the smell of my desperation has become a stench

If They Only Knew . . .

What a badass motherfucker they were unleashing on an unsuspecting world.

You gotta love unpacking old boxes full of pictures you thought you’d burned years ago, only to find gems like this one which, if I ever ran for office, could be used against me to prove what a poseur I really am.

I wore those Adidas trainers to commencement activities as a final FUCK YOU to the BYU administration who wanted me to wear white pumps and flesh tone pantyhose in a show of reverence toward the occasion. Could I have been more ferocious? I just thought that if given a choice, God would totally choose the Adidas over pantyhose, and who am I to question God’s will?

I must have made some sort of lasting impression because they refused to send me my diploma on grounds that I had two outstanding parking tickets. I couldn’t have cared less about the actual piece of paper, and I thought that if I didn’t have the physical diploma no one could ever prove I had actually gone to BYU. That way I could go on forever pretending that I had never attended college, which in the grand scheme of things would have gotten me as far as earning a degree from BYU anyway.

But BYU, not unlike the Mormon Church itself, is persistent and will find you no matter where you hide. After months of sending warnings to my old address they began sending my very Republican and very old-fashioned father notices that they were going to send a collection agency after his daughter if she didn’t get in touch and pay those two tickets. If there ever were two words in the English language that could set my father ON FIRE, it’s collection and agency (followed closely by Bill and Clinton, but that’s another story, one that features me saying, “I would have lied about it, too,” and my father disowning me for the first of several times).

Needless to say I paid those two tickets, for a whopping total of $20. They sent the diploma to my father who had it professionally framed, and I found it at the bottom of a box this morning where it shall stay FOREVER.

  • Ana

    2003/05/29 at 10:06 am

    I think you people can´t enjoy college because USA ecucational system is dull. I´ve known some american college students who were amazed to know how many countries there are in America besides USA, Mexico, Canada and Argentina – Brazil, for example. Schools where one is not provided basis for thinking for himself really deserve students who despise them.

  • mihow

    2003/05/29 at 10:13 am

    “You people you people can´t enjoy college because USA ecucational system is dull” What the hell? I am not sure who you’re talking to or about, I loved college. And I think I learned a bit while there as well.

    Cynicism sucks. It’s unbecoming.

    And, it’s “educational” not “ecucational”

  • mihow

    2003/05/29 at 10:18 am

    My last comment sounds rude, I didn’t mean for it to. I apologize in advance.

  • ana

    2003/05/29 at 10:24 am

    Well, I was talking about the whole discussion above, which begun with dooce´s post, that´s what… it seems everybody here is saying how they hate college, how they didn´t go to the classes, how they didn´t give a shit for their diploma. I enjoyed college a lot, just like mihow, but it seems others don´t share my opinion.

  • jodi-no-blog

    2003/05/29 at 10:31 am

    I don’t think any of us hated college. We may have missed a class here or there, but we DO give a shit about the diploma. It’s just that things don’t always go as planned. Money runs out, people get sick, life happens. Joking about it makes us… OK, ME feel better about letting that opportunity slip by.

    And its is NOT becoming to lump anyone together and make an assumption… like “Americans”…whether you are speaking of Northern or Southern.

  • ana

    2003/05/29 at 10:35 am

    In fact, that talk about USA educational system was just a small provocation, because I always thought that there´s nothing like a foreign attack to let people think better and stop depreciating what they´ve got. In Brazil, everyone who gets to go to college feels imensely blessed. It doesn´t mean I don´t like Dooce – Dooce´s great!

  • katharine

    2003/05/29 at 10:59 am

    Regarding that “how to annoy me” topic–I watched that episode and I have to say that Kia is THE worst designer on that show. I watch her for pure freak value–but no one ever freaks out. What about when the neighbours who did the room said the bedroom looked like “a grave”?

  • tickle pants

    2003/05/29 at 11:02 am

    please tell me those are TUBE SOCKS! with no elastic in dem shits! nothin says rebel like those

    “never rock FILA”

  • Wimbledon Wannabee

    2003/05/29 at 11:13 am

    Ana & Mihow:

    I’m with you. College is a passport out of mindless, minimum-wage jobs. It should be appreciated. I probably didn’t appreciate my diploma as much as I should have. But I was not cynical enough to skip commencement.

    It is a sad commentary on our society that the people who work the hardest for their degree (by paying for it themselves) are often the only ones who fully appreciate it. I did not pay for mine, so I too did not appreciate it as much as I should have, (nor did I study as hard as I should have).

    Every time I contemplate the daunting prospect of working full-time while taking evening masters classes, I get a renewed respect for everyone who has worked their way through college.

    Worst of all, studying for a masters might detract from time spent playing tennis & volleyball. That would be terrible! 😮 LOL

    Sorry to get up on my soapbox, Dooce.

  • Stv.

    2003/05/29 at 11:17 am

    Right on! I wore my running shoes to commencement too, as a kindof fuck you to the world for making such a big deal out of the whole thing. I had some assinine theory worked out about getting dressed up that explained the shoes at the time, but I’ve forgotten that part. I just didn’t like getting dressed up. I think I had jeans and t-shirt underneath my gown too.

  • leslie

    2003/05/29 at 11:28 am

    There is no way that Kia is worse than Hildy “Let’s hot glue shit to the walls” Santo-Tomas. Remember the episode where she used wine labels as wallpaper and it turned out that the couple was a Baptist minister and smiling wife who didn’t drink? And who could forget that record room that had thousands and thousands of small LPs nailed to the wall and neon paint everywhere? I suppose this falls under Dooce’s “What do you expect?” category, but I know that if Vern Yip came to my house, he could have his way with me or anything in it. Hildy- I’d run for the hills.

  • Lex

    2003/05/29 at 12:16 pm

    The night before my graduation, I went to see The Brains (RIP) at the Milestone Club in Charlotte and didn’t get back to campus until somewhere after 4 a.m. With many beers aboard. I do not remember what I wore under my robe, but it was probably as little as possible because it was a warm, humid day. I do recall, however, that when I came out of the house to get in my car to drive over to campus for the ceremony, a housemate’s young relatives were gawking into the back window of my car, pointing and giggling. Another housemate, who had made the trip to the Milestone with me, had passed out in the back seat on the way home and was still there.

  • dooce

    2003/05/29 at 12:27 pm

    First of all, I don’t think college is a passport out of mindless minimum wage jobs, espeically when the economy is in the terrible shape it is in now. For almost two years after I graduated I worked between three and four jobs at a time — working at a bakery ($6.25 an hour), delivering newspapers ($5.25 and hour), taking reservations for Delta Airlines ($7.16 an hour), and a shitty receptionist job for a total chauvinist ($7.00 an hour) — just to make ends meet. It wasn’t until I taught myself HTML and Photoshop that I started making more than $14,000 a year, and every job I got after that NEVER asked about how much school I had finished. It was all about experience and how well I could design the frontend to a shopping cart.

    I think for many people, including myself, college was nothing more than learning how to memorize and regurgitate packets of information on command. And I think I may have had a different experience at a different college, I just didn’t have the foresight at the time to go someplace else. BYU is a very religious institution, and I was never taught to question anything, nor was I ever encouraged to engage in hearty discussion about ANYTHING, which is what university is supposed to be about. So, yes, perhaps I am cynical, but don’t think that I didn’t pay with my own sweat and tears and the sacrifice of some of the most precious years of my life for that “education.”

  • Charles R. Kaiser

    2003/05/29 at 12:46 pm

    When I graduated from University, I could not get my diploma until I paid a huge library fine of. . . wait for it. . .

    FIVE CENTS! I owed my university five cents, and they withheld my diploma until I paid it. Not only that, but they sent me not one, but two notices about it. this was back when postage in the US was $00.21! They spent 42 cents to tell me that I owed them five! Not to mention the time and effort required by staff to pull the records, generate the letters and pop them in the mail.

    Maybe Douglas Adams was right. maybe there is something special about 42. . .

    (Note to self: try and figure out why it is that people write or say “not to mention” and then go ahead and mention the hell out of it.)

  • Katie

    2003/05/29 at 12:50 pm

    I owned those shoes, even though my feet never touched a soccer field in my life.

  • melissa

    2003/05/29 at 1:11 pm

    Another factor in so many people having college experiences that end without a degree or job prospect, or in my case, memories of classes missed: The traditional college years (age 18-22) are also prime ages for developing clinical depression, eating disorders (if you somehow make it that far without one), and other huge challenges. I didn’t skip classes because I was just fucking away my parents’ money. I was, as were many of my classmates, in the throes of real life drama and situations I was utterly unequipped to deal with. Looking back and laughing, and poking a little fun, seems much healthier than looking back with regret and guilt.
    Um, not that anyone asked me.

  • PJ / Peggasus

    2003/05/29 at 1:56 pm

    Every person makes of the college years what they will. I know that I wish I could have known then what I know now, even though I found the entire five years amazing nonetheless (not what you think, I had a double major). I would not have wasted as much time skipping classes and partying as I did, though I did attend classes the great majority of the time. I was exposed to many things I might not have been exposed to otherwise, educationally speaking.

    When I eventually got a job in the computer world (NOT my chosen field, I have a B.F.A. in Painting), one of the nicest things anyone (my supervisor) ever said to me as I moved up the ranks, was: it really doesn’t matter what your degree was in, the fact that you made it through a major univerity shows that you have a well rounded education, and are capable of the challenge. I have always appreciated the fact that he recognized the journey for what it was worth, rather than the destination.

    P.S. A BFA in Painting ain’t worth shit, $$$wise.

  • eve

    2003/05/29 at 2:00 pm

    I thought ‘I wonder if I have… oh wait.’ And I remember that I neither attended HS graduation nor college. I never went to my prom, much less homecoming. And I can’t say I noticed.

    And like most lib art-ers, my college education has nothing to do with my work now.

  • just me

    2003/05/29 at 2:11 pm

    I get to graduate “twice” (for Bachelors and couple years later Masters) for Physical Therapy. I need to come up with stunts.

    Any suggestions?

  • bushra

    2003/05/29 at 2:24 pm

    1. i love it when my sister gets disappointed every time i wear my trainers to work. ‘why can’t you wear the nice shoes?’ she pleads.

    2. two years after my graduation i realise now the photographer chick was actually trying to do me a favour, when she asked if i was sure after checking myself in her mirror.

    i can’t begin to describe how those pictures came out.

  • owen

    2003/05/29 at 3:01 pm

    I haven’t done the college thing. ever since 6 weeks ago the school screwed me over with the aptitude test. Can’t believe I had to waste all my valuable time applying to a half ass school only to be treated this way. I bet all those who got in become waitresses or some shit like that.

    Now I’ll have to wait another dam year.

  • sashafoo

    2003/05/29 at 3:28 pm

    I agree with wimbledon that paying for it makes you appreciate it more. I did the whole fuck-the-system hooha in high school, which obliterated any possibility of going to a university straight off. (It’s better to have your drama early, I think.) After kicking everyone in the teeth I was let alone to create my life how I wanted it and it’s turned out great. Dooce, my dad’s a lot like yours. Mormon, Republican, conservative, yeah, I can relate. That’s why we *have* to be badass motherfuckers! 😉

  • sashafoo

    2003/05/29 at 3:44 pm

    Sorry to double-post, but I forgot the bio stuff so you know where I’m coming from. I just received my AA, after 10 years of full-time work & part-time school. I got it just in case I die before finishing my BA. I built a first career (sec’y) out of experience while going to school for my second career (MFT).

  • Carla Beth

    2003/05/29 at 4:44 pm

    Even though I won’t be wearing Wonder Woman Underoos under my gown, I am going to graduation. My parents are making me. “After all you put us through in your twenties, dropping out of college, moving to a cabin in Alaska, jumping out of planes?” It’s a triple whammy, really: 1) Graduation takes place on their wedding anniversary, 2) Father’s Day is the VERY next day, and 3) “And we DID cover rent that term you thought you’d be a math major!” Oh, ugh.

  • Charles R. Kaiser

    2003/05/29 at 5:27 pm


    At least your parents care! My Dad missed my high school graduation, my university graduation and my graduation from graduate school. Hell, he almost missed my wedding. His being there was a surprise, as he told me he wasn’t coming. He didn’t stay for the reception.

    Not much of a father figure in my life. I wonder how I might have turned out differently if I had had one. . .

  • brownie

    2003/05/29 at 7:26 pm

    college is total bullshit. i think it’s fucking worse that kids in high school these days are brainwashed into thinking that they need to spend 4 years of their time (and money) at an institute of higher learning to succeed in the world today. the thing is, did anybody really know what they wanted to do when they were 18? i didn’t. i switched majors thrice only to end up programming software for a living.

    i think most kids should take at least a year or two off after high school graduation to figure out what they really want to do with their life. it’s a lot cheaper than going directly to college, only to fail out because you partied more than you studied.

  • just me

    2003/05/29 at 8:21 pm

    I agree with “brownie” — that many teens at that age aren’t completely sure what they want to do. And yes, if they are unsure maybe they should take time off. Uncertainty only leads to waste of time and money. At any rate I knew what I wanted to “be” when I was in 8th grade. I was also positive about it all through high school so now I have no regrets. For the other 95 or so percent that I see at my school, who are completely lost, I guess they may have found a couple of good things about higher education…


    Perhaps it’s worth it…?

  • Carla Beth

    2003/05/29 at 8:33 pm

    Charles, although I am being a bit facetious, I do appreciate your insights. And did enjoy my studies, but laziness got the best of me. My dream major was math and physics, and then I thought I’d explore law. And then art history. And then I won a math scholarship, but left that degree afterall for a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies: Criminology. Can’t spell it most of the time, can’t pronounce it most of the time. It’s mine for keeps, though, AND the parents are (finally) terribly proud.

  • Wimbledon Wannabee

    2003/05/29 at 9:43 pm

    I totally agree with you Dooce, when you criticize BYU (or any other institution of higher learning) for not teaching you to question anything and for never encouraging you to engage in hearty discussion about anything. Yes, that IS what a university should be all about. But to remain hateful and cynical towards them (because of their narrow-mindedness) is a waste of your time. I recently stopped donating time & money to my own alma-mater because they are so closed-minded. My conservative, private college’s administration stooped so far as to flatly refuse to hold a Q&A session after their annual regional alumni dinners, (for alumni in my home state). (Incidentally, I single-handedly organized these regional dinner events for several years. But no more.) In past years, these after-dinner Q&A sessions were a highlight of this annual event, because several bold alumni were not afraid to ask tough questions to the administration rep. But, (just like that moron in the White House) people in power do not like answering tough questions, (i.e.: press conferences). Q&A sessions are a challenge to their authority. And authority should ALWAYS be challenged & questioned. But the powers-that-be will always fight it, tooth & nail. My college administration arrogantly refused to continue the annual tradition of answering tough questions about their actions. This is total B.S.! But being hateful & cynical about it is a waste of time. Change whatever you can. Ignore, avoid, or accept whatever you cannot change. I stopped giving money to the college and stopped volunteering to organize & recruit for these annual dinners.

    I think we partially disagree on another point, Dooce: I think a degree IS a passport out of minimum wage jobs. But it is NOT a guaranteed getaway. But it is much MUCH harder to escape those low-pay, low-respect jobs, without the degree. In a crappy economy like ours, a degree is DEFINITELY NOT a guaranteed passport out of these jobs. I am living proof of this. For quite some time, I have been seeking full-time employment in my own field. (Apparently I have been job-hunting MUCH longer than you were, after your much-publicized demise). In order to help pay my bills, I am currently working two part-time jobs (and seeking a third). (The third job would be necessary to make ends meet each month.) My 12 months of unemployment benefits (including Federal extension) ran-out LONG ago. One of my two part-time jobs is VERY part-time (one day every two weeks). This job utilizes my degree & work experience. The other job is 4 hours every morning loading packages (up to 70 pounds) on UPS trucks. (This tough, menial work comes close to those jobs you had after college, despite the fact that I have a degree and many years of experience in my field.) So I can say from first-hand experience that a degree is NOT a guaranteed passport out of these jobs. (Especially in this economy.) But it IS the easiest means of escape.

    You also stated that your recent employers have never asked you how much college you have finished. If you gave them a copy of your resume, then they would not HAVE to ask. This info would be listed on the resume. Yes? This info would also be reported by you, when you fill-out the obligatory HR job-application form. After this form is submitted, your employer could discreetly contact BYU and inquire about grades, major, degree received, etc. You might never even know about these surreptitious inquiries. Your degree might be requisite for your current position, without you even realizing it. HR departments do MANY things surreptitiously. I have often compared HR departments to the KGB. Think about it: They both keep detailed dosiers on everyone. They need to know everything about everyone. But they never tell anyone anything. And their response to any issue is: “hush it up”. In some ways, HR departments are the bane of our society. Unlike government, there is no system of “checks & balances” within any HR department. They are police, judge, jury, and prosecutor all rolled-up into one omnipotent package. If they decide your blog is bad for the company, you’re history!

    Sorry Dooce. I got up on my soapbox again. Hope you have a great weekend, (with lots of “acahol”).

  • viper

    2003/05/29 at 10:05 pm

    It’s funny we just had a manager fired at my job because it turns out they lied on their resume about having been to college and getting a diploma. They had worked for the company 4 years and no one had ever checked. Then his neighbor got ticked off at him, knew the story and went to his boss and that’s when they found out.

  • John Burton

    2003/05/30 at 1:19 am

    Re: Diploma as Passport – The Ongoing Dialogue.

    I don’t think that the diploma is a passport out of anything. Ask any of the 4,000,000 dot commers with their MBA’s who are folding t-shirts at the Gap now. But what I do think the diploma is supposed to represent, should you have one, is that you have been taught to THINK. Maybe that is what Dooce and I are saying here, that colleges with religious orientations preach dogma, not teaching you how to think, but teaching you how to conform. And when you don’t conform, you get left with this wonderful I-don’t-fit-in feeling. And I don’t care who you are, spend enough time in a leper colony and be the only one who doesn’t have leprosy, you are going to feel bad. And that feeling bad part of it evolves into the desire to question, and the realization that you were never taught to think, and that you had to learn to think on your own.

    And I am going to stop using the word and now.

  • Emily

    2003/05/30 at 4:55 am

    Just a thought – If you had not attended college, do you think you would have as easily ‘taught yourself” Photoshop and HTML? I really admire your work – just trying to defend the university experience and what others have said. The good thing is you figured out what to do and that takes critical thinking skills – even if obtained under a religious umbrella. Hell, if anything else, I’m sure it taught you how to pull an all-nighter — Helpful on those web projects when it’s close to a big launch!

    P.S. — I went to UW-Madison where they REALLY taught you to think for yourself. Remember that for your daughters when it’s their time.

  • krotchbat

    2003/05/30 at 5:55 am

    don’t try to one-up the blog.
    it’s futile.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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