While It’s Still Relevant

Before days pass and this chapter in my life (and subsequent fodder for my future memoir)  elapses, I thought I should write about it. The “chapter” I’m referring to, of course, is bicker.

First let me say that you might not believe me when you read what I’m about to say. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t believe me either. After all, I didn’t get into the club I bickered, which immediately puts me in a biased position, but hear me out.

In terms of Princeton vernacular, I was “hosed,” a term that has always made me cringe, even when it wasn’t applicable to describe me. I think there’s something about the mental image it immediately conjures up for me. Somehow, hearing the word “hosed” puts a picture in my head of a line of youthful, mesomorphic Princeton men in the 1920s standing in a line in the snow in white tee shirts and long johns on the back lawn of one of the clubs, shivering nearly out of their pale goosebumped skin.

Then, in my head, I zoom in on one of their faces–I can’t see the details, really, but his eyes are squinted shut as he awaits his decision of whether or not he’s gotten in and it’s so cold out that you can see the breath leave his mouth. Sadly for this faceless imaginary man, a warmly-dressed member of the club approaches with a garden hose and, well, hoses him down with water. His head jerks back from the shock of the cold. He sputters and his nose begins to run. His expression changes from one of tentative hope to disappointment, and, disheartened, his chin falls to his chest.

Now before you start getting carried away thinking, “Shit, is that how it used to happen?” Or, “Is she trying to tell us that she is the soaked man in the long johns?” Let me stop you there and say 1) I have no idea, but probably/hopefully not and 2) No, not exactly.

There are a few differences between me and the man from my imagination. The first is that the man didn’t have a dream the night before decisions came out that he didn’t get in, and didn’t feel surprisingly accepting of that outcome the day after. You probably don’t know this, but I keep a dream journal and record every dream I can remember or have time for it. This one, unfortunately, didn’t make it into my archive because I could only remember a glimpse of it, but I know that it happened. Sometimes our subconscious self knows us better than our conscious self does. So, on Friday, I was optimistic of course, but not as confident as some of my peers who had already gone out and bought new underwear to wear for pickups when, according to tradition, apparently, new members strip down to their underthings.

The second is that I was given my “bad news” in the gentlest and most thoughtful of ways, nowhere near what my cruel imagination put poor, poor long john man through. Just as I was about to text a dear friend in the club that I was a bit concerned that I hadn’t heard yet, she texted me asking if I was awake. Obviously, this was not a positive sign. If I had gotten in, she would have just told me. So, lying in my bed in the afterglow of a terrible episode of Law & Order: SVU with my headphones on, I pressed play on Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own,” set my phone down on my stomach, and waited for her follow-up. “Unfortunately I don’t have good news. I’m so so so so sorry :(” her text began, as the drums crescendoed into Robyn’s bridge, and I’m not sure exactly how I reacted after reading that, but my feeling was more neutral than what I imagine that those of many others who found themselves in my position were last night.

This is the part where you might not believe me. I shed tears twice last night. But it wasn’t because I felt the pain of rejection. It wasn’t because I felt that vacuum-y feeling that disappointment sometimes creates in your chest. You know, the one that suddenly makes you feel as if gravity is freakishly strong between your stomach and your esophagus, and as if someone had just dropped a lead ball into the pit of your stomach? It wasn’t that. I teared up because one of my friends got out of bed at 2:30 in the morning to walk through the snow to my dorm to see me, because of the terribly kind things my friends said to me, and because they understood me well enough to be, for lack of a better term, there for me, and not to feel sorry for me.

I know that my friend who had sort of guided me through the bicker process and called me later that night (you might have actually been able to call it “early that morning” by that point) didn’t believe me that I was okay, but it doesn’t matter. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling gracious. I was frustrated when he told me I should still come out for tap nights and feel welcome to come to meals. “I’ll go where I want!” my bitter internal monologue protested. I felt my confidence drop when he reassured me how many people liked me in the club, and how I was a cool person. “I know!” my petulant self thought. It wasn’t mature or gracious for me to feel this way, I know, because his heart was 110% in the right place and he meant what he said. To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed that I even felt that way, but my initial neutrality had begun to morph into anger.

In my mind, “upset” and “angry,” are two very different feelings. “Upset” implies an internalization of sadness. It means something inside of you has been shaken out of its rightful place. “Angry” often finds itself being felt at the same time as “upset,” but it’s different. “Angry” is an external feeling; it is displeasure projected outward. And, to be perfectly honest with you, I was angry that other people beat me and that I lost.

I’m glad that I did it, though. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I don’t regret anything. Everything is a learning opportunity, and I feel that now that I’ve gone through and out of the system, I can look at it from a more informed position than the one I was in before I went through the process. If I hadn’t done it, I would never know what would have happened and I wouldn’t have had anything to learn from. In this case along with many other situations, it’s the not knowing that’s the most torturous, not the knowing.

But that’s enough about me. Let’s talk big picture.

(EDIT: Added this paragraph on 2/10 3:00 PM) Before my friend unintentionally projected what he thought I should be feeling onto me, I was a little let down that I didn’t get what I wanted, but I was okay with it. But my reaction to not getting in changed completely after talking to him because of the language he used. Saying things like, “I don’t know what your plans are for the weekend, but last year I went home,” seemed to place the club above me, as if it should wield power over what I decide to do. Again, I know he was trying to be compassionate and it’s possible that the anger I felt was already inside me–tinder waiting to be lit by a conversation like this. Regardless, this conversation is a perfect example of the common misconceptions on this campus that unnecessarily twist and poison our perceptions of ourselves.

Joining an eating club is sort of like using the word “hose.” We do it because “everyone else” does, and they have for over a hundred years. And don’t even get me started on the phrase “everyone else.” There’s no such thing. I remember when I’d complain that “everyone else” was doing one thing or another in middle school, my mom always asked me to clarify exactly who constituted “everyone else.” Usually, I didn’t even need to use both hands to count. Granted, at Princeton the majority of students are in eating clubs. But that doesn’t mean that you’re wrong if you don’t join one.

Where I think a lot of people stumble amidst the eating club frenzy is thinking that getting into their club of choice means reaching the pinnacle of their social career, or that acceptance into a club somehow cements or elevates their station in life. Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “What? Of course not.” If so, you rule. But I’d argue that there’s a good number of people out there who, consciously or subconsciously, believed this to some extent, because some pockets in our community encourage these beliefs, both overtly and covertly.

Bicker is not a measure of one’s self-worth. It sounds paradoxical and even unappreciative of me to say, but when people told me how I’m still such a cool person or really awesome after I didn’t get in, it almost made it sound like because I didn’t get into an eating club, I was expected to be doubting this about myself. I know they don’t mean that at all. Here I am sounding like an jerk who doesn’t appreciate her friends’ kind words and again, and I can’t stress enough how much I value other people caring about me. I was so moved I cried, let’s not forget!

One’s eating club is important to a lot of people, and a lot of people love it. To undermine the importance of a tight, caring community–and really anything that anyone cares deeply about–would be wrong, and if you think that’s what I’m trying to accomplish here, you’ve got it all wrong. I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about your eating club, because you should do whatever the heck you want. I just want to do my part of clearing up a little corner of this apparently common misunderstanding that your eating club–or, come to think of it, any manufactured social organization, or lack thereof–is a reflection of your character. If anything, you are reflection of it. You are its representative. Moreover, you are you, and only you can decide what that means.

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Drunk People Freestyle Rapping

The following is what I transcribed after Paul and Matt came back from the Street and decided to freestyle rap. It doesn’t matter if you know them or not. The rhymes are all that matter.

Paul: Put your hands up. Wave ’em. I’m ’bout to start.

Paul: My name is Paul. Kim Possible. Let me tell you something–I’m fucking Egypt. I cut the Nile. My liver, it has bile, bitch. Breakin’ down that fuckin’ food, I’m feel in good. I’m tryna fly to that fucking matrix bitch. But you know what? You a snitch.

Matt: Chillin’ here with this poopin’ penguin. High school bitch, 2011. That door is open–

Paul: Keratoconus. We own this. We flying to the highest height on us. Cuz I’m fighting with this disease. I’m trying to figure out how I got to this place. I had a Myspace.

Paul: Leather gloves. From above. I luh deez bitches, they give me hugs. Tryna fly to the highest mountain peak. But you know what? We gonna freak a leek. Drip up down, pussy wetter than ever.

Paul: Tryna be the best that I can be. But my grandmother, she from Tennessee. She said she don’t know what to do with life. I said it’s all about that strife.

Paul: Who needs a hug? Who needs a bug? Who needs a fuckin’ dick in they fuckin’ lugs? Put ’em in your uggs. I love you cuz I’m ug.

Matt: This kid. He’s bout to pee. You know what? Be me. That’s some words of wisdom. We trekking up on that internet, words of lizdom. Yeah she’s writing, writing up that blog.

Matt: Liz is this shit livebloggin. You know Paul on the street? Them bitches he be floggin’. Across the ass, in that booty he got the mass.

At this point, Paul interrupts to ask Harry to tie is shoe so that he can go to the bathroom, and, sadly, the freestyle session comes to an end. 

I Figured Out Why We Drink So Much

Just moments ago, I found myself slouched in a desk chair in my neighbors’ room with my feet up on their Target coffee table, contemplating whether or not to go out tonight. I weighed my options; I have an exam tomorrow, but I’m PDFing the class and the professor told us to come an hour and a half into the scheduled exam time because it’s not going to be hard enough to warrant a full three hours. I brainstormed my options for having fun. Sadly, everything that crossed my mind in those few seconds involved controlled substances. I found myself asking my two friends, “Why do there always have to be substances involved to have fun?”

One of them reasoned, “you can have fun without drinking,” and I totally, wholeheartedly agree. In fact, more often than not, I prefer sober, wholesome fun to what I usually end up subjecting my body to on Thursday and Saturday nights. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like a blackout all the time or do a ton of drugs, but I would say I partake in what you’d expect the average-to-lame college student to partake in on weekends. But it gets exhausting. Drinking’s effects are never really that great to begin with, and can be downright awful the next day. I’d love to enjoy a weekend with a group of friends without imbibing. But sober, wholesome fun requires planning. It requires time, foresight, commitment, and organization. In other words, it requires pretty much everything college students don’t have–not because we’re incapable, but because we tend to be lazy as all get out.

We end up making plans, on average, probably two hours beforehand, and because we don’t have the time to prepare other plans, these plans usually involve some variation on drinking a lot of alcohol. We drink because we don’t have time to plan fun, sober activities, and we don’t have time to plan fun, sober activities because we drink. It’s a self-perpetuating vicious cycle. I’m not saying that this is the way it should be, I’m just saying that this is the way it is, and that if we want to change our ways because we’re sick of them, this is the place to start. Break the cycle and take the extra couple hours (maximum) that it would take to plan something else.

Well, now it’s out there. And that being said, I have a pregame to get to. Just kidding, I think I’m going to study. I don’t know. Maybe not. Look out for a future post on indecision and FOMO.

On Misplaced Waste

The following post is dedicated to the exposure and shaming of people who vomit/defecate in inappropriate public places and leave their mess to be cleaned up by someone else and the celebration of the people who do not.

It is almost impossible to encapsulate the intense emotions I experienced when I entered the bathroom in my hall last night and surveyed the carnage after the initial feelings of shock have worn off, so I won’t try. Instead, transcribed below is the word-for-word text conversation I had with a friend who has seen his fair share of unwelcome surprises in his dorm’s bathroom and the weirdly formal e-mail I sent my RCA.

Me (3:27 AM): OH MY GOD THE SITUATION IN MY BATHROOM RIGHT NOW

Me: Ok so [my roommate] told me someone vommed and the vom spreads to multiple stalls

Me: And I saw a little bit of it when I went in and it just looked like yknow a regular streak of vom

Me: And I didn’t want it to smell so I just went to go put some Clorox wipes on it to cover it up idk

Me: Then I push open the door to the second stall

Me: Start dry heaving, because I’m not sure of [sic] the material on the floor and the seat is vomit or shit

Friend, being helpful: I bet it’s diarrhea

Me: Oh my god

Friend, being mature: Poooopy

Me: It actually might be.

Me: I ran back to my room coughing and gagging ugh I hate people

Me: Should I send an angry email??

And below is the e-mail I sent my RCA:

Subject: Vom.com

Dearest [redacted]-

It has come to my attention (by first-person witnessing, unfortunately) that there is a disgusting amount and spread of vomit/unidentifiable human waste in the 2nd floor women’s bathroom of Blair 8. Seeing as this is clearly unacceptable, inconsiderate to our custodian, and just plain unhealthy, I’m writing to you in the hopes that you could send an email around to the residents/possible culprits urging them to clean up after themselves and reminding us all to contain ourselves as best we can in dire times such as the one one of my hallmates evidently experienced tonight. It is also possible that the offender was a guest of one of the Blair 8/9 residents, in which case I would hope their host will take it upon himself/herself to take responsibility.

After speaking with some of my male hallmates on this topic, it has also come to my attention that one of the regular patrons of the men’s bathroom on our hallway has a seemingly incorrigible penchant for vomiting in one of the sinks.

I’m sorry that this topic has to be the bulk of the content of my email to you. I want to thank you for your warm presence in the dorm this year, and for your attention to this email.

Best wishes to you and yours,
Elizabeth

His kind response, if you were curious:

Subject: Re: Vom.com

Thanks for the heads up Liz. I’m sorry that your bathroom’s in such a bad state. You’re completely right, of course – it’s unacceptable both for the other people in the entryway and for the custodians. I’ll send out an email to the people in the entryway. Hopefully it won’t happen again. If it does, though, we can take further steps.

Best,
[redacted]

After this grueling experience, I couldn’t help but recall times in the past when people have recklessly abandoned their waste in inappropriate places. Like the time last year when my entrymate threw a pregame, during which one of her guests became so inebriated that one of my roommates opened our door to him, dick out, peeing on our door. This same night, someone (presumably the door-urinator) also attempted to expel their vomit out of a second floor window in the stairwell, only for it to be blocked by a window screen and somehow drip down the ledge, onto the floor, and down the stairs (!), leaving a trail of chunks of what were clearly poorly-digested chunks of bacon (?!) all the way down to the basement (?!?!).

This crime scene, including the drip marks on our door and sticky puddle of dried urine next to it, lasted for at least four days and inevitably gave rise to a heated discussion on our entry Facebook group, in which residents urged the pregame hostess to take responsibility for her guests’ destruction (construction?).

One resident’s post:

If someone wants to step up and claim responsibility for the state of our entryway I will be happy to help that person thoroughly clean the entryway. but it is fucking disgusting in here and I dont want my mom to have to walk on some college kid’s vomit and piss when she is helping me move out this weekend. Again, im not trying to point fingers, but we’re effectively college sophomores now, and we should be mature enough to own up to our own mistakes, and resolve the situation and move past it.

An excerpt of the hostess’s response:

‎1) I have been trying to figure out if anyone knew anyone here who may have done it since Sunday. 2) I started cleaning it myself this morning. 3) If you were all such “mature sophomores” you’d realize upperclassmen puke everywhere all the time and the janitors clean it up, were in college. You’re lucky you saw this only once or twice this year. 

To be as fair as possible, I should note that the hostess went on to say that she had recently heard some troubling news about a family member’s health, so she had been preoccupied that week.

Clearly, however, the claim that “upperclassmen puke everywhere all the time and the janitors clean it up,” is no excuse for the perpetuation of this type of behavior and is, thankfully, not factual, although my recent experience makes me begin to doubt that.

And so my message to you is this: if you find yourself about to be sick, please try to contain yourself. Do the right thing and do what I did during frosh week: bring your trash can into the bathroom to vomit (?), get locked out of your room without pants on in the process, and sleep on your neighbors’ window seat for the remainder of the night. If you find the urgency of your situation has prevented you from taking the tactful, logical steps I took, please do the right thing and at least try.

Try taking a note from the girl my dear friend Melissa and I encountered in a bathroom stall while on “safety patrol” during eating club formals weekend last spring: vomit on the floor while sitting on the toilet, see the error of your ways, and attempt to clean up your regurgitation with your bare hands, performing for others a sort of dance, framed by the floor and the bottom of the stall door, of just your hands fruitlessly swiping at a vomit-covered floor, like two malfunctioning window wipers.

The poor girl meant well, and I like to believe that deep down, beneath the lapses in judgment such as those my hallmate, the door-urinator, and the door-urinator’s hostess experienced, we all do.