By my second semester at college, I had somehow managed to make a couple of actual friends. I’d also moved out of my first terrible dorm room situation and into another, slightly less terrible one, and I had finally fully broken up with my voice teacher and the music department. The first half of the year 2000 sees me growing gradually more accustomed to college life. It also — I’m not going to lie — involves my expressing some frankly horrifying opinions in a shameless and unguarded way which so appalled me on the reread that I nearly gave up the idea of doing this as a blog series and instead deleted all of my years of Microsoft Word files.
But then, I started thinking about what the statute of limitations is on being embarrassed about yourself. Like, when I think of things I did as a baby, I’m not humiliated by them now. And when I think of things I did as a little kid, similarly, I don’t feel close enough to that Elizabeth that I feel like her behavior still reflects on me.
My mother recently reminded me of this cassette tape that I made with my friend Z when we were both somewhere around second or third grade. Z and I are playing a pretend game, making it up as we go along, and yet somehow little-kid-me is like 100% convinced that I know the Official Rules for this game of pretend, and that Z is just moronically, stupidly wrong about all of it. I berate her and order her around like I am Prince Joffrey. And yet, this tape doesn’t really make me feel ashamed of myself now. That’s just some little kid on that tape, kids are annoying, that has nothing to do with me. I mostly just feel tickled by it.
But there are things in this diary — not even things I did, just thoughts that I had to myself as a freshman in college — that I would absolutely die of shame if anyone were to read them. I don’t think these things anymore. I have very little in common with myself as a college student. It was over a decade ago, I don’t even remember any of this very well. And yet, this past version of myself still reflects on me, and she reflects on me poorly.
When I am eighty, will I be able to read these diaries with as much equanimity as I can now listen to a tape of myself tyrannizing my childhood friend?
I don’t know, but I’d like to find out. So I’m going to grit my teeth and not delete it all, with the hope that should I ever expire prematurely, the executors of my estate will do the kind thing and have all my digital files just completely nuked unread.
Anyway, all that said, I do get slightly — ever so slightly — more entertaining in places in this section of the diary. Some selections:
I’m making those dump trucks my crusade. I’m not going to let it rest. I’m getting something done about it. This is my cause. I don’t care about wars or politics or any of that shit – I care about those dump trucks that wake me up every blessed morning and I’m telling you, I’m not letting it go!
These were dump trucks that woke me up every morning around six by beeping and slamming around outside my dorm. I didn’t write about this in the diary, but I remember that through a bit of Veronica Mars-level investigation, I actually did figure out the contact information of the person who was ultimately in charge of the dump truck routes and scheduling for this particular waste disposal company, and I called him up and scolded him about the fact that he would never in a million years route those dump trucks through a residential neighborhood at that hour and so why did he think it was ok for them to beep infernally outside a dormitory, just because we were students and not homeowners, did he think that made it ok, did he think that I wouldn’t be able to make him sorry, because I could, he had a weak spot of some kind, everyone did, and I would find it, by God, and I would make him pay. (I didn’t. I lost interest pretty much immediately after he hung up on me, but still — man, I used to really fight for what I wanted! I wanted stupid shit, true, but the passion was there. Nowadays someone could probably walk right up to me and punch me in the face, and I’d be like, “whatever, I’m so tired, let’s just pretend it didn’t happen.”)
Cops are worthless – it’s very glamorous and makes you feel like a real big man to stand around and stare at some little drunk “perps” sitting on the sidewalk and pretend you’re on Cops, but nobody wants to get down on his knees and change a tire.
So, this was after my friend J and I were on our way back from a club at 3am and her tire blew out not far from the dorms. We didn’t know how to change a tire, and there were some cops a couple of blocks away who had arrested some people for DUI and had them sitting on the curb. And J and I actually went up to the cops and asked them to change our tire for us, and expected them to say yes! I genuinely thought that this was part of their job description! We were both absolutely irate that they refused! Shortly after, some random dudes stopped and changed our tire for us anyway, so no harm done, although we did have to hike two blocks IN HEELS to talk to those cops FOR NOTHING. In completely unrelated news, I kind of miss being a hot chick.
Today there was a fire alarm. S and her friend and I were all sitting in our room ignoring it when two RAs knocked on our door and took our IDs and wrote us up. Then we had to go stand in the freezing wind and I didn’t have a jacket or my notes and it lasted forever. Then we found out that we’ll have to meet with the hall director and get a scolding. All this made me very mad and when I called my mom to complain she said I’ve always had a problem with authority!
Dump trucks that come in the morning! Cops that won’t get off their donut-eating asses and change a lady’s tire! Fire drills that the university actually expected its students to comply with even though it was cold! It’s a wonder I survived such horrifying treatment. I was practically a POW.
I can’t seem to figure out how to function in the world of people, which is really sad because I’m extremely social.
The first thing a college student does when arriving in her dorm room is attempt to find somewhere to put the most important possession of the 21st century college student – her computer. This is difficult in Morrill. A lot of students loft their beds and put their computer on a small table under the loft (also a small couch or comfortable chair for TV viewing). I haven’t done this, however, and so I am forced to try to fit my computer on the desktop. The best way to do this is to lift your enormous console onto the top of the file-cabinet drawers and try to shove your monitor as far back on the desktop as it will go, until it can no longer fit under the overhang. This leaves a tiny bit of space for your keyboard and mousepad. The printer, I stowed on the shelf over the desktop and the chords between all three cascade discreetly down from the file cabinet drawers to the back of the desktop behind the monitor. My roommate’s chords are also all over the top of the file cabinet and snake along the top of the desk unit to a surge strip by the microwave. The resulting lack of desk space makes the bed the only study space.
I have decorated my monitor with several dozen Lisa Frank nail stickers which I used to wear on my face in 10th grade and which, ever since I regained my mind, I’d been looking for somewhere to stick.
This is part of a novel-length section in which I describe every millimeter of my dorm room in incredibly tedious detail as part of what was apparently some kind of self-imposed writing exercise. But I include it because OMG I’m SO OLD that when I went to college, the dorm rooms had no space for computers! I had forgotten this. Everyone brought some enormous desktop unit, and they wouldn’t actually fit in the desks. Probably before the school had time or money to remodel the dorms, those desktop PCs were about as obsolete as typewriters and everyone just had laptops. Anyway, I just thought that was a funny historical footnote that I had forgotten about — all these college students showing up with computers and not being able to fit them into the desks.
Oh, and apparently, I wore Lisa Frank nail stickers on my face in 10th grade! So there’s that. I’m glad the diaries don’t go back that far so I can live in ignorance as to why on earth I would ever do that, and what the other high schoolers thought about it. It’s cute that freshman year me thinks she’s regained her mind. Not like that stupid 10th grader who didn’t know which end was up!
I stretch my eyes open while the professor tells us the only thing stupider than politics is UT’s math department and we may not want to do this, but hell, he didn’t want to get married, he wanted to play golf.
I spent my morning writing a psych assignment on the vocalizations emitted by rats and mice during copulation.
My studies, meanwhile, were going about as well as could be expected at a state school.
J’s going to all-night theater which starts at 12 and goes for the rest of the night, but I don’t really want to watch those people that long, and also, I don’t really want to be out that late, because I’ll feel wrecked all day Sunday. I don’t want to stay in, though. What I really want to do is go out early and come in by 12. I think that’d be great, but it’s not going to happen.
Socially, I continue to be 19 going on 47.
One guy I kind of liked, but he’s probably not very cool once you get to know him.
Boy, it’s a real mystery why my dating life never took off.
When I think about my future, I am growing more and more certain that I am doomed to be one of those people who are always being brought to their friends’ dinner tables to amuse them. You know, I’ll be introduced as their ‘eccentric, single friend, Elizabeth’: “She is so funny, just wait till you hear this story!”
….well. Well, that’s just…
Good god I enjoy reading your writing. Well done. Please keep it up.
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