10/23/2001

in nonfiction class today the professor had us break into small groups of three to write a one-page collaborative essay in fifteen minutes.  our group (jess, joshua, and me, but almost exclusively me) came up with this:

jess found a pen underneath a bench outside.  its end had been chewed to bits by the teeth of a stranger.  it was one of those cheap black ballpoint pens you can buy in a pack of ten from the drugstore.  this pen, however, was different.  the end of this pen had been chewed in an almost uniform circle.  it was broken in, and jess was ready.  though he had no idea whose mouth or ear or other orifice the tip of this pen had seen, he found himself chewing it anyway, almost compulsively.  who had it belonged to? he wondered, as his teeth clicked comfortably in the existing grooves.  were they the next longfellow?  the next jane austen?  or just the next john grisham?  what inspiration lay in the dried up saliva jess was now ingesting?  he checked to see if the pen still worked and, since it did, he concluded that whatever level of genius its former owner posessed, this former owner had forsaken his or her saliva-encrusted writing utensil, and perhaps a touch of brilliance along with it.  was this the taste of genius?

it’s not a bad fifteen-minute essay, if i do say so.  maybe it’s when i quit trying so hard that i don’t suck.

10/16/2001

this morning i took another midterm in the form of an in-class essay.  when i turned it in, i smiled at the professor and said, “i think my essay has vaguely communist overtones.”

10/02/2001

angry, at lots of things, and at nothing in particular.  i walked through campus this morning after class, muttering “there are too many goddamned people out here,” glaring at everyone as i shoved through the crowds.  at lunch i was rude to shaun and tony countless times, for no particular reason.  i usually tell shaun to fuck off after just about everything he says, but today it was much more frequent.  i snapped at yanda on the phone yesterday, too, after i got lost several times on the way to his hotel.

nonfiction class this afternoon, though, was the worst of it.  there’s a girl in our class named colleen, whom the professor quite obviously dislikes.  i can see why; colleen repeatedly makes loud, worthless observations about nothing at all, and her observations about something at all are never as accurate, interesting, or well-articulated as they are invasive and distracting.  today we were critiquing one another’s work, and we were discussing beth’s essay about her relationships with various members of her own family, when colleen spoke up.  “uh, i don’t care about this family?” she said, “i don’t like the father or the daughter or any of it?  i don’t care?”

though she raised the pitch of her voice at the end of each phrase as though she was asking questions rather than making definitive statements, it didn’t soften the blow.  how idiotic and insensitive is it to say that to someone in a nonfiction class?  it’s one thing to tell a short story’s author that you had a hard time maintaining interest in their characters.  you’re talking about a work of fiction.  but to tell a writer in a personal essay class that you don’t like the family they’re writing about is utterly unacceptable, because you know that the people they’re writing about are not throwaway characters they’ve invented.  no, in a personal essay class, they’re writing about their own fucking family, and you are telling them that their family sucks.

after which we critiqued colleen’s essay, and she couldn’t take it.  she glared wide-eyed at each person who had something to say about her work.  she interrupted us to make grasping attempts to defend every. single. thing we said about her essay.  you’re not allowed to defend your own paper in a workshop class!  you’re just not!  joshua leaned over to me and whispered, “her own criticism was pretty harsh, why can’t she take any herself?”  exactly.

so, jesus!  why am i so angry?  i never, ever get all angry like this, especially not so much that it makes me snap at some of my favorite people for no reason.  granted, i don’t think shaun, tony, or yanda were that offended, and i don’t think i was really all that rude to them, but i could (and can) still feel the angry burbling just under the surface, along with lots of impatience and some general irritability.  and i have no idea where it all comes from.

i’m not proud, but as jess and i walked to the parking lot after class, i believe i called colleen a “bug-eyed bitch,” and told jess that i felt like bashing her teeth in.

that’s not like me at all.