I still go to a party and say something embarrassing to someone, and then write them a weird e-mail about it the next day, and then write them a text because I think they didn't get the e-mail. No matter what happens with your level of success, you still have to deal with all the baggage that is yourself.
When you're writing a script you have the option to embellish on life or switch the order of events or make it generally more cinematic. I would stick too closely to my own experience and not necessarily think about the fact that it needs to have an event happen. Realising that I could channel my own experience into a story that was slightly more cinematic was a very important moment for me - allowing myself to accept that the kind of screenwriting I'm doing is a work of fiction.
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I feel like there are fifty ways it's my fault. I fantasized. I took the big pill and the small pill, stuffed myself with substances to make being out in the world with people my own age a little easier. To lessen the space between me and everyone else. I was hungry to be seen. But I also know that at no moment did I consent to being handled that way.
A month into the semester, I would start showing up twenty minutes late to class again. The rewards weren't enough to keep me on task, and life got in the way. My mind wandered to the future, postcollege, when I'd create my own schedule that served my need to eat a rich snack every five to fifteen minutes. As for the disappointment written across the teacher's face? I couldn't, and wouldn't, care.
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I have only touched one other computer at my friend Marissa's house, and found the experience disconcerting. There was something sinister about the green letters and numbers that flashed on the screen as the computer booted up, and I hated the way Marissa stopped answering questions or noticing me the second it was turned on.
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I can feel them. The babies. They're not crawling all over me. They're not vomiting in my hair or shrieking. They're doing perfectly normal baby things, and I'm keeping them alive. But I resent them. Their constancy, their intrusion on my relationship and my free time and my naps and my imagination and my heart. They've come too soon, and I can't do any of what I had planned. All I can do is survive.
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You are mad to be spending the summer in the country, where the days are too quiet and you have so much time to think. In the city you live on Broadway, where the noise is so thick your scary thoughts can't get a word in edgewise. But here in the county, there is only space. On the stone bridge by the stream. On the mossy rock at the edge of the yard. Behind the abandoned trailer where Art, the old man with the glass eye, used to live. Space, space, space, and you can scare yourself into thinking your thoughts are more like voices.
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Remember when you discovered your father owned a book called "How To Disappear and Never Be Found?" You're sure it was just research for new and creative ways of thinking, for concepts that might apply to his work, but it raised the distinct possibility that there is something very upsetting that people you love could do instead of dying.
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If I had known how much I would miss these sensations I might have experienced them differently, recognized their shabby glamour, respected the ticking clock that defined this entire experience. I would have put aside my resentment, dropped my defenses. I might have a basic understanding of European history or economics. More abstractly, I might feel I had truly been somewhere, open and porous and hungry to learn. Because being a student was an enviable identity and one I can only reclaim by attending community college late in life for a bookmaking class or something.
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I go back to Oberlin in the dead of winter to give a "convocation speech" in Finney Chapel, the largest and most historic of campus structures. In a subconscious nod to my college experience I forget to pack both tights and underwear and have to spend the weekend going commando in a wool skirt and knee socks. I am toured around the school like a stranger by a girl who didn't even go here. We stop at a glossy new cafe for tea and scones. She asks if I want a tour of the dormitories- no, I just want to wander around alone and maybe cry.
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And then, on the final day, it was time for the faux Underground Railroad. This is the part that no one believes. "No adult would ever do that, " they say. "You can't be remembering that right." I am, in fact, remembering it perfectly. The counselors "shackled" us together with jump ropes so we were "like slave families" and then released us into the woods. We were given a map with a route to "freedom" in "the North", which must have been only three or four hundred feet but felt like much more. Then a counselor on horseback followed ten minutes later, acting as a bounty hunter. Hearing hooves, I crouched being a rock with Jason Baujelais and Sari Brooker, begging them to be quiet so we weren't caught and "whipped." I was too young, self-involved, and dissociated to wonder what kind of impact this had on my black classmates. All I knew was that I was miserable. We heard the sound of hooves growing closer and Max Kitnick's light asthma wheezes from beind an oak tree. "Shut up, " Jason hissed, and I knew we were cooked. When the counselor appeared, Sari started to cry.
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I've always had a talent for recognizing when I am in a moment worth being nostalgic for. When I was little, my mother would come home from a party, her hair cool from the wind, her perfume almost gone, and her lips a faded red, and she would coo at me "You're still awake! Hiiii." And I'd think how beautiful she was and how I always wanted to remember her stepping out of the elevator in her pea-green wool coat, thirty-nine years old, just like that.
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The way I saw it, I was fully capable of being treated with indifference that bordered on disdain while maintaining a strong sense of self-respect. I obeyed his commands, sure that I could fulfill this role while still protecting the sacred place inside of me that I knew deserved more. Different. Better. But that isn't how it works.
I understand that you come from a generation of women who had to work hard to be heard, but for you to impugn my feminism and act as though I'm a scourge upon women everywhere, just because I refuse to spread your particular agenda? That's dark, and it's not what you fought for. If you continue this way, you're worse than they are (they = men). We are all just trying to get by. There is room for all of us.