Categories > Cartoons > Daria > Tigresses

Ashfield Openings

by DrT 0 reviews

The session opens and Jane gets a surprise.

Category: Daria - Rating: R - Genres: Drama - Characters: Daria,Jane - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2014-03-21 - 5902 words - Complete

Tigresses of Summer – Part 3 – Ashfield Openings

By Dr T

The first session at Ashfield begins.


(Conclusion of an e-mail sent to Helen, Jake, and Quinn the first Sunday evening at Ashfield)

Obviously, I can’t believe my luck, but nevertheless, it has happened. Mom, could you please look over the publishing contracts to see if there are any hidden problems? As a first time author publishing in a very marginal field, I doubt if I should try to hold out for more money (especially when getting 10 free copies, rather than the usual 3 to 5). If the residuals are decent and there aren’t any hidden costs or pitfalls, I think I should sign them (with your or Dad’s permission, of course).

I talked with both Woods again today, after checking out the Bromwell and Raft Creative Writing programs on-line. Both look excellent, and of course the schools are as well. Both told me that as long as I am in the top 3% of my high school class and have excellent SATs (minimum 1450 for Bromwell and 1400 for Raft – and of course I scored a 1560, so I may not have to take them again to try and reach 1600 after all) they would vouch for me for their respective programs if I do well this summer. I know I was never certain if I wanted to be a full-time writer or would try for some other profession to support my writing habit. I am starting to think I might go the academic route, even if there is a tight job market in higher education.

Speaking of college, what, if any, resources would I be able to expect? Both Grandmothers Tess and Ruth mentioned the possibility of college funding at least.

Quinn, just to let you know, so far no fish in the sea.

I’ll try and write more than brief notes at least once each weekend.



SUBJECT: the first week in review
DATE: 06/23/00

Dear Mom, Dad, & Quinn:

I decided it would be best to do my ‘week in review’ letter on Friday night while it was fresh in my mind.

First of all, the short story class. As a class, I am not fully participating yet, as I am starting the work on the angst. Bill Woods spent a lot of time with me on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday getting me fully up to speed, and I could see some of the students resented the attention I was getting. I can’t really blame them, as we (meaning just Woods and myself) are, in effect, using some of their class time to work on my projects. I did learn a lot about putting a volume of miscellaneous works together for actual publication, and I have been working hard on the class short story assignment due Monday, even though Woods said I didn’t have to do it unless I wanted to. So, I’ve learned a lot, but if I do ever become a creative writing instructor, I think I also learned what not to do in class!

The mystery/thriller class was similar, in that John Woods worked on one of my stories. The difference is mine was one of three that the entire class critiqued together, and John gave me feedback on my novel outlines to read outside of class time. I did notice by Friday that the students in short story who are giving me the dirty looks aren’t in either of my other two workshops. Both Woods are excellent instructors, but I think I like John Woods’ approach better. As for my actual Melody Powers stories, they not only need a bit more work than I had thought, what they need are things I had never considered. I am so glad I am taking these two courses!

Considering how lucky I was with the first two classes, I was not surprised that the poetry workshop hasn’t been quite as good (not to mention not centered on me!). I am not complaining; the instructor, Sue Charles, is also an excellent instructor. Her own poetry reminds me of Edna St-Vincent Millay, and she prefers those students who write in similar manners. My poetry is no more her style than it is ‘poetry slam.’ Still, I am learning a lot about form, and she is complementary of my style if not my content. So, on all the writing fronts, I am good.

Two of Jane’s classes are also going well. The life drawing instructor has been very encouraging, and the painting instructor nearly so – he wants Jane to try more conventional styles for the in-class work. Normally, I think she’d resist, but I managed to convince her to try straight painting just for the techniques. Her conceptual art class instructor, however, has apparently so far been talking all about himself and his work, with no time for student work, just student complements of his work. Jane seems to have made friends with one of the students in that class, who thinks as little of the instructor and his ego as Jane does.

No, to your likely response to the above, neither Jane nor I have really made other friends out of class. The students in them (other than the suck-ups in the conceptual art class and the jealous ones in short story) are for the most part friendly and helpful. I think that is, in part, because they don’t have to associate with the little kids at camp much outside of class time (we are the youngest students here). Still, I have talked with a guy in my Mystery/Thriller course who is friendly. Robbie just got his BFA from Raft, and no, Quinn, he is not cute. A one word description would be ‘disheveled’ and he also has a girl friend who just graduated from BFAC. They are both off to grad school in California next year. Robin (the girl friend) is in Jane’s painting class and introduced us to two guys who will be sophomores at BFAC next year and who are in Jane’s drawing and painting classes. Yes, Quinn, they are cute and friendly; unfortunately, they are also dating each other. No, Quinn, they are not the only cute guys, just two we’ve really talked to. We’ll try and expand that while we’re here, but the art/writing come first. So, while we haven’t made any real friends, we have made some connections to the older students, and overall we are both doing well. Jane is running every morning and making me get some extra walking in each night. If any of you could let Trent know that she doing well, Jane would appreciate it, remember, we can’t call out, other than collect. After Jane runs tomorrow, we’re going to catch a shuttle into town to look around, and have pizza for lunch before the withdrawal symptoms get too strong.



Daria had just sent off the e-mail to her parents when there was a knock on their door. Jane, who had been sketching Daria at her lap top, answered the door. “Well,” she said, “this is a surprise. Come on in!”

Daria looked up, more curious than annoyed, to see Robbie, Robin, and the gay couple (Ted and Fred) coming in. “Hey,” she greeted them, “what’s up?”

“Since we’re Ashfield veteran couples, and you two are all off on your lonesome,” Fred said, “we thought we’d drop in to visit.”

“Hope you don’t mind,” Robbie added, taking a flask bottle of wine out of the paper sack he was carrying.

“Cheap wine and packages of cheese and crackers,” Robin smirked. “He’s friendly, but has little taste.”

Daria observed the single bottle of Mateus, and decided, divided between the six of them, it should be mostly harmless. “If we run out of the cheese and crackers, we have some potted meat and club crackers, not to mention a two liter bottle of Ultra Cola.”

Jane smiled, relieved Daria was going along.

Robbie pulled out a corkscrew and opened the wine, remarking, “Unless you go see a movie in town or something, there’s not much for couples to do on Friday night here. Saturday nights, there’s usually a really old movie in the rec center, and ‘Club Glamour’ sometimes has a band. There are also game tournaments, backgammon and poker, on some weekends.”

“I called the Club by the way,” Jane said to Daria. “They’re actually calling Trent to see if they can book him and the Spiral when they ‘tour’ in August.” She turned to the others. “That’s my brother’s grungy band.”

“You mean, ‘grunge band,’ right?” Ted asked.

“No, she used the right adjective,” Daria said, going to get some glasses. “You must have done a good selling job on them.”

Jane shrugged. “What can I say?”

Daria handed glasses around, and as she did so, she thought she should clear something up at the outset. “By the way, while Jane and I are best friends, we aren’t a couple.”

“Really?” Robin asked. “You two must be really close friends, then.”

“We are,” Jane confirmed. “But Daria is as straight as an arrow, in every respect. We’re friends, but whatever benefits there might be, those kind aren’t included.”

“I’ll try to take that as a complement,” Daria drawled. “We’re still not sure what Jane is,” she teased.

“I am an artist; all other labels are of at best secondary importance,” Jane stated in a mock-snob voice. The others laughed, and Robbie poured the fizzy wine.


SUBJECT: week two in review
DATE: 06/30/00

Dear Mom, Dad, and Quinn:

First of all, thanks for signing off on the angst contracts. Yes, to say that I am pleased by actually having my juvenilia published (and actually getting paid something rather than having to pay) is exciting. I am glad you are all proud of me, and no, Quinn, I doubt if anyone you know will read any of it, so you’re safe. Work on the manuscripts is going along well. Bill Woods has mostly let me work on it myself and finally started paying more attention to the other students since class Monday, so there are less dirty looks. He was only slightly surprised when I turned in the assigned short story on Monday. He reaction when I turned it in told me that it had been something of a test, to see how dedicated a writer I actually am or something. He gave it back to me Wednesday with lots of feedback and criticism, telling me that he was not going to treat any further writing as that of a adolescent, but as that of an adult. Some of his critique was difficult for me to read, but on reflection, I couldn’t argue with it. It might have done my ego good to be treated like I was last week, but it did my writing more good to be treated this way. When the other students, especially the jealous ones, saw how I was treated this week, a few smirked at first, but one actually told me Thursday I had gained her respect this week. Oddly, the guy who was the most jealous last week, who will be a sophomore at Crestmore next year, was singled out for special attention this week. He was upset that this did not upset me in the least. If Bill treats him next week like he did me this week, it will be interesting to see how Ike responds.

While I am still working on the Melody stories in the M/T class, we turned our attention to classic styles of mystery short stories this week, concentrating on locked-room mysteries. I was allowed to use Melody as my character and I just e-mailed my story to John Woods. We’ll see what his reaction is.

The poetry class is still chugging along; I am learning a lot about form and metrical patterns. The instructor still dislikes my content, but I get more praise for the style than most of the others. She has assured me that I should keep my own voice and not to worry too much about the lack of praise about content, just her comments about form. That made me feel good, as you can imagine.

Jane’s actual art classes are going well (the conceptual artist still seems to have little concept of art other than his, but they might get to do some actual work next week). Jane and I have hung around Robbie, Robin, and Alison (the woman from Jane’s concept class I mentioned last week) as well as Ted, Fred, and a few other classmates a bit after and between classes, especially a bit after dinner, so we aren’t being anti-social. In fact, I think Jane and Alison are planning something for the Fourth (there is all-day grilling and a bon fire that night). Jane and I are going into town for pizza again tomorrow, but we’re all going to the movie in the rec center tomorrow night (the old movie A Chorus Line).



SUBJECT: re: college
DATE: 06/30/00

Dear Mom and Dad:

Thank you for the information; I understand why you did not tell me before and do not want Quinn to know at this point. No, I am not surprised; I think flabbergasted is the appropriate word. I already wrote thank you notes to Grandma Ruth and Grandmother Tess. I mailed them this morning when I picked up the ‘care package’ you sent. All the food and snacks are appreciated, and Jane and I both thank you for them. Jane especially thanks you for remembering she loves crunchy peanut butter. Watch out, or she might be eating lunch at our house every Saturday.

Back on topic, I also did some on-line research on college costs. No, I wasn’t surprised there, either. I was outright shocked! I only did six, five that I know have good Creative Writing programs plus Middleton, which doesn’t, but I thought I should add it for comparison’s sake. On the plus side, between the AP courses I’ve taken and will take next year, and the courses I can test out of with a standardized exam program called CLEP, I think I can make it through any of the these programs in three years, rather than four. I know right now, spread over four years, Grandmother Tess’ fund would be $15,000 a year, Grandma Ruth’s $3,000, and the one you set up for me (and may I add, since you’ve been adding that extra money to it each time you let Quinn over-spend on her wardrobe, I withdraw every bad thought I had on that subject and thank you for it) $7,200, would there be much extra gathered in interest if I didn’t use it all each year and tried to spread it over eight years? (three undergrad, five grad if I go on to get a PhD) Anyway, a full year at the following colleges, that is two semesters of tuition, full room-and-board, and mandatory fees (not counting any other fees, books and supplies, etc.)

Bromwell: $37,542
Ellis: $31,971
Raft: $30,147
Middleton: $28,746
Ashton U of Pa: $19,599 (because of out-of-state tuition)
Lawndale State: $10, 206 (in-state tuition)

Both Professor Woods have said that they thought I would get at least some scholarship funding if I went to their universities, but I now know I wouldn’t get any needs-based funding. I guess I’ll have to apply to a number of different schools; I’ve started asked the other people here who are in Creative Writing programs about their schools.

Thank you for everything,


SUBJECT: re: bait
DATE: 06/23/00


No, I haven’t ‘gone fishing’ yet, but tomorrow and Sunday afternoon are supposed to be nice – sunny but only in the upper 70s. Jane agreed to take out her water colors for the first time here and hang out in what is called the ‘south field.’ That’s a wide strip of mowed grass near the woods on the south side of the colony. Jane will paint in the shade and I can move in and out of the sun as I work on the two sestinas and two roundels due for poetry class on Monday while getting a light tan. I am hoping I can in turn use those as song lyrics – Mystic Spiral can use some decent lyrics. I will be throwing some chum in the water then by wearing the dark green halter top and a pair of cut offs. Yes, I will be wearing my boots. I will also be taking an old blanket I brought. I will therefore be removing said boots and socks to get a full tan, thus maximizing the chum in the water. I will also be packing the bear-strength pepper spray, just in case there is a feeding frenzy.



Sunday afternoon, Daria and Jane again staked out their territory near the woods, like they had the afternoon before. Both were in halter tops (Jane’s briefer than Daria’s, which hid most of Daria’s front but none of her back) and cut-off shorts. Both were barefoot, with their boots and socks near Daria’s blanket. Jane set up a portable easel near the spread out blanket and alternated work on a pair of water colors at a time. Daria was lying on her stomach, writing and correcting that writing in a regular spiral notebook, drafting her poems. Part of the blanket was in the sun shine, part of it in the shade, and Daria adjusted herself between the two periodically, as well as moving the blanket when necessary.

The teens were hardly the only students enjoying the sun, although most were making the error of being entirely in the sun. About half the women were dressed similarly to Daria and Jane, and most of the rest were in at least in bikini tops, if not bikini bottoms or thongs as well. Still, Daria and Jane were getting, and quietly enjoying, their fair share of attention, although Daria had to keep talking herself into staying as she was.

After about two hours, Jane rinsed out her brushes and went to sit down in the sun, making Daria shift over to the shade a bit early. Daria simply rolled over on to her back to make room, setting down her pencil and notebook.

“Poems going okay?” Jane asked.

“I think so,” Daria replied. “I like them as poems, but only one might make good lyrics as well.”

“Come on, Spiral usually makes do with awful lyrics anyway,” Jane pointed out.

“While I wouldn’t mind helping Trent out, the point is to get something I can pretend was published, or at least performed,” Daria pointed out. “You know; something people other than those in grunge bars might read or hear.”

“Good point,” Jane agreed. “When he called last week, I asked if the band would be interested in new lyrics for their old songs. He said they would consider any you came up with.”

“Really? Thank you for asking.”

“No problem,” Jane said, slathering addition sunscreen on her long legs while Daria did her friend’s back.

“Why water colors, by the way? You aren’t working with them this summer.”

“That’s one reason why I wanted to use them,” Jane replied. “I don’t do water color often, but if you don’t, they can be difficult to pick up and use well. That, and oils take a lot more time and precision than watercolor or even acrylics. And I don’t like switching between acrylics and oils.”

“Whatever you say. Dare I ask what you painted?”

“I managed to get three,” Jane replied, turning to put sun screen on Daria’s back and shoulders. “Two of the crowd, one of them pretty detailed, and one of you in the shade, same as yesterday. I might use them as sketches for some oil work. I doubt you want to hear it, by the way, but you look good.”

“Thank you,” Daria replied. “That group over there seems to be especially interested in your legs.”

“And I think a few more at concentrating on you. I admit I am a bit surprised at how, well, open you’re being, especially the halter top, short cut-offs, and bare feet.”

“To tell the truth, I couldn’t lie around Lawndale looking like this, even in your back yard,” Daria agreed. “Somehow, I feel I just can here.”


“It’s not easy for me, being on display like this,” Daria admitted.

“Well, they don’t know us, so no one has any expectations, and if anyone does get annoying, we don’t have to live with it after August,” Jane mused.

“I’m sure that’s part of how I’m managing to pull this off without blushing, or worse,” Daria agreed.

“And this is almost like being at the beach – lots of grilled skin out there. We blend in.”

Daria smirked. “I wish I had the sun burn treatment concession here. You’d think college students would have more sense. It looks like about a third of them aren’t using any sunscreen.”

“You’d think they would know better, wouldn’t you?” Jane agreed. “Eh, who said artists and writers had common sense?”

“Speaking of people with apparently no sense, what were you and Alison plotting last night?”

“She and I had a bet in class on Friday – who could come up with the snarkiest commentary on Daniel’s monologue and his inane attempts to comment on student work he didn’t understand.”

“I take it you won?”

Jane lay down on her side and looked at Daria. “Hey, I learned from the best. I just pretended I was you and she didn’t stand a chance.”

Daria glanced over, “Ha, ha. You’re almost droll. What did you win?”

“Dinner at The Hungry Palette next Friday.”

Daria frowned. “Why next Friday instead of last Friday?”

“She said she should be getting a check from the Fellowship that’s sponsoring her on Wednesday.”

“Let me know if the food’s any good. Maybe we can swing it some time.” Daria thought, and asked, “What did she do, spend all her money on setting up the Fourth?”

“I hope not.”

The pair went back to getting some sun.


The Fourth of July would be somewhat hot (mid-80s) and sunny. Rather than the usual classes, the schedule would be 8:30-9:30, 10:00-11:00, 1:30-2:30, and 3:00-4:00. The residents of the colony would grill lunch and dinner, allowing the staff time off. The bonfire and marshmallow roast (no alcohol or fireworks other than sparklers allowed) would start at 8:00 and last until nearly midnight. A space on the south side of the campus was set up for the fire, just on the inside of the road that circled the colony, across the road from the south field.

As soon as Jane had heard of the bonfire, an idea struck her. She conspired with Alison, and the idea mutated and also spread a bit. Therefore, a little after 7:45 that evening, seven young women gathered with Jane and Daria to get ready, as they were the only two participants with their own cabin.

“I don’t know how you talk me into these things, Lane,” Daria grumbled as she entered her bedroom to don her costume.

Alison and Robin merely snorted in amusement. One of the women turned to Alison when the doors to Jane and Daria’s respective bedrooms shut and said, “Daria is a real cutie. Are you sure she doesn’t swing both ways?”

“She and Jane are both adamant,” Alison said simply. “And no poaching on Jane,” she added warningly.

“Jane’s not her type,” another woman put in. “You know Kimmy likes ‘em cute and poutie.”

The group quickly changed and waited for Jane and Daria. The two soon joined the others, but Daria said, “Just one more thing,” and ducked into the bathroom. Two muffled grunts of pain soon followed.

“Err, Jane, should we be concerned?” Robin asked.

“Naw, she’s just putting in her contacts,” Jane said. “She hates ‘em.”

Meanwhile, the bonfire was quickly building into a small inferno in the gathering twilight. A few of the students, knowing that Alison and her crowd were planning something, were looking around, curious. The rest were mostly milling about, talking.

Suddenly, the group’s attention was drawn across the road and the south field to the woods by the sound of several conch shells being blown. Once sufficient attention had been gained, nine spear-carrying figures emerged from the woods, silhouetted female shapes, with small sparkling symbols on them. As they crossed the road, the figures became fully recognizable.

All nine were wearing moccasins and carrying rough spears. Six of the nine were wearing leopard or tiger-print swimsuits – Daria and Robin were wearing conservative two piece suits which would have been acceptable just after World War II, and they and two others also wore fabric around the waist which highlighted one bare outer thigh. One woman was in a thong and micro-top, and most just accepted she was wearing an animal print on principle, since there really wasn’t enough of the pattern showing to be certain. Alison and another woman were wearing leather bikinis, while the last member of the group had a leather top and a tiger-print bottom. Jane and two others had conch shells slung around their necks. All had various symbols and animal shapes painted on their skin in reflective glitter paints.

“We come in peace,” Alison stated. She held out the hand not carrying the spear, and the other eight did the same, showing they all had bags of marshmallows. “We bring these offerings.”

Ms Proctor walked over and said, “We welcome you, daughters of the woods, and accept your offerings.”


When a frowning Daria came out of the bathroom late that night, having just removed her contacts, Jane said, “You seemed to have a good time.”

Daria just glared.

“Come on, I’ve never seen you dance before!”

“Pink taffeta will clash horribly with your tiger print,” Daria mock-growled.

“You were dancing with Fred quite a bit.” Jane frowned. “Where was Ted?”

“Ted lives about an hour away, and was visiting his family,” Daria replied.

“So, you tried to move in on the gay guy?”

“Fred said they were bi, and we were just dancing,” Daria said. “Don’t worry, I won’t be getting into any car with just Fred in it.”

“Fair enough.”


SUBJECT: week three in review
DATE: 07/07/00
ATTACHEMENTS: poetryjournals.doc; sun spot.doc; jl-23.jpg

Dear Mom, Dad, and Quinn:

I guess I’ll go with the usual order. Short stories class is much the same. The professor has indeed switched favorites again this week, leaving last week’s all whiney and, outside of class, even nasty towards the new favorite. I, fortunately, am not targeted. My effort this week earned a bit less red ink, and some of it was very positive. The angst work is going well. Woods was especially complementary because he figured it would take me the rest of the summer to complete that, while not fulfilling the work for class. Instead, I would say I am in the middle of the pack, or a bit better, as far as the actual work and am at least slightly ahead of where he thought I would be on the angst. Still, as prestigious as he, and Bromwell, might be, I am wondering if that program would be for me.

John Woods and the class all thought my locked-room story was the best. He thinks if I can get a Melody Powers novel sold, I would be able to actually sell that story and two of the five I already had, piggy-backing them off the novel with some more work on them. Not anything like a guarantee, but absolute genuine praise – I’ve only heard him say that three other’s stories might be salable.

Professor Charles reminded the class of something I figured out long ago – most advertized poetry contests are scams, designed to get you to pay a fee to have works included in volumes only the participants will buy. Still, not all are scams, and there are some genuine possibilities out there. She recommends three (see the attachment). These do require a fee for first time attempts to contribute ($5 per entry) but the fees are returned if the poem is published or, if it’s rejected, they find enough merit to ask for future submissions. She said one of mine would be suitable. Would one of you please submit the attached poem to the highlighted journal?

The art program lecturers post at least one piece per week (a collective decision by all of them). Jane did a drawing of me while I was writing on my laptop, and it was posted as the ‘piece of the week’ last Tuesday. (That means it will be displayed on the colony’s web site under this year’s pieces as long as the site is up, plus $10. I attached the image of it.) She and Alison are off having a celebratory dinner tonight. I bought Jane a gelato Wednesday for the same reason. I thought I’d be writing later, but I got knocked out of the second round of a backgammon tournament! I left after the last person I knew got knocked out in the third round. I am glad to hear that all is going well back in Lawndale. And no, Mom, I have not written to Aunt Amy – she’s been at a workshop in Acapulco all month, but should be back tomorrow. I’ll send her a summary later tonight.



SUBJECT: re: re: college
DATE: 07/07/00
ATTACHEMENTS: amazons01.jpg; amazons09.jpg; amazons15.jpg

Dear Mom and Dad:

Thanks for the information on graduate assistanceships and fellowships. I had obviously never really understood the terms. Yes, I can see why those would be major considerations for deciding on graduate programs, especially with tuition waivers! My current plan would be to get a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (the M.F.A. is usually a three year degree from what I have found out, at least at the better universities). The M.F.A. is actually the terminal degree in Creative Writing, but I think I would also like to try to get a PhD in either English Literature or Comparative Literature (that degree seems to mean expertise in literature in two languages other than English; I don’t know if I could bring my Spanish, French, and/or Latin up to that by then). I guess I’ll have to see if I can get through the other two programs first, not to mention still having the interest to keep going after six years of higher education. I suppose it would also depend on if I was selling or not as an author. Most of the feedback I’ve gotten, from both the instructors and the other students, remind me that as difficult as it is to get fiction/poetry/etc. into print, it’s even harder to make a decent living at it. I think I can sell, but it would nice to have a profession to support my writing that doesn’t include ‘do you want fries with that’ or ‘the specials for tonight are.’ Yes, I know, Mom, you still want me to think about law school. I have not totally rejected the idea, but will not decide on such a path until my junior year in college at the earliest.

As for the images, those are from the bon fire. The first was taken of the nine of us in our cabin, since that’s where everyone met to do the body paints. The second shows me dancing with Fred, an artist friend of Jane’s (we’re doing a polka, not a slow dance), while the last show Jane, Vikki, Robin, and Alison as they attempted to do some kind of primal hop to a dance. We had a fun time.

Mother, you are probably pleased at the photos (I’m not so sure Dad is). Do not expect me to become ‘party Daria’ or ‘social Daria’ when I return to Lawndale. While there are a number of phonies, posers, and shallow egotists here, I am, for the first time in my life, surrounded by ‘my own kind.’ If I need to be off by myself, to work, read, or just reflect, that is not only accepted, it is simply acknowledged as normal, something I have never experienced, other than by Jane. As much as you love me, you have also striven to try and make me fit a definition of normal which is abnormal for me. Perhaps, in reaction to your pushing me in directions which are not only uncomfortable but which have been at times actually painful and perhaps injurious emotionally, I have in return pushed back too hard as well. Our dressing as we did for the bon fire was seen here as either amusingly clever or eccentric. If we had gone to Lawndale High’s annual homecoming bonfire like that, Ms Li would have slapped us in detention or self-esteem class, and we would have been mocked as ‘the cave girls’ for the rest of our time there. For half the students who even know who I am at Lawndale, I am still ‘the misery chick’ and for another third, I am probably ‘Quinn’s weird relative.’ As great as the writing and coaching and opportunity for stretching my creativity has been here, the greatest thing about Ashfield, with all its many faults, is that for the first time in my life I feel I can really I can act what is ‘normal’ for me. I fit in, and it is a glorious, liberating feeling.

Thank you again, both of you, for your support in allowing me to discover I can let myself be what is normal for me.



SUBJECT: re: boys
DATE: 07/07/00

Quinn, I cannot believe you suggested that! I will NOT volunteer for a life drawing class; you would pose nude before I ever would. I would not do that even for Jane in private. Nor will I ‘accidentally’ allow my halter top to fall off, even partially! I hope you were just teasing about both. I danced with a boy at the bon fire, so lay off!



Daria had just finished sending a summary of her first three weeks at the colony to Amy when a stunned looking Jane came in the door.

“What’s wrong?” Daria asked.

“Alison kissed me!”

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