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25

Nov

Why I Write

thelighterjournal:

As a little girl I loved to dive deep into the fantasy worlds that lay between the bindings of my beloved books. Though I was shy and awkward around my peers, books could take me anywhere I wanted, make me anything I wanted to be. I read hungrily, visiting the library several times a week for…

01

Apr

job schmob

There’s nothing like a hearty job hunt to make one a cynic. The process is tedious and frustrating. You might get 1 or 2 interviews for every 30 applications you turn in, but that still doesn’t ensure you a job. Getting an interview only means that you’re one of 15 applicants they might choose for the two positions they’re trying to fill. 

Adding to my personal frustration is the fact that though I have completed nearly 3/4 of my college career, I still don’t have that golden piece of paper getting me out of the only-qualified-for-minimum-wage zone. So, though I’m technically more educated and thus better qualified (can one be better qualified to flip burgers?) I find myself competing with people who have merely a high school diploma or GED.

The application process isn’t simple, quick and easy either. Most online applications now include a personality test section which ask questions like, “I don’t like meeting new people. Agree or disagree?” or “I don’t get along with people who have different opinions than me. Agree or disagree?” Though these tests indicate that you should answer honestly, who in their right mind would agree with the fact that they will confront people they dislike or that they are late for mostly everything? These types of questions seem like major red flags. Obviously, I’m not going to admit to a potential boss that I’m lazy, emotionally unstable, or overly confrontational, even if I am. That seems like a great way to get my application thrown out before I even have a chance to score an interview. 

Further complicating the process, is the new trend of adding an ACT like portion to the application as well. For several of the applications I’ve filled out, I have been required to take a timed test measuring my math, reading comprehension, and grammatical skills. I realize this may help to weed out those who do not know simple math or cannot read & comprehend instructions, but really? Anyone with a high school diploma, at least in my mind, should be decent enough at math to operate a cash register and should be able to read well enough to get the gist of the employee handbook. But, maybe restaurants are finding this is not the case? If so, something really needs to be done to the educational system in this country.

In short, the job market is competitive, even on the minimum wage job side. Which is entirely frustrating, of course, because (1) why is it so hard to get a job at McDonalds? and (2) this time next year, I’ll be doing this all over again. But, this time, I’ll be competing with people as qualified/much more qualified than me. Great.

25

Mar

No Boys Allowed!

Scheele Hall: the all girls dorm building on campus that houses the sororities, along with a handful of “independents,” girls who aren’t affiliated with a sorority 

When thinking of a building on campus that displays diversity, Scheele hall certainly wouldn’t be the first to come to mind. I mean, how diverse can an all girls dorm be? They don’t even let boys in… But, in light of recent class discussions on diversity, I planned to give Scheele a chance. 

As a Scheele desk attendant, I feel I know more about the resident population of Scheele than most residents. A couple times a week, for three hour increments, I sit at a desk in the entrance of Scheele and observe the comings and goings of the residents. This enables me to see/hear much of what goes on in the building. Thus, this past week, I devoted one of my desk attendant shifts to observing more keenly the “diversity” that occurs/does not occur in Scheele Hall. 

I feel that in order to declare a location diverse, I must first declare what qualifying factors I am using to make my decision. When starting my “Scheele experiment,” I didn’t really know what I was looking for. To me, diversity meant different types of people all meshing together. Of course, race is a factor determining “difference,” but I don’t think its the only one that matters. Diversity doesn’t have to be about race, since race isn’t the only thing that keeps us from relating to other humans. There’s things like gender, social class, club affiliations, etc.

So is Scheele diverse? That depends on how you look at it. There is certainly a lack of racial/cultural diversity in Scheele, being that most Scheele residents are Americans, born and raised in the USA for several generations. Scheele certainly doesn’t meet the gender diversity criteria. But, is it still diverse? I would say so. 

When we think about diversity, we often limit our ideas about it. People who are “different” are foreign, cultural different than ourselves. Diversity is then a measure of how well we mesh with foreigners, and as long as we’re doing that well, we get an A+ in diversity. While making foreigners feel comfortable and welcome is certainly an important step towards diversity, isn’t it also important that we make those who are different in our own culture feel comfortable too? Those who are handicapped, or aren’t pretty by Hollywood’s standards, or aren’t very good at math, or those who are extremely socially awkward. There are a lot of people who share our heritage and our culture, but whom are still outcast because they are “different.”

So, maybe, before we give ourselves a pat on the back for being “diverse” because we smiled at the Chinese student in our Business class (not that this is a bad thing), we should start thinking about how we didn’t give the socially awkward girl in the same class the time of day. Because in the end, we’re all a different. Thus, diversity doesn’t stop at accepting foreigners, it stops when you make everyone whose “different” by society’s standards feel welcome.

26

Feb

listing to live

I find listing strangely calming. There’s something about writing down the tasks to be finished, groceries to be purchased, items to be packed, etc. and being able to physically cross them out once they have been completed that is very enjoyable for me. I especially enjoy listing when going to the grocery store, packing for a trip, or when dealing with many tasks in a short period of time.

Recently, my life has gotten extremely busy with school and my involvement in extracurricular activities. Keeping lists has allowed me to stay sane through it all. I find myself listing as soon as I get spare time, too overwhelmed to take it all in in one big chunk. My life exists in lists.

Wake up.

Eat breakfast bar.

Brush my teeth.

Get ready for class.

Go to class.

Pay attention in class.

Participate in class.

Go to next class.

Pay attention in class.

Participate in class.

Go to next class.

Pay attention in class.

Participate in class.

Get lunch.

Do homework

(if I’m feeling ambitious)

Go to work.

Do homework at work.

Text everyone I can think to text

(due to work induced boredom.)

Get off work.

Finish homework.

Shower.

Brush teeth.

Go to bed.

By listing, I am able to break my day up into manageable pieces that are small enough for me to chew and swallow without choking to death in the process. There’s something so cold about a list though. While the pieces are easy to deal with, complete, and cross off, there’s something distasteful about living life through lists. The spontaneity of life suddenly disappears.

While I enjoy a good list (or five) to help ensure I complete/pack/buy everything I need to, I don’t want to be the type of person who is ruled by my lists. Some of the best moments in life are the ones that are unplanned, the ones that didn’t make the list. Though I often find the need to organize my crazy, hectic life through lists, I want to start making sure I leave some “off the list” time. Life isn’t all about checking items off some master list (graduate college, get job that I enjoy and pays well, meet man of my dreams, marry man of my dreams, travel Europe with new husband, have 2-3 adorable babies, raise them into well-behaved teens, send them to college, retire to Florida with husband who is still the man of my dreams).

Listing can be a very useful habit, however, it is important for super-listers like myself to realize that life can not be (and should not be) lived by lists alone.

18

Feb

Warm Winds Whipping Through

Something in the warm spring winds that have recently been whipping through campus makes me restless. The recent melting of the snow has left lake-sized puddles all over, adding a sense of adventure to my walk to class. My once leisurely stroll is now sprinkled with caution to ensure that I do not plunge into a watery abyss or sink deep into the mud. One wrong step could be treacherous, or highly annoying and uncomfortable at the very least. 

I embrace this new adventure in my daily routine and I find myself longing for more. I want to be running again; dodging the puddles with two strong, agile legs; feeling the resistance of the rambunctious spring wind and overcoming it; feeling strong; feeling whole again; wholly runner, whole. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way, almost two years now. What a journey its been. I’ve travelled down roads of self-pity, despair, agony; I’ve considered throwing the towel in; it’d be easier to quit, but that’s not what I want; I want to feel whole again; wholly runner. Wholly myself.

I’m on the road to recovery now (I think; I hope). Third time’s the charm, they say. The crippling pain and numbness have not returned (yet?). The short runs on the treadmill barely quench my desire. They’re not enough, but they’re something. The beginning of something at least. The beginning of the final step (I pray)

The warm spring winds whipping through campus give me hope that something new is on its way. I can’t help but hope that this time next year when I look back, this set of spring winds will mark the end of all this. That I can look back at this spring as the last season of this whole ordeal. 

Something in the spring winds makes me restless. It’s time for change, in a big way; time for this whole ordeal to be over. These are the last pages in the chapter called “Injury.” I’m getting stronger. It’s time for this chapter to be over. I can feel it in the wind. 

11

Feb

Love, Drugs, and a Cup of Joe

Saying I enjoy a caffeinated beverage from time to time would be quite an understatement. I love caffeine. This is probably mostly due to the fact that I don’t sleep enough. I realize that sleep is necessary and I certainly enjoy it, but I just never seem to get around to getting enough of it. There’s always one more homework problem to do, one more thing to write in my journal, another meeting ensuring that I don’t start my homework til an hour before I really wanted to be in bed.

So, caffeine has become one of my best friends. I turn to it in the morning to give me a pep in my step on my way to the first class. I beg it to give me some energy to work out after classes. I ask it to keep me awake during my long and somewhat dull night class.

And unlike people (who can often be unreliable friends), caffeine always delivers. One five hour energy shot and I’m sprinting off to the rec. center to punish my body for being “too tired” to work out. One Starbucks Mocha Light and I’m racing around Target completing my errands in record time. One cup of coffee (okay, maybe two) and I’m up and ready to start my day, excitedly jabbering away in class and completing in-class activities with special zest. 

Now, I know what you’re all thinking. “There’s a little thing called caffeine addiction that’s kinda sounding like a term that might describe this so called ‘friendship’ you have with caffeine, Kristine.” Fortunately, I don’t need my friend caffeine to function, I seem to just function better in certain situations when its around. I’m not one of those people who starts shaking uncontrollably and ripping people’s heads off if I don’t get my morning coffee. But, as someone who is definitely NOT a morning person, I do enjoy a good caffeine dosage to add some zip and zest to my mornings.

But, is caffeine a highly addictive drug? Should I watch my consumption more carefully to ensure I don’t overdose? (It’s very rare and hard to accomplish, but you can die of a caffeine overdose. It’d be hard to do by drinking coffee alone though. You’d have to drink at least 42 cups in one sitting.) Personally, I think it’s just like any other “highly addictive” substance we Americans classify as potentially dangerous. Like alcohol, and even “hard core” illegal drugs, caffeine isn’t bad in and of itself. It’s how we use (and abuse) it that makes it bad. So, is it bad that I have a couple cups of coffee a day to wake myself up? Probably not. Is it bad that (once I turn 21) I have a drink or two. Probably not. It’s when these behaviors become part of who you are and become more important than other important things that they become dangerous.

If I could not manage to go through my day unless I had caffeine, I would have a problem. Just like if I had to have eight shots of vodka, or my fix of [insert illegal drug name here] daily you would say I had a problem. Addiction isn’t reserved just for alcohol or illegal drugs, it can be exhibited in many other forms. 

It’s important to recognize when our “friendships” begin to get out of hand. It doesn’t take much for a “friendship” to become an addiction. 

28

Jan

what of global warming, and all that?

As a resident of the midwestern region of the US, there becomes a stretch of time where I find it quite hard to put my faith in the concept global warming. Like right now, when its 20 degrees out and I’m glad for the “warm spell.” Or like yesterday, when I was walking back to my dorm after class in a blizzard, the biting wind finding every piece of flesh that was left exposed and the snow pelting my face angrily. And you know what I was thinking during that walk, “we could use a global warming right now, or at least some regional warming…”

Blasphemy, isn’t it? The poor little polar bears (don’t be deceived by my language here, I really do like polar bears, and animals in general for that matter) are all starving to death because all the ice is melting and they can no longer hunt seals from the ice like they used to. Instead they have to swim for miles and miles and by the time they do find a good meal, they might be too exhausted to try to hunt it. I know this because I’ve watched every single episode of Planet Earth, more than twice. (One of benefits of having surgery and being stuck on the couch for a couple weeks.) On the particular episode I’m describing, the cameras follow the quest of a lone polar bear as he searches for food. The stakes are high, find something to eat or die. After the bear has swam many miles, he finally finds some dry land. And it seems his luck is improving (or so we hope) because the strip of land he happens upon is filled with walruses. Walruses are like big seals with tusks, right? No problem for a polar bear. We hope (as does the polar bear). And so the battle begins, polar bear vs. walrus. Unfortunately, the polar bear is too exhausted and the enemy’s weaponry far to advanced. The polar bear is dealt a fatal blow by the walrus’s tusks and lays down to die, accepting his sad demise.

So, is global warming real? I really don’t pretend to know. I haven’t done enough research or really paid enough attention to the matter to claim that I even remotely know what I’m talking about. I once watched Al Gore’s movie on global warming, but all I remember from it is that they used an animated little boy to help explain the topic and at one point in the movie, when his ice cream cone melted, they blamed it on global warming. 

It strikes me now, as I’m typing along about global warming, that if my blog and I are dating (which we aren’t) we would have had some rather awful/awkward dates. First, I’m going off about how I don’t even want to be there, then I’m droning on about my cats, now I’m talking about the weather. Really?

I think if I were my blog (which I’m not) I would be rather bored and say that maybe we should start seeing other people because well, its not you, its me. And that’d be the end of it. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. It never is. Whether you’re dating blogs or people.

So, what of global warming and all that? I’m not entirely sure. I try to recycle, and shut off the lights when I leave my room, and drink a glass of water instead of a plastic bottle, but do those things help save the polar bears? I’m not entirely sure…

22

Jan

Someday. That’s a dangerous word. It’s really just a code for ‘never’.
Tom Cruise’s character in Knight and Day

21

Jan

If you drink much from a bottle marked ‘poison’ it is certain to disagree with you sooner or later. - Lewis Carroll

If you drink much from a bottle marked ‘poison’ it is certain to disagree with you sooner or later. - Lewis Carroll

who needs cable when you have cats

when I play with my cat, how do I know that she is not passing time with me rather than I with her? —Montaigne

I realize that by posting this Montaigne quote about cats at the beginning of my post, I am putting myself at risk for sounding like Montaigne. But, you know what they say, don’t bash it until you try it.  (For those of you who haven’t read him, the guy liked to throw random quotes into his writing. He claimed it was because he wasn’t that smart, and quoting random famous people made him sound smarter. Maybe, this is what I’m going for here. Maybe, not.)

I also know that this post puts me at risk of sounding like the cat lady at the fine age of 20 years old. You know the cat lady, right? She’s the stereotypical female who began to collect cats to keep her company because she never found another human to show her affection. If you can’t grasp what I’m talking about, you can take a look for yourself. Cat ladies (and men) nation wide have recently debuted on Animal Planet’s Confessions: Animal Hoarding. And let me tell you, they’re giving cat lovers nationwide a bad rep. I enjoy the companionship of a good feline, but I know that the day I have so many cats that I get fired from my job because all my sweaters smell like cat piss, I’ve got a problem. 

Sorry, got a little off topic there. I bet you’re all still dying to know what I meant when I said that cats can replace cable. What I meant is that cats are great entertainment. I think perhaps only current/former cat owners can relate with me here. But, there’s something about cat behavior that’s just so fascinating. From the way they play with and protect their mouse toys to the way they chase each other around tumbling, batting, and hissing.

[Cue anecdote about a cat behaving in an entertaining/cute manner] My cats at home love Christmas time. Mostly because they find the Christmas tree entirely fascinating, but I think all the paper covered packages, ribbons, and bows are equally welcomed. Something new to chew on or explore is always welcome when you’re a cat. My cat, Mougli, has always been particularly enamored with the Christmas tree. She’s always thrilled and amazed when the tree is erected from a pile of color coded branches on our living room floor. She likes to sit under the tree and gaze into its branches for hours, in complete wonderment of the great, green world above her. One day Mougli decided that it was time for her journey into the fake, piney unknown. My dad came in the living room in the middle of Mougli’s journey, only to find the tree violently rocking from side to side (Aside from Christmas trees, another of Mougli’s passions is eating. She has a round little Buddah belly to prove it.) Mougli was promptly removed from the tree and scolded, but we all had a good laugh about it.

I wish there was a point to this kitty cat rant. Unfortunately, I think that one can safely say, however, that the main point of this feline themed post is: cats are pretty darn cool. And funny. So, next time you want a good, clean laugh, shut off the TV and spend some time with a cat. Meow