Hometown Thanksgiving: Turkey with a Side of Discourse

“If Pop-Pop says something racist at Thanksgiving dinner, oh boy, am I going to tell him off!” said Kendall Wilfred, a Brown freshman who, at press time, had said absolutely nothing to Grandpa Joe.

Primed with his newfound knowledge of words like “heteronormative” and “nuanced,” Kendall, in early November, reported that he was confident in his ability to even further alienate his conservative family at their singular, annual gathering. Kendall even expressed a hard-line stance on “problematic” statements, reiterating that not even close friends from his rural, small-town Southern high school would be granted passes.

Correspondents reported, however, that all evidence of Kendall’s previously unshakable moral convictions had mysteriously disappeared once his plane landed in his hometown, which overwhelmingly voted for Trump in the 2018 midterms (write-ins). We’re told that Kendall was witnessed sighing deeply, but not vocalizing, when his old classmates expressed their relief that Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed. Incendiary statements such as “Sure, we can’t know what happened, but the important thing is a Republican majority on the court,” were overlooked by Kendall, who noted that his classmate was making good use of his state’s open-carry gun policy. When confronted in the local supermarket with “I don’t mind immigrants, but it’s the illegals that need to be simultaneously waterboarded, separated from their children, and held in the basement of an abandoned windmill for the rest of time,” Kendall meekly suggested that his childhood best friend read a recent Vox article on the issue. It’s worth noting that Kendall did express regret that he didn’t bring his projector, which made a thorough PowerPoint presentation on the topic impossible.

Even more shocking than Kendall’s interactions with his classmates — people that he considers further removed from his social network than literal strangers — are the conversations that he partook in during Thanksgiving. During dinner, Kendall used phrases such as “intersectionality,” “cissexism,” and “binary determinism” twenty-four times less than he was known to while at Brown University. Usually a prolific advocate and known to express his opinions in any situation where everyone would undoubtedly agree with him, Kendall exhibited surprising timidity in the presence of his family members, whose elderly authority had been ingrained into his impressionable psyche for the past twenty years straight. We’re told that Mitch McConnell’s work in the senate was lauded extensively at some point during the third course, and though Kendall attempted to make a statement, he ultimately decided to simply continue eating Grandma Pearl’s famous mashed potatoes.  

At press time, Kendall was still debating whether Pop-Pop’s comment about “those homosexuals” was worth an argument that would likely give the family patriarch a prolonged heart attack. In the end, Kendall decided against a confrontation that might have actually benefited the political development of younger members at the table, choosing instead to live tweet the experience @unapologeticallyopinionated.


STEM vs. humanities: a conversational guide

Picture this: you’re sitting in the Blue Room munching on a French toast muffin alone and someone asks to join your booth. You of course say yes, and in an effort to make sharing a table a little less awkward with a complete stranger, you look to the notes they are pulling out to make small talk about their classes. But alas! It’s all chemistry and calculus, and all you know is humanities. Disillusioned, you are forced to return to the uncomfortable silence and weird looks when you accidentally play footsie with your STEM stranger.

We all know and love and stress about Brown’s open curriculum, which gives us the freedom to take (or not take) whatever classes we choose. But the ability to focus on either STEM or humanities creates a gap in understanding our friends on the dark side (the dark side being up to interpretation).  Those awkward pauses in conversation when you have no idea how to comment on some class a friend is complaining about, or straight up don’t know what they are talking, are avoidable. We want to help you navigate those conversations with confidence, so study up.

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STEM:

CS 15: First of all, I had no idea what CS stood for, and in the interest of saving others from the embarrassment of having to ask, it’s computer science. CS 15 in particular is essentially Intro to Computer Science, and the bane of existence for those students, so be sure to express extreme sympathy for people complaining about it.

Fishbowl: Where dreams go to die. It’s where are aforementioned CS students go to get help during TA hours, but are usually never heard from again. If your friend says they’re going there, send regular text updates assuring them they will some day see the real sun again.

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Labs: It’s not your high school lab where things changed color and that was it. Chemistry labs in particular take up entire afternoons, and the pre-lab and lab reports that go with it, so don’t expect to see friends in lab much.

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Providence’s Best (and Worst) Date Spots

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Maybe it’s the inspiring autumnal backdrop, the joy that stems from crunchy leaves under our feet, or the fact that it’s the perfect weather for sharing your coat with a new special someone. Whatever the reason may be, the dating season is upon us.

With the help of my fellow Bloggers, I’ve compiled a list of ideal – and unacceptable – date spots, based on factors such as ambience, price, and the probability of something awkward happening. Now go out there and face the horror embrace the beauty that is a first date!

Sawadee

Located on Hope Street, Sawadee is one of your best options for date night. This Thai joint is a Brown student favorite and is a good balance of on- and off-campus eating (i.e. still near campus, but far enough away as to not make you look lazy). It’s also BYOB! The yummy food and cozy (read: small) atmosphere make for good conversation, and will leave your date with the impression that you have an adventurous palate. On a similar note, make sure that the person you’re taking out likes Thai.

Price: $
Atmosphere: 8/10
Avoid: Sitting at one of the shoulder-to-shoulder two tops. One time, my date and I accidentally ate dinner with a former roommate and her entire family. The booths are cozier and more secluded.

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How Not to be a Freshman: The one with the awkward encounters

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Have you ever had one of those weekends where so many weird things happen in a short amount of time that none of it seems plausible? Like, anything that could possibly happen does happen. My Saturday night started out simply enough. I went to the Red, White, and Booze party and was stirred by all the patriotic pride. The jello shots and abundance of Taylor Swift songs didn’t hurt either. The night was still young when I headed to another party … and that’s where things got dicey.

I was at this party where I introduced myself to this guy. We were conversing casually until, in my drunken stupor, I realized he was one of my Tinder matches. I know we’ve seen the dangers and hilarity that ensue in Tinder flirting, but no one has warned us about the awkwardness of actually bumping into a Tinder match in real life. I almost always “like” every person who goes to Brown because, I figure, why not? Tinder is thoroughly entertaining and allows people to make snap judgments about others based on their aesthetic appeal.

Which is actually kind of demeaning when you think about it. Continue Reading


When do you say hello? A guide for the overly friendly

Two things about me: I am obscenely friendly, and I have the memory of a metaphorical elephant. Taken apart, neither of these qualities would really be considered negative, but put them together and I become the orchestrator of awkward moments galore.

I am the girl who, senior year, remembers that one time I shook your hand at a Keeney party in 2009. Sometimes I pretend I don’t, because I don’t want to make you feel bad for — unsurprisingly — not remembering me. But then the big question arises: do I say hello to you as we pass on the Main Green in the rush between classes?

If you’re as freaky as me, this is a legitimate dilemma. When do you suppress your urge to befriend all 6,000+ students at this university for the sake of not making people uncomfortable? And when should you embrace your encyclopedic memory? Here’s how I manage:

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Keep Calm and Carry On: Avoiding Awkward Hellos

Whether or not you’ve finalized your class schedule, your routine has certainly changed from last semester. Accordingly, tons of new faces are present in classrooms, Brown dining establishments, and study spaces. First time around, your walk from Barus & Holley to your class on the Main Green was invigorating. Overjoyed to be back on campus, you greeted everyone along the way: the person you pregamed with that one time, the kid who would always brush his teeth in the Keeney bathroom at the same time as you, and even that one kid who always slept in your section. Who cares if you hadn’t spoken to these people in months? You’re happy to be back at school and you don’t care who knows.

As you trudge through shopping period, you have less and less energy to devote to these marginal acquaintances. Tired of hearing that your friend’s friend is still fighting to get into The American Presidency (POLS1130), you stay away from the “hello”s and “how are you?”s and consider moving into smile/head nod territory. Yet this sudden change is a testament to your inherent laziness; you fear the awkward situation that will arise due to your obvious lack of effort. What do you do instead? You avoid the interaction at all costs by pretending you don’t even see them. Classic. Read our tips for ducking the duds after the jump.

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