You Always Need A Good Anthology

“You always need a good Anthology,” my English 210 professor said at the beginning of my spring 2014 semester at Eastern Kentucky University, justifying his decision for the assigned book for the course. I borrowed a friend’s copy; she had taken the class before me. Throughout the semester I read the assigned texts, took notes in class, took the tests, got an A. I gave the book back. I transferred to The University of Louisville for the Fall 2014 semester. I have two English classes, and inevitably two different anthologies to purchase, because “you always need a good anthology.”

“This is a really good book about literature,” my English 300 professor promised all nine of us who were still in the class. Just what I’ve always wanted! A really good book about literature! I wonder how many stories in it I’ve already read? It turns out, not very many. Anyway, overjoyed with the thought of spending ninety dollars on yet another book, I went to another English class, a creative writing class. This one was a bit different…

“I don’t want to assign books until we’ve had a class and I’ve met you all and learned a little about you. Every book you buy for this class I’ll want you to buy for life, not class,” my Creative Writing professor told us. A week later, he assigned us six books, one of them an anthology titled Telling Stories by Joyce Carol Oates. Creative writing students need “good models” to look at to help with learning to write. “It should be self motivation,” he said.

My creative writing professor’s words continued to echo through my thoughts. “Self motivation. For life.” The same words were even bellowing from my memory of the mouth of my English 300 professor, even though he didn’t actually say it. The book orders for the classes were put in late, so the bookstore had to buy all new copies. I spent $151.75 on my two English books, to own forever, “for life.”

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I’ve decided, whether it’s a good idea or a terrible idea, to make myself read one of them, The Norton Introduction to Literature (Shorter 11th Edition) by Kelly J. Mays, completely, word for word, page by page, story for story. It’s almost 2000 pages of literary theory jargon and stories that are supposedly widely used in literary-theory studies and college English students across the United States. I’m convinced it’s no worse than reading The Lord of the Rings, all of the appendices at the end of a Return of the King, and throwing The Hobbit in the mix as well. Besides, it was an expensive anthology.

I’m mainly doing this for my own pleasure and satisfaction. I have no idea if it will even be possible to complete before the semester is over, but I’m going to go ahead and set that goal anyway. I suppose I will let you all know how this goes…

I Visited The Stonewall Inn! (And other places!)

This is my first time in New York. I’m a gay man. It’s pride weekend. When else is it socially acceptable to visit a historic place and get drunk? Probably never, right? I’m all for it!

It was kind of small, but if you consider the history of the place, of course it is. The Stonewall Riots of 69 are widely considered to be the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement. In 1969 I’m sure it wasn’t nearly as crowded. Maybe it’s not nearly as crowded normally anyway. Again, it was also pride weekend.

(Update: after more research, I’ve discovered that it was bigger in 1969.)

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So, even though my boyfriend yelled at me when someone bumped into me and I spilled my filled-to-the-rim alcoholic beverage on his shoe that someone peed on, I had a good time at the Stonewall Inn. I don’t dance much; I never have. I bopped my head and moved my arms a bit last night, which was way more than I’ll usually ever do in a clubby-type place. Two drinks is usually my limit, so after three rum and cokes I spent the next hour mesmerized by all of the glowing rainbow headbands everyone was wearing. I got felt up more than I’ve ever been felt up before, but only because I was in the way and there was hardly any space to move around in between everyone.

I’m glad I convinced my boyfriend to go. I couldn’t believe as many times as he’s been to New York, he had never been. He showed me a great time in New York. Besides the Stonewall Inn, we went to many other awesome places.

I also went to the Empire State Building. It was a beautiful view. We caught a show, Avenue Q at New World Stages. It was one of the funniest shows I’ve seen in a while. I got a copy of the script, which I always do because I’m a theatre nerd like that. The next day we even took a stroll through Central Park. We were going to check out Time Square, but my boyfriend’s feet were turning to mush or something, and we caught an early train back to DC.

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I’m in DC for one more day, then I go back to Louisville tomorrow morning. There were a few more surprises that I didn’t share, like what happened when I decided to sit in the front row at the DC Improv to see a Bobby Slayton show the night I flew in, and who I saw float by during the pride parade in New York on Sunday, (hint, it was the Orange Is The New Black float), but I can’t really figure out how to work them into this blog post. Besides, I guess you kind of had to be there anyway.

College Is Hard

“There’s going to be so much opportunity for you in Louisville! You’re going to have so much fun and meet all kinds of people!” Oh yay! I know, right? This was what everyone was saying when I told them that I was moving to Louisville, KY and transferring to the University of Louisville. My friends were all excited for me, and I was excited for myself!

I quit my job at a very large and popular retail store (10 guesses which one) and found an apartment almost as soon as my acceptance letter came in. I’ve never quit working somewhere without finding another job first. I had savings, so I figured I had time. Moving was very expensive, but that’s okay. It’s fine. It’s all for my English degree, so it’s all worth it in the long run. So what if I don’t know what exactly I want to do with my English degree, yet? At least I’ll have a degree. RIGHT?

I found a job at another large retail store with the same company name as my previous job, and all was theoretically perfect. I could work at this store just like I did the other one and continue going to college. The only catch is that it takes an hour to get there from my apartment on the bus. There’s also no way I’d be able to go to work and then right to class, because again, it’s one hour away from my apartment, and about an hour and fifteen minutes from campus. I don’t drive. Also, I HATE IT THERE!

“There’s not any shame in quitting a job if you don’t like it.” Yes, thank you. That’s what I thought, too. I’ve already put in my two weeks notice. I’m finding something else. I’m covered for rent in July, I’ll just have to make sure I find something that will work around my class schedule, which I don’t have yet until the second week in July. Also, my time in Louisville is very limited over these next few weeks because I have to go to Washington DC to see my boyfriend. I REALLY WANT TO GO SEE HIM!

So I need a job, not right now but in July because I won’t be here because long-distance relationship, and they have to agree to work around my class schedule that I don’t have yet. And I need rent for August. And phone bill money. Oh, and food. Oh, and I don’t know when my financial aid gets disbursed. Oh and I’m going to go completely insane!

I’ve never really been on my own before. This is the first time. People ask me how it is, and I tell them it’s fine. I mean, it is fine… It’s just also scary as hell. What if I can’t find a job to replace the one I emo quit before rent is due in August? Who knows when I’ll even get my first paycheck. The scariest part is, there’s really no one who can even bale me out. Not since grandmother passed last July. I’m 27 and this is quite literally the first time I’ve been on my own, ever, with no backup options.

But… I’ll be fine. I’m sure I’ll find a job that will be relevant to my major, that will totes work around my complicated schedule, and pay me enough to pay my rent in August, continue to work around my class schedule and study time because my classes are getting harder, and work around whatever else I end up needing time off of work for, because I have to be an active student and engage in the campus community and network and, blah! After all, there’s so much opportunity here, right? So, when does all of the opportunity come to fruition? Oh, ok. I’ll wait.

I’ll even apply to jobs that I think are cool but probably not get, like the part-time receptionist position at the local news station. There’s also a temporary position at a government building downtown. There are a few entry-level positions at big insurance companies and law-firms. I’m an English major. I can read and write and file stuff! Here’s my resume! Yes, I actually created a resume for you. No, I don’t have anything worth a damn to put on it because I waited forever to go to college, but here it is anyway! Initiative! Hire me!

College is hard, and I’m really feeling it today. It’s not even the classes that are the hardest part. I hate that the company I’ve been working at for 3 years isn’t going to work out for me through college like I’d planned. I’m super appreciative that my managers worked around my classes for the last two years at my previous location, which is something that apparently a lot of companies that pay enough money to live on don’t want to do these days. I also hate the fact that I still really haven’t met anybody that seems to give a hoot about being friends with me here. Socializing takes time though, I guess, and all I’ve really had time to do since I’ve been here is work before the semester starts. I also hate that I when I see that hot guy running down the street I feel ugly and want to run back to my apartment and hide. Also, I miss soda. I bought a 2-liter today and drank it. Now I feel fat.

I was asked today, “What is my ultimate goal?” I don’t know what exactly I want to do. I’m open to a lot of things. I LOVE the theatre. I LOVE writing. ALL KINDS OF WRITING! I’m no Mary Higgins Clark, but I think I can do it pretty well. Short stories, novels, plays, news reporting, blogging, but no poems! Okay, poems too. If I can’t make it in writing, I want to teach it. Or teach English literature. Or teach theatre. Or work behind a desk somewhere. Or, or, or. There’s always an “or”. I can get interested in almost anything. This is my problem. I am always wanting to learn something new, because I get bored with things sometimes. If I had to pick an ultimate goal, for now, it would be that I want to at least be able to tell people to go for their dreams, because I did and I was successful at it. Now, If you’ll all excuse me, I have to go apply at fast food restaurants now.

Why is my mouth open like that?
Why is my mouth open like that?