Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Crisis in American Institutions

from the diary: “Thursday 7/17/86

“I’m going to the JC library tomorrow to study the book that Linda (Collins, our instructor) has on reserve: Crisis in American Institutions.”

Friday: “I checked Crisis out of the JC library today. They let me take it out over the weekend. It’s due at 9:00 on Monday. Good thing the bus gets there so early, I guess.”

The college course I signed up for summer of 1986 was not my first college course – I’d taken a Creative Writing Workshop and a Sign Language Class, both of which met in the evenings at the local high school – but it was the first at the JC campus and was an experiment – would I, could I start going to college? That is, would college be a way out of the hole I was in? Mom was hopeful. I was dubious, having always hated school, but there were plenty of things I wanted to learn and people told me college was different and what did I have to lose? Maybe I could even get a job on campus? Mom had a buddy who was an instructor and, should I decide to enroll in the fall, she promised to put in a good word at the library.

What was the course? Social Deviance. As I would tell people, “I figured I knew something about it.” The instructor thought a better name would have been “Social Variance,” which does sound nicer. Crisis in American Institutions was the text and it was my first exposure to textbook pricing. The current 13th edition retails for $75.00. I’m sure it seemed similarly steep in ’86. According to the “card catalog” description at Amazon, This book “[p]resents articles on such social problems as corporate power, economic crisis, sexism, racism, and inequality.”

I quit Day Treatment to go to school. I was told I could visit and I did. But I think I only did that once. I liked the class well enough. One day there was a panel of homosexuals talking about homosexual stuff, available to answer questions, la. I don’t think I asked any. On the day of the panel I brought a bouquet of daisies and handed out a daisy to everyone in class. A couple of the boys refused theirs. It was, like, totally obvious I was coming out, eh?

For my term paper I interviewed the pastor of the local Metropolitan Community Church. He said I had pretty eyes. He said I would hear that a lot. I haven’t heard it since. Teacher gave the paper an A- (A+ for content, presentation “variable”).

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