We sit at our desks, pens in notebooks, following slide upon slide of a shoddily put together, monochromatic Powerpoint presentation. The professor reads each slide carefully in droning fashion as she lifts the screen up and down to pleasantly write key terms on the board, most of which that will be hidden every two minutes for the next slide. By the end of the presentation, our notebooks look like a Michelangelo sketch book, gaps in notes perfectly filled with doodles of what’s for lunch and reminder to-do for daily activities.
What’s wrong with this picture? It’s my college experience.
Monday through Friday, I enter a 10x12, dramatically pale blue, fluorescent lit room with light black checkered patterned floor. Here, I flip back a cheaply made plastic covering to enter my desk. This small piece of scrap is my desk. While I am grateful, I would rather much sit Indian style on the floor at this point—besides, some sort of interactivity in a Communication’s course would be ideal.
From this shanty little section in the nosebleeds, I watch my professor fiddle with the projector in attempt to start her up like an old Chevy. Most of the time, a student has to help. Sometimes he or she will get so flustered they call in IT to check the cables for the speakers only to show the professor that the volume was simply muted. After a waste of the first fifteen minutes of class, the session progresses with a simple “Sorry about that” and up comes the dreaded Powerpoint we all have grown fondly acquainted with. Even worse, the collection of last night’s assignment as the project fully loads: “My Affirmations of Communicative Theory in Some Sort of Lame Television Show like the Kardashians.”
Finally, 30 minutes in, class begins.
What’s wrong with this picture? Maybe it’s my $22,000 a year tuition bill or the $50,000 of debt I’ve accumulated in the two short years of attending school in the city. But honestly, I think it’s the lack of new age honesty in academia.
Think of what you can buy with $50,000: a shitty starter apartment somewhere in Brooklyn to read all the free materials you’ve checked out from the library, a car and gas to drive you coast-to-coast throughout your course of self-findings from museums to Mexicali bar joints with locals, or maybe a few new top-of-the-line computers and a server to help you and your small team put out your first website to the world.
As a 21st Century student, I want to be taught in a 21st Century way—that does not mean a screen projection of 12pt Times New Roman copy-and-pasted definitions from the course book in which I already spent $150 dollars to purchase and the chapters I was supposed read last night according to your syllabus.
What exactly are we teaching and is it for our tuition’s worth? Is my accumulated debt worthy of the additive stress of shameful group projects constructed from curriculum consumed in “if A, then B”?
Honestly, to a new-aged student, the answer may be no.
When you look at the rise of websites like Tumblr, created by 26-Year-Old high school dropout David Karp, you begin to wonder if what we’re teaching in the new age of technology is substantial to the tuition and rooming fees we’ve begun paying out of pocket. While a high degree typically lands the job, we live in an age where open sources are easily accessible. This new trend of start-up’s and “New Wave American Dreaming” is showing that experience beats paper, but what’s the hold up in America’s transient shift? Guidance.
The fundamental building blocks for education should lie in the true lessons of life, not the curriculum-penned and signed by Administration staff that is in a hurry for a 5 day vacation to the Bahamas and could care less; so long you meet the bare minimum. My father did not shell out a lump sum of his life pension from his $35,000 a year salary for your bare minimum. These are real, true stories in which many American students face this day in age.
Technology is a tool—a powerful one when used correctly in the course of learning. We as students are overly indulged now in the digital age and are plenty capable of taking on digital challenges. As a generation, we are coming up with cooperative design to face the challenges of low job outlook and boredom. While we’re all not David Karp, we all have the ability to become David Karp with correct filtration in this age of information overload.
Filtration starts with experience: guide us on our journey, but do not take the wheel in the materials that were crafted for our alone time.
Hand me a camera, but don’t show me how to turn it on throughout the course of three weeks. Hand me the camera and tell me to explore it – tell me to take it outside the classroom and film passersby; create an unsuspecting video journalist out of me.
Assign me a paper on Communicative Theory, but first—take me to a museum and tell me to relate it to a piece of art. Hell, take me to a live poetry reading or a theater performance; I am paying you enough money in 4 Years to buy a nice house in my hometown of Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
This is real experience. This is the birth of creative thought processing. This will guide us in the direction of creative production. We will no longer be looking toward our notebooks for the definitions—we will begin living them.
While it is expensive this day in age to be a college, it’s also expensive to the student’s productivity levels and motivation to sit through a 4-Year degree program coming out knowing mild terms and definitions, but no way to apply them in concrete job environment.
The opportunity to intern throughout your college career is something I advise, but also, something that I found to be even more of a pain in achieving through a college. $900 for a one-credited summer internship? I can always craigslist for a free position, non-credited—possibly even a paid. But why are colleges making it this hard to gain the experience needed post-grad?
It seems our society has turned to the expenses of equipment rather than the experience of instruction and the fundamental core basics of education: “knowledge, skills, and habits… through teaching, training, and autodidactism.”1
Here’s an idea: share equipment. Partner with community schools or programs within your school itself to share equipment. Make the world a better place by sharing, a skill you acquired in Kindergarten. Yes, scheduling is a pain since our society is forever on the go, but, if someone is really committed to their career path – watch them interact with others and become group-oriented; watch relationships flourish. Especially as a Communications major, this is something that should be a CORE acquisition through autodidactic lessons.
What about free public forum events including speakers and entertainers? Keyword here: free.
Also, open-sourced information or low-cost books would save both you and I some cash. I’m sorry, but there is no point in a $150 dollar textbook that we touch twice a semester that I can only exchange at the college bookstore for $20 dollars, in turn, which they sell back next semester to last minute needing students for $80-$90.
In the generation we live in, there is no reason that any educator should be wielding a Powerpoint in their back pocket while we sit in a sweltering classroom because of a broken air conditioning system while my knee gets stuck to gum from under the desk as my bank account slowly dwindles to zero. Smart education in technological societies such as ours are about invention and innovation – we are thinking outside of the box and are ready for the challenges today faces.
Our generation may go to our graves toting terrible credit scores and scrounging on social security, but we shouldn’t have to go into our potential future life path with books memorized and half-spat out jargon into papers on subjects we will never speak of again. While it’s nice to obtain book knowledge, what do we take from life knowing that all we’ve ever known was from printed materials someone else kindly bequeathed upon us? Besides, your golden rule always read in the handbook “never plagiarize”.
We are in the age of the death of teaching. Information through many technological mediums allows students to reach information faster than printer materials. We’re not paying $22,000 a year for teaching, we’re looking for filtration and guidance— we’re a generation teetering on the brink of many new, amazing things; so long we have someone that that isn’t afraid to push us into murky waters rather than into a monotonous sea of templates with literary prolix.
So, I ask of this, 21st Century Educators, all I ask is put the Powerpoint down and step away; turn on the creativity. Help me and many others acquire the right filtration and life tools to guide us through the financial frustration, or else I will quit and start coding on my own time, in my own room like Tumblr’s own David Kant.
scratched door pane.
Three rusty hinges,
I wonder what
And to think
A harlot’s nest;
bouquet full of
flesh of youth,
And to think,
that’s all I
You extend your arm at wisdom’s bosom, painting
molasses thought onto store front. I articulate
the need for circumvention— to let
the building breathe a little sigh.
Years of retrospect within architect; Dust collects
on the brick like soot and ash as the vinaigrette
shades between olive and fig
reflecting kaleidoscopic shades of ennui.
I marvel at your wonders like allying Moai,
while roughhew instincts tell me
to dust off cobwebs. By which I mean, you should too.
”Listen to me; I want to make you anew.”
Preaching like Assisi is asinine of me. Your knees
part in demotic form with my words,
head slouched like mollifying butter; your backbone
runs off into birdlime apace.
Lessons in allotment collapse, as you breathe
cursory grief into your encasement.
Pushing my arrogance aside
for once, I give up on bulwark and grasp you.
“I’m sorry I’ve grown indigenous to hominine”; giving in
hugging you 5 inches above the waist
for once. Finding new in your fragile framework,
it rubs off onto me like fresh wire.
I didn’t mean to
I didn’t mean to
I want to
I dont get
Out of hell
a hint ray
In an eclipse of
Spiraling felt print.
Back into hell
He sends me the final e-mail, an extended-cut of his soliloquy; monotony fashion-fronted like the Five Pillars of Islam to reinstate his stoic attempts. One line reads, “Firstly, I’m really, truly, sorry. I never, ever intend to do you any harm at all.” Another, “I realized that with everything going on, the things I need to do and focus on, there’s no way that I can rightfully suit your wants and needs in a relationship.” Lastly, “Call me selfish, call me whatever, but its how I feel. I know this is, in a sense, very unfair to you. But at the same time, it’s unfair to me going on feeling an extreme extra weight of stress from you. I’m sorry, and I don’t mean any offense by it, but it’s true.”
For two years, he spoke the same verse. Like a door-to-door missionary, he wrung out the same gelatinous, unconducive biblical phrases suited to each individual scripture post-gestation. Loaded with epiphanies and irony, it always came down to one word: true. I met him through a friend, who is no longer a friend. Point-in-case, I met him through a lesson; one that I should have appropriated – similar to the one’s you learn in grade school about not talking to strangers and tying your shoes tightly before walking onto the sweltering blacktop for mid-day play. These simple cues sometimes we forget to follow in the overindulgence of self-pity and reclusivity—simple reminders that sometimes you’re the fish, other times you’re the bait. After three months of my own traveling permanence, he forfeited and called it quits. Everything was fine, from what I knew. This is true.
We continued the off-again, on-again ritual that most American’s follow in cultural sway: the hook-up, the lead-up, the end-all, be-all because of uncertainty of feelings. In the end, I’d find a way to continue his spontaneity into my life; I thought I was in love without ever knowing. Filling my knot with inconclusive requiescat, each time seemed a little blither than the previous. This may not be true to him, but this is truthiness in my perception— This is true.
For two years, the continuous sequence of “I miss you” leading to a binding two-week fling complete with an all-expenses paid trip to Staten Island courteous of boredom and failed dating attempts with men who liked the words “supper” and did cosplay at mysterious rave-like, gaming-induced conventions. Each time was elongated by a shoddy, worn-out weekend stay. We’d do things like Dunkin Donuts at 2 A.M. or beer followed by melodramatic sexual intercourse typically ending in a whimper of sunlight due to ephemeral time. I’d find myself worn out from marijuana-induced comas and the entire intake. I’d typically indulge in sweets and force-feed myself bullshit on ferry rides about how it gets better. But, sometimes, it doesn’t. This is true.
The point I am trying to get at is not the course of events, but the words within the events themselves. Similar to a fine-print statement when reading a narcotic script, side-effects were blatant, but always deceivable and lacked prevalence in comparison to the take twice a day as prescribed. Consistently, I was beguiled by diction and locution. “I miss you’s” and “Come cuddle” should have shouted a nationwide disclaimer for those who are deaf, like me, to the perils of allegory. Droning swooned me into the arms of discontentment like chicken to coops. This is true.
Online conversations always ended in hearts followed by “ciao bella” or “dear”. Text messages were sparked in consistency with hearts as well: “I wish you could have stayed, have a good day at work.” But one conversation sticking out deserves to be asserted, deciphered, recognized, and defined:
Me: He cannot understand the term “hooking up”
(Speaking of a previous fling and an ongoing conversation)
Him: The thought of that though twists my stomach
Him: What does he mean to you?
Him: We need to learn to better trust one another.
This is lucrative chaffing, so to say. To look back now and SEE this in its physical state: this is true.
This played consistent with relational dogma for me; the cold-cut “twisting” of intestines upon someone else’s name being vomited upright into normal conversation, the insertion of trust and “one another”. These conversations aren’t congruent to “hooking-up”. This isn’t the type of conversation I would have with OK! Cupid member HockeyGuy52 at a beat-up bar in Hell’s Kitchen by round-about way through intersection of some sort of relational telepathy channeling over the course of fake cheese-induced nachos and a Pabst beer. This also isn’t the type of conversation that would emanate between two people in sexual accommodations lacking all contracts, especially after 2 years of shipping returns.
However, perception is a funny thing. Truth, to me is paired equidistantly with perception. Although my acumen stated doubt, shouting “You’re a moron, when life gives you twenty reasons not to make lemonade with the lemons he supplied, run” I stayed put and made lemon water because my supplies would dwindle by day leaving me only pulp and seeds. Doing what I could with what I had showed my lame acuity for prevailing over relational causes. “When in doubt, throw the bad seeds out” made me think of challenge. Maybe I could take the seeds and replant them, someday harvesting their nurturing, clinically-proven effectiveness. However, all of this proved false.
You will encounter these falsified moments where you dupe yourself on hope throughout your entirety on this planet. You will forget that the way he says “sure” and how he shows up fifteen minutes late to dinner all are articulations of his own deeper processes in his mind, homogenous to his persuasive techniques. From there, it’s your ethical responsibility for yourself to choose what exactly his truth is and what his deceit is. However, truth, in and of itself, is a subjective matter. This, is truth.
My perception ran its course of fooling my own thoughts on truth. I myself, was in turn, fooled by the truth of someone else’s own false perception of himself and the situation—something we fall into the realm of doing without consciously knowing, especially when we are borderline obsessed with the perceptions we think of those who actually turn out to be whom they are not.
But, this is where the responsibility lies in you. Because, similarly in all existential matters, the universe does not give a flying fuck about you. You are the gaucho in your own ring, herding all substantiality to your liking. You can tell Sully McSultry in any case to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine with his “I Miss You’s” if you fight your astute models of affiliation with truth and perception prior to the sinking of your relational Titanic.
The true abyss of truthiness lies in intense communicational elucidation and awareness to overcoming one’s past discernment. In communication, a sender puts out a message while a receiver interprets and spits back out a response: a consistent array of interpretation ranging from disposition to connotation. Truthiness does not lie within others to give us the answers: it lies within us. This is where it becomes hard to put perception aside. Like children waiting feverishly from window pane for a taste of play in the spring-infested air, we allow our new conceptions to associate with Mnemosyne-like past configurations.
Past experiences send cues down our spines; making us intoxicated like fine wine, especially in regards to love. Our perception assimilates general similarities—exalting our brains to envisage the truth of one outcome to the likes of many. For example: lessons from my first love, who was reciprocal on life matters, but divergent in showing emotion in real life, reminded me to look both ways before I leap. However, once I did leap, the leap was worthy. But, his textual cues bared stark similarities to those of Exhibit A listed above. Because of this, my mind bypassed all filtration and assumed his words were truth and his position for leaving was constant wall-building due to aversion. The cycle from one relational situation to the next ties two-and-two together, causing a constant collision. This is where you have to wipe your slate clean like a basal baptism to begin reprogramming. In order to truly move on an interpret correctly, you have to white-out the signature left by previous relational components and strip it bare to find the center-core of truth or else you’ll be in outcomes of previous dismemberment’s.
But certainly, the nucleus of all of this is the fiction we live is the fiction we exude. When you disassemble each word and look closer from overridden perceptions, you can see the beginning and the end. The proprietary lied in self-truth; not the truth of “I’m sorry, I never intended to do you harm.” Things like, “It’s unfair to me going on feeling an extreme extra weight of stress from you,” are proof of self-deprecation. Yes, it truly is unfair to you. You may not have wanted pity, but you can have it. It was also unfair for me to dupe myself into thinking that after many dead giveaways and dead ends, somehow you would find a way to figure out your own self-truth and negate all past experiences. However, I could have ended this sooner for myself by realizing you’re not the end-all-be-all as my mind proclaimed and that the real truth wasn’t my year-and-a-half of self-mutilation to my ego on the basis of “I’m not pretty enough” or “I’m not that girl he wants”, but honestly. I’m not the girl that I want to be if I am going to subject myself to being that self-defeating and thinking so perversely and carelessly when it comes to love. So, maybe you’re right.
“I realized that with everything going on, the things I need to do and focus on, there’s no way that I can rightfully suit your wants and needs in a relationship.”
This is true.
I stand in the belly of the beast, eyeing tracks 1 through 18. A gold clock stands at attention in midst of disposition: everyone has somewhere to be, and no one bothers to say goodbye. Briefcases, suits, and spit-shined shoes scathe across the floor like cats pursuing mice. I eye my watch: 5:15PM. My legs ache for a place to sit as my eyes grow tired of following passerby’s down long, hollowed out corridors. Back to cold marble, I inch slowly down to the floor. The commotion caves in around me while I sit silent, awaiting his arrival.
I sit two inches tall; just another swirl in the marble floor. People fly by as if there isn’t another train or bus in time. I remember; I’m a speck of dust in this cities vast infrastructure. A man answers his cell phone with one hand as the other trails behind, dragging his wailing child along to gate, all the while still maintaining composure to talk business and money over the phone. A tourist snaps pictures of the track board switching arrivals and departures as another admires cathedral ceilings etched in Michelangelo and light turquoise. A homeless man shakes his change cup, humming in opposition of suffering. I stand up and slip a dollar in the cup; he thanks me for my kindness. I walk away contemplating how we must be the only two people in this god forsaken place noticing there are situations worse off than a missed train and a disobedient 5 year old.
I turn to music when the sound deems unbearable. Walking down to the underground concourse, I put headphones in to drown out the sound of laughing teenagers in post-school peppiness. I try to drown out the happy-go-lucky mom’s and dad’s with fanny packs, camera’s around neck, and voices beaming at the chance of a family photo; the dull squeal that protrudes as the cleaning staff works tirelessly to keep the place spick and span. I pass the third set of stairs down to the belly of the beholder, stuck behind a trail of businessmen chatting about their growing hedge funds and equity trades. I raise the volume a few decibels while almost tripping off the last step because of everyone’s knee-jerk, traffic jam reactions. Needless to say, no one noticed.
I pass an aisle of trash covered floors and plant myself in the corner of the food court. The flickering motel decor lighting above barely embellishes a shadow between table and coffee cup. Giving up on trying to outlet through entertainment, I remove my headphones and sit amongst the consumers, eating food like ravaged wolves. Salads, sandwiches, soups, and snacks gulped down with lattes and espressos; each bite seemingly tasteless due to lack of positive expression. Their laptops and tablets all align in a perfect row while extensions cords grow intertwined underneath tables like a clump of overfed worms. One woman is into her work throughout every sip and bite, dropping parts of focaccia onto her lap. I watch the zombies rummage through bags for boarding passes and departure times, checking phones like drones for perfect punctuality. How is one to be late when always living on the go? Out of Charlie’s Steak’s bags and Magnolia Bakery boxes come philosophical underpinnings of rushed eaters whose daily contentment relies on commute down time consisting of free wi-fi and cheap, steal-backed chairs.
I bury myself deep within the catacombs of chaos, wondering if this building has ever had a vacation. I think about when it empties out at night and when that last train leaves—does she shut off her lights and lay in bed knowing tomorrow brings treacherous seas of swift swarms? If these walls could talk, what would be their diction—the compact, business-savvy dialect of the average daily commuter or the disjointed sentence structure of a tourists looking for the nearest bathroom or Starbucks? She is overindulged in everyone’s business as an unwanted bystander. I reenact her memories in my mind ranging from countless tales of each missed train and selfishly scurrying footstep to gates and tracks. Just as my thoughts begin to wander, my guest appears before me. I greet him with a hug, but lose concentration on painted backdrops of swirling cyclones.
Bodies bounce off of each other, churning over in the midst of rush hour. He stares at me for reassurance of pleasure to see him; I nod. That’s enough.
Thanking the golden eye at the center for directive assistance, we make our way toward the exit. I can’t help but look back one last time from the shoddy, brazened doors. The calamity in the grand concourse bounces and echoes off of arches, down the corridor hall. Bustling crowd and marble walls reinforce her rough exterior reassuring me of her emotional stability. I bow out as I bid adieu. There she remains, amongst the cities lit pollution and feverishness; a titan steadfast in the heat of the city’s swell.
“I call floor.”
Flung open in
Spread in convenience
On top of
On half-empty shelves.
13 beer bottles
In a row—
I wander off into;