Friday, March 31, 2006


I have found that I am on the blogroll of a site called, along with a number of people I like, admire, and in one case, love.

1. Um, wow. Thanks, guys! I like the linky linky!

2. If I am thought to encompass the definition of any part of American politics the country is definitely doomed.

3. I am linked under the subcategory called "Academics", right there a couple lines under Bitch, Ph.D.

3c. Phew...whoo! Oh god...oh man...HAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAHAHAHAHAHA
3e. oooooooooh god. Oh, I think I need a cigarette now. Man. Have you...have you ever read anything I've written?* because you need to reclassify me under the "amateurish idiot" section, I think. I mean, I appreciate the compliment, but man.

*For one good thing I have written scroll down two posts or go here. I was considering leaving it up top, but that's what permalinks are for. Please read it, please...and then you could link to it, maybe? I think it's good. Of course, I wrote it, so I'm not exactly impartial, but...I would give you a cookie.**
**Real, not internet.

A Funny Story and a Totally Meaningless Analogy

So Wednesday I had a spur-of-the-moment job interview. I hadn't really planned on going, but it was one of those things where the confluence of word of mouth and email led to me showing up at the Career Center at the ungodly hour of 8:30am. The night before I had made myself a mental list of things I would have to bring to the interview: transcript, resume, and tissues for my minor but incredibly annoying Californian rhinovirus. I puzzled over which outfit to wear for a while (my normal interview shirt is, como decimos en español, reeky) and went to bed early.

I started out the morning in rare form. I realized only after I had arrived at the West bus stop ten minutes before the interview was to begin that I'd left my transcript on my desk. I didn't have enough time to go back and get it without being late, so I resolved to explain jokingly that I was so! excited! to get here! that I had left it, and would come bring it by later. Then I stopped by ePrint to print out my resume, and accidentally selected the terminal with the paper jam, losing my job in the queue and leaving me without a resume. Ok, I told myself. This is explicable. Just bring it by later with the transcript.

I went into the interview and sat talking to the head honcho, the principal of the school I'd be applying to. It was going all right - she was a little deadpan, but I was answering the questions with a lot of references to PASSION AND CARING ABOUT THE KIDS AND UNDERSTANDING AND RIGOROUS STANDARDS! ala TFA, and I think she was appreciative. Then, all of a sudden, it came upon me - a huge, embarrassing, unstoppable sneeze. I rared up to release it, and here's how that went:


So now I'm sitting in a room with the woman who will ultimately decide my employment, my head hidden behind my hand, a monster drip of goo hanging out of my nose, and nothing to wipe it on.

I deadpanned it.

"Excuse me - SNOOOOOORK. So how did you decide you wanted to open a school in the Dominican Republic?"

She spent the rest of the interview staring at me. I can't decide whether it was because she was impressed with the way I handled it or because I had something hanging out of my left nostril. I'm guessing choice b.


I have used my extensive 21 years of life experience to form an overarching philosophy about the kinds of people in the world:


The vast majority of people on the planet are, I think, pineapples. They have a hard outer surface, which can prick you if you approach it the wrong way, so you have to use some caution when you go about handling them for the first time. However, when you get to know them, you are granted access to the tasty, tasty interior - and, though the skin is thick, it's really not that difficult to get inside it (a sharp knife helps). Some of this interior is sweet tastiness - goals, plans, inside jokes. Some of it is squishy, sticky juice - fears, insecurities, tiny unpleasantnesses like their penchant to steal all the jelly packets from the restaurant to take them home. Sometimes the juice can be overwhelming, and it makes you all sticky and gross, and you begin to wonder why you even bothered to open the pineapple in the first place.

But even further within the pineapple is the core. The core is a place of inner toughness - it supports the pineapple structurally. So (to go back to the person part of this analogy) after you've gotten to know the person, you can go through some difficulties with them and get juice all over your hands, but you know that even within that juice there is a kind of support that keeps you wanting to know them. It's the thing that makes that person able to crack jokes about themselves even when they're really upset, for instance, or bring you chocolate when you have a bad day even though theirs might have been even worse. This is the essence of that person.

Coconuts are kind of the opposite. The outer shell of a coconut is incredibly hard. You can smack it, punch it, throw it to the ground, hit it with a hammer, drive over it with your car, and there's still no guarantee you'll ever get it open. Sometimes you get discouraged and go back to eating pineapples, because you know they're good and they're not giving you half so much trouble. But sometimes you persevere with the coconut, because you think that if the fruit's this hard to get open there must be something worthwhile inside it.

But when you crack open a coconut, all there is inside is the juice, and it runs all over your hands and clothes, and you're left with nothing at all of substance besides the shell you've already cracked. And you drove over that with your car, so you don't want to eat it now.

I don't really know what I mean to say by making this analogy, but it was just occurring to me that I need more piña in my life and less colada, if you know what I mean. I hate coconuts.**

*Feel free to replace this with PREDATOR vs. ALIEN, if that speaks to you more. ROCHER vs. CADBURY CREME EGG also works.
**I mean, I like REAL coconuts. I just don't like the coconuts in this analogy, which are actually people who use arrogance and unpleasantness to cover their own insecurities. I hope you'd figured that out already.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Class, Privilege, and Rape at Duke

or For the First Time Ever, Allison Has Chosen a Title that Reflects the Contents of the Post

I spent part of Saturday morning sitting on the floor of the Phoenix airport, attempting to choke down a truly odious chicken caesar salad sandwich while half-listening to the TV behind me. As I fumbled to get the foul tomatoes off the mayonnaise-soaked bread, I heard CNN briefly above the airport noise:


Then nothing. Then " off campus...investigation."

Oh well, I thought. Finally one of the off-campus frat boys has committed an act of vandalism stupid enough to get themselves caught by the police, and CNN is running a special on town-gown relations. That must be it.

This is what I continued to believe until I got to work that night, where Beth informed me that 46 members of the lacrosse team have been DNA tested under suspicion of gang-raping, sodomizing, and strangling an exotic dancer they hired for a party.

I want to talk about this, but I don't want to talk about race, even though the victim is black and her attackers are white (46 of the 47 members of the lacrosse team are white, thus the testing number). I'm not qualified to comment on that, and there are people working on race relations at Duke who are far more eloquent, dedicated, and intelligent than I, and it is they who should be consulted on what this means. I read somewhere in the Chronicle that it appears to the rest of the world that we are still fighting Jim Crow down here at Duke, and I am not disinclined to believe that statement. But I'm not smart enough to weigh in on this in any other capacity than that.

I want to talk about Duke. I want to talk about Duke's judicial system. I want to talk about the fact that Duke's judicial system is seriously, dangerously broken, and that brokenness is what leads to incidents like this happening. I want to talk about how I believe that the status of Residence Life is directly responsible for Duke's social culture, and I want to talk about how unfair that is.


Every time Duke gets an endowment (which is becoming more and more common), I hear students complaining about how that money isn't invested in what they want to invest it in - housing. Dorms still aren't air conditioned, the water quality is highly suspect throughout campus, and Epworth is slowly sinking into the ground, inch by groaning inch. Why do they not fix housing, people wonder.

What few Duke students understand is that RLHS is an entity with an independent operating budget. No matter how much money is pledged to Duke, RLHS never gets a cut of it. They are totally dependent on rent revenues from the rooms students occupy to maintain their payroll and repairs. This is a large part of the reason why Duke has a mandatory three-year on-campus living clause - without that money, RLHS would be unable to maintain repairs on the dorms, thus encouraging more student flight from sub-standard housing, ultimately leading to a downward spiral in which dorms are closed altogether. Of course, RLHS does not want that, and I am willing to bet that one of the motivating factors behind the imminent Central revamp is RLHS' desire to keep seniors on campus so as to keep getting money from them, rather than having them flee to the Belmont.


Here's another thing people don't necessarily understand: Duke's alcohol system and, by extension, our domestic honor system as a whole, is messed up. I would go so far as to say it is irreparable, even.

Duke students will beg to differ with me on this, I am sure. I bet some would even say that there isn't ENOUGH drinking going on on-campus, Duke is trying to kill the school's social scene and that makes Duke the Enemy, and all that claptrap I keep reading in the Chronicle. The students who make this kind of statement are a. stupid and b. allowing their own penchant towards committing various illegal acts to cloud their judgement. The campus-wide amnesia about Raheem Bath's death in 1999 allows Duke students to forget that Duke's social scene will, in turn, kill them if given half a chance.

If they stopped for a minute and thought about what they were saying, Duke students would realize the truth: Duke does not have it out for underage alcoholics on campus. I say this with total certainty.

I would venture the guess that every single solitary resident of Duke's campus has a repeat offender living on their floor with them. Repeat offenders are students who get written up once and are a bit nervous. They go to the RC and receive a dressing-down. Then they drink in their room again, and get written up again, go back to the RC, get a dressing-down. The third time it happens, they may have to write an essay on personal responsibility. But by the fourth or fifth or sixth time it happens, the repeat offender realizes that they will NEVER get in any real trouble for what they have done. I know of residents who have been written up more than ten times without getting booted out of housing (the purported consequence for repeat offenders). I know of residents in Brown, the freshman substance-free dorm with a supposed first-strike-you're-out policy, who have gone on drunken rampages and not suffered anything more than a stern talking-to. And, lest you label me a Puritan, I am not necessarily talking about low-key Coronas and a football game here. I am talking about drinking that leads to destructive behavior, obnoxious behavior, vandalism, and midnight hospital trips.

On the flip side of this coin you have the school administration, which likes to pretend every so often that they're thinking of abolishing fraternity sections to scare them straight. These same administrators then go to tailgate before football games, an event at which I would venture to guess more than 75% of the attendees are underage (but 100% of the attendees are wasted), and hand out water bottles so that no one gets dehydrated. These same administrators then make a big show out of hemming and hawing and fussing about student integrity and the honor code when something like underage drinking busts and other extra-legalities go down, seemingly ignoring the fact that they're FACILITATING THIS KIND OF BEHAVIOR. And no one has ANY plans to change ANY of the standard policies.

Why does this kind of thing happen at Duke, you ask. The answer is two-fold: first, there is an old guard of alumni and trustees that pines for the old days at Duke when beer ran like water down the middle of the quad and are loath to make any strong policies enforcing OBEYING THE FREAKING LAW. These people ignore the fact that although drinking at 18 was legal when the majority of them were here, that is now no longer the case, and they are being idiots. Many of these same people have legacy children who are now Duke students and would yank their donations should daddy's little girl ever be punished for drinking.
Second, because of RLHS' independent operating budget, they will not (ever)(ever)(ever) evict someone from housing. Ever. They need the money, and they can't afford the outrage, and so this complacency has set in that allows everyone in the system to keep violating the rules with no consequences. The only way RLHS can even strike back at these people is if they are members of a fraternity, in which case the fraternity can be (and has been, in two cases) disbanded. But because the individuals do not get kicked off campus, they are free to, oh, rent a house somewhere off East and resume their activities there.

The bottom line is that, despite all its high-flown rhetoric to the contrary, Duke consistently promotes the creation of a society where its residents have no respect for the law or the consequences of their actions on others, because this respect is never forced upon them. So despite the horror of it, the utter evil and heinousness of the acts performed that weekend, no Duke student or official should be able to pretend that this rape is an aberration from the spirit of this school. Regardless of whether alcohol was involved in the rape (though it was), this is about how Duke creates a fundamental culture of disrespect and disregard of the law. Alcohol is just the medium.

And Aaron, upon proofing this post, has driven home the point that not all people who make illegal alcohol-related decisions are rapists. I know that. I drank underage on occasion myself, and I didn't get in trouble for it either, and I am not evil because of it. But Duke's alcohol policy serves to reinforce the pre-existing sense of entitlement some of our students come packaged with, and it's that sense that was in play two weeks ago when this rape happened. If Duke took its mission to create the new giants of this world seriously, it would impress on them that there ARE consequences for transgressive actions.

THIS is what causes the strain in Duke-Durham relations; THIS is what ensures that Duke will never have the undergraduate population of intelligentsia to which it aspires, and will instead continue to play daycare to a bunch of drunken, spoiled brats with the moral intelligence of two-year olds; THIS is the dynamic that creates a subgroup that will go out and drink themselves into oblivion, cheering themselves all the way, just after having been accused of raping a woman who was just putting herself through SCHOOL. And in doing so, the university that seems to pride itself so on creating America's Future Leaders will vomit up a subgroup of young men and women intent only on getting away with whatever it is they happen to have done this time.

RLHS must be allowed access to the university's endowment, and that endowment must be wrested from the hands of the AARP-ready alumni who pine for the old days of Duke. Until this happens, Duke will continue to be segregated between earnest, (mostly) law-abiding, hard-working kids and drunken yahoos. When RLHS and a conscientious administration have the power to curb the irresponsible, destructive behavior that goes on here every year it will be possible to close the Duke-Durham divide and produce a student body of the kind to which a university of this caliber is obligated.

I'm TIRED of it. I'm TIRED of this school, because for every repeat offender it churns out Duke disrespects not only me and every law-abiding, morally-intact member of its population who's just here to get an education, not only Durham and its citizens who are forced to put up with the repeat offender's crap when their sense of entitlement spills over the retaining walls of East onto the streets, but the mission of higher education to which it supposedly adheres so deeply. This is not the school to which I thought I applied.

*I know nothing has been proven, and I know innocent until proven guilty, for anyone who's considering broaching the subject. Just pretend I went through and wrote "alleged" before every instance of the word "rape" (otherwise it messes up the rhetoric). And even if it turns out that this didn't happen, a conclusion at which I am inclined to laugh uproariously, my point stands. Duke has averaged a rape per semester during my time here, along with god knows how many more unreported date rapes. The same principle is in play.*

*Late edit (3-31): I want to make it clear that by "administrators" I don't mean RCs. RCs have the worst, most thankless job at this university, and deserve far more support than they ever get. Hi, Anne.*

*Later edit (4-4): Thanks to Inside Higher Ed for the link. I welcome all through-clickers to comment.*

Sunday, March 26, 2006

You Guys Are PATHETIC.


1. Anime Homestar to anime Strong Bad, Strong Bad email "japanese cartoon"

2. Strong Mad re: waffle with "BUG" written on it in syrup, Strong Bad email "rampage"

3. Strong Bad as Jambi the Genie, 2005 Halloween episode

4. Easter egg, Strong Bad email "kids book"

5. Strong Bad to Viklas, Strong Bad email "little questions"

6. Second easter egg, Strong Bad email "kids book"

7. So-and-So, Teen Girl Squad #5

8a. Strong Bad re: kicking Homestar in the face, Cheat's Crazy Cartoon
b. The Ugly One slapping the King of Town, Strong Bad email "virus"

9. Homestar to no one and apropos of nothing, Strong Bad email "crying"

10. Saddy Dumpington to some girl, toon "A Folky Tale"

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

a Pre-Interview Jitters Game

or Name that Homestar Quote!

Below are ten quotes taken somewhere off the Homestar Runner website. Name the character who uttered the quote and the context or skit from which it was taken. Whoever has the most correct answers in the comments by Friday at midnight will get a neat present from me of some kind that I buy in San Francisco somewheres.

1. "Hey, Stink-O-Man! Everybody says you're the guy, but I want to be the guy, too!"


3. "Meka leka hi, meka the Cheat throw a TV on him."

4. "Eh, Steve! is not exactly a person."

5. "Oh really? I could never tell that you weren't from around here."

6. "One day his friend, Pom Pom, asked him to enter some sort of eyeless fish-beast. He said ok."

7. "Ow, my hopes of reaching first base!"

8. "I can do it. I can do it nine times." (both instances give extra credit)

9. "Yeah, you stay over there."

10. "I just saw a baby chick choke on a worm. They both died. Isn't that great?"

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dear Department of Medieval and Renaissance Studies,

I love you! You are such a sweet department. Thank you for letting me keep my minor despite the fact that I blatantly do not deserve to do so. I hope that you continue to have fewer than ten declared majors and minors every year so that you can continue to give them the happy love and kisses that you have given me.

What is that you say? You want more than ten majors and minors? That will get you more funding and allow you to improve as a department?

Oh. Then, uh...go away.


(non sequitur:
Aaron: fuck the establishment
Aaron: up with ringpops
Allison: hahahha
Allison: down with capitalism
Allison: to each ringpops according to his need)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hello! I am not here. I am in California. In my absence, I have asked my friend Mr. Bun to keep you company.

Be sure to tell him you like his hat.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It Might Not Work Because I Don't Really Know How to Tie My Own Shoes

Wait, why are all these people here? Get off my lawn, you kids! *throws a newspaper at you*

All right! Now that it's just me and Mom again, let's get down to the BIZ-NESS!

I feel like I've done a lot of talking about nothing of real importance for my future, so here's some substantive stuff that's going on:

1. I got an email today and it's looking that I might not end up getting a minor. I'm not really upset about this, per se, because it was an accident anyway and eh, easy come, easy go. Apparently I misread a course requirement ("wait - but the website says you have to take either 114 OR 115 - no wait, that's an AND. Crap.") I'm going to get in touch with the department tomorrow and see if there's some, I don't know, independent study or something I can do to make up for the missed class.

2. The thesis is no longer for honors because HEY! I DON'T CARE ABOUT HONORS ANYMORE! So I will write the paper, and I will have it, and then when grad schools ask me "but can you write?" I will whip it out and say "here is a project I will continue to work on when you let me into your program PLEEEEEEZ". The above two items may sound like a terrible dropping of standards has been going on in AlliStan lately, but it's because

3. I MADE PHI BETA KAPPA* AND I DON'T CARE ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE NOW. Anyway, I'd rather concentrate on the classes I'm in and make sure my GPA stays pretty. Plus I never really wanted to write a thesis anyway - I just wanted distinction on my diploma, and so I chose the thesis topic the night before the due date and I chose it because I knew the advisor would accept me if that's what I wanted to write about. Had I told anybody that before? I don't think I had. So, long story short, I got myself into this mess because I am a terrible status freak and it has taken this long for reality to catch up with me. w00t.

4. I got a letter from the Peace Corps last night saying that they want me to go to an orthopedic physician to have my back evaluated. I am so angry I was about to have force lightning go shoot out my fingers at yoga today. Look, Peace Corps. First, I'm going to be teaching English, not carrying steel tubes across the tundra. My back doesn't matter. Second, if my health was bad enough that I thought I'd need medical care in the next two years, I wouldn't volunteer to have myself shipped out to A YURT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. And what business of yours is it if I'm on birth control?

All of this has me so angry that I'm awfully happy I

5. got an interview with Teach for America! It's on the 22nd. They are now officially my first choice. Yay! Part of the interview is that I have to teach, though, and that's really scary to me. The lesson has to be
a. on a legitimate topic that would be taught to kids K-12 (I get to pick age and subject)
b. only 5 minutes long
c. I have to teach one concept, like, integrally. I can't just get up there and pick up in the middle of the sentence, so
d. There has to be some way for me to evaluate that my "students" have retained what I said.
So you know I can't just get up there, say "synecdoche!", and sit down. I have to have visuals or a song or an acronym or something and, frankly, I'm scared of stuff like that. I'm starting to wonder if I can't just assume I'll be teaching kindergarten and give my evaluators and co-interviewees a refresher on how to tie their shoes.

I don't even remember what I learned in elementary school, let alone how to teach it. I'm sitting here mulling over German prepositions in my head until I realize wait, you don't learn German in grade school. What can I TEACH? I don't KNOW anything!

*I had been making a concerted effort not to talk about this because I didn't want to sound conceited. However, I've come to the conclusion that most people don't know what it is and those that know don't really care. So I'm assuming that you fall into these categories and my mentioning it won't bother you.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

It's Like A Puzzle Except It Makes Me Suicidal

I just spent two hours validating the HTML on the site.

I hate you, site.