Top Ten Reasons I Have Not Been Working On My Thesis

10.) I may have — accidentally — wandered the internet the other night, stumbling upon the ABC Family Original Series “Greek.” Then I may have — also accidentally — proceeded to watch all 10 episodes in a two-day period of time. And I have to say that while I am usually the Evan type (see: my love for Logan Huntzberger) there is something about that Cappie guy that simply rocked my world.

9.) Thesis writing is hard work. Procrastination is not hard work. Ex: I have finally updated my blog (twice) since I returned home Monday night; I baked two dozen holiday cookies; I even wrote out all my holiday cards and hand delivered them to the post office instead of sticking them in the mailbox at the end of my driveway.

8.) The mall owns my soul. I’ve been working at Aeropostale for the past couple months, and I transferred to the one in Crossgates for the two weeks I’m home. Of course we have to factor in not only the time I spend actually working my shift, but also the hour round-trip to the mall, and the 40 minutes or so it takes to find a parking spot.

7.) I think I have changed my facebook picture twice since the end of the semester. If I get any closer to beginning the intro of my thesis, I have a feeling we will see lucky number three.

6.) My dad got a new dog a couple months ago, and he is pretty much my BFF, so I spend a lot of time rough housing with him (see: my swollen, blue ring finger and the giant scratch on the right side of my face). Don’t get me wrong, the dog and I get along very well, he’s just got a lotta spunk — which I, of all people, can appreciate.

5.) The phone rings every five minutes in this house, something that didn’t bother me much as a child, since it just seemed completely normal. Now I see that it’s just an inordinate amount of phone calls, half of which Dad never returns, and all of which he is never here to answer. Translation: Secretary Duty.

4.) Speaking of the phone… I don’t really talk to many people from my hometown any more, after all, it’s been four years since I loaded up Mom’s SUV and decided to rarely, if ever, look back. So being here means I’m not around my good friends. In other words, my cell phone is almost always in use and my screen name is running on overdrive.

3.) When searching for inspiration to write my thesis on Monday night, I googled “writing quotes” and proceeded to look through about 150 inspirational quote about writing. It really did inspire me, but by the time I was done reading them all it was time for bed.

2.) I’m not really in a rush when I’m here. Usually at school it’s: wake up early; class; class; meeting; class; class; meeting; work; homework; shower; bed; up early… Here it’s: sleep until I’m done sleeping; shower; leisurely prepare for work; drive/find parking for work; work; home; “Greek”; bed.

1.) Maybe it’s because I haven’t had enough caffeine in my system the past couple days, and my body is in a state of confusion?


The Impatient Kayaker

lifesaver.pngI have a little problem with patience. I blame one of the kids I went to elementary school with. He and I were always battling to see which one of us was a little bit smarter than the other. After a couple years, we realized we got the same scores on just about every test we ever took, so we began competing to see who could finish the test first.

Of course I wish this had never happened, because to this day, I have to be the first in the lecture hall to turn in my Scantron sheet. 100 multiple choice questions — that should take no more than 15 minutes, right? And three essay questions — that’s 40 minutes tops.

I have only recently begun to allow myself to re-check my test after I’m done filling in the bubbles, applying hints the professor might have accidentally left in the end of the test to correct mistakes I may have made on the first couple pages. And I don’t turn in first drafts as papers any more. They may be A material in high school, but it only took one semester at SU to learn that they’re B+ at best. If nothing else, there’s always going to be a careless typo on the third page. Despite this realization, I still like to bang out a 10 page paper in no more than four hours.

I suffer from severe and chronic impatience. Being last, for me, was just never an option. So you can imagine how distressing it can be to feel like one of the only seniors at Syracuse University with absolutely no clue what I’m going to do after graduation. All four of my roommates have their plans all made up in their heads. They know the want to do Teach For America, or graduate school, or which area they are going to move to after graduation so they can dive into their chosen field.

I don’t even have a time zone figured out. Alaska sounds nice. So does Alabama. Not to mention my overwhelming love for Washington, D.C. — what I wouldn’t give to go back there, or another top market like Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, or New York. But what are the chances of that for someone fresh out of journalism school, battling against the hundreds (more like thousands) of recently unemployed journalists who have lost their jobs due to buyouts and budget cuts.

I look at my friends who have already applied to fellowship programs, law schools, and top-notch jobs and wonder how they decided their choices were for them. Don’t get me wrong; I know I want to be in the journalism field. I’ve known for… well, forever. I want to work as an editor and move my way up the ranks, but the question is, where do I want to start? Does it matter?

vacationclub.gifPart of me wants to do something exciting, like pack up two suitcases and drive my station wagon out to Montana for a three-year stint at a newspaper in the middle of nowhere. Another part wants to move to the city on a wing and a prayer. Still another part wants to stay within a two-hour radius of at least one of my best friends, so I don’t have to go on this new adventure all by myself.

But while it’s exciting and invigorating to think that six months from now I could be anywhere in North America, it’s also scary to think that for the first time in my life I have no idea what the next step is. And it’s even scarier to think that I might be in last place for once — the undecided boat is quickly emptying out, and before I know it I’m going to be paddling alone to God knows where.

In the mean time, I guess I’ll just learn to swim in case of emergency.

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Top Ten Reasons To Go Home For Thanksgiving

10.) To be quite honest, the last time you did laundry was the last time you were home — and that was in September. You can only go out and buy new underwear so many times in a semester without feeling like you’re wasting money. It’s time to finally bundle up your 50-plus pounds of dirty clothes, haul it home, and smell like the Snuggles Bear again.

9.) Turkey sounds really good right about now. Especially since there is no chance of it being served with blue-box macaroni and cheese or pepperoni pizza, the only two pieces of sustenance that have entered your mouth in the past two weeks…. Besides Diet Mountain Dew of course.

8.) You can actually get in your car to drive home for Thanksgiving. It’s been so long since you and your little four-wheel lady got to spend quality time together. At school, you’re always walking to class and you feel as though you haven’t given her the attention she deserves.

7.) You have a couple new “that’s what she said” jokes you can’t wait to test out on your dad, who truly appreciates these little zings — maybe even more than you.

6.) You have a feeling your parents’ new dog/cat/chameleon (whatever kind of pet they recently purchased in your absence) might be getting a bit too comfortable as an only child. You hear rumors that it sleeps in your bed, sits beneath your chair at the dinner table, and even responds to your name. It’s time you go home and set this step-child straight. You are in control here, and no four-legged critter is going to steal your spot in the family tree.

5.) Your liver has been working on overdrive for the last … um, well about 12 weeks now, and you have a feeling it could get some much-needed vacation at home. That is until Aunt Ellie shows up at the dinner table with a jug of hard apple cider and too many childhood stories to tell.

4.) It’s a reason to turn the heat in your apartment down to approximately 42 degrees for five days, so you can save on the bill for the month. Not to mention the fact that you can enjoy the heat of your real home at your parents’ expense. Turn the heat up to 75? Sounds like a great idea to me.

3.) As long as your sitting in your parent’s living room it’s completely possible to forget about the fact that you have 27 pages worth of papers due the next Monday, two tests on Tuesday, a creative project due by noon on Thursday, and approximately 12 hours worth of paperwork to accomplish during the following week.

2.) Your sister just bought the complete series of Sex And The City on DVD and is offering a bowl of popcorn if you share the love with her.

1.) You’ll probably get a free tank of gas from your parents, a twenty shoved in your jacket pocket from Grandpa, enough pie for a week, and one too many cheek pinches… Yup, there’s nothing like going home for the holidays.

Relative Nerdism

scenes0073.jpgOne of the biggest challenges I found when I began college was that, for the first time, I was going to have to make new friends. It was hard to decide which type of friends I was going to associate myself with. Having come from a small, rural community, I grew up attending a school where everyone knew each other. We shared more similarities than differences, and though we didn’t form one cohesive clique, we understood each other enough to at least appreciate one another.

Then I came to Syracuse. While to most it’s no metropolis, I felt as though I had just moved to Manhattan — residence halls with 20 floors, multiple dining halls, and an undergraduate population more than four times the size of my town. I was in a bit over my head. I had too many options to know what to do with. I could be in the dance club, the school newspaper, the a cappella choir — I could do anything I wanted.

I got to create my own identity.

So I went about carving my niche in a way I never would have expected. I got very involved in the honors community. While I had been one of the token honors students in high school, it was never the part of my identity that I would use to define myself. In high school I was an athlete — the captain of my volleyball and cheerleading squads. At Syracuse I would soon rise to be the head of the student honors community.

And after accepting this as my fate, I also accepted my nerddom. After all, I am a giant dork, something I have come to enjoy about myself. I spend too much time at the library, stay up late at night talking about feminism and human rights, and take great pleasure in hyphenating compound modifiers. I found my niche in the honors program, finding the place on campus where I fit in the best.

Me and the Honors Faculty… BFFWhen I’m in the confines of 304 Bowne Hall, I feel as though nothing can hurt me. I walk into the Honors Suite where literally the entire staff actually knows my name, offers me food, and greets me with a smile and a hug. But when I’m in other circles, I sometimes feel as though I am on the margin, searching desperately for the center.

I’m too nerdy for some of my friends. They’ll playfully joke about my overwhelming love of Jane Austen, the fact that I write books in my spare time, or even the fact that I thoroughly enjoy blogging. I’m the token smart girl in some settings. I get it at my sorority, I got it in my residence hall when I was an RA, and I even get it at work. I’m just a bit too dorky for the people who aren’t within my honors family.

Then this weekend I went to Denver, a city I have fallen in love with over the last three days. I’m here for the National Collegiate Honors Council’s national conference. I’m not going to beat around the nerdy bush — I’m here representing Syracuse University, and made a presentation to honors councils from other universities across the country.

I noticed when talking to some of the people I’ve met here — great people — that when I get surrounded by too many honors students, I start to feel as though I’m just not smart enough to be involved in the group. These students represent massive universities, have triple majors in scientific fields, write theses about literature I haven’t even heard of, and discover genetic abnormalities in microscopic organisms. What am I doing for my honors thesis? I’m writing a memoir. It’s less than earth shattering.

I don’t understand how I can be too nerdy for some people and not nerdy enough for others. But at the same time, it makes perfect sense. We live in a world of polarity, where dichotomies reign supreme. You are either the super-genius or the village idiot. It shows up in this sense, as well as others.Goofing Off in Denver

Life isn’t about dichotomies, though. Life is a continuous spectrum. Nerdiness, race, gender, sexual orientation, intelligence, beauty ⎯ all the ways people define themselves, can be seen, and should be seen, as a fluid stream, varying in intensity from one end to the other, not a rigid and constricted duality.

If we were able to turn this world into a place where we accepted all qualities of life to be part of a spectrum, there would be less identity crises, less Keeping Up With The Joneses, and less college freshmen freaking out about trying to fall into a “perfect-fit” college situation. No one is the same all the time, we live in a world with no absolutes, so why are we fooling ourselves?

Yea, I’m a nerd. I’ll admit it, but that’s not my full-time job, and when I’m in Denver I’m a bit of a slacker. Accept it.

(photos provided by SU Photo & Imaging Center and Colin Fanning)

Top Ten Ways College Kids Can Help Save The Environment

We have limited income, and according to polling statistics, we don’t really turn out to vote like we should. But there’s got to be some way college kids can help save the environment. Well, there is. In fact, there are 10.

10.) Stop exercising. One of the key problems contributing to global warming is the overwhelming amount of carbon emissions in our world. Let’s think about this. Carbon. What does that sound like? Oh yea, carbon dioxide. And how does that get out in the air? From us breathing of course. And when we exercise, our heart rate goes up, and so does the frequency of our breaths. Clearly the elimination of exercise from our daily routines can serve as a fool-proof way to save the polar ice caps.

9.) Cannibalism. Another major factor in global warming is the simple fact that our world is becoming overpopulated. We can quickly correct this by making a conscious decision to eat other people.

8.) Have more sex. Heating bills are the worst. I don’t know about you, but I like to wake up to a 68-degree room, something that doesn’t always happen at my off-campus house where my roommates will fiddle with the thermostat in the name of lower energy bills. If only there was some way college kids could stay warm all night long without having to foot a giant heating bill, or using unnecessary energy.

7.) Quit watching television. Upperclassmen — this one’s for you. You’ve come to the point in your collegiate career where you have risen to the top of the food chain in your extra-curricular activities or Greek organizations. You can officially haze underclassmen as your nightly entertainment. Don’t sit idly by the midnight glow of your television set. Instead make freshmen and sophomore students perform a sock puppet show in your living room, serenade you with the beloved songs of Neil Diamond, or act out the seventh season of Gilmore Girls.

6.) Start a cult. Cults are really great about sustainability. Your cult can grow its own pumpkins for decoration, carving entertainment, and food. A new college cult just getting off the ground would only need about five cows to survive an entire winter — and that includes beef and the necessary dairy products. Not to mention the cult recreation time you’ll schedule into your weekly meetings, where you knit scarves for each other, made entirely of the lamb’s wool you sheared earlier that day.

5.) Stop taking notes in class. Think about how many trees you could save by going an entire 15-week semester without taking a single note. Deforestation is a real problem in the world today, and every little bit helps. Save the rain forest by refusing to waste 200 pages of college-ruled notebook paper next Spring. You’ll thank yourself later in life when you’re able to chill with a sloth in the Amazon you helped protect.

4.) Buy a goat. Sure, it may be hard to convince your landlord (or RA) that a goat is a good idea, but if you really set your mind to it, I’m sure you can persuade them. After all, a goat will eat just about anything. Landfills are overflowing all over the world — just look at New Jersey — because people are consuming more now than ever. Another major problem contributing to the surplus of trash is that some people just don’t know how to separate their recycling. That’s okay. Goats can eat anything from newspapers, pet gerbils, unwanted dolls, old socks, and batteries to empty milk jugs. Keep our earth clean and use the goat trash disposal system instead.

3.) Buy in bulk. Reducing the amount of packaging we buy can really help the littering situation that our country is suffering from. Instead of buying a 30-pack of beer cans, choose a jug of moonshine instead. Don’t buy wine by the bottle; instead, buy a grapevine and make it in your bathtub. Simple steps like this can really help us keep our earth clean and safe for future generations.

2.) Hitch hike. I don’t know about you, but try as I might, I can’t seem to scrape together enough money to upgrade my 1996 deathmobile to the hybrid I would prefer to drive. What does this mean? Well, in addition to the fact that I am about 10 times as likely to die in a car crash as others with newer cars (seeing as my horn doesn’t work, there is an electrical circuit out, the passenger-side door flies open whenever it feels like it, and it squeals louder than a three-year-old on her maiden voyage of Space Mountain), my gas mileage isn’t so great. Instead of driving my P.O.S. back and forth to the beverage center to buy my moonshine, I should really start throwing my thumb up and grabbing rides wherever I need to go. The less cars on the road the better, right?

1.) Illegally download your music. What are CDs even made out of anyway? I’m not sure, but I think it’s safe to say they’re not exactly environmentally friendly. Between the actual disc, the jewel case, and the pamphlet that comes with the record, there is a lot of junk produced for these albums. Wouldn’t it make so much more sense to eliminate the raw materials, using Limewire and other P2P systems to steal the music instead? Unless your goat is hungry…

Top Ten Signs It’s Midterm Time At College:

10.) You haven’t seen your roommate in almost a week, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s not because she’s been out partying like Kate Moss, or over at that cute guy’s house for hours on end. You’ve been hearing rumors that she’s been hiding out in the stacks at the library, and the last time you caught a glimpse of her, she was passed out in a bag of Cheeto’s on her bed, surrounded by not one, not two, but three separate organic chemistry text books.

9.) The smell test has taken over your life. You know what I’m talking about. It’s been so long since you have had the time and energy to actually wash your clothes that you have to hold your jeans up to your nose in the morning while deciding if they can make it just one more time.

8.) You have absolutely no clue what is going on with your favorite TV show. For all you know, Hannah Montana’s secret identity has been found out, and so has Gossip Girl’s. Miss USA and Miss Teen USA could be BFF again on Pageant Place, and you would have no clue, because you have been busy writing a thirty-page rant about the importance of feminism in the global south.

7.) You finally made it home from the student union at two o’clock in the morning, after hiding out in a comfy chair to get your reading done, and noticed a yellow note taped to your door. Great, just great. It’s from the health department. Apparently the fact that you have not done your dishes in three weeks, and practically carpeted your formerly hardwood floors with loose leaf paper is a major health code violation. Congratulations, your modest rental property is being condemned.

6.) The chunky milk has taken over the refrigerator — once again.

5.) You used to fall asleep to the soothing sound of John Mayer’s voice, singing an acoustic version of Your Body is a Wonderland straight from his heart, through your iHome, and into your ears. Now you pass out to the tune of Fur Elise, and the rest of the classic studying playlist your mother forced you to create while studying for the SATs approximately a million years ago.

4.) You have decided, at the ripe-old age of 21, that it’s time for a face-lift — or at least a little bit of Botox. The bags beneath your eyes have begun to rival those of a basset hound, or more accurately, those of your high school principal. Yeesh.

3.) Your to-do list is so long it actually goes on for three pages in your spiral notebook. As if this isn’t discouraging enough, it is rivaled by one other document: your grocery list. You’re out of toilet paper, paper towels, chap stick, all five food groups, and dish detergent. The plus side? You still have two bags of frozen vegetables left. So what’s for dinner? Brussels Sprouts or Cauliflower?

2.) The barista at Starbucks rolls her eyes and grunts every time you come in the door. This is your third triple-shot espresso in the last two hours, and your twenty-seventh this week. Sure, she’s happy your tips are helping her pay for her own college tuition, but she’s beginning to wonder if you need some sort of clinical treatment.

1.) Your vocabulary, and the vocabulary of everyone around you has been severely affected over the past week. In fact, it’s been three days since you’ve heard anyone (outside of your professors and TAs of course) use an actual word. You even accept “Ug” as a proper salutation in the morning.

No Use Crying Over Chunky Milk

It’s amazing how long three 21-year-old women can survive without going grocery shopping.  I think our new record is three weeks.

Three weeks.  Let me put this into perspective for you.  Kayleigh thought it would be a fabulous idea to drink some milk the other day — straight from the carton, because of course when your mother’s not here to watch you, drinking from the carton is pretty darn tempting.  So there she was, refrigerator open, thirsty as hell, and finding nothing but milk and a couple beers.  She figured she’d take the chance with the milk.

It seemed like a great idea at the time — until she had to spit the chunks back to the sink.

I told her that’s why our mothers always told us not to drink from the carton.  If she had only poured it into a glass first, she would have seen its great attempt to turn into cheese.  She would have been warned.  As it was, she learned her lesson.

Well, maybe not really, because it was still another three weeks until we finally made our way to the grocery store tonight.

I think the best thing about grocery shopping with my roommates is that we always grab a loaf of fresh French bread when we first walk in, and eat it as we stroll through the aisles.  Now, I know what your thinking: What a bunch of Fatty McFat Fats.  But it’s not like that.  Think about it.  It’s a horrible idea to shop on an empty stomach (especially when you’re a poor college student), and the doorway of the supermarket is pretty much the first time we’ve seen food in about a month.

Today’s food adventure was pretty uneventful.  High School Musical 2 was over at 10 o’clock, and we were out the door 10 minutes later, singing along to the High School Musical Original Soundtrack — Yes, I understand this is quite pathetic, to be completely honest, there’s something about this CD that just makes me happy.

We started out by grabbing our token loaf of bread, ripping off bits and pieces and shoving them in our mouths like savages.  Then we sped down the aisles, looking for as many generic, bulk food items as we could find.  Mac and Cheese by the twelve-pack?  Sign me up!
After buying what we deemed to be the bare necessities, we finally wheeled ourselves to the checkout line, where our eyes popped out of our heads.  How did we spend $120?  We didn’t even buy toilet paper, much less dish soap or mozzarella cheese.  Cue a car-ride home filled with complaining about inflation, the state of the economy as a whole, and of course, capitalism.

While unloading our bags back at the house, I notice that in our money-saving efforts, we decided to buy a single half-gallon of milk.  I can see this backfiring on us in the future…

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