Tag Archives: college

Make-ing Up Is Hard to Do

Later, my boyfriend came stumbling down my hall drunk and looking for me. I could hear shouting. When I opened my door, he leaned against the post and smiled.

His face was covered in makeup. His cheeks were coated in pink rouge and his lids were smeared with silver charcoal paste. Mascara was smudged below his eyes. His mouth had a layer of cherry lipstick.

My jaw dropped. “Are you wearing my roommate’s glitter?”

“You bet your pale ass I am.”

[from my pseudonymous column at The Gloss]

Cabin Fever

In college, we would leave campus and drive a few hours north of Boston into the backwoods of Maine and spend the weekend at my friend’s cabin that, while equipped with electricity and running water and most of the creature comforts that had become necessary to our winter of 2005 survival, lacked two major components: television and internet. So, in the backseat of my used Saturn, we wrapped a towel around an oversized plastic container with a matching bottom, a little metal bowl and a big sack of grass. We sat around the kitchen table drinking glasses of aggressive red wine and took hits off the gravity bong, allowing the plumes of smoke to overtake the lofted cabin and lull us all into a quiet, post-adolescent thoughtfulness, the herbal smell dissipating only days later when we packed up our possessions—the plastic-cut jugs, the empty bags of grass, the wine bottles and corkscrews and university sweatshirts, the video camera with philosophical-leaning footage of questionable taste—, loaded them back into the Saturn and drove off with the headlights on bright, our eyes twinkling and our lungs darkening in the dusk.

Smoke & Mirrors

I started smoking when I was 17. It was the summer before my senior year, and I was statistically unlikely to pick it up. But I did.

It wasn’t peer pressure, either. It was anger and youth. I blame, of course, a man. His name was Clay, and he pulled over his shitty Toyota on a side street and forced himself on top of me. I hit him, pushed him off, and he drove me home. Nothing happened. The next day he told all the other camp counselors I was a huge slut. I found this out in the parking lot and asked my friend Pam if I could have a cigarette. I smoked it down.

I smoked all summer.

I smoked through 12th grade. I lit them winding down the parkway, the window cracked, the heat on, my hair pulled back tight so not to smell so foul. I listened to Fiona Apple and sang along, my hoarse voice seething with late adolescent emotions. It was fall, and my neighborhood in the woods smelled like cold burning leaves and dew. I laid out in the cul-de-sac with Mike and exhaled angry streams of thin smoke and let him kiss me.

I smoked through freshman orientation outside Boston, after my Philosophy course on the hill and during just about any walk I took around campus. I became known as the girl who smoked cigarettes outside the dorm. I spent hours outside perfecting smoke rings.

When I studied in England for a semester, I could finally smoke inside. I had packed a carton of Camels and peeled through them one by one on the River Trent. My doe-eyed Northern Irish boyfriend smoked spliffs, and left trails of ash around his miniature flat. I was depressed. I lost interest in sex, I lost interest in smoking. I fought with the boyfriend in England, in Scotland, in France. I lost weight.

When I returned home, I returned to my heavy packs, but it wasn’t the same. I had been smoking a pack a day freshman year, but now my heart wasn’t in it. I started dating a non-smoker, and it suddenly became something that felt more nostalgic than appropriate. It felt like a forgotten crutch.

So I stopped, for the most part. When I drink I like to smoke, but now they make my head spin just enough to feel too overwhelming. I miss cigarette breaks at work. I miss asking handsome men for a light.

As I walked through Stuyvesant Town’s oval this evening I inhaled the smoky scent of burning leaves, the threat of frost, and receeding grass. I slowed down and looked up toward the tops of the oaks. I wanted a cigarette. I wanted to lie down on the grass, smelling the onslaught of fall and the ebb of summer, the sharp wind lifting clouds of smoke into the distance…

Connectication

I am finally escaping the dreary end-of-summer Manhattan heat. I’ll be just north of Litchfield, Connecticut this weekend with about 15 of my best college friends. If you miss me, just think of me drinking my face off on the lake and getting high in the hot tub. Or don’t, if you’re too too jealous. See you Sunday night.

Strangers on a Train

“Excuse me?”

I take off my headphones, lower my book, and glower at the guy across from me. He and his friend have been drinking Coors Light from wide mouth cans for the past twenty minutes and their legs kept banging up against my knees. I glance out the window and watch Westchester zip past our train.

“Sorry,” he continues. “I hate to bother you. But are you reading that for school?”

I look down at my worn copy of A Separate Peace and raise my eyebrows. “No. I’m reading it because it’s a good book.”

Now he’s caught in a disappointment. “Oh, because I had to read that for school, and I just hated it. I thought it sucked.”

“Where do you go to school?” I ask him. His friend laughs.

“Oh, I’m not in school. But I went to school in Scranton.” He scratches his knee and sips his Coors. “My name is Peter. And this is Derek.”

“Hi.”

“Where are you in college?”

“I’m not. I went to Brandeis. Outside Boston.”

“Oh yeah? That’s a good school. My cousin goes there. She’s a sophomore. So I guess you wouldn’t know her, would you?”

“Nope.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a publicist for a magazine. What do you do?”

“We’re … in between jobs,” Peter says hesitantly. Derek rolls his eyes. “So, I know this is weird, but what are you doing Saturday?” At this point, Derek starts snickering at Peter.

“Saturday?”

“We’re actually going to a wedding. Our friend’s getting married. He’s only 23. It’s ridiculous. But he knocked up the girl, you know? So we’re going to a wedding in the Bronx. And you should be my date.”

“Oh,” I laugh and smile. A few strangers in adjacent seats are surrepticiously listening in. “I wish you asked me last week. Because now I have plans.”

“Were you on this train last week?”

“No … I’m going to visit my grandparents for dinner.”

“So how could I have asked you last week?” Derek loses it and actually laughs out loud at his friend. Even the strangers start to roll their eyes.

At that point, we reach White Plains. Which is sad, I think, because I really do love weddings. And I bet I could have drank these guy under the table.

Friends of Distinction

Have I mentioned how bored I am? I am so bored I cleaned my apartment. I took a two hour bath just because I could. I watched a crappy pirated copy of the Sex and the City movie to be hip. The rumors are true. It’s a shitty movie.

I’d be less bored if my roommate was around, but Michelle is in DC with her family. Which means I’ve been all alone, wandering back and fourth between the couch to my bed to my desk to the kitchen to the bath tub. At least if Michelle was here I’d have someone to test my jokes on. And someone to watch these bad movies with. And someone to stop me from eating an entire box of chocolate Teddy Grahams.

Two months ago, I would have rejoiced. My former roommate and I were not exactly friends, and when you live with someone who passive aggressively hates you for two years, you begin to loathe being home. I began to hole up in my six by seven square foot room, with just enough space for a full bed and a narrow bedside table. I rarely came home after work. I went out of my way to go to happy hours, movie screenings, dinners, and open bars. I hated being in that tiny apartment. I hated being in the common space, even though the kitchen and living room were relatively spacious and airy.

But now that I live with Michelle, I’m actually paying a lot more for rent and saving money. How? Well, I actually enjoy being home. I cook meals now. I can have a few drinks on the couch with my best friend. It is pretty awesome. I forgot how relaxing it is to live with someone who doesn’t make your jaw clench when they walk into the room.

Michelle and I went to college together and vaguely knew of one another, I suppose, by senior year. We were not friends. She was a tall blond sorority sister who studied psych and often began her sentences by saying secretly in her thick Chicago accent. Such as, “Secretly, I think 95% of the student body is hideous.” I was a short red head who studied writing and often began my sentences by prefacing how high I was. Such as, “You guys, I’m so high right now I think I can see God in the quad, and he knows I don’t believe in him, and he looks pissed.”

So we weren’t friends. We weren’t enemies, like some of the freaky girls in her sorority who hated me because their boyfriends thought I was hot. Doesn’t that have the makings for a bad pop song? But, you know, we didn’t really know each other and could really care less.  And then last spring, Michelle moved to New York and came with her friend Sam to meet me for brunch. Eventually, Sam, who is from England, moved to Germany, and Michelle and I remained friends. The rest is New York City roommate history.

Our friends worried when we began apartment hunting. Michelle and I have never really had a fight, or even a disagreement, yet people began to get nervous. Joanna was blunt. “I think you two are going to eat each other alive.” Ah, right to the point. When we signed the lease on our suburban place in Stuyvesant Town, Jacob laughed. “You guys are going to kill each other!” he squealed, only half joking.

It’s been a month, and it’s great. We still need to hang some art in the living room, and maybe get a new coffee table. Oh, and once we disagreed on how much ice we should make for a party. I said more. Michelle said what we had was just right. But it’s amazing how much potential tension has been alleviated by a dish washer. It’s amazing how we enjoy watch the same crappy shows on TBS. And, it is amazing that she actually reads books I suggest to her.

Secretly, I am relieved to be living with Michelle. Not so secretly, I have eaten an entire box of chocolate Teddy Graham’s in under three hours.

(What’s Past is) Prologue

Deep in the trenches of my external hard drive I found my college essay. It’s from 1997. I only wrote one. I’m somewhat embarrassed (and saddened) of what a depressed, smug little thesaurus-using brat I was. Well, regardless, here it is, unedited, in its entirely. For the record: I got into every school I applied to with this sucker. And Elizabeth is still my best friend.

Continue reading

A Story About Shoes

Monday Night.

I am with my coworkers at our usual haunt when suddenly my boot breaks. The air is thick with incense and my friends lazily sip their beers and laugh at me before returning to sexy high school stories. I hobble back toward my office and change into the shoes I leave under my desk.

shoesThe old leather of the Birkenstocks barely hug my feet. There isn’t much support, but my toes feel free. Almost too free? There was a time I thought too much sock was exhausting. Now it is my everyday. My everyday is exhausting; my drive for the cinematic life I’ve wanted has drained me.

The shoe feels more comfortable, and I feel myself reverting into the girl I was: heavy lidded eyes, mussed hair, cigarette smoke clinging to my lips and my shoulders like ghosts of my former lovers. These shoes make me defiant and stronger.

Or maybe it’s the beer.

But for now, I just want to choose a Camel Light from its pack. I think back to my best friend from freshman year of college, fresh and smart from Los Angeles, watching her in awe as she moves through racks of clothes discarding everything passé with a laugh.

New York is too homogenized to like my Birkenstocks, and too ridiculous to notice them.

Everything has changed.