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Friday, May 14, 2004

Almost a year ago...

I was getting a pedicure.

See, I'd spent the eight semesters of my collegiate life in sneakers, bopping back and forth from class to class in utter comfort, but sneakers wouldn't go with the dress I was planning on wearing underneath my robe. So I had purchased a pair of nice dressy heeled sandals on the Tuesday before my graduation, forgetting that my toenails were an absolute mess.

So at 10:30 that sunny Friday morning, I walked to one of the eight nail salons in my neighborhood and got my toenails painted. Then I got my hair cut.

And then I walked across the stage of the Shrine Auditorium and shook a bunch of hands, my name blaring over the speakers, my feet aching in my new shoes, a dazed smile on my face.

I've been out of school a year now, and I joked the other day about how I'd done nothing with my life since. That's not entirely true. I've learned how to work, how to live, how to be a grownup. How to take care of myself. How to be alone. How to be with others. How to combine passion with persistence, how to make the work work. How to follow through. How to befriend.

It's not easy. I fuck up all the time, and I make mistakes, and I fall down on all my jobs. I spend too much time being unproductive and not enough time doing the other thing.

But I chalk it up under learning how to live. And that's something.

We came to work early today, my office and I, putting together a little potluck breakfast and hiding in our bunker. The campus is chaos, see, filled with happy families full of pride -- all the fractured branches of the family trees, coming together to celebrate four expensive years of hard work.

My graduation day was a good one, a happy one; I've rarely felt so special and loved. And I was so relieved to be done with it all -- to turn my attention to the writing I wanted to do, and the jobs that would support it. After a year out of school, a year without midterms and deadlines and all-nighters, I'm more convinced than ever that formal education is something that should end at some point. The protective barrier of student status -- the cheap movie prices, cheap housing, shifts at part-time jobs that never last more than an afternoon -- is a great thing. But I like the regularity of my life now, December and April no longer climaxes of stress and study, weekends no longer haunted by the feeling that there was so much left for me to do. I feel like I belong to the world, like I belong to myself. Being a student meant dependence on so many factors. Now, I just depend on myself, and I get through it.

Every day, now, I read and write and learn.

More so, perhaps, than I did in college.

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