Ask Marnie

by Marnie Macauley January 3, 2018


quite and tranquil

Shalom, San Diegans: I love this issue. When I was in high school most “girls” were told by mama and papa to “become a teacher, mamala. This way you can be home early, have summers off and raise five kinder.” While teaching is a noble profession, it stood as a lone option in many homes back then. Fortunately, while ma was thinking “get married already – and teach,” my darling late father was saying, “You have a brain! Go. Get whatever education you wish in order to be the best you can be!” You see, he grew up with a widowed mom on a farm in Canada, who raised five children alone, worked many jobs, ran the local Jewish Girls Club, and tended chickens.  He pre-dated liberation and prized talent, passion and education. As a result, I did go go go… and smashed a few glass ceilings in the trying. Yes, things have changed. The world has changed, yet there are still some shards of that ceiling left. Let’s look.


Dear MARNIE: I recently turned 22. I am attending college and working just under full-time. For the past year I have been paying all my college expenses, with the exception of the current semester, which was an early Hanukkah gift from my mother. I live at home, but otherwise take care of my expenses. I would not be able to afford rent now if I were to move out. I constantly feel guilty, as though I should be independent and living on my own; but then, I would not be able to do as much with school.  If my parents were to pay for my college, that would help; but I think the reason they don’t want to is because I dropped out at a different school and now they feel I’ve forfeited the opportunity. What do you think?  Am I too old to be living at home?  Should my parents be obligated to help me pay for school?  (I am not eligible for grant money and I do not want to get buried in student loans). — Stuck Student

MARNIE SAYS: Mamala, you’re doing the D.A.D.S.  – Delayed Adolescence DoubleSpeak. (Don’t get mad. I adore you.)  Delayed adolescence is a bigger trend then Reality TV (and way more “real”). These days “kids” are staying home, coming home, bringing their offspring home till they’re 40. (OK, I’m exaggerating – a little.) There are many reasons; however, this phenomenon has lumbered us with a grab bag of problems. You have several. Let’s sort.

Getting It!  Your Personal Strategy:

D.A.D.S.: “I feel guilty” vs. “Should my parents be obligated?”  Boom.  DoubleSpeak.  The adult “you” knows they aren’t “obligated” to give you room, board, much less a free semester. You feel guilty, which has moved you to superb action. You’re responsible.  The twirl?  You don’t want to be that responsible.  Get the conflict straight with you first.

Make a plan. Get inspired!  List your ideas and selling points— even the queasy-making ones. There are cheaper schools, student loans (within reason, although they make me quake).  Or how about a personal loan at a small interest rate which you’ll pay back way sooner as you’ll finish school way faster.

Lay it out with the folks. When you crunch the numbers — figures, timing, move-out savings — your plan may make financial and emotional sense to all.  If not, go to a backup plan.

Finally, you may want to address that hurt you’re carrying. Your inner voice is crying,  “I’m trying! But all my folks see is my one Big Mistake.”  Discuss your hurt — later.

Scared?  Of course you are, but most people give dreidels for Hanukkah. It’s my guess that any mom who’d gift you with a free semester  – will lend you an ear.


Dear MARNIE: I have been working as a legal assistant for about 10 years. I’ve been taking art classes for about three, but have been working in art since I was 10 years old. I would really like a profession where I’m doing something creative, but don’t have enough experience to be hired in that field. Also, working in legal pays very well. Art doesn’t unless you’re famous.  Any suggestions? — F. Facha

MARNIE SAYS: You bet! You’re also talking to a writer. But sweetie, as long as you see your art as a sideline to pushing legal briefs, you are doomed to doodling on napkins in Denny’s.  Okay — fine… if safe is what you want. If, however, you choose creative, you’ll need the courage of three lionesses — and a strong affinity for Hamburger Helper. You see there’s a difference between “desire” and true ambition.

Getting It!  Your Personal Strategy:

Expand your vision. Stop thinking like a nine-to-fiver, okay?  Art has no hours!  And you don’t need to be Rauschenberg to make a buck.

Art is everywhere, mamala. Matchbook covers, magazines, CDs!   It’s in galleries and museums, yes, but hey, what about those parks! What are you doing with your evenings and weekends, Facha— knitting chickens?

Get out there!  Get close!  Answer phones at a gallery! Hang your works on a park fence next to the glass blowers on a Sunday!  Draw!  Paint!  Mingle! Talk!  Show your stuff! Job hunt!

Hungry? Okay. Can you do “legal” part-time, at home, after hours?  Honey, in this cosmos we have more clerks than creators.  We need you artists, angel. We need you!

So, what are you waiting for? Yes, there is a risk. But your choice is to bury your art beneath your briefs or breathe life into your art.  Seize the day, so that at the end of it, you can say at least you were there  – even if for just one brief moment.

As John Greenleaf Whittier said: “Of all sad words of tongue or pen/The saddest are these: It might have been.” Α


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