Thurs. March 14, 2019: Pi, Coyotes, College, and Hungry Schoolkids

Thursday, March 14, 2019
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy & chilly

Happy Pi day!

When I worked for a library, we used to serve pie on Pi day, along with a display of fun facts about it.

Yesterday was fine at the client’s. It was quiet – for most of the day, I was on site, but I was alone on site, so I could be as productive as I would in my home office. I’m working on a couple of big projects for them, so it was good to have that time.

Coyotes woke me up having a party in the yard around 5 AM. Better than 2AM. Quite the pack. I’m pretty sure one of the pups that was raised under my deck a few years ago is now Leader of the Pack. Especially since he takes such pleasure in standing on the deck to call them.

The local coyotes and I have a deal: I don’t act like a dumbass and they don’t eat me. It works for us.

Plus, they don’t use my yard as their toilet. They’re very clean and respectful that way. No coyote scat. They do that in the yards that use chemicals.

I’ve been mulling over how personally angry I feel about the college entrance  scandal. It’s not that I don’t know that the system is already rigged in favor of wealthy white students. It’s not that I don’t know that rich families have bought their kids slots in good schools since rich families and good schools exist.

It’s much more personal than that for me. Both because of my own journey, and because some of those accused are people I considered colleagues.

I was the not-rich kid in the rich town. I didn’t realize the extent of our financial struggles; we always had books and enough to eat and laughter. We didn’t buy stuff all the time, but we did stuff. Went to libraries and museums and historical sites. We often packed a picnic lunch on our trips. I was an adult before I realized it was because we couldn’t afford to go out to restaurants. I always thought the packed lunches were fun.

I did well in school. I wanted to graduate a year early. I was one-half credit short – in GYM, of all things. One HALF credit. Even though I was in the National Honor Society for academics, in advanced classes, and already going to college part time.

The high school principal refused to let me graduate early. I wasn’t allowed to take an extra gym class or to have one of the several college dance classes I took count. I had to stay an entire fall semester my senior year of high school for ONE HALF CREDIT.

While I took classes as SUNY Purchase, which was close by. I’d taken dance there since they opened; I also took literature classes.

Meanwhile, as a junior, I’d taken both the SATs and the ACTs. And I ran around visiting schools and interviewing. In the SATs, I did very well in the verbal and squeaked by in the math. In the ACTs, I got in the 98% percentile of the country, including the science section. When that was brought up in college interviews, I pointed out that to me, math made perfect sense in context with science, but when it sat there as a math problem, it had little relevance to me and I struggled with it.

I was also very active in a variety of clubs and organizations, taking college courses part-time, and writing for the local paper.

I got into EVERY school to which I applied. Including the Ivy Leagues. But I wanted to have more of a traditional college experience.

I graduated in January with no fanfare. I spent a few weeks in the UK. My first trip to Edinburgh, where I first fell in love with it. The first time Lindisfarne captivated me.

I started college in March, at Florida State University, in Tallahassee. Definitely not ivy league, but a great campus and a solid “this is college” experience.

I had tested my way out of freshman year, so I started as a sophomore. My transcripts, testing, and classes at SUNY Purchase mattered to the colleges to which I applied, even though my high school principal had forced me to stay an extra semester in high school for a gym class.

I planned to go for a journalism degree. I took a theatre lighting class as an elective. We were supposed to spend 20 hours in lab work in the theatre in the semester. I spent 20 hours my first week and never left the building for the following year.

I worked through the summer semester, always taking as full a course load as I could talk the registrars into letting me take.

I was a scholarship student and tried to find a workstudy job on campus. I wanted to work in the magnificent library, but they never hired me. They kept hiring social science majors. I wound up working theatre and music crew jobs in local clubs, which led to working rock ‘n roll gigs around the area, some with big names. My theatre teachers let me take some of the grad level classes.

I loved working in theatre, but learned pretty damn fast the rock ‘n roll life was not for me.

I also was savvy enough to know that, while I had fun at FSU and had some terrific teachers, it couldn’t give me the launching platform I wanted or needed to have the career I wanted in the business. There are plenty of hugely successful FSU Alumni, but I knew I couldn’t do what I wanted and needed there after my first year.

I transferred to the film program at NYU. I had done the spring quarter, summer quarter, and then the following full year in Tallahassee. I received my acceptance letter dated April 1 from NYU and called them to make sure it wasn’t a joke.

I started as a film student that June. And continued to work in theatre. And I had a work/study job at the Interactive Telecommunication and Alternate Media Center, where we did some of the first video conferencing that existed. And from there, built my career in local, regional, off-off, off, and up to Broadway.

What’s the point of this?

I took my own damn tests. I studied all night if I had to. I had scholarships and jobs and loans and EARNED IT ALL MY DAMN SELF. When I turned down the Big Name Schools that had accepted me, they were shocked. Because it was hard to get in. But I got in as MYSELF – not because I had connections (I didn’t). Not because I had money (I didn’t). I got in because I was smart and talented with good grades and great essays and lots of interests and experiences and completely out of the box and blew the interviewers the hell out of the water in the interview (and was told that in EVERY interview).

So when I see this entrance scandal, and see some entertainment personnel I liked, respected, and considered my COLLEAGUES involved – it’s an insult. If anyone had tried to buy me into a school, I would have been so damn mortified, I don’t know what I would have done. It was important to me to EARN IT MYSELF. With good grades, hard work, scholarships, workstudy, student loans, and finding my own gigs along the way.

Not only is it unfair to better qualified students without the financial means to allow richer parents to purchase slots, it’s a slap in the face to the students whose slots are purchased. Probably a lot of them don’t care; they know they wouldn’t get in anyway, and it’s just another entitlement with which they sail through life. But it completely negates and discards any work any of them have done or might do.

Along with denying those who would make better use of the opportunity the chance in the first place.

These parents are insulting their own kids while insulting the kids who have earned the right to those slots and are denied them because their parents can’t afford the right bribe. The parents purchasing these slots aren’t helping ANYBODY. In fact, they are hurting everyone involved, while some scumbag “recruiters” or “consultants” get rich.

There’s a lot in our educational system that needs to be changed and fixed, from pre-school all the way up through PhD programs. But I found this, with allegations against people in my own field who KNOW BETTER and whom I expect to BEHAVE BETTER – infuriated me on multiple levels.

Just now, as I’m writing this, they’re discussing it in the library. One man talked about how his son was accepted into Dartmouth and was so excited – he had great grades, etc. Then some man showed up at the house to tell him that his son had to give up his spot in order to make space for the son of an alumnus. The kid was heartbroken, and the man currently speaking threw the bum out of the house. The kid went elsewhere and went on to a good, successful life, but it still hurts.

The fact that it has been going on for centuries doesn’t make any of it right. It’s time to make positive changes.

Yesterday, a teacher mentioned something about kids and hunger and lunch problems on Twitter. I asked for ideas how I, a random taxpayer with no kids in my local system, could make a contribution and make sure that it went to feed the kids who needed it, and not appropriated by the school for something else.

My feed exploded with so many good ideas that I’m gathering them up and going to put together a resource sheet. I’m not sure on which of my websites I’ll put it, but I’ll put it up somewhere.

So far, there was only one mansplainer about how my taxes are paying for schools and how I need to vote and military spending is the problem. In other words, trying to hijack the thread for his own agenda. I have been politically active since I was 15. Once I was eligible to vote, I’ve voted in EVERY election at every level, especially local. I’m in almost daily contact with my reps, from local to federal, so he can stop the hell trying to lecture me about voting responsibility.  30 seconds on my timeline reflects that I take the responsibility seriously. There’s always one, isn’t there? I’m sure he will come back with something else defensive and mansplaining, and then I’ll block. I’m not arguing, and anyone who’s read my timeline knows I take my voting rights seriously. Hijacking a thread about trying to help hungry kids in school to bitch about military spending is inappropriate.

Some other trolls will probably show up, too, and they, too, will be blocked. Meanwhile, I’ll gather the positive info and put together a resource list. That way, maybe some other people who are feeling helpless can find something they can do.

Also, for me, it’s important to donate anonymously. I deeply believe that genuine philanthropy is anonymous.

Enough for one day – I need to get back to the page.

Published in: on March 14, 2019 at 9:56 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 14, 2019: Pi, Coyotes, College, and Hungry Schoolkids  
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