Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Real Community

*As a brief side note before I begin this post, no I did not get hired for the position I went on two interviews for. There are a couple of things I could say about how the final interview went. The question that literally started off with "If you had a magic wand and could wave it over your first day of work..." How I couldn't make the two people interviewing me laugh at all and barely could interpret their facial expressions (though it should be noted, the husband of the husband/wife team looked more amused by me than anything, in that way guys love to smirk at me for not understanding The Ways of the World). How my inner Jiminy Cricket conscience nearly broke a blood vessel when the man interviewing me declared his distaste for social media. How my inner Tim Gunn conscience had to hold Jiminy back from screaming a million reasons why placing working on social media outlets needs to be one of the, if not the, absolute top priorities of a cause-marketing company. Maybe I'll write this out to an entire post one of these days, but ehhh, I'd rather not. It didn't disappoint me to lose the position because I know there is one out there that is just more deserving of having me on their team. I'll find it soon. The End.*

I'm a big fan of the show Community, the one with Joel McHale and Chevy Chase portraying community college students at Greendale Community College. Joel plays Jeff Winger, a disbarred lawyer who needs to get in and out of this community college as quickly as possible to get back to his regularly scheduled lifestyle. While at Greendale, Jeff gets saddled with his study group, an eclectic group of cool weirdos. These members include Britta, the snarky former Peace Corps member in need of direction for her life, Abed, the pop culture obsessed wannabe director, Annie, the studious former Adderall junkie, Shirley, the divorced mother who is an excellent brownie baker, Troy, the former high school QB, and Pierce, the much-older tactless millionaire. Oh, and Senor Chang, the group's Spanish teacher who is forever trying to get into the study group of misfits.

As a former community college student, the show comments on a wide range of school issues, some of which I found relevant to my own experience there, but at the same time there were a whole bunch that didn't tie in with it whatsoever. (The paintball episode, obviously you can't run all over your campus having an epic paintball war though it would make school much more interesting.)

Here are some stories of my version of Community I experienced and how they stacked up against the show, NBC's version of reality.

Imma Get Smart

My views on community college, prior to my attendance, were the typical views of a sheltered young girl who stuck her nose up in the air far more often than she had the right to. When I was in high school and working at Panera Bread, I worked with one of my closest friends at the time who attended community college. The ability to get a student loan for myself without a cosigner had left me with the option of either no school or community college and I made some remark on how "community college wasn't for intelligent people" to my community college friend who by all rights was upset with me for saying something like that when it isn't true. We rounded out the night, silently scrubbing out the soup well, with me wondering if a) I had just lost a really good friend for my mouth's verbal diarrhea, b) the indignation that comedians and generally most people could say what I just said and not face repercussions, and c) why must I be taught a lesson for every little thing I say/do that isn't considered kosher with others?

I apologized. I do get it when I'm behaving like an ass. And just like the time in high school when I regularly made fun of this one guy in my grade for riding the bus after school, I was about to get some fate-approved lessons taught to myself.

Community college isn't a terrible place. Nor is it a place for those who are burnouts or slackers alone. Some of the classes I had I was a regular Annie Edison in, constantly raising my hand to volunteer an answer (the pop culture class that I wrote an extensive paper on the history of horror films). Others I was an eye-rolling Britta Perry in (all math classes, that hideous Zoology course). Still others I regularly napped in (insert class name here if you can remember it). I only went to school twice a week, but it was a full day both days. During the summers, I went 4 days a week and did online coursework. If you ever have the chance to enroll in it, online classes are the shiz. You don't have to leave your home to go to class. You can take a quiz while watching Entourage. Some of these classes even offer online tests, many of those I did with my textbook on my lap, thumbing through the pages in the index for the answers.

I like to think of myself as a "selective learner."

Experience is the Teacher

My foreign language credits rolled over from high school ensured I didn't need to take another Spanish class in my life so I didn't get the pleasure of working with a Senor Chang. However, I did get stuck with a series of teachers who were both fairly good and downright awful.

Some of the better ones included my Psychology teacher whom I thanked after the classes were over since I felt like I actually learned a thing or two in that course. My Intermediate Algebra teacher who didn't mind if I would occasionally slip out of class early on bad weather days and even changed my grades a little bit after reviewing my terrible tests together. Even my Pop Culture instructor was a good guy who was always interested in where I would transfer over to.

Then there were the bad ones. Specifically my Biology and Intro to Mass Media teachers. The Bio teacher, Skeevy McGee, was one of those young, hip, "I'm in my 30's but I can still relate to a bunch of 18 year old's" guys who picks one guy in the class to be buddy-buddy with and crack jokes at his expense. He also had a thing for young girls. Specifically of the 18 and under freshman set. On my first day in class Skeevy went around the room asking us what our life ambitions and plans after this school entailed, I very loudly and assertively announced what I had planned after and the university I had in mind to attend. After I finished, I smiled at him and the rest of the classroom as a whole.

Skeevy just gave me that amused look (see above, this crap is a regular recurrence in my life), that older guys will occasionally give me. It's a lot like a smirk and it usually says, "Righhhht."

He told me, "You sound like a game show host." Smiling the entire time.

What. The. What. Most of the girls in the room giggled. My brain silently rationed that if my chest size was two times bigger and I was blond just how this would be going down. Suffice to say, I kind of hated that course for the rest of the semester. But the additional reasons why are yet to come.

The Mass Media course, my introduction to my future major, was awful. My teacher had issues with anyone reading newspapers outside of our city. As in, no worldwide papers period. She also professed an extreme dislike for Will Ferrell and enjoyed telling the class about how she spent all of her money while in college on booze. My head spun from the confusion of this course.

And then there was my Public Relations course where my teacher and one of my classmates got into a big fight, but since my classmate was a really awful girl who rudely assumed I was a pothead two weeks in (under what grounds did that get started was what I would like to know) it was totally cool with me that the student got yelled at. That was another really unpleasant course too, come to think of it. All of the girls in that class were serious PR majors, the ones who start interning in high school and name drop clients and celebrities during classes and you can kind of already see that their future includes a lifetime of offices, Louboutins (for the name-dropping factor), and Botox.

The Art of Presentation

During the community college days, I gave a few interesting presentations. My presentations, in general, begin with a joke, involve me walking around, lots of hand motions, and as little note card glances and "umm's" as possible. While none of these presentations featured sparklers or wigs, they were still memorable in their own way.

The best one was a piece I did on the argument pros and cons for school uniforms in Psychology. Why I was doing this sort of presentation in a psych class, I don't remember. I have a long-term history of tweaking classroom work to fit my likes more than the actual assignment given. Case in point, in eighth grade when faced with writing a paper on issues like homelessness and AIDS awareness, I requested, and received permission, to write about the cancellation of my then-favorite show on ABC, Once and Again. And that paper received a round of applause. Just. Sayin'.

For this presentation, I bought a black piece of construction foam, chalk, and ripped out dozens of photos from magazines of school blazers and uniforms to create a chalkboard collage. Definitely had a blast putting it together. I tend to do very well when I'm on my hands and knees, surrounded by cut out pictures, scissors, tape, glue, and lots of good music playing in the background. The presentation and chalkboard were a hit and I was proud of the work I had done.

In contrast, for the Biology course with Skeevy McGee, I had to write a report on the heart and present it sans a PowerPoint. I printed out a bunch of information on the heart to put on the overhead projector, but midway through the assignment I had a really good idea to pull up a clip art picture of Dracula at the moment I described just how much blood pumps into our hearts in the span of 1 minute. I got the idea approved with my girlfriends who thought it was ridiculous but hilarious. Boom. Happening.

I'm in my presentation and I just finished telling everyone how much blood pumps through the human heart. I repeated the number twice, then pretended to put my hand to my ear, "What's that? I think I just heard someone else is interested in that bit of information." I slid the vampire picture onto the projector, "Aw, it's Count Dracula! Now that's information he can use, aww yeah!"

At first nobody moved. I wondered if I had lost them. Then one person started to laugh, followed by another, until the entire room was laughing including Skeevy McGee. Yay! Inappropriate blood sucking jokes for the win! I rounded out the presentation by clasping my hands together to make a heart shape. Lots o' applause and even a nod from Ole Skeevy from the presentation going well.

'L' is for the Way You Look at Me

In Community, Jeff gets around with a professor on campus and with both Annie and Britta (whom Troy refers to both as 'donuts' in one episode in that it isn't fair for Jeff to get with both of the study group girls).

I'd really prefer not to remember all of the instances of guys trying to make moves on me during my 1.5 years of community college, but two in particular stick out the most. Emo Child and $. Not a typo on the last one, $ signed his first name which began with an "S" with a dollar sign.

Emo Child sat next to me in the Bio class with Skeevy McGee (jeez, what was wrong with this class? Why didn't I transfer out?) and was very unsettling. Anytime I would get up for presentations/getting back from presenting he would tell me "good luck" and "that was a good presentation." Before class began, he would sit there listening to his metal and death rock and I, in my Rammstein phase, would sit there listening to my Till Lindemann while reading. In some ways we did look like a good match for one another, but we weren't. Some people can look like good matches but from experience, that doesn't mean jack shit.

It was $ who was the true weirdo. I took a Persuasion course (in communications, not on the Jane Austen book) where I met $ who sat next to me. Initially our friendship was formed on making fun of a guy who sat two seats behind me and was dubbed by the entire classroom as "Smelly Dude." Of course, the thing is $ and I were hardly friends. I was much closer to the girl who sat behind me and she knew I had issues with $. $ was nice....ish. He drank more energy drinks than I did, which at the time, was highly impressive in an odd way. His desk was lined up with a wide variety of Monster and Rock Star beverages and he never blinked when he talked to you.

One afternoon, I had a head-splitting headache and was walking to that class, contemplating if I could make it through. The class was canceled for the afternoon and relieved, I made the decision to skip the rest of the classes for the day and go home. On my way down the stairs to go to my bus, $ was walking up, tweaked on too much Red Bull as usual. "Where are you going?" he asked me, not blinking.

"Class is canceled for today." I replied and he nodded and grinned, "Alright, cool. Hey, want to go get sushi? I know a great place."

"No thanks," I told him, now down the stairs with $ as my reluctant companion out of the door. My head was threatening to explode on the entire student body.

"Maybe another time?" He asked and in a fuzz of blurred pain, I nodded. Through the blur, I remember thinking it was so unfortunate that he just didn't dress better, otherwise he might make a semi-fine young man.

Then I went home and slept for an hour before going on a walk in the neighborhood since it was a stunningly sunny day outside. On the walk, I recalled saying yes to the next sushi outing. My stomach felt panicked.

Of course this story has a terrible ending. He talked to me one afternoon where I expressly made it clear that not only was he ruining my math memorization, but I did not want to have anything to do with him. It was harsh granted, but necessary. I only felt better afterward. I mean, when everyone in your class is asking you about your "boyfriend" and you have to loudly clarify it that nothing is going on, then sometimes the mean route is the best way to go.

I felt even better in class the next week when the girl sitting behind me gasped out, "$! What happened to your eye?"

I briefly turned and saw that one of his eyeballs had popped out and looked as though a blood vessel exploded. Though terrible, I stifled a laugh.

Must have been all of the Red Bull.

This is only the beginning of the stories though. I haven't discussed my time writing for the school newspaper, the boy who had a crush on me on the bus, the week the hippie invasion occurred on campus. Like the Community gang on the show and myself in real life, the good news that keeps you warm on the nights you're standing outside in the snow waiting for the bus to arrive to take you home and the realization that it isn't coming and you have to wait for the next one to arrive is this. It's not forever. Maybe it's coming in two years or six months or 5 years, but I swear...

You Will Get Out

Love to you all,


Binny said...

Ah, sorry about the job :/ you'll get em next time. And the interviewer sounds like an idiot...I hate condescending men.

I have to admit that I kind of make the same assumption that you made before; about community college being for 'underachievers'. But I do recognize that sometimes it's a money thing, and in NY they've even implemented an "honors" program within community colleges, so that people in money-tight situations can still excel.

hehe great post! keep watching community! :p

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

Wow, you met quite the cast of characters! Though you'll go through life and discover even more interesting people as you go along.
It can be so hard to judge or create rapport and even more annoying to think that sometimes rapport/subjectivity of how much the interviewer likes you clinches it. If they didn't have a social media element, it probably wasn't right for you.

p.s. Thanks for the book recommendation. I'm finishing up "Too Big to fail" about the financial crisis (actually a relatively easy to read book). "White Oleader is going on the list!

Chic 'n Cheap Living

Krissy (Shimmer Like Gold) said...

Bummer you didn't get the job. But you have pretty much the best attitude about it ever. I need to take a page out of your book. I tend to mope like a gigantic loser and can't let things go. Not cool, self. Not cool.

Anyway! I love Community! It's one of my favourite shows. :D

Your presentations sound pretty awesome. I, fortunately, managed to avoid them in university - thank goodness - as I'm awful at them. I probably could have used the practice though. Ah well.

Lynn {hearted girl} said...

good attitude about the job sitch lades, how could they not be on board with social media. it's everywhere these days, companies have thrived by incorporating it into their mainstream. just nuts!

i have yet to see this show but had a bunch of friends recommend it too. anything with Chevy involved has to be a stellar thing. love your writing style girl and those community college stories rock. nice inside scoops. ooo, but the skeevy dude sounds creepolas. yikes and GROSSSSS! glad you made it through what sounds like an uproarious time. ♥

Dancing Branflake said...

Seriously love Community and you have some fabulous stories! Sorry about the job- it'll happen. You haven't given up and that says a ton.

Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

I hate the whole call back interview process- it's such false hope- Your attitude about the whole situation sounds great-
I've never seen the show although I do love me some J McCale.
Your heart presentations sounds hilarious- I don't think I would be able to stop laughing at the Dracula picture- that sure is useful info esp for him.

drollgirl said...

omg. those people with the job sound like IDIOTS! you are LUCKY you did not get that job! good god! something WAAAAAAAAAAAY better will come along that is right for you!

Diana Mieczan said...

Ohh I am sorry about the job stuff and I totally want to watch that show now. Thanks, darling and wish you a lovely day

Ps: I’m hosting an amazing GIVEAWAY later today! You can win 5 cool art posters!

Pearl Westwood said...

It is always a downer not getting a job, but if you look on the positive side, would you really want to work with those people!! I am sure someting even better will come up soon for you x

Cara-Mia said...

Definitely sounds like a company you do NOT want to be involved with anyway, dear.

Loved reading all these stories. I went to community college as well, but I have yet to see the show. Maybe once I have more free time in the summer I will start watching it. I do love Joel McHale & Chevy Chase. :)

Andrew Green said...

Those are some great stories....
I, too, spent two years at a community college, and KIND OF relate to much of the stuff on Community.

And sorry about the career issues. I, too (again!), have been dealing with some similar stuff.

Excellent post!