However, Oneonta Has No Shoreline, but a State-Shaped Pond

I.  The Setting Sun

It is those who beat you down the most that seem to be most remembered.  Those individuals who generate that certain stimulated aggrivation that pushes you to the brink of maddness–they deserve a plaque rather than your wishing upon them a plague.  Why?  They were the only individuals to really understand you.  Those were the persons who never got to know you, but were able to see the type of person you were.  These were the antagonists who found your Achilles’ Heel and danced with the decision of never wanting to actually strike it.  These were the palpable deus ex machina that catalyze the resolve notion, the spark that makes you say, Oh yeah…, with your wearing a big dumb look upon your face.

However, that so-called God-inspired devilled angel gracing you with its presence, bearing the giftwrapped conclusion to the drama your role leads and voilà!:  the answer to your dilemma has a bow on it.  You, my friend, have been saved. 

Oh, they know you alright.  It was they who struck without question.  Those who question, know you have the answer.  These were questions without the grace of a smile safety net.  Getting the question correct or wrong, the result fell upon the shoulders of the asker.  They are teaching you and these questions were to prove if they were getting to you.  Notice the look of disappointment when you answer the question wrong.  Notice how they are elated when you are correct.  It was those who cast statements at you, ending the sentence with a spike instead of a period.  There were no questions to be asked, and it was they who simply wanted to call you out.  These were often said with a smile. 

Get my drift?

In drama, it is those who strike bluntly through greeting, acquaintance, and “trusting” friendship who will get the best of you in the end.  Compared to you truest of friends, this same life process is done without feeling or emotion at all.  Of course, there is feeling and emotion; however, nothing is second-guessed, but natural.  Remorse?  They ask, What does that matter if I come out on top?  With thoughts like that, why do they get offended when they are called parasites?

II.  The Flow

I believe it was google how I came across this link, regarding my poetry mentor:

http://howapoemhappens.blogspot.com/2009/03/richard-frost.html

This will give you an idea of who I am talking about, since he has made it to two or three of my posts.  I guarantee he’ll be in more of them.  I’ve already gone through the ordeal about how he loved to pick apart my poetry.  Every week was always exciting.  Prof. Frost would look at me and shake his head.  I’d smile and he would look at me, saying, Here we go again

Wait.  Stop.  A thought just dawned on me.  Let’s go back to the beginning. 

The first day of class.  When I walked into the room, I was excited to see which of my English majoring friends would be involved with the class.  I had already known that Zach was going to be there, but whenever we see each other we act surprised as if we hadn’t seen each other in a months.  Wayne DeCarr was, also, on hand:  a fellow West Genesee alumni.  There were a few other familiar faces.  However, there were significant unfamiliar faces with grimaces of being in it to win it.  This was a poetry class, not a competition.  How the class was divvied up:  think Breakfast Club.

Frost appeared out of nowhere.  It was like a magic show to him with the surprising, Hey, I’m here!  For an older gentleman, poetry got his gears going; he literally was a well-oiled machine lubed up with oh, that sweet Metamucil.  Actually, Frost stood there and spoke.  I swore he was an actor; he sure sounded like one.  Frost defined being articulate. 

If anyone had to play Frost in a movie:  Christopher Plummer.  Hands down.  They are like twins.   

I digress.  Frost asked us, literally individually, who our favorite poet was.  Where I was sitting gave me perfect placement in the order to respond, avoiding the dreaded repeat answer:  Dickinson, I said.  Frost became Montgomery-Burns-like and maybe uttered a deviant, excellent;  apparently I had a correct opinion.  I wanted to jump up and give him a high-five.  I restrained myself.  My cliché answer put me on the Watch List, not the Shit List.  Being on the Good List, however, comes with expectations.  In the long run, Frost didn’t fret about me doing well; he just did not see me being the pain in the ass that I was.

Frost definitely fit the individuals as I spoke above.  It was hard to see him expecting much from his students, or getting involved with their personal matters.  He had done that already:  his wife, Carol.  Carol was a student of his.  However, love happens in mysterious ways.  Being married, Frost had always put his wife first.  In the classroom, he was a true romantic when speaking about her.  Frost was never hesitant when saying Carol was better poet than he was.  Chivalry is not dead.  I have read both of their works, and it is hard to say who is a better poet.  Both have different writing styles.  This is a package of inspiration.

Frost would call me out in class, but I was never sleeping.  The more he called on me to interpret poems, the more I became aggravated.  I had no idea what some of these crazy kids were writing about.  I started off giving dumb, lighthearted answers along the lines of:  Well, apparently she really likes flowers.  However, I began to take things seriously, giving responses like:  This may stem from the subconscious jealousy he holds against his brother.   Frost approved of my taking things more seriously instead of stating the dumb, obvious statement. 

I think my strongest point came from pictures, looking at pieces of art and deriving a poem based upon what is in front of me.  Frost had utilized this method fruitfully.

In the end:  Frost compiled poems we submitted and after editing them, placed our work into a booklet.  My skin, tougher.  Frost told us:  Congratulations, you’re published.  My spirit, elated.

III.  The Recession

The remainder of the final semester at Oneonta State was a difficult one, personally.  I was preparing for a voyage that there was no turning back.  Hearts would be broken and communication would slip, but people would never be forgotten.  The idea was to have a final party at our apartment on West Street, practically across the street from Hartwick.

It started off well. 

I had invited Zach, Wayne, and a handful of our other English colleagues.  I invited my past roommates (Cliff; Rooney; Ross; and Mike, the one who didn’t make it that night) and friends I knew through them (Leanna the love of Cliff’s life; Rusty; Barnett; and Ricky), who are practically roommates themselves.  The party went off without a hitch.  The games were going and the music was blasting.  Zach and I did a sing-along rendition of Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town by Pearl Jam; the party complimented our harmony, and I don’t even sing.  Later that night, I ran out of our apartment for a moment, running over to Matt’s place on East Street.

Joseph Campbell was looking on, taking notes to justify his The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  Due to it being him, I’m sure he took quite a deal of notes when sizing it up to a reality segment.  The call to adventure begins when the Hero essentially travels West.  In this case, going East to return to the West.  I was no hero in any regard; however, neither was anyone else in this ordeal.  The individuals, when you look at it, wear many hats to classify themselves as the hero or protagonist with the anti-hero or antagonist.  The gray area is implied.

To make a long story short, avoiding any over analyzing, making this entry any longer than it already is being too long, having to have the Monty Python cast–GET ON WITH IT!–Okay, okay.

I return back to West Street to find Cliff and rest of the roommate crew leaving.  I ask them where they are going.  I was gone probably 15 minutes tops.  Cliff tells me that “W” said that he was tired and were probably going up to bed, thus, wrapping up the party.  I asked if everyone was gone.  The reply was, no; there were people present who were staying.  This implied one thing:  my friends were being kicked out. 

Knowing full well my friends did nothing wrong, the core of the last apartment party now completed to full, being past Midnight and crawling into Saturday morning, initiating the warp where time flies faster than the actual deciding to take a step back, where booze-diluted patience yields ferocity:  the guys I lived with were going to get an earful of:  a.) my questioning their motives and pointing out no one else’s leaving, b.) my calling them every name in the book, c.) tear-glazed salted screaming, d.) physical violence, or e.) a, b, and c.

Aside my brother and that little jackass I lived down the street from, I don’t remember the last time I inflicted punches upon anyone.  Instead, I decided to take my aggression out on the wall.  Unfortunately, Zach tried to stop me and took one for the inanimate object.  I accidentally clipped Zach on the lip, and he had to explain to his parents why half of his bottom lip was fiery red.

Alluding to what I said in the beginning of this entry:  this is why Zach and I are great friends–the natural process.

IV.  The Ebb

When I was a junior in high school, like everyone else, college applications are on the mind.  At the height of my interest in environmental science, I wanted to go to a school where this was offered.  We had SUNY ESF here in Syracuse, Paul Smith’s College up north, SUNY Cobleskill, and SUNY Oneonta.  An exciting aspect of the college search is looking on line, judging a college by it’s pictures.  The process was an easy one, visiting all four schools.  I loved Paul Smith’s so much, I ruled out SUNY ESF immediately.  Why?    Sure, it would have been less expensive to live at home and commute, but I wanted to live on campus.  Sure, living on campus would have been interesting; however, I wanted to get out of Syracuse.  I love the Adirondack/Saranac/Placid section of our wonderful state.  When I visited the campus, I was in awe.  It was beautiful, in the mountains, and surrounded by fresh air.  I went on an interview and the gentleman told me there was no reason  I couldn’t get in.  I applied, and I was accepted.

I then took a look at SUNY Oneonta and immediately fell in love with the campus.  It wasn’t as rural as Paul Smith’s, but was near the Catskill region and Cooperstown!  The population was bigger and the tour was fun. It was a mere two hours away from Syracuse and an hour away from Albany and Binghamton; this was convenient if there happened to be an emergency.  I applied, and I was accepted.

With these two schools on my mind,  I took a look at SUNY Cobleskill.  The tour wasn’t as fun and it was overcast.  The campus appeared more desolate than Paul Smith’s, and there wasn’t as much electricity in the air when compared to Oneonta’s.  I applied, and I was accepted.

My top three and honorable mention (ESF) was narrowed down to the final two.  I, of course, chose Oneonta.  There was much rejoicing.

Between my overnight with host, John from Sherburne, NY, and my orientation, the decision had been made to change my major from environmental studies to Education with a concentration in environmental science.  The career councilor said, no.  The major didn’t exist.  I asked, why, hoping the woman would give me options.  To my liking, I could have went with a biology or ecology concentration; immediately, she said biology sounded like the best fit.  I agreed, second guessing that option for the latter; the woman was a councilor, I assured myself, she wouldn’t put me down the wrong path, leading me to realize that I’m going to fail calculus twice, and that I’m not going to get along with my evolution professor.  No.  Why would anyone do that?

I should have said something.  Luckily, my mistakes lead me to English Education.  I walked to my advisor, Dr. Bishoff, and let him know I was opting out of the major.  Shocked, Bishoff commented on how upset that I was breaking up with him.  I told him it was going to be alright and that we can still be friendly to each other when around campus. It was a funny conversation, yet awkward at the same time.

My education professors included Turits and Campbell, allowed me to realize that education was the path I wanted to take.  Dr. Carr, the educational psychology professor helped me realized how to understand teaching methods and the student-teacher dynamic.  Prof. Stearns allowed me to realize that I do have the ability to loathe people and that maybe I shouldn’t be a teacher.  She ruined everything.  I passed her classes, and I was above borderline.  I completed my observations, but not at the schools she suggested.  I went to the English conference in Albany when I was ill and had no sleep; I digress:  Yankees were losing the World Series and Mike kept me up with his charisma, so I attempted to throw water on him.  This is surprising to me when I actually had the audacity to challenge her ethics when she made others breakdown and cry during class.  I’ve never met anyone who brought in a guest speaker, a Syracuse middle school teacher, to inspire and wow us–which he did greatly–and then berate him to a pulp when we were in class the following day. 

Do I still hate her?  No.  Do I wish harm upon her?  No.  Will I say hello to her if I see her at a bookstore.  Of course.  Hopefully, she’ll never remember me to start up conversation.  Stearns did teach me a thing or two:  show up the people who piss you off.  You gotta rise above it.

No God-like schematic will suspend above you in a harness, revealing the answer to your dilemma.  You have no one but yourself.

V.  The Rising Sun

If there is anything I’ve learned:  just learn.  Take a step back, try to rationalize the situation and those individuals involved.  People may mean well, but may put up a front.  People may just not give a crap, and it’s your duty to turn your back and walk away, carrying on what it is you must do.  People may just try to dictate you, try to haphazardly get you to think a certain way and continue on thinking what you are doing is correct or incorrect for that matter; you have to be yourself.  The latter situation, the teacher–I’m using that term loosely–is leading you in the right direction, dangling things in front of your face.  You have to grab the carrot and disregard the uncomfortable situation. 

The path is simple, you get up and start your day no matter the conditions.  You have to interact with people you care about, those you tolerate, and those you cannot stand.  You just have to accept the pain and learning the latter offers. You’ll get more out of it.  It’s like the food chain.  Those lowest on the food chain and lowest in your network contain the most energy and the most knowledge; obtaining it is the next step.  Whether you are sick or well-rested, you have to take on the day with everything you have.  If you have to take a longer shower, do it.  If you’re sick to the point where you are wobbling in place and you’re drooling toothpaste as you brush your teeth, you gotta plug through it.  If you’re requirement is to travel to Albany in a five-person-packed sedan, you all are feeling the same uncertainty.  However, at the end of the day you realize that partaking in a convention, learning teaching methods and how to incorporate reading materials into the classroom, gaining more knowledge from this dangling carrot the dictator thinks will only brainwash you into applauding their greatness with creating you, you will realize you have learned more in five hours than half of a semester.  At the end of the day, that hour-long car ride home with your peers isn’t so bad after all.  You’re tired.  You feel even more drowsy.  You’re elated.

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