Friday, August 24, 2012
I woke up at 6am yesterday, since I had decided the day before to bike the long way to catch a bus, instead of waiting for the one two blocks from my house. It was, of course, raining. It's rained every day since I got here, being hurricane season and all, which would be fine except that it only rains when I'm on my bike. When I'm not on my bike, it gets sunny and super hot. So I guess I could complain about it some more, but the truth is maybe North Carolina is just trying to be helpful.
So I was all awake and active and shit, proud of myself for getting through the bus routes and not getting run over by a car, and ending up on campus at the right building for my first class...90 minutes early. So I went to pick up my school ID. Good lord, you should see it. It was taken at the height of my West Nile episode, and I look like I'm a heroin junkie. Which, turns out fevers make my eyes really blue. But also I look like I have jaundice. I'm smiling all wanly, like "okay yeah let's get this over with so I can get my methadone scrip". Next I went to the bookstore and managed to get in first to pick up my books, as a long and longer line piled up behind me. So that was okay. I was feeling pretty effective, so far.
Went to my first class, and the grad student teaching it reminded me of Angela, my very first trainer when I started at Progressive 7 years ago. They could be twins, in both face and function. I like the synchronicity of that. The only girl I talked to at orientation is in that class, and she seems lovely. We had to go around and talk about why we were taking Creative Non-Fiction. I was all "well, I've basically been doing it for ten years with this fucking blog, so maybe I should get good at it?" A lot of the younger girls said "I really like poetry, but I'm not any good at it, and I don't have cool enough ideas for fiction, so...." I tried to find the place to register my bike on campus, but it was all the way on the other side, and the quad was crowded with tons of kids just milling about, making it hard to bike through at all. So I sat at the student center, ate a sandwich, and talked to my friends on gchat, who were all at their adult jobs. That felt pretty okay, the feeling of realizing this was my new pattern, that I was creating new life patterns with every path I chose to take, every bike rack I chose to use, every minute I budgeted for finding classrooms.
After classes, I tried to find the correct bus back. It was raining again, and I missed the bus and waited 40 minutes to get the next one, with lots of little bugs being assholes around me. An older woman who works at the Einstein Bagels on campus came and sat waiting, then a younger girl with one blue eye, one brown. They both called me sweety, then talked to each other in super intimate polite tones. The girl was talking about how hungry she was, because she had gone out drinking and forgotten to eat before rushing to class. So the older woman forced some pretzels and grapes on her. The bus came and I rode it the whole route around the mall and back to the main bus station. The driver was careening around, and I was sitting there quietly freaking out about my bike sitting there precariously on the front of this madman's giant vehicle of civic destruction, in the pouring rain.
I finally got home, covered in sweat and rain, which is my general being now, I am nothing but sweat and rain and bug bites and heat. Anytime I leave the house and come back, I have to immediately go up to my bedroom and completely strip and just not be covered with sticky hot clothes for at least five minutes before I can even think about accomplishing anything. I lay there staring at the ceiling for 15 minutes, then showered and got dressed again, oh god not again with the bra and the cardigans and the makeup, I resent all of it now, I just want to be bare and stripped all the time. And alone. I desperately want to be alone, with my cat. Living with other people is an adjustment. I like them all, but I am starting to practice willful ignorance of their presence. Like, no I'm sitting here typing at the table, I don't have to talk to you the entire time you're in the kitchen.
I went to the Hipster Bar, where it turns out they also have coffee, so I can sit there and drink coffee and jameson with my headphones and my little netbook, and freak the fuck out over not being a funny person. I did that for like an hour, then signed up for the stand up open mic. I chainsmoked for an hour waiting to go up, unable to feel my chest or eyes, and certainly not able to actually have conversation with anyone, it was like I went into this mental coma. I put myself in the middle of the list, thinking I didn't want to be in the beginning, but then stupidly ending up after three really strong practiced guys who do it there all the time. It was okay. Every one always tells you that you did good, because they are trying to be encouraging. But I know better. My delivery sucked. I had a hard time making eye contact with anyone in the audience because the lights were so bright, I sort of froze up body language wise, and I kept letting the mike drop down, so my punchlines drifted away. I know I got some laughs, but I was incapable of hearing the level of the laughter. The only people I could see were these 5 stone faced plastic looking college girls in the front row who glared at me the whole time. Man, college girls just hate me it turns out. I think they are upset I'm not a guy who's going to make some pithy comments about their boobs. I think they are offended by the idea of anyone paying attention to a girl who is not like them, young and hot and trying.
But afterwards, some strangers came up to tell me I was funny, and some of the experienced guys gave me the pat on the shoulder and "good set". The host came up and introduced himself. The one comic I already have a fan crush on came up and told me that he had expected me to not be funny at all, and he was sorry to have doubted me, and which specific bit he liked. The long and short of it is that I went to bed feeling kind of badly about it because I hate not being great at something, but then when I woke up this morning the first thought I had was that I should go to this other mic on Monday. So I guess, we're going to try and do this. I'm not even entirely sure why. Why do anything these days? I deliberately changed my life around to give myself more freedom of choice, and now I'm sort of just bouncing around pinball style. A really slow pinball. I need some big event to happen, something game changing. Like, instead of pinball, I'd like to suddenly be catapulted into a chess game or Marco Polo.
My friend got a windfall recently and he's been playing around with the stock market, telling me about it on chat. I cringe, because I feel like every quarter that slips through my fingers these days just brings my inevitable failure and disgraceful return home closer and closer. It's hard to convince yourself that what happened when you were 19 is not what's going to happen when you're 33.
The rest of my non-school days are becoming patterned like this: get up, shower, put in a job application somewhere, spend the rest of the day working on the book/playing around on facebook/trolling OK Cupid. Winter is coming. There's a hurricane forming somewhere South of me. My hair is getting long and I think I'm losing weight only it's making me look lumpier. I wear flip flops practically everywhere, because they're best when it does rain, which is every three hours, seriously. All the trees and bushes and palm plants are swollen and green and overgrown. The world is trying to eat all of us, it's carnivorous and mindless and predatory and beautiful the way everyone here is just clinging on to the edge of the world. .
Posted by Bridget Callahan at 3:13 PM