Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Notes from the Margins...Part 1?

First, props to Lydia over at My Post-Argentine Life for partially inspiring this post with her grandiose margin doodles she shared with me in the Thomas Cooper library yesterday.

Second, I'm supposed to be devoting this entire afternoon to starting my 20 page term paper on David Copperfield. Oopsies. Fail. Instead, I've spent the last half hour flipping through the pages of my notebooks from this semester.

I have kinda sorta been scanning the pages for material upon which to create a bangin' David Copperfield thesis, but mostly I've just been amusing myself by taking pictures of the ridiculous notes I've found in the margins from various lectures of the semester since January.

Here are some of my favorites. I don't have an explanation for a lot of these, because I can't remember what prompted me to draw or write them in the first place on whatever random day of notes I found them. But don't worry, I'll just make shit up.

I think this little guy was supposed to be Yoda, but he ended up turning into more of a Gremlin.

Yeah, definitely more of a Gremlin.

My History of the English Language professor is obsessed with Tolkien. And Star Wars. and the Bible. This is a little tally I kept one day of how often he mentioned these various things. "Bible-I, LOTR-IIII, SW-I"

Looks like I'm often "paying attention" in this class. Another tally of my professor's nerdy (awesome?) references to pop culture or Jesus. "LOTR-I, Monty Python-I, Bible-I"

As showcased in my TPYMIGS posts, many of my classmates are obnoxious. And apparently, "front row girl is an idiot."

We were talking about acronyms. Or something. At any rate, hooray SCI-FI!!

I know this is tiny and almost impossible to read, but it appears to be a grocery list of sorts. My crucial grocery concerns on March 2 included "Mich Ultra, milk, merlot," in no particular order?

This must have been during the winter Olympics. I was loving me some Canada. And some maple leafs.

My Shakespeare's Tragedies professor said the character name "Goneril" approximately 600 times that day, and all I could think of was "gonorrhea." Your mind would have been in the gutter too.

"He's drinking FRESCAAA." I'm obsessed with my Shakespeare professor. It seems my love for him only grew when I discovered his affinity for Fresca.

"Last Action Hero = Hamlet" Who knew?

And finally, some extremely intellectual, academic advice...

"make shit up."

Straight from the mouth of my Victorian Lit professor. And I think I'll take her up on that. Life's more entertaining that way.

PS: Lydia, if you're reading, I would LOVE to see a post of this nature from the pages of your notebooks. I feel positive that hilarity would ensue.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The People You Meet in Grad School: Part 4

I haven't posted anything about school in a while, and, given the title of my blog, I felt like it was high-time. Plus, I just got finished self-exterminating my entire townhouse with a smorgasbord of roach insecticide products, so I'm in a stellar mood.

So, here is TPYMIGS Part 4....

4. The Blip

Just as some characters in TPYMIGS lineup are notable because of how obnoxious or conspicuous they are, others are equally as notable for their obscurity in grad school classes.

The Blip is a hard individual to characterize, for the sole fact that they somehow effortlessly fly under the radar of you and all of your other classmates. This is a person that you all know for a fact participated in the whole go-around-the-room-and-say-your-name-and-program-and-where-you're-from thing on the first day, but beyond that, you can hardly remember what this person looks like, much less their name or program.

The Blip never participates, always sits in the corner, doesn't attempt to befriend classmates, doesn't have any existing friendships with classmates from past semesters, perhaps, and you generally just tend to forget the guy/girl is more than a figment of your imagination or a fuzzy shape in your peripheral vision.

The Blip also seems to skip class altogether on a very frequent basis. How they do this and still pass a graduate level course, no one knows. On the numerous days when The Blip is absent and someone actually happens to notice, questions/comments such as these are spawned:

Does anyone know that guy/girl's name?

What guy/girl?

You know, the one with the [insert very generic physical characteristic here].

Oh, I forgot they were even in this class.

Are they taking it for audit?

Have you guys ever heard him/her speak?

Yeah, I swear they were in class last time. They sat right over there (points to some chair in the classroom.)

Um no, that was So-and-So, the IOU. Couldn't miss him.

Does anyone have any other classes with him/her?

Does that person even exist?

By the end of the semester, The Blip has usually stopped appearing in class altogether, and it's obvious they have dropped the course or said a big "F you" to grad school or died or something.

Sometimes, when you're an ubercreep like I am, you get so intrigued by The Blip that you even go on Blackboard, check your class roster, and figure out their first and last name so that you can try to stalk them on Facebook. But alas, even that doesn't work. The Blip is nowhere to be found, even on the privacy permeating, all-knowing social networking site we all hate to love.

Yes, by semester's end, The Blip has eluded identification by even the creepiest of his/her classmates, and the rest of us run-of-the-mill grad students will just have to wait it out until next semester when the next Blip comes along. Maybe then, we can all pull our heads out of our asses and extend friendship to this Lord of Anonymity.

Ah, who am I kidding. None of us will notice he's there.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Koozie Roach

Okay whatever. It's becoming apparent that I tend to blog about gross shit like toilets and roaches. But I can't not write about the horrific scene that unfolded in my bedroom earlier today.

I was tidying up my bedroom. Putting dirty clothes in the hamper, throwing away obsolete pages of notes and school handouts, taking out my trash, etc.

Then I came across a little mess of papers and miscellaneous crap that had accumulated under my computer desk. I gathered the papers up, no problem. I reached for a random collapsable koozie that was chilling under there with the papers, and to my complete and utter horror....

A huge, disgusting ROACH flies out of the koozie, making contact with my hand (VOMIT) before crawling all over my carpet at warp speed.

Excuse my French, family members, but WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Since when did koozies become hideouts of choice for flying outdoor roach invaders? And what did I do to piss off the Invertebrate Gods so badly to deserve these constant encounters?

I ran, screaming, from my room to the hall bathroom, where my roommate and I keep our industrial strength roach poison (seriously). When I returned to my bedroom door, I had lost the effing roach. Those little bastards are FAST.

I started crying the tears of hysteria I knew would inevitably come, because apparently I'm 5 years old. I just stood out in my hallway with the poison squirter in my pathetic (and now contaminated) hand, staring into my bedroom. I was willing Koozie Roach to show himself, because the only thing worse than a huge roach violating your bedroom, is a huge LOST ROACH violating your bedroom, doing God knows what once you go to sleep and spreading its asthma allergens all up in your junk.

I kept vigilante-style watch on my bedroom from the hallway for at least a solid 30 minutes, and then, like a shining beacon of hope, my roommate came home on her lunch break.

As soon as she opened the door downstairs, I yelled down in an urgent voice that I had an emergency upstairs in my bedroom, and, bless her heart, she didn't even get mad at me when that "emergency" turned out to be Koozie Roach.

She marched right into my bedroom, found Koozie Roach, and chased him around my carpet with a shoe until she finally got him with a fatal blow, right before he would have escaped to under-the-bed-roach-haven.

Koozie Roach is still chillin where he met his end, too, because even after she smashed him, I went to TOWN on his carcass with poison, and I didn't want to touch him (at all), but especially not when he was drenched in Bayer Advanced Home Pest Killer.

Meet Koozie Roach. I hope he likes Glamour, because that's the final resting place for a few of his appendages.

And I guess I have the little succubus to thank for a newfound irrational paranoia of koozies and little piles of clutter around my room.

Roaches can go to hell.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Brown Bathroom of Doom

Some of you may remember my post about roaches from a while back.

The infamous incident discussed at the end of that post occurred in the downstairs bathroom of the townhouse I live in.

That little event happened in November. NOVEMBER. Like, as in 5 months ago November. I have JUST recently gathered up the courage to start using that bathroom again. Every single time I'm in it, I'm a paranoid freak. I get a sort of "roach claustrophobia."

And here is why.

This horrible little bathroom leaves so many questions begging for answers.

Why is the toilet brown, of all colors? Why are the walls blood red? Why is it approximately 2 square feet big? Why is the floor carpeted? Why does it look so much like a little toilet cave? Why is the toilet BROWN?! Oh wait, I already asked that.

Seeing as how we are not the original tenants, and will probably never get definitive answers to these questions because we do not know who originally built/owned the place, my roommate and I like to make up our own theories.

Maybe this person was really self conscious about skidmarks? Maybe this person was agoraphobic and this bathroom was their own personal form of free therapy? Maybe this person had pee-fright unless their feet were met with the cushiony softness of carpet as opposed to tile? Maybe at some point in time this horrific color scheme was actually popular? Maybe this person was a serial killer who got too many blood spatters on the walls and thus gave up and painted them this shade of red?

Our theories for this eyesore of our downstairs are plentiful, and they get more interesting the longer we live here.

Until the time comes when we move out, we will probably continue to explain away or offer excuses to any of our townhouse guests for this abomination, which I sometimes affectionately refer to as the Brown Bathroom of Doom.

Of course, my contempt for the brown toilet is obviously heightened by the harrowing experience I had in it with the roach. But its ghastly physical appearance doesn't help either.

It is, at the very least, a conversation starter. I welcome any third party Brown Bathroom theories you may have. :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What's in a Name?

A few months back, my sister and I were having what I think was a very interesting conversation. It was about last names.

Call us egotistical, but we are big, huge fans of our last name.

It's "Townes." In case you didn't know.

Our partiality aside, a lot of first names just sound nice and solid with Townes. We figured this out after our brothers (er, sisters-in-law) started popping out babies, and naming processes ensued.

In the meantime, we realized we are hardcore "last name judgers." Sometimes we don't even mean to do it; it just happens. At the time of this conversation, we both had boyfriends. After deliberating and pairing our first names with their last names, we concluded that both of their last names passed our test. Lucky them. J/K.

What the hell is wrong with us? Are we that shallow that we would really alter our opinion of a potential romantic interest based solely on their last name?

Well, no, of course not. But it would absolutely cross our minds. And I daresay we can NOT be the only females to have done this at some point.

I think deep down, every girl has a little bit of their 6th grade self lodged inside of them somewhere between their rationality and reason.

I meet a boy. I think he is cute. He doesn't annoy the shit out of me. I imagine how my name would sound with said boy's last name. That's a logical progression of events, right?....RIGHT?? I keep this to myself, of course, so as not to come off as a raving, obsessive lunatic who's contemplating marriage upon introduction, but essentially it is the grown-up version of doodling your name + his name inside of a heart on the pages of your wide-ruled 6th grade composition notebook.

I think I have pinpointed 2 reasons for my own ridiculous high-horse view on last names.

The first is because I like mine, and I know I am going to have to give it up upon marriage. And I'm doing it the old-fashioned way. None of that namby-pamby, feminist hyphenated bullshit. I'm ditching it altogether. So I don't want to go from one that I've loved for 20 some-odd years to one that sucks.

Secondly, my chosen career path is that of teaching. For the rest of my life, I will be known as Mrs._________ to class after class after class of obnoxious, brutal high schoolers.

Call me shallow all you want, but I am terrified of meeting my soulmate somewhere down the line, him being the owner of the worst last name in history, and me having to be addressed as Mrs. Crotch or Mrs. Dykehouser or Mrs. Weiner for the rest of forever.

If I eventually fall madly in love with one of the Gaylord Fockers of the world, obviously my phobia of awful last names will be laid to rest, and I won't let it interfere with an actual relationship.

Especially because I DO realize it's not anyone's fault or in anyone's control what their last name is. They've been stuck with it all their lives, bless their hearts.

I could say that my fears aren't out of selfish reasons, and that I'm just looking out for my future hypothetical children, that they may enjoy blissful, ridicule-free grade school days like I got to enjoy but that little Sally Bigglesticks did not.

But I'd be lying. I'm just a big fat superficial last name snob.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Making FedEx Friends

Some of you may know that I recently went to England for a week. Suz, being the crazy fretter that she is, ordered me a temporary global phone to take over there with me so that she could still get a hold of me at all times. Gotta love moms.

So, a week before my departure for England, I was waiting around one day for FedEx to deliver the phone package. Shockingly, FedEx was NOT right on schedule with their "by noon" delivery promise.

No big deal, I thought. I don't have class until 3:30, I can continue my waiting game.

One o'clock came and went. As the clock creeped closer to 2, I still wasn't really that worried/bothered, but Suz was, of course.

Then it approached the 2:30 mark. I really needed to get ready for my class, which included getting in the shower, where I would surely not hear the FedEx delivery guy knock on the door, and the temporary-global-phone-delivery-fail-Apocalypse would obviously ensue.

Not taking a shower wasn't really a possibility, seeing as how I'm a disgusting college student and probably hadn't showered since at least a day and a half prior to that (and I dont want to become one of those PYMIGS that I so vehemently rant about in other posts).

In my opinion, the next course of action for my little dilemma was an obvious one. I would charm the package right out of the FedEx guy's hands and onto my porch, where he would leave it and be on his way even though it required a signature from me.

How would I accomplish this, you ask?

I left this note taped on my front door for the delivery guy to find:

"FedEx man (woman?),

Could you please leave the package even if I don't answer the door? I had to shower/go to class :( -- Possibly try to hide it under our mats maybe? If I could tip you, I would! :) Thanks!

-Shannon Townes"

I hoped for the best, and got in the shower. When I got out, I went downstairs to check on the status of the note/possibly package.

The note was gone, and I will be darned if that FedEx delivery person didn't go to the greatest lengths he could to make sure that package was hidden.

Yes, it's a teeny bit on the conspicuous side, but he definitely tried. And I'd like to think it was because of my jolly note.

I'm not sure what became of the note, or why he felt the need to take it with him, but hopefully some FedEx workers got a little tiny bit of amusement that day because of one customer who was particularly determined that their package be left, signature or not.

At the very least, I definitely amused myself.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Memories by Steph

When I think back to my childhood, I like to remember myself as a generally cute-looking kid. Sure, I had a ginormous gap between my two front teeth for a while there and went through a phase where I thought Umbro shorts were the trendiest fashion statement, but I wasn't an awful looking kid.

For obvious reasons, I could be harboring some slight bias on the subject, so I thought I'd provide some photographic evidence and let you be your own judge.

Suz was really into oversized bows. I was really into squinting my eyes in pictures because I thought it made me look "happier." Obviously not the case. I look like I'm in physical pain.

Here is one that swimmingly showcases my front-teeth gap. A boy made me cry once in the 2nd grade when he chided me with "Hey, where'd you get your teeth? The Gap?" In retrospect, that was actually a pretty clever little 2nd grade insult. Touche, 2nd grade asshole classmate.

I should get to the point though. Last week, an old family friend sent a letter to my parent's house that had an update on their lives, a recent photo of them---things of that nature.

Also contained in that envelope was an old piece of scrap looking paper. On that piece of paper was a portrait my then-3 year old sister, Stephanie, had drawn of me at age 7. The portrait was captioned with "Memories drawn by Steph at age 3."

Now, regardless of what your opinion of my childhood appearance is based on the pictures above, I should hope to god I didn't resemble the monstrosity Stephanie had created on this paper.....

In the eyes of my 3 year old sister, this is what I looked like circa age 7. And just in case there was any room for debate, it would be negated by the fact that she made sure to write "Shannon" above the grotesque illustration with multiple arrows pointing downward to clear up any confusion.

Please note the one enormous, googly eye, the 4 strands of "hair," the apparent snot rocket oozing down the face, the bald spot, and whatever the hell those marks are that are presumably supposed to constitute a mouth.

So thank you, Steph, for this illustrated monument to my 7 year old self. Apparently I was Frankenstein.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The People You Meet in Grad School: Part 3

Well hello there Blogosphere (and those wandering over from Facebook)!

You may have noticed I took a short hiatus there for about a week and a half. I was, however, in England on Spring Break. So, sue me for not carving out sufficient time to write a blog while I was there.

I've been back to the academic grind for three days now, which I assure you is plenty of time to rediscover my fascinations/annoyances/ruminations/grievances of my fellow students. I actually thought of so many more categories for this serial-blog that it was hard to settle on one. But for now, I give you....

3. The Interjecting One Upper

Ahhh, one uppers. Aren't they great? (This is of course rhetorical. If you can actually answer any form of the word "yes" to this question, you should probably stop reading my blog.)

No. One uppers are some of the more infuriating people walking this good green earth. In graduate classes, these attention starved wannabe intellectuals take it to the extreme. The worst part is that it's impossible to spot these individuals by appearances alone. They could be anyone from the middle-aged guy whose wardrobe hasn't evolved out of the 1970s to the chick with hippie braids fresh out of an all-women's liberal arts school "up north."

You can't be sure who might be an Interjecting One Upper (IOU) at the beginning of the semester, but it becomes screamingly evident within a couple of class periods. If you're lucky, you find out via another classmate who is the IOU's first victim. They have a couple of techniques, but it almost always involves an interjection of some sort.

You meekly raise your hand in one of the first class periods because you're still feeling out both your professor and your new classmates and you just want to get your participation points and call it a day. You begin to make some intelligent-sounding (albeit safe and non-controversial) comment about guilt in Othello and then...


The IOU comes side-tackling in with their much more important, much more intelligent, much wittier comment and your pitiful attempt at contributing to the discussion goes down the shitter, flushed with triumphant gusto by the IOU.

They go about their interjections and subsequent "genius" remarks in a few ways.

Sometimes they will phrase it in the form of a question, so as to allocate room for the slight chance that their contradiction is not 100% right. This is simply a social formality. Everyone in the room knows that this person believes anything they say is more correct or original than anything a fellow student might have to say. Something like, "Oh, but ISN'T everything I'm about to say much more accurate and in-depth than what Sparknotes McGee said over there?" Technically it's a question, but really it's a crotch-blow insult to whoever they just cut off.

Another favorite tactic of the IOU's interruptions are "knowing looks" to the professor. About 3 class periods into the semester, the IOU has most likely already alienated most, if not all, of their classmates. So, upon making their pompous interjections, they will then look at the professor. They look in such a way that suggests the two of them are in some academic dimension so far above the rest of us that, even though we are shooting the IOU scathing death glares, it must just be because we can't possibly comprehend the complex point they are making.

Wrong. It's because you are obnoxious and the rest of us have formed a camaraderie based upon our dislike of you.

Let it also be known that the Interjecting One Upper is apparently an expert on any and all subject matter that could possibly be posed in discussion by another classmate. From Classics to the modern novel, the IOU has been there, done that, gotten the (probably liberal) T-shirt, and is most definitely more learned than you on the topic.

To make matters worse, this trait hardly ever comes by its lonesome either. The IOU tends to be a subcategory of at least some other type of grad student. Like say, maybe, the Flaming Liberal.

And since the IOU is so obtrusive and outspoken, all the rest of us can do is revel in that camaraderie with which we are bestowed simply because of the presence of this individual.

--Coming soon will be more TPYMIGS installments, including "The Blip" and "The Professor's Best Friend"--

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Eet's just a tomato"

I've lived in Columbia for almost 5 years now. At this point, I know which restaurants I do or don't like, and what to expect from them, more or less. Some of my favorite haunts include Moe's, Mellow Mushroom, and a little grungy mexican joint called San Jose.

San Jose is your typical "white cheese" Mexican restaurant. Their queso is white as opposed to fancier Mexi places that are say, yellow, with flecks of peppers or something, and trying to be "gourmet." San Jose doesn't play those games. They use meat that can't be higher than Grade D and bring you your food approximately 45 seconds after you've ordered it, just as soon as they get it out of the pre-made fridge and nuke it in the microwave for a little while.

I order the same thing every time I go (small cheese dip and a crunchy beef taco). Usually I don't even touch the menu, partially because of my consistent order and partially because it's always covered in a thin layer of mysterious grime.

So my good friend Laura and I were at San Jose last week. Now, as evidenced by everything I've said about San Jose thus far, I'm not really expecting that much when I go there. Just a nice booth, with a nice fountain Diet Coke, and low-quality Mexican food that requires 30 seconds to "prepare" and 30 minutes in the bathroom when you get home.

The white cheese dip came, no problems. Then our server brought the main meal---the taco.

I was about to crunch into it, when I glanced down and noticed something odd. Upon further investigation, and me poking and prodding at the contents of the taco with my fork, I discovered something slightly horrifying.

The object I extracted from my taco meat was unidentifiable. I'll tell you what I thought it looked like though...


Given one of my previous posts, you might roll your eyes and assume that this is, of course, the conclusion I would jump to. Well, first of all, I had a witness there. I consulted Laura about the UTO (unidentified taco object), and she concurred that it looked very fried roach-like.

I also whipped out my phone and took pictures of it. This UTO was just THAT gross.

Here is said object, in all its desiccated glory. What is it!! I'm not saying im dead-set on the whole "fried roach" theory, but if you can come up with a better explanation, lemme know.

Here's a more zoomed in view of the shrively UTO. Yes, I was fascinated enough to take multiple pics.

Then I got a penny out of my purse and set it on the plate next to the UTO for scale. This was no tiny fried roach.

Eventually I had to stop taking pictures of my food and beckon the waiter back over, because I sure as hell wasn't eating that taco. I politely pointed out my concern over the UTO-fried-roach-thing, and asked if I could please just get a different taco.

Apparently, that was a very complicated request. He sped away from our table, presumably to get me another taco, but instead came back with a manager. So, I showed the manager the UTO and tried to elicit some empathy from him for my not wanting to consume the pruny looking roach carcass on my plate.

Both of their responses?

"Eet's just a tomato."

If that thing in those pictures is a tomato, then god help us all.

Eventually they brought me a new taco, and I'm sure they cursed me to hell in Spanish back in the kitchen for robbing them of their dollar and 50 cents worth of food. Minus the fried roach. They got that back.

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