Friday, May 30, 2008

the forlorn frog

So it's now four days since I graduated and I feel... the same. The only time this week I even really thought about the fact that I was no longer in college was when the woman working at the storage facility asked, as she entered data into a computer, if I was a student. "Yeah," I answered, before catching myself. "I mean, no, actually... no longer, I guess." (Side note: I am curious how long you can use your student ID at the movies before they catch on.)

Anyway, my favorite graduation-related gift/artifact has to be this card (above) I received from my 8-year-old cousin, Jack. Jack, unfortunately, was not able to attend my graduation. However, he made his presence felt through this awesome card. First, note his terse and to-the-point postscript. "Come see me soon," he writes, as if he were a drug dealer or a bed-ridden nursing home patient.

But the real joy lies in the drawing. My aunt (Jack's mother) explained that when she gave Jack this card to make for me, she explained that when someone graduates, they wear a cap and receive a diploma. She showed him pictures of each item for guidance so that he could craft as realistic a sketch as possible. When he showed her his finished product, she exclaimed, like the proud mother she was, "How nice! They're both graduating!" "No," Jack corrected her, "The tadpole is graduating," as he pointed to the tadpole's diploma. He then pointed to the forlorn frog on the right: "The frog doesn't have one."

"Well then why is the frog wearing a cap if he isn't graduating?" my confused aunt asked. Jack, knowingly, looked at his mother and smiled: "Because the frog thinks he's graduating."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

mixed messages

Text written on one of the graduation cards I received in the mail yesterday:

"Have passion for life. Follow your instincts. Take a leap of faith. Collect wisdom. Discover what your heart is calling you to be... Become the kind of dreamer who makes his dreams come true. Congratulations and Best Wishes for your Future."

Text of the fortune cookie that came with my take-out sesame chicken last night:

"German proverb: no trees ever reach the sky."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

things that happen on graduation weekend

1) Everyone moves in packs. You never see a graduating senior walking around campus by him or herself on graduation weekend. Instead, those sheathed in the cap-and-gown combo are almost always surrounded by at least one (usually more) adoring family member/friend/groupie. Walking around New Haven with your family, you almost feel like you're in a really uncool gang as you pass by fellow posses heading to their various dinners or events.

2) People clap/cheer at anything said during the ceremonies. Seriously. Anything. The University President could break out in the middle of his speech about sustainability and say "So '30 Rock' really hit its stride this season, huh?" and I am telling you about half of the audience would cheer. He might even get a standing ovation or two, and possibly a few shouts of "Lemon" from the gregarious/restless audience members.

3) You get a new understanding of your friends. There are few games I find more enjoyable than the Watching My Friends Interact With Their Parents Game (I should really trademark that title, huh?). I like seeing if they look like their parents. I like listening to how they talk to their parents. I like figuring out if they have that stand-off-ish/argumentative/weird dynamic or that jovial/friendly/we're-BFFs dynamic. I feel like I am doing a cool, anthropological research project about my friends when I see them with their parents -- and what's more fun than that?!

4) You crave the one or two moments you have to yourself.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


You may have been wondering what TxtMsgBtl has been up to for the past week. The answer: he was at Myrtle Beach -- land of pancake houses, mini-golf courses and beachwear shops with names like "Waves."

There is something overwhelmingly still about MyrtleLand, probably due to the palpable humidity, the fast food joints lining the highways, the masses of frat guys congregated in front of every house. Let's just say my week there was more than enough time to appreciate the Myrtleness.

In some ways, though, this very same stillness is the appeal of a place like Myrtle Beach, right? Time is not an issue; you can do whatever you please. Like the burly bikers omnipresent at Myrtle (it was Bike Week while we were there, but one gets the sense that every week is a sort of Bike Week in Myrtle Beach), who ride and ride and ride, seemingly without a cause, no one really seems to have any sense of destination or overarching purpose when they're there.

On the mini-golf course one day, an elderly couple caught up to my leisurely group of four. We asked them if they wanted to play through - polite golfers that we are - but the man just frowned slightly. "Oh, it's fine," he said. "There's no hurry. There's no where to go."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

anticipation, rewards and noises

In a week colored by multiple papers to write, a rotation of sweatshirts, and old pop songs ("It's Gonna Be Me" & friends) on repeat, there isn't much time for amusement. You have to make your own fun - not always an easy task when your friends are going hog wild as you slowly melt, skimming the books you were supposed to read two months ago just so that you can actually form a half-coherent argument about a theory some sociologist came up with that you don't really understand anyway.

Ways I Make My Own Fun When I Write Papers:

1) I always write my papers single-spaced. Always. As I write, I try and estimate how much I have actually written (you would think that two pages single-spaced = four pages double-spaced... but you would be wrong). Anyway, as much as I want to double-space what I've written so badly as I work my way through the paper, I refrain. And then, at the end, when I have written all I can possibly muster, I double-space the sucker. And it is truly transcendent. Anticipation = FUN.

2) I make little rewards for myself along the way. For example, I will decide that when I finish a page, I will allow myself to eat some Wheat Thins or watch a YouTube video I've been saving in my Firefox browser. Sometimes, when I am feeling especially crazy, I sign out of gmail while I am writing a paper. In these Emergency Situations, my reward after finishing a page is that I get to check my e-mail. And, let me tell you, there is no reward greater than that after sitting at your laptop for 56 minutes e-mail-less. Rewards = FUN.

3) I make weird noises. I sigh. I groan. I blurgh. I shout. I am a noise-making frrrrreak when I write papers! Ask my roommate. I could record an album of the noises I make when I write papers. Album title: "Paper Cutz." First single: "Three Pages to Go Blues (No Turning Back)." Noises = FUN.

Last night, I finished my last paper of the semester, my last paper of college. I felt awesome - we're talking Dan Humphrey-after-his-first-kiss-with-Serena awesome. But when I woke up this morning and realized that my days of 3-in-the-morning stressed "I can't finish this paper!" e-mails, of eating bad food as a form of procrastination, of making weird noises (!) as you revise your footnotes are.... over, I didn't feel so awesome anymore.

Monday, May 5, 2008

blog post ideas that didn't quite make the cut

1) the awkwardness of those "Jenny Banks has confirmed you as a friend..." e-mails that Facebook sends out now

2) how no one listens to voice mails anymore (corollary question: why do people still insist on leaving such detailed voice mails for other people when they never even listen to ones left on their own phones?)

3) the awesome feeling of finding a jacket or a pair of shoes that you haven't worn in a really long time that you're digging now

4) how much more you want a candy bar when it's in a hotel minibar as opposed to any other time

5) how insanely frustrating/annoying it is when you are watching a TV show online and the exact same ad plays during every "commercial break"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

take it to the lemon

When I was younger, my dad had this weird thing about rolling down windows when he was driving. And by "weird thing" I mean "it wasn't allowed." If I so much as grazed the window button, causing the slightest sliver of space to open up, my dad would immediately snap and I would have to rectify my grave error immediately unless I "wanted to get thrown out of the car."

Anyway, my brothers and I used to be INFURIATED by this window edict. We would complain about the stifling stuffiness in the car, bang against the closed windows as though we were psychotic hamsters in a cage, and would wail songs dramatically off-key (once singing along to the The Eagles song "Take It to the Limit" with the words "Take It to the Lemon," unaware of the fact we were singing the wrong lyrics). I always pouted in my bratty 12-year-old way, "When I have kids, I am not going to let them not roll down their windows" as if this promise would cause my father unspeakable pain.

The other day, though, I was driving my friend to Shaw's and she started to roll down the window. Suddenly, my back felt stiff. "Uh," I stammered, realizing how weird this was going to sound, "Do you, uh, mind, actually, uh, rolling the window back up?" She looked at me like I was 59-years-old, which is basically how old I felt.

You hear people say things like "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" and "he has his mother's face and his father's temperament" all the time. People love to compare children to their parents, and usually you either just begrudgingly accept it or brush it off. But when it really, profoundly connects, when you're readjusting your glasses and cursing the idiot running in front of your car in the middle of the road just like your dad always does, all of a sudden you get that funny feeling in your head that means you're sad and happy at the same time.