so I’m looking at the clock and it says it’s 5:38 and I’m hurrying to finish “brief interviews with hideous men” by david foster wallace (cite properly later) so that i can follow through with my plan, which is:
when my partner/love/zach peckham wakes up for work i will call him to tell him that i read tonight and realized i’m actually not stupid, again
and when i call i will get up and go downstairs and go outside for a cigarette and i;ll be wearing my orange-red undies with the pinkish (okay its pink) border and that shirt that i think is artsy with the antler lady and owl,
and in the meantime i’m not going to check to see how many pages are left to read because that’s like looking (and right now how fucking word is fucking up my writing by fixing shit that aint broke and adding shit that don’t matter and that i don’t want, like these fucking apostrophes, and how i tried but i cant turn it off, fucking fuckers, wasting my precious time diddling with their shit) that’s like looking at the clock during class and that’s something i’m not gonna do no more. but i don’t realize that i am actually checking the clock even if i’m not checking the pages… and then finally i do look and when i do i see that the end is on the next page. and i sort of smile and say “figures” like i sort of say a lot.
the thing is, someone told me that i might or probably would like this story and its early/late and i havent slept and i was excited when i saw it in the anchor book of new american short stories that i bought for a class that i dropped but didn’t return it cause that seems wrong, and how now that im reading it im realizing that im not really understanding it, this wall of text full of what livejournal would call mansplaining and im getting kinda mad about it not making sense to me. and then slowly an internal monologue starts up to go with the monologue of the story and it’s analyzing and critiquing and i’m realizing, i wouldn’t have done this last year, i only started doing this after going to real college, and i’m realizing, maybe im (my parents) are spending thousands and thousands of dollars for me to alienate myself from the less educated but still smart persons like i used to be.
i tell this to zach on the phone and he says yep, you are, and i smile cause im lucky to be with someone who gets it. i go downstairs and i get my cigarette and matches and i then make sure the pack is zipped up in my fanny pack cause i quit smoking for a while and i think it was the only thing my dad was ever proud of me for, and then i started again, and even though i was pretty sure he knew because im not very good at hiding things, there are butts in the backyard and my hands, right fingertips, smell like sharp smoke, but i guess he’s pretty good at denial.
so i’m sitting on the back stoop and im talking to zach, first about how i like the grey morning light, and how my skin looks sort of grey too but its not dead looking, its soft, and he says theres something nice (that’s not the word he said i don’t think) about getting up early, but i say i never get up early i just stay up early, and if i did get up early it wouldn’t be like this cause now things are clear and im in a cloud for hours after i get up in the morning or the afternoon, always.
so im sitting there in my bare feet and tshirt and undies and the weird back stoop mat made of knotted plastic is making weird shapes in my not-so-tiny-anymore-ass and i have this premonition that my dad will get up soon and he will catch me smoking but i’m kind of not as wworried cause im pretty sure he does already know. but then minutes later it happens i hear the footsteps and i look over my shoulder and i don’t really see him, just the dark dark grey screen of thhe back door, and he says “que pasa aca” which means, “what happens (is happening) here?” and im still on the phone with zach and i half smile sardonically because i KNEW this would happen, so i wave the hand which i realize is holding my cigarette and i say, in english, “i cant do this right now” and he says “no es que dejazte” and he sounds surprised in a bad way, and i just say, i blame masspirg, and it’s a lame excuse. dejaste isnt quit so much as left behind, moved on, and i sort of wish i really had.
so i realize he didn’t catch all the other hints and just found out this morning just past 6 am before he has to go to work at a hospital biopsing lungs and shit, and how denial works until it doesn’t anymore.
so before that i was talking to zach about writing and english and resources and its sorta a little jumbled now, but about how if you don’t write its not there, it goes away from yr brain like water in a river unless you take a picture first, and about how i was gonna write it to him in a facebook message but then i realized i “needed” to write it on paper, for myself, but have now settled for the middle ground of a word document which is where i type my papers for school cause i think i forget how to do useful things with my hands good, like write with a pen on paper, and that’s sad.
anyway hes saying that you have to write for yourself, and im saying i don’t but its okay cause i’m not an english major anymore, like i was in my head from second grade until spring semester but was in real life for “like five minutes”, and he says that everyone writes for themselves or something like that and im a bastard for forgetting his actual words, and i say htat if you are an english major i think you have some sort of responsibility to put something out there for someone else cause yr spending these thousands of dollars and sucking up all these resources and that’s kinda selfish to do it just for yoursellf, isn’t it, and he says i’m right. he loves me.
i’m not an english major because i used to be a better writer when i was a kid and im not as good a writer as i was supposed to be for a bunch of dumbsad reasons that i wont get into here. also because i had this view of writing that its just something you do without rules, and that literature means something more in an english major than books written in england and the places it colonized and only by white people there, really. so i looked at the core curriculum, that white canon, and i fled as fast as a could, little brown girl-person from their white oppressors.
now im majoring in women, gender, and sexuality and im trying hard not to be embarassed when i tell anyone this. sometimes when i say it even to women in college they laugh and say really and one person eveen said, wow you can major in anything at umass, like flyfishing, and i know what shes saying is that she feels like, for some reason, that women, gender, and sexuality is about as relevant as fly fishing and at first im pissed and sad and then im still pretty pissed and sad but also reaffirmed because, this is why i have to major in this.
it doesn’t always happen this way though, one time while i was canvassing for masspirg which i half blame for my continued smoking, i went to a house where a man lived who had been a previous member giving ten dollars a month and that if he did that again id almost have quota and without quota id be fired or close to, and it was the end of the night, and he didn’t come to the door a woman did, and she relayed the message that he had started also giving money to the sister organization which i guess he didn’t really get is the sister organization, and that he wanted to split the donation, and give 5 dollars a month to both, and i try to tell him that this is not possible, that the minimum is ten, it has to be ten or nothing, and she relays that hes said its 5 or nothing, and i am like ughhh why don’t you get it.
so im talking to the woman at the door and asking if shed like to join instead and i know im full of shit but i gotta pay rent. she says no but she could do one time, i target 60, she says 20, then she asks me what my major is, and i don’t lie, i say women gender and sexuality. she says shes the women’s history director for the five colleges, the cheapest of which i attend, and that shes glad to hear that and i name drop a couple teachers, really the only ones id met because id only been there for a semester, and she says theyre great, and she says you know what, hold on, i can do sixty, and she writes a check and that’s how i made quota that day.
this started because i played video games, kingdom hearts, and stayed up way later than i told myself i would, and i felt stupid from the games, and i went outside at 4 am to have a “last” cigarette and i thought about how animals talked to me as i watched a worm writhe in the dirt by a rock and a gray wolf spider skulking. and i went back inside and i went to the bathroom, asking myself why i still did this, hurt myself by not sleeping, at 2 years sober.
then because of that feeling stupid i decided to read some real stories, theyre all by white people i bet, but they have big words and i read them and mostly got them and i stopped feeling stupid. when i picked up the book i knew the stories would be fucked up and probably fuck me up because short stories thesedays are just a morbid competition about who can write the most fucked up shit, except for sherman alexie (who isnt white) who writes things that don’t make me feel bad, about white dresses and chocolate thunder. if you havent read him you should and don’t bother with the other shit.
and i was thinking about that creative writing class that i dropped without a word, remember yelling I CARE MORE ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS THAN FUCKING POETRY outside bartlett hall at umass which is where the english majors live but also the women, gender, and sexuality majors live, and that’s how i dropped that class on the last possible day and became a women, gender, and sexuality major, and knew i did the right thing.
so the teacher of this class was a young grad student and she drank pbr and would have drank it in class if it was okay. shes not a bad person, even though im saying this. anyway, i see her at trader joes because she works there. i got in her checkout line sort of by accident and she said “have you done any creative writing lately?” and i think she’s being passive aggressive because i dropped her creative writing class. i was still mad because it said “creative writing and mindfulness” and after a few minutes of the first class i realized she had no.fucking.clue what mindfulness meant and she made up a dumb hipster definition that means nothing and is an insult to jon kabat zinn and noah levine and my integrity.
so i tell her like i told her before that writing is something i want to pursue outside the classroom, even though she didn’t ask me that, cause she kind of did.
and i look at her and wonder if she really like prepackaged organic bullshit all that much. if she works there because she loves fava beans and overpriced chopped greens and free samples and hawaiian shirts, or if she’s working there because being an english/creative writing grad student doesn’t pay, and everyone’s gotta pay rent.
i say this to zach and i allso remind us that majoring in women, gender, and sexuality doesn’t pay either and we’ll both be poor forever, and im meaning together.