The Early Bird Gets… Bruised?

Standard

Part 3 — Orientation.

Orientation was a blast.

Well, most of it. In general, it was hot as blazes; it hovered around 96˚ the entire time and not even our dorm had air conditioning. The entire thing often felt like a massive, hazy, group hallucinatory mirage. I still haven’t made complete sense of all that happened at orientation and I will share it, bit by bit, so tonight I’m offering an anecdote that is, to me, perhaps the most perfectly sour icing on my cake.

Remember drivers’ ed? Remember how they told us over and over that being tired is worse than being drunk?

Well, I can’t speak to the drunk aspect of it, but being tired is a bitch. And being tired impairs your judgement and your ability to think. By the time Friday morning rolled around, I had been operating on four hours’ sleep since the previous Sunday, with Thursday night spent in the hot dorm drifting in and out of a hazy coma. Needless to say, I was bone tired, friggin’ exhausted.

I had my alarm set for five a.m. because I wanted to take a shower before anyone else was in there. My alarm, I should probably mention, is a horrible noise. It freaks my cat out and makes him dig into me if he’s at my feet. It freaks me out and sends me wide awake. It is, in short, a sound from the Android collection, that of a rooster in the morning.

Fitting, huh?

Well, it’s five a.m. and I come wide awake because that damn rooster is cawing and it’s making me cringe. I had two roommates and, as far as roommates go, these two were the absolute best. They were really nice and very easy to share a room with. I didn’t want my damn alarm to wake them up.

I should probably mention where I am. I’m on the top of a lofted bed. It’s up high, close to the ceiling, and it’s difficult to get down. I had talked to my roommate who had the other lofted bed and asked her how she got down and she said you kinda just had to jump.

So it’s five a.m. The room is really rather dark and I’m falling asleep as I sit there debating how to climb down and shut my alarm off so my roommates don’t wake up. Then I remember what my roommate said about kinda having to jump and, in my sleep-deprived brain, this sounds like a pretty good idea because I need to get down there and turn my alarm off before I wake my roommates.

So I jumped off my lofted bed, completely forgetting that the floor is hard linoleum and that my two hard suitcases, plus a chair with the fan that is angled up toward me, is down there. Luckily for me, I missed the chair with the fan and most of the suitcases. I landed on my feet, but I immediately went crumpling and crashing down onto my side. I checked later and I found I was pretty bruised.

My roommate who was sleeping on the unlofted bed said she remembered hearing the chicken alarm and thinking, What is that and why won’t it turn off? Then she opened her eyes and saw me “Tarzan-jump” past and thought, Where is she going!?!

Needless to say, I woke both my roommates up. Then I felt really really bad about waking them up.

It was kind of all for nothing because I got ready and I was so exhausted I ended up almost falling asleep in the desk chair, so I climbed back up into bed fully dressed and slept until about 8:2oish, which was my limit because I had to schedule my classes at 9 and then I could go home.

Souvenirs from orientation: Geeky breakaway lanyard? Check. Photo I didn’t know I was taking of the floor? Check. Extensive bruising? Double check.

Yup, I think I reached my limit…

-Katie Poule

Mental Notes: Never loft bed again. Ever. Don’t even think about it. Don’t even consider it a possibility.

Orientation Schedule

Standard

Part 2 — Orientation.

Orientation begins in t- 44 hours and counting.

I check in the night before, receiving my MCard, and get to “sleep” in sweltering heat with no A/C in East Quad, then spend the following day learning about money-management and take a chemistry placement and  a French placement test. We also do a campus tour and a “theater presentation.”

Then, after a second sweltering night in East Quad, I spent hours in groups learning about how to basically succeed in college and how to register for classes. The former is just going to be refresher; I’ve been doing college for two years now, succeeding just fine. The latter is what I really need to see. My old university used Blackboard compulsively and the University of Michigan uses CTools, which means I need to learn how to work it. That night, I have orientation for the research program I was accepted into.

And then I get a third hot night, we register for classes in the morning and head home. I have to make sure I get into the Art of Film class because it’s the only way I can get into the screen arts and cultures major, which I’m really considering going into, especially the screenwriting subconcentration. There’s also the architecture major, which I’m also looking into.

My academic future is complicated; I thought for years I wanted to be an architect but now I write murder mysteries and screenplays and I like it more. I’m just figuring it out as I go. I have two years to decide and I am going to be all ready for both majors, when the time comes. With a French minor, parce que je suis français et j’aime beaucoup parler français. As you can see, it’s also very shitful currently, but I’m working on it. And I’m traveling abroad at some point, hopefully. Bonjour, foreign chickenshit!

Tonight I got my sheets and my shower tote for orientation. I had panicky visions of East Quad showers because I have seen the showers in my actual dorm and they are mildly frightening, almost as frightening as the thought of those sweltering nights. The Weather Channel has the forecast for the next few days set to sweltering; the low Tuesday is supposed to be 74˚ and Wednesday’s and Thursday’s are both 77˚. These follow blistering days in the nineties.

Let the sleepless nights begin. How fun!

-Katie Poule

Mental Notes: Remain calm. Remember fans.

Gutsy Bird

Standard

Yesterday something massive happened. It was a huge step toward college.

I bought a pair of shoes.

This doesn’t sound much, but it was the meaning behind the shoes. They were not ostentatious shoes or outrageous shoes. Instead, they were a pair of very simple black flats.

They fulfill my fantasy of trotting off to the Union for a cup of coffee in October, surrounded by fall foliage in my flats. Granted, coffee makes me gag and I really don’t trot, but that can be remedied, right?

Or my fantasy of heading down to Ashley’s Pub on a whim to grab a bite. This is also likely going to only ever be a fantasy; the last time I saw the place it was packed and that many people in such a small place induces mild claustrophobia.

Hey, zero out of two ain’t bad, right?

So I was getting the shoes with Fabulosity. In fact, I was shopping with Fabulosity. I had never had the opportunity to shop with him before; we aren’t exactly living in a shopping mecca. So we went shopping at a pretty good mall about an hour away. It was incredibly fun; he taught me how to truly shop and pulled me out of my shell. I found glitter. And I found the amazing previously mentioned black flats.

I should probably mention something here, in case there’s any confusion as to why I didn’t know glitter. My clothing style is like yo’ grandma. The saleslady at Talbots knows me on a first-name basis. I got all excited when I found out Julianne Moore did a spread for their catalog. If I’m not wearing Talbots, I’m wearing Lands’ End. My wardrobe is not exciting.

I like to think it leaves all the interesting stuff on the inside, but the fact is, there’s not much interesting in here either. There’s a brain. And a spinal cord. And some phalanges. And an itsy bitsy vomer. (That’s a bone in my nose.) Just your standard stuff.

So I made a big step. I got shoes. I branched out. (It’s about time; I have orientation in less than 72 hours.)

Fabulosity also gave me some very valid insight. He told me, in his way, that nobody puts quotes around colloquialisms. He had read my Facebook status and was very, er, miffed that I had told everybody that I was going to be “hanging out” with him. It was the quotes he had the problem with. I use quotes around colloquialisms I am unfamiliar with using so I can check my context later and make sure I used them right.

I came close to living under a rock for quite a long time. Yes, I am a nerd. Yes, I am rectifying it. I already have taken care of some of it, thanks to Fabulosity.

Another thanks-to-Fabulosity moment: convincing me that I would survive the whirly ride.

There was a mini fair set up outside the mall. It was like a weekend thing and there were about a dozen rides. The proceeds seemed to be benefitting some local charity or hospital. I wanted to ride a daring ride. I wanted to be reckless and crazy. Plus, I was too embarrassed to take the kiddie roller coaster.

Reckless and crazy turned out to be a small version of a troika (not the horse version), which, from a distance didn’t appear to be going that fast. We climbed in. We were strapped in.

And then my memories of my elementary school’s fair came flooding back to me and I started to panic. I had ridden an extremely scary ride there, one that still gives me nightmares sometimes. We had been strapped in a similar fashion for it.

I started to hyperventilate, which is the first step for me towards panic-attacking.

“Get yourself together!” Fabulosity demanded. “I don’t want to be involved with your panic attack!”

He assured me I would be fine, that the ride would be fine. I told him I would just close my eyes.

“You do that.”

And, guess what? I absolutely loved the ride. It went so fast but I wasn’t scared in the slightest. We did it again. And again.

Each time we did it I got dizzier and dizzier. Fabulosity had to keep me walking in a straight line to get out of the gate because I randomly would stagger from side to side. By the third time I was past dizzy and into nauseated, so it was a good idea to stop.

But that isn’t the point. The point is, I did something I was scared of. Not only did I do it, but I had so much fun. I conquered my inner chickenshit, if only for a moment. That’s what I have to keep doing, each day.

That’s the key.

-Katie Poule

Mental Notes: Find more glitter tops that aren’t slutty.

Orientating Before Orientation

Standard

Part 1 — Orientation.

Well, we are down to the home stretch. Orientation starts next Wednesday, which means I have a whole lotta crap to accomplish in a short amount of time. Tomorrow, my “directed self-placement” essay is due, along with the photo for my MCard. On Thursday, I’m getting fitted for contacts so this hen is no longer four-eyed and getting my hair highlighted. Fresh school, fresh start, new chapter, right?

The essay is a tricky concept; I’m not exactly sure why we need it. The writing center places us into the writing class they think we have the experience for, but when it comes time to select our classes, we are allowed to place ourselves. I know exactly what class I want to get into, so why should I write this essay? I was kind of tempted to bullshit my way through it, when I saw the fine print: the professor of the writing class we sign up for reads this essay. I may be chickenshit, but I sure as hell am not a dumb bunny and I will not have my first impression to my professor be that of a dumb bunny.

That said, I don’t exactly know how to write an essay like this. I spent two years at a university and I had been expected to take the two basic composition requisites, but I had skipped those in favor of honors literature classes and junior-level critical theory seminars. Therefore, I am very skilled at writing intensive research papers and arguing points from Barthes to Zizek, but I suck at those papers that make you take an abstract position and extrapolate on it with little to no concrete evidence to prove your point. I may just take a secondary comp course to hone these skills.

The MCard is a little bit less tedious, but actually more confusing for me. When I was at my old university taking classes, I had an ID card that was also my library card and a sort-of debit card. If I had a meal plan, that would also be accessed through the ID card. I received my ID about three weeks before the start of classes in my first semester. It was not a hard process; I went to the ID card office, filled out a short form, and sat for my picture. It was a hideous picture and made me look like the geeky, overeager young’un I was at the time. The following year, I decided to replace it. That photo came out bug-eyed.

At Michigan, the acquiring process is a bit different. I don’t sit for my picture. I send in the picture I would like used for my card. They have a bunch of rules for this. I can’t be wearing formalwear, I can’t be wearing a hat, my hand can’t be touching my head, I can’t be making a goofy face, etc etc. Despite the fact I would never send in a picture with any of the above, I am peeved at this list of what I can’t do. However, it is still an altogether better process because my own camera is far superior to the grainy camera at my old university. I have no basis for the quality of camera at UMich, but I still prefer my own camera. Plus, I know my mother better than the person operating the camera and I know she won’t make me look bug-eyed or geeky. I send the picture in and, presto, during check-in at Orientation, I am handed my shiny new MCard. On a lanyard, no less.

My MCard does everything. It allows me access to my meal plan and the library, just like at my old university, but it also gets me into my dorm room, which is something that my old university didn’t do. I lived at home then, but I had friends in dorms, so I know this to be true. My MCard slides into my dorm door like at a hotel room and then I enter a PIN to gain access. It’s incredible! Less things to potentially lose!  And, for the first time, I will have an acceptable photo for this lovely do-everything card.

Let’s get cracking…

-Katie Poule

Mental Notes: Survive eye doctor appointment (gulp).

Changing Chicken

Standard

Something sad happened today. Something died.

Well, technically speaking, nothing actually died, but it sure felt like something died. My old university email address, to be exact. I removed it from my email client and attempted to finish syncing my UMich email, which, of course, didn’t work, because I have a MacBook and nothing is designed to work with a MacBook, though it is the most amazing computer ever.

I spent my junior and senior year as a full-time student at a lovely university. I am an overachiever from the get-go and so when I wasn’t being challenged I moved up to higher, higher education that is, so I am not especially terrified of Wolverine academics.

But that’s not the point. The point is, I had the most amazing email address at that university. Though I dabble in Gmail and Ymail and snail mail, it became my default. I used it for everything. However, now, with my new UMich uniqname (Wolverine-speak for username), it appears that I have outgrown my email address and I am now in the process of emotionally leaping from one ice floe that I called home to a new ice floe I have to make my home.

Home is a tricky concept with me. I have spent the past eighteen years more or less trying to get away from home. That’s not to say I had a bad home life. I had a pretty good home life. I’m an only child and I have a pretty good relationship with my mother.

 But being an only child can have its disadvantages. While other kids were going to the mall, I was home, because the mall was where pedophiles and rapists hung out. When I went to college junior and senior year, I had to call home every time I walked to class or left a building or walked to different buildings. Going out with friends is something I rarely do because it requires extensive coordination that frustrates the shit out of my friends, which I understand. It’s a safe bet that I am itching to leave for college, not so I can be reckless and party all night long, but so I can grab a bite to eat without calling to make sure that’s okay.

I have to find a way to make this place home while redefining my definition of home. This is not redefining home as being good instead of bad, because my home life was never bad. It was just… very boring. Therefore, I need to redefine my definition of home as including a vibrancy, an active quality. My new roost home is going to be a place where things happen besides studying. This is not to say I won’t be active around campus. My dorm is simply going to be an extension of my life on campus and also function as a respite from the hectic.

There’s also the curious conundrum that involves studying at UMich. The reason I do not, first and foremost, feel that my roost is a place for studying is not because I am not thinking towards academics. Quite the contrary. They are my number-one priority, but after spending years holed up studying, I have decided I simply will not have it any more.

I am going to become a social studier, which appears to be an actually quite prevalent phenomenon at UMich. Social studiers are people who study around other people, often times silently and just simply in the presence of other people, like at the Ugli (undergraduate library) or in the Union. I’ve never done that before. I’ve always studied alone and, I must say, it’s really boring and lonely. So, in the name of changing habits for personal benefit, I am going to make myself be a social studier, for my own mental health.

Here’s to change and changing, however frightening it is to make the change.

-Katie Poule

Mental Notes: Buy Kleenex. Finish packing for orientation. Remember camera.

Roost

Standard

Housing returned with my dorm assignment. I get a single. Woo-hoo! This chicken finally has a potential roost, a 10′ x 13′ white box, to be filled with all my stuff and made homey, etc. etc. At least I don’t have a roommate; I have heard horror stories from one too many people about bad roommates. My old mentor’s son was choked in his sleep by his roommate.

A visit to Ann Arbor is, for me, like coming home. I’m a legacy girl; my blood has run maize-and-blue ever since I toddled around the campus at age four. I visited Ann Arbor soon after I discovered my dorm assignment and wandered around a bit to see what’s like. The dorm was functioning as office space for the summer, so I couldn’t go upstairs and see exactly what it would be like. However, there was a very nice woman whose temporary office was in an RA’s (single) room and she let me in to look around.

The room was very nicely sized and very bright, especially for all my dark, dank dorm fears. Another fear is the state of the bathrooms. I saw the first-floor bathrooms and they are more than slightly frightening. Apparently I should wear flip-flops in there at all times, even in the showers and I wouldn’t even think of taking a bath in there, though there is a bathtub. The best word that comes to mind when describing the bathrooms is “moist”, which, according to my dear friend JS, is a word that should never be said. Another word that comes to mind is “rank.”

That day I also visited Housing to ask about the potential for bringing in my own air conditioner, as my dorm isn’t air conditioned. Turns out, there’s a form for that, and it must be signed by my physician. Yep, you heard right. I need medical authorization to have an air conditioner in my room and I am not allowed to bring in my own air conditioner, even if it is one of those floor units that only vents out the window. And the forms aren’t exactly clear as to when, how, or even if the air conditioner is removed from my window by Housing. I have a mental image of snow billowing into my room….

On a different note, I keep getting mailings from a third-party laundry service claiming to be from University Housing making ostentatious claims like, “Regular sheets won’t fit our beds!” Yeah, UMich, we get it. Your beds are XL Twin. That does not make them spiffy and, all things considered, it’s really not hard to find sheets that do fit. If all else fails, buy Queen flat and learn how to do hospital corners. It’s not that hard. And I will not spend an asinine amount of money on your scratchy-looking bedding just because it’s “guaranteed until graduation.”

I have orientation in a few weeks. I guess that will be the dorm trial run, except I will not be in my actual dorm and I will have to have a roommate. Here’s hoping we get along and she’s not crazy. I have to deal with her for three days, which is not long, if you don’t have to deal with a crazy. It might be too much to ask for a clean roommate that doesn’t encourage my OCD skills.

Either way, here we go. Home stretch until my freshman year!

-Katie Poule

Mental Notes: Buy Clorox in bulk. Polish hospital corner skills. Get reacquainted with the morning.

Hello world!

Standard

A more accurate title would be “Hello whomever you are that just stumbled onto my pathetic little blog.”

For the sake of internet anonymity, in case you’re a crazy, you can call me Katie Poule. Poule is French for chicken, because I am, for lack of a better word, a chicken. Anatomically, I’m a female human, not exactly a “hen” and not exactly “spring,” but I certainly am green. I’m an incoming freshman at the illustrious University of Michigan. Personality-wise, I’m a chickenshit. Actually, I’m an OCD chickenshit, which is even worse.

This should be interesting…

-Katie Poule