Monday, May 14, 2012

Graduation Rant for No Good Reason

College drop-out, Iggy Pop

Lara is up watching her oldest daughter graduate from Barnard College and I couldn't be happier for them all. I started watching the live webcast via the Barnard site, but then had to mute it: Hearing these accomplished young women speak of their own accomplishments and those of their peers started to get to me. (Not that I'm not totally happy for them all and wish them the best. For realz!)

 Maybe it's because I spent a big chunk of Mother's Day grading papers as a wage slave, worked late into the wee hours of this morning trying to help these community college kids--some adults with families and spouses and mothers-in-law in the hospital--get a leg up. While my family slept, I looked at my students' work carefully, trying to give them the benefit of so many doubts. What happened? Why are they at a community college, struggling with two or three jobs in a low, harsh desert, while these beautiful 20-something women float across my computer screen seemingly assured of near future success, and are told by Barnard faculty and administrators how truly awesome they are, and how much they're going to some major kick ass very soon.

I'm sure most of my students don't feel this way, were never told these things, and it's hard not to be depressed and even resentful in the face of the disparity between these truly blessed Barnard women (not saying they didn't work for it) and my students, many of whom even struggle with standard English.

 (By the way, when I wasn't grading, I emptied buckets of water I placed in the laundry room to catch a leak I discovered coming from our neighbor's backed-up toilet. Good times!) 

And what's my excuse? What happened with me? How come I had never heard of Barnard as a high school student in the low desert town my students toil in? Why did it take me so long to get east of Utah? And why did I have a bad hair day on my graduation from BYU (the only college I applied to, by the way)? Why did it take me two full years to figure out how to be a student? Why did I have to play "catch u" to such a degree once I got to college (so much so that I was placed on academic probation one semester? And on that note, why was my high school so lame?)

Why did I have no good plan after graduation except to move to San Francisco to catch the 20th-anniversary celebration of the "Summer of Love. Does this all have to do why I'm in my current tight place? Must think on it.

 By the way, Obama--our tight place prez--spoke at Barnard's graduation today and talked about endurance and perseverance and how truly difficult it is to make one's mark on the world. Maybe I haven't tried hard enough? Maybe it's still not too late to try?

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