Monday, February 21, 2011

Ima get me a fancy schoolin, yes I am.

You know, for the past two years of my college-graduated life, there are two words that have been more valuable to me than any others. And no, they aren't, 'happy hour' (I'm a writer and a waitress, not a real person. Come on!) They in fact happen to be 'grad school'. Ha! I find this to be an excellent realization, because I have not made any attempt, whatsoever, to look into grad school. I have not even thought about applying since I graduated from regular college, so it is peculiar that grad school would be such a strong saving force in my life, but allow me to explain, in a rather long-winded fashion.

My generation seems to be extremely well-educated. Newsweek and TIME and plenty of other society-revealing sources have informed our parents and their friends that everybody's children are sooooo GD smart. We have the highest average SAT scores in history! We have the highest percentage of high school graduates, who then go on to attend college! But somehow, we also have the highest number of unemployed persons with Bachelor's degrees, who can also drink 15 Miller Lites in an hour and a half. It's all really quite astounding information. I mean, clearly we all care about our intellectual gratification and ultimate success. It's totally awesome to be forcefully educated and handed our paid-for tickets to professional triumph by our parents. College was expected of us and we did it! Some of us even took 1-3 extra victory laps to celebrate. (We weren't paying for it, might as well ride it out!) We deserve everything, because look how great we are. We are so smart and great, and should only have the greatest of smart jobs, where we hang out with other smart, great people and get paid smart, great salaries and sometimes do related work.

But sometimes, this doesn't work out. Like for me. I sure do think I'm pretty smartgreat myself, but somehow I'm still a waitress writing blogs in my free time. But listen, everyone: This is where grad school comes in!!!

Grad school is a pretty important institution for some. Going back to school later in life to elaborate on your education is nothing to scoff at, and an excellent opportunity for mid-lifers and almost-old-timers in pursuit of being born again intellectuals. And going on to get your Master's right after college is an excellent way to bypass the rest of us quickly in the work world, and be the shining star on every job application, you assholes! If executed properly, grad school can be your jump-start to a very successful career, in a very cut-throat job market. So, thanks in advance for taking my dream job.

Unfortunately, my undergrad loans kept me living in my parents' basement after college, so grad school wasn't the immediate answer for me. Instead, as you may have concluded, I wasn't met with the instant job success I was hoping for-- even as such an amaaaazing college grad-- so I took a restaurant job to pay my bills, that somehow turned into over a year of waitressing.

I will confess: yes, it is very discouraging to have a degree and not be using it. And I know it could be worse, but I really don't want to work weekend nights anymore, and I don't want to have callouses on my fingertips from hot plates, and I HATE wearing an apron every day, and I don't want to smell like french fries when I go out straight from work to try and desperately salvage my social life.

I want my smartgreat job. And I will find it (I hope). I am, like, the #1 Craig's List viewer/searcher and have written a bajillion trillion cover letters that are all so awesome, but have had no real success yet. In the mean time, since I work in the town I grew up in, I keep running into my friends, their parents and my parents' friends. And even though I think it seems kind of obvious, they always ask me the same thing, "So what are you doing these days?"

So, I brush my calloused peasant hands off on my apron, set down the pile of dirty dishes I'm holding and begin to execute my grand spiel. Aaaand stop-- you know what I've come to realize? Even though I've never even really considered grad school, somehow, grad school is ALWAYSalwaysalways incorporated into my "plan" that I tell to everyone! And you know why? Because as soon as I mention grad school, the opposing party is satisfied, and I'm done telling them about my super boring, frustrating life.

"So, how come you're working here?"

--"Well, I'm paying off student loans, living back at home with my parents, doing some writing and temping here and there."

(Silent nod, possibly accompanied by uncomfortable glazed eyes and lip bite)

--"And uh... yeah. Maybe getting ready for grad school in a year or two."

"Ohhh OK. Great. Grad school. Great, great. That's really great to hear. Great."

When the relief sweeps in after those two magic words are uttered, the effect is really terrific. I could probably say, "Yeah, I'm actually working the streets after my night shifts and pushing a little heroin here and there on weekdays. I killed a cat the other day, and backhanded a stranger's child. Stomped on a butterfly! Yeah, on purpose... but... it's for grad school." And I swear, the person would smile and nod, only hearing those delightfully satiating closing words, 'grad school.' Congratulations!

I fucking love grad school.