I hit the August doldrums and haven’t recovered yet. When was my last blog post? Can’t remember and I don’t feel like looking it up. I’ve got plenty of thoughts running around the track in my brain, none of them sublime or beautiful or remotely insightful. Typical human ponderings, such as this: why can’t my son rinse his dishes? Is it so much to ask that he rinse the food from his plate or bowl, clean out the fucking sink and throw the refuse in the compost bucket? The kid’s smart but this simple task is beyond his capability. This is the kid, who recently turned 18 and celebrated his birthday by getting a tattoo on the inside of his right bicep, a quote from Emily Dickinson, rejecting sage advice from his old man to wait and think about what those words will look like in 20 years. Might as well have been pissing into a tornado – the kid is smarter than me, more worldly and in touch with what’s real. I don’t know shit.
The boy isn’t going to Southern Oregon University after all. We drove to Ashland in June for orientation, rubbed elbows and backsides with nervous incoming freshmen and their neurotic helicopter parents, got the kid registered for classes and waded deep into the cesspool that is financial aid; this last bit put the Fear in me, big time. The idea of taking out a parent loan that we would be paying off for the next decade or so made my stomach clench. Loading up with education debt is the American way, part and parcel of the racket of higher education in this wayward capitalist nation. We stood at the precipice, ready to sign, ready to pack the Honda CRV and drive the kid back to Ashland, help him move into his dorm room.
And then the boy announces that Southern Oregon was sending him the wrong vibe, telling him to back off, stay away, retreat and regroup. I admit – it was hard to accept and I was ticked off. I liked SOU because it was a liberal arts school with only 7,000 students in the beautiful Rogue Valley, with downtown Ashland less than a mile away, and I made the mistake of thinking that my kid could attend this school and avoid getting lost in the crowd, that he might – in spite of his propensity for self-sabotage – have a college experience that would buoy him for the rest of his life.
Joke’s on me, the idiot daddy, although all along I wanted the boy to attend Santa Barbara City College for two years and then transfer to Southern Oregon or the American University of Paris or Bennington or wherever, saving a boatload of money in the process. Shit, kids flock to the American Riviera from Japan and China and Taiwan and Norway for the sole purpose of attending the esteemed Santa Barbara City College, and my son is here, with a place to live, a room of his own, and he looks this gift horse in the mouth and says, no way, man, I ain’t going.
He found gainful employment at a local coffee house, but of course he hates the work, his supervisor, rising at 4:30 a.m. in order to open the joint at 5:00, when only the homeless and Mexican day laborers are stirring on the streets of SB. He grinds beans and cleans equipment, sweeps the floor, wipes down the counters, then returns home and sleeps for 14 hours.