthwhile comes easy, and I do not expect my own or your self-improvement to come easily.  But like the quarterly statements that I receive from my investments, and you should be receiving from yours, I intend to report on my status on a quarterly basis for at least the next year.

I will unveil my list near the end of the year and I suspect that you will find many commonalities between what it is that I want and hope to achieve in the coming year and those things that are on your own.

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