The Little Gray Accountant

My life is monotonous at best. I imagine my routine as a tiny accountant dressed in gray, following behind me reciting the same numbers in a pattern: 17, 19, 25, 29, 36. His ill-fitting suit clings to his chubby torso, round with too many Hostess cupcakes. That tiny accountant is a reminder of a life I am not brave enough to live. I blame my monotony on the fact that I hate the taste of coffee.

Cameron Crowe released the movie Singles in 1992, a romantic comedy about twenty-somethings living in Seattle, wearing Doc Marten 8 eyed boots, flannel shirts, and all the while drinking ample amounts of coffee. This is the life I wanted. A life where my friends and I sat around discussing things like evolution and politics while people buzzed about us, oblivious to just how astute we really were. At the time Starbucks either did not exist in its current form or was just not available in Paducah, but our mall did have a Tennessee Coffee Company, and Kara and I set out to become part of the cool kids. We had plans to sit around and drink a latte while discussing evolution and the Scopes monkey trial. (I live in some weird world where people who are smarter and cooler than me discuss nothing but evolution and Elvis Costello. I have no idea why.) We ordered our lattes and carried the steaming cups to our table. We were ready to drink and be cool. After the first sip our eyes locked and we silently had a conversation.

“This is the taste of hell.”

“It is like drinking hot dirt.”

“Let’s leave and just dump it.”

“You go first.”

We left the shop and quickly dumped our coffee out of sight of the barista. I could not wipe the taste of burnt dirt off my tongue fast enough. I also could not wipe away my shame. I knew that I wasn’t going to a normal four year college. While my friends had been picking out colleges, I was shoving wads of toilet paper into my bra to keep breast milk from leaking on my shirt in Social Studies. I questioned my intelligence, and my drive was sex related only. If given a choice between planning for my future and being in the midst of an orgasm, I would pick the orgasm every damn time. However, this choice may have led to a life of financial difficulty and mediocrity. If I couldn’t be the cool person drinking coffee, who was I going to be? From what I could tell I had no discernible talents. I can’t sing, dance, draw, or sculpt. I liked to write, but bad poetry about sex and chubby fingers adorned with gold did not seem to be the thing that would make my mark. My fear was, and is, that I have no mark to make.

Kara and I went with Kiaya to New York on her senior trip. It was a trip meant to be taken by Kara, Kiaya, and Mom. I was on my mom’s trip. Her bucket list all rolled into a five day adventure. We buried her just a couple of days before we left and Kara and I started every conversation with, “You know our Mom just died.” The flight attendants would just give us weird looks and ask if we wanted a soda. We needed to explain to the world that our mother all but demanded we take the trip before she died – we were not callous and just taking a quick vacation. I would love to think that Mom had some sort of grand plan, that this trip would forever bind Kara and me together and help us to deal with a devastating loss. It did bind us together, but the real truth is that Mom was incredibly thrifty (i.e. cheap) and even death would not let her waste the money she had paid on the trip. New York was many things for me. It was both an exhausting and exhilarating trip: I got to ride a subway and see the Statue of Liberty. I watched a woman with exposed nipples stand next to a bodega, her strange breasts vulnerable like it was normal and not a scene out of National Geographic. I loved being in a city that was always busy. This fantastic busy city also made me aware that I had not lived up to my potential. There was no reason that I couldn’t have lived in a tiny apartment in a borough of New York or any other city for that matter. I am smart and dedicated and now it was time to apply those attributes. When we returned home, reality smacked us in the face and we each settled into a nice long depression. With the guidance of two friends and $50 from another, I registered for school and started the long voyage to a master’s degree. At age 36 I (finally) picked the future of my family over the orgasm.

For 37 years I have lived my life with no direction and a great deal of self-doubt. I started back to college to prove to myself that I am smart and can be focused. The outcome has been overall positive and I am glad that my friends helped me to make that jump. If not for being an “adult learner,” I wouldn’t have met a teacher who gave me such positive feedback it made me think that writing isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility. I owe him an apology because I publically mocked his pleated trousers. Each post feels like a little victory, but the self-doubt lingers and eats at me.

The little man is behind me as I write this essay. He repeats the numbers and walks with quick steps. I know he is there, following behind me. His presence the constant reminder that my life may be too monotonous to be of interest to anyone but me. He whispers in my ear that soon I will run out of things to say. He whispers that the only people interested in me are those that know me and I will never have readers on a larger scale. He whispers what a waste of time this is for me. He whispers, “17, 19, 25, 29, 36.”

Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow

Today has kicked my ass a little.

Yesterday my husband did a dramatic reenactment of The Battle Hymn of the Republic using jazz hands.

Tomorrow will not be today.

Today I wore a purple scarf with bicycles on it. It makes me smile.

Yesterday my middle child washed empty shot gun shells in the bathtub for an art project.

Tomorrow is Wednesday and I have always been fond of Wednesday.

Today Saidee woke up and got dressed with little arguing.

Yesterday Trey and I slept with a heater on me and a fan on him. I am convinced we can create a thunderstorm if we keep that up.

Tomorrow I will remember to pack a lunch for work.

Today I blinded myself with my cell phone at four in the morning and fought the urge to wake Carvell to discuss my obviously damaged cornea.

Yesterday I was able to sleep late.

Tomorrow I will laugh at something that no one else thinks is funny.

When I stop to really think about it. Today isn’t that bad at all.

Lies I Told in Middle School

There are few things more woeful than a chubby middle school student with a bad haircut and an over active imagination. My desire to stand out and be popular made me into a child liar. I took my tales directly from books and movies that I loved because even as a 13 year old I knew that my mundane life wouldn’t sell. That isn’t totally true as my second grade teacher told my mother that I was sneaky and full of lies. Which, isn’t nice, but also may have been a little true. So, today I would like to apologize and admit to some of my more insane lies.

You may be shocked by this, but a serial killer never roamed Farley and attacked me in my sleep. He never burned me or left scratches on my arm. This lie was directly related to my wanting to be Patricia Arquette in A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warriors. I considered this to be the Citizen Kane of the Freddy movies. The lie started off as a story that I told my friend to entertain her on the phone one night. The “King Street Killer” was haunting my dreams and causing me physical harm. The killer could only torture me if I was in a dream so the burn and scratch marks were from where he would try to pull me deeper into the sleep world. He wanted me to live in the sleep world with him so he would not be lonely. I originally tried to actually burn myself with a pack of matches I had found in our kitchen cabinet, but here is the thing: fire hurts. I would wait for the bus, strike each match, and wait for the tip to glow. I would then blow out the match and hold it to my skin. Never, not one time, did it ever leave a mark. So I decided that it would be a much better plan to scratch myself. I would drag my finger nails down my arm leaving white lines on my plump skin. I scratched myself over and over hoping to gain the interest of anyone. I wanted and needed their attention to fill up something that I felt I lacked. Scratching myself wasn’t leaving deep enough welts so I decided to get into my mother’s makeup. One morning I grabbed her lipstick and drew four scratch marks on my arm. I rubbed them in and thought they looked realistic enough. I went to school and the story of the “King Street Killer” spread. I acted sleepy and scared when I told the story, apparently the story made its way to a teacher because later that day I was asked down to the office to explain myself to an adult. They looked at my lipstick-stained arm and knew that it was a lie. They suggested that the King Street Killer needed to go away and he did that day. Although the King Street Killer never reappeared, other lies did.

I never went deaf because of spinal meningitis. That lie was because the book club I belonged to sent me a book about a young girl who loses her hearing and has to learn sign language. One classmate believed me and added me to her church’s prayer list. I had to then tell another lie saying that I was misdiagnosed and grateful for the prayers.

I never had a relationship with a young man I met while walking on my grandmother’s farm. First because I would have never went walking and second because there were no young men in West Plains, Missouri. That lie had everything to do with Patrick Swayze being shirtless on a log in Dirty Dancing.

I never fronted a rock band and spent the summer in New Jersey. That was Justine Bateman in Satisfaction.

I was never a French foreign exchange student named Simone who lived in fear of her strict foster family. This lie was told at Kingsway Skateland and became difficult to keep up with when we started receiving phone calls for Simone at the house.

I never took or taught dirty dancing lessons; that was again Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray.

I never had the nickname “Gordie,” that was Wil Wheaton in Stand by Me.

I was a middle school liar and now I admit it.

See, my dream was always to be a writer or a storyteller. However, my life was never interesting enough to write about, so I stole the lives of other people. It would only be a few years later that my life took a turn and became much too interesting for a fifteen year old. On that day I left the mall with my boyfriend. We went and parked at Noble Park. We sat in his broken down, matte-finished black truck and held hands. He quizzed me about music and quoted Lynard Skynard to me. I felt grown up and in love. Some of his friends pulled up and we talked though the open windows of our car. They asked me if I wanted to smoke with them and tried to pass the joint through the window. They asked if I wanted a drink and they tried to pass a glass bottle of dark alcohol through the window. I immediately knew that I was in over my head. These kids were older and wild, and I wanted the security of my friends and the mall. I wanted the blandness of nights with Kristi, my best friend, safe with our parents. I asked if we could leave and he took me back to the mall with no questions asked. I went home with Kristi that night and ended up grounded from her, because I was supposed to go back to my Mother’s work with my date. Of course my parents had no way of knowing that I had been offered drugs for the first time, and I never would have told them because I was in love and it felt dangerous and exciting. Just a few weeks later I would watch the same group of kids, adults really, smoke pot while a baby with blonde hair and a dirty face played with a lighter on the floor. I took him outside to swing on the front porch and drug the tips of my Mother’s white Sunday shoes across the blue slats of the front porch. His hair was thick with the smell of beer and weed. It was days like this that my childhood was eaten away, little by little. I wanted a life that was absorbing and charismatic. I wanted a life that people would find exceptional. Now I attempt to write about myself as honestly as I can and I have to embrace my lies to be truthful. I was a childhood liar who desperately wanted to be an adult. Now I am an honest adult who wants to write about her past as honestly as possible.

Sandy Hook “Truther” Movement: My Soapbox

Last night I sat in my living room and watched a teenage girl watch a conspiracy video that talked about the Sandy Hook tragedy. It was full of theories about the guns, the gunman, the parents, website dates, the children, and the police. What really bothered me is that this video circulates while children are living with nightmares and PTSD. It circulates while parents fall asleep and hope they dream of their child. Normal has been taken away from people and replaced with this horrible tribulation.

In this world there are things just too big to understand, God being one of them for me. As a child I quietly questioned the existence of God. Where did he come from? How long is forever? If he created us, who created him? Everything has to be created, doesn’t it? My rational side fights a battle with my faithful side and I never know which side will win. I fight this battle because I am human and my brain is unable to understand a concept as extravagant as God’s love. I internalize almost everything. It is my own egocentric way of understanding the world and controlling things that I have no control over.

In this blog I once wrote that I blamed myself for the 9/11 attacks because I did not wear the correct jewelry and that is surely the reason that men with box cutters were able to take over four planes. I blamed myself because the world is a bad place sometimes and on that day I needed a way to justify the evil. Some evil is too large to grasp, and that is what I think is at the root of the Sandy Hook “truther” movement. One man, who was either mentally ill or just plain evil, walked into a school and ended the lives of 26 people. Twenty children will never grow to their potential. Six adults will never hug their loved ones again. Hundreds of people will always have a piece of their soul missing and they will live that way for the remainder of their lives. So what do we try to do? We look for people to blame, and if you are already a person who thinks the government and media are evil and controlling our minds then you blame them. But as we place blame, we ignore some of the real issues. We ignore that mental illness is something that is virtually ignored. We ignore that our health care system is sorely lacking. We ignore that the gun laws we have are not working. The thing that cannot be ignored is the fact that we have lost our humanity. Every time we post the Sandy Hook conspiracy video and every time we posted the 9/11 video, we tell a victim that their pain is not important. What we really find important is our own entertainment, not the feelings of those involved in these tragedies.

I turn it back on myself like I always do, because I am me and I am flawed in many ways. On the day of Sandy Hook I thought about my children and thanked God for their safety. I became enraged at Facebook posts that said it happened because we have taken God out of the schools. My God doesn’t shoot 20 children to prove a point. Evil does that.

I blame myself for things I cannot control. My mother’s death can be attributed to me because I didn’t act sooner. If I had been meaner and more persistent I could have gotten her to a specialist in “Arkamecca” sooner. My reason fights with my emotions because I know the only thing that could have saved her was a miracle. I blame myself for the suffering in Haiti because I was dumb to the plight of the people there. Again, I understand that I did not cause the suffering, but I still blame myself for the lack of action that I now take. I place blame on myself for Sandy Hook because I thanked God for my children that day as if mine were more important than the 20 lost and the countless others effected. I blame myself every time I open Facebook and see the conspiracy video and don’t say something about it. I blame myself for the lost humanity.

A Tale Most Gross in Nature

Sometimes in this world there are things that happen–things that are so insane they have to be true because no person on the planet could make up such a tale. This happens to be one of those stories. This is my story of the day I shit my pants for 30 miles.

On this particular day, Trey and I had been invited to eat at a local Hibachi restaurant by his parents. I love food, but I really love free food; so even though I had a terrible sinus infection, I was bound and determined to get my grub on. I enjoy the food at Hibachi places, but I hate the atmosphere. Most of your time is spent pretending that you give a damn about the spinning spatula and knife when all you really want is the little onion volcano. Also, talking to your friends and family is almost impossible because of the insistent clank clank from the chef. The meal is spent in silence, praying that your eyebrows aren’t burnt off in a Hibachi fire mishap. I ordered the steak (medium) and shrimp, enjoyed my meal, and said goodbye. It was now time to drive the 30 miles back home.

At this time I lived in Wickliffe, Kentucky, which was my personal hell. It takes the middle of nowhere to a whole new level. The roads to get there are narrow and winding, there are no places to pull over, and no businesses for almost a full 30 miles. A local plant causes the town to smell of cooked broccoli; the locals say that it’s a smell you get used to. The locals are liars. The smell gets into your clothes and covers and more than once I woke up gagging because of the smell. The only thing about Wickliffe that I liked was that Trey was located there; otherwise, I wouldn’t have acknowledged the town’s existence. I started driving home and noticed a little gurgle in my stomach. The gurgle was small so I ignored it and continued on with my drive.

There is a point of no return when driving to Wickliffe from Paducah. Once this literal fork in the road happens it is easier and safer to continue on; it was at this fork that the next grumble took place. This gurgle was louder and more insistent. A third gurgle followed. “Okay, just keep driving, Heather. No big deal. You can make it.” I told myself. My stomach was quickly tied in knots. The gurgles were now on top of each other and I had begun to sweat.

“Just hold on Heather.”

I tighten my butt cheeks.

“This is going to happen.” my inner voice says.

“No. No. I can hold it.” I respond.

I tighten my butt cheeks a little more.

“This clenching is impossible to maintain.” the inner voice taunts.

I had now straightened out my legs in an attempt to increase the resolve of my cheeks. I was sweating, profusely. The back of my hair was wet, yet I was cold all over. I was fighting a good fight and bound to win this battle of digestive wills. With one foot pressed to the floor and the other on the gas, I drove straight legged as fast as I could. The curvy road stretched out in front of me and I drove faster and faster. I turned down the radio because I needed nothing to interfere with driving and butt clenching.

“Okay, I have this.” I thought.

With the next terrible burst of pain I knew that I didn’t have this. My body gave out and I pooped my pants. The pain relief was immediate and welcome, but now I had to drive for 15 more miles with a load in my pants. I had not yet relaxed my body and my legs trembled with the pressure. If I relaxed them I would be actually sitting in my own poop and that was not something I was ready for just yet. While the horror of my predicament dawned on me, I was seized by another violent stomach cramp and I pooped my pants again. This time my legs gave out and my body relaxed. I was sitting in my own waste with 10 miles still to go.

My car now made Wickliffe smell pleasant, and with each curve my Maxima took, there was an audible slosh. Again my stomach cramped and again I pooped. Three times in less than 30 minutes, but at this point I was too exhausted to fight. I had been defeated by my own bowels. I drove in silence and formulated a new plan. Trey had left only a few minutes after me and there was no f’ing way I was letting him know this had happened. If I moved quickly I could fix this. I could pretend this never happened. I finally entered Wickliffe and turned into our driveway. To my absolute horror I saw my neighbors in their front yard. What I have failed to mention to you is what I was wearing. See, on this fateful day I had chosen to wear a khaki skirt and a pair of tall brown boots. The minute I stood up the only thing that stood between the ground and me was a pair of now destroyed Lane Bryant panties.

“New plan,” I thought, “Save the boots.”

While I waited for my neighbors to go inside, I wiggled my boots and socks off and threw them into the passenger seat. Each movement caused a wave…of nausea. The neighbors finally left and I started to get out of my car. I glanced at the seat to take inventory of everything I had to clean before Trey pulled in the driveway. I inched myself through the house and made my way to the shower. I climbed in and stripped. The hot water and body wash made quick work of my disgrace. I turned off the shower, dressed in pajamas, and grabbed a garbage bag. I bagged the evidence and cleaned up everywhere I had been. My Pine-sol soaked towel was tossed in with the ruined clothes and hidden in the trash can. I had made it home and cleaned up before Trey and now he would never know of my 30 miles of poop. I was in the kitchen when I heard him pull up and I walked to the living room to meet him as if nothing had happened. As he walked in he paused and sniffed, “Uh, Heather why does the house smell like shit and lemon pledge?”

I opened my mouth and said, “Because I just shit my pants for thirty minutes!” I told him every detail I could remember because when something is funny to me it matters not at all how embarrassing it is. We have eaten Hibachi many times since the great poop incident but now I always order the salmon and scallops just in case.

My Life as a TV Addict

When I was little I did not understand the concept of time zones. I live in the Bible belt and therefore believe that God is on Central Standard Time. Why would we need Eastern or Pacific when God is obviously a Central Standard guy? My lack of time zone understanding came to a head when I discovered You Can’t Do That on Television and could not figure out when to watch it. My desire to watch this piece of Canadian goodness was all consuming. The only option I could see as being valid was to dedicate my life to TV watching; this way I would never miss an episode of anything. Sadly, I kind of really ended up living my life this way. I love television and have developed relationships with the characters that have lasted longer then some of my actual love affairs. The only thing I love more than TV is list making, so I present to you my top five favorite shows and why they are etched in my psyche.

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is by far my favorite show of all time. If you have not seen it, I would suggest you stop reading and watch all seven seasons now. The show was created by writer-director Joss Whedon. My love of Joss Whedon verges on creep-tastic and I once spoke to him on the phone thus making that the greatest day ever. Buffy centers around a teenage girl, Buffy Summers, who is the ”chosen one” or “slayer.” It is her job to fight the big nasties of the world. Normally that leads the slayer to a solitary life style, but not this heroine. She has a strong support system called “The Scooby Gang.” The special effects were kind of terrible at the beginning but they were never the point. The point was always a teenage girl who was trying to figure life out. The characters made mistakes and faced the consequences of those mistakes. Have sex before marriage = your boyfriend becomes a horrible deranged vampire. Trust the wrong person = get turned into a crazy hyena person. Kiss your best friend = the ex you wronged falls into a pit and gets stabbed, therefore wishing you never existed and sends your town spiraling into a hellmouth. Damn, I miss this show.

2. Veronica Mars ran from 2004 to 2007 and was created by Rob Thomas; who for years I assumed was the guy from Matchbox 20, but that appears to be incorrect. The show is set in high school and focuses on Veronica who is trying to solve the two mysteries of who killed her best friend and who drugged and raped her at a party. Very adult themes for a show set in high school. The writing was sharp and funny and true to Heather it was a show that used lots of words. The supporting cast was great and no one could play Logan Echolls, tortured bad boy, better than Jason Dohring. I am an adult woman with bills and problems but on Sunday mornings I watch the reruns of this show and yell, “Veronica the answer is Logan Echolls. It always was.” Another reason I am forever in love with this show is that they made great use of Buffy actors after their show ended.

3. Gilmore Girls probably used more words than all of the other shows combined. It was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino and ran from 2000 to 2007. Oh, how glorious were the days when my favorite shows overlapped? Gilmore Girls is about a single mother and her daughter. The show is set in a town called Stars Hollow. I want to live in that crazy little town. I want to get my breakfast Diet Coke at Luke’s Diner and have him bark at me in that I-am-really-a-caring-guy-but-I-try-hide-it way. The dialogue on this show is so quick and full of pop culture references you almost need a Gilmore Girls Guide to watching manual. How could you not love a show that loves pop culture so much it enlists Sebastian Bach of Skid Row fame to play a member of Lane Kim’s band? Damn fine show.

4. Sex and the City has no real redeeming value, yet I love it. The show is based in part on Candace Bushnell’s book of the same name. The show ran from 1998 to 2004. I did not have HBO for part of those years so I have caught up from re-runs and the deliciously awful edited version on TBS. How could I resist a show that uses as much profanity as I do, has a mostly female cast, openly discusses the vulva, and centers on a writer? I think what makes me so enamored with Sex and the City is the relationship between Carrie and Mr. Big. I always not so secretly thought that Trey was my Mr. Big. It was a relationship that seemed doomed to fail but somehow continued to pull through. I was watching the two part finale again the other night and I was beside myself with excitement when Carrie looks up to see Big in the hotel lobby. The mark of a great show may be how satisfied you are with the ending. When I am sad I wrap myself up with a blanket and lose myself in a world of sex, shoes, and cosmos.

5. Sons of Anarchy (Which one of these things is not like the other?), created by Kurt Sutter, who may be certifiably crazy, premiered in 2008 and is still currently on the air. It centers on a motorcycle gang in the town of Charming, California. This show is very violent and not often pleasant to watch, but I am totally sucked in. Trey likes to record an entire season of a show and then watch it on breaks from school. This is the only show that I currently care enough about to fight him on. This season was brutal to watch and beloved series regulars were killed off in the most terrible of ways. The writing and plot are strong and the violence isn’t just there for the sake of blood and ratings. The show follows Jax Teller and his family as they try to figure out how to navigate the real world and the outlaw world. Good show, and waiting for Kurt Sutter to be placed on a 5150 hold is even more entertaining.

Well, those are my five favorite shows of all times. There are many honorable mentions: Boy Meets World, West Wing, Twin Peaks, all were great, but the above five are the ones that I find myself going back to when my brain needs a little break from being my brain.

I am a College Student

I am an adult learner. There I said it.

 

I was beyond terrified to go back to college. The idea of sitting in a classroom full of people who were years younger and pounds thinner than me was no less horrifying than waking up and finding myself a player in a most dangerous game. It was John and Rachel Hughes who finally talked me into going back.

 

“Heather, how many books a year do you read?”

 

“I don’t know anywhere from six to twelve.”

 

“You’ve read 12 more books than anyone in my class.”

 

John explained the Mid Continent Advantage Program to me and it made a great deal of sense for my lifestyle. Four hours a night, for one night a week, with each class being five weeks long. With Trey’s crazy coaching schedule, my work schedule, and the world’s busiest five year old it made perfect sense. I signed up.

 

There was a blip that happened on May 6, 2011. At five in the morning the phone rang. It was Dad calling from Arkansas telling me that Mom had died. It was also the morning of Selena’s junior prom. Trey woke up Selena to tell her the news. She cried and was generally devastated. After a few minutes of wailing and teeth gnashing I asked her to please stop, because it was prom day and “Mom Mom” would be pissed if her prom pictures turned out bad. Trey took charge of the Mayfield aspect of the day. He told our middle school family what had happened, and got Selena to school and Saidee to the sitters. I met Kara in Paducah so we could tell Kiaya in person. The next two weeks are a blur of tears, funerals, laughs, and New York City. My thoughts of school had been forgotten until another friend, Natalie Hayden, wrote a check for $50 and told me to use it for the registration fee.

 

“It is time for new beginnings.” she said.

 

That $50 was my new start. I finished enrolling and met my new cohort. My cohort was full of people that I was pretty sure I had nothing in common with. This group of men and women were the people that I would now spend every Monday night with. There were married couples, women older than me, women younger then me, veterans, an impressive array of tattoos, a Pentecostal, and a pretend socialite. It was a little like the adult education version of The Breakfast Club and I was pretty sure I was playing the role of Ally Sheedy.

 

Our first class together was dedicated to getting to know each other and to easing these adult learners back into paper writing and homework. The teacher was a sweet man who I am sure never graded anything. He was encouraging and never spoke down to us. Our big assignment due on the last day of class was a paper on a personal experience that rocked us to our core. I, of course, talked about grief and Mom. Others discussed topics like depression, infidelity, divorce, alcoholism, homelessness. Each one of us had a story to tell and we cried… a lot. With each class our group grew tighter; we lost people and occasionally picked up new members. We lost the heavy metal couple that made out in the back of the classroom. I cannot say that we were unhappy to see them go. We lost the pretty girl with the braided hair; she was nice and always smiled at me. I was sad to see her leave. I was amazed that the people I most connected with were some of the same ones that I thought I would have nothing in common with.

 

Much like high school we have broken into cliques. Each of us sit in the same place every week, and if someone new to the cohort sits in our spot, we are stunned beyond all measure. The next week I will arrive 30 minutes early to stake out my rightful spot and smile pleasantly at the person who so cruelly stole my spot the week before. I am an adult, you see, but not really. I am forever trapped in a high school mentality. I like my group of friends and dislike change of any kind. Every class I sit with Rachel, Marissa, and Nicole and I don’t like anything to change it; I am a creature of habit.

 

I am decidedly more liberal than most in my class, and at first I was terrified to say what I really felt. I had no problem being the funny or weird girl, but being the girl who was waving the huge gay pride flag was a bigger issue for me. I’m in the Bible belt and attending a Christian college, some of the “far right’ sit just to the right and in front of me. See, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but there are people in this world who think the louder you talk the more right you are. We have a few of those in the class, but for the most part, I think our cohort is very good at listening to each other and keeping the “you’re a stupid mother fucker” comments to at least a low growl. I have been pleasantly surprised by one girl who happens to be Pentecostal and home schools her children. I originally thought that we would have nothing in common and she would have a very limited point of view. But, I was wrong. That girl can and will argue for four hours on any side of a subject. She knows where she stands on subjects but never makes you feel bad for disagreeing. She is funny and has a biting wit.

 

We recently had a new person enter our cohort and she will be referred to as “the bitch with the belted trench” for the remainder of this post. From the minute she walked into class she knocked our energy off. Most importantly she knocked my energy off. If this was a real life version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer she would be this season’s big bad. The bitch with the belted trench came into the cohort with the attitude that she was better than the rest of us. That she was more worldly, traveled, and generally smarter than us. She works for the school and treats the job as if she is the administrative assistant for POTUS.  After class each week different members of our class would come to me and say, “What’s up with…” and my instinctive reply was, “the bitch in the belted trench, I know right.”

 

I feel awful for feeling this way. My high school mentality is not something I am proud of, but then again sometimes people are just bitches. During one of our 15 minute class breaks I was telling a group of friends that I was excited about the response the blog was getting. In that conversation I probably said Sex on a Hobo Mattress and Other Bad Decisions about five times. Later my friend Carrie, the Pentecostal, laughed and told me every time I said the name the bitch in the belted trench rolled her eyes. If she had been a part of the original cohort she would have known what a huge step writing this blog was for me. She also would have known that nothing makes you worldlier then having had sex on an actual hobo mattress.

 

I am an adult learner and I am proud of the friendships I have made. I was wrong to walk into class on the first night and think that I had nothing in common with my fellow students. We have everything in common. We are over-coming past bad decisions and we sometimes work out those issues in class. There is no need to feel superior to anyone because if you are an adult learner shit has probably went down somewhere in your life.

 

“…what we found out is that each one of us is: a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, and a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast club” (Mayfield 17F)