Tag Archives: berklee

Congratulations, Grad!


As of last Thursday, I am officially a college graduate! No, I was not secretly still in college trying to complete my degree whilst lying to my employers… Here’s what happened:

As many of you know, I went to music college and I graduated in 2009 – only one year later than I should have! The thing about Berklee is that they have so many non-traditional students that they just kind of let anyone who is close-ish to graduating participate in the ceremony. I swear, on graduation morning in between Berklee trivia games and whatever we were supposed to practice about walking in lines and sitting in chairs, one of the administrators stood up and gave a strict announcement about the fact that our diploma carriers did not contain our degrees and participation in the ceremony did not in fact guarantee our graduation. Yes, it was super-fucking-celebratory.

A few months after graduation I realized I hadn’t received my degree. Much to my chagrin, I picked up the phone and called the Registrar’s office. I don’t understand what the deal is with Berklee’s Registrar, but it is the Worst. Thing. Ever. Everyone else at Berklee is super helpful, even the librarians are chill, but the Registrar seems to have one requirement for its employees – you must be a sadist to work in this office.

I don’t understand what I did to make you hate me, Registrar. All I ever wanted was no 9 AM or Friday classes.

While I didn’t know their names, I’d learned their voices: Angry Bald Guy who barely looks up to undermine his victims’ senses of self-worth, Blonde Lady who forces her prey to make an appointment because she has an office (DUNGEON) and once allowed into her chamber, you have to wait and wait because she’s at lunch even though it’s 2:30. After many, many hours of waiting on hold and many, many hours of the RegiS(tr)ADISTS examining my transcript, they informed me of the issue: I took a Music Business Products class in place of a Music Business Marketing class and Angry Bald Guy said I was totally fucked. Blonde lady was like, “Yup, you’ve gotta move back here. The city you totally hate is pulling you back and there’s nothing you can do about it.” I could hear their joy – it’s like I’d given them my heart to feast upon.

Alas, the Registradists, being twisted and unable to process positive intentions, were unaware that the rest of the Berklee staff is made up of lovely human beings. I called the Business department and they were like, “Yeah… whatever, we don’t care, we’ll clear it up, no worries.” That night, and many nights after, I slept like a baby. I pretty much forgot about that piece of paper after that because I was really busy having a quarter-life crisis in 2010, and there were so many songs I NEEDED to write about running away or wanting to be saved, that there was no time at all to check the mail. Also, no one gets their Bachelor’s of Fine Arts and starts waving it around at giant corporations being like, “HIRE ME BITCH, I’M THE BEST CANDIDATE.” Once given a BFA, graduates tend to cry a lot, contemplate suicide and work at restaurants. And then, before I knew it, I was up in New York, working at the Flower Company and only in fleeting (see: drunk) moments did I think, “Hmmm, I never got that degree in the mail? I don’t think? Do I have cigarettes?”

In the past year I’ve thought of it more. I think this might be a sign of my growing older. Like how I think about cancer and the dentist and both of them are no longer mythological creatures but actual facts of life that I might have to deal with. So I started thinking, “What if they never cleared it up? What if I don’t really have a degree? Do people check that?” In moments of panic I decided that the Marquis de Sade of Transcripts had shredded mine in its entirety, erasing any sign that I’d ever darkened Berklee’s doors. I pictured him laughing manically, listening to Jazz fusion that only someone with a dual major in Experimental Composition and Music Synthesis could appreciate, using his hand to conduct the sounds of the shredding and hybrid chords in unison.

Clearly, I had to call, but I kept putting it off. The Registrar is really that terrible, I promise. The other day I booked a dentist appointment in order to avoid calling, because I feel like there are only so many adult things I can do in one day before they have adverse effects on me… Like wrinkles. I booked my first dentist’s appointment in five years in place of making a phone call to Berklee’s Registrar. I’ve actually accomplished a lot while putting off this degree thing.

Last Thursday, however, I went outside for a diet coke and I decided… Enough was enough.

“Tiffany, this is your day of reckoning.” I said to myself. I took a seat in a cafe, hit dial, and braced myself for thirty minutes of 15th century Renaissance hold music.

“Registrar’s Office, this is Matt.” He picked up on the second ring! Matt sounded young, unjaded, almost happy to accept my call!

“Hey, so um, I graduated? 3 years ago?” I am very awkward when it comes to explaining situations in which I already feel guilty despite having no reason to actually feel guilty. Matt pulled up my transcript.

“Oh yes, it says here that you are ‘In Progress.'” They should probably come up with another status for those who have been ‘in progress’ for so many years… Right?

“Ok yeah, that’s what they said they’d fix.” I explained the situation. I figured that because Matt was totally younger than me, he’d totally understand.

“Well, it looks like you in fact HAVEN’T graduated. Your transcript is not complete. Have you RECEIVED your degree in the mail?” Et tu, Matt? The Registradists have advanced in their techniques. They’ve learned how to disarm someone, reel them in, and then FUCKING EVISCERATE them.

“Um, no. I guess not. I’ve been moving around a lot? I have a job…” Whenever comforting myself about the possibility of not really having a college degree, I default to the fact that I have a job, because really, isn’t that what we go to college for? I have one of those things that I spent five years studying to get! Whether or not I took How to Read Spreadsheets 101 does not concern me anymore.

“Well. You are still missing three credits. So you haven’t graduated.” Matt, you are younger than me. Matt, you might be younger than MY younger brother. I wanted to tell Matt to go back to his dorm room, take a bong rip and enjoy it, because one day he was going to wake up and not be in college. Le sigh… Instead I acted like the adult that I guess I am.

“Listen. Who do I need to talk to to straighten this out.” Fuck you Matt, you young, Snapchat-using scum. I will crush you one day. I bet you post no original content on your Tumblr. I hate your generation so much and so does Obama.

Matt gave me the email address of the graduation director. I wrote her an earnest email explaining my ‘awkward’ situation, how “frustrated and disheartened” I was at my Alma Mater. I expected to wait, to have to follow up, but within three hours I received this email:

“Hi Tiffany,

Thanks for your email.  I took a look at your records and you have actually graduated.  A few courses weren’t where they needed to be on your degree audit, but I made some adjustments and then graduated you.  What address should I send your degree to and how would you like your name printed on it?”


It’s strange because, when I actually graduated from college 3.5 years ago, I was like, “K, whatevs, I hate everything,” but being told in the middle of your workday on a Thursday that you’ve achieved something is TOTALLY awesome. I was so excited that I skipped yoga, went home and bought myself some champagne. I had a singing-along-to-Taylor-Swift party and was like “I’M A COLLEGE GRADUATE, BITCHES!” Youth is totally wasted on the young, and I’m still young…

So now my only thing is that I wanna call up that little bastard, Matt, and be all, “HEY DOUCHE-BUCKET, CHECK OUT MY TRANSCRIPT NOW MO’FUCKA. STUDENT ID NUMBER 044156 BITCH. WHO HASN’T GRADUATED NOW? WHO HASN’T GRADUATED NOW, YOU LITTLE BITCH?”

And then I’m gonna do this to him:

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I hate you, Karmin.

“Oooh, you are SO jealous of them.”

It was May, Chris and I were sitting at Spitzer’s in the Lower East Side at happy hour when Karmin, the YouTube rapping sensation turned pop group with a major record deal walked in to conduct an interview before their show across the street. We’d first discovered Karmin a year before when their cover of Look at Me Now went viral in early 2011.

I have this obnoxious, knee-jerk reaction to seeing a musician that I think went to my college –

“Berkleeeee!!!! They definitely went to Berklee. Those harmonies are so jazz school. That modulation right there… I think that’s a hybrid chord.” I haven’t played music in years but my inner music school douchebag is alive and well, ready to regurgitate any term I still remember.

I was right. They did go to Berklee and graduated a year before me. I  was surprised by the fact that I’d never heard of them while I was at Berklee – there was always a certain buzz around the Berklee elite, it seemed that the well-known students there had the school’s seal of approval and were bound for fame while the rest of us could only hope for a good cover band gig. I felt a sense of pride in the fact that someone who could do such a good Weezy cover went to my college, but seeing someone who forged their own path make it filled me with self-hatred for not trying harder. I checked out their original songs, looking for any scrap of ammunition against the notion that I’d hastily thrown again a really great opportunity. Their original songs were awful – just so cheesy. I took a big deep sigh of relief. Karmin had one viral video, but they sucked and would never get big. Order was restored to my world and I completely forgot about the duo.

That was until May 2012, as I sat there watching the lead singer, with her characteristically coiffed hair and terrifyingly expressive face participate in an interview while I gave her death glares from behind my glass of wine.

“You are SOOO jealous.”
“NO. It’s. not. that… It’sjustthatIfindit REALLLLY ironic that my biggest celebrity sighting in new York is someone who went to MY college and I probably passed in the hallway ALL the time and I never even knew who she was. That’s all. I’m not jealous.”

I went home, drank a six pack of cider and stayed up until 3 AM watching videos of that time John Mayer spoke to us in the Berklee auditorium while I cried.

Envying a stranger’s success is bizarre. I have several friends from school who are entering the stage where their music careers are taking off and I’m not jealous of them. I think it’s because I saw them working so hard and know how much they deserve it. When it comes to Karmin though, it’s like I was walking along, completely content in my life decisions and BAM! there was another person who reminded me of a dream I used to have. I’m overrun with psycho-jealousy. Psycho-jealousy, if you’ve never heard of it, is a particularly acute and poisonous form of jealousy. I’d estimate its negative effects on my pscyhe are somewhere along the lines of 513% more negative than regular jealousy.

Here’s a graph to describe what my Karmin-psycho-jealousy has done to me:

I have no real point to make here, other than that I wouldn’t advise becoming obsessively jealous of anyone, and if said person happens to have a youtube account, probably don’t spend a lot of your time watching their youtube videos and sending them to your friends to be like LOOK AT HOW TERRIBLE THIS PERSON IS AREN’T THEY AWFUL?!?! because it only causes that jealousy to grow and take deeper root inside your soul until you start to feel as though you’re actively being followed by a rap/pop duo that seriously does not know who you are.

In other news, writing this post caused me to watch so many Karmin music videos in the process of writing it that I think I’m starting to like them…

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