Marcus, a new and very dear friend, and I had a conversation the day before yesterday. It concerned the fragility of friendship, particularly the friendship between two women. Actually Oscar Wilde said it best. “Anyone can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s success.” The person who brought this quote to my attention actually was a friend, in the past tense. A myriad of factors got in the way of that friendship, I do not think that success was one of them. But it could have played a part.
To me these hits spell success. They spell success because I am being read and I have aspirations of becoming an author. I not only have aspirations I have worked tirelessly for over two years becoming one. I have researched, read, and experienced life in a different way, that was quality of the work I put in. I also attended an absolutely worthless institution of so-called higher learning. I enrolled in a program of creative nonfiction writing which is why and how I am here in London at this moment as the institution allowed me to have a student visa. I joked that I was the oldest living student. But the school itself was for me an absolute disaster and it destroyed my creative spirit for months.
The present head of the program is apparently its creator. It was, according to its web site, created in 2008. It is under the sponsorship of an institute of higher learning. My sources indicate that the overarching university was founded as a technical school and was quite successful and gained a good reputation. But then it befell the fate of many institutions in this country when education became not a right, but a commodity. Everyone became greedy and the need for more and more students became rampant. How do you get more students? You develop new programs, you branch out. That is, apparently, what this school did and does. It offers everything and I do mean everything. Some of its programs are apparently stellar. The one that I attended, sadly was not. It was and is garbage.
At this point I am philosophical about it all. I am in a rather unique position in that I do not need another degree. I have three. Personal ambition required for some period of time the dream of having more degrees than ex-husbands but that was folly. What difference could that possibly make? I can merely be content with the fact that the numbers are equal. I have been officially declared free to wed. I may be kept in check because I can promise myself that I will only wed if I simultaneously undertake a course of study that would allow me, in the case of marriage failure, a future degree. My experience with the school of my last attendance will dissuade me. It was awful, it was a nightmare.
I politely refer to the head of the program, its innovator, as my nemesis. She, according to rumor, has been other’s nemesis as well. She would single out the most promising student of the year and pick on them. It seemed that I achieved that status in 2016. She sent an email to my fellow students asking them for examples of my disruptive behavior and then reported me to a kangaroo court, a cancer of the institution. It is impossible to describe how devastating that was to my creative spirit and almost to my sanity. Then the kangaroo court seemingly supported me and encouraged me to file papers for a refund of my tuition. But then, not only was that denied in a time frame that wasted months but then they turned the tables on me yet again and brought another disciplinary action against me for bringing evidence against that head of the program in support of my appeal to the wrongful first action. I did what I needed to do.I ignored the proceedings altogether. I walked away because that is the only way to deal with evil. One can never win a battle against evil because evil fights dirty and the only way to prevail is to incorporate that style. I refuse to fight dirty, I have too much self esteem. I walked away.
They convened the kangaroo court without me and ruled that I was not to t have any contact with the head of the program or with my classmates. As if I ever would, in a million years do that. Have contact with her and those Judases? Never. Some of them supplied “examples” apparently of my disruptive behavior. It is to be noted that there had not been any classes at that point for at least six or eight months. I was simultaneously attending a certificate course offered by the Guardian and the University of East Anglia. It was a course in biography, it met weekly. I was an active and contributing member of that group. It was stellar, efficiently and well run. My classmates were brilliant, many retired from extremely successful careers. We all improved under the tutelage of a well qualified instructor.
Nemesis advised me not to take the course. Why I will never know. I completed the course in biography and have the certificate from the Guardian/East Anglia program. it is framed. I am proud of it, but out of nowhere came another decision from the dreadful institution. One that allowed me until February to submit my final draft and thus get another Masters degree. But this degree from this institution I do not covet. It would sully my c.v. When I got a ‘second chance’ I was initially ecstatic but then the reality sank in. Why? What would it prove? Do I care what they think? All I want is readership, not the approval of people I do not respect. I want to finish my book about a man who exemplified above all else, integrity. I wrote a piece in the midst of my indecision. It was entitled: “What Would Uncle Dave Do?” It was sweet, someday I will let you read it.
So I am not submitting the final draft of the book. Instead I will refer them to my blog. You will note, gentle reader, that I did not name the school nor the individuals involved. I am following the advice of one of my lawyers. I have four, five counting myself.
The absolute further irony to this story is that I was to submit a final draft of the book and the only other assignment that I did not complete. I completed all of my course work and submitted in a timely fashion. I intend to publish the book about my uncle using iBook author, an original idea that I proposed at the time of the kangaroo courts. So they had to devise an alternative assignment to the publishing analysis required for the old fashioned students.
Despite my challenges they developed one that made absolutely no sense at all. It demanded “In lieu of the agents’ letters, supply an advance book information sheet which should include the information required for an Amazon sale, including meta-data. (A reference for this, is Carly Watter’s, online Guide for Self-Published Authors.)” But excuse me, I am doing an Ibook, its marketing is done through Apple. Why in the world should I research Amazon sales? That is like comparing apples and oranges, You see what I mean about the stupidity of the program.
This is the final proof of the pudding. The school’s web site speaks of the number of books published by its graduates since the inception of the creative nonfiction program. I guess it is trying to brag. There is one graduate who is particularly proficient – if you subtract his books and the book, published in Canada by another rebel the numbers dip. Then it becomes barely one a year. It is no better than chance, in fact worse than chance when you think that everyone who enrolls in the program has to have at least minimal talent for writing. That sealed the deal of my decision. Why should I graduate from that program? If and when my book gets published they would receive glory for it. I do not think so. The program did nothing to help me, in fact, it only harmed me. I know I made the right decision.
The photograph that accompanies this posting is one of me, in my graduation finery.
I achieved a Master of Arts in Humanities from Dominican University in San Rafael, California. That was achieved after my retirement from the practice of law in Marin County, California. I finish things, I complete things, all things to this date. But this worthless degree from a worthless institution. NO.
Alexis, only you could get thrown out of a writing school for disruptive behavior! OMG!