yesterday’s weepy messiness continued through the afternoon, culminating with me accidentally slicing my fingertip on a knife while washing dishes. the ensuing blood and loud swearing made me feel a bit better, as did the event that immediate followed: i got a call from the local college, saying that they’d had a student drop out of the electrical foundation program, and asking if i’d like the spot.
it starts the first week of august: less than a month from now. holy fuck.
to be clear, i’m elated: while the program doesn’t guarantee me a career as an electrician, it’s a great introduction and also an opportunity to find out if i’d like to pursue the whole apprenticeship-to-journey-ticket adventure. when my spot on the waitlist was confirmed back in may, i was told that it would likely be 8 to 12 months before there’d be room for me. still i was hopeful, because when oats and i attended the college info session back in february, they’d mentioned that there’s often a burst of intakes at the start of august and december, simply because fewer students are ready at those times of year. against the odds, hope wins!
i’m also feeling a mixed sort of sadness. this time last year, on my birthday, i’d made it to the top of the waitlist of canada’s most prestigious urban planning masters program and was awaiting a phone call similar to the one i got yesterday, telling me that i had to get myself packed up and moved to vancouver so that i could begin my new life as a graduate student. that phone call never came. now, i’m very glad that it didn’t because if i’d left i’d never have gotten together with oats, and i wouldn’t have gone to australia, and i wouldn’t have done a lot of other rad stuff that made my 27th year absolutely excellent. aside from that, my professor and mentor at the local university told me that i’d have been eaten alive in that masters program, because they have little room for politics such as mine.
so, really, it all worked out for the best.
and yet it’s a goodbye of sorts, or at least a see-ya-later: to my academic life, to the vision of myself as a future university professor, to the classist notions that have surrounded me as a kid growing up among the intelligentsia. even this morning, when my mom called to say happy birthday and i told her the good news, she made a joke about how this’ll be great because someday i’ll be able to wire my own office at the university where i’ll be a professor. that hurt a bit, because she’s usually the most supportive of any of my parents.
still, i get it: for my parents, going to university was the way out of the working class, and they have worked hard to surround themselves with the accoutrements of a cultured life. they raised me to value books, travel, gardens, art and liberal social justice, and they taught me that it’s more important to work with my brain instead of my body. they have their own baggage around this, as three of them are the first (and only) people in their families to ever have education beyond high school. also, being educational professionals themselves (3 teachers, 1 librarian) and of older generation(s), they have a different idea about what my bachelor’s degree in geography (and indigenous studies!) means: shouldn’t i be able to make a career from that??? i think they honestly don’t understand my reality.
and it probably offends them a little, even though they may never admit it outright.
what i need to work on now is admitting to my own internalized classism. what’s wrong with being an electrician? nothing at all, except that capitalism says it’s not as socially valuable as being a university professor. or a corporate CEO. or a politician. which is stupid. right?
the crazy thing that i’m only just starting to dismantle is that due to my class privilege, i could feasibly be any or all of these things. i have the social cues down pat, can assimilate the vocabulary easily, and can move into these spheres simply based on my physical/cultural resemblance to the status quo. i would be granted permission by the gatekeepers, because i am white and educated and confident.
in a way, me choosing trade school is not a rejection of the privilege my parents provide for me, but a continued acceptance and manipulation of it. i can make this choice easily, because i have so many other options. even as i write this, i’m wary of denying agency and autonomy to working class tradespeople, which isn’t my intention (though… there it is!). i need to understand how my privilege affects my choice to enter the trades, because it can seem almost offensive: i took a graduate level course last fall, and it was incredibly challenging and exhilarating but the critical analysis and deleuzian theory were overwhelming, so i’m going to become an electrician right now, then will likely go to graduate school in another 10 or 20 years. just like that :: snaps fingers ::.
anyway. these are the thoughts that fill my head, and even as they are complicated, i’m happy that they are percolating because it’s giving me a chance to see where i fit in the world.
now, i’ve got to get a million and one things ready for tonight’s birthday party. we had a bad scare last night as oats’ cat plummeted from a 10 foot high ledge and seemed quite injured – an emergency trip to the vet proved otherwise, but i’m glad we made sure even though it shot our evening plans for bbq preparations… that really would have made yesterday more messy than i can handle.