I Lost Respect For These Academic Elites When They Berated My University

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After Ten Years I Prefer Learning Experiences That Do Not Dead End

Hanging Out In Ottawa

July 8, ‘77

It was three dollars a night to stay at the hostel, and an added dollar if you ate breakfast in the morning. The food was great, too. I was a real tourist now. Yesterday was an especially good day for me. After I watched the changing of the guard (an English holdover I guess) I took off for the Art Museum. On my way there, I stopped at the Photo 77 exhibit. I spent an hour viewing the photography and then another hour or so, trying to figure out how holograms were put together. I never did figure it out, and I left exhausted.

A few blocks down the street I found a small pub. I felt right at home, as I drank my thirty-cent drafts, listening to a room full of old men talk French. I spent the whole afternoon playing pool with a couple of the old guys. I never did get to the museum. With 25 cents left in my pocket and almost drunk, I left the pub and went back to the hostel, and cooked up the steak I had waiting for me (there was a community fridge, so I put it to use). I was out of money, but I wasn’t too worried because I knew more money would arrive in the morning. After dinner I watched TV, and turned in early.

After morning breakfast, I walked down to the bank to pick up my money. The guy behind the counter told me it hadn’t arrived. It was Friday, and I had already waited four days for the money. I wasn’t happy. With only twenty-five cents in my pocket, and only a slight chance the money would arrive on Saturday, the thought of getting through the whole weekend without any money was not a pleasant one. After I left the bank, I stopped at a bakery and, with my last quarter, bought a hard crust of bread. At that point, I didn’t even know if I had a bed to sleep in. It took a little friendly persuasion (something I didn’t like to do), but in the end I was permitted to keep my bed at the hostel (on credit) until Monday.

The next day, I took off early for the same Art Museum that I never made it to the day before. The museum made me forget that I was broke. I especially liked the part devoted to the works of the Canadian Seven. At the turn of the century a group of artists got together and mixed impressionism, abstract art, and realism in an attempt to capture their feelings of the great north woods. They went on major painting expeditions in Quebec’s Algonquin wilderness area, and along Ontario’s Lake Superior shoreline. The results were stunning. If it wasn’t that I needed to get to the bank for one last shot at my money, I definitely would have stayed longer.

Outside the museum, it was time to eat my last chunk of bread, so I walked over to where there was a peaceful looking mound of green grass and sat down. A couple young teens came up out of the trees from behind me, and asked me if I wanted a piece of cheese to go with my bead. They were hanging out on the other side of the trees, in a gully next to the museum. I helped them eat their cheese and pickles. Apparently, the fellows used the isolated gully as their home away from home. They survived on stolen food from nearby markets.

When they invited me to hang with them, I politely declined. Ten years ago I would have jumped at the chance. Back then I looked at everything as a learning experience, but now, even though I was lonely and without money, I was inclined to pursue more relevant learning experiences, ones that didn’t dead end before they got started. Once again, I thanked the lads for their generosity, and walked away. From the top of the hill, as I turned for one last goodbye, I noticed that their attention had turned to practicing knife throwing. They were trying to stick knifes in an empty potato chip canister lying on the ground. They never did look up, and, I might add, they were terrible knife throwers.

At the bank, I went up to the teller’s window, and told my sad story. The guy was not sympathetic. After a few rude comments, he left his post; I assumed to get the answer to my question. When he came back, he was not helpful. In fact, he left me with the impression that my money might never come. That was not what I wanted to hear. With my voice rising in decibels, I asked for clarification. I ended up explaining my situation, once again, to the new guy who had stepped in to prevent a scene. He told me he would call my Credit Union in order to make sure the money was sent. For some strange reason, he ended up calling to confirm that the money had been sent, not once, but twice. When it was all over, the asshole gave me a $25. advance (minus the $3. taken out for the two phone calls) on the $100. I still had to wait till Monday to pick up the rest of my money. I was not happy when I left the bank.

July 9

Last night, back at the hostel, this guy came in and asked if anybody wanted to go to work painting houses for him. He got a couple takers, including me. But, after finishing a cup of coffee with him this morning, I’m not so sure his offer was legitimate. The guy was upfront about what he was doing—coning the government. His con was to hire illegals and pay less than minimum wage. Joe, as he called himself, paid his employees after the work got done, and the government got nothing. To be sure, it was a scam. My problem was in trying to figure out which side of the scam I was going to be on. Last night, when Joe presented his shtick, he told me I would make $2.75 per hour. During morning coffee, he upped the wage to $4.25. I found it hard to believe that my amicability was worth the extra $1.50 per hour. Joe was not shy about talking about his other schemes, either. He also ran a Christmas card scam where he t
ook the money and ran. I wasn’t going to count my money until it was in my hand. At the very least, out of the scam, I hoped to get a ride to
Toronto. That’s where the houses were that needed painting. We were supposed to leave on Tuesday, which worked out good for me, since my money was supposed to arrive on Monday.


Beautiful Ottawa Park

July 10, ‘77

Yesterday, I spent five hours in the Museum of Science and Technology. The main attraction was the Soviet Union’s three man orbiting space capsule on loan to the museum. It was amazing. My five hours were well spent. It was different from the time I spent in the Art Museum, however. At the Art Museum I was awed, while in the Science Museum I spent most of my time considering and deliberating. The combined experience of the two museums was remarkable.

There were plenty of bicycle trails in Ottawa, but today was the first time I hopped on my bike since I arrived. It felt good. Any biking before today would have been a chore. I had been told this city was an innovator in catering to the silent two-wheeled clan, and now I’m sure of it. I’m presently sitting on some rocks overlooking waterfalls on the Ottawa River.

Right after I found this marvelous place, three young university Professors had found their way to the same panoramic view that I was enjoying. I was sitting just off the path, but I could hear their conversation reasonably well. I found it so intriguing that I had to stop writing. They had come to Ottawa for some kind of academic conference. What I found really interesting was the way they were self-promoting themselves. It was as if each thought the other was not in the same “ballpark,” academically speaking that is. In fact, they took turns defending their credentials. Much of the “persuasion” had to do with ranking the journals they had published in and how they rated, academically speaking, their employers. They all taught at universities with respectable academic reputations—wealthy universities. My ears really picked up when they turned to berating one of the convention presenters. Apparently, he was on a burgeoning career path when he taught at the University of Hawaii, but, according to them, when he jumped ship and went to Central Michigan University, a fourth rate institution, his chances of making it in the world of “academic excellence” had all but disappeared.

Well, as might be expected, when they started berating my university I began to respect these academic elites a whole lot less. Before I left that beautiful spot, I managed to get some of my feelings down on paper. My poem, the Invisible Rebuttal was the result. I guess these other poems are finished also:


The Invisible Rebuttal

Knowing I have created

my position,

and admiring my present

disposition,

I am disturbed

to think my thoughts

would think themselves

a lofty lot

if perchance they bent themselves

toward degrees of PhD’s;

for knowledge is

as knowledge does,

and in the end

all who only see

the ‘lonely tree’

will find themselves

within the plot

which reads aloud

I knew a lot.

Parroting

Wind swept nights,

melancholy days,

bright lights shining

in a seed of new decay;

time travels onward

conjuring dominions past,

waiting for summer’s rain

and new life beginnings.

Reason

I wish I had

a song to sing

in clear open skies,

to holler high

and holler low

in all my happiness;

I’d laugh and cry

and rant and rave

until my breathe was done,

and if a man

should ask me why,

I’d say

I learned this thing.

Circles

Footsteps, footsteps,

growing old,

hunger waits

and waits and waits,

until the bread,

and then it moves

around again.

Feelings

Embers gold

breach the night,

searching hearts

long apart,

the whole universe ignite,

love is light.


The Toast

A drunken poet,

a toast to death,

how sublime;

only a fool would toast again,

bartender another drink.

Sunbathing

On hard rocks,

with speckled dots

in relief on black sunshine;

I hold my hand above my face,

and wait a tired long time.

Eternal Feminine

Come to me in filtered light,

come to me by shaded night,

lead me in your shining wonder

while hidden from my sight.

Spanning horizons,

swallowed in seas,

in a cloak of magic symmetry

she waits for me.

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2 Responses to “I Lost Respect For These Academic Elites When They Berated My University”

  1. Beverly Says:

    Dave, I especially enjoyed your poetry today. I feel drawn to “The Toast” and the emotions it evokes in me. But then so does “The Invisible Rebuttal”. You are able to express yourself with so few words, yet convey so much meaning. One of my favorite lines is: “I am disturbed to think my thoughts would think themselves a lofty lot”. I can identify with that one so well.

    I just realized…there was no rain!! How unusual! Must have been a drought of some kind.

    Thank you Dave, for letting us travel a few more miles with you.

    Have a wonderful week!!

    Beverly

  2. wings Says:

    I like them…thank you for sharing them. I like them up and down and all around and back again…yes ~your words have blood and guts and breath and I like them.

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