Tag Archives: College

Happy Presidents Day

Happy Presidents Day everybody. I ran for President once. It was for President of my residence hall during my sophomore year at college. My motivation wasn’t really one of civic duty or anything like that. And it’s not like I really wanted to be President. I kind of just wanted to post flyers in the hallways.


A year earlier, I was living in one of the freshman dorms, Alumni Court North, which was actually a lot nicer than the sophomore dorms. I guess it made sense from an administrative point of view, like we don’t want to scare them out of the housing system just yet, let’s see if we can’t squeeze two years out of the students, give them the not-so-shitty dorms their first year and then the really shitty dorms in year two.

Almost immediately after orientation during year one, people started putting up flyers. Join the lacrosse club, or come to a social justice forum, or, if you have to puke in the stairway, try to clean it up, at least maybe post a warning flyer on the stairway entrance. It was ridiculous the amount of paper, it was like you couldn’t even see the wall behind the flyers.

So I started making my own, fake flyers. One of them advertised hopscotch intramurals, another told everybody about a staring contest club, with a picture of a big set of eyes, the text, “See you there!” superimposed along the bottom. I thought it was so funny, I remember laughing so hard at my handiwork that I worried I’d maybe reached the pinnacle of my comedic career.

Unfortunately, my flyers lacked the required “Approved for Posting” stamp that officially sanctioned eight by ten photocopies as fit to tape to the wall. While I got a huge kick out of my harmless pranks, my laughter was never sustained for more than half a day or so. I don’t know how my college experience ranked with everybody else’s, but the RAs in my dorm were pretty hardcore, strict enough to scan the walls, plucking down unlicensed pieces of paper with the zeal characteristic of a twenty year old student empowered by the university to be officially in charge of a bunch of eighteen and nineteen year old subordinates.

Eventually I gave up, and then it was sophomore year. I figured, if I ran for President of the dorm, they’d have to give me access to that stamp. I’d be able to post campaign signs, and whatever else I wanted up on the walls without having to worry about any of the RAs spoiling my fun.

And so yeah, I registered to run for President. I made a bunch of fake campaign flyers, pages of really small text, nonsense manifestos printed alongside scanned photos of my high school yearbook portrait. There were empty promises, contradictory messages, inside jokes that probably weren’t as funny as I care to remember.

But it wasn’t the same. That manic euphoria, the first taste of real independence that characterized the joy of freshman year, as a sophomore, it didn’t really exist. The going out partying, staying up the night before a test to try and cram a week’s worth of work into a four hour study session, and making up bullshit excuses to unconvinced professors in an attempt to extend already overextended deadlines, we were all going through the same motions, but the shine had lost a lot of its luster. When someone puked in the hallway the year before it was like, “Oh my God! Someone puked in the hall! That is so funny!” This year it was just like, “Goddamn it, someone puked in the hall again. This is disgusting.”

So yeah, I had my flyers on the wall and, OK, they were stamped as official. But it just wasn’t the same. Nobody was laughing, I don’t even think anybody ever even looked. Worse, I wound up running unopposed. What had started out as a big joke culminated in me winning a race. I was now officially a member of student government.

I had to go to these meetings once a week. I felt like I was doing everybody a disservice. It was everything I could do just to give my classes the bare minimum of attention they needed so I could get by with a GPA that wouldn’t arouse complaints from my parents. Extracurricular activities, well, if they did give out grades for clubs, which they didn’t, I would’ve received a D- for my role as President of Martyrs Hall. But it wouldn’t have even mattered, because if I weren’t President, nobody would have been President. And all we really did was host pizza parties once a month.

So yeah, being President isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. And so on this Presidents Day, I’d to like to take a moment, to reflect on my own Presidency, on all of the college sophomore dorm Presidencies out there. Yeah. Well, that’s it, this was the reflection. And now it’s over. Happy Presidents Day everybody.

Intro to Macroeconomics

I took this class in college, Intro to Macroeconomics, it was some required course that I had no interest in really paying attention to, let alone studying, but I had heard that the course material was pretty easy, and it was one of those giant lecture classes, like a hundred and fifty kids staring down at a professor in a big hall with stadium seating. So I thought, OK, I’ll tough it out, I’ll get my credits and say goodbye forever to the world of economics.


But day one, the professor barely says hello before he goes off on this crazy rant, “All right you little punks, I read on the Internet that you all think I’m an easy A, right? Isn’t that why all of you signed up for this class? Huh? You think I’m easy? Well bad news kids, this is going to be one of the hardest classes you’ve ever taken in your lives.”

I’m paraphrasing, obviously, but he did get his point across, because on the second class, only twelve of us had decided not to drop the course. I don’t know what exactly he was going for in striking such an intimidating tone from the get-go, like was he expecting a small class of only the most dedicated students of macroeconomics? Because, while I can’t speak for anyone else in the class, I chose to remain based solely on convenience. This hour and fifteen Tuesday and Thursday fit so nicely in my schedule. That semester, I never had to wake up any earlier than eleven, I had plenty of space sprinkled throughout my day for lunch or snacks. This course was like the ribbon on an artfully wrapped present.

A gift to myself, half a year of pure convenience. That’s what I was going for anyway. It turned out that this once joke of a professor took his ratemyprofessor.com score a little too seriously. It was like he had a giant chip on his shoulder, something to prove. To who? To us, apparently, the remaining dozen who either wouldn’t or couldn’t find a way to rearrange their entire schedule.

“First order of business,” his words echoed out, he was practically screaming to us, all spaced out in that giant classroom. “If you miss more than one class, your grade is going down a whole letter.” Yikes. Listen, I was all for making a really good effort at attending every class, but come on, that’s a little harsh, don’t you think? “If you don’t hand in an assignment, that’s another letter grade.”

I double-checked the class schedule, to see if it wasn’t too late to switch, but the add-drop period was over. I swallowed hard as I came to terms with what my semester might be looking like. One sick day, jeez, should I just use it right away? Or maybe save it for sometime when I’d really need it?

“Oh and one more thing,” he got ready to spread the icing all over the cake, “You’re only allowed to use a marble notebook. I don’t want to see any spiral bound books in my class. Got it?”

Marble notebooks, I thought, what is this, third grade? I already bought all of my school supplies earlier. This guy wanted me to go back and buy some stupid old-fashioned notebook? What did he care what kind of notebook I used? Was he going to be writing notes in it? It was such an arbitrary decree, like he might as well have banned blue pens.

I felt bad for him, he was obviously lashing out at us because he had no idea where else to direct his impotent rage. And even after he calmed down, he never looked happy. From there on out, it was just him standing at the head of the class, droning on about supply and demand, showing us really boring PowerPoint presentations, never so much as cracking a smile or letting on that he enjoyed at all being in the classroom with us.

As for my end of the bargain, I think I missed two classes. And I put basically zero effort into the course as a whole. This guy was so boring. And I hated that marble notebook. It served a purpose for about two weeks or so, when I spent an entire four classes coloring in the white parts of the marble design with black pen. But after that, I was left with nothing else to do. Those stupid rounded corners on the pages. You’d open it up and it wouldn’t stay open, that thing wanted nothing more than to be permanently closed, just like my mind during that class, my attention span unable to string more than five consecutive seconds together of listening to that guy talk.

My final grade was a C-, by far the worst of my college career. But whatever, I turned out OK right? I mean, yeah, I guess I ruined my shot at being elected chairman of the Fed. But yeah, I guess that’s what I get for basing the entirety of my college career on optimally timed lunch breaks.

Choco-Taco Tuesday

I love Choco-Tacos. It’s been so long since I’ve had one. As far as I know, it’s the only dessert taco, the only one made out of ice cream. The whole idea is pure genius. Instead of using a crunchy corn tortilla, you take a crunchy sugar cone that’s shaped like a taco shell. And then instead of beef and cheese and lettuce and sour cream, you put in ice cream, chocolate, nuts, more chocolate. I’m telling you, it’s the best.


When I was in college, during my sophomore year, the university spent something like fourteen million dollars on demolishing the existing cafeteria and building a new state-of-the-art facility. What that meant, though, was that for an entire year, there was no proper cafeteria. Instead, they kind of just threw together this weird makeshift caf in the student center. Sandwiches were on a counter set up next to the bookstore, there was a line of chefs to the side cooking runny omelets over dorm-style hot plates.

And everything suffered. Everything except the dessert station. In the old caf there used to be this gross soft-serve frozen yogurt machine, one of these things that, the first time you saw it, like on your first day of class or whatever, you got all excited, you thought, holy shit, look at that soft-serve machine, unlimited ice cream, this is going to be great. But then you made yourself a cone, it came out of the machine all squeaky, and it didn’t have the right color, the taste was, I’d say medicinal, but even that pink goo they made us take for strep throat when we were little kids tasted better than this stuff.

So yeah, after I tried to put back at least a few spoonsful of the froyo, I realized that while there were hundreds of people in the caf, the soft-serve machine was all by its lonesome, just hanging out, ready for the next unsuspecting freshman to wander over for an after-lunch treat.

Sophomore year, it was gone, along with the rest of the old eating infrastructure. In its place, administration put a big industrial freezer, the same type of giant white box you’d see in your uncle’s garage upstate, “That’s where I keep all of the deer meat I collected this winter!” Inside was just a bunch of loose individually packaged ice cream products, like Good Humor bars, King Cones, neon green Incredible Hulk heads with gumballs for the eyes.

And Choco-Tacos. I loved it all. Never before in my life did I have such unfettered access to treats usually reserved for the rare times that I happened to run into an ice cream truck on the street. The best part about all of this was, it was all free. I mean, yeah, college was something like thirty grand a year, and that meal plan wasn’t cheap either, but that didn’t feel like real money at the time. I just swiped into the caf with my student ID and there I was, face to face with that cooler, screw it, I didn’t need a real lunch, all I needed was like four or five Choco-Tacos and maybe a Creamsicle or a Toasted Almond bar.

Normally I think back to the caf and I cringe at the whole system, the way that they mandated you buy an overpriced meal plan, how shitty the food normally was. It really was terrible, boring, greasy slop, the kind of stuff that justified those rumors you’d hear about the staff adding laxatives to every dish as an added prevention against food poisoning.

But it was kind of all worth it for that whole year of free ice cream. After we finished our in-caf desserts, we’d head back to that freezer and grab as many as we could, sprinting across campus to get those popsicles and Choco-Tacos into are miniature dorm-sized freezers before they melted totally. And then for the rest of the night we’d sit around and play video games and surf the Internet, binging on half melted Strawberry Shortcake bars or slushy Flavor Ices.

The other day I went to the grocery store and bought like three pints of Ben & Jerry’s. For a minute, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to contain myself, that I’d spend the whole night trying to nurse a serious ice cream headache. But no, it wasn’t the same. I had a few bites and got bored, the whole time wishing that I was back in school, eating myself sick on Choco-Taco Tuesday.

I was a scumbag college senior

One time during my last year of college I got really drunk and stole something off the walls at one of the off-campus bars. This particular venue, Mug-Z’s, while I was there anyway, it was the unofficial senior bar. Trust me, that was about its only noteworthy feature. All of the off-campus bars, there were about three or four of them, they had pretty much an identical layout: an open space and then a long bar. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, the place would get jam packed with students. Looking back, I really don’t get the appeal of standing in a crowded space drinking overpriced cheap beer.


But whatever, everybody went, everybody got drunk, I got really drunk, especially on this night. And I don’t know if it was the impending pressure of knowing that the remainder of my senior year was evaporating before my eyes, but I started going out harder than usual, pregaming earlier, staying out much, much later. With the lack of sleep and excessive alcohol that accompanied these benders, naturally my decision making process started to suffer accordingly.

So at Mug-Zs, every year right before graduation, there was a sort of open class photo in front of the bar. Anybody who wanted to could head over, they’d snap the photo, and not too long after, this shot would be blown up and framed, hanging on the far wall across from the bar. This tradition must have been going back at least a dozen years, because they were starting to run out of room, all of these poster-sized prints, different groups of identical looking twenty-two year olds.

And this one night, I was partying pretty hard, I had just enough alcohol in my system to where I was definitely beginning to lapse in judgment, but I hadn’t yet reached the point where it started to slow me down. In other words, I was acting like a crazy person, pounding beers, singing along obnoxiously to the jukebox. Out of nowhere, I don’t know, maybe there was a lull in the non-action, I looked over at the nearest class photo, I thought, should I? And I did. I grabbed it off the wall, kicked open the side door, and started sprinting toward my apartment.

I honestly have no idea why I did such a thing. The whole time I was running, I kept looking over my shoulder, really expecting somebody to be following me, providing me with some sort of a drunken chase. But there was nobody. Who knows, maybe I was a really fast runner, or maybe nobody saw me. I got inside my off-campus apartment, I was the first one of my roommates back for the night. I must have had enough wits still about me that I was able to put a nail through the drywall to hang this thing up, and then I passed out.

Over the course of the next few days, everybody kind of laughed at my accomplishment. Apparently nobody had seen me bolt out of the bar, and when everybody finally got home later that night, I guess it had the intended effect, a, “What the fuck?” moment as everybody tried to figure out how this thing had wound up on our wall.

But that was it. I was kind of worried that the next time I’d step inside Mug-Z’s, the bouncer might recognize me right away, a, “You!” followed by a severe pummeling. But again, nothing happened. And the photo stayed on the wall for the rest of the year, largely invisible, the way that framed photos and artwork have a way of blending into the background after you get used to seeing them every day.

Graduation came and went, and all of the roommates spent our last twelve hours or so packing up and getting ready to move out. But then it was this question of the photo. What do I do with it now? I thought, I guess I’ll just throw it out, but for some reason now I started to feel bad. Like what kind of person just rips things right off the wall? I thought back to every time I’d been to the bar since, noticing that gaping hole in the wall of photos. Why was I all of the sudden feeling remorse for being such a scumbag?

I hung out around the neighborhood until a little later in the day, and when I was sure the bar would be open, I headed over with the photo in hand. Everybody else had already moved back, so the normally crowded bar had a really dumpy, hollow vibe with only two or three people inside drinking beers. I walked over the bartender, “Hey man, uh, I found this in the dumpster when I was moving my stuff out. I figured someone stole it from you.”

I cringed at my inability to even fully fess up for my misdeed. The guy’s face lit up, “Oh my God! I can’t believe you found that! I’ve been looking everywhere. I’m friends with a lot of the guys in that photo!” and he immediately hung it back on the wall, shaking my hand, thanking me profusely. “Come on,” he gestured to the bar, “Drinks are on me.”

And normally I would have loved some free drinks, but I couldn’t. I had to get out, fast. “No thanks man, I’ve got to be heading home.” This guy was giving me a hero’s welcome, and I was accepting it, while in reality I was the thief, I was the dirtbag who ripped this thing off of the wall in the first place. Whenever I think back upon the incident, I always still feel pretty stupid, like why did I do that in the first place? What made me think that it was OK? What the hell was I thinking?

Higher education

I don’t know anything about stars, about astronomy. When I was a freshman in college, I remember hearing about an intro to astronomy. I like outer space. It sounded really cool, something that I thought I wanted to look into, but I remember mentioning it to one of my friends, he was like, “No way man. I heard that you have to get up really early so you can look at the stars while it’s still dark out, and there are a lot of mandatory field trips. Don’t do it, I heard the professor’s a really tough grader.”

And that was all it really took to discourage me. My first semester had been planned out for me by the school, so I didn’t have any say in the matter, a couple of eight-thirty classes, the rest at nine-thirty or ten. I look at my life now and I realize that making it to class in the morning shouldn’t have been the challenge that I made it out to be. But I had a lot of trouble, going to bed at night, forcibly removing myself from where all of my friends were hanging out, watching movies, playing video games. That first year, sometimes we would pull all nighters, but not even thinking about school work at all. We’d just stay up and shoot the shit and all of the sudden it would be morning.

So I didn’t take astronomy. Second semester, I made sure that, regardless of any other variables, I just needed to make sure that my classes were as late in the day as possible, noon, five, I think I even wound up signing up for some at like eight or nine. And what kind of stuff would I be studying so much later in the day? Who knows? It didn’t matter. It’s obvious that I wasn’t taking school too seriously. I just wanted to hang out with my friends and have a good time. Any sort of learning was prioritized at a distant second. Actually, it wasn’t even learning. It was just doing whatever I could to make it look like I was receiving some sort of education.

I got my shit together somewhat. By junior year, I was making sure that I was actually putting an effort into my schoolwork. My grades were up and I found myself involved in various on campus activities. There was the school government, the student newspaper, my part-time job driving a van around campus. Still, even though I wound up doing OK, I never really feel like I figured anything out while I was there.

Like, I was supposed to pick a major by my sophomore year. I gave it a little bit of thought, and I couldn’t figure it out. I knew that I wanted to get good grades. Why? I have no idea. I chose history as a major, because my girlfriend chose history and so it seemed like a good idea. My dad was a history major. So I took all of these classes and showed up and took notes and wrote papers.

During senior year, I realized that I had saved up all of these electives, for what? Again, no plans, so I started taking drawing classes, painting, creative writing, filmmaking. It was the best year. I had so much fun learning how to do things that I hadn’t done before, like making short movies or putting paint on a canvas.

What had I been doing the previous three years? Why wasn’t I getting the same satisfaction out of any of my other classes? Probably because I didn’t challenge myself. I took history in large part because I knew that I could get away with putting in minimal effort in exchange for decent grades. Good enough, right? That’s what you’re there for, to get good grades.

But what else did I miss out on? I always think back to that astronomy class, every time I happen to look up at the sky on a clear night, I see the Big Dipper, the North Star, and that’s it. I don’t know anything else about any other constellations. I couldn’t tell you anything really, I’m trying to list all of the other random astronomic facts in my head, but there’s nothing. I said Big Dipper already, right?