Mi Sofa Es Tu Sofa

My gentleman caller and I were hanging out last night, and when it reached 11:30 and no more Virginia Woolf could be absorbed, nor more Latin American history terms memorized, I walked him downstairs to the front door.  The living room was pitch black, and so I was naturally startled when a voice emerged from the darkness: “Hello?”

“Uh, hello?” I said, gripping my cell phone, and hoping the screen wouldn’t crack if I used it as a bludgeon.

“Is Joey asleep?” The voice spoke again.

Whew, so he wasn’t after me.  I wondered how proficient Joey was with a cellular bludgeon.

“Yes, I think so.  I’m sorry, who are you?”

My eyes adjusted, and I could make out a figure laying on the couch.

“I’m Josh.  From Minnesotans United for All Families.  Joey said it was okay that I stayed over, but the house was dark when I got here, and it looked like everyone was asleep, so I just made myself comfortable.  I hope that’s okay.”

“Oh, of course it is.  Sorry, I didn’t know we were expecting anyone, but of course it’s perfectly fine.  Make yourself at home.”

Then I said goodnight and awkwardly retreated upstairs, shaking my head.  Only at Bag End do twenty-something-year-old politically-active visitors show up in the middle of the night to crash on our couch.

In other news, one five-hour copy editing session, two Social Science Office work shifts, two midterms, one two-mile run, and a 3.5 hour car ride are all that separate me from Fall Break.

I can do this.

Life is Beautiful

Life is beautiful.

I’m a five job lady right now:  office work, research with prof., theatre volunteering, babysitting (or nannying I suppose, as it’s a regular schedule), and now, cat sitting.

Here’s what I love about living in Morris for the summer: I’m nannying for two philosophy professors, and cat sitting for a political science professor.  Furthermore, the political science professor told me she’s put in a good word for me to the Chancellor, who also has cats.  And a Rottweiler.

Here’s what else I love about Morris:  it’s ideal for bike travel.  I always suspected that cars are the ticket to freedom: they’re fast, they can go long distances without wearing out, and they’re safely enclosed.  I was wrong.  There’s just something about biking around, using your own steam to get to work or to the grocery store.  There’s something (forgive me) about the wind in your hair, the bugs in your nostrils, the burn in your calves that is utterly exhilerating.

Here’s the third thing I love about Morris: On my bike ride home, I was standing on the pedals, huffing up a hill, when two shadowed figures loomed in the twilight.  They were lurking in the middle of the sidewalk, and I didn’t have time to veer off.  Fearing that I was about to be mugged, and mentally clinging to Mac, who was sheltered in my backpack, I bravely hurtled forward.

And then I realized that the shadowed figures were two fellow juniors and English majors.

We spent the following twenty minutes discussing everything from Irish history, to street performing (look for us on YouTube.  Search “Yoko Ono Stomp”), to Natalie Portman.

Then I rode the rest of the way home, muttering “I think I can I think I can” all the way up the last big hill.  And I thought about the fact that I worked nine hours today (split between three jobs), and that somehow, the best endings always close the longest days.

Life is beautiful, friends.  Enjoy it.

I’ve Survived

I’m happy to report that I survived finals week, and am now sitting comfortably on my own living room couch, dog sprawled at my feet.

Here’s what’s happened since I last posted:

1.  I wrote five papers, which, honestly, didn’t seem possible while I was writing them.  What finally worked was for me to sit myself down in a corner of the library and write at least one page an hour.  At that rate, it was nice to be able to say that I’d start a paper at 10 pm and have it done by 1 am.  Further, if you don’t mind me bragging a little, I’ve written 40 pages of papers over the past 16 days.  This figure is maybe not so much for someone like, say, F. Scott Fitzgerald, but it’s a lot for me.  Especially considering I have a job and class and student government.  F. Scott just…partied.

2.  Took two final exams (world history and statistics).

3.  Dressed up as Theodore Roosevelt for my world history final.  The prof promised extra credit for whoever dressed up, depending on the calibar of the costume.  I had a khaki shirt, tie, boots, mustache, Bull Moose Party pin, big stick, and a bottle of ibuprofen with “pure” scrawled across it (props if you get the reference).  It was a little ridiculous, but TR is one of my favorite presidents, and I figured he deserved representation.  Even if two people did ask me if I was supposed to be Stalin…

4.  I began to compile my summer reading list, which is one of the true joys of my life.  Here’s what I have so far: The Great Gatsby (haven’t read it since eleventh grade), Population: 485 (this is the Michael Perry book I ordered shortly after I saw him at UMM’s literary festival), Under the Banner of Heaven (I loved Into the Wild, and have heard that this Jon Krakauer is even better), Lolita, Crime and Punishment (I’m reading a Russian novel this summer.  It’s time), Slaughterhouse Five, and The Author’s Theory (a book recently written and self-published by a friend of mine at school.  I’ve read an excerpt in my fiction writing class, and am eager to read the rest).

5.  Got a job volunteering at a local movie theater.  It’s old and historic and lovely, and they rely heavily on volunteers and donations to keep it running.  I’ll be working concessions and ticket sales at first, they told me, and as I’ve expressed interest in running the projector, I will possibly  be trained in that once I’ve proved myself in other areas.

6.  I’ve breathed a huge sigh of relief.  I’m slightly sad and nostalgic as I always am when school ends for the summer, but mostly it’s nice not to have a huge to-do list weighing on me at all times.

 

Friday Night

Dance Ensemble had their first performance of the weekend this evening.  I arrived for my Higbies shift during intermission, ducking beneath glittering arms and flinching away from heavily-lined eyes, hardly recognizing my friends amongst the intimidating dancers.

Behind the counter, Olivia was glad to see me.  Her forehead shone with sweat, and her sleeves were rolled up.  As soon as the line broke, she bolted, grabbing her backpack and apologizing as she vaulted the low gate.

I watched her retreating figure for a moment, and then reluctantly turned to the first customer in line.  He wanted a mocha.

“No specialty drinks during intermission, sir.  I’m sorry.”

The man frowned, considering his options on the sign behind me.

“I’ll have a mango smoothie, then.”

“That’s a specialty drink.”

He gave me a withering stare and walked away, proceeding to spend the next five minutes bad-mouthing me to his wife, who seemed terribly embarrassed about the entire situation.  Her face might have been even more flushed had she known I could hear everything they said.

Using his starched elbows to push his way through the crowd surrounding the counter, the Student Activities director, Dave, came around to stand next to me.  He claimed sanctuary, taking deep breaths of aquanet-free air.

“I’m on drama duty tonight,” Dave explained.

“Drama duty?  You mean backstage?”

“Yeah.  Apparently some dancers aren’t happy with their choreographers right now.”

“Oh man.”

We stood in silence for a few more minutes, me awkwardly leaning against the pastry case, Dave scanning the horde for signs of rebellion.

When the lights flickered, signaling the end of intermission, he turned to me again: “Call me if you see any bitch slapping.”

“Will do.”

Odd Jobs

This afternoon at work (in the Social Science Division Office), my boss asked if I could type up a sign to put over the microwave, encouraging faculty to clean up after themselves.

Here’s what I came up with:

To a Clean Microwave:

 

A microwave to heat your meal

Only has so much appeal,

 

For when your leftovers deign to erupt,

Crusty stains are left for someone else to clean

up.

 

To solve this dilemma, we have sought to provide

Some tools, found both true and tried:

 

Paper towels to shield your grub,

And Clorox Wipes, in case you need to scrub.

To Do

To Do:

1.  Run a legitimate/impressive/hard-hitting campaign

2.  Figure out where I’m going to live this summer

3.  Figure out what classes I’m going to take this summer

4.  Figure out what work/research I’m going to do this summer

5.  Choose classes for Fall 2012 Registration next week

6.  Study for Statistics Midterm

7.  Finish Story

8.  Write Politics and Film Paper

9.  Do other general studying

10.  Help plan Support the U Day

11.  Volunteer for the literary festival

12.  Attend Hunger Games premiere (not optional)

13.  Live to see the weekend

Spring Break Approaching

Today, marked by another accidental sleep-in (although this time I woke up with a solid twenty minutes to spare), a smoothie machine explosion (think crushed ice sprayed in all directions.  A great deal of it landed, of course, in my hair), a lecture that taught me more about earthworms than I ever desired to know, and a ritual bashing of Anne Hathaway in “Becoming Jane.”

But today was also the last full day before Spring Break begins.  I can’t think of a more timely vacation, frankly.  Even though I won’t be partying in Miami or road tripping to Chicago (with my darling roommate), going home is enough for me.  This semester has been more dynamic and difficult and busy and monumental than any I’ve had, and while it’s exciting to be making such important decisions, it also makes me tired.

What I need now is to lie on my own bed at home and work on my story, with my very own dogs clicking around in the kitchen.

On a lighter note, I would like to thank Jeff from “365 Pretty Good Reasons” for his post referencing what I wrote about the MN Marriage Amendment, and recognizing the craziness of blogging every day for a year (boy do I know what you mean).

http://365reasons.posterous.com/

Why I Am Not Chilling With Sherman Alexie Right Now

Dear Mr. Alexie,

First of all, I’ve read your book, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian.”  Twice.  Second of all, we had an entire unit on you in American Literature last year.  My professor told us that you’re sensitive about your big head (I think it looks fine on Google Images), and that you often get marriage proposals during book signings.

But to reach my point, there was a ticket waiting for me in the Multicultural Center.  I could have driven down to St. Cloud with a group of other students, I could have chatted with students from other schools at a reception, I could have listened to you give a lecture, and then I could have made a fool out of myself asking for your autograph.

Instead, sir, I’m sitting on campus like the boring, scholastically responsible person that I am.  You see, in order to meet you, I would have had to skip two classes, work, and a meeting.  And I just couldn’t do it, not even for one of my favorite writers.  I’m telling myself right now, as I prepare to take an online statistics quiz, that I’ll have another chance to meet you.  I’m telling myself that if I truly do go to graduate school and become a professor and a writer, then I’ll surely run into you somewhere down the literary line.  I hope so.

In the meantime, please don’t accept any marriage proposals.

Sincerely,

Holly

And Even the Hamster was Asleep

There has been little studying this fine Sunday, and more movie watching than I care to blog about.  But I will anyway, of course.

For starters, it’s lovely outside.  42 degrees, breezy, and sunny.  Not the kind of weather you expect in the middle of February, but then again, this whole winter has been all kinds of unexpected.  Remember that winter when there was no winter?  I do.

After yet another uneventful Writing Room shift (apparently no one needs paper help from noon to 2 pm on a Sunday afternoon), I headed over to the HFA to watch the latest Politics and Film movie assignment:  “Nixon.”  The 1995 version, featuring a sad, sad Anthony Hopkins.  I could have handled Mr. Hopkins alone, but not paired with such a ridiculous movie.  I’ve never before been hit over the head so many times in one film.  Instead of letting the actors, well, act, the director felt he had to use flashbacks to make sure we knew exactly what the characters were thinking at all times.  The effect was awkward and annoying and dizzying.  Luckily, other people in my class like to make fun of bad movies just as much as I do.

Then the ex-Pine Hall dwellers gathered to watch “Clue.”  A little ridiculous for my taste, but I’m rawthur picky when it comes to comedies (or satires.  Or satirical comedies).

Now I’m sitting in our semi-dark apartment.  Feezap the hamster is quiet in his cage; the only noise is the drip from his dangling water bottle.

I’m awake because I have a story to comment on for our first round of workshops in Fiction Writing.  It’s a very good story; I read it this afternoon.  I also couldn’t immediately think of anything to comment on, which is troubling.  What’s the point of a workshop if nothing constructive can be said?

I guess until I think of something I’m stuck in the dark with a hamster who, despite being nocturnal, is sleeping quite soundly.  Gosh, it would be nice to be a hamster.

All is Right in the World

All is right in the world when you wake up at 6:30 a.m., sit through a committee meeting until 9, and then trudge straight back to bed for two hours.  And later, your writing class spends a half hour discussing how stories should be submitted; electronically or physically.  One girl couldn’t handle the stress and walked out.

Truth:  In all my years of schooling, I’ve only been in two classes that had walkouts: Creative writing in high school, and now advanced fiction writing.  Writers are touchy people.

Things continue to be wonderful when the awesome German teacher wins Jeopardy, and when you and your trivia-obsessed buddies decided to forgo leftovers in favor of a better dinner in the Student Center.  Then, at your work safety training meeting, you laugh until you’re wheezing on the floor after the trainer says the following:  “Too many people try to sneak free pump coffee refills.  Next time I see this happening, I’m going to be all: ‘I will cut you!'”

Volleyball doesn’t go so well.  One of your teammates is struck down by a charley horse, which you know hurts like the dickens because it happens to you decently often.  Your team loses to a team that you probably could have beaten, but you don’t feel too horrible because afterall 5-1 isn’t a bad record.  And because you knew the moment you were all lined up on the court that you were probably going to lose because your team just wasn’t playing like they usually do.

After the game, silently ashamed of being a living breathing cliché, you say you don’t care about the loss, but you regardless spend fifteen minutes in the snow talking about what exactly went wrong.  And then you skip off to the Convenience Store, where friends are buying ice cream and you’re just looking for an excuse to avoid reading your book of nature-heavy poetry.

And then you come home and read it anyway.