At college age, my self image was variable – I received a great deal of praise for being “cool” and nonjudgmental, but I was bewildered when boys hit on me and very few ever did.
My closest friends were the guys who lived in the dorm room directly below me, and I’m not sure how close that really was.
What I wanted to do was get a job and get a car so I wouldn’t have to worry so much about coming up with money for the next year – my parents were absolutely opposed to me getting a car, telling me that my “first job is college.” Since the financial support they gave me wouldn’t clear groceries for a normal person, I grew increasingly angry at their unsupportive attitude. They were quite determined that my college experience was just like theirs in the 60s and it absolutely wasn’t.
What I studied was mass communications, speech communications and on my own time, the occult.
I found a new interest in the occult. I was quite adept at shifting my perspective to another culture’s way of thinking and shifting back to my own at will – certainly my own point of view is much more comfortable, but switching views was informative.
College felt to me like a safety net in the end. I liked college, and I could thrive and succeed in a university environment in ways I still haven’t in the “real world.”
My relationship to alcohol, drugs and food varied – certainly there was binging on all three, but until I dated an alcoholic drug user these were kept in the periphery of my life. However, one form of overconsumption led to another with the alcoholic around and by the end of our relationship I’d gained just enough weight that people were assuming he’d gotten me pregnant.
During this time my relationship with my mother absolutely imploded. When I went to her house for visits, she was catty, rude and mean-spirited; she and my sister would gang up on me and demand answers/satisfaction for my life choices even though those choices were costing them nothing. The meanness she demonstrated towards me as a teenager deepened to the point where I could tell her nothing about my life, and she would passive-aggressively ask me about Christian holidays, yank on my jewelry in an invasive way and she was even finding excuses to show up at my dorm room in Wisconsin and search through it – making my move to Minnesota a necessity as a way to preserve privacy.
During this time my relationship to my father also soured a bit, because even though he wasn’t hostile like my mother, he allowed her to carry on even in circumstances where I could tell he knew I was being bullied. I never expected my father to assume the role of protector, but still it made me think less of him. When he did defuse arguments between my mother and I (on one occassion she actually chased me through her house screaming at me I was a coward – evidently for refusing to stay and take her verbal and emotional abuse – and after I told her to go fuck herself, my dad turned it into some screwed up thing about religion. At that point, it wsa really about who had the power and had nothing to do with religion. If it did, well, it’s not like I didn’t know my mother was a bigot to begin with.)
This was when I rediscovered television, or really, discovered it for the first time. The Sunday night block on Fox at the time was fantastic – Simpsons, King of the Hill, X-Files, Hercules, Xena and Highlander. Then came Daria, which has continued to be a defining fandom for me. I had to fight for my interest in television or any other art form – the person I married used to brag about his hatred for artists, and so I “wasn’t an artist” so I was tolerable. (This was also influenced by my mother’s meanderings about writing being “craft” and not “art.” I now realize this was her buried issues with art projected upon and endowed to me.) I spent most of my free time reading occult books or watching shows like Buffy, Angel and Charmed although I was not as geeked out on them as I was on Daria. For me loving television was a breakthrough, and one that I’ve only now come to understand the full benefits of.