Nothing Says Break Like Going Home.

Today at Saga, while dishing up some macaroni and cheese, I couldn’t help but overhear people saying excitedly, “How was your break?!” to their friends and then hugging.

The usual responses were: “Great!” “I ate so much food!” and “My break wasn’t long enough.”

Amen to that third response.

I happened to have a pretty decent Thanksgiving, considering that Thanksgiving is probably my least favorite holiday. Everybody gets excited for that gigantic twenty pound turkey to come out of the oven, and I just become depressed.

Thanksgiving is a difficult food holiday for a vegetarian, and I’m the only vegetarian in my family. Sometimes rolls and potatoes just don’t make a Thanksgiving Day meal special enough when your whole family is eating turkey and your grandmother constantly puts bacon in the green bean casserole.

Thanksgiving break started late for me, as I’m an RA and I didn’t hit the road until five. My brother (Aaron Hollenberg ’13) met up with me in my room, we packed up my fish, put gasoline in the car, and we headed to the homestead in Indiana.

We also drove home with my brother’s newly acquired tarantula. I took a picture of it, but I figured that wouldn’t be a good thing to put on my blog.

Thanksgiving Day consisted of my brother and my parents driving to my aunt and uncle’s new house an hour and a half away, where we would spend the day with them, my two cousins, my cousin-in-law, and my grandpa. We would also be spending the day with their excitable dog Merlin, who my mother and I happen to be highly allergic to. Everyone makes sacrifices for family, including breathing properly.

Due to the awkward vegetarian in the family (me) my uncle decided that he would be making cheese enchiladas for Thanksgiving, as well as turkey for the rest of the omnivores. I was slightly apprehensive when my cheese covered tortilla was full of olives, but it was probably the best Thanksgiving meal I ever had, and nobody bothered to make green bean casserole, with or without bacon. My cousin made homemade rolls, and my grandpa happens to be a master chef of pie, and we had three delicious pies.

Instead of the usual tradition of football, my family has a tradition of playing board games after big family meals. This year we played “Would You Rather?” which involved my parents booty dancing and my brother and I having to decide which would be worse: eating your own finger or breaking our mother’s leg and never being able to tell her why.

After those festivities were over, my mother and I embarked on a great journey to go Black Friday shopping at the mall at midnight. I kept looking for Alma students, but as far as I know, nobody else lives in Fort Wayne Indiana except for my brother and I. My mother and I were terrified to discover that Macy’s had a DJ on a stage that was hovering near the ceiling of the store and that none of our coupons worked. We made it home by one in the morning, severely disgruntled and not very happy with our purchases.

On Friday we put up our Christmas tree, which is nine feet tall and involves using a ladder. My mom smashed a really old Christmas ornament that was given to her in the eighties and we said a small prayer over it before vacuuming it up. We then celebrated the holiday season by watching Batman.

On Saturday I spent an inordinant amount of time watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix instead of working on my English paper, which is the true spirit of break. We then got more into the holiday season by watching Captain America. Nothing says “Christmas Season” like superhero movies. We’re planning on watching the Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man over Christmas break.

Sunday is the worst day of break, where you realize that you need to get up, pack up all of your things that have somewhere dispersed themselves around your house, finish your laundry (I did six loads) and head back to campus. And even as you dread leaving your family, home cooked food, and realize that exams are coming up, you get excited.

Because Alma is your home, and you’re going back to Alma. That’s always a great feeling.

Welcome back from break, everyone. We have three weeks left in the semester, and we can do it!

The Hair Strikes Again.

The men around campus are getting beards.

You all know what this means. It’s time for No Shave November

I’m all too familiar with No Shave November; my brother is a member of Zeta Sigma and often participates until it gets too itchy, and I have quite a lot of friends in PMA that often decide to ditch their razors for thirty days. I also happen to be dating junior Jacob Hammer who probably has the biggest beard on campus. He’s been growing that sucker since June.

As you can see, his beard beard is pretty big. He’s also wearing my shirt.

Many RA  bulletin boards have been dedicated to No Shave November. They sport pictures of large beards and odd mustaches and talk about the history of the beard and facial hair.

But what about us women? I’m obviously not growing a beard in my spare time.

Women have their own version of No Shave November put on by the MacCurdy House. I got an invite for a Facebook event labeled “No Shave November!” and was instantly intrigued. So I talked to Amanda Coe, ’14, about what’s going on with it. She was pretty vocal about the subject of women throwing away their razors.

“I don’t know who all is doing it, but I’m not shaving anything! This event is to bring awareness to the incongruity between men and women’s grooming habits. Men are not perceived as gross or dirtier because they don’t shave their legs and armpit hair, yet women often are. It’s to proclaim that hair isn’t gross.”

On November 30th, the MacCurdy house is having a hair measuring event for all those girls who participated, and whoever has the longest hair gets a free Stucchi’s dinner with the housies.

I’m sure you’ve guessed it by now; I am fully participating in No Shave November for women.

I’m not disgusted by having leg hair. As a freshman I was on the Alma College Swim Team, and if you’re friends with any of the members, you know that their shaving schedule is No Shave September, October, November, a quick shave in December, and then No Shave the rest of December, January, and February. Needless to say, I had some hairy legs my freshman year.

As for my armpits, that was a different story. It took me two days to officially throw away my razor and I can’t really say if I’m happy with this decision to let that grow. Amanda, however, is on the opposite end of the spectrum. “Personally, I don’t like my legs this hairy, but I’m keeping them till the end. I really like my hairy underarms though, I don’t think I want to shave those off at all.”

In terms of the differences between gender in hairiness, men are also encouraged to participate in “Full Shave November”, where they shave their legs and armpits daily and experience the hairless lives of women. Men, I’m telling you, it’s not bad.

And women, I’m also telling you that having hairy legs and armpits aren’t bad either.

No Shave November is a chance for men to grow out their beards, for women to experience life without shaving, and possibly for men to experience life with shaving.

It’s not too late to hop on the hair train!

It’s National Novel Writing Month.

For me, October is that crazy month.

You know what I’m talking about. Midterms. The promise of fall break in the future but it never quite gets there. Everybody’s joining sororities and fraternities and your professor is treating their class like it’s the only class that you have when you obviously have three others.

This year, November knocked on my door and said, “Oh hey there, Emily! I’m replacing October as your busiest month this year. Good luck with your Renaissance paper about Beowulf!”

I’ve been actively avoiding my planner. I took a look at it yesterday and I just about peed my pants. Holy college life, Batman, I have tests and papers and other activities and RA things and job interviews all within the next two weeks!

Typical Alma student. I wasn’t perturbed.

But then I decided that I was going to try this new way to sell my soul to being obsessively busy.

NaNoWrimo.

As many of you probably don’t know, November is national writing month. Which means that NaNoWrimo stands for… well… National Novel Writing Month. Or maybe the No part stands for November. Or maybe No One Can Actually Accomplish NaNoWriMo.

In a nutshell, NaNoWriMo is where you write a 50,000 word novel in a month, starting on November 1st and ending at midnight on November 30th. You go to nanowrimo.org, make yourself a little account, and you’re on your way. I made my account yesterday morning, put my small author biography as “my life consists of cereal and awkward moments”, titled my novel, and feverishly began to write.

I need to average 1,666 words per day to get to the 50,000 benchmark by the elusive November 30th. My Beowulf paper is due that day. I also have a big Active Minds gig. And four classes.

My first instinct when I realized what a large feat this was was to cheat. I have a 107,000 word novel gathering dust in a folder on my laptop, why not feed chapters of it into the NaNoWriMo website and drastically beat the odds? Well, friends, that would be cheating, and I don’t recommend it.

I started from scratch. Last night I feverishly cranked out 5,013 words of my brand new novel by midnight. I updated my word count, where the website told me that at this rate, I could finish on November 9th. (I obviously can’t, Spider-Man comes out on DVD that day. I have big plans.) After I updated my word count, I sat alone in my room and ate most of a birthday cake with a spoon and thought about crying. I then tweeted about the birthday cake episode and put it on tumblr.

So here lies the big question: why on earth am I doing this to myself? Torture? To see exactly how busy Alma College students can be? I’m not sure I’ve answered why I’m doing this, but Katelyn Gentner, ’14, obviously knows why she’s doing the same crazy thing I am. I asked her why she’s decided to devote the month of November to cranking out a 50,000 word novel.

“Nanowrimo is an opportunity to jump-start my career as an author. I’ve babied ideas for years now but never had the gumption to sit down and write any of them. By taking part in this, I’m joining a support group of other writers who can help me when I falter and offer ideas and suggestions when I need them.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. She’s not entirely worried about other commitments, too, which is something I could definitely work on. When talking about the time commitment to writing a novel in a month, she says, “I’m really worried that towards the end of the month I will have to stop in order to keep up with my classwork and clubs, but as of right now I feel like proper time management is giving me the time. As research paper deadlines approach, though, I may have to take a few days off to make sure that my classes do not suffer because of this.”

On Saturday night, I went to a NaNoWriMo Write-In hosted by See Spot Run. We were supposed to be in the Rotunda, but with all of the construction, there wasn’t any power, so we sacked out in the Wright Hall Lobby. Erika Schnepp, ’13, editor in chief of See Spot Run brought food, writing prompts, and contests. There was a ten minute word-off to see who could write the most in ten minutes. I won with 459 words and I got a really cool pin with Yoda on in that says Jedi Master. At the Write-In there were six of us, including me, with our laptops, our earbuds, and our writing pants on. Write-Ins are going to be every Saturday this month at eight pm in the Wright Hall lobby. November 30th is See Spot Run’s Night of Dangerous Writing and a NaNoWriMo sprint to the finish and a celebration if you accomplished your goal.

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NaNoWriMo is calling all writers, literary enthusiasts, and crazy students that believe that they can write a novel in November. I’ve decided I can make it work.

Can you?