Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Well, you know... Life.

I'm on spring break right now. Yea. Spring Break. Do you know how I've spent it? Watching TV, knitting, petting my cats. I finished the draft of my WIP, so I've put my writing down for this week -- make it truly a break. I haven't even really been reading; I've picked up and put down half a dozen novels since Saturday.

Sometimes I wish I could just-- I just wish I could get out of my house every now and then. I don't have a driver's license, but even if I did, there just isn't much to do around my neighborhood. This is the suburbs: a lot of residential homes, a convenience store within walking distance (though, without money, isn't exactly ideal); there's a Wal-Mart 20 minutes away, and a Food Lion maybe ten minutes from here, and a couple of libraries. Barnes and Noble and a movie theater are also twenty minutes up the road.

But still, I've been to the library this week. I have no money to go to any stores, or to a move theater. There aren't really "parks" around here, except one like half an hour away. And that's like a Lord of the Rings adventure, to go that far. We generally don't like spending a fortune in gas.

So instead, I sit here. I just watched three hours of Bones, on TNT. I ate a bag of popcorn. Colored in my coloring book. Knitted a little. Something heavy and sad sits in my rib cage, like a rock of emotion tying me to the couch. Which sounds a little melodramatic, but sometimes I might as well be tied to the couch. My cats come and sit on my chest, Siamese cats who'll compete to sit up on my shoulders and on my chest. (I think the ones who get stuck sitting in my lap and on my legs are further down the hierarchy. Because, yes, cats do have a social hierarchy -- probably a very strict one, considering how much they claw at each other.)

I've been considering college. And, like a lot of the rest of my life, I fear I'll have to settle for my second best. Actually, between the three I've been accepted to, there are two I'm considering with any enthusiasm. One is a co-ed college, the other an all-women's college. I'd like to go to the all-women's college. I'm planning on majoring in archaeology, which involves hard sciences like chemistry and earth science -- in an all-women's college, I could hope to avoid some of the -- well, men. I took chemistry last year, earth science my freshman year. Sometimes the guys get a lot of attention, even though the teachers -- female teachers -- do their best to get to us shy girls stuck at our little table near the middle of the room.

But of course, the women's college is more expensive. The enrollment is like, $500. The enrollment at the co-ed college is $300. And the co-ed college is close enough to my granddad's that I could live off-campus, cutting down on costs even more. No study abroad. No trips across the country after I graduate this June. At the co-ed, they offer a classics major, too -- that should offer less hard sciences, right? More art history? Perhaps I could take that.

Or, maybe, I could just not go to college at all. My sister and mother have incurred enough student debt without me adding to it. (Actually, I don't think we even qualify for loans.)

Maybe I could get a full-time temp job over the summer, at the factory where my dad works. I could spend twenty years working there, just like him, and marry and have kids and never have any money above a middle-middle class existence, just. Like. My. Family.

Is it so much to wonder, that maybe I want a little something more? To travel, even if it makes my stomach churn in anxiety? To... to be rich, one day, lots of money, and I wouldn't have to worry about whether or not I can afford to go to college, or sit around bored during Spring Break while other students get to go to other states, visit family, go on vacation?

I realize that I need more than a high school diploma to do anything. But a college degree is no guarantee, either, and I don't even really want to go. I am just getting out of the public school system. I don't want to go back into another educational system, one I can't actually afford, even with the rather hefty scholarships they're throwing my way, even if they offer me into their Honors program with smaller classes and more control over what classes I want to take.

If only I could... I don't know. Be free to sit in a library, in any library, and just read what I want to learn for myself. No sitting in hard science classes, where I may or may not get to actually do lab work, depending on what gender my lab partner is. (In an archaeology major, probably a guy. There aren't exactly many who decide to major in it, and I imagine quite a few of them are male, as a lot of science-y jobs are.)

But, of course, life will not fall at my feet and give me whatever I want. I could not go to college, and maybe end up like my brother -- working hard, all day, no flexibility in hours, and at the end of the year get nothing back in tax returns. I could go to college; perhaps I'll be like my mother, who's getting her master's degree in religion, who complains sometimes of male teachers who never give her more than, "It's alright," even when she's spent all day on a paper to perfect it and most of the other guys in her class slapped something together. Spend all day reading and annotating and writing essays, like that's all there is to life -- essays waxing eloquent about one topic or another, no flair allowed.

I know the essays we write in public school. College ones just seem to be longer and more unnecessarily complex. And I am sick of writing them.

But I can't just become a writer. I can't afford to sit around all day and daydream. But I can't stand working my entire life and getting nothing back, or wracking up so much debt I'll be paying it off the rest of my life, and maybe also get nothing in return.

Maybe one day I'll leave the United States, go to... I don't know. Ireland. Russia. Australia. Maybe, while I'm at it, I could grow a pair of wings and join a fairy cult. Because I can't really do what I want, become whoever I want to be, like those well-meaning adults in elementary school tell you. Sometimes, I really can't do anything at all, except sit on my couch. Now it's a marathon of Law and Order: Criminal Intent.

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