on college

I’ve tried to maintain my blog as being conceptual, but this personal post of mine practically wrote itself.

I’l try and keep the cliches to a minimum—by that I mean no “open letters,” no “dears” or “odes,” and especially no “highlight” reels (if it lasts more than ten minutes, I hate to say it, but it’s for sure not a highlight reel, it’s just a reel). Sorry to those I’ve already offended.

Freshman year is crucial. Even the word itself speaks volumes to its importance. Even though it’s not very gender neutral (“freshhuman”…who’s with me?), it sure does the job. Fresh, according to my good pals Merriam and Webster, means not previously known. Boy, does that describe it well. I had no idea what to even expect from a school year away from home, and as it turns out, I had never previously known what it would be like. But, subliminally, I knew exactly what it would be like. And, humbly bragging, that’s why I absolutely slayed my freshman year of college. I mean I just couldn’t have done anything any better. I never struggled, I never questioned anything, and I sure as heck never cried even once. This is why I’m here—to tell you how to do it. You literally couldn’t do it better than I did it. You’re welcome.

First thing’s first, registering for classes — schedule all your toughest classes for the same semester. They might say to you, “Maggie,” or they might not because your name is not Maggie. But they might say to you, “You can’t possibly read 2,684 pages in just one semester!” And you’ll say back to them, “I know!” And, “But watch me try really hard!” This is what I did. So be like me. Take three really hard, really involved classes simultaneously. Spreading stuff out over the four years you have is for wimps, I promise. Try it even first semester; easing in, shmeasing in! Making friends can wait. Take hard classes!

Second thing’s second, dining halls — I maybe stepped into a dining once this semester. Snelling? That’s not a word, much less a place. I never went there. Psh. Take advantage of really expensive restaurants on the outskirts of campus. You know, the ones that people with full-time jobs go to. People will try and convince you to go to one of those cheap, open-all-night places that sells corndogs as a side item. Take it from me, these places are for uncultured freshman fifteeners (okay, half of this is true). Don’t be seen there. Or with a $2.99 milkshake of any kind.

Third thing’s third, roommates — room with someone the exact opposite of you. I mean the literal antithesis, arch nemesis type. No soul mates allowed here, folks. This way, there’s no chance of a relationship to develop. There’s no growth, no pillow talk, no “sweet dream”s, no vent sessions (I mean just keep it bottled up like a normal human???), no movie nights, no sweet mirror notes, no unpaid help with homework, no ordering cookies at 2 am, and especially no hugs or shoulders to cry on. We don’t cry, anyway. This makes move out day a breeze. No tears will be shed, no feelings will be involved because what kind of sick-o enjoys feeling things? And I’m also fairly certain talking to your roommate is the dining hall’s way to lure you in. Don’t fall for the large university trickery.

There you have it. The three most important things to remember for your freshman year. If you keep these things up habitually for the first couple of weeks, despite the temptations to eat the food your parents have already paid for and to talk to the person you live with, freshman year will be absolutely baller.

And also remember: your RA is there to get you in trouble and introducing yourself to your professor is pointless!

Over & out.

on being alone / the art of the chopstick

Over the past business week, I’ve been resting. Partially needed, partially medically induced. This period of rest and literal inability to do anything has forced me to be introspective. Ahem, I mean, more introspective than I already am, which is saying a whole lot. I can think about my actions, like really delve deep, because thinking doesn’t involve moving. How splendid.

So here’s a story.

About 36 hours after the extraction of my impacted third molars, I was sick of eating non-solid food and also sick of being inside my house. I had exhausted the episodes of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” on Netflix the night before, and I had spent the day trying to find a pot big enough to cook the box of macaroni and cheese my mom had bought me. So I ordered Chinese food for dinner. What else was there for me to do? I got dressed, grabbed my keys, and started out the door. It wasn’t until I was searching for my credit card in my purse that I realized my mom had my driver’s license. The oral surgeon needed to make sure I was truly Margaret Dryden and that a weird, sleazy teenage girl with a tooth fascination wasn’t trying to get her wisdom teeth out in my place. Oh, and did I mention that the surgeon asked me as I was going under if he was “taking out all four”? Like he wasn’t certain and was asking just to make sure? Alright. Long story still long (my apologies), my mom had my driver’s license due to my incapacitation post-surgery. Here’s the conversation that went down in my head after this discovery had been made. Or it could have been out loud, I talk to myself more often than I’d admit.

Okay. So you can’t get pulled over. It would be fine if you got pulled over at any other time. Now, it really matters that you don’t. Just drive really carefully, you’ll be fine.

But what if the person working at the restaurant asks for my ID?

For Thai Spicy Chicken? It’s not like you’re going to the package store.

Alright, well, I’ll bring my student ID. It has a photo and a signature…same thing, right?

With my student ID in hand, I walked out the door and got into the car. I drove the whole ten minutes almost forgetting I had no source of legal documentation that I was allowed to be operating a motor vehicle. It wasn’t until I was at the cash register that I remembered things might not work out the way I had intended.

I walked inside, and I paid $12.99 for some chicken and rice without a hitch. Success! I grabbed the brown paper bag and asked the nice foreign man if he had put chopsticks in it. They’re fun, and you really get a feel for a culture by the amount of practice and skill they put into eating.

“No, how many pairs do you need?”

I reply, “Uh, two, probably.”

Wait, what? Two pairs of chopsticks? I have been at home alone all day, and all of the food I just bought is, in fact, for me. I have eaten alone, gone out to eat alone, been served food alone more times than I can remember. Why am I in this particular moment ashamed to admit to a man and an empty Chinese restaurant that I am not sharing this food with anyone? Was it because I was flustered and ID-less? Or self-conscious of my post-surgery swollen cheeks (which really aren’t that swollen)? I have no idea. But for some reason, I knowingly and blatantly lied to a man-I-don’t-even-know’s face to maintain a facade of not being alone. Even barely after the fact I realized what a weird thing I had done. Right after the words left my mouth, I was purely confused. It was probably written all over my face. And also, who on earth “probably” needs a pair of chopsticks? It’s like I was trying to put forth some sort of mystery, like there might be a man in my life, but there also might not be. He might not want to use chopsticks; he might be more of a traditional fork-and-knife kind of guy. But I’m not sure, so I’ll PROBABLY NEED TWO PAIRS.

All the way home I thought about this true slip of the tongue. In a very simple conversation with a person I will definitely never see again, I was afraid of admitting, or maybe just looking like, I was alone. There is something deeper here. Something underneath a layer that I’ve dug up accidentally. Do I care more about appearances than I thought? Is there a certain social standard I’ve set for myself to which I don’t even think I measure up? Does “measuring up” mean having someone to take Chinese food to?

Maybe this is just the medication taking things too seriously, but alas, I am alone. And any guy I end up with better like to use chopsticks, none of that “probably” stuff.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset
Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

on tanning for a purpose

I had a tough realization this week.

Around this time a few years ago, I went to my neighborhood pool (as you do when you live in a neighborhood with a pool). Now, “Chaco tans” were becoming a weird fad about then, if my memory serves me correctly. Which it does because the fact I just stated is crucial to the story I’m about to tell. Anyway, a Chaco tan: a tan on one’s foot that comes with continued wearing of the shoe brand “Chaco.” This apparently is a signal of outdoorsy-ness, the true testament to one’s granola nature. Crunch, crunch. And it also apparently looks pretty cool. All striped and criss-crossy like it is. Now, this tan is supposed to come from the use of the Chaco for all intents and purposes of the Chaco. I went ahead and took the liberty of doing some research on the Chaco brand. Their slogan is “Fit For Adventure” and their mission statement is as follows.

“Chaco creates premium footwear and accessories for the outdoor-minded. We make simple, versatile products that provide superior comfort and durability. We believe life is enriched through outdoor adventure, travel and community.”

Very adventure-minded, wouldn’t you say? Here’s a screenshot of their lookbook to prove my point.chaco

Climbing things, beaches, rocks–all of things things involve some sort of adventure. Now, would you say it is very adventurous to sit by the pool in a lounge chair with nothing on but a bathing suit and Chacos, presumably for the purpose of achieving that all so coveted Chaco tan? This for sure spoils the point and the nature of the Chaco tan (pun definitely intended here, just to clear the air). Where’s your waterfall, your mountain, or even your trail? Nowhere to be seen, not even within a ten mile radius. This is the girl I saw at my neighborhood pool.

But like I said before, I had a terrible epiphany.

Over spring break, I went on a service trip in the Caribbean. Very warm, very ocean breezy. Here are some pictures.

On these types of trips, I like to bring my digital watch, if you didn’t get the picture (also, very intended). It’s waterproof, durable, and the perfect alarm clock. The alarm is a subtle “Get up, sweetheart,” as opposed to the “GET UP, YOU LAZY EXPLETIVE” of an actual alarm clock. It gets the job done and is quite polite about it.

While on the trip, the watch quite obviously did not leave my wrist. Thus, I developed a nice little watch tan, it being the beginning of March and my arms not having seen the light of day since the past September. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to wear watches. I have a couple of analogs that I like to rotate between. But, after this week in March, I found myself almost-subconsciously wearing a watch in order to maintain this humorous wrist tan I had developed.

My mind wandered this week to the girl with the Chacos. Am I the same as her, this symbol of fad-ism I have for so long resisted and regarded as too conventional and conformist? My mind cannot rest. If I keep wearing a watch, am I wearing it for its purpose of time-telling, or for a selfish purpose of conformity? Or caring too much? Or some other reason that doesn’t match with my persona?

Please, if you know somebody who is dealing with this, give him/her my information. No one goes through this alone alone, not on my watch.

Wait…