Tuesday, September 25, 2018
I assume so, anyway.
I wouldn't know, because when I awoke one morning in May, it was to the earsplitting shrieks of an alarm. I rolled out of bed and onto the floor, blindly searching for the source of the endless beeping. There's nothing quite like crawling around in the darkness at 4:30am and searching for something. Gollum had it rough. I made my way across the room, finally finding my phone and shutting it off.
Blessed silence. All I wanted was to cocoon myself in my comforter and never emerge, but, unfortunately, I had things to do. The first being, namely, to get up off of the floor.
I sighed and stood up, immediately regretting the decision. I swayed and gripped the top of my dresser. Apparently, five-ish hours of sleep isn't enough. Good to know. I edged my way through the blackness towards the light switch, trying to avoid the corners of the bed, which were also black and consequently invisible.
I made it to the far wall without incident. Nailed it! I thought, just before tripping on the textbook I'd left on the floor the night before. I bumped into the wall, accidentally finding the light switch in my attempt to catch myself. I congratulated myself on my godlike skills of balance and flipped on the overhead light. I had the foresight to shut my eyes before doing this, so I wasn't blinded for more than a few moments.
I rummaged through my closet, making the strategic (read: unusual and uncalled for) decision to wear something other than yoga pants before making my way to the bathroom. I glanced up at the mirror, meeting my own sleep deprived and slightly crazed stare. Yikes. Hello, Shrek.
After my shower, I poured the equivalent of four shots of espresso into a mug.
I took a sip.
I'm gonna die, I thought, before guzzling the rest of the mug's contents.
The sun hadn't yet risen, but I was already out the front door and headed to the bus stop. It was a Friday, and Agriculture classes were canceled that day, so there were only a few other students seated on the bus. I stared blankly out the window across from me, thinking about nothing. After a few minutes, it occurred to me that there was a student sitting there, and he was looking extremely uncomfortable. I snapped back into the present.
The bus stopped and I stepped out of it, psyching myself up to walk the quarter mile to the Agriculture building. The coffee helped. It was almost 6 by the time I walked in. I located the professor in charge of registering students' names and put mine down on the list.
"Alright then," I said, looking up at him with my pen still on the page. "What do you need me to do?"
"I... Uh..." He cast about for something to say. "... didn't expect any students to be on time, so... I don't have anything right now for you."
He gestured to a nearby group of tables and chairs. "I guess you can just sit here for now."
"Okay, thank you," I said, sitting down. The whole point of being here was for extra credit and, as long as my name was on the sheet of students who earned it, I didn't really care how I spent my time. I could afford to waste it. And, boy, did I.
Over the next half hour, several other professors made comments in passing about how unexpected it was that a student was on time. I wasn't entirely sure what I would be doing to earn this extra credit. The professors I asked gave me vague answers and, when another student did end up arriving, she didn't know what we were doing either.
At a quarter to seven, a sufficient number of other students had arrived, and I was told to go into Exam Room 202 with the professor of horticulture who would "probably have something for you to do". She was a tall, thin, woman with long and curly blonde hair. She wore cat-eye glasses and an earth toned dress with a gigantic shawl wrapped around her shoulders. When she spoke, it was in a soft, cute, and mystical voice that honestly kind of weirded me out. But she brought breakfast tacos, so I got over it.
She assigned me to a small group of students who would be giving early college entrance exams to high schoolers.
"The first one starts at 7:15," she told us gently. "So please have everything set up by then."
She glided smoothly away with the rest of the tacos, her long dress whispering as she left. I'm not entirely convinced her feet were on the floor. There were three other girls in my group, and only one guy. Before getting to work, we introduced ourselves. I'm going to say that they were called Deborah, Bethany, Megan, and Dave for no reason other than that those were their actual names. We set up posters for the students to analyze and organized the exams we were to distribute.
Deborah, Bethany, and Megan were all smiles. They laughed as we taped down the posters to the desk at the back of the room, making jokes about how they couldn't use tape properly and needed Dave's help. They gushed about how attractive my satchel was and appeared to be excited for the day to begin so that they could earn their extra credit. None of us had met before, but you would have thought they had known each other their entire lives.
It was almost exactly seven, and I felt like I was about to enter hibernation. It wasn't until I began having thoughts like seven months isn't that bad that I realized it was a problem. Note to self: don't be sleep deprived and caffeine addicted before walking a mile and setting up an exam room. Your metabolism doesn't like that. It was a weirdly specific mental note to make, but I found it helpful.
"I'm gonna go get a Starbucks," I announced to the room. "Does anyone want anything?"
The girls looked at each other and shook their heads in unison.
Dave raised his hand slightly.
"Actually... I'd like one."
"Cool. What do you want?"
"Here's five bucks. Just get me anything."
"No, really. What do you want?"
Dave seemed momentarily nonplussed. Then he gave me a detailed and very particular request. The nearest Starbucks was within walking distance of most buildings on campus (a wise marketing decision), so it only took a few minutes to order our drinks separately and make my way back. Nevertheless, I only had two minutes to spare before the prospective college students were set to arrive.
Upon my return, I set the contents of my left hand (my coffee, my wallet, my phone) down on the desk in front of him. Now that I was less likely to drop anything, I placed his change on his receipt.
"Heresyourcupheresyourreceipt," I recited in one breath. Walking up hills with a deadline is hard.
"You don't have to-" he began, indicating to the change I had already handed to him. He looked down at it in mild surprise. "Well, okay."
Why on earth would he not expect his change back? That's kind of sad. I turned around, towards the front of the room, intending to put my things back in my bag. As I did so, I noticed that Deborah, Bethany and Megan had their arms crossed and were whispering to one another in a decidedly unfriendly and conspiratorial way. The moment they realized I had turned around, they immediately changed expressions to something either pleasant or neutral and fell silent.
OOH she gave BACK his CHANGE, I thought in an annoying falsetto voice, which made me grin into my coffee. It was apparent that their prior friendliness to me had been mostly an act. I didn't mind. I was only there to get extra credit anyway.
The doors opened, and the first of the high school students filed in. Megan, Dave, and I directed them to their seats ("Those of you doing the first part, sit at the front."). Bethany and Deborah stood at the front of the room, nibbling on the remains of donuts that they had gotten who-knows-where. When the students were seated, the girls set down their donuts and passed out exams.
We had been told very explicitly that these high school students weren't allowed to speak while they were on campus (gotta keep those exams secret, right?), and these children looked as though it was true. They were solemn and tired-looking. The oldest one there couldn't have been more than sixteen.
It was depressing, and I didn't enjoy it. One girl in the third row of desks looked up at the front of the room, biting her pencil anxiously. I smiled at her. She slowly smiled back, and, after tapping her face with the pencil, began selecting answers with greater enthusiasm than before. The next time someone looked up, my smile was received the same way. I felt the three other girls' eyes on me as I did this, but they said nothing to me and were content to mutter amongst themselves. By the end of the exam's allotted hour-and-a-half, the students didn't look completely miserable. A few even smiled at me on their way out of the room.
Bethany, Deborah, and Megan were sitting on the professor's desk in the front of the room, staring at their phones, when the next group of students arrived. They made no move to get up when Dave and I started seating people. He and I passed out the exams. I followed the same pattern I had begun with the first group of students: smiling when they looked up, walking around the room to make sure that no one tried to cheat, and sipping from my coffee all the while. By the end of this exam, the three girls were refusing to acknowledge my presence, opting instead to leave the room for long stretches of time.
The third and final group of high school students filed into Room 202. Deborah, Bethany, and Megan began to laugh and whisper to one another in the middle of the students' exam. They were charging their phones and had formed a semicircle where they were showing one another the source of their laughter. Dave glanced at me, but I was already in the process of crossing the room. I approached their group and said in a low voice, "They're trying to take an exam. Quiet down, please."
I received two blank expressions and one annoyed one in response. But they did quiet down for a time. It wasn't long until their silence was broken yet again and they were giggling loudly with the intent to distract. This happened twice more. With each interaction, the teenagers started looking up from their exams more frequently to watch.
Then it was over. We were informed that no more students would be arriving. Bethany, Deborah, and Megan promptly left. Dave and I had the honor of cleaning up the room by ourselves. With that done, I found the professor of horticulture in her office.
The door was open. She was seated at her computer, surrounded by piles of books and papers, focused intently on whatever she was typing. Her cat-eye glasses glittered from the screen's reflection. Plants hung in the windows and were displayed across shelves, some blooming, some not, all meticulously cared for.
"Professor," I said gently, trying not to startle her.
She jumped, her shawl catching on the side of her chair.
"Ye-yes," she stammered. Her voice still retained that mystical quality, though, in that moment, she resembled more a deer in headlights than someone who had experienced the otherworldly.
"I'm just wondering if there's anything else I'm supposed to do. I was part of the group in Room 202-"
"Oh," she smiled graciously. "No, you're done. Take a shirt."
"Take a- What?"
"A shirt." She gestured vaguely behind her at a stack of large boxes. "They're back there somewhere."
I found the indicated box behind a large potted plant and began to rifle through it, finally selecting a blue shirt that pleased my inner twelve-year-old and made me exhale through my nose. It read Texas State Horticulture on the front and gardeners do it with hoes on the back. I left her office.
I stepped back into the exam room for a moment to tell Dave that he could leave, and thanked him for helping me. He responded in kind, and I went home.
Thursday, September 6, 2018
In hindsight, the high-five was probably a bad idea. I regret nothing.
You'd probably like some background for this statement, and there is one. It's incredibly lengthy, and troublesome to untangle, but I'll do my best. Here it is: I needed a passport to get to Europe.
Now that you've gotten the background, let's talk about the events leading up to what is arguably my greatest moment.
"I need coffee," I said to no one in particular, who also happened to be Emily.
"You think we'll get food?"she asked, clearly paying as much attention to our conversation as I was.
"I dunno," I responded, removing presumably clean toddler underwear from on top of my satchel. Absentmindedly, I folded it and handed it to the three-year-old who clearly knew where it belonged better than I did. Tabitha raced off, and, judging from the piercing shriek that echoed from the now open bathroom door, I knew that she had put it away properly.
Mom strode in with Jonathan in tow.
"Let's go, are y'all ready?"
Resounding "yes ma'ams" sounded from everyone around me, who had all somehow managed to find the socks and/or shoes they had vehemently denied owning until now.
I slung the bag across my body, snagging my hair in the strap's buckle.
"Yep," I chimed in, eyes watering.
We piled into the van, and I quickly acclimated to my role as the Child Friendly DJ, playing only the best music from 2008: High School Musical. After suffering in mute horror for almost three minutes, Caleb, the bathroom shrieker extraordinaire, took over. His music taste is interesting. I've never heard rats playing banjos with plastic forks before.
We arrived at the post office, and only Mom and I got out. After all, it would only take about 20 minutes if the person was slow. We were the only customers in the building, and there were two tellers.
"I can take you," said a man on the left side of the enclosed desk. "Passport, eh?" he began, before vocalizing a series of what were definitely intended to be words.
"I'm sorry, what?"
"Oh, yeah-!" he chirped, before very enthusiastically repeating what he said. I assume that's what he did, anyway. "-so anyway, I'm just gonna fix up this passport for you."
He gestured toward my passport photo and muttered something very happily to Mom about, "I had an old girlfriend-"
I understood nothing. His accent was too thick to grant me anything but the smallest discernment of his meaning. He continued his story, which involved him being in the army and dating his (captain's? colonel's? senior officer's?) daughter, who had blonde hair. He was very much amused, and found the entire thing hilarious. Heck, I might have too if it had been in English. Mom and I both laughed at what seemed to be appropriate times, although neither of us had the faintest idea where the story was going. Or where it had been, really. I was focusing intently on the shape of his mouth as it moved, trying to see the shape of his words and pair them with the warbling intonations he made. My temple throbbed. He had only two lines to fill out on the document, and would lower his pen to almost touch the paper... before lifting it up again because his supervisor had gone.
It was then that Mom started to laugh to herself. It was also then that I knew I wouldn't make it out of that tiny post office alive. Okay, maybe that's a little dramatic, but it seemed reasonable at the time. We stood in front of this man's desk, completely without any comprehension of the chatter he tirelessly maintained. Mom was beside herself, giggling in despair. She started playfully kicking at me under the desk as if to say Look at this guy. I have no idea what's happening and I can't believe we can't leave yet. The headache I'd acquired did not improve.
"-your wire hand," he clucked to me, raising his right hand.
"-what a hand!" he cheerfully yapped.
This happened a few more times, with me asking slightly varied versions of the word what and him responding with incoherent mumbling.
I gave up. And leaned across the desk to give the best high-five ever.
He stood dumbstruck for a moment, just staring at me. I stared back. Then he grinned and asked, very clearly, "Do you swear that this information is correct? If so, raise your right hand and affirm that this is true."
Mom and I both got coffee afterwards. It was nice.
Saturday, March 31, 2018
In the darkness, I walked with my bag slung across my body to the event that I was regrettably required to attend. My jacket, despite being a delightfully neon turquoise that promised to attract birds and small forest animals come the sunrise, did only an okay job of warding off the cold. Poor planning on my part, I suppose, but I didn't really mind, given that I was more concerned with not getting run over by a car. I'd review that concern around finals week.
After a few run-ins with a random armadillo, which all involved me squinting suspiciously at various bushes, I arrived at a sidewalk. It was uphill. I adjusted my bag, patted it to make sure my apples hadn't shifted (there's no strange and unexpected euphemism here, I literally had apples in my bag), and trekked upwards.
An hour after setting out, I made it to the student center at precisely ten minutes before I was required. I signed in to the auditorium and picked up a badge that I then affixed to my jacket. I located a seat near the exit in the hopes that I would be able to escape the confines of the building at the earliest available time. A speaker got on stage.
I spent the next few hours in a comfortable haze of boredom. The room became almost uncomfortably warm from the heat of people seated closely together. I counted the ceiling tiles. Then I multiplied them. Then I squared them. Just as I was attempting to find the prime multiples of the tiles' square, I was interrupted from my arguably dreadful musings by a loud voice emanating from the speaker system.
"If everyone would just go and perform one of the tasks on the sheet you've gotten, that'd be ah-maze-ing. Also, be back by 10:30 or you won't be able to register because we'll mark your name off this list. 'Kay, have fun, y'all!"
Note to self: if you want to stop tardiness and absences: just threaten people! I thought. Being forced into participation really brings out the best in me. I wasn't the least bit interested in "uncovering the rich history of the university" or "experiencing the diversity of disciplines available through faculty and staff". So I didn't. Instead, I wandered around the buildings for the allotted time, probably (read: definitely) into locations that I wasn't supposed to be yet.
Sunday, February 25, 2018
Sunday, August 27, 2017
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Saturday, August 12, 2017
I can feel Autumn approaching. I can feel it. I realize that it's possible I could be hallucinating from the extreme Texas heat, but I'm going to take the positive route and believe that nature is changing in my favor. When I'm in class and decidedly avoiding any additional participation than what is necessary, I daydream about falling leaves... And then I snap back to reality and notice that in my imaginings I've been staring at a classmate's dandruff slowly drifting down to the floor. Ew.
It seems like I haven't been working on much, but, upon reflection, I have actually made quite a few things (I am a marvelous thing factory. I do things, I create things, I destroy all things that get in my way, etc). Besides making copious amounts of coffee, and drinking it with almost an almost indecent regularity, I've been sewing, knitting, and generally avoiding the pathway of my fellow classmate's dandruff gently wafting through the air conditioned breeze.
But enough about dandruff and coffee, we're here to talk about things.
The first thing I made was a creepy (or cute, if you're into the devil) bunny with mismatched button eyes made out of green fabric with black polka dots. I don't have a photo, but, trust me, it was literally a cuddly Satan.
My next projects (please note that, although this is a perfect blog, completely free of inaccuracies, I may or may not be recalling the projects in the proper order of production) were two dresses for my sisters Victoria and Hannah. A while back, I was given some bags full of random fabric pieces, and I managed to create both dresses completely out of those fragments! Being a remarkably professional photographer, I can tell you that I most definitely did not rush around after my morning study session to find these items and make them look as if they hadn't been squished in a closet. I also didn't take one single picture of each and declare it "good enough". That's just not how we do it here on ATBOTBS (what an acronym).