Tag Archives: graduate school

The Frat Boy Inside


There I sat, in my fourth straight hour of lectures, in the same small, stuffy classroom, the same old carpet supporting my same old quickly spreading ass.   The first three hours were mind blowing, but now I was in my second class… and it was just blowing.  We were talking about suicide.  Well, let me clarify: the teacher was talking about suicide.  And, as you might guess, it was DEPRESSING (as suicide tends to be).  So, I did what I do when I need to check out.  Well, no, I didn’t crack open a beer or start playing on Facebook.  I doodled.  This is something people did in school before laptops and iPhones existed.  We used this stuff called paper and these other weird contraptions called pens and we doodled!  Crazy-old-fashioned, I know.  I doodled with my orange pen, creating a Seuss-ish flower and the word’s “Happy Place.” (see my previous blog post)  I was making my orange sanctuary, a place to protect me from the rather insensitive lecture taking place around me.  Finally, just when I thought I was going to use up all the ink in my pen (or start eating it because I was getting really hungry) we had a brief break.  Did I tell you I’d been sitting on the floor this entire time?  I have a six hour day of class in which we sit on the floor THE WHOLE TIME!  (This ensures we are hippie-esque and Buddhist-ish) I thought this would be heaven for a person who had been standing at work for 15 years, but surprisingly my ever-widening buttocks do not appreciate floors.  Go figure.  As I was trying to engage my atrophying quads in order to stand upright, I noticed another student had been doodling.  She had made some beautiful, non-suicidal hot air balloons.  I brilliantly thought I should comment on our similar dissociation styles.

“Hey look!  Your hot air balloons can fly over my happy place!”

Yes.  I always speak before I think.  Gotta work on that.  My theory is that my shadow side had been engaged from sitting through such a dark lecture.  I was tired.  I couldn’t keep my shadow in check, like I usually do.  Typically my shadow comes out when I sleep, and then I can tuck it neatly away in my underwear drawer when I wake up in the morning.

But not this day.

This day, my shadow came out to play.

And apparently my shadow is a horny frat boy.


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