philthecow: (hitchcock)
I spent HOURS upon HOURS on this FUCKING article to the detriment of my PERSONAL HAPPINESS and, well, SANITY over the past week because I thought it would be HEALTHY for campus DIALOGUE and it's not in the FUCKING Daily Gazette, which I COMPILED last night, so I KNOW it was FUCKING in there. WHAT THE FUCK?

Was it too long? Maybe. Too many swear words and racial slurs? Definitely, although since I am REPORTING the fact that the campus as recently as ten years ago used to be an OVERTLY RACIST and DEEPLY HOMOPHOBIC institution, with "fuck niggers" and "kill fags" SPRAY PAINTED all over the campus, I DON'T THINK THAT SHOULD BE THE PROBLEM.

Even if there is a perfectly good reason, which there probably is, this just RUINED MY MORNING.

If you care, which I am sure you do, and want to SEND IT TO ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS. )
philthecow: (Default)
My roommate likes to call me "Swarthmore" as a code name.

"Lauren Stokes is what's wrong with Swarthmore. Discuss."
"Well, of course. Lauren Stokes is Swarthmore."

swarthmore, a bouncing ball of things

Yoinked from Freshman Jeff's facebook.
philthecow: (Default)
If I were going to take a year or a semester off from college, what should I do with myself during that time?

(You can comment saying "That's a horrible idea" if you really want to, but you'd better give reasons.)
philthecow: (Default)
The paper is now 1400 words longer, but I've gotten only one-half of the way through the points I wanted to make and it's supposed to be 1750 words at most. Weimar Germany's pretty dense.

Ideal schedule for next semester:

GERM: Intensive German, Werlen and Plaxton
MWF 10:30-11:20
TTH 8:30-9:45

ARTH: Renaissance Art in Florence and Environs, Reilly
MWF 11:30-12:20

ARTH: The Art of Exhibition, Mileaf
W 1:00-4:15

PHIL: Philosophy of Literature, Eldridge
TTH 9:55-11:10

and, if by dint of lottery luck:

HIST: History of the Future, Burke
M 1:00-4:15

I made a list of all of the classes I wanted to take while at Swarthmore, and there were a lot of them, something like fifteen credits in the Art History department alone, several in Philosophy, History, and Sociology, and of course more German and a little bit of literature. My second major will probably be in Philosophy, although I'm tempted to propose one in "Non-Art-Department-Courses-That-Somehow-Involve-Art." I wonder how common student-run classes actually are; I think it would be fun to teach one on self-taught art.

Perhaps I'm locking myself down too quickly, but Tom Krattenmaker said the other day "Of course you'll be a writer" and I glowed a little as I went to [ profile] showergrrl's Linguistics experiment, thinking that it doesn't really matter what writers study as long as they write.

The paper is still only half-finished, or possibly almost done, depending on how you look at it.
philthecow: (Default)
Everyone should listen to "Strong Eliza," the radio show by Jon Peters and myself that is debuting this Monday at 8:00 pm EST. It's primarily a sketch comedy show, and the central character is Eliza Hinckle-Stromberg, a middle school anthropologist based on and voiced by yours truly.

Each week will feature a three act "Eliza Story" about middle school and a whole bunch of other goodies. Alex List, Fletch Wortmann, Ethel Reines, and Charlie Decker are just a few of our confirmed writers; the first musical guest is going to be Woody Jiang; the theme of our show, in a phrase, is "being really awkward," so I'm sure all of you could also be writers if you so wish.

I can't promise that the first show is going to be great; we really have very little idea what we're doing, the full cast hasn't rehearsed yet, writing for radio is tough and some of the first show's sketches are admittedly weak. But the whole gang has a lot of enthusiasm (I'm hammering away on a sketch for next week as we speak), awkwardness is a never-exhausted topic to which I know all of you can relate, we have some great talent on board, and the main character is based on me.

(Incidentally, [ profile] arctangent's show is directly after mine. So even if you don't want to listen to my show, you'll probably end up catching some of it anyway when you tune in early to his. And since one of the last segments in every show is going to be "Eliza's Book Report," my reminiscing over those books we read in middle school, you're going to love it and wish you had listened to the whole thing.)
philthecow: (Default)
I told myself I was too daunted by the coursebook to even think about my first semester, but yesterday I caved and planned out four whole years at Swarthmore. The last two are admittedly sketchy, but it's a comforting sort of document, and provides for my learning German, double-majoring in Art History and Sociology/Anthropology, and effectively completing the Interpretation Theory minor, even if I wouldn't be allowed to claim it as a double major. It gets on shaky ground, of course, if I decide to study abroad for a semester, or hate one of my intended major departments, or flunk out, but even the worst-laid plans go right sometimes, right?

I hadn't wanted to take a language, but then I saw myself wanting to go to graduate school in Art History and needing to learn two languages in two years and killing myself. And even if I don't go to graduate school, how can you regret taking a language? It's the most concrete skill set you can get out of college (maybe not when compared to science and math, but definitely when compared to theory) and I've always had kind of a fascination with Germany.

After college, of course, the plan is to become the world's foremost expert on museums and the Tracy Chevalier of contemporary self-taught artists. (How cool would it be to set a novel in YTTE? I have no idea what it would be about, but the climactic scene would take place in the "Mother Sketched as Cathedral.") Win a couple of Nobel Prizes... even the worst-laid plans! It's my new motto.

With that, a Public Service Announcement:

If you want to blow your mind next Tuesday, turn on PBS at 10 PM and watch In the Realms of the Unreal, the one and only documentary about the one and only Henry Darger. I've seen it and it's brilliant, even by the high standrards I apply to anything Darger-related. Tape it if you can't actually watch it, and if you can't do that, either, get ready for me to tape you to a chair and make you watch my copy on DVD, including all of the special features, the penis bits twice.
philthecow: (Default)
This is a poem about one year ago today.

Untitled (First Date) )
philthecow: (stokes)

Tangentially amusing... )
philthecow: (hitchcock)

The Beggar's Maid
Originally uploaded by philthecow.
Fergie says this is my magnum opus; either she only said that in order to alleviate some of my embarrassment over handing it in, or masturbation and pedophilia are my strong points. I'm not sure which explanation I prefer.

Alice Liddell )
philthecow: (hitchcock)
I slouch into position against the center wall of the Denville train shelter. The center wall is important because it is where the best heat lamp is. It is where the wind blows in from the missing wall, given, but it is where the best heat lamp is. The heat lamp on the right is temperamental, and the heat lamp on the left is always busted. I can say always; I've been using the shelter for five years now and I have not once known it to be working. I've certainly tried, since the left wall offers you the best protection from the wind. But it's never succeeded. Six of one and half-a-dozen of the other; god forbid they get their act together to give you the full thirteen.

There's nobody here. I hate it when there's nobody here; I'm afraid of rape and murder. It's better, even, when there is a potential rapist, because then I can gauge the distance and ponder how best to kill the bastard. When there's no potential rapist, I will be taken by surprise from behind. This is how I think.

The empty bottles are always stashed against the center wall, too. This morning it's a rotting yogurt and an empty Coke. I sink into a squat, my heels against the wall. My temples are pounding. I feel like a rotting yogurt. It's Monday morning. A gust of wind. I cough violently, almost throwing myself out of the squat. And cough again.

I vomit. It's a mess of saliva and lumpy yellow stickiness. Congealing. Shit. Shit. Shit. At least nobody's here. Shit. I hang my head, hoping to rid myself of any more demons before the train comes. Can't vomit on the train. Shouldn't have vomited here. Should have had the presence of mind to get to the snow. But I didn't know I was going to vomit. Oh. Right. That makes it better. I wonder if it will start to smell under the heat lamp. I vomit again. Might as well have it all in one place. And again. This one particularly yellow. Like decaying marshmallow Peeps. Motherfucking. It doesn't taste like vomit. It's just a really unpleasant cough. A sneeze. Throat mucus. Oh god. I count thirty. There is no more. I count thirty again. Two hacking coughs. But no vomit. It doesn't move much from its puddle. It's cold. Things don't move in the cold. It looks awful. Egglike, except without any substance. I sniff the air. Who am I kidding, my nose doesn't work right in the winter. But how do I clean up? I think, for a moment, that this is much worse than public urination. The Denville train shelter has seen a lot of that. Thank God nobody's here.

I go outside and grab two fistfuls of snow. Drop them. Off-center, I go get two more and drop them, aiming precisely. Squatting down so as to aim better. I won't tamp it down, I'll just pretend somebody shed snow off of their coat. I hope nobody steps in it. My hands are freezing. Why didn't I use my gloves? This is so fucking squalid. What do rapists do when their potential victims vomit? This is what death is going to be like, full of disgusting fluids and no place to put them. Uncontrollable. In semi-public. Nobody watching except the walls of the masses. Someday, I am going to die, and this is exactly what it's going to be like.

I get on the train. There's a BusinessWeek on my seat. Maybe if I read it that will stop my chest from hurting. I open to Schwarzenegger. I feel sick, again, and I put my head down and I close it and I can't vomit on the train so I'm not going to. I close the magazine. I can't read. I can't look out the window. I can't open my eyes. Shit! I can't close them, apparently. My god, Linus Torvalds has a smarmy smile. I hate him. I hate everyone. Close my eyes. Nausea. Open. Linus Torvalds. Movement. Motion sickness? I'm not going to vomit. The woman in front of me is talking. I miss my regular train people. I never want to take the nine-fifteen train again, I don't like these people. I do not like Linus fucking Torvalds. I throw the magazine across the seat and curl up into the fetal position. The pressure of my knees against my forehead makes my head hurt. I look up. "I'm sorry, Linus." My head hurts a little less. "I'm sorry, nice train people." I open my mouth without feeling sick. "I'm sorry, public train shelter." The heat lamps will melt the snow away and then it will start to smell. When I die, can it be warm and dry and unsticky? Please? Please? Please?

Sometimes the world is just begging you to quit and go home.
philthecow: (spiral)

...and don't even think about asking me to use an LJ cut.
philthecow: (spiral)
When I was five and lived in England, we rented a pink farmhouse from a dairy farmer and lived at the end of a very long lane which felt like miles and miles when I walked up it every morning and I caught a car because I lived miles and miles away from the village school which in turn was miles and miles away from anywhere anybody had ever heard of.

And I got there first in the morning an hour before any of the other kids arrived and I read all the books on the kindergarten shelf and when a month had passed I had read them all so I read them all again.

I knew too much about history so they took me out of class to teach me to jump rope and I couldn't pick that up no matter how hard they tried so by the end of the year the rest of the kids were all one-up on me but none of them could claim to have read all of the kindergarten books but Ms. Walker was the only one who thought that that was something special.

To be fair the boys couldn't jump rope but the boys didn't wear pinafores either so they might as well have lived on another world. Except for Ben Owen who was my only friend and we played Prison during recess and we traded for who got to be the prisoner because everyone knew being the prisoner was best. And sometimes we played Chocolate Factory and sometimes we played Imagining which meant that you didn't know where you were going to go next but you knew it would be exciting.

One week he didn't come to school and all I did was pace back in forth in the school yard and think that to pay me back for this I would have to be the prisoner for weeks and weeks and weeks and until the end of the year but before that Janet (who was the meanest jump-roper of them all) found us in the corner playing Prison and she told Ben that he had to kiss me or else. And we managed a sort of fake kiss and Janet made the whole schoolyard laugh at us and I was angry but Ben cried and after that he always got to choose the game.

In the afternoons I went home on the bus with the upper school students and I sat in the front seat so the driver could keep an eye on me and I always brought a book so I wouldn't have to talk to anyone but we only had so many books after the move and so I read them all twice and thrice and a hundred times and the big girls thought my accent was darling and they liked me to read the book to them and laugh at my Americanness.

And once we were at a shopping center when the IRA bombed it.

But mostly I remember every morning grabbing a book and walking up the lane and saying hello to the cows in the fields and they would come up to the fence and let me nuzzle their noses and they were my favorite part of the whole day until the day when I wore a pink jumper with cow spots on it and that day they didn't come up to the fence but they walked to the other side of the field so I could barely even see them anymore.

My mother told me "Let that be a lesson that it never does anybody any good to try to fit in with the rest of them," and that's probably the day I stopped trying with the jump roping and the day I decided that reading faster than anyone else didn't have to be a bad thing and the day I didn't cry when Ben kissed me and the day I didn't care about my Americanness anymore.

I wonder when the day was that I forgot.

Twenty-four days until I see Priyanko!
philthecow: (spiral)
This entry is dedicated to [ profile] bkoolkido, also known as "Janet the Magnificent," who thinks that I'm a good storyteller primarily on the basis of one long tangent about little girls on trains and gifts and cookies and mice and Marx. She is also one of the smartest people I know and is going to a wonderful college.

This is my long University of Chicago essay, which is supposed to be about your personal language. Now that I am finally done with all of my college essays and all of my applications are sent out, I can officially declare it my favorite. It amuses me vastly because I'm writing about the style in which I speak in the style in which I speak. (Specifically, I show off my insistence on drawing connections between seemingly disparate thoughts without actually mentioning it explicitly.)

If you've actually met me, and have noticed any other peculiarities about the way in which I speak, please do point them out so that someday I will be able to make an exhaustive list.

So, so, so... )

Twenty-seven days until I see Priyanko!
philthecow: (hitchcock)
I was sitting alone in the caboose today and one of the conductors suddenly said to the other conductor "That's where I killed the guy, you know."
"Back by the corner?"
"He was lying under the bridge. I dragged him for about a thousand feet before I stopped."
"The Route 10 bridge."
"The scariest part was..."
"You had to identify him?"
"I couldn't find the body at first. I talked to my engineer, I said 'Keith, you found the body yet?' and he hadn't and we walked up and down the train two times before we got him."
"Yeah. All beat up. Awful. The worst part of it was I was going to Florida the next day and then I got tied up in the investigations for two days and I couldn't leave."
"That was too bad."
"Poor bastard."

I know they kept talking about it but they walked out of earshot and that was all that I got down verbatim.
philthecow: (hitchcock)
You may remember this entry, in which I promised to share more details about Sam's eggs.

I always keep my promises... )
philthecow: (Default)
AP Chemistry Class
Lauren: Then you'd divide the moles by the liters, which is the first number you got...
Dr. Feuer: And so the answer is six-point-eight-molarity. Is everyone OK with that answer?
[Silence, confused looks, but everybody is OK with the answer because this is math and we have to be.]
Dr. Feuer: [tangential] You know the interesting thing about organic chemistry? Well, carbon is a very important element and...
Lauren: [noises of contentment] Ba doo pa doo, ba doo ba boo. Ba pa doo ba.
[Everyone turns in Lauren's direction. There is laughter and a few cries of "Who WAS that?"]
Lauren: What? Noises? Wh...oh, that was me. So everybody heard me singing? [more laughter] You mean that was out loud? I thought it was just in my head.
Jen: That was awesome, Stokes. I think it's going to make the notebook. [Jen sketches in a little Lauren saying "So everybody heard me singing?"]

Emily feels vindicated because according to her I always make noises but she's the only one who can hear it because she sits next to me. Apparently I make "robot noises" because I am a robot (this, according to Emily, is the only way you can explain my brilliance) and robots have to make noises to think, what with all of their buttons and gears.

Play Practice
Mr. P: So Jill will say "honest" and Laura will say "kind" and Emily will say "unique" and Lauren will say... Lauren will say "Catholic".
[Jill starts laughing so hard that the rest of the room starts laughing along with her and it takes five minutes to quiet us down even though the only real joke is that Jill thinks that I'm an atheistic religious fanatic and thus Jill finds it ironic that I get to say 'Catholic'.]

[Lauren is walking out of the art gallery and bangs her elbow into the door, at which point her backpack takes over and she collapses onto the floor. Margarita and Alex begin to laugh like maniacs.]
Lauren: [picking herself up, bowing] Thank you, thank you, thank you very much.
Alex: I'm sorry. [tries to control herself, fails] But that was so funny!
Lauren: [in that awkward moment when you realize that you are an idiot and you have no way of getting out of it] What am I supposed to say?
Margarita: Well, is your elbow OK?
Lauren: [suddenly laughing at her own private joke] Sorry, I have to go oil it.
philthecow: (Default)
Today Mr. Weathersby asked the class what a fugue was and I didn't want to answer because the seniors roll their eyes and make noises of disapproval whenever I answer a question but then he asked again and I knew so I said "It's a musical form and Bach really liked it and it takes a theme and repeats it over and over and it's kind of like that work you're pointing at because it takes the same sequence of dots and repeats it over and over but sometimes close together and sometimes far apart and sometimes forwards and sometimes backwards and you know what else? It's an incredible work because it is so delicate with the pinpricks and the laceyness and the fugueness of it but it's made of industrial steel and isn't that an incredible juxtaposition, really?"

Well, I wish I had said all of that. In reality I stopped after "and Bach really liked it" because Cynthia was mad that I was keeping her from lunch and Liz was laughing at me.

I thought the rest of it to the rug while Mr. Weathersby said it for me. When he said it it was OK because he was the teacher and that's his job but if I had said it it would have been annoying-Lauren-being-annoyingly-smart-again. My job has never been to be smart. It's always been to get along with everybody else and sometimes it's easiest to do that by shutting up.

Do other people think of me as a show-off? You're not. Exactly. Because other people have best friends and other people have social lives and other people have boyfriends and all I have is my brain and that's all I'm ever going to have and so when I know what a fugue is it's just like somebody else saying that they know what they're doing this weekend. What you meant to say was that your fugues are really part of you and that you're just being yourself so how can you be showing off? I'm sorry about being neurotic. I love you fugues and affected neuroses and all. Thanks.
philthecow: (Default)
There was an article in Newsweek recently where they interviewed the curators at the Cooper-Hewitt (a design museum in New York which is part of the Smithsonian) about their favorite everyday items. One of the women said that she thought the Post-It Note was a beautiful thing.

I would like to nominate the four-color pen. At least my Bic four-color pen.

Whoever put blue and black across from each other and green and red across from each other was a genius, because it just wouldn't be the same otherwise. Red and blue are the two colors that straddle the clip, and black is in the most convenient position relative to the way I write. They are pure tones which have a remarkable correspondence to the actual ink colors. The colors are easy to push down with either a fingernail or a thumb but difficult to push back up and accidentally retract in the middle of an exam.

The hard plastic ball on the top is perfect for pen-chewers because it is almost impossible to chew through, or even to chew noticeably. The white plastic clip is flexible enough to clip onto anything but not to bend out of shape. (It is also impossible to chew. Yes, I have a slight oral fixation.)

The two-tone color scheme complements all four of the four colors, the white top letting their true character show and the light blue pen shaft clashing with none of them. The black line that separates the two parts is understated and elegant, serving as a simple visual boundary which organizes the pen and relaxes the eyes.

Yes, the four-color pen gives me orgasms of design delight.
philthecow: (Default)
I salvaged these two vignettes from my old online diary. They come from the first three weeks of school, but they express my current mood perfectly.

[Hallway, Math and Science Wing]
Steen: So what happened?
Jendia: It was horrible.
Lauren: [hands shaking in stressed-out gestures] No. No. It was worse than horrible. She's going on and on about how it only should have taken us two hours to write our DBQ, and Cara's all "It took me eight" and we all nod, and she gives us this look like "They're really fucking bad for eight hours" and you look around the room and everyone is literally shaking because we're all going to die, and I have another freaking DBQ due on Friday and I want to... [hands lash out in front of me, I lose balance because of my heavy backpack, fall backwards on my ass, start laughing, everyone starts laughing until we remember that we have a class to get to]
Jendia: That was like an artistic representation of the stress at this school.

[End of school day, same location]
Lauren: Can't [grunt] stuff [grunt, zipper pull] stuff [wheeze] in [zipper pull so far backwards that I fall over] backpack!
Steen: Why, Lauren, why? Why so much homework?
Lauren: [moving books around] You know what's crazy? [Holds up The Lexus and The Olive Tree] I'm taking five APs and I have so much work I can't fit it in my backpack and I'm reading this for FUN! I'm reading a fucking book about fucking globalization for fun! [Laughs maniacally]
Steen: [Laughing] You're crazy. You're so fucking crazy.
philthecow: (Default)
My entire history class has had this ongoing joke since the beginning of the year about my "boyfriend". Ms. J was on a random tangent, and I happened to be typing into my computer, and Ms. J said "I know you're talking to your boyfriend over there!" and so the joke began.

Ms. J has continued it. The class will be in the middle of a heated debate and I'll be silent, and she'll say "And Lauren's just sitting in the corner thinking about her boyfriend."

The class has continued it. Jill looks on my desktop for evidence of boys and declares them all to be my boyfriend. Cara and Brooke watch me dress up for a history skit and ask "So, what does your boyfriend think of that outfit?"

I've continued it. Just today, when she asked us what we did over Thanksgiving, I said "Well... my boyfriend came over for the weekend."

She laughed riotously for five minutes before asking me if I was actually in love with him. "Of course, Ms. J. Don't worry. For our next date, we're going to the Edison museum."

Apparently she told the class after ours to be careful about mixing social life and studying, because "Lauren's boyfriend is really worrying me."

Lydia, in that inimitable Lydia way, said "Which one?"

Erin, picking up on the joke, said "The one from Maryland? Or you mean the one from Texas? Oh... or could it be Georgia?"

And so now Ms. J thinks I have fifteen-odd boyfriends. She told their class that "You know, I think Lauren might be pulling my leg." (My reaction: You mean she doesn't know I'm pulling her leg?) They responded as I have already described.

Steen: You'd better be careful, or she'll put it on your comments. She caught me playing Solitaire one day and so she wrote "Congratulations Solitaire Queen!" on my comments.
Lauren: Except on mine she'll write "Congratulations, Slut!"
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