Saturday, March 29, 2008

Weird tales out of college


During my youth, I was something of a closet scholar.

I didn't do that well in high school, but but through the luck of joining the Royal Canadian Air Force, I took advantage of its educational opportunities there and managed to gain enough paperwork to be accepted as a mature universuty student.
Courses I took through the Departmen of Veterans Affairs:

English. Literature and grammar.
Russian. Grammar and literature.
Physics.-- Hey, a B+! How in hell did I ever handle the math?
Latin (never did get it).
French--Still largely a mystery to me, though I can read and, (somewhat haltingly) write in it...Maybe that's why I took Russian, a language familair to me.

In any event, I somehow managed to force my way into the University of Toronto, where finally, I too could wear that blue-and while windrbreaker with the big T on it and my graduation year, no longer jealous of the young men who wore such jackets and generally ate at that neat little "Grads" restaurant on College Street.

Already at the shank end of thirty, I was so glad to have a supporting wife and family, without whose help, the academinc dream could not have been achieved.

Came at the nick of time.

I had been teaching english at a community college, the appointment having come from my relative success as a commercial writer, and some of my students, though already possessing their B.A. in other disciplines, nevertheless had to go through me to get their jounalism credits.

...What? There were no jobs in Canadian libraries? Library degree not good? Get a job in New York, I had suggested to them.( I still had a raunchy sense of humour at the time). "Between, say, white water rafting, and New York City, which one will scare the crap out of you first?"

I did not seem to have a very inspired class that semester: They wrote down all my jokes.
Further, they were carping a bit at my somewhat thin Ryerson University paper, which they saw as somewhat inferior to Toronto or, maybe the Univesity of Western Ontario

O Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz.

I had to become a "real" prof at once.
I had earlier gotten a degree in Creative Writing, which I had laughingly described as "Master of F-all", which is to say, MFA.
Nobody laughed upon hearing this. They all wrote it down.
How did these doughheads--say it on!--idiots!-- ever get into higher learning in the first place?

At a Canadian community college, most of the profs come from work experience in the field.

Degrees are a secondary consideration. It was sort of a "publish or perish " situation, whrein the so-called "Teaching Mastesr" had already ploughed deep furrows into journalism or broadcasting.

At least, that was the idea.
Many of my peers had reached college teaching level, more often than not, by some essay in an obscure publication put out, by, say, Niagara Community College, just down the road from the falls, at Buffalo, New York.

My class of remustered librarians, therefore felt they were way ahead of their community college teachers. One of them, in fact, demanded I show some of my publication credits before she would even attend my class.

Where did they pick up such attitudes. Did they all go to the same diploma mill to end up in my class just to make my life miserable? I did in fact make some enquiries and found that they all lived in Bradford, Ontario, home of many a weird cult...And so did their Department Head. And the title of their progammme, HNIS, that is,
Historical, Natural and Interpretive Services.
Or was it "Historical, Unnatural and Misinterprative Services"?

Jim Jones? Local Guyana guy on my doorstep?. Or so it seemed to me; they just didn't act or behave like regular students. Cultist, somehow, and very clubby.

So when I (for some ego-satisfying reason) produced my scrapbook of magazine articles and my newly-minted diploma,
they all seeme to do a double-take, and began to register in courses perhaps less challenging, like maybe
Undewater Basket Weaving, or Studies in the Paranormal.

The serious students stayed and I managed to get some of them a job in the local newspaper,.

I went on to teach and write, but something seemed to encrusted itself into my bones. Like a badly-healed fracture.

Why did a teacher have to show his students his credentials? Where were their creadentials.?

Why is their deparment head now "screwing around" in a British Columbia park instead of teaching?

And:

Were they real students.

The woods seem full of funny people here on the edges of Simcoe County, Ontario
##

35 comments:

Donnetta Lee said...

The WORLD is full of funny people, Ivan. Strange place this. Our traveling through life goes on, and we just keep bumping into them. Maybe they aren't real at all. Or maybe we aren't.
Donnetta

ivan@creativewiting.ca said...

Guess we're all a little Tibetan.

eric1313 said...

Ivan!

I don't get much chance at blogging as of late, but don't think for a second that I don't wonder every day about what's going on around this neck of the northern woods.

I was a real student! I'd have loved to take you class. The stories!

Maybe I should get my ass up to Canada and learn some queen's English, with proper cadence and colour.

As for the speculation by Donnetta above...

Maybey we're all brains in a vat in another time and place and this is our "matrix", to keep us occupied. Why would we be in such a state? Because we're thought criminals in whatever reality that is! We're too dangerous to have bodies, so they put our parts in jars and make us rant and wail against a false reality such as this one--one where good writers while away the hours on electronic circuits, or a reality where somebody like Bush becomes President. You know, lala land. Dreamscape. Shitty City.

ivan@creativewiting.ca said...

That guy in the by-now classic,movie, NETWORK.

"I'm mad as hell,and I'm not going to take it any more."

ivan@creativewiting.ca said...

P.S.:

Great input, Eric.

eric1313 said...

Yes! I loved Network!

The only man in history of TV to die because he had lousy ratings.

Howard Beal--

"I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

by the way, ever read Raymond Carver? His short fiction is top notch, but he started as a poet. He was also a student of John Gardner. I brought a poem over for the occasion...


Your Dog Dies
--Raymond Carver

it gets run over by a van.
you find it at the side of the road
and bury it.
you feel bad about it.
you feel bad personally,
but you feel bad for your daughter
because it was her pet,
and she loved it so.
she used to croon to it
and let it sleep in her bed.
you write a poem about it.
you call it a poem for your daughter,
about the dog getting run over by a van
and how you looked after it,
took it out into the woods
and buried it deep, deep,
and that poem turns out so good
you're almost glad the little dog
was run over, or else you'd never
have written that good poem.
then you sit down to write
a poem about writing a poem
about the death of that dog,
but while you're writing you
hear a woman scream
your name, your first name,
both syllables,
and your heart stops.
after a minute, you continue writing.
she screams again.
you wonder how long this can go on

eric1313 said...

I guess there's no occasion, except that I'm around, which is rare.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Donnetta,
Just looked at my quirky photo atop my blog at about the time you e-mailed us Quarks and Antiquarks about the nuisance vandalizartion of you car and property while D.H. was away.
The woods seem indeed to be full of funy people, here in Ontario, Canada or OKC.,
Put up a fence. Keep the vandals out.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Eric,

Thanks.

You, as an American,probably have no recollection of the wartime "Borden's Milk" Elsie the Cow, who was holding a can of milk which showed an image of Elsie the Cow holding a can of milk, upon which there was an image of Elsie the Cow holding can of milk--ad infinitum. There is a name for this "universal", but I am too tired to to recall it.
Your poet Raymond Carver certainly bumped up against this nearly Platonic image, but scarier.

Anonymous said...

it's been long-known that the foothills of Bradford are inhabited by beings of a different sort,stranger than most,to a degree...to the woods,to the woods!...burn those credits to stay warm...

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

anonymous,
Well, you certainly are local.
A. E.?

ivan@creativewiting.ca said...

If it is E.A. B., I sure want to thank you for the recent assist and "Easter gift",(to strain an oxymoron).
I was sick as a dog and help was forhcoming.
Thankee.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Well, I am lost and out of words. I still say you have much to offer and in your moments of insanity you have even more. For it is then that you hold nothing back.

I will agree with Donnetta that the world is full o funny people, look at me? I am a simplistic woman with a complications surrounding me on a daily basis. I completely fancy men that have no real interest in me and although many seem to like my writing I seem to be in limbo on getting it published.

Life is funny as well, perhaps that is why it has such funny and strange about. Teach me Ivan, class or not we all can learn from one such as you.

I hope you are well. I am rather crazed with graduation nearing.
Soft love,
T

Anonymous said...

local?...to a degree...itchy koo park... suburb of Bradford...inhabited by arkademics...fossils...proprietors of cerebral flatulance...and wannabe Kentuckians...lusting after their cousins...to the woods,to the woods!...

Charles Gramlich said...

I agree, students should show their credentials, including statements about whether they are chronically late and whether they can be trusted to actually listen. I've gotten very crusty as time as gone on. Now when I get a stupid question that I just covered five minutes before I ask, "were you listening?"

Donnetta Lee said...

Hello, Ivan: Put up a fence, indeed! EA Monroe is suggesting a motion detector flood light in the front yard. My Mama (78 years old) says, "people are nuts." Hubby says she's a natural psychologist. And I think students should be asked: "Why in the hell are you here?" Right up front!
Donnetta

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Charles,
The student-teacher go-round and resulting kefuffle that went on in my classroom was a possible outcome
of the "History" course director's ambitions of tenure... And the usual college politics.
Very possibly, someone may have been after my job, and was, through his home-room students, trying to set me up.

As I say, that former deparment head is now frigging around as some sort of botanist in a park.
...Run up against my department and you take up a secondary career? Tree surgeon?
No offence, but I have met so many writers in residence who have termed academics as "slime".
I have discussed this with a man in another profession, and he had said, "Hey, you're and academic, aren't you?"

I have taught at a satellite campus of the University of Califoria, in Mexio. As I recall, the politcs there was prettty fierce, but at the community college level in Canada, the stakes seem so low that people seem to carry knives this long.

Setting up a "children's Crusade" to attack another teacher is not beneath folks like that.
I won that round, but it was Pyrrhic.
My antagonist became a "tree surgeon" and I went on to be something of a "Doctor of Literature" at The Instituto Allende, Mexico.
..Jesus. I needed a vacation after all that. Came back to Canada to find most of the rebellious "students" had dropped out.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Tara,

I'd relly like to have been there at the graduation ceremonies.
Congrats.
...I forget what you majored in.
...Something really clever, as I recall.
Mazel Tov, as my mother-in-law used to say.

ivan@creativewiting.ca said...

anonymous,

Over in Keswick,Ontario, (almost next door to what seems like Riverdrive Park that you descibe) they still have '76 Datsuns up on blocks, perhaps as a yearning for Appalachia).
Heh. Things seem relative.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Donnetta,

Yes, yes.
In my generation, we students were frquently asked "Why are you here."

Just a few years back, students seemed to give the impression that they knew more than the teacher.
I should have replied, I suppose, "Yes, but I'm fancy."
But I was younger then, and, I suppose, pretty feisty... Knock my mortarboard off will ya?

Ah well, both class and money are gone now.
I think Liz's suggesion of a motion detector may be a better and less expensive idea when it comes to monitoring young vandals.

Anonymous said...

ah......the ever lasting/omnipresent Datsun...the clingy, vinyl back seat of which ,on occasion,provided an altar for a Seger/like night moves encounter...rain pouring down,on thin metal roof...D-C-G-C-D...chevy wasn't the only one in the park,or the levy...dashboard lights glowing,dying to tell,sworn to Morrow,WBZW,Boston,Thomas Wayne, Tragedy,Ernie Maresca's ghost be damned,but,still,rust...Mercury Blues...Datsun...paradise...to hell with Appalachia,or lower Bradford...

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Anon,

With me in my youth, it wasn't so much "Who Put the bop in the Bop-she-Bop-she Bop", but more like
"Who put the meat in the Meteor"--at least me trying.
Did we have the same not-altogether-- misspent youth?

The Holy Bible according to Fender
and the Shan-Delles?

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Anon,

Since we were both sort-of in the Air Force, this just came in from Michael Koerner, who is major domo of the old Pinetree radar line:

Hi, it's Michael Koerner once again. Thanks for allowing me into your web space once again. Now that St Patrick's Day and the Easter Bunny are gone for another year Lets get on with the arrival of Spring. I hope everything is going well for you this month.

(photo)

My house 09 March 2008 after our last snowfall. Our total for the year on that date was 409.1 cm. We have had a couple more centimeters since then. ;-o))

I would like to take the time to thank all the people who have contributed to the upkeep of the oldfco web site. It is greatly appreciated.

Thought for today:

"The hatred you're carrying is a live coal in your heart - far more damaging to yourself than to them." (Lawana Blackwell 1999)


Our always-growing community of newsletter subscribers reading this email is now approaching the 800 mark. The following is contained in this edition of the newsletter.
Links Worth Visiting,
Train Travel,
Skype,
Course Crests,
Unknown Course Number,
Reunion 2008,
39 & Counting (Birthdates),
Anniversaries, and
Track Faded (Last Post)


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Links Worth Visiting
www.veteranvoice.info This is an excellent Web site that keeps CF personnel, Veterans and their families informed about their rights and entitlements. Definitely a site I think you should bookmark

www.deadwoodweekly.com Another great link, For a little humour and entertainment each week, visit Paul Wood's "Deadwood Weekly" web site.

http://www.rcafairwomen.ca For all the lady readers. Thanks to Glenora Cole, the Airwomen who served between 1951 and 1967 now have a dedicated site.

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/agency/budget/2007/pension-e.html I would recommend that all Pensioners read and be familiar with Pension Income Splitting which became effective 01 January 2007. There is a good Canadian Revenue Agency site that everyone should visit. It answers all of the WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHEN, WHERE and HOW questions.




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Train Travel
Remember when we were transferred we used to get a voucher which you turned into a train ticket, and you headed across Canada to your new transfer. Remember getting on that train and giving the porter $5.00 and upgrading your upper berth into a roomette. Now that was the way to travel. Looks like VIA rail is offering us (we are) veterans a chance to ride the rails once more. Check it out here http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2008/03/26/via-dnd.html For more information, or to reserve a ticket, go to www.viarail.ca/forces or call toll-free 1 888 VIA-Rail (1 888 842-7245) or 1 800 268-9503 (hearing impaired).


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Skype
Gerry McGarry sent me an email the other day and indicated that he used Skype to talk with friends and family for free all across the country. So I downloaded (Free) and installed it. Nice to talk and see if you have a webcam for as long as you want, and again for free. I'm all for doing something that is free ;-o)) Which got me to wondering how may other people out there used this product. If your a Skype user, look me up, my Skype name is old.fco or send me an email and let me know. If your not a Skype user, but are interested go here http://www.skype.com/download/skype/windows/ for a look and how to download.


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Course Crests
I have started to include the course crests with the course photo if I have it. There are now a number of photos with crests which you can check out here http://www.oldfco.ca/fconews/coursephoto/photos.html. If you happen to have one laying around, send it along to the address at the bottom of the page, and I'll post it on the site and return it to you.


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Unknown Course Number
Skip Sacco has given me a number of ADTech course photos from when he was instructing at the school in Falconbridge. Skip's memory like large number of us has dimmed with age ;o)). If you can identify any of the unknown people in the photo or know the course number for the photo here http://www.oldfco.ca/fconews/coursephoto/adtXXXX.html don't hesitate to let me know. I will post others in the upcoming months.


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FCO/ADTech/AWC Reunion 2008
The following people registered since the last newsletter was released 23 Feb 2008.

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Aitken Doreen Langley, BC
Bell (Chartier) Huguette Bremerton, WA USA
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Gay Al Brampton, ON
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Martin Alexander "Gus" & Shirley "Sam" Kamloops, BC
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Ralph Ronald Burnaby, BC
Thomas (Spence) Fred & Bunny Abbotsford, BC
Walters (Perrin) Dick & Edith Fanny Bay, BC
Wilkinson (Bergman) Jim & Anne North Bay, ON

To see the full list of who is coming, click > THIS LINK. At mailing time, there are currently 302 people registered to attend the reunion.

If you would still like to register, and don't have a form, then just click on this fill in the blanks and print registration form link. http://www.oldfco.ca/reunion/2008/regform.html





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39 & Counting (Birthdates)
Many happy returns to the folks who are celebrating their 39th birthday for the umpteenth time during the month of April 2008. The names are sorted by date (oldest to youngest) then alphabetically by last name. This will allow you to see who is the oldest/youngest on any given day.

Name Date
Ed Wall 01 Apr
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Anne Paul 12 Apr
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Barney Barnes 16 Apr
Donna Clarke 18 Apr
Len Yearley 20 Apr
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Arleen (Usher) Tremblay 24 Apr
Ray MacDonald 24 Apr
Doug Brenton 25 Apr
Zelda Jean (Lickers) Oulton 25 Apr
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James McCarthy 28 Apr
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Margaret (Hall) Martin 29 Apr
Ken Hashey 30 Apr

If you have yet to submit your birth date, then click Here to email me with you and/or your spouses date of birth in dd/mmm/yy format (I want to know how much older than 39 you really are). I really do require the year of birth. Thanks in advance, greatly appreciated.

Also if your memory allows, using the above link, I would also like to add to the database your St. Jean Basic course number, along with your Clinton FCO course number. For the people who came to us via the Reserves would also like to get your Reserve FCO course number if there was one.


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Anniversaries
Congratulations to all the people who are celebrating their wedding anniversary in April. The names are sorted by years married, date, then name.

Click Here (if you have not already sent it) to email me with your anniversary date dd/mmm/yy format.


Name Date Years
Jack & Dorothy (Simpson) Hewitson 08 Apr 1954 54
Jerry & Joan (Tulak) Fancy 20 Apr 1956 52
Bernie & Eleanor (Parsons) Golding 02 Apr 1957 51
Al & Marg Rowan 11 Apr 1959 49
Jim & Edie (Pond) Anderson 23 Apr 1960 48
Dick & Carol (Boudreau) Voisin 29 Apr 1961 47
Eric & Lyla (Heppner) Hulan 14 Apr 1962 46
Ray & Evelyne Oickle 23 Apr 1962 46
Jean & Jacilyn Spenard 23 Apr 1962 46
Alyre & Carmel Vienneau 06 Apr 1963 45
Stanley & Phyllis Piper 04 Apr 1988 20


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Track Faded (Last Post)
Since our last newsletter we have received the following Track Faded notifications.


Last (Maiden) Name First Name Date Age Location
Ackerman (MacLeod) Evelyn Barbara 05 Feb 2005 71 Calgary, AB
Aubrey Alex "Al" 26 Feb 2008 71 Ottawa, ON
Hawke Walter Donald 24 Feb 2008 85 Ottawa, ON
Mosgrove John 18 Feb 2007 81 Ottawa, ON
Roberts (Lamond) Jean Alice 06 Aug 2002 68 Belleville, ON
Robinson (Sheil) Gwen 30 Aug 2005 Cranbrook, BC
Snider Edward C. Unknown Delta, BC


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ea monroe said...

Hi-de-ho, Ivan. How's life treating you these days? ~Liz

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

A bit better, thanks, Liz.

I am only now able to talk, but this confuses Tim Hortons donut girls,especially if they happen to be Chinese...."Kerrogu korn flex?
..We no have."
Jaysus don't ever have three teeth pulled a once!... And I've got some oral surgery Tuesday!

Guy in the park took me for one of his own. Said to me, "Do you thnuff ducks?" he asked,

Caught me in a bad mood. I had answered, "No, I don't snuff ducks, but I hardly ever leave a tern unstoned."
"Wanna play mrbles?P he asked.

I offered an explanation:

"-off"

I guess all the "challinged" folk are staring to claim me as one of their own.

I guess now I know what it must be like for them!

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

It would be nice to see you sitting there dear Ivan. As or my majors....

Computer Science and Social Work.

What is with all the anonymous going on?

I am feeling lost a bit.

soft love,
T

ivan@creativerwriting.ca said...

Tara,
"Anonymous is an old buddy of vintage cars and guitar bands. Air Force background. We were sort of soldiers and musicians.

Josie said...

No matter how you acquird an education, you're lucky you have one. You have no idea!

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Josie,

At my first encounter with my miscreant students who somehow already had their B.A.'s, I tried a joke to lighten the tension of the first class. "Seneca hired me as a prof, I suppose, because nobody's seen a drunk before."
Nobody laughed. They wrote it all down. Nobody's seen a drunk before
I've never met a weirder class.
Who had let these people in anyway?
You yourself, Josie have more natural brains than some of the PhD's I've met.

benjibopper said...

out here, at King's j-skool, every prof is a practicing journalist. best way to go, methinks. when i was in buz skool (3 lifetimes ago) our best prof got fired because he refused to get a phd. we brought him back as a guest presenter, but we couldn't afford his salary. he went back to the biz world to make his fortune.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Benji,

Funny thing. Among my students in creative writing and Seneca College's King campus, Ontario were some genuine PhD's who weren't in my class to waste time, but wanted to hone their skills at their hobby of writing novels.
One, a Dr. Neal Agnew did tell me there was a tenure track position for a guy like me at his own York University. A good writer,though a a psychologist by discipline, he offered to sponsor me should I have wanted to get a speedy PhD.
I never took Neal up on this, but I certainly picked his brain a lot for some of my own fictional work.
I did find that getting tenure at a communty college really meant getting an administrative position.
...Got to academe so late! Is that why kindergarten teachers go for their M.A.?
Gevolt! We get too soon old and too late schmart!

Lana Gramlich said...

My sympathies. There are all kinds of people in the world, of course. Not that that's necessarily a good thing. <:\

TomCat said...

I did not seem to have a very inspired class that semester: They wrote down all my jokes.

Now that is a sign of true desperation. ;-)

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Thanks, Lana.
It was a difficult ime.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Thanks Tomcat.

Heh. I see by your avatar you got your groove back. :)