Archive for the ‘Literary Endeavors’ Category

The Tuition Crisis? Duh? It’s Called Work

April 2, 2012

I’ve heard lots of grumbling this Spring from both the parents of teens bound for college and from the oh-woe-is-me students already feeling the weight of the mighty college tuition loan.

With apologies to those younger that myself, I doubt few under the age of fifty is an actual adult. For sake of argument, that word is defined here as “a person responsible for living within a lifestyle and, in fact, choosing that lifestyle with a strong imbedded sense of the requirement to pay back any person, institution, or thing to whom or to which they owe money.”

Thus this adult feels it incumbent to comment on the au current tuition crises. Granted this adult went to an undergraduate university from 1966-1970. A then dreaded public university. That said so much about your station in life.

My quarterly tuition was approximately $200-400. per quarter depending on the number of credits you took (at least as my memory serves me… since I’m really “that” old). Back in September 1966, the tuition at any college or university was considered onerously high. Ridiculously high. High schools still taught dual tracts — vocation and academic.

The reality was not everyone could attend college — because it cost to much! If it was too ludicrous a financial burden, or the unlucky wanna-be just didn’t have an aptitude for Descartes, Maslow, trigonometry, or computer sciences (back then it was the Univac 1100 series mainframes with their high tech punch cards). So they mowed laws which they turned into landscaping businesses or helped their father tune the one family car — which became the town auto repair shop. And so on. If you couldn’t afford the tuition, you didn’t lock yourself in your private bedroom and have a tantrum (chances are you shared the bedroom with your sister or brother). If you were accepted to a college three thousand miles away from home, but your parents didn’t have money, you didn’t go. If you wanted to “move out of your parent’s house,” but couldn’t afford to, daddy buy you a condo. If you spent the first day of your part time job fitting wigs on middle-aged women or waiting tables at Howard Johnson’s, you did it because you understood that you earned your way in life.

So what did you to? Oh, wow. This is going to come as a big shock.

If you couldn’t afford to pay your own way to Stanford, Yale, or the University of Missouri, you had several unenviable options. All distatesfully associated with: work; work; and work.
1) You could follow in the family business (what ever that was);
2) You went to work for someone else’s business as what is known as an “employee.”
3) You applied to the college or university and hoped that you qualified for a 100% scholarship — Oh, but, gee, I forgot. The only 100% scholarships in the ’60’s and early ’70’s were (for the large part) athletic scholarships. So unless you had lettered in Varsity football or something similar, you weren’t even eligible for full scholarships. Gee. How unfair.
4) Your grades, social activities, and character won you a $1,000 scholarship for one year to help you go to the college of your choice — Yippee! Expect even with tuition at let’s say $300. a quarter, that meant you had to both have financial help from your parents (if possible) AND that you would have to do what was known as “work your way through college.” What a concept! How then noble and worthy a line that was perceived on your résumé. Bus trays in the dorm cafeteria in trade for living there? Process paperwork in the registrar’s office or some other on campus administrative cavern in which they were short-handed? Re-book the library shelves? Wait tables in some off campus restaurant? Accept a full tuition state-sponsored scholarship if you contractually agreed to teach in your state for each year you accepted the imbursement — even though you did not want to teach. Ever.

The reason tuition was $300. a quarter, was because the average family (at least, my average blue collar family) earned about $12,000. a year. Nobody expected an academic free ride. Well, of course, the one percent did; and that would follow like day into night that life was not easy. Not then; not now.

Choosing a career was a life choice. Perhaps your parents couldn’t afford to have you wind up with a BFA degree but not know how to type? Or, because you were a woman, the head of the department told you point blank that you could not apply for a Rhodes Scholarship (as they were only available to men who played rugby). Or, hey, about your immigrant neighbors saved their money so that their children could receive the university education they would not afford themselves.

Ah, inflation.

But how did tuition go up so much? Gosh, let’s look to recent history. Academically-enriched programs, more degree options, computer science, medical, agricultural and state-of-the-art high technology fields requiring expensive labs, better qualified academicians, larger campuses, better libraries, and let’s not forget high stakes alumni-driven basketball and football stadiums, state of the art tennis courts, golf ranges, swimming pools. It costs. Something typically unknown to most college bound students whose parents use digitized technologies to transfer cash into their children’s overdrawn accounts. Sorry, kiddies. I have no genuine understanding of your perceived and lamented financial plight.

Yes, children. In the late Spring of 1966, I received my acceptance letters. I had been accepted to a number of cross-country prestigious schools. My parents did not have the money to send me. In fact, my mother had to work an extra job to buy me othodonture because my father was running a business and just couldn’t take out any more loans — on his business and our house. Desperate to leave home and live in a dorm like my friends, I explored working my way through college. The outcome was that the only way I could go to college, in fact, be the first of my entire family to go to college was to live at home for the next four years, work a full time job as a drive-in window bank teller (from 1 pm – 9 pm M-F). That meant all of my requisite classes had to be scheduled from seven a.m. to noon…. so I could sprint across the sprawling campus to catch a bus to my assigned bank. When I returned to my parents home by nine or ten, I did my homework. Then was up at five to be in the seat of my first class at the appointed hour.

So, yes, I graduated in June 1970. I moved out of my parents house at that time. I paid my way through graduate school, too. Oh, what a concept. Regimen. Responsibility. Earning your own way. Not indenturing your parents for your own coddled whims.

What a concept?! Oh, yes, I paid off my last of many permutations of student loans was paid off (approximately) 1987. That would be twenty-one years after first accepting that first terrible student loan.
Intentionally dentured servitude for twenty-one years. Wow. What a concept. Oh, yes, the experience was so horrible that I picked up an MFA from UCLA and a Master’s in Human Resources Management from Pepperdine University. Gosh. I paid off all my student loans. It took me twenty-one years. I wonder how that happened?



December 18, 2011

Adrienne Parks

Menopause. What does it really mean? Without running to Webster’s or Merriam’s for the precise literary derivation, I’m going to tell you what this Boomer thinks it means.

Men-o-pause. The creator’s way of telling mid-life women to lay low with the dudes. Doesn’t say “Chocolate-O-Pause” or “Galpal-O-Pause.” It doesn’t say caffeine-o-pause or bowling- or housework. In fact, I think vacuums are clearly still in the active state. It clearly says men.

Now “O.” That could mean, Oh? Or Oh! Or even Ooooo. The extra vowel interruption in the flow of syllables is intended to slow down us Boomer gals. Some famous last words. “Slow Down.” Whoopi Goldburg’s character’s ex-husband’s last words in “Corrine, Corrina”: “Slow down.” Often Joy Behar used the phrase on her show. Many in Congress have been accused of going too slow. The rapidity in rise of both Internet and iPhone and SmartPhone apps is anything but slow. They are overwhelmingly fast. So this origainl “O” does not apply to them.

Now for “Pause.” Can’t get more clear than that. Temporarily cease, halt interpersonal communication with the others. Chill. Count to ten. For some, count to one hundred. Take the time to re-think you life until now. Regurgiate bad memories. Purge from grey matter. Start again.

Which leads us to “why” men-o-pause exists for women but not men? It would have to be “Women-O-Pause” for straight guys. Could still be Men-O-Pause for gay guys. We all know the drill. What do the signs mean anyway? I don’t buy anything wool or with long sleeves anymore. It’s too darn warm. At outdoor events, I hand off my jacket to some forty-nine year old who is freezing. I haven’t been cold in so long I’ve forgotten what cold is. I go skiing with my warmly bundled friends who live in Patagonia-North Face-Marmout-Goose Down-Gortex, wear mufflers, caps, lined gloves.

Hot flashes must be the creator’s fluttering yellow lights. Take note! Take note! Commencing internal organ failure. Sagging. Wrinkles. Drooping. Cholesterol spikes. Triglycerides off the wall. Blood pressure hits new hghs. I always thought LDL had something to do with the Mormon Church.

For boomers still with ovaries and uteruses, which should probably be referenced as uteri, we look forward to potential partial hysterectomies. For those already minus, we look forward to herbal or big pharmo- hormone replacement therapies which have been shown in certain studies to cause: breast cancer, uterine cancer, heart attack, and stroke. Not in any particular order.

One of my friends, Judy, just started hormone replacement therapy. She had excruciating migraines until she told her physician who said, “Well, stop taking them.” The Big Pharmas are experimenting with alternative elixirs. All of which will be very expensive, held up by the FDA, and co-payed at the top of your insurance plan. Another pal is a fatalist. Still another turned down estrogen treatments for fear of increasing her breast cancer odds. She suffered the night flashes and got breast cancer anyway. Fortunately, in its very early stages. We’re all determined to ride it out for the duration. Thus, the collective opinions of these Boomer women:
When do we get over this? Never. When do the hot flashes stop? Never. When do we ever get a good nights sleep? Never. When do we get to take ourselves out of the pause mode? Anytime. It’s not going to get better by itself. Think herbal remedies. Exercise if only to beat it out of you. Make it sweat out your pores. Warn the partners and significant others. Install an overhead fan. Or carry one with you. Don’t be afraid of sticking your head out the window for fresh air like your dog. Get used to it. You’re in it for the long haul.

Hormonally challenged Boomers ahead.


Less Golf for GOP & Tea; Less Marathon Training and Rock Wall Climbing for Democrats

November 6, 2011

Jobs. And golf?
Couldn’t resist the temptation to have some fun, expand my neurons on a dull Sunday morning, and share my ruminations about, uh, golf — and the noise made by Sunday morning pundits over the weeks prior televised Presidential Election coverage.

You may disagree with me but I do know a few nice people who play golf. Note the use of the world “few.” They don’t beat their children or swindle millions from their friends retirement accounts. However… Golf. Really? Why would I even want to write anything about golf other than that Kevin Coster looks good driving a club. And so did Dinah Shore.

I find golf an odd-little adrenaline-pumping game for those no longer or never were Jocks. Certainly it’s the only really “acceptable” game for GOPers, employed junior management, middle, and even upper management seeking to climb higher on the backs of pimpled balls. Business meetings are held in the best hotels surrounded by eighteen hole courses with sand traps and lies. They write-off these business expenses. So every deal made on the eighth tee is tax deductible. Also over the urinal. Hell, for all I know, even the urinal is tax deductible. What about the golf clubs? How do IRS loopholes play or iron out for these amateurs? The Corp-o-Rat-ions pick up the greens fees, lunches, apres ball swacking dinners because the conversation is seriously over holes and drives and misses and holes. The meaty kind, the sweddy, and the dimpled. The tacky golf gifts are tax deductible. Women who don’t hit little balls beware — there are other ways for you to pay your dues. These games tend also to involve little balls. And little minds. A bad lay. No benefits. No future. For those who do, remember what your mother told you: “Never beat at man at his own game. It undermines his game. Always let the man win.”

Personally I think Democrats should stick to chess, scuba diving, swimming, sculling, tennis, rock climbing, Trekking, backpacking, century rides, marathons, adventure vacations, and the like. Not wasting their time “Making deals” on the back nine over clubs and some guy in checked yellow pants whipping his pimpled ball into submission. Democrats have so much more finesse. But can they their solve the diminishing jobs situation if they too stick to only what they know? Quoins, Treks, skis, REI, Luna bars, Goo, packing out their trash? Don’t think so.

How about if we create a new job type called “no balls allowed, no idealism.” Just mix an equal part GOP with an equal number DEM, flick the blender switch, and see what comes out. Hopefully a mixed and smooth blend of Americans who want to find jobs for everyone. Once everyone is back at work producing meaningful infrastructure and outrageously out-of-box creations that will them beget more American jobs, then the adults in the board rooms across our country can return to hitting their pimply little scratched balls and solving global insurgencies.

Jobs. And golf? Maybe they don’t go together. Maybe you have to sit them both down in the same room and make them play together like the adults they are not.

Saturday, Segerstrom and Sondheim, Not

October 31, 2011

The Orange Country Center for Performing Arts, specifically the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, pulled off a wonderful musical “The Show Must Go On” coup this past Saturday. The scheduled Stephen Sondheim “conversation” performance had to be cancelled due to the NYC snow fall which caused cancelled flights to LA. So the wonderful Mr. Sondheim was stuck in NYC. However host Michael A. Kerker, president of ASCAP, together with musical director Tedd Firth, and extraordinary vocal legends Christine Ebersole and Brian Stokes Mitchell, the show did indeed go on.
Kerker indicated at show’s open that Mr. Sondheim would join us by phone. Indeed, it worked. Sondheim chatted about what his show was to have been and what it would be. Cobbled together at the last moment was an extraordinarily wonderful selection of Sondheim songs of which he had written both music and lyrics.
Originally Ebersole and Mitchell were to sing only three illustrative songs. Treated we were to an evening of Sondheim with Ebersole sharing her interpretations of Sondheim classics such as “Send in the Clowns.” What clarity and pitch resonated from her vocal chords. Absolutely a joy to hear. Ditto Mr. Mitchell whose selections from “A Little Night Music,” “Passion,” and “Sweeny Todd” among others were stellar.
It’s easy to see why Christine Ebersole and Brian Stokes Mitchell were Sondheim’s first choices to join him in the “Conversation” turned night of song.
Great save by Kerker, Firth, Ebersole, and Mitchell. Exquisite evening with Stephen Sondheim’s musical personna. Gotta sing; gotta dance; gotta love Sondheim’s body of work.