“Oh come on, we can take ’em.”
“It’s a long way.”
“I cannot jump the distance, you’ll have to toss me…don’t tell the elf.”
There was a party last night. It was a birthday party/LSAT completion party. It would be, I knew, filled to the brim with philosophy majors and English majors wearing velvet jackets and hoods (the theme was Lord of the Rings). The house would be clean underneath, for these men knew, as their mothers and fathers had known, that to throw a party is to tidy the house first. On the surface, however, at least by the time I arrived, there were empty cans and bottles strewn about. Plastic sheathes that had once held neat rows of Chips Ahoy and Oreo were empty, littered with only crumbs. There were spills, too. Splattered on Travis’ shirt and on the couch cushions. A game of Never Have I Ever was going on; wobbling twenty-somethings sat around a table holding up varying numbers of fingers. After each question, a large groan would ring out, and cups would raise to lips and fingers would be subtracted, sometimes with drunken sheepishness.
I hate parties like this, when I’m surrounded by people I know, sometimes very well, but I don’t recognize any of them. That’s the worst thing drinking does to people, I think; it turns them into strangers. There’s maybe a small bit of that person buried beneath sips of Red Dog, but when it tries to form a coherent sentence, the result is alien, although draped with an earnestness that is almost piteous.
I left after an hour, having had only about a quarter of a drink, and went home, where I read until I felt like myself again. And then I fell asleep and dreamed that a family was swimming in one of those natural spring pools out west, and suddenly looked up to find the pool surrounded by wild dogs, who were gnashing their teeth and growling.
Today was my last first day of school. I say that, not with confidence, as the graduate school issue is still very much up in the air, but because it sounds dramatic, and because I’ve been dreading this day for most of my life.
This morning I had yogurt for breakfast, and ate it crouched on our new couch. The couch, compliments of the Salvation Army, is yellow with multicolored daisies. It’s so ugly that it’s actually glorious.
Because two of my housemates also had 9:15 classes, we set out from Bag End (I kid you not; houses have names in Morris, and ours has been recently christened) together. Jordan was chipper, despite having flown in from a summer-long stint in Norway yesterday. He clasped coffee and led our small band down the cracked sidewalk. Joey, freckles pale, pushed his bike. He had been out late the night before. I trotted next to him, trying to let the largeness of the day wash over me.
My first class was Grammar and Language. This is the nerdiest class I’ll probably ever take, but it’s also one of the most valuable. I consider myself, mostly due to my extensive reading, a good speller and grammatician. But I don’t know how to diagram a sentence. I don’t know the history of the English language. I don’t retain the difference between “who” and “whom,” despite having Googled it several times.
I went home for lunch afterward, and then returned to campus for a 1:00 literary festival planning meeting. Then came 20th Century British Fiction, aka Woolf Lit. We’re reading just about every novel ever written by dear Virginia. It’s a small class, maybe 20 people, so I hope that discussions will be lively.
Immediately following was my Senior Seminar course. Senior Seminars at Morris are required for every major. They vary, but in the English department, Seminar courses are themed, and students must write and present a 12-15 page paper following the theme. My Seminar is Renaissance Romance, which I know absolutely nothing about. Thankfully, before we’re expected to come up with our own thesis, we spend time reading lots of materials that familiarize us with the topic.
At 6 I had a Higbies staff meeting, and then I attempted to mow our lawn. I got about one-quarter of the lawn done before the mower died, and resisted all rehabilitation.
I think tomorrow, once I’ve slept in and recuperated from OGL, will be a better day.
Walking out of the Student Center this afternoon, head held high and boots clacking, I all of the sudden heard a chorus of “Don’t step in it!” Too late. Looking down, I observed that I was standing in a large puddle of calamine-colored vomit.
Knowing I didn’t have much time to get to class, I only paused for a disparaging moment before continuing on my way. Behind me, I heard a shriek as someone else stumbled into the same mess.
I was able to shuffle my soles clean on the still-exposed grass as I walked, but once you step in puke, I think, you never quite believe you’re free of it.
In other (vomitless) news, here’s the movie roundup for this weekend:*****
I know I’m going to love “Amelie.” I just know it.
Why haven’t I seen this movie before? I have no idea. All I know about it is that there’s an egg-eating scene that my high school English teacher made us watch because in it, Mr. Newman is clearly playing the Christ-figure.
Richard the Lionheart and I share the same birthday, you know. It is this bond that has led me to obsessively research his life. Katherine Hepburn is just a perk. Really.
I’ll freely admit that I mainly checked this one out for the hours and hours of glorious special features. I’m kind of a freak.
*****Note: I definitely will not get to all of these this weekend. Maybe two, tops. But it makes me feel good to have an adequate movie selection on a Friday night.
An unexpected consequence of starting this blog is that it seems to be on my mind constantly. Maybe it’s simply the newness of the whole concept, but let me tell you, I spent most of the day thinking about what I would write tonight. While I was scanning through intimates at my glorious retail job, I decided I’d write about that; the ironic drudgery of spending your life digging through polka-dotted bras and stomach-flattening camisoles (which, by the way, may have been helpful during The Burrito Incident of January 2012). Then, when a certain coworker, who has been a vessel of life for about 5 months now, pushed me to my breaking point, I thought maybe I’d write about our impending Nerf Gun shootout in the toy aisle. But blasting darts at a pregnant woman seemed a little intense and, well, cruel, so I scratched that idea too.
All that’s really left is a rather more dignified incident that didn’t happen today, but a few months ago. It is also something I’ve been thinking about lately. I’m sure you’ll figure out why.
I was on a train from Paris to Amsterdam with my two traveling buddies. They sat together, and I, with sharp elbows and the tendency to keep the overhead light on for reading, was banished to the seat across the aisle. Then came the few tense minutes of waiting to see whether someone would be sitting in the window seat next to me, or whether I would be able to hunker down in blissful peace for the next few hours. I was disappointed when a man tapped me on the shoulder and said that yes, that was his seat, and could I excuse him please.
As he settled in, I opened my book, politely letting him know that it was all right, we could each entertain ourselves. It’s not that I don’t like to talk to strangers. I do. It’s just that I can be such a coward about things like that, and never want to be the one forcing conversation on someone else. Thankfully, then, he began the conversation. He was from New Zealand, but hadn’t really lived there for years. In New Zealand, as he put it, one would like to stay forever, but it just isn’t possible if you want to further your career, if you want the best possible opportunities for improving and educating yourself. I thought that was sad, and I remember lamely murmuring something about Lord of the Rings having been shot in New Zealand, so it couldn’t be THAT bad. Yes, I’m chock full of appropriate fun facts. Bring me to a party sometime and you’ll see.
Anyway, the man (I never caught his name) also asked me about myself. I told him that I was studying in Salzburg, but that I hailed from Minnesota, I told him about my school and my major. He was interested to know that I was an English major: “What does an English major do?”
“Well,” I began, trying to sound impressive, “We basically read books and poetry and then discuss them. Sometimes we write papers about them.”
That got a dubious look.
“It’s…it’s more than that…” I struggled. “We connect literature to its historical context. We talk about politics, art, economics.”
He was kind, but I saw his next question coming. They always ask it eventually. “And what do you want to do with your English major?”
“I want to be a journalist.” At the time I did.
“What? No! You can’t be a journalist!”
You know, I always got this reaction. It’s not why I don’t want to be a journalist anymore, but I guess I’m too innocent for the job. Or something.
“Well, I don’t want to be a corrupt journalist. I want to write for National Geographic. I want to travel and learn about cultures, and then report on them.”
He nodded. That was okay with him.
-End Part One-
I apologize, but this will have to be continued. I didn’t get where I was going with the story, and I don’t think I will anytime soon, so I’m going to finish tomorrow.
See you then.