nothing shines in the ordinary.
Surreality. To think that I actually go here. I’m really not being hard on myself when I say I’m an underachiever. You’re intelligent, but not living up to your potential – that trope is the story of my life. But at the same time, not entirely true, either. If I was engaged you better watch fucking out. Although I really didn’t have a clue. I was too fucking busy enjoying it.
Tenth grade, my first English composition class, right? I loved that class. First of all, the girl I was in love with sat in front of me. Spent a lot of time passing notes back and forth. And then Mrs. Courtney. I found her to be very fucking funny. And she taught me how to read literature. Fucking loved that class. So, whatever. My father and I show up for my parent/teacher conference, take our seats, and I brace myself. But this time it’s totally different. She tells him I’d broken every curve, went on and on about how intelligent I am. He’s looking at me as if to say, “what?” The whole thing was fucking news to me. Tell you what, though. I showed the fuck up after that.
Arts High after that. Next level beautiful. Four arts departments and, goddamn, those kids were fucking smart. College recruiters were always there, throwing out money everywhere. Could have been a chance for a kid like me. Working class, single parent and that. But I blew it. Or rather, my head did. In an alternate reality I graduated, started Berkeley right away. Not here, though.
In THIS reality I dropped out, not even the cap of my underachievement.
All the signs say I’m not supposed to be here. I see that in the faces of my classmates. Thing is, I have every right to be here even though I never did earn my diploma. You can get into Community College without one. Did you know that? Seems to even out the playing field some.
As far as I see it, though. There seems to be two ways to go, once you land here. Two ways to use it. The level of the education we receive here. The first is to conform, use it to go after what, I think, most go after. $30,000 summer internships at Google, that sort of thing. The second is to subvert. Taking a public policy class then applying it to a needle exchange or some shit. Or writing a paper on gender play in Shakespeare.
And I get it, man. $30,000 is a lot of money to walk away from. But it’s not everything. Pretty easy to say, though, from this distance. Peers don’t always get it, but the professors do. One in media studies asked if she could use my paper on Benson’s queer subtext in Law and Order: SVU as an example for other students to follow. And Judith Butler let me write this whacked out, meta, frame tale paper on Kafka for my final. She didn’t really get it, but she still gave me an “A,” so. Needless to say, I was smoking a lot of weed that semester. Clearly. I have a fucking right to be here.
I just don’t see the point of being here if I’m not gonna do something different. Nothing shines in the ordinary. Know what I mean?