On the TV screen the little rendered football players thwack eachother with virtual passion and their little fake stats pop up from time to time. It's a world I can control, where if unfair things happen there's a reset button and if things get too tough I can turn down the difficulty. It's a place where I'm in control, where nothing matters and it's all merit based. Pick the right plays, press the buttons at the right times, make the right trades, win the big game. Nobody can leave you till their contract's done.
2:20 Jeff is starting to understand some of the things I feel. He still doesn't want to let me stay in my hiding place, he still has his expectations, but at least he can see the shadows in the cave again...his eyes have adjusted a bit from the light outside. We both have to go and we both have to know that there's still this vast gulf between our understandings of who I am. He sees a tiger on a leash, I see a housecat in a cage. He tells me to release the tether and let my mind hunt down knowledge like elderly Rhesus monkeys, and I try to tell him about the metal bars keeping me from my bowl of Meow Mix. He's idealistic and I'm depressed and we can't get the twain to meet. I'll speak to him next week and it won't be enough again, but at least for those 45-60 minutes I'll be able to feel like someone's actually listening to me. School looms so I quickly shut the crack in the shell that Jeff has pried open to let in the light that burns and I grab my school books. On the television screen Faux Donovan McNabb has been sacked and given up the losing fumble to a virtual rookie for whom there is no real world counterpart. Somewhere in the distance a real heart is crushed and the victory rings hollow like Jeff's promises of a better world out there in the green world after winter's end.
2:40: I slip into my classroom without a minute to spare and take a seat towards the back, carefully swinging my overladen backpack past some girl with an Ibook who is blocking the isle. The professor, a pretty Marge Helgenberger look a like has written 3 columns of important terms on the board and I copy them all down without knowing what they mean. She spends the next 70 minutes lecturing about the interactions between the Souga and the Yamamato bloodline and filling our minds with stories of imperial intrigue and barbarian politics. I think of how romantic these tales sound and remind myself of what life was like before written language and flushing toilets. It doesn't really matter, at least I'm occupied and interested and I feel like I belong. She ends the class five minutes early because she thinks that's the right time and everyone's too scared of pissing off the slackers to tell her the truth. If it happens again I will. I try to strike up a conversation with Derrick but he's not interested so I ask a question about the homework and leave the building. A false spring is in the air on campus and I feel good. I wonder how long it will last.
3:55 Adam is standing outside the Mathematics building when I get there. Another friendly face, I wonder if it's a set up. He talks about a computer game he pirated and I beat and how he brought in his own WD-40 to fix a squeaky door in the basement. I try to ignore the first and am amused by the second. It's the sort of good hearted act of entitledness that I'd love to pull off if I wasn't so damned afraid. We chat and then go into class. I take a seat near the front and he sits nearby next to a cute, young girl. A third grad student in three classes comes in to teach and she does a lousy job. I'm the only one confident to speak up and I'm right most of the time although occasionaly wrong and occasionally off because her questions are about as vague as one can be while still actually speaking about math. Somewhere along the line I get told that "I already know the material and shouldn't speak" even though I haven't really studied it before. I shut up and play with my calculator. Might as well since I made an awful lot of noise and broke my favorite pen freeing it from its packaging at the begining of class. I resolve to go back to sitting at the back next class even if Adam sits up front. After class is over I try to strike up a conversation with Adam but he is interested in talking to the blonde girl. I'm boxed in by people going to talk to the instructor so the three of us end up walking out vaguely together after he gets her number. Clearly three's a crowd, but I have a discussion section to sign up for so I am able to split away from them with no awkwardness. On my way upstairs I bump into my calculass professor from the fall of 1999. The semester I broke down. I notice him and I think he sees me. I try to dodge him by going around a group of people the opposite way he is but he comes back towards me. "*my last name*" he proclaims in his thick german accent. "You failed out of my calculas class" It was two and a half years ago, how the hell does this guy remember me? There were 75 students in the class.
"Dropped out" I say as a girl from one of my other classes passes by in clear earshot. I'm fortunate that I'm too flustered to blush.
"Same thing" he cheerily proclaims. "So what're you up to" This guy just announced to the world that I failed out of his class and now he wants to know about my life's story? I vaguely remember complaining to him that part of my trouble was that his accent was so thick I was having trouble understanding. I guess he took that personaly and is exacting some ego slashing revenge. Aren't 60 year old professors supposed to be above further humiliating students they helped to drive into a deep, life threatening, depression a couple years earlier?
"What?" I don't know if he wants to know why I'm in the math building or what I'm doing with my life. I don't even know how he remembers me.
"What are you up to" What the hell does he want from me?
"I'm a psych major" I say just to say anything. I want to run, I want to say goodbye and scurry off but we're right next to the sign up sheet and I'm not going to head deep into the halls of the math building just to avoid this guy.
"Oh. Did you ever take anymore calculas" He's trying to grind my ego into the dirt. HA! Too late old man, she-whose-dislike-for-me-precludes-even-t
"Nope" He looks a little crestfallen that I'm not and says goodbye and wanders off. I sign up for the only available section I can make, 8:30 on a thursday right after 3 hours of classes and 2 hours of GED teaching. I should be nice and fresh to learn STATA.
At the supermarket I have to squeeze through massive crowds just to grab some milk and Froot Loops. It takes me 15 minutes. I take them home and put them away, then check my email. One's from my Japanese TA and one's from someone who thinks I'm not paying them as much attention as they'd like. My intense and burning anguish invalid as an excuse for my not alieviating a tiny speck of their boredom with puns and inuendo. I'm just entertainment, a dancing puppet who irritates people by asking that they even bother to pull my strings. My stat course has just put up homework due on thursday even though we're supposed to have a week. As if they care about treating us with honesty or decency.
I sit down to write and once again my words disapoint. Jeff wants to drag me into the cleaness and greeness of a brand new day but I submit that it's pitch black night outside. Sleep offers release but I have miles to go and no gifts to give. Robert Frost, what road would you have taken if they'd both led you off cliffs? Poets don't tend to tell you what to do if everything just looks like the same color of shit.