The non-chronological collected works of my misspent youth, with notes, for your reading pleasure. Most names have been changed because I probably didn't ask you first.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Scotland The Brave: February 1993

I walked out of the hall in the arts center today from Shakespeare rehearsal and found Kara and Stewart making out against the brick wall beside he old art storage room where the guys used to practice “metal” or whatever band last year.  Now it pretty much sounds like construction all the time and between that and the constant thumping of the wrestlers on the stage[1] and the hellacious sound of Caitlin’s bagpipes[2] WHICH YOU CAN HEAR EVERYWHERE FOR LORD’S SAKE, it’s hard to find a quiet place to run lines.  Rebecca and I have been sitting on the big table in the auditorium lobby, where we were interrupted by the wrestling team running sweaty laps up and down the stairs. But then the wrestling coach told us we weren’t allowed to sit up there anymore because we were distracting the team.

I guess getting the whole theater wasn’t enough for those neckless wankers.[3] I hate sports.

So now the hallways, by the music room and that’s why I keep running into Kara and Stewart in awkward moments. They’re supposed to be running lines from the whole Angelo and Isabella[4] scene, so they say, and even though I’ve never understood the Stewart thing, at least Kara’s not hanging out with that whole seersucker miniskirt crowd right now. All of those girls are mean bulimics[5] and they hate me.

I am friends with at least four people who really believe the lyrics to “Black” are the best poetry they’ve ever heard. What will I do?  I worry that I’ll never find people who can truly understand me.

PS: The Music Teacher just walked by and told me the bagpipe was the instrument they play in hell.

[1] At the end of my sophomore year, the school tore down the building containing the wrestling room in order to construct a fancy new student center. The wrestling team was given the entire theater to practice and hold matches during the their season. That decision canceled the winter play. The School always valued “team sports” over the arts, so this came as no real surprise, but most of us drama kids had already figured our schedule around a winter play. We wrote a petition. I penned a fiery editorial to the school newspaper and we convinced the young, then under-employed wife of one of the English teachers to sign on as our director and with a little negotiation got permission to build out the music room ourselves as a black box theater. The wrestling team had first priority on the stage for two whole years, wasting the real theater with their occasional meets that no one came to and a lot of grunting and useless sweating.

[2] Required afternoon activities also included individual music lessons and studio art (as well as the traditional sports, mountaineering, drama and horseback riding). Caitlin’s instrument was the bagpipe. The music teacher put her in the chapel because the chapel was basically the only place on  far enough away from the other buildings  that her practicing would not literally stun the entire campus into horror-struck silence with all the squawking and droning. On the other hand, the chapel was kind of in the center of everything so there was no place to completely escape the sound.

[3] Welcome to my English slang phase! Good news: it’s brief.

[4] The play was kind of a Shakespearean Revue.  And the Angelo and Isabella scene is from “Measure for Measure.” If you don’t know the play, Angelo, a zealous, though corrupt public administrator, tells Isabella, a rigidly pious nun, that he will commute her brother’s death sentence (itself earned from illicit fornication) if she will break her vows and sleep with him. It’s an ugly, weird, uncomfortable scene in an ugly, weird, uncomfortable play (and still one of my favorites, by the way). The Young Director blocked the scene as a heated negotiation that turned into a borderline sexual assault. It was pretty rough stuff for sixteen-year-olds. Given that the administration regularly censored the living shit out of our scripts, I’m completely shocked that she got away with it. Of course it was the blocking that was suggestive, not the dialogue (which was Shakespeare and thus “educational”).  But the blocking . . . still gives me the heebie-jeebies.

[5] I can’t confirm that any of them were actually bulimics. There was a lot of idle chatter and bragging about binging and purging outside the girl’s bathroom on the Day Hall that year. They were, however, sort of mean. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Parlando: Journal, April 15 1992

Somehow I ended up sitting in the front seat of the school van beside Mr. M, the Calculus teacher. Annie says that he’s the smartest teacher in the school and has some kind of mathematical proof for chaos, which sounds cool, but I hate math so I’m probably not going to understand it.

We’re the Opera Club and hence on the way to see an opera in Knoxville on a Sunday. How many teenagers would honestly choose to spend their only weekend day off at “Carmen?”  That’s probably why I didn’t have many friends in public school.

Steve’s picking the music for the van and most of it is Dan Fogelberg and a bunch of other guys that sing like goats and some sort of embarrassing folk music his brother’s roommate recorded in his dorm room This song is inane but Steve’s talking about how it’s really hard to write an easy sounding song. He might have a point, but this song sounds like the guy wrote it in two minutes.

Steve says it’s silly to try to be a non-conformist because you’re just conforming to the opposite of being a conformist.  It’s reactive. That sounds good, I guess, and Steve gave that chapel speech about being an iconoclast, which was amazing, but Steve is also a prefect. Can you really be a great iconoclast if you have to turn people in all the time for breaking the rules? Maybe I should try harder to conform to the rules. Maybe I’m just fucked up enough not to care.  Maybe that’s why Steve didn’t want to date me.

Frances’ Jimmy Buffet tape has ruined my musical mood. Seriously, she is actually reading aloud a book written about Jimmy Buffett. It's terrible.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Charm City: April 8, 1994

I'm in Baltimore on this absolutely joke of a college trip, in which my parents are trying to convinced me that any of my safety schools are actually worth going to. We went to Dickinson College earlier today and that is basically not happening under any circumstances. So instead I'll end up at Hollins, a school entirely composed of the same kind of spoiled, bitchy, rich, boring, beautiful, preppy girls that seemingly exist only to make my life miserable.  Guys are dicks too, but at they'll say it straight to your face.

Anyway, I hate girls and I'm going to a girls school.  As Mr. B would say:  Ha![1]

We're staying in the Omni and I was watching tv in the bathub when I found out that Kurt Cobain bought the farm, so now I'm sitting in the lobby trying and failing to call Kara on one of these fancy leather study carrel pay phones. I hope she's okay. She's been pretty obsessed with Kurt Cobain.

I just overhead two of the waitresses in the bar talking bout the suicide. Is this seriously going to be my generation's defining moment? "I remember where I was when I found out Kurt Cobain shot himself." Or is it still David Hasselhoff on the Berlin Wall? 

I know I'm a vegetarian, but I'm absolutely going to eat crab tonight. (Don't tell). That may well be the only good thing about this trip. Yum.

[1] My Junior Year English teacher (and faculty advisor) left the occasional pithy notes in the margins of our academic journals. He was notoriously famous for his “Ha!”s

Rock You Like a Hurricane: September 7ish, 1996

Dealing with a hurricane this far inland feels completely wrong. We haven’t had power or phones in three days and yet I can’t even smell the sea in the eye of the storm. It’s bullshit is what it is. 

Funny. You never realize how addicted you are to modern conveniences[1] until you don’t have them at all. If MRWHM and I don’t burn down the house before Duke Power gets their shit together and gives us air conditioning again, it will be a small miracle. At least we didn’t get stuck in the elevators like the people in the high-rises on campus. That would have sucked.

Fran was my first real hurricane, because I’m a mountain girl. I kind of thought the tall trees on Elm would come all the way through my windows during the worst part of the storm. They didn’t, even though the wind sounded like a freight train and I went to sleep with my sheets pulled over my head thinking the roof might cave in before morning. I’d miss my records but otherwise I’d be okay with that. I even kind of thought MRWHM might start being my friend again because it’s a crisis. And crises are supposed to bring us together.

Of course, she’s coastal and has lived through many weather events. She tells stories three-day long hurricane parties and freshwater stored in an old clawfoot tub on the front porch. I don’t have any stories about anything other than the one time my school bus slid backward down Kimberly Avenue because of a snowstorm.

In other news Dad came to visit tonight on his way back from Durham. He drove in the day after the hurricane went to meet with some head of brain surgery at Duke Hospitals about his mysterious dizzy spells that he’s positive are symptomatic of a brain tumor.[2] I’m sure it’s just hypochondria and an outgrowth (no pun) what happened with Uncle W.[3]

According to Dad, East Campus is kind of mess— and lots of trees are down in Durham, in general—but his brain is fine. The doctor told him he should play more golf. [4]

He took MRWHM and I to dinner at the Paisley Pineapple, which was self-consciously fancy in all the provincial gauche ways its name implies. Lots of brocade and teal and they have things like kangaroo on the menu. MRWHM took the last few hits of acid she’s been keeping[5] just before Dad came by to take us to dinner, which she didn’t tell me until we were approximately halfway through dinner. I don’t think Dad noticed anything  . . . I mean, he’s Dad . . . but I couldn’t let it go.

“What if I was tripping the whole time your parents were visiting?” I asked her.

She shrugged and told me she wouldn’t care at all.

After dinner and Dad left, she and I went for a walk down in completely dark, power-outed, downed tree-branched Fisher Park, which she found (obviously) infinitely more interesting than I did, given the circumstances.

It’s achingly hot and extremely uncomfortable to sit on this fire escape. I just dropped a flashlight on a BMW that probably belongs to one of the lawyers in the firm next door. I can’t tell if I dented the hood.  It sounded pretty loud.  I hope they don’t have security cameras in the parking lot because there’s no way I can afford to pay for that.

[1]And we’d only recently procured a modem. In those days, save the occasional email, I was almost never online.

[2] For the better part of that year my father basically lived out the Woody Allen plotline from “Hannah and Her Sisters.”

[3] My favorite uncle on that side of the family actually had a brain tumor, underwent surgery, flatlined for a minute and then miraculously revived on the operating table.

[4] True.

[5] My roommate had been saving several tabs of acid for a rainy day for several months before this happened. She wrapped them in aluminum foil and hid the package inside the butter dish on the refrigerator door.  I used to worry a little about this storage situation leading to an unanticipated psychedelic grilled cheese episode, but it never did.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The End of the World, April 1994

There’s absolutely no point in pretending things are going to be all right anymore because they’re absolutely not. The decision have been made, the dye[1] has been cast and I have burned both the rejection letters and the acceptance letters that I cannot fucking accept in the fireplace because I’m sort of a pyromaniac and what does it matter anymore.

No money. I can’t have what I want because of no money. I’m surrounded by fucking rich people and can there be a more lame excuse, as they’re all running around happy about next year and I can’t have that because No Money. It’s so stupid and boring.  So I’m going to this school that I hate because they gave me money and everything good in the world is ending. [2]

So, why not celebrate with a weekend chockfull of careless ways I could get expelled? It was Rebecca’s birthday, which we did late because of my college trip and her freaking out about The Latin Teacher and Kara’s grief over Kurt Cobain. Dad was supposed to be out of town, so we picked up all the boarding students and carpooled over the Kenilworth house. H dressed as a mime, which he claims was accidental, and used his fake idea to buy lots of alcohol[3] at the Foodmart. Denise & I made spaghetti.  The boys all crossdressed in Rebecca’s lingerie and we turned off the lights and danced to Blondie and the Pixies and were set to start with my Paradise Lost disco mixtape[4], when Dad unexpectedly returned. The boys scattered (I think Alex and Patrick were in the closet)[5] and changed, while Denise and I tried to play it cool and do the dishes. Dad was typically oblivious and didn’t notice anything out of whack accept for all the cigarette butts in his teacups and asked us not to smoke in the house.

We visited several convenience stores and got kicked out of Wal-Mart for jousting  on tricycles with pool noodles and paging Natalie with from the customer service desk with her various Russian names before we tied a giant gold Christmas bow around Mitchell’s neck and took him down to Vincent’s where they were having some godawful Spoonbenders show. Mitchell was drunk, but according to at least two actual drag queens, he looked smashing in Rebecca's striped white satin nightgown and his olive Chuck Taylors .[6]

We left Alex and Mitchell downtown with Mitchell's girlfriend, Elizabeth, headed for the actual gay bar, despite the fact that Alex's's fake is probably not going to work anywhere other than the Foodmart.  I hope they survive to Monday convocation.  I’m tired of my friends getting expelled.

What am I going to do next year? How can everything turn out so badly? How can I be sitting at a parkway overlook smoking alone and crying when I should be having fun with everyone else?

Mom thinks I’ll get abducted if I come up here by myself.  I’d let myself be kidnapped in a minute if my abductor could afford to pay tuition at Bard.

Sic. And while we’re on the subject: it was, at that point, a color I like to think of as “Velvet Skirt Drama Major Red.” Bright, fake looking, with a slight undertone of Ronald McDonald. My high school handbook (then) had a dress code restriction against “unnatural” hair colors. It was as close as I could get to (roughly) Lush without the Dean of Students making me re-dye my hair.

My angst is hilarious and the issue at stake is the very height of trivial, upper middle class, white person problems. And yet . . .thinking back on all of this at even a twenty-year remove, I still feel a little devastated. When you go to a school with a 100% college acceptance rate and a faculty fixated on getting you as close to an Ivy as they can, Honey, I’m so sorry but we just don’t have the money still smarts.

Strawberry Boone’s Farm and 40s, natch, though at least one of the boys mentioned sometimes traveled with a bottle of Mountain Dew spiked with bourbon.

Lost to history. My guess is that it kicked off with “In the Bush,” which earlier in the semester N and I had used to score our reflections on John Milton and “Paradise Lost” in AP English IV class.

[5] Literally, in this case.

[6] Why, yes, we were those intolerable kids.

Mind The Gap, Christmas Break, 1996

It’s weird to have parents that think they’re cool. I mean, like, really cool. Because they hung out with real deal hippies or saw Hendrix or bought a Dylan record before Vietnam or snuck in a peace march before voting before getting a perm and voting for Reagan. It was a short-lived thing. I think most of the so-called “cool” parents were well out of interesting before Ziggy Stardust, let alone before The Clash.

Thus, I can’t really describe the “boogeying down” that’s happening in my mother’s living room right now because its kind of upsetting. I really think the real generation gap comes down to a question of exactly when you think Eric Clapton started to suck or alternately whether you think Eric Clapton always sort of sucked.

Update: my stepfather wants to know if I’ve ever heard of the Alan Parsons Project.

Pretty in Pink, May 1992

Last night was the prom and I didn’t have a date, so I tagged along with Kara and the German exchange student. I think he looks a little like a duck, but he bought me a corsage even though I’m not even really his date.

I wore a pink dress, even though I swore I would never wear pink again now that I’m no longer a blushing Juliet and now that love is something I know I will never have. [1]

The dress was damask and off the shoulder and it looks like a bridesmaid’s dress off the clearance rack at Belk, which is exactly what it is. I still think maybe it was ugly, but it had a crinoline and a bow. I tried to be pretty, as if that would cover up the sound of my loneliness.

I do think I looked suitably romantic, even if my hair is still too short.[2]

No one really danced with me, because no on really danced after the power went out.[3] Justin and Justin and the other guys from the Radio Club tried to dj, but mostly I sat at a table in the dark wondering if this was it. Afterwards we went to this school-sponsored breakfast thing at the Wilton’s house, but nothing happened there except for me putting my foot in my mouth for the 4000th time and Mom picking me up and talking about the upholstery in the Wilton’s living room.

High School (pretty much mostly) Sucks.

[1] Really?

[2] I’d cut all my hair off (and dyed it orange) not quite a year before just prior to my abortive attempt at running away to California. At the time, it had seemed both symbolic and representative of the trapeze dress/striped tights + Sassy Magazine + New Order aesthetic I wanted to embody. But then I spent most of my sophomore year sucked deep down in some boggy Renaissance/Celtic Folk/Pre-Raphaelite/Tori Amos wormhole (mercifully short-lived) and spent a lot of time praying my hair would grow back faster, curlier and a gorgeous Waterhouse-painting auburn (it didn’t).

[3] Here’s how this actually went down: the prom was in the dining hall, a vaulted, mock-Tudor structure with exposed rafters and those chandeliers that look like ship’s wheels. It was built sometime in the first quarter of the 20th century and probably hadn’t been engineered to withstand rock and roll of any kind, let alone the terrible band hired for prom. This particular terrible band was an "alternative rock" covers outfit called (I believe) Chapter Two. The lead singer wore a ruffled pirate shirt and leather pants and had old Soundgarden hair. They came out, introduced themselves, hit the first line of “Under the Bridge” and promptly blew the power for that whole half of campus. This took several hours to resolve, during which time the faculty passed out flashlights (“for safety”) and various students tried to fill the dance floor by playing “Shadrach” and The Sex Police on someone’s battery operated boombox.

Ill Communication: Journal, Late August, 1995

I think one reason I’m always sick is because I have nothing better to do than be sick. Also I am a hypochondriac. I probably shouldn't have gone to Cat's Cradle last night. (Sigh).

I’m listening to Dinosaur Jr and feeling extremely sorry for myself while my roommate is talking to her boy toy and doing the whole sweet nothing thing that makes me feel like a chump.

I am lonely and sick and broke.

I cannot think of which one of these thing I don’t want to be worse.

I hate coughing.
Of course, I am currently smoking, which is stupid, but you know me . . . impractical, self-destructive, inclined to make the worst choice.

I’m going to put this cigarette out and drink a bunch of Ny-Quil and prepare to take a placement exam at 10:30 tomorrow morning, which I can’t say I’m looking forward to.


I’m wide awake again, smoking in bed, which means the house will probably burn down. The house is totally trashed, by the way. I just ashed on the floor. I don’t even care.

There are like ten different people’s hair in the bathroom.  Some of it is blue. I don’t even know where to start. It makes me want to cry when I think about dealing with it.

Comrades: Journal, September 1995

Speaking of self-righteous and stupid: Natalie and I went to a show at Dick Street last night and might have argued those dirty patchwork assholes on those moldy sofas on the front porch if it had even been worth it. Which it wouldn’t. They fashion themselves Bike Punx and stink to high heaven and graffiti the railroad bridges around Greensboro with catchy slogans like “The Revolution Will Not Be Motorized,” which is ridiculous because the placement makes it look like their problem is with trains. And wouldn’t trains, nay, wouldn’t better public transportation IN GENERAL solve some of their issues with the evil capitalist car culture? Because I don’t see Nana on a ten-speed.

More to the point, what revolution are they talking about? You hear a lot about the revolution, but no one can answer me the basics like, “What’s it about?” or “When is it happening?” (though everybody’s pretty sure their crappy screamy emo noise band will be playing ). I’m pretty sure I’m not invited to the revolution because, as has been pointed out MANY TIMES by MANY PEOPLE, I am a poser (I'm not actually an anarchist, I just dress like one). Which is fine. I don’t need your shitty revolution anyway. I do need coffee.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Michaelmas: Journal, Late September 1993

Don’t you love weekends? What are weekends again? Remind me.

This weekend I spent exactly 24 whole hours off campus, which borders on a record length.

Last night my mother decided we should have a family night so we set off in the family vehicle, a black Taurus she named after a buffalo in “Dances With Wolves,” and made our way to the Poplar Lodge in Hendersonville, where the family ate steak and looked with pity at the meatless members of the family (moi).

I do enjoy eating there. It’s all big stones and fireplaces and view and looks like the kind of place you might slay Grendel on the way to the salad bar. I hope to one day live in a place like it, perhaps on a bluff over a lake in Scotland.  Hie Thee Hither!

I’ve fallen into all these weird depressing moods of late and last night I got rather pissed off at my mother and left the table to go cool off literally on the front porch. I sat on the hole-y velvet seat of an old horse-drawn sleigh parked beside a dead tree and I wondered what would have happened if I’d actually managed to run away to California when I was fifteen. Would things in my life still be so grotesquely surreal?

The Chapel Choir sang downtown at Trinity Episcopal with a chamber group this afternoon. Honestly, I’m not really a good enough soprano for the high parts, but I love being lost in a cantata. I can easily imagine all of my friends in elaborate 18th century costume running around the court of Louis XIVth complaining about how much Versailles sucks. Also, Bach is wonderful.

I’ve lost my Morrissey tape. I’m pretty sure I left it in the Taurus, but my mother says not. Maybe she’s a secret fan and stole it.

Faking It: Journal, Early November 1993

The whole cast of “Blithe Spirit” is mostly in trouble with The Director right now because we can’t be bothered to learn our lines. Yesterday The Director got so angry that she threw the script at the wall and screamed and walked off stage threatening to quit. And Alex whispered “That would be amazing, you crazy old drunk hag.” Then, he and I went to [the pool hall across the street] and pretended to be Bobby Joe and Olga[1].

Anyway, we’re all so bad at our parts that the headmaster gave us a day off classes to study lines. Which is kind of awesome because I don’t have to see how disappointed Mr. M is that I didn’t do my math homework.

Anyway, I’m still on this rotten sofa, reflecting on the personalities of the people in the play and listening to the fluorescent bulb buzz over my head. I don’t have to go back on stage for another twenty pages so I can just hang out here and watch the pipes.

God, I need a cigarette.

We took a break during conference period and Denise & I went down to leave an offering at the homoerotic chapel[2] and then we hung out in the grass by the chapel and tried to pretend it wasn’t witch’s titty cold outside. Frank came by and tried to talk to us about knives and Denise kept trying to make the same joke because Frank is Swiss and Swiss Army Knives.

Next weekend is the Christ School Game. I could die before then therefore not have to watch football[3]. There might be a party at the S & G [4]house. Denise is going to try and talk Rebecca into it. Hopefully, this time she won’t invite all the guys from Asheville High and I won’t puke all over the back hallway again. I will never be able to show my face . . .

[1] My high school was located in the center of, what had been for decades, a predominately white, blue collar quadrant of the city (it has significantly gentrified since then). There was a seedy pool hall across the street, largely frequented by a shitkicker clientele and the occasional boarding  student looking for a place to smoke without getting busted. I’m amazed they even let us in there, but no more so the fact that Alex never had his ass handed to him for being an entitled shit in a polo shirt putting on his best broad Eastern Kentucky dialect and acting out offensive Appalachian caricatures with me over the pool table.

Have I mentioned recently that I am ashamed of my past? Because I am.

[2] A small-ish bronze cast of “The Good Samaritan” set back in the alcove in the basement of one of the Boys’ Dorms, in which both parties were naked, well-endowed young men. Denise & I regularly left clover and pennies and paperclips in the Samaritan’s bowl.

[3] Our school’s historic football rivalry. Student attendance was compulsory at the game, despite the fact that we weren’t much of a football school and most of us couldn’t give a rat’s ass about who won. Mostly games consisted of our side (a coed school) taunting the other side (a boys’ school) with non-sports related cheering—“We don’t mess with sheep. Hey! —and laughing at how the other side would actually hire out cheerleaders from a local county high school (our “cheerleaders” were members of the boy’s soccer team wearing pre-“Braveheart” blue face paint and girls’ field hockey kilts). That particular year, my friends received a censorious look from the administration for leading an “On the altar 1-2-3, get the nails, Kill Kill” cheer just before halftime.

[4] Due to the very small degree of parental oversight and the very large amount of readily available alcohol, my friend Rebecca’s house was known  as the “Sodom and Gomorrah” house for much of my senior year.

Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind: Journal, February 19, 1992

Oh My Lord I am so busy with the play and it’s going to be AMAZING even though I still have this thing on my face[1] after the whole Valentine’s debacle[2]. I have decided not to think about that anymore as it will only lead to the sort of negative feelings that may affect my performance.

I am really glad that Erin & Steve have each other[3].

Today the green room Greg and Stewart got in trouble with The Director for playing the stereo by the rotten orange sofa. I don’t think I even knew that stereo worked, by the way. Anyway, they played Nirvana[4] and it was very noisy and abrasive and minor keyed. I could see that Steve hated it. He just shook his head and said something like, “They’re making fun of everything I care about.” And Stewart said, “Yeah, dude, that’s sort of the point.”

All five of the girls that have crushes on Stewart just stood there and rolled his eyes and Steve walked off like he was better than everyone else. I know I should be over this, but there was piece of me that wanted Steve to like the song and a part of me that was glad he hated it because I like it and he doesn’t know everything[5].

The camping trip[6] is this weekend. Kara & I have plans to run through the woods topless[7].

She definitely told Stewart about it. Gross.

[1] Two black eyes from hitting a concrete floor. One large scrape from where my right cheek hit the meeting place of industrial carpet and brick wall.

[2] In which I decided to tell my crush—Steve—that I had feelings for him, so went to campus on the night of the Valentine’s Day dance in my new pink fuzzy sweater to find him working in the light booth at the at the theatre with a close friend of mine, who I didn’t really know he was dating. I discovered them in a private moment. My friend ordered me out. I remember taking a step down the metal ladder that led up to the booth and the next thing I remembered was being flat on my back at the bottom with a concussion (above) and a romantic date with the CAT scan at Mission Hospital.

[3] There’s no typographical shorthand for martyrdom, but this should be read in roughly the same tone as your mom’s “It’s fine. You kids go out and have a great time. I’ll just stay here in this dark kitchen washing all your dishes by myself.”

[4] I’m pretty sure this was the first time I remember hearing Nirvana, by the way.

[5] Translation: “I’m still in love with this asshole because I’m fifteen and I neither know any better nor have any self-respect, so as a result I’m loathe to say anything terrible about him because what if he finds my journal and reads something that he won’t like and decides to never love me? But basically, I think he’s a shitty shitbag and fuck him for ruining my Valentine’s Day. Nirvana Rocks!”

[6] A school-run required three-day event. Widely regarded as Inquisition-level torture.

[7] We did this. I could not possibly tell you why. It was freezing cold and foggy and rainy. I was covered in mud by the time we found a space to get off alone and do it. I mostly remember than we ran down into this glen through a bunch of winter laurel and by the time we got back to the campsite the sides of my boobs were all scratched up. Stewart missed the show (much to Kara’s chagrin) because he was too busy canoodling with the other four girls on the camping trip that were into him. There was, however, a Taiwanese exchange student that spied on us. He just pointed and laughed uncontrollably when he saw us, which made Kara and I feel marginally better about everyone making fun of his Calvin Klein cologne (worn even in the woods) and his battery-powered electric socks.

Sophisticates: Journal, August 25, 1996

I hung out with Kara for the first time since Mom’s wedding. She told me all about how she ran into Kim Gordon at the SoHo Dean & DeLuca and how her friends in the fashion industry[1] decided that pale and sickly was kind of passé and gave me a JF[2] fifth grade lunch room “Ew.” I probably deserved it because I am the color of a slug under a rock in a world of never-ending night, despite the fact that I did go to the beach this summer (and spent the daylight hours writing in the back bedroom).

Anyway, we read all of Dad’s Vanity Fair and she showed me pictures of all the people she’s kind of connected through {Ivy League University].  Later we had those terrible, over-cilantro-ed burritos at Laughing Seed that have sucked since we were in high school (and yet we still eat them . . . why?) And then we went to New French Bar and ordered drinks and neither one of us were carded.

Last night, it was pretty downtown and everyone was out on Lexington. We walked down to Vincent’s past the requisite combo of hipsters and homeless people (and some homeless hipsters . . . I mean, this is Asheville).  We had an argument about Archers of Loaf  (Kara doesn’t like them . . . What?!)[3] and some guy in the Vincent’s courtyard chimed in and Kara tried to decide whether he was cute or not. She has an amazing, smart, funny boyfriend. And that guy in the courtyard looked like a greasy Rastafarian vampire.  “Is that your type maybe?” she asked me.

Jesus Christ, No.

It’s the little stuff with her that always begins to work at me  . . .

[1] Read: Interns at Condé Nast.

[2] The girl in my elementary school with a permanent stink-eye so pronounced that even giving her a second glance in the lunch line was like challenging a Gorgon to a staring contest. Her wordless appraisal was so utterly ego obliterating, I swear to God it took me years to recover my ability to look a girl I didn’t know in the eyes.  I hope she’s found an interesting use for all that power (fyi, government agencies: she’d be super-effective at non-violent interrogation), but I suspect she’s sitting in some fancy restaurant now, making all of the other patrons feel fat, ugly, poor and useless.

[3] Obviously, I was really into this particular parenthetical construction for about a minute.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

68 Vintage Dresses: Journal, December 18, 1996

Tonight at Nana’s I was feeling super-lazy and not in the least inspired to do something so busy as decorate her bejeweled Faberge-ish Christmas ficus or whatever is happening right now by the lowboy in her dining room. Banking crisis # 429[1]had yet to spoil my fun so I went to the awesome Goodwill by Hollins and bought four absurd polyester dresses in four obscene, yet awesome shades, at least one of this a richly brocaded rust that I intend to wear to tomorrow’s bullshit exam.[2] By latest count, I’m the proud owner of 68[3] vintage dresses. Soon I’ll have to move to accommodate them all. I’m absolutely desperate, dahling, for a garment rack and a vodka tonic. Thank you, Nana, for the latter.

Over dinner at Luigi’s, Nana asked me about my non-existent love life and I didn’t tell her that I was still sort of infatuated with that guy from Olympia[4] with the punk patches sewn on his shirt who “studies revolution.” I doubt that’s the type she envisions for me. But then again, this is the same lady who watched this past election season and told me, with great affection and all sincerity, that I was just like Elizabeth Dole and I didn’t even know how to respond to that.

One thing’s for certain: I’ve got to stop crushing on anarchists[5].

[1] Number approximate. No further reference to this fiscal mishap exists, though I’m betting I overdrafted myself, which was something I did with near-recreational abandon in those days. At twenty years old, I lived like I had lots of money to spend until I didn’t, hence the difference for me between “not broke” and “broke” was simply a minus sign in front of my bank balance. I’m ashamed to tell you how long it took for me to accept that there might be a better way to live my life.

[2] My favorite creative instructor scheduled an “exam” in the last hours of the last exam day of the semester. The actual test was an ungraded quiz on our fellow students’ footwear and what sort of story we thought they told. We then spent three hours workshopping three stories (mine was one of them) and then retired to the pool hall on Tate Street for “mandatory” drinking with the professor. I left early and sober in order to drive to Asheville, thereby missing the moment when the class plagiarist (there is always one) hit someone in the head and cried about veganism outside the ladies’ room.

[3] I still have maybe six of the nicest left from this era. The vast majority were patterned polyester shift dresses of the Janeane Garofalo “Reality Bites”/Peggy Olson Season 7 vintage. Cute, but not exactly practical. I wore my favorites, generally with hole-y black tights and Doc Marten Mary Janes until the dresses disintegrated at the seams and smelled so strongly of sweat and cigarettes smoke that I could barely stand my own scent.

[4] I do not remember this guy’s name, or even really what he looked like, but I met him briefly in Portland when I went to Oregon for Thanksgiving and spent a good solid night trying to surreptitiously take a decent picture of him as sort of a souvenir of temporary infatuation, but none of them came out and I wasted at least half a roll of film in the process.

[5]It took until about 2006, but I mercifully—finally--grew out of the type.

Positive Attitude Orientation: Journal, September 1994

My mother grew up in this town. It was a railroad hub. It has a giant star by the zoo on the mountain overlooking downtown.

I've been coming here for most of my life.

I stare out the windows[1] of my first dorm room over the green fields toward the Boob Mountains and half-disappointed/half-relieved that my unpronounceably named double Georgian roommate[2] didn’t show up.

There are a lot of horses here and a lot of girls with blonde hair.

I hate it.

This morning my mother drove me to campus in a borrowed van and unloaded my life into this cinderblock cell and told me I should give the school a chance, that just because it doesn't seem like a place I belong, I shouldn't let my feelings get in the way of what could be a great experience. "It's probably not as bad as you think."

"I'll probably kill myself if it's as bad as I think," I said.

My mother like the suicide commentary. She said something about being disappointed in my attitude and helped me make my bed and plug in my computer in this mostly empty room. I wish I were my no-show roommate because at least she's NOT HERE.

Every single girl on the hall is playing that fucking Counting Crows song. We're supposed to go out to the quad to play get to know you games. I cued up Mozart's Requiem and smoke. I heard giggles and screams from the other girls in the dorm. I wrote CUNT on my white board. Then I erased it because Mom came back.

"I think you're really going to like it here," she said after some tea thing at the President's House.

I told Mom that I'm totally fucked and she should probably leave. She did, but only after making my promise that I wouldn't sit around and pout, which of course I'm going to do. I'm going to cry and pout and scream and temper tantrum all night if that gets me out of the fucking ice cream social.

On the way out the door, she told me that the girl across the hall[3] looked miserable and has shoes like mine and I should probably go talk to her, which probably means that she's nothing like me and horrible.

Everything is wrong with my life. 

[1] These pages are in my general freshman year notebook, but their placement suggests that I wrote this sometime after these events took place. I think it was part of some very serious autobiography project I was going to write about myself at the time.

[2]Here’s how this went: I got my roommate assignment sometime in July and the name was recognizably Georgian (I’d gone to high school with two kids from Tbilisi) and the only contact information I had for her was a mailing service in Atlanta, so double Georgian. She never showed. Incidentally, I answered my Hollins housing questionnaire in some tantrum state of nihilistic rage. If the residential life office had even tried to match me with a like-minded individual, I suspect she would have been a real piece of work.

[3] She actually ended up being the first real friend I made in college. So go, Mom, I guess.