I hate my job and I hate that I’m not doing anything about it. I feel so wimpy, so ineffective. I’m just dying and watching myself die, just standing on the sidelines! I don’t know what to do, I feel so trapped. I’d have to go to college, and I can’t afford that on this minimum wage salary!!! I’d have to take night classes. I don’t want to do that! I’m already whipped when I get home late almost every night! I can’t see myself leaving work and cramming some fast food down my throat on my way to some community college because I can’t afford to go to a university. And how long would an engineering degree take on that slow-mo schedule, anyway?! Jesus, I wish I’d had my shit together when I was a kid, gone to college like I was supposed to when it was on my parents’ tab. It’s all so huge and hopeless now and it’s my own fault. God, I am so tired of this life. Cassie underlined the word tired. First one line, then two, then she saw herself digging the pen into the paper, watched as anger seized her and spasmodically scratched fat black lines back and forth, up, down, around and around, until the grip of it released her as quickly as it’d come on. She went limp all around her bones. Her tears had mixed with the paper and the furious nest of black lines and made a grayish paste in her journal. She just stared at it. And then for a reason she wasn’t fully in touch with, she calmly turned to a fresh page in her journal and began writing. Cassie, you need to snap out of your oblivion. I’m living the life you chose by not choosing and it’s sheer hell. And then she took the biggest, fattest marker she could find in her desk drawer and wrote slowly, deliberately, CASSIE WAKE UP!!!!!!!
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“Why, my brilliant brood,” Mr. Davids was saying, “why, from the standpoint of the fundamental laws of physics, should we not have the same access to the future as we have to the past?” Mr. D swept the roomful of juniors with his wide, wild eyes. Cassie smiled shyly and looked down when he got to her. Mr. D was a young teacher, a little too good-looking, and he was full of it. He was like watching a stand-up comedian, was everywhere at once with his “out there” ideas and brain-cramping challenges. Like everyone else, Cassie was down with the entertainment value. It made physics tolerable. But he was such a force, the mighty windstorm, and she just a reed. She doodled in her journal as Mr. D crescendoed, in tune with the exact number of minutes he had before the bell rang. She began to slip away into her drawing, flowers becoming monsters with blood dripping from their teeth as the daydream progressed from high school to whatever happened after that. She saw a flash of herself utterly miserable, frustrated, working a shit job. She saw herself cry out. She snapped to and felt the despair claw her insides, from her brain down. Mr. D was winding up to leave his charges with a mind-curving thought, “So why, when we act now, do we think we can affect the future only and not the past?” And there was the bell. Dude’s a pro, she thought as she made a beeline to Guidance. Previously utterly passionless, she now had a passion—not to end up suffering a slow, agonizing death in a low-paying dead-end job. She really didn’t care what she chose. She was good at math, her counselor had mentioned engineering, so what the hell!
Photos above from Getty Images
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