Things I Have Learned At Grad School That Have Absolutely Nothing Whatever To Do With Grad School.

LearningPhilosophyWordle

I am very much supposed to be studying right now, but the first few lines of the page I’m looking at run as follows:
“colored pictures/ of all things to eat: dirty/ postcards/ And words words words/ All over everything/ No eyes or ears left/ to do their own doings….” Thanks for that Charles Olson, you’re the man alright.
So you tell me, would you rather wade through 165 pages of that, or have a little blog instead? ūüėČ

Ok, things I have learned at grad school that have nothing whatever to do with grad school.

1) The cleaning lady that your roommate hires will never show up on the day she’s supposed to show up, nor at the time she’s supposed to show up, nor will your roommate be home to deal with her, nor will she ever (no really, never ever) put a new garbage bag in the bin after she takes the trash out.
1.a) I’m not being ungrateful, I promise, I have to pay half the cleaning lady’s wage. No spoilt brats looking gift horses in their mouths here. Scout’s honor.
1.b) The span of my stretched arm… is still shorter than the depth of the bin, making it pretty darn impossible for me to retrieve the used teabag I have invariably thrown in it before noticing it lacked a bag.

2) In the event of a zombie apocalypse DO NOT GO IN THE BUNKER. If the bunker is already occupied the people in it will have gone seven kinds of crazy and will trap you in there with them before carrying out what they take to be a mercy mass murder so you can all die together and no longer have to suffer fear of zombies. If the bunker is unoccupied, it will be you that goes seven kinds of crazy if you go in it and hunker down. DO NOT GO IN THE BUNKER.
2.a) In the event of a zombie apocalypse, the hero or heroin of the hour will always be complaining of some kind of melancholy or another. I believe this to be the physical ill-effects of camping out on the moral high ground. The air is thin up there.
2.b) I watch too much Netflix.

3) All take-out delivery people are inveterately awkward, and will stand there for a weird moment after you’ve taken the food and tipped them. This will make you think there’s something you’ve forgotten or something else you need to do, or a receipt you have to sign, so you won’t go back into your apartment or close the door, you just stand there, awkwardly, expectantly… they will then nod and say something like “alright, yeah… thank you” before wandering vaguely away. Options for causes of this phenomenon include, but are not limited to, excessive drug use among delivery people, or excessive loneliness among delivery people.

4) Starbucks black coffee, while not amazing (and not even close to the “Buffalo Soldier” Bob Marley coffee my Mum sends me – thanks mum!) is not that bad. It is, for example, miles better than library coffee. This might be because library coffee is brewed with the tears of despairing failing-grade undergraduates.
4.a) The Bob Marley coffee got me back into Bob Marley music. Reggae is very soothing, especially when pumped out of speakers very loud while my roommate is out and I can dance around the kitchen while cooking.
4.b) The sudden return of my roommate has, on more than one occasion, caused me to scamper back to my room to turn Bob off. Reggae is not to be shared with my roommate, who listens to some electro-dance dirge masquerading as music.
4.c) My roommate has painful taste in music.

5) Even though I know Michael Myers is a fictional character, and that I live on the 12th floor, and that the building has 24-hr doormen, and that both the front door and the bathroom door are locked… I will still periodically check for murderers if I hear a noise while I’m in the shower and home alone.
5.a) There are never any murderers in the bathroom when I’m in the shower and home alone.
5.b) I watch too much Netflix.

6) England should absolutely jump on the flavored-cream-cheese bandwagon. Chipotle cream cheese is the bomb. We will not talk about pineapple cream cheese, someone probably got fired for pineapple cream cheese.
6.a) Nussbaum & Wu do the best toasted “everything” bagel with cream cheese on the upper west side. (An “everything” bagel, by-the-by, has poppy seeds, sesame seeds, little flecks of roasted onion and big flakes of sea salt baked into the outside of it. They are AMAZING, especially if you don’t care about onion breath.)
6.b) I have, heretofore, apparently underestimated my appreciation of cream cheese.
6.c) People who order and egg-white bagel with bacon…are dietary delusionists.

7) England should absolutely ignore the flavoured-oreo bandwagon… No sane people think Watermelon Oreos sound like a good call.

8) Sriracha makes all savory foods taste better.

9) I talk about food a lot.

Bye for now, I’m going to go buy a bagel. ūüėČ
xxx

The Roommate Triplication.

roommate_for_sale-resized-600.jpg

In the beginning was the First Roommate, and the Housing Gods looked upon her and they saw that she was good and they were not a little pleased with themselves for their cleverness.

Things of interest about the First Roommate.

1) She was French.

2) She was studying World History.

3) She was the weirdest person I have ever met. Weird how? I hear you ask. Well, there was the great Incendiary Brussels Sprout Incident of 2013. And there were the sparkly blue tights. She used to come home with things Рvegetables, items of clothing, stray social recluses Рand enthusiastically parade them around the apartment monologuing about how interesting they were. This made everyone very uncomfortable.

4) She once severely triggered my emetophobia (fear of people vomiting) by barfing her hangover all over the bathroom, with the door wide open, before I had brushed my teeth. This put a considerable dampener on my day as I had to flee the apartment in such haste I forgot half my stuff. I was afraid to go back until well into the afternoon.

5) She moved 45 minutes away from college to Brooklyn, so she could be “where all the cool, kooky people are.” I am very sure she felt at home among the kooky people and I wish her well there.

Here endeth the tale of the First Roommate. And the housing god’s looked down at the empty room in the apartment and they decided to fill it. And so was wrought¬†the Second Roommate.

Things of interest about the Second Roommate.

1) She was Spanish. From the Canary Islands to be exact, although she has lived in Barcelona for a while.

2) She was 32.

3) She lived on a strange diet of juice cleanses, and swiss cheese on gluten free bread with apricot jam.

4) She gave herself enemas, which was something I could have gone my whole life and probably my afterlife as well without ever having needed to know. Three cheers for sharing a bathroom with a health nut.

5) She did not like American men, and generally only had bad luck with them, as evidenced by a strange encounter with a guy who said he felt¬†“gay” when she caressed¬†his hair and wouldn’t let her carry his jacket, when he had is arms full, for fear of subjugating her. She gave up dating Americans after that.

6) She moved back to Spain in the spring.

Here endeth the tale of the Second Roommate. There followed after a blissful period of rommate-free living characterized by mid-day showers, unabashed frequency of unhealthy take-out food, and loud Bob Marley music. But the Housing Gods were not happy with such hedonism, and punished me soundly with the Third Roommate.

Things of interest about the Third Roommate.

1) Her parents came to inspect the apartment before she moved in. They took a photo of me to show her. I know right then that the Third Roommate would be bad news.

2) She owns every single item of home furnishing it is possible to own. She brought her own double bed with her, as well as a mirror with lights around it. She must have been Marilyn Monroe in a previous life. Either that or Elvis.

3) Her prodigious shedding of hair clogged our shower within a week of moving in and caused the plumbing so much misery that it decided to spew water up through the shower drain whenever the tap in the sink was running. It took three plumbers an entire day to fix, and I had to go round the corner to starbucks to pee. She never apologized or even mentioned it.

4) Her mother buys her groceries. Every sunday her mother comes round with a cool-box on wheels and packs the fridge with lettuce, cold brew coffee, Canadian bacon, iced tea and chipotle mayo. Every. Sunday. I do not like the Third Roommate’s mother: she leaves me no space in the fridge.

5) The Third Roommate doesn’t actually eat these groceries. She orders take-out. The only things she cooks are pancakes.

6) She left me a passive-aggressive post-it note about making room for her in the cupboards. She is lucky I didn’t simply burn the cupboards down. I do not like passive-aggressive post-it notes.

7) She bought a rack for shoes by the door and keeps all her shoes in it so as not to get mud on the floors. She has a lot of shoes.

8) She has a lot of boyfriends too. As of this morning I have identified at least two boys that stay the night. One of them microwaves foul-smelling dumplings whenever Third Roommate isn’t here to feed him. I do not like this boyfriend. I don’t know much about the other boyfriend. All we have ever exchanged is a wave. I prefer Other Boyfriend.

9) She told me off about not leaving the kitchen clean enough.

10) I may or may not have borrowed some of her grape jelly for PB& J once… alright, twice… as retaliation for Annoyances rendered. It seems I have not completely finished growing up and I take no small amount of pleasure in being a bad roommate, as payback. >_<

11) She replaced my shower curtain without asking… and has a “memory foam bath mat.” Who has ever needed memory foam under their feet? Ever?

12) She is from New Jersey, which means she isn’t going to move out any time soon and I am stuck with her until I move out. The horror. The horror.

13) She is a 24 year old woman that packs her lunchbox (yup, she has a lunchbox, complete with matching plastic collapsible cutlery in fact) with animal crackers as a treat.

14) She leaves the lights on in the kitchen and the hallway ALL NIGHT. Whenever I turn them off, they are always mysteriously back on when I get up in the morning.

15) She showers twice a day. Which is just unnecessary.

16) I genuinely believe she is a minion of Satan sent to test my patience.

17) She is defeating my patience.

Bye for now, I’m going to go listen to calming music and light a lavender candle before my head explodes and ruins the clean kitchen.

xxxx

 

Waiter, Waiter, There’s A Nihilist In My Soup!

nihilism

I picked up a hitchhiker on the way to the library this morning. True, I wasn’t cruising down a curve of highway when I stopped for the upraised thumb of a dusty stranger who later turns out to be a chainsaw-wielding maniac…. This was much worse.

I picked up a Thief of Time.

I met him in¬†The Class That Is Technically Useful But Is As Much Fun As Having Sandpaper Rubbed Over Your Eyeballs, which I absolutely should¬†have taken as an omen since that class was the most efficient time-thieving mechanism since that Silicon Valley crowd invented Candy Crush and “borrowed” a fistful of years from our lives.

Things you might enjoy knowing about the Time Thief.

1) He likes his iced coffee Venti in size. But my acute caffeine addiction detects that it’s usually more creamer than coffee, so he could totally just get¬†a tall and drink it straight like a real person to¬†create the same effect.

2) He is studying Law, I think at Master’s level, but he already has a couple of Bachelor’s degrees.

3) He likes to mention his degreeS, emphasis on the plural. He keeps them in his pocket, curled up in a bill-fold with Lady Justice carved on it. Every now and then he¬†brings them out to unfurl them in front of you, like a Wolf of Wall Street might a fat roll of 100’s.

4) He’s from the west¬†coast, which makes him unpopular with his professors: too laid back for them apparently.

5) This is it, right here.¬†Here is where the minutes begin to flood by into a vortex of uselessness. His nonchalance is definitely¬†nihilism, that affected, oily carelessness that usually leads people to lean against the bar at parties and unctuously announce that “regarding life, the wisest men of all ages have judged alike: it is worthless” – That’s Nietzsche, by the by, ain’t libraries grand ;). And boy can the Time Thief expound on his themes at length. He’s the original¬†“too cool for school” character.¬†Too cool to care about anything, it seems. He doesn’t read for his classes, he doesn’t care about grades or impressing his professors, he has no real plan for his life but will probably just “get another degree” because he can. He’s discovered a dark, clammy niche of law that only one and a half people even know exists, apparently in order to make ironic performance-art out of his studies¬†by focussing on something that effects no one at all and has no practical application.

So there I was, trapped, spending most of the best hours of today fielding questions¬†about how little¬†time I’d devoted to my¬†set reading so far this semester, or¬†how many of my seminars¬†had caused the feckless “I don’t know why I’m here but it’s better than a social sciences degree” existential fluttering¬†that seems to be the intellectual nirvana of being too cool for my life to have meaning. Somewhere around his fiftieth laconic smile I should have jumped in. I should have yelled¬†that I wasn’t the humungous twat paying $5,000 a class to sit in the back and pretentiously¬†deride the entire¬†pantheon of knowledge and that, yeah, I love reading about long-dead geniuses and their¬†adventures in trying¬†to get girls to like them (which actually seems to be the central point to almost all the classics). Yougotaproblemwi’that? Do ya? Do ya?! DO YA?! I could have thumped my chest for emphasis, maybe threateningly brandished my copy of¬†Image, Music, Text.

But I didn’t. I just smiled and nodded and quipped¬†about the superiority complexes of the Comparative Lit. crowd, and my mind’s eye rolled in its socket, while all the time I’m thinking that the Time Thief was taking¬†me away from the quest for a holy grail seat. It’s midterm season, and it seems like the entire city wants a spot¬†in the graduate reading room! – near enough to the heating vent to be warm but not too far from a window,¬†so you can still see freedom and please god not too near the ever-dinging elevator, or anyone with a runny nose.

But really the¬†upshot is only that I’m sitting here munching a Chilean apple and feeling erroneously sorry for myself because I didn’t get up on my little soap box.¬†#firstworldproblems. Soooo, on with number 6.

6) His feet smell.

7) He thinks we should grab a drink some time.

8) We will, funnily enough, not be grabbing a drink some time.

Bye for now, and whatever you do, avoid Californian nihilists with old shoes and fetishes for not valuing life, they will steal hours from you and you will get nothing done.

xxx

Ghost in the Machine

How-to-Browse-Web-Anonymously-with-CyberGhost

The guy that used to own¬†my phone number has¬†definitely run away from home. My last post was about ghosts, and that turns out to be¬†prophetic, since I do interact with the phantom¬†figure that is the old owner of my “digits.” He haunts me, he’s the ghost in my answering machine. Either that or I’ve picked up the American Halloween fetish and I’ve got specters on the brain.

Things I know about the Phone Ghost:

1) His name is Marcus.

2) Some of his friends call him Mdot. I may refer to him as Mdot in this post, I feel like our cellular connection makes us friends.

3) He is black, I have inferred this through the number of people who call him the n-word, and the fact that they seem to be using it in a friendly way, not in a way that would get them a punch in the gonads.

4) On the 14th of July he nearly won a pair of free trainers. I say “nearly” because two things happened in quick succession. First, I got¬†a text telling Mdot¬†that he’d been selected as “Player of the week” in the Gersh Park game (he had 31 off the bench – alas, this info didn’t tell me what sport the Phone Ghost plays, since I know almost nothing about sports), and that the sponsor was going to send him a free pair of “kicks”. Second, a¬†text popped up mere moments later, shouting “DISREGARD.” I figure in this instance my being the new owner of this number served Marcus pretty well, saving him disappointment. #Silverlining.

5) There is a young lady that fancies the Phone Ghost, she jokes that he has “pretty boy swag” …a lot. I feel a little sad for her, since she’s barking up the wrong cell tower.

6) He knows someone named Jigga, who in turn knows someone called Tiana, who was hoping to buy tickets from Mdot. I guess she never made it to the gig.

7) Jigga¬†calls the Phone Ghost “Brother”… but doesn’t seem to know where he lives.

8) Most of Mdot’s friends greet him with either “Yo” or “What’s good?” I guess Mdot would know what that means.

9) A friend of his called Shalaya had a baby boy. #Congratulations.

10) He has graduated from some kind of education program, his Grandmother left a voicemail congratulating him.

11) He may, on occasion, be rumored to be holding drugs. (His Grandmother does not call to congratulate him on this.)

12) Angelo wants to know his email address.

At first, learning all these things was pretty amusing. Catching glimpses of Mdot’s “swag,” etc. was just a weird, funny¬†annoyance. It’s an odd, human crossing of wavelengths that could well be read into as a celestial message about connecting with people, but that reality¬†just means I check my phone only to be disappointed that the sender doest want to talk to ME at all… Sigh.

However, here is why I think he is missing:

13) HE DOESN’T SEEM TO HAVE TOLD ANY OF HIS FRIENDS THAT HE HAS A NEW PHONE NUMBER.

14) His Nana calls and leaves messages asking¬†him to call her and let her know where he’s living and what he’s doing with his life. So, it seems he hasn’t even told his Nana he has a new phone number, and he never calls her. He also seems to have moved house without telling anyone.

So please, Marcus, if you’re reading this: CALL YOUR GRANDMOTHER, she’s worried about you.

xxx

Dear Diary,

oct-14

There’s a poltergeist in my apartment. I think the doormen feed it Pumpkin Spiced Lattes because it only comes out in the fall. It lives in the pipes and thinks it’s a musician. I think it’s a he, a hip young guy no doubt, maybe with a hint of the hipster about him, who once dreamed of being a drummer before some kind of untimely and traumatic demise lead him to haunt my building and its plumbing. He likes to play me his latest compositions all night and he hasn’t quite got the hang of rhythm. Sometimes he fiddles around in the low, pulsing clang of the musical spectrum, sometimes it’s the tinny high-pitched ding, like the chiming of a broken bell. Sometimes, and I especially love these because they make me feel like someone’s trying to kill me, he throws in an airy rushing sound like gas being pumped through a vent.

At least, that is what I fantasize when the wretched, 200 hundred year old central heating wakes me up at 6 in the morning. I find it’s less sanity-eviscerating to be angry at some kind of sentient entity, rather than a dull and unresponsive victorian-style, wall-mounted, cast-iron radiator that just squats there behind its cover, wildly infuriating and poignantly superior to you in its ability to drive you round the twist without actually being cognizant. How weak and feeble must you be, if an inanimate object can put a kink in your whole day?

Or maybe I’ve just been reading too much Ezra Pound and I’ve taken to making Mount Olympus out of every molehill. (That’s a little literary joke by the way, haw haw, because Ezra’s a big fan of the ol’ Greeks… he essentially thinks he’s Odysseus. If I were him I’d be more concerned with the fact that I was a raging fascist sympathizer and fetid bigot, but hey, who am I to judge… I’m angry at a central heating system.)

Bye for now, got to go mainline a couple of espressos.

xxx

Open Letter to Tea-Breakers

034

Dear Cake Enthusiasts,

My friend told me the other day, via the intercontinental conversational miracle that is social media, that he was sat in John Lewis eating the world’s biggest slice of Victoria Sponge and drinking a “crap latte.” I didn’t really comment at the time, but since then a few encounters with Americans have left me feeling very British so I thought I’d comment now. (Apparently being an English girl with a quiet voice just means Americans don’t even have to try to understand you, they’re allowed to just let their jaws hang low and say things like “huh, speak American won’t you?” Sigh.)

Back to my friend, and how he was doing it ALL WRONG.

a) Victoria sponge is the dowager aunt of English cake. Right under Battenburg in the line of succession, it is a dried up, ancient institution that really should be left behind in the march toward Progress (chocolate cake). Any cake that gave up on the idea of icing in exchange for anaemic dustings of sugar should be excommunicated anyway, but add to that the use of jam for a filling and I think it should have been these that The Sons of Liberty tossed in Boston harbor that day. If anything is worthy of protest its this wizened homage to crumbly flavorlessness. If you’re so into jam and cream, have a scone for goodness’ sake. Everyone will be much happier.

b) If you really must have a slice of disappointment… why would you have it with a latte?? Obviously Victoria sponge should be suffered with a cup of tea to redeem it! What kind of mongoloid Englishness is that… Victoria sponge and coffee? See what I mean? If you’re going to clag-up your coffee with a glug of milk then you’re going to need something to cut through it. At least go for something that has a little heft to it. I’d suggest a loaf cake, probably a jaunty lemon or a robust hazelnut-chocolate combo.

Trust me, I know how to eat sweets. ūüėČ

Yours, on the way to get a muffin,

xxx