Sunday, August 7, 2011

On Work, School and the Beginnings of it All

For over 40 years I've lived in Florida. My father's family lives here. While in N.Y. my father did enjoy the presence of his older brothers for a while until they retired and went back to Florida but for as long as I can remember they have all lived down here. He has quite a lot of family given he was one of 7 children, 2 girls and 5 boys.I guess it was a joke, it was certainly a joke to me, but they could not fathom how I could not get a job. It was always a matter of cutting my hair or in some other way conforming to the norms of the business community as they conceived of the business community. I have not really seen any studies on the hiring of long haird men and/or braless women (my girlfriends generally did not wear bras). A progressive modern view would view it as unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of hair or underwear but I suspect progress and the modern view don't make the money, especially here in the south.
So, I never got a job or the jobs I got, paper courier, dishwasher, laborer didn't last long at most 2 weeks.
And then the "tribe" turned on me. Somehow I had gotten involved in what was called a tribe in the subculture. It started with an interest in spiritual things, Buddha, Krishna and this impersonalism tht the Krishna devotees talk about. There was also a fascinating book called Consciousness of the Atom and it was given as reading material in the college I attended Santa Fe Community College. I learned later that Consciousness of the Atom was only one book in a series of books by A.A. Bailey, a woman who lived in England and wrote as a channel for a spiritual master known as D.K. an abbreviation for Djwahl Kuhl. Of course there were many spiritual matters in college where men meet woman and love is spoken of, sex becomes a regular part of life and intoxication is a regular indulgence. In a philosophy class I had Herman Hesse was offered as some reading and Kahlil Gibran's works came up at parties I attended. Lots of people were into "The Last Whole Earth Catalogue" and "Foxfire." People wanted to be autonomous. There were also Jesus Freaks and followers of the 14 year old perfect master called Maharaji, an honorific term that was used by the followers of Prem Rawat. Krishna devotees argued over him, inferring he had called himself God and that only Krishna was God. My philosophy teacher followed a spiritual master named Kirpal Singh. He also taught free classes on some of the A.A. Bailey books, "The Treatise on White Magic" and "The Treatise on Cosmic Fire."
Ah, so why couldn't I get a job living with my bigoted old man and mom. Mom made my bed and after enough drinking with the newly named men, 18 year olds having been given rights that had only been awarded 21 year olds before, and taking a grand assortment of drugs from Qualludes and acid to marijuana, amphetamines and barbituates I felt self-conscious about my mother making my bed. Billy Joel sang a song about moms making their grown sons beds. It wasn't really about the making of the bed but of a life not being lived to its fullest, Captain Jack. Having lived a long time now making my own bed, which is mostly unmade these days, I wonder what was so wrong with my mom making my bed. Shit, who is Billy Joel to me or I to him? You know another great rock and roll song that affected me was Springsteen's. In one of Bruce's songs he sings about a fellow named Hazy Davey. Hazy Davey got really hurt, he sang, he ran into the lake in just his socks and his shirt. Well, I had been hurt, I guess. I was alone. I was on probation at school. I drank and smoke and used drugs. I had experimented sexually. And I lived at home with my parents who didn't really love each other but kept that kind of a secret. It was nobody's business. Ah, and a girl friend I had been with for 10 months brok up with me.
So, I wonder about working, about being on my own, supporting myself. It would seem those things should have been mentioned at 18 and brought up later when they weren't being realized. I started school at the University of Florida. I was a hippie though and I smoked pot and had since I was a Junior in High School, pot and tobacco (I also drank). Other students and friends of mine from high school had gone to the community college. A failing grade was not counted toward your average there, but you had a right to take it over again. At UF a 2.0 g.p.a. had to be maintained. My teachers (and I was blessed with one particularly wonderful teacher who opposed the war and supported bussing and went out on strike when a teachers strike happened in this area) thought I could do the work at UF but maybe they hadn't acknowledge the influence of alcohol, drugs and politics. In 1971, the year I started, George McGovern was cranking up his campaign for the presidency. The FM radio told us where to find drugs and there was a place you could bring drugs if you thought they might have been tampered with on the streets before you bought them. I'll have to check the year on that. I graduated high in '71 and proceeded to UF but wasn't the election in '72? Anyway, I had many friends, some close and some not so close. Instead of taking a dorm room at UF I decided to take an apartment, that is live with my friends who were taking drugs and partying much of the time. I fantasized about selling drugs, having a young woman live with me, etc., the whole rock and roll thing. I guess living in a dorm wouldn't have avoided that. Somehow I would have broken out of it. My best friends going to the community college was something I couldn't avoid. I wanted to be with them and I went to their classes and sat in. That led me to give up on some of my classes at UF. I often think of the bucket of bolts my father bought for me to drive to school. I had had an accident with my mom's car. I totaled it, an nsurance term for exceeding in damages the estimated value of the car. Mom and dad collected $900 on it. With that my father bought me a $300 bucket of bolts, a 1964 Falcon, standard shift with no radio and painted beige. It was like a Navy vehicle. It was a subconscious message that service men were better than me, that I should join the service like my brother did in 1962. I had never had my own car so what was I to do but if he had cared about my success in the world he would have bought me something better and done better to support my education. I never got a commuter sticker to park at UF. I got a lot of tickets my first quarter. Would a better car have made me more conscious of parking? My cousin, 2 years older, was given a brand new car. Word was he worked. His father, with whom he was closer than his mother, owned a farm and cuz worked on it. Was that really work, doing what need be done on the farm you grew up on and tended, likely, all your life? My friend whom I met through him, a year older than me and a  year younger than cuz, laughed at the inscription on the side of the car, Heavy Chevy! My step-brother in N.Y. had owned a Chevy. He was going to give it to me but he got in an accident and sold what was left of it for $25. It was a beautiful '65 Chevy Impala convertible with shieds and skirts and dual antennas. It also had speakers in the back and dual exhausts. I think it had a cassette tape player. Of some renown is a record player he had on one car, that played 45's but I think that had gone the way of trading in. His previous car was a '58 with cruiser skirts and fancy hubcaps, shields, lowering blocks, etc. Those were cars! Not a '64 Falcon painted beige.

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