Ramblings of a (Nearly) Thirty-Something College Sophomore: Fall Term/Week 1

So I’m back in school, starting my sophomore year a decade after completing my freshman year of college. In between I have entered the culinary world, starting with a summer spent in the kitchen I knew peripherally in my youth at Jackson Lake Lodge in Wyoming. From there I obtained my Associate’s Degree in Restaurant and Hospitality Management from Western Culinary Institute in Portland, meeting a lifelong friend and becoming further indoctrinated in an industry I soon realized would extract far more from the soul than it would ever yield.

I bounced from there to Wyoming, Washington, Texas, Iowa, Illinois, and back to Oregon, all the while spending my days with the woman I met at Lewis and Clark during that one-and-done college season and who would become my wife five and a half years ago as things currently sit in time. I’ve worked in classic scratch kitchens, fast-food joints, greasy spoons and trattorias, trying to find the route to my own private land of milk and honey for my soul…

It’s only been a week, but dare I say that academia sure feels like it at this point? I always knew, even as an 18-year-old, that school was in my future. I also knew, even at 18, that I needed a break and that I would stutter in my path if I went immediately after high school. And thus it came to pass.

Here I am now, though, and I’m loving class. I’ve got three courses to contend with… and a job that is going to give me 20 hours or so a week, and a gig writing with the school newspaper that will give me another 20 hours or so a month, depending on how many articles I write in a given month, and between the two and my wife’s income the bills will all get paid. There’s also the random occurrence where I’ll take a Junk Pirate share of the booty. And in between I get to continue my path toward becoming a college graduate.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are consumed with World History and a geography course, Society and Environment. The course material between the two is synergistic, my brain wrapped around the material from 10:15 to 12:35. On Tuesdays and Thursdays my sophomore inquiry course, Environmental Sustainability, is there to stimulate my thoughts further. It is basically past and present on the even days, the future in between, and all the while I’m still cooking and writing as always.

So there’s something to be said for the routine. The loans covered all the relevant school expenses. I basically have to pay for the commute, which is mitigated when I feel like taking the bicycle out into Portland weather that has been nice recently.

Still, though, I feel older than my 29 years sometimes. Not nearly as old as Gilgamesh, mind you, but grizzled nonetheless. Maybe it was just a summer of pushing it too hard between jobs, but I’m ready to start settling into a routine.

The big three-oh is a few months away, but I’m feeling the cumulative effects of too many years running myself ragged physically creeping up on me ahead of my time. I’m getting into school just in time… it’s high time I start using my brain to make some money instead of my body.



EXTISPICY (n.): the study and divination by use of animal entrails, usually of the victims of sacrifice

What in the world brought this word to my attention?! You can thank my history reading of the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the introduction of Andrew George’s 1999 translation of the epic poem, he uses the word. I was forced to look it up, and now you’re forced to read about it. Expect that to happen with something every week.



I’ve learned that my work schedule is basically going to be normalized. I’ll be picking up evening shifts on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays weekly, with additional shifts potentially creeping up but that being my core schedule. I close one night a week, on Thursdays, including the Last Thursday events on Alberta every month. So there’s money enough coming in, but not so much work that I’m frazzled in my schedule…

I’ve managed to keep up with every reading for all three classes. I’m read up through tomorrow, with everything mapped out for the next week. I’m tracking my personal water usage for my Sustainability inquiry, so there will be results from that over the next few weeks. Stay tuned…

I just turned in my fourth article for the Vanguard. We’ll see what kind of reception it gets… I feel like it was a decent effort, something unique that I tried that could either be a hit or a bomb. My previous efforts were better, but I was not met with the kind of time crunch that this article found me in this time. It is serviceable, and I can’t see it being rejected on principle. But we’ll see…

That’s me… always paranoid about how I’m doing. Hence the eight out of ten.


Peace for now…



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  1. Zach….

    I look forward to reading your weekly articles. I am so happy that you are finally taking that step to do as you want for once. I always knew that going back to school was in your future. I am happy that you have met the love of your life and have the support and enouragement from your beautiful wife. Enjoy this time and treasure every moment. You have always made me proud and continue to do so.

  2. I’m a little older than you (31 in December) but I know what you mean by sometimes feeling a little older than you are. You’re schedule is busier than mine but even working a 9 to 5 can be exhausting.

    Congrats on going back to school.

    EJ (J. Hova on that old FN site)

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