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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Pierwalker Log: March 13, 2019

Writing start: 10:25 A.M.
Finish: 3:18 P.M.
Total new words (est.): 400
Edited (est.): 12500
Tasks

1. Failure: Off till 3/16

2. Book Three Melody: 400 new words
Notes: Slow-going again. Probably for the rest of the chapter.

3. Ant Story: Primary edit number four of chapter five

4. Fractalverse V5: Off till next Monday

5Rapscallion: Read-through of chapter one

6. Angel: Book Three: Off till 3/16

7. T-Bag: Primary edit number one of chapter four

8. Rumpel: Off till 3/20

Special Projects:  Transcribing Montaigne: day 2 of 3

Extra notes: So a bunch of richies and celebrities bribed and bought their kids' way into high-falutin' colleges? Is anyone truly shocked? This is Trump's America, after all, where "free market capitalism" is unchained totally from any moral or regulatory infrastructure; where one's self-worth is granny-knotted hopelessly to one's financial worth; where Ayn Rand's dystopian wet dream is allowed to play out to selfish, spasmodic completion; where corporations rule the world; where community is reduced to a cutesy social media term totally devoid of any substance or meaning.

All that said, I must relay to you the following personal story.

When I was a teenager, I was a fairly good swimmer. I was so good that, in fact, I believe one of my school records still stands forty years later. I was good enough that most Division I colleges with men's swimming teams contacted me and offered me scholarships. My mom collected their pamphlets and letters and offers of scholarships and free trips to tour their campuses. The mass of material became so large that she bought this huge binder and stuffed it all inside, but it still wasn't enough, so she had to buy a second one, and then a third one.

There was a problem, however. My school grades sucked. I believe my senior GPA hovered somewhere in the 1.9 to 2.2 range. I had no interest in studying. All I wanted to do was swim.

I contacted the colleges that looked interesting. After the requisite verbal foreplay, I nervously told them about my GPA.

Know what they did?

They "bent the rules" to get me admitted.

In truth, they outright broke them.

My counselor took me aside one day and told me, to my face, that I was "just too stupid" to succeed "in a collegiate academic environment," and that I should confine my studies to "easy classes, like phys-ed or survey courses."

I ended up going to the University of Hawaii on a full-ride scholarship.

I lasted one semester, and then flew home to Colorado.

I didn't flunk out, no. In fact, my report card had all A's and one B on it, for a 3.85 GPA, the highest I'd ever earned in my entire life. I didn't take "easy" classes either: I took the hardest ones freshmen were allowed to take.

I came home because my mom was dying of a terminal illness and I wanted to be with her and help her. She was the one who had insisted I leave town; she was the one who wanted me to continue on with my swimming career. (The local colleges either didn't have men's teams, or their programs were, truthfully, beneath my talents and goals. I know that sounds elitist, but those programs just didn't have the facilities or coaches necessary for me to get faster and stronger.)

But I had no desire to keep swimming. I just wanted to be with her and help her through what I instinctively knew were her final years. (She had contracted the disease more than a decade earlier.)

I was ashamed of what the counselor thought of me, and vowed to prove her wrong. To prove everyone wrong about me. To prove myself wrong, because I too had bought the bullshit that I was just too stupid to succeed "in a collegiate academic environment."

I transferred to the University of Northern Colorado, just half an hour away from home. I refused my father's money (click the link to learn why) and went on student loans and went to work as a gas station attendant, with work hours ranging from thirty a week to over forty. Under that load, and for the following four years, I took full loads of mathematics classes. Why math? Because I figured it was one of the toughest degrees a student could earn. If I could succeed in that academic environment, then I wasn't the dummy that bitch of a counselor and so many around me, including that damning, shaming voice in the back of my head, thought I was.

I graduated four years later with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics, a tougher degree to earn than the Bachelor of Science degree the school also offered, with an A-minus GPA. Graduate schools by that point were sending me pamphlets and letters to tour their college campuses. Some even included possible scholarship offers.

Mom, sadly, died just a few months before I graduated. Along with my work load and class load, I had spent as much time with her as I could, usually twice on weeknights and as much of the weekends as I could manage. I moved home my junior and senior years so that I could be with her even more.

This isn't a defense of those richies and celebrities and their actions. This isn't a defense of the college admissions process, which is as corrupt and unfair as any institutional process in America can be. My father was a moderately wealthy man. I'm sure, like the richies and celebrities, he could've swayed some folks at Colorado State, where he had erected a fair number of buildings, to overlook my dismal high-school GPA. (Colorado State University had, as a side note, axed the men's program the year before I graduated high school, and so wasn't--obviously--on my list of possible candidate schools.)

So what is my point here? To be honest, I'm not sure. My athletic prowess gained me admission to college when my academic sloth should've, by those colleges' own stated rules, kept me out. I successfully gamed the system. Once I got in, I had no interest in swimming anymore, but in being a true student, a successful one, and proving my naysayers wrong. I wanted to earn a real degree. I wanted to work to earn it, and not have someone paying for it. That would've made things much, much easier. I didn't want that. I wanted the hard road. And I got it.

We in this country are slugging it out in an existential battle for this nation's soul, for its very identity: what's right, and what's wrong? Who do we uphold as model citizens, and who don't we? Are we a democracy, or an oligarchy? Does money and riches and fame determine self-worth, or is it honesty, hard work, and persistence? Does our justice system apply equally to all, regardless of wealth or position, or doesn't it? It would hearten me, I'm sure, to read how one of these rich kids, having been admitted to Harvard or Stanford, had then turned around and refused any more help from Mom and Dad; had chosen a challenging, worthy major; had gone to work to support himself; and had earned praiseworthy marks for his efforts. Maybe that's what I'm looking for, ultimately, in all this.

I have no illusions whatsoever that I'll ever see it.

God bless America.



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