The Unexpected Expectation

College is just one of those places where I’m bound to run into trouble.  My very first semester of college started out smoothly, as most first-year college students’ semesters start off—or, at least, I’d like to think so.  It was a roller coaster.  Everything was going well.  I would even go as far to say it was superb.  I was climbing to the top, the climax, and I honestly believed that it would go up and up forever.

I was in a triple room, sharing a fairly large room with two other women. The three of us met at our college’s freshman orientation in the summer.  I was rooming with one of them (Let’s call her A) and the other (She’ll be B) was living down the hall.  A and I got along and started having our three meals during orientation together.  We all got along, like a fresh plate from iHOP’s kitchen.  A was the bacon, B was the scrambled eggs and I was the stack of pancakes (Their pancakes are amazing!).  We agreed to request each other as roommates for the fall because we were wary of getting strangers as roommates.  Now, we weren’t “besties” in the three days we’d known each other, but we got along.  A seemed like a good roommate. She was friendly, neat and didn’t snore like a dinosaur ready to attack. I’ve heard too many roommate horror stories (a trail of used feminine products, unruly BO, sex with an audience, etc.), not to mention the 2011 movie The Roommate.

A had a falling out with B and I after she’d pretty much done two of those “horror stories.”  I had a hard time forgiving her because we were good friends.  She was a good listener and we were both sarcastic—it was a college girl’s dream.  My mother had advised me to just respect her, despite the fact that A hadn’t done so toward B and me.  At the time, I couldn’t really wrap my head around what my mother was trying to say.

B and I learned to deal with what A had done.  We moved out and that was it.  It was beyond awkward a little after that, but B and I eventually made out peace with what happened and with A.

Maybe two months later, toward the end of the semester, I had had a really long day and I knew for sure that I was not going to be up studying or doing homework.  I had just come home from work;  I wasn’t planning to pack with B like we said we were going to do that morning—I was going to shower and sleep.

As I settled in my bed, B said my name.

“Yeah?”

“Would you be upset if a friend came over?  Just to help me pack.”

I didn’t answer right away.  I took a couple deep breaths, telling myself not to overreact or get upset.  I tend to sleep with some background noise as soon as I got used it, which didn’t take long.  I figured a few whispers and the shuffling of clothes and boxes couldn’t hurt for fifteen or so minutes.

I asked if it was a mutual male friend, C.

She said C and she were supposed to go out on a walk, but canceled because of the rain and now he was going to help her pack.  I tried not to cringe or get more upset and agitated than I already had been.  I shrugged and told her it was fine.

Not ten minutes later, C arrived.  He could not mask his booming voice with a quiet whisper.  If I were Cyclops, I would have burned holes in the wall as I glared at it.  They were obviously flirting.  His teasing her and her laughing quietly got the best of me and I flipped over on the bed.  I asked C to leave the room for a minute.

“Ooh, B, you’re in trouble.”

“Aye, I’m sorry,” she said.

C left the room, and I hopped off my bed.  I threw on my pajama bottoms and started to gather my laptop and headphones.  B continued to say she was sorry as I slipped my feet into my sandals.  “It’s fine,” I snapped.  “I’ll just go watch a movie.”  As I headed straight for the floor lounge, C said he was sorry too.

“I’m sorry, girl.  Come on, girl, go to sleep.”

(I never liked how he called every female he knew “girl.”  I found it odd and iffy.)

I told him it was fine and to go help her pack.  I added extra emphasis on “pack.”  I was grateful that no one was in the lounge and I settled into one of the smelly cushioned seats.  I turned on my laptop and proceeded to watch Disney’s Pocahontas and an episode of Gossip Girl on Netflix.

I was distracting myself from my steaming anger.  How could B do this to me?  I’d thought after what happened with A, we had an unspoken agreement that if one of us had a friend (particularly a person whom we were planning to have sex with or sexual activities with), we would warn the other maybe, I don’t know, 72 hours in advance.  I felt so minute and insignificant.  It was hard to believe that my first two roommates in college had basically done the same thing to me.  I felt so disrespected, as if I didn’t matter.  I was the go-to friend for everything, but I didn’t deserve an ounce of respect?

The anger I felt was worse than the anger I had when I was dealing with A I think because it was unexpected.  I was disappointed and I hadn’t expected this from B.  She totally threw all her morals out the window.  She didn’t even like C!  She hated C!

Okay, hate is a strong word.  She talked behind C’s back and always said, “I hope he doesn’t think we’re, like together.  I don’t like him like that.”

And yet, here B was, messing around with C in OUR room until 5AM.

I witnessed the sun rising and everything.  It was a beautiful sight.  Despite that, I very much wanted my bed and my too-flat pillows.

Just when Pocahontas was finishing up, the door to the lounge creaked open and B’s face popped into the lounge.  I glanced at her fleetingly and pursed my lips.

“Are you mad?’ she asked.

I really hate when people ask that, especially when they add “at me” and an ugly attempt at a puppy face.

I didn’t answer her, and she shuffled over to me with socks on and her flowery fleece wrapped around her.  Her black bun bobbed at the crown of her head.  She laid her head on my shoulder.  Her next words hit me like a train:

“You can come back into the room now.”

(!!!)

She was giving me permission to step back into our room?  Ha, was I glad.

[Insert emoji of straight face]

I grabbed my things and leaped from the chair, speeding toward our room.  I heard her shuffling behind me quickly and I tried to drown the noise out.  I tossed everything on my messy desk and plugged my headphones into my phone, tuning into the “Sleep Tight” playlist on Spotify.  I curled onto my side, facing the wall, and she sat on the edge of my bed.  I don’t know how I suppressed the urge to throw a punch, but I did.

She continued to ask if I was mad, and I didn’t reply.  I was too furious to reply.  I expected a sincere apology.  We were in college and we were adults.  It was what I expected and wanted.

I never got one.  The next morning, C simply continued to pack and live life as if last night hadn’t happened.  The only thing she acknowledged about that night was the hickeys she had on the right side of her neck.  I smiled tightly and asked if she got much packing done with a raised eyebrow.

I was upset with myself for not standing up to her and for myself, telling her to go to his room and subconsciously enforcing the stereotype that college guys didn’t care about their roommates having sex with them in the same room.

I was wondering why had I expected her to apologize.  Just because people got into in college and were legally adults didn’t mean they were mature.  Some of them didn’t know where lines were drawn and they tended to stumble over those lines.  A lot of them didn’t consider other people’s feelings, personal beliefs and morals.  What was wrong with the world?

What is wrong with the world?

What is wrong with college students?

I’ll let you know when I find out.

[Deal] With the Punches

Being a student journalist is one of the hardest things I think I am going to push through during my college career over the next few years.  There are a lot of rules to journalism, ethically speaking, morally speaking, grammatically speaking and just in terms of common sense.  I suppose there aren’t rules to cope with the one in five interviews that go horribly wrong (that is a fictional statistic.  I suppose I would have to hunt for an actual statistic).

I was scheduled to interview a close colleague of an alumna on whom I was writing a feature profile.  Typically, I get nervous a couple of hours before my interview and, as the time approaches, my anxiety intensifies.  Just when I meet the person and shake her hand or pick up my phone to call him, the nervousness dissipates.

Such was the situation when I dialed the number to call him.  I was polite, greeted him and reintroduced myself to make sure there was no confusion as to whom I was.

“How are you?” I asked.

“Fine,” he replied curtly.

My head snapped back slightly, as if his curtness was a hand and it’d reached through the phone and slapped me.  I recovered quickly and jumped right into the interview.  I thought I’d ask simple, open-ended questions that would receive great, fulfilling and juicy answers.  To my dismay, my interviewee replied in short, abrupt sentences, barely giving me anything to grasp, let alone paraphrase enough to make my article come alive.  Nonetheless, I used two of his relatively dull quotes and published my article.

This is definitely one difficult aspect of being a journalist who is just starting out and learning the ropes.  I used to be particularly shy and introverted, and I still am, but I’m learning to get out of my comfort zone.  I get anxious for about six seconds, and then I start to look forward to meeting new people.

It’s, obviously, the terse people who discourage me from wanting to branch out and meet all kinds of people.  But that’s just another aspect of — impartiality, not heartlessness.  I can’t let my feelings get in the way.  I don’t live in the land of nice people, bacon and life-changing books.  I have to accept the crazy world I live in and deal with the punches.