October 7th, 2011


Places to Go

We were taking a ten-mile hike in January 2008 through the Morgan-Monroe State Forest when we came upon this interesting bit of artwork. This is a rare instance of visual art in connection with outhouses; usually, outhouse art is more in a literary mode, though sometimes there is some primitive (and NSFW) line art accompanying it.

Curt ready for the cuffs Curt ready for the cuffs Privies at camping resort

(For those who can't make the connection between the privy's blazon and Curt's performance art, the painting is advertising a bail bondsman's services and Curt is pretending to be surrendering to the police. Click on the pic to enlarge it.)

How much does a Masters in Street Theater cost?

When I was pursuing my doctorate, there was a professor in our department who routinely told students, both graduate and undergraduate, "Bet on yourself!" He meant by that that going into debt for student loans would inevitably pay off. I thought the kindly old professor's advice smacked of hucksterism. I took out as few loans as I could, as did Deanne. She finished her bachelor's degree a year before I finished my doctorate; within a few years, we had paid everything off.

Does this mean that our degrees led to well-paying jobs? No. I tell people that I have an "ornamental" degree, since my PhD is in Secondary Education: Curriculum and Instruction, which adds nothing to my credentials as an elder in The United Methodist Church. Oh, it may enhance my ministry, I dare say, but in a professional sense, I am not working in the field of my most advanced degree. For that matter, I have three degrees in three different academic fields (A.B. in English, M.Div., Ph.D. in SDED), and those three together wouldn't make a composed three-course meal on Chopped.

Meanwhile, Deanne also has three degrees in three different fields. Her A.S. in Radio/TV Broadcasting led only to part-time jobs and she left that field behind years ago. Then she earned a B.S. in Technology. She wound up working in a factory. Her latest endeavor is an M.A. in Counseling. She is currently working three different volunteer jobs, trying to rack up the 3,000 hours of supervised counseling necessary for her license. She has not been able to land a paying job in her field.

Do we feel cheated? No, far from it. Ours have not been usual paths through the groves of Academe, but we are better people for our various degrees. But when the world didn't beat a path to our door just because we had some fancy degree, we kept on doing what we knew worked. We never took on so much debt that we couldn't crawl out from under it. We never missed a payment on a student loan; in fact, we owe nothing on any of our degrees.

So, we have little sympathy for those "occupying Wall Street" because they feel cheated after going $80,000 in debt for a degree in Women's Studies. If that's what you really, really wanted to study, okay. But was it worth going into hock that deep? And don't gripe if there isn't a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. At the end of the day, we've all got to go to work (at whatever we can find), pay our debts, and make something out of our lives. People who do THAT are the 99%. Sitting around lower Manhattan bitching doesn't look like much of a career path, let alone a life plan, but I guess it's all the 1% can come up with.