Grad school writing workshops: The land of talking about our feelings, pretentious pseudo- intellectuals, mediocre writer bros, silent geniuses and, most of all, weird AF fantasy writers.
You know the type. Even if you didn’t go to grad school. Because every single person’s hometown had at least one of these people. I like to say: there’s cool weird, and then there’s Pokemon weird. (Don’t worry, I’ve gotten my karmic retribution for this, as two of my girlfriends have been freakishly obsessed with Harry Potter. Harry Potter and Pokemon are the same, right?) Anyway. Pokemon weird people usually wear tails and other odd stuff and are freakishly smart and will probably be way more successful and happy in life than you or I, thanks to their extensive knowledge and overall I-don’t-care-what-you-think-of-me attitude. They literally don’t care — or else they wouldn’t wear tails.
I’m a lot more similar to the Pokemon weird lezzies than I’d like to admit. I, too, dress like a crazy person — only my version of a tail is a collar and mega-heeled western booties no matter what season it is, topped off with a way more than socially acceptable amount of cleavage. Add in the whole gay-and-wears-a-bionic-prosthetic thing, and I’m basically a walking freak show. A chic one, at least, I’d like to think.
So I guess it’s not really a surprise that the most Pokemon weird person I’ve ever met, became obsessed with me.
Sasha* wore some variation of a graphic tee from Hot Topic and ill fitting jeans every class. She’d often stumble into the room, lost in whatever podcast she was listening to. She seemed in her own world at all times, until she’d bump into another student or chair, then she’d exit her world and become frantic and socially awkward. She exclusively wrote about dragons and unicorns, much to my hard-ass professor‘s disappointment.
In my mean girl opinion (I never said I was perfect!) Sasha’s stories were more torturous to give feedback on than the mediocre dudes’ stories about their ex-girlfriends. As if it wasn’t bad enough that I had to endure paragraph after paragraph badly describing a woman‘s full, lush, swollen bosom, I then had to get through ten pages about wizards and magic.
Sure, I was annoying AF to be in a writing workshop with too, with my incessant navel gazing and over-sharing about my sex life, and general obsession with my ex-girlfriend, but hey, at least I can tell an entertaining story and self deprecate. The class may very well have hated me and my writing, but I damn well know I at least held their attention.
I could feel Sasha trying to make eye contact with me whenever I read.
I know what it’s like to be the cool one in the group of not-so-cool people. I was the popular girl at disability camp. I was practically the Paris Hilton of my Weight Watchers meeting. I had the most friends in all my poetry classes.
But in “normal” spaces, I was an outcast. The dyke in high school. The ratchet girl in college. And try as I might, I’ll always be the least trendy out of all the Brooklynites. So I get why I attract “different” people. Not only do I look different, I know how it feels. Sasha must’ve intrinsically sensed this.
“Vivica and Eliza are magical wizards….”she’d begin reading when it was her turn. YAWNNN. But then, “Vivica and Eliza have minimal lesbian subtext,” Hmmmm. Then, “They are straight up f*cking.” Now I’m listening.
I scribbled my notes on the last page of her essay.
I told her, nicely, to stop using so many speech tags, to stop describing every little thing, and that her plot was unique and interesting and sexy and I couldn’t wait for next week’s installment. I signed it xo because I sign everything like that (including professional emails).
Then, I read my essay on the time some cab driver masturbated with me in the car and refused to drop me off. My professor called me vulgar. Sasha called me irreverent. I smiled at her. I mouthed “thank you.”
I went to the bathroom after class, as usual. I could see her feet outside the stall waiting for me. I wasn’t really in the mood to talk, but my fear even bigger than my social anxiety is people thinking I’m taking a shit in public when I’m really not, so I flushed, peeled my too-tight body suit back over my body, and pushed open the door. She looked like she had been practicing what she was going to say in the bathroom mirror. She took an audible deep breath.
“You really think my story has potential?” her eyes darted from the tiled floor, to the fluorescent lights, to my chest, to her feet, but never to my eyes.
“Because, you see, queer women are never really represented accurately in fantasy…” she broke into a mini-rant. I hope to the lez Goddesses that she now knows about Clexacon.
“Oh,” she caught herself, looking embarrassed. She turned to scurry out, with her anime backpack flailing off her shoulder. “Wait! I do love it!” I called after her, but she was legit sprinting down the hallway. She was a bit strange, but hey, I sprinted out of a girl’s apartment after farting, so I get the impulse to run after feeling embarrassed.
The next class she stared at me the entire time. Like, the entire time.
I took extra long gathering my things after class to avoid talking to her, but she waited for me. She asked for advice on how to publish her work. So I gave her my phone number and she literally said “I can’t believe this is happening.”
I briefly considered giving her a fake number, but that felt evil. “I’ve been talking about you to my best friend for so long. I always thought you were so beautiful but would never go out with a girl like me. And she was like, just ask her out!”
I froze in the middle of typing my real phone number. She kept chattering, “I never thought you’d say yes, ugh, this is so cool.”
I know, dear readers, that I exaggerate a lot of shit. Hyperbole is chic. But this is genuinely how this girl reacted to getting my phone number — and tricking me into getting asked out! I thought I was just mentoring her!
That night I received a text.
Hi Dayna xD
How is your night going?
I ignored. Only insane people use that emoji. That week I received 15 more texts from her.
Was it something I said?
Can I take you out this week?
Did I screw this up?
I was a little freaked out, TBH. Most nerds are harmless but I have PTSD from the time I was nice to the Pokemon weird kid in high school — then he up-skirted and stalked me and I had to get a restraining order. Good times!
I handled this the most mature way possible: I completely ignored every single text and then purposely arrived late and left early for the remainder of the semester. Luckily there was only two classes left.
She texted me Merry Christmas Eve, Merry Christmas, Happy New Years Eve, and Happy New Year. Then I blocked her number.
I can’t lie — I was slightly flattered. You can’t help but feel powerful when someone is legit obsessed with you — but then I remember that she was a member of the campus Quidditch club and I feel less flattered.
A month later she friended me on Facebook. Then Instagram. Then Linked-f*cking-In. I didn’t accept any, but saw she had been reposting my articles on Facebook. Creepy.
The joke will ultimately be on me, though, because while I max out my credit cards on eyelash extensions and rosé and write essays about my vagina on the internet, she’s probably signing a book deal for the next Lord Of The Rings.