Intermittent Signals

Elizabeth pulled her hat lower on her head to cover her ears and pressed her gloved hands against her cheeks, but she was no match for the snowstorm outside–her teeth wouldn’t stop chattering and she knew without looking that her face was a much brighter shade of red than usual. Walking as quickly as she could against the wind without slipping on the thin layer of ice covering the streets, she breathed a sigh of relief as the door of her dorm building became visible.

Her backpack hit the floor as soon as she reached her room and her shoes, scarf, and hat were quick to foll0w. She collapsed into bed in a matter of seconds, and curled up in a thick, patterned blanket as she slowly regained warmth in her fingers and toes. It was nice to lay there in silence–her roommate was gone for the weekend visiting family, and she had forgotten how comforting it was to hear only the sound of her own breath in the room after a long day.

She was only able to enjoy the calmness of her surroundings for a moment– her thoughts remained chaotic and noisy. Now the light, pounding sensation in her head that had gone barely noticed all day was fully felt. The heaviness of her eyelids became more apparent. And it only took one attempt to finger through her hair to discover that it was a tangled, disheveled mess. She hadn’t felt this tired in weeks.

After remaining motionless for a few moments, Elizabeth pulled her phone out of the pocket of her jeans and glanced at the screen only to see the two missed calls from her mom that had remained unreturned all week. She knew she should have called her back ages ago–but her own life on campus had been so chaotic and tumultuous that she simply didn’t have time to deal with whatever storm was brewing at home.

It was selfish of her, even presumptuous; Elizabeth had no concrete proof that she wasn’t being told about something. But even without paying close attention, it was clear to her that something was amiss at home. Her mom’s voice on the phone sounded perpetually preoccupied, and she called frequently even though she usually had nothing to say. Her dad–who never calls to get anything but a quick update on how her classes are–had left her a voicemail asking if her mom had mentioned anything important recently. Her home was thousands of miles away, but she felt whatever tension that was looming there as physically present.

She knew she would have to face it sooner or later, but for now it was easier to be selfish–to avoid calls that lasted longer than a couple of minutes until she felt ready to deal with what was to come. Her solution was temporary, but it would have to do for now.


Unsung Heroes of Representation: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

In honor of the weekend, and in memory of all the hours spent watching TV last weekend, I’ve decided that the time is ripe to begin a new segment: Unsung Heroes of Representation.

What an icon, honestly.

You might ask: Oh golly, who are these Unsung Heroes? Well, hold onto your seats, because they are a blast. Unsung Heroes of Representation has been devised to draw attention to TV shows and other media that represent marginalized identities in positive, realistic ways. Personally, I’m very tired of watching programs that rely upon stereotypes to characterize the few (if any) female, PoC, and/or queer characters – and I’m sure many of you agree.

 

Thank you, Amy.

Thank you, Amy.

That being said, what better way to kick this off than with the show I recently (shoutout to the long weekend) got all of my friends to start watching: Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Tell me that isn't a lit opening.

Tell me that isn’t a lit opening.

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Durk’s on Thayer

The addition of BBQ to College Hill’s menu is the latest change to hit Thayer over winter break. Durk’s Bar-B-Q is now located at 275 Thayer, where Shark Sushi Bar used to be. Since I love food, I was eager to try out the new kid on the block.

IMG_3471
Instead of a big shark on Thayer, now there are two big pigs.

 

I went here on Friday night for dinner with my friend. I immediately noticed Durk’s casual feel thanks to the set-up and comfort food.  It’s a great place to bring someone on a first date or when your parents are in town due to the fancier ambiance, craft cocktails, and price. A hostess seats you and gives you a menu and pencil to fill out your order card. After you fill it out, you bring it to the open-front-kitchen and wait for them to prepare your table’s food. The server only deals with your drink order and the bill. A lot of customers seemed to be confused about this process and the tipping procedure.

Now, you know how to go about ordering at Durk’s and now I can tell you to not be a shitty person, so tip 20%.

IMG_3449

I ordered the brisket sandwich with coleslaw and cornbread. The sandwich was very good – the bun is fresh and the brisket melts in your mouth, though I wish the portion of brisket was more generous, considering it’s BBQ. Pro tip: Top it with Durk’s sauce to get some heat and sweetness in every bite. The coleslaw was well-seasoned and very sweet, and it complemented the sandwich well. The cornbread was delicious (I mean, who doesn’t love cornbread?). It wasn’t in a loaf, or a slice, or in a muffin form.  Rather, it was in the shape of a mini tart, so every bite included the crust, which was warm and topped with a dime of honey butter. Unfortunately, you only get a small piece for $3 and I could have eaten about ten of them.  My friend ate her food so quickly that I couldn’t try a bite of her ribs or mac and cheese.

 

We could have eaten so much more

 

I wish I were old enough to enjoy some of their craft cocktails. I know my dad would love the place just for having a Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned on the menu. Next time my parents are in town, I’m sure they will want to check it out.

I recommend that you try Durk’s take-out. I think that the process of ordering, price, and portions would make for a great dinner that’s a little nicer than normal (think something between Nice Slice and Andreas). Stopping by Durk’s just for cornbread may be my new thing.

 


Happy Birthday To Love

Valentine’s Day is my birthday. Some people think that’s sweet. This is especially true of older people, who derive great pleasure from making comments about how I am my parents’ Valentine, or some nonsense about how that means my boyfriend has fewer dates to remember (wow, so sorry one more date would’ve been such a tremendous burden) – but I think it’s pretty dumb.

 

 

Having your birthday coincide with a major holiday is inherently a little frustrating, after all.

 

As a kid (and also now, who am I kidding), I couldn’t help but feel put-out when Valentine’s arrived and everyone around me was more preoccupied with romance than my actual birthday. And ok, maybe that sounds a little self-centered, but I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with needing affirmation from the people around you during the yearly celebration of your existence. Not that I would ever want or expect people not to celebrate Valentine’s Day just because it’s my birthday, obviously; I just mean that, as far as birthdays go, mine is a pretty easy birthday for people to forget.

 

 

Over time, my birthday became more annoying than anything, something to endure and something for which I have learned not to raise my hopes.

 

It has also furnished my room with many stuffed animals (so. many. stuffed. animals.) over the course of the years. Chocolates, flowers, and stuffed animals were hugely dominant among my presents – to the point that I actually had to sit my dad down and tell him I had gotten too old for anymore of those furry little bastards.

 

Sorry, bros. Our time together is over.

 

Fuzzy animals aside, Valentine’s Day offered a yearly reminder that I was single. Obviously, that didn’t matter very much when I was younger, but as I got older I couldn’t help but feel glum that I didn’t have a partner with whom to celebrate the occasion. When you think about it, it’s practically impossible to escape Valentine’s Day. I mean, it’s a monstrosity of an institution.

 

This time of year, commercials are flooded with images of flowers, jewelry, etc. with accompanying voiceovers by posh British women (to make the rings seem more refined? Unclear, but I swear this is a trend). Your favorite TV shows all have a Valentine’s Day special, which either revolves around the struggles of being single or the emergence of tensions between your favorite TV couples. The latter plot is usually written for the sole purpose of letting them make-up at the end of the episode, when they realize the True Meaning of Valentine’s Day (hint: it’s consumerism).

 

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

 

I know many people love Valentine’s Day independently of Hallmark’s machinations, but let’s not deny the role of companies in sustaining this holiday. It’s not a coincidence that we all have a standardized list of Valentine’s gifts in our minds. And Valentine’s Day isn’t even a holiday reserved for adults! From pre-school onwards, it has infiltrated the hearts and minds of all. Who doesn’t remember handing out cards and candy to everyone in their class?

 

 

It’s not like it ended when we were little, either: even in college, we’re still doling out candy-grams and other treats like no one’s business. Not that I’m complaining about any of these things, because who doesn’t support eating a ton and displays of affection, but you have to admit that Valentine’s Day is largely geared towards getting people to buy, buy, buy.

 

 

Let’s not let capitalism ruin this for us, though. There are certainly ways to spend the holiday without emptying your wallet and, regardless, I think that a day devoted to being extra sweet to your partner is lovely. Yeah, I know that sounds gooey – but what can I say, my birthday has grown on me.

 

Certainly, Valentine’s Day can be obnoxious, and sometimes disheartening, but it can also be tremendously fun. Who doesn’t love an excuse to eat really good food, indulge yourself with extra desserts (so I really want an excuse to eat a pint of ice cream, sue me), and let your romantic side take the reins? Take it from me, a true child of Saint Valentine.

 

Do not be fooled: the fun is not reserved exclusively for couples. If Valentine’s Day is about recognizing the people you love, why not bestow your affections upon your friends and loved ones? After all, nothing about being single prohibits you from taking part, and the holiday has a lot to offer: themed parties, desserts on deserts on desserts, discounted candy the day after, and the perfect excuse to treat yo self.

 

So go out there and show Hallmark who really owns Valentine’s Day, Brunonia.

 

You heard Ms. Meagle.

 


The Truth of Substance Free Life

In that first semester, I forced myself to go to parties, because, for once in my college career, I wanted to appear to be normal.

So I sit there as everyone gets trashed, rocking back and forth in a chair, chain smoking and chugging my Redbull, nervously staring at the alcohol around me. Eventually, someone will come up to me and ask “Hey, why aren’t you drinking?” or “You alright?” And what do I say to them?

No, actually, I have spent years destroying my life with all this shit and have just started to get my act together. I’m forcing myself to be here to appear normal for one second, but no, actually, besides all that lovely stuff, I’m just dandy.

No, instead of that, I opt for the Oh. I’m sick. Can’t drink. or Yeah I’m fine. It’s totally normal to be the grouchy old man in a freshman dorm party with kids drunkenly dancing to crappy Calvin Harris remixes, right? I stopped doing that after the first month and the fourth time I helped someone walk back to their dorm room/throw up in a sink. At parties, there is the hope of meaningful interaction, where I might meet some like-minded, intelligent peers, but that goes right out the window as soon as the bottles come out. So I’m left there alone as everyone drunkenly parades around me as I contemplate my life choices and whether or not I should pick up one of the dozen of drinks in front of me. Why did I put myself in that position?

Being a substance free student can suck. I walk around campus knowing that at least three times in any conversation I have with other students drinking, smoking or parties will come up. I just have to shrug it off and pretend I don’t partake, so the other kids don’t get freaked out. Smelling pot all over campus doesn’t help, walking around unable to escape other students indulging. Furthermore, for a school that claims it’s so inclusive, understanding and willing to help, there are only a handful of people who have asked me if I’m substance free or not before going on a 10-minute rant about how “totally wasted” they got last weekend. For the most part, I can only really hang out with the other substance-free friends I made during orientation because a lot of substance-free kids tend to isolate themselves. I know, I’m one of them. Sure, there is the casual conversation in the kitchen/lounge, but it never goes anywhere outside of what classes they are taking. Even when pushed with more insightful questions, asking about who they are as members of society, they stare as though I’ve just killed a cat in front of them.

The dorm life isn’t much better. Walking on the third floor of New Pembroke 3, the worst smelling dorm on campus is much like walking around in a ghost town minus the occasional interaction when I’m on the can, and someone tries to barge in. Then there is also the problem of the people living in the sober dorm not actually being sober. The fact is, I know at least once a week my hall is going to stink of low-quality weed and that on most Saturday nights I’ll see crushed up Pabst Blue Ribbon cans outside the front door.

Then when I’ve finally had too much of it and blurt out that I am substance free, I will get one of two reactions. The first being complete shock and awe, which is instantly followed by the kid I am talking to questioning their life, how much they drink and if they are nearly as screwed up as I am. It’s silent for a few moments, and then they say they have class or something so they can essentially run away and don’t have to be confronted with my plight. The second is complete respect and understanding, which can even come with a hug or pat on the shoulder. That is a rare one though, so generally expect the first. I don’t want to scare other students, I don’t want to be some freak to them, but I can’t change how they react, so I hide within myself.

I’m not trying to put down all the kids who do partake, but I’m frustrated. I’m tired of spending all of my weekend nights in movie theaters instead of having actual meaningful conversations and getting to know people, which is impossible at a party where everyone is gone. As a sub-free student, I feel severely limited in how I can lead my life. I spend most of the time I have avoiding situations rather than joining in with them.  

   There are upsides to being substance-free, though. Walking into school, there is a built in community of people around you who inherently don’t want to escape, who want to experience life without a tinted lens. Sure, I really had to search outside my dorm to find other sub-free students, but all of those relationships have paid off in the end. Those are the genuine people I surround myself every day and having them in my life is worth all the bullshit I go through on a daily basis because I choose not to drink.

 


Superbowl Sunday

Superbowl Sunday is always an eventful occassion, and last Sunday was no exception. As everyone here in the Northeast knows well, Tom Brady led the Patriots to the greatest comeback in football history, cementing his status as the greatest quarterback of all time (as a Jets fan it’s hard to swallow writing these words).

But even aside from the game, Superbowl Sunday is bustling with activity. There are parties to attend and foods to consume. I attended my first college Superbowl party past Sunday. Here’s what I found.

  1. Ordering is really, really complicated.

Getting a pizza for myself is hard enough. But pizza and wings for a group of 50? Impossible. We spent over an hour before the game trying to coordinate and settle on the amount and types of food. Then the entirety of the first quarter too. The group order never occurred. Instead, I had to scramble with a couple of friends to make a quick order of wings and hope we could get them before the second half. As one would expect, however, it isn’t so easy to order wings during the second quarter of the Super Bowl. The first two places we called had stopped taking any more orders. The next place’s phone lines were down.

We finally found a restaurant. The wings arrived during the third quarter. Any idea of pizza had long been discarded.

  1. Forget about being able to hear anything.

Want to hear the roar of the crowd? Or a funny-looking commercial? Forget about it. When everyone is packed into a room, talking amongst themselves in loud, feverish tones, it’s just about impossible to hear. And every play is followed by some combination of clapping and groaning , so there’s a nice ten second post-play buffer of solid, unharmonious sound. While in some ways the lack of television sound can be nice (no monotone Joe Buck or creepy Mr. Clean voice), simply put, expect to miss a lot of the game’s verbal experience at a party.

And people can shriek a lot louder than one would think. At ear-splitting levels. Especially in the fourth quarter and overtime of the Super Bowl.

 

Noises!!!

Noises!!!

  1. There will be bandwagoners.

For those who do not follow the NFL, it’s common to waver between the two teams playing. To use a more recent example, there were more than a few in attendance at the party who began to root for the Patriots during their comeback, after mocking the Pats when they fell behind Atlanta 28-3. They then acted like they had rooted for New England the entire time and used it as an excuse to party and talk smack. Not that I’m salty or anything. But someone who can’t name three defensive players on the Patriots or even anyone else besides Tom Brady really doesn’t have the right to act superior to fans of other teams —especially suffering fans of the New York Jets, who are stuck with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith as their quarterbacks and have faced so much anguish over the past decade at the hands of Belichick and Brady. Again, not that I’m salty.

  1. People do homework during the game

I have to admit that this one surprised me. Yes, I know Brown is full of hardworking students, but I never realized to what a great extent. I could never imagine doing work during such a big game, and that’s probably why those kids doing their engineering homework will make a lot more money than me, though to be honest, I’m still not sure how well that homework was done. Once again, there was a whole lot of yelling and clapping, and it can’t be easy to write by the light from a projector screen.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

  1. It was pretty damn fun.

Watching such a big game with everyone reacting around each other was awesome, even though my stomach still churns every time I go on ESPN. It was pretty to cool to watch Patriots fans lose all sense of hope and pride, sinking into their seats demoralized, before going completely nuts by the end of the game. The stories, people and sense of community are what make sports great. I’ll definitely be going to another party next year (unless, knock on wood, the Jets somehow make it, in which case I’ll be watching alone in my room in the dark).