Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hello mistress,

i want to send you my diploma from the university. and you wipe your ass with my diploma. I want you use my diploma like toilet paper. can you do that?

Goodness, someone doesn’t think highly of their old alma mater, do they?

Would I do it? Well, I’m mildly concerned that the gold foil seal that one often sees on college diplomas might be scratchy, but that seems like a manageable risk.

I myself do not have a college degree. My relationship with academia has always been uneven, to put it mildly. I went to a private (Catholic) high school, and the good things about that was that students got a lot of attention, but the downside is that the classes were rigorous. (Plus there was that stupid religion thing they were always nattering on about.) I always did well enough in English and humanities-type classes, but math and science? Forget it. I barely scraped through. I was a pretty well-behaved teenager, but school simply bored me, and I didn’t take it seriously.

I wasn’t much good at being a kid, if that makes any sense. I always had a feeling, when I was small, that I was someone who would prefer life as a grown-up, and that I was just marking time until I got taller. I meet kids now who give me that impression, like they’re twenty-seven-year olds trapped in a fifth-grader’s body. I always try to talk to them very seriously about adult-seeming topics, and not do stupid things like rumple their hair and ask them what they want to be for Halloween.

I was right. I had a pretty Leave-It-To-Beaver childhood, and I’m grateful for that, but I never, ever wish I was a kid again. And I don’t ever want to go back to college, either, although I suppose I may have to, someday. I’ve been to - oh, let me think – four different colleges. Yeah, four. And no, I don’t have a degree.

The first one I went to right out of high school, like one is supposed to. It was an expensive women's college, and I spent much more time partying with the boys from the neighboring co-ed school than I did studying. You can skate by with a really low GPA when your Daddy is paying big bucks for tuition, but there is a limit, and after 3 years the college and I agreed that I should leave. I felt sort of bad for wasting my father’s money like that, and once I dropped out, I never took any money from my parents ever again, for school or any other purpose. I was twenty.

Over the next couple of years, I enrolled in two different state colleges, paid the tuition with money I made as a sex worker, took classes for a quarter or three, and then dropped out again. I just – didn’t want to be there. I would look at the people around me and think, “I don’t want what they want. And I don’t want to keep pretending that what I’m doing here is meaningful to me, because it’s not, and it’s actually pissing me off.”

Then a few years ago, I enrolled at Antioch here in Seattle, in the BA completion program. That was certainly different from a state college, and it was…interesting. I think the people at Antioch are very committed to what they’re doing. But wow, the hippie/New-Age/let-me-give-you-a-hug thing really got on my nerves. Sometimes I couldn’t tell if I was in a class or a group therapy meeting. As you may well imagine, instructors who invited me to share personal information in a college classroom got either a pack of lies or some responses they really had not bargained for. In such circumstances, I usually give vague answers to too-personal questions. But some instructors and classmates persisted in asking, so I told them who I was and what I did, and I think a lot of them wished I hadn’t. I had one teacher who was so disturbed by my various outlaw identities that she could hardly even talk to me for last few weeks of the quarter. And once again, I thought, “Why am I here dealing with this? What am I going to do with this really expensive piece of paper?” And I didn’t have an answer. So I left.

I like to learn things. But sitting in college classes has, for me, been much like a visit to the dentist: expensive, time-consuming, and extremely uncomfortable. I would do it, if there was a job I wanted that required one, but so far, there isn't. So I am a self-educated person, and I like it that way. I am pleased to see the growing respectability of online-learning. I’m guessing that by the time I’m ready to try that college thing again, I will at least be able to do it alone.

No comments: