Kate would be on campus all day this Wednesday, between three classes and her work-study program in between. Then she would be back on Friday morning for two classes, having Thursday off. She usually planned Thursdays to be her homework day, the day that not only she would do homework and study, but also the chores around the house, since most of the time the other girls were gone. They paid an extra part of her rent if she kept the house neat, which wasn’t that difficult with Lynn making sure people at least picked up after themselves. Niva was always meticulous; it was Ana who threw stuff around.
She went the two doors down to the Scott Building, named after some obscure scientist who had probably donated half the money to the building of the site. She never got a chance to look at the plaque under the picture of a balding man with glasses, and frankly, was never interested. History was not her forte’, and she knew that she was putting off the Western Civ class that she knew she’d have to take next semester.
Entering the Scott building, she saw one of the girls from her class, chugging down a Mountain Dew out of a can that must have come out of the vending machine before her. She didn’t know the girl’s name, but knew that she was from her class. “Hi,” Kate said, not wanting to be rude.
The girl turned to her and said, “Hi,” then burped. She put her hand over her mouth while Kate giggled. “‘scuse me.”
“That’s all right, I’m used to raunchy burps with three brothers,” Kate said. “I’m Kate.”
“Oh,” said the girl, taking Kate’s outstretched hand, after shifting the can to her other hand, “I’m Melissa. Lissa for short.”
“Nice to meet you. Did you do that short program Jimenez assigned?”
“Program? No, I read the book. I’m not doing programming.” She finished the can and tossed it in the recycling bin. “I’m a Fine Arts major, at least until I figure out what I really want to do.”
Kate smiled, maybe it would be a good idea to get on this girl’s good side. “I might need your help with papers. I’m not very good with those.”
“Are you taking Comp?” Lissa asked, as they walked up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Comp was short for College Composition, what all freshmen had to take in their first or second semester.
“Yes, with Professor White.”
“Oh, he’s just a post-grad,” said Lissa, and they cleared the floor to the second level. “They call him professor because he happens to be teaching the class. He doesn’t have anything special.” They approached the door to the class. Lissa stopped and looked awkward for a minute. “Well, I’ll be seeing you,” she said, and left Kate there near the door.
Kate’s shoulders slumped without her realizing it. She hadn’t made any friends except for her roommates, and those were were forced to be together. There was one boy in her work-study, but she thought he was gay or at least too geeky for her. He kept going on and on about a Doctor Who, something she didn’t know anything about.
She went to a seat on the opposite side of the lecture hall, following Lissa with her eyes. Lissa went over to a group of girls and all of them, laughing and joking, stayed at the top of the lecture hall. Kate had never noticed them before, but they acted like a group of chickens on her farm – aloof and always talking to each other, not wanting to be bothered with anyone around them until, probably, someone decided to sit between them.
Professor Carlos Jimenez came out of the side hall. He was a handsome Hispanic, with dark skin and dark hair and eyes. He had a beard but no mustache, and stood just slightly taller than Kate. She knew this, because his office was next to her advisor’s, and she had met him personally.
Jimenez put on the wireless mike and Kate took out her iPhone. She always made a recording of the lectures, sometimes transcribing them when she had the time. She was an oral learner, she had found out years ago, learning better when things were read to her than when she had to read them.
He tapped the microphone and, satisfied that it worked, he said, “Good morning, everyone. Today we’re going to learn about [something about computers].”
Kate turned on her voice recorder option on the iPhone and quietly listened.
[Find a lecture about computers and simplify it]
Kate stopped the iPhone’s recording. She put that away first, and then her notebooks. She decided, as usual, to wait for everyone else to hit the doors before she did.
She glanced at her watch as she waited. She already knew she had about a half an hour before her next class, College Algebra, and then it would be time for lunch. She had maybe another half-hour between lunch and her work-study, and then an afternoon class. She would be home by five.
She wondered if she should pick up anything for dinner. She had some hot dogs and mac and cheese with her name on it in the freezer – everyone thought she was weird getting frozen mac and cheese, but she liked it better than the florescent boxed stuff the other girls got. She was starting to get a taste for Ramen noodles, something she’d never had at home. However, her parents gave her about $300 a month in spending money, all on a personal credit card that had exactly $300 on it. At the end of the month, if there was any money left – and because she was very frugal there usually was – she would take it out as a cash advance and put it aside. She wanted to go home to her parents on spring break, and she was saving enough money for that.
Kate saw Lissa with the gaggle of girls again, as they headed down the quad toward the library. She also saw Ana standing at the outside of the library, smoking a cigarette, blatantly against campus regulations. Kate shook her head and walked on into the cafeteria.
She didn’t like the food there, because it was strangely ethnic. There was one side for Hispanic food, another for Indian and Asian food, and another with hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza. She got a slice of greasy pizza, and paid for it with her card.
Someone jostled her from behind, and she saw it was two boys who looked like jocks, both wearing letter jackets from their high school. “Is that your snack?” They both guffawed at their own joke. Kate felt her face get hot, and she turned to ignore them. One of them called “Boom boom, ba boom, boom,” at each step she took away from them.
Kate wasn’t obesely heavy, but probably compared to the anorexic girlfriends they probably had, she was. It was something she had fought against all her life. Nebraska was not kind to her in high school, either, and her whole family was a bit on the heavy side due to the rich food her mother made.
She had thought coming to college would mean she was an adult and wouldn’t have to deal with some of the stupid things kids did in high school. What she had forgotten, and was painfully reminded at this moment in time, was that the first couple of years of college weren’t that different than the last couple of years of high school. Maybe if she stuck through it, by the time she graduated, she would be among adults and real people in the workplace, and would not have to deal with these kind of immature people again.
She sat down alone on the third floor of the cafeteria, where no one else dared to go. She sat and ate her pizza, going over her notes from the prior class in Algebra to get an idea of what she would be expecting in today’s class. Her syllabus also gave her a clue, but since she had barely squeaked by her high school algebra, most of it was arcane to her.
After she finished eating her lunch, and it was her lunch, not a snack, she decided to head early to the class. At worst, there would be people in the classroom and she’d have to wait in the hallway. There were plenty of places to sit in the hallway if she needed to.
She walked half-way across the quad, passing the computer tutoring lab which was where her work-study was. She wondered if Brian was going to be there today. She’d at least have someone to talk to, while people worked on their projects because maybe they didn’t have computers at home or they couldn’t get their computers at home to run some of the Linux or Windows or Oracle programs that they had.
At the Hawes Building, she went into the first floor and glanced inside the classroom. Two people were there already, either reading or writing in notebooks. She opened the door and stepped inside, glancing around for her favorite seat – in the middle row, toward the back. She didn’t mind people sitting behind her.
Soon enough, the place started to fill up. A goth girl sat behind her, and a kid with a brown duster sat to the side of her. She stared at him for a minute, thinking she knew him from somewhere. Maybe he was in on of her other classes, she thought. There was something about the canvas duster that he draped over the other chair. Did her brother have one of those? If not, he would want one. They were pretty badass.
The professor came in, and nodded to them all. “Afternoon. Please pass in your homework.”
She already had it out and ready, and passed it to the boy in front of her, after taking goth girl’s. The professor gathered it up from each front-row student. “Hm, kind of light here. Homework that I request passed in is part of your grade and cannot be made up. I expect you to do the homework in the order that I present in the syllabus. Otherwise, you will learn nothing.” He turned to the front of the class and the boy with the duster covertly stuck up his middle finger at him. Kate smiled and looked away.