Life & Other Drugs, On "The Hill"

Pop-Culture Lessons for Deprived Intellectuals

May 11, 2017

In keeping with the theme of Brown’s community being incredibly varied, quirky, and unique, one of my best friends that I’ve made this past year, Sofia, has a tendency to make jokes about topics HIGHLY disparate from the normal college-aged American millennial lingo (cue one of her infamous supply and demand jokes), as well as generally not understand the references of her peers.  Her characteristic joke repertoire comes from the relatively distinct way she was raised: without much, if any, TV, specifically not American programming.  While I interspersed playing outside, devouring books about insect species, and plopping on the couch to watch a good ol’ Reading Rainbow episode, she was likely reading an actual book, probably about the legitimate meteorological principles behind rainbows.  (This is not to say that I didn’t read books, [@ Brown: I swear my admission wasn’t a flaw!!] but to say that she REALLY read books.)  As well as her TV-less childhood may have prepared her brain for college and intellectual discussion, it inevitably deprived her of full conscious understanding of the wonderful jokes that her incredibly funny friends (me, obviously) make.

Approximately 75% of my jokes hinge upon another person’s familiarity with The Office (likely due to the fact that I’ve watched the entire show 5x).  So, since Sofia is an Office-hater, despite my ceaseless pleas for her to love the show, a large majority of my jokes swoop right over her head.  “That’s what she said?” “Did I stutter?” “Do you think that doing alcohol is cool?”  Being a little stitiousOccasionally hitting someone with your carCLARICE?  Nope, completely unrecognized comedic genius from me.  Somebody isn’t laughing at my jokes??

Not only does she lack understanding of my Dwight jokes, she also has very little knowledge of Family Guy jokes.  Maybe this isn’t the most ‘couth’ or ‘worthwhile’ show, but it certainly provides a surplus of joke fodder.  I’ll admit it, it “really grinds my gears” when she doesn’t catch my jokes.  Some of you pick up on that one?  Good for you guys.  If you didn’t, do your sense of decency a disservice and watch some Family Guy episodes.  When we eat anything with whipped cream I FIGHT back the urge to incessantly repeat cool whip in Stewie’s voice.  When I stub my toe I overdramatically imitate Peter’s knee injury incident.  And, whenever I make any sort of joke about how Brian went to Brown, she definitely thinks there’s some guy she doesn’t know.

Sofia does try her best to throw some TV lingo into her daily language and sometimes her efforts aren’t entirely fruitful, as evidenced by her referring to a cookie-monster mug as “the Elmo cup.”  But, that’s what I’m here for!  Sofia: I hope these extremely (in)significant skills I’m teaching you make this friendship worthwhile.  If not?

Image via, via, and via.

Life & Other Drugs, Satire

The Ethics of Magic in Sabrina the Teenage Witch

May 10, 2017

Sabrina the Teenage Witch is the best television show in the history of motion pictures, the moving image, and humankind. It’s the best show because it combines teenage girl problems (studying, sneaking out, what to do when your boyfriend gets two cartilage piercings) with young witch problems (getting your Witch’s License, traveling through a vortex in your linen closet, what to do when your furniture starts talking during your Halloween party), thus making it highly relatable.

If this premise doesn’t convince you of Sabrina’s excellence, let me remind you that the school mascot was the Fighting Scallions, and that Ru Paul, the Violent Femmes and Jerry Springer were guest stars, and that in one episode the family’s talking cat Salem dons a suit stuffed with dollar bills and orders sushi from two very confused chefs.

I rest my case.

I just finished re-watching the first two seasons of the show, which accounts for how happy and into 90s fashion I’ve been lately. And even though I’m totally into all the puns, flying vacuum excursions, and inter-realm drama, there are definitely some glaring issues and inconsistencies that lie within the show.

I would like to take this up in an academic manner, seeing that all of my thoughts during this time of year are academic. Not wanting to step on any toes, I searched the web to see if this field had already been pioneered. This is what I found:

Thus, I present to you my totally original, totally well-researched, totally holds-together, totally not-done-at-the-last-minute Rib Thesis—The Ethics of Magic in Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Even the Other Realm Needs a Moral Code.

Part I: The Economic Implications of Magical Use

Sabrina and her aunts live in the U.S., which operates under a capitalist system, but Sabrina and her aunts, being witches, have any material good they desire at their literal fingertips. Are witches really not paying for anything? And what does that mean for the world economy?

In one episode, Sabrina and her BFF Valerie go shopping for school dance dresses. Valerie sees a sporty little number she likes but, since it’s out of her price range, Sabrina secretly zaps a 20% Off Clearance tag on it. It is later revealed that Sabrina’s theft was not without repercussion, as 20% of her aunt’s sweater disappeared due to the work of a figure called the Equalizer. This may seem like the answer to our economic predicament, but the Equalizer only appears in one episode and is a grown-ass man who wants to coerce Sabrina into marriage as payment for her debts. This definitely discredits him.

Thus it seems that witches are stealing from the hands, mouths, and pockets of mortal families, or they’re participating in the economy in very inconsistent ways because Sabrina still pays for her pizza at the local Slicery. All I have to say is: what gives?

Part II: Manipulation Through Magical Means

In the first two seasons alone, Sabrina’s magic turns her Vice Principal into a monkey, makes her perpetually nervous best friend unwillingly ask her crush out, and transforms her nemesis Libby into a jigsaw puzzle. These are all regular ol’ human beings who definitely did not sign any claims of release saying “yeah, it’s okay if Sabrina Spellman transforms me into the barn animal of her choosing, or changes my personality, or makes me feel like a deranged loon when I wake up after passing out in the backseat of a flying car, that’s fine.”

Where is the consent? Where’s the respect paid to her peers and neighbors? She is rarely punished for her spells that go awry, and when she is, the punishment is doled out by a council of wig-wearin’ witches who honestly couldn’t care less and usually reverse their decision. There is simply no order.

 Part III: A Witch Could Change the World…So Why Hasn’t One?

Salem the Cat became a cat as punishment for almost taking over the world, so witches clearly have a lot of power. Why aren’t witches using their power for the common good? What I’m really asking is, how come Sabrina let Bush get elected?

Yes, I am assuming that the political system of our world is the same in Sabrina’s—there’s nothing to suggest the contrary. The school’s sexist Vice Principal makes it clear that Sabrina’s world is still governed by the patriarchy so you gotta wonder—what’s stopping witches from brewing a potion that makes people respect consent, and also reverses ice cap melting and also fixes the criminal justice system? I guess I just want my witch idols to be socially responsible feminists, seeing as they literally are the means of production.

Overall, it’s clear that the witching world has no concern for the repercussions of their exploitative actions, probably because they are too busy skiing on Mars and getting serenaded by the Backstreet Boys. I love this show so very much, but let’s just say that if I were its writer, I’d keep the lunch room banter and velvet crop tops and crazy special effects the same, but make Sabrina progressive.

In conclusion, witches be crazy.

Images via, via, and via Sarah Clapp.

Life & Other Drugs, On "The Hill"

Perkins, A Place of Few Perks

May 1, 2017

Here at Brown, we determine housing through — if you’re not familiar with it — a blood-sucking, battle-to-the-death type lottery, which any campus tour will define as super “fun,” “random,” and something that “always works out!”  I unfortunately fell prey to this tricky rhetoric and genuinely believed that a fairy-tale housing selection process was the way it was all going to be.  So, when I saw my housing selection time was 6:20 p.m. I figured, okay, that’s right in between the start and end of the process so my odds are pretty good!

A friend asked how I’d fared with my lottery number and I explained my fairly average pick-time, to which he responded, “On which day, though?”  Panic ensued. Extreme fear. Disgusting lower back sweat. Bulging eyes. The prospect that there was more than one day for picking had not even dawned on me.  I frantically searched and realized I was picking on the second day, meaning on the 7-page long list of picking order, my housing group fell on approximately page 5.5.  Page 5.5 means a ridiculously high and unsettling likelihood of living in Perkins.

PERKINS.  Are you unfamiliar with it?  Let me tell you a bit about what I’ve learned about this hell-hole via upperclassmen: small, brown water, far, smelly, defunct showers, very far, rats, and did I mention, FAR.  Upon realization that my fate was likely a residence in Perkins, I began my journey through the 5 stages of grief.

First up: denial.  I counted my spot in the housing lottery, counted those before and behind me, realized my likelihood of living there was incredibly high, and continued to act as though it was not.  Those in my housing lottery group would bring up the topic and I’d immediately change the subject, refusing to acknowledge that PERKINS would be our fate.  I’d see sophomores hopping onto their bikes to begin the strenuous trek back to their unfortunate housing, and I’d pity them, confident that I’d continue to be able to comfortably walk home to a lovely spot on Wriston.

Eventually, I came to realize that as much as I may hope for it not to be the case, living in Perkins would likely be an actuality.  And, that made me REALLY mad (i.e. those “now I’m mad” vines, #ripvine).  Friends who fared well in the housing lottery would make lighthearted jokes about me living in Perkins, and I did not take them so lightheartedly.  I was already more than a little bitter.

Then came bargaining.  What if I had entered the lottery with other people?  Screw living with my friends—I’d live with my worst enemy in Hope in lieu of side by side dorms with my BFFs in Perkins (does that make me a horrible person?? Yeah, maybe).  What if I had studied a liiiiiiitle harder for that last midterm?  I bet THEN the housing lottery gods would’ve spared me.  Was there anything now I could do, any move I can make to change this??  I’d exclusively eat ratty meat if it meant I’d be spared–which is a big step because I’m a pescatarian, but then again is that stuff even meat?

The housing gods never bargained with me, and thus came the sadness.  It’d be 3:00 p.m. on a Thursday and I’d lay in bed, already missing the convenience and specialness of my Wayland dorm.  But, self-generated sadness wasn’t enough.  I’d plug right into my sad Spotify playlist (I know I’m not the only one with one of these) and Mad World’s melancholy melodrama would spew softly out of my ear buds.  Essentially, my life was this meme:

Is this extra of me?  Entirely.  Is this necessary?  More than.

After all of my days of blues I decided to look for some potential benefits and accept the inevitable.  I took a run to check out Perkins, which I’ll admit did not take as long as I thought it would.  I ran into some current residents who explained that it had recently been renovated, the supposed rat problem was largely malicious rumors, and the slight seclusion made for an incredibly close and bonded sophomore community within Perkins.  I finally came around to the idea that living in Perkins wouldn’t be THE worst thing.  So, I waited expectantly to see my options in the housing lottery, at peace with the prospect of a home in Perkins.  But, at 6:20pm I saw a room left in Sears and screamed, loooooudly.  Here’s to hoping the lottery works out again in my favor this time next year.

Image via and via.

Life & Other Drugs, On "The Hill"

Dear Seniors, Please Don’t Leave

April 30, 2017

As this semester wraps up, many of us on campus are getting ready to say goodbye to the Class of 2017, which sounds like fake news if we’re being honest, because 2017 sounds like a fake year. 2010? That sounds more real. That’s more like it. I’m not sure why I feel this way, but I honestly believe that Justin Bieber’s “Baby” came out yesterday. Why the release of that one song seems to have frozen time for me I don’t know, but it doesn’t change the fact that I genuinely feel like anything that has happened after the Biebs bowl cut epidemic has either happened a) way too fast to actually be real or b) as part of one of those very weird, long, too-vivid dreams I used to have in middle school.

BUT, if I learned anything from 2016, it’s that this is all, somehow, real (!!!!!). It’s actually happening. Our friends are going off to grad school. They’re finding apartments. They’re getting jobs. They are moving cross country, or abroad, or even staying in Providence, (but getting the hell outta here, they say).

To this I say: how… fucking… dare you?

And I say this because I am furious. And no, it’s not because I’ll miss you. (Though I will). Mostly, I’m angry because what are we supposed to do now? What am I supposed to do now? Because, newsflash, the seniors leaving isn’t about the seniors at all– it’s about us, the people who they are leaving behind. Especially soon-to-be seniors, like yours truly.

Don’t get me wrong. I am kind of excited for senior year. But I can already tell that it’s going to be both great and awful at the same time. Perks? Living off-campus, for one, so that I don’t have to deal with noisy neighbors and, even more importantly, a cappella groups. Disadvantages? HBO, which all Brown students now have, is only for people living on campus. So to answer your question, yes, I highly considered giving up my off-campus permission because I love Game of Thrones, Insecure, and Veep. But, also I hate a cappella. So, priorities.

Granted, priorities are one of the many reasons being a senior is going to be amazing. The elders get priority! We’ll finally get first pick for a bunch of things, most notably, capped classes. But then again– what does that matter? Aren’t we all taking classes like Ghanaian drumming and Public Speaking anyway?

Plus, as an “old,” we will never really feel intimidated by anyone. And from what I have witnessed and gathered, we will also stop caring about what we look like when we head to class.

Actually we’ll just stop caring about class. And work. And productivity and ethical consumption under capitalism.

And we’ll care about other stuff we never really cared about before. Like, finding time for our “real friends” instead of party hopping. Or staying in on weekends with our housemates, because we’ve realized we’ll never see them again see them mostly at weddings or reunions.

Maybe we’ll discover there is someone we wish we had gotten to know better. We’ll even senior scramble. We’ll think about all the things we wish we would have done, and remember the things we said we don’t regret but kind of do, and suddenly it will register that we already had our last snow day at Brown, and one last Ratty lunch, and we’ll wonder if we really took it all in before everyone is off on their next adventure.

Isn’t that just a little depressing?

I don’t want to go to there! I want to stay a junior forever! (Lol, depending on finals, I just might!) I desperately want to keep feeling older than the other munchkin freshmen/sophomores, all while knowing I still have a whole year of fuckery ahead. I looooove knowing that I’m part of the age group where I can go to the GCB and see ~some people in my class, but mostly, I just see seniors who I’ve admired from afar and who are willing to buy me overpriced popcorn in one last attempt at flirting with a stranger.

I looooove using “but you’re leaving me!” as an excuse to make plans with cool seniors while I ditch underclassmen under the pretense of “but we still have time!”

And I especially like sharing stories with these geriatrics all these old timey tales that make us both feel special. I’ll bring up some whacky story that happened to me my freshman year and they will stare at me with a look in their eyes, like the one your grandpa gets when he speaks of The War. The Gate? I haven’t heard that name in years…

Ah, Seniors. Who is going to fill your pretentious hipstery shoes? Certainly not me. That’s just too much work. And while I certainly like power, being the “wise one”/the person others look up to? No thanks. That’s a lot of pressure, and I’d like to keep being able to fuck up constantly and consistently forever, thank you very much.

In any case, I’m also just not cool enough to be a senior. I can’t be the senior who is a chill recovering scene kid with an edgy nose ring and also plays ultimate frisbee. I can’t be the senior who pulls off the “granny-toddler” look on one hand and pulls off hooking up with a guy she’s literally bled on (nosebleed blood, for clarification) on the other. And I definitely can’t be the senior who can look hot AF dressed like Marty freakin’ McFly and who once piqued my interest with her heart-shaped manic pixie dream mole.

When I’m a senior, all I’ll have to my name will be like, oh Daniella, the one who wears a superfluous amount of beanies and flannels and is obsessed with going to concerts and also, her Congressman?

I guess what I’m trying to say is –as with most things– perhaps best said with a Queen B lyric. You’re irreplaceable, seniors. What can I say to make you stay? Hmm… Real world? Rent? Student loan refinance plan? DONATE TO THE BROWN ANNUAL FUND? IN THE REAL WORLD, IT’S ACTUALLY KIND OF DIFFICULT TO FIND MOZZ STICKS?

Hit me up if any of these worked ‘cuz then maybe someone can use them on me next year. Because ya girl is planning on straight up denying the inevitable passage of time until the fat blue lamp/bear sings.

Image via Sarah Clapp.

It's a Girl Thing, Life & Other Drugs, The Tabloids

The Dangers of Online Bikini Shopping

April 27, 2017

I hate online shopping. I don’t understand how people do it. The clothes never look as good as they did online, or they don’t fit, or they arrive two weeks later than they were supposed to, or all of the above. I avoid online shopping at all costs, and would much prefer to waste hours at the mall in order to find several items that I am 100% sure about buying, than to spend 20 minutes accidentally spending crazy amounts of money on 4 pairs of shoes that I most likely won’t be able to squeeze my feet into and will consequently have to return. Also! I hate returning things. Why has no one invented a high-tech solution where you can just snap your fingers and get your money back and be freed from the object you don’t want taking up space in your room. Like are you seriously telling me I actually need to repackage and re-mail this thing I don’t even want all by myself, in order to get my own money back??! The inhumanity.

Well, recently I discovered there is something even worse than online shopping, and that would be online bikini shopping. Last month, with spring break around the corner, I joined many college girls across the country in making the horrifying realization that I have absolutely zero bikinis. (Yeah, yeah you USC/Tulane people don’t have these problems and the rest of us losers in the arctic tundra are not at all jealous of you). With barely a week until break, I was up to my neck in midterms and knew that I wouldn’t have time to make the dreaded trip to the mall. So, I began the endeavor of scouring the world wide web for 2 pieces of polyester that would rack me up (ha ha punny) some Instagram likes, because as we all know likes are the only thing that matter in defining self-worth.

Well, enter a certain bikini website that shall not be named, but may or not be an incorrect spelling of a geometric shape. After identifying my favorite $90 bikini, I proceeded to checkout only to find that they were out of my size. More specifically, they were out of my size in the top but not the bottoms, which somehow made it a much more annoying, glass-half-empty type of situation. Now, I was about to do the normal thing and “X” out of this page and move on to a new website, when I noticed a little “chat” box in the bottom left corner. I could chat with a customer sales rep! Right now! And they would help me! So exciting.

So I did. First, I was asked to enter my first name, and in a really weird and semi-embarrassing moment, I decided to use a fake name. I use my real name on literally everything I do all day long, so I could not tell you why I felt that the one time I should protect my ~sacred identity~ was on a bikini website that only asks for your first name.

So I said my name was Kylie (I told you this was embarrassing) because I thought it sounded like the name of a girl who might buy a bikini online from a company named after a geometric shape. Like can we be honest for a sec, any name ending in -ie or -ee or -ey or -eeey or -ieie is like def better bikini material than my really generically spelled name.

“Kylie” was soon connected to a rep named Maggie, who followed her script by apologizing profusely for not having my size, and then asking me if I was sure about my size. It occurred to me that, never having tried on one of these mystical bikinis, I was not in fact totally sure about what size I would be. I relayed this info to Maggie.

Maggie asked me if I had a tape measurer that I could measure myself with. I said yes! Of course!

Disclaimer: I do not own a tape measurer. After 30 seconds of texting my roommates I learned no one in our house did either. But not wanting to disappoint my new friend Maggie, (I mean had already lied to the poor girl about my name – I needed to redeem myself somehow), I proceeded to scour my apartment for anything I could measure myself with.

Ten minutes later I found myself wrapping a piece of floss around my body. Meanwhile, every 3 minutes Maggie would message me “Are you still there?” “Hey Kylie – still there?” as if I was a victim of a deathly accident, on the verge of losing consciousness, instead of a girl standing alone in her room trying to determine how many inches a piece of dental floss was.

Eventually, I came to terms with the fact that a piece of floss could not tell me what my bikini size was, and I had to bid farewell to Maggie. Maggie told me she would email me if my size arrived sooner, and asked for my email, which I gave her. My email definitely contains the name “Abby” and not “Kylie.”

Maggie did not comment on the discrepancy.

A few days later, I found myself rushing to the mall in between classes to find a suitable (ha another pun) bikini. The irony, I know. I could have skipped lying about my name and wasting all that dental floss.

Lo and behold the only acceptable one was designed by KYLIE Jenner. Am I psychic?? Yes, obviously. I clearly predicted my fate. Everything in my life was supposed to lead up to this moment. So I bought the bikini and brought it to spring break. Also it was like $30 instead of $90 so thanks @ kylie jenner.

The moral of this tale is to avoid online bikini shopping, and floss, and overly eager sales reps that you meet via a chat feature, and also maybe lying about your name.

Images viavia, and via.

It's a Girl Thing, On "The Hill"

Athleisure & Me

April 26, 2017

I peered out of my Grad Center window this morning and was blinded by pastels. I saw lacrosse shorts and cute-yet-impractical button-down-the-front skirts galore. After some tedious calculations, all signs seem to point to the fact that YES, it is mating season spring!

As I write this from my prime Ratty booth, I can’t help but admire the array of chic warm-weather styles there are out there. Denim with so many holes in it that it creates its own ventilation system… Flip flops– or if you’re cool enough, crocs… And of course, the romper (a cute yet intimidating item of clothing).

I’d rock all these swanky outfits, I tell myself, if only I could turn off the furnace that is my body. In essence, I perpetually look like I just came from the gym.

I have considered many options, but the only viable solution I have is to finally embrace the nation’s love affair with athleisure. A vaguely athletic style will distract onlookers from the lovely sheen of oil across my forehead, but more importantly, it will open up room for debate. Did she just come from track practice or the library? Does she do Pilates or eat Jo’s takeout in her bed? Who knows! Certainly not me.

The athleisure industry is looking me straight in the face, telling me it’s okay not to give a shit about what I put on in the morning because I could be an athlete (but I’m definitely not).

With this in mind, I sit on the Main Green happily sweating onto a Blue Room sandwich. “Leg day,” I tell the people that walk by, “Gotta get that protein, right bruh?” I then take a sip from my water bottle because my coach wants me to be hydrated for game day my body just wants more of that good stuff to sweat. I respect my body because, after all, it’s a temple.

Since becoming an athleisur-ite, I’ve noticed many others of my species roaming around Brown’s campus. There’s a fairly large population of us rocking baggy sweatshirts and hats. I’d just like to right one common misconception: we don’t do this for style. We don’t think leggings are chic. We’d wear floral sun dresses if we could. If only pit stains were less prominent than flowers. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Images via and via.

Satire

I Listened To All These Things Backwards and Here’s What I Heard

April 26, 2017

As everyone knows, rock ‘n’ roll is the devil’s music  and many rock ‘n’ rollers have relayed satanic messages through backmasking, a recording technique in which a message is recorded backwards onto a track that is meant to be played forward. There are many famous examples of well known rock ‘n’ roll music bands using this method to send subliminal messages to their fans about all kinds of freaky stuff, but I have found many more secret messages from other famous songs, speeches, and other assorted noises. Here’s what I found…

  1. “Revolution 9” by the Beatles

Universally regarded as the most lyrically heartwrenching Beatles’ song, “Revolution 9” is also an iconic song when listened to in reverse. Most people know that “number 9” backwards sounds like “turn me on dead man,” which of course refers to John Lennon’s highly publicized sexual fascination with corpses. But, when listening to the frenzied musical interlude about 5 minutes in backwards, you can hear clear as day “Ringo Starr ran away from home, help us find Ringo Starr.” This may seem like a nonsensical message, but the recording of this song aligns with Ringo Starr’s so-called “Lost Day.” Many believe that he simply overslept and missed the session, but this song confirms the fan sightings of Starr walking sullenly along train tracks carrying a small sack of his belongings on May 12, 1968.

2. Final Jeopardy! Theme Music

Given the bright metallic sound of these thirty seconds of deliberation music, it’s hard to believe that what you hear listening to this track backwards is “Cory, it’s me your father, Alex Trebek, please call me.” That’s right, every week night just before 8 P.M., Alex Trebek is sending a subliminal message to his son, imploring him to drop a line because they haven’t spoken  in years. So next time you’re sitting at home trying to come up with the answer to that last question about “Ancient Wonders of the World,” remember that Alex Trebek’s sole motivation for being the host of Jeopardy! has been to contact his estranged child.

  1. “The Wizard of Oz”

Many people have heard of “Dark Side of the Rainbow,” which refers to the bizarre synchronization of the visual portion of The Wizard of Oz with Pink Floyd’s classic album Dark Side of the Moon. But did you know that when you play The Wizard of Oz backwards, it is the same movie, just with Dark Side of the Moon playing as well? It is truly astounding that the filmmakers in 1939 were able to mirror ever shot and piece of dialogue over the course of the movie in addition to anticipating the distinct progressive rock sound of Pink Floyd. That’s what they call “Movie Magic!”

4. Bill Clinton saying “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”

President Clinton had no shortage of scandals, from Whitewater to that time he went to an ice cream parlor in Arkansas and ate all the waffle cones without paying, but the allegations about his relationship with intern Monika Lewinsky are perhaps the most infamous. Many may remember Clinton’s assertion that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman,” but many never took the time to listen to that sound bite backwards. When reversed, you can hear a section of Bill Clinton playing “Heartbreak Hotel” on saxophone from his appearance on the Arsenio Hall Show in 1992. Perhaps he wanted to harken back to a simpler time when he was just the cool dude in the shades looking to get his hands on the nuclear codes. Or, given that the saxophone is unequivocally the sexiest instrument, he may be communicating that he totally related sexually to that woman.

5. A blender on high speed

Try this at home! Make a recording of your blender at high speed and listen to it in reverse. Sound familiar? Yep, that’s right, it’s The Communist Manifesto in its entirety! Ever wonder why you’re prone to daydreaming about Karl Marx while making a smoothie? It’s not the strawb-banana goodness making you think about seizing the means of production, it’s the fact that you are literally hearing The Communist Manifesto, just backwards.

6. “The Star Spangled Banner”

Francis Scott Key penned this catchy number during the War of 1812—a war that involved Canada, which makes sense considering our national anthem played backwards is “O Canada.” Doesn’t it just blow your mind that at every sports game in America, people are clutching their camo hats to their chests and holding back patriotic tears to a song that is secretly about our neighbors to the north? (Note: “O Canada” played backwards is not “The Star Spangled Banner.” It’s just a whole lot of indistinguishable noise, like what you might expect from playing something backwards.)

Image via Sarah Clapp, via, via, via, via, via, via, via, via, via, via, via, and via.

It's a Girl Thing, Life & Other Drugs

Always A Text Away!

April 25, 2017

Staying in contact with family and friends is an objectively good thing.  It’s nice to know a bit about what shenanigans your family is engaging in while trying to subsist without your lovely presence, and to receive advice on why you NEED to binge-watch Westworld right now, c/o your friend who stays up to date on Philo’s capabilities.  Occasional back and forths like these are informative and allow you to feign a bit of closeness, even if your family is thousands of miles away.  But group chats can spiral out of control (i.e. Britney circa shaved head phase).

Group chats in general have some irritating (to say the least) consequences.  They eliminate any possibility of ever leaving your ringer on again if you don’t want to consistently receive glares from everyone around you.  And leaving your phone on vibrate isn’t much of an option either, unless the prospect of having a vibrator in your pants at all times is something you’re into—in which case, to each their own.  Group chats also make it incredibly dicey to be a dodgy asshole.  You’re placed in a tough spot when someone from a group chat has individually texted you, you need to text something in the group chat (planning when you’re departing for chyken finger Friday obvi), and you also are attempting to ignore that individual text.  Now, you are faced with the horribly hard decision of either being a decent human being and texting the person back, or staying true to your asshole tendencies and clearly indicating you’re ignoring that text by texting in the group chat.  Tough stuff!  Sometimes group chats can even make you sad.  When nobody responds to your carefully crafted text in the group chat, it’s a tad disheartening :’-(

Group chats with your friends have their own particular set of issues.  Somehow, induction into one has come to symbolize some form of friendship—don’t you love the way us millennials do things??  I have heard horror stories about how in the middle school game these days, getting kicked out of a group chat is the ULTIMATE in petty girl drama.  And I thought the Google Buzz days were wild…  Perhaps an equally shitty experience would be catching your friends texting in a group chat without you out of the corner of your eye and having to act like you didn’t see it while actively fighting back the tears–stay strong.

Family group chats have niche problems as well.  You probably feel an obligation to be a good kid and laugh at the things your parents send in your group chat.  But you can only fake laugh so much at the Mr. Krabs meme your parent discovered approx. 4 months late in their quest to be ~hip~.   Maybe your best bet is to just mute all of your group chats.  But, let’s be real, inevitably you will cave and this will be you:

Image via, via, and via.

Life & Other Drugs

The Very Real Fear of Being Invited To Very Fake Parties

April 25, 2017

I have a lot of fears. Most are rational – failure, nuclear war, going to the doctor – but there’s one fear I have that I’ve never been able to justify. I’m afraid of being invited to fake parties. Specifically, I’m afraid of being invited to a party and then showing up and nothing’s happening and it’s like, “Haha, you thought.”

It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly this fear started. In my youth, I was never really invited to many parties. It wasn’t like it is now where everybody obviously loves me and thinks I’m great and wants me to be at things. No, no. I was a genuine Loser.

I don’t have a specific memory of the first time I experienced it. Probably in middle school? It was, after all, middle school. But again, here’s the thing – I was actually invited to a few parties in seventh grade. I was brand new at a school in an area I’d just moved to, and immediately fell in with a group of girls who constantly had sleepovers. Every time I was invited to one, it was always real. Eventually they decided to outcast me, as they did with every girl in the group at one point or another, but they didn’t do any mean pranks or anything. Just stopped talking to me. This might explain my low self-esteem or my reluctance to trust people, but it doesn’t explain my very specific fear of fake parties. So. Moving on.

After that group, I became friends with a different group of girls. They were and are terrific and are my best friends to this very day. They never invited me to fake parties. Sure, they were much more social than I was and got invited to many things I didn’t, but that was never a thing between us. Everything was great; nothing to worry about. And yet…..

I remember there was a point, sometime around high school, where my fear expanded a tiny bit to a general fear of showing up to fake events. I would come to school on field trip days and suddenly worry I’d made the field trip up and I was the only one who didn’t bring my books/notebooks that day and everybody would laugh, which on its own is hilarious, because nobody at my high school gave a fuck what you were doing in class. I would go to people’s houses for the first time and worry they’d given me the wrong address. I had nightmares about thinking an exam was one day when actually it was the day before and I’d missed it already. Just a constant, anxious, nagging feeling that I was destined to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, likely by malicious design.

I still have this fear a little bit today. That’s why I have precautions in place. For example, I never go to an event if I don’t have someone to go with. I’ll lock down an attendance buddy and not leave my room until they text me like “Where are you?” Does that make me kind of an asshole? Yes. But it’s better to be an asshole than to be humiliated. If my attendance buddy insists on “meeting there,” I’ll scope out the nearest bathroom before I go. That way, if I show up and nothing’s happening, I can just continue walking to the bathroom and pretend that’s what I was looking for all along. If there actually is something happening, I continue to the bathroom anyway, because that brings me to my final point – once I’m at a party, I make sure to never be alone in a room, not even to pee. I’m not allowed to pee at parties. You never know when everybody will decide it’s time to pull a disappearing act on you.

Over the years, I’ve gotten better at managing this fear, but if you ever invite me somewhere and I don’t show up, now you know why. I’m onto you.

Image via Annie Warner.

On "The Hill"

A Very Very Very Fine House

April 24, 2017

The only thing better than being a grownup is pretending to be a grownup. Actually, that is a lie. There are a lot of things better than being a grownup, like a great pair of jeans, a whole milk latte, and getting the last word in a kickass argument. Also, being a kid. That might be better than being a grownup. But I am becoming older and, therefore, turning into a grownup in quite an uncontrollable manner—they call that aging, I think—so I am forced to come to terms with my fate and say that there is nothing better than pretending to be a grownup.

I have spent the last eight months of my life living in a house with my two best friends. This is not only the first time we have lived together, but is also the first time we have lived in a real grownup house together. We’ve all lived alone before—Jamie and I in cities like New York and Prague. Julia’s lived alone in Ethiopia, which makes her a much more interesting person. However, there is nothing quite like living, just the three of us, in the second floor of our big, old Victorian house for the first time, together.

Thus, I have spent the last eight months of my life learning a lot about what it takes to be a grownup by pretending to be one. I have been advised by many successful writers that you must “fake it ‘til you make it.” I guess this is how being grown up works, too.

Jamie, Julia and I have a pretty good system. Jamie is in charge of the electricity bill, Julia is in charge of the Wi-Fi, and I am in charge of the rent. I have never had to pay a homeowner’s bill on my own prior to this year. This is how rent works: I send our landlord a digital check on the first of each month for the same amount. This is what I have learned about paying an electricity bill: Jamie sporadically sends me a Venmo request, and I accept it and send her some money. I don’t really know what she does, but I trust that she does it. This is how an electricity bill works, I guess.

When we went away for a week, I tried to be really responsible by suggesting we shut off the heat to save money. Then I found out that if you do that in the winter, your pipes will freeze and explode, so you probably shouldn’t do that.

Julia’s boyfriend is really tall, so when he’s over and showers in our bathroom he adjusts the faucet to hit his head at the proper angle. Our shower takes some time to heat up, so usually we turn it on a few minutes before getting in. Once, Jamie showered after Julia’s boyfriend. She turned on the water and left the bathroom to get undressed. When she got back, she discovered that the shower had been shooting out at a perpendicular angle—completely overshooting the opposite end of the tub—for almost 10 minutes. And 10 minutes after that, our friend on the first floor called to tell us that their ceiling was leaking and they didn’t know why but the plumber was on his way and we shouldn’t flush our toilet or use the sink until further notice.

Julia’s and my rooms are separated by a door which sometimes opens when our house ghost decides to pass back and forth. This would be so fun if we were 10-year-old sisters, but I’m semi-Wiccan, so… there’s that.

Julia has a noise machine because she is a light sleeper. The walls between us are relatively thick, but the door is not. Often, I will be watching a TV show or a miscellaneous YouTube video alone in bed and laugh so hard that I cry. Because it is the funniest thing I have ever seen, I send the link to Jamie and Julia in our group text.

“This is so funny,” I write next to the link. Usually, neither of them respond or acknowledge it at all.

The next morning in the kitchen, I’ll tell them about the video. “I watched the funniest thing ever last night. You have to watch this. I was laughing so hard,” I say.

“We know,” Julia says flatly. “We could hear you laughing.”

In total, there are ten girls who live on the three floors of our house. Each week, we collectively produce four full bins of trash and three full bins of recyclables. Each floor is responsible for bringing its own trash to the bins outside. On our floor, to get this done, something magical happens.

The trash can in our kitchen will overflow, which is a telepathic signal sent from Jamie and Julia to tell me that I should change the trash bag and take the old one outside. This is the kind of telepathy that only best friends have. It’s a really great system.

My room is the closest to both the kitchen and the bathroom, which happened because we picked out of a hat and I picked last. There are obvious pros and cons to this. The pros are that I can eat as much as I want whenever I want without feeling ashamed. The cons are just as obvious, I’d say.

Last week, Jamie, Julia and I were sitting on my bed when Jamie said that something smelled really bad. Three minutes later it wafted my way, and I duly noted that it did, indeed, smell like rotting vegetables in my room.

“Maybe it’s the heater,” I suggested, because sometimes, in addition to making jarring, gunshot-like noises in the middle of the night, my radiator that was probably installed in Colonial times emits an unpleasant scent.

We smelled the heater. It was not the heater.

“Maybe it’s my sheets,” I suggested next, because, I mean, I’m not not a night-sweater.

We smelled the sheets. It was not the sheets.

“Maybe it’s the trash in the kitchen,” I said because I knew that I had not taken out the trash recently, which meant that no one had taken out the trash recently.

We peeked into the kitchen. Surprise! There was no overflowing trash.

“Oh god,” I said next. “Maybe it’s the bathroom.”

Jamie got up and wandered into the bathroom, followed by Julia, followed by me. Our bathroom floor has the areal dimensions of a gangplank, for reference.

“It kinda smells in here,” Jamie said. We all inhaled.

“It smells very bad in here,” Julia confirmed.

“It definitely smells in here,” I agreed.

Our bathroom cleaning procedure is not unlike the kitchen procedure where we use our best friend telepathy, which only best friends like us have, to indicate when it is time to clean. It usually happens when the drain cover in our shower gets so muddled with hair that the water in our claw-footed tub becomes a small wading pool, like the stagnant kind you wouldn’t let a child dip her fingers into. When this happens, my best friend senses tingle and I take the drain cover off of the drain. With a terribly disturbing sucking noise, the water goes down. Meanwhile, I sit on the toilet and use toilet paper to remove a combination of hair and some sort of goo-like substance from the drain cover.

Once the water has gone down the drain, there are remnants of the smelly, goo-like substance on the bottom of the tub. I go to the kitchen and I get our Clorox and a shitload of paper towels. I get on my knees and scrub the tub until it smells like a classroom after a custodian cleans up a child’s vomit. Bless.

Do you know what the three of us did once we were all standing in the bathroom, heads cocked to the side, smelling that putrid smell?

We turned around and filed out, detectives who had closed their case, and piled back into my bed, spare legs thrown across each other, heads on different arms and shoulders, pillows beneath our backs, and picked up our conversation just where we left off. The splintered panels of the wooden floor creaked every time we took a breath. But we could not hear a thing.