Thursday, August 14, 2014
The day that once seemed lifetimes away has finally arrived: leaving for college. I'm in the midst of packing procrastination and my room looks like a war-zone of laundry piles, nostalgia, and shockingly bare walls. I may be moving to Kentucky but I'm currently living in a state of denial. The reality of whats happening tomorrow hasn't really sunk in yet, honestly. Maybe it'll sink in when I've finished packing up the past 19 years of my life into cardboard boxes, or when I meet my roommate in person, or even the moment I'm waving goodbye as my parent's car drives away.
This summer I've been learning that "home" has a very changeable definition. "Home" used to be my old brick house with the creek full of crawdads and a death-wish steep hill where my brother and I would ride our wagon down with the kind of childish bravery that comes from never having crashed before. Then home was the log cabin full of books and pools of sunlight where I battled high school algebra at the kitchen table and spent hours exploring the woods in our backyard. In the past year, through spending time travelling abroad and living part of the summer in Kentucky doing an academic intensive, home isn't a physical place anymore. The first time you say "I'm going to my parent's house" instead of "I'm going home" is a curious feeling indeed. Eventually I'm sure college will feel like home but for now, "home" is in limbo. Home is not a house, an address, or a place; its where you and the people you love are.That sounds like something you'd find on a pillow but like most things embroidered on pillows, its true.
As an incoming freshman whose college experience thus far in life include a few duel enrollment courses and a summer intensive at my college, here is some unsolicited advice to college freshman everywhere:
1. Prepare to play more Frisbee in college than you've ever played in your life.
I can't explain why, but college students love frisbee. I dare you to find a college campus that doesn't, at any given time, have a slapdash game of ultimate frisbee going on. If there is a college in Antarctica i'm sure even they have a game of frisbee going on right now...just with a slab of frozen whale blubber or a rather squat penguin or something. Anthropologists have wondered for years what this young adult fixation is due to and it remains a heated debate in the scientific community. Is it that these academically brainwashed students feel drawn to such UFO-like objects? That the frisbee could be used as an emergency plate to hold free food? That its the cheapest game to play besides Red Rover? No one knows for sure but consider yourself warned.
2. You will walk. A lot. All the time.
Many colleges don't allow freshman to have cars and, even if you do have a car, often the distance between your dorm and class buildings falls just too short to justify driving. Brought a bike to school? Still gonna get exercise, sucker. But don't think of this as a bad thing: imagine the calves you can show off when you're playing frisbee on the quad.
3. Its ok to sacrifice some sleep to study but don't toss and turn over school.
Ultimately, life is about people. Education is a means to better your life and become a more enriched person so as to provide for a family someday, to have more time to spend with your loved ones. So yes, doing your best at whatever you put your hands to is important. But at the end of the day, what really matters more? Getting an A instead of a B on that Chem test or spending an hour reconnecting with an old friend over coffee? Do your best, study hard, then let it go.
4. Its ok to say NO.
It can be really hard to say no sometimes, whether it be to extra cookies, Netflix, or extracurricular activities. In college you're going to be invited to join countless clubs, committees, and causes. While you should say yes to new experiences and adventures, don't be afraid to say no. No to hanging out when you should study for a test, no to becoming part of a activism group against Mystery Meat Mondays, no to every single event with free food that your college is hosting, no to taking on more responsibilities than you can handle at once. Know your limits.
5. Choose friends wisely.
The people who you surround yourself with will, whether you like it or not, have a huge influence on your life. If you are close to motivated, studious people, your grades will reflect that. Just don't forget to also find people who have senses of humor, common interests, and who aren't too easily scared away by your weird habits. Oh, and finding friends with cars, abundant cash, and vacation homes in the Bahamas doesn't hurt either.
6. SHOWER SHOES.
Don't question it, just get them. Go out today and buy cheap foam flip flops (the kind where the toe straps pop out after a few days) and try to forget the blissful days of shoe-less showering you once had the joy of experiencing. College showers are just like your childhood games of "Don't Touch the Floor, It's Lava!" except more like, "Don't Touch the Floors, Its Flesh-Eating Bacteria!" (Ok, not quite that bad. Probably. But I'm not about to find out.)
Well, its time to go decide the hardest part of packing for college: which books to bring and facing the truth that I can't kidnap my friends and bring them with me. Really though, I'm trying to pack light and just stick to the bare essentials: books, floppy sweaters, tea, peanut butter, my mini replica tardis, my popcorn maker, chocolate chip cookie baking mix, Pocky the Stuffed Panda, and enough tea and hot chocolate to drown eventual homesickness. I might not have room to bring much else but hey, who needs pants anyway?
In search of a Great Perhaps,
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
1) If you find yourself sat at a place setting with more than one set of silverware, make good use of those spare suckers. Any kind of food can be given ears with some well-placed spoons and you're two forks away from being a walrus with nose-tusks.
2) If you have a wardrobe malfunction during the second course, just be confidant and disrobe completely. If you are at the table with someone who acts with such excellent manners, it is only polite to follow suit. Or should I say, birthday suit.
3) Instead of disgracing the chef by not eating your veggies, hide them. Some classic hiding places are smooshed under your plate, swimming in your glass, discreetly snuck onto your neighbor's plate, into your clothes and/or shoes, and into your dinner neighbor's clothes and/or shoes. Don't worry about hiding them well, its the thought that counts.
4) If the food is really good show your appreciation and make sure you stuff all your food in your face. All. of. it. AT ONCE. NOW. DO IT.
5) All this polite etiquette nonsense is exhausting but manners are important, even in sleep. So, when you're yawning and feeling a good nap coming on, seize the day. Food is the perfect pillow. *Beauty Bonus*: Go for the bread basket! The butter makes your hair silky and nothing is more attractive than the scent of garlic.
6) Single and ready to mingle? Turn any dinner into a speed dating event! When everyone is settled down and enjoying their food just jump into the lap of the person next to you and eat the food off their forks as its en route to their mouth. As romcom movies illustrate there is nothing more romantic than sharing food. However, if the person is rude and does not reciprocate your feelings, just hop into the next person's chair and so on. Don't worry, theres a lot of courses and always more fish in the sea. Or on the table.
7) It can be very awkward to go to a dinner party where you don't know anyone (Or alienated everyone by sitting in their laps and eating their food). But I digress. If you're in this situation, make your own friends out of food. Ignore those haters when they give you strange looks for having philosophical conversations with your mashed potato fella. They're just jealous of your friendship.
8) Just like many ancient cultures, burping is how you show your full approval of the course. Know how to burp in words? You're practically Martha Stewart.
9) Ever been in a situation where you want to secretly communicate with your friends but you're sitting at a table of keen-eared strangers? The solution: animal sounds. Owl hoots, horse neighs, whatever sound a fox makes: doesn't matter. Your friend might not understand you but neither will anyone else, and thats the important part.
10) Often at fancy dinners controversial subjects such as politics, religion, and bedtime negotiations will arise. If you find you are uncomfortable with the way the conversation is going or that your argument isn't being heard, make a swooshing sound and slide under the table. No one will debate distasteful subjects when its possible that their opponent could nibble on their toes at any moment.
NOTE: While all these are based on observation of my younger sister's past acts of etiquette at the dinner table, they don't act with such decorum all the time. Usually they are rude to an extreme: chewing with their mouths closed, making polite conversation, and eating all their carrots and brussel sprouts. Honestly, its embarrassing to be seen in public with such ignorant eaters. But I love them anyway.
Elbows on the Table,
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Attention All Villains and People of Unsavory Character:
Just to make something clear, I waited to publish this and am no longer home alone. I may be dumb enough to add the sauce packet to the macaroni noodles while they're still in the strainer but I'm not dumb enough to advertise to the internet that i'm home alone. Just to be clear to any would-be robbers who got really excited for a second. I'm not sure what you would want to steal since the main and most notable contents of my living room right now is my mother's growing family of kombucha in mason jars and the house plant that is slowly but surely eating our piano. Actually, please do take some of the kombucha jars off our hands, they've grown into the double digits and the floating bacteria sponges are a little freaky.
Ahem, onto the blog.
You think differently when you live alone than when you live with people. I've found this out this last week when my family went on vacation and I, the studious student who couldn't skip her college classes because of tests, stayed behind to hold down the fort and take care of the house. This has given me a window into the world of living alone, and here is what I've found:
The first thing to change when you're home alone is that as other people leave, paranoia moves in. Every unidentified creak and gurgle of an empty house becomes suspect. As time progresses your paranoia increases until you've half convinced yourself that there is a stranger secretly living in the air ducts sneaking food and watching movies on your Netflix account. How else am I supposed to explain to my parents where the gallon-size ziplock bag of chocolate chips disappeared to last week?
Another thing that changes is my relationship with my dog. Generally we keep to ourselves; I peacefully live my life and he lays in a comatose state on his doggy bed, snoring. Like many pets and their owners we enjoy a symbiotic relationship where he leaves me alone and I let him eat food that falls on the floor.
This week, though, as the only other living being in the house (not counting my little sister's fish and our equally-intelligent house plants), he has become my loyal (albeit old and lumpy) bodyguard. I go outside, he goes outside. I sleep upstairs, he sleeps upstairs. I turn Pandora way too loud while doing dishes, he pees his pants in surprise.
Speaking of health and safety, you've got to be more cautious living alone. Every time I reach for milk in the fridge and nearly graze my hand on the edge of an open can of coconut cream I have a surreal vision of being found, dead, and how horrible it would be for my cause of death to be a Trader Joe's Coconut Cream can. Does this give me enough motivation to move the can? No. But its ok, I'll probably just melt the coconut cream with some chocolate chips for lunch.
Doors become unnecessary and clothing, optional. Your home had become a judgement-free zone and there is no one to tell you to not wear your sweatpants all day. Or pants at all. After a few days of living alone your brain will begin to entertain thoughts such as, "What are pants, really? Society-contrived prisons that we only wear to satisfy the demands of others, thats what! The only good thing pants are for is not skidding when you go down slides."
Thats what I was beginning to think until I was making dinner and the doorbell rang. My heart zoomed up into my throat and I hit the floor, rolling out of sight behind the counter in about 2 seconds, flat, and then hid there until they went away. You have never experienced fear until you're making tacos in your skivvies and someone rings the doorbell.
My already strange eating habits were only magnified by eating alone. You stop having to worry about adjusting your eating habits to other people's schedules and its a dangerously liberating feeling. Pickles and peanut butter for breakfast? Why not! Cinnamon roles and popcorn for lunch? Sounds delicious!Chilli eaten out of a teacup? I'M A FREE WOMAN!
I tend to talk when i'm alone. To my dog, to the computer, to various inanimate objects. Every meal becomes a Rachel Ray worthy cooking show episode, every mundane household task is a narrated thriller, and I've had some very deep conversations with the plastic duck on the piano (Whoops, there I go tempting thieves again.) Stop looking at me like a crazy person, you know you do it too. When my family returned home from vacation it took some effort to stop including Amos into our conversations.
Let me start by saying I got a lot of work done this week. Without screaming sisters and the white noise of co-habitation I managed to do all of my homework and write a kick-butt English paper. But I think I also watched every feel-good dance movie ever made and made the mistake of watching a Ted Talks video on youtube while inevitably led to an hour of learning bizarre, interesting things that made me feel smarter but actually accomplished nothing. If anything it just made me very contemplative and wonder about the mysteries of the universe, like why yogurt is only marketed to women.
I must depart. My fearless guard dog has wedged himself behind the couch for some unknown reason, probably because he saw the mystery person living in the air ducts. Scratch that, he is now rolling on my feet in fear. The air duct person is getting closer, its the only explanation. Still, even with the freaky sounds my fridge makes, my invisible house guest, my cowardly bodyguard, nosy neighbors, eclectic diet, and newly developed 2nd personality to hold conversations with, I love living alone. The real concern is how many times I'm going to sing Phantom of the Opera ballads before I remember that my family is back from vacation.
Talking to myself,