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Confucius Gets a New Name

July 10, 2012

I’ll keep this post short and sweet: in order to avoid WordPress’s fee for a site redirect upgrade, I will no longer be posting under this blog. Confused by Confucius is now just a time capsule.  To continue following my blog, check out The Cusp

It’s way better. Trust.

No One Told Me People Walked Around Naked In Locker Rooms: a Lesson on Gym Cultural Norms

June 3, 2012

Lesson #1: Never do this after a night out.

Despite the fact that I have been neglecting the blog, I have not been neglecting my other obligations in life. That is, finding a job….and joining a gym. I am now convinced That the first gym membership should probably boast the same kind of importance than that of other notable milestones such as a graduation or a birthday. Simply because being a member of a gym comes new cultural norms that you need to adjust to, and inevitably in my case, a slew of blog worthy situations that I have run into during my time as a member of I.D Gym at Lincoln and Diversey.

I give you: Lessons learned at the gym.

1. Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned is that despite your determination to work out Saturday morning after a “long night” , 11 am will always be too early. Additionally, signing up to take the Fly Yoga class as a potential hangover cure will not in fact cure your hangover.  As it turns out, fly yoga is yoga suspended in mid air, and the teacher will ask you to hang upside down and swing for an indeterminate amount of time. You might puke…and that is a direct violation of gym code of conduct.

2. Kickboxing implies a class with mostly women. I was eager to take an intense class and really rail on a punching bag with a pair of boxing gloves. As it turned out. I listened to eighties music, talked animatedly about weddings and sparred lightly while taking breaks to jump rope.

3. Kettlebells is the opposite of kickboxing. I walked into the wrong class two weeks ago. It was a kettlebell class. I know what you are thinking…because I was thinking the same thing two weeks ago. Kettlebells is way more than I bargained for. First, because it feels like you have been hired out as a deckhand on a pirate ship in that, you toss around cannonball shaped weights for an hour. Second, because I am in a class with (if I am lucky) two other people and there is nowhere to hide. Third because the instructor is this ex navy seal who is devastatingly handsome and likes to stand over me the whole time and crack subversive jokes that, frankly, even if I wasn’t out of breath would be too tongue tied to reply with anything particularly witty.

4. Hot instructors are motivating, but overall a distraction to my concentration and therefore I should not take classes from hot instructors. This is good advice that I, all cards on the table, will probably not follow.

5. People have no qualms about being naked in locker rooms. It is just a thing. Sometimes it feels like a nudist colony…word on the street is that some people saw Obama naked before he was president at the East Bank Club- I’m just saying that sometimes, in this case, nudity catches up with you.

Gym shenanigans aside, I have spent the other half of my summer hanging with my parents.  I thought my maturity level was increasing at a rapid rate because of all the chummy time I was spending with them…mixing old fashioneds and going on long walks in the fresh Chicago air, but then I realized that this could only ever be temporary. Because for a 21 year old to act like an adult all the time, well that would imply that you have already made the mistakes an adult has already made to make them an adult.

Your Inner Child

May 9, 2012

Today my Dad turned fifty, and I threw out my back.

They are in no way related except for the fact that ironically enough, they both have to do with age.

Still taking finals, I very publicly attempted to lift my bag full of study materials in the college union. Then something in my back gave out. It was such a shock to my system, that I dropped like a rock onto the ground, and was forced to pretend like I missed the couch next to me.

After dragging myself onto the couch and waving to a fellow student that, yes I am totally fine, I sat there thanking the finals gods that I, at the very least, still had my precious ipad on me so that I could viciously berade my friends through every social media outlet I could think of in order to complain about my cranked out back.

And then I saw the constant twitter updates, instagrams, and facebook wellwishers sending their social media love to my dad on his fiftieth birthday.  Since I was already marooned on this couch in the union, I decided to rifle through them all.

Although, perhaps the best message was the one written by the man himself. (family blog plug)  It’s a good read, and hey, I know most readers are looking for any way out of studying for finals, so I highly encourage a look.

No college kid in their right minds likes to think of the prospect of maturity.  Many of us are concerned that the end of these four years means the end of anything good in the world. Or as my date to Kappa Sigma formal put it, 27 is the last good year. It is all downhill from there. I have five more good years.

But for my dad, that is hardly the case. He is a firm believer in the importance of entertaining your inner child, and recognizing that the people who really understand life are the ones who realize that life is a gift, and strive to really really live out life.  People have ‘carpe diem’ written all over their journals, walls, possibly an artful tramp stamp, but few are those who take it a step further and value their own journey, the journeys of others and each day as a gift.

But in all seriousness, Sometimes it is tough to remember that life is a gift when you are wasting away in the basement of the library…and it takes a man turning fifty to remind us college kids of our inner child, that even finals is an experience worth living and learning from, and to treat each day even after college and the age of twenty-seven as a true gift.

Happy Birthday Dad, and as always, thanks for the advice.

(Sorry I don’t have an artfully done instagram montage….but kudos to Caroline Carter, It rocked, and you need to show me how to do it when I get home from Davidson)

How The #DavidsonRiots Can Be Used As a Metaphor For My Quarter Life Crisis.

May 2, 2012

Last Saturday night, possibly hundreds of non Davidson College affiliates came revel in the last few hours of Spring Frolics.  The result: a massive fight in one of our social houses, police officers from multiple districts, a small scale riot scene, and perhaps the most pervading consequence – personal belongings ransacked out of our dorms.  Others had their cars keyed,  eating houses were vandalized, and goddammit my moped was damaged in a half assed hot wiring attempt.

This event has initiated a few responses.

1. Excitement that our predictable social scene was livened up by crimes associated with the urban hood!

2. Blind rage calling to end the Black Student Coalition who supposedly publicized and invited these individuals to campus

3. A sense of displaced guilt over one’s personal socioeconomic status thereby justifying the thievery

4. Ambivalence/ignorance. #DavidsonRiot? I don’t understand…

Am I pissed that my beloved chinese moped got vandalized and left high and dry next to Phi delt? Absolutely. Am I legally justified to place the blame on any individual? Unfortunately not. However, I think we need to seriously reevaluate party recquirements at the BSC if we are going to continue to use it as a party space. Also, to the person that ok’d kids coming on a party bus? – you should probably talk with the dean. Should we end frolics? No. Should we recognize that Davidson exists within a hyper bubble of moral utopia? Yes, if you would like to not have your stuff stolen again.

To those of my class that found the #DavidsonRiot kind of thrilling, I feel that, really. In a lot of ways, the Davidson social scene can get a bit predictable. Which brings me to (like all blog posts) a little paragraph in self reflection.

College is all about your formative years. Its four impressionable years away from the voice of your parents and your roots.  The experience should make you question and explore ideas, questions, and life paths that before college you had never really considered.  Its almost like mental/ emotional puberty: you have a lot of unanswered questions about whats going on inside your head, and you are constantly tweaking your life plan to fit the questions or philosophies that you develop while in college.

Somedays, you just want to be on a life path that is what is comfortable, familiar, or what everyone else is doing, kind of like how you just wanted to wear the uggs and the tiffany bracelet like everyone else in your middle school homeroom.

And somedays you feel like if you don’t have those crazy times in your twenties that you are going to drive yourself so crazy in an office cubicle that eventually you will be like dwight in the office, and really into beet farming and parcor.

And me? There was this one time (I swear only once) in third grade that I went to see a child psychologist about (in the words a hollywood doctor might use) my hyper perfectionism and unwillingness to try something that I didn’t know I would be good at causing me to misbehave in my third grade class. Misbehave is an understatement, I basically missed third grade and pretty much became immune to the shame that time outs were supposedly supposed to inflict upon a young child.

With that character flaw in mind , my parents took on a different style of parenting (I assume) to help their child develop into less of a neurotic head case.

So here I am, a former neurotic head case looking down the barrel of her last summer as a student wonder. What the heck am I going to do 365 days from now? And why do I feel like the strange bird who doesn’t have their life together?

Sometimes I think my professors know me better than I do. Today over  Indian curry and talks of contemporary China, my professor threw a book at me to read: The Dud Avocado, By Elaine Dundy. By the looks of it, Elaine and I would be big pals.

Book Description:

The Dud Avocado follows the romantic and comedic adventures of a young American who heads overseas to conquer Paris in the late 1950s. Edith Wharton and Henry James wrote about the American girl abroad, but it was Elaine Dundy’s Sally Jay Gorce who told us what she was really thinking. Charming, sexy, and hilarious,The Dud Avocado gained instant cult status when it was first published and it remains a timeless portrait of a woman hell-bent on living.

 

A woman hell bent on living.

If that doesn’t describe the identity I have been grappling with, I’m not sure what does.

How will that definition play out in my own plan?  I will let you know in 365 days and perhaps many more blog posts.

The College Version of Raising a Fund

April 12, 2012

Call it thrifty, cheap, or simply knowing the value of a dollar, it really all boils down to the fact that I have always been the token poor kid in my friend group.

The blonde George Costanza if you will.

I have really embraced the title. It means no one gives me a look of reproach when I don’t go out to dinner with everyone (and if I do-limit my meal to only what is offerred for free. Chips and salsa or the bread basket).  It means no one says anything when I pull out a tupperware for eating house food leftovers. It also means that I get to use the excuse “I have work” when really I just don’t really feel like doing the alternative.

A friend of mine, after being wrongly detained for disorderly conduct at the Carolina Cup has had a fall from financial grace. In order to pay her bail and wipe the charge off her pristine record she must come up with approximately 600 dollars in the next week.

Getting college kids to part with dollar bills is like trying to get Golum to part with the ring.

Now I am no longer the poor kid in the friend group. In an effort to simultaneously jumpstart my friend’s piggy bank and my stalled business idea, Campus Sherpas is here to help. My friend is offering the following services.

House Cleaning (emphasizing post- party cleaning) @ $40.00/hour WHAT A DEAL! And the price is negotiable 

Room/Life organization: She will help you plan out work schedules, color code your closet, or help you pack to leave for the summer. all for 40.00/hour at a negotiable price

Its a great deal, and hey it is a great cause, double win. Contact me via the blog or my email gecarter@davidson.edu if you would like to set up an appointment for her cleaning services.

Coffee Shops in Downtown Chicago

April 9, 2012

The first title to this post was, Formal Season.  It was because I tried to use this phrase while dress buying in the Midwest.  I suppose there were two reasons for the retail assistant’s confusion:

1) Apparently, formal season isn’t a thing, and it is something I must have made up.

2) I had just told her I went to Davidson College, she had deduced that it must be an online institution. How do you arrange a formal, and find a date when you are attending an online institution? Well, I can’t really shed light on that because Davidson College could not be farther from being online. We don’t even provide our students with adequate IT services.

I am in Downtown Chicago for the weekend to spend time with my family over easter, and of course the internet is broken.  Not only do I not attend an online school, but apparently I don’t live in an online accessible apartment building either.  So I have happily situated myself in a Starbucks close by in order to blog.

At first, I didn’t really have any idea what I would be blogging about. A part of me really wanted to write something semi serious to tag off the campus buzz Alexa’s post generated.  Another part of me really wanted to write about formal season. I decided, however, that the formal season theme might be slightly cynical, or might make me look like one of those people on Pinterest who obsessively pin wedding photos when they have no plans for a wedding.  In so many words, an upperclassman girl.

I might come back to that, but for now, I am inspired by the Chicago’s entertaining coffee shop culture.

Right now there is this homeless dude absolutely passed out and snoring like a train engine in an armchair by the fireplace.  In any other situation, he might be aroused, asked to leave, maybe told not to come back.  But in Chicago, the hipster sitting next to him is currently adjusting his beanie cap and playing on his iphone like this man doesn’t even exist.

I am sitting at the new “community table” at Starbucks.  It is designed to seat about seven strangers who will do whatever it is they need to do at a coffee shop together at this table.  This is the reality: it is a whole lot more space for two people to sit at opposite sides of the table and pretend the other does not exist.  This dude has a stack of motivational books next to him and he looks to be doing math problems.  I would say he is an econ major, but he is definitely middle aged.

At the window, two women are having a joint therapy session with each other.  Girl we have all been there.

So it is a pretty diverse group that I have the pleasure to be in the company of.

Just to keep you up to date, the homeless man has just shown a sign of life: a big nose pick.

Coffee shops, since their rise in popularity in Enlightenment France have always served the unique purpose of bringing intellectuals together to discuss politics, new ideas, and in many ways artistic expression.  Sure, in a city you are going to find aspects of coffee shop culture degradation (ala the homeless man.) But some creative consulting agencies (such as chicago based Doejo) Are actually looking for their next big hire at these coffee shops.  Coffee shops get this rep for either being super corporate, or super left wing politically. Maybe it is the alt music, the fair trade coffee options or beat poets affinity for espresso, but most coffee shops love towing the liberal line. Sometimes, to a hard line fiscal conservative, it is kind of nice.  I go through life constantly scrutinizing the idealist, fluffy, granola liberal lifestyle.  But I walk into one of these coffee shops, greeted by the sound of Joshua Radin,  and a dude in one of those south american ponchos frothing my chai tea and I think, this could be the life. 

Which is why I wonder, are the people who camp out in coffee shops with the bongo drums and a dark roast pissed about the amount of entrepreneurs milling around with capitalist ideas in coffee shops?  More and more, coffee shops are becoming a central location for entrepreneurs to meet with one another and work on new ideas.  The Coffee Shop is becoming the 21st century version of its french enlightenment former self. And I kind of like that vibe better than the crunchy one.  This way, I don’t worry about the stray piece of wheatgrass finding its way into my dirty chai latte.

The homeless people are really cramping my vibe though.  Apparently 6:30 is the hour where they hold court here. And I don’t want to sound ugly, but its pretty warm outside…..

I have about one month of school before I am back here spending the summer interning and working downtown.  The scary thing is, I have started to realize that I need to look at these interning opportunities as potential entry level job opportunities.  Could it be that 1 year from now I will be a single twenty something working in downtown Chicago?

Im thinking 60-40 Chicago or Shanghai.  But a lot happens in a year.

If I am homeless I know I will be welcome in this coffee shop.

A Horse Race

March 29, 2012

The Classiest Spring Event in the South

Spring semester is fun for many reasons: the warm air, the lake campus, puppies, free cone day, but one of the most anticipated college events has finally arrived. That’s right folks, it is time for the Carolina Cup.

But wait, what is the Carolina Cup?

Hold your tongue, talk like that only exposes you as a yankee or a high school prospective student.

Technically, the Carolina Cup is a horse race held in the armpit of South Carolina, Camden. But for Panhellenic and Davidson Eating House Posers alike, the event is so much more. In fact, seeing a horse comes secondary to the fashion, day drinking, and rehashing high school with old friends from other colleges.

The Carolina Cup is like fashion week for college southerners. An opportunity to wear your most outrageous and daring lily pulitzer shift dress, patterned blazers, only to be completed with ray bans and a stiff drink.

At Davidson, girls pledge their allegiance to a Davidson fraternity, and arrive at the house decked out in pearls, big hats, and clothes modeled after the royal family in England. Pictures are snapped, drinks are filled, and before one can blink, a bus full of boisterous college kids fall out of the bus onto a sunny, tented field in Camden, SC  lined with other college kids, frat games, music and kegs.

If there is any single event for which I am eternally glad that I attended a southern college, it is Carolina Cup.  I like so many other college kids live for this event.  When you ask my friends to describe their experience most of the time it goes like this:

“you get on the bus, wondering how am I going to entertain myself for 6 hours in a field? and in an instant, you are back on the bus panting, wondering what the hell happened, but knowing it was one of the best times you ever had”

“I forgot sunscreen. It was awesome”

Stories from the cup are if anything, entertaining.  Last year, a kid from Wake Forest fell asleep on the Davidson bus and forced a pledge to come pick him up when woke up on our campus.

The Carolina Cup is this Saturday, since betting on horses isn’t really part of the experience, I am going to make a few bets on what is going to happen this year at the cup.

1. Alexa will crush under peer pressure and go to the cup

2. Meredith will get very burnt.

3. Connor will not sleep on the way back, but instead volunteer to do bus acrobatics and attempt to fit himself into an overhead compartment

4. A Davidson student will get arrested

5. My preppy attire will in some way, be a little off the mark

6. Everyone will use instagram for their photos, ignoring the irony that all of Instagram’s founders would not want to be caught dead at an event like Carolina Cup.

7. Someone will get into an altercation with another fraternity

8. Our bus driver will let us use the microphone

9. No one will make it out after we get back, despite our best intentions

10. 6+ make out chants started

If you are not in college, the good news is, there are family tents so that you can at least bear witness to the degradation that is our nation’s youth if you were not so fortunate to be a part of the fun in your college years.

The Carolina Cup is seeped with irony in that it is a relatively trashy affair under the guise of lily pulitzer, vineyard vines, and finger food.  And I absolutely love it.

Don’t call me Saturday, there is no cell service at the Carolina Cup.