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On “The Hill”

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, 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.

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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, 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.

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.



Life & Other Drugs, On "The Hill"

Presenting: The Mailroom

April 24, 2017

Brown can be a self-selective place. If you’re a freshman, you’re probably hanging out in Keeney or on Pembroke. If you’re involved in Greek Life you can be found on Wriston, if you’re an athlete or an otherwise ~athletic~ person you’ll often be in the Nelson, and if you’re a senior who’s like “so done with college” you probably can’t be found because you’re holed up in your off-campus apartment.

Even the most popular spots on campus are self-selective. The Ratty is made up of mostly underclassmen, the Blue Room is full of people willing to spend too much money on a breakfast sandwich (me), the Sci Li is full of sciencey people and the Rock is flooded with Humanities kids (also me).

There is one, and only one, place on campus that is a total intersection of everyone who attends this fine university. It is mystical and unique, and there is no other place quite like it.

Presenting: The Mailroom.

Figure 1: Actual Real Life Image of the Mailroom

Everyone gets mail (shout out to moms and Amazon!) so everyone must go to the mailroom. I moved off campus this year, and I still use the mailroom because of the sheer familiarity of really bad music, extremely long lines, and most importantly, the convenience of being able to “forget” to pick up your package for several days with the knowledge that it’s being held safely in your campus box.

On a side note, has anyone ever seen these elusive campus mailboxes?? How do we know we really each have our own mailbox? Mine is 8720 (subtle call to send me ~fan mail~ guys) but how can I know if it even exists if I’ve never seen it?! Seeing is believing, as they say.

Anyway! Going to the mailroom is a multi-step process. The most exciting part, (in mine and everyone else’s opinion), is the ID swipe before you enter the mailroom, in which a v modern and cool screen informs you of how many packages you have to pick up. After you swipe, you can press “pick up now” and then enter the main room.

However! There are two catches here. One is that there is another v modern and cool screen inside the mailroom, which performs exactly the same operation, yet people seem to be unaware of its existence, causing the line for the first machine to be longer than necessary.

Second, is the underrated devastation of swiping your ID only to find out that you have “no packages at this time,” and the following sense of despair you feel as you walk out of JWW instead of through the mailroom doors.

Figure 2: Another Genuine Photograph of the Mailroom

Assuming you do in fact have a package, you make your way into the mailroom. You join the other couple dozen students in the room who are standing silently, facing towards the front desk, and waiting for their names to be called. During this time, you jealously watch other students who arrived before you receive their packages, while simultaneously listening to the worst playlist you’ve ever heard (we’re talking Taylor Swift circa 2011).

And also during this time, you can’t help but observe the students that surround you. Last weekend you and your friend complained (for the umpteenth time) that this school is too small and you know like everyone. Looking around the mailroom, however, you feel the exact opposite way. How do you know zero out of the 30 or 40 people standing here? Who are they? Where did they come from? Where have they been hiding? Is it possible that ~gasp~ you only think you know a lot of people, when in reality there are literally hundreds of students at this school you have never met?  Has the mailroom – the one and only true intersection of students on campus – caused you to have an identity crisis and question everything and everyone you have ever known???

The true magic of the mailroom lies in this moment: each one of these students takes different classes, are part of different organizations, have different concentrations, come from different cities –and yet: we all use the same mailroom. Guys, if this isn’t beauty I don’t know what is.

Images via.

Life & Other Drugs, On "The Hill", Satire, Uncategorized

My Story: I Got a Record Deal from Humming in the Ratty

April 21, 2017

My trip to the Ratty started like any other. I got up from my table and started humming a tune the second my foot hit ground because I can’t stand to be alone with my thoughts for more than a moment. I shamelessly continued to showcase my vocal talent at the peanut butter station. I know what you’re thinking, and no, this wasn’t a teeny tiny hum, audible only to me and to dogs with enormous, floppy ears. I was humming from the heart, and the people around me definitely heard. I mean, it’s just humming. I wasn’t full out SINGING like a weirdo; I was merely producing a wordless tone through my nose with my mouth sealed shut like that time capsule my middle school buried. When are we gonna open that thing, anyway?

I guess I’m kind of weird like that, but I love humming! I did choir in high school, so it comes really naturally. I also tried out for a cappella at Brown, so, like, duh. Just one of my quirks, I guess!

Not everyone shares my passion for the art form. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hummed a ditty while in line for an omelette. In those moments, I am in my own little world — until the person in front of me says, “What?” and I have to explain, “I didn’t say anything.”

But last Tuesday, I didn’t have to do any explaining. I had just finished my meal, so I got up to bus my plate. I fell back on one of my favorite melodies: The “Five Dollar Foot Long” song on repeat. As I scraped rice pilaf into the compost bin to the beat of the tune, a woman approached me. I steeled myself for a trash-related insult, but when I looked in her eyes, I saw tears of awe.

Image result for tears of joy

“I heard you humming, and I recognized your immense talent. I’m so glad you shared your gift with every single person you pass by in here,” she gushed, laying out the paperwork.

And then I signed a deal with Interscope Records!

I know, I know, it’s crazy. What are the odds that a talent scout would compost her food in a student dining hall just in time to hear the musical stylings of a virtuoso like myself? All those years of friends and family begging me to stop humming at “inappropriate times.” All the accusations of humming loudly for the attention — I mean, yeah, I occasionally work a riff into “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” but I do that for me. I thought my biggest contribution was my ability to get songs stuck in the heads of all who cross my path… Turns out, my greatest strength is my angelic voice that has been dying to come out this whole time.

I’ve been with my label for a week now, and recording is going really well! The sound engineers don’t love that I keep humming during the instrumental intros, but like, that’s my brand, ya know? I know I’m going to be a big star — even though my vocal cords only work when I’m holding a plate from the Roots and Shoots line.

Image via and via.

Life & Other Drugs, On "The Hill", Satire

Keeney Gym: An Exposé

April 17, 2017

Last year, I came to the conclusion that Keeney Gym is a nexus for strange happenings after witnessing two bizarre events there. These stories could be surmised as “the time a boy jumped in through an open window, lifted one weight, then leapt back out” and “the time a group of pot-smokers inexplicably walked through the gym with lit joints while I watched on from my stationary bike, most likely listening to Bet On It from the High School Musical 2 soundtrack.”

I’ve since wondered—is Keeney Gym a place of cosmic significance? Does a high density of exercise equipment just invite shenanigans among college freshmen? Are Keeney Gym antics becoming a rite of passage, akin to eating your first spicy with, completing a Sci Li challenge, or breaking an exit sign? I’ve also wondered—what hijinks have I been missing out on this year!?

So as an amateur comedy writer investigative reporter with decades of experience in the field, I decided to go undercover to see if I could witness more tomfoolery. Perhaps, I would gain a better understanding as to why Keeney Gym is a reoccurring locale for mischief. Perhaps I would gain a hilarious tale to tell. Perhaps I would make actual gains.

After all, I hadn’t worked out in awhile and figured, ya know, two birds one stone.

On a warm Wednesday night, I went to the gym-in-question with sharp focus and ASICS sneakers on. You could call me Woodward and Bernstein, or also Adidas Just Do It (I don’t know anything about athletics). As nonchalantly as possible, I strolled over to an elliptical with my headphones on, queuing up the tunes for my workout. I should also note that aside from window-jumping and pot-smoking, I will forever associate Keeney Gym with the Velvet Underground because I have such a distinct memory of listening to them for the first time there. Your typical Velvet Underground song was not written to accompany intense exercise (which begets the question: why the hell did I workout to them in the first place?), but nonetheless I found it imperative to put the band’s discography on shuffle so I could recreate the circumstances of my previous experiences as precisely as possible.

Three minutes into my workout (a.k.a. the moment I realized I was in over my head because of my excessive panting), I decided to take in my surroundings. Most of the treadmills were occupied, which made me hopeful that a flash mob would break out. All of the windows were open, which made me hopeful that a drone would fly in to deliver food or a tiny dog. And there was a suspicious looking phone on the wall, which made me hopeful for a prank call.

Eight minutes in and I was slowing down, which I attributed to the slow, sultry voice of Nico that had just entered my ear canals. But wow, I had not worked out in a long time. Was the last time I went to the gym really that time I did the most gentle yoga sequence ever in the midst of a group of intense squatters?

After “running” one mile on the elliptical, I moved over to a stationary bike for a different viewpoint. Everyone was doing pretty standard gym things: stretching, flexing, watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy on their iPads. Since everyone had the nerve to be normal, I let my mind wander and started devising scenarios I really wanted to happen. Here is the list I came up with:

  • a trap door opens to reveal a secret laboratory
  • the boy lifting weights grows a tentacle
  • someone is Prom-posed to
  • one of the weight machines transforms into a human man
  • the walls start to close in on themselves and I have to escape
  • the ghost of Richard Nixon floats through jangling chains with his hands raised in double V signs
  • someone runs through in the nude, and I belatedly realize it is Rod Stewart
  • free ice cream

Once I had Rod Stewart on the brain, I realized my efforts were futile. Everyone was going about their run-of-the-mill routines and no one had tried to jump in through a window and the quad didn’t even smell like weed that night and I couldn’t keep biking because I lack defined calf muscles and I had to throw in the towel, reasoning that Keeney Gym had just lost its eccentricity since my Jameson-tenure last year.

As I emerged from the gym onto Benevolent street, which was warm and shiny and slightly sticky like a puddle of Hawaiian Punch Vodka on the floor of an Everett double, a wave of realization washed over me. Could it be that, perhaps, I was the strange thing all along? Me, a sophomore in a freshman quad whose sole purpose in that space was to anticipate a weird happening (yeah, yeah, yeah and work out too I guess). Me, with my crazed eyes, my highly alert posture, Lou Reed’s voice emanating from my earbuds, was it me all along?

Sweaty and content, catching my breath under streetlights, bursting out in a joyous rendition of “Pale Blue Eyes,” I left the gym with newfound knowledge: I am weird, Keeney Gym isn’t very weird, and I need to work out more.

Image via Sarah Clapp.

On "The Hill", Satire

A Millennial’s Guide to Meme Tagging

April 16, 2017

Have you ever been tagged in a meme? Or maybe you’ve wanted to tag your friend in a meme? I have decided to create “A Millennial’s Guide to Meme Tagging” to help all my fellow social media lovers who need some help with traversing the complicated world of meme tags.

First: Spot a dank meme.

Fresh content is always the best content, so do your best to find memes that are relatively new. Usually, it’s okay to have one or two other friends previously tagged in the meme, but don’t you dare be that person that tags people in stale memes like a middle-aged mom that discovers viral trends three weeks late through Ellen. It’s embarrassing for all of us. At its essence, dankness is an ineffable quality that you can truly understand by hanging out with dank people and browsing dank places on the internet. If you’re interested, the origins of the word can be found on urban dictionary. I recommend that you just spend some time observing which memes have a lot of tags and likes on Facebook. An appropriate amount of reconnaissance is integral to using memes like a millennial.

Second: Determine a suitable friend to tag.

While deciding who to tag in a meme is often an organic process (you’ll just see the meme and think unironically, “Wow! This is so us.”), sometimes you need to be careful with who you tag. It’s important to ensure that there is no way the meme could be misinterpreted as shade–petty meme tagging is its whole own art. Also, it’s good to align yourself with other meme lovers in these dank times, so that they have a solid understanding of the semiotics of memes. Hopefully, they study of the evolution of memes with the same intensity as you and your bond of friendship will happily deepen.

Third: Lie in wait for that delicious like and reply.

This step is self-explanatory. There is nothing like the thrill of waiting for your friend to open Facebook on their phone or computer to see that sweet notification that they’ve been tagged in a meme. So many possibilities lie ahead. They could reply with a witty retort that begins fruitful banter. Someone else could insert themselves into your conversation, which will further complicate the dynamics of your squad. They could slight you by ignoring the tag and start a meme war. It’s such an exciting time to be alive.


Image via.

Life & Other Drugs, On "The Hill"

CVS: Friend or Foe?

April 13, 2017

I don’t exaggerate when I say that CVS is a haven. I float from aisle to aisle, rocking my headphones as I contemplate my latest existential crisis. I often put nothing in my basket and end up having awkward interactions with the manager. I’m there 10x longer than the average customer, just spacing out at a package of Twizzlers, so inevitably he greets me again, thinking I’ve just walked into the store. And so, the cycle continues.

After a quick consult with Yelp, I’ve discovered that not everyone feels the same way as I do about our lovely friend on Thayer Street. All of the reviews were well-researched, honest, and funny as hell. I give you exhibit A:

“Ewww, this CVS is the definition of a ‘hot mess.’” –Melissa F.

“This CVS store is a disaster.”-Michael D.

“Who knows when a drunkie will come in looking for an aspirin.” –Carrie U. (Thank you for your concern, Carrie. We college students worry about that, too .)

There are, however, still reviews that align with my rosy view of the corporation, but with a twist. See exhibit B:

“The location is very convenient for shoppers, diners, and students. You might be needing something from the drugstore after having a very large meal…” –Robert S. (Here, Robert seems to be implying that if we feel the need to shit our pants or vom after eating at East Side Pockets, CVS should be our #1 call.)

And lastly, we have Eric C.,  who touches on one of the highlights of the CVS experience: “You should remember to bring your card so you can get your discounts and credits towards purchases!” But he later goes on to reveal the ultimate betrayal: “I do admit that I still prefer Rite Aid.” Oh Eric, don’t you know that Rite Aid is Satan’s pharmacy?

He’s right though. The CVS ExtraCare card is pretty damn cool and it’s a sure-fire way to feel like an adult, but some of the coupons are straightup judgmental, plus they escalate. See here:

$1.50 off Greeting Cards—make someone’s day! (Here, CVS assumes that I have friends, let alone friends I want to bombard with a pastel greeting card)

$2 off any GE LED Light (CVS assumes that I own a house or nice lamp to feed lightbulbs to. Or maybe I could use light bulbs as wall decorations in Grad Center…)

$5 off Severe Acne Scrub (Does this self-checkout machine have a camera?)

And lastly:

FREE Box of Kleenex Tissues–We know you cry a lot, so here just take them. (You know me too well, CVS)

You see, the coupons may diss me, but at the end of the day, CVS is still my loving friend. When I inevitably graduate, I’ll always remember this Thayer Street staple as the place where I found my true self among fluorescent aisles of shampoo and came to the realization that overanalyzing is best saved for texts, not for household coupons.

Thanks, CVS.

Image via.