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What I Learned This Week – 9/25/16

I know 9/25 was yesterday, but the rules I set forth for my blog say that a “What I Learned” can be posted on Sunday OR Monday, but must always contain Sunday’s date to reflect the previous week.

What? Your website doesn’t have rules?

This week I learned that dreams come true.

I have told parts of this story before, but here is the definitive version.

When I was in middle school I found a kindred writing soul, my asbestos friend. (I have mentioned her on here before.) We both would write stories about what we were interested in at the time—cute boys at school, the New Kids on the Block, etc. Some of these were only a few pages long, and many were rated-R. Sometimes we would let the boys at school read them. That was fun, because they didn’t seem to realize that girls could have minds as dirty as boys—and that we could put it into cohesive sentences to share.

SIDENOTE: Ten years later I was working at a national drugstore chain. I waited on one of those boys. I asked him if we had gone to the same school, knowing full well we had. He asked my name, then left, still looking puzzled as if he didn’t remember me.

He asked his mom if she remembered going to school with a Jennifer Friess. His mom went to a trunk she kept of his school mementos. He was a bad boy then, so there probably weren’t many academic or attendance awards in there. His mom pulled out some of the stories my friend and I had written back in the day. I may even remember him telling us about getting in trouble when his mom found them back then. But, well, SHE must have liked them because she had kept them.

He came back into the drugstore about a week later and told me that. I still am proud of that. His mom must be our first fan.

In high school, my asbestos friend and I would sometimes ditch lunch to go to the computer lab and type stories. Not for homework, but just to get the ideas out of our heads. That was like 1992. I never thought I would ever be privileged enough to have a computer in my own house—such a luxury item.

On Saturday, we sat behind the same table and sold our books. Mine self-published (on my own laptop—my how times change), hers by a small publisher. If I had told that short girl in high school wearing the XL T-shirts (ME) that that would one day happen, she wouldn’t have believed me. And she would have probably gone right then and slit her wrists at the thought of all the work to get to that point. So, maybe it is good I can’t talk to her.

Two dreamers.

Two writers. Two authors. Two dreamers.

We may not have big fame and fortune, but who says that won’t be ten, five, or maybe even a year from now?

I don’t believe it will ever happen. But, I believed that once before about having book. Now I have three. This journey I am currently on continues to surprise me.

Today, it actually scored me a free T-shirt from the local Co-op! Research pays off 😀

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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Repost: College Sucked

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On Thursday I will be posting another excerpt from my new book, “The Wind Could Blow a Bug”.

The book begins with the lead character, Jane Riley, as a senior in high school. She gets her first boyfriend, then graduates. That is when things begin to fall apart in her life. She heads off to college seeing no hope in her life, and suffering from depression. The excerpt on Thursday will come from that section of the book. I wrote it heavily from my own influences. To get you prepped, here is a post I wrote over 2 years ago about how much College Sucked. Enjoy.

And come back on Thursday for a BOOK GIVEAWAY as well!

This was originally posted on 2/26/13. You can follow this link to the original post and comments here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2013/02/26/college-sucked/

I always measure my experiences in life to how they would be portrayed on a sitcom. As you might expect, my own experiences often play out much differently than in TV Land. College would be one of these.

College sucked. On TV, everyone is always a joiner who participates in every student activity. They make friends they will have for the rest of their lives. They go to parties. They learn to be deep thinkers. They find their soul mate.

Me? Not so much. I was a commuter with no car for 3 out of my 4 years of college. While waiting for my ride home every day, I had to kill hours in the library. There are only two friends that I made in college that I still keep in touch with. I never went to a single party. I am not a natural-born joiner. I joined some sort of academic fraternity that never had any activities just so that I could get a sweatshirt with Greek letters on it. Then I felt self-conscious in it and never wore it. I submitted some of the depressing poetry I wrote while killing time in the library anonymously to the college literary magazine. They published a couple.

My two closest friends were at two other colleges in two different states. It made for a very lonely time in my life. My best friend came back home after her freshmen year (she HAD found the parties), which was better. But she was attending the university across town, so we never saw each other except at night.

I also had an undiagnosed, then diagnosed, stomach problem during this time as well. So I felt miserable physically as well as mentally!

It was overall the loneliest year of my life. I don’t really think I look forward to coming back in the fall. -JLF 4/27/95

My other friend, my asbestos friend, had an even worse college experience than me. I told her this week how I was going through my old college free-writes to get a true sense of the misery to work on my new story (and this blog post). Her reply?

“I don’t think I could relive that time. I’ve blocked much of it out & I think that’s for the best.”

She has told me a few of her great miserable stories, including being sick with mono and all alone, and donating so much blood for money that she passed out in the parking lot at the donation place. (Those are two separate occasions. I think.) But my favorite story is the one where she takes her life back into her own hands. It’s the story where during her last semester she realizes college is making her miserable and she is an adult. She has her own job and her own place to live. She just leaves the campus and never turns back. She is my hero:)

I did not leave. I stayed, hoping to get my MRS. degree. I only went to college because my mom told me I had to either do that or get a job. I had gone to school for K-12 years. I had never had a job. I picked the option I was familiar with. I should have got a job. Now I have a Bachelor’s Degree and I am applying to entry-level store jobs at Meijer, Cash Advance, and Family Video. And they are not hiring me.

Compilation of 2 No Doubt drawings I made while in college

Compilation of 2 No Doubt drawings I made while in college

I had my first boyfriend for a month my freshmen year. After it ended, from my old writings, I seemed to be lonelier than before.

When I was in high school, I had a few hours after school everyday before my mom got home from work that was my time to myself. In college, I had no privacy. My mom was my ride. If she was home I was home and she drove me nuts. (This is probably the only way my college experience was worse than my asbestos friend’s.) My bedroom didn’t even have a door. I would stay up late to do homework, and find myself watching Beavis & Butthead marathons on MTV instead. I always said that I could feel my brain cells rotting away as I watched that show. I think it helped numb my depression. Then my mom, who always slept on the couch in the living room where the only TV was, would wake up. (Yes, I went to college in the Dark Ages. My college had text-only Internet my freshmen year!) She would ask me,”Are you watching Beaver & Buttface?” I mostly watched it for the music videos, which sucks, because any version released on DVD has only limited music videos. How much did I watch them? Here are a poem and some fan artwork from that time:

Lovin’ the Boys
By: JLF
3/7/95

If I make a video
Can I get on that show?
First I would have to make
A really cool video
You know,
One with lots of guitars,
And riffs, and drums.
I would stumble around
In a really short dress
And scream all the words
Really, really loud.
I would put in some shots
Of farm animals and livestock,
And throw in a toilet
(To give them something to talk about).
Then I would send it to New York,
To that video channel,
And wait every day & every night
For them to put my video on that show.
They could sit there on their couch
In their dirty T-shirts & stinky shorts
And watch my video.
That dark-haired guy and his dumb-blond friend
Could belch and fart
And yell “Fire! Fire!”
Then they would deem my video
As “Cool” or “Sucks”,
By how short my dress was,
How loud I yelled,
And the fact my video had only one
Toilet in it.
But I would be happy
Because I got to see my video,
With one of those yellow, pointy
signs with their names in it
In the corner of the screen.

And that would make it worthwhile. . .

Illustration I made based on a video that Beavis & Butthead mocked.  (My son likes this pic a lot.  Maybe I should be concerned about that.)

Illustration I made based on a video that Beavis & Butthead mocked. (My son likes this pic a lot. Maybe I should be concerned about that.)

I ended up getting an on-campus job, so I started interacting with my classmates a little more. It also got me out of the library. I got paid (!) to wait for my ride. That helped a little.

Then I got a better boyfriend. I couldn’t find him at college, because he was still in high school. (I should have flunked!) Those who know me know he is now my husband.

Then I got an off-campus job too, in addition to those other things. My best friend worked at the convenience store too, and helped me get the job. People who know me know it was one of my favorite jobs. I liked it so well that I saved up my earnings over the summer so that I could buy a car so that in the fall I could keep the job while I finished college. (Most people get a job to get a car. I got a car to keep a job.)

I should become a writer like Erma Bombeck & just write about “stuff”. -JLF (found in an old college notebook)

So, ya, college sucked for me. I can enthusiastically say that not everyone enjoys themselves at college. Accept this post and the accompanying writings below as evidence. Probably the worst time of my life. When my son gets old enough, I don’t know how I will ever be able to keep from talking negatively about it. I kind of feel about it the way I do about the Lord of the Rings films. I want my time and money back. I want my four years and my $18,000 back (I got a lot of scholarships).

Untitled
By: JLF
4/8/95

There’s a party tonight
General Admission – $2
There’s a party tonight
Everyone Welcome
Are you going to the party tonight?
I don’t think they mean me
Are you going to the party tonight?
Everyone would be happier if I didn’t
Everyone’s going
But I am not
Everyone’s going
I’ll stay home and listen
to my own silence.
Sometimes a person
has to look through the thick, black
copier ink lettering
And realize that circumstances
and situations and history
are the things that really predict
who will attend the ball
and who will stay home.

The Driving Rain
By: JLF

It is 9:06PM. It’s raining. I have a half a tank of gas. Will this be the night. Will this be the night I keep going and don’t look back?

I could change my life right now. It would be just as easy as changing channels on the television. I can see all my different options spread out in front of me, and the television channels just keep going. There is the music video channel, blaring sounds and images. There is Channel 25. All Hitler, All the time. The third reicht of the Chicago area. Heil! Channel 25. Then the weather channel. Do I want rain or do I want sunshine? Which road will lead me to what type of weather?

Oh. I’m on the road back home. But I still don’t have to go there. This road is so boring, so familiar. A person could die on a road like this and the drivers who travel it every day would probably not notice the body for months. Was the light I just went through green or read, not that it would really mater. The slick road is completely vacant of other cars. The only tire marks I can see on the wet pavement are in my rear view mirror. I could slip out of town now, right out of the city limits. No one would see me, no one would be the wiser.

God, to just keep driving. To have no pre-planned destination, no over-analyzed goals—it all sounds like a dream. For the first time since I walked into Kindergarten on Experience Day and was assigned a seat and pencils and crayons, I would be in charge for myself. New mothers complain about not having handbooks to care for their new children. It is too bad they don’t make handbooks for the children, to help figure out what is right for themselves. I feel like I have never done anything I truly wanted to in my entire life.

One more road until home. Is this it? Well, a few times I have done what I wanted. There was the time I went to the carnival by myself, and I kept playing games until I won a stuffed animal. But I felt as though everyone was staring at me because I was by myself. (I am always by myself. I am at this very moment.) I got a stuffed animal that day. But it wasn’t from the guy I flirted with or the games I tried the hardest at. I got my little stuffed bear from a crooked game and, even though I know that, I still think of him as a lucky charm.

Should someone as naïve as I be roaming around the nation’s highways? Probably not.

Ahh—I just passed the drive to my house. But it wasn’t a brave, meaningful decision of symbolism as I had hoped. I simply got too caught up in my petty thoughts. But there is always a last refuge of a coward. I click on my turn signal for the next road, like reflex. I will turn around and make my way back to the same house and my same room.

Tonight—tonight I just couldn’t do it. Rain can be romantic, but it is also scary. A half a tank of gas, well, maybe I’ll try it when there is a full tank. Maybe I’ll try it when I have more courage, or more caffeine coursing through my veins. Maybe I just need something more to run away from than familiarity.

So, I pull in the same driveway, unlock the same door with the same key, and walk through the living rom. I flick on the TV without even turning on a lamp, enjoying the flashes of blue that light up the room instead. I turn on the Weather Channel and see what it will be like tomorrow.

I hate life.
By: JLF
8/96
I hate life. I hate life. Life sucks so bad. My life is just one f***ing blackhole, which I don’t know what that is because I am too lazy & distracted to bother to read my astronomy book to bother to find out what a f***ing blackhole is! And why do I have to come back to f***ing school, which I f***ing hate! I have only had panic attacks while I had to go to school since I was in, like Kindergarten. I HATE SCHOOL! It makes me feel all yucky inside. It makes me feel dark & gloomy inside. It makes me feel like I do when I think about death–> DEATH, how stiffling & cold & lonely & empty it will be. That is what every second at school feels like to me…

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

Mr. Clark

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In high school, I had a couple teachers who were my favorites. That did not necessarily mean that I learned the most from them, but that I liked their personalities and got along with them the best.

Mr. Clark, just as I remember him.

Mr. Clark, just as I remember him.

One of these was Mr. Clark. Mr. Clark, um, well…he was fuzzy, kinda like a panda bear. He was very dark-complected. I never found out why. I wonder if he was Greek? He had dark hair and mustache. Mr. Clark taught English. He had a kindly smile, which he often gave me after he had read some of my wacky writing. Imagine stuff similar to what I write on this very blog, except unpolished, undeveloped, and written by a suicidal, horny teenager.

Oy.

I think the first time I had Mr. Clark for a class was my junior year. It was this horrible experimental class called “Issues”. It was a 2 hour class, a combination of History and English. I would say the class overall was a failure, because I still don’t know what those two subjects were supposed to have in common. I was a student who really loved English and found History super boring. I did learn entirely too much about concentration camps in Germany during World War II in that class.

ISSUES GROUP 12/92

I didn’t want to take Issues and was sure I would hate it. Me and everyone else has come to find the two-hour class very boring. The only thing that keeps me sane is my group. A, E, Y, and the extremely sexy chauvinist H.B. (And of course me.) If one person has candy, we share it with the rest of the group. When T.F. talks, me and E repeat every time she says “like” (which is, like, a 1,000 times in one conversation). We are the only group in class that doesn’t have an assigned table. The wrestlers put all the tables back after practice, but they never put them in the same place twice. When we sit in the back of the room we can’t hear anything, so we just make up our own conversation. When we sit in the front of the room, we watch the fish in the aquarium and fall asleep.

I can remember one day sitting in Issues class. I think we may have been watching a video. I was sitting on one of the tables, wearing a dog tag. Mr. Clark sat down next to me on the table and asked me about it. I told him that it had been my dad’s, and that he drove an ambulance in Germany in WWII. I explained how he was much older than my mom when they got married, how he died, etc. Mr. Clark seemed impressed by it all. It was much more interesting to tell my family history to someone than anything we were supposed to learn that day in class. And how often does a teacher come up and take the time to ask you about your jewelry? That, like, never happens. That is probably why I remember it to this day.

Sometime that year, some seniors started up a school newspaper. It wasn’t your usual school newspaper. Sure, it had stories about school events. But, they also welcomed creative writing such as stories and poems as well. Me, whose only after-school activity consisted of French Club meetings once a month, got suckered into the newspaper. Which is really weird, because I wasn’t one to go off and join activities, especially ones that my friends were not involved in. I wrote a few stories. I went to meetings. I started going to the assembly of the paper which happened on a non-monthly basis at the local town newspaper office. Mr. Clark was the adviser.

I had no car and no friends to provide a ride. It would have been probably a half hour walk to get to the town newspaper office by foot. It also would have been mighty cold in the winter. So Mr. Clark would let me hitch a ride with him in his minivan. It smelled like tobacco in there because he smoked a pipe. It was messy, with bits of his pipe tobacco spilled on the floor. But it was a ride. And he was a nice guy. And at some crazy point I guess you could say he sort of became my unofficial writing mentor.

When it was time for the seniors to graduate, they picked new people from the existing staff to be editors for the next year. They picked me, and a soon-to-be junior. I am convinced they only picked me because I was the most involved soon-to-be senior. I am not your typical leader type. I am uber-organized though. So for the whole next year, I would have to hear my name on the morning announcements, nagging people to turn in their stories for the newspaper’s arbitrary deadlines.

When I needed to pick out classes for my senior year, I was kind of lost as to what classes to take. Mr. Clark was teaching a new class called Writer’s Workshop, where some of the class was set aside to work on WHATEVER WRITING YOU WANTED! That was unheard of at my high school at the time. Mr. Clark told me if I took that class, he would allow me to work on newspaper stuff during class time. He also convinced me to take Advanced Placement English, although I had no intention of taking the AP exam.

Now, as much as I had grown to love Mr. Clark, and I believe I may have had him wrapped around my little finger to some extent, he wasn’t the most energetic teacher. In the more standard classes I had with him, his droning voice would sometimes lull me to sleep. This happened often in AP English. I had Mythology first thing in the morning my junior year. I had not even woken up yet!

Writer’s Workshop was a whole nother story. It was right after lunch. It somehow ended up as a class full of freshmen and seniors. That class taught me that if you have a whole class of usually hardworking students lumped together, they will ALL become class clowns!

MR CLARK-blue blow pops

Both my best friends were in that class. I would take turns hanging out with them. My best friend and I would eat Raspberry Blow-Pops until our tongues and teeth turned blue. My asbestos friend and I would flirt with the cute guys. Amazingly, I did get some minor amount of work done in that class. I worked on the newspaper stuff, wrote poems, and finished a short story that contains such achingly personal passages that I have trouble reading it to this day, but I still hope to publish it.  Mr. Clark’s classroom was one of the first in the school to not only have its own computer (At that time, computer were all corralled into “computer labs”, for the safety of all.) AND PRINTER.  So, if I typed up something personal and wanted to print it, that was the place.

What I enjoy most about going back and reading from that time are not the poems (and definitely not the newspaper), but the freewrites we did for the first 10-15 minutes of every class. And, well, that is sort of the impetuous for this entire blog. Other blogs are only about one topic: food or homeschooling or pop culture, etc. My blog is about all the things I need to flush out of my head. Where I used to write them in a way to amuse myself or Mr. Clark, now I write them to amuse you, dear reader (and myself).

Every now and then in my life, I come across a nice furry guy with a mustache that I can joke with. They often have a similar look of sweet exasperation when I bust out my weird personality. And they always make me think of Mr. Clark.

I miss him a lot. And I never, ever thought I would say that about any teacher.

Job Applications: To Be Me or Not To Be Me?

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JOB-flowers

I applied to work at a local flower shop last week. The last page of the job application was what I refer to as “essay questions”.

They were actually appropriate for the position I was applying for, but I just automatically think up creative answers. And it took me a few minutes to come up with answers to them, so I am glad that they were written and not part of the interview!

Here are a few below and how I answered them. Would you hire me?

This is a fast paced job, dealing with lots of different emotions. What can you do to provide the customer with top quality service?

WHAT I ACTUALLY PUT: Sometimes I worry that my customer service might not be good enough. Then I realize that is that will set me apart from those giving me minimal service at big chain stores. I care about the experience I will provide to someone else. At [Local Convenience Store], I provided excellent customer service every day. When I gave my notice, they begged me to stay and become an Assistant Manager.

MY EXPLANATION TO DEAR READERS: I was trying to turn a negative into a positive. And I have been trying to brag about when I left my job and they begged me to stay for years, but I can never work it into an interview. I wouldn’t mention it, but they actually tried to get me back twice–once when I gave my notice, and once while I was at the laundromat a few months later. (Hmmm. Maybe I should cut to the chase and just apply there again! I would like to think my skills have advanced a little since then, though:(

What is one thing you look forward to doing if hired?

REAL ANSWER: Buying groceries, getting a haircut, buying new underwear.

WHAT I ACTUALLY PUT: I look forward to participating as a part of a team to provide the best products and service to the customer.

I have been trying to “be myself” lately during interviews and filling out applications.  Or maybe it is that I can’t help BUT to be myself.  But, alas, as I still do not have a job, maybe employers just don’t GET the real me.

Ugh!  It is like high school all over again.

College Sucked

I always measure my experiences in life to how they would be portrayed on a sitcom. As you might expect, my own experiences often play out much differently than in TV Land. College would be one of these.

College sucked. On TV, everyone is always a joiner who participates in every student activity. They make friends they will have for the rest of their lives. They go to parties. They learn to be deep thinkers. They find their soul mate.

Me? Not so much. I was a commuter with no car for 3 out of my 4 years of college. While waiting for my ride home every day, I had to kill hours in the library. There are only two friends that I made in college that I still keep in touch with.  I never went to a single party.  I am not a natural-born joiner. I joined some sort of academic fraternity that never had any activities just so that I could get a sweatshirt with Greek letters on it. Then I felt self-conscious in it and never wore it.  I submitted some of the depressing poetry I wrote while killing time in the library anonymously to the college literary magazine. They published a couple.

My two closest friends were at two other colleges in two different states. It made for a very lonely time in my life. My best friend came back home after her freshmen year (she HAD found the parties), which was better. But she was attending the university across town, so we never saw each other except at night.

I also had an undiagnosed, then diagnosed, stomach problem during this time as well.  So I felt miserable physically as well as mentally!

It was overall the loneliest year of my life.  I don’t really think I look forward to coming back in the fall.  -JLF 4/27/95

My other friend, my asbestos friend, had an even worse college experience than me. I told her this week how I was going through my old college free-writes to get a true sense of the misery to work on my new story (and this blog post). Her reply?

“I don’t think I could relive that time. I’ve blocked much of it out & I think that’s for the best.”

She has told me a few of her great miserable stories, including being sick with mono and all alone, and donating so much blood for money that she passed out in the parking lot at the donation place. (Those are two separate occasions. I think.) But my favorite story is the one where she takes her life back into her own hands. It’s the story where during her last semester she realizes college is making her miserable and she is an adult. She has her own job and her own place to live. She just leaves the campus and never turns back. She is my hero:)

I did not leave. I stayed, hoping to get my MRS. degree. I only went to college because my mom told me I had to either do that or get a job. I had gone to school for K-12 years. I had never had a job. I picked the option I was familiar with. I should have got a job. Now I have a Bachelor’s Degree and I am applying to entry-level store jobs at Meijer, Cash Advance, and Family Video. And they are not hiring me.

Compilation of 2 No Doubt drawings I made while in college

Compilation of 2 No Doubt drawings I made while in college

I had my first boyfriend for a month my freshmen year. After it ended, from my old writings, I seemed to be lonelier than before.

When I was in high school, I had a few hours after school everyday before my mom got home from work that was my time to myself. In college, I had no privacy. My mom was my ride. If she was home I was home and she drove me nuts. (This is probably the only way my college experience was worse than my asbestos friend’s.) My bedroom didn’t even have a door. I would stay up late to do homework, and find myself watching Beavis & Butthead marathons on MTV instead. I always said that I could feel my brain cells rotting away as I watched that show. I think it helped numb my depression. Then my mom, who always slept on the couch in the living room where the only TV was, would wake up. (Yes, I went to college in the Dark Ages. My college had text-only Internet my freshmen year!) She would ask me,”Are you watching Beaver & Buttface?” I mostly watched it for the music videos, which sucks, because any version released on DVD has only limited music videos. How much did I watch them? Here are a poem and some fan artwork from that time:

Lovin’ the Boys
By: JLF
3/7/95

If I make a video
Can I get on that show?
First I would have to make
A really cool video
You know,
One with lots of guitars,
And riffs, and drums.
I would stumble around
In a really short dress
And scream all the words
Really, really loud.
I would put in some shots
Of farm animals and livestock,
And throw in a toilet
(To give them something to talk about).
Then I would send it to New York,
To that video channel,
And wait every day & every night
For them to put my video on that show.
They could sit there on their couch
In their dirty T-shirts & stinky shorts
And watch my video.
That dark-haired guy and his dumb-blond friend
Could belch and fart
And yell “Fire! Fire!”
Then they would deem my video
As “Cool” or “Sucks”,
By how short my dress was,
How loud I yelled,
And the fact my video had only one
Toilet in it.
But I would be happy
Because I got to see my video,
With one of those yellow, pointy
signs with their names in it
In the corner of the screen.

And that would make it worthwhile. . .

Illustration I made based on a video that Beavis & Butthead mocked.  (My son likes this pic a lot.  Maybe I should be concerned about that.)

Illustration I made based on a video that Beavis & Butthead mocked. (My son likes this pic a lot. Maybe I should be concerned about that.)

I ended up getting an on-campus job, so I started interacting with my classmates a little more. It also got me out of the library. I got paid (!) to wait for my ride. That helped a little.

Then I got a better boyfriend. I couldn’t find him at college, because he was still in high school. (I should have flunked!) Those who know me know he is now my husband.

Then I got an off-campus job too, in addition to those other things. My best friend worked at the convenience store too, and helped me get the job. People who know me know it was one of my favorite jobs. I liked it so well that I saved up my earnings over the summer so that I could buy a car so that in the fall I could keep the job while I finished college. (Most people get a job to get a car. I got a car to keep a job.)

I should become a writer like Erma Bombeck & just write about “stuff”. -JLF (found in an old college notebook)

So, ya, college sucked for me.  I can enthusiastically say that not everyone enjoys themselves at college.  Accept this post and the accompanying writings below as evidence.  Probably the worst time of my life. When my son gets old enough, I don’t know how I will ever be able to keep from talking negatively about it. I kind of feel about it the way I do about the Lord of the Rings films. I want my time and money back. I want my four years and my $18,000 back (I got a lot of scholarships).

Untitled
By: JLF
4/8/95

There’s a party tonight
General Admission – $2
There’s a party tonight
Everyone Welcome
Are you going to the party tonight?
I don’t think they mean me
Are you going to the party tonight?
Everyone would be happier if I didn’t
Everyone’s going
But I am not
Everyone’s going
I’ll stay home and listen
to my own silence.
Sometimes a person
has to look through the thick, black
copier ink lettering
And realize that circumstances
and situations and history
are the things that really predict
who will attend the ball
and who will stay home.

The Driving Rain
By: JLF

It is 9:06PM.  It’s raining.  I have a half a tank of gas.  Will this be the night.  Will this be the night I keep going and don’t look back?

I could change my life right now.  It would be just as easy as changing channels on the television.  I can see all my different options spread out in front of me, and the television channels just keep going.  There is the music video channel, blaring sounds and images.  There is Channel 25.  All Hitler, All the time.  The third reicht of the Chicago area.  Heil!  Channel 25.  Then the weather channel.  Do I want rain or do I want sunshine?  Which road will lead me to what type of weather?

Oh.  I’m on the road back home.  But I still don’t have to go there.  This road is so boring, so familiar.  A person could die on a road like this and the drivers who travel it every day would probably not notice the body for months.  Was the light I just went through green or read, not that it would really mater.  The slick road is completely vacant of other cars.  The only tire marks I can see on the wet pavement are in my rear view mirror.  I could slip out of town now, right out of the city limits.  No one would see me, no one would be the wiser.

God, to just keep driving.  To have no pre-planned destination, no over-analyzed goals—it all sounds like a dream.  For the first time since I walked into Kindergarten on Experience Day and was assigned a seat and pencils and crayons, I would be in charge for myself.  New mothers complain about not having handbooks to care for their new children.  It is too bad they don’t make handbooks for the children, to help figure out what is right for themselves.  I feel like I have never done anything I truly wanted to in my entire life.

One more road until home.  Is this it?  Well, a few times I have done what I wanted.  There was the time I went to the carnival by myself, and I kept playing games until I won a stuffed animal.  But I felt as though everyone was staring at me because I was by myself.  (I am always by myself.  I am at this very moment.)  I got a stuffed animal that day.  But it wasn’t from the guy I flirted with or the games I tried the hardest at.  I got my little stuffed bear from a crooked game and, even though I know that, I still think of him as a lucky charm.

Should someone as naïve as I be roaming around the nation’s highways?  Probably not.

Ahh—I just passed the drive to my house.  But it wasn’t a brave, meaningful decision of symbolism as I had hoped.  I simply got too caught up in my petty thoughts.  But there is always a last refuge of a coward.  I click on my turn signal for the next road, like reflex. I will turn around and make my way back to the same house and my same room.

Tonight—tonight I just couldn’t do it.  Rain can be romantic, but it is also scary.  A half a tank of gas, well, maybe I’ll try it when there is a full tank.  Maybe I’ll try it when I have more courage, or more caffeine coursing through my veins.  Maybe I just need something more to run away from than familiarity.

So, I pull in the same driveway, unlock the same door with the same key, and walk through the living rom.  I flick on the TV without even turning on a lamp, enjoying the flashes of blue that light up the room instead.  I turn on the Weather Channel and see what it will be like tomorrow.

I hate life.
By: JLF
8/96
I hate life. I hate life. Life sucks so bad. My life is just one f***ing blackhole, which I don’t know what that is because I am too lazy & distracted to bother to read my astronomy book to bother to find out what a f***ing blackhole is! And why do I have to come back to f***ing school, which I f***ing hate! I have only had panic attacks while I had to go to school since I was in, like Kindergarten. I HATE SCHOOL! It makes me feel all yucky inside. It makes me feel dark & gloomy inside. It makes me feel like I do when I think about death–> DEATH, how stiffling & cold & lonely & empty it will be. That is what every second at school feels like to me…

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