While envy may be igorance and imitation suicide, I am almost tempted to emulate the lady bloggers and all their notes as to what they did over the Labor Day Weekend.
I went to Hamilton, Ontario, which is a lot like Toledo, Ohio, a steeltown, all of which made for an almost guaranteed crappy time.
But a crappy time is sometimes an indication that you're going to write something, the hesitancy before the quantum leap. How much Hamilton is like Baltimore, say, all the attempted urban renewals, bums on the main drag; the real life is up on the Mountain, where the rich suburbanites are. My sisters are all up there. They are middleclass, have been middleclass for a long time, and old Ivan, who once aspired to avoid the middle and head straight for the upper--has suddenly f*cked up and is now the poor relation.
Oh how nice it had been to lecture under the oak trees of old Seneca College, the kids nipping and tucking at you, throwing their frisbees at the old prof, hoping he'd catch, but more likely to bean old Mr. Chips.
Gone, all gone. Nasty-uglies had taken over the administration. Empire builders. Unlettered assholes who got into the community college system without any paper. How easy for intelligent thugs to knock over dreamy, ivory tower Phd's and us Masters of F*ck All. The students got in the way of empire building and were seen as a necessary evil. A headship, that was the game."I'm going to build an empire, boy. I'lm going to build it on tone and nuance. Tone and nuance, that's the thing. Like a play. A play on words. Students can take things two ways. A smart man can make a student lose his balance. Sure, I manipulate the students. But that's only for their own good. Teach them about the world."
"I'll give you a headship!"I used to yell at my imaginary adversaries at the bar.
"Academics are slime," I am crying in my beer.
"You used to be an academic," my pal the photographer pipes up.
I came across one of the young Turks in the liquor story parking lot. "I'm not sure I should be talking to you."
"Well la-di-da. Who the fuck are you?"
"I'm gonna build me an empire boy. On tone and nuance."
Fact is, I was untenured and they had somehow gotten tenure. Something of a cabal. If you were in with the director of student affairs, you were in. Then you got your paper from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education--whatever the fuck they study. Recently, of course, OISIE got to be part of the University of Toronto...But none of the empire builders completed the courses. They went to Niagara Community College in Buffalo, or somewhere instead. No matter. Paperwork or no paperwork, once in, you were in.
It was the money that made teachers struggle thus.
A headship was $ 80,000 oldfashioned dollars a year.
Small wonder that entire courses of students would drop out, abandon the vows, quit their specialties.
Not so bad that there were empire builders at the college. Some of the course heads had been making sexual advances.
I was for the moment, safe. I had a column in the suburban Star. This gave me protection.
I gave up the column to concentrate on the teaching.
"Ah, Ivan, said the college's real academic, an MD and teacher of same. . You are now just plain Ivan. One of us."
I countered by having a novel serialized. That held them off.
But soon the huns were at the gates, the gates of Ivan's office.
I finally had enough and quit.
"Got your scalp nailed up on my wall," said one of the thugs at my going-away party."
"You quit your job?" says wife.
"Get out of my house."
Amazing how you can lose everthing overnight. Just like a poor hardworking Polack who had no idea of where he lived or among whom he moved. Then he quits his job. To be immediately grabbed by other Polacks who were sharper and faster.
Got the Polack mark again, just like all my C's at the University of Toronto.
Ah well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Nobody had told me to succeed. I just had. Self-made man..
"You deliberately want to be a bum," canny parents are chiding.
"Social contract is $35,000 a year,"says wife.
Somebody has f*cked up my job.
Somebody is riffing my wife, the husband the last to know.
Ain't life grand, Bunky?
So you attempt one of the grand comebacks. You get a stunning girlfriend. You come back to teach nights at the college. "Ivan's back," they all say.
Ah, but if you quit your job to find out something about life, you might find out too much, wishing, in fact, you'd never gone.
The divorce settlements. Lost of home. Loss of family. Loss of sanity. Oh, is the gun ever loaded!
Don't you dare ever to leave a comfortable situation to find out something about life.
It's not worth finding out. Like me in my quest for the Gilgemesh legend through a mountain of clay tablets.
There is nothing there but poor half-gay Gilgemesh, his pal the wild man (Beetlejuice from the movie?) and some god in a pinetree who is killed for nothing while the Wild Man gets a BJ from the world's first documented hooker.
That is the story. That is the whole story.
Stick to the Talmud. You'd be better off. Those cats had lived. Really lived. Not for nothing the soothing words of psalms.
So, my Labor Day trip to Hamilton. Shat upon by my sisters. But, appreciated, of course, by my mother. The primal relationship!
My mother is more than ancient. She is FN-99-----------
F*cking near 100.
I am FN-70. F*cking near seventy.
What's poor Gilgemesh going to do?
Will try not to write anything ugly any more and work at the important things in life.
Which are literature and poetry.
"Come all you mothers, don't let your sons grow up to be cowboys."