collaborative creativity

Last week the five undergraduate institutions of the Claremont Colleges, including my alma mater Pitzer College, announced the establishment of the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity.

According to the announcement (PDF here), the purpose of the center is:

quoteto accelerate the creative development of students and to equip them to work collaboratively to address the future’s most ambiguous problems and complex challenges.

Wow! How very cool.

I am delighted for current and future students of the Claremont College. And I am jealous. How great it would have been to have had something like that when I was at Pitzer.

what if I’d made a different decision?

You may know that my degree from Pitzer College is in classics, that is the study of Greek and Latin, and of Greek and Roman history and culture. The graduation requirements included, in those days at least, something like three years of Latin and two of Greek, plus associated courses in history, art and literature.

PitzerftnsmIt was actually the associated courses in history, art, and literature that I was interested in, and less so the languages. Now Pitzer has always been very flexible when it comes to crafting the course requirements for one’s major, and I certainly could have put together something acceptable that would have omitted the languages. That would have been a good idea, since I always struggled with languages other than English, as I certainly did with Latin and Greek. Never mind, of course, the fact that the world of classical scholarship frowns on translations and insists on scholars reading research in the original language. That means both German and French are strongly recommended. So, yes, in my case a custom major that omitted the languages would have been a wise choice. And in fact, there was precedent next door at Scripps College, where there was an official classical studies major, which omitted the Latin and Greek.

So why didn’t I? For the same two reasons that many people of college age make bad decisions: arrogance and peer pressure.

That was 38 years ago, so I’m not sure why I’m even recalling this now. But I can’t help but think that I would have saved myself a lot of stress and frustration had I made a more pragmatic decision.

television on Olive Street

An Olive Street recollection.

On Olive street I had a small portable black and white television. For context, we’d had color television at home since about the time I was in the sixth grade. It didn’t get used an awful lot. I spent a lot of time reading and I used my Sears credit card to buy a stereo with a turntable, cassette, and 8-track. I played a lot of vinyl and listened to the soft rock station, Stereo 93, KNX-FM.

As for the TV, though, there was no cable and what I got was what could be gotten over the air via rabbit ears, which in Claremont was all of the Los Angeles stations. So the PBS station, channel 28, got it’s fair share of viewing. Then there were the guilty pleasures. Alison and I were hooked on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Saturday Night Live. No VCRs then, so you watched when something came on or you missed it. Of course both of those shows were late night viewing, but somehow we managed to watch them, get Alison back to her dorm room at Scripps College, and I still got to work on time the next day.

It didn’t seem so then, but a simpler time it was.

Olive Street

An Olive Street recollection.

You may recall that I’ve done the occasional blog recalling my Olive Street days. That was my “Claremont cockroach1” time from the fall after I graduated from Pitzer College in 1975 until I moved to Laredo, Texas two years later. I was thinking that I should once again indulge in a periodic recollection of those days. What follows is a combination of two blog entries that I did over at TypePad to provide a re-introduction to that life.

I had graduated from college and decided to stay in Claremont for the time being. I had been working for the college food service company and thought I was going to go into management with the company. I had given up my College Avenue room and made arrangements to share the Olive Street apartment with George when his roommate Andrew went off to UCLA in the fall.

But that was a couple of months away, and I needed a place to live in the meantime. One of our friends, Anne, the butch dyke, was staying in Claremont for the summer and had leased a unit in a triplex, literally just “on the other side of the tracks.” I agreed to spend the summer sharing the apartment with her.

When fall came Andrew moved to Westwood, but before I had a chance to move in, the lost soul willowy femme lesbian Ann returned from Los Angeles and asked George for a place to stay temporarily. Given the mellow, kind-hearted person he was, he agreed.

At the same time Anne was making me crazy (for a variety of reasons, probably material for another blog entry), and I wanted to get out of the triplex and into the Olive street apartment. While I knew both Anne and Ann were lesbians, I didn’t know Ann had a crush on Anne. So I asked Ann if she wouldn’t like to share the triplex unit with Anne. She was of course delighted.

And I was able to move to Olive Street, my home for the next twenty-one months.

During my Olive Street days I was working at B. Dalton bookseller and generally enjoying life, in spite of my tendencies to over-worry and make much of too little.

Later George also moved to Westwood, and I had a roommate for a short while named Jim about whom the  less said the better.

For the 1976-77 academic year I had a roommate named Beth. She was a sophomore at Scripps College. We got along well as roommates for the most part, and I enjoyed her sharing the apartment with me. (Strictly platonic, in case you were wondering.)

In June of 1977, I had to give up my Claremont cockroach ways after getting a job as B. Dalton Bookseller store manager in Laredo, Texas.

But that’s a time I’ll always look back on fondly.

1 Claremont cockroach n. Someone who graduates from one of the Claremont Colleges and stays in the town or nearby because he or she can’t bear to leave.