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August 2011
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Advice

I had interests. I loved plants and animals. I loved our dogs and cats and chickens. I was good with the farm animals on other people’s farms. I had imagination and I loved music. I got along well with others and was a pretty good student, although not a genius or anything. I worked hard helping on the farm. But none of those things made for a promising college career.

My mom’s family had all gone to college. My dad went to college. Olsen would have gone to college. Marla—well—nevermind. I should go to college. I didn’t want to end up aimless after high school like Marla. Yes, I would go to college, said my parents. Yes, I would go to college and then come back to work on the farm, said my Dad. Yes, I would go to college and meet a nice socialist atheist girl and come back to live with her here, said my Mom. Yes, I would go to college so I could get the hell out of this damn small town, said I.

But what would I major in? My dad thought Agronomy, like he did. My mom said my temperament was more suited to the sciences, so maybe Horticulture. I wanted to be an Architect like my Uncle. So they set up an appointment with my high school counselor, Mr. Fowler, who looked at all those options, and ingeniously came up with the suggestion of Landscape Architecture.

I didn’t know anything about it, but it sounded good. It involved architecture. And plants. Yeah, ok, I’ll do it. Maybe I could work for my uncle in Pueblo. He could design houses and I could design the landscaping. I dreamed big.

I didn’t really realize until I was halfway through my major that it really wasn’t for me. The other people in my major were very urban, very preppy, and seemed to come from well-off families. I just didn’t fit in and I just didn’t care about the coursework. But I loved college. I loved taking the classes that weren’t in my own major, as odd as that sounded. I loved meeting people that were misfits like me, and the place that was the best place to do that was at the art building. I spent more time there than anywhere else. I spent time stalking a girl in my art history class. I spent time talking to Ann and Stan in their painting studio. And I stalked that art history girl who turned out to be a sculpture major. I took 100-level art courses, just to be near her. And then when Stan and I were roommates back in ’82, he decided to have a party (I think Ann and Stan called it a “come as you aren’t” party) and he invited her. He knew her. And she came to the party. At our house.

From that moment on up until a couple years ago, I would be half of a couple. So much of my identity had been tied up in my other half, what some refer to as their “better half.” I will stay silent on that.

I had gone to college, and similar to my mom, I had gotten my MR degree—almost.

In the end, I did walk away with a useless BS degree (poetic). And I guess you could say I “earned” my MR degree, although no diploma was issued. I guess that was ok since I had nothing to tear up 25 years later.

6 Responses to Advice

  • Stan says:

    These events seem so strange as if they were happening in another life to someone else. I guess we are constantly becoming someone else because we and even our bodies are always changing in every moment of time and space. When we think of the lives we were living back over 20 years ago it feels like me in the present and me in the past are seeing each other almost as strangers and perhaps at best long lost friends. Even our bones are completely different from the passage of time, so we truly become someone else when enough when we travel through enough time and space – merely linked by our common memories.

    I remember we had a lot of fun hanging out together, talking about art, and listening to music. Even though it was fun back then I have to admit that overall I feel like a happier person now. Happier, because I’ve found more tolerance for the things I can’t change in other people or myself. Happier, because I now understand that all paths in life lead to sorrow, and I not just being singled out. Happier, because I feel the love I share with my friends has more value that I realized before now.

    It is ironic that the path of your life took you back around to – the very same place in life – you wanted to leave behind you for good. I imagine the most difficult part isn’t that life took an unexpected turn, but the difficulties of children living so close to their parents can be a huge emotion drain on everyone. I hope you are holding up well with the “cookies”.

  • Ann says:

    Come As You Aren’t Party! That is one of those things I would have completely forgotten for the rest of my life hadn’t you reminded me!

  • Leon says:

    Maybe I’m still attending that “Come As You Aren’t” party. Metaphysically.

  • Ann says:

    Who are any of us, really?

  • Stan says:

    I think self identity is transitory and we never stop changing – plus most of our changes are driven by forces completely out of our control. We all constantly face the mystery of identity through change, and I guess it’s a mystery we never get let in clued into with all the answers we wish we had.

    I want to keep being at the come as you are party too, no matter how may times I feel like I’m arriving as someone else.

  • Stan says:

    Now as long as I’m always becoming someone else I can always go the the come as you aren’t party as someone else.

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