She modeled her bedroom after that of a crazy person. Which, by some accounts, might make her crazy. Which she fully acknowledged, though typically a sense of self-consciousness and recognition of one's own abnormalities is a fair sign that a person is not crazy. Quirky, maybe, but quirky is a word that people throw around loosely, if they so much as thought about deviating from the not-even-mandates of proper society. "Oh sometimes I eat cereal for dinner, I'm just quirky like that!"
Claudia ate cereal out of shoes.
Across one wall of her bedroom she had hung a full map of the United States, the kind that cinematic FBI agents might trace the paths of a serial killer across with string and pictures push-pinned to particular places, or a map that same serial killer might use to plot his killing spree. In a university dorm room, it was simply eerie. And, ultimately, it produced the desired effect on her guests. On it she stretched pieces of yarn, connecting cities, the significances of which only she knew – if there were any significances at all. Visitors would peer closely at each, backs bent, lines appearing on their brows, and the bolder ones might take it upon themselves to pluck at a string, or to point, or somehow call attention to the giant map in the room. To these actions, Claudia would produce an expression of violent reproach.
The ruse was exhausting. In Claudia's first attempt at shoe-filled breakfast, she had mistakenly filled a pair of used athletic shoes, specially designed for breathability, and as she raised the Achilles notch to her lips, the soymilk seeped through the outer layer of fabric and trailed down her hands. A new approach was necessary. It was scientific, almost, how she went about testing new props, because they were entirely props, in that she was not actually crazy, and did not actually have a shoes-as-dishes fetish. Her finding of a functional shoe bowl required a multivariate analysis involving factors of volume, liquid resistance, ease of handling, and identification of any odd flavors that might transfer from shoe to food. And it yielded proper results. There was no better deterrent to friendship than having a polite request for a snack returned with a men's dress shoe filled with crackers.
A university is indeed a place for personal reinvention, though most are restrained to a new nickname or a more daring clothing style. Claudia had considered adding erratic manners of dress to her character, though quietly contained madness underneath an exterior of normalcy proved far more off-putting to others. One might compare her to a jack-o-lantern, which appears pleasing and seasonally appropriate on the outside, yet upon greater reflection it is nothing more nor less than a dripping, eviscerated life form in need of a fire inside it.
Her major, because that is the universal university icebreaker, was exploratory, in that she had not a singular idea of what she wished to pursue. In her first year, people had found her choice surprising yet intriguing, a carefully measured amount of encouragement with a careful forewarning. By this time, the eve of her final year, people simply allowed her to carry out her career suicide, in that the only distinction on her diploma would read, "Bachelor of Undecided Attention."
She was fine with it. She accepted it.