I was sweating this grade like no other…..I took upper division Organic Chemistry and BioChemistry at a university, and didn’t work this hard. But in the end, it was all worth it!
Yep, that blurry letter there is a “A”. I can’t believe it–I thought I blew the final too. The final was on a Wednesday, grades were supposed to go in on Friday….of course, the holiday was in there too. And I waited, and waited….obsessively-compulsively checking the website where the grades were posted multiple times a day. The grade was finally posted nearly 2 weeks later on Tuesday afternoon, and I could finally rest. My coworkers howled in laughter…”I thought you were taking that just for fun!” “It’s not like you need this for a degree, or for your job…”
Yeah, yeah. But this class was for me; for my own narcissistic issues and pride. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I always wanted to pursue music more seriously, even if it wasn’t a career for me, but I was talked out of it by parents and others whose only concern was me working toward a degree and a career. And as proud as I am, I know I have a long way to go. Like learning another language, I need a lot of reinforcement. The local college has 4 more music theory classes I can take, but unfortunately none of them are being offered in the fall during the evening when I can attend without missing work. My work situation is volatile right now, as we have people leaving….and the boss’s moods are as changeable as the wind.
So what’s next on the agenda? Well, I am going to focus more on playing proficiently. My tentative plan is to go to another community college about 45 minutes away in the fall that offers Beginning Piano in the evening. Songsaenim teaches Intermediate Piano in the evening locally, but there is no way I am good enough (or will be by the end of August) to take her class. That’s next year’s challenge! The class at the farther-away college is a good hedge bet for me, as the teacher will have 2 levels of Beginners in the same class. If I am lucky, perhaps I will get moved up into the Advanced Beginners group. I have a year plus of lessons done now, and I hope that will count for a little something. I may take a second level music theory class in the spring of 2016 when my work situation simmers down, and I can take half a morning off once a week without the boss coming unglued. Or maybe by then, I will be good enough to take Songsaenim’s piano class!
I learned plenty this semester besides Music Theory in this class. I kind of already knew, but now that I have boots-on-the-ground experience, I can say with certainty–this generation of young people (roughly age 18-28) is in big trouble. Told from day one they must have a college education to succeed, they have been working toward this goal since grade school. But if they get the degree, there’s a pile of debt that goes along with it….keeping them in virtual slavery to pay off the student loans, at the expense of being able to save for a house, and to have a family. If they don’t have the degree, they can’t get any kind of job that they can support themselves on (let alone a family) and they’re still screwed. One of my co-workers is married and has student loans to pay off, as does her husband. Their combined monthly student loan payment is the same as my mortgage payment! No wonder they both work like dogs; she barely took off 8 weeks even after having twins, and if her parents didn’t help them out in a big way, they would be toast.
In addition to all of that depressing stuff, I was blown away by the conversations I overheard…these kids have no hope. No hope that they will have a decent job, or be able to afford anything but a rental, or to be able to go on a vacation. Even worse–the culture of broken homes and marriages cements the idea in their minds that they will never find one person to commit to–the one person that will love and care for them. It might as well be a fairy tale. One young man was telling his friend outside the library (where I was waiting for my tutor) that if he paddled out on his surfboard…no one would miss him if he never came back to shore. OMG, this dude was all of 19, maybe 20. He has no hope that things might turn around for him. His friend must have ripped a page from the story of Job in the Bible, because he was about as much help as those friends were to Job–zero! I talk to people my age, and they think kids today are lazy, unmotivated, entitled…and of course, there are kids like that. There were kids like that back in the 1980’s too.
But the deck is stacked against kids today unlike in the 1980’s. Even college looks like a racket. Books are insanely expensive ($100 and up) in an age where it should be about $10 or less for it to be available digitally–no transportation, paper or binding costs, and no cover art needed. Adjunct professors run from school to school, trying to make a buck–and they don’t even have benefits! Tuition is outrageous….and then kids with degrees compete for jobs just over minimum wage. I don’t know what the answer is–but I do see the problem. When I talk to the 20-somethings at college, or at my office, they are always amazed that someone “as old as I am” understands the problems they are going through.
Finally, I’m starting to have a bigger dream for myself, as I now want to go here to do my Bachelor’s degree. I might have to win the lottery to accomplish this, but that “tuition free if income is under $60K” makes me salivate….when I retire in a number of years, I will easily be in that bracket. Wonder if they’d take an old lady like me–but hey, I’m “diversity” right? I always wanted to do something like this too–in fact, I was accepted to an East Coast school a lot like this one back in the day–but my parents wouldn’t let me attend. I’ve always regretted not going….so maybe it’s time to fix this problem too.