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raining here in New Orleans; I could be doing homework but am instead choosing to sit around being surly and looking at mixtes on the internet. Just got back from a long-car-trip Thanksgiving (~12 hours in a car each way NOLA to KY) and thus am craving bike rides. Since it’s raining and blah outside this means not so much riding my bike (after all, the aforementioned homework) as reading bike blogs. 

I had my last med school interview while I was at home, at the University of Kentucky, in the rain. It’s a good school with a huge brand-new hospital. Classes only last from eight to noon your first two years so you have afternoons to study. The girl next to me was wearing a navy blue pinstripe suit and had a Bumpits in her hair. When we left the girl I walked out with said: “I can’t wait go to home and put on sweatpants.” I stood on S. Limestone in the rain in my black pencil skirt and black blazer with a rainbow umbrella and put my heels on a pink X that was spray-painted on the sidewalk. A house on the street had thick leaves all over their yard, and for some reason the red, orange, and brown against the green looked extra saturated in the lack of other colors, the asphalt, the sidewalk. 

I felt disappointed. 

My boyfriend’s second-choice school is going back home to Oregon, to have to live in Portland and go to Portland State. You know, a city, where everyone rides bicycles, and there are cute things everywhere and all kinds of mid-twenties hipsters doing whatever makes their little artsy hearts happy. There are good and bad sides to this, of course, but I am tired of trying to be objective about this: living in a rural area is pretty terrible. I know. I did it for eighteen years. You’re isolated, you don’t have a lot of friends and none that live close to you, you entertain yourself, you shop at department stores in suburbs you have to drive an hour to get to and you feel dazzled by the selection when you get there. Eating at Red Lobster is exotic because it’s expensive and seafood and you don’t live anywhere near the ocean and for that matter, you don’t live anywhere near the Red Lobster, either.  Maybe once a month you go to the movies. You go to work and come home every night and watch television, because there’s nothing else going on anyway. The center of your social life is your church, or work if you’re lucky to be working with other people you like/get along with. 

It’s not what I want anymore. I’m tired of being okay with it.  I am jealous of my friends—what, that ridiculous 70% of that Tulane population, and 99% of my friends—that went to private school. I didn’t. I didn’t get special attention; there was none to be had. I did the best with what I could. I am jealous of my friends who were from big cities, who had drama departments and art departments at their schools, who had neighbors they could go visit, and small theatres and local bakeries and restaurants and parties and bicycles and new bookstores and used bookstores and record stores and art galleries and coffeeshops. We don’t. I never did. 

I’ve been struggling all through college not to be bitter about it, but I am. I dated someone who made fun of how uncultured I was, who looked down on me and was embarrassed to go to nice restaurants with me because I couldn’t pronounce the names of food. I AM UNCULTURED. Everything I know about culture I had to learn myself from the internet. I didn’t have it growing up. I still can’t eat rice with chopsticks and feel stupid and embarrassed when I inevitably drop it all over myself trying. I don’t know how to order sushi, I never ate sushi until I came to college. I don’t know what wines go with what foods because they aren’t even legally allowed to sell alcohol where I live. I’ve never seen a Shakespeare play performed, where would I have? I’ve never seen a ballet, or an opera. My written vocabulary is much, much greater than my spoken vocabulary and I pronounce words wrong. I’ve only read them, after all.

Which is what I did have, really. I read everything. I still read everything someone hands me, everything I get my hands on, I read indiscriminately and don’t buy books unless I’ve already read them. And that was fine for eighteen years (probably more like sixteen). But it’s not fine anymore, and I don’t want to go back, and I don’t want to get used to it again, and I want to do things with my life. 

It is disappointing. Kentucky loves to dress down. If you can wear sweatpants and a tshirt you do. In high school I wore jeans everyday; I sometimes wanted to wear a skirt, but felt embarrassed when I did, like I stuck out in the hallways because no one else was. They still don’t. It’s like daily life isn’t worth getting dressed up for, isn’t really worth putting in a lot of effort. And in the rain and grey of Lexington, waiting on the side of the road in uncomfortable shoes, watching all the people in their cars and no one smiling, it seemed all more depressing than I could stand.  

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Nicole

March 2013

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