I Hate School
The Written Version of Stand-Up Comedy, a Result of Dedicating Too Many Hours to John Mulaney on Netflix. On Moving Up in Life.
Now we all know planes are for long-distance travel. We all know trains are for moderate-distance travel or the city-savvy commuter. And cars… cars are great, right? Totally worth all that money you don’t have yet but hope to god you’ll probably have someday. But what about buses? The small, medium, and large travel method for students who have no better transportation and for stories about your youth to demonstrate to~ that set of offspring you wish you could give back to God~ what ungrateful, privileged, terrible brats they are. So, really, you should be feeling bad for them instead of yourself- because they’re just like you, except they have a host of valid excuses to smell bad most of the time whereas you are just lazy and “busy”.
But, in all seriousness, some of us lazy folk really are busy. For example, I recently had some weeks where I had a combination of midterms and finals and those tests that determine if my two semesters of hard work actually count for something when I go to tally up the college credits I still have to buy. This, of course, was that miserable time period between my sister’s 21st birthday and Mother’s Day- that time when seven of my best friends and relatives also have birthdays. Insufferable, these constant demands to celebrate the people we love. I was once told to love only who I live with and celebrate them, so I was like “how freaking crowded do you think my house is, I mean, I call myself lucky to be able to afford a box on the street and a blanket were I independent, but seriously what is this a group home?” No, I don’t live in a group home, I am a middle-class-80%-third-generation-Irish girl with two hard-working parents and if that burns me for financial aid and nice things at the same time then it’s going to benefit me now. I live in a nice home close enough to the high school to hear literally everything that happens from my bedroom with enough family photos to constitute at least one episode of Law & Order: SVU or at least a Criminal Minds. But I digress; I was trying to make a point about kids being busy these days. Seems logical, right? In what world??
America’s public education system is their prison system, but with bubbles and recycling and technology. Only, it’s not the kind of bubbles you get to pop and it’s not the even kind of standardized testing that’s proven to assess a child’s intelligence. Only, no one’s sure the administrators started genuinely recycling when they said they had a few years ago because fool me once and never again will I trust the school. Only, the technology doesn’t actually function while on school wifi and you can’t use it outside of school is the catch. Now, it’s not just school; there’s the “part”-time job which is often far closer to full time than is legal and there’s the fact that numerous school clubs and activities are encouraged. Even though the school day begins hours earlier than scientifically proven to be healthy (to accommodate sports) students have to perform extraordinarily. I’m tired just thinking about it, but then again I’ve been proven to be beneath the art of thought. Only, this was after I’d settled into a lifestyle of mental and emotional exhaustion I hope to rise from my during my summer reprieve.
Now going off of that cute habit of mine where I put lots of thought into little results, let’s approach American schooling from a social aspect, shall we? So this one time, I was hanging out with a friend on one of those not-a-date situations. You know what I mean, those things where it’s a pre-arranged appointment between people who are “getting to know each other” that is most definitely not a date? Those events where it’s one-on-one people getting food and trying to impress one another that really isn’t a date? Well, for the first time in maybe a few months, I had one of those days with someone and let’s just say I was taking no chances on that thing where everyone thinks you’re more than friends so you’re looking your best for each other. I did everything a girl can possibly do to make herself look pretty, platonically. This took three hours the night before and an additional chunk of my life the morning of our lunch. Of course, my principal order of business was ensuring my skin- every bit of it- was perfectly soft. Of course, this boy didn’t touch me for a second that day. So, you see, kids are busy with a social complexity and what we learn from this is the following: sometimes when you’re told “it’s not a date”, this is complete bull. However other times those exact words are to be engraved in stone and pronounced gospel. Sometimes it really is and sometimes it is really not. But by now I simply forget most of the details I wanted to give when this thought occurred to me during my shower, as happens with all thoughts of value. So, on we push.
Oh, you thought I was out of topics? Huh, interesting assertion there. You see, when you get told you can be whatever you want and then locked up for the next twelve years and told what you’re allowed to do and when and how you learn to think about a variety of things. And we don’t even get alcohol to deal with that. Now, adults always seem to think they have it much harder, and maybe that’s true but you earn money instead of losing it, you get a certain amount of esteem for doing whatever it is that buys your food, and on top of it all at the end of the day you get your vices to cope. Kids don’t have that privilege. Most of us grow up surrounded by moderately tipsy adults who show us how to make your problems seem smaller and what do we get for that purpose? Counselors who, let’s be real, are never helpful at fixing the scheduling problems chances are they put there, let alone being of emotional or mental help. Now don’t even get me started on mental illnesses, because then I’ll have to throw some addiction into this discussion, but I mean people go out into the world and use this stuff as shield and sword in one. And then they send their kids out with nothing of the kind. Like, here’s something I heard one night while I was writing an essay: “Is that why they had to bring their own wine, they stayed at the wrong type of place?”Now I don’t know how the conversation arrived there from “what time should we be at your house tomorrow” but it wasn’t weird or anything, it was just something I heard. So I immediately thought, “They had to bring their own wine because they left the house, like always. These are your relatives we’re talking about.” Automatically. And, thus, I hate school.
Now, don’t get me wrong, School has a host of benefits. Now you have the privilege of a quadratic formula at your memory’s disposal, to supply a generic and basic example. But you also get to know yourself, you get to know people, you come to understand how to deal with all of this how you will, and you are blessed with abundant time squeezed in somewhere to compose angry poems and funny essays about the naturally ample subject matter greeting you from as few as three hundred fifty-nine degrees if you’re lucky. This, remember friends, is all courtesy of your friendly neighborhood SpiderGovernment. In the scripted words of his majesty Zac Efron, “lucky us!” Right? Well… what if, what if, what if? We’re raised on that phrase in more ways than one, but let’s talk about quicksand.
We are hypothetically in school to prepare us for future life, but the media we’re exposed to as children is rather detrimental on that front when you reflect on it. I mean, any words that tiptoe towards a real problem kids do or will face in their real lives will be burned or banned, and probably both by the time the moms on Facebook have duked it out because they must all get their say in what each other’s pretty-minded little babies are exposed to at such a vulnerable age, seventeen years young and innocent. And, well, that leaves issues that we will never encounter, or that can be solved in three seconds or less. This means quicksand because so many people have been pointing out recently that they’ve never encountered it. Kids who read children’s books (ahem Nancy Drew) or watch certain tv shows (yeah, I draw a blank there) come to expect quicksand to be easily one of the biggest issues an adult must handle and navigate; now we stand on the Line of Misery where we’d like to think we’re grown-ups but we don’t even have high school diplomas yet and realize how slim the chances of ever encountering it really are. So there you have one example of the rigorous academics and welcoming atmosphere of an educational environment not doing so well at actual preparation.
God, I hate school, like I loathe every day of my life so much that not even my oldest and closest friends associate me with the kid who loved school. I mean, I lived for it and now I’m dying for it. Thanks very much for the education, America. And, to that end, we might as well discuss the other day in my math class. A discussion over log that lead to frustration. Or the incident with the clocks that lead to a thesis statement on psychological warfare that I have slipped into a google doc somewhere. But, starting at the very end up until this point as all logical people do, we recount the experience of learning about logarithms. To set the stage, it was one day before the test on it and we spent part of the class learning the rules of how to use it. So one kid asked, “I’m not being sarcastic, in all seriousness, what is a log?” And no one could really explain what it was; by the time attempts were made, another question was thrown to the table: “how could we ever use this outside of class?” So arose the returning question that just will not stop stabbing American education at nearly all levels: “How Would This Ever Be Useful to Me After the Final Exam?”
Now you may be bored of me, but you can rest assured because I swear to you with complete sincerity that these are but a modicum of potential demonstrations to illustrate for you how ineffective America’s system of raising our youth happens to be at this moment in time. Now, take it from me, this is not always the fault of teachers who have a weird little thing about answering questions where they don’t do it; but sometimes it is. You may recall me mentioning the stellar work and indispensable assistance a student can expect from their counselor, provided they even know who and where this person is. We should discuss, should we not? Shall we? Now some of these petite ladies with the world’s most disconcerting smiles happen to be pretty nice in general, but it would be an unfair overstatement to say some of them are competent at doing their jobs. And I only refer to the basic stuff, because no one really talks to the counselors about things a person generally seeks “counseling about”; we have food and memes for those purposes and we are sixteen years old and we do not need a governess, thank you very much, Maria.
Who remembers “The Sound of Music” anyway? This nun gets sent to a home of a stuck-up-guy-in-a-tie with seven kids and for some reason is running around with them trying to teach them how to sing for her and then falls in love with the guy. It’s a really weird movie, even for 60s drama trying to be a rom-com and a WWII movie in one, and I realize now that Julie Andrews had her work cut out for her making it seem wow. Yeah, well, I have my work cut out for me trying to deal with my school’s wacked counseling department. I can promise you no bones in the student body are trying to put themselves there for an hour to achieve what I’ve seen kids do in under a minute.
But, occasionally, you have to get your schedule fixed. And God help you. Speaking of God, which is okay because we all know He’s not listening, it’s very personal to ask how you feel about the man in the sky who sees everything you do- like Santa, but judgemental with permanence- so I won’t do that, but just pretend I did. Cause the thing is, even the most religious kids become Satanic goths within and plain, unassuming atheists on the outside by the time they reach their more mature teenage years. This is what I think of as coming to terms with the fact that you’ve given up. On God, on many of your BFFs, on your momma, on yourself, and on this life, you have given up- don’t deny it, could you just give me that? The first group you give up on tends to be the adults tasked with helping you. Then sometimes it is a necessary evil if you’re after a decent schedule, and God help you if you want anything of the kind.
But in all seriousness, I think religion is a really interesting thing to think about. And because I was raised in public schools, I know that when something interesting is on your mind, you’re supposed to make sure you’re adequately making fun of it so it’s decimated and driven into the dirt. Don’t think of it like that, it’s just the rule.
In keeping with social rules against stuff like that, we’re not even going to approach the reasons why I lost my valiant-but-evidently-less-than-resilient faith in Jesus Christ as my personal savior because I’m not trying to traumatize you, I swear. I’m not responsible for anything that might stick to your brain cells after exposure to this because come on, I am not responsible for anything. But that won’t stop me from giving you some food for thought, cause I don’t want you starving or anything- I’m not saying you brought a fist to a rifle fight, I’m just thinking I’ll tell you what’s on my mind and you’ll go with it because comedy, right? So you should know I went to church about three times a week once upon a time. Some of you are probably like “WHAT??” and I don’t pretend to have an answer anymore. The thing is, that was my routine and I prayed at least ten times a day; like, I talked to God more than all my friends together, it sort of blows my mind to think about. Now, there was some random moment awhile back where my mom asked if I wanted to lead the group in prayer and you can bet a college tuition on the fact that I was desperate to get out of that as quick as I could. Honestly, I thought if I could just get the first few phrases, the rest would flow naturally, but I was not about to test myself on that one in front of other people. I’m not in touch with religion these days.
Now, if anything will make me pray again, I swear it will be this. Honestly. Now a comedy special tends to sit around one hour to about eighty minutes and a regular stand-up show is roughly a half hour with some shows at around twenty-five or forty-five and I have no idea how people manage to write specials because this is harder than I thought. Like any good member of the iGen, I partially expected Google to do the legwork for me, and apparently, my method of writing comedy is not at all like the one real comedians use; this is way harder than I expected. Like, seriously, my respect for real comedians has grown exponentially since I was like “hey I always have these rants and I think I’m pretty funny so why not take a stab at something like this?” Because I’m still not a comedian, and now I’m at a loss I guess. My saving grace, I believe, is that people laugh at the things I say even when I’m not trying to be funny, so they’ll sure be laughing now. They really have to, don’t they? So, I guess I’m a funny girl just like Belle even though I’m not a comedian. Well, then I guess I’m alright with being a princess. I’ll give you time for that one. So thank you royally for putting up with me for the past fifteen minutes or so of your life.
Thanks so very much for reading this piece.