You wait at home and then one day you get a college degree that comes in the mail. You get it in the mail because what they give you at the graduation ceremony is a blank sheet of paper. You get a blank sheet, but that’s if you had even gone. You never even got the blank sheet of paper. You get your college degree in an envelope at your parent’s house. And this should be it. You’ve finally made it, finally, right?
After years of waiting, working, waiting, waiting…
You remember grade school, your teacher telling you to finish college, that you’re so smart and not to waste your gifts. Your teacher tells you that you can go to college and be whatever you want when you grow up, and all the kids hate you because, why you? Why are you going to get to go to college and be whatever you want, but not them? Why not them?
You hide under your desk like a turtle into its shell. Wish you could leave and run away, and dig and dig inside your head to pull out pieces of brain to share with the rest.
You raise your hand to answer number five, and the teacher calls on you. You raise your hand to answer number six, number seven, then eight, and then nine. And the teacher asks you to give someone else a chance. The teacher asks, “Who knows number ten?” You keep quiet, and the teacher says, “No one knows number ten?” And all the kids say, “Carlos does!” And the teacher asks, “Carlos what’s number ten?”
You answer, and everyone sneers and rolls their eyes at you. You feel ashamed, and all you want to say is that it’s not your fault.
Now, you think that, maybe, it was conditioning, maybe you’ve been programmed. “Teacher, teacher, I’m your slave, a pet.” You always played along in school.
After years of waiting, you get your college degree in the mail. Soon, everyone will expect you to get a job, not the summer type, but the career kind.
Go online, send out resumes, apply for internships, check out grad schools, America Reads, Teach for America. You’re not ready for the real world.
You wish the real world were a worksheet you had all the answers for before everyone else.
And you wonder what the fuck you’re going to do with yourself today.
Remember high school, and your geometry teacher is standing over you while you take a test to ensure that you don’t copy from the Asian student sitting next to you.
You finish ten minutes before anyone else, and when the teacher passes back the test you get a 95. The student next to you an 86, but the teacher still stands over you anytime there’s a test for the rest of the year.
You learn to despise geometry and math.
And then you’re sitting in college in some Poli-Sci class, and the professor asks, “Carlos can you give us a Latino point of view?” All your classmates wait to listen to you because they think they’re hearing the voice of the streets, and your speech becomes so urban, and you start saying things like, “know what I’m sayin’,” and “for real yo”. You’re such a thug to them, and at home, in your apartment, you read Nietzsche for fun. One day your professor asks if you could curtail your language, and you just laugh inside. Sure you say, but wonder why ‘cause everyone else curses in the class.
But still you give your “Latino” point of view. In your head you think, I don’t know what the fuck every Latino thinks, and I don’t want to be a representative for a whole people.
But now it’s all done. After years of waiting. Years of waiting. Years of waiting. After years of waiting.
Soon the whole world will begin to pressure you to become like them, insignificant.
You take out your degree from the envelope and
Nothing happens, and you don’t want the rest of your life to be like that. You tell yourself that you cannot let yourself fall into a trap: school, work, and then you die.
What the fuck are you going to do today? What the fuck are you going to do tomorrow, and what will you be doing for the rest of your life?
You have a degree in graphic communications, but you don’t want to sell anything.
“There’s no point,” you start to think. Living in Chicago, nothing matters. And you want to leave because
after years of waiting
And you start singing, “I’m a reasonable man get off my back, get off my back, get off my back.”