Broke-Ass Returns from Her “Day Off” to Address Her Feelings About a Liberal Arts Education from an Ivy League School

So, after having stayed up all night with her adorable, albeit teething and inconsolable, toddler–Two Lumps of Sugar–Broke-Ass had her work day interrupted by a call from school, informing her that her middle child–Little Mousie–had, along with 15 other children, been found to have nits and needed to be picked up immediately. Because Broke-Ass does not drink, she cried, got out the baking soda, comb, began looking forward to a weekend of more baking soda, cried some more, and then ate the rest of the cookies in the minivan on the way to school.

But. Today is another day. Another fucking day. And it cheers Broke-Ass to take a moment in between loads of laundry to answer this magnificent message:

Dear Broke Ass Grouch —

Please address your feelings about a liberal arts education from an Ivy League school. Are you sorry? Do you wish you had majored in accounting or become a nurse like my blue collar relatives — Or gone to law school like “strivers” in my family?  (Note: they’ve all been laid off at one time or another in the last three years.)

What is your advice for creative types who are thinking about a major–what, in your experience, should they chose? A stint at Breadloaf? A masters degree in journalism at Columbia University which costs, dunno, $50,000 for a job that will get them an UNPAID INTERNSHIP when they  graduate?

What about marrying a rich guy? Think that is a viable solution in this post-feminist days?

Let’s hear it.

Signed,

Let’s Hear it for Frugal!

Let’s Hear it for Frugal: You’re my new best friend. What an excellent series of questions! But where the fuck were you when Broke-Ass decided to marry an antiques restorer without a trust fund? You’re talking to someone who, back in the day, turned down an opportunity for a blind date with Bill Gates because, she said, he was “too nebbishy.” That same person now considers munching on her fingernails a legitimate snack.

But to your questions. First, Broke-Ass’ feelings about a liberal arts education from an Ivy League college are very bad. Indeed, Broke-Ass’ feelings about any kind of arts education are very bad. Broke-Ass recently took the opportunity to address these feelings at a PTA meeting at her children’s Montessori school by wondering aloud if such electives as “The Physical Actor” and “Curating” might take a back seat in favor of colloquia such as “Understanding the Stock Market” or “Testing for BPAs, Heavy Metals, and Phalates in the Erie Basin.” Broke-Ass’ suggestions were met with chair shuffling.

The bottom line is this. If Broke-Ass had had a brain in her head, she would have gone to the engineering school of her Ivy League college instead of graduating with a fucking B.A. in English. Who cares if she sucked at math? She would have gotten good at math, had she known that 20 years later she’d be raising chickens in the ghetto.

Broke-Ass is coming around to getting behind the Eisenhower-era philosophy of education, which seems to condense to: there should be a civic component to studies. Why isn’t there a greater imperative to learn how to do stuff that the country needs people to do? Broke-Ass feels that the career advice “Do what you want to do!” is the biggest crock of shit of all time. This isn’t fucking Copenhagen or Paris, where you’re paid to go to the fucking movies or stroll around art galleries with that smug inner voice on auto-loop:  “Because I’m an artistthat’s why.” The only American in recorded history who has ever been able to do this is the author Elizabeth Gilbert.

Broke-Ass wonders if our country gave more to us in the way of actual social services, perhaps there would be more civic commitment. Perhaps if our country’s public education were to advance more civic-minded and engaging math and science curricula (such as “Testing for BPAs, Heavy Metals, and Phalates in the Erie Basin”), there would be more scientists. Just thinking out loud.

I mean, who doesn’t want to figure out how to build an earthquake-proof bridge? Who doesn’t want to figure out how to get Los Angeles on public transportation? Who doesn’t want to figure out how to pack more nutrition into rice? Broke-Ass wants to figure these things out. Instead, she is writing this fucking thing while her toddler swats at flies, which are attracted by all the chicken shit around here.

So, Broke-Ass would strongly advise creative types thusly: There’s nothing like emerging from the bottom level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs–food and shelter–to ignite one’s fucking creativity. What about nanotechnology? Or fractals or something like that? Or learn how to clone Elizabeth Gilbert and tell everyone she dumped that Brazilian guy for you?

Keep those cards and letters coming: brokeassgrouch@gmail.com. I have more baking soda to get to.


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About brokeassgrouch

I'm goddamned broke and grouchy. I live in the middle of the damned ghetto and raise chickens for eggs; grow all my own vegetables and fruit; bake the bread and make the cleaning products. Why? Because I fucking have to, that's why! That's what you do when you're fucking poor! You have to make the shit yourself, dumb-ass! Broke-Ass Grouch is sick of all you Bennington and RISD trustafarians yapping about your "urban farming co-ops" and your "carbon conscious lifestyle" and your "green choices" in the Times Styles section and every alternapress periodical that you can pick up for free in every eye-wateringly expensive, edgy bakery or green-market. Maybe when you have a trust fund, you can make "choices" or have a "lifestyle" or "decide" how to "spend" your "money." Excuse me, but Mama is just trying to feed her kids over here, you little shits. And stop spraying your art-school graffiti on the fence of the vacant lot across the street from my house. I know who you are, and I'm telling my friend Keith (who lives in the projects) that it was you who painted that cartoon of the African mask. So what can I tell you? I don't fucking know. I know a lot about being broke, sure as Bob's your fucking uncle. I know about how useless an Ivy League degree is when you're flat-ass broke. I know how to unclog a drain with baking soda and vinegar, and I know how to make my own CHEESE, for fuck's sake. You tell me.
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2 Responses to Broke-Ass Returns from Her “Day Off” to Address Her Feelings About a Liberal Arts Education from an Ivy League School

  1. glad to meet the grouchy says:

    If I could just do what I cannot do I would be less grouchy and less broke, maybe, but would I be more happy?
    YOU make me smile! VERY MUCH! Thank YOU.

  2. Pat Hough says:

    I love you, Suze! I want to come visit you in the chicken-y ghetto.
    In my school, I am trying to light a fire under the idea of teaching kids how to be 21st century learners
    (me, loudly to myself: “why the hell are we still teaching THAT”)!?
    Change in educational (and other) institutions moves at a snails pace while change in our completely media saturated society is constant. Therein lies the dilemma. Dan Pink explained this much better than I ever could in his book “A Whole New Mind”. I am doing what I can to address this in my school.

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