Posts tagged college
Posts tagged college
There are some stories that are so great it’s almost stunning that one person can live through them to come out on the other side to tell it. Naturally, most if not all of these great stories tend to involve alcohol. At the time, this incident was just about one of the most humiliating, mortifying, and painful moments of my life during college. It was the first Big Moment that I ever walked away from with the thought c’est la vie in instead of my usual that is going to destroy your reputation paranoia. Everything happened in less than 24 hours and while the fallout from that one night was the equivalent of a tidal wave rolling in and destroying a small village, I’m really happy it worked out that way. Sometimes villages aren’t meant to stand when poorly constructed to begin with. This incident would shape and ultimately change the rest of my college experience for the absolute best. I don’t regret a thing that happened and the nice thing is that luckily, I can’t remember enough of any of it to regret it.
This is the drunken wheelchair story.
It was the start of the fall 2009 semester in college. This is a weird thought to think back on because it feels like it happened not too long ago when in actuality it has been almost 3 years. Continuing on, I was 21 and a senior in college. As per usual, I was busy as a bee, working in the school’s marketing department, as a writing tutor, on the school newspaper, and would soon be taking on a non-profit internship in addition to a full-time course workload. In my spare time, I did a lot of blogging. Blogging in college in the time before Pinterest and when Tumblr was still relatively an infant was a learning experience into itself and one that I had to self-teach myself every step of the way. At one point, I found myself spending more time with my blog than some of my classes which would later prove to work in my post-grad career favor. In retrospect I’m really glad I did that. I’m even more happy that I tweaked a lot of my assignments to revolve around working on Facebook, even if my senior year departmental honors project was referred by my closest friends as “Heather’s Glorified Facebook Stalking Project.”
When I wasn’t working nonstop and squeezing in the extra nap(s) between classes, I was out drinking and dancing with my friends. The post grad life has proven to me that I can’t do that anymore. And by “anymore” I don’t mean stop dancing and drinking in general, psssh. I mean I can’t go out dancing until 3 AM on a Wednesday and go to sleep for a few hours, wake up, get dressed and have a glass of wine with leftover cake for breakfast/lunch and then go tutor some kids. That is clearly just an example of one day I lived through of course- I didn’t have cake for all of them.
When the semester started, I was living with Sweden, my ex roommate and friend. That will remain her name throughout this post. Sweden was from Sweden (hence the moniker) and we had met the year prior when rooming together during Christmas break. I’ll spare you the long backstory of the summer we spent together and cut to the chase. We were going out that Saturday night to attend a birthday party for this guy B (initials only here) that we were mutually friends with in Hollywood.
I used to have the most hopeless crush on B. He was 30, a lawyer, drove a BMW, charming to the hilt, and insanely gorgeous with huge brown eyes. And somehow quite single, though the “somehow” aspect of that I suspect had to do with the fact that he still bunked at his parents’ house. But that didn’t matter to me. He was one of those guys that looked good on and off paper, and in an ideal world, we would have made a great couple together. But those were my expectations. The reality was that he thought I was much too young for him.
B was friends with another guy R whom I always suspected was into Sweden. But then again, who wasn’t? Dudes were always clamoring over this girl, stumbling into our shared bedroom together and saying the dumbest shit on the planet to get her attention. She was bizarre enough once you got to know her. Weirdness would trickle out and I don’t mean normal people weirdness where it’s just a quirk and you still love ‘em for it. She used to believe that one glass of Jamba Juice sufficed for an entire day’s worth of a meal - no other food, just a shake. She’d have Facebook Chat conversations with guys, then print them out and tape them to her wall. She went on a grad school tour at a different university with a cute tour guide and came home and announced exactly how long they’d start dating and the exact date when they would break up so she could go to grad school. Now hold up here for a minute… this guy wasn’t even dating her yet. She even got her mother involved on that one - trying to set the two of them up over and over again on dates.
She was also convinced for a minute there she would marry this guy (not the college tour guide) she kept hooking up with who was a psychopath.
His hobby? He enjoyed killing baby bunnies on his spare time.
Carefully reread that back to yourself and see if you can spot the problem there as I did.
There’s much more crazy I promise you, but I can’t recount it all because it gets to be too much. The gist to get here is that this girl was spoiled rotten, nouveau riche to the max, and one of those friends that your normal friends can barely tolerate but do it because they like you and hope that eventually you get that this person is not on your level. On this particular Saturday night, I decide that since the crowd that will be at B’s birthday party is going to be full of vain, shallow, and $$$ based thirty somethings, the only way to tolerate any of it is start pregaming.
And I do.
Two Bacardi Ices (my warm-up) followed by an entire bottle of wine (the pre-game) whilst waiting for Sweden to get off of work. There’s another bottle of wine in the fridge but I’m already loopy.
I cut my drinking teeth with my former coworkers from Subway and let me tell you, there are no finer people on this planet to introduce you to the art of hard drinking than that crowd. The first time I drank with the Subway crowd, they bought literally every type of alcohol in the liquor store in all of the best brands, mixed me a million drinks, threw a huge house party, and filmed me getting drunk (I’ve seen some of the footage and it is hilarious. You know how some people are happy drunks or slutty drunks or sad drunks? I am literally all of the drunks and then some in that video.)
Sweden gets home and sees me already tipsy on my bed and asks if I’m sure I can go out. For a brief moment, staying home seems like a good idea. But then I decide I’m good and can go.
We go to a place in Hollywood called Highlands which is across the street from the El Capitan movie theater. There’s a dinner for B. I don’t eat anything. Classic me, drinking on an empty stomach. Then we go to the club next door and while waiting outside in the cold, cold, cold air wearing a skimpy dress I begin to sober up. I hear one of B’s friends talking about real estate values and it makes me need alcohol.
Once we’re inside the club, I immediately head to the bar and get a vodka Red Bull. Sweden is being a bitch already and is calling some of her friends to come pick her up and get her (we got there in R’s car). How rude. I tell her to just wait it out for a bit because B’s table has free bottle service and there’s no way in hell I’m missing out on that. And I don’t. Here comes the cranberry and vodka! And another shortly after (the sheer fact that I can still vaguely remember B mixing me these drinks is astounding.)
Then I decide to head back to the bar. Now I’m drunk as can be and so comes the last great memory I have before blacking out in which I am attempting to get the bartender’s attention and she won’t come over to me. In my head, this means the only way I can sufficiently get her to pay attention to me requires me to get up, climb onto the bar, and crawl (CRAWL) across the surface to get to her in which it is so quiet suddenly you can hear a pin drop. But not drunk me! Drunk me can’t hear anything but the sound of more booze!
“Another vodka Red Bull pleaseeeeee.” I slur out, throwing a twenty at her.
“Ma’am I’m gonna need to cut you off.” She says firmly.
“That’s fineeeeee, there’s more than one bar in this club.” I reply and carefully (I think) climb off of the bar and head across the room to the other bar. Two bars in one club. God bless America. Sweden is over there and I tell her what I did. She doesn’t believe me but she’s pissed. About whatever, I don’t know and I don’t ask. All I remember doing next is throwing my credit card at the bartender and slurring once more for that vodka Red Bull.
The next memory I have I’m opening my eyes. Everything is very bright and loud and my head and stomach are stabbing me with the pain of a thousand piercing sun rays. I’m in a wheelchair and someone is pushing me. My purse is gone and my heels are in my lap and I am clinging to them for dear life. For one moment, I think I’m in the hospital. At this point I have drunk enough to warrant a good stomach pump. I panic and frantically ask for Sweden who reassures me that she’s right there and we’re in a hotel. A hotel? What? Where? How? When? Why? WHY?
My eyelids close once more and the next time they open, I’m outside getting into a car with a guy who’s friends with Sweden and driving back to the school campus. I am rambling on incoherently about the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and freaking out about my handbag not being with me. When we all get back to the campus, I have to be carried to my dorm because I can barely stand up. I’m crying. And once more, freaking out about my phone’s whereabouts. Loudly. It’s 5 in the morning on a Sunday. People are opening their doors and staring. None of my other roommates are home. I lie down and wake up sicker than I’ve ever been at about 11 AM.
Here is a list of the things that occurred (that I have been told about) during my blackout:
1) First off, I got kicked out of the club. I passed out in our booth which is a big no-no because clubs don’t like to have drunken passed out people in their booths. But the more amusing part of the story is that before that occurred I invaded a table of people eating and attempted to sit there with them and eat the food off of their plates for myself. Huh.
2) My phone, credit card, and handbag are all gone. THIS IS THE MOST TERRIFYING MOMENT PERIOD. Call it selfish, call it materialistic but damnit these things are my Achilles Heel in life. Like Samson with his hair cut off, I am powerless without them. I will not see any of these things for a good week to come (more later).
3) I have a series of painful, red scratches on my arms. Upon waking up at 11 AM, this terrifies me to the same degree of the missing phone. Sweden informs me that the scratches are because I was apparently fighting off people in the hotel because I wouldn’t stop running in and out of the elevators.
4) After being kicked out of the club, we all went to the hotel where B had a room. The concierge was terrified I would twist my ankles running around in my skinny stiletto heels so they put me in a wheelchair to get me from point A to point B. But before that incident occurred, we went to B’s room where I passed out on his bed for an hour.
5) In a public restroom I drank a glass of wine I found in the bathroom stall.
6) I yelled for quite some time about “stupid blonde whores” which I do have vague memories of doing. This was not unlike in high school during my routine summer surgeries in which the anesthesia from my shots would wear off and I would limp into the house barely able to walk, crying and screaming about how much I hated all of my classmates in school, none of which would ever have to endure being on generic Vicodin (if you’ve never had it, imagine a weak form of Tylenol and you feel me) and wearing a foot brace and bandages for three years worth of summers.
7) THE GREATEST PART OF THE RECAP. At one point, Sweden looks at me with disgust while recounting some of the night back to me because I find the fact that I drank a random alcoholic drink in a public bathroom to be hilarious.
“You know I can’t even tell you some of the things you did!” she snaps at me.
You can’t? My brain is momentarily amused. A little lightbulb goes off in my head hearing that and the next thought that rolls in is I bet I called you the c word didn’t I? YEP I TOTALLY DID!!
Now granted I don’t actually know if I did because I never confirmed it with her but I know myself fairly well and it probably did slip out. They say alcohol will make you say the things you are really thinking deep down (this is 100% factual) and I had been thinking that particular four letter word about her off and on for a good three months at that point. It’s really rare I think of girls as that word too. But you’ll see why that word suits her like a glove in a moment.
The next week rolls along in a slightly different manner than most of my typical weeks. For one thing, I’m hungover for about a week. I throw up before class each morning and am on a liquid diet of OJ. Now I may never be completely sure about this, but I do believe that to some degree I did have alcohol poisoning. Because a week long hangover, by any standard, is not normal. At all.
Also, one of the things I lost in addition to the stuff in the handbag was my photo ID, both state and school IDs. I had to go to the DMV and fill out a form for a new one and then buy a new school ID too. By the time I graduated from college, I had purchased about four or five class ID cards because I kept losing them constantly, to the point where I had to fill out a special form stating reasons for why the hell I was going on my fifth ID card in less than six months. But back to that state ID - THAT one wouldn’t arrive to me until after Homecoming. More on that in a minute.
I tell this story to all of my closest girlfriends, my favorite professor (we have that kind of relationship together where you can tell these stories) and some of the members of the former Subway crowd. They are blown away that I’m even functioning but everyone thinks it’s hilarious and all are sympathetic to the bad bits. Several of my girlfriends on campus bring me orange juice which is both delicious and very kind. R brings my beloved handbag with my phone and credit card back to me (card has since been frozen and both my state and school IDs are permanently lost for good) and that’s the last time I see him again. This may sound especially awful, but when he comes to my school campus and meets me there at the gym to give me my things, I run to greet him, take the purse, check the contents, thank him and run away. I am a woman with a one-track mind and now that my phone is back with me, I feel dynamite. Everything settles down and I am content with life once more.
Then some unnecessary (but necessary in theory) shit hits the fan.
A week later, I’m in my dorm bedroom studying for math class when Sweden comes in through the door and throws all of her books to her bed in this drama queen fashion. I roll my eyes before asking her what is wrong.
“I have no friends left!” She huffs out, “Because of what you did at that club!”
… What? I ask her why that is and she says that none of her friends will talk to her because of how I behaved. (It should be noted that these “friends” don’t include R or B who are still to this day pretty cool dudes. This is a reference to the douche who drove me home, A.)
Okay then. Ignoring the fact that this is old news and occurred like two weeks ago, I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person in the history of college to get severely drunk off of my ass and that people judging other people for drinking in our age bracket is a dick move. I mean, what kinds of friends do you have when they won’t talk to you because of something your other friend did when drunk? Those aren’t friends. Not in my book anyway. If this were one of those situations where said friend did this on a routine basis then yeah I get telling them to cool it off but one time at a birthday party in a nightclub in Hollywood? That’s like a rite of passage in LA!
I do a big no-no and start laughing. Loudly. At the mental image I get of everyone on campus shunning her for my behavior in the cafeteria while I sit at some table nearby, lording over it with laughter and drinks for all. And also at the way she said, “I have no friends!” which was done so over the top and whiny that you can’t help but chuckle. #whitepeopleproblems
It’s in this moment that I also realize just how much I openly hate her. That’s an interesting revelation to get while laughing.
My laughter is pissing her off and that only provokes me to keep it up. But I stop laughing immediately once she drops this bomb:
“You know, I would have left you there that night! I was planning on leaving you there!”
This insult gets followed up by the fact that she also hates my other two roommates (who had nothing to do with this) too and badmouths them in front of me.
My jaw drops and all I can get out next is this, “You have to move out NOW.”
It’s certainly one thing if someone doesn’t like me. I get that. I get that I make things difficult and provoke arguments from time to time. But when you start trashing my friends who are nothing but innocent bystanders in the whole process, that’s not something I’ll stand for. This insult is especially baffling because my other two roommates were nothing but nice to her.
And yes, I will admit that it is especially bruising to be told by someone who was your closest friend that they would have dumped you in favor of random guys. All alone, in Hollywood, with no cash or transportation or contact method. That breaks ALL the rules of Girl Code to me and also of being a civil human being.
What a c word! (I told you she deserved it.)
She begins to move out that week and I start sleeping on the couch to avoid her. The tension in our dorm is very thick so I busy myself with work, Tumblr, writing, essays, and going out for Golden Spoon/dancing/drinking (clearly I didn’t learn shit from my drunken wild night) with my best girlfriends.
My final “talk” with Sweden comes on the night of Homecoming which she doesn’t attend and I do. My state ID has not shown up yet and I don’t get to drink at the dance even though I’m clearly 21 years old at the time. But don’t worry because one of my friends gets me a beer at the bar anyway. Homecoming was a hot mess of a night (there were a lot of cops involved and our school got written up in a very unflattering and highly over exaggerated way in the SoCal newspapers) and I get back with a tiara on my head and beer in my belly.
We exchange some words and she says at the end, “Are we cool now?” which provokes me to snap back, “No! No, we’re not cool after one talk! We’re not going to be either.”
And there’s that. A chapter of my life that closes with me slamming the door and laughing as she leaves the dorm with her last box o’ stuff.
To date, I have not spoken to Sweden again. That bridge has been burned to ashes and I saw it coming. I saw it before the drunken wheelchair incident that summer when I began to get a curious feeling around her. The feeling was as though we were standing on the same sidewalk but it was cracking between us and the broken sides were rising and falling and splintering. I remember I wrote a short story about our friendship falling apart (but in the way I do things, in a fictional setting with substituted names) and gave the story to my favorite English professor to read that August for feedback.
My professor and I met up during the first official week of school (the last week of August) to discuss what I had written and she told me something that profoundly moved me. It was my epiphany. She said, “Maybe this person isn’t meeting your needs.”
You don’t often think to consider within friendships there are needs there. I believe it is a thought reserved for relationships and that is unfair to me. Friendships are relationships. Both parties invest a great deal of love and caring for the other person and genuinely do have all the best interests for their well being. But my professor was right. Sweden didn’t meet my needs. That and my needs had changed. The strongest revelation I came away with was knowing that I would not fight for our friendship together. I only have a few friends I would fight for because our friendship together runs deep: they would fight for me too.
I had no idea of knowing it at that moment but I would meet one of my nearest and dearest friends shortly after Sweden moved out as well as a series of other people who would, for better or for worse, impact my life that year. (Note: this particular friend is an incredible story all on her own and I honestly can’t imagine how my life might have turned out had I not known her.)
I’m glad that this all happened the way it did and that I didn’t know what was to come. It’s the not knowing aspect of life that is by far and away the most fascinating and beautiful and also equally painful in its own right. You need to not know things in order to grow.
But I do wish I knew what I said to Sweden that she could never repeat back to me… What I do know is that before she moved out, I dragged at least a dozen or so people into our dorm room to look at and laugh at those Facebook Chat conversations that she had taped to her wall.
Oh honey. You had to know I wasn’t going to let that one go without a good laugh.
Want to hear something spooky? In less than a few days, it will have been 2 years since I graduated from college. 2 years!
ZOMG GUYZZZ I AM SOOOOOO OLD.
Just kidding. BUT AM I.
Graduating from college was a fairly underwhelming experience as I’ve noted every major graduation ceremony in my life has seemed to be. There’s a lot of waiting to get your piece of paper and handshake and then it’s all over and everyone clears out faster than lightning and has a meal together and goes home. Everything builds and builds and builds for at least a few hours and it all dies away too fast ending with everyone rolling back into the same routine as always. That never fails to stun me. You always think that post-grad your life will evolve into some sort of movie: scene one at the graduation reception with friends and family, scene two at a huge loft apartment signing a lease, scene three waltzing into your first day at work. Not so much. More like all the scenes take place at home and will continue to for a moment there because all these grown-up things after college take more time than you’d think. And there’s never a montage with ’80s music either.
I didn’t have a single blood relative present at my college graduation. This is not unusual behavior from my family. We don’t celebrate graduation ceremonies like the rest of North America does, all dolled up with a bouquet of balloons and presents and like 45 extended family members including grandparents and godparents and long lost cousins in attendance. In our family, graduation isn’t this crazy huge milestone you need to achieve in your life. It’s implied that you’ll obviously graduate from middle/high school but college is an entirely different matter. College for me has always been one of those “do it if you want to or not” matters. Being a part of a rather long military based family tree has the vast majority of my relatives rooting for all of us to do the army/navy route and when someone doesn’t (i.e. me) the ball is in my court to prove that my decision holds worth after graduation.
For my 8th grade ceremony, my parents went home immediately after with my brothers and didn’t stay for the reception which embarrassed the hell out of me because literally everyone in my grade did. I wound up walking home alone that night and crying. I do remember what I was wearing though- a very mature for my age LBD that I had bought myself with money from my first job.
In high school, my dad outright refused to attend the ceremony which in retrospect was kind of smart. It was a Catholic high school and the damn thing lasted for 3 and a half hours. My mom and brother went though. But they almost didn’t take me to my grad night lock-in after because of the ceremony going on and on into forever. I went to the lock-in, got a very cute caricature of myself as a superhero, won a mini fridge by basically laying on it in the prize room, wanted to tell a cute guy from my trig class that I liked him BUUUUUUT I shook his hand farewell instead because being cordial always wins out with me over expressing stronger emotions, went home at 5 AM with my mom, threw up on the way there because I hadn’t eaten anything all night but a stale cupcake, and went to work two hours later.
I’m still more or less the same person I was then six years later.
College! Nobody in my family went to that ceremony either. My old dorm roommate and her boyfriend (now fiance and also my intern coincidentally) went with me and took me out to lunch after which was so nice of them both that I wanted to cry. It made me feel special. Graduation is many things but above all, it’s a celebration. And for the first time, I got to experience the flip side of the coin that most graduates are accustomed to- toasting and cheering your scholarly accomplishments and the fact that for the most part, they’re over and it’s time for the real world to begin.
Since it’s that time of year again and both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post are handing out life lessons you won’t hear at commencement followed by a couple more you definitely won’t hear, I thought I’d add my two cents into the mix. But I’m not going to tell you what other people won’t tell you because you’ve probably already heard it all and thought “ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE OVERLY SAPPY OPTIMISM/PSEUDO WISDOM FROM A TWENTYSOMETHING/DOWNRIGHT DEBBIE DOWNERISMS.”
Those are the three categories most of this advice typically falls under:
a) the “you can do it eventually!” stats based gold star smiley faces advice.
b) some twentysomething writing in Thought Catalog about their two years “on life’s journey” that their parents co-signed for.
c) a big mess of anger masking itself for an educational article that was probably due to the writer having a lousy college experience and not drinking as much as they should have.
These are just 10 things I did post graduation and learned from.
1) I ate cheaply and budgeted all of my grocery things. There were a lot of Ramen noodles, waffles, and quesadillas happening in my world. Over the summer upon graduating I did have ONE weekend where I went crazy with the grocery store budget- for a BBQ that my friends were coming over for- and I bought like $70 worth of food. Even got the brand name BBQ sauce. CRAY. But otherwise it was hello, coupons and sales.
2) I lived with another set of roommates. For the most part, post college this is a smart thing to do if you want to live with people who aren’t your parents and save money at the same time while living in (hopefully) sweet quarters on your own. My first apartment is still my current apartment for the sheer reason that it is 100 times nicer than anything I expected to be living in. Hasn’t even been two years in the joint yet and I still absolutely adore it.
3) I took on a job that I hated to pay my way through life for nine months. Sometimes the first job out of college blows and you do it for survival purposes. If you’re in that situation, suck it up and deal and keep looking for something better. It’s really all you can do, outside of unemployment.
4) I didn’t give up on the things I liked. I still wrote quite a bit in an old blog of mine. It was one of the biggest releases I had after a long day of awful. The nice thing about blogging is that it just is. You can dump all of your words and issues out into a space and bitch and moan. Not everything you say is going to fall out of you painstakingly tidily and with eloquence in every single sentence and nor should you make it either. Just be and express yourself as yourself. Same goes for artwork, music, and most every other creative outlet you can think of.
5) I spent a lot of time reading in bookstores. This was awesome because I was finally able to catch up on books I didn’t have the time for during college.
6. I blew through my savings. Inevitable when you aren’t employed for two months and then get hired on a very crappy minimum wage. To almost run out of money is a terrifying thing when you don’t have a lot to begin with, but steady yourself and face that fear head-on. Money is replaceable. Money is liquid. I often thought of Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) from the Watchmen graphic novel and how he purposefully gave away all of his money he inherited to build himself from the ground up financially from absolutely nothing. Aside from the whole not having an inheritance thing, I found the image to be one that was comforting. Don’t worry though, I don’t plan on attacking the world with a giant squid or anything.
7. I stayed optimistic and kept job searching on a daily basis. It is and was a terribly, terribly hard thing to do, particularly when the news increasingly got more and more realistic day in and day out. I can’t tell anyone how to be hopeful that things will get better. I can’t create hope in anyone. It takes you to make it in yourself, corny as that may sound. However you find a glimmer of hope, in whatever capacity, take it and hang onto it and don’t let that sucker go for nothing. Find a way to make it grow and burn brighter with each day.
8. I kept up with my networking contacts. Ironically enough, I was almost hired by a company that the company I currently work for is partners with. To date, one of my best contacts has been my university. It has an excellent reputation out here and everyone knows at least one or more people who work there.
9. Sometimes I’d dream myself to a better place at night. This was especially true when I had that terrible job. It was as though my head was like, “Alright your waking life is blowing the big one right now, let’s put you someplace nicer in your nightdreams.” And it usually was. I’d have dreams about sunlight and riding bikes and fields of flowers and laughter and spending time with people I used to know and didn’t know and in places that I had never been to before. I say sometimes here because you can’t determine how your dreams will go, but for the most part mine were quite pleasant.
10. I still hung out with friends. During my two months of unemployment, my awesome former internship boss let me return to the office to work so I wouldn’t look like I had this gaping hole in my resume. I explored my new neighborhood. I learned how to cook. I put together my own set of furniture with nails and hammers and lots of swear words. I bought my first bed. I even went to Vegas that first year. Okay, maybe that’s not a good example of scrimping and pinching but all saving and no spending makes Heather a very dull person indeed. I also still found ways to laugh or make a joke which to this day I still find incredibly important to getting through the tough times. The remarkable aspect was that I found a way to make jokes or find something that made me smile multiple times a day. Times may be a’changing and hard for dreamers but you have to gather yourself up and keep on living (L-I-V-I-N).
… I think that may be the most pop culture references I ever stuffed into one sentence.
When it comes to college stories, mine is fairly unique. I picked my college based off of a postcard. That was all it took. I grew up in the Midwest and after 20 years of living in the same place doing about the same things with the same people, I wanted to get out as soon as possible. For a long time my college plans revolved around the East Coast and heading there under the guise of school but really just to fulfill my 18-year-old self’s ambition of being like Carrie Bradshaw.
One extremely frigid winter afternoon I came home from another day of high school, exhausted and cold. That former East Coast dream of mine died that day when I fell on my ass on the icy sidewalk coming up the steps to my own house. I needed warmth, I needed sunshine, and I needed it asap. This was the moment where I knew I was heading to the West Coast. And wouldn’t you know it but a packet of postcards had arrived in the mail from various schools. I flipped through the group and found the first one in California and that was it. That was how I found my dream school.
Now let it be known: this is NOT how you traditionally pick the college you want to attend. This is the equivalent of spinning a globe and the first place your finger lands on will be your supposed country of choice to live in for the rest of your life. The gamble was stupidly high. Over 4,000 colleges in the United States and I found mine by playing eeny meeny miny moe with the system. I didn’t know if I would get into the school and I had never been to California or the campus before and wouldn’t actually go to either until the day before my first day of orientation. But I just knew that this school was meant for me. I’ll never be able to know just how I knew either. The way I felt about that school was on par with how I imagine people feel when they meet the loves of their lives: it’s a gut feeling that’s new and exciting and wakes you up and also one that seemingly opens your eyes wider and fills you with a sense of serenity. It was the first not-sure sure thing in my carefully scheduled life. You have to know just how delicious a risk like that is.
So I applied and got accepted and everything was happy.
And then I didn’t get to go right away because I was too young to sign my own loans so I waited a year and a half, did my general education credits at a local community college, and reapplied again, got in the SECOND time around, and actually went and then graduated and everything was happy.
There’s a portion of that second time around story that rarely gets told that I’m about to tell. I’ve told the “theatrical version” of this story quite a few times. The clean version. The “I won’t get in trouble for this one later on in life!” version. It’s even been published on the school’s website because the sheer notion of finding a college to attend and making a snap decision based off of a postcard is pretty rare. But the full story, the uncut part that gets left out is too much. You may not believe it even happened, but I assure you it did. I am a target for all of life’s weirdness. Being the bullseye for bizarre instances doesn’t allow you much room for embellishments. You say what happened and that’s that.
This is the story of how I drunk dialed my own university financial adviser.
It was the summer of 2008 which if you recall were the summer Olympics. I spent all summer cramming in three final college classes to transfer over to my dream California college in addition to working fulltime at Subway. I had gotten all of my vaccination shots, went to the dentist, paid for my admittance fee, filed for my student loan, put in my two weeks at work, and bought my plane ticket. And when you buy the plane ticket, that’s when you know shit got real. Nobody backs out on a scheduled flight unless they miss it by arriving late.
This summer was also important because it would mark the first summer I would begin drinking on a regular basis. As of right now, my drinking habits have scaled it back. Big time. If you haven’t noticed it yet, I can tell you I work round the clock. All day, errday. I also don’t like to wake up in the morning hungover and sick because literally the first thought that enters my mind when that happens is “oh god, I wish it was yesterday morning and I didn’t feel like a tow truck rammed itself into my skull.” The older you get the more it sucks. Hard. The summer 2008 version of me was still in her drinking training wheels which was at the time, awesome. Little did I know that these training wheels would be taken off at the speed of light once I hit college. College is a cesspool of cheap booze at all hours of the day with all the people you know and don’t know and I would rack up an impressive black book collection of stories about my drinking habits by the time I hit graduation. I know. It’s surprising to a lot people. To quote the comedian John Mulaney, “I don’t look like someone who used to do anything. I look like I was just sitting in a room in a chair eating Saltines for like 28 years.” But then I recount my most infamous drinking story about how I woke up in a wheelchair in a hotel I had never been to in my life and that changes fast.
Cut to 2008 again. It was a humid Friday night and my Subway coworker Rachel was excited about me going to California and wanted to invite all of our coworkers to go to a bar to celebrate after we got off that night. Now going out to a bar as opposed to drinking at someone’s apartment was tough because at the time I was not 21. And neither was she. But we knew the guy who worked at the bar we wanted to go to and would not have any trouble getting in and getting drunk which was key. So I agreed to go with her and she’d come and pick me up about an hour after we got off so we had time to scrub out the Subway stench and get ready.
I got home to my parents both looking ashen-faced which immediately prompted me to ask what was wrong. They told me a bill had arrived from my college and judging from how they looked, they had both cut open the envelope to see how much it was. Now, my student loan was supposed to have kicked in by now because I had signed it about a month ago. Sallie Mae should have been on top of it. I went to my room, opened the envelope, and stared at the number in front of me.
Sallie Mae had not taken care of it.
Two thoughts jumped into my head all at once and I immediately began to backpedal into crisis mode. Plan A and Plan B. The first was that I could deplete my savings and credit card the rest of it if need be to make this payment I was looking at. But the second was all the more painful and terrifying because I knew I really couldn’t actually do Plan A on my own: I can’t afford this. If I can’t pay the tuition, then I’m not going to college.
I actually had to sit down for a moment there because acknowledging this after a long day of work was far too much to deal with. The left side of my brain, typically the one that keeps me from exploding with rage at inopportune moments, was being overridden by the right side which was somewhere between blinding fury (“Why didn’t the school call you to tell you about owing this much money??? You leave in a week! A week!”) and stricken with fear (“You’re going to be trapped in your parent’s house FOREVER. I knew it. You can’t have nice things. 20 years old and it’s already all over before it even began.”)
Good ole rational Lefty finally piped in loudly enough, “HEY! You’ve got a party at a bar to go to in your honor!. Get up, pull yourself together, put on a happy face and don’t you dare tell anyone that this is happening.”
I got dressed and made up some lie about hanging out at a friend’s house to the parents and Rachel picked me up and we drove to the bar. The first thing she said to me was something like, “Aren’t you so excited for California?” And that was it man, I spilled the beans about the letter I received and started to cry because I was really afraid and nervous and everything got quiet and she said, “I’m sure you’re fine. You have to be!”
“We can’t tell anyone about this.” I told her as the car pulled into the parking lot.
For the next couple of hours, I proceeded to “forget” about the letter from my dream school by drinking everything in sight. A pitcher of beer. Red Bull and vodka. Shots. More beer. More shots. The Olympics gymnastics were playing in the background. I sang along to the jukebox with M.I.A.’s ‘Paper Planes” (with gunshot hand motions included). I might have fallen off of my stool at one point (note: bars should not have stools or chairs or anything that you can and will climb onto and fall off of.) Before I got sufficiently hammered, a lot of people kept toasting me which was awful because all I could do was grit my teeth into a forced smile and try my best to look as happy as possible. We never truly know what goes on in people’s minds, do we? How the emotions there don’t often translate to the surface. For me, this was one of those moments where my mind was screaming but I couldn’t actually scream out loud. I’m pretty sure that everyone else thought I was drinking because I was happy to be moving and going to school. In actuality I was doing it more excessively than usual to try to kill the brain cell that contained the memory of that damn letter.
There comes a moment in every drunk person’s mind where you think an extremely irrational thing to do is truly a rational thing. For me, that moment was when I decided to call my financial adviser at the college. Now let’s review, shall we?
a) I was very, very drunk.
b) It was already past midnight which meant on the West Coast everything would be closed and I’d be cleared for a voicemail landing.
c) My adviser’s number was already secured in my phone. Conveniently enough, my phone was on my lap.
d) I wanted to go to that school so much it hurt and maybe, JUST MAYBE, if I conveyed that in a proper and friendly enough message they’d waive the tuition or something and it’d be okay.
It was not okay. This I knew from the moment I started slurring during my voicemail to her. Which took all of two seconds to happen. But the not okay part came when other things started happening. Like when I kept calling and leaving multiple messages on the automated college phones to my adviser. And that moment in which I started crying. And also when I actually left the bar and wandered out into the street, still on the phone, still crying, and still leaving messages. Eventually I wandered over to sit down on the curb outside of the bar, finally off the phone and bawling my eyes out, alone.
When I look back (or try to anyway) at some of my more elaborate drunken affairs, I can say that this moment was unique in being the first time I would ever actually drunk dial a person, place, or thing. More or less it would be one of the last times too because I would switch over to drunk texting later. (Note: I’ve quit doing that one in the last couple of years too. Time to grow up, y’know?)
Here comes the best part: this little bit of dialogue I still remember to this day between Rachel and me when she came outside to find me.
R: “Heather! Have you been outside this whole time?”
H: “Awwww c’mon I’ve only been outside for like, five minutes.”
R: “No, you’ve been out here for 30 minutes.”
I was leaving drunk messages on my financial adviser’s voicemail for 30 straight minutes. WHAT.
The two of us left some time later and when I got home, I went straight to the bathroom and called my best friend Melissa who was not at the bar and began to sob out either that story or something else to her. Melissa told me the next day that my last words on the phone to her were, “I’m sorry I have to go throw up now.” and I hung up.
I threw up a lot that night and best of all, my parents caught me drunk for the first time. Because I knocked a bunch of stuff onto the floor of the bathroom which was conveniently located next door to their bedroom. In classic parent fashion, they weren’t even mad, but disappointed. Which is always the worse of the two options to get saddled with because disappointment lasts longer.
The next day was a Friday and I had promised my brother we would both go see Tropic Thunder together. I felt like death and couldn’t eat anything except for pickles for some reason. The biggest priority in my head was the fate of will I or won’t I go to college, namely having to patiently wait until it was 9 AM PST to call to explain myself.
I called my adviser and we talked about the loan and the letter for all of three minutes. “We got your student loan all squared away! Just disregard that letter, don’t even worry about it!” She cheerfully said.
“THEN WHY DID YOU EVEN MAIL IT????” My brain screamed on all sides, both logical and not.
“Great!” I just as cheerfully replied back, keeping my head muffled, “Oh, but there is one more thing. Could you not listen to your messages from me from last night if you’ve got any?”
This was the moment where my mother, conveniently in the same room as me while I was on the phone, looked up with an extremely questioning look in her eye.
My adviser laughed in a way that I could kind of tell had already heard some of them, “Don’t worry I won’t.”
We said goodbye and I hung up. There was a brief pause of silence and then my mom asked me, “What kinds of messages did you leave her last night?”
About a year into attending that school, I would finally meet my financial adviser who would then be working in a different department on campus. It was a very pleasant meeting that included zero recollection or mention of the messages I left on that voicemail.
The day after my drinking fest I remained hungover until about 6 PM.
I still went and saw Tropic Thunder and laughed my ass off though.
Kanye West Diamonds from Sierra Leone
The first time I saw this video was in college during one of my comm courses when my favorite professor showed it to our class. I took a class with him every semester I was enrolled in that school- the man was a damn fine teacher. Smart as a whip and hilarious and cute in a nerdy kind of way (we spent a class once discussing how someone gave him a chili pepper for hotness on ratemyprofessor.com and he laughed a lot about it).
The entire time this video was playing, you could tell he was working really hard to not dance along to it. As was I.
Running to the library late late late from my advertising class to go tutor someone.
Texting my girlfriends to go meet up and knowing that’s it’s only 5, 10 minutes tops until I see them.
Seeing a cute guy at the Centrum and pretending that my bottle of Sobe Mango is waaaaay more intriguing to look at.
The mailroom always having a package for me.
Going to my professor’s office when I’m having a state of emergency bad day and him letting me vent it out to him.
Getting to share all kinds of stories and debates in my comm classes.
That one time we baked pot brownies in our dorm room and nobody caught us and holy hell were we highhhhhhhh as kites.
Birthdays and dances and going out and driving around.
Going to the worst nightclubs around but getting very drunk and always coming home happy.
Trader Joes down the street.
Running back to the dorms after class on a rainy afternoon to take a 20 min nap before going back to class.
Going to my internship(s).
Going to work, but only when I would see my friends.
Spending many hours dicking away on Tumblr with my friends.
Spending even more hours working on social media stuff. I spent more time on my blog than any classwork I can think of.
Never knowing as a junior that when I was a senior I would be assistant producing a play that would have cast in it my future roommate, future ex-boyfriend, and future intern.
Never knowing what any day would bring with it tbh.
That magical summer day one of my closest friends and I would go see Conan O’Brien, back when he was at the NBC studio.
The swingset. Yes we had a swingset on campus.
Going to the liquor store down the street where the owner knew me and never carded me and never minded I was buying 2 bottles of champagne at 3pm on a Tuesday.
Going to the gym where my roommate and I would work out for maybe 30 minutes tops and go eat something not healthy after. It was always chili cheese fries for me, btw.
The Vault machine on campus.
Being free to just wander and do my own thing and not worry that I needed to report back to someone or pay rent or utilities.
My girlfriends. Always missing them, always.
How the future still seemed bright, even on the day that Lehman Bros. went under.
And how the future beyond college seemed very far until one day it wasn’t anymore.
But most of all there must be a million other wonderful moments that aren’t here because I’m starting to forget some of them already and it scares me but I can’t do anything about it.
This guy I went to college with who currently lives overseas is writing all this stuff on Facebook about airplanes and airports and carry-ons. As in, sounds like he’s coming back to California. The place he has not been back at for years now.
Briefly: I have this never-ending crush on this dude. I’ll describe him briefly because I have a history of liking guys who are never very good for me and I want to help paint a picture for the audience here:
-very handsome. Tall, disturbingly ripped, brown hair, brown eyes. As in 30 Rock, lives in the bubble handsome. He could order sushi at The Olive Garden and somebody would find a way to get it to him. Calvin Klein would definitely make him an underwear model. Jesus, I sound like a weirdo. Let’s pray he never reads this and figures out I’m talking about him.
-extremely funny. We took a writing class together and used to workshop each other’s work. I loved his sense of humor- it was very self-deprecating and witty, akin to my own (I hope. I always feel weird trying to describe my writing to people, it’s like HEY LOOK AT ME I’M A UNIQUE AND SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE OF A WRITER.)
-I feel comfortable talking with him and even though he’s lived overseas for like 3 years now, I still keep in touch with him regularly.
-He is good friends with my roommate and grew up in her hometown. She reports that when he was younger he wasn’t so innocent, but we can say that about everyone, can’t we?
-One time I talked with him via Facebook chat when I was drunk. I don’t think he noticed?
-Genuinely nice and not a jerk. This is important. So so important.
-Loves It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Basically I have this wonderful image in my head that I get to see him again and it sparks something between us and good things come out of it and
maybe it’s a relationship, maybe not why am I writing that why. The left side of my brain is so incredibly disappointed in me right now.
I need to stop this. This is a guy who used to date Gary Sinise’s daughter for crying out loud. I’m not in the same league (even though she herself is not attractive). I’m not sure what league I’m in actually. I think it’s the whole “I scare guys away because I have a tendency to march into a room and demand things and boss people around” league. But I do have a sweet side. It takes a really long time to get it out, but it’s there.
Also I don’t really own low cut blouses or bronzing lotion so yeah….
Please ignore this post for it is chock-full of crazy,
I think I outdid that pregnancy dream from a couple months ago last night.
Last night I dreamed that Michael Bolton was singing to me a really sappy love song. I was standing on the 4th floor of Grace Hall, one of the old dorms at my alma mater. That floor has a little balcony thing where you can see down into the lobby and whatnot. He’s on the main floor, I’m on the top one. He’s crooning to me and it’s raining outside.
In this dream I really liked it. The singing and all. It was oddly romantic. I won’t detail it any more than that. Nobody needs more details about this dream. It will only get weird for all parties involved.
Then I woke up and was like, brain cells what’s going on up there.
I took this from my friend Mayan because I thought it would make a fun writing exercise for my brain this morning before I start diving into work blogging. These don’t have an actual order either. The best things that happened to me were all great on their own terms and it would be difficult to place one ahead of another.
5. Making the choice to go to a liberal arts school in Southern California. Never in a million years will I ever regret my decision to go there because that school changed my life for the better and my future as well. I was accepted to a university in Missouri and one in New York, but did not feel drawn to attend either one. The university in MO I ruled out because they had an assigned cafeteria menu schedule (meat loaf night, gross) and the NY one was for a two year program which was cool but I wanted a more traditional longer college experience. The SoCal school just happened to be advertised in a stack of postcards in the mail and I cannot tell you how I just knew looking at the card that this was my school. It was the one. I had to delay going there for a year a half by attending community college since I didn’t have a loan co-signer but that was okay. It was what kept me motivated the entire time to do my best there before leaving. That SoCal university was where I made my best friends and worked great jobs and internships and had some wonderful professors and classes. The effect it had on my personality and behavior was radical- I became much happier and optimistic in a way I had not been since childhood. That university changed everything for me. It made me open up and express myself more. I felt free there. I’m very loyal to that school and always will be.
4. The film class I took at the aforementioned college. Okay, I wasn’t enrolled in the class and not even auditing it. The professor and I were good friends and she told me to drop by whenever I could (it met once a week) to watch the films there. And I did because I had two friends enrolled in the class and liked to hang out with them. The significance of this class is that it was there I would meet two more good friends of mine who sat 2 rows behind me. One of them would be my future first apartment roommate. In the class, we didn’t really talk but I remember looking at both of these girls and thinking, “I wanna be their friends.” That sounds creepy but I swear it wasn’t- it was just a sense of curiosity. The first one I’d wind up tutoring with later on and the second (future roommate) I would meet again several months later when I was modeling for our university’s fashion show. At the time I was going through some issues with an old roommate in the dorms, and when we both met up again, we were excited to see each other and greeted the other like old friends. We went to the senior social that night and began hanging out immediately after. It was a totally natural friendship from the get go. She just gets me and it makes me really happy. I often think of her as the sister I never had. PS, I’m still close with all 4 girls from that film class. They should make a Sisterhood of the Traveling Trench Coats movie about us (our wardrobe staple of choice).
3. The first time I went to SF. I went alone and stayed for a week during spring break in college. I had never traveled alone before and was itching to. Also I really wanted to go somewhere not only new but fun. Growing up in a big family means when you do travel, it’s on the cheap and usually to a relative’s house or some destination you really don’t want to go to. Nobody in my family believes in an itinerary either which does not jive with my anal personality so I wind up scheduling us with activities to keep everyone busy (I hate sitting around doing nothing). When I went alone, I stayed at a beautiful hotel with a gorgeous sweeping view of the city. Each day I went on explorations of the city- venturing to new places and areas each day. I would usually leave the hotel at 9am and get back at about 7ish at night. I loved being able to walk everywhere and not use transportation and go where I wanted to. I moseyed through art galleries, wandered along Haight Ashbury, drank at Cafe Zoetrope where Francis Ford Coppola wrote The Godfather, had breakfast at French cafes, etc. The experience heightened my independent streak and ensured me that when travelling, I knew I could do it alone, afford it, and still be content. Figuring out if you can travel alone is important: you need to be comfortable with the company of yourself if you want to get the most out of it.
2. My current job and freelance work. I work as a social media manager for a company not far from where I live and manage all of their blogging, Facebook, and Twitter outlets. I also freelance write at a bunch of different websites and at work, write with Forbes. Just this week, I’m also going to be adding another freelance account to my list and also contributing to a friend’s blog. Oh, and I have my two blogs, this one and my photo one.
In case you were wondering, I’m very happy.
And I also don’t sleep much either. A friend of mine once said I’ll sleep when I’m dead which sums up my life pretty well.
1. My family. There are so many moments where we fight and argue and disagree on issues and choices, but at the end of the day there’s always a joke to be made and a smile to be had. I’m going home to see everyone in August. I haven’t seen my family in two years. That seems like awhile, but I’m pretty good with not needing to visit everyone often. A couple years in between works out fine for me. See number 2 above for more reasons why I don’t go home often.