To a True BA

I feel compelled to write today despite drowning in a viscous liquid composed of my shriveled brains (ew) which have been liquefied by midterms. I feel compelled because of a death. Wow, buzzkill. Wait. Just wait.

Let me give you a little background first: I went to school for three and a half years on the east coast and to say those years were a festival of struggles only touches on the ridiculously bad luck I had. It was truly the Coachella of fail, the Burning Man of missteps and the Electric Daisy Carnival of disappointment. The problem stemmed from a series of health problems that seemed to occur one after another to a point where I was mostly composed of casts, injuries and illnesses. But there were a few people who really made my experience at school worth all the struggle. One of those people, my major advisor, died today.

Las Meninas, only art historians understand, yo.

Las Meninas, only art historians understand, yo.

I wanted to dedicate this post to her because she was an amazing dame who was as intelligent and sharp as they come. She owned the history of art department at my school. She was a legend. Part myth, part woman and 100% USDA verified badass. She was also the person who was most vested in my personal and educational success at college at a time when I could barely muster the motivation to take care of myself, much less worry about school. Her generosity and warmth touched me and I won’t forget that she was there for me at a time when I needed support.

But enough about me. Let me give you some examples of her badassery:

- She got rejected from Harvard. So, naturally, she got drunk, wrote a letter explaining why Harvard should let her in, and they decided to let her in because her letter was so convincing.

- She was the first woman at her graduate school to wear pants at her mostly male graduate school. PANTS. She set fashion trends like some sort of French revolutionary, sparing NO ONE. She guillotined the hell out of dresses and skirts.

I’m in total shock that she passed away and although she’s gone from this world, I know she’s somewhere around rocking pants with her sunglasses on. Because the sun NEVER sets on a badass.

-Daughter

In loving memory of Gridley McKim-Smith.

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That Moment When the Dullest Tool in Shed in Class Interrupts the Dude with the PhD

Disclaimer: I don’t think people who have a doctoral degree are better than plebes or anything, this particular student (who is an older, Dad-ish-aged guy) just kills me.

Can I post this surreptitiously in class?

Can I post this surreptitiously in class?

I try to call upon Buddha and Jesus and Mohammad (sometimes I need all three, okay?) to calm myself and center my chi (?) but…THIS GUY. I didn’t pay money to listen to his inane drivel (“inane drivel” is also how I describe my blog coincidentally) when there’s a person with 20 years of teaching experience and stories and PhD-ness in front of me giving a great lecture. A lecture that I need to hear so I know what will be on the tests. So, I, and everyone else, can pass the class. SO DO NOT INTERRUPT HIM CONSTANTLY TO SAY THESE THINGS:

“I think Confucianism goes real good with Buddhism.”

“Well, the Mongols are basically terrorists. They strike fear in MY heart, that’s for sure. *laughter that extends for too long*”

NO. STOP.

There is no hand-raising. There are no thoughtful contributions. This person only shouts out baaaarely related information that are mostly his personal reaction to historical events that we cover and causes a class-wide epidemic of second-hand embarrassment.

The professor, clearly the consummate professional, is always able to turn around this person’s (who, for our purposes today, shall be christened, “Jim”) comments into something relevant while also steering the conversation back to his actual lesson.

Just so you know, Jim, when the professor asks a question, unless he says the words, “Does anybody know…,” IT DOES NOT WARRANT A RESPONSE. There is such a thing as a rhetorical question.

But he will never understand. And so I will continue to close my eyes in pure frustration when, for the sixth time in ten minutes, this student interjects with ignorant or silly comments.

Here’s more things he’s said:

Professor: “But there are also controversies surrounding the Ming Dynasty. For example, there onc-”

Jim: “Well, in my mind, I think that-”

Me, in my head while cringing in real life: Please, please. This time, Professor, just shut him down. Just say no. Just ignore him. Just tell him to raise his hand.

—-

Professor: “Taizu had a positive impact on China but he was also considered a tyrant.”

Jim: “THAT’S RIGHT HE WAS!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!”

Me: *SWEAR WORDS* Why is he laughing???? What? 

—-

Ohhhhhhh Jim.

For the record, I had a guy in his 80′s take a class at my “fancy” college and HE WAS AMAZING. So intelligent, so smart. So friendly. So respectful. JIM, GET ON HIS LEVEL.

- Daughter

The Benefits of Higher Education?

diploma

It is with some small sense of amusement that I have followed Daughter’s travels this year through her blog posts (when she remembers and when convenient).  Of course, many of those miles were covered with Yours Truly.

And it’s always good to obtain another perspective on my admittedly skewed sense of reality, I figure.

Though I have to admit the time together has been enjoyable for the most part, I have detected some troubling details along the way which give me pause concerning Daughter’s Real World Coping Tools (DRWCTs).

Case in point:  During our epic Road Trip Return to California from the barren and humorless east coast, Daughter asked me on day (in a fit of utter boredom) to quiz her on random history facts and figures.

Why?  I have no idea.

But I learned to quickly retreat from querying subjects such as “the importance and effects of the Treaty of Versailles,” because the challenge was met with either:  1)  A completely blank stare, or 2)  A completely unrelated counter-question, such as, “Does this have something to do with French Cooking?”, or 3)  The request for a hint, such as, “What letter does the answer start with?”, or 4) The request for a longer hint, such as, “What are the first two words of the answer?”

Soon I regressed to asking for basic items like the year we declared our independence from Great Britain and what century did the Civil War take place.

She was mostly coherent if I kept it at a high level.

However, the whole drill soon became very annoying to me, and made me begin to question the value of the education she was receiving at her exclusive and expensive Lesbian Cult College.

So I chose to stop the intellectual enterprise and focus on determining the location of the next foo-foo coffee shop, via iPhone app, no less.

That was then (two months ago), this is now.

Daughter recently borrowed my truck for yet another road trip, this time with a collection of her friends, all invited to a chum’s wedding somewhere hundreds of miles north of us.

As parents, all we asked for was an occasional text letting us know that the group was safe and sound and had arrived at their destination (San Francisco) in close to one piece.

I believe that over the four-day adventure, we received a total of one transmission.

I calculate that as a 25% success rate.

But all’s well that ends well, right?  Eventually the merry band of sisters returned home in one piece and, apparently, a good time was had by all.

In Sacramento.

Not San Francisco.

Daughter claimed she was confused and wasn’t quite sure how she mixed up the two destinations.

But I know, and my conclusion is based on many miles and many hours together not talking about History, and Geography, and English Literature.

You see, both cities start with the letter S.

Anyone could make that mistake, I know.

But I now wonder how often Daughter really knows what’s going on and where she’s headed.

For instance, right now she’s supposed to be at the gym.  I surmise she’s either really at the gym, or at the go-kart track (no!), gelato shop, or any other place with a name that starts with the letter G.

I just hope it’s somewhere in the general vicinity of this city, but you never know.

Kids.  Don’t you just love ‘em?

- Dad

Picking Classes or Medieval Torture?

It’s summer! Carefree and happy days ahead!

No. Not when you have to figure out what classes you are taking in the fall. I just finished a hellish semester of school and to be honest, I am burned out after that one semester. I mean, part of the reason why it was more difficult than starting a Lindsay Lohan Appreciation Club is because I took a year off and forgot how to be an Academic in that time.

I wish I could be a studious kitten, too.

I wish I could be a studious kitten, too.

 

My professors continually berated me for my colloquialisms in my formal writing and were generally unhappy with my academic performance. I tried, I really did! But academia just does not hold a candle to my true passion in life: writing funny things on my blog for my millions of readers’ mom’s enjoyment. I like to think that my writing has grown because of my blog but to be honest, it has introduced an informality into my prose that I just can’t seem to shake. I hope my future employers are okay with emoticons and an excessive use of cat pictures to illustrate points.

I digress. I only have two classes to go before I get my Bachelor’s and I’ve been scouring classes online using search keywords like “finger painting” and “watching reality tv” and “lesbian cults.” So far, I have found no classes matching those search terms, which is a shame.

Picking classes is sort of like choosing which way I want to be tortured. US history or the stretching table? Linguistics or … I don’t know any other torture devices from the Medieval period, I apologize. (Maybe I should take a class in it?)

I really do like learning but I don’t like being told how to do it and when. OKAY, MOM?!!

Yeah, I was that kid in kindergarten who was told to draw a cat and I drew the best damn dog I could muster with my rudimentary fine motor skills. I’m just a rebel, I guess.

I am resigned to my fate and know that I must complete my college education so I can get a job or something like that. Although being 30 and living with my parents does sound tempting, I do feel the pull of independence tugging at my heart-strings (but not my wallet-strings). Sorry, Dad. I know that you will miss me calling out your hypocrisy and making you feel smart when I can’t answer obscure US history questions but my stay at home is not going to last forever.

- Daughter

Pre-Road Trip Thoughts

Tomorrow morning my dad and I will begin a 2800 mile journey back across the United States to get back to California. DEJA VU.

I have been stuffing my belongings into the truck with care and lovingly cleaning everything like the tone-deaf, Americanized Mary Poppins I truly am. Except, not. It’s been like a reverse episode of Hoarders in my apartment the last few days. The answer to “what should I do with this?” is always “GIVE IT AWAY!!!” or “toss it.” I prefer to think of throwing things away as making an offering to Oscar the Grouch (not to be confused with my father, who responds to the same name). It makes me feel better when I associate a muppet’s identity with the action of throwing away because it assuages my guilt of contributing to a giant, ugly landfill where some poor seagull will probably get killed by mutated quinoa that I threw out because it went bad. And we all know that when quinoa goes bad, it goes bad fast. Murderously so.

Anyway, today I picked up my dad from the airport but not before first getting lost in the back country of PA. And getting honked at. Getting honked at always makes me feel like I’m a cat or dog getting sprayed in the face with a water spritzer. Except it’s completely different. But the feelings – the feelings – are the same – shame and embarrassment. Because of the honking, my anxiety went through the roof and I gripped the steering wheel like I was Lindsay Lohan on her last bottle of Adderall the rest of the way.

Luckily, my dad was there to make me feel better. JUST KIDDING. He called from the airport curb and so I told him I was almost there. He responded with an audible, exasperated sigh and replied, “You’re just like your mother.” And then I said, “Cool, Dad. Be there soon. I’m driving, can’t talk.” When I finally retrieved Mr. GrumpyPants (Dad), he proceeded to eye the truck with great suspicion and weariness. Then, he sat in the passenger seat and assumed the position of a hunchback. But not for funzies, as I first assumed. In my enthusiasm for packing up the truck, I seemed to have only left about three inches of leg room on the passenger side. Whoops. Well, I was just trying to encourage my dad to be flexible, but literally, you know? It’s important to be flexible, after all. In response to the yoga position that the seat forced him into, my dad said, “No, this isn’t going to work.” Luckily, I had food with me to distract him. I have learned that the best way to deal with my dad is to make sure he is full and chewing on either gum (ugh, he pops it, kill me) or eating food. That way, he can’t make mean comments about my driving, packing and general life-ing abilities (which are amazing, I assure you).

Stay tuned for the SEQUEL to Road Trip Diaries: A Father-Daughter Epic tomorrow!!

- Daughter

I Was on a Boat

This week is *~Senior Week~* for my school, so naturally, I crashed it. REBEL ALERT: I’m officially a “junior” because of that whole “year off” thing – I didn’t choose the thug life, the thug life chose me. Anywho, today’s college-sponsored event was the BOOZE CRUISE!! Well, that’s the unofficial name. The politically correct name is the Harbor Cruise. Basically: 260 graduating women (from a lesbian cult), 20 socially-awkward faculty, 2 bars, 4 decks, and 1 giant boat. 

My friend and I started off the cruise in the ladies’ room. Not because we were seasick, it just happened to be when nature called. Unfortunately, this was the same time that the boat pulled away from the dock. Being a land-loving lass, I wasn’t familiar with the rumbling gurgles the engines made as they turned on in advance of our journey downriver. Nope, I had no clue what was going on. All I knew is that it sounded like the boat was exploding from the inside out and that the walls rattled like they would cave in very soon. I internally panicked. I really didn’t want to die but I especially didn’t want to die in a bathroom stall. I may or may not have run out of the bathroom. Eyewitness accounts are inconclusive. 

After that initial terror, I calmed down and spent a lot of time wandering around the boat and re-enacting scenes from Titanic on the deck. Unfortunately, being out on the deck and exposed to the elements had its limits considering the low temperature. It was 40 degrees and windy. Not exactly weather that allows prolonged re-enactments. Besides Titanic-related activities, there was also a good amount of questionable dancing and a general lack of voLUMe ContROL.

The highlight of the entire cruise was when one of my friends asked if she could drive the boat and stupidly surprisingly, one of the crewmen thought that it’d be a mighty fine idea. So, near the end of the cruise, he came down to get us and we got to sneak into the operating room (is that what it’s called? I don’t know, I didn’t graduate from college yet so these things are intellectually elusive for me). My friend took the helm and I helpfully stood  over her shoulder (mostly to assuage my own fears that she wasn’t steering the boat into other boats or the shore) and chatted with one of the crewmen who wore glasses. Naturally, I started calling him Glasses because I’m mature and a people-person. 

This is an actual conversation that I had with him, not a dramatization:

Me: “Glasses, did you go to school around here?”

Glasses: “Temple.”

Me: “Did you go to boat school?”

Glasses: “..No”

Me: “Did you go to optometry school, you know, because of your glasses?” 

Glasses: “No.”

Me: “Are there any icebergs we should be aware of, Glasses?” 

Glasses: “..um”

Another crewmen was chatting with us as well and he explained the different horn rhythms and lengths and their meanings. Again, maturity was at the forefront when I asked: “Is there a horn sound that means a swear word in boat language?” 

Eventually, I tired of watching my friend gently guide the boat along at a slow speed: “Glasses, where’s the turbo drive on this thing?” 

Shortly thereafter, we were ushered out so the crew could dock the boat without having inane questions being hurled at them every five seconds.  

A good night was had by all! In fact, my college president who is a 70-something lady who wears neon pantsuits, got down with her bad self on the dance floor. I am unsure as to whether the memories of her dancing will lead to humorous dreams or nightmares. Only time will tell. 

- Daughter

 

The Never-Ending Story of Undergrad

Who knew getting an education would be so utterly impossible? I am TWO credits away from getting a Bachelor’s degree. Those two credits will be obtained in the fall (hopefully) in California. At which point, I shall be “educated” according to society’s standards. Although, I’ve heard now you have to separate yourself from the crowd by getting a master’s at least. Well, I laugh in academia’s face.

My old life plan was to leave undergrad after four years and immediately enroll in a PhD program. However, I am not the child genius I thought I was nor do I have the drive to become a child genius. There were a few times this year during which I felt brilliant and like I was just brimming with intelligence (how, I imagine, a child genius must feel). My thesis advisor probably interpreted my academic confidence with ego and so she did her best to cut me down. This is how most of our meetings went this semester:

Advisor: “So… I read your rough draft…”

Me: “Yeah! I provided an outline and thought we could discuss some of my ideas.”

Advisor: “I didn’t really follow the draft… at all. I’m confused.”

Me: “Oh.. about what?”

Advisor: “……. Everything.”

I think that being trapped in the ivory tower has made me antsy to communicate with people who don’t want to discuss and debate gender theory every three minutes. In fact, I feel a strong urge to watch Jersey Shore in order to eradicate all of these extra brain cells I grew from being smart because they are constantly giving me headaches (that’s how it works, right?). I’m ready to be a plebe again.

I now have all summer to putz around and not be academic. Largely, I plan on rebuilding my lackluster savings account by obtaining a JOB (yep, Dad, a JOB!!), writing marathon-long blog posts to make up for my half-a shorter blogs posts as of late, and generally enjoying being back on the best coast.

I’m currently trying to get a PAID internship this summer. Which is basically like trying to find a needle in a haystack where the needle doesn’t even exist. Trying to get a paid internship involves me begging various people to hire me. I mean, I understand that’s how most job searches and job inquiries go, but I’m really putting it all out there. I now walk around with a sandwich board boasting my many, many skills and positive qualities.

But really, hire me.

- Daughter

The End of an Era

Yesterday was my college’s end-of-term festival. As such, we did the usual things college kids do: commune with lesbians, dress up in all white, drink al juice, sing the songs of our foremothers bashing the patriarchy, bounce around in giant bouncey things, and just generally conduct ourselves like the  cult members we are and will forever be.

It was a hot day and the festivities attracted members of the surrounding community and even – dare I say it – boys. It was quite a scene. There was a circus performer (whom I was very weary of) who entertained the crowd during the day. He juggled flaming torches and made funny faces but mostly, he scared the living daylights out of drunk college students. Nobody was sure whether he was just some crazy old man who stumbled onto the festival or if he had been legitimately hired by the college (and, if that was the case, two words: BUDGET CUTS).

At one point, he was juggling his flaming batons and dropped one of them ONTO THE GROUND WHERE THERE IS FLAMMABLE, DRY GRASS. Luckily, this didn’t end in our entire college being burned to the ground as he swiftly picked up the baton and continued on his merry way like the consummate professional my college obviously thought he was.

There was also a lot of drinking games but they mostly made me feel bad about myself. Beer pong reminds me that I will never be an NBA star. (I’m sorry I’ve failed you, Dad.)

At the end a long day of running around and being an extremely mature young woman, I settled down at my apartment and wished upon a star that tomorrow would bring more members into the cult, so that it will forever brainwash the young. Carry the tradition, ladies! And may the flaming batons be with you always!

- Daughter

How to Build a Box

Well, don’t ask me. Look how mine turned out…

 

The saddest part about this box is the fact that I am so proud of it. The handles were cut with a jigsaw that I was terrified of using. It turns out that being terrified of the tools you’re using does not make for controlled cuts in wood. It actually makes your lines horrible and askew. Despite the failings of the box, it is a box I created with my own hands and carpentry prowess. My carpentry professor approved of my construction and even went so far to say that, yes, “it definitely looks less crappy than when you started.” That’s a success in my book.

So, while I have spent the last four years of my college education learning some pretty obscure knowledge about things I will (probably) not have to use again, this seems to me the most practical and humbling course I have ever taken in college. Who knew that five pieces of wood could take multiple hours to put together? Who knew that screws make a terrible nails-scratching-across-chalkboard sound when they go through a high density material? Who knew I was capable of using a saw without chopping off limbs? Well, I know now. Sort of.

Unrelated: I have decided to give up my dreams of a career in writing to become a carpenter and inspire others to build boxes.

- Daughter

 

The End is Nigh

It is close to one in the morning here as I sit looking at these stupid portraits of Lindsay Lohan that I chose to focus on for my thesis. I wish I could travel back in time those six months ago when I chose these images and give myself a nice slap in the face. (And also go back a bit farther in time to stop myself from dyeing my hair such hideous shades of blonde. Ugh.) I’m not sure why I thought Lindsay Lohan would be a good subject for a 30-40 page paper, but at some point, I was really into it.

That point is long gone.

My thesis is due Friday. Which is tomorrow. It has been a long, hard road to get to this stage. I have burned through a lot of ink and friendships have been put to the test by the bad mood that inevitably occurs when I have to work on my thesis (all of the time).

I like to think of myself as the Lindsay Lohan of thesis writers. I had so much promise in the beginning, then I fell into patterns of irresponsibility, and now I’m scrambling to put the pieces back together. I am hoping that my thesis turns out better than LL’s current life. I believe she is now going on a 90-day court-ordered rehab stint? I’m not going to rehab that I know of, so I guess that’s good! Hey, look at me, Dad! I could be Lindsay Lohan going to rehab but instead I’m really smart and am writing about her!

You done good, parents.

Also, I’m sorry that I burned through my money this semester. I blame Lindsay Lohan.

- Daughter

 

 

Liberal Arts Majors are Useful

When they make your coffee.

I guess that’s a tired, used-up joke by now. Yes, yes, liberals arts majors are going to live on the streets and slowly de-evolve back into apes because of their lack of practical skills.

Potential Employer: “Are you familiar with content management systems and SEO?”

Liberal Arts Major: “No. May I ask you a question?”

P.E.: “…Sure.”

L.A.M.: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

P.E.: “YOU’RE HIRED!!!!”

The above scene did not happen in real life. Nor will it ever. Unless you’re interviewing to become a Buddhist monk or nun, a potential employer is unlikely to be impressed with your knowledge of Zen Buddhist philosophy riddles. Usually, hiring managers are more interested in, say, actual skills.

However. HOWEVER. HOOOOWEVER. I find them useful. Especially because my dear old dad is one (and also because I’m one..). I know he secretly pines for the moment when his skills of the English language are called upon. Consider this your bat signal, Dad!

I called up my dad today and asked him to correct a sentence for my thesis that I had been reading for approximately an hour over and over again. I read it so much, in fact, that I started questioning what language it was in. The letters started morphing into crude shapes and then I fell down a rabbit hole. But that’s a story for another day.

Well, I read the sentence out loud to my dad and he immediately honed in on the grammatical error and discussed the structure of the sentence in a way that suggested he knew what he was talking about. He justified the correction using big words and it sounded authoritative so I went with it.

After all, if there’s one thing being a liberal arts major has taught me, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

- Daughter

The Last Monday I Will Ever Spend at the Lesbian Cult

It is raining which is par for the course at this point and fitting for the current state of my mood.

Me.

 

This is the last week of classes and as much as I resisted getting sentimental about the end of my time at the Lesbian Cult, there are telltale signs of emotions bursting forth. It started yesterday when I was in our school’s community art studio happily painting on a scrap of cardboard with a good friend. It suddenly hit me: I wouldn’t have this for very much longer. My friend is going to go on to live in New York and I am headed back to California. I slowly put down my piece of cardboard and looked at her. She was busy painting projects for a class but then she noticed I was staring at her with a sad expression.

Me: “EMILYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY. OH MY GOD I’M NOT GOING TO SEE YOU AFTER THESE TWO WEEKS.”

And then we would both nod solemnly and continue on with our respective work.

Ten minutes later, another attack of the feels would come on and I would get quiet and then repeat with a whine: “EMILYYYYYYYYY. AHHH fkajfioaju98uraifhiasf.”

I am always pleasantly surprised when I feel real, human emotions  like a normal person (?). I was not expecting to feel emotional about leaving undergrad because my college experience has not been the most… traditional. Nonetheless, I find myself very attached to the people here (all lesbians, because obviously). I’m also attached to Philly because it’s in this city that my groundbreaking thesis about portraits of Lindsay Lohan was written. And my local town’s hidden gems I will miss too – whether it’s over-enthusiastic spin instructors or bars that are inhabited solely by jerks - it’s a cool little place.

Ah, yes. Feeeeeeeeeeelings.

Now I’m going to go put on Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” and cry for a bit.

- Daughter

 

Job Searching is Demoralizing

Oh gosh, I hope he calls me back. I would die of joy if he called me back. Literally, I might die so be ready to call 911 because dying is a distinct possibility. 

No, these are not the thoughts of a lovelorn person, this is me, waiting to hear back from a job. I am just waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Nay, not just waiting. PINING. Literally, pining. I’m pining so hard I turned into a pine tree. (That was so bad, sorry.) I have checked my e-mail every five seconds for the last week to see if the job people will tell me *thumbs-up sign here* or *thumbs-down sign here*. I sent a follow-up e-mail today with no response so far. I mean, seriously, this is the worst. THE WORST.

I have all these made-up plans in my head that just gets worse when I have time to daydream about what will happen in my life if I actually got the job. Psychological torture.

If the job people – you know who you are – happen to read this, I just want to say that I am super smart and have a way with kittens and homo sapiens. I am also adept at burning things in the oven and painting my nails. I successfully pulled out my own tooth twice at ages 8 and 9, respectively. I once saved four people from a life of boredom by showing them the wonders of YouTube cat videos. I can order takeout without messing up the order that much. I can almost follow directions half of the time. Sometimes, I pay attention. I am real, real good at grammar and such. I have a special fondness for really fancy water with bubbles and herbal infusions. I don’t know how to use a staple gun, but I try, and that is what counts. I’m a fun-first, safety-second type of person. I’m funny to some people on the internet. AM I HIRED, YET?

- Daughter

 

I Have Instincts

Or, rather, my body does. I swear, every time my body senses I am going to have fun or something like it, it shuts that sh stuff down so fast.

I was bouncing around yesterday, happily doing my laundry (“happily” = I had no clean clothes left so I had to) and, while I was folding my underwear, I realized I didn’t have that much to do on my thesis before the deadline next week. Therefore, I could definitely fit in time to go hang out with a friend at a bar that night. And then horror struck. My body, sensing that fun was imminent, immediately – and I mean, within the hour of deciding to have fun – shriveled up and receded into itself… like some sort of sick hermit crab.

I developed some sort of chest cold (although, I said “infection” to other people because it sounded worse and more worthy of pity) and was coughing all over the place. I cursed my lungs and the virus infecting them (?) (/I’m not a pathologist) and begrudgingly texted said friend and said I couldn’t go. I was very displeased.

So displeased, in fact, that I tunneled into my bed covers and sat there for a while, thinking dark thoughts about my lungs and their various treacheries.

Harry Potter gets me.

My new plan to have fun is to focus on achieving a surprise attack. I am only going to have unplanned fun so as to not tip off my body that fun is in the near future. I’m hoping that when I walk down the street I will randomly be pulled into a bar where I will proceed to fun.  (Yeah, it’s a verb now.) Or, maybe while I’m writing my thesis a llama and a mariachi band will pop in and again, unplanned funning will happen!! I’m really looking forward to surprise funning.

- Daughter

Witty Professors

I got a paper back today from my carpentry professor. The paper was describing a partner project in my carpentry class that involved lots of headaches and general stupidity (on the part of me and my untrusty carpenter pal). We had to build a device that dropped snow from the ceiling of our theater onto a hypothetical actor below.

My professor was there to witness it all. In fact, he was right there when I couldn’t figure out how to use a staple gun. In case you didn’t know, a staple gun consists of a trigger and an end where the staple comes out – that’s it. I guess my education in the liberal arts only gets me so far these days.

Speaking of education, and back to the main story, my carpentry professor SCHOOLED me via essay feedback today. He left this zinger on the paper:

“Oh, you two. Thanks for remaining enthusiastic during your many trials and errors.

Ultimately, you made something resembling a snow drop which somewhat effectively made snow fall. So congratulations!

Your collective senses of humor were, I think, your greatest asset during this project. MY sense of humor is your greatest asset to your grade. A”

I put a copy of the actual paper below so you could see the proof for yourself.

 

A for effort!! But really, it was an A for effort. It definitely wasn’t an A for execution.

You know, I may not have no dignity or real life skills, but I have an A and that counts for something. Somewhere. Maybe.

- Daughter

How to Interview for a Job

A company likes me a tiny bit! Enough to want to discuss a possible position over the phone. Is this what real life feels like? Is this aura and halo that suddenly appeared the mark of a True Grown-Up Person? I don’t know. I’m either a grown-up or Jesus.

Anyway, this is my plan for my interview, and one I recommend for all interviewees everywhere.

1) Don’t giggle uncontrollably unless the interviewer makes a joke. In which case, laugh. Your job depends on it.

2) Speak with a British accent. It is proven that people like accents (?). They will hire you just to hear you talk.

3) Sound educated. It doesn’t mean you HAVE to be educated, it just means you take out your folksy talk.

4) Do not pass out. It interrupts the flow of the interview.

5) Do not fall asleep. It interrupts the flow of the interview.

6) Name-drop. Preferably, work in some connection to Oprah.

7) Nod a lot.

8) Use the word “ambidextrous”. It’s provocative and thoughtful.

9) Do not say Ke$ha at any point.

10) Brag. “Yeah, I can really turn in some mean essays.” “Microwaves? Yeah, I guess you can say I’m an expert on them.” “I went to Canada once.”

And, hopefully, you will get a job. Because Canada.

- Daughter

The Hamster Wheel of Misery

I like to think of myself as a hamster sometimes. And the never-ending to-do list that has consumed my life and my very being is the hamster wheel that compels me to run, run, run and GO, GO, GO. My little hamster feet get tired but the wheel doesn’t care, hence: “The Hamster Wheel of Misery.” This sums up my life as of late.

Self-Portrait as Hamster.

Self-Portrait as Hamster.

I am constantly trying to just get one thing done at the expense of other things. Sometimes, that thing is a shower. Sometimes, it’s socializing with human beings. Sometimes, it’s calling your dad back …

As a result of pushing various things aside to give attention to more immediate concerns, mountains of undone work have built up until I give up and go to bed. (Usually, I stress-eat wasabi crackers and then sleep, actually. I digress) I’ve started to have nightmares from stress. And it’s the same nightmare every time: a favorite professor comes up to me and shakes her head slowly from side to side and says solemnly, “You are a great disappointment.” And then I wake up screaming until I comfort myself with the knowledge that I am a speshul snowflake.

I have also sprouted gray hairs from stress. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the salt-and-pepper look. I just thought I’d have a few more years before I rocked that. Apparently not! I got all excited when I first caught the extra shiny hair glittering in the bathroom lights because ALRIGHT, HIGHLIGHTS!! Upon closer inspection, it was a silvery hair. I pulled it out and examined it. In this little hair marked four nights of endless restlessness as I turned in one essay after the other in a rapid procession. It was a keepsake, really! But I try to avoid collecting  tsotchkes at this point in my life.

So, yes, Dad, this is my direct response to your post that I’ve been radio-silent. Well, yes, I have. But not without good reason! Your daughter has been attempting to fend off fire-breathing deans, thesis advisors, and professors. All of whom seem to have a personal vendetta against me this semester. I’m not sure whose death they are avenging, but they are pretty intent on killing me regardless.

Also, Pops, I’ve been, like, sending in job applications everyday. I’m trying to be a Real Person ™.

Yes, Dad, I know this is an entire post where I whine, justify it, and then whine more. It’s how I roll, Dad. Speaking of rolling, t-minus thirty days until we roll right on out of here! Couldn’t be a moment too soon. I’d rather not have to dye my hair to cover the gray…

- Daughter

No Rest for the Weary

The title of the post is a lie. There IS rest for the weary. Although, this wasn’t the case when I was a freshman in college. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (I’m a squirrel?), I walked onto my college campus ready to take on any academic work that came my way. I was going to do anything necessary to get my work done. And not only would I get my work done, I was going to do it well. I read every book, article, page, paragraph, sentence, word, syllable, and punctuation mark that was assigned. Literally, not a single semi-colon or essay was safe; I was all over it.

I pulled all-nighters so many times it became second nature. In fact, I’m pretty sure I grew fangs at one point and hid in dark recesses but that is a story for another time. The point is, I was immune to the effects of all-nighters. I was Night.

Fast-forward to yesterday when I had looked at the amount of work that needed to be done for my thesis and resolved myself to my fate: an all-nighter was necessary. I knew things were going downhill when 11pm rolled around and I was already at the point where my face was on my laptop instead of my hands. Typing with your face is not efficient. It’s good for laughs but doesn’t make for good syntax.

Somehow, I got past the various slumps and make it to 3:30 am. I decided to reward myself with a  “nap”. I knew this wasn’t a good idea but I lied to myself and decided I definitely had the self-control to rouse myself from a dead-sleep to finish a much-detested paper.

Turns out, I hit snooze and slept until I had a handful of hours of sleep under my belt. Whoops.

Luckily, I scraped by finished everything on time.

There is rest for the weary. You just have to hit the snooze button first.

- Daughter

Being an Idiot in Carpentry Class

Today, my technical theater carpentry professor laughed at me. A lot. And I took it with my tail between my legs because frankly, I deserved it.

I'm really creative. At failing.

I’m really creative. At failing.

 

Let my preface this by saying I am in no way connected to the theater arts or activities-during-which-you-build-things, but every other single person in the class is a techie (not to be confused with Trekkie) who knows the basics of theater, scenery, etc. Then, there’s me. A lost little lamb in a storm of power tools and staple guns. 

My partner and I had to draft a 2D model and build a 3D model of a structure that would successfully drop snow on-stage. Naturally, I ended up drafting the most complex piece of machinery I could think up – I literally might have just accidentally built a computer. That’s just how I roll. When we were presenting our ideas, all of the other students had these brilliant, simple ideas that looked completely feasible.

And then I presented my draft which had about 10 different arrows annotated with specific instructions all over the page. My professor looked at the draft, cocked his head, and said, “That’s certainly… creative.” Guess I’m going to fail this carpentry class. Cool. I’m literally going to fail a class because I have no actual life skills and can only read books. 

Well, today was the real test. I had to build this wildebeest of a project. I started out with a basic little wooden frame that I was very proud of – my professor even came over and said it was, “Cute!” And I said, “Yes, that’s what I was going for. It’s very applicable to my post-college life. When I’m being interviewed and the hiring person asks for my resume, I’m just gunna show them THIS *proudly raises up wooden frame like it’s Simba from The Lion King*” He chuckled and I kept building. And then I hit a roadblock. I had no idea how to get my complicated machine to work… and on top of it, the staple gun wasn’t working.
My partner went up to ask my professor about the staple gun who assured us that, yes, there were plenty of staples in it. But it just was not working. I was trying to staple fabric onto the frame but to my dismay, no staples were coming out. He came over to watch me use it so he could see firsthand why it wasn’t working.
Me: *presses on staple gun, nothing comes out* “SEE? It’s not working.”
Professor: …… *suppresses giggle* “….. that’s because you’re pushing on the wrong end of the staple gun… it’s upside down, not broken you idiot. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”
I about died from embarrassment. I sat there laughing at myself but also shaking my head in disbelief at my stupidity.
And, as I was leaving, my professor couldn’t help himself and said, “Make sure you don’t forget how to use a staple gun between now and our next class.”
Who needs dignity and self-esteem anyway?
- Daughter

How to Network

Networking is a critical skill necessary for professional success and something that every college senior should be doing all the time. Getting a coffee in the morning? Wow, that  barista has a lot of tattoos, ask if he went to art school and if he knows any professors that need a research assistant or an intern. BAM, networking. Doing a yoga class? In the middle of that last “namaste,” lean over to your neighbor and stick your business card in her yoga pants. She won’t appreciate it at the moment, but later, she’ll be thankful she has the contact information of an art history major – the world really needs more liberal arts majors after all. BAM, networking.

I have a few rules that I follow that have helped me expand my professional contacts of cats. Follow these, and you’ll be unemployed forever golden.

The first rule of networking is to be really pretty, that way, people will be drawn to your symmetrical features and give you a job based on your looks. Skills? Those are for ugly people.

The second rule is to be annoying. (Sidenote: the first rule is always a difficult one for me to abide by but being annoying is like, my thing.) Being annoying includes being in constant contact with the possible network person via e-mail, Google+, Facebook, MySpace, LiveJournal, snail mail, morse code, telegraph, walkie talkie, and homing pigeons.

Rule number three is to walk around with your resume at all times. Make sure it’s framed or gilded with gold, first impressions are everything.

The fourth rule is to have a firm, hard handshake. You are a bear and you are catching salmon. The same force a bear applies with its jaws to catch salmon should be the approximate grip strength you aim for during a handshake.

That’s it. Job. Done. You’re welcome.

- Daughter

 

Public Speaking

Dear God. Is there anything more heinous than getting up in front of your peers and talking about some subject that you have vague knowledge of but are definitely not an expert on? That’s what I did today. I presented on my thesis. Most of the presentation went swimmingly but then, there were a few times where I started a sentence and the end just never happened. Poor Sentence, he had a tough upbringing and the odds were against him from the start. All he wanted to do was finish what he started, alas, it was not to be.

It was also embarrassing because, well, my thesis largely centers on images of Lindsay Lohan. So, I had to explain who she was to my class as per my thesis advisor’s request, which is in itself, very depressing. I do like to think my subject is entertaining. And it is! But I am never ever ever ever ever ever ever going to write about something that I truly despise in a lengthy academic paper ever again. I thought it’d give me some fire if I didn’t like the artist I’m working on or the model in the photographs, but instead, I just want to rip out my hair.

I think I basically blacked out the rest of my presentation because I don’t remember what exactly happened. I sounded half-way coherent, which, in my book, is good. I also didn’t throw up during it or cry or accidentally swear. Success!! Okay!!

A part of me does wish I had come in a red wig while smoking and crying while also re-enacting through interpretative dance the stages of Lindsay Lohan’s downfall, but that is something I will have to save for later.

Ah, well. I have my whole life to get better at presentations. Until then, I will haphazardly stumble through my thought process and hope that somebody, ANYBODY, will understand me.

- Daughter

That Moment When Your Academic Advisor Tells You Your Writing Sucks and You Want to Curl Up and Die

Oh, how the great have fallen.

I am currently in the process of writing a thesis. It will end up being around 30-40 pages of writing about a subject in art history. I was not concerned about it really until today, when my advisor told me that she couldn’t follow the logic of my paper. I mean, I did turn in a horribly rough draft of my thesis but I had good ideas. Just because of most of it is in Spanish and Mandarin doesn’t mean it isn’t good. And just because I let a four-year-old come up with most of the ideas in the paper doesn’t mean it’s illogical.

The problem is, I am one of those “creative” people who works in a haphazard, irrational and slightly schizophrenic way. I feel and hear and smell (?) all of these  ideas in my head and get wrapped up in trying to do justice to all of them.

This is how the paper-writing process goes: I write a bit, dance to Beyonce, and then sit down. And write more. And then make coffee. And then sit down on the floor. And then make a poster with a flow chart of key terms in my paper. And then I get up to dance more. And then I eat a brownie. And then I lay on the hardwood floor and slide my body around it pretending to be a human mop. Of course, all of this activity only happens intermittently. Inevitably, there’s a few weeks after the initial buzz of ideas where I stare blankly at a very empty Microsoft Word document. I’m at that point.

I haven’t cried yet over my thesis but I am getting there.

My advisor said she was “concerned” and said in no uncertain terms that I needed a writing tutor. It’s not like I’m too good for a writing tutor – okay, I totally am too good for a writing tutor. OH, THE INJUSTICE.

Perhaps my thesis is taking up so much time and energy because it revolves around Lindsay Lohan. It’s soul-draining work. But somebody has to do it.

Well, not really. Nobody has to do it. Except for me because it’s a major requirement.

- Daughter

My Landlord Does Not Speak Human

I met my landlord for the first time today. Of course, it happened when I was running late to class. I was hurriedly carefully and expertly backing the truck out of a parking space and the landlord slooooowly walked behind my truck, completely blocking my path. Not being in the mood to commit vehicular manslaughter, I stopped the car. She disappeared from my rear view mirror and then suddenly reappeared at my window, peering at me with beady, black eyes. I rolled down the window, intent on saying a quick hello and then doing that thing where I go to class.

But no. ‘Quick’ was nowhere in my plans.

As I rolled down the window, the landlady asked, “AND, WHO, MAY I ASK, MIGHT YOU BE?”

Dear God, I can just kiss punctuality good-bye today. This cannot be good. Okay, just act natural. 

Me: “I’m Michelle! Hi, I live here! I’m the new tenant from the west coast! How are you??”

Landlady: “You are not on the lease.”

*Crosses arms in a sassy manner*

Me: “Oh, okay. I’ll ask my roommate about it, she said that was all sorted out already.”

Landlady: *Grimaces and growls*

“How long have you lived here?”

Me: “Errr…”

*takes ten seconds to calculate basic math*

“…two months.”

Landlady: “Hrmph. And what’s this about a cat? There’s a cat?”

Me: “Um.. yes! My roommate e-mailed you about it.”

Landlady: “Hrmph. Is your roommate in the apartment?”

Me: “Yep!”

*Landlady abruptly ends conversation and walks off in curmudgeonly fashion (possibly has a peg leg)*

—— later in the day, when I have yet to print off the lease forms ——– 

*knock, knock”*

Me: “Hello?”

Landlady: “It’s ME.”

Me: “Oh, okay, please come in! I’m JUST printing off the lease!”

*Scrambles to actually begin process of printing off lease but has no idea how to use roommate’s computer and fumbles with various cables while sweating from judgmental, death glare from landlady*

Landlady: “Did you have family in the Navy?”

Me: “Um, yes, my dad. Do you?”

Landlady: [incomprehensible mumbling] “…twenty years.”

Me: “Oh, wow! [small talk about weather]“

*Continues to fumble nervously with cables and successfully plugs ONE in*

Landlady: “[incomprehensible mumbling] “ART” [incomprehensible mumbling] “… these doors in the complex cost me $1200 each!”[incomprehensible mumbling] “….and that’s the meaning of life.”

Me: “Wow, that’s… spectacular!”

*FINALLY plugs in all of the cables correctly and gets lease printed and signed*

“Annnnd, here’s that lease form.”

Landlady: *silence… vacant eyes*

Me: “Well, see you again soon!! It was nice meeting you!”

Landlady: “Hrmph.”

 

- Daughter

 

That First Amazing Grade

OH YES.

Unrelated: kitten.

Unrelated: kitten.

I love when professors recognize my genius. Seriously. It’s the best validation besides getting a high-five from your dad or your mom or an angel.

My best essays are ironically written in a hasty, half-delirious manner. Whenever I write how you’re “supposed” to write – that is, with multiple drafts and careful editing – the essay always ends up being a dud. What should be a masterpiece turns into something you’d find on the bottom of your shoe after walking around all day.

Starting is always the worst. I tend to clean everything in my room first under the pretense of “not being able to work amidst clutter”. Really, I’m hoping that my professor will be abducted by aliens and that the assignment will be canceled if I wait just a biiit longer before beginning. After I come to terms with the fact that aliens chose to fulfill some other student’s dream of professor-abduction instead of mine, I get to writing. Eventually, I get into my stride and the genius begins a-burnin’.

Not to brag or anything but my professor said my analysis of The Rainbow Fish was really ‘insightful’ and ‘subtle’. Just to remind you, I ended the essay with the words: “each fish is entitled to its own share of sparkle”. I’M SO INSIGHTFUL.

This grade was particularly special to me after my mediocre first grade.

I’m aware that grades really mean nothing. They do not measure intelligence nor do they reflect the value of who you are as a person. (Over-achieving students everywhere:  “WHAAAT?!!!”) That doesn’t mean I’m not going to dance in my socks on my hardwood floors to celebrate. Because I am entitled to my own share of sparkle. Forever and always.

- Daughter

Brownies from Hell

Sums up my type of cooking.

Sums up my type of cooking.

Brownies are supposed to be a combination of everything that is good and sacred in this world. Second to the Pope, the Brownie is revered across cultures as a spiritual leader. I’m not sure why my roommate and I were messing with perfection.

We attempted to make “healthy” brownies. Worst idea we have ever had.

First, we made two trips to the grocery store and then scoured the internet for a few hours to find a suitable recipe that met our qualifications. After an informal group interview, we narrowed down the recipes to the most delicious-sounding. And in the final interview round, the brownie recipe that ended up with the job was especially appetizing. He sounded great on paper. Unfortunately, he wasn’t right for the position and we had to terminate him after his first day for being repulsive.

After a suspiciously short time in the oven, the brownies came out and smelled delicious. We didn’t even wait until they had cooled, we just  shoved them down our indiscriminate gullets like hungry pelicans. Unfortunately, they were the worst things in the entire world. I started chewing and my face lit up with the enthusiasm only baked goods can inspire. Then, my face slowly dropped into a grimace as the sensory data from my tongue went to my brain where it proceeded to freak out from utter disgust and revulsion. Despite the initial horrible taste, I wanted to be an Equal Opportunity Brownie Employer and gave it another chance. If it is possible, it tasted even worse the second time. My roommate and I had built up so many expectations for brownie greatness and then this atrocity showed up instead. We just couldn’t take it.

We laughed to keep from crying. It was honestly one of the most disappointing things that have happened to me in recent times. Probably means I’m a spoiled, privileged brat… maybe. But it mostly means I suffered severe disappointment in the form of crushed brownie dreams.

I have a fever and the only prescription is brownies that taste like brownies and not like something that came out of the butt of a dog.

- Daughter

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