Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cards for Shots

Why is peer pressure always centered around doing things we know are (or could potentially be) bad for us? We don’t peer pressure one another into going to church or into eating a salad. Instead, it’s always about sex or drugs or alcohol. Why is that?

Last night, I made a deal. I was bored, I was not tired, and I was tired of being ignored by my two friends Tom and Ryan, who had settled down to play endless hours of the exclusively two-man game, chess. Chess is obviously a thinking game, and so they were not the best conversationalists, in spite of my attempt to be “social,” so I returned to my room and read for a while, not paying much attention to the reading and annoyed that I had nothing to do on a Saturday night while two of my alleged “good friends” were merely one room away from me.

After they had had their fill of chess, Ryan knocked on my door to enlist my company once again. This time, however, they were heading out to our common room to play another of my not-so-favorite pastimes: Double Dash. (For those of you more inclined toward traditional board games such as Scrabble or athletic games such basketball, Double Dash is a Mario Cart Nintendo GameCube video game; these two boys have played it religiously since freshman year of college.) Once again, my options were to sit there watching the two of them silently play a game, or return to my room. I chose the latter option.

”Where are you going?” Ryan wanted to know. “How often do you get to see me? You wouldn’t want to miss this chance.”
“I can see you just fine,” I told him. “It’s talking to you that’s going to be the problem.”
“I can talk fine while I’m playing,” he insisted. “I’ve had some of my best conversations while playing Double Dash.”
I highly doubted that.
“How about this?” Tom set the disk down on top of the GameCube console. “If you take shots with us, we won’t play Double Dash, and we’ll spend the night doing something that includes you.”

Now, what kind of an option is that? Basically my choices were 1) return to my room, stew in my boredom, and go to bed grumpy and dissatisfied, or 2) agree to the terms and see what would happen. I have drunk alcohol before, I knew exactly how much I was willing to drink, and I knew that they would not force me to drink more than that; I just didn’t really want to be drinking at all that night (or any night, really). It felt like an unfair request. In a way, Tom may as well have said, “Drink with us or we won’t be your friend.” I know he is my friend, and that’s not what he meant, but there simply is no other subtext.

So I took the shots, and we played three-handed Euchre and 500. I have found that once people are satisfied that you are drinking with them, they rarely monitor how much you drink. I got away with pouring myself a shot and letting it sit there for twenty minutes at a time before either Tom or Ryan noticed I hadn’t taken it yet. Total shots: 1 pineapple rum, 1 vanilla vodka, 2 99 oranges. The drinking spiel was over two hours, and I didn’t feel a single effect, although my face did grow increasingly flushed.

At least I got them to play cards with me. But I can’t help wondering: in the end, is that really worthwhile? Why do such important matters (i.e. spending time with someone and making them feel wanted) come down to such trivial ones (i.e. a shot of vodka)?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Around Hillside, I am affectionately known as the Basement Bi***. Well, no one actually calls me that, but if there was a term for what my coworkers thought of me, that would probably be it. “You are always in the basement,” they always tell me, when I emerge from the underbelly of Danforth with a seventy-five-pound cartload of stuff. “You live down there.” The truth is, if I did not make those countless trips down to the various milk coolers, freezers, and storage rooms, Hillside would be empty in no time. No one else pays any attention to what’s needed or about to be missing from the shop until it’s actually not there, and when it is gone, heaven forbid someone actually go down and look to see if we have it. What is more, only a handful of workers actually know where to look for these things. I happen to be one of those workers. I am also the one who pays attention. Therefore, the duty usually falls to me.

When I do emerge, dragging oodles of chocolate syrup and smoothie cups and frozen strawberries behind me, I then have to revert to my “floor manager” duties. As a student manager—and a responsible individual—I take it upon myself to make sure things that need to be done get done. This seems pretty basic in terms of how one is supposed to do one’s job, but consider this: on many days, I work with one or two other student managers, and oftentimes, no one but me bothers to look and see if the garbage is overflowing or of the Coke machines have run out of product. No one tells any of the other workers to wipe down the ketchup-encrusted tables until I [with a sigh—because no one wants to do this job] hand some poor freshman a bottle of cleaning spray and a rag and ask them to please take care of that task.

This may sound like a rant, but what is happening—what I am just realizing is happening—is that I am assuming more responsibility or, rather, more responsibility is being thrust upon me without my consent. Just the other day, as I emerged (once again) from the basement with products for restocking the café, Darlene (a Union worker--not a student--who makes the omelets and quesadillas) came up to me and asked, “Are they all right?” I turned around to find two of my coworkers lying on their backs on the floor in the middle of the café, legs in the air. Thinking one of them might be sick, I went over to find out what was going on. They were “doing Pilates.”

Now, the immediate reaction of any reader (I would expect) would be that I should reprimand these two girls and find something for them to do. They are at work! Just like me, they are getting paid! However, one of the two is supposed to be my equal; she is also a student manager. Therefore, why should I have to baby-sit her? The more significant portion of this story, however, is what struck me a few moments later was: why had Darlene asked me? Why was I the one she came to? I am realizing that this happens more and more. When I went to leave the other day, the union worker got a panicked expression and asked, “You’re leaving?” “I’ll be back at 1:30,” I reassured her. But as I walked out, I began wondering: why was I reassuring her? What did she depend upon me for? There were other workers there, other student managers.

My boss e-mails me. She asks me to stay late. She asks me to “take care of things.” I am the one the Danforth (i.e. building) managers come to when they have a question or concern during my shifts.

My parents always advise me, “Ask for what you need.” So I asked for a raise. We shall see what comes of my request.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Is it a bad sign that I have become such an editor—such a critic—that I even want to revise my professors’ notes?

As I sit here studying (or attempting to study) for my 100-level BCS Development of Brain and Mind course, I am coming up with all sorts of ways that the notes could have been more logically rearranged. I never questioned the ways in which professors organized their material before, but as I try to make connections between the various portions of my notes so that I somehow remember them for the test, I find myself thinking, “If only they had put things together this way….”

I am freelance editing a peer’s book at least seven hours-a-week. I “edit” at Writing Fellows at least twice a week. I am constantly editing my own Honors Thesis work. I think I am becoming obsessed.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Saturday, February 2, 2008

It’s Time

In my suite, I’m probably considered the “odd-man-out.” I’m the only single girl, and of the girls in the suite, I guess I would be considered the “together” one. I have my own friends, my own activities, my own schedule; my world is not confined to those people I met freshman year, nor is it confined to the pastimes of those people around me, if I do not enjoy them (i.e excessive amounts of Magic and Guitar Hero). Granted, I do have my bad days and go on the occasional rant concerning a particularly nasty customer at Hillside or my internet-retarded computer, but for the most part I keep to myself and am certainly the least likely to “let loose” in a party situation or otherwise. Therefore, it would probably be a pretty accurate to assume that my roommate Ben has ever heard me squeal before. That is, until four days ago.

We were the only two in the suite—he was playing Guitar Hero in the lounge, and I was checking my e-mail in my room. (For some reason, my internet had decided to work at that particular moment in time. It is being particularly temperamental this semester.) Recently, I have been doing a lot of job-searching and resume-preparing, considering everything from how to go about selling myself to Random House to whether or not I wanted to continue through the recruitment process for Teach for America. In effect, I had completely forgotten that I had applied for the Time, Inc. summer internship program. I had applied to this program on somewhat of a crossed-fingers basis, because traditionally the program recruits college juniors, and I am—of course—a graduating senior. However, I am most certainly qualified for the position, and so I applied.

Well, to make a long story short, I got the job. Congratulations! read the e-mail. You have been selected out of over 600 applicants as one of our 47 Editorial Interns for summer 2008!

Yes, I squealed. I was just so excited! I mean, this takes a tremendous amount of pressure off of my shoulders for the next few months. Granted, it is only an internship, which means it will only employ me for June and July, but it will put me right in NYC, which means that I will be right there if (or hopefully, when) employers want to interview me. What’s more, the internship pays to house me in Columbia University’s summer dormitories, which gives me the perfect time, location, and financial cushioning to find a “real” NYC apartment.

On the semi-downside, I was not placed into any of my top three magazine choices. I will be working for This Old House magazine this summer, which seems from its website to be an interior decorating/fix-it-up type of magazine. (I will have to find and read a few copies sometime soon to get a better idea.) However, on the upside, I will get to work in the editorial department, which is the most important thing. And I will get to put Time Inc. on my resume—how impressive is that?!

Meanwhile, back in Rochester, I am beginning to do some freelance editing work for a fellow student. However, things have gotten more legally complicated than I had anticipated. Why can’t people just know what they want and spell it out clearly? I think the problem is that people simply don’t know what editors are for, or what they do. It’s a darned tough job, and certainly just as artful in terms of crafting the piece of work! So now I have to not only do the work of editing the student’s manuscript, I also have to edit the contract before I agree to it. Between that and all of the paperwork for the Time internship, I am simply drowning in legal technicalities!

Which brings me to my final point: I don’t know whether it is age or maturity or what, but the more time that passes and the closer to “independence” I believe I come, the more I discover that I rely on my parents. And it terrifies me. I have been back-and-forth with them over paperwork and decisions and terms and goodness-knows what else more than I care to admit. What is going to happen when they are no longer around? Sure, there are other people I could go to in order to ask questions, but they are my parents, and I am a priority to them. They answer my questions quickly and thoroughly because they care. I truly pity anyone who does not have such wonderful people in their life.

But parents cannot last forever. I am about to graduate college and get a job. When does the day come when all that knowledge magically transfers from them to me, and I become The Wise Self-Sufficient Adult?