Sunday, October 28, 2007


I am one of the most addictive people I know. This is not to say that people become addicted to me. On the contrary, I mean to say that I am extremely prone to developing addictions.

I work at Hillside, a coffee shop located in the basement of the all-freshman dorm on campus, three mornings a week. As a perk for working there, employees are allowed to take free food and beverage during their shifts. I work from 7:30a.m. until 11:30 or 12, so I usually eat breakfast and sometimes take food with me for lunch, but I always, always take a drink. Most of the time, I take bottled water or Fuze (a fruity vitamin-ish drink), but for a certain period of time, I started to take bottles of pop (or “soda,” if you insist upon being anti-Pittsburgh-ese). Sometimes I would take Sprite Zero, and then I began taking Diet Dr. Pepper (regular is too cloying). I also drink a lot of liquid during my shifts—if I can help it—and I started drinking tea around this time without discriminating between green, black, or herbal tea.

Needless to say, I got hooked on the caffeine. How did I determine this? The next week, I decided that the pop probably wasn’t doing my system any good, since I kept getting thirsty all the time, so I went back to drinking water. That week (and even a few days into the week after), I suffered from chronic fatigue. Chronic. And it wasn’t just the can’t-get-started fatigue, either; it was all-day-long, don’t-feel-like-doing-anything, ever fatigue that makes you want to bury your head under a stack of pillows somewhere in a far away dessert and sleep for a century or two.

I also get addicted to people. And sports. I was told that I must have a “workout addiction” for wanting to go running on a Sunday while I was on the theatre trip in Canada. I told my accuser that I wished I were addicted to working out—then it would not be so difficult to stay motivated.

Even knowing this about herself, what’s a girl to do? All I can say is, thank goodness coffee and alcohol taste so bad.

Tis the Season

I found this on

It's so true. Guys look goofy or gross. Girls look...the way they are subliminally (and not-so-subliminally) told by media and men that they should want to look. If you've ever seen the movie Mean Girls, you'll know what I mean: “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”

Well guess what; I just said something!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Loving Writing

Can you say you love doing something if it’s only the end result that you actually love?

Take swimming: if I only loved winning races, I could never say that I love swimming, because the truth of the matter is that during my high school and college swimming careers, I have rarely (if ever) won any races. However, I do love swimming; I love the act of swimming, of being in the water, of training for races, of competing against other swimmers.

Take singing. My sister says she loves to sing. However, I doubt she could really say she love to sing if she only loved to perform arias in front of huge audiences and despised practicing scales and choral work. Fortunately, she says that singing anything “perfectly” makes her feel so alive, so wonderful that she would rather be doing that than anything else. Hence, why she hopes to pursue a career in opera.

Now, take writing. I say I love to write. However, what I really love is having others read and appreciate my writing. I cannot honestly say that I love the act of writing. In fact, if I am honest, the act of writing is really quite horrid. It is a struggle requiring dogged tenacity, infinite self-patience, and more ways of dealing with frustration than I am capable of creating. Most of the time, when I am writing an assignment, I feel like beating my head through a brick wall rather than try to type one more word. However, once I have finished revising my story/article/research paper/essay for the seventy-third-and-a-half time, finally turn it in, and receive feedback like “Superb work, Allison! I can find nothing to criticize,” or “The way things are presented without directly telling us is brilliant,” (on two different assignments, no less) makes me wonder why I ever questioned my own purpose.

I cannot get satisfaction from that kind of praise for anything else that I do. If I play a pretty song on the piano or make a good play at a volleyball match, those compliments are great, but they are nothing compared to being complimented on my writing. The closest thing to someone enjoying my writing is someone enjoying my cooking, and even that is not nearly comparable, probably because food doesn’t last. Food cannot be shared in a timeless way, between scores of people. It can be ruined in an instant (which I know all-too-well) and must appeal to the aesthetic senses as well as the gustatory. Writing is permanent, and changes that are made last. Writing can be shared over time, across space, and between people. The pleasure people get out of reading something creative or witty is a completely different kind of pleasure than anything I have ever seen or experienced, and being able to create that in others is a power that exhilarates me.

However, I still don’t know if this qualifies me to say that “I love writing.” Can I say, “I love having written”?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More irritation from Hillside

A New Rule From George Carlin’s New Rules for 2007 that made me smile:

"New Rule #6: The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the asshole. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a "decaf Grande half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one sweet-n'-Low, and one NutraSweet," ooh, you're a huge asshole."

This goes for any coffee shop. And if you complain about the “fresh squeezed orange juice” coming from a Tropicana container, please also kindly remember that you’re eating at a University of Rochester dining facility, not a spa-sponsored cafĂ©. If you want your smoothie/latte/mocha in the next five minutes (which is probably all you have between the time you woke up and when you have to be at class), you really don’t want me back here squeezing oranges for some kid’s cup of juice. Let Tropicana do the squeezing.

And remember to order your cappuccino small and plain. Maybe I’ll smile when I hand it over.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Go Yellowjackets!

My suitemate, Tom Brown, is decked out for the first football game of the season.

This is, by far, the most athletic-related school spirit you will ever see on the UR campus.

*We lost that first game to Carnegie Mellon, 10-33. Go Pittsburgh.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Cute vs. Creepy

Pretend you are a 21-year-old female who receives the following message from a gentleman of similar age: "i was in class tonight thinking about u."

Coming from literally any other boy who has ever liked me, that statement would totally and utterly creep me out. However, coming from this boy, I actually didn’t mind hearing (reading?) it.

Now, I won’t say that that little comment made me all gushy inside, because that's not true, either. I simply welcomed it as a compliment—nothing more, nothing les. What seems unfair is the realization that if it came from some other guy, this comment would creep me out.

Is this tremendously unreasonable of me? It seems unreasonable, yet I cannot seem to help feeling this way. Are the boys who have previously pursued me actually stalkers, or do I just perceive them as such because I am uninterested in them?

This is starting to sound like the “chicken or the egg” question. Why can’t we all just be like Snow White and fall in love with the first guy who kisses us? Of course, then again, who ever said she was in love….

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I was working at the Hillside (a campus coffee shop) this morning. Around lunchtime, we clean/restock the shop area, and today I was relegated to garbage duty. There are four garbage cans total: two large hinged “Thank you” style ones and two smaller ones located beneath holes in a little condiments island/counter. Because they are more hazardous, I tackled the larger cans first, wrestling out the mountainous garbage bags and knotting them shut. Leaving them on the floor beside the condiments island, I removed the two smaller cans from under the island. Students—being the slobs they are—had jam-packed these cans so full that they were overflowing inside the island, so, being the conscientious worker I am, I got down on my hands and knees and crawled partially inside in order to remove some of the excess trash.

Suddenly, I felt a stiff poke at the back of my neck. Some wetness rand down beside my ear. As I backed out from under the island, a brown plastic stirrer fell down in front of me. I looked up to see a girl walking away with her nicely stirred cup of coffee. That girl had just thrown her trash on me!

My immediate reaction was to snatch up that stirrer—along with the oozing ketchup packets, dented cream cheese cartons, and crinkled napkins on the floor beside it—and throw it back in her face. There! See how you like it! Instead, I calmly picked up the stirrer—and ketchup packets, cream cheese cartons, and napkins—and put them in the trash bag beside me. Then, I knotted it, hefted it over my shoulder, and carried it to the dumpster. The boy walking in front of me down the hallway didn’t even bother to hold the door. Why should he? I’m just a coffee shop worker.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Losing Identity

From the start, I knew I would miss swimming. I enjoy physical activity of almost any sort, and I have spent the last four years of my life fine-tuning this particular sport. I also find it much more inspiring to engage in sports competitively, along with others pursuing the same training goal; hence, I love being on sports teams. I love the camaraderie of teams, I love the structure, I love the discipline. The time commitment was always difficult to handle—not to mention the physical demands—but the payoff was always worthwhile.

What I did not realize was the sense of identity I gained from being a “college athlete.” I played sports in high school, but I was better known for being an “academic,” so this was not so much a part of my identity. Plus, I had always played sports, ever since grade school, so I never felt any absence in that area of my life. College sports proved to be different, though. I have always admired college athletes, and by swimming on the UR team, I felt as though I was a part of something admirable and important. I loved to be able to say I was a Swimmer in the larger, more official sense of the noun. It made me feel worthy of respect that not every college student was able to earn. I was part of an exclusive club of hard workers, and my own sweat and determination had elevated me to that status.

Now, when people ask me what I do, what am I to say? Everyone in college has a major or two. I work at a coffee shop and as a writing fellow, but these jobs simply do not seem as impressive, as important. They do not constitute a team, and there is little if any sense of fellowship among those involved. When I am asked if I am a swimmer, I always revert to the “I swam for two years” statement. It’s almost like a plea. I did swim. I was that worthy of your admiration and respect.

Now, when I go to the cafeteria, I see the teams sitting at dinner together and sigh with longing. The athletes are part of a clique I want to belong to. I walk around campus, and I can no longer have the self-confident “I am important to the identity of this school” swagger.

Now, I am back at stage one, freshman year, trying to forge a new identity. Yet, as a senior, it seems to late. I will be moving on soon, anyway, into an “adult” life of no teams. Then I will have to define a new standard for gaining admiration and respect.

Niagara Falls

Now, who exactly is going to be lighting up in the "Hurricane Zone?"