Tuesday, October 31, 2006

the thrill of the chase

i thought the best way to introduce today's topic- which, as you will see, is Random Acts of Pain - would be with a quote from none other cosmogirl, a magazine one of roommates receives every month and almost immediately chucks under my bed. the phrase i'm talking about comes from this week's horoscope for aries, and it goes something like this:

'LOVE: You want more time with your cutie but you feel a bit like you're hounding him. To flip this around, become less available. He'll love the Thrill of the Chase!"

first of all, the fact that i have been reading cosmogirl horoscopes should probably give you some idea of the kind of week this is shaping up to be. still, i cannot deny that this phrase disturbed me, particularly because it popped up on almost every page. it turns out that not only do guys love the Thrill of the Chase, but they are in the Hunt for the Big Fish, and furthermore, while they may claim to hate the Hunt, girls actually love the Thrill of the Chase even more. i guess it beats being compared to big fish.

but in all seriousness - what on earth is the Thrill of the Chase? and why is this magazine - seemingly aimed at the collegiate crowd, with its references to paying rent, part-time jobs, and professors - full of quotes like 'you can catch a trout every day, but you're really in the hunt for the big one' and 'see why ignoring his phone calls and flirting with other guys will improve your relationship'?

of course, that's what i get for drowning my sorrows in mental junk food. at some point this week - i think it was last night - i made a conscious decision not to think anymore. i had five midterms scheduled between monday and friday, two within five minutes of each other monday, in addition to job interviews and a new issue of the observer coming out, and the sheer amount of information my brain had to process effectively shut down all other functions. i could not even get out of bed; i just lay there, flat on my back, staring at the ceiling, repeating over and over: 'elements of leadership and power in roman imperial art are easily observed in the varied pillars and columns such as...'

or, for a change of pace:

'elements of early jewish philosophy in medieval courts are easily observed in varied polemical documents and manuscripts such as...'

it became hard to tell, after a certain point, what midterm i was studying for.

but somehow i pulled through that first nightmarish day. it was truly miraculous. made it to both tests on time, finished them both on time, and still managed to stay awake for the classes afterwards. it was about then that, rubbing my eyes for probably the tenth time in five minutes, i realized that the skin under my eyes was bruised.

'huh,' i thought. 'i wonder how that happened.'

and then, being slow, i rubbed my eyes again.

after school that day i went to one of the other dorms to study, figuring it had to be quieter than my dorm, which is home to a significant proportion of the stern population. i spread my books out of the table and promptly conked out for three hours.

by the time i woke up again, it was dark outside, and i was so thoroughly confused i figured it was better to just go home and go to sleep. i had only a vague idea of what time it was, and i couldn't read my watch. so i rubbed my eyes all the way back to my room, threw away my poor abused contacts, and told myself i would study when i woke up in the morning.

now comes the Random Acts of Pain.

i knew something was wrong as soon as i opened my eyes, maybe because it took awhile to get them that way. i don't know if i was blogging the last time this happened, in july of 2005, but i have had eye infections before, so i know what they look like. of course, the last time i had an eye infection, i was at home, where i left, among other things, my glasses.

no way, i thought, looking in the mirror at my dracula eyes. not during midterms. no way.

i went to the nurse, and while i was relieved to find out that i didn't have an eye infection, this was somewhat mitigated by the fact that she still insisted i not wear contacts.

'it is not good,' she said. 'you have pre-infection eyes.'

'preinfection?' i thought. 'is that like hypertension?'

' if it does not clear up by tomorrow we will start you on the antibiotics,' she said. 'just rest your eyes for awhile. try not to read things or look at computer screens.'

'you can't be serious,' i said.

she frowned. 'midterms come and go. you want to keep your sight, don't you?'

'i have four more midterms before thursday.'

'well, wear glasses, and strain your eyes as little as possible.'

'i don't have glasses.'

she laughed. after awhile, when she realized i was serious, she said, 'well, get some.'

i assured her that i would do this, knowing full well that it was extremely unlikely. luckily, when your eyes are bloodshot all the time, no one can tell when you're actually about to cry.

unfortunately, the other side effect of not being able to see is, you know, the tendency to not see.

this proved to be even more difficult than i thought it would be. i have no idea how people got along in the middle ages. i really don't. i was only wandering the public with uncorrected eyesight for about six hours, yet i am not sure that all of my friendships will fully recover from today. there is something about being knocked over that people just don't forgive. i think my most truly damaging crash was the one involving a lead guitarist i played with last year. not kindly disposed towards me to begin with, she was especially unimpressed when i bashed her in the face with a wooden door.

'i'm sorry,' i said in the direction i assumed she might reasonably be standing, 'i'm really, really sorry, i didn't mean it...'

'you slammed me in the face with a door,' she noted coldly.

'i didn't see you, i'm sorry, i feel awful-'

'i'll bet,' she said, and walked away.

the security guard standing by the offending door said to me, 'boy, this school is dangerous when you walk the halls, isn't it?'

however, as i sit here on my bed, ignoring my atom-sized textbook prints in favor of cosmogirl's comforting neon letters the height of lindsay lohan, i wonder if it isn't just the Thrill of the Chase.

Monday, October 23, 2006

dangeresque 2: this time it's not dangeresque one

well, it's been a long time since i've written, or, as one of my less-closely related family members put it, 'are you in hiding?'

i have to admit that this question gives me pause for thought, because while i am not necessarily in hiding, i think it may be better if the world in general remains unaware of my current lifestyle trends.

nevertheless, at the repeated urging of a bass-playing-shot-glass-balancing blogger who shall remain anonymous, i am going to present you now with three excerpts from my Life in the Fast Lane. may G-d forgive me for what i have done.


to preface this, i should perhaps explain that i have been given a gift (hah) this semester, one that is both a blessing and a curse. this is my father's old playstation, and no, he did not bestow it upon me as a gesture of goodwill; i asked for it.

i like video games.

i don't know if i've ever written about this on my blog before, but it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows my family. i was raised on video games, particularly soap-operatic japanese role-playing games that features tiny spiky-haired people with big eyes. i get hooked on the plot lines and the stories, and if they're particularly well-structured, it makes me feel like i'm walking around in a book, which is the superpower i want to have in x-men 4 (wait, did x-men 3 come out yet? or was that 2?) anyway, i digress. the point is, gaming can be considered a questionable activity for jewish boys. for jewish girls, it is right out. i may have entertained delusions before i brought the playstation to stern that stern catered to all types and that surely i would not be the only girl here who plays video games in the half hour of free time i can squeeze out of thursday night. i was wrong.

which wouldn't be so bad, after all, if i could hook the playstation up in my room. no one knows, no one cares. right? but life is never so simple. you need a tv to hook the playstation up to, and the only tv in my dorm is in the student lounge on the 19th floor.

so i started taking my playstation up there- furtively, at 2 am on a saturday night, when no one was likely to be around - and secretly progressing in the games' plot line. this being a public area, however, i felt extremely awkward trying to play a game on the tv when there were 8 other girls in the room, either chatting or studying, all staring at me with this perverse squinty look that communicated two sentiments:

Sentiment 1. Don't only boys play video games?
Sentiment 2. That's gross!

i tried to just turn off the sound and pretend i didn't notice anything, but fifteen minutes later, my resolve crumbled and my cheeks flaming, i mumbled my excuses, packed up the game and went home. but i knew it wasn't over. oh, i intended to get my fun. whatever it took.

what it took, i soon realized, was a covert op. i had to kidnap the tv.

there was no other way. clearly i couldn't play with anyone watching. i was not about to spend the rest of the year waiting for that golden moment just after dawn to sneak up there. i just had to get the tv into my dorm room.

this was easier said than done. the tv was on a cart with wheels, which helped. the tv was also roughly the size of a cadillac, which did not help. attempting to move it was the equivalent of telling someone to get behind king kong and give him a push. to my credit, i waited until just after midnight to execute this manuever, but as anyone who's lived in a dorm can tell you, it's always broad daylight in the dorm.

'what are you doing?' girls asked, as i slowly backed the behemoth into the elevator.

'oh you know, borrowing the tv. you know, to watch a movie. in my room. so i won't disturb the studying people.'

'we can borrow the tv?'

'er- why not?'

i continued to receive sketchy looks as i attempted to angle the thing into my apartment. this was even trickier, because my apartment is on an angle; you open the door, and there is immediately a narrow, slanted hallway which branches off into two rooms. my room is across from the bathroom. so in order to fit the Monster into the hallway, i had to unplug the fridge and move it into the bathroom, while moving the dresser against the opposite wall.

in the museum in milwaukee, there is a short cartoon called 'how to dig a hole to the center of the earth.' the cartoon's refrain is essentially: 'keep drilling.' this is what we did.

all the while gathering spectators, who tended to ask incovenient questions like, 'are you sure that's legal?'

still, let the record show that the mission was a success, and as of yet, no one has traced it back to me.


you can all return from the edge of your seats; this one is not so exciting. it is a well-known fact that i eat cereal and milk for breakfast. it is perhaps also well-known that i love cereal. after all, we are living in a cereal world, and i am a cereal girl. (and it's healthfully sweet!)

still, i was caught unprepared when a friend of mine decided to buy me a mega-sized box of chex and a gallon of milk and drop it off at a journalism lecture i was attending uptown. the friend having to catch a bus, i suddenly found myself in fancy dress holding a gallon of one percent milk. i don't usually drink one percent, so i was at somewhat of a loss; i had no idea what to do with it. when the lecture was over, i casually asked if anyone needed some milk.

i have learned that there is no casual way to ask this question.

people tended to regard the milk with some skepticism. 'why do you suddenly have a gallon of milk?' they would say. or sometimes: 'what does that have to do with journalism?'

to make a long story short, just short of being asked to pose for a picture with said gallon of milk, the milk eventually found a loving home, and i earned myself the reputation amongst the commie and observer staff as 'the Milk Girl.'

i kept the chex.


of course, with all that chex, you're gonna need some milk. luckily, i had to go uptown again the next day for ambassador kurtzer's speech, so i figured that i would pick some up from the caf store when i was there and thus avoid having to spend actual money on it at duane reade. what, you ask, is the difference? money is money. milk is milk.

that is where you are wrong. milk is not just milk. and caf card money is not real money. caf cards work like debit cards; money is put on in the beginning of the year and can't be taken off. therefore, that money is already set aside for food. why dish out hard cash (listen, the milk here can cost 1.99!) for food when you already have money you can only use for food anyway?

ok? do you understand? good. keep that convoluted logic in mind.

so i went down to the caf store ten minutes before the lecture and yes! i scored. there was one half-gallon of skim milk left. unfortunately, my enthusiasm quickly dimmed when i discovered:

a) it was open.
b) it was half-empty.
c) it was warm.

i glanced around for other candidates, but the rest were all whole milk. i sniffed the milk. it smelled ok. i estimated that there was at least three breakfasts' worth in there, perhaps more. who knew? anything could happen in three days!

i approached the counter with the milk and asked the cashier if i could buy it.

she said, 'that? heck girl, you can have that for free.'

this is generally not an encouraging sign. still, free is free. milk is milk. i hurried back to the room where, in only moments, the lecture would start.

but wait! a little alarm in my head went off. the milk isn't cold now, and you're not going to be home for another three and a half hours! if you don't find someway to refrigerate it, it will be ruined, and YOU'LL HAVE TO BUY MILK WITH REAL MONEY!

i took a quick survey of my surroundings. i was in the weissburg commons, which is roughly the size of two high school gymnasiums, lined with chairs and potted plants (seriously). i did not see any refrigerators.

i stood there, holding the carton of milk, feeling glum.

then suddenly my eye hit on a snack buffet food services had set up for after the speech. there were cookies, fruits, and soda, and little plastic cups that looked like shot glasses. also, there huge bowls of ice.


at first i thought of sticking the carton into the actual bowl of ice, but i quickly realized that this would perhaps fail to convey the message of dignity and respect the university no doubt wanted to present to the ambassador. so i came up with a backup plan. i filled about 17 small glasses with ice and carried them to the large potted plants at the end of the room. carefully, i built a wall around my carton of milk, until it resembled a fortress. then, after explaining my battle plan to the nearby security guards, who had found my activity somewhat questionable, i sat down to listen to the lecture, satisfied that i had thwarted duane reade's steep milk price once again.

to my dismay, however, three hours later, i returned to a scene of desolation. the ice had all melted and was sinking into the soil of the potted plants. the milk was not cold. it smelled a little funny. but then i've always thought milk smelled a little funny. not wanting to risk throwing away potentially good milk, i escorted the carton over to a girl from my print journalism class and asked her to smell it.

'EW!' she said. 'what did you do to this? this is terrible!'

'does that mean i can't drink it?' i said, heart sinking.

'not unless you want to get sick,' she said.

i sighed.

a guy from the commie staff walked by, did a double take, and called to me: 'hey, is that the same gallon of milk you had last night?'

yes, cruel world, i am in hiding.