Author Topic: Commencement & New Beginnings  (Read 4360 times)

Offline Hypestyle

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Commencement & New Beginnings
« on: December 13, 2012, 06:09:02 am »
ignorance is a poison and knowledge will nourish”; BDP/KRS-1, ‘a word from our sponsor’

I’m done.  I almost can’t believe it.  But it’s for real.  I’m finally finished with my undergraduate studies, with a bachelor’s of science in mass communications/minor in broadcasting.  My undergrad career has been longer than most.  Fresh out of an Indiana high school some 20 years ago I only spent three semesters at U. of Michigan-Ann Arbor (at the time, at least in my head, I wanted to pursue film studies, and become some version of Spike Lee & George Lucas).  But some health and personal issues (e.g., depression) got overwhelming and I ended up dropping out.  From there I went to live with family in Detroit.  I still owed the school money and for a long while it kind of held me back; a few years later I had abortive stints at a machinist-training school and another local university, but it just wasn’t working out; I had problems concentrating and just didn’t relate to the classes I was in at all. 

A cousin in Detroit who was my age joined the military (growing up, during my summer visits to Detroit, we had tentative dreams of forming a rap group) and at that point I didn’t have a social circle here at all.  At the time of my arrival, there weren't any young people near my age on the block.  There were folks with elementary-school-aged kids (largely renting, these folks came and went), and then there were these older cats who lived with an elderly (and usually widowed) parent.  If I was 19 at the time, they were well into their late 40s and beyond.  None of them seemed to hold a steady job; for the most part they seemed to subsist alternately on disability compensation (some of them spoke about it almost as if it was the lottery), doing seasonal odd jobs (lawns, gutters, snow removal, etc.) or bootleg handyman work-- don't let them try to do anything electrical.  Their drinking and drug habits were an open secret among folks who knew them (knocking at the door at 10-11 at night to ask for $5 - $10 for an "emergency", etc.)  Some were more harmless than others (i.e., some might not try and sell the tools you let them borrow), though none were remotely above reproach.  I was (more or less) told to be cordial but to not engage that much with them.  Role models they definitely were not, and I remember occasionally considering their situations and the mayhem that often enveloped it, and vowing that I wouldn't end up like them.

Then my dad died from a stroke in 1994 and I wasn’t in much of a mood to be bothered with school at all.  My dad never went to college; he worked in a steel mill for the better part of 30 years before retiring; his eight siblings commonly regarded him as the ‘brainiac’ of the family (a semi-title which got passed on to me by my siblings), and just about everyone who knew him regularly remarked on how he could converse at length with you on just about anything (he was in the habit of reading 2 - 3 newspapers a day).  I never got the chance to ask him why he never went to college (he had graduated high school at 15, and didn’t start a family until some 20 years later; of course, way back when, “the mill” was this ubiquitous jobs-resource for anyone interested—obviously, not the case in the modern day).

In my case, a college dropout with no (formal, discernible) skills wasn’t getting hired to write screenplays or create comic books.  I found lower-rung work in some retail outlets (K-Mart, Burlington Coats, Toys R Us).  A couple of years later I lucked my way into a city of Detroit job-training program affiliated with a local college; it trained folks for 16 weeks in word processing and administrative assistant certification (I think it was like 4 guys, 20 women when we finished).  The program’s job-referral service linked me to a local non-profit social work agency within a few months.

I ended up working at this agency as an administrative assistant/general support staff.  I’d say the time spent working in support of family health & welfare programs (and catching buses, largely forced to overhear all the background conversations if I forgot my Walkman) probably informed my ongoing interest in issues of vulnerable populations (concurrent with the assortment of hip-hop I’d been listening to since way back when).  In the meanwhile, having to type up meeting minutes, reports of various kinds and designing outreach event flyers (with software that was, by default in the nonprofit world, rather outdated) gradually built up my practice in writing.  By now I was already writing my own reviews of albums or movies, pretty much for my own self-amusement, and that’s it.

Then by the tail-end of the 1990s I started visiting local libraries and Internet cafes to get on the Web.  That’s when I first came up with my nom-de-plume, and I suppose writing became my default way of venting about whatever was on my mind at the time.

So circa 2001, after signing up for a credit-counseling/debt-reduction service, I finally revisited paying off old credit card and school debts, and re-enrolled at another local college, Wayne State.  About a year in, a professor told me that she liked my writing, and I should look into the school of journalism.  I spent about 5 years taking part-time classes there, but it began to wear on me.  I was now working full time, and by default I could only sign up for classes that were available in the evenings or on Saturdays.  An older brother had a heart attack and passed away in ’04, and gradually my frustrations began to overwhelm me again, and in the last class I took I didn’t perform well at all. At that point, I walked away—again.

It took a layoff for me to get seriously engaged with pursuing school again.  By the time the 30-day notice hit, I had worked for the nonprofit for 12 years (!).  But along the way, I had hit a ceiling in terms of promotion and compensation, without having a degree.  I knew I wanted to do something else entirely—but how to go about it?  Outside of my writing, people had commented to me that I had a good voice for radio (at this point maybe half my time at the nonprofit was as a front-desk receptionist and de facto PA announcer).  I had visited a local broadcasting school, Specs-Howard, a year earlier, but hadn’t followed up on it.  I called them up again and set up a meeting—around this time, Michigan’s then-governor had set up a statewide grant initiative that would pay $5K – $10K for people who were recently laid off and who signed up for an accredited job training program. 

I was determined to make something out of this, so I started jumping through hoops via the local unemployment office while also taking entrance tests at Specs-Howard.  After about a month, I was all set except for, you know, the money thing.  By this time I had cannibalized about half of my 403-B retirement account (with early withdrawal penalties, of course) to clear away any remaining school debts to clear up any transcript issues, but dealing with the unemployment office hit a snag when the city of Detroit apparently privatized its entire unemployment services division, and my records were lost in the transition (of course)—so I was now expected to start the same routine all over again to (theoretically) get this $5K money.  In the meanwhile, reading some enrollment material from Specs-Howard, I saw that there was a full-scholarship competition that would pay for the entire tuition—all you had to do was record your own mock-broadcast on a tape or CD, reading some pre-written text as well as offering your own answers to a set of questions.

I turned in my audition tape in December 2009.  I suppose it was the following April by the time I had heard back from the scholarship committee letting me know that I was the winner (!).  By this time I had fallen away from dealing with the unemployment office for the retraining grant—but thank God by now it didn’t matter.

So by July 2010 I was on a round-trip flight to Minneapolis to accept my scholarship award—then back to Detroit where I was embedded in the eight-month, five-days-a-week broadcasting training course.  As long as I kept up my grades, the scholarship was paying my way.  I finished it out in April of last year (getting a diploma in radio/TV production), and while there, I found out about a matriculation agreement that Specs-Howard had with Rochester College (a mid-sized, private, Church of Christ-affiliated college just north of Detroit).  RC turned out to have a pretty generous transfer-credits policy, accepting my diploma in radio/TV along with most of my other school experiences.  So I enrolled with RC and started taking classes with them right away.  Classes were eight weeks apiece in the evening, and I averaged two classes per eight-week period (and even a couple of online classes).  Keeping up with the reading was the main challenge (we were using regular college books, covering several chapters at each session), but beyond that, I seemed to make adjustments without a lot of difficulty this time.  I suppose, on some subliminal level, I knew that failure was not an option anymore.  It just wasn’t.  Amazingly, I was getting my best grades since high school.

Work-wise, around six months following my initial layoff I found a job doing similar work as before, but for the city of Detroit Health Dept.  It was only part-time, though, and up until maybe six weeks ago that’s what I was trying to eke out a living on for the past three years (hours were finally bumped up to full).

So now commencement is here, and, in full disclosure, I can’t wait to move on from Detroit.  An assortment of ongoing social, political, economic and cultural issues have come to a head here that I don’t like at all, and I have to admit that I just haven’t been happy here, for a number of years now.  Since coming to live in Detroit, I’ve scarcely traveled out-state, mostly because of money concerns.

Graduation’s bittersweet for some other reasons as well.  I grew up the youngest out of five siblings via my mom (and being the “unexpected” child, there was a multiple-years gap between me and everyone else); the only sibling I have any contact with now is my sister in Georgia; as I said, I lost one brother to a heart attack.  My other two brothers, at different points in their adult lives, embraced fundamentalist Christianity, which, combined with whatever personal emotional issues/life challenges they had at the time led to a very toxic and bizarre series of conflicts and chaotic episodes that in both cases culminated with them “quitting” the family.  I wish them both well, but one I haven’t seen in 8 years and the other in 17 and I haven’t a clue of where to start looking.

At the moment, I’m not sweating grad school (yet)—I’d much rather see where I end up setting up shop next, and if I think I’m going to be embedded for at least a few years, look into it from there.  We’ll see.  I’ve no wife, no kids, just boxes of comics that I’ve been gradually divesting of (usually for pennies on the dollar, alas).  For the better part of the past year I’ve been researching the web and cataloguing new-graduate fellowships and other employment opportunities.  Something will click—at least, that’s the plan.  Ideally, I’d like to be somewhere coastal, east or west, northern or southern.  Even Chicago and Indianapolis would feel too much like a lateral jump for me.

Shout out to Mr. Reggie & all HEF members, past, present and future—Hype 2.0 begins this weekend at commencement— at least now I can tell women that I’m a college graduate and be comfortable I’m not lying… (does it always have to come down to that? Never mind..)  ;)
« Last Edit: November 03, 2014, 12:59:53 pm by Hypestyle »
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Offline Battle

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Re: Commencement & New Beginnings
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2012, 06:39:09 am »
Congratulations,  Hype!


I still think you and Dj MastrMynd should collaborate on a radio project, (including me, too, of course!  ;)).

Knowledge is power.

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Re: Commencement & New Beginnings
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2012, 07:45:19 am »
BROTHER HYPE, CONGRATULATIONS!

Thank you for telling your story in such detail.  Your determination will be an inspiration to others. 

Offline Catch22

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Re: Commencement & New Beginnings
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2012, 03:47:21 pm »
Congratulations, man!  Come on down to Georgia, plenty of single women and business opportunity!

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Re: Commencement & New Beginnings
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2012, 03:30:57 pm »
first-off, congrats (seriously- well done)!!! you mentioned writting reviews for self-amusement. who does that? only great-minds put energy & effort into mastering their craft for fun... nuff respect.
"it's so cold in the D..." i hear- alot of people are migrating out of detroit. it's understandable- i guess!
you said, "Ideally, I’d like to be somewhere coastal, east or west, northern or southern." (lol-lmao) i don't mean to poke-fun but that comment seems really ambiguous! coastal- anywhere near water sounds good. new beginnings- inspirational   

Offline Marvelous

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Re: Commencement & New Beginnings
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2012, 01:20:17 am »
Congratulations brotha Hype!


"2. IF YOU DON'T READ THE BOOK BUT ARE WILLING TO ARGUE ABOUT IT EITHER YOU ARE:
a) An idiot who doesn't know what he's talking about.
b) A liar who is a fan who can't admit it to himself or others."

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Re: Commencement & New Beginnings
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2012, 06:01:05 am »
first-off, congrats (seriously- well done)!!! you mentioned writting reviews for self-amusement. who does that? only great-minds put energy & effort into mastering their craft for fun... nuff respect.
"it's so cold in the D..." i hear- alot of people are migrating out of detroit. it's understandable- i guess!
you said, "Ideally, I’d like to be somewhere coastal, east or west, northern or southern." (lol-lmao) i don't mean to poke-fun but that comment seems really ambiguous! coastal- anywhere near water sounds good. new beginnings- inspirational
For years we've been hectoring Hype to get out of the D, now he's ready.  We need to help.  Where should he go with better quality of life, an affordable lifestyle, and job opporunities?

Atlanta?  Virginia? South Carolina?  California? 

Offline Battle

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Re: Commencement & New Beginnings
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2012, 06:29:17 am »
Certainly not South Carolina...!

Offline Hypestyle

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Re: Commencement & New Beginnings
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2012, 08:15:51 am »
Quote
For years we've been hectoring Hype to get out of the D, now he's ready.  We need to help.  Where should he go with better quality of life, an affordable lifestyle, and job opporunities?
Atlanta?  Virginia? South Carolina?  California? 


many thanks, peeps!  in the coming weeks months, any suggestions are welcome  :)   I'm giving myself 6 months to get something going..

detroit's city government has been teetering on bankruptcy for the better part of a year now, and it's not likely to get better anytime soon.. meanwhile, state government fast-tracked a laundry list of tea-party friendly bills during the lame duck session: right-to-work is official, and several other bills are soon to be signed, including lifting restrictions on carrying concealed weapons in churches, daycare, libraries, schools (a bitter irony considering recent events)..
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Offline Catch22

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Re: Commencement & New Beginnings
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2012, 12:49:56 pm »
I'm biased....being from the south and currently living in the Atlanta area, but I think Atlanta would be good for Hype.  There's a thriving film industry here, there are a LOT of jobs, housing is recovering and even rentals are still dirt cheap.  Oh and the ladies...WOOOOO!  There's plenty of opportunity in Atlanta and the surrounding areas...a lot of growth.  You'd only be three hours away from the coast, there is a boatload of things to do here, and did I mention the ladies?  8) 

Offline Lion

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Re: Commencement & New Beginnings
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2012, 06:54:51 pm »
Congratulations, Brother Hype! Proud of you for making it happen!

I'll agree with Atlanta. It's exploding. Your sister is relatively close. There are other HEFfas in the general area. It'll give you that change you are looking for. What do you have to lose?

Offline Curtis Metcalf

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Re: Commencement & New Beginnings
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2012, 09:24:43 am »
Let me pile on the congratulations parade. We are proud of you.

Although I didn't particularly care for Atlanta, my circumstances were different. (I was married with a child and moving back to the US.) I do think it would be a solid choice for you with the combination of enough culture and business around the arts AND affordability. The DC area has a growing job market but the cost of living is a bump up from Atlanta. I would imagine the same is true of Chicago. On the real though, damn near anywhere would be a step up from Detroit. Just don't move to East St. Louis...
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