Instant Ambiance? Priceless.

Today, we walked down to the Hardware Hank’s.  Once inside, we descended a flight of steps into the shelf-lined basement they call “Toyland.”  Yes, there are toys down there: dusty Barbies posed inside pink plastic convertibles, robots strung with spider webs, and books with waterstained pages.

In a corner of Toyland, stacked haphazardly on the concrete, are boxes of Christmas lights leftover from last season.

I bought a string of 100 blue lights, and a pack of mini Command hooks.

At home, I strung the lights up and around my Beatles album poster, and over my doorway and my closet.

The blue glow, which illuminates Paul McCartney’s shining face before hovering down against my dresser mirror and my ever-oscillating fan, is lovely.  Somehow, it makes the most riveting of studying seem obsolete.

Best $10 I ever spent.

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First Day of Twenty-Two

I did some things yesterday.  There aren’t pictures, because I’m a goon, but basically, I had a birthday.

I pulled an all-nighter, of course, only going to sleep once 5:30 (and official birthday time) was upon us.

When I woke up, I tore into the mysterious box that had been looming with promise all week.

Then I grocery shopped.

Then I cleaned.  I did piles of dishes, glared at Joey when he dared to dirty more for lunch.  I swept, arranged chairs, baked a cake, licked the bowl used to mix up said cake, did laundry, made up with Joey after he agreed to mow the lawn, arranged pitas in attractive spirals on a chipped plate, spent an hour creating a party playlist, and changed outfits twice.

Then I paced.  And paced.  And asked my housemates if I could do anything else.  And paced some more after they said no.

I couldn’t decide if it would be worse if people didn’t arrive, or if they did.  You see, now that we’ve gotten to know each other a little better, I feel that I can tell you that I don’t like parties.  I’m not good at mingling, I’m never the most outgoing person in the room, and I tend to shrink into a corner when people start dancing.  And even though there would only be friends at this party, many of whom I have known since freshman year, I was still worried that this party would be some sort of horrifying dud that would involve many polite coughs and eye rolls.

Furthermore, Jordan, not knowing about my meticulously-crafted birthday playlist, had attached his iPad to the speakers.  Upbeat Latin music was blaring, and I was pacing, and the scarf I had eventually decided to wear was feeling more and more like a noose with each passing second.

And then I unplugged Jordan’s iPad and plugged in my laptop.  The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” started to play.  And I felt infinitely better.

The party, of course, was fantastic.  Everyone brought loads of food: sushi, soup, shish kebab, snickers salad, homemade salsa, soda, fruit snacks (it was a college party, after all), brownies, pasta, etc.  It was a little strange to realize that everyone was essentially there to see me, but I tried to bounce around to all the groups, and to talk to every person there for at least a little while.  And, although I invited people from different walks of campus life (there were my friends from my freshman dorm, my English major buddies, and my MCSA comrades), everyone got along and seemed to have a good time.

The best moment, however, was when Maddie walked out of the kitchen holding a lit cake,  and everyone started singing.  I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so perfectly happy.

Last Day of Twenty-One

It’s a glorious day to be twenty-one.  Winds are high, the air is sharp with cool, and Friday seems to have shaken itself out over campus, draping everyone in bright cheeks and worn-in jeans.

Tonight will contain the last few episodes of Game of Thrones (season one), perhaps striding the streets of Morris, grinning under flickering lamps, and pausing at the Met Lounge to see friends who have come into town for the weekend.

Tomorrow, unbelievably, I’ll be twenty-two by the time I wake up.  There is a promising pile of packages sitting by my bed; I will attack those first.  And then I’ll likely draw up my knees and think about the enormity of being twenty-two.  It’ll feel enormous, I suppose, because I remember being eight, and fourteen, and (heaven forbid) sixteen.  I remember all those years and yet somehow now they’re all lodged inside me like little bundles I only draw out for nostalgia’s sake.  And I’ll be forced, beginning tomorrow, to trudge forward into the age that means the end of school, at least for a while.  That means leaving my friends and my professors and all the wonders of college.

After a few minutes, I expect I’ll shake my head and begin getting ready.  There’s a parade tomorrow morning.  It’s not in my honor, but I’m pretending it is; I’m marching in it in support of a local DFL candidate.  I don’t know said candidate, but I’ve been bribed with a free t-shirt.  That’s really all it takes to make me happy.

Tomorrow night is the enormous birthday gathering I’ve planned for myself.  It seems sort of vain to throw a party for oneself, but as I haven’t had a ‘friends’ party since I was eight, and as it’s my last chance to throw one with my UMM friends, I’m going for it.  I tried to think of a theme: something about the Beatles, perhaps, or something literary.  But then I decided that the important thing is to have all of my friends under one roof.  And to have a potluck so that said friends can eat and be merry.

Stress-Relieving Chocolate Hamsters

Here’s what we do in M6 when the Mondays get us down:

1.  We hold Feezap, the tumor-afflicted hamster who still manages at least 1,000 wheel reps a night.  Feezap is small, grey, and unassuming.  I try to give him a smile and an affectionate “Bye Feez” when I pass his cage on my way to class, but sometimes I forget.  Tonight, Feez, after crawling around my hand for a while, gave my finger a sniff and then gnawed on it for a few seconds, until he was satisfied that all of the blueberry lemon hand soap had dissolved between his tiny teeth.

2.  We make devil’s food instant pudding, and do our best to ignore the powdery taste that inevitably lingers in instant puddings.   It is chocolate, after all.

3.  Finally, we go into our rooms, shut the door, and sit down at our desks.  We stare at our bulletin boards for a few minutes, blankly taking in the Obama Inaugural, the Beatles Rubber Soul, the Support the U buttons that we pinned up on earlier, more earnest days.  Our readings have been printed.  There is no excuse for Twitter, for Facebook, for IMDB (me), for CollegeHumor (Maddie).  Taking a few cleansing breaths, we set off into Studying, into the land where nobody dies except for Richard the Lionheart and historical figures like that.  It’s bright in Studying, and not unpleasant in the least.  We’re enlightened here, we’re intelligent and brave.  If only it wasn’t such a struggle to get through.