Book Title: Irene in College
Genre: New Adult/Chick Litish
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Author: Lori Goldson
In book 1 of The Life & Times Series, “Irene in College”, Irene comes face-to-face with the realization that college is anything but easy. At the mercy of an insufferable mother, pompous boyfriend, malevolent best friend, dim-witted nuisance, and an ineffable college professor, what would be easy about it? Come join Irene as she learns how to deal with it all.
Irene thought college would be the easy part—get good grades, make new friends, and say good-bye to a daunting past. Little did she know that the whimsy of life would have other plans for her!
Life has a whimsical way of kicking you in the throat. I find it to be one huge cosmic joke at our expense, only nobody is laughing but the forces that be—given that they are even a wee bit human. No, instead, we are all here crawling on our bellies like mongrels hoping that one day, somehow, someone will let us in on the joke opposed to only being the brunt of it all. That’s how I felt for the last nineteen years of my life. I have been nothing more than fodder, despite my constant efforts to rise above such put-downs.
“You’ve got to work hard, Irene,” my father, Ernest, always said before he worked himself into an early grave when I was six. He had been a construction worker who started his own business when he was only twenty-one years old. During that time, he felt it would keep him “grounded” to stay outside with the manual laborers and leave the paperwork to someone with more administrative experience—cue my mother, Esperanza, who was his girlfriend at the time.
My father did work hard. Day in, day out, he sweated through his work clothes lifting, pulling, carrying, and pushing just as the other union workers did. Sadly, his work did not come without a price. Most expect me to say that my father passed from a heart attack or heat exhaustion, which brings me back to the whimsy of life. My father was in impeccable shape at the time of his death.
It was not the elements that killed him, but himself. While working on a dormitory for a nearby university to our New Jersey home, he lost his balance while carrying what were arguably too many steel rods for one to lift on his own. But being the man he was, proud and quite hardheaded, my father carried these rods up a ladder, and ironically, when he got to the top of the structure, lost his balance and fell to his death. Working hard clearly didn’t keep him from being a victim of the masses, and the urn filled with him to the brim sitting above our fireplace was proof.
“Stop and smell the roses,” my mother often said to counteract my father’s overzealousness before she lost her mind and became so consumed with R&R that she began self-medicating with over-the-counter prescriptions, and trips to the spa to get her mind off of my father’s passing. It’s funny because I thought my life was difficult then. My father was gone and my mother was losing it. Working for my father’s company was no longer in the cards for her, understandably, but she never thought to look for other work.
She had administrative experience coming out of her ears, but I guess it all seemed too hard for her. Living off my father’s pension was just easier for her. She called herself a “stay-at-home” mom now, despite never being home. She was always in New York, Tahiti, or Dubai getting massaged and intoxicated on whatever was being sold on the black market in each location. I just hoped she didn’t speed through all the money before it came time for me to bury her. I counted the days, as I felt they would be upon me sooner than later.
Oh, if only someone had warned me that there were more universal hilarities in the works at my expense. However, as time would tell, not just my being would be jeopardized. Instead, I’d find myself crawling on my belly begging for salvation—or crucifixion—whichever came first.
Through the last few years of my high school career, I was told that I was very well adjusted considering all I had been through. My mother and I stayed in New Jersey, but moved to a smaller house and I focused in on school as to not be stuck in the house alone. I spent most of my evenings in the library, promising myself that I would get the best scholarship possible to honor my father’s “work hard” mantra. I didn’t want his death to be in vain and have his only child go on and be a loser after all he had done in such a short time. My father wasn’t even forty when he passed.
In retrospect, there’s no telling what caused this unsuspecting string of events. It might be that I was born under a questionable sign. Through my childhood and adolescence, I had no close friends. While there were people I associated with, I did not have anyone I could call a true friend because I was socially suicidal on a regular just by trying to ensure myself some type of future. Going to the mall and beach and whatever else was not likely. I had no desire to pilfer away good time with nonsense, like wandering the walkways of the locales unless it was absolutely necessary. Interestingly enough, I had no companionship growing up. I emerged into young adulthood and started to have friends and even—dare, I say—a boyfriend, and found myself as the social butterfly.
But still, the social circle wasn’t as strong as it could’ve been, and I clearly had a lot to learn about life and who and what truly makes me happy. So, maybe Michaela, Emily, Nicolette, and myself were all “destined”—and I use that term loosely—to meet and become permanent parts of my life because if you had told me when I was seventeen that a stranger would become my mentee, my enigma a closest friend, and someone I loathed my mother figure, I would have laughed in your face. Or maybe this is just the way God wanted it. I’ve learned he has an unsullied sense of humor. I know there are times I have just had to laugh with him because yeah, I guess it is kind of funny.
While I am still adjusting to what has occurred over the course of time and learning to appreciate the newfound camaraderie, I cannot help but wonder. One of the pitfalls of being a brainiac— you cannot stop thinking about stuff.
It was September of my sophomore year in college. Ah, September. The time of year I often yearn for as I get to do what I am best at—being a student. I suck at everything else. Girlfriend? Please. I didn’t have my first boyfriend until college, and to this day, we have a very weird and confusing rapport. I shudder to think of myself as a stereotype: self-conscious, full-figured nerdy female falls for the suave Dominican guy with an awesome body. I know, I know, too “hood romance novel” for me, too.
Daughter? My mom kind of hates me. I think my birth had something to do with it, since, you know, it’s my fault she lost her figure and all. Friend? Eh, I guess I would need more of those to see how I fair in that regard. But school is where I clean up and make up for all my shortcomings. And I was ready to get back into action, until a certain someone came and interrupted my night. I have a very real hypothesis that he started this whole thing…
My first novel came along during the wee hours of the night in 2011. I was laid off and laid up after a car accident, and figured it was time to bring my goal to light. Four years later, it is finally available to the masses. I took every frustration and disappointment that life had handed me thus far and created some truly relatable characters. Who wouldn’t be able to connect to a lost college student? Aren’t we all lost to some extent at that time?
I’m a Jersey girl through and through who lives in Pennsylvania. I’m a Westonian, a Blue Hen, and a Hawk with a flair for the Spanish language. I’ve been bit by the traveling bug on numerous occasions, and won’t be surprised if my first child is born on a squash court at my day job. Oh yeah, I have a husband now.