I’m Back… And I’m Thankful!

Dogs dressed as Pilgrims for Thanksgiving

Well, howdy 🙂 .

I tell ya, that was a very welcome vacation.  I enjoy being able to express myself here, both for personal reasons and when I’m just being darn hilarious/insightful, but I can be honest and say that blogging isn’t usually my go-to form of relaxation, so when my schedule began filling up with school, work, and life… I was glad to take a break from this website past-time o’mine.

But we’re back, baby, and on this day of thanks, I’m going to share some of my personal-life highlights of the past month.  There were downsides to this time-period, indeed, but this Thanksgiving I am thankful for…



Time/place: 3:45 showing at Kaleidoscope on Nov. 9

You’re not missing much by my mentioning this movie in a recap of my month, because even a standalone review would be quite short.  I can say so little about the movie without spoiling parts of the experience (you can always find those reviews elsewhere), but what I can say is that Interstellar is a deeply moving movie — emotional and powerfully exciting.  I teared up as many times as I sat on the edge of my seat in heart-pounding excitement.  If you love what Christopher Nolan does with his movies, I don’t see how you wouldn’t love this movie, too.  Seen the movie and care to talk about it?  Well, send me a message and we can spend an hour talking about TARS and organs and docking and deafening sound and sad video messages and every other wonderful thing about Interstellar.

Grade: A+

Passing the CSET

Last month, just a few days before I put myself on hiatus, I took the CSET (California Subject Examinations for Teachers), which is the final, more difficult test that is required to enroll in a teaching credential program.  Of course, after signing up to take the test, I decided that I would NOT be continuing on into the credential program at CSUF, so this test wasn’t going to serve me much use.  Oh, and since I teased my change-of-plans last month and never wrote about it, let me clarify that I am now aiming to teach at a Montessori school, which has their own credentialing requirements.  I’ll write about that later, but I didn’t want to lead on with another “to be continued” comment.

I had a really easy time on the CBEST (the first test), and so I went into the CSET with no real preparation — which, let me tell you, is a big mistake.  Just a few questions into the test, and I realized that I had no clue what some of these answers were.  I mean zero stinkin’ clue.  I haven’t been in elementary school for QUITE a while, so the history section was easily the hardest — questions on random little facts that I may have heard once or twice in fourth grade.  I left that day pretty convinced that I didn’t pass.  Since I don’t NEED it, I wasn’t too bummed, and I happily shared my experience as a warning with my fellow classmates: don’t try to memorize everything in those prep books, but definitely read through at least one and familiarize yourself with the material again.

As the heading above spoiled for you, though, I actually DID pass.  Somehow.  I was able to offer educated guesses, but some if it was definitely blind luck.  They don’t tell you your score unless you fail a section, so I have no idea how close I was, but who cares… I made it 🙂 .

My 1995 Honda Civic

1995 Honda Civic

Ah, my car.  Lately, it’s been having over-heating issues, and that is always something I’m quite wary of after I spent $1,600 on a blown head gasket a few years ago.  I had planned on taking it into the shop this past Monday, but, well… it didn’t make it that long.

Two Sundays ago, just as I got to work, the engine started knocking really hard, and the temperature gauge skyrocketed.  On the way home, the issue kicked in again, and the needle shot up past the highest temperature-marking… I didn’t even know the needle could go that high 😉 .  I barely chugged the thing into my garage and checked the oil.  There wasn’t any.  I hadn’t let it go bone-dry, so something was very wrong.  I filled it up and let it sit until Tuesday, when I had to teach my last after-school class with my least-favorite group.  I was going to lug my car into a shop on the way home, but about halfway through my trip up to the school, the engine started dying again.  I pulled over, called to see if there was anyone who could cover my class, found out that there wasn’t, and then pushed my car to the brink of death to get me to that school.  For the last 5 minutes of the drive, I wasn’t even getting hot air out of the engine, somehow, and by the time I rolled into the school parking lot, I was hearing a horrible menagerie of mechanical clunks and grinds as it slowly lost power.

But the ol’ girl got me there… just like she had for the 16 years that I’d owned her.  I did my best to keep the engine from exploding, actually cutting the engine when at red lights, but I’m pretty sure the only way we made it to this particular destination was by a miracle.

After teaching, I had the car towed to my local shop, and the guys called me the next day letting me know that it was officially dead.  The cause of death?  Another blown head gasket.  This time, though, repairs just wouldn’t be worth it, so I said my goodbyes, cleared out every physical remnant of memories, and sent her off to a charity auction to benefit the local Boys & Girls Club.  She was the first and only car I’d ever owned, and that Civic had been with me through a list of memories that I dare not try to even summarize.  I’ve waxed poetic about my car before, albeit quite a few years ago, so I won’t bother with that again.  Instead, I’ll end with a realization that came to me by way of a friend; after 188,000+ miles of service, she was able to give back, one more time, with a final act of service… a fitting end for that classic ’95 Civic 🙂 .

Bye word on dirty window

My 2014 Honda Civic

2014 Honda Civic LX new

Well, let’s not end things on a sad note, shall we?  As soon as I had to have my car towed into the shop, I was pretty sure that it was done for.  Repairs wouldn’t be worth it, and its dependability had dropped down to bupkis.  So, after doing my homework (more like cramming for a test) and contacting a number of dealers in the area, I drove home this Monday night with my brand new 2014 Honda Civic LX.  I’d like to say that it’s like “Civic 2.0,” but the grand-canyon-level-gap between my old car and my new car make it more like “Civic 10.5” 😉 .

I was able to cover a majority of the price in cash, and I financed it at a great rate, which was all very satisfying to be able to do on my own.  I’m not a car guy, but I’ve really been enjoying driving this little guy.  I’m also not sure why I always referred to my old car as female and now refer to my new car as male, but we’ll save that for a long, self-reflective personal blog post 😉 .  I actually giggled on my drive home, at just how much pep this car has compared to what I’d been used to for half of my life, and it’s been an absolute blessing and a joy to get around in for the last couple of days.  As of this posting, I still haven’t even driven to work or school, but it’s kinda fun to own a car that I actually enjoy driving.. especially when I start heading up to Fullerton once a week next semester.  Maybe I’ll turn into a car guy, after all, and start talking about all the torque and streamlined curves and horsepower and cylinders.

Probably not, though 🙂 .


So, yeah… even though this month had some low-lights (KB moved away and isn’t loving it, the world continues to be a mess), I’m thankful for a lot, and I wish y’all a Happy Thanksgiving, too.. or, a Happy Whenever-You-Read-This 🙂 .

Mark Mushakian thankful for November


About Mark Mushakian

Just a man who loves God, women, kids, dogs, movies, and every other lovely thing in life :)
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