Last Week of Classes

You know it’s that time of year again when…

1. You spot a student toting around a liter bottle of Mountain Dew and a styrofoam cup.

2.  There are suddenly no open seats in the library.

3.  Facebook whining abounds.

4.  Pajama pants are the new jeans.

5.  Procrastinating on one paper consists of working on another.

6.  You cannot talk about everything you still have to do without the seven people nearest to you jumping down your throat, bewailing seminars and presentations and cumulative exams.

7.  The line at the coffee shop is a mile long, especially after 9 p.m.

8.  The library begins to offer free five minutes massages, and turns the poetry room into a sanctuary of meditation and smelly oils.

9.  The expressions on people’s faces, once you get past the red eyes and pale cheeks, are identical: a healthy combo platter of frenzied, weary, and grimly resigned.



Everybody pray.

The Hazards of Crafting

We didn’t go Black Friday shopping, per se.  Mom and I patrolled Grand Avenue in St. Paul, where we did some (utterly justifiable, I tell you!) damage at Pottery Barn, Patina, and at Garrison Keillor’s Common Good Books (new location).  We may have also made an unrecorded Caribou Coffee stop, and we may have had to return ten minutes after leaving to retrieve mom’s sunglasses.

We swung home in the late afternoon to pick up my sister, who was back from her Target shift.  She’s currently taking an introductory clothing design/construction class at UW Madison, and needed to go to the fabric warehouse to pick up supplies for her final project.

I am not a crafty person, my friends.  There was an embroidery phase in middle school, and a knitting phase in high school, but both were short-lived, and neither produced particularly exemplary results.  To me, then, this scene looked rather bleak, and bordered on terrifying:


The labyrinth of fleece.

Tassels the likes of which I’ve never seen. If Quasimodo ever decides to do some remodeling in the belfry, I think these would serve him well.

Taken before being nudged out of the way by a woman who clearly respected the subtle distinction between cotton 111 and cotton 112 (a magnifying glass was produced for color confirmation).

“Why so cheap?” Holly wondered, peering dubiously over the rim of the barrel. The plastic circles glinted ominously, and Holly quickly decided that there must be something buried beneath, something that fed on the fingers of unsuspecting crafters. Just then, her sister Amy thrust her hand into the barrel. “Noooooooooo!” Holly screamed, not pausing even as two women in green smocks dragged her toward the exit.

In Which I Fail to Emulate Caesar

This morning, I woke up at 7:30.  It wasn’t a yawn, stretch, admire my flowing golden locks in the mirror kind of morning, either.  It was a groan, open one eye, consider burrowing back into bed kind of morning.  Eventually, I found the courage to put my feet on the floor (mostly, mind you, because I look forward to my morning oatmeal like a seven-year-old looks forward to Christmas).  Snatching the blanket from the foot of my bed, I fashioned a toga of sorts over my sweats, wrapping it across one shoulder and under one armpit.  Without any Caesarian dignity, I descended the stairs and ambled into the kitchen.

Jordan was there, drinking coffee in his calm way.  He’s a morning person.  Apparently, the toga and under-eye circles spoke for me, because he quickly poured me a cup.  Then he asked, with the kind of earnestness I cannot summon until at least noon, if I would shave his neck.

“Natalie cut my hair last night, but she didn’t have a razor, so my neck is a little scrappy.”

In the bathroom, he smeared his neck with shaving cream, and I proceeded to scrape at it with a dull razor, pulling over and over against the fine hairs that refused to budge.  Eventually, it was clear that the cause was lost.

So off to school I went, thinking of Hemingway shaving in the pine-littered hills of Spain, frowning at his reflection in the bottom of a tin pot and pausing every so often (never mind the lather dripping from his chin or the pop of grenades in the background) to write down a thought or two.


It’s been rawthur an interesting Saturday around these parts, as it’s our first Saturday back, and as no one has enough homework to keep them from making rawthur interesting Saturday plans.

This morning I woke at the crack of dawn (8:15) to go open at the coffee desk (not really what it’s called, but the best I can do).  Everything went fine, due, in part, to my boss showing up to oversee the beginning of my shift.  Apparently she heard about the mocha volcano of last week.

After work was forty-five minutes of reading at the library (“Hawaii’s Story By Hawaii’s Queen,” the first of my American Tropics novels), and then we hiked through the cheek-chafing winds to the Fitness Center for volleyball practice.  Somehow I’ve been made captain, and so I had to fumble my way through making up drills and assigning scrimmage teams.  I also had to get my serves over the net, because who wants to take orders from a captain who can’t even serve?

At 4:30 was Pinestorm, in which a bunch of ex-Pine Hall residents took over Pine’s TV lounge for a few hours to screen “Troll 2.”  If you haven’t seen “Troll 2,” find a way.  Trust me:  find a way.  It’s the best worst movie you’ll ever watch.  Here’s all the proof you need:


Thank You. Have a Nice Day.

I worked my first solo barista shift today.

Cathy looked worried as she put her arm through first one coat sleeve, and then the other: “Are you sure it’s okay that I leave now?  I can stay, you know.  And don’t forget to check the milks every half hour.  When you wash them out you need to WIPE them, Holly.  Really wet the rag down, first, or it won’t do any good.  The pot coffee should be fine; I refilled them at two, but if someone asks, the Breakfast Blend is the freshest because fifteen minutes ago someone bumped the whole container off the shelf, and you wouldn’t believe…”

I shooed her away, happy to be alone before the majesty that is a softly hissing espresso machine and a rack of chocolate and vanilla mixing syrup.  I was sparsely trained, I knew it, but there’s just something about being the ruler of your own domain, the Queen of mango smoothies and cinnamonraisinbagels with cream cheese.

There wasn’t much time to bask in the glow of being onmyown before the three o’clock rush began.  After that, I scarcely had time to wipe the puddle of milk leftover from the economics professor’s white chocolate (no whip) mocha before I was whirling back around to scoop out Sour Patch Kids into a paper bag ($3.00 worth please, avoid the yellow ones).  Then the phone was ringing, and a man was asking for phone numbers.  Small hot chocolate with a shot of caramel.  Large apple cider, leave the cinnamon stick; last time my friend swallowed his whole and almost choked to death in the middle of Spanish.  Phone ringing again, same man, ohI’msorry I meant to call the number you gave me, not your number.  That’s all right sir, it was nice talking to you again.  I recommend the lemon poppy seed muffin over the lumpy-looking apple cinnamon bar.  You’ll take one apple cinnamon bar?  Three fifty.  No I’m not offended.

Thank you.  Have a nice day.  Hi sorry I can’t talk now it’s busy.  Nice to see you again!  Yes, this is my first day.  Salzburg was wonderful!  No, no Julie Andrews sightings.  Hot water with mint teabag.  One scoop dried mango.  Twist, reach for towel, mop at whipped cream explosion that frothed some poor soul’s mocha into

a volcano


couldn’t be


with a lid.

Thank you.  Have a nice day.