In my third and final year of college, I moved into a little house by the river with my best friend, did a lot more plays, and then graduated with a BA in creative writing, with highest honors, although near as I can tell from my diary, I actually went to class at most ten times all year long. State schools: you get what you pay for.
The summer before my final year, I had planned to take a full course load so I could graduate early, but then my mother told me she really needed me to work for her — she was an attorney and she had a lot of casework and could not find a decent assistant. Predictably, I was a total spoiled brat about this change of plans. It is a great shame to me now to recall it. I could not have handled the situation with less grace or gratitude for what my parents had done for me my whole life. Instead, I threw a giant tantrum…and then proceeded to take a full course load anyway while also working 40 hours per week. And this in a nutshell is what I find fascinating about my college-aged self in these diaries. I’m mortified by how terrible her personality is, and by her spoiled entitlement, but at the same time, I’m blown away by her productivity, work ethic, and energy. I couldn’t possibly balance full-time work and school now. I have a full-time job and work from home, and I can barely fit in a light jog a few times per week on top of that. I can barely feed myself. And until I started re-reading these diaries, I thought I was always super low energy. Does everyone slow down this much as they age, or is something wrong with me?
Anyway, I spent the summer complaining endlessly about working for my mother and how unfair it was while at the same time taking classes in Race & Ethnicity and Gender Studies, and learning about structural inequality for the first time. Did this help me to become more aware of my own privilege? Three guesses:
Once home, v. exhausted. Ordered big fat pizza and $280 worth of clothing from J. Crew, and am now going to read The Wages of Whiteness.
This weekend I spent mainly in reading The Hobbit and writing my final. Today I had to meet with my group to write the paper I’d already written. I laid it out there and pissed them all off and we ended up doing a little revision and putting everyone’s name on my paper. Thoroughly unpleasant experience. R’s doing very well waitressing. She keeps telling me about it, and it sounds like fun — I want to be a waitress! I’m jealous.
Yesterday I lay in bed all afternoon and finished The House of Mirth. Another cop-out author who kills off her protagonist via suicide thereby ending her book in the most uninteresting and unrealistic way possible, albeit nice and tidy. And I don’t feel pity for Lily Bart at all, with her dumb delicate sensibilities. She’s unrealistic — anybody that intelligent socially would have been able to survive. Anemic little snob.
Good news – I won a $500 scholarship for nothing, apparently. Still haven’t picked it up.
I was capable of some growth, however. At one point, I had to meet a friend who worked at a daycare center:
I’d forgotten how creepy little children really and truly make me feel. Both those daycares – it was so weird. All those noisy, lonely little critters running around not even seeing me at all. And the smell! I’d forgotten that terrible funky smell. Like eight different kinds of fruit and stickiness on colored plastic and very fertile plastic diapers and juiceboxes and snotty sippy cups.
Then, on a repeat visit:
I kinda changed my mind about little kids — they’re actually kinda cool. They run right over your feet with a little car because they don’t care if you’re there or not, and they run right into you and shove you aside. And they say exactly what they feel — they’ll just stand there and scream, “I want someone to hold me!” And so someone does! And they’re all crusty and disgusting, but they don’t care, they just rub their slime all over you and they think it’s fine. And they’re so LITTLE! They’re little tiny critters. And this one kid came up and said, “Hey! My hat. My shirt. My pants.”
And I was like, “Hell yeah, they are. I got some, too.” He was great. So I guess little kids can be ok.
I continued to have zero problems with self-esteem:
I just want to put down right here so I will know it years from now that right now I am THE most beautiful woman in the world. Honestly, I really am. I am fucking gorgeous. I don’t have a single flaw, every inch of my body is perfect and radiant. And I’m not talking poetically — no inner beauty about it. I mean physically, literally. Gorgeous. I really don’t think my personality is all that hot, though.
While at the same time being objectively pretty sad:
Tuesday was my birthday. I went to Applebee’s because R was working and sat there by myself, and finally she told her boss that it was my birthday, my parents had forgotten it, and she was the only friend I had, so he let me go stand back in the kitchen with her — which was disgusting, by the way — while she filled salad dressing vats. By the end of the evening, I’d been watching her work for four hours and everyone there thought I was pathetic.
Today I went to the counseling center – no help at all. The woman said there wasn’t enough time to really meet and that, yeah, my life sucked and I had a reason to be depressed and lonely.
Also, I don’t want to go too far into this, but I had to dig my removable retainer out of the trash in the kitchen at the same Chinese buffet on the interstate not once, but twice, which says a lot about the way I was living at the time.
Eventually, fall came and I moved into my off-campus apartment and went back to college full-time. I also got my wish and started waiting tables, and guess what? It wasn’t actually fun! Meanwhile, I was becoming more interested in men than I had been in the past:
I even saw that beautiful man in the green room. He came in and bought a coke as if he were an ordinary mortal. His shadowed frame against the brightly lit Coke machine endowed the machine with a splendid beauty. I stared at it for an hour after he left and then wrote a poem about it.
However, when I later talked to this stunning vision (the guy, not the Coke machine), he told me that he loved Jewel and had her book of poems, which killed my attraction dead.
After a bad first date:
Am far too good for x. Am sadly far too good for everyone. Very disappointed.
I began to pay attention to World Events:
9/11: Well, that’s a date I’m sure will be infamous. I spent most of the day in the music library watching the TV coverage. It’s simply incredible — I can’t believe it. Just a few nights ago, J and I were talking about how lucky we are to live in such a boring age and how horrible it would be if war ever broke out. I hope this doesn’t lead to a war.
I have decided not to audition for Closer.
My scholarship continued on apace:
I’m really frustrated b/c I cannot write a short story to save my life. I really can’t. I’m horrible at it. And we’re supposed to be handing in a midterm short story Monday. And I just can’t. And I hate writing prose. I hate it – I always thought I’d be good at it, but I suck and it’s hard and I can’t get anywhere. Damn it! And I have to write a 25 page screenplay/play for my writing drama final. I have two weekends left to write it and I have no idea at all what to do. I can’t write that kind of shit, either. I’m going to drink Bailey’s and coffee and read Keats and not think about it at all. That seems like the best solution.
I am now a creative writing major and I’m definitely graduating in May. Great. Whatever. I’m ready. I need to get out of here. I don’t know what kind of education I’m looking for, but it’s definitely not on this campus. I’m graduating in three years and I’ve made an A in every class but one (chemistry) and it hasn’t even been tough. I’m bored. I’ve had some great experiences and met some great people, but I need to challenge myself. To be perfectly honest and lay it all on the line, I want to act.
All the saints preserve us.
I continued to dedicate myself to relentless self-improvement:
New Year’s Resolutions for 2002:
- Make myself be constantly happy (and smile) (or numb like sociopath)
- Make an effort to focus on others rather than self:
- Literally — for self-possession and reduction of social awkwardness
- Figuratively — to make friends by giving people what they want and need
- Make more of an effort to consciously manipulate my own personality, my environment, and the strengths/weaknesses of others to get what I want:
I also continued to be weirdly self-aware, while at the same time having no shame:
I have Knoxville whipped, I guess. I’m one of those people who’s everywhere you look — EVERYWHERE! And it’s funny because hardly anyone really likes me! Just goes to show, you don’t have to be liked to get around.
Maybe I can just really try hard to have sweet motivations. . . . I’ve been practicing walking around with a sweet, passive, nonthreatening smile on my face again.
I often feel like I’m too good-looking to be interesting, but just a couple of years ago, I was too interesting to be good-looking.
In the spring, I went to the first and only UT Vols football game of my college career:
And when J said she and B had an extra ticket for the game, I was so desperate I actually said I’d go. . . . We smuggled in some little bottle of Captain Morgan’s under our boobs, but my buzz wore off really fast and then I was really bored. I mean, at first it was cool — the sheer multitude of people. Just people stacked on top of people stacked on top of. . . And it was very like the Colosseum, which was cool. And I thought, sometime in my life, I have to have this many people cheer for me. And the next best thing, if that’s not possible, is to have that many people boo me. By second quarter, I was so bored I wanted to die. Finally, it was over.
Overall, this year is sort of depressing to read about. I remember it as being really fun, but reading about it now I realize that I was pretty self-destructive, and also a number of people treated me poorly. I didn’t fully realize this at the time, and it makes me angry to realize it now. But then, I also treated a lot of other people poorly without realizing that, either. I was just oblivious and up my own ass, which I guess most people are at 20 — anyway, I certainly owe some people apologies for my behavior during this period (if any of you still follow me, you know who you are, and I’m genuinely sorry).
Eventually I graduated:
Sat was graduation. Boring, but not too long – I sat w/ the drama kids. I shook the woman’s hand too fast and walked off still holding it. I regret that I never got to date a professor.
And that was college!