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August 22, 2006


Yesterday I posted about my attempts to attend college from 2001 until the beginning of 2003. Today I’ll try to get through the end of 2004.

So I began attending CLC in the spring of 2003. I still wanted to go to the U in the fall, and I was making plans with my should-of-been dorm mate to live off campus. Things were going fine, not really trying to hard in any of my classes, skating by with B’s. You know, taking it easy. Then in March, over spring break, I met a local high school senior named Michelle Kienholz. We hit it off immediately.

Going back a bit, throughout high school and afterwards, I never had a serious girlfriend. In high school I was mostly afraid of everything having to do with relationships with the opposite sex. As soon as I felt any sort of friendship might turn into something more I would almost immediately lock up, or my personality would change, or I would just plain avoid talking or talking alone with that person. I can’t explain it, but looking back it was quite pathetic. I ‘escaped’ high school without anything resembling a real date. Once I got back from Basic I did go on occasional dates, although the girls one meets in manufacturing and farming jobs are not the cream of any crop.

Fast forward to 2003, and suddenly there is this girl who I like and get along with very well. What’s a 19-year old guy with almost no previous relationship experience to do? Go too fast. And that is exactly what happened. Soon we were talking of moving in together, the future, how many kids we wanted (!!!) Moving to the cities and the U of M was long forgotten. I paid my friend lip service that, yes, I was still coming down but deep down I knew I wouldn’t. I had a lot of fun that spring and early summer, but by the end of summer I started getting burned out. I tried to change some things, slow down a bit, but by that time it was too late: In August I found out that she was pregnant.

Things fell apart a few times between us that fall, but by the end of fall semester we were still together and mostly acting like nothing was different. I still lived with friends, she still lived with her parents, and we both attended CLC. My grades struggled a bit, as they dropped from A’s and B’s spring semester to B’s and C’s fall semester. At this point I had no long term goals. How could I? My son was due that Spring, and I had no idea what would happen. I planned to go to Saint Cloud State University in the Fall, but I had no idea what my situation with Michelle would be. The U was no longer even on my radar.

That Spring of 2004 everything really fell apart. We broke up, seemingly for good, in January and classes held little interest for me. I coasted along until April, when Ethan Douglas Paulsen was born. After that what little attention I did pay to classes completely evaporated. I finished the semester with 3 D’s and a couple dropped courses. My cumulative GPA was a lowly 2.5.

Things looked up a little after Ethan’s birth. Michelle and I began to make inroads towards each other and by June we probably could be considered ‘dating’ again. One other notable event occurred that Spring: the day before my sons birth I was put on ‘Alert’ status to deploy to Operation Iraqi Freedom. This meant that an upcoming deployment was likely, if not certain.

The summer of 2004 passed fairly easily. Michelle and I talked somewhat about getting married, but had no solid plans. I was fairly certain I was going to get deployed in the Fall, so I had no school plans. Then on July 31 came the official deployment order: I would be deployed on September 10th. At that time I knew I would get married, for better or for worse. I felt obligated to care for her and I felt I could best do that being married. On August 12th, 2004, we were married by a Justice of the Peace. Then on September 10th I deployed to Fort McCoy, WI, and then later in November to Fort Benning, GA, both for training. I came home for Christmas and New Years, but I was called back to Benning early on the 29th of December. On December 31, I landed in Kuwait.

August 21, 2006

Hello World!

So, hey. My name is Doug Paulsen, I'm 23 years old, and I am an incoming transfer student from an out state community college, Central Lakes College. I am transferring into the College of Liberal Arts as a junior. Currently, my major is undeclared because I am missing a pre-req (Calc 1) to declare my intended major, which is Economics.

I graduated from Pierz Healy High School 5 years ago, in 2001, and my journey to this point has been long, winding, and very much more complicated than it needed to be. It all starts a couple weeks after I graduated, when I shipped to Basic Combat Training at Ft. Benning, GA, as a member of the Minnesota Army National Guard.

My plan was to attend Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical with a goal of an AAS in Computer Programming – Microcomputer in the fall. That didn’t happen. I returned from Basic a week late and I didn’t want to rush down and try to attend after missing the first week. So I laid around my parent’s house for a few weeks, and then went to work at Crestliner, a boat builder in Little Falls, MN.

When I enlisted into the National Guard, I did so under the ‘split option’ program. Under this program, which is usually used for high school juniors, a recruit attends Basic Training one summer, then the second part, Advanced Individual Training, the next summer. It allows a junior to attend Basic between his/her junior and senior years, but it also can be used if the recruit enlists during his/her senior year and wants to attend college in the fall. This is what I did. With the benefit of hindsight, I wouldn’t do this again. (Not just because it didn't work out, but also when I did go back the next summer I was in a different mindset and slightly out of shape.) The reason I did do it though was because my mom didn’t want me to miss a semester as she wanted me in school right away.

So I was working at Crestliner, and it didn’t appear that I was going to Afghanistan anytime soon (this was the fall of September 2001,) so I started looking at what I was going to do about school. The obvious option was to go down to Red Wing, but my heart was kind of out of that. I started to get this Crazy Idea in my head to attend the University of Minnesota, a small change in ambitions from a tech school. My mom wanted me to apply for the spring semester or attend CLC for a semester, but I resisted. I had been talking to a good friend from high school who was in his senior year and was also planning on attending the U in the fall of 2002. So I continued working through the spring of 2002, both at Crestliner and later at a dairy farm.

I had thought my ship date for AIT (Advanced Individual Training, the second part of Basic) was in the end of May. In April I asked about the exact date to firm things up and was surprised to find out that my ship date was actually June 24. Knowing that my school was about 12 weeks long did not make me feel any better, as this put my completion date around the end of September. I tried to change it, but to no avail. So on June 24, I headed for Fort Lee, VA. Shortly after arriving, my fears were confirmed when I found out my graduation date was going to be October 1. There was a small ray of hope, though. There was a way to go home up to a month early to attend school while still graduating. I began the initial process, but soon I had a dilemma. I was leading my class and was well on my way to graduating at the top, at being the Distinguished Honor Graduate. If I went home early, I would merely just graduate.

I made the choice to stay, and indeed I did graduate as the Distinguished Honor Graduate. Yet once again, and for no particularily good reason, I decided not to start spring semester at the U, but instead I went to CLC for the spring semester to take some generals. And that is when I met Michelle…