29 August 2010


Hey, y'all! After my self-imposed exile from blogging, I am back in action! At least, for now, I am back in action. In the time I have been gone, I have moved into my dorm, underwent a one week orientation, and finished my first week of classes. A lot has happened--more than will fit in a blog post--so I have condensed this into a greatest hits-type collection of random things I've learned this past couple of weeks:

1. When you move into your dorm, unpack your own stuff so you know where it is: I unpacked most of my stuff, but I had to go register my vehicle and log into the college's network, so my grandma finished putting things up for me. She is a very organized person, so she put everything in a logical place. Alas, I am not logical, could not figure out where anything was, and had to call her at 7:30 am one morning to ask where my laundry detergent was. I have since discovered where everything is, but this taught me a valuable lesson in unpacking.

2. Get there early on the move-in date: This advice is courtesy of my aunt. She called me my last day home to tell me this. Both of her kids went to big universities and she said it was utter mayhem on move-in days, so being early is essential. I'm going to a pretty small private college, so move-in day wasn't totally chaotic, but I did get good parking and since I was the first in the room, I got to claim the bottom bunk--We shorties find this essential--and move all of my stuff in before my roommate moved her stuff in. Yeehaw!

3. Getting out of your comfort zone is part of college and that can be awesome: My college does a program during orientation in which several of the groups get together and put on skits. I haven't done anything like this since I was in elementary school and I am so shy, so I was dreading this. It ended up being one of the most fun things I've done in a long time. And even though I worked on sets and backstage and never had to be on stage, it did jar me out of my comfort zone and made me realize how much I enjoy theater. At least, the being backstage and collaborating part. So . . . getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing!

4. However, there is such a thing as getting too far out of your comfort zone: Don't worry. I didn't do anything crazy or illegal. But I did go to my first rave-type dance during my orientation. It was all right. I slightly danced for all of like one minute, but that is just not me! I am a nerd. I do not dance. Thus, I sat down and drank Powerade and had way more fun watching everyone else who could not dance dance. But I at least gave it the old college try first. (Did you note the terrible pun? Please say yes. I thought of that for a couple of seconds before writing it down. Please acknowledge my terrible pun or I will torture you with more.) ^^

5. The whole "You'll escape your reputation at college" saying is only true if you don't really deserve your reputation: If you're still being labeled as the kid who ate mud in third grade when you're in high school--I do know someone who did this--yes, you probably will escape your reputation at college. However, if you deserve your reputation, everyone will soon come to that conclusion about you on their own. In my case, I have always been perceived as a neurotic nerdbag. This reputation has followed me ever since elementary school. It has followed me to my new college because, well, I am a neurotic nerdbag. I realized this the day my orientation group was sitting around a table and someone dissed 1970s music. Someone else objected, insisting that some good music was produced then. Me being me, I indignantly blurted out, "Pink Floyd!" The girl sitting next to me told me, "Oh, Zella, you would say that."

6. Working in the cafeteria is not too bad: My college requires work-study, so I was assigned to the cafeteria. I work as a cook's help, server, cashier, cleaner, and general "Hey, do this!" person. To be honest, it's a physically demanding job--way different from the library--but I actually enjoy it. Most of my coworkers are pretty cool, and we get first dibs on meals. Also, on the closing shift, if we finish early, we sit around eating ice cream until time's up. It's called fringe benefits. ^^

7. Upper-division classes in your major are delightfully nerdy: At my community college, I took general ed classes and though I liked most of my professors, most of my classmates complained about everything. Thus, I got dirty looks for getting excited about reading Lord of the Flies. What heathens. Now I am taking only history and English classes--no more general ed!--with fellow English and history majors. The result is we actually have great class discussions, as opposed to everyone sitting in silence because most of them didn't read the assignment and everyone else is too self-conscious to speak up, and my classmates share my nerdy delight in reading Mark Twain and Robert Frost and historical textbooks. This is also the only time that my telling people I am double majoring in history and English is not greeted with stupefied expressions or sad looks that indicate I will be unemployed for a vast period of time. Instead, I get "Oh, those majors complement each other so well!" Note to readers: If you ever take an English class with all English majors, mention the detestable scenario in which Twilight is assigned academic reading. The horrified expressions that uniformly form around the room are priceless. ^^

8. Eating in a cafeteria takes some getting used to: I had not eaten in a cafeteria since I was ten--am now twenty one--so this was a bit of a culture shock for me. In fact, the first few days, I couldn't really eat anything. It took me four days to eat a small full meal and a good week to eat anywhere near normal. It's not that the food is bad--it's pretty good for cafeteria food--but I was a bit overwhelmed by the whole atmosphere and it took some getting used to. Now that I am in classes and walking everywhere, I've actually been eating more than normal--yet I have still managed to lose weight--so it's not an issue, but all of that food is so tempting! As much as I love junk food, I have made an effort to actually eat better. I avoid drinking soda--they serve lemonade and chocolate milk in the cafeteria!--and I try to stay away from burgers and pizza and stick with more healthy options. If I don't like the looks of the more healthy stuff, I will get a burger, but I try not to do it more than once a week. I also try to schedule that for when one of my friends is working the grill. We worked on the skit together and got our worker training together, but we're not scheduled to work with each other--an outrage!!!--so this the only time we see each other. This time-honored ritual involves both of us standing on our tiptoes (the food stations have a top that is at our eye level. The designers did not have short people in mind when they made it), and shout the following conversation at each other over the noisy cafeteria:
"Hey, how are you?!"
"Fine! How's the grill?"
"Not bad. How's salad?"
"Good. Classes going well?"
It's the little things that count. :D

9. Cramming a fridge and microwave in your dorm is worth the space they take up: All of you know my well-documented obsession with Oreos and milk. I can partake in this nightly ritual because my fridge houses a half a gallon of milk to accompany my cookies. Ditto for the popcorn that is cooked in my microwave. I can munch to my heart's content!

10. Attending 26 policy presentations in a week is not too bad if you get good speakers and a mix of funny skits and videos.

11. Your ID card is your friend: Seriously. At my college, you need your ID card with you for pretty much anytime you go to an office or eat in the cafeteria or clock into work. On the flip side, this ID card has netted me free admission to the campus museum and over 30% discounts at the campus's restaurant. Befriend your ID card and never leave home without it.

12. Communal bathrooms are strange at first, but you eventually get used to them.
Am I saying that I do not want to transfer to one of the dorms that has personal bathrooms? God, no! But after a few days, you get over it. Ditto with dorm rooms. I have read horror stories of students waiting for nearly an hour to use the showers, but so far I have never had to contend with that for any longer than a minute.

13. Having a roommate can be awkward at first, but it's not necessarily totally horrible: My roommate and I were complete strangers and we don't have a ton in common, but we get along and try not to get on the other one's nerves. Also, our schedules are not the same and she goes home as often as she can, so we're not getting cabin fever and going psycho on each other. I have learned to look up in the top bunk before turning on the lights and talking to myself aloud and slamming drawers. I did that once for an extended amount of time before realizing my roommate was asleep in her bed. She never said anything about it, but I felt terrible. And foolish. And crazy. Oh, wait. That's me everyday. :D

14. Always have your dorm keys with you: Otherwise, you'll lock yourself out at 7am and have to wait half an hour whilst wearing a bathrobe for the RA to get back from breakfast to let you back into your room.

15. Likewise, make sure you have everything before you leave your dorm: That is, unless you like walking halfway across campus and then having to run back to your dorm and then bolt up 2 flights of stairs to get things . . . more than once in the same hour.

16. 14 college students can fit around a table for 8: My orientation group did this all of the time. Some of you just have to be willing to eat with your plate on your lap--I was always one of these people. No, I was not raised in a barn.

17. If you and 8 of your new college friends decide to go to Wal-Mart together in multiple vehicles, make sure everyone has each other's numbers: Not doing this means someone named Zella will spend the whole time walking around the store looking for everyone else.

18. Living at a college in a tourist town means there's always something to do off campus, but it also means you'll be a tourist attraction, too: This is usually positive--boredom never strikes--but this can suck on occasion. Specifically the being a tourist attraction part. Here at my college, we have a lot of tourists, most of whom are very nice. But we also have a service called Ride the Ducks. And people will use those to tour the campus. It makes us feel like zoo specimens, especially when they quack at us with artificial quackers. (I am not making this up. I hide every time I see the Ducks coming.) Ah, but revenge is sweet. And when we all got to do this ride for free--again that student ID has its perks--we quacked at random tourists with a vengeance. Then again, we also quacked along to "Who Let The Dogs Out?". ("Who let the dogs out? Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!" Try it sometime. It's catchy.)

19. My campus has a strict no-alcohol policy, so I don't have to worry about crazy parties, which is one reason I wanted to come here. Parties annoy me. A delightful side effect of this policy is that, in addition to the school sponsoring constant events to keep us occupied, we students devise all sorts of eccentric randomness to amuse ourselves. One of my personal favorites of these was a snipe hunt that I participated in.

And now I am going to tell you a story. If you have never been on a snipe hunt and would like to eventually go on one, you are not allowed to read any further! Sorry! It will spoil all of your fun.

For the rest of you, that being those of you who have been on snipe hunts or those of you who have not and are determined to read this post anyway, a snipe hunt is a traditional rite of passage in rural areas in which you're taken into the woods to hunt a small bird called a snipe. You will be given bags to capture the snipes and various instruments to murder the little buggers. You will then be left in the woods to wait for the snipes for several hours, or at least until those who are taking you snipe hunting have decided that they've had enough fun at your expense because, um, it's just a huge practical joke. You will not capture a snipe--which are notoriously difficult to hunt--and you certainly won't do it standing out in the woods in the middle of the night holding a plastic Wal-Mart bag.

I was heading back to my dorm one night at about ten o clock when I heard one of the orientation leaders was hosting a snipe hunt. I couldn't resist showing up because a) I am from a rural area and know exactly what a snipe hunt is, b) I am mean and enjoy practical jokes, and c) I know the guy who was leading the snipe hunt has an outrageous sense of humor--and is quite easy on the eyes, if I may say so *cough*--so I knew it would be a fun way to spend a couple of hours.

We--there were nearly twenty of us--all met at the edge of campus, which is basically a huge tract of woods. Those of us who were "experienced" snipe hunters offered to flush the birds out for the newbies. The newbies were given bags, baseball bats, turkey calls, and plenty of ludicrous instructions on how to hunt snipes. We told them we'd put them in a flat area at the bottom of the hill and chase the snipes to them because snipes can't run uphill. We also warned them to be quiet because snipes have excellent hearing but poor eyesight.

We abandoned them and took the hills above them, wherein we made weird noises--ahem, they were snipe calls--and threw rocks into the woods to sound like we were flushing the prey toward them. After about twenty minutes, we discussed whether we should leave our poor friends in the woods, which is how a proper snipe hunt is conducted. But though we were mean enough to trick them, we were not quite that mean. (Also, my college has a weekday curfew we have to observe.) It was decided that we would conclude the snipe hunt early by scaring them. See, ain't we friendly and considerate?

After several minutes in which we all laughed hysterically--but silently--and plotted our next move, we sent one guy running down to where our snipe hunters were stationed, screaming that the snipes were overrunning us and that our fearless hunters needed to escape! "There are too many of them! RUN!" The rest of us, shortly after that, went running back up the hill--in front of our comrades--screaming bloody murder and shouting, "RUN!" " and "They're biting me! Get them off me!" and "OWWWWWWW!" and--in a tribute to Monty Python--"Run away!"

We stood at the top of the hill, trying our best not to laugh, when we saw our hunters running up the hill away from the vicious snipe. When they got to us, we asked them if they saw any snipe and after being told that they hadn't, we regaled them with tales of how we were viciously attacked by snipe--"They bit my ankles!"--and some of us, including yours truly, complained that back home we go snipe hunting all the time and have never had this problem. What is the world coming to when snipe attack you?

As you can imagine, we had more fun with this than the poor snipe hunters did. But . . . they'll get to be in on it next time. ^^

20. I am really enjoying my new college and I'm glad that my anxiety about transferring has so far been proven totally unfounded.

All righty, guys. I am definitely back to blogging here regularly--probably on the weekends--but it may be a few days before I resume doing book reviews on my other blog. I have been too busy to read for pleasure and I still need to write a review for the book I have read. Good to be back! I missed all of you. :)

11 August 2010

Brain Vomit

Okay, I am going to start by apologizing to any and everyone who is subjected to this post! I was going to blog on a new addition to my nerd collection. However, doing a proper post like that takes me a few drafts and a couple of days and I just now sat down to type up my blog post. So you poor souls are going to be subjected to Zella's projectile brain vomit. You poor things. *shakes head in a grandmotherly fashion*

To start off this subconscious ramble, I am going to attend to two matters that I have forgotten in my last posts--and one of them was triggered by my use of the word "grandmotherly". I'm sure you guys remember my blog that detailed my transformation from a pathetic nerd to an angry granny at the sight of Bratz dolls. My good friend Sana has drawn a quite accurate and very scary portrait of this scene on her own blog. I encourage you to have a look at it. ^^

Also, remember my guessing contest a couple of weeks ago where I had you guys guess what movie I took the name of my dog, Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez, from? I had someone get the answer right and totally forgot all about it! Argggghhhhhh! I am an idiot! Sky correctly stated that I got the name from the classic spaghetti western The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Tuco is a rather colorful bandit played by the great Eli Wallach. During a hanging scene, Tuco has all of his crimes read to him and his full name is stated then. If you have never watched that movie, you simply must see it. Sergio Leone directing Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef in a tale of three bad outlaws in a search for gold. Can it get any better than this? NOOOOOO! See it now! *attempts to stop being hyper*

I promised to mention Sky's name because she did know the answer--and is a fellow fan of the movie--and I neglected to do so. I am terribly sorry about that, but I am rectifying that as of now! SKY WON MY GUESSING CONTEST!!!!!!!!!!! And Penguins garners an honorable mention for posting the initials but not giving away the movie's title.

I usually am not quite that forgetful, but I have been extremely scatter-brained lately. That always happens when I am stressed out. I go completely bonkers. Just yesterday, I was at work and I had a handful of movies to file away. Just then a long time patron who always checks out books--and never movies--came up to the desk to check her latest reads out. Idiot me scanned the movies I had just checked in and checked them out to her! She stared at me with a highly alarmed expression until I realized what I had done. Then I apologized profusely and took the movies off of her account and checked her books out to her. After that I went to the bank I have had an account at for thirteen years and forgot my account number when I withdrew money. I have never once forgotten my bank account number! I felt like such a world class goober. Afterwards, I sat in my car and stared into outer space for a long, long time.

That did not help because I kept having horrifying flashbacks of my drive to work in which the large selection of library books I was returning turned on me and attacked me! I have never ever in all of my years of reading been attacked by a book! But it happened Tuesday morning on what seemed like a perfectly normal morning. I sat my stack of about 14 books on my seat next to me and backed out of my driveway. As I was doing so, without provocation and with absolutely no warning, the books began jumping out of the seat and hurling themselves in a highly threatening manner. Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy flung itself at me and landed just centimeters away from a very terrified Zella. Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me launched a vicious assault on my gear shifter and was aided with shocking bloodthirstiness by Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian and Deborah Blum's The Poisoner's Handbook. Not all of my soon to be returned books attacked. Laurie Halse Anderson's Fever, 1793 must have been on the sluggish side--no doubt due to the yellow fever--for it chose to slide to the other side of the seat and fall, wedging it between the seat and my passenger door. Several other innocent books followed its lead and took shelter. Meanwhile, I screamed like a little girl and swerved, narrowly avoiding driving off of the road. It was an outrage! Imagine a world where one is attacked by books! Unthinkable. But it happened to me yesterday. *backs into corner, wary of the next literary barrage*

Today has been much more quiet. I have been packing clothes to take to college with me and dividing them into various piles: take with me so I look like a functioning person at school and work, take with me so I can have something to wear when I feel like being a slob, take with me so I will not look like a complete fashion disaster for halfway formal occasions, not take with me but still keep because I just loved that shirt when I was fifteen, didn't know I had but will take with me because I like it, didn't know I had and not taking but not bad enough to give away--I need something to wear when I am home!, relatively nice stuff I need to give away so someone will wear it, and stuff that I am not in any way taking with me and never will wear but cannot bring myself to give to someone else--either due to sentimental attachment or the fact that I would never ever torture another person with said garment. One such item is a denim dress that looks like something a 1960s era Russian cosmonaut would wear in a sadly misguided attempt to re-enact a Western. Weirdly enough, the couple of times I wore it, everyone told me it was lovely. I don't think so! That is not going to school with me. I deny all knowledge of that dress. So will you. *glare*


Okay, I think you guys have suffered through all of the brain vomit you can handle at the moment. As many of you who also follow my book blog already know, I am going to be taking a vacation from blogger for the next few weeks. I intend to resume blogging in early September, but I have to leave for a one week long college orientation in exactly 31.5 hours and my internet time will be limited. After that, I will be at a new college, with a new job, living in a dorm, which is a first for me. I am excited--for the most part--but I think it's best that I get adjusted without having to worry about posting two blog posts a week. Unfortunately, because I will have very limited online time, you probably will not be seeing me much of anywhere for at least the next week. Not on Blogger or Sparklife or Critique Circle or Facebook or Twitter or any other website I frequent. I will try to keep up with PMs and email, but I may be a little delayed in getting to those. Sorry! I am going to miss all of you, but I look forward to coming back ASAP! :)

04 August 2010

What's In Your Wallet?

Today--in my quest to prepare for school--I opened up a bank account at a bank in the town where my college resides. (My regular bank does not have a branch there, so I figured I'd better have some money stashed away for emergencies.) Overall, it was a pretty uneventful day--excepting my nifty new bank account and a somewhat deja vu moment I had at a local diner.

The place had good food, but horribly slow service, and they put lettuce on my burger after I specifically said they could put whatever they always put on it except lettuce. I saw the waitress write this down on her notepad. There was no excuse for botching that order! I didn't complain. I just peeled the lettuce off and munched away happily.

The reason I mention this is I have a random childhood memory that always flashes before my eyes when I see lettuce. It was December of 1998. I was 9 years old and my decidedly religiously apathetic mother decided that the perfect family holiday memory would be taking her agnostic German Jewish parents and my brother and me to a Unitarian Christmas pageant. You know those well-meaning family moments that are just doomed from the start? This was one of them. I remember nothing about the play except for the bored expression on the face of my grandpa, who bore a disturbing resemblance to one of my favorite authors, Elie Wiesel--I am not joking; they could have been twins--and a skit set in the Titanic's dining room. (This was when the movie was really popular.) Anyhoo, a man was sitting at a table to order, and the waiter asked him what he wanted. The guy said salad, so the waiter asked him what kind of lettuce. The man said "Iceberg!" and right then, an iceberg tore up the ship. I remember being nine and thinking a) What the heck does this have to do with Christmas, b) That pun amuses me in a horribly corny manner, and c) That was some excellent special effects for a local play. Thus, every time I see lettuce or say lettuce or hear the word lettuce, this scene flashes before my eyes. And it flashed before my eyes in slow motion this afternoon as I gazed down upon the lettuce that contaminated my hamburger.

But I digress--lettuce has a tendency to do this to me. While I was setting up my new bank account, I had to hand over my driver's license and social security card. As I was digging through my wallet to do so, I realized that I have a ton of stuff in there. I decided to organize my trusty wallet after I got home. And now here I am, staring down at all of the cards I have in that wallet and wondering what I am doing with half of them.

  • I carry a driver's license, which is nice, seeing as I have been driving for a couple of years now.

  • I carry my social security card, which is senseless because I know my SSN and also have read it's not really safe to carry the card with you.

  • I carry photo IDs for two separate colleges, one which I no longer attend and one I haven't started at yet.

  • I carry a handy little tip chart that shows the correct percentage for tipping waiters for meals that range from $1 to $200. I never use the handy tip chart.

  • I carry a Wal-Mart gift card that I received for Hanukkah last year. I believe it's been used up, but I am not sure.

  • I carry an Aeropostole gift card that I received for my eighteenth birthday in 2007. I went in the store once and never found anything I liked. I am not sure if it's expired by now or not.

  • I carry two current insurance cards for my car--I think I forgot to put one in my glove box--and two expired insurance cards.

  • I carry a campaign card some guy who was running for sheriff handed out. It has a calendar on it. The calendar is for 2008. I did not vote for the sheriff because I do not even live in that county.

  • I carry a somewhat more useful 3 year calendar card from my insurance agent. (It's still current. :D)

  • I carry a hunter orange card that affirms that I did pass a hunter safety course three years ago. I have yet to use it.

  • I carry a library card. Mine is red, but we stopped issuing red ones a few months ago. In fifty years, I believe it will be a rare treasure for that reason.

  • I carry a voter's registration card. *launches into "responsible nerd who does her civic duty dance"* After working two elections where eighty percent of the voters did not carry theirs and had no idea which precinct they vote in, I think not carrying one's voter registration card should be punishable by flogging. Don't argue with me. I'll flog you.

  • I carry a Post Office box card that I rely on because I can't remember my newly minted P.O. Box's zip code.

  • I carry a handwritten ID card that lists my name, address, phone number, and emergency contact information. I have no idea why that's in there because I have so many other cards that list my name and address.
I also carry a bunch of business cards with me. I have my mechanic's business card, though I never call him because my grandpa--my other grandpa who does not look like Elie Wiesel--knows him and does that for me; I have my hairdresser's business card, but I never call her because I stop by her shop when I want to book an appointment; I have two bankers' business cards--one of which I just added today; I have my vet's business card, but I always forget that I have it and look his number up in the phone book, though it is programmed in my cell phone; I have two different attorneys' business cards, though I never use them, either; I have my insurance agent's card--she sure hands out a lot of stuff, doesn't she?; I have a business card from the local pawn shop because I like to compulsively swipe people's business cards; I have a friend's business card from Sears because he told me if I ever had mechanical problems and needed help to call him. If I ever have a problem, all I have to do is call, and I'll have a tall blond knight in shining armor show up! Well, a tall blond knight in a polo shirt and jeans . . .

But the one thing that really puzzles me and that I barely remember putting in there is a large folded index card that literally lists the phone number of every relative I am in contact with. It also lists all of my then friends' numbers. There are two of them. I haven't spoken to either one in nearly a year--nothing personal; I just don't see them anymore--and neither of the numbers are accurate because one friend is now divorced and lives in another state and the other is just married and moved away. The card also lists the numbers for the local tow truck company, my eye doctor, a doctor who my grandma goes to but who I have never been to, the electric company, the post office, the library, the city police, the county sheriff, and--get this--Wal-Mart. I have no idea what possessed me to write this out, let alone carry it around with me for years. I feel sorry for whoever finds this card and tries to figure out who would feel compelled to write down the local Wal-Mart's number.

After I was done, I decided to blog about my wallet. I then promptly restored all of its contents to its rightful place, including the creepy card with mostly outdated numbers. You never know when you'll need to call Wal-Mart . . .

What's in your wallet?