I’m not really a fan of v-day, especially not the last several years. I’m not saying I will always feel that way. I could be convinced that I’ve been overlooking something amazing about that day. But for the moment, I have to say, v-day experiences always seem to be a series of mishaps that leave me at the end of the day thinking, what the heck just happened?
My best memory of v-day is when, during my first year in grad school, ex-boyfriend sent me bell hooks’ All About Love because he said I was badass like bell. I don’t know about all that, but it was a sweet gesture and meant a lot to me at the time. That was in 2000—when the book just came out. (That’s how long I’ve been in grad school—sshhhh! Don’t say it outloud.) And I’m embarassed to say this, but I never read it. (Hey, I was in my first year of course work hell!)
Last year, the grad student boy I was dating had a great idea for a v-day outing—grabbing some sandwiches from Jimmy John’s and going to the indoor botanical gardens (had to be indoor because it was freakin’ cold in small-midwestern-college-town) for a little picnic. But he had class during the garden’s visitor hours, so we postponed until later that week. Since he had no backup plan, I called him that night and invited him out for ice cream, which I thought was harmless since we had only been dating for about three weeks. We both had a crap-load of work to do and it would be a short-and-sweet get-together and I really liked him, so… We walked through the cold toward the ice cream parlor, a couple of Chican@s far away from home, shivering in the biting upper-Midwestern wind. He gave me a heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie with “Happy Valentines Day” written on it in red and white frosting. I could tell it was a last-minute gift he picked up in the student union on the way to meet me. Of course, I was all excited that I got a valentine gift at all. (I’m easily pleased.) We had barely sat down when he busted out with the relationship talk. I wasn’t really ready for the talk yet, but there it was. I thought it went okay in the moment. But in retrospect, it was the beginning of the end of that relationship. We never made it to the botanical gardens, even though we dated for over a month more. And to think, I just wanted to have ice cream on v-day with the very cute boy I was dating. Sheeesh!
So this year was spent busily, even stressfully, but there was nothing exciting about it. My girl, the super-historian grad student, is in town to do archival visits, so I went with her to UCLA to do some research. She likes the archives much more than I do, so I’m hoping her enthusiasm will rub off on me. I just want to tell the story, without braving the dust. But that’s another post altogether.
- Got stuck in the entrance to the parking structure because I didn’t know you needed to buy a visitor pass first. Some jackass wouldn’t give me room to back out. What’s up with the drivers on the west side? They cut you off. They don’t let you merge or switch lanes. They’re generally rude. I think it must be a weird manifest destiny space entitlement issue and all that beachiness over there.
- Found a great oral history collection that will surely take me weeks, possibly months, to get through. Ah, the bittersweet treasure hunt for archives to bring the story to life!
- Sat in the sunshine, ate a salad, and read the dissertation that someone else wrote five years ago about the same people and time that I’m writing about. Luckily, it’s not the same dissertation. At least I’m pretty sure its not. Or else it won’t be. Had a little bit of an existential crisis about it the other day, when I found out about said-dissertation by accident.
- On the ride home, I missed the freeway entrance and ended up in Santa Monica. Spent 2 ½ hours in the car trying to get back home. (It wasn’t terrible, but if I had to do that kind of commute everyday in rush-hour traffic, I’d want to scream…or kick someone’s car really hard!)
- Got my car an oil change because I have driven more in the last few months in LA than I did the entire three years I lived in small-midwestern-college-town.
- Came home and searched archives online, with little luck, because they’re never organized the way you think they will be.
So this year’s v-day was just another day in the life of a dissertator. At least the parking attendant guy at the campus smiled and wished me a happy v-day! Hope your v-day was better than mine. ;) And here’s to hoping that next year will be full of all that fun love stuff that people talk about.