Thursday
10/20/16

You are all I need

Posted by rubyande on October 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I drove to Toronto for The Whistle Stop Poets and Comics 2016 Election Tour. I hobbled arthritically from midterm fatigue but was quickly charmed by the reading’s location, Canadian bartenders with opinions, my ex-boyfriend’s father (who I admire, both for his kindness and the facial expressions he shares with his son), Aidan Ryan for his eloquently crafted pre-and post-performance remarks, Ben Brindise for his pre-reading finger twitching and Justin Karcher for speaking poetry to the nearby skeleton decoration (among others with admirable quirks).

I met Aidan in a Starbucks nearly a year ago. He seemed like an author, which can be said of anyone with eloquence and black-framed glasses, but what I’ve learned over my year of knowing the writer is that he possesses what many artists do not–a desire to facilitate community, not just create fragmented Google docs of profound self-discovery or project demons on a disassociating fictional character. To an extent, we are all there. But Aidan provides the connection we need to keep from exhausting our own word banks. Maybe I thought I’d figured it out– art is cathartic but limiting. Anything without collective recognition is background noise. For the average author, earth shattering ideas and hormonal inspirations shoot through the spine, to the fingertips, and into a language that can barely touch anyone but you, that can only be moderately impressive background noise to anyone else. Artists like Aidan give the gift of their own time and social media allowance to break through my writer’s narcissism, defy solipsism and create a collective explosion.

I drove home to the melancholy melody of Radiohead’s “All I Need,” trying to drudge up some nostalgia for an ex-boyfriend in order to fully immerse myself in Thom Yorke’s cries. But all I could think about to get the tears flowing was art– Art was the one thing I needed, it seemed. As car headlights moved in synchronized motions across the skyway, the night drive beautiful in its hazardousness, I realized that the people in the neon-lit cafe’s back room with the twitching fingers and the mutters of acknowledgement and the insatiable craving for social justice were, for a time, the most important people in the world.

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Lessons from a Toronto vandalist.

Saturday
10/01/16

Recent study finds tortoise-shelled intellectuals are immortal

Posted by rubyande on October 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

The ones with the collared shirts under wool sweaters are suffering in 60 degrees (myself included). To accomplish that which glitters white wax and bends uncomfortably in the front of Urban Outfitters far and wide, a person must sacrifice clean-smelling armpits and dry lumbar regions under backpacks.

Accompanied by the round glasses I’ve previously discussed and a painstaking contrast of textures, these metro individuals, though similar looking (there are only so many attractive earth tones), should not be mistaken as a product of trend. Recent studies have indicated that, in much contrast to our current scientific notion, this individuals do not age. We have not proven a correlation between immortality and tortoise shell glasses but we have determined their origin through the use of a radioactive isotope found in local espresso. The first known inhabitants existed in the youth hostels which surrounded our nation’s first distinguished universities.

But really, I’m doing fine. This cubicle smells like hand sanitizer and Tzatziki sauce. And life is pretty grand.

Being a residential advisor has been a trip so far. My residents are kind, hilarious, inquisitive, [insert more of mother’s favorite buzzwords] and I’m already feeling a (one-sided?) attachment form. The psychophysiology lab I’ve recently joined is filled with the type of people you squint at and wonder when the overwhelmingly genuine kindness will turn off, but the longer I’m there, the more their hearts seem to expand.

I’ve stopped writing. I’ve started studying for bio-psychology and listening to a band called “Acetylcholinesterase,” which I stumbled on by manic, pre-test-googling chance. I’m thinking about my career in clinical psychology and loving it while simultaneously detesting half of the Psychoanalysis books I’m picking up. Do any of my therapists out there think some of this is mumbo-jumbo? I’m too early in my courses to know if that last question was incredibly taboo.

More and more, I’ve been appreciative of the WNY Prosperity Fellowship. I’m so thankful to some of the fellows for supporting me through a few very difficult months and would like to give back to both the fellows and the director, Hadar, for being patient, open and trustworthy. If you’re reading this and have not looked into the fellowship, I’d sincerely recommend applying.

I’ve reached the topic threshold. No theme here. HAGS.

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Happy birthday, Mir. Love u.

Wednesday
08/31/16

I smell better, nowadays

Posted by rubyande on August 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

Ah, paraprofessional living… The polo, the sudden awareness of your own hair in the drain, the involuntary replacement of everyday words during conversation with “deadline”…

I was too lucky. My team of RAs and pro staff have quickly become an integral part of my UB experience– like strangers stuck in a dysfunctional elevator, our group bonded rapidly and unavoidably throughout the weeklong paraprofessional training (not saying a claustrophobic, pain-in-the-Aztec experience is sufficiently allegorical.) We have a unique kindness towards each other that is expressed through uncompensated purchases during coffee and Walmart runs, urgent “are you okay?” GroupMe messages, and a general understanding that the Mario game shuts off when it’s story time in the hall office. Each of us uniquely contributes to the group, bringing personality, skill, kindness and, in my case, a not-so-populated blog platform to document the situation.

My residents are a whole new world. I feel a motherly tenderness brooding, as well as a once-benign feeling of accountability for situations like the previously mentioned hair-in-drain phenomenon. I now press my ear against the speaker to hear Pink Floyd during courtesy hours. I’ve stopped cutting the salad line. I even smell better, nowadays.

Though I’m just starting, I already know that being an RA isn’t as glamorous as I’d perceived it to be… It’s better. RA life is deciding to go to bed at 11pm, brushing your teeth, putting on PJs, tucking yourself into bed, turning out the light, smiling as you slowly close your eyes and drift off……. Only to be brought back to consciousness by a knock on the door two minutes later. This is not the good part. When you find your resident wide eyed and apologetic (trying to peek through the peephole from the other side), and you’re able to tell them some bit of information that seems wildly obvious to you but is clearly new territory for a first year student, you realize that your scheduled bedtime is far less satisfying than the ability to make another person sign in gratitude and relief that they may finally log onto the wifi after days of distress and data destruction.

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Friday
08/05/16

The Life of Ruby

Posted by rubyande on August 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

life of ruby

I did not apply pressure to the back of my seat for the first few weeks of my internship, mainly because the slight elasticity of the chair’s backrest, when used to even half its potential, displayed an entitlement and nonchalance that was forbidden to all new interns in open cubicle settings.

I tend to take on the persona of an anxiety-ridden, pant-suited worker bee with a desperate need to translate my youthfully narcissistic and simultaneously humbled consciousness into a work of graphic or literary genius that both innovates and celebrates great creators of the past. This lasts for about 5 days. I then come into my own, sneaking the occasional open-toed shoe and exchanging podcast favorites with Jim from finance and accidentally listening to Kanye’s latest with my earbuds in– but unplugged from the computer.

Over the years, I’ve mastered the meditation of extended, anecdotal small talk. The key is to register when a person is sharing frivolous information, wait the appropriate 30 seconds allotted to each partner for equal and engaging reciprocity, determine where you plan to steer the conversation after the partner is completed and then gradually allow your mind to wander, quickly but controlled, towards something that brings pleasure while not totally consuming your non-verbal communication, which should be at its peak performance throughout the exchange.

(This practice should be used infrequently and is best utilized in situations like running into an old roommate that frequently left one frosted-flake-crusted bowl in the sink for a week and a half.)

When you become an intern, small talk meditation is detrimental. You are thrown into a younger and more hormonal time, when conversational ability felt like the most distinguished measure of self-worth and everyone was stealing personality from their older siblings and Boy Meets World and Teen Nick, only you maybe begin to quote Forbes, or worse, reveal a tid bit of your politically-incorrect consciousness and wonder for the rest of the day if your boss agrees with your opinion of what is or isn’t reserved for peer-discussion over dining hall curly fries.

So, today, I am going to offer advice about internships.

1. Don’t overthink as much as I do.

Thursday
07/28/16

I shampooed today

Posted by rubyande on July 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

There comes a time in a woman’s cubicle when she starts looking forward to the 45 minute lunch break walk that provides just enough sunshine to lower the vitamin budget, she stops spending money on her favorite type of food-truck empanada because she’s saving up for… Something….?…. And she’ll come up 8 dollars short if she indulges, she goes home and has nothing to write about anymore– she can just copy and paste yesterday’s entry and add “I shampooed today.”

But it was much worse than humdrum routine work. I’d wake up at 5:30am and ingest liquid anxiety (no cream and sugar), sit on a stationary bike and stare at my reflection, bone-weary and horribly bored, read scientific journals about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and finally set aside time for creative writing, only to find that my zealousness for time-wasting fun was gone.

Last year, I wrote a blog to my orientation students about what to expect. This year, let’s talk about what many don’t expect to expect… To expect to expect to expect.

This is an honors blog. Many of you will be incredibly successful, engaged in service and known to professors for your thesis claiming that the sub-par mortgage market isn’t really to blame for the 2008 housing bubble (…what? It wasn’t).

But not all of you will remember what you truly love to do when the most satisfying activity becomes organizing your email inbox into separate folders.

Hone your craft. If you don’t have a craft (aside from rigorous study and highlighting your notes with coordinated colors) college is the perfect time to find that out. Don’t have time? Stop watching TV. Don’t even touch Reddit. Go to Ruby’s RA events. Become an RA and shamelessly plug your own events into an honors blog rant.

“There was a smile dancing on his lips, although it was a wary smile, for the world is a bigger place than a little graveyard on a hill; and there would be dangers in it and mysteries, new friends to make, old friends to rediscover, mistakes to be made and many paths to be walked before he would, finally, return to the graveyard or ride with the Lady on the broad back of her great grey stallion.”

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

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Mommy & Me.

Sunday
05/15/16

Hesitantly titling my last post “Plantar Wart”

Posted by rubyande on May 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

Somewhat unrelated self-reflection:

Can it be a person’s destiny to purchase circular glasses, dip the head slightly and gaze satirically at every dysfunctional human interaction? Who crowned these Warby Parker, grande blonde roast, no-room-for-cream fiends who dissect nearby coffee shop conversation, not out of curiosity, but to fulfill the perceived responsibility of looking ironically at an otherwise serious exchange? Have I become one of them? Can these spectacles be surgically removed?

Pondering my destiny.

Pondering my destiny.

Satire is covert until it seeps out of your stream of consciousness and into phone conversations, bits of advice and the Erie county water supply. Some would argue that satire is essential to emotional stability– a popular psychological concept, “one moment, one emotion (OMOE),” suggests that there is no emotional bipolarity. If you want to escape the grief of a divorce, or worse, a plantar wart, just chuckle until the pain vanishes (and familial concern arises).

Getting into the science of psychology is overwhelming. On the one hand, philosophy of mind is thought-provoking and emotionally grounding in the world of sky-rocketing STEM. On the other hand, it can be the kind of abstract that hangs in modern art museums, one red splatter juxtaposed against a crisp white, definitely, undeniably, potentially, subliminally meaning something absolutely unprecedented. And I’m sorry, I do not mean to denounce the psychology field at all. I know next to nothing about it, respect the wisdom of experts, and will be frequently quivering and wide-eyed in the chair outside of their office hours.

And I do admire the red and white juxtaposition.

The hard-science side of psychology is intimidatingly vast, as well, and in between “hard” and “soft” science is “humanity,” the whispering voice in research paper conclusions, demanding a call to action for experts to apply to their own calls to action.

Having changed my major once again and for the final time (cringing at the thought of this statement existing in previous blog posts), it seemed only right to jabber on a bit about theoretical plans and all of the FAQs at thanksgiving dinner.

Beside the research side of psychology is a clinical world, which I will describe as my career path at the next family holiday. I’m also preparing to be certified in nutrition, meaning my pre reqs have shifted from World Civ and English 201 to chemistry, anatomy & physiology, death, biology…

Which is alright, because the world of psychology is constantly evolving, and maybe Omega-3s have more power than we think, and maybe I should have a challenging course load, because life isn’t an easy schedule, and all we can do is laugh at plantar warts and try our best with divorces and get on living.

Thursday
05/12/16

Canned sardines and freeze-dried kale pancakes

Posted by rubyande on May 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

I’ll never understand the folks who traipse around their rooms in the late hours (after the day has left its weary, disorganized mark) and carefully return objects to their rightful places on desks, shelves, and hangers. I picture them getting into bed robotically, resting their arms symmetrically across their chests, and lying back onto their pillows with the precision of a lower abdominal workout.

What’s wrong with you people?

What’s wrong is that I’d very much like to be you, and I’ve tried… And tried… And failed.

Somehow, every time I make a promise to my roommate that I swear, this is the last time my side is going to look like this, I’ll find the room in ruins come the following weekend.

Because a sweatshirt on the ground is just one, and a scattering of loose leaf paper on the desk looks characteristic of a desk, and, well, you see where this is going– but I never do until I’m there. My roommate is so polite. She must loath me.

It took me longer than usual to come up with a topic for my final blog this spring. I think I did an elegy for college and Buffalo last spring… But now I’m staying here all summer. And I am telling you, I’m not going.

You’re the best man I ever…

Anyway, I was finally cleaning out my room yesterday when it hit me– the lamp tipped over and slammed onto my shoulder. And then it emotionally hit me– this year has been insane. I don’t think human beings give themselves enough credit for all they do and think and feel in a year.

And now I’m managing to pack up a year of stained T-shirts, experimental protein powders, books I never found the time for, letters from relatives that I’ll never toss, old lipsticks that have just enough juice for one more night downtown, bedsheets that I admittedly haven’t washed in a while, and embarrassingly more…

I’m moving into sweet home apartments temporarily and working at Lake Shore Behavioral Health, a company that provides mental health and addiction services. I’m hoping to incorporate more nutritional practices and UB undergrads into their events and seminars. Wish me luck?

And I’ll be spending the summer around my dear Gross Anatomy friends, watching them pull their hair out while I drink lemonade by the sprinkler. Things are looking up. I’ll also be hanging around the handsome and distinguished Max Crinnin.

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I’ll be devoid of crossroads culinary center. Comment with your favorite real-life-grocery-store foods! I’ll only purchase what’s recommended, including the already recommended canned sardines and freeze-dried kale pancakes.

Thursday
05/12/16

A letter to my future residents

Posted by rubyande on May 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

Our RA duties have been fairly simple so far: door decs and a letter to our residents. The door decs were a quick run to the record store to buy blank vinyl CDs– I’m hoping my floor will be thoroughly educated through speaker osmosis by the end of our time together.

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The harder part was the letter– introduce myself and say some potentially comforting one-liners? It was a simple task that I blew up to mammoth proportion.. (Typical, you might say if you’ve read enough of these.)

I tried to keep my actual letter low-key though, and I think it was, but I couldn’t help but feel a pull towards this revised version. I’d almost forgotten that a population of students haven’t heard of sizzles, haven’t walked the straight between ellicott and the student union in the rain, haven’t fallen in love??? Here we go..

Dear future residents,

At this point in your life, it’s probably difficult to picture yourself writing this letter. Maybe the course load seems too overwhelming, or dorm life is already a world you’re doing everything in your power to escape, but let me tell you how the RA thing goes before you shut your mind to it.

Freshman year starts with a floor of strangers and your RA. Everyone flounders about, trying to fit through open door cracks and into the hearts of their neighbors. Very quickly, before being granted permission, someone’s calling you their “best friend here.” And it all feels a bit forced, especially if you’re texting your home-friends about this strange mole you stumbled upon and talking to your “best friend here” about how the weather’s really dropping in Buffalo.

I’d love to give you some academic advice, but the truth is, the experience differs tremendously from major to major, class to class, slacker to type A valedictorian. All I can promise is that food locations are open past midnight and vending machines have cinnamon rolls.

Before I can be fully here for you, you must recognize that I am really, truly, a living, breathing, flawed human being who was at one time devoid of staff T-shirts and entitlement. I don’t want to rain on your P-Diddy pong party, but I will. At some point you fail a test or spend too much time alone or realize you’re afraid to be alone and the role of a residential assistant becomes clear. Then you’re applying to join a community of like-minded residential mothers and fathers, accepting a position for a job you really know nothing about, and touching the lives of other humans in the ways you know how. Isn’t RA life a Petri dish of the real world?

Best,
Ruby

Saturday
04/16/16

Falling in love at a coffee shop

Posted by rubyande on April 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

I’ve included a photograph that has nothing to do with this blog post. Love you, cuz.

I am currently watching two people fall in love at a coffee shop.

Relevant link

The man is so tall that his knees shake the table when he laughs, which makes the woman laugh, which makes the man laugh. They are both impressively handsome and the entire coffee shop is happy that two equally attractive and potentially child-bearing individuals have found each other. Her hair is sloppily tied and adds character to the goofy hiccup of her chuckle. I wonder if they are in love and if they wonder, too. Or if one loves and one doesn’t. Or if one never will.

His beard is rich and trimmed perfectly across the jawline. She has probably complained about its texture on her skin, which is a flawless ivory despite all of that pressing against sandpaper. He’s just thrown his straw wrapper into her food. This is funny in the way only two romantically-stimulated people can appreciate.

I’ve just looked at the woman’s computer screen. It says “Good afternoon, Dana.” And she could have no other name but Dana now. I will not fiction my way out of this one.

The man has been gone for quite some time. She seems totally satisfied with solitude because she still feels the security of his affection, just like how two people can be sitting and staring at one another and still feel their partner has run off to permanently hide in the figurative bathroom of their relationship’s cafe.

I wonder if he is sitting in the bathroom with his head in his hands thinking, Gosh, this is good, or, How do I get out of this? Or, man, that meatball sub was a mistake. Nobody stays in the bathroom for this long unless they’re battling a demon.

I’ve clearly had an unproductive week. Better blog post next time, I promise.

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Tuesday
04/05/16

Heart-shattering Acceptance of the Truth

Posted by rubyande on April 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

What’s life without rage, denial and inevitably heart-shattering acceptance of the truth?

I’ve received only a few rejection letters, characteristic of a person who so hopelessly fears refusal that she hardly takes a risk. I can recall with emotional clarity the day I read that a camp was not going to employ me in the summer of 2013. My next two years were spent in movie theater uniform, ripping tickets and writhing in agony.

All jokes aside, I kept the demons to myself. My boss never would have known the longing I felt to burst out in an impromptu “There Was A Moose” cheer each time a sunburned girl stuck her Popsicle-stained fingers through the ticket slot.

This story relates to a very recent and college-relevant denial.

I have had recent success with applications and writing submissions. My inflated ego kept going on about how pain could not be felt at this level of self-actualization in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Inflated ego was popped this morning. Fulbright denied me.

It’s alright, guys. Really, I’m okay. Here’s what happened:

I rolled out of bed in the tangerine glow of early morning, wishing I’d closed the blinds last night. My hand automatically reached for a smartphone, unlocked it before the movements reached conscious awareness, and clicked on the overused email button that I swear has a slightly deeper screen indentation.

Rejection emails make it very clear that it’s not you– it’s everybody else that was better than you. The first step is to fight animosity towards the program, which is still just as wonderful and important as it was before today. The second step is to stop hating yourself. So here’s an embarrassing step from my self-reflective manifesto:

Go forth, my friend! Write of your woes– disappointment is literary fuel. But worry not about future failures, about past, correlational inadequacies. Was there more you could have done?! Yes! Was there less? There was less in the form of a world of true failure– stagnation, caution with career choice, fear of trying! So tell me how an email has leverage in this life… Are you so extrinsically motivated by recognition that you’ve lost your enthusiasm for the journey? Why does the thrill of waiting have to transform, when the excitement stemmed from the raw enthusiasm of possibility ? Is there no more possibility, Ruby? Don’t be a fool.

Now that we’ve taken a peek into my too-personal life… Now what? The third step is to figure out how to move forward with a new plan– but the 2 ½ step is to let go of the old. I will not be going to London this summer. My eye has just twitched. But I will be doing something else…

… As you can see, I’m still on 2 ½.