Go Ask Alice
Diary Two: Apr. 6—May 21
(Apr. 6–8) Alice is excited to renew her life with her family. She thinks about how she'll explain drugs to kids when she's a counselor—she'll be honest and discuss the pleasure of drugs but also tell them that they aren't worth the destruction. She has a long talk with Tim about drugs, as well as other important topics, and is proud to have such a sensitive, levelheaded brother. She feels guilty about whatever pain she might have caused him. She cries when she reunites with her grandparents and vows to make them proud of her. The family cat gives birth to a litter of kittens, and Alice marvels at the wonder of life.
(Apr. 9–10) The principal calls Alice into his office at school and berates her for her past behavior before sending her out. His cruelty only strengthens Alice's desire to become a guidance counselor to help those who need it. (Apr. 11) While sitting on her bed and planning a gift for her mother's birthday, Alice loses consciousness and drifts off into a reverie that she thinks is either a flashback (caused by LSD residue in the spinal cavity) or a schizophrenic episode. She fears she is losing control over her mind.
(Apr. 13) Alice cooks her mother a birthday dinner, and everyone enjoys the food. When Alexandria gives her mother a ceramic dish she made, Alice reflects that, while she used to be jealous of her sister, she no longer is. She feels love growing inside her and hopes someday to marry. (Apr. 14) She assesses her body in the shower and, despite not being completely satisfied, she is glad she is a girl. She wishes she could let go of her past, but bad thoughts intrude without her being able to stop them.
(Apr. 19–28) An old friend, Jan, asks Alice if she wants to use drugs. When Alice declines, Jan responds that Alice will be back. Alice is in a bind: she doesn't want to hang out with drug-using kids, yet the "straight" kids want nothing to do with her. Despite her sexual experience, she feels inexperienced in the conventional ways and would like to date a nice boy. Shunned by both groups, she is lonely and spends her time studying.
(May 1–5) Alice's grandfather has a stroke, and Alice worries about the effect of his eventual death on her and her grandmother. He falls into a coma and soon dies. She agonizes over the thought of worms and maggots eating his dead body underground. (May 8–9) At the funeral, Alice is shocked by the sight of his body and cries when it is lowered into the ground. She is amazed by her grandmother's strength. (May 12–14) Alice still isn't reconciled with the death of her grandfather or death in general. She admits that she doesn't understand a great deal about life but has faith that God is handling it. She has a nightmare about her grandfather's body being eaten by worms and maggots, but her mother wakes her up to talk about her future plans to become a social worker.
(May 16–21) Alice's father takes her to an anti-war rally at the university and speaks with her about the students—he is concerned many are being led into the wrong thinking. She feels very adult, and they visit a doctor, who gives her harrowing statistics on the worsening physical and mental health of young people. Alice feels that both the kids and the adults are to blame. Someone plants a joint in Alice's purse, and she leaves school to go to her father's office. He consoles her, but she knows he doesn't understand the full extent of her pressures, nor can he do anything but provide support. He gets her permission to use the university library, which she starts doing.
Alice matures deeply in this section, expanding her innate sensitivity to outward empathy. Her increasing desire to become a guidance counselor shows up not only in her ability to connect with Tim, but also in her changing attitude toward Alexandria and her developing sensitivity to the pain of others around her, such as her grandmother. Her episode with the unsympathetic principal cements her feelings about her future profession, yet her goal is not one only of rebellion (which her resentment for the principal's tactics does constitute) but is finally a goal of her own, natural desire. She has finally found an identity that will someday suit her, and while she is still in pain at times, she is already getting better at communicating with others and enjoying a life of sobriety. She and her parents treat each other with respect and concern, and her description of the sensory pleasures of the soft, newborn kittens is reminiscent of her sweeping accounts of acid-tripping—except that she now embraces consciousness.
Alice's social difficulty in school highlights the classification within the adolescent world that is based increasingly on drug use. Just as entire social groups are organized by a drug/straight binary, there are, presumably, further divisions within each group (which drugs are used, how often one uses, whether one sells, etc.). School remains an unfriendly place, from the principal to the drug-planting students, and Alice's feeling of total helplessness is a reminder that she can easily fold at any moment. The love of family and individual will can only go so far in a corrupt society bent on harming others.
More frightening to Alice is her true helplessness in her flashback episode and the ensuing fear that she may lose her mind completely. This anxiety seems to mix with her concern over her grandfather's body being eaten by worms underground. Underground, no one knows what happens to you or can stop it, just as she feels that no one, including herself, knows what is happening in her head or can heal it.
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