Thursday, March 29, 2012

Oh, Room Picks

For those of you who do not know, the season in which we currently live, in addition to being allergy season, women's basketball season (go Irish), and "spring," is room pick season. This peculiar process, in which a series of randomly assigned lottery numbers determines the order in which residents get to bicker over closet-sized rooms to live in for the next year, is generally regarded as the most stressful thing to hit Notre Dame each year since - well, since the last dorm dance. Howard Hall is currently right at the start of its room pick process, and unsurprisingly, it promises to be the death of us all. In the post that follows, I will explain why it is that room picks are so horribly horrible.

First, there's the inevitable controversy over the workings of the whole system. The idea of randomly assigned lottery numbers determining where one is to live is rightfully terrifying. Once the numbers actually go up, however, terror almost inevitably morphs into rage. This year, for instance, in a move that I'm sure everyone has discovered by now, our hall co-presidents ended up with lottery numbers 1 and 2 for the rising junior class. While I haven't actually heard anyone say it, I'm sure at least a few people are less than pleased about this odd coincidence. (Let it be known that I am pick #4, so I could care less who the three people are ahead of me, because there are about a million people behind me, which sucks for them, but luckily I don't care.) Other people may be angered by a repeat appearance of a low room-pick number in back-to-back years, because this is simply not fair. When not fuming over the lottery policies of ResLife, students can also complain of the choices of hall staff as to which rooms are for freshmen and which are not. Admittedly, I was puzzled by some of these choices this year, particularly when I discovered that the tiny closet of a room that earned me so many "well, you know freshman year dorm life is rough"s last year is now going to be an upperclassman room.

Then there's the truest, cruelest room pick drama - who goes where. Each friend group has to decide who's lucky enough to live with or near them, where they want to be, what kind of rooms they want, and what floor they want, among other things. Once those are decided, there's the rest of the dorm to grapple with - what if this friend group wants the triple we want? We'll have to move to those neighboring doubles. But what if someone wants those? IT NEVER STOPS. The head staff in Howard attempted to alleviate some of this chaos by setting out floor plans on which we could make our "mock picks." In theory, this is a wonderful idea.

In practice, it is transforming this dorm into full-tilt jungle madness. (And it isn't going away.) In order for each grade of girls to pick their rooms with any certainty, the class above them has to choose theirs. This has, so far, not been working too well, since most of the seniors have yet to stake their claims to rooms. Ideally, anyone could put their number down on any room in the dorm (personally, I'm leaning toward claiming the chapel as my room - biggest single on campus, here I come!!). The rules, however, also allow for anyone to boot anyone else off a room if their lottery number is higher than the original claimant's. Though mock picks are completely unofficial and mean essentially nothing, this policy is pretty brutal. When you consider how few options we have in Howard this year, it becomes even worse. At my last count, there are nine doubles and three triples available for non-freshmen in Howard next year. Total. Of the entire sophomore, junior, and senior population of Howard next year, there will only be 27 girls in anything but single rooms. Luckily for me, I'm mildly self-obsessed and don't play well with others, so I'm quite content with the single I am likely to end up with. For normal people, though, this is pretty troublesome.

A report I heard from one of my friends in another dorm put it best. After the hall staff closed a room-picks email with "May the odds be ever in your favor" and the expected room-pick chaos ensued, someone said, "My God, we did not mean for you to actually go all Hunger Games on it!" For, when you think about it, room picks really do not matter that much to anything. Most of the rising junior class is only going to have to live in their rooms for a semester anyway before setting off to live in a foreign country for half the year. Beyond that, I think that the hours we spend hunched over the floor plans, plotting and sabotaging, blur our recollection of the actual size of this dorm. Howard is one building. One small building. No matter where you live in this dorm, you will be no more than a thirty-second walk from anyone else. So ultimately, room pick drama is fairly pointless.

With that in mind, there's only one thing left to say, namely: if you keep me from living close to my friends on the second floor where I hardly have to go up any stairs, I WILL CUT YOU. See you at room picks!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Domerberry Movie Review: The Hunger Games

So, for the few of you who are totally oblivious and unaware of this fact, today is opening day of The Hunger Games in theaters. Having read the first book over break (before the pestilence) and loved it, I decided to sign up for the midnight premiere pilgrimage with my dorm. Now that I've seen it, I feel it is only appropriate to write a blog post about it!

First, let's talk movie-going experience. After my poetry professor tasked us yesterday afternoon with writing a performance poem and performing it in a public place somewhere, I decided on a whim to write a poem about the Hunger Games and perform it outside the theater at the premiere. That's not quite as weird as it sounds, because it was more parody of a superfan than actual superfandom, and also I did the whole thing in a Jersey accent. So was pretty much just as weird as you think it is. Once inside the theater, we managed to be pretty normal the whole time. I had to continually swat my RA's arm down from the Panem salute she insisted on doing about 500 times. At one point - specifically, in the moments leading up to the CAVE SCENE (fans reading this, you know what bad timing this is) - we got into an uncontrollable silent laughing fit a la Ash Wednesday mass. Luckily, this time, we didn't have candles, or else we would have given a whole new meaning to Girl on Fire. Oh, and finally, I took a "what district do you live in" quiz on right before the movie, and it said I belong in the Capitol. While this is basically akin to the Internet telling me I am a bad person, I'm strangely okay with it.

So, moving on to the movie itself. In the interest of avoiding plot spoilers, I will simply give my opinions on some of the major characters. Be warned, I may still accidentally include (dozens of) plot spoilers.

KATNISS: Non-plot-related spoiler alert: I hate Katniss. I hated her in the book, and Jennifer Lawrence played her pretty much exactly as she should have been played, so I hated her in the movie, too. She frustrates me with everything she does! Also, Jennifer Lawrence - at least in this form - looks like a weird hybrid of two girls I know from home, so that was distracting. Oh, and Katniss is a stupid name.

PEETA: Oh, Peeta, you little darling. I just love ya. My problem with Josh Hutcherson is that he did enough movies, fairly recently, as the "little kid," that he is still a small child in my mind. I feel creepy finding him attractive, which, of course, the movie forces me to do. He did, however, play Peeta exactly as I pictured him in the book - adorable and possibly gay.

GALE: So hot. I don't even have anything else to say, really. He's hot. It was cute how he took care of Prim. I "aww"ed on cue whenever they cut to him looking sad during the Games when Katniss and Peeta were together. Liam Hemsworth, you may lay your sad, hot head on my shoulder.

CINNA: He is my favorite character in the book. I was weirded out by him in the movie. His relationship with Katniss was creepily romantic. I mean, it's Lenny Kravitz, so obviously Jennifer Lawrence/anyone would want to get with him in real life. But not here! When he zipped up her jacket, I was like, what is this, Harry and Ginny before Bill's wedding? Weird. I did, however, like his fire costumes, especially for the parade. The red dress was different in my mind, but I liked it as is, too. It made me want to glue rhinestones to my shoulder and call it a dress strap.

CAESAR FLICKERMAN: This was perfect in every way. As those of you who follow me on Twitter already know, I have decided that, spurning both Peeta and Gale, I am, in fact, Team Caesar Flickerman. I adore Stanley Tucci almost to the point of creepiness. He can do no wrong in my eyes, and that was especially true with his portrayal of Caesar. Also, he stole his hair from Katy Perry at this year's Grammys. Look it up.

RUE: Oh my goodness. So cute. Ahh. That girl played Rue in such an adorable, fantastic, perfect way. Rue, for the record, is exactly what I want my children to be. Never mind the biological improbability of this happening (though it'd be possible if I married whoever that was that played Thresh, um HELLO beautiful man); it is what I want. No white child will ever be as cute as her.

OTHER TRIBUTES: Cato - terrifying. He was larger in my mind? But still. So scary. Clove - girl is CRAY CRAY. She may have actually been scarier than Cato to me. Had she not died in the Games (yeah spoiler alert, this girl whose name you barely recognize does not win the Games!), she would have gone on to a notorious career as a horrifying sociopath serial killer. Fox Face was prettier in my head; Thresh, as mentioned before but deserves mentioning again, was super hot.

OTHER RANDOMS: Haymitch - so great! I pictured him less attractive than Woody Harrelson, but I'm not complaining. He got the balance between stupid drunk and charming sponsor just right. Effie - perfect. In terms of costuming, she was a cross between Dolores Umbridge and Nicki Minaj, and I loved every minute of it. Capitol residents - exactly how I imagined them. One of Cinna's assistants was, I think, secretly Rihanna. President Snow was wonderfully scary in his subtle way (his dealing with the gamemaker at the end was deliciously perfect). When I saw the Capitol family with their cute kids playing with the sword, I did not have anti-establishment feelings of frustration with their ignorance. I thought they were cute and thought, that's so great how they're rich and stuff! Put otherwise, the Internet is right; I am a bad person.

So there you have it: The Hunger Games as seen through the eyes of the Domerberry - or, in honor of this day, the Hungerberry. It's still completely true that the series is no Harry Potter, but for a Potter fan like myself whose life has been empty and meaningless since last July and the last release of the last movie (I'll let you pause here for a sob break), it's a good substitute to fill a bit of that Harry Potter void. After last night, my desire to read the other two books has increased hundredfold, so you know, sorry, homework. If you've read the book and haven't seen the movie yet, go see it immediately. If you have seen it, I'd love to chat with you about it. And if you haven't read the books yet, I would entreat you to start! Happy Hunger Games, dear readers, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TTYL, Permacloud

To enlighten the few of you who don't leave your homes and also have no access to the news where they talk about this constantly, it's a little (read: REALLY REALLY) hot in most of the country right now. Given the fact that today was the first day of 2012 that can officially not be called winter, it's a bit unusual that temperatures in both South Bend and Logansport, Indiana, have passed the 80-degree mark every day for the past week. It essentially seems that the United States as a whole has forgotten what springtime is and has simply passed straight to summer. This time last year, students were probably still wandering around Notre Dame in snow boots and parkas beneath our old friend, the South Bend Permacloud. But this time this year (or, to use the more common term, "today"), the students of Our Lady's University were gallivanting about in flip-flops and shorts. In observing my fellow Domers, I noticed some distinctive wardrobe trends developing, which I will explain in the post below. So, friends, here it is - the guide to the official uniform of a college-campus summer.

For the male of the species, the uniform of these sweltering summery days is easy to master. Essentially, college-going gentlemen have two options when the thermometer starts to hover around 85. The first is the "I enjoy cruising on my yacht/I am a frat star" uniform of brightly-colored khaki shorts, Sperrys or flip-flops, and a t-shirt or button-down. In a world where the cargo shorts that won guys "Best Dressed" in high school have somehow become synonymous with a complete lack of mastery of the ways of clothing, variations on this frat star outfit are the only acceptable outfit choice for the discerning 18- to 24-year-old male. The loophole to this rule comes in the form of athletic garb. Basketball shorts and a t-shirt or lax pinny are, for some reason, always okay - and, if you're actually doing something athletic out on the quad, basketball shorts alone become an acceptable outfit, as well. (I think I speak for women everywhere when I offer a hearty thank you to the unofficial governing body of college fashion, wherever you are, for allowing this particular loophole.)

We ladies can enjoy a bit more variety in our hot-weather uniform. There are three basic options. As with the boys, one acceptable choice is athletic wear. Strangely, this seems to be the first outfit that becomes acceptable as temperatures begin to rise. If it's 60 degrees, a girl may get some weird looks for jeans shorts and a tank top, but switch to some running shorts and a bro tank and no one will question you. This is probably because shorts are acceptable for working out no matter the temperature, but let's not kid ourselves - those tribal-printed Nike running shorts do not mean you did an hour on the treadmill today; they mean you didn't feel like wearing real pants. Regardless of motivation, though, athletic wear (with pretty much any shoe in the world, possibly excepting, I don't know, stilettos) is always acceptable on hot days.

The second option available to college ladies is the female equivalent of the frat star uniform: the "I'm using the temperature as an excuse to be this naked" outfit. This can take thousands of forms. Jean shorts, shorter iterations of the fellas' bright khakis, and even bermuda shorts are all acceptable bottoms. (I'm holding on to a desperate hope that rompers had their moment last summer and will return to being socially unacceptable in every way again this year, but should that not happen, rompers will fit with this uniform, as well.) The top half of this uniform can be pretty much anything, as long as it gives the impression that the wearer is hot in every sense of the word and as long as the skin-to-fabric ratio is horrifically skewed in favor of skin. In a trend of which I am personally quite fond, we're in this wonderful place right now where the fashionable way to dress when it's hellaciously warm is by tossing on clothes so large they basically never touch your skin. Many of these giant hippie tops would not be that revealing were they to fit like normal clothes, but since they're purposely made tent-like enough to be perpetually falling off, they still manage to be slutty! Basically, the rule for hot-weather tops for girls is this: if your grandmother would think that it A) came from the closet of a streetwalker somewhere on the Equator or B) is a homemade tool for hanging potted plants, wear it!

The final option for the college girl hot-weather uniform is, of course, the sundress. Sundresses are great for a variety of reasons. First, they spare you the burden of having to wear real pants/having to wear pants at all. Considering I actually screamed at one of my friends yesterday for wearing long jeans, it should be obvious that if there's one thing no one wants when it's hot outside, it's real pants. With the sundress option, your newly-Spring-Break-tanned legs are completely free! Assuming you don't mind shaving your legs (or getting strange looks from classmates when you don't bother shaving your legs), this is fantastic. Another great thing about sundresses is that, nine times out of ten, they're actually still pretty slutty - but they're disguised as semi-formal. Think about it. They're often incredibly short, and they rarely feature straps any wider than those found on your uniform-issue gladiator sandals. Were you to take the average sundress and alter it into an equivalent tank top and shorts, it'd be pretty risque. As it is, though, it's simply cute - and even acceptable for somewhat fancy occasions like church or a date. (Note: that last option is completely irrelevant to Notre Dame, because we don't know what dating is here. Anything in the world is acceptable to wear for the dining hall date you're probably freaking out over, because it's the dining hall.)

So, folks, there you have it - the official summer-day uniform for college students everywhere. Follow these guidelines and you can't go wrong! Of course, it should be mentioned that all these rules fly immediately out the window when it comes time for that ultimate springtime spectacle of costuming, bookstore basketball. I made that transition only because it should also be mentioned that, as of about twenty minutes ago, I am on a bookstore basketball team. Are you all done laughing yet? No? You're still not? Okay good. Expect a blog post on that as I'm forced to attend actual games and stuff. Hopefully I will score lots of touchdowns! Humiliating or only somewhat humiliating, though, I know one thing about bookstore basketball - if this week's weather is any indication, we won't be doing it under the watchful eye of the Permacloud.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

As many of you probably know, this Monday was my birthday. Generally, this would be an awesome thing, right?


Let's start with Sunday, shall we? For a spot of pre-birthday fun, I was lucky enough to go shopping with my mother, my sister, and one of my sister's surprisingly violent friends. The trip began with an hour-and-a-half-long drive. During this time, we discovered four things: our iPod connector cord won't work without extensive static; the iPod of my sister's friend has only 155 songs, each of which sounds identical to the other 154; that same friend really enjoys hitting me; and my mother had left her cell phone at home. Clearly, this was destined to be an excellent day.

We arrived at our first mall of the day, only to discover that the half of the mall where all my favorite stores are located is currently separated (thank you, construction) from the half of the mall where my sister's stores can be found. We started - and long remained - on her end, where I had a lovely time sitting in a lounge chair in Abercrombie & Fitch, slowly dying of asphyxia thanks to the overwhelming power of Eau de Bro perfume and pondering that ancient question: why do the youth of America enjoy shopping in a glorified under-21 nightclub? Eventually, we came to our second (and thankfully, last) mall of the day. Initially, we split up here. I was alone in the mile-long checkout line at H&M when, mid-Rihanna remix, the power went out. Of course, as you'll recall, my mother's cell phone was sitting back in Logansport, and, since my sister's friend had left hers in the van, the rest of my group was armed with only one phone - my highly unreliable sister's. After a few failed attempts, I got through to my mother, who informed me that, unlike in H&M, the power was back on already over in Hollister! Fluorescent light by fluorescent light, the power eventually did come back on, and, after what seemed like an eternity spent directly behind an obese woman who kept "inadvertently" stepping far too far backward into my personal space, I went to rejoin the rest of my group. By the end of the day, the sizable haul of new clothes I had - including two new pairs of shorts which, yes, I can wear this week, thank you very much! 82 degrees HOLLA - ensured that I couldn't call the day a total loss.

But I can and will call it a loss of about 95%. For, at some point during the day, I must have eaten something a little off, because I spent the vast majority of my birthday (including all but about two hours of the night before) violently ill. If you have never been deathly ill and sleep-deprived on your birthday, which also happens to fall, to your great chagrin, on the same day as Mitt Romney's birthday, I would advise that you try it sometime, because IT SUCKS. The only things I ate on my twentieth birthday were ice chips, a watermelon slush from Sycamore (because, I mean, I'm not gonna not), one piece of toast, and a tiny slice of my own birthday cake. For someone who loves food as much as I do, this was pretty much a death sentence. I would like to give a shout-out at this point to those of you who sent me your "happy birthday" well wishes on Facebook/Twitter/via text, because they are literally the only thing that got me through that miserable day. (Well, that and the Florence and the Machine tickets I received as my birthday present, HOLLA AGAIN!) However, I must say that one good thing came of this devilish birthday plague. When I finally forced myself to wear real-people clothes the next day, I found that I was practically swimming in them! Thanks to my accidental spring break diet, I lost what seemed like 50 pounds on Monday - and considering I've still only regained about a third of my usual eating prowess, it looks like this trend will continue for at least a few days. Looks like the "Lazy Girl Diet" I saw advertised on Dr. Oz Monday afternoon is real after all and personified by yours truly.

In all, this is not what I had in mind when I pictured my last birthday in the United States until I'm 22 and officially an old person. (For those of you wondering, my ideal picture consisted of sleeping in until about noon, eating my body weight in Sycamore, El Arriero, and birthday cake, and happily watching mindless television until it was time for people to shower me in gifts.) And of course, this entire blog post is pretty much one giant first-world problem, but that doesn't make it any less true that this birthday was not fun. I did, however, get "Happy Birthday Sarah" signs with Justin Bieber's face on them plastered all over my house - where they remain to this day - so things could be worse. Here's hoping that this time next year, two days after my twenty-first birthday, in London, the only blog post you'll be reading will be entitled "Best. Birthday. Ever."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's the Most Horrible Time of the Year

Well, folks, it's that time of year again. No, not Christmas. No, not Girl Scout cookie sales; you missed the boat on that one by a few weeks. That's right - it's midterms week. As every college student knows, midterms week is by far the most stressful week of the semester. Some would argue that finals week is worse, but as I've discussed on this blog already, the inclusion of study days makes that week at least manageable. With midterms week, there are no study days. For this and so many other reasons, it is the worst. Now that I'm done with the only actual exam I had this week (Arts 'n' Craftz for the win), I will take a few moments to explain the horrendous nature of this week to you all.

The most obvious problem with this week is, as I hinted at, its complete lack of study time. While the study days granted us during finals week may be a joke, they're at least there. The option to use those extra free hours to study is given to us, should we choose to take advantage of it. With midterms, we don't even have the option of studying during free days, because there are none. You're ambling along through the semester, doin' ya thang, and all of a sudden this week of tests, papers, and projects just materializes. Nothing stops to accommodate midterms, but the workload is barely any more forgiving than that of finals. Furthermore, most of the exams this week occur during class or at a typical class exam time - which means no extra time to take the test. What's that? You have an exam in a 50-minute class? Because life's not fair, your professor will probably give you a test with three hours' worth of material on it. So...good luck with that!

Coming in (a very close) second in terribleness is midterms week's proximity to spring break. For people headed somewhere beachy for spring break, this week is necessarily the strictest diet week of, like, all time, ever. In addition to the hours studying and writing papers, these beach-bound kiddos have to squeeze in hours and hours of workout time - all while surviving on a diet of Evian and air. Whether you're going to Cancun, the Vatican (I don't want to talk about it, Lit Choir!), Colorado, or your boring hometown, though, spring break, as a dead week of blissful non-responsibility, is something to look forward to. How are students supposed to study when they know that, in a few short days, they can get plastered every night, sleep in til 2 PM every day, and do no homework for seven glorious days without even flunking out of school? Answer: they can't.

Though this is a rather specific problem, this spring's midterms week poses another problem for all of Notre Dame's theatre kids, as well. Auditions for the PEMCo Revue happened to fall smack in the middle of midterms this year. The audition slots themselves are only five minutes each, so this would seem at first glance to be a harmless conflict. Au contraire, though, my friends. To have a good shot at making the show, at least five audition time slots need to have your name on them. Furthermore, we obviously all care a lot more about perfecting our songs than we do about studying. Each Revue-cast hopeful, then, will spend hours and hours this week in whatever practice rooms they can wrestle their way into, dividing up parts, testing the limits of the human belt range, and running each song until they forget the meaning of the word "song." Following auditions, they will panic about whether they made the show and, once the cast list goes up, will spend the remaining hours of the week either A) celebrating or B) sitting around with their friends complaining about how much better they are than everyone who did make the show. In all, the situation is wholly disastrous for midterm week success.

Last but not least, as all my Indiana readers (so...95% of you) know, the weather this week is completely and utterly non-condusive to studying for exams. It was 65 degrees today. It was nearly that warm yesterday. (And Monday it snowed all day. Indiana weather, am I right?) And as long as mother nature hands us summery 60-degree afternoons like today's, the student body of the University of Notre Dame will collectively do nothing but sit on the quad "reading;" run around the lakes; wear shorts wholly inappropriate for days that are, in fact, still only 65 degrees; and, for the guys, play shirts-and-skins football/frisbee/lacrosse/chess/hopscotch, thus giving all the girls sitting outside something to do while they pretend to do homework.

So, administrators everywhere, take note - midterms week is a preposterous institution, and it clearly should be done away with immediately. Tests should be postponed indefinitely, and papers should all be due immediately following spring break, so we can trick ourselves into thinking we're going to work on them during our extra week of time. Now hop to it, ND - you've got a lot of tests to cancel.

[Also, while I have you all here as a captive audience, everyone who hasn't yet should go watch the video on Joseph Kony and get informed on the terrible things he's doing and how you can help stop him. Watch the vid! Email your senators! Ignore the fact that this movement's been around and active for several years already! Because if there were ever a bandwagon worth jumping on, it's this one. Oh, and after that, go cry about Peyton Manning some more, because I'm sure you haven't done that already.]