Monday, February 28, 2011

you can't trust anyone. not even your own memory.

All semester, I have been watching my freshman roommate sit in the front row of my Happiness class.  She sits between another girl I know and her on-again-off-again boyfriend.

Every once in a while, I would see her and remember freshman year: things like the time she made me get her laundry out of the dryer because she didn't want to have to put on a shirt and pause Gilmore Girls (the same episode she had watched three times that day). I would see her hair and remember what her shampoo smelled like and how she used to leave her wet towels on the floor.

And then today, as I was talking to my professor about next year, she waved, said goodbye and pushed her boyfriend (who is in a wheelchair- she doesn't just shove people around willy nilly) out the door. And as she left, I saw that her backpack said "Chelsea" and heard that her voice was not my ex-roommate's voice at all. This was not my roommate. I have never spoken to this girl, let alone slept in the same room with her. This was a stranger who looked, acted and DATED exactly like my freshman roommate.

Two things:
  1. You can't trust anyone. Even if you think you used to share a bathroom. Because you probably didn't.
  2. Doppelgangers freak me out.

Friday, February 25, 2011

time is running out

I need to make a decision. About my future  my class schedule. By Monday. I need help.

I have two required classes left to take for Psychology. And two semesters. I'm not going to get into how guilty I feel that I didn't graduate early, but for now my only defense is that I have to write my Bachelor's Essay next year for the Honors College, which is like writing an Undergrad thesis. And it is gonna take a lot of research and a lot of time.
Anyway. Time is running out.

I have to take my psychology lab OR Cognitive Psychology next semester, but not both, because then I complete my major and lose my scholarship. At least that is what I have been told. 

Option 1: Take Cognitive next semester, and hope that the labs don't fill up in the Spring.
Option 2:  Take the Conditioning and Learning lab next semester.

Why Claire, you say, you don't like your Conditioning class now, and you probably don't want to work with a rat for four months next semester, why would you take this lab? Simple, I answer, because all the other labs have prerequisites and even though I feel like I have taken all the psych classes C of C offers, I have so far managed to not take any of the other three lab classes except C + L. Damn.

So I either take a lab that I will probably not like and get awful friendly with a five pound rodent next semester, or I run the risk of signing up in the Spring and somehow (despite priority registration) missing out on this quickly-filling class and not getting to graduate.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

is not.

After five months of stress, of writing essays and rewriting essays, of horrible advisers and hours spent crying, of mania, of snapping at friends, of nail-biting and bad night's sleep, of  "no, I can't, I have to work on my scholarship application," it has all come down to this day.

Twenty one days ago, I sent my work off into a sea of uncertainty and doubt, hoping it would wash ashore and get picked up as someone shouted "EUREKA! This is it!" But it came floating back to me. Back from whence it came.

Who has two thumbs and no longer has a chance at $30,000?

Claire is no longer in the running towards becoming America's Next Truman Scholar.


Things that happened today that made me HAPPY*:
  1. chat with Sister Germana this afternoon at the Daughters of Saint Paul bookstore (aka "walk-in clinic for the soul")
  2. bought new sunglasses for $1.50 (after accidentally sitting on my other pair)
  3. conversing with academics about academics. 
  4. chicken bowl for lunch with Corey at Mama Kim's
  5. this beautiful Charleston weather
  6. Mumford and Sons.
  7. THIS WEBSITE. Thank you, Harrison.

*I'm using the folk definition of happiness: common happiness. Good feelings. Not to be confused with the Greek account of eudaimonia (virtue ethics) or any of  the anti-eudaimonist accounts.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

you really got me

Charleston now has a Forever 21 on King St. This bugs me a lot. They put it where there used to be a Saks, and I think the trade significantly influenced the overall feel of downtown shopping. I felt the same way when they put in a Rack Room Shoes where the Banana Republic used to be. It's just... tacky. King St is not cheap tacky, it's rich tacky. Like Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitzer.

Now, I don't shop at these places. That's not why it bugs me. I barely shop at all. The most I ever do is gaze into the windows at perfectly dressed mannequins and wish I had more money to throw around. Sometimes I walk in and check the clearance racks while trying to avoid the attention of the people working in the store. And still more frequently, I simply walk past each store and think about which character from Arrested Development the clothes would most suit. GOB. Lindsey. Lucille. George Michael.

When Forever 21 opened they had a free gift card promotion, so it was impossible to get into the first week. But when I finally let myself wander in there (cheap clothes! even if they do tend to fall apart and have a horrible return policy) I was astounded. It is at least THREE times bigger than the one at the mall near my house. There is a section for about five or six different "looks" including what appears to be "Americana," hobo-chic, "nautical," and neon spray paint. They have a men's section and a kids section. They have enough shoes to shoe an army of overlarge centipedes. It is, in a word, overwhelming.

The first time I went was simply a reconnaissance mission. I wandered around for a bit and left. The check out line was at least 50 people long. I wish I were exaggerating.

On Friday my mitten-quotes professor had too many technical difficulties trying to get the projector to work, so he let us out of class early. About 40 minutes early.

I decided to take a walk on this beautiful Friday morning, and found myself down at Forever 21. I puttered around for a bit, looking and touching and trying and pricing. I remembered hearing someone tell me that all these clothes are cheap because they are made by poor little children in cramped sweat shops, and I looked at the items in my hands and thought I can't buy these, that would be awful. Then I remembered what Kala told me after I talked to her about the sweat shop kids (awesome band name? or too evil?): "Maybe if you buy more of the clothes, they can pay the kids more money!"

So on that faulty logic, I left having purchased a new shirt and some cute slip-on shoes.

Later that day, while wearing my new cuteness, I got whistled at by some douchey-looking guys at Andolini's. I didn't know whether to be flattered, creeped out or indignant. It's just something that happens when you put a pizza place next to the school gym/weight room: the guys get hungry after a workout and surge with "I-can-conquer-the-world" endorphins/adrenaline and "Oh-look-at-that-chick" testosterone. It was really funny to hear them try to whistle as I walked past. It came out more like whewpppthhpoooppthh.

Question to the male species: Why do you do this? Do you expect me to hear the whistle, turn around, and say "Oh, that was for me? Thank you. You look cute as well. Let's date. May I sit on your lap while you hang out with your equally repugnant male friends? You sure do know how to get a lady."

Friday, February 18, 2011

I see you, CofC

I see you, girl in front of me at Einstein's.
Someone explain to me the sorority girl paradox that makes every girl in the Greek system look either perfectly put together (like right before the Mallard Ball!) or like a pile of laundry that has become self aware and put on make-up.

Einstein's girl has clearly just finished a run. She is wearing a t-shirt from the mixer last year and bright athletic shorts. This attire alone would not lead me to the conclusion that she had just exercised, because if you pair the shirt and shorts with Uggs, a Lilly Pulitzer tote and a Tervis tumbler full of something brown (usually Diet Coke or iced tea...or bourbon??), you get the cookie cutter sorority girl as she appears in class 5 days a week. What convinced me was the splash of dirt on the back of her calves that meant she probably ran by some puddles or through wet grass. Sometimes I like to be Sherlock Holmes.

So she had obviously been for a run, but she also had a full face of make-up on. And not the slightly smudged well-I-just-didn't-wash-it-off-from-last-night make-up. This was fresh stuff. So she had either a) put on make-up to go for a run (why??) or b) gone for a run, then put on make-up to come to Einstein's, but didn't take the time to shower. She also took off her running shoes and had sandals on instead. (This is more than can be said for her friends. Two of them had on Uggs and one girl did not have any shoes on at all. This ain't the beach, this is an eating establishment!)

After I noticed the make-up, I also noticed that she had at least three HUGE hickeys on her neck. This has nothing to do with the rest of the story. I tried to fit this into my story for her, but I just can't.

So, girl in front of me at Einstein's, you confound me. You embody all the contradictions and stereotypes of the modern sorority sister. Slouchy but not comfortable. Sloppy yet put together. Like there was intention behind your outfit, but it seemed to be "why put on real clothes just to go to class? I save those for the weekends and going out drinking on weekday nights."
I save comfy clothes for weekends and staying in on weekday nights. Maybe this is where my confusion comes from. We're too different. And yet, we both exist here, we both got into this college. We must serve as parts of a continuum. I just don't know exactly where I fit on that line. It must be somewhere between pearls and PBR.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

OK. so about Valentine's day...

For some reason people were worried about me being lonely on Valentine's Day. Because I am currently unattached, this must mean that V-day means Single's Awareness Day (SAD) and upon the stroke of midnight incurs uncontrollable sobbing and self-deprecation.  Not so.

This Valentine's Day (or as Harrison put it "Clearance Chocolates Eve") was amazing! I enjoyed many of the same things couples do on this loveliest of love days:
  1. Valentines- dinosaurs and chocolates and a hand-drawn one on my door that said "let's stick together" with a little happy-faced glue bottle
  2. Expressions of love from loved ones- my parents sent me a package full of my fiddle music!
  3. Serenades- I had a song written about me by the lovely Katelyn Carter and got to hear some new Brother stuff from Shane (:fan girl squee:)
  4. Pink things!- clothes and shoes and cupcakes!
  5. Treating myself for no reason other than it being the 14th of February- I enjoyed a very delicious and free coffee from Starbucks and a Chocolate Strawberry cupcake from Cupcake. 
  6. Dinner with loved ones- even if it was at Liberty cafeteria...
The day was near perfect. However, I did get a rather annoying text message. This is how I read it (witnesses will assure you it was not much different):

Hey Claire! It's that guy you are friendly acquaintances with from church who hasn't talked to you since I started dating that girl that you don't talk to anymore! So anyway, I invited a real good friend of mine (read: lonely fellow-Navy-man) to my intimate Valentine's dinner with me and that girl who hasn't talked to you since freshman year. I was hoping you could drop whatever you're doing this evening to come out with us and make him feel like he isn't a third wheel (which he totally is). Let's face it, you are probably just watching sappy chick flicks and shopping for cats on the internet, because that's what single girls do, right? So come out with us tonight (it's 6:35, so that gives you enough time to put on deodorant at least) instead of sobbing into your ice cream! I'm totally paying for everything. See how nice I am? ;) K bye.  
Several problems with this:
  1. no, I don't want to double date with a friendly acquaintance, a stranger, and a girl with a grudge against me.
  2. it's 6:35. I already had dinner.
  3. I could have romantic dinner plans of my own!
  4. Just because I'm single doesn't mean I will take every desperate stranger you throw at me! Show me a picture first. And does he like Muse?
  5. why did you invite that guy to your V-day dinner? To get him a date. And your girlfriend is in a sorority full of single girls, so I am pretty sure I was far down on a list of possibilities. It was 6:35. Now I am many-times insulted.
Luckily, I got this about an hour after he sent it, so I had a more legitimate excuse than "" But seriously. Like I had nothing better to do!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

bet your bottom dollar

Today is beautiful and sunny!
Too warm for a winter coat, but too cold for short sleeves or bare legs... it still has some improving to do, but it will be hot and humid soon enough.

I decided to go for a walk to get out of my room and allow myself to do something on Saturday besides taking advantage of the faster internet connection while the rest of the campus sleeps off their hangovers.

So I went outside. I called my grandmother, went window shopping, and talked to my friend Kala on the phone for...well, for a long time. While I was walking down Queen street, I watched my feet as I walked, anxious not to scuff up my leather boots (which are sadly, coming apart a bit) and to avoid tripping on the sidewalk and looking like a tourist. I was stepping over a jutting root when I saw it: a small, plastic, gold and clear card. It was unmistakeable. This was a Starbucks giftcard.

I stooped to pick it up, thinking that it was probably there on purpose; that someone had discarded it after discovering there was only .47 left. But I pocketed it anyway, conscious of the people walking behind me who probably thought "Oh, look at that poor girl scraping up street change. Throw some nickles at her, Winston." And I continued talking to Kala and walking down the street.

Later, I took it to a Starbucks (of course there are 4 within walking distance) and discovered that this beat-up piece of plastic is actually worth: ............................(drumroll, please)...............................

 Twenty two dollars and thirty-six cents. 

Huzzah! Good find of the year! It's even better than finding a $20 on the ground! $2.36 better!

However, after I purchased my grande iced coffee with cream and sugar, I began to feel sad for the person that lost it. I imagine two scenarios:
  1. Mr. Blank is nervous but excited about his afternoon rendezvous with Ms. Whatserface. They have been flirting back and forth for a while now, but he has only recently scraped up enough nerve to ask her to coffee. Today is the day. As he exits the parking garage, he quickly checks his pockets: wallet, keys, gift card. All there. He checks the time on his watch and realizes he is cutting it a bit close. Imagine if she were waiting there, thinking he was standing her up! He shoves the wallet, keys and gift card back into his jacket pocket, hastily neglecting to replace the crucial gift card in his overstuffed wallet. As he turns to walk down the street, he absent-mindedly bumps into a large man taking pictures with a comically large camera. He is so distracted by the size of the lens, he doesn't notice the gift card tumble out of his pocket and land, face down, on the dirty Charleston sidewalk.
  2. Mr. Man is waiting, irritated, leaned against the wall of the restaurant on Queen street. She's late. Again. On purpose. Probably with another guy, or with one of her annoying friends. He spits angrily on the sidewalk. Women. His iPhone is dead, again, so he opens his wallet and starts discarding things he has no use for: that jerk's business card, that movie ticket stub, the "Frequent Eaters" card from that deli that closed, an old Starbucks gift card. It probably has zero dollars on it, and even if it doesn't, she's the only one who likes coffee. As he finds each item, he flicks them agitatedly into the street. Business card. Flick. Ticket stub. Flick. Gift card. Flick. Stomp. Stomp, stomp. Kick. He stands still for a moment, then decides something. He turns and heads towards Subway. Screw her. 
I like the second scenario better because I feel less guilty about taking it from someone who is such a d-bag.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

notes on professors

I spend hours everyday taking notes from them. Lectures, power-points, the dreaded group activities. Now here are some notes on my professors:

Dear sir  Dear Dr. Sir,
your hair is ridiculous. I wonder how you wash it. Or rather, if you wash it.
Long, crumpled, and dark, it hangs in a ponytail almost to your waist. The size and shape of this "do" forces me to recall an unsightly clog pulled from a shower drain.
And your sweatshirt. Forest green, navy, or grey. The same shape and sad feel about it that suggests it has been worn hundreds if not thousands of times and never given the proper respect it deserves.

These things are excusable given your work as a researcher and your passion for the disgusting animals you work with: pigeons.  What gets my attention everyday is your interesting "air quotes." A typical human would use two fingers to gesticulate, either apart like peace signs or together like a Boy Scout's promise. But you, Dr. Sir elect for mitten hands, making a motion like you are waving to two small children standing next to each other. This intrigues me and disturbs me. Did you choose to do this sometime during your young experimental phase? Is it an attempt at non-conformity and rebellion? Or do you have some mildly disfiguring hand problem that restricts individual finger movement?

Carry on, Dr. Sir. Because your class is pretty boring and at least I have the quotes to look forward to.

Love, Student.

Dr. Lady, it is hard to take you seriously today.

Every other meeting with you leaves me unsettled and fearful. You always look so put-together and scornful. Your outfit makes me imagine a closet full of turtlenecks and earth tone jackets. A vanity with the perfect make up and polished-rock earrings. An alarm clock set to 5:30 to ensure enough time to wash and shape the perfect helmet of hair placed atop your glaringly critical head.

Today, I see a new side of you. And that side is knee-high black patent leather dominatrix boots. 

The dominatrix bit is only assumed.

As I try to concentrate on whatever it is you are saying, I am paralyzed by the squeaking sound of your boots rubbing together as you attempt to daintily cross your ankles. It's the sound of balloons rubbing together or that squelch from the jerk who squeaks his shoes on the linoleum when he comes in from the rain. The sound that hits me somewhere in the middle of my head by the back of my throat.

I will not be concentrating today.  Excuse me while I attempt to shove notebook paper in my ears and scrub the image of whips from my brain.

Love, Student.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

OK, I haven't written anything in a while, so here goes.

I am done applying to the scholarship! Which means two things:
  1. I don't feel as guilty when I am doing nothing at all.
  2. My to-do lists are shorter and/or non-existent!
That's about it. Still school to be dealt with, work to be done, and events to attend. Now I have to apply for housing next year, and soon sign up for senior classes. Weird.


my grandmother is recovering from heart surgery, so if you pray please pray for her.