Today was the first day of my last quarter of school. To say it is bittersweet would be an understatement.
I have always loved school, and loved learning. One of the highlights of my elementary school career was being “teacher’s helper” for Mrs. C. in 4thgrade. I got to deposit graded homework in all my classmates’ cubbies and snoop on their marks. I got to hang out with Mrs. C. during recess and watch, eyes wide, as she danced on a chair to the Beatles, swinging her sweater over her head and moving her hips like Elvis. I did not know grown ups danced like that. I have since learned that only the really special ones do. Shout out, Mrs. C!
As I’ve gotten older, school has been less about eyeballing my peers’ grades and more about continuously having my mind blown and seeking meaning in a cacophonous world. School offers me a refuge where analyzing the ever living fuck out of everything actually has a place, and is, in fact, encouraged.
My music and mythology teacher today sidetracked for over forty-five minutes, sharing shiver-inducing poetry with us and ruminating on the human fascination with Beauty. This is literally a poet’s dream. I may have found my niche in academia after all.
Unfortunately, I do not have the wallet to be a lifelong student. Being a privileged human, I do not qualify for many grants, awards, or scholarships. (I suppose this perceived injustice is paid off in a myriad of social graces I am probably mostly unaware of, so, y’know, it evens out.)
But aside from taking a fantastical, sensuous world music appreciation class, I am also taking a course on community development and grant writing. While these two courses could not be much more disparate, I am learning to appreciate (rather than loathe) the ambiguous legal terminology inseparable from the business world, which seems intended to be manipulated and worked around. I am beginning to see the possibility and potential of nonprofit work, and starting my own ethical LLC (if such a thing even truly exists).
There are some companies doing genuinely remarkable things—Alaffia and Homes First! for example. These organizations give me hope for humanity and even make me think twice about my general distrust for capitalism. Perhaps that is an unpopular opinion here, and I am well aware I have paid human money for my domain and growing blog presence. Regardless of all the opportunity and promise held within the shiny exterior of capitalism, I seem to be unable (or subconsciously unwilling?) to thoroughly shake my skepticism of the infrastructure we have in place, something I was acutely aware of from a very young age.
I remember once, my father, in frustration with his inability to “break” me into the world of his precious capitalism, called me “Tiger Lilly” as an insult (I assume as a reference to the character apparently based on Native American women in Peter Pan). If you want to muse about Indigenous rebellion to colonialist influences, referencing Native American boarding schools in the United States and Canada would be a good place to start. I also recommend Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed for anyone who has an interest in dialoguing about systems of power.
Anyway, from the age of about eight or so, I was a “serious” child, with an eye constantly turned towards power and social (and though I did not know it at the time, fiscal) influences in American culture. I was gender-bending at an even younger age while playing imaginary games. Even then I knew everything is a spectrum and societal rules were not entirely sacrosanct.
In sum, I am finding my place in the ever-increasing confusion of our national climate. School is unequivocally helping me to achieve this.
I wonder, still, what I am going to be “when I grow up”. I wonder how I will fit into the world when I graduate after this quarter. I am still waiting to find a spot open for this human freakshow with two thumbs. I am ok with my journey being messy and non-linear, something I feel eternally obligated to justify to my exasperated parents.
The truth is, no one has it figured out, not even those that have The Rules memorized, internalized, and embodied. I am beginning to see that if I value my freedom, I still need to learn the verbiage of these rules, so that I too might look for their limitless loopholes. I am learning to find the freedom within constraints.
Stay tuned for more thoughts on education…