Sunday, December 6, 2009

How To Make a Small Room Bigger

My roommate "Rosa" and I have experienced a recurring problem within our teeny 10'x15' room all semester... how do we make it seem bigger? Taking our the option of knocking a few walls down, we have - over the last few months- experimented with various furniture configurations. We have two twin beds (not bunked), two wardrobes (not movable - bolted to the wall), two desks, a book shelf, and a mini-fridge. The fact that we have room to walk around at all in our room is simply astounding.

Through our attempts to make floorspace, Rosa and I have become experts at Tetris. Not the actual game, but the concept. Rearranging things to make more space when you have none does indeed seem to be a necessary talent in dorms.

One of the many problems with configuration experimentation is... you need free time! Free time... in college?! Don't make me laugh. The worst part of it all is that just as Rosa and I have mostly figured out a system that works... she decides she wants to move back to her home state... I had to find a new roommate.

Never fear! I managed to find my secretly-separated-at-birth twin sister, and she has agreed to move in with me! So I get a new roommate... and her three snakes and various musical instruments... Oh boy.

Just the other day we sat in my room for about four hours, discussing how to:
1- fit all of her stuff and my stuff in the same room without killing each other for space,
2- plan how we wanted the desks and beds configured,
3- how she was going to build a loft for her snakes' cage and put her instruments under it,
and much, much more.

My "new" roommate, we shall call her Seri, is also quite skilled at "Tetris." We've agreed to some major changes in the room (some of which involve flipping the beds over and hitting the frame with rocks to put the bed on a higher notch) that will give the more cramped room an airier feeling. We've also agreed upon certain methods of retaliation when our next-door neighbors blast their music at two in the afternoon... our speakers can go louder than theirs.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm Living in a Pigsty!!!

I have an amazing roommate at College X, let's just call her... Rosa. Now Rosa and I came to a certain conclusion about our room rather quickly after we moved in. There are things that live in the dorms... some of them move and some of them ooze. The first week in our new "home" we discovered we had fleas living in our carpet. We coated everything with bug spray, and spritzed our ankles before going to bed.

My roommate and I suffered very little compared to some of our other dorm mates. A woman down two floors was harvested by bed bugs every night for a few weeks.

Fleas living in the carpet, silverfish eating holes in clothes left on the floor, and fruit flies buzzing around your breakfast became a common occurrence. But it was still nasty.

My roommate and I reached our breaking point only a few weeks later. Both completely frustrated by the amount of stuff that had built up, we spent the better part of a weekend cleaning our room, consolidating boxes, and ranting about the black ooze growing in the shower stalls down the hall.

How does this relate to nagging mothers? Come on, you know why. For years, mommy dearest tells us to clean our rooms. "It's a fire hazard!" "It looks bad!" "It smells awful!!!" But what mom really liked to say was "I don't know how you can live like this!" And now I can honestly say, I can't anymore.

Living in a dorm is slightly different from living at home. For one, your room is half the size, and you share it with another person. Also, everything you own is kept in that same 10x15 room - your dishes, your textbooks, your groceries, your clothes, your pots and pans... you get the idea?

As I was saying... I am beginning to believe that living in a college dorm has the potential to give a person slightly OCD tendencies. For example: I clean my side of the room three times a week, and can't stand to leave dirty dishes on my desk...

I also learned that opening a questionable can of soda right over homework and right next to a very expensive laptop is a reeeeeeally bad idea. sticky keyboards are no fun.

We have also discovered the bane of every family's existence - grocery shopping.

It is quite possible to spend fifty dollars a week on groceries, or even one hundred if you aren't careful, or if you are stocking up on necessitites (bread, milk, peanut butter). It is absurd how much food costs... and I'm sure every mother is nodding enthusiastically right now.

Some students fill the gap in their lives by buying lots of "things"... I buy food. And I'm still losing weight.

Time to go clean!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Get It Right, Goldilocks!

Well, people have told us for our entire lives that procrastination is B-A-D. Teachers, parents, older students... do we listen? Of course not! We have far better things to do with our time than homework! Pssh, it won't take that long anyway...

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am here to admit that I... am a shameless procrastinator. (I have not updated for almost two months, if that is any proof.) Procrastination leads to rushing which leads to panic and stress, which lead to ulcers and migraines. No, really... they do.

My first week of college was all sunshine and light, with orientation and lots of other freshmen who were as happy as I to be starting a secondary education. We were told it would be hard, we were told it would be stressful... We smiled and nodded, thinking that as High School graduates we knew what "stressful" was, and we could totally handle it.


The first week of classes in college is kind of like a tropical storm. You look out the window and see "Oh, it's raining. I should probably close the windows." You close the windows, but don't bother locking them, because it's only a little rain. As the storm gets closer, your foundation starts to shake with the rumbles of thunder, but you keep typing away at your laptop and updating your facey-spacey because you closed those windows, so everything is okay. The rain beats harder at your walls, and you start to wonder if maybe you should lock those windows... and maybe the doors... and nail down the furniture... But just as this becomes a thought, a branch breaks off a tree and knocks a window open, and your brand new imported hardwood floor is ruined by rainwater pouring all over it.

By the way, that window is homework. If most of it is done (or just whatever's due tomorrow) you feel okay, and that it's perfectly fine to go into town for a few hours and stare at storefronts. However, that paper that's due in a few weeks is sitting in your bottom drawer... it's just waiting until you're fishing around for a pack of gum, notice the assignment, and suddenly remember it's due tomorrow!! Panic time.

Procrastination isn't the only evil of college life, however. Another one is doing things too early! How, you may ask, with work and homework, and dirty laundry biting at your ankles do you find time to do work early? Free time comes when your professor cancels a class because she thinks the schedule is stupid, and really hates waking up early on Fridays. Or free time appears when that really boring thing you had to read for class wasn't really that boring, and you liked reading it, so it didn't take as long. This is the time that you may think "Hm, that paper is due in three weeks... I'll try and get it done now!"

This is a bad idea, don't do it.

Doing work very early means it's out of the way, but professors assign due dates when they do for a reason (and no, it's not because they're sadistic). You learn key lessons in class that will assist you in writing the paper, or the professor decides a few days before it's due to have in in-class session where you brainstorm ideas about your paper, and work out the kinks.

If you finish the thing before this time, you either have to write a paper twice, or you have a very underdeveloped paper, with meaning that's shallower than a soup bowl.

Too early, too late, when are we supposed to get our work done???

For some people, sleep is an optional element of college, and much of their inspiration comes and three in the morning, right before the paper is due. Pass the chocolate covered espresso beans, please. For others, too soon is not soon enough. "If it's done, I can go out. I don't really need to learn anything from it."

Mom was right, yes. Procrastination is bad, but so is working yourself crazy in order to get something done so early that you'll get a bad grade for not understanding the material.

Relax! Don't put it off forever, but don't worry about finishing it the same day it's assigned! Rather than spending hours testing porridges, wait until the teacher tells you which one is probably not too hot, and which one is ice cold.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

If It Looks Like A Dog...

And smells like a dog, and has fleas like a dog, it's probably a dog.

I got caught by a phishing scam.

I have only possessed a debit card for about three weeks, and have been at college for a week. As things are, I am in a very pliable state. I had a good day, and was enjoying good food and a good television show when I got a call on my cell phone. It was "my bank" they stated, and my VISA debit card had been suspended. To reactivate it, I only had to put in my 16 digit number, my pin, and the expiration date.

Mom always said, be suspicious. If it's important, they'll call you back. Nothing in life is that convenient, either. Mom always said there are people who make their living tapping into strangers' accounts, and there will always be someone willing to sell a debit number and a cell phone number.

Please be gentle, and remember I am a bright-eyed college student, who is just discovering all of the wonders that the world has to offer. And apparently, all of the horrors and dysfunctions.

I entered my information, and just because I felt quite suspicious about it, I called my mom. Go figure. She told me that it sounded like a phishing scam, and I should call the bank immediately. In tears at my mistake, I called the bank. twice, because I entered the wrong option. After two minutes I finally managed to talk to a human being, who instantly froze the card number.

The bank had been getting calls about this phishing scam all day. I felt humiliated and embarrassed and ashamed that I had fallen for this, especially with all of the signs telling me it was bad.

I will get my new card in the mail in a week or so, and will be living off humiliation until then.

Please remember, if it looks like a dog, growls like a dog, and barks like a dog, be careful. It might just have rabies.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Okay, Maybe You Were Right... And Maybe You Weren't

I was just in NYC with my mother, wandering around Manhattan for four days. She wanted to see museums and cathedrals and do lots of touristy things, and I wanted to shop. I'm leaving for college in two weeks, and I won't have many chances to shop out in the boonies. After finding myself unable to avoid visiting at least one church, I grumbled and whined the entire 20 blocks up 7th avenue to the cathedral of St. John the Divine. It was recently devastated by a horrible fire, and only recently has it been restored to it's former glory.

I was not terribly fond of churches as a young girl. They were awfully dark, cramped, and everyone was far too quiet for their own good. As my mother and I approached the cathedral, we paused in the gardens. Besides the twenty-foot-tall statue of St. John, there were countless small sculptures scattered in the lush greens, all made by art students. It was fabulous and fascinating. I took picture after picture, not caring how silly I looked.

After spending more than half an hour in the sweltering heat, we moved to the cathedral for "a brief look around." i was awestruck at the beauty of the cathedral. I could hardly imagine people devoting their entire lives to creating one square foot of the beautiful structure. I reluctantly conceded that maybe, maybe, my mother had been right.

At the same time, something that had seemed far more interesting than sitting in a church for an hour was not so overwhelming. In fact it was quite underwhelming. Walking the high line, an old railroad turned nature-y walking path, has need of some growth. The trees need time to develop and create actual shade, and the plants need time to grow out of their transplanted circles. It was quite pretty, but not the overwhelmingly fabulous journey newspapers hailed it to be.

So it seems sometimes moms can be right, and sometimes they can be a little right. It was enjoyable, but I won't be skipping up the stairs if we go again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"And Where is that Going?"

When I was a young child, the idea of something not being just as good as the commercial was preposterous! The television tells no lies! I desperately wanted a Bratz shopping center thingemebob, and I saved up for it for months. It was $50, and I could usually get $5 an hour for pulling prickly, thorny weeds in our backyard. A-go-ny. But I managed to save up my meager funds, and as soon as I had the moolah, I begged mom to take me to Target to claim my prize. I raced to the toy aisles, and snatched the box off the shelf. Mom just had to ruin the moment.

"Where are you going to put that thing?" she asked, incredulous that I would buy the lump of plastic and estrogen. In my room, duh. I shrugged, not worrying about the floorspace it would take up, or how many of the tiny pieces I would lose. "How long do you plan to play with it?" I paused. I had no idea! That had honestly never crossed my mind! I looked at the picture printed on the front of the box, and wondered how many hours it would take for me to get bored with it, and eventually give it to my younger cousin. The number was frighteningly small.

My mother smiled, knowing she had pushed the correct button on the thought-o-machine. I put the box back on the shelf, giving in one last wistful look before wandering into other aisles with my mother. She was thinking triumphant thoughts, I knew it.

As muh as I hated my mother for thwarting my fun, she had a valid point. Not too many years later, I saved up over $100 dollars to buy a PDA (I was still in middle school), and my mom kept asking why on earth I needed one. I said "Because!" every single time. She offered to lend me her old one, just so I could get used to the idea of having one, and I accepted. I figured it would show her how I really did need one.The PDA sat in its charger for days a time. I took it out occasionally to check the date or play solitaire, but that was it. Darn, Mom was right again.

As a young child it wasn't hard for me to save up money to get things- I didn't have much to spend it on other than candy. The issue came when I wanted to spend large quantities of it. Mom did her best to guide me in the right direction. For some things, she just couldn't help me. For others, she saved me countless mistakes, and probably more money than I've squandered over the years combined.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Skincare Makes Me Break Out"

Four years ago, I was given what seemed like sound advice by a neighbor of mine regarding facial care. She introduced me to makeup, and at the same time told me I had to cleanse and moisturize my face before I put on makeup. She also said it was imperative that I wash my face every day, no matter what. This seems like good advice, right?

Mommy dearest said there was no need to spend oodles and oodles of money every year on skincare products- skin ignored is often the best skin of all. But then again, this made far too much sense to be true. So I ignored Mom. Not too long after I started cleansing and moisturizing my skin, I started to break out. I had never had acne before. I spend four years going through every teen-marketed skincare regimen on the market: Neutrogena, Proactiv, AcneFree, you name it, i tried it. Problem was, none of it worked for long. I would try a new product when my skin got really bad, it would work for about a month, and then my acne would come back with a vengeance.

I mentioned it to my mom recently, and she commented that the battery acids I was using on my face were having serious detrimental effects. She said I should just try normal soap- or better yet, nothing at all. I decided during one of my worst breakouts of the year to try her advice.

The results were astounding. My skin cleared up within a week, and I stopped even using makeup to cover my spotty skin. Absolute magic. But it wasn't perfect yet. After a few weeks of using the plain old soap, I got lazy. I forgot to wash my face for a few days, and something magical happened. All my acne went away. All of it.

Mom was right. Darn.

Acne is cyclical, because it is tied to oil concentrations and other junk that is tied to hormone levels, and any woman knows that those are cyclical. I occasionally get mild breakouts when I'm stressed or I'm approaching my period, but it is tolerable. The time between when I quit using professional products and when I began to use nothing at all was almost painful, I admit. My skin burned whenever I got out of the shower, begging for moisturizer. My acne was so bad I wore full cover-up makeup for days just to hide the red, and i'm not a huge makeup fan. It's not easy to quit, because your skin is literally addicted to the care you give it.

I'm better off now after quitting skincare. My mother and I will giggle at commercials or boxes claiming to do (for a fee) what I get for free by doing nothing at all. As much as I hate to say it, my mother was right.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What A Surprise...

To my great shock (not to mention my mother's), I've been finding myself saying "You were right, I should have listened to you," an awful lot lately to my mother. I just graduated from High school (place of evil, I tell you) and am on the gradual road to becoming an "adult." Choose whatever definition you like, it's just weird. So I thought I might as well share my experiences in what has become "the normal way."

As I said, I am a high school graduate, headed for "College X," shall we call it. College X is the place of my dreams; my own personal land of milk and honey and really expensive learning opportunities. It recently occurred to me that I've been making a lot of mistakes over the last couple of years if someone other than my mother had told me how to avoid them. Yes, I said it. Everyone ignores mom until it's too late, and then they have to sit through a good "I told you so."

Parents are not the Axis of Evil, and mom does mean best when she asks you to clean your room. Trip hazards can form out of the most innocuous of your belongings. Cleaning your room also helps a lot with that funky smell creeping out from under your bed. But besides the obvious things, the everyday comments that mom throws out reflexively can be quite helpful if you listen to them in time. I missed one, nad it cost me four years of complexion, but that's another story.

I offer my meager services to the blog-o-sphere in the hopes that I can save another pre-teen, teen, or young adult from a few of the horrors of adulthood. Growing up is the strangest process. One minute you feel twelve, and another moment, someone is handing you a driver's license. Funky. Good luck, brave explorers!