Monday, June 24, 2013

The story begins when I don't find my name on the list

My Head Vs. The Wall
the story of a lost young woman who meets a guy who she thinks can save her.

Scene 1. I'm out of the the In Crowd

When:   Autumn of 1987 but could be any time

Where:  The University of Utah Linguistics Dept. but it could be at any college.

Who:     Me, seeking to be a Teaching Assistant in the linguistics department. Tuition would be paid, plus a small stipend, for assisting a professor or a department.

Conflict: I am not chosen. Then what?

Visual:  Sterile, empty hallway with linoleum tile and brick walls, closed office doors and bulletin boards by each door.

Actions: A couple of fellow students pass me going the other direction, looking excited. I go to the list and find nothing about me on it.

Feeling: A block of cement settling into my heart and stomach. Fear that I'm not good enough, then a wave of anger, then the wave subsides and I just feel bad again.

Outcome:  I don't have enough money to live on, but I'm so determined not to clean houses or do temp work, I would rather starve. I could go crawling home every week and beg groceries from mom and dad, but there's got to be a better way.

Scene 2 Beggars can't be choosers

When: The next day

Where: Ianucci's office

Who: Professor Ianucci and me and maybe a department secretary in another room off to the side, plus other professors' offices attached out in different directions.

Conflict: I want him to take pity on me but he is cool and treats me like it shouldn't be his problem.

Visual: I stand by his desk even though there's an empty chair. He looks like your typical Italian-American linguistics department head; a thin guy with a thin beard and a linen suit and white shirt.

Actions: He sits and leans back in his chair regarding me as one of the pains in his neck he must deal with all the time. I don't take it personally. Maybe a little.

Feeling: An ounce of hope is rewarded. "If you want, you might go apply at Salt Lake Community High School, but it's not linguistics. It's just ESL teaching.  (ESL=English as a Second Language)

Outcome: I go crawling away.

Scene 3: Well, this is what you can have.

When: A few days later

Where: An abandoned-looking high school building a few blocks away

Who: The guy at desk with shelves full of files behind him, Max, and a woman in a beige polyester dress.

Actions:  He grunts at her and she gets me the application.

Visual: She looks like Fish's wife on that old TV show. Florence Stanley who plays Bernice. Max looks like Gordon Jump from WKRP Cincinnati. The office is just like a shell of a high school office with no cheery posters, industrial green walls.

 Back story: President Reagan has recently started his *Amnesty program and lots of illegal aliens (use the more recent euphemism? make up my own?) are signing up for classes once they get their permission. I take one more look around and I feel like I'm at the bottom of the barrel compared to what might have been.
*=item to research

Feeling: Gray resignation.

Outcome: I need to cheer up. I think about the years I spent at Utah State and in my memories they look better than they really were.I call my old boyfriend, John, but he's not home. But...what's that I hear coming from the apartment downstairs? Why, it's a party.

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