Friday, April 8, 2011

Relaxing with Steve Martin, California Disolves

Friday, April 1 2011 - Long Beach, CA

A good, semi-lazy day after a long four days of teaching. Got up early, around seven-thirty. Puttered around the house for a bit and then walked to the post office. After that I went to the library and the bank. Once these errands were done, I rode my bike down to the beach and then went for a long, soft-sand hike down to the end of the peninsula. I then decided to augment my hike with a rock hop about three-quarters the way out on the jetty that runs along the north side of the entry way to the Alamitos Marina. It was a beautiful day for all this - it was about eighty-five degrees, the sky was high and blue, and there was very little wind, which meant the polluted, breakwater-neutered San Pedro Bay was looking a pretty green-blue as it gently lapped against the polluted sand (from out on the breakwater the City hugging the beach looked almost placidly Mediterranean if I squinted my eyes a bit).

After I got home from the beach I made some penne marinara for lunch, took a shower, and then had a short nap. After I got up I decided to do a couple more errands and headed over to Big-5 sporting goods to pick up some hiking socks for my trip (I lucked into a good sale and ended up getting four nice pairs for around fourteen bucks). After Big-5 I went over to Staples and bought a ream of paper, as well as a couple of composition notebooks I plan on bringing with me to Greece.

So definitely not an exciting day, but a pleasant one (I have so little time to myself these days that doing things like going to the post office and buying socks are treats).

For the last hour or so I've just been lounging around naked (it's so great to finally be getting some warm weather!) in bed reading Born Standing Up, which is Steve Martin's book about his early days as a performer. So far it's really fun; it's neat to get the background on a comic I really loved growing up (before he started making some very questionable, very Hollywood choices in his career). I'm also enjoying the local Southern California feel of the book. Martin did most of his growing up in Garden Grove, a municipality that's just down the road from me (I drive thru it every time I head over to Santiago Canyon College to work), and it's interesting to get his take on that area, on Orange County in general. Though he was born about twenty years before I was, the general feel of his growing up reminds me of what I later experienced - bland Orange County comfort teamed up with a dysfunctional family and a longing to do something else, to be someone else, somewhere else. In retrospect this obviously came thru in his stand-up work, which is probably part of the reason I so identified with it in my early and middle teens - though it manifests itself in different ways, the Southern California vibe and all that's troubling (and worthwhile) about it really forms the baseline of both of our personalities ...

Speaking of my home state, it looks like we might be getting something close to worst-case scenario, in regards to the funding of the community college system. As of right now their budgets will be slashed 800 million - 800 MILLION! If this happens, I, along with many other teachers, will surely be out of a job come this fall. Now I don't think it will be quite this bad. Tuition hikes that have already gone thru will make up for 200 million of the cuts. I suspect that if Governor Brown can't get the people to go along with the tax extensions he wants (which is likely) there will be another fee hike, which will probably make up for another 200 million. Still a 400 million dollar cut would be devastating; classes and programs will be cut right and left and so will teachers. I might survive a less extreme cut, though I will probably end up being very part time.

For me getting my classes cut back or even losing my job might be an OK situation. I know teaching is not my future and this will push me into my life as a full-time writer more quickly. I'm in fact quite excited by the prospect of being forced to take this plunge. I'd rather have a transition period, though, time to build up a bit more of a freelance income before I lose my teaching paychecks altogether. I think the best thing for me might be to get cut down to three classes (I'm teaching six now). That will give me an income that will pay my bedrock expenses, while allowing me time to do my own writing as well as freelance work. Interestingly I'm finding that I'm not worrying about any of this too much as of yet. Things are really out of my hands at the moment and either way I know I'll still be moving forward in my life - somehow. It's the students, present and future, who are really getting screwed. It also pains me to think of the future of this state. We're already hovering around 12% unemployment and now the college system is really crumbling (the State and UC schools have been taking hits for years). How did the wealthiest state in the nation turn into an economic basket case? Don't get me started on that long, ugly tale ...

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