As stated in the previous post (A HAS-BEEN THAT NEVER WAS), I did not anticipate graduating from college. My ambition was to be in a touring band. However, I knew the complaints of my parents would not cease without a diploma. Reluctantly I acknowledged that my mother and brother were at a particular university with matching majors and I decided to do likewise.
At this point, “art” was unresolved in terms of serious academia and livelihood. Multiple teachers had spent years criticizing my drawings and even family disregarded my products as incoherent things.
That is, until my senior year of high school when an art teacher began to admire my paintings. One day he grabbed a stack of paper, walked to my desk, and challenged to see how many drawings I could produce in an hour.
We spent the entire class period tossing ideas back and forth. During the following months I experimented with materials exponentially and produced large bodies of work each week. I had complete freedom in the studio and often labored on personal projects without due dates.
Upon graduating high school I went on to study Elementary Education with a minor in Studio Art. After two years it was time for me to take the Praxis examination. Despite a lack of sleep and naive ego I scored well beyond the median of peers on the first part. Yet, I managed to fail part two by a single point. The chagrin and abhorrence of such a moment is difficult to misconstrue. Seated in a cubicle, staring at the computer monitor, with stern disbelief …
The results demanded that I wait a semester before entering the School of Education. However, my concentration requirements were almost fulfilled and I despised thoughts of returning to a classroom. Therefore I became an Art Design major in the spring of 2009, which involves further explanation.
The spring of 2009 presented other substantial changes. My first serious relationship ended after four years of dating, I moved out of my parents’ house for the first time, my brother was married, and I had a promising job. However, my education and jobs were in opposite directions from my home and the miles destroyed my car.
The 88 Legend began to burn excessive amounts of oil. Clouds of exhaust fumes would consume the cabin if I turned the air conditioning on. The sunroof produced a flooding waterfall in response to rain.
Since the age of fifteen I had been working toward owning a respectable car, which is why I worked as often as possible, even at the expense of neglecting academic and social opportunities. In 2008, I was approached with an offer to earn a salary. I accepted the job and bought a car that stripped my finances bare. Adding insult to injury, I discovered that salary meant I no longer qualified for overtime. Not that I cared, my Honda made me feel like a rich kid, though my sixty hour work weeks seemed to contradict the feeling. Although to be fair to my employer, the off-season was different. Salary was a reasonable agreement because I was paid the same whether working sixty or twenty hours a week.
Back to 2009
School was on the decline for me. I was constantly being asked to draw things I didn’t care about, and taking courses that seemed to have no relevance to my life. Which is odd to complain about considering I read books like Meditations on First Philosophy by Descartes for fun in-between classes. On the other hand, I was facing prospects of pursuing a career that had bought my car and was paying my bills. When it became time for pools to be inspected, my boss needed more of my time. I decided to drop a class in order to appease her, thinking I could find another class at a different time. However, it was too late in the semester to add a new class and I was unable to re-enter the one I had dropped. I was thus considered a part-time student and my financial aid was taken away.
Consequently, I became a college dropout.
This setback was actually fun, with freedom to pursue the concepts I had stockpiled through the years. During 2009-2010, I recorded albums worth of music, produced a plethora of art pieces and began selling my literary work to strangers. I also began refinishing and modifying guitars and was introduced to the world of guitar luthering.
Unbeknown to me, it was during this time that I became friends with my future wife. However, that is far too complicated to discuss at this point. (MY LOVE STORY)
It had been a year since I left, and it did not appear that I was going back. One day the owner of a coffee shop gave me a call. A customer there had purchased my book and CDs and wanted to discuss my future plans. She admitted to knowing someone in the Financial Aid Department at a local University, and she believed I should attain my art degree.
We began the application process late in the year, but I was accepted for fall admission. However, because of the late start, most of their grants had already been dispersed and I only had a month to come up with $18,000. I received multiple letters from the university stating if the bill was not paid in full by the registration deadline, I would be dropped from my classes. It didn’t matter, I was counting on God to save the day.
Four hours before the deadline, financial aid covered half of the tuition, but it wasn’t enough. I called the financial aid department to tell them I could not pay the bill, was transferred around a cycle of people, but then had an unexpected conversation with the President of the university. We discussed possibilities and I was set to resume my academic education in the spring of 2010. I was once again excited about going to college but I could not ignore my blatant struggles with financial debt.
Leading up to this point, being fall of 2009, car problems took control of my life. I was faced with the dilemma of not having a ride to work, yet not being able to pay for repairs without going to work. I went to my bank for a loan and they gave me a credit card instead. The car repairs amounted to half of my credit limit, which was designed by the banker, but the interest quickly multiplied beyond my control. I had turned to hating the pools and was desperately trying to find a financial use for my talents. At home I was struggling to remain friends with my roommate, despite his car being my primary means of transportation.
Throughout the span of following months I endured variety in ways I would have rather avoided. Times I had to ignore hunger pains while paying bills with debt I could not repay. Times when I could go into any grocery store and buy as much food as I wanted using cash. Times that I felt truly popular and supported, and others when my best friends were guitars and a keyboard. I cut ties with a lot of people, and they still remain distant today.
I lost my job with the pools, quit talking to my roommate, and realized my father’s health was declining. Everything seemed to direct me towards moving back in with my parents after a year and a half away. My plan was to finish my BFA in Art/Design, then continue my education in Charlotte for Audio Engineering, and finally move to San Diego.
While researching schools in Charlotte, I found one in Raleigh with the program I was looking for. I inquired about the school and a representative called me within a day. Three days from that conversation, I toured the campus and discussed the program with the representative. I informed Elon University that I was no longer planning to attend the spring semester, and prepared to move once more.
Soon after submitting my portfolio I was admitted into the Audio Production and Design Program at a college in Raleigh. However, shortly after my twenty-third birthday, I found myself watching another door close. Not wanting to go further in debt, I abandoned my previous plans.
Three months later, my father passed away.
He was larger than life, well over six feet tall, weighing over three-hundred pounds. With incredible intellect he would often speak of the past in relation to the future. That was the man I knew, a startling contrast to the frail man I found upon my return home.
I still remember visiting him in the hospital, strapped to a bed with wires connecting his body to monitoring systems. The doctors decided to send him to Chapel Hill for further procedures. He would confess to my brother that he was a terrible father, but with sincerity claim to one day be a wonderful grandfather. I remember spending time with him on a Thursday afternoon. I told him the circumstances were not so bad, and that everything would be all right. The next morning I received a call at work from my brother. By the time I arrived at home, swarms of strange people had already been gathering. I had watched my father rapidly deteriorate over a five month period. His heart had given out.
My mom’s father followed three weeks later, two weeks before her birthday.
It’s been ten years since my father passed away. (SPEAKING OF MY FATHER’S DEATH)
If you are still reading this, I assume you have some interest in the stories. However, I do want to wrap this up. While I was a dropout my father would reiterate his desires for me to go back and finish my degree. In honor of his wishes I did go back and I have a BFA hanging on a wall in my home. Yet, here I am planning to acquire a different degree from a different school. What will happen this time?