Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

But I Was Too Busy Trying to Have my Own

Source: Arctic Fox, on Pinterest

Some of the most unpleasant people I’ve know had over-achievers as parents. I was fortunate enough not to have had that additional problem in my life, but I did have one that’s just as toxic as it is well-intentioned.

My parents had dreams for me.

I’m sure you know the kind of dreams I mean: a college degree, a house in the suburbs surrounded by a white picket fence, a two-car garage, a successful career, and 2.5 children.

Honestly, did that dream ever exist anywhere but on Leave It To Beaver, The Donna Reed Show, or even Bonanza?

And the dreams were only implied, not explicitly stated. My whole life was guided by them. In school, I didn’t even realize that there were art and music classes beyond second grade. In junior and senior high school I wasn’t allowed to take shop classes, because “those classes are for the dummies. You’re too smart for that — you’re going to COLLEGE!” (Cue the angelic trumpets.)

Last time I was in San Francisco I saw a beautiful hand-crafted wooden jewelry box that one of those dummies had made: the price tag said $2850.00 — and that was over 25 years ago.

And if my faucet leaks, I have to call another dummy who’ll charge me $75 an hour to fix it.

So who’s the real dummy now?

My Spectacular Failure at Education

After high school, it was taken as a given that I was going to go to college. I had no say in the matter. It was another of my parents’ dream for me.

At the wise old age of 18, I didn’t know if I even wanted to grow up, much less what I wanted to be if it ever happened.

In 1968, college was a place where you studied things to help you decide what you wanted to be doing for the rest of your life.

In 2019, college is a place to go to earn the credentials you need for the job you’ve already chosen.

I say — and neuroscience backs me up on this — the 18-year-old brain has developed sufficiently to be making such life-determining changes.

My education might have been more effective had I gone to a better college, but my grades, our family’s economic situation, and our physical location meant the sole criterion that went into the choice was the fact that as a Lutheran minister, my father could get a discount on my tuition and fees if I went to this particular college. A college I flunked out of at the end of my freshman year.

College, Take 2

I was simply too immature for and too uninterested in going to college. So I put off my plans for a higher education for two decades. Even then, I only went because my wife decided to pursue her degree, and I was worried about being left behind.

It went better this time. I was more motivated, and by then I had learned the fine art of academic philosophy, aka Intellectual Bullshit. I breezed through a semester of Selected Masterpieces of American Literature and got an A on it without once reading anything on the syllabus.

And I took several art classes, discovering that I could draw after all and that I was good at etching and engraving. I even sold some of my silkscreens and linoleum block prints.

But here’s the thing: after getting my AA degree and being one semester from my Bachelor of Arts, I was informed that I would not be allowed to count my 12 semester hours of computer classes towards my degree.

It seems one of the faculty review team said that computers have no bearing on liberal arts. This, after I designed and administered the first-ever study of if and how personal computers — then in their infancy — affected the process of writing.

So the University of Alaska, in its infinite wisdom, decided that I needed another 12 hours — a full semester — of math and natural science — -neither of which have any bearing on the liberal arts.

Had I taken the 12 hours and added 3 more, I would have been able to graduate with both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science.

Admittedly, the University of Alaska (Southeast) is nowhere as prestigious as its big sister in Fairbanks, but a double major is still a double major. And two degrees for the price of one….

Or three, if you count the Associate of Arts degree.

Livin’ La Vida Loca

So now it’s 2019. It’s been 51 years since I finished high school. I’m retired and living on Social Security. I’m not rich, but I get by — without complaint, thank you very much.

But since 2012, when I retired, I have finally been able to live my dreams. And the biggest lesson I’ve learned — and fulfilled — was to let my daughters dream their own dreams, and to support them in making those dreams come true.

Stay safe, my friends.

Are you of my generation? Remember when we actually had to go outside to play with our friends? And how rough we had it without Instagram and Snapchat? We had to take pictures with film cameras, send the film out for processing, then order reprints before we could go door-to-door handing out prints to our friends in order to show them what we had for breakfast two weeks ago. Or was it three?

Remember eating lunch at Tommy’s house, and calling his mother “Mom?” And everyone was okay with that?

I grew up in a military family, on military bases. “Sticker shock” describes the feeling I had when the cost of a movie ticket jumped from 15 to 25 cents.

And the theater itself! We had to walk a mile each way, uphill, in the snow to get there. Well, it was Texas flatland, so forget the snow…and the uphill. But it really was a mile. (I know this for a fact because that’s what the driver of the free shuttle bus measured it when I asked him.)

Later, in high school, the movie ticket was a whopping 35 cents, which made my Friday night dates (movie, drinks, and shared large popcorn) take a huge chunck ($1.50) out of my weekly allowance of $10. Why, to take my girlfriend to the Senior prom, I had to save my entire allowance for TWO WHOLE WEEKS in order to be able to take my date first to the Olde San Francisco Steakhouse for dinner ($10 for the two of us), buy her a corsage, and buy the tickets to the prom.

Nowadays the movie ticket costs $12 dollars a pop, or about half the price of a large drink and a large popcorn. I don’t go to those theaters, because the last time I went, the recliner armchairs were so comfortable I fell asleep and missed the whole movie.

I remember visiting my grandparents for family get-togethers, and seeing my cousins. We all sat around listening to the aunts and uncles moaning about their health problems. But you know what? Today, in 2018, that generation is gone…and when I meet with my cousins via Facebook, our discussions are the same: health problems.

We’ve become our aunts and uncles, our parents.

So when I see younger generations complain about us Boomers, I just smile and think, your day is coming.

“Five to one, baby. One in five.
No one here gets out alive.” Jim Morrison

Growing up – it’s a trap!