Lily’s College Lesbianage #14: Libraries, Gay Marriage and Therapy

I am currently sitting in Butler Library, the extraordinarily beautiful Columbia University library that I never, ever step into. I generally hate this library. For one, I cannot get work done in here because it is too pretty and I end up spending an hour taking pictures of how pretty it is. I then spend another 20 minutes figuring out how to send those pictures to my friends from home as if to say “Ya, this is my library, isn’t it gorgeous? Don’t you wish you were here? Aren’t you jealous?” (I never get texts back).

It's so pretty!

Another problem with this library is that during the school year I can never find a seat. I am generally that asshole who wears heels to the library, a fact that does not exactly make my treacherous library excursions go any smoother (I just want to feel pretty and tall!). Unfortunately, a crowded library means a lot of walking around in quiet rooms while desperately searching for a seat. I am forced to walk around multiple rooms, my heels loudly click-clacking on the floor, while 100 pissed off faces stare up at me as if to say, “I hope you die in a painful high heel-related incident.”

But the main reason I never study in here is because of all the smart people. I feel inferior to everyone. I know that I am not, I really do. But the second I step into this goddamn library I feel as if my IQ has dropped 50 points and that the highest number I can count to is 10—maybe 11.  Every time I have attempted to do my work in here my mind doesn’t seem to want to focus on whatever vaguely-gay-related paper I am writing but rather on whatever the person sitting next to me is working on. My brain does a whole “oh god, I’m sitting here writing nonsense while some grad student next to me is figuring out a cure for AIDS.” Whenever I see a lot of numbers and weird symbols I just assume that it is the formula to cure some previously incurable disease.

Yet here I am sitting in Butler Library, not curing AIDS. Why? Because it is a thousand billion trillion fucking degrees in New York City and my tiny jail cell-like dorm room has no air conditioning, directly faces the sun and is a generally unfun place to hang out in. Butler Library has air conditioning, spacious tables and books! Also, it is summer and I feel like library people are way less judgmental during the summer.

Gay Marriage NYC

A couple of weeks ago my friend and I decided it would be a good idea to go downtown to watch people get gay married. Is it creepy to casually eat your breakfast while watching people you don’t know get married? Maybe. But it is 100% worth it. The plan was to stay for an hour and then go to the beach, but the sky was dark, the beach was far and the couples were too beautiful to miss. We stayed for almost four hours.

This Summer Is Going By Super Fast and There’s a Bunch of Stuff I Didn’t Get Done.

I had many lofty goals this summer, including:

1) Find a gym and go to it. (Did not happen.)
2) Become someone who “does” yoga. (Nope.)
3) Read a bunch of books. (I read half of one!)
4) Write a screenplay about a 20 year-old girl on summer break who realizes that her life long dream of becoming a child/teen star will never be realized because she is no longer a child/teen. Also, she has no acting talent. Call it “That’s Not So Raven.” Pretend it’s a work of fiction even though everyone knows it’s about me. (I have written two lines of this future Demi Lovato-starring and Oscar-winning picture.)
5) Find a therapist. (See below.)

For the last two years I have felt as if I have been in constant search for a therapist. The reality is that I just tell myself (and countless other people) that I am in constant search, when in actuality the most I ever do is compile names and numbers on my “Therapi$tsss” word document and think really hard about calling them. This summer I told myself I would actually pick up the phone and dial some numbers. It took me a month and a half but I finally began calling and meeting with ladies who charge me $150 to sit in a chair and talk for 40 minutes about my fear of accidentally stepping on small animals. (I really hope I conquer that fear soon because there are a TON of small birds who walk extremely close to my feet and I truly fear for their poor little lives).

I have read enough books from the psychology section of Barnes and Noble to know that many of people (read: lady memoirists ages 20-45) have compared looking for a therapist to dating. But it has taken me years to experience what that actually feels like. One therapist didn’t call me back for a week and I thought about it every single day. Did I say something wrong in my phone message? Did I come on too strong? Are we moving too fast?

The one question that I couldn’t stop asking was why I wasn’t just “clicking” with someone? It’s really not hard to “click” with me—all you have to do is laugh at my jokes. Seriously, if you think I am funny I will like you. That’s my one requirement for a therapist and my one requirement for a potential romantic partner.

I just recently found someone I think I’ll stick with. My school insurance covers her and she laughs at the jokes I make so basically it’s a match made in heaven.

Perhaps I should start real-people dating instead of just therapist dating. But the thing is, I have this very strong feeling that I will one day marry Ellen Page. I tell people this in jest (like, haha what a silly notion, look how funny I am!) but I am actually 100% serious. So really, there is no reason for me to date people now when I am just going to end up with Ellen later.  I am quite lucky to have that kind of security in my life.

Wisdom Teeth and College Wisdom

In less than two weeks I go back home to Florida to get my Wisdom Teeth pulled out. I am scared for the pain and chipmunk cheeks, excited for the pain meds and even more excited to get a quick break from the hectic environment that is New York City.

Also, if any of you wonderful people have questions about Barnard, college or what it is like to look and sound exactly like Beyonce, feel free to message me or ask me questions in the comments! I certainly don’t have the answers to most life questions but I can try and do my best to answer any of your college-related questions!

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Lily has written 33 articles for us.

72 Comments

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    I relate to the part about therapists. I finally took the plunge and emailed one for a consultation, and she never wrote back, and immediately I was like WHY DO THERAPISTS HATE ME? Totally logical. Anyway. Took me a while to try again, and I’ve been seeing one for a bit now and it’s been really nice to have that outlet once a week. Highly recommend it.

    And *I* am jealous of your library!

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    As an NYU student, I feel the same way about the library. I go into Bobst to try to write a paper about musical theatre or the heteronormativity of 90s television (that was a kickass paper, by the way), and I end up sitting next to some Stern business kid who’s going to end up the president of a Fortune 500 or a pre-med kid who’ll cure cancer and AIDS (overachievers).

    And dating… NYU is (according to Princeton Review) the #1 LGBTQ-friendly school. Most of my friends are queers. I work for the LGBTQ Student Center. Did that get me a date? Of course not!

    I’d like to know how Columbia feels about NYU. NYU is all “We’re up to par with you even though we’re not an Ivy. And you have a gated campus and grass and stuff, and we have cement and concrete. Woohoo!”

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      I think everyone at Columbia has varying views about NYU. I love NYU and reeally want my brother to go there, so there’s that! Also I know a bunch of ladies at both Columbia and Barnard who have dated NYU ladies-I feel like we have a good exchange going on in that department.

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        I am a future (ie, 3 weeks! what!) NYU student and I have some things to say on this topic.

        1. My girlfriend goes to Columbia and she likes me and so do her friends. #proudmemberoftheUPTOWNDOWNTOWNDYKEEXCHANGE #imadethatoneup
        #i’msoclever

        2. My sister goes to Barnard and she likes me and so do her friends.

        3. They both relay a fair amount of disparagement and scorn for NYU from the Columbia/Barnard culture at large, but also a fair amount of respect from individuals (that might, however, have more to do with my sister’s theatre friends being impressed/excited that I am going to Tisch for drama, which in the theater-kid world is kind of a big deal but not that big of a deal, depending on who you are and stuff).

        So I think what’s going on is that everyone at Columbia/Barnard *thinks* other people think poorly of NYU but really the vast majority of them don’t? Maybe? Definitely plenty of people find love or at least sex with NYU students…

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      I tried to read your comment and got stuck on “heteronormativity” three times before I got it. I do not belong in libraries. I belong in whimsical gift shops and book shops where you can collect in your head all the books you definetly would like to read and will buy one day but probably will never read all the way through!

      I think my studying english at university is a bad thing…to summarise, I think I will drop out.

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    My totally unsolicited advise to you:
    – take some flat shoes to the library with you (for example ballerinas) and change shoes before you go looking for a spot to settle down. Just because you’re vain due to self-esteem issues you don’t have to be an inconsiderate nuisance for fellow library users.
    (full disclosure: I’m one of those people wishing library-visiting people wearing click-clacking heels a very painful heel-related accident.)

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      If she has any sense she won’t take advice from someone who can’t even spell it. Advice and advise are not the same word.

      I recommend you spend more time studying than making judgements about people you don’t know.

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        Yeah, I noticed that mistake. Alas too late. Due to lack of edit button and English not being my first language and one I do not need in my everyday life, at work only sometimes “passively” and not at all for writing my M.A. thesis, I’m cutting myself some slack there.

        Also this: “I recommend you spend more time studying than making judgements about people you don’t know.” ROFL.
        Pot: Hey kettle, know what? You’re black.
        Kettle: Hey, look, so are you.
        Pot: Nooo, that’s not black, it’s ‘coal’.

        Moreover, to what extend is it passing judgement pointing out “Oh, a duck.” regarding someone who walks like a duck (lol) and even professes “I’m a member of the family of Anatidae.” Who am I to quarrel with that?

        Telling someone off on the basis that this person sucks at spelling or struggles with grammar or using those facts as an indicator that they are dimwitted/stupid/need to study more – might bite you in your behind when directed at a person struggling with dyslexia. Just a thought. :)

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          “Just because you’re vain due to self-esteem issues you don’t have to be an inconsiderate nuisance for fellow library users.” is utterly rude and indefensible.

          Enjoying looking attractive and finding high heels a pleasure to wear is not an indicator of low self-esteem. Trying to defend yourself by saying you were merely stating a fact is ridiculous.

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          Dear Pot,

          know what, you’re right. My statement which you quote above is utterly rude. And indefensible as in I’m not trying to defend it. I’m standing by it. I said something (widely regarded as) rude. What about it?

          It may very well be that the author is not vain due to low self-esteem. I made an interpretative leap. Basis of this leap (which I don’t consider to be very far) are her other statements concerning feeling insecure or inferior. Also in direct connection with library visits. Furthermore was I looking for a ‘good’ or strong enough reason why someone would choose(!) to wear auditory intrusive footgear to a library (of all places fercryinoutloud). And also fully well knowing that other people in attendance at the library in question feel disturbed/interrupted/intruded upon/are given a hard time to concentrate on their work (which might be finding a cure for AIDS or cancer – nah, just pulling your leg there. probably merely studying to attain a degree of tertiary education for which they may or may not go into debt).Apart from that almost crippling insecurity or low self-esteem seem to be a very common occurence among teens, early twens, possibly up to mid twens in industrialized countries whose populace experiences extended adolescence (<- no judgment here, just facts. for realz.).
          It did seem feasible to me that faced with the intelligence-shrinking powers of a library/insecurity one's overall feeling of self-worth or just feeling good about oneself might be in danger to be or even be impaired and thus it would be necessary to take action to counteract these feelings. To do something to feel good about oneself or at least to not forebear something one usually does to feel good about oneself. In this case namely wearing clicky-d-clack heels making one feel "pretty and tall".

          In summary, what is a 'good enough' reason why someone would value his or her wish to feel pretty and tall via high heeled clicky footwear higher than other people's wish to work in silence in a public space designated for such purposes? And what have I garnered about said person in her writings so far? Nearest answer seemed to me the one I've given.
          But I see you're right and I'm wrong. I'm amiss with this judgment. I'm sorry. I should have stuck to the text. In that regard she's simply a self-professed asshole. Guess, that's that then.

          Yours truly, Kettle

          Tomfoolery aside, I think it's highly rude and inconsiderate to be loud in a library, whether you're having a super important meeting of your study group or wearing instruments of torment. I personally would love to take my longboard as a comforter to the library with me. But I don't, because I know that, what I consider the subtle and soothing sounds of the bearings, plenty of others consider that fracking noise that just let's them want to tear their hair out (and possibly inspires them to fantasies involving violence). And the fuck do I know about their(!) lives and what else they have to deal with and don't wanna make it harder. (Also getting past security might pose a problem.) Hence longboard and fingerboard stay out of the dome of silence and laborious brainwork.
          I'm not gonna lie (Whitney TM) being an annoying fellow library visitor and then writing about it coy and self-deprecating doesn't help it, doesn't excuse it, doesn't make it endearing or cute imnsho, wins no love with me. And as a compliant and considerate fellow of the order of library slaves (when I'm there) I choose to call you out on it. And I might get rude. As in this case.
          Sorry, if I hurt anyone's feelings. Now either wear those clicky heels without a whine, bear the mean stares and be prepared to get into a mean fight or go get a chair and get over yourself, find some other way to feel pretty and change footwear for the library.

          And with that I bid you good night.

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          ^ Classic example of our society’s fucked up attitute with “if you tell someone they’re being rude, you’re being ruder.” Which is why most people just shut up and pretend to ignore it rather than address it firsthand.

          Personally, I was a shit-disturber in high school’s library and was constantly yelled at for it, but I completely empathize with the ones who are there to work, and I no longer do that.

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          Hi Pika!

          I just wanted to clear up a few things. Number one: I was making a little joke about the shoes–my humor is self-deprecating (always has been!) but I do tryyy to make sure that it is not obnoxiously self-deprecating and rather a sort of relatable type of self-deprecation. I think a lot of people become incredibly self-aware when surrounded by a bunch of strangers and tend to get into their head/convince themselves that everyone hates them when in such situations (as I completely do). Some people don’t like the way I write or what I write about and that’s totally cool–we are all entitled to our own opinions and constructive criticism is always appreciated. Whether I’m wearing loud heels or squeaky sneakers I do feel self-conscious when I’m walking around a quiet room of hard working studiers. I too am a very hardworking and studious individual who completely understands the importance of silence, I truly do. I just also really like shoes so sometimes I wear loud shoes to the library without realizing how loud they are until I am unfortunate enough to be walking around a quiet and crowded room.

          Number two: you are right, I am insecure about a lot of things. I am twenty years old–insecurity happens! But I have to say, the one thing I am not insecure about is the way I look. I am totally confident in my outward appearance! I just genuinely enjoy dressing up when I set out to do strenuous work. I find it to be the silver lining to the otherwise stressful environment that I am embarking upon. It sounds silly, but that is how I have always been. It has nothing to do with wanting to impress other people, it is about comfort and personal style.

          Also, I tend to go to one of the other smaller libraries on this campus and never find a problem there. I was talking about Butler because I happened to be there when I was writing this.

          Anyway, thank you for reading my article and good luck on your thesis!!

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          it’s like, you’re being a sassy bitch here, but i want to be your friend now because your username is pika… that’s my cat’s name…and the default avatar looks kind of like my cat… and if my cat were a college-educated person, this is the kind of awful comment she’d write. my cat’s mean, too. what i’m saying is maybe you’re my cat and if so, call me

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    You wear heels in the library? You are that girl who rather than distracts us from our study with annoying clicking inadvertently turns us on with her fast paced clicking down the stacks? And then we get awkward because we’re like, I’M WRITING A PAPER ON HUMAN SEXUALITY, I AM TURNED ON, AND I WILL GO HOME ALONE TO MY TWIN EXTRA LONG AND BE FRUSTRATED TONIGHT.

    I wear Doc Martens and oversized wool sweaters to MY library. And usually on my search for a therapist, too.

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    Speeeeaking of the library…

    Maybe it’s just my school, but I see more hot lezbos studying away in their computer nooks in the library commons than anywhere out downtown. Anyone with me?

    How the hell do you approach someone in a quiet room of 70 + people??
    I know one of y’all ‘mos out there has a good pick up line. Help me out!

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      I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing pre-college, in-college, and soon, post-college.

      You are totally normal, my dear. In fact, you might be more normal than most people IN college already. Rejoice and enjoy queering up your campus for the next 4 years. It’s quite the experience :)

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      That is so normal!! I still feel like I have no clue what I’m doing…

      But seriously, no one has a clue what they are doing when they first move to college. You are going to think that everyone else knows what they are doing because they are all doing their best to look like they know what they are doing, but the reality is that everyone is equally lost and scared and just wants to make like one or two friends. Just keep that in mind and you’ll be fine!

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      This is adorable and 100% normal. I always want to help people who are freaking out about college — I was an RA my second year and an orientation leader my fourth year and telling first years not to freak out is sort of like doing homework for a class I really like. I think mostly what this says about me is that I’m super maternal but what it says about you is you are not alone! Talk to lots of people and your roommates and your RAs and your older friends, and don’t panic just because you don’t know what to expect. It’s going to be fun :)

      As for therapist stuff, I work in a psychologist’s office and I actually get intimidated by our aggressive contacting of patients. We answer the phone on the first ring and we call people like 3 times if they don’t answer. Good luck finding someone, I hope they’re not as bad at communication once you get to see them.

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      Yeah, that’s entirely normal! I made it through both college and grad school with no fucking clue what I was doing or what was happening to me. Actually, I still have no idea what’s going on or what I should be doing with myself.

      Life is really confusing, you guys.

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    Finding a therapist is so hard. I was too afraid to have a chat with the last person I tried to go see so I just went for it. When I got there, she was 20 years older than her picture online and kept trying to do psychoanalysis bullshit because she was all into freud. Good luck!

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    A great way to finding a therapist is Callfortherapy.com. Basically I it connects me to a licensed therapist over the phone for only $20 per half hour. The first five minutes are free and you even get to try out up to five therapists.

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    “I hope you die in a painful high heel-related incident.”

    I spittled my water out a lil at that one :)

    I myself have been on a therapist hunt, especially now that I think okcupid has severely damaged my self esteem.

    I had a great one (finally!) after an entire teenage existence of not good one’s (one was a catholic priest! I’m not even catholic or religious at all, but he was covered by the insurance my mom got (cobra I think?) to help with all my fun ADD and Depression & Being in the closet issues. [Note: I got a lot of "Oh you're just going through a phase, you don't really feel like that"].) Anyway, i sadly had to leave my awesome therapist behind when I jumped out of the North Carolina net that so many people that grew up there have a hard time breaking through. But I did and it’s been some of the best therapy for me in the world. Bonus points to living in NYC now which is fantastic despite the trash juice smell.

    PS – I also wear heels in Library’s and apparently all sorts of “that loudness is inappropriate” places. They sound neat in the subway.

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    You didn’t say we could ask about therapists but I’m going to anyway as I’m a rebel. You mentioned meeting with lady therapists and not men. Why is that? I have a man therapist and want a lady therapist and feel guilty about it.

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      I think I’ve convinced myself that I’m just more comfortable talking to a woman. I’ve also never gotten a referral for a man therapist (manapist? mancologist? that one could work for a male gynecologist as well. what if your gyno was also your therapist? you’d get so much stuff done so quickly!). aaaanywho, perhaps one day I’ll try out talking about my problems to a man. I think the gender probably wouldn’t matter–just how comfortable I am with the person.

      Don’t feel guilty about wanting a different therapist! You should really do what feels best for you…that’s the whole point of therapy in the first place.

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        seconding the how comfortable you are part- I tell my male bestfriend pretty much everything, and my female bestfriends about everything, and if either doesn’t get told something, it’s more to do with my comfort level discussing things with them than sex/gender/whatever.

        Also, I totally want to go to med school and can’t decide if I would want to go into psychiatry or obgyn. I’m still trying to figure out if it would be possible in any way to do both, because, hey, that would be pretty awesome, and like you said, you could get more done more quickly, right?

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    Lily! Fun post! Let me just tell you though, as a graduate student I can say that I still feel like a dumb person in pretty libraries. And clicky heels are sexy, so keep wearing them =)

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      The Columbia-Barnard queer life is sort of what you make it. My whole freshman year here I just assumed that Barnard was the straightest college ever. I have come to learn that most people here do not necessarily consider themselves straight. They might not consider themselves gay either but, at Barnard at least, it seems as though everyone is a little bit queer. There are groups that you can join at both Barnard and Columbia and I definitely advise going to some of those meetings when you first get here, even if you never go again or find that those sorts of things aren’t for you it is nice to go to a meeting or two in order to meet people. But I think you can meet other gay people pretty much anywhere here–classes, clubs, publications–I’ve met them everywhere!!

      During NSOP there will probably be a LGBTQ breakfast that if you are interested in you should go to. It is a nice way to meet people during that hectic first week.

      Good luck and let me know how it goes!!

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    If I could, I would live in a college library. I have yet to see one that isn’t gorgeous. I’m like Belle in Beauty and the Beast when she walks into his mansion and sees the giant wall of books.
    And I can assure you I will ask at least one question about Barnard in the near future!

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    I was just in front of Butler a couple of days ago! My school’s peacejam (a club that likes world peace and cupcakes and shit like that) went to tour the United Nations and while we were in the city I took the subway up to Morningside Heights for a visit. Any suggestions for getting in to Barnard? I’m halfway through the Common App.

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      Ah well there’s the usual good grades and test scores and all that boring stuff. But I know that Barnard is extremely thorough in their admissions process. They really do read every essay and take every part of your application into consideration. I know for me I didn’t have the highest test scores ever, they were fine but not mind-blowing, but I wrote an essay that really showed my personality. It was a lot like the articles I write here in that it was in my own voice and was about being gay but in a humorous way. I’ve since met some of the admissions people and they totally remember my essay! I think they really are looking for well rounded and hard working individuals who are more than just good test takers with high gpas–they’re looking for interesting and creative people.

      Also, if you have a chance make sure to sign up to take a tour here that way they know you already have interest in the school. Or if you cant do that send them an email about setting up an interview or something else that shows that you are very interested in going here rather than it just being one of the many schools you decided to apply to.

      I just say go for it and you’ll be fine!! Good luck!

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    Hi, Lily!

    I just wanted to say that your column is insanely funny and insightful. It’s great through so many lenses: I’m a native New Yorker, and it’s cool to see New York City through your eyes; I’m a queer girl, and it’s exciting to see what LGBTQetc life can be in college; and I’m applying to Barnard Early Decision! Thanks for sharing all your thoughts. You rock.

    Question: How well do Columbia and Barnard mix socially outside of a dating context? I know there’s plenty of hetero dating going on, but what are the best ways to meet dudes who want close female friends? I’ve always loved girls and had strong girl friendships, but I also love being one of the proverbial guys. Is this doable? What’s the best way?

    Maybe that’s too long and convoluted of a question, but I figured I might as well ask!

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      Hi!! I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to respond!

      #1: I hope your name is actually Pearl because that is my middle name and I never meet anyone else named Pearl!

      #2: I’m super excited that you decided to apply to Barnard early decision! I know a ton of people who did that and said it was the best option.

      #3:Columbia and Barnard mix pretty well socially. It honestly depends on what organizations or clubs you decide to join and classes you decide to take. It definitely does tale a bit of initiative on your part to make sure you hang out with people at Columbia or go to events where there is a good mix but honestly, I don’t think it is a problem at all. The university in general (when counting barnard, cc, seas, and gs) is definitely more girls than guys but it is 100% possible to find a good group of guy friends. Most clubs and organizations have a good mix of both…and so do a lot of classes. I personally have met some awesome guys by writing for a columbia publication called bwog.com. I’ve also met some great guys in various gender studies classes, haha.

      I hope that that is helpful! Feel free to ask me any questions that you have, for real. And let me know if you end up going to Barnard!

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    Hey, so this is really really late to be commenting on this, but wondering if anyone can give me information on Barnard College/how to maybe possibly apply and actually get in there/stuff like that?

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