Monthly Archives: March 2011

Hello. I am a blonde turd with a sweaty bum. Nice to meet you.


I have been a student forever.  I went straight through school, spending more time than one should in college (5 1/2 years just for a BA), and then went straight into massage school.  My plan was to immediately continue from there, but I hit a wall and had to rest my brain for a few years.  After five years I started taking some “enrichment” classes to see if my brain cells still worked. Then I had a baby and realized that a) my brain cells had not only shrunk, but some of them had turned into slow reacting goo, and b) I needed to start towards a new career because I was making less than my kid’s babysitters.  I decided on Anthropology first, but after taking a credit class in that (for $440) I changed my mind to Occupational Therapy.  I went over the requirement list time and again, knocking off Intro to Psych ($550).  I went to visit the school and realized it was all wrong.  I liked the idea of Occupational Therapy, but I have been living in a tree-hugging bubble where vegetarians are hiccocrites because they eat cheese, with touchy feely people surrounding me for 18 years.  It felt so clinical.  I changed my mind to Art Therapy and found I had two more prerequisites to take, Developmental Psychology ($675) and The Psychology of Personality ($750).  All of these courses have been over the last six years.  They all started at $440 six years ago.  Even a math nob can see that is such a huge increase in price.  We’re all going to have to become hookers or reality t.v. stars to send our kids to college.  In the meantime, I was ready to interview for the Art Therapy program.

First I spent four months tuning up my portfolio of art.  I had to add some sculpture, and my idea of sculpture is a pinch pot.  I’m really not skilled at sculpture (though my pinch pots have been praised by many a grade school art teacher).  I asked for help.  I learned how to make cement leaves (huge leaves, super cool).  I worked on my essay.  I asked for more help.  My friends proofread it.  I retyped it.  Maybe five times.  It was good.  Made my husband cry.

I was ready.

I was called in to interview (made the first cut).  To be honest I had never been scared of being accepted because it’s a private school and it costs as much as a Lamborghini to go there.  I figured that if the GRE wasn’t required, and I was willing to take out massive student loans, then they be thrilled to have me.  What I didn’t know is that this year, for some reason, everyone had the same idea.  They had their biggest pool of applicants EVER.  uh oh.

I went in for my one-on-one interview.  The head of the department sat down with me.  We went through my portfolio and talked about certain pieces.  Then she asked if I was going to be able to handle the rigorous schedule for three years.

“It’ll change you.  It changed me.  I would go home at night and have no idea who I was anymore, and my husband and kids would expect me to make dinner while I tried to figure out who I was.”

Well, my husband and kid don’t expect a lot of meals from me, so I’m safe there.  I’m also not 20.  I have an idea of who I am.  I’ve seen some things.  Okay, most of them were in movies, but I’ve seen some things.

“What is going to happen if you can’t come to terms with what’s happening and your family needs  you?”

“Well, I’m sure this program will ‘change me.’  That’s inevitable with whatever you do in life.  If things don’t change  you, you aren’t human.  But I feel that I am a happy person.  I tend not to mope.  I have figured this out about myself and I am okay with being happy.  I kind of have a bubble and I like my bubble.”

The interviewer responds, “Well, we’re going to do our best to pop that bubble, if you get into this program.”  I swear, she smiled at me with an evil twinkle in her eye.  Diabolical!

Huh?  Why would someone want to pop my bubble?  You can join it, if you’d like, but I’d rather you not pop it.  It’s like an amoeba, so it’ll envelope you with pink shiny stickiness.

“Well, it may get popped.  I understand that, but I’ll just duct tape it back together.”

I’m thinking, argh.  Why did I bring up bubbles in an interview?  Gad.  There’s something wrong with me.

“Well, we’ll let you know soon if we accept  you into this program.  We have a huge pool of applicants this year, so it’s hard to say.”

Fortunately, I just barely stopped myself from saying, “Oh yeah? Cos I’ve been working hard for this and I want it and I am getting loans and selling my first born, and it’s gonna happen whether you pop my bubble or not!  I think I’ll get my bat and knee cap some prospective students in the parking lot.”

Instead, I thanked her for the interview and didn’t even comment on her desire to pop my bubble.

I returned that evening for a meet and greet.  I brushed my hair (this is a big deal for me).  I put on mascara (woe.  stop the planet!  This is as common as Charlie Sheen making sense).  I dressed in a brown sweater, trying to look professional and smart.  I walk into the room.  The first person I meet has a nose ring.  That’s the norm around here, although I don’t have one.  The next person I meet has a nose ring and a lip ring.  The next one I meet has those two piercings and an eyebrow ring.  They are all about 23 – 27 years old.  I am the oldest person in the room by ten years.

I am an old brown, dumpy looking turd.

But I keep smiling.  Because my bubble is strong.

We chat for a good two hours, and I’m trying to stay upbeat about getting into this program, but I honestly feel like I am not cool enough, or hip enough, or artsy enough.  We eventually come to sit in a circle.  We bow in.  The incense starts. We pass around a peace pipe and start noshing on some wonderful brownies.  Okay, I’m making that part up, but we did bow in.  Like a bunch of white bread, female Tibetan monks.  I like that.  Irony is my friend.

I was starting to feel better.

We asked an alumni panel questions about the program and their careers after they finished.  It was awesome.  I forgot my lack of piercings.  But it was hot.  It was so so hot in that room.  My brown sweater started to seem like not only a frumpy choice but a dumb choice.  I was sweating, and my butt is my tell.  If I am nervous my butt sweats.  It doesn’t seem right to apply deodorant to my ass crack, so I just let it sweat.

As we finished up and said our farewell, I stood up, hoping and praying to the Tibetan god of bums, that my arse hadn’t sweated right through my pants.  Had it?  I’ll never know, but I couldn’t walk our backwards, so I retreated as quickly as I could, a blur of a frumpy brown turd with nicely brushed hair racing down the hall.

Man it was nice outside.  It must have been twenty degrees.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Cool that butt sweat down.  My bubble was still intact.  I had survived the night.  And guess what?  I got into the program.  I may be old and frumpy, but I’m going to be an old frumpy bubble-reinforced grad student.  yea.

Maybe I’ll make my back-to-school clothes out of duct tape.

life in the gutter series

This (diet coke filled, boy crazed, jean wearing) American Life


I was fortunate enough to go to a boarding school for high school.  This was not because my parents were rich or I got an amazing scholarship, no.  It’s because my parents worked for a company that paid for it.  Maybe you think that a fifteen year old is too young to leave home?  Well, let me tell you, I was nervous, but I was ready.  My raging teen hormones had reached a level that was seriously conflicting with my mom’s menopausal hormones.

Hey nature!  This is a stupid trick!  Menopause should be dependent on when your child leaves home.  If they stay forever, at least you’ll be able to think, “gee, I never had to go through that damn menopause crap.”  After all, you’ll have to find some bright nugget if your kid is still at home on their 50th birthday.

I sat down before my prospective school catalogues.  They were all on the East Coast, except for a Catholic all girls school in Washington State.  Yea.  Right. Like I would consider that.  I started taking note of the ratios of girls to boys. Once I had narrowed the stack of catalogues down to the few that had at most a ratio of 1:3 I began to look at the stock photography.  Well.  Sure, I can lay on the grass in New England like anyone.  BUT, can I do it in a uniform? Ew!  I was totally grossed out.  Out of the stack went a few more catalogues.  I was down to two.

Blair Academy and Suffield Academy.

Essentially the same schools, just slightly different New England locations.  One was in New Jersey and one was in Connecticut.  Did I mention that I had the option to go anywhere in the world?  You’d think that at a time like this your parents would step in and tell you that “you are an IDIOT! Go to Spain!  Go to Italy!  Go to Aruba!”  Instead, they left the decision up to me.

I was an American teenager living in Saudi Arabia, and I have to admit, I missed the idea of being American.

The idea of being American to my teenage self: hanging out with Cory Haim and Cory Feldman, drinking can after can of diet Coke, going to the mall, wearing current styles (not the styles of 6-12 months ago.  Madonna was already on to her pointed bra stage when we were sporting lace gloves and perms), listening to boom boxes while people break-danced on a piece of cardboard next to me, going to fast food restaurants (with my boys, Cory and Cory), and for some reason imagining boy after boy hanging on my every word.

I was going to be an American in America!

I poured over the catalogues again.  Suffield or Blair.  Blair or Suffield. This was a big important decision.  I put it off.  I turned 15.  Time was running out.  I grabbed those catalogues a final time.  My best friend was going to Suffield.  This should be a no brainer.  BUT. Suffield didn’t allow jeans as a part of their dress code.  How the hell were boys going to fall madly in love with me if I couldn’t wear jeans?  Really?  Sorry BFF.

It came down to you or the jeans, and I chose the jeans.

The ratio of girls to boys wasn’t too shabby either.  I was outnumbered 3 to 1.

I packed my 15-year-old valuables, which consisted of my vast tape cassette collection and  jeans.  We flew to New Jersey.  We got lost at least ten times. Then, in our rented van, “Red Red Wine” came on the radio.  I stopped listening to my parents argue about directions.  I looked out the window.  There were gorgeous giant trees.  There were rolling hills.  This was actually quite beautiful. Maybe I’d learn to drink some red wine at a place like this.  We pulled up the “driveway” along with the exquisite cars of the other parents that were making giant pools of drool fall from my dad’s lips.  I unpacked and settled in.  My parents left.  Without shedding a tear, I might add.

I was free.

I was at boarding school!

I ate raisin-ettes by the crateful, danced to Two Live Crew with my best friends, I fell in and out of love (sometimes in the same day), and sometimes I scrounged up enough change in the couches to buy a diet Coke.

It’s official:  I was American.

Not quite all I hope for.  As I traveled back and forth across the word, writing love letters to my boyfriend of the moment (who was NEITHER CORY) I started to see the reality.

No one I knew could breakdance.

Most people ate McDonald’s DAILY, and it showed.  Sometimes the ratio of boys to girls means there’s more boys around, but our of that 3:1 ratio, 1/3 are red necks, 1/3 are gay, and the other 1/3 are not even close to resembling a Lost Boy. Americans really did have a tendency to be loud.  They often exhibited a certain arrogance.  While traveling, they were unattractive in almost every way (myself included – never could handle that red red wine – memorably demonstrated on a flight to Amsterdam when I released that red red wine in a most unglamourous fashion).  What had I done?

The important thing here is that I got my wish.  I was born American and I had returned to my country of origin.  But I missed my shwarmas.  I missed the random garbage smell that would knock you over from a mysterious direction.  I missed the incense.  I missed the women in their black abayas casting sheepish, curious glances our way.  I (almost) missed the stares of the Arab boys, because in Saudi I was different.  I was blonde.  That was enough.  In New Jersey, I was one of many (yes, I know you are weeping for my hardship).  But I kept my bubble strong.

With denim.

I wore jeans almost every day for three years.  And while I never saw either of the Corys, but I did see Lou Reed.  Americana personified.  Black leather, sunglasses, in the rolling hills of Jersey.

Good thing I was sporting my jeans.  I’m sure it mattered to Lou.