Lily’s College Lesbianage #7: Smart Girls, Spice Girls & Girl-Dates to School Dances

Eek you guys it’s been over two weeks already since I last wrote! My previous post sparked a crazy awesome amount of feedback and conversation that I wholeheartedly enjoyed watching unfold. You guys seriously amaze me every single day.

First order of business: Chopin’s 200th birthday was March 1st and was definitely worth celebrating. If you don’t know who Chopin is I will just tell you that he is THE MOST AMAZING composer of classical music of all time. I’m a dork when it comes to classical music; it just makes me feel so many things! My piano teacher at Columbia (one of the best piano teachers I have ever had) decided to put together a little concert to celebrate the legend that is Frederic Chopin. I played a piece that I had eagerly learned when I was 14 but made sure to keep in my repertoire all these years; not only because my grandmother requests I play it every time I see her, but because playing it reminds me why I am alive. Seriously.

So just in case you are interested in feeling lots of emotions, here is a recording of the great Pollini playing what I have deemed “My Nocturne”.

Yes I am trying to convert you all to being Chopin lovers. Also his music WILL help you woo the ladies…I swear!

Ok so as you listen to the Nocturne (have you pushed play yet, have you??) I will begin to relay my thoughts on the past couple of weeks. Starting with a question: Did you ever get to attend a school dance with a same-sex date? And I don’t just mean as friends but as a for real, obviously together date? Well I never did until last weekend.

I’m a sucker for tradition. I grew up thinking about what my prom dress would look like, what my wedding dress would look like, where I would get married, etc. After I came to the conclusion that “oh goodness, I’m really gay,” I was afraid that I would never be able to truly experience such traditions.

Although my core beliefs seem to go against such heteronormative societal customs, I honestly don’t really care…I went to both of my proms and pretty much have already designed my wedding dress. Unfortunately I never had the chance to go to a school dance with a girl as my date.

My Date Was a Girl! A Real Lesbian Girl!

Luckily I was fortunate enough to meet a girl who happened to go to a university that was having a university-wide school dance. I was able to go as her date and not feel at all ashamed, embarrassed, scared, or anxious. Going to a dance with a girl might not have been the dream that my ten year old self had, but it was the dream my 16-year-old self had and luckily an experience that my 19-year-old self was able to enjoy.

Ah we look so traditional!

On a completely unrelated note…


I miss being a big fish in a little pond and not a little fish in an everyone-is–ridiculously-smart-and-hard-working pond (not that my high school was lacking in talent or intelligence, it just wasn’t part of an Ivy League University).

“These women are why I wanted to go to the school, why I felt I belonged, but also why I am suddenly freaking out about my abilities for success.”

It has taken me a while to figure out why everything isn’t just easily coming together for me academically. It used to be that if I applied for a position in a club, some sort of fellowship program, or wanted to volunteer for an organization—well all I had to do was apply and get the job. I had confidence in my skills; I worked hard and I felt as though I simply deserved these things.

I read a book, I understood the book, I took a test on the book, I got an A.

I had the Florida public school grading system figured out by the time I was 10 and knew exactly what to do; everything went according to plan. But after I was accepted into my top choice college, my work ethic began to wane. What do I have to work towards now? What is my goal?

I was hit hard by reality this week when I didn’t receive a position that I really wanted and actually worked quite hard to try to get. I just didn’t fit the part and while I understand the decision, I’m not used to not being rewarded for my efforts.

Barnard is full of such incredibly hard-working women who not only do well academically, but also often do well socially, have leadership positions, jobs, internships, get regular exercise, eat well, act, dance, sing, and attempt to save the world all while looking really, really good. These women are why I wanted to go to the school, why I felt I belonged, but also why I am suddenly freaking out about my abilities for success.

Smart Ladies!

Smart Ladies!

Later in the week I attended a career fair not knowing what to expect. My resume, I realized once I got there, was a complete mess. It didn’t even say that I went to Barnard College and listed only my school address even though I was looking for summer work to do while at home in Florida. I choked on my words when talking to the different representatives. When a Summer Camp head asked me if I had experience, I somehow completely forgot that I’d been a camp counselor before!

I’ve been complaining for a while now about the seemingly inhuman work ethic of my fellow classmates but have come to realize that I need to quit my whining and start working hard again. What do I want to do with my life? I tend to tell people that I don’t know, but in all honesty I’d like to be a mix between David Sedaris, Whitney Houston (pre-crack/Bobby Brown) and Ginger Spice. I’d also like to win some awards, I don’t care for what, I just want trophies. Barnard apparently does not offer that major. So I’ve decided to suck it up, start working hard, learn things, apply for jobs, get my resume intact, and try hard to be less cynical.

It’s Like Being Elle Woods, Right?

Unfortunately my cynicism is still a bit of an issue. For example, I convinced myself for an entire week last week that I was going to become a lawyer. I saw that the Columbia Law School has the only Center for Gender and Sexuality Law in the country and decided “well hey, I can do that!”

Then I heard Judith Butler speak at the law school.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the lecture and love me some Judith Butler, I couldn’t help but wonder why everyone had to use such large words and ask such overly complicated ten minute long questions. In my mind being a lawyer would be like this: I wake up, put on my powersuit and lipstick, take my name-engraved briefcase to the firm where I’m a partner via shiny car, I walk in, point to the evidence, declare, “that, Mrs. Judge, is why my gender non-conforming client is right and that bad person over there is wrong.” I then win my case and get paid lots of money.

Apparently this is not how law works (I asked my lawyer dad).

So what I’ve learned in the past 14 days is that there is probably a good chance I won’t become a lawyer. But hey, I got to go a traditionally heteronormative school dance with a girl as my date and celebrate Chopin’s birthday with one of my favorite pieces to play. I’ve been hit by reality but I’ll make it. Bring it on Barnard/Columbia/World…I’m going to dominate you one Spice Girls song at a time.

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Lily has written 29 articles for us.


  1. aw, i wish i’d known about that judith butler lecture. my friend went (goes to columbia law)… probs would have been over my head, but i’d love to see her talk.

    • Oh it was totally way over my head. I gave myself like 5 minutes before I knew I would be lost. But it was still awesome.

  2. Oh, Lily, I feel like we’ve bonded! I have so many traditional dreams and hopings and all of my friends here make fun of me because i am not an edgy lesbian with an alternative lifestyle haircut and skinny jeans and lots of queer rage. Really, I would just like to have a big white wedding and raise kids and probs wear an apron as a sign of how pathetic and just like the strais I am.

    All i’m saying is if anyone wants a little 50s housewife, I’m looking for a lesbund.

    • What is the lesbund job description? If it involves having dinners made for me, watching sport, forgetting birthdays and burping I think I may be ideal.

      However, I never really dreamed of weddings. That is until a couple of years ago when all my friends started getting married. I know I will not get married until I have saved enough to pay for my dream wedding on a pontoon floating in the middle of a lake, which all the guests have to kayak to at the start, on which there will be a free-standing tandoori oven serving indian snacks, and a cocktail bar.

      • Hi Sally, can I come to your wedding? I love lakes and kayaks and tandoori and cocktails.

        • Sure, do you mind turning up in some sort of white dress, perhaps with vail, train and entourage of cute page-children?

          • I have no young relatives- my nephew is a cat. But I could probably borrow some adorable little ones somewhere. Especially if I was promised chocolate fountains would be added to the list.

          • My Dad has an 8 year old goddaughter that is adorable and has a little ‘fro we could put flowers in. She’s even the daughter of lesbians, so the GAYNESS CONTINUES

      • Basically coming home to me in an apron and with a cocktail for you, having lots of kids and me making cookies for all of their friends. Must be able to fix plumbing and change my oil.

        • I think this would be worth taking a plumbing course for. Regarding the kids, is it ok if I have minimal contact with them until they are old enough to hold conversations, at which point we will all learn russian as a family so we can read and dissect chekhov in the original language before going outside and playing team sports.

          By the way, if I start suspiciously working late at the office, it doesn’t mean I’m having an affair, I will really be having a giant steak at the local steakhouse because there’s no way I can cope with veganism.

          Also, I have “before we begin” by broadcast stuck in my head, which was the music to shane and paige’s montage.

  3. Although I love Chopin, I have to admit that Satie is my all time favorite.

    It’s really hard when you start realizing that being a natural doesn’t really get you places. I’ve never really worked in school and I’m starting to realize that at in the real world, grades don’t count. Perfect test scores don’t matter if I’m not able to work hard to get where I want. Somewhere out there, someone is always going to be better, because they want it more. Eventually, potential fades.

    Oh, and the picture… adorable.

  4. Congrats on your date! That picture was so cute! Your smart and itteligent and hey you never know you might become a lawyer! And about the education thing I find that the souths school syestems are completely corrupted where I live they’ve pretty much banned text books (but yet still buy them) And have us learning from handout sheets. O and all we learn in my Spanish class is how to dance.Ha. pointless

  5. I LOVE Chopin! He is my fave.
    I totally know what you mean about the whole ex big fish in a little pond situation. In retrospect high school was ridiculously easy, mostly because there were other people motivating me and at uni its all down to me, which translates into doing everything last minute and a ridiculous lack of focus, even though I really love my course. Hey, at least you had the work ethic realisation in first year, and not in junior year like me! Good luck with it.

    • worddd. i’m a junior and i just started doing my reading this semester and now i realize why people say college is hard.

  6. I love Chopin, but def woo the ladies by singing “Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix” from Samson et Dalila by Saint-Saens. It’s basically the sexiest mezzo-soprano aria ever.
    I attended a Christian heritage university in the South and studied opera. Everyone in the arts is really cool with gay boys, but they don’t understand lesbians AT ALL. They would probably have kicked me out on moral grounds for taking a girl to a dance. So good for you! And for the liberal North!

  7. A 19 year old taking a date to a dance? wow culture shock. Man i´m glad we don´t have this date culture here.

  8. “I’m not used to not being rewarded for my efforts.”

    Lily, I’m about to graduate from college, and I JUST had this exact same realization. Being self-aware is worth a zillion points in life, so it seems to me like you’re going to be just fine.

  9. sometimes i feel like i took the easy way out because i took money and am going to a state school for almost free. a lot of people are here to get their degrees and their drink on [not that i’m not! i just can’t do it 5/7 nights a week.] and leave and i just want to talk about things without being ‘that girl’ in class. so, you know, the grass is always greener and stuff.

    OH AND hello you and your date. me gusta.

  10. You go to Barnard! I would love to get in there or NYU or Columbia ( – gasp – … hey they’re all in the same ball park for price so why not?) but I’m not sure I’ve got a chance? Got any tips? :P

  11. Chopin is awesome. I LOVE that you are writing about classical music. Loving Chopin will get probably anybody a date. I played your nocturne for my senior recital in high school!! Now I will read the rest of your article.

    Ok, done. You & your date are adorable!! And ughh college was such huge shock for me as far as the what size fish in what pond I was. I think you’re definitely not alone in that, though…I remember a facebook group at my Ivy League institution (wheeeee) that was called something like, “I was smart before I went to [said Ivy League institution {wheeee}].” It’s true! Just have to remember that we’re all still smart I guess…

    Also, your image of the ideal lawyer career is exactly the same as mine. Which is why I too have no intention of actually becoming a lawyer. Though my most recent fantasy was fueled by the Prop 8 trial transcripts. It would be SO satisfying to kick homophobia’s ass in a court of law!

  12. I feel ya. I had college/study abroad as my only goal for so long that once I got to college it flew by and I didn’t really know what I was supposed to want after that. I did wisely make the same decision NOT to go to law school. Beyond that I’m still trying to figure it out and mostly I’ve crossed off potential jobs. But I try to remember that I’m very lucky to have options in the first place. It’s only overwhelming sometimes because the opportunities are so endless.

  13. Okay, Number 1- I am dying over how adorable you and your date are!
    Number 2- Totally feel you on the shock of suddenly being only one of many smart women. I went from small town Wyoming to Smith College. Let me tell you, that is a huge jump.
    Number 3- Even though it’s hard sometimes, remember there’s a reason you’re there. They didn’t let you in there for nothing.
    Number 4- American Studies is totally the way to go if you want the David Sedaris/Whitney Houston/Spice Girl combo for life! If you don’t believe me check out the AMS classes there.

  14. OH MY GOD. I’m not even gonna lie. I stopped reading your article and went straight to writing this comment when I saw that you love Chopin too. But I’ll go back and read the rest, I swear! haha

    Have you listened to Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2?! It’s so beautiful!

  15. I think part of the reason people want to go back to school is because it is so much easier, relatively, to get into school than it is to get a job. at least it’s like if you do these ten things, you can go to these schools. but jobs, like you never know, it’s insane.

    one summer i applied for like 10 internships i didn’t get, and it was so relatively satisfying to just do the right things to go into summer school and take classes instead. i wish i had words of wisdom, but no one has wanted to hire me to do anything besides type in my room since like i worked at the macaroni grill.

  16. I totally agree that college is hard. In Taiwan, the teachers in jr. high say, “Work hard on your high school entrance exams and you’ll be free and can relax in high school.” Once you got into high school, they start putting pressure on students again saying, “You better work hard on your college entrance exams, then you can have fun and relax in college.” Now I’m in my sophomore year of college and I don’t think it’s all fun and relaxation, there are a lot of work to be done! I major in English, and the amount of literature things to read is mounting ever higher. But then, staying in school is probs loads easier than being out in the society with even more pressure and who knows what other kinds of hardship.

    Lovely picture, you look really great! :)

  17. Wow, reading about everyone’s hardworkingness is giving me a serious dose of apathy-shame.

    I guess I was lucky in choosing a subject that didn’t require much hard work to get good marks in, and so I usually offer the conceited opinion that one should focus more on the non-academic side of things.

    However, much has changed in the five years since I got a grown-up job, and it seems that there’s globally so much competition to elbow out of the way for decent employment that lazy, middle-class white kids are being robbed of the privilege of pissing away three years of their life and walking away with a degree certificate and cushy job. Hmm.

    Anyway, Lily, your articles are really entertaining, so please keep doing them despite all this hard work you’re going to do in taking over the world using the power of the Spice Girls.

  18. This lesbian is totally smitten by this post. Not simply cos of the lesbian dance date but of the whole idea of college and succeeding. I’ve always had anxiety about achievement.
    #1 I’m not out to my family and most of the Philippine society think it’s less than to be gay so somewhere in me, I’ve always found an urge to always be more to make me proud and slam it on their faces that ‘hey, this queer is rockin this world. what have you done?’
    #2 There aren’t really any LGBT role models here to look up to so we’ve to create models of ourselves
    #3 Bette Porter types are hot and I aspire to be one (or be with one)

  19. Before there was Bette Porter, there was Julia Sugarbaker…
    Although she was straight I still idolize her ability to lay the smack down verbally. Yes I watched a lot of Designing Women reruns in college…
    College is a huge change, whether you stay close to home or move across country. I was an honors grad in high school, straight As, etc. I didn’t party, go out…and I certainly wasn’t out as a lesbian.
    I could have done better in college if I had applied myself. I regret this at times. I do aspire to grad school at a certain point and my barely over 3.1 GPA in undergrad isn’t going to help things.
    I had a blast in college and did the above mentioned things that I didn’t do in high school. I discovered myself.
    I hope your college experience continues to grow. Cute picture by the way.

    • haha well I think americas next top model reruns might be for me just like your designing women reruns were for you!

  20. first of all, super cute picture! secondly omg i have the same problems as you. when i started college i went from a super easy high school to an “elite” program with 65 geniuses and i found myself so overwhelmed with the amount of work and the difficulty of it. then i learned the system and stopped being depressed and now everything is okay, except work is still blerg sometimes, you know? anyways, i totally get what you’re saying. school is hard sometimes.

  21. First of all, you are your date are so cute!
    This post just resonated with me in so many ways! I’m starting college soon and I’m utterly terrified of the workload. I’ve always been a competitive perfectionist and have no idea how I’ll cope with not being the best in my school.
    I totally get where you’re coming from about school being hard. But from just a few posts, you sound really intelligent; I’m sure you will succeed!
    And about planning weddings and dresses-I completely refuse to stop picturing my perfect wedding gown, even if I can’t really get married!

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