Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Education: A Bitter Rant

Sometimes I think having a PhD just means that you've spent four years taking quotes from other people and describing what you think about them. If I'm honest the two most clarifying moments I've had over my educational career are when I realized during my undergrad that I didn't want to become a teacher (I literally left the school where I was tutoring a stubborn 8th grader and drove across town to my boyfriend at the time and jumped on his bed to wake him up with the news of my epiphany) and when I was out of school for the first time in my life, realizing that I didn't want to go back... and that I didn't have to.

Education is like money to me. It is valuable because society believes it is valuable. Society believes that you are a more valuable person if you've paid thousands of dollars to sit in classrooms, attend seminars, residencies, and internships, and written academic papers in professional formatting that you and I could never even begin to comprehend, Blog. I found my diploma and transcripts from my undergrad the other day and looking at the piece of paper that bore my name with the signatures of others (who I don't know personally) granting upon me a Bachelor of Arts in English, I realized I had paid $40,000 for what I was holding and no one has ever asked me to show it to them. I don't have it framed, but keep it in the envelope in which my alma mater sent it to me, tucked away in a cabinet. The only reference I've ever made to it in a professional realm is on my resume.

I have to remind myself that what I really paid that $40,000 for is the good friends I made during those years. The experience I had living in what I thought at the time was a city. I had opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. I was able to be in a classroom setting that gave more independence to the students that resided in it and learn from the responsibility that was bestowed upon us. I was able to make decisions for myself, that affected my life, and take ownership of the consequences. None of this can be taught in a classroom, and none of it was. I looked over my official transcripts that came with my diploma, and there were classes on there that I have absolutely no recollection of taking, let alone of what I "learned" in them. But for some reason I now have the right to "boast" (if that's what you want to call it) about my distinction of having a Bachelors degree in English; a language that I and everyone I know speaks. Wow.

Working in the education industry has made me hate it. I honestly was never a fan of it to begin with, but now when I see people forcing themselves to pay thousands of dollars only to be miserable for years, inundated by homework and the stress of keeping up with grades and assignments, I am just thankful that I had the clarity to know that I don't want to and I don't have to go on for another degree.

The other thing I hate about it is that if I reveal to those I advise that I don't have a masters degree myself, I as a person and the advice I give become less qualified to those with whom I am speaking. I hate lying to people and telling them I have a masters just so they'll take me seriously. So what? I don't have a masters. That doesn' t mean I'm not qualified to talk to you about why you're failing your courses. About how you can find a support system to help you move forward. About what classes to pair up and not to pair up. The way I see it, the only difference between me at a bachelors level as opposed to a masters is more to pay back in student loans every month.

And you know what? Just because I'm not in school doesn't mean I'm not capable of learning new things or growing as a person. I do that every day. And I get paid for it. Sure I won't end up with a degree distinction after 2 or 3 years of this, but I'm more than ok with that. Society may not place value on me, but I still will, and I think that's the most important thing in the end because if you don't value yourself whether you're at the Bachelors, Masters or PhD level, how do you think others will?

In the words of the great G.K. Chesterton, "No man who worships education has got the best out of education... Without a gentle contempt for education no man's education is complete."

I think G.K. (whoever the hell that is) is onto something. I can't help but agree. You have to question the value and validity of all experiences, even those within a realm like education where you are taught, assessed, and hell, even judged by others who are of a "higher" ranking than yourself. Otherwise, what do you get out of it? 

Maybe you get a PhD now that some smart dude has been quoted and original thoughts have been articulated based on said quote. Just sayin'.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blog. Let's Touch Base.

Blog. I just want to say I had much higher aspirations for you and June coinciding your efforts to document my life. Alas, I've become lazy. No. Not lazy. Uninspired. It's not you blog. It's me.

But! Inspiration is something that hits you upside the head like a bulky backpack making its way down the bus aisle. And suddenly you're swimming in it. Ideas float into your mind and all you can do is get pissed that you're on the bus and not in any position to record the brilliance that is flowing through your brain, unexpectedly and without hesitation.

It all means one thing, Blog. Fringe is in the air.

This happens to me every year. My idea for a Fringe show hits me and inspires me; be it too late to actually do anything about it this year. But there's always next year... Come February when it is time to act on an application, the lottery, and paying up the $400 entrance fee, things just never seem to pan out in my favor. Either I've forgotten, I'm too busy, I'm too broke, or I'm too removed from the inspiration that hits every single July to trust that I can move my project forward.

The thing is Blog, the project is you. All I have to do is continue writing in you and then take my favorite parts, tweak them into something amusing, create a slideshow to go along with them, and present them to the Fringe masses (a.k.a. the 12 people that might give me a chance). People do it all the time. They call themselves "story tellers". I call it "reading your blog out loud". And every year I say "next year".

Maybe I've been saying "next year" because up until now my life wasn't that great or exciting. I mean, I guess if you really wanted to, you could argue that it was. I made a dramatic move down to the city by myself to try out a new way of life that I had never experienced before. I met a guy and ended up moving in with him and his dog to live the American dream. I had the three bedroom house, the fenced in yard, two car garage, friendly neighbors, dishwasher, laundry room, bay window, back porch, the list goes on. And on. But we must remember Blog that I moved down here to live in the city. I wanted to be walking distance from everything cool. I wanted to take the bus and be around art and music (even though I don't go to concerts) and theater and alcohol. The suburbs are boring and I never felt like I fit in. Plus I was a million miles away from everything, even though on paper I had it all right there in the comfort of my own split level. Thang God it wasn't really my split level and when he kicked me out, it hurt, but at least I got to come back to uptown where it's interesting and worthwhile to live.

My point is, Blog, that my life has gotten more interesting since I left the burbs. Both in where I live and also who I interact with and where I plan to go from here. I might as well keep documenting and continue to take my favorite parts, tweak them, accompany them with pictures and put up one hell of an automentary (a term I've just created) in the form of a Fringe show. Inspiration starts here. Every summer on the edge of the Fringe. It fades once I lose interest in the Fringe website and resurfaces briefly in January only to be dashed by the intimidation of piles of snow and the idea that it will never be summer again. But hark! Summer is once again upon us. And this very eve I shall put on my flip flops and slip slap over to yoga so I can continue to be inspired. I will go to Kerin's for one final down the road hangout before she moves. I'll continue on with my summer plans of Fringing, writing, yoga-ing, and waiting. Waiting for the rest of the story to unfold and trying my best to keep up my inspiration to write about it with an audience in mind. And then September will be upon us and what do you think I have planned for then?


Monday, June 6, 2011

Heat Wave

Blog. It's hot. Like, really hot.

I don't mean to make this all about the weather, but I'm finding it hard not to be exhausted from the simple act of typing. Kerin said it was 99 degrees this morning when she came into work. Bill Deville just told me it's 80 degrees outside. It's 11 o'clock at night blog. It should never be 80 degrees at 11 o'clock at night.

That being said, it's all better than lameass 15 degrees in January. You can't walk down to Sebastian Joe's with your best friend for some impromptu ice cream when it's 15 degrees in January. And that's why winter's a bitch, blog.

Why didn't I follow my instincts and find some sort of fan at Target today on my lunch break? The facade of the temperature-controlled environment in which I work strikes again!

In other news, I was going to write about something magical and now I've completely forgotten what it was. Oh yes! I revamped you blog. How do you like it? I figured argyle was an appropriate motif. It makes you look smarter than you really are. I know that sounds like it's a diss on you, but remember blog, I created you. I insult you, I insult myself. It's just more of the self deprecation that I so constantly crave.

The heat is fucking up my thoughts. I'm going to go attempt to sit as still as possible and see where that gets me.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Coping with Birdland

Blog. The summer consequences of this apartment are making themselves apparent.

I expected it to be warm up here in the summer time. I don't have air conditioning and I don't plan on figuring out how one would fit in the french windows I have in this place. That being said, I must invest in a fan sometime soon. The lack of air circulation in here is managable during these early days of June, but if it continues being 80 degrees for the next three months, I'm going to have to take steps to make this place have some generator of cool air that is not my fridge.

How annoying and perfectly Minnesotan of me. Was it only three months ago I was complaining about the bitter winter that wouldn't end? And here it is, over and done with; the sun is out, the snow is melted, and I'm sitting here hemming and hawing about the heat that hasn't even been here for a week. I'm scrapping my complaints and will just focus on the fact that I need a fan up here. I don't need it to be 15 degrees again. That is a stupid temperature that is not welcome here. Unless it's January. Then it can happen but that's only because it's supposed to happen in January and if I'm perfectly honest, I get a little creeped out if it doesn't get that cold in the winter.

I digress. The heat is an obvious and expected summer consequence of living on the second floor of a building that was erected 80 years ago. The not so obvious and unexpected summer consequence that has been made blaringly apparent to me over this weekend is that of the birds, blog. The birds.

They wake up at 5:30 every morning and as a result, so do I. That is when the chirping begins. Oh, how pleasant, you think. You wake up to the melodious tunes of nature right outside of your window every day. How mother nature of you. Yes, it can be pleasant, but I don't need to be up at 5:30 in the morning. In fact, I hate waking up extra early because then I get ready for my day and have extra time before I need to leave for this or that and then I get bored and agitated because I could still be sleeping. So when they wake me up at 5:30, I do just that. I try to go back to sleep. Turns out, going back to sleep is tricky when birds are incessently chirping right outside of your window. But so it goes in the morning. I'm usually out of here by 7:30 anyway so it's not like I have to listen to them all day or anything.

Unless it's the weekend and I have no plans. Then I might end up listening to them all day.

Did you know that birds don't only incessently chirp in the morning, but they do so all day long and into the evening as well? I believe they are currently on hour 14 of chatting away about whatever birdly activities they've been up to today. Seriously birds. What the hell do you have left to say?

"Oh, it's so fun being a bird. Look at me fly, other birds." 

"Hey, I made a nest out of twigs and grass and random garbage!" 

"I laid an egg! Bitchin'!"

The chirping is also amplified because my window faces the apartment building right next to mine and thus a corridor is created where they prance around all day bouncing their bird sounds off the bricks. Sometimes they'll even fly right up to my window and hang out for a minute or two. It's almost as if they're talking directly to me. What am I, Princess Aurora lost in the woods? Are you guys trying to tell me that that woodsman is actually a prince and I'm really a princess? What's that birds? Watch out for Malificent and her evil spinning wheel! Whatever do you mean? Oh birds! You're so knowledgeable!

You guys going to bed anytime soon? You're getting annoying.
I can't help but point out that Amy #3 would be so proud of me comparing my life to that of a Disney movie. If she didn't hate me with her entire being, I might have considered revealing this accomplishment to her. Oh well.

The easy fix to this bird problem would be to just shut my windows. But of course, that would leave my apartment especially sweltering. So I take the good with the bad and keep the fresh air flowing throughout the 400 square feet I call home and let the sounds of urban nature fill its confines. After awhile my ears and mind grow used to the chirping and chattering anyway and I kind of just block it all out of my present being. Of course, once I'm snapped out of that self-induced bird-ignoring trance, it's really hard to get back to into it.

Shhh blog. I think they are growing tired. They're like the fucking energizer bunny all day long, but come 8 or 9 o'clock they grow weary of the fun they've had with their aimless flying, nest building, and attempts to warn me of danger and begin to hunker down for the evening. This leaves me with a few nighttime hours of quiet and solitude, which I take in with the utmost appreciation. It's almost as if I am their mother and once they go to sleep for the night, mama gets out the vodka and enjoys some time to herself.

But between the heat and the birds, this apartment is a great one. I love how small it is here and my desk is right by my window. And while the view isn't so great and the sounds outside can drive me a little nutty, there's something incredibly quaint about writing in you blog, and glancing over to opened french windows that reveal the outside banter of sparrows, traffic, drunks, and people taking out their garbage. What a nice little romantic life this can be.