Speed Dating: Campus Clubs Version

Spread across the lovely Park Blocks in the heart of campus, white tents line the mossy walkways. The rain and the monocloud have decided to skip this part of town (for the time being), leaving us with a glorious day to mingle amongst our fellow academic compadres. The enthusiasm is electric. And it helps to having a rocking live band in the middle of it all.

“Come row with the dragonboat team!”

“Spin the campus housing wheel for some swag!”

“Here, have a frisbee.”

And the two words that college students love more than “bongs” and “beer”: “FREE FOOD!”

I love the Party in the Park that happens during the first week of the fall term each year. While I already have a fairly full-ish plate with classes and a new job, I can’t help checking out what the campus has to offer in terms of stuff that doesn’t include being holed up in the library for three hours. You know, social stuff. It’s all so exciting. All these different groups of people with the common interest of wanting to get together and have a good time. Students flit from table to table, where current club members tell us all about how great and wonderful and fun their club is and why you should join and before you know it, you feel like there was a connection and you give them your name…

What inevitably happens, though, is I sign up for twenty different and equally tantalizing clubs and then maybe show up to two meetings – maybe three. Same thing every year and I know it’s going to happen just like that, and yet, the pattern continues. Why?

Could it be from a deep, inner longing to be a part of something – to belong? All these people in all these groups, these mini-tribes- can I be a part of it, too? Will you be my friend? Or will you reject me, like I absolutely positively irrationally know you will…

Ahem, excuse me, my fingers must have slipped on the keyboard.

What I’m getting at is that… Well, I don’t have a single, solid point. So let’s bullet point this bitch:

  • Everyone should join some sort of club, especially if you’re new to the school – spending your whole day studying won’t help you reach fulfillment, Poindexter
  • Or at the very least, have a friend – or if that’s overreaching, just an acquaintance – to small talk with once in a while [Even a small talk curmudgeon like me enjoys some light conversation with someone once in a while]
  • I miss being a part of student government [Sometimes. And then I remember why it’s ultimately unhealthy for me, but that’s a topic for a separate post]
  • Macadamia nut cookies are the bomb
  • No matter how antisocial a person like me seems, I still love people [Really, I honest-to-goodness do, but don’t tell anyone]

All in all, the world is beautiful, people are awesome, school is… school, and the meaning of life is still 42.

What clubs are you in or have you been in? Any interesting experiences? What is the importance of clubs and other social gatherings to you? 

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Hi, I’m Stressed Out Student, and I’m a Bibliomaniac

This kind of post isn’t new. I ain’t special. The interwebs is brimming with people who love to – le gasp read. However, a sizable chunk of those people simply like books. “Why, whatever is the difference?” You ask me from across the table, pinching the handle of a tea cup between your index and thumb – pinky erect. “Well, good chap, in honor of Banned Books Week, let me enlighten you…”

(Why the hell this just turned into a Downton Abbey outtake, I have no clue).

Those who love reading may be categorized under the general term of “bibliophile.” According to Merriam-Webster Online, a bibliophile is “a lover of books, especially for qualities of format.” It doesn’t get much simpler than “book lover” in the etymological breakdown. Bibliophiles are people who love to read, collect, admire books, etc.

And then there is the “bibliomaniac“: someone with “an exaggerated preoccupation with the acquisition and ownership of books” (Free Online Dictionary). This is someone who love books not so much for their content, but for the value of the physical books themselves. If you’re familiar with a certain page on my site, you may have already realized that I have slight bibliomaniacal tendencies. Basically, a bibliomaniac is a book hoarder. How glamorous.

Exhibit A) I brought four books with me on my travels this summer:

Bibliomania Exhibit A

And I came back with nine. No joke.

There’s even a book that isn’t pictured here: I had left the book on a table in a hotel for someone else to take, since I was finished with it and knew I would never read it again. (It was Deception Point by Dan Brown. Entertaining for a mass market paperback, but not worth keeping – and coming from a hoarder, that’s saying something.)

So there’s the thing, I have a tendency to collect books that I think I’m going to read (and by golly, I will!) and books that I think are impressive (I mean, Classics of Moral and Political Theory? Really?) – but I do really like to read as well. I’m not voracious or all that ambitious of a reader. I just like having a book now and then. Sometimes, I don’t quite feel entitled to say that I love to read. True bibliophiles seem to have a new book brushing their noses every week, while I go through periods where I don’t read anything substantial from a book for weeks (not including textbooks and required reading).

Therefore am I a noble bibliophile or a poser, a materialistic bibliomaniac?

Well, neither, obviously. To even have this discussion- sure, books and reading are great, but they don’t need their own pedestal. Yes, encourage literacy among our children, but there’s no need to ram it down their throats and make them feel bad if they don’t like sitting around reading books day and night. It takes all kinds. And is there a need to shame bibliomaniacs for liking books just because they look nice or have some value not related to their content? Of course not. Obsessing over a first printing of a Dostoevsky novel is definitely not the worst form of materialism.

What does bibliophilia/mania mean to you? Where do you fall in the spectrum? And what have you read recently? Share some recommendations in the comments! (As if us maniacs needed more books).

Follow these links to read more about information and knowledge and stuff:

“Homosexuality is a sin!” And Other Words of Crazy Bible Thumpers

When the sun comes out in full display, the crazies come out and want to play.

The university I go to is smack dab in the center of the largest city in the state. This city has a reputation of being eccentric, liberal, and full of hippies and hipsters alike. About 29,000 people attend this school and thousands of students pass through the heart of campus, the Park Blocks, everyday.

Bring on the Bible thumpers.

“Homosexuality is a sin!”

All right, pretty tame by Jesus freak standards. Heard this before. Next.

“All sinners are going to Hell.”

Yawn. Yeah, yeah, we know. Anything else?

“Depression is the accumulation of your sins.”

Which inspired this reply from a student: “No, f#ckhead, it’s biological.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. Time to grab some lunch and watch the rest of the show.

Proselytizers love standing on the benches in the Park Blocks to spout the mighty word of God – or their superior interpretation of it at least. It never fails to draw a crowd – and oh what a crowd we have today. Let the monkey show begin.

Most times, these people are harmless and easy to ignore. They just stand around shouting to the air and whomever is bored or mildly interested enough to listen. Sometimes, there are multiple people, however and they carry large signs with bold letters that read: “God hates fags.” The leader will hold up a microphone to his religiously fouled mouth and preach what amounts to nothing more than bigoted hate speech.

Bible Thumper hate speech

Where’s the love? Whatever happened to God loving everyone? [Insert Carlin rant here]

These people in all their ignorance and spite are actually quite fascinating. I would love to catch a specimen and do some prodding tests to get to the bottom of what the hell they are and why the hell they do what they do.

Fortunately, those crazies with the signs haven’t been around recently. This day, it was just two guys, who traded shifts every couple of hours or so. I didn’t get to hear the rest of the first guy’s preaching as I was on my way to meet up with a friend, but I got to pass back by a little while later. The young guy had turned into a post-middle aged man.

The day was winding down, so there weren’t nearly as many people on campus and hanging out in the Park Blocks. The man still had a small audience in a semicircle in front of him, though. After buying a Coke, I joined the audience, picking a spot off to the side. From where I was positioned, I could only hear his louder proclamations. His mellower responses to the people directly in front of him were out of ear shot.

From what I could make out, he was talking about sex (ooo, scandalous). And based on the reactions of the people around him, it was the sexist, “religious purity” crap. Something to do with girls staying virgins until marriage. Dude, it’s a bit late to spread that message to a crowd of youngish liberal college students.

His speechifying then gravitated toward the reproductive organs.

“There is a flap of skin between the legs of a man called the scrotum.”

Man in crowd: “TESTICLES!”

Laughter.

“What is the female equivalent of the testicles?”

Woman in crowd: “Ovaries!”

No bother masking the sardonicism. “I’m a health major. Thank God for fifth grade sex ed!”

And so this went on for some time longer. I don’t really know why he was giving us an anatomy lesson.  Something more about virginal girls, unclean sinful sex, his wife blah blah blah. And something to do with heterosexual coitus being the only God-ordained type of coitus. He made the cliched “the only purpose of sex is to reproduce” and that is why homosexual sex is bad bad bad. Another sexist comment.

Man in crowd: “And what about women who can’t have children? And women going through menopause?”

Your rational reasoning is wasted, sir. What’s the point? Preacher Man ain’t going to have his mind changed. I wonder how many minds Preacher Man has changed? I doubt he changed anyone’s perspective on our campus that day (but who knows, maybe he did. Probably not.)

As I was reaching the end of my bottle of Coke and attention span, I heard music a few dozen yards down the Park Blocks. It was the university acapella group. How refreshing. Some attention diverted from the hate and ignorance being squawked by the religious nut. Something positive and less tiresome to counteract the sex organ-obsessed Bible thumper.

I debated whether to stay with the Jesus freak or go to listen to the acapella group. The debate was a short one.

Just as I joined the small group of people enjoying the musical entertainment, the acapella group started whooping and cheering and setting off poppers. Back at the Bible thumper crowd, people started cheering and clapping, too.

It took me a moment to see why. A woman had her arms wrapped tightly around a man in a suit and they both looked ecstatic. They kiss. And hug. And kiss again. I’m not much a romantic sentimentalist *cough*yeahright*cough*, but the scene just tugged at my heart strings. The man gave the acapella group a Chesire cat grin and two big thumbs up. The newly engaged woman turns to see familiar faces, “omg, you’re here, and you’re here, too” etc, etc. She shows off the ring with a Chesire cat grin of her own.

Not bad. Finally, a message of love.

Now here’s George Carlin with a special message:

Thoughts on these type of folks? Have you had any run-ins with Bible thumpers?

How To Get Disowned on Mother’s Day

Oh what a beautiful morning. The birds are a-singin’ and the sun is a-shinin’. It’s Sunday, the second Sunday of May, which means I’ve got no work or school and can spend the rest of the day in my jammies watching Downton-

Sonofabitch.

You’ve been there. Nobody’s so perfect that they remember all the “important” non-holidays (unless you’re Leslie Knope). And if you’ve forgotten about Mother’s Day [again], you’re already on yo momma’s naughty list, so here’s how to prepare to soften the inevitable shit storm. (And if your mother’s like my mother, it’ll be one of them passive-aggressive shit storms. Oh boy.)

Mother's Day funny eCard

…Right?

Step 1. Frantically search for a last minute gift.

If it were Thursday or Friday, the Internet would be your best friend, where you can find something fast and ship it overnight in time for Mother’s Day. But because you’re a forgetful, procrastinating bastard – no judgment – Amazon, Etsy, and eBay are no help to you. This means you’ll need to actually get off your mother-hating ass and go out to buy a gift. Either that or make a gift.

Step 2. Believe that you can make a gift on the spot.

If you happen to be creative and have the resources, go ahead and do your thing. You’ve just saved your sorry hide on this Mother’s Day. However, if you’re not one of them artsy fartsy, creative types, this will not end well. Your mind will scramble through your elementary school memories of arts and crafts time, trying to come up with something to make. Sorry, a construction paper card with a crayon outline of your hand with a face drawn on it ain’t going to cut it this year. How about looking up “Mothers Day Gift Ideas” on Pinterest? Don’t kid yourself. You can’t make any of that crap.

Step 3. Give up on the creativity and go buy something. 

Arts and crafts are for more sophisticated folk. What you need to do now is hit your local market. Ideally, you’ll go to a Tiffany’s or a whatever-has-expensive-crap shop. Most likely, you’ll just go to a Target or a Hallmark store. Hell, you should just settle on a Walgreens. This is your mother we’re talking about. She’ll understand. (No, she won’t.)

Some gift ideas:

  • $25 gift card to Red Lobster
  • A [tall] frappe-mocha-cinno with cream and stuff from Starbucks
  • Hallmark card that comments on how she doesn’t look a day over than 25
  • Bag of beef jerky from 7-Eleven [Original Hickory flavor]
  • Tupperware from Walmart

Step 4. Present your sorry self and even sorrier gift to your progenitor.

Wait for it.

Step 5. Brace yourself. Because you’ll never heard the end of it.

Yep, if you aren’t spun around on your heels and given a forceful foot against your derriere out the door, you’ll just have to take the verbal beatdown that your mother will no doubt give you. For days. If not years. Good luck.

Get your mother something nice, punk:

Have you ever forgotten to do/get something nice for your mother on Mother’s Day? If you’re a freakin’ goodie-two-shoes, what did you do/get for her? Share your stories in the comments!

Fill Thy Vat of Knowledge!

What do you do when it’s 11 PM on a Thursday evening, you don’t have class tomorrow, and you currently can’t sleep? Why, take to the interwebs, of course! And by the interwebs, I specifically mean the lovely HowStuffWorks.com. There is always time for learning! Knowledge never sleeps! Quench your thirst of information that was not previously known to you! This introductory paragraph has too many exclamation marks, so I sound like a spaz!

Anywho – obnoxious punctuation aside – I love HowStuffWorks. Whenever I feel that my “Useless Trivia” data stores are running low, I know I can just click on the HowStuffWorks icon in my favorites bar and bask in the knowledge feast laid out before me. I won’t emerge from this gluttonous trance until I’ve gone through the main page and ripped through a dozen articles using the Random Post button. “Learn how Everything Works!” is their site tagline. And indeed, they attempt to show you how everything works from describing how to break into a house, to explaining how dying of embarrassment is worse than freezing to death, to enlightening you on what in the world the appendix is for (kind of).

I Heart Guts Appendix. So cute.

Seriously, I’m just here to screw with you.

I first discovered the site when I was in 8th grade whilst looking for science articles for science class (reduntantly redundant) because most of the links the teacher provided pretty much sucked (meaning it was hard to find articles that fit the criteria for the assignments – not dissing the integrity of the scientific reporting, so lay off). It was love at first click, but as with all deep and irrational loves, it came at the price of my self-respect. Soon I was obsessed with the site, coming back to her – I’m just going to pretend the site is female, just because – everyday. She seduced me with her full, shapely articles. My hunger for her knowledge had me coming back again and again until my brain ached and eyes fatigued. The noetic siren had dragged with me into the depths of her surveys, and quizzes, and pages of sweet, sweet information.

Well, that was unnecessarily melodramatic.

But I’m over all that now. The relationship between me and her is totally under control and I am in no danger of succumbing to her know-it-all wiles again. Basically this is a love post – borderline lust post – to HowStuffWorks.com. She fills that emptiness within and is there whenever I need her (and have access to WiFi).

No, not really. This all really was unnecessarily melodramatic. But thanks, HowStuffWorks, for helping me be semi-funny and teaching me how sarcasm works. (Gee thanks)*.

Read these interesting articles from that vixen of a site:

*Sorry, that joke was too easy.

What sites do you like to waste time be productive on? Have a favorite HowStuffWorks article? Share it!