Seen Through the Eyes of the College Dorm

June 30, 2009

“Nothing is sacred in the dorm. All is known. All is done. It is the established, anti-establishment of the college establishment.”
- ME! 2009

Ah the dorm. It is the home away from home, the dark hole of Calcutta, study cubicle, roommate bond-a-rama, place of slumber and the splendid romantic getaway of all your high school and college dreams, right? Maybe? Well, those days are in the rearview mirror.

Now, you’re in the first, second, third, etc. place in your real terra firma quarter life. I imagine it is a long way from the MTV Crib, the classic “Friends” New York style décor with some edginess, cute fixer upper bungalow or the downtown exposed brick loft.

And then you are probably working that “perfect” job in the human resource cubicle farm. In these horrible economic times that employment might be just Seattle’s Best coffee in your local Borders. Either way, you are putting in long hours which sort of makes it another kind of home away from home. A long way from the dream job with its cute pants suits, silk ties, caz Fridays, expense account American Express, flex time and global travel.

Hell you may have it all and I am just blowing in the wind. But, I doubt it. Let me know…am I in the ballpark here? More than likely. So let’s get on with it.

Back to the college dorm. It was not girls running around with towel wrapped hair in cotton robes sharing good times and bad. Your first place or current home is not olive trays, chardonnay parties and tea roses in the garden. And in a twist of weird irony…for guys it is still not a place of chicas scurrying draped with towel wrapped hair in cotton robes or LESS! All of these visions of habitation have one thing in common…exceeded youthful expectations. Now no one is not telling you to set your goals high and strive to attain them, but come on…

Instead of exceeded expectations of occupancy, how about putting things into healthy perspective with casual comparisons? What you had then and what you have now. And what you can do with it in your quarter life journey. Let us compare, contrast and come up with some helpful hints. We’ll start off with some easy ones to ponder and move onto some heavy hitting lying on the therapist couch types.

Twin Bed Still? They were a dorm mandatory item. Might I suggest taking that first pay stub, skip the student loan payment and splurge on a larger canvas to practice your romantic artistry, slumber upon, cry away in the old comforter, and snooze button yourself to a reprimand from your boss or sleep off the hangovers which get harder and harder as your 20’s keep getting older and older.

For the girls, in the dorm, there were the mildewed walls and Monet prints…oh you’ll have the cute comforter to tie it all in. Now? Well, the mildew is still there. The Monet frame was broken during its packing cardboard box journey in the back of the truck. But, you still have the comforter with all its stained and peculiar scents full of memories. Though it is now the designated DVD watching couch comforter.

Dorm: Encrusted hair driers, crappy countertop space & shower shoes. Your place: Same, sans the shower shoes.

Your Dorm Dead Potted Plants makes you think about what kind of a parent you will be. Your ¼ life? Start off easy. Ferns are hard to kill. Then maybe a cat or puppy. Move on to a boyfriend…or girlfriend…or both. I am not here to judge.

Dorm and/or new abode bathroom etiquette or lack thereof? Damn. Still sharing the bathroom? Better reevaluate your next lease, 2 beds – 2 baths…minimum!

The Old Poster. Dorm posters that show places and things you have never been nor done. Get on a plane and fix that…SOON!
Clothes Care Center…a.k.a. dirty and ancient washateria. Take a stand against collecting quarters. D/W hook-ups can make life worth living.

Furnishing? Dorm furniture is, in the basic definition, I guess we could call it furniture. You might still have some and probably will send a few pieces off with your far in the future son or daughter’s good-byes going to their college years. Clutter equals bad. Corn colored couch from the 70’s…keeper!

Coed dorms? A place where dreams and nightmares come true!
Coed office bathrooms…nuff said! Go down a floor, across the hall, lunch at Chochkies crapper. You’ve put in your time with sharing the facilities, you deserve your own little place.

Lofts? You tell me how a living abode word can have two desperately separate meanings? One loft is a trendy home in a converted warehouse district. The other is something you built with the roomie out of discount lumber from Home Depot.

Microwave popcorn? There is no escape. The dieting office secretary pops hers at 3:30 every afternoon. Its rank pop emanates from I sear to God the same over used, never cleaned, trillion Watt, and crusty microwave in your previous college dorm kitchen.
Smell Advice. Replace the Bath and Body weapon of mass destruction smells with something clean and subtle. Hopefully there is no need to unsuccessfully disguise the previous zoo smell of your dorm room. And no more need for the incense stick. Well, maybe. Depending on your relax habits. This time use a liquid oil incense diffuser.

What’s that on the Wall? No movie posters, horribly sickly sweet romantic prints, pennant flags, sports, splayed nudity, beer induced advertisements or anything computer game related. There is a time to put away childish things and start anew as a grown, legal, libel, liberated, insurance paying individual. Exception you can keep out that Madden 10…that is a pretty sweet game. Oh, and stacking beer cans has now become recycling. I think Mother Earth can take another one for the team. Go ahead and start another.

“Back After Class!” Grease pencil message board on the door. Maybe one of these plastic wonders can still reside in your world, but keep it on the cubicle wall.

Schadenfreude…..making me feel glad that I’m not you

June 24, 2009

I don’t generally feel the need to gloat in my schadenfreude, but I have got to take a moment to reflect on the current ridiculousness of the Republican Party leadership in the last week. First we get the public admission of infidelity by Senator John Ensign, made most ridiculous by his continuous fights against gay rights for interfering with “family values.” That story has so many more levels, including his hiring of his mistresses’ son to his staff and the admission itself prompted by a leak that was never actually leaked.

But today, today we finally get to know where South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has been for the last week. He was in Argentina, with his “dear dear friend,” with whom he apparently has been having an affair for the last year. This story, if you haven’t been keeping up, began when Sanford’s office said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, but that they couldn’t get in contact with him. This weekend just happened to be “hike naked” weekend, making the story that much more complex. But now we know that we have an admission of infidelity that spans international boarders. Reports are still new on this, so I’m sure there will be far more details to come.

What is going on in the minds of these leaders? Do you get to a point with your ego that you think you just aren’t going to get caught? That you can espouse (pun intended) right wing rhetoric and conservative nonsense and not get caught in your hypocrisy? The inner dynamics of a relationship, especially that between spouses, is intensely complex. I think that infidelity in a relationship is a very personal situation that shouldn’t be dragged out in public- unless you are a public figure who relies on your reputation and moral standings to back up your actions. And if you’re running away to Argentina, leaving an entire state without governing leadership, you’d better have a better excuse than infidelity.

The Quarter Life Living 1.0

June 24, 2009

“Money. The cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.” – Will Rogers

Oh and here is a good one…


“For I don’t care too much for money,

For money can’t buy me love.” – The Beatles

Few truer things were ever spoken. Bills and bucks are all necessary elements and/or evils to everyone. When you add the components of these scary economic times and the old war fiscal mantra adage of bullets or butter…well you get the idea.

Wampum hard to come by and harder to keep!

The quicker you learn how to handle your almighty dollars the sooner you will be on your way to a happier and healthier quarter lifestyle and eventual transition to something resembling adulthood.

Most young 1/4s need to save money and pinch a few pennies. Yet most newbie professionals, semi-established or fresh off the campus feel the “need” to live large and subsequently outside their means. We are not talking ramen here, just a few hints to keep the debt low while the times high. We are also not putting out advice on your 401Ks, retirement pensions and big time serious dinero stuff. Like most things in life it is the little, simpler things which make all the difference.

Fees

There are fees for everything. ATM. Paying by phone. Paying by Internet. Shipping and Handling. General Oxygen Use. Obama’s latest Robin Hood scheme. And after they screw you over, only then do you get the KY lubricant fee. Per transaction another bank’s cash cow adds up quick.

Impulse Buying

Make a list when shopping for groceries and other needed items. Stick to it. Oh, never go on a supermarket run when you’ve got the munchies!

Tickets

In a study conducted at Texas Transportation Highway Institute, the average person will get eight parking tickets during their life time. And to boot, (no automotive legal punishment pun intended) the average Joe or Jane will be the lucky recipient of five driving violations. Now consider this: the study also showed one speeding ticket is about $130 bucks or more. Then there are the points on your license. And now the mega increase in insurance. For the next five years you will pay $20 or more per month for the same insurance. That is if they do not drop you altogether. This adds up to mucho bucks! Slow down. Pay the parking garage. Don’t just run in and run out to return to a ticket under the rain wiper. And mind the handi-man signs.

Infamous Buying Sprees

In college, there was a t-shirt to match every significant event. Contrary to your own self-sense of the pressing need for that outfit or that video game or the microbrew or Bagley Mischa shoes or the NFL package pay per view, you do not have to have a t-shirt for such moments. Thus the comparison tool is used to show ya, if that impulse or unneeded buy is not t-shirt worthy, don’t bother handing out the cash.  If you need a T so badly, go give blood. You also get a free cookie and some orange juice.

A New Me!

This advice is a little biased, for mostly girls only. Buying new stuff every time an opening in the drama or crisis or revelation worlds shows up in an attempt to renew yourself…not a good thing. Be you and not your stuff.

Computer Envy

If your machine does the job for what you need and it is not a Commodore 6400, you are in good shape. Let it go.

While at the Office Avoid Prolific Snack Bar and Machine Use.

These are just caloric and money slot machines. Put a few snacks in the old backpack.

Credit Cards

The bane of all young people’s existence. It is all right to get a couple of cards to start developing a good credit history and not a future bankruptcy. But be careful. On the other hand, the way out of the global recession is easy. If the gov’t would pay off all our credit cards instead of paying off failed CEOs and execs…we would go out, buy like crazy and ring up the credit limits pronto. Thus, propelling consumer spending and confidence to new highs. And to think I was not tapped as Sec of Treasury. But, another sum up – No matter what meds you are one, I don’t have to tell you it is real money that plastic represents. And though all the credit card banks get a bail out…rest assured you will not.

Gas Cards

How 1990’s. If you still have one. Use them for gas only. How quickly the  .99 cent mega gulp and $4.00 bag of chips turn that monthly billing statement into a scream for help.

Night on the Town

Take it easy…on your body and checkbook. Cover charges? Do you always have to go to the newest, trendiest clubs or raves, as well as pay the over priced entry fee? Find someplace where you can be you and not have to sell your soul to get in? Sex and the City was a TV show. You don’t have to drink yourself to a bloated waistline or tab bill. And dudes, the Hooters girls are not going home with you. Your beer charm can never overcome your pricey pile of Habanera picked clean bone leavings.

Twitter, Texting and Talking in Non-roaming Areas at all Times of the Night.

Get’s expensive and you need to get a life.

Get Involved

A sure way to be large and in charge of your life whiling saving a few bucks, padding the resume, impressing both sexes with your big heart, and generally being a better human being, is to join up in the volunteer thing. There is always a club, non profit, helping hand organization and subsequent people and cause you can help. There is also the time put in for a good cause, sense of satisfaction, and a potential group of future friends out there just for you. This involvement has so many benefits…one being a much cheaper form of instant entertainment.

Nickel and Dime You to Death

“Before everyone leaves. We need $5.00 from each of ya for Cathy in the mailroom’s birthday.” Oh, and you know it never stops there. Someone has to buy a card, put in some cash for the pizza. Girl Scout cookies, dollar shamrocks you sign and put up in the local stop-and-rob, the neighborhood kiddy school candy bars, beer run money, spending limits of gifts that never quite come up to the total, etc, etc. Spend money on what you want to…not what everyone tells or pressures ya for.

Turn the Computer Off

Go outside and live. Not that it will save you six figures in utility bills, but pealing your Cheeto stained ass cheeks off the computer chair, removing Warcraft from your hard drive equals more exercise and real people to interact with.

Acme Corporation

I once new a college buddy that spent at least an hour a day sending letters and emails of appreciation to various companies explaining how much he enjoyed their products. These companies in turn would then send him free coupons for their wares.. He got everything from free tires to French manicures. The total on freebie pizza alone was twenty-six pies. Give it a shot. Some Customer Service Rep at Acme Corp needs to justify her job somehow!

Coupons

They are marvelous little devices for saving money…clip, keep and use.

Pizza

College is behind you. Stop the madness.  The Hut, Inn, Papa and Mr. Domino love you guys and your cash. Watch your wallet and your step on the scale day.

Décor

One word. SLOW. You do not need the Pottery Barn lifestyle within six months of moving into your place. Again, SLOW.

Student Discount

You still have the school ID? Use this little privilege as long as you can and in any circumstance that allows you to. The next time you get to have such rights is when you are over 65 and then it is cheap cafeteria plates and Gold Bond Powder.

Hamburger Helper

It does help the pocket book…you decide if it helps the intestinal track. But, to add a bit of sophistication to your dining pleasure, try a nice merlot with the Cheeseburger Mac. They compliment each other perfectly with a hint of fine cave aged artistry.

Stock Up when Parents in Town

If possible, never ever let this privilege of parental visitations fad into adulthood. If they are willing so should you. Bring on the mom and pop credit card.

Dating

Dinner, movie and dessert used to be the way to go. Not so much nowadays. That is if she is not on the laptop and actually a chick. And dudes, gals appreciate diversity and imaginative dating. In these more enlightened times there is also the notion that boys don’t have to always pay. Girls put in your share as well or split the check.

Read!

There are these things called libraries! A rich dude, who would make Billy Gates look like overpass poor, Carnegie, built a few. Instead of Border and Barnes and Nobling it, or hitting Amazon…go get your reading pleasure for free. And no it is nothing like MTV’s moronic show “Silent Library.”

Wheeling and Dealing

Used books, CDs, DVDs, donated blood, resale clothes. You name it. Someone will buy it. This is fast cash for the willing.

Change Can be a Good Thing

You would be surprised what you can buy with the change you find. Make a game of it.

.99-cent value meals

If you can buy food with the change in your car seat of ashtray, then go for it! See above.

This is just a smattering of ways and means to save a buck or two while having your first run and a quarter life. Half the enjoyment of these years in your life is learning to deal with the splurge and Spartan lifestyle balance. Life is hilariously serious. Managing your money is an equally important topic, tool and lifetime endeavor. The greatest snippet of advice I can give for both? Just remember, the best things in life are for free.


Green Peace

June 14, 2009

How much did you pay attention to Iran this weekend? The US mainstream media has been oddly avoidant on the topic. Granted, it is the weekend, but the blogosphere never sleeps. I like to think that you out there, the Quarterlifers smart enough to get your news from the internet, are informed. However, I’ve had a few friends tell me “what about Iran?” and I’m miffed.

Iran held a Presidential election on Friday its a big effing deal. Granted, the President of Iran doesn’t hold the same power as the President of the US, seeing as they have a “Supreme Leader” above him who isn’t publicly elected. Incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005 and has faced criticism since then, both domestically and internationally. Ahmadinejad’s closest rival in the election, Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh, was expected to take a big chunk out of Ahmadinejad’s performance, and even win by a landslide depending on what news source you read. Iranian election officials declared Ahmadinejad the winner of this 2009 elections, resulting in revolts in the streets of Iran (for details, check out Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com. Statistics rule). With election results that reek of tampering, the revolution has taken to the streets. With communications, including cell phone calls and text messaging,  stifled out of Iran, we don’t have full details yet on how many have been killed and injured, but we know that the streets are not calm.

I feel for the Iranians. We know what it is to go through an election, only to have it stolen out from under you. But their outrage is far more raw than ours ever was, and rightly so. Funny now to be on the other side of the coin, having to deal with a country that fixes elections.

Thats fierce, but not in the right way.

June 12, 2009

The gayternets are a buzz today. If you haven’t been following the news for the past, oh, six months you might be a little confused. Since Obama’s inauguration, all special interest groups have been monitoring his decisions and seeing how his campaign promises add up against his policy decisions. Human rights got a bit of a bump with the closing of Guantanamo. Women’s rights in the workplace got a huge step that has been decades in coming with the Lilly Ledbetter act. The steps Obama has taken so far seem to be in line with his campaign promises. We have yet to get a health care bill or solid plans for new energy development, but there haven’t been any real steps backward in these regards. All looks well….until we review the promises made to the gay community.

A ‘Fierce Advocate’ to the LGBT community is how Obama described himself to campaigners. We believed him when he said he wanted to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. We believed him when he said he supported full equality for same sex adoptions. We believed him when he said he supported a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, effectively allowing same sex marriages to be recognized in any state.

To quote former President Bush “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

So far the offenses have been somewhat defensible. His refusal to stop prosecution of military members under investigation for violation of DADT may have legal backing. His absence of comments on the upholding of Proposition 8 in California were met with a promise that there was a bigger announcement in the works. We got a lukewarm recognition of gay pride month only to be followed by this case involving the Defense of Marriage Act.

But what are we to make of the most recent snub? On Thursday, the Department of Justice filed a brief on a case concerning the Defense of Marriage Act. Not only has the Obama administration upheld the constitutionality of DOMA, but they have equated same-sex marriage to incest and pedophilia. The brief argues that states have had the right to ignore unions from other state of under-aged individuals or those related by blood. Sure they have. States were also allowed to ignore multi-racial unions, but that doesn’t seem to be a factor according Obama. That is an argument of “my minority deserves more rights that your minority.”

Gay rights groups have already issued statements deploring the decision and equating the Obama argument to those of the Bush administration- both being legally unsound.

The point in all of this is that it isn’t going to matter in 10 years. No one born after 1980 sees the reason why one group of people doesn’t deserve the exact same recognition and rights as any other group of people. This discrimination and bigotry isn’t going to last. Why not step up and be a leader Obama? Not even a leader, why not just follow through on your promises to those people who believed you, to those people who put you in the office you are currently enjoying. How about this- don’t worry about following through, but could you refrain from taking us backwards? We’ll focus on someone who can take us forward next time if you aren’t willing to step up and be the fierce advocate you say you are.

I Do Not Hook Up

June 8, 2009

NPR is weighing in on dating this week. Studies show that we as twenty-somethings are not dating, but rather are hooking up. The availability of casual encounters are much higher for our generation with co-ed dorm rooms, the pervasiveness of Craigslist, and a focus on career and socialization rather than settling down.

My response was…”And?”

Actually, NPR tried to withhold judgment….kind of. They tried to take the high road of “sociological observer” rather than critic. The piece still comes across as “sex bad, marriage good” in the end and that the casual sexual encounter is devoid of emotion, feeling, or care for your partner.

Our own first lady of American Idol, Kelly Clarkson,  has a song on the charts now proclaiming “I Do Not Hook Up.” Ironically co-written by Katy Perry of “I Kissed a Girl” fame, the chorus tells us:

Oh, no, I do not hook up, up, I go slow
So if you want me, I don’t come cheap
Keep your hand in my hand, your heart on your sleeve
Oh, no, I do not hook up, up, I fall deep
‘Cause the more that you try the harder I’ll fight
To say goodnight

I prefer the Rollergirl anthem of Brand New Key that totes:

I ride my bike, I roller skate, don’t drive no car
Don’t go too fast, but I go pretty far
For somebody who don’t drive
I been all around the world
Some people say, I done all right for a girl.

The tide may be turning where the hook up is no longer regarded as a seedy event in which only loose women and studly men partake. Even if Kelly Clarkson and NPR don’t approve.

For full NPR hooking up info:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105008712