Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Rear window, facing forward...

The majority of my high school year was spent gazing out the window of my Spanish class and wishing I were already in attendance at my Ivy League college. I’d wear all J-Crew and date a hot little blond with a dog named, Muffy. My roommate and I would get along famously. Chance (or Charles or Albert) was a sixth generation legacy that envied my lower-middle-class guise, but not enough to keep me out of the loop. He was going to introduce me to his people (better yet, his father’s people). But first, we were going to meet on the quad for a quick throw of the rugby. Then I’d eat tapas, discussing the great philosophers with Dead Poets Society that I co-founded (love that movie!). This week: Nietzsche.

It didn’t matter to me then that I knew nothing about Nietzsche or what I’d bring to a tapas-eat-all. The fact I questioned the type of beer one brings when one eats tapas should have been a sign.

Though I’ve always had distaste for American-football (allowing an allotment of protective-garb), rugby seemed masculine (allowing no padding). But whom (or is it, who) was I fooling? I wasn’t entirely sure a group of Ivy Leaguers threw rugby, or simply played it. What the hell is that ball called, anyway? Surly something as kick-ass as rugby isn’t simply played with a thing called a ball.

And even if Chance (or Charles or Albert) was a progressive, I typically despised the born-into-privileged. He wouldn’t like me much after I keyed his Ferrari when returning me to campus following my clinic visit (I play rugby now, remember?).

Still to this day, the Gap is out of my budget’s reach, and the only thing I own from J-Crew is a pair of socks I seized from the 50% off sale table. My fashion palette in ’97 was inspired by thrift-store-mod. (Salvation Army, baby!) But J-Crew was uber-chic, and uber-coolness was my future.

More: my uncertainty of the requirements a university must gratify to meet Ivy League distinction. Harvard had been idolized with Ivy-talk, so I knew I’d apply there. But, where else?

After my research at the local library for the top ten Ivy League schools in the US, I quickly discovered my dilemma: I had no idea what was required of a student to be deemed Ivy League material.

I didn’t come close!

So I gave up. I threw in the towel. My Spanish day dreams focused more on boobs. I did what I could, and only what was required, to get out of high school. After graduation, I ventured to a “welcome all” university (once ironically dubbed, “Harvard of the hills”). I later graduated from a larger, but no more prestigious, university on the east coast.

Looking at my vitae today: my publishing, my work history, my test scores, I’m still nothing special. At my best, I’m slightly above the average. But as graduate and post-graduate school starts knocking at my door, I’m dreaming again. On paper, I’m far from illustrious. But inside me there is something broiling to be avant-garde.

I need a great school!

I’m not delusional. I’d threaten divorce papers if my wife tried to name an animal, Muffy. Even if my credit card could take it, I know J-Crew won’t secure Beatle-like-coolness. I’m never going to throw a perfect spiral football, let alone tackle anyone for a rugby ball. There are eight Ivy League schools, and wine is served when eating tapas, never beer. Chance (or Charles or Albert) is a cool guy; I’d never key his privileged Ferrari. (Paris Hilton, different story, of course). But more, I’m not a quitter. I know I’m more than I give myself credit. I’m good at my job, because I care more than most anyone you’ll meet. I have great change to make in my field. Acceptance letter or not… I’m going places.

I wonder which university’s name will be secured in my journey—forever tied to the future enormity I’ll help create in academia.

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