Friday, August 16, 2013

On "pep"

Up & down summer. Struggling at times. I'll be brief. And offer the pep-talk I found.

My life involves a lot of initials. Acronyms. (Which would be a great name for a racehorse.) Closest to home: PTSD. I haven't heard any pep talks for fifty-year old single-parent amputees with PTSD who struggle with mobility, money, and the Oxford comma. Especially one with a G.E.D.

See, I quit high school twice. (I like to be thorough.) Hey, if it's worth doing, it might be worth doing twice, especially if you don't get it right the first time. I quit in December of my senior year. My high school career was dying a slow, painful death, smothered in depression, frustrated creativity, and despair. (Yes, I debate about those commas. Another difficult decision in the life.) The nail in the coffin was the reaction of my guidance counselor (who knew me only as a name bouncing from course to course trailing incompletes) when I asked whether I could graduate a semester early. This is actually a long story I will abbreviate by just noting that those pesky gym credits are what graduation REALLY depends on--even if you've been excused from gym for years.

The counselor didn't realize I was twirling a combination-lock of courses trying to set myself free in the easiest way possible. I quit that December. Then another guidance counselor who prided himself on Connecting With Teens rode his motorcycle to my house  to Save Me, apparently from myself. (Another long story I will expand on later. Suffice to say I still don't have a clue what the HELL he meant when he said he'd encourage me, push me, and spank me if I needed it. WTF?)

So I went back. Lasted a couple months. Then I quit again. Felt much better for it. Got myself on track: took the G.E.D. that summer & sailed through it. This was in 1980. 

On to England in September, where I battled for my BHSAI. (British Horse Society Assistant  Instructor.) A very happy day, much celebrating that night (December 5) at the pub.

I've been nettled a few times about being a Dropout. But I've worked through it. I look at it as a useful skill: knowing how to Get Out of a Tight Place, as Winnie-the-Pooh might say (if he quit school). Did Aron Ralston "drop out" when he cut his arm off to escape death in that  canyon? No, dammit! I do what I have to. And I'm Still Here. And I pride myself on being a Closet Intellectual, as a friend called me once. (I treasure that!) 

So flash forward to 2013 & the seemingly never-ending struggle. And the ad on my favorite radio station: pep talks for folks who are considering...getting their...G.E.D.'s...

Yeah, I know. I've got one. But pep talks? A dearth. I'm running short. I mean DRY.

So what the hell. Tonight I logged on. I'd heard a tiny clip of the one I knew I needed to hear: "...You can do this. I know you can..."  (The British accent didn't hurt.) Yeah, there was a dearth of parental pep-talk vehemence about human matters when I was growing up. The G.E.D. site has a sliding bar so you can find your level of...intensity. Mine was level 10 (wait for it) "Intense."  =  Alfred Molina.

I wept.

Played it three, four, maybe five times. I can do this. And I am just as deserving of a pep talk as anyone. I put it on my Favorites Bar, in easy reach.

So in this time of endurance and hanging-in-there, I invite you to snag your own pep talk for any task you may face.  GED Pep Talk: Alfred Molina

We're in this together. And we can do this. I know we can. We get by with a little help from our friends.



  1. The Lexington High School guidance counselors then were in no frame of mind to really assist youth....the ones taking the low paid jobs in the late 70's and early 80's were just coming to grips with reality...

    1. Very true. And it was only one of a long series of cracks I fell through quite effortlessly. My favorite hs teacher understood me well enough to comment that maybe I needed--needed!--to not-graduate. She was exactly right. One student's "quitting" can be another's "walking out of the room..." Powerful, after you've been bedridden.

  2. Liz, I have to comment on this one. I, too, am a high school drop-out. Yep, stopped showing up for school in the final months of my senior year. Flunked English and Did Not Graduate. I went back when I was 19, but could not obey the rules after living on my own for over a year. A high school English teacher offered to tutor me twice a week until I'd read enough books and done enough essays to satisfy the English department. So I graduated in June 1981, instead of 1979. I have never forgotten the feeling of failure for not having graduated on time, yet I also find it ridiculous that I was made to feel that way. Who gives a shit? I have friends with Master's degrees in Creative Writing. You can write them under the table. :)