7

Is It Time Yet?

Time is a tricky thing, you know?

We all know that it flies when you’re having fun, and stands still when you have those moments of fear or tedium. But it does keep going on.

I admit, I have not been keeping myself on the strictest or most efficient time schedule these days. My sleeping patterns are way off, I’ve been eating random things at random times – for example, I just had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and am defrosting some chicken – and self-care has definitely fallen by the wayside. On Friday, I went to the gym for the first time in a few weeks and although I didn’t feel gross or sick afterwards, I definitely felt weaker. I’ve actually missed any exercise for the last few days, other than worrying, because of my dissertation proposal, which I turned in at 2:00 this morning, and my immense stack of grading, which I should probably be doing now instead of typing this blog and pretending like I have more time.

But anyway, real talk. It just seems like time is never on one’s side. I know that I’m not the only person who has grading and work pile up at the end of the semester. Yet there is this feeling of an avalanche that’s either falling or about to fall, right on the edge. Or something like that. And it seems like my time is just measured in increments of activities, deadlines, and due dates, and then…well, I don’t know exactly what, but if I don’t find some employment past June, I guess I’ll find out, and then maybe I’ll look back with fondness on times like this when I can’t even stay on the same train of thought because I’ve got so much going on in my mind.

And it’s only Monday. Three days of grading, teaching, and meetings are ahead of me, followed by a relatively free Friday, then a busy Saturday, proctoring an exam in the morning and doing Salsa Saturday at night. Then, next week is my dissertation proposal defense…I can’t even think about that right now…and then I can at least attempt to shape the rest of my time, at least for the summer…

How do you deal with time?

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7

Candy Crushed

I originally published this on November 1st, but since I’m completely swamped with school and everything, I’m going to do what I always wanted to do, and add more info.

Maybe it’s our culture of excess, but seriously, everywhere I go, the giant family size (and which family, might I ask? the Duggars?) candy bars and candy bags are available. And the smaller sizes are not. It’s like Nestle and Hershey’s are run by a dentist/personal trainer conglomerate. Definitely not the people who run Abercrombie & Fitch.

All I wanted today was a small pack of Twizzlers, maybe three or four pieces.

Down in the candy aisle, the smallest package is about the size of three boxes of spaghetti. The candy bars are like surfboards. I could probably buy a bag of Hershey kisses and use them as a pillow on my next flight. Now, I understand the purpose of large bags of candy; they’re great for teachers, camp counselors, or Halloween. But if you’re only in the market for a small sweet treat for one, it’s damn near impossible.

Twenty minutes later, after scouring the whole store, I caved and bought the only size available, because I wanted Twizzlers that much. And that bag probably lasted me all of one hour, because I live alone, am a graduate student, and have no self-control.

Damn you, candy companies.

This is why China is beating us.

2

A Collaborative (Lack of) Effort

Two days ago, West Virginia University freshman Nolan Burch tweeted that “[i]t’s about to be a very eventful night to say the least.”

He’ll never know just how eventful that night was; after being found unconscious on the floor of a frat house, he was rushed to the hospital where he died today. He was 18 years old.

Stories like this happen with more and more frequency, all over the country. The names, genders, races, and ages vary, but it’s always the same pattern. Over and over again. You could say that it was Burch’s fault for getting so drunk at the party; you could blame it on peer pressure, as he was pledging that fraternity; or you could blame it on his friends (with or without quotation marks) for allowing this to happen. But the facts remain the same. Someone is dead. This will happen again, elsewhere, next week. No one will be put on trial. It’s almost considered an act of God. Whoever was at that party, whoever served the alcohol, whoever hosted the event, will go on living their lives and Nolan Burch will become an afterthought.

In an interesting turn of events, WVU announced the suspension of all Greek life on campus. I’m going to give them two weeks, and I’m being generous, because everyone knows that when you anger the stupid rich people, their money goes away. And an act of revocation already failed; Kappa Sigma, the fraternity which Burch was rushing and who hosted the party, was suspended just one week prior to the event due to a street fight. You’d think they’d want to avoid trouble and maybe keep a low profile on campus for a while.

I’m not bashing Greek life; I know plenty of people who are in fraternities and sororities. Being a brother, and now an advisor, for APO – granted, not a social fraternity, but a Greek letter organization all the same – gives me a little more perspective on the state of fraternities. I am proud to be part of a group that does not haze nor drink, and values anti-hazing so highly that the term risk management – as in, not even risking any activities which could lead to hazing or an extreme incident such as this one. And I know Greeks who do good things, great things for charity, involving people who could otherwise be either sitting on their couches or getting drunk/high somewhere else. When a girl I knew at UMass was considering transferring because she was bored on campus and she didn’t have a lot of friends, one of the suggestions I made to her was to join a sorority that meshed with her interests and had girls that she liked in it, and she balked as if I’d told her to do yoga in the middle of a highway. (She ended up transferring anyway). But basically, Greek life is not all bad.

But then, things like this happen.

Is the Greek organization at fault? You could say no, because technically they had had their charter revoked, but the party occurred at a fraternity house, with people who would not have been there had it not been for the Greek organization. But no amount of rules and regulations by the national organization prevented this group from recruiting pledges or hosting parties, so in a way, the higher-ups in the fraternity were culpable, for not taking swifter action with the university to dispel the chapter from the campus in a more permanent way. The ones who are at fault are the occupants of the house and hosts of the party, in any event, because it happened on their property, regardless of being Greek or not. If they were true “brothers” and friends to Burch like they say they were, they could have taken action much earlier or stopped it from happening outright. Greek life didn’t control their choices; their own stupidity did.

WVU can yell, scream, and revoke Greek life all they want, but face it: unless you take legal action (at the university or the state levels) or physically displace the house’s residents, these kinds of things are going to keep happening. Because this is college, and it’s America, and it’s what happens. All of Greek life just gets thrown deeper into the pit, but nothing changes. It happens every time, and every time it does, it just returns to the status quo. Part of the blame lies with idiotic college students, but part of the blame lies with who is supporting these fraternities, and a lack of discipline and accountability on the part of the university who sometimes fail to always follow through thoroughly.

The fact that there are so many fingers pointing in so many directions that I’m going to need extra hands means that collectively, we’re doing something wrong.

It’s stupid students. It’s the alums and parents who fund their excessive drinking. It’s advisors who are left in the dark (where are they here?) It’s university police who are too busy giving parking citations. It’s university administrators who are out of touch with what’s going on under their noses.

Everyone talks about collaboration, but clearly we’re not doing a very good job of it here.

If we weren’t so caught up in our own lives, maybe we’d have more chances to save others.

Sources of Info:

Farrell, Paul. “Nolan Burch: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.” Heavy.com. 14 November 2014. http://heavy.com/news/2014/11/nolan-burch-dead-wvu-freshman-frat-death-kappa-sigma/

Johnson, M. Alex. “West Virginia University Student Nolan Burch Dies From Injuries: School.” NBC News. 13 November 2014. <http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/west-virginia-university-student-nolan-burch-dies-injuries-school-n248286>.

 

1

Don’t Wake the Children, They’re Charging

This isn’t so much of a late night rant, like yesterday’s post, but rather an observation.

Does anyone else out there feel like they have electronic children?

I have three: my laptop, my phone, and my iPad.

And as their parent, my life sometimes seems to revolve around their extracurricular activity of charging them so that I can use them at pretty much every waking moment. Sometimes, my day’s exercise revolves around this, from locating the devices to locating their chargers to finding outlets where I can put them together. And before I leave the house, I have to ask myself a) how long I’ll be gone, b) which items do I need chargers for and b) will I have access to an outlet should I need to charge, and those are all kinda scary if you think about the fact that ten years ago, I had a Nokia phone and a laptop that actually held a charge and didn’t freak out at 60% battery like this one does sometimes.

Today, I woke up with my phone on the elephant table next to my bed. It was at about 30%, but once I finished checking my email and my Words With Friends games, it was down to 22%. It was not on the charger because I’m at my parents’ house, which was built in the 1950s and therefore has a submarginal amount of outlets and iPhone cords don’t stretch very far.

As I go to stick it on the charger, I pick up the iPad. Noticing that it’s on 2%, I put it back down and pick up the laptop, which wasn’t on the charger but still has a lot of power left. I use it until the power gets pretty low, giving me an excuse to get out of bed and find the charger.

I have to finish this later, since my laptop battery is dying.

8

On Dealing Coke

Wow, a daytime post! Shocking, I know.

So, I just went to CVS to get some toothpaste and a snack. I go over to the frozen section to see if they have Lipton diet iced green tea, aka the feel good drink of dieting champions, and I noticed that instead of the usual logo, it says something like “Lisa” or “Rob” or “Brittany”.

Huh?

Apparently, Coke and Diet Coke have this new campaign called #ShareACoke where they are putting people’s names on the labels. Just random names. No significance whatsoever. I guess the thing they’re trying to do is encourage you is buy more of their product and share it. Like, if my name was Alicia, I would go into a CVS and be like, “I’m not thirsty and I don’t drink soda because it’s cool to say that, but OMG that bottle of Diet Coke has my name on it, it must be sign from above that means I must buy it and drink it and cherish it forever and you know what? I wasn’t thirsty when I started this thought but I’m getting there. Screw society, I’m buying this.”

Or something like that.

It’s not necessarily a good idea or a bad idea, per se, but it makes my curious mind wonder. What do they really mean by share a coke? Are they promoting communicable diseases? Or could it evolve into a peer pressure thing, like, you’re waiting at the bus stop with your Coke and I can come up to you, show you my license and be like, “Hi, I’m Brooke, and your bottle there says that you should share your drink with me, and since it’s a written contract that you bought yourself onto, you are obligated to give me a sip from that bottle, bitch?” Or could it evolve into a pickup line thing, like “Hey, I noticed that your bottle says share a Coke with Mike, so how about dinner on Saturday night?”

Does it make the bottles like those racks of key chains at truck stops and gas stations, forever alienating those Americans who have names like Julio or Tabitha or North West, forever searching the racks in vain, knowing that there is no mini Wisconsin license plate nor Diet Coke out there for you? (Although if your name is Julio, you might want to stop at a gas station in Texas where they usually have a rack of stuff with Spanish names next to the normal rack).

And finally, how literally do I have to take it? If I buy a coke that says Lisa on the label and I am feeling generous or I don’t want to finish it, should I seek out one of my exactly two Facebook friends named Lisa to share it with? I actually have a friend named Lisa here in Madison, although she may be home for the summer. The other one lives in Boston, and it would probably not be the best idea to wait for her to show up here or mail a half empty Coke to Massachusetts. Or, maybe I could try to find former child actress from The Facts of Life and recent runner-up on Survivor Lisa Whelchel and see if she’s thirsty? She probably isn’t currently within driving distance of Madison and who knows, maybe she’s more of a Pepsi gal? Although for some reason I think she probably likes Tab or Snapple.

Anyway.

Just bought toothpaste and chocolate-covered pretzels, and then walked over to Electric Earth for some iced coffee.

2

Get To A Better State…

There have been way too many State Farm commercials on lately. Just putting it out there.

I’m not feeling too inspired today. I got some feedback and a grade on my political science paper. Just about what I expected in terms of comments, and the professor pointed out two pretty obvious errors – I wrote “fate” instead of “fight” (Bawlmerese slipup, I guess), and I had a sentence in there that was about something that I ultimately cut from the paper. The grade was a little lower than I expected, but for what it’s worth, it could have been much, much worse. Most of the comments were along the lines of “I don’t get it,” or his favorite question, “how?” Not to say that I’m not disappointed, because I put a lot of work and research into it, but as I said, it could have been worse.

This English paper is not working out. Besides the fact that I can’t focus on it, I keep confusing myself, which isn’t good. I wrote about 800 words today, but should probably delete a lot more from what I already had. I planned to go out for lunch/dinner/food and then finish some books so I could get my book count under 40; I didn’t accomplish that while out, but since I’ve been home I decided that for 2-3 of them, I’ve probably gotten what I can get out of them.

Self-care has kinda taken a nosedive. Depression and stress have really set in for me, including odd-hour sleep, being easily distracted, lacking appetite when I know I should be eating, being on the verge of tears most of the time, worrying about the future, and no exercise since…two or three weeks ago.

At least I got a blog entry before ten minutes to midnight.

5

If This Coffee Cup Could Talk…

Today, I decided to have an adventure in the wonderful town of Madison. I had heard of Dig N Save, but I wasn’t really sure what it was all about. I knew it was a resale shop, but we’ve got plenty of those, St. Vinny’s being the most prominent. Another friend told me that she had gone to Dig N Save and bought three hundred Beanie Babies to gut them and make a rug. I know that the 1990s aren’t coming back, but eviscerating them and sewing together their furry exteriors for art’s sake? Shudder.

Beanie Baby guts aside, I went to see Dig N Save for myself, and I couldn’t believe what I saw once I got there. There are resale shops, and then there are resale shops. Dig N Save wasn’t particularly big in terms of floor space, with only two large rooms, but the amount of crap they had was spectacular. The front room had dumpster-sized tubs full of used clothing, which people were rooting through. In the back, though, was where they had some really interesting crap. Mounted on pegs were wooden chairs and stools, most of them in great condition. The floor beneath them had dressers, file cabinets, desks, shelving, tables, sofas, and chairs, which, again, were a little dusty but not unusable. I guess if was truly unusable they wouldn’t bother putting it out. In the front of the room, however, were three rows of bins full of dolls, stuffed animals, board games, Beanie Babies (the ones that survived the massacre), and other childhood toys. The bin on the far wall contained china, and that’s where I found this gem.

Photo: Okay, so I saw this coffee mug in a junk shop and I couldn't look at it without laughing so I bought it. So much character. I wonder what it's story is and how it ended up in Madison.

In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have bought it, because who knows what’s been in that cup. But I saw it, laughed, and every time I passed it by, I couldn’t help but laugh. So I had to buy it, dust and all. They charge by wright, 35 cents per pound, and all I had was the mug, so it came out to a bank-breaking 37 cents.

But just look at it…it’s hysterical.

Someone named Bernie (or with a friend named Bernie) went to Las Vegas and bought this mug, pictured here on my kitchen table. First of all, there’s that name…Bernie. Bernie. Seriously. Do you know anyone under the age of 65 with that name? And no, pets don’t count. Plus, Las Vegas, the place where you can get lucky in the casino, or in other ways (if you have the money).

So here’s the image I have, and a story to go with it.

This guy is about 5’7″ and a half, average build, maybe a bit of a pot belly. He appears to be in his late fifties or sixties. He’s got wrinkly skin, a slight tan from working outside, a brown mullet, and of course, a porn-mustache offset by his grayish facial hair. He’s not from Vegas; he’s just visiting from California because he won his disability case for choking on a Good-n-Plenty while driving the forklift at his job at a beverage supplier. He drove here in his pickup, and is staying at a fleabag motel but spending all of his time between the blackjack tables and the bar. There he sits, in his blue striped dress shirt, faded leather jacket, jeans, and boots. He’s also wearing those thick-framed glasses that are kind of a pinkish at the top and fade down to clear. After losing almost all his money on a poorly-placed roulette bet, he’s at the bar, flicking cigarette butts into an ashtray, when he sees a quarter someone left on the ground by his stool. On a whim, he picks it up, goes back into the casino, sticks it in a slot machine, and what do you know – five thousand dollars. He goes “whoopee!” and then off to the mall to get some classy duds and to a dealership to trade his car for a white Cadillac. He drives down the Strip, catching the eyes of some drunk ladies, and tells them to get in. They do, and he takes them on a shopping spree for sequinned dresses and jewelry, so they look like his fantasy: the spokesmodels from The Price is Right. Then, he checks all of them into a fancy hotel where they get even more drunk, possibly snort some coke, and play around naked in the hot tub. Then, Bernie announces that he’s feeling lucky, so he gets into his new purple Hugh Hefner pimp suit and the ladies back in their dresses (silver and gold, of course) and back down to the casino. He shoots some craps, plays some blackjack or poker, then tries his luck on the roulette wheel. He asks one of the girls when she was born, and she says “26!” so he bets it all on 26 as he kisses her and she coos. Of course, his roulette wheel luck returns with a vengeance and the ball lands on 17. He turns to the girl and she says “how strange, I’m 17!”

“Wait, I thought you were 26?”

“Yeah, 26. I was born on June 26.”

“I asked you your age.”

“Ohhh, I didn’t understand the question.”

An undercover cop notices, and arrests Bernie for bringing a minor into a casino, taking him away as the girls vamoose. As the cop’s loading him into the car, Bernie trips and falls face first into the console, which pops open to reveal a bag of marijuana. Bernie quickly grabs it with his teeth, and as he gets up with it, head bruised and bloodied and all, the policeman realizes he’s been caught. A bunch of people have been watching this whole thing and go “ooooh.” The cop quickly grabs the bag from Bernie’s teeth, jams him in the car, then gets in and speeds off, narrowly missing a lady who is knitting while walking. He quickly makes a deal – he’ll release Bernie if Bernie leaves Vegas immediately. Without much of a choice, Bernie heartily accepts. The cop keeps driving past the police station and arrives at the airport. He stops in the loading zone, quickly, goes to the back seat and unshackles Bernie, leading him to the ticket agent and giving him $500 to pay for the ticket right there and then. Bernie buys the ticket, and the cop then runs out of the airport, gets in his car, and speeds away, yelling, “keep the change!”

Bernie goes through security, only to find out he’s got some time to kill before his flight. So he gets a pizza and a coke. After he finishes, he’s on his way back to the gate when he spies an airport gift shop. He goes in and pokes around, before seeing the mugs on display, and what do you know, they’ve got one “Bernie” mug left. He has just enough money to pay for it. They call his flight number over the intercom, and he hustles back to the gate and gets on the plane, ready to put the trip behind him, with his coffee mug as a souvenir.

Then he realizes that he drove to Las Vegas.

Whoops.

If you’ve read this far, congratulate yourself. I wonder: what do you think of Bernie? I want to hear your “Bernie in Las Vegas” story…if you write and post one, comment below with the link and I’ll reblog you!