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Archive for March 2010

Surviving History

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My friend Caroline is brilliant.  She is brilliant because her mind works differently from anyone else’s in the world, and the things that come out of it on a daily basis are the types of things that are so preposterous you laugh until you get a cramp in your side, and you have to stop laughing or you will die.  Only then, as you sit clutching your side and wheezing, do you realize how true and serious that silly thing Caroline said is.

Caroline is terribly sensitive.  She thinks the courtship montage at the beginning of The Swan Princess is bittersweet and affecting, and loves Anne of Green Gables with every fiber of her being. She also loves Arrested Development, although she is preoccupied with worry for Michael and George Michael.  She once clutched my arm and asked me seriously if I thought they were going to be okay someday.  Yet she endured a full two years of our writing teachers’ ceaseless teasing about her (incredibly strong) Southern accent—and she did it with a smile, because she thought it was funny, too.

Caroline is hilarious.  Though I can’t vouch for it firsthand, I’m inclined to think she’s always been that way.  When she was very young, she says, she dreaded going to a restaurant that was apparently one of her parents’ favorites.  There was, you see, a gravel road in front of the restaurant.  No matter the circumstances, every time her family went to the restaurant, Caroline was punished for being out in the middle of the road.  The way she tells the story, it’s as if she teleported into the middle of the road; as if going there was a thing inevitable and entirely out of her control, a switch flipped.  Caroline’s family arrived at the restaurant, therefore Caroline arrived in the road.

When Caroline writes her autobiography, I will laugh until I wet my pants, and then I will cry until my tears have rinsed away my urine.

But I digress.  Today at dinner, Caroline said, “Sometimes I think I would like to have lived in Jane Austen’s time.  But that would have been terribly unfortunate.  I would have been fat, pimply, and snaggle-toothed.”

“And blind,” I said, helpfully.

(Caroline is, in fact, legally blind without vision correction.)

This, as we say in the South, got me to thinkin’.  How on earth did anyone manage to survive before the advent of modern medicine?  Humans, as a species, have far too many ailments even in this age of compulsive hygiene and technological wizardry.  We die every day, zillions of us, accidentally or on purpose, expectedly or unexpectedly, and always too soon.  (Except for my great-grandmother, who died at age 99, thirteen years after she was ready.)

What the hell did we do before?

Case in point:  without modern medicine, I would probably not exist.  My father was born so prematurely that his fingernails were still soft.  My mother was born with two clubfeet and a hemangioma on her neck so large it looked like a bullfrog’s throat sac.  She is allergic to everything, with the unfortunate exception of the sound of her own voice.

Even if my parents had managed to make it, my brother and I would probably be kaput.  We were born fat and healthy, but had pneumonia several times when we were children.

And even if that hadn’t killed us, we’d be squinty, zitty, and supremely snaggle-toothed now.  So we probably wouldn’t be reproducing any time soon, unless they’d already invented paper bags in the Middle Ages.

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Written by Estie

March 31, 2010 at 3:13 am

Poisson d’Avril!

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Thursday marks four years that my boyfriend and I have been dating.  Yes, you read that right.  Since my sophomore year of high school, I’ve been the ol’ ball and chain for the same boy.  And for the umpteenth time, no, we’re not getting married.

We didn’t do it on purpose, officer.  It just happened.  One year passed after another, and we somehow didn’t get sick of each other. We went to different schools, lived in different states, and somehow didn’t grow apart.  We meant to do the adult thing and break up after high school, but when it came down to the wire (read:  the day before I went to Millsaps), we couldn’t go through with it.

(We didn’t pick that inauspicious anniversary date on purpose, either.  It…also just happened.)

He’s a computer programmer, and I’m a history junkie; if we had to switch majors for a day, we’d have our pants bored off us by the second hour.  I love to shop, and he damn near has a panic attack every time he remembers that the mall exists.  He likes typography and philosophy, and he eats meat.  I’ve never had a good eye for design, I find philosophy rather arbitrary (except for Sartre, but everybody likes Sartre), and I’ve been a vegetarian since I was fourteen.

It embarrasses him when I talk about Harry Potter as if it is real in public, and when I get involved in arguments about literature on Facebook.  It embarrasses me when he skips in public, and when he wears the “Vagina is for Lovers” t-shirt he screenprinted himself.  (I do have to admit that it’s a nice color, though.  And is as tastefully done as a “Vagina is for Lovers” t-shirt can be.)

He likes to save, I like to splurge.  He’s a morning person, I’m a night owl.  He works hard, I like nothing better than sitting on my ass and procrastinating.  He’s very neat, and I’m a mess.

We’re different.  But we’re also very much the same.

We like to compromise.  We don’t like to shout.  We like giving gifts better than receiving them.  We’re addicted to the Internet.  We both like the mountains better than the beach, and we both have trouble with our swimsuits falling down.  We have similar taste in movies and TV, and we both like to cook—he thinks I make a mean avocado sandwich, and I think he makes killer scrambled eggs.  Oh, and his espresso is to DIE for.

We like cats, Asian food, and blowing things up.  We both speak Toothbrush, and we both drive like grannies.  Each of us knows exactly what the other is talking about, even when the other isn’t making any sense whatsoever (and this is a common problem, because we both have the same bizarre sense of humor).

My roommate, who is a year and a half older than me, got engaged a few months ago.  When I informed my boyfriend of this, he said matter-of-factly, “Good for her.  I’m not engaging you, though.”  When we finished our dinner, he congratulated her, then we retired to his dorm to discuss just how crazy she is.  I like that we can agree on this.  I also like that we can agree children are annoying, and partying is vastly overrated.  This means that, if we so desire, we will be able to continue to get along for the foreseeable future.

It does not, however, mean that we’re obligated to declare ourselves stuck together for life.

People think that we have the strangest relationship on the planet.  They simply cannot understand why, if we have been together for so long, we are not “engaging” (ha, see what I did there?) in the horrid activities most other couples do, like naming our future children (gag) or planning our wedding (ugh).  And it seems that no matter how many times I say to those people, “We’re nineteen, okay?  WE ARE NINETEEN,” they never seem to get it.

This is the way I see it:  if you don’t want children, why should you legally tie yourself to another person?  I’d rather live without a commitment that requires lots of messy paperwork to dissolve, and know that when I am in a relationship, I’m there because the other person wants me to be there, not because it’s too expensive and too much of a hassle to make me leave.

Especially now, when I’ve got at least sixty years left on this earth—if average life expectancy is any indicator of my own—why should I arbitrarily push even more of my life’s milestones into the first twenty-five years of my life?

It doesn’t mean I love him any less.  To be honest, I probably love him more for it, because he feels the same way.

So here’s my acknowledgment of our momentous anniversary, because come Thursday we are going to New York City with my mom and brother, and with all the traveling hullabaloo, I’ll probably forget all about it.  =)

(Seriously, that has happened before.  We both forgot our second anniversary, because it was during our senior year of high school, the day after my dog died and my colleges rejected me, while he was devoting every second of his life to his school play.  My friend Sheri reminded me of the occasion three days later.  FAIL.)

Yeah, I know, it's lame that this is from prom. But we have shockingly few pictures together. He's always behind the camera.

Written by Estie

March 30, 2010 at 3:43 am

Flabbity Flab Flab

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A confession:  I do not like my legs.  Depending upon the time of year, I fluctuate between resigned dislike and open hatred, as fashion swings from pants and tights to shorts and miniskirts.  The only time I am pleased with my legs is when they are covered in thick, baggy ski pants and are preventing me from zooming off a cliff.

Even when I was little, before I hit puberty and filled out over approximately one month of sixth grade (I have the stretch marks to prove it), I didn’t like my legs.  I have a mole on my right thigh, halfway between knee and hip, that used to bug me to no end.  I have skin so fair it borders on albinism, so it’s not hard to spot imperfections.  And in summer, every time I looked down, that mole was there, looking right back at me.

It’s not an ugly mole or anything.  It’s about half an inch across, uniformly oval-shaped, and doesn’t protrude, flap in the breeze, or have hair growing out of it.  My irrational hatred of that mole was probably an early indicator that I’m better off with a little Sertraline in my bloodstream.  But I digress.

When I hit puberty, the lower half of my body got totally out of control.  I didn’t wear shorts for five or six years, preferring to suffocate in the South Carolina summer rather than subject the world to my hideous legs.  And bathing suits?  Hah!  I can’t believe I remember how to swim.  I still prefer to have a pair of shorts handy as a cover-up, though that comes with its own set of problems re:  pseudo-albinism—shorts rub my sunscreen off, which means that if I don’t reapply constantly, I end up with a really weird-looking sunburn.

The real trouble is that women in my family look like Sid from Toy Story built us.  We have short limbs and long torsos.  We have broad shoulders, broad hips, and narrow waists, which would be great if we came with anything resembling the BOOBS we were PROMISED in sex ed.  We tend to have an extra helping of junk in the trunk, too.  Our asscracks decide to liberate themselves from our jeans all too often, and thanks to that pasty-white skin, it’s extra-obvious when it happens in public.

In the seventies, a dunk-tank carny yelled at my mom, “Baby, you got an hourglass figure, but all the sand done run to the bottom!”

Nice of her to pass those genes on.

Here’s my body’s catch-22:  it’s not fat.  I’m not a sample size or anything—I wear a four or a six, typically—but I am at a healthy weight.  I’m five foot five, and as of this afternoon I weigh 126.7 pounds.  My body just naturally stores all of its fat on my hips and thighs.

I do eat too much junk food, but do you know what happens when I stop eating junk food?  My boobs become practically concave, and my damn legs stay as gelatinous as they ever were.  Same thing happens when I exercise compulsively.  Even though my muscles do become more toned, they’re still covered with a blanket of good old pudge, so you can’t really TELL.  Oh, and on top of that, I’ve got those stretch marks on my hips and the backs of my thighs.  With cellulite poking out in between, like a prisoner reaching desperately from between the bars of an old-fashioned jail.

I’ve read every women’s magazine in existence, and I know what they all say.  Think about your body in terms of what it can DO, not what it looks like, and unless you’re a quadriplegic, you’ll feel a lot kinder toward it.  But you know what I think about that?  I think it still doesn’t change the fact that my legs are ugly.

I’m setting myself up for a life among the non-affluent.  I want to write, and I really don’t want to do anything else with my life.  I enjoy plenty of things, but writing is the only thing that feels real and true.  So unless I marry for money (gag), I won’t ever be able to afford anything like liposuction, even if I do decide that one vain, shallow act is worth not feeling self-conscious and frustrated every time temperatures climb about 70 degrees.

I’ve done research into the different surgeries offered, pricing, and even those freaky compression garments they make you wear so you won’t go all weird and lumpy while you’re healing.  The bruising I can deal with, as I fall down about as often as I stand up, and I don’t see how compression garments are that different from heavy-duty Spanx.  It’s more the philosophical issues that bug me.

Is it ethical to have plastic surgery when people around the world are dying for want of simple surgical procedures?

Is it ethical to spend thousands of dollars on a procedure to improve my outward physical appearance, rather than on travel that would expand my mind, or something more practical like rent?

Will I lose the respect of people whose opinions I value if I work to conform more closely to our society’s unrealistic image of physical beauty?

I’m not a controlling or type-A personality by any definition of the term.  In fact, my grades would probably improve if I stressed out about things a little more, or gave more of a shit in general.  It’s just this one, insignificant, infuriating thing.  Oh, how it plagues me!

I hear sale of body parts is forbidden on Craigslist, but this is Estieslist.  In conclusion….

For sale:  one pair of legs, slightly used but in good condition.  Functional but utilitarian.  Willing to trade and/or pay cash for more aesthetically-pleasing replacements.  Shin splints and freckles OK, peg legs NOT OK.  Similar skin tone, please.  Serious inquiries only.

Leave me my voice, though, please. I use it to snark with.

Written by Estie

March 25, 2010 at 4:15 am

Robert Pattinson and the Myth of the Byronic Hero

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Okay, so Dad’s on an airplane to Dubai, en route back to Bagram, and things are back to normal at my house.  I’ll be going back to my dorm tomorrow night.  In the meantime, I thought I’d try to alienate a potential audience.

Better writers than me have puzzled out Twilight’s confounding popularity.  I’m not here to do that.  I have never read the books, though I have read excerpts online, and can confirm that Stephenie Meyer’s prose has a chemical makeup similar to ipecac.  I have also never seen the movies.  When I was at Millsaps, several of my friends saw the first movie multiple times, and I considered going with them just to see what the fuss was about.  Ultimately I decided not to, partially because I knew I’d be a huge wet blanket, and partially because I was a wee bit frightened of its strange power.

I’m a teenage girl too, after all.  Nobody seems to understand why Twilight has the effect on people that it does.  What if I turned into another glazed-eyed zombie fangirl?  I’m not immune to guilty pleasures.  I’m sitting here now writing about Twilight, so clearly I’m fascinated by it.  I’d like to think that my fascination with Twilight comes from the same place as my love of “Manos” The Hands of Fate, but what if I’m wrong?  What if there’s something hormonal or evolutionary in women that causes them to irrationally adore such tripe, regardless of their otherwise feminist beliefs and empowered lifestyle?

Regardless, I can tell you that the blogger Miss Banshee’s recap of the New Moon film is hilarious on many levels, and I highly recommend it to anyone not quite curious enough to subject him/herself to actually seeing the damn thing firsthand.

For honesty’s sake, I should probably admit that I, too, find Robert Pattinson attractive.  When he has been manhandled into a shower and through a hair and makeup department, he’s almost knee-weakening on a physical level.  I can understand why a lot of lonely teenage girls (and mothers, ew) have photos of his brooding face plastered on everything they own.  After all, when you don’t have anything better, what’s the harm in a cheap thrill?  I’m lucky enough to have a very nice boyfriend (and in any case, I prefer Cillian Murphy), but to each her own.  I’m only bothered when these fantasies affect real life.

Robert Pattinson obviously has an army of stalkers because they think he is Edward.  These stalkers are not necessarily the same people who have his face plastered on their belongings, but the two groups do overlap.  Rationally, most of them know that Pattinson ≠ Cullen, but they just want it to be true so badly.  I know this because I was once horrified (embarrassment alert) to discover that Elijah Wood was far from the noble, innocent character that Frodo is (I was twelve, okay?!?).  I learned my lesson about celebrity hero worship, and someday the sane among them will, too.  He’ll get old and saggy, and so will they, and the world will continue on its merry way.  This is the way celebrity crushes have gone since women flung their petticoats at Henry VIII’s passing litter [citation needed].

Pattinson is a particularly acute case.  Taylor Lautner is less remarkable, because he is, frankly, a boring person.  His life doesn’t provide good paparazzi fodder, with the exception of that romantic interlude with the equally boring Taylor Swift, and it doesn’t remotely resemble that of his Twilight stereotype character. Robert Pattinson is a totally different story.  Every news story that details his exploits with Technicolor vividness fuels the fire of the Pattinson mythos.

He is simultaneously the polar opposite of the character that made him famous, and eerily similar to it.  He matches the alcoholic exploits of Lindsay Lohan with the tortured persona of Edward Cullen.  Fans love him, and they want so badly to save him from himself, a la Bella.  So they read every article about him, even the unflattering ones.  The paparazzi profit, so they continue to publish embarrassing stories about him.  It’s a vicious cycle.

Some people speculate that Pattinson encourages media coverage of his foolishness, in an attempt to repel his legions of stalkers.  If this is true, DUDE, IT’S NOT WORKING!  Instead, he’s turning himself into a Byronic hero.

So here’s where I’m truly confounded.  I can tease out some information about the dynamics of Twilight fans, but I’m totally in the dark about the larger appeal of the Byronic hero.  I’ve read Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights, have seen the movie version of Jane Eyre with Anna Paquin, and even went through a brief stage of being obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera.  The Phantom was sympathetic to me mostly because I know what it’s like to feel like a freak, but I only find Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy attractive once he begins behaving like a non-shitty human being, and Mr. Rochester (as played by William Hurt) mostly makes me roll my eyes.  As for Heathcliff, I’d prefer that he be pushed from a particular tall specimen of his namesake geographical feature.

I guess nice guys really do finish last, because I seem to be in the minority in my opinions of these and other literary bad boys-cum-romantic icons.  I cannot for the life of me figure out why this is true.  Does it just not register that one of the most appropriate synonyms for “Byronic hero” is “asshole”?

If anyone happens to read this, I beg you, TO THE COMMENTS!

And in the meantime, leave Robert Pattinson alone.  He’s pathetic and, furthermore, really bizarre.  If he gets any worse, he’ll be the next Britney Spears.  And who wants that?

Written by Estie

March 23, 2010 at 3:57 am

Apologies and Crudeness

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I know, I know, I haven’t posted all week.  I’ve barely begun this blog, and have already fallen into slackerdom.  I’m DEEPLY surprised, because that’s TOTALLY not how I approach every other area of my life.  I am a paragon of enthusiasm and commitment.  Honestly, sometimes I lie awake at night because I am so excited about everything I have promised to do.

The end of my nose just collided with the computer screen.  And here I promised myself I wouldn’t tell lies on this blog.  For shame.  For double shame!

In my defense, I really have been spending every spare moment with my dad.  I even stayed at home this week, instead of at my dorm, in order to get maximum Quality Time.  I am such a dutiful daughter!

This was the first hit I got on Google Images when I searched for "dutiful daughter."

We’re planning a trip to the United Kingdom this summer, and I am so excited I really am having trouble sleeping.  I have wanted to visit the U.K. since I discovered Harry Potter at eight years old.  That’s eleven years!  Now, as a college student, I am majoring in history, with a concentration in British history.  Some people describe themselves as Anglophiles, but I can’t really bring myself to do that.  Despite my somewhat serious interest in the history of the British Isles, most of the British things I love are kind of stupid.  So I prefer the more forgiving term “dork.”

British slang is legitimately the dog’s bollocks, though.

[/Seinfeld monologue]

Anyway, I’m a lazy person and it’s late, so I’ll just leave you with a charmingly short narrative about my brilliant Health and Exercise professor, who may actually be insane.

Students at CCU are required to take the course, which is nothing more than glorified P.E., in order to graduate.  In principle, I think it’s a good idea.  It is important for anyone to understand the basics of taking care of their body, and if people are going to end up paying around $160,000 to graduate from CCU, they’d damn well better be able to get a long lifetime’s worth of use out of that degree.  If you have a college degree, you really have no excuse for not understanding why hydrogenated oils are bad for you.

However, as I have just stated, I am a lazy person.  I also really, really like cake, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, brownies, and any other baked good with copious amounts of fats and refined sugars.  I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I drive like a granny, so give me a break!  There are worse vices I could have than one that just makes my thighs wobbly.  But to hear the man I fondly call Dr. Dipshit talk, I am setting myself up for a lifetime of pain, misery, and obesity, as well as an early death, every time I eat half of a Swiss Cake Roll.  This would irk me even if he were an otherwise perfect man.  But he’s about as close to perfect as I am to  mathematical genius.

One of his favorite things to do is rag on students for being obsessed with texting and Twitter, as if our generation’s bizarre and evil habits are going to be the death of us and the rest of the human race.  Every time he does this, I am impressed all over again by his maturity and worldly wisdom.  He is clearly the product of a golden age, long before the high-tech scourge was visited upon our land—

Oh, wait.  He’s 35.

He seems to think that anyone who has ever eaten a hot dog is personally responsible for his father’s untimely death at 57 from congestive heart failure.

He pauses class to yell at anyone who comes in late, even though our classroom is on the opposite side of campus from everything else.

He “helps” the ultra-flexible Volleyball player (who once exclaimed that she “HATES IT!” when people bigger than her beat her in half-marathons) stretch in the gym.

And he SLURPS when he talks.  Incessantly.

“Did you know that (shllllp) scientists predict that this generation of kids, (sssslup), your generation, is the first generation in ALL OF HUMAN HISTORY (sluuurpppppt) with a SHORTER LIFE EXPECTANCY THAN ITS PARENTS (SLLURRRUPRPTHTRFHRRRP)?!?”

I’ve met Saint Bernards who drooled less than he does.

Obviously he is cracking up.  All of the signs are there:  excessive sweating (and spitting), a short temper, and a case of Daddy Issues so huge it’s no wonder he’s obsessed with working out—it must take a lot of strength to carry those around with him.  Also, he is a WASPish-looking, successful-seeming smartypants and family man.  As we all know, those are always the first to snap.

Last week, I wrote an essay for him in which I joked, “the terrorists will not win if we take a little time for ourselves out of our days.”  I was talking about the problem of obesity in America.  He underlined it and wrote, “Who are the terrorists in your argument?”

And on Monday, he spent the entire 50-minute class lecturing with an enormous booger hanging out of his nose.

I, on the other hand, would know nothing about being insane.

Written by Estie

March 20, 2010 at 5:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Picaresque FINALE, and the insidious Seinfeld

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It seems that nearly every post I’ve written here has an opening monologue.  I have just noticed this, and I don’t know whether I like it.  Audience poll:  should I cultivate it as a fabulous new addition to my shtick?

Regardless, I suspect that I know from whence it came.

Hello, Jerry...

Oh my Christ, am I Newman?  Though I did not previously feel any kinship with him, his character as described by Wikipedia bears several resemblances to my own:

  • Often speaks in a humorously sinister tone
  • Impulsively protests the idea of any mail being “junk”
  • Tends to be bombastic and verbose
  • Loves food
  • Talents have so far eluded similar recognition to Jerry’s
  • AND my paternal grandfather worked for the Postal Service, so we are genetically linked.

Oh dear.

All of this evidence can only lead to one conclusion:  Seinfeld is insidious.  Cunning, sneaky, quietly powerful; a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  It is a persistent cultural meme.  It is not as explosive as the Interrupting Kanye, but it is nevertheless omnipresent.

Seinfeld is ostensibly a show about nothing.  But by being about nothing, it is simultaneously about everything.  That is why it’s insidious.  While we’re watching weeknight reruns, cringing at 90’s fashion and Jason Alexander’s negative sex appeal, Seinfeld subliminally worms its way into our brains.  We think it’s a sitcom, the sole purpose of which is to shut our brains off, but we are very, very wrong.  Eventually, Seinfeld takes over our subconscious.  We become Seinfeld zombies.

And we write 250 words about a canceled television show, instead of continuing to blog about our life stories.  And that is sad.

*

I am left handed, which endows me with special powers.  These powers are further enhanced by the fact that I have sharper-than-normal eyeteeth, and my second toes are longer than my first.  Also, I may have absorbed my twin.  One of my powers is the power of prophecy.

And now, for the benefit of my readers (all two of you…), I will prophecy:  In twenty years, medical schools will take over the world.

My powers allow me to know this, but perceptive Muggles may find evidence of it in the fact that half of the damn populations of all three of the colleges I have attended seem to be pre-med students.  (I told you I can’t do math:  add that up, and it makes three halves.)  Assuming every other college in the United States has similar demographics, the Congressional healthcare bill will soon be damn superfluous, and the U.S. population will soon have a frighteningly high percentage of smart, highly-educated sadists with God complexes.

And the best of these will come from Emory.

Because it is a top-20 university, Emory has a highly diverse student body.  Everybody has something that makes them special on the surface.  You could probably find a New Zealand-raised Palestinian kleptomaniac with a surgically-corrected cleft palate and a transgender parent somewhere among the undergrad and graduate student population of Emory, if you tried hard enough.

But if you gathered everyone in an auditorium and polled them, you’d find out that nearly everyone wants to be the next Sanjay Gupta.  In other words, wealthy, personable, famous, millionaire doctors with hot spouses.  Many twelve-year-olds also want to be those things.

I should stop to point out that I’m not trying to condemn Emory University in particular.  I suspect this is true of most top universities.  Furthermore, I am sure that there are many exceptions to the rule.  What I am railing against is the stereotype.  So please hear me out, okay?

In middle and early high school, I was socially awkward.  I was kind of a freak, to tell you the truth.  But by the end of high school (probably thanks to those fantastic SSRIs), I had learned how to make friends.  But I really didn’t make many at Emory.  This was not for lack of trying; it was just that, honestly, I preferred the company of my Sims to the company of my classmates.

(I named one Sim baby Pootbrick, and she grew up to be the coolest person ever.)

This is going to sound horrifically snotty and holier-than-thou, but most of the people I met were repulsive.  Even the ones who didn’t smell of tuna salad.  My impression of them was that they were obsessed with gossiping, social status, and money. At their best, they behaved like high schoolers, and at their worst, like the cast of Gossip Girl.

Example:  my English class, taught by a totally awesome guy named Dr. Galle, was full of the sound of crickets, i.e. silence.  Nobody ever talked except for me, my roommate Hira (not the tuna salad one), and Dr. Galle.  Okay, I know most of the students at Emory are scientifically-minded and were taking the course to knock out a graduation requirement, but come on.  These kids are supposed to have SAT scores that are higher than Amy Winehouse.  Need I remind you that two of the three components of the SAT are verbal and writing?  They should at least be able to bullshit their way through a class discussion of Huckleberry Finn.

Honestly, I think the other students were afraid of getting the wrong answer.  This makes me feel a little sorry for them.

In order to get into top universities, you have to have spent your entire childhood being groomed for it.  There are rules you have to follow, which over time become so deeply ingrained that they become part of your character.  You learn to always know the right answer, always make 100%, always do everything correctly.  But English isn’t like that:  there are no right answers, and the best work tends to result from breaking the rules.  That’s scary.

*

I think the real problem is that I can’t handle highly competitive people.  They never seem to have any emotional depth, and even when they do, they seem to be doing their utmost to conceal or destroy it.  They are so consumed with displaying the various ways in which they have “won” at life.  At some level, they seem to realize that it’s hard to display winning at being a good person, and that accordingly falls by the wayside in favor of other goals.

You’d think it would have taken me fewer than thirteen years, forty thousand dollars, and countless thousands of miles to realize that I don’t want to be a Smart Person after all.  I don’t like them, and I don’t like what I become when I think of myself as one of them.  And I don’t think they like me, either.

I’ve decided I don’t believe in dignity, or status diplomas, or Smart People.  All I really believe in is being happy, and for whatever crazy reasons, Country Club University makes me happy.

Well, Punky helps with that too.

Written by Estie

March 13, 2010 at 5:59 am

Picaresque pt. 4

with one comment

It’s Spring break! Woohoo!  Punky hit the ‘nip at eight o’clock Saturday morning, and she’s been raging ever since.

If you didn’t guess, I am at the fabulous party destination of My House, where things are gettin’ all wild and crazy because my dad just got home!

He keeps falling asleep sitting up because South Carolina is eight hours behind Bagram time.  At first he was in an armchair, so it was no big deal.  But the last four times it’s happened he’s been in my brother’s desk chair.  This introduces slightly more danger to the situation, as the chair has no arms and is near a treadmill with many corners and metal parts.  If I were in Dad’s position I’d just go to bed for the next sixteen hours, but apparently such behavior is a sign of weakness.  Now that I think about it, I used to get jet lag when I traveled between South Carolina and Mississippi.  And as you know, I am a total pansy, so maybe the two are connected.

I finally did convince him to go to bed.  I pointed out that it would suck to spend his time at home suffering from a concussion instead of doing fun things like going hiking and letting Mom drag him off to IKEA to look at sinks.  I think what really convinced him, though, was the memory of the last time he ended up incapacitated on the floor in the company of his immediate family. This memory does not give the impression that we are good company during a medical crisis.

He and my brother, who was three at the time, had engaged in a duel with a pair of toy lightsabers in the hotel room at Disneyland.  I will not describe precisely what occurred next, but I will remind my readers that three-year-old children’s prime striking zone is exactly at crotch level.  As my dad rolled on the floor, in too much pain to speak, my brother and I sat on him, bouncing up and down and demanding that he stop playing dead so that we could perhaps hit him again.  Our mother would have restrained us, but she was laughing too hard to get out of her chair.

Okay, so that was thirteen years ago.  But I hear tell that the mere memory of such pain can override all rational thought.  Besides, we probably would still laugh at him, once we’d ascertained he still had a pulse.  And Punky would most likely sit on him.

I took a nasty fall down the stairs last summer.

No matter how amusing I find the cruelty that runs rampant at my house, as the title of the post indicates, I am now obligated to continue my tale.  So!  Oxford of Emory.

I spent the first month or so in a state of supreme self-satisfaction.  Every room in the dorms had that stupid torch logo on the number placard, which served as a constant reminder that I was now certified as one of the Smart People.  The only thing keeping me from becoming unbearably smug was the knowledge that I still wasn’t at “real” Emory, and probably couldn’t have gotten in if I’d tried.  I was only a second-rate smartypants.

This distinction stemmed more from my own flaming insecurity than from any actual persecution.  Oxford isn’t really Emory’s red-headed stepchild.  Some of the Oxford kids get into the downtown campus as well, but elect to go to Oxford for a small college experience first, as sort of a best-of-both-worlds kind of thing.  The students at the downtown campus are aware of this, so they keep their shunning of Oxford residents to a minimum (though they don’t abstain from it completely).

However, as time dragged on, my sense of smell overpowered my sense of satisfaction.  My roommate suffered from a laundry list of psychological ailments, including agoraphobia.  She tended to avoid going to the cafeteria, as it was large and full of people and made her twitchy.  I am a Zoloft-taker myself, so I can understand the need to avoid psychologically stressful situations.  I did not mind her eating most of her meals in our room.

But dear lord, did she have to eat tuna salad at EVERY MEAL?  And was she frightened of showers too, or did she just have poor hygiene?  I bought a plug-in air freshener, but it didn’t change the fact that our dorm and everything in it smelled like the seat cushion of my great-grandmother’s wheelchair.  It clung to my clothing, and lurked in the depths of my purse like a stubborn miasma.  It was truly foul.

I spent two weeks consulting with various campus professionals about the best way to address the problem of body odor in a person who has been hospitalized twice for psychiatric treatment.  I became plagued by dreams of her chasing me, in a murderous rage, wielding a samurai sword.  Ultimately, because I am a pansy, I decided to just change rooms.  I told her that the reason I was moving was to take advantage of the opportunity to live in the new dorms.  This was partially true.  Just not totally.

After that little hiccup, things should have gone more smoothly.  Instead, I began to sleep through my classes.  It’s usually a struggle for me to get out of bed—it’s a shame there are no careers in sleeping, because I am a champion sleeper—but once I do get up, I’m usually glad I did.  Not so at Oxford.

At first I thought it was my usual difficulty with new places and people, though that usually subsides after the first three weeks or so.  I became more involved in extracurricular activities, trying to find something that would make my days feel worthwhile.  Nada.

Next, I wondered whether I was suffering from a new bout of depression, perhaps as a sort of karmic retribution for the shitty way I’d treated my former roommate.  She seemed to know I had ulterior motives for changing rooms, judging by the dirty looks she shot me every time I saw her. That, or she had Katrina de Voort syndrome.

I knew the steps for declaring insanity, having followed them my junior year of high school, when I was prescribed the Zoloft I mentioned earlier.  I made an appointment to talk with a counselor in the student health center, but their schedule was so packed with regulars I had to wait two weeks for an opening.  This was frustrating.  However, it gave me time to consider whether I was actually going crazy again.

I came to the shocking conclusion that I was not.  I just really, really hated Emory.

Spoiler for next time:  smart people can be shallow, too!

Written by Estie

March 9, 2010 at 5:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized