Archive for April, 2011

She Said Svengali vs. The Board of Education – Part 1

Posted in On the Dockett with tags , , , , , , , on April 16, 2011 by shesaidsvengali

There was a time I swore I was done with higher learning. I would never go back – Never! Never! Never! But here I am, a couple of years later, having been cured of my insanity through the careful use of Levithyroxin, contemplating the very thing I was so dead set against. Why? It ain’t the money – that’s for sure. What kind of money could there possibly be in having an M.A. in English? They’re a dime a dozen and with the bleak state of the union I have my doubts as to whether anyone graduating with an M.A. in anything is getting a decent return on their investment. So, why bother?

The reasons are many. I love Dr. Yeager with a zeal I’ve seldom had for a teacher. My MO has always been “I love that teacher because I am in love with that teacher.” Granted, they were all usually very intelligent and talented instructors, but there was always a strange component of Lolita-esque daddy issues/hero-worship at play there. Not so with Dr. Yeager. I simply think he is one of the kindest, down to earth, and brilliant instructors I have ever had. I never knew I could or would give a damn about Chaucer until I was in Dr. Yeager’s Chaucer class. I never thought I would be interested in learning Old English or reading Beowulf more than once until I sat in this man’s lectures and became completely immersed in the language, works, and culture of what were ultimately my forefathers.

I went to college thinking I was going to get a PhD in either Art History (specializing in German Expressionism) or English (becoming a Nabokov scholar). As the years went by and I took more of Dr. Yeager’s classes, Nabokov seemed to matter less and less. Art History was right out. I could see myself speaking Old English and poring over ancient tomes of vellum in some dusty library at Oxford. I would write compelling papers about the role of the outsider in Anglo-Saxon culture and his effect on comitatus. I would be respected and, if nothing else, an interesting and much sought after dinner party guest.

But the reality of the situation was that I was slowly but surely losing my mind. By the time my last semester of college arrived I was a complete and utter mess – barely making it to classes and just scraping by. I was trying to learn Old English and German at the same time, all while trying not to go to pieces on a daily basis. I would go from laughing to crying in a matter of seconds and it was clear to all that maybe this college thing wasn’t my strong suit. As my mental state deteriorated, the English Department had a front row seat to my unraveling. I was committed two weeks before the end of the semester. As a result (Thank God!) I was given an extension to finish up my course work the following semester. With that, I managed to earn my B.A. with a GPA somewhere in the neighborhood of a 3.0 (more or less). Not great, but not abysmal either – unless of course you have ideas of grad school.

At the time, I didn’t. I was over school. It was a sham. An obscene waste of money. I was angry, hurt, resentful. No one had done anything to make me feel this way. Everyone had been nothing but helpful, understanding, and accommodating. I was mad at myself. I had not performed well in college and I had my transcripts to prove it. Transcripts don’t tell the story of the 80+ hour a week care giving job. They know nothing of the emotional and psychological black hole I wandered into in my second year. They have no idea how hard I worked to get my slightly higher than mediocre grades while trying to stave off the insanity that was slowly consuming all other areas of my life. The only story they had to tell was of an A or two, lots of Bs, and a C in German. With grades like those, top-tier schools are not an option.

I am the kind of person who sees in black and white. “Well, if it’s not going to be Yale, then forget about it”. At any rate, I was never going to get a teaching position in grad school – without that, what good is it? So, I did what any girl in my situation would have done; I moved to another state with my fiancé and tried to find a job. That worked out so well, being that all this went down just as the economy started to crumble. I sent out hundred – literally hundreds – of resumes. I never heard back from even one. I was a kid fresh out of college with a liberal arts degree living in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Technical jobs, one and all.

It was a hopeless endeavor, which did very little for my mental state, let me tell you. At this time, we all thought I was bipolar. So, there I was, sitting around alone in my apartment all day while my fiancé was at college, looking for jobs and thinking “What the hell happened? I went to college. College = job. Why can’t I find a job. College is a lie, perpetuated by the liberal media.” Oh, I was mad. I was bitter. I hated life. Most of all, I hated the fact that I had spent so much time and money at university and it had clearly done me no good.

After about a year of living like this, my fiancé became “Leftenant Snicklefritz” upon his graduation from college. He was going to have a steady job, and we were going to get married. I wasn’t happy about my employment status, but I could live. I would be a housewife, with all that entailed. I still didn’t want to go back to school – useless institution that it was.

Then, everything changed. Two weeks after we got married, I got pregnant. Two weeks after we found out, Lt. Snickles was off to Officer Basic. Two weeks after that – I found out that I had hypothyroidism. It didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time. They gave me some meds to manage my thyroid being that I was pregnant. They mentioned that it might help with any anxiety issues. Two weeks after that, I felt like a new person. I could think clearly. The fog that I felt I had been living in for years, lifted. I was reading books again. I was able to *gasp* GET THINGS DONE. I felt like an entirely different person, and it was GREAT.