Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the squid from the underwater mario levels

Everything about human interaction and communication that people take for granted seems so strange to me. Not because i'm afraid or anxious, i just get these moments where it freaks me out for a second. i'm like "damn, look at all these life forms. listen to their mouth sounds, i cant believe i understand this and can translate all this social nuance and signals and whatnot." all of these beings, moving through the space i'm in, all of them conscious of themselves in different ways, yet oblivious to so many things. willfully omitting from their perception certain indescribable truths and realities in order to live their "normal" lives.

damn. i want to write but i cant find the groove. i guess i'm not drunk or pissed off enough. be back in a few beers.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

zaniness in zimbabwe

i finally graduated. what a relief. now that my every waking hour isnt consumed by tending to plastic heads and work, i figured i would update this thing.

first, some incongruities that have bothered me today:

in an attempt to follow some of the advice presented in the the archdruid report, i purchased about $20 worth of weatherstripping and did my best to fill in the gaps around my door, ac unit, and windows. in the process, i broke one of my windows, creating a very large gap, more of a hole really, which could not be filled with 3/16" adhesive weatherstripping. i made do with taping some cardboard over it for now. oh, the irony.

it is so fucking hot here, i was sweating in the shower with the hot water turned off.

the tailpipe on my van has broken free of its moorings, which upon inspection turned out to be about sixteen coathangers in various esoteric tangles. it now makes a delightful scraping sound wherever i go. as it turns out, driving still sucks.

the ladies at the office which handles my student loan thought that my phone number was my social security number. i really dont see how you can mix something like that up.

i had to go through a practice state board exam, in which all of my carefully labeled and organized cosmetology test supplies got pulled out and thrown into a trashbag, as is the way of things at the exam apparently. now i have to redo what was undone. what bothers me about this is that i have seen multiple students graduate without taking this mock exam, and it has suddenly become a requirement. upon taking the test, i passed with a pretty good margin for error, as i knew i would. now i just have to pay my school a minor sum and pay the exam people a minor sum and then pass the exam and then pay the state yet another minor sum and i will officially be a cosmetologist in the state of TX. when people talk about "paying your dues" to get into this industry, they arent fucking kidding.

how about a quick school rant? (lol we know i dont do anything quickly XD )

it took me almost two years to finish a one year program. i paid dearly for my schools leniency in attendance, to the tune of about $4000 over and above my tuition. the program at my school is apparently designed for people who dont need to work, who live with their husband/boyfriend/parents/guardian, as it is pretty much a job you pay to attend. it starts at eight and ends at five with an hour lunch break. your advancement is based on clock hours, so you clock in and out every day just like working at some factory. throughout my tenure there i went through various states of exhaustion and listlessness caused by trying to pay my bills while basically working five days a week for free at some dojo monastery for beauticians. the parallels are striking: the students pay a great sum of money to the school, thereby ensuring poverty; the students practice the techniques of the senseis and study the texts handed down by the elders (for a fee, of course), they clean and maintain the monastery, and they trade their time and effort for rank and experience, in order to one day go out on their pilgrimage into the sinful world of the professional cosmetologist.

i fell asleep in class a lot, though i could pass the tests after reading the chapter once. i did everything i could to avoid actually working, and did my best to read trashy scifi or fantasy novels, eat, or sleep while i was there. my constant lateness and absence was due to poor foresight: i did not realize that i would be physically unable to wake up at 7:30 every morning and work nonstop until midnight and then go to bed around one am for a year straight without some major fuckups. i would miss for two weeks straight. when i woke up late, the "absence anxiety" as my university friend termed it, would make me rationalize not going if i woke up late, as it starts to feel wierd to go back after being absent so much. the shit you have to put up with as far as people asking you where you've been and trying to catch up to whats going on are pretty good deterrents to coming back.

this is one of the main reasons i saw so many people start the program and drop out: absence anxiety. it wasnt that it was difficult, its just that you can convince yourself that it is and you just stop going. most people drop out without ever coming back to do it formally. they just quit coming, afraid to come back and face what they've missed, and in the process rack up a surcharge so high that even if they did want to come back and finish, they would be working for months to pay off the time they missed, in order to get their hours released so they could test and get licensed.

i suppose this requires an explanation: the surcharge, as pertains to beauty school, is based on how many hours you miss after a grace period of 150 hours. your tuition is based on hours, working out to around 7-12 dollars an hour depending on where you go, so if you take more time than is allotted in the original program, you would need to pay extra to cover the extra hours that you were enrolled, even if you werent there to attend them.

confused? yeah, so was i. especially when i learned, well after my grace period and after racking up a metric shit ton of absence and lateness, that the surcharge is separate from you tuition, and has to be paid before your hours are released and you are allowed to test! when you sign your contract, this is not stated. this is not explained. what i figured, and what everyone else thinks when they hear about this, is "oh, no big deal. they just tack it onto my tuition and i pay off whats left over a few years after i graduate." well, thats what we thought, but we were wrong. DEAD WRONG.

not really dead, but definitely dead in the water when you realize "oh shit, now i've got to not only somehow get through all this shit without being late or absent EVER AGAIN (impossible) but i now have to somehow pay off this extra shit BEFORE i can get into my new career while simultaneously paying my rent, tuition, gas, utilities, phone, oh and buying all the supplies that i was told my school would provide, trying to eat once in a while and maybe occasionally trying to do something nice for myself to keep me from COMMITTING FUCKING SUICIDE."

lovely, right?!

(it should be noted that one student i knew racked up a surcharge which exceeded the actual tuition amount before she was forcibly dropped from the program. if you cant go and cant pay the surcharge, drop the fuck out as soon as you can! you can always start again later if you want! another girl managed to graduate this week, but is looking at slaving away at the fryers of church's chicken for an untold number of years to pay off her surcharge before she can get her license.)

now i, being a single, strapping young lad, capable of much labor and sweat of brow, managed somehow, through much luck, hard work, and conniving schemes, to actually have this surcharge pretty much paid off by the time i finished. i feel bad though for the women and girls i met in this program who have children and families, dont work, only managed to start school with financial aid and have zero chance of coming up with a couple grand in cash to pay off a surcharge that mounts up because of necessary family absences, personal obligations, or even just plain fear, laziness and absence anxiety. did i mention that it has to be paid in cash? the owners of the school are so shady that they only accept cash or blank money orders for surcharge payments. i've got a hunch that its basically just a slush fund so the owners can go to the titty bar or keep their country club memberships running. granted, the ownership has changed, and the previous owner was nice enough to make an "adjustment" to my surcharge to bring it down to something i could reasonably pay off within a few lifetimes, so i cant badmouth the guy too much. but come on, a blank money order? cash? why cant i make it out to the school? just what the fuck are you doing with my money?

certainly not buying supplies for the school, keeping cash in the register, hiring enough instructors, keeping the a/c running in the summer and heat on in the winter, stocking kits for new students, hiring enough staff so that the school director can retire before 70, or making sure that the school was run with some sort of credible competence. because that shit did not fucking happen.

if you plan on attending beauty school, get a combo lock and keep your shit in your locker or take it home with you. never let anything valuable such as shears or hairdryers out of your sight because that shit will disappear without a trace. dont lock your keys in your locker if you dont have a combo lock, because the school doesnt provide bolt cutters. also, if you want a locker, make sure you know someone with bolt cutters or a dremel because all of the available lockers will be locked up and full of some dropouts shit. one day i did everyone a favor and cut open about a dozen lockers that had been locked up and abandoned, most of which were empty or full of trash. more than once i had to either straight up break a lock or rip off the latch for someone who had locked their keys in their locker because the school couldnt be bothered to keep a ten dollar pair of boltcutters on hand.

be prepared to teach yourself just about everything as a competent or caring instructor is not guaranteed. i went through three instructors, the first of which was burnt out and apathetic, another which was stressed to the point of being rude and sociopathic, and the final one who was a godsend to all of us because she knows her shit and knows how to run a herd of bitchy, listless girls while keeping them productive, learning, and happy.

when you start seriously preparing for your state board exam, get a copy of the criteria which you will be graded on. read it carefully, as you will be taught any number of things which may be useful or not, but arent necessarily part of the scoring criteria. this makes sense if you think about it, because there are so many different instructors teaching different ways of doing the same thing. the criteria has to be generalized. all you have to do is make sure that you listen to your instructor and learn how they do things, regardless of what you may have learned in the past. it doesnt do anyone any good to piss and moan, and argue about how that wasnt the way you learned it at the last school/in jersey/in buffalo/in iran/in mexico/in vietnam or even from the last instructor. just listen, smile, nod, do what you're told, learn all you can, synthesize it for yourself and remember that when you actually take your test that your instructor is NOT GOING TO BE THERE.

there's more, but i think thats a rant for another time. as i slowly and willfully forget the experience, i may decide to not write about it at all. however i'll definitely write a detailed description of the texas cosmetology state board licensing exam, since there isnt anything remotely like it on the internet and i think that there should be. too many people go blindly or fearfully into situations like this, and too many never have the balls to do it at all. at one point in school i met a woman who had graduated 8 years before and tried to come back to review for the exam so that she could finally get her license. needless to say she left nearly in tears and never took her test.

when i graduated, we went out to eat. we always go out to eat or have a pot luck at my school, no matter what the occasion may be. its no wonder most of the women there are obese. anyway, i'm not the speechgiving type, so when they asked me to say a blessing and some inspirational words for the students, all i came up with was the only prayer i know, which i learned from the show good times:

"we got bread, we got meat, thank the lord, now lets eat!"

compare that to the last guy who graduated, gave a ridiculous and aimless speech and ended it in tears and i'd say it was a bit anticlimactic. but hey, i just wanted to get the fuck out of there. i am, however, very good at writing clearly and frankly about my experiences and i think that the cosmetology school students of texas deserve to hear my story, and to know what to expect. i'll do my best to put that down here.