usually i have a food only rule for this site* but as it’s my blog with the widest “readership” (thanks google analytics) i thought i would bring this up here because i need to vent.
earlier today i wrote a comment on the hairpin about my relationship and what i’ve learned in answer to a lady who is having trouble finding dudes she’s attracted to who aren’t intimidated by her career and professional lifestyle. i really thought about it and tried to give the kind of advice that i would have been helpful for me not too long ago, encompassing the insights that i have gotten through dating jason.
somehow that thread has now turned into “the double ivy thread.” in a way i should have expected the reaction because it does smack of humbrag but it was such a small part of the comment and i’ve found the hairpin to be such a positive and respectful community that it caught me unawares. maybe i should have said that he went to a good public university but i’m not perfect and it was dashed off quite quickly. frankly i would edit it out if i could but i won’t delete it because i think the rest of the content is helpful. and i shouldn’t have to.
my point was that until recently i probably would not have considered dating someone who didn’t have the same level of education as me (reasonable, no?), but i respect jason as my intellectual equal and understand that socioeconomic circumstances come into play when it comes to higher education. up to now i perhaps naively assumed that anyone who was qualified enough to be accepted can afford an ivy league education due to a commitment to full tuition needs based financial aid that most schools i looked into provided (in 2001). but i now understand that room and board plus travel expenses play a big part in that equation.
i’m really proud of my education and i don’t think i should have to downplay it. those of you who know me know that it was 7 years of NO SLEEP. and it’s tiring to be in your 19th year of education in a row. i worked really hard for my degrees and i chose which schools to attend based on programs at the top of my intended field, not because they’re ivies. in fact i probably would not have attended penn if i hadn’t been rejected at berkeley and the landscape phd program at university of illinois urbana champaign. i would reckon that very few ivy leaguers choose their colleges purely based on a label and very few are undeserving legacies.
i understand that i am privileged but i don’t take it for granted. my parents worked hard to provide for my education and being chinese have not conformed to the laissez faire american attitude towards credit. growing up we lived frugally and that has more to do with my current financial freedom than their income. i used to talk to my coworkers about their kids going to college and listen to their complaints that they can’t afford it, because that’s what old people like to say to young people they don’t know on a personal level. it took all my restraint to not say that they just need to change their priorities. my mom would have never spent hundreds of dollars a month on yoga classes and mani/pedis. my dad would never have bought himself a fancy new bike. they wouldn’t even have considered it.
i’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because unemployment is a time for introspection and also because have a lot of time on my hands. america has been in denial about class for so long compared to other more obviously hierarchical societies and now it’s only started to bubble up. i am the 1% (5%? 10%?) but i am ALSO the 99% because i’m young and i’ve been screwed over by this economy.** i absolutely support wearethe99percent but find a lot of posts to be inexcusably antagonistic. i am lucky that i didn’t have to work a full time job in college or rack up massive student loans but that doesn’t diminish my outrage at the current state of the world. fight the system, not the people.
of course, this is not the first time i’ve encountered this kind of, albeit mild, prejudice of projected snobbery. in a recent job interview i got the distinct the impression that my interviewers somehow faulted me for not going to university of cincinnati. i explained that i really respect their internship program but on my campus tour i found the outlook of the architectural faculty i met to be a bit parochial. i did mentioned that i could have gone there for free, because who wouldn’t want free college, but ultimately i chose another option which suited me better. even at cornell, i knew a guy who treated me totally differently after i truthfully answered his question about my SAT score in the getting to know you bit of college that we all go through. i pronounce foreign loan words correctly because i’ve lived abroad, i have a naturally gifted ear and sometimes i don’t even know how americans pronounce the words. i don’t use “big words” to confuse or belittle but because sometimes they more precisely convey my intentions.***
* i really hate it when you subscribe to a tumblr for a specific kind of content but your dashboard gets clogged with “pretty” photos stolen from other people’s flickrs and gifs from some show you don’t watch.
** for a funnier and more insightful statement to this effect, please watch this video.
*** actually i do do that but only to people that i know and have assessed as anti-intellectual and only if i’m really frustrated so as not to blow up at them. i am nothing if not persistently polite.
**** i know it’s not going to happen but i solipsistically wish the internet was more academically rigorous.