Fantasy Time

AlbusIt was such a beautiful day outside I said to Rich, "Say! Let’s ditch this novel writing gig and do something spunky! I have Autumn fever!" And Rich replied, "What did you have in mind?" That was when Mary, kind of contrary and a bit of hussy to boot, came to mind;I remembered that she had her husband dressed up as a ballerina on her site a couple days ago. I said, "Let’s play Hogwarts! You be Albus Dumbledore and I’ll be Luna Lovegood and we’ll fight off the Dementors and then we’ll fly off on the Thestrals…" Finally, I got him out of his downstairs office and away from that incessant Nano nonsense.

Actually, he had to do that professor thing that he does yesterday. Because he teaches at two different universities once or twice a year he has to get all done up for some graduation or convocation activity and I love it when he does. I’ve mentioned here before that he’s either dressed to the nines for some fly-away business meeting or grunting around in sweats and schwag* t-shirts. He dressed nicely on our first date, I’ll give him that, but usually I only see him spiffed up as he’s ducking into a Metro car to leave. And, to be honest,  I most often dress for comfort over style , too.

Anyway, Rich is particularly fond of his doctoral robe and hood because the robe belonged to his maternal grandfather who earned his PhD in mathematics at Cornell University. It is a thing of beauty, with incredible detail and stitching. The hood is from Michigan and clearly you can get a PhD in psychology here and still not quite understand the concept of the hood. (As an aside? This man wrote his dissertation in 6 weeks, start to finish. NOW do you understand why I will have to quit NaNo?)Albus2Detail1

All of this got me to thinking about education. In our family I have the most degrees (3) but none of them particularly educated me for either my work or my life.It was my field work and post grad fellowship in Infant Mental Health that actually got me up and running. I still aspire to a PhD in Natural Resources, a complete change of direction. It would be my retirement PhD and I’ll probably get to bring another ground breaking discrimination suit against U-M, this one on the basis of age. Can they refuse you if you have advancing dementia? That doesn’t seem right, does it?

My mother and step-father both have college educations and they were both teachers. One step-sister and both sisters have college educations. Betsy has the distinction of being the only PhD in my family of origin and I’m trying to remember now what color her hood was (Betsy?); she can be a real procrastinator but she managed to accomplish something the rest of us haven’t and I’m very proud of her. My brother came within a hair’s breadth of a degree in art and then went all 70s; he’s a gifted commercial artist without a degree.

My father went into the war in the Pacific when he was but a baby, came out, married and had three children before he was Daniel’s age- no college for him. He was a very successful "self-made" man rising in the ranks at Ford Motor’s tractor sales division and later becoming a small business owner who did well until the oil business burned the economy in Oklahoma. That was tough because he believed very strongly that if you just worked hard enough you could be successful and he certainly didn’t believe in public assistance in any form. Bankruptcy represented failure of Biblical proportions and he was an older person in a changing and youthful profession. We had our own version of Willy Loman in the family until he settled down to become a house husband, grandfather and master model ship builder while his wife and daughters worked. I’ve always admired that final adaptation he made as much as anything.

As far as the children go, Dan has a degree from U-M and is getting started on a Masters although it’s not clear yet how formal education and being a musician fit together. Anna, my stepdaughter, has actually gone to college in a field where she can use it- child development and early education. Melissa, my other stepdaughter, has an associates degree but she’s still at that point where she’s trying to find her direction. And Abby?  She’s having an absolute blast at college. She loves the acquisition of knowledge in and of itself; with that girl the medium always IS the massage. And she’s living near the water which works out well for amphibians. She’s rumbling about law school and environmental policy.

So what role does education play in your immediate and extended family history? Is formal education all it’s cracked up to be or have you succeeded without it or in spite of it? I know you have some good stories. Let’s hear them. Comment or post and link!

*schwag: (Wikipedia) A slang term for promotional items, usually given away for free.
Speaking of education, my most favorite teacher wrote one of her best ever pieces the other day. I live in stark terror that Mamacita is going to come over here and leave red marks and checks all over my blog, especially with my penchant for bad punctuation. This will take you to one of the smartest and funniest reads you’ll find this month- and it will make you thankful anew that we have good teachers out there like Jane and Mary and Margaret and Bonnie and all the others in our b**g neighborhood. Now that I think about it, I do hang with a lot of very fine teacher bloggers…
BabyYes, yes. Baby fix time. Do you know anyone who has ever had a new baby at Halloween that didn’t dress them up? I don’t. But Alexis was only home that very day so her daddy, who is a google-y eyed mess over this girl, found this left over outfit half price when he made his first diaper run out into the world. Little pumpkin, indeed. I ask you- does this look like a week old baby? Happy 1 week to you, little girl!



24 responses to “Fantasy Time

  1. Formal education and musician go together. My brother has his BA in music from Olivet Nazarene College and a master’s degree in voice performance from New England Conservatory of Music. It always helps to be versed in a variety of music. He sings operaa but also worked in Broadway musicals. The house opera singers in Linz did a benefit performance where they sang not only opera pieces but jazz, broadway, and Stephen did one of those “lounge singer” type songs…sort of Frank Sinatra type. The more education in a variety of music forms the better.

    Yes, that is an interesting use of the “hood”. LOL

    And of course the little Alexis is as cute as a bug in a rug in her little pumpkin outfit. She will be SuperGirl by next year or maybe her favorite “granny” will make her a costume. I made my nephew a Humpty Dumpty one when he was two. He would kill me if I had the picture, but either it is in storage or Gayle never gave me one. Maybe you could knit her one…like a big strawberry and put stuffing inside. You can do it.

  2. Spiffy (and) Rich indeed. Swell-lookin’ rags, I’d say. Six weeks to PhD dissertation? How many thesaurisi did he wear out?

    Say, Kid, the links for Jane, Mary, etc. don’t work for me. I already visit Bonnie and Margaret, and am not sure about the other two. I also am a regular at Mamacita’s — she’s super. Thanks for the fix or a note to me.

  3. Great pics. He does belong in Hogwarts. And that baby is TOO CUTE!!!

  4. Hoss-Thanks for the heads up on the links- linkage wasn’t awake yet when I wrote that post, I guess. They’re fixed now.

    Roxanne- I need all the reassurance I can get about the life of a musician.

    Hi again, Lucinda! I’ll be by later. I’m going to the cottage tonight and attempting to get all the way through my list plus newcomers. It will be nice to just read what other people think and not be writing.

  5. I am honored to be in the presence of those other fine teacher bloggers.Thank you for the mention! In my family, both my parents are college-educated teachers; my much younger brother has a degree that he doesn’t really use. I am a firm believer that no higher level education is ever wasted though. My husband has no degree; his single mom didn’t have the money, he didn’t have the desire, and so,he went into the military. He makes between 2 and 3 times the amount of money I make,while loving his job. He is an amazing craftsman. My other two brothers died before they could ever go to college. One of them probably would have, and one wouldn’t.

  6. My paternal grandfather was valedictorian of his class at U. of M. and roomed with Fred Waring. His degree was in Business. He was a surveyor, owned a crane company, and was a self-made millionaire. My father has a B.A. in business from Michigan State and owned his own business machine and bicycle business (Williamston!). My mother has a home economics degree from Eastern Michigan U. She taught high school home economics, English, and American history. My sister has a B.A. in Fine Arts from U. of M. She is an accomplished artist. Hubby has his Masters in math from M.S.U. and had a full music scholarship during his stay there. He is an amazing violinist and a Technical Fellow and engineer at Boeing. My father-in-law has a Ph.D. in Economics. He was an agricultural (I know what you’re thinking…) economics professor at M.S.U. My mother-in-law didn’t go to college and is the most well-educated person I’ve ever met. She is a homemaker and mother of six college-educated children (ALL SPARTANS!) I have a B.A. in Music Performance. I teach art history, music history, and yoga. My eldest daughter has a double degree from Southwest Missouri State and Blaise Pascal Universitaire in France and holds a high position with the French Chamber of Commerce in New York City. She taught herself French from some old tapes while being home-educated. My son-in-law has a Masters degree in engineering from Purdue. He is a Boeing engineer and patented inventor. My second eldest daughter has a degree in Philosophy from U. of WA and is restoring old homes and attending city council meetings in Albuquerque. Somebody stop me!

    That beautiful babe! She reminds me of Woody Guthrie’s “I’ll eat you, I’ll drink you, yum, yum, yummy, yummy, yum!”

    Rich looks great in the mortar board and beautiful robe!

  7. That baby looks like she is at least 3 mos. old. My boss has twin neices who are now 4 mos. old, and they were “red hot chili peppers” at Halloween. Just too cute.

    My degree is in English and hubs is in Philosophy (but he tells everyone Business). Considering that I am a florist, I suppose I could have been successful without a degree, but I am glad I have one. Writing proposals to brides about their wedding flowers is easier when you know the language (even if we do forget punctuation and grammar)!
    My son’s degree is in Economics (he sells insurance). My older daughter majored in Accounting and changed it to business; now she helps her husband in his home-based business and is a great money manager. My younger daughter majored in Poli Sci and Spanish and then went to law school. I was the first in my family to go to college, except for some of my mom’s siblings.

  8. Education:
    My dad has a BA in religion from Asbury College. My ex’s father also has a similar degree from Bethany Nazarene College in Oklahoma. They both were in the same class of ’55 in seminary so Paul and I were in the same place at the same time when we were three, but our folks did not know each other. The seminary work resulted in master’s degrees for both.

    My mom has her BA in music and music education. Over the years she took course work and finally earned a Master’s in early childhood education. She has taught high school music, 4th grade, 2nd grade and her favorite for over 30 years, 1st grade. My ex-mother-in-law went to Bethany but did not get a degree. She worked as a teacher’s aid and slowly worked on her BA in education. She finally graduated in 1978 the same year her son got his MS degree, her daughter got her BA degree, her son-in-law graduated from nurse anesthetist school and her daughter-in-law got her M.D. degree. Poor JE (her hubby) was the only one that didn’t graduate that year.

    My ex earned a BS in Math, a separate BS in Physics, a MS in Physics and a PhD in Physics. He works as an engineer for Lockeed Martin doing something. (Note: PhD’s in Physics look down on engineers, but now he “are” one. This makes life interesting because Mike, his sister’s second husband is an engineer and earned his PhD in engineering in 1990. He worked with a physician at Southwestern Med School to develop a computer model for breast cancer that could take clinical variables and help assess risk for recurrence and thus suggestions for treatment. Paul and Mike do not get along.)

    I earned a BS with a double major in Zoology and Chemistry. (I always said that between my ex and I we covered the entire science building. This may be why Nyssa is majoring in English)
    I received my M.D. degree from UT Southwestern in Dallas. Residency after that in Pathology.

    Paul’s sister now has her Masters in education and is a principal in Fort Worth.

    Nyssa (as previously noted) is trying to do a double major at William and Mary. (Spent the first year at University of the South) Majoring in English and possibly Geology (Meteorology). If she does she will have to take both Physics and Chemistry so maybe she will incorporate a little from both of her parents after all.

    Last, but certainly the most famous of us all (tongue-in-cheek) is my brother, Stephen. BA in music from Olivet Nazarene College, MS in voice performance from New England Conservatory of Music, apprenticed at Lyric Opera in Chicago, 9 years touring with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera”, 3 years as house Helden tenor in Linz, Austria and now on his own and pretty much booked solid for the next three years. He lives in Vienna but only spends two months a year at most in his apartment there.

  9. The baby looks very alert. My children were also very alert and you could almost see their personality in their eyes. She is gorgeous.

  10. Dressing up babies as happy pumpkins is one of life’s little pleasures.

    Great pictures.

  11. Hea, I just wanted to let you know (sniff) that neither one of our blogs was listed in the Ann Arbor News Reader’s Showcase of the Best of Ann Arbor. The winners were announced last week.

    First place blog was The second place was Third was The last one is a political blog.


    Angelo’s was named the best breakfast spot. Go Angelo’s! I saw Lloyd Carr there once.

  12. I’m too braindead right now to answer all your intriguing questions, V. Suffice to say, my Hermione would have loved to play with Rich’s Dumbledore last week when we, too, were in high Hogwart’s mode.

    Yes, you have to dress your baby up for its first Halloween. I think that’s a law.

    How’s Nano going?

  13. Rich looks quite nice and that baby needs 50 bajillion smooshy kisses!!!!!!!!

  14. Holy moly. I had no idea you were nanoing, too. It’s been too long since I visited. See what that NaNo does to you? It’s an insidious beast.

  15. Here’s a novel idea: Update your blog!

  16. Hmmmpphh.

    I have decided I don’t like this damn Nano thing. Yeah, I guess photos of cute husbands and babies in dress up clothes should be enough to hold me over, but I *miss* you. Updates have been demanded. Bonnie has spoken and I have chimed in.

    Oh, that education question. Right. Thus far the formal education has not superseded the school of hard knocks.

  17. Would you LOOK at how many commenters you get?! Lucky girl! What a smart family you have over there! I think I am the only one that doesnt have a degree in my family, and not because I dont want one. I just dont have one. Cute baby!

    Go look at my picts!

  18. Why, you sweet thing! Thank you for those kind words! They are much appreciated, and that’s a fact.

    Also, that baby is unutterably beautiful. I want one of those. I wonder if menopause is reversible.

    Somehow I think not, which is good, because who would be raising those babies anyway?

    Anyway. Thank you for being such a lovely person.

    Oh, and I’m not getting anywhere with my NaNo either. I’m going to order the shirt anyway, though. Tee hee.

  19. The baby is gorgeous. I have not been able to access your blog for one week–I don’t know why, it just would not work. Now, to your education question. I am the first person in my immediate family to go to college, and I started in my forties. My undergraduate program was the best. My graduate education, however, sucked big fat rocks. I could have stayed in NY State and paid SUNY tuition instead of paying a fortune for the education(?) I got at Washington University in St. Louis.

  20. (Mamacita – menopause is not reversible nor do we want it to be. I love you, woman, but don’t mess with menopause because she is a bitch.)

    I believe in higher education – for the wonky bookish. In my ideal world, trade professionals would have just as much worth in this culture as the college educated. My husband, however, would heartily disagree if the ‘merchant class’ is included in the category of ‘trade professional’. He had colorful but largely negative experiences working in hardware stores and bakeries as a teen in Brooklyn. This may account for his success and ambitions in academia. Hubs earned a Ph.D. in Human Physiology from City University of New York. Of this, I am proud to say that I married a scientist, and a well groomed, hip one at that. There are no plastic pen protectors in his possession, though he used to house his TI Scientific Calculator in a holster on his belt. And yes, I apologize for that visual.

    My siblings all have BAs. One sister has an MFA in printmaking. We keep cajoling to get her to etch out a reasonable lithograph of a C note, but she refuses us every time. Spoil sport.

    I have a BA in English Literature from San Francisco State University, a department far superior to UC Berkeley and Stanford combined. We alumnus of SF State are indebted to the legacy of the San Franciso Beat Poets for that honor. Two years after graduation, it dawned on me that a BA in the humanities was the first cobblestone on the path to long term restaurant employment. Therefore, I returned to school, the aforementioned UC Berkeley, in fact, to do their post-baccalaureate pre-medical school curriculum. And there I went, careening from one side of my brain to the other. I did well in zoology/chem/o-chem/biochem/physics/microbio as I’m a total wonk and studied like a madwoman while working my restaurant jobs. I did not sleep in those two years; I lived on lattes. Then I did the MCATs and scored well, but then realized I would be a horrible physician for a myriad of reasons, one of them involving extreme self doubt. So, I threw away my microbiology flash cards. The next thing I knew, I was working for an ad agency as a copywriter.

    Go figure.

    Vicki, to answer your question, for me, education was all that it was cracked up to be and more. I returned to the sciences after the copywriting adventure (that lasted one year. an industry full of assholes and I was well on my way to becoming one, too)and worked in R&D for medical devices, then as a science writer and editor, then as a researcher. I had work requiring me to fire up both sides of the noggin simultaneously. And, though that sounds like a bad LSD trip, I was immensely grateful that I found niche jobs that required both editorial skills and an understanding of research methodology. Then I was laid off in Jan 05 from my last company, a biotech start-up, and have been a stay at home mom ever since.

    There is no moral to the story except that this should have been a Goddamn blog post on my own punky site. But still, there’s a lot to be said about saying hi to our Vicki and leaving an exhaustive comment on her blog, don’t you think?

  21. 30 some years ago, I thought about becoming a teacher, but I was put on academic probation in my first year at school and flunked “Principles of Education” in my second year. 11 years, five colleges and two professional licenses later, I finally graduated with a BS in social science.

    Which reminds me. Rich once said:

    BS — well everybody knows what that is.
    MS — obviously, that’s More of the Same.
    And PhD? Piled higher and deeper.

    Anyway, so now I teach at the University where this all started. Irony. Isn’t that the tool you use to smooth out the wrinkles in life?

  22. I have a lot of mixed emotions on the importance of higher education. I did get my BA in Education and Human Behavior. And what am I doing now? Besides writing out a check every month for a student loan? I’m a secretary. My husband on the other hand has taken a few college level classes but makes almost 3 x what I do. He works in IT for the government. Bitter? You bet. If I had to do it again I would NOT have gone to college.

    Also, being an Education major does not necessarily mean that they teach you HOW to teach. Very frustrating. Clearly, I have some resentment towards my alma mater.

  23. I have a lot of mixed emotions on the importance of higher education. I did get my BA in Education and Human Behavior. And what am I doing now? Besides writing out a check every month for a student loan? I’m a secretary. My husband on the other hand has taken a few college level classes but makes almost 3 x what I do. He works in IT for the government. Bitter? You bet. If I had to do it again I would NOT have gone to college.

    Also, being an Education major does not necessarily mean that they teach you HOW to teach. Very frustrating. Clearly, I have some resentment towards my alma mater.

    I grew up with parents and others telling me that if I wanted to “be anything” college was the way. Well, I did everything according to the book and I see people left and right far more successful than me.

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