About a million years ago, back when I was in the middle of my other career, I attended Graduate school for a M.A. in Performing Arts. (I was still young and had hope.)
I wrote a paper in support of my proposal for my final project. I could not get my graduate committee (The three faculty members who were like some kind of three headed hydra.) to tell me what format my paper needed to take, so I just free formed it.
The paper was subsequently rejected and I was directed to a variety of academic papers written to support modern dance projects. (I, too, was surprised that such a thing existed.) I read the papers and noticed that they were written in the traditional MLA format.
I rewrote the paper using the format and was commended on the amount of scholarship I had demonstrated. I wanted to snort with the laughter and direct the Hydra to my undergraduate transcript which stated I was a McFadden Scholar. I have no idea why people are so shocked and amazed to find out that I do have a fine mind nestled snugly under the crazy.
Anyway, they accepted the paper and approved the project. After I put 200 plus hours into the project, including written and photographic documentation, the Hydra said they were not going to approve my project because, “We don’t do that here.” They didn’t want to align their Drama department with a public service theatre project that brought together Developmentally Disabled adults and At-Risk youth. Both groups met weekly to design puppets and develop a script that was then performed for school age children throughout the city.
I can’t expect a State University to get behind that. I don’t know how I could be so foolish.
I told them I needed some time to regroup, so after a full blown tantrum conducted at a high speed ride home and face down on the floor at home. I debated and discussed with everyone and finally asked the universe for a sign. (At this point I only lacked a final project to win the race and get my MA) In the meantime, I still had grants to write for my ongoing programs.
One of my friends from the ARC, the organization that worked with my kids in the hood, was a McDonald’s employee. At the time there was a supply grant available through the company, but you needed an employee’s endorsement. I helped my friend, Michael, write the letter and I asked him what he wanted to use for his closing signature. I explained that when I finished an official letter, I signed it, OutReach Director. I asked him what title he wanted.
He said, “Your Friend.”
It took me a moment to recover and process and when I did, it became clear that this was my sign. I didn’t want to be on the side of a group of people who would deny credit for hard work because it didn’t jibe with their perception of art.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately because I recently had a similar crisis of conscience when dealing with the problems at my previous job. I did what I knew was right.
Because when it’s all over, and our current world/political situation indicates it will be soon, I know where I will stand.
Because I’m Michael’s friend.