REPORT A PROBLEM
And so, a little shamefacedly, I come skulking back after a failed month. Writing has been erratic lately; the creative juices have been sucked dry. My online journal, until yesterday, has lain dormant for a month, and my little red leather journal gathers dust on the shelf, notes and doodles that I jotted down on scraps and napkins are haphazardly stuck between pages for "when I have more time." Most days I don't know how to begin or where to begin and before I know it, another month passes and all I have to show is a blank computer screen.
"Repent or else!" she shrieked shrilly. Like most everyone else on their way to class, my eyes sought the new evangelical extremist of this week. Completely oblivious to catcalls, amused grins, and even the handful of amen's thrown in her direction, she continued raving with witch-like scrawny hands waving wildly and pointing and her long gray hair swishing behind her. "This university has forgotten God and serves as a haven for unrepentant sinners!" Her pale blue eyes caught mine for a moment, and she looked right through me. "Repent or be damned!" Feeling something akin to revulsion, I turned away.
A recent adornment to my dormitory wall is "FANTÔMAS," a masked gentleman in a top hat and tails staring at me in curiosity as he towers over a melancholy Paris. I fondly assumed it to be some derivative of Eric from _The Phantom of the Opera_, but Patrick discovered he's an old pulp mystery character who terrorized the city. He then bought the scariest-sounding CD of the band FANTÔMAS that tried to immortalize that terror… and the inner booklet was snapshots of heart surgery. The music and the pictures were too much for me and Amanda, who still shivers remembering.
When you meet Ryan, the goofy man-boy bordering on thirty who lives out of his car and works at the Waffle House, you will say, "Give the boy some Ritalin." He won't sit still. He gets excited over flip books. He still likes to get smashed with the college kids. You won't take him seriously at all, until you hear his poetry. We were shivering outside of the closed Civic Media Center on Poetry Night, so he began reciting on the street. He paced and yelled and sighed. When I heard Ryan recite, I saw Ryan for the first time.
Don't say another word. Do you know what you're saying? Is the alcohol just loosening your tongue? All I can do is turn and dance in the other direction so I don't have to see him look so sadly at me like that. I won't apologize for being in love with someone else, and there's nothing I want to do to change that. I can't control how I feel any more than you can. This is it. This is going to be the night that changes everything. I just lost a very good friend. Happy birthday, for what it's worth.
I've finished crying, but the hurting inside has yet to stop. It was the shortest, but one of the best friendships I've ever had. This pause—abrupt finish—in whatever we had between us was the only way after last night. I know you're never like that. This wasn't the way I was planning to confront you, but I had to ask, and you had to answer. The happiness that comes with feigned ignorance is gone. I could not go on acting like I didn't know your feelings, but I'm so sorry that it cost me you. I'm so sorry.
When I left home, I knew I wanted out of the fishbowl. Otherwise, how could I possibly know that what I have is as right as it can be if I didn't meet the other fish in the sea? The assumption that I could never get into this situation still lingered, but when I asked him to leave yesterday, I could only wonder if I was refusing to look outside the fishbowl. I can't know what could have happened and not knowing is making me crazy. I WOULD LIKE A LITTLE CERTAINTY HERE. Assurance, too, if that's not too much.
When you told me that you'd be moving here a year, maybe two, earlier than you planned, I spluttered into the phone. Oh, yes, I had just said that it wasn't healthy for me to miss you so much, which I know is the real reason why I throw myself into studying my books and the people I've met here. I do try to forget you. But—it almost seems sacrilege to say it—this is my space. You, half-laughing, say we should take this as it comes, and I will continue to unnecessarily and prematurely muse over my news.
Legend says that Alexander the Great locked seventy-seven scholars in different rooms for the production of a Greek translation of the Bible. After 77 days, the weary scholars emerged, each with the same word for word translation; Alexander cited divine intervention. Working with ancient Greek now, the complexities in learning it show that it's impossible to find a "correct" Bible. Today I learned there are seven different meaning for "logos," but it's most frequently translated as "word." The stories are changed, reinterpreted, and edited. It's frustrating to give multiple meanings to timeworn passages, but deliciously stimulating at the same time.
Seventeen hours and my eyes feel like they want to sever the optic nerve connecting them to my head and wiggle free from my contact lenses and drown themselves with eye drops. Oh, misery of miseries. I blink once, twice, but no improvement for the cloudy dryness that will not go away. They've been scrolling line after line of a dead language (it's not dead because it's still being used!), threatening to begin throbbing if I use them for another second. I'm almost afraid to take the contacts out in case they make that sticking noise when I remove them.
I tell them I have a boyfriend, even when I'm tempted to omit the telling. The Boyfriend wouldn't appreciate it, but I know what's going to happen. They were charming, witty and some were even thought-provoking, but suddenly a barrier's between the two of us, and the good thing that was there will change, as if hanging out and communicating isn't permitted. It goes both ways. I behaved differently around the ones with girlfriends--mustn't let anything be misunderstood! Maybe all taken people should wear signs. (They do: rings.) I was taught omitting the truth is the same as lying..
Start a protest. Eat Oreos soaked in whole milk. Catch up on glorious sleep. Lose myself in a breathlessly heart-stopping kiss. Go skinny-dipping in a hot bubbling jacuzzi. Waste extravagant amounts of money on books and frivolous clothing. Find a mouth-watering bikini. Polish off three novels. Attend a play. Buy two last minute plane tickets for today to New York City. Send unsent letters. Write other letters that will never be sent. Call Mom. Find an apartment. Take ten photographs. Start a conversation with a stranger. Dance all night long. Buy organic food. Draw. What I planned to do today.
And then all of a sudden, my roommate lost her faith in my driving capacity, "Are you sure you're going to be ok?" The trip was little more than a mile, but I was going to be driving her baby, and given my sketchy record, a mile was all I needed to get into some trouble. Before she'd change her mind, I whisked the keys from her hands and pranced to her car. Start the engine, reverse, shift to drive and adjust to those brakes and accelerator. Era muy facíl. Thus marked my first time driving in my new city.
It rained again today, but it didn't matter because I was where I wanted to be. He says that he knows I love him. I want to tell him how much more I love him, to make him understand. Has it been as long as this? We're a blink of the eye of the universe. All this time, I'm finding that there's something deeper to myself that I want to share with him... I want to give all that to him. And when they finally write our story, it will end with these words: "and they loved happily ever after."
The intelligent thing to do is leaving upon seeing that the lenses of your potential hairdresser's glasses are thicker than the width of your thumb. He and I miss the intelligent thing on occasion, which is why we end up pulling redneck's cars from ditches at one o'clock in the morning. So when the aforementioned hairdresser said she was finished and one side of his hair was much higher, we saved our horrified exclamations for the car and I trimmed, salvaging what I could. Light brown-blond locks of hair were scattered on the soccer field to the amusement of sunbathers.
Hours before sunrise, his alarm went off. He had a two and a half hour drive home before his first class. He held me tightly for another minute, kissing my face a few times while I struggled and failed to keep my eyes open. I sleepily ran my fingers down his warm back as he sat on the bed to put on his shoes. After a last look making sure I went back to sleep, he left. These are the best partings, where all I distinctly remember are the kisses and the whisperings that really could have been another dream.
I was taken aback was my Korean lab partner asked me what I was. When I told her, she was surprised: "Really? You don't look Asian. Are you half white?" Some of the Asians here are handling transition well: newly liberated from proper Filipina girl or boy roles at home, they're rebelling to extreme levels. On the other hand, it's so encouraging to make friends with people who grew up under the same circumstances that I did: rice for breakfast, no dating, and uber-conservatism. And sometimes I'm reminded that I don't know much about what being Asian means at all.
Most days, my Greek professor spends little time on the language and more time on histories and entomologies. "Without literature, civilizations from now can look back and believe that we are a society that worships time," she said. Time is everywhere, and it dictates how we live our lives. Most corporations and businesses try to attain a clockwork-like schedule. In our society, it is more common to find a clock in the room than a religious symbol. We wear watches. Our lives are in planners and calendars. It's the most abstract of man-made creations. Time is our society's new religion.
No one who has entered our room can escape it. The danger is always there. Bryan and Patrick can tell you, as can Jenny, Hilary, Dan, and Anjali. We're all victims. Its presence is unavoidable. It's futile to fight it. When enter, it's the first thing that catches your eye. In the center of the room lies a giant monstrosity of an orange faux shag rug. Owning it can be likened to owning a carrot-colored beast whose fur just won't stay on. No matter what I do, I still find little orange hairs on my clothes. Make it stop shedding!
Watching my roommate's life is as close to being part of the craziness without being sucked into the vortex of ridiculousness. Two weeks ago, she made plans to go to London with her boyfriend. With five business days to renew her passport, this meant she had to drive yesterday to Miami's immigration/ naturalization center for same day renewals, BUT she needed to buy plane tickets last night for it. In the course of two weeks, their cars broke down (at 2 AM, of course) on these 500+ mile drives, among other things which I am not even supposed to know.
I am not the only one on my floor trying to pretend that I don't really have a guy stay overnight. The roommate and I have some understanding between us of how to handle privacy issues (I can't wait for the two bedroom apartment for the summer!). I've seen my RA's hulking significant other emerge sleepy-eyed from her room. And somehow Anjali has it down to a science how to sneak her guy into the bathroom for showers, which I don't have the guts to do. These boys have to be very understanding to put up with conditions like this.
It was the first day of the year that the outdoor thermometer read seventy degrees Fahrenheit: scarves were hung up and bikini bottoms were pulled from the bottom of the drawer. Welcome to the first day of summer! Those lucky enough to have cars made the two hour drive to the closest beach where the white sand was hot and the boys were hotter. The lawn outside my dorm this afternoon could not be seen for the hordes of girls in barely there swimwear who basked like complacent cats in the sunshine. Silly girls, do you know what melanoma is?
Ooo, baby, I want it so bad. Everyone else around me was bitten by the Spring Break bug over the weekend, too. It's the new conversation starter. They're talking about the world's largest and longest keg party at the Panama City Beach, sultry and throbbing nights at South Beach, or fun in the sun down in the Keys. I, myself am heading to a modest little beach of sorts (it went underappreciated too long) and there I will admire the boyfriend while he surfs, build my castles of sand, and just forget there was ever such a thing as winter.
I learned to sing recently. It was a long seventeen years of silence on my part. I was so quiet, there were days I wasn't even sure I existed. But as time passed, I was consumed with this want to make glorious noise; I ached for it. Some tentative vocal lessons ended in disaster. I was frustrated with the notes wouldn't come. And then one day, I had a new instructor, who was patient and daring and oh-so-knowledgeable--I just exploded in song. Gliding up and down the scales turned into full-fledge operas that bring down the house every time.
On days like today, I miss my little sister a lot. It was a role reversal between the two of us, with the older sister being the annoying one. Always ignoring her futile protests and excuses of homework, I'd charge into her room without knocking and we'd hash over the triumphs and disappointments of the day. A day was incomplete until I got *that look* or a gasp or a hysterical fit of giggles from her. I'd bully and tease her, but somehow, she still managed to love me fiercely, and no one can substitute her for all of that.
Watching us, you wouldn't have thought us to be the same people who were so impossibly dramatic three weeks ago. With hands buried deep in warm pockets, we walked out the conversation after the initial cautious and hesitant reacquaintance with one another, and everything. Is. Just. Fine. Go figure. Everything is going to be okay. The rain was falling in a light mist over the city, and beneath the heads of street lamps, it seemed as if the rain was falling to the sky in some uniform motion. I was waiting for the frogs to start falling. Everything is okay.
I feel extremely foolish. A phone call yesterday made the offer of possibly nine grand for a summer internship and if interested, to go to an informational meeting. It was only when they hung up the phone that I realized I had no contact number or name of the company with which the internship was affiliated. Against my better judgment, I took the bait. It took twenty minutes for me to understand that this "internship" was a search for potential door-to-door salespeople. I felt so dirty afterwards. Why would I want to become someone who I've always wanted to kill?
Medical school is one of the scariest things that lies ahead. Rivaling it would be the admission to the school of my choice. I'm not stupid. These undergraduate years are just like high school: get the community service, the grades, the job experience, and the test scores, and MAYBE you'll be considered. I talked with deans of admission from Emory, the Mayo Medical School, and Duke. It was thrilling to think I could be part of it, that I could fix the wrongs in this world or increase the wealth of knowledge in medicine. I want it. But I'm scared.
I completely undressed and pulled his green button-down shirt around me. (It's my favorite of his. He was wearing it the first time I was speechless around him.) I took a Stoic-like stance about not seeing him this week, and I worked hard not to mope. My reflection gave a grin that only meant mischief, for the shirt was adorably enormous and hung down to my knees. If only he were here to see this… When I pulled the collar close to my face, I caught a whiff of his scent and knew that I wasn't fooling a single person.
The Tip Jar