When Hallmark won't cut it...

Jon and I have officially launched my dream project, The Tact Papers.

The goal is to come up with templates for people who have to write notes to get out of socially awkward, or just annoying situations. Clearly I am faced with them regularly (for what else do I blog about?) I've posted a few already.

Please visit tactpapers.blogspot.com

And let me know if there's a situation we can help you with. Let us be Dear and Abby to your "Annoyed in Texas".

This is, sadly, my dream job. To write people out of situations they don't want to be with. I think it's part of what drew me to law. Of course, that whole skirt suit and nuuuude nyyyylons requirement drove me away. Blech.

Anyhow, my first few (the most recent 4) aren't full of finesse, but they're something!

Sadly, they are each and every one inspired by true or recent events in my life. Act surprised.

Vice Squad

I have big news people!! My readership DOUBLED overnight. Apparently my pleas caught someone's attention. I now have *two* official followers, and my family members aren't even among them. Thank you readers! Address labels you'll never use are on their way :)

So today I was hit by one of the great mysteries of life. I know little kids want to know where babies come from. What I want to know is -- why are there always random paint splashes in the middle of the highway? You know what I"m talking about- sometimes you'll think it's blood but it's just red paint. Or, as in tonight's case, blue paint and white paint. It's a weird little mystery that plagues me. It's fine (sigh) if you want to solve global warming or cure diseases or whatever, but if someone could put a few minutes into sorting this one out, my inner Nancy Drew would appreciate it, because she is stumped.

On another note, I know tonight President Obama addressed the financial crisis, and it's not like I haven't been feeling the pinch. In fact, I've been trying to think of things I can do to lower my daily living costs, and the ones I keep coming up with are "stop buying coffee" and "cook at home". But, like an addict, I look both ways and sneak into line at the coffee cart. It's compulsive at this point. I almost choked when my mid-class latte cost me $4 at the indie spot. And to add salt to my wound, it tasted like butt (butt with sugarfree hazelnut syrup) and i had to throw half of it out. The problem gets worse because, if I'm going to be honest, I have to admit that it wasn't my first cup of coffee of the day. I had already had a cup of tea and a sandwich at *another* cafe.

Economic times are tough. I realize this. I read the Wall Street Journal every day (for a few seconds before I recycle it so I won't be late to Starbucks before class). I know could easily pad my bank account if I'd just stop, but I don't know how to. I mean, when they shut off my electricity, I'll need *something* to keep me warm, don't you think?

Part of it is that drinking coffee or going out to dinner is social for me. It's my chance to go out and watch people I don't normally see. I get to go out and then I don't sit at home like a depressing cliche 30something woman who can't even be a proper cat lady because i'm freaking allergic to them. I go out and get coffee or get dinner and I feel like I'm a part of things. Plus when I buy groceries I never use them all, and I probably, as a single person, spend just as much feeding myself out of the coffers of Ralph's.

Here's the thing: I *can* cook dinner at home, but is that really going to help me meet my new friends? (please refer to previous post regarding vacancies left by previously single associates) As any fellow coffee drinker can attest, a good book actually reads better with a perfectly brewed cup of tea or coffee... ok, and a cute indie boy across the cafe. I can't help it!! I realize that the key is moderation, but that's just never been something I've been good at. This is my vice, now I'm sure of it.

I googled "how do know if i'm addicted". I found this on abovetheinfluence.com:

"Addiction is when you crave drugs and get to a point when you often find yourself using, thinking about or seeking out drugs." um, check.

Chemical dependency, or addiction, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is seen as a pattern of drug use, where the user experiences three (or more) of the following:

(1) tolerance, which means needing to use more of the same substance to get the same high hm. given that at some points i'm up to triple lattes and yet sleep like a baby, we're a go here.

(2) withdrawal symptoms from detoxing from alcohol or drugs (such as nausea, insomnia, anxiety, sweating, trembling) a caffeine headache... nothing a few advil won't fix. but lately i've been good and doing more decaf, in which case my withdrawal symptoms are merely wimpering, rocking myself to sleep, etc.

(3) using more than what you intended ok, so *sometimes* i order regular instead of decaf. honest mistake!

(4) persistent desire to use, or unsuccessful attempts to quit check. i find myself using it as a lure to do things i'm not really up for. "If i go to boot camp at 6am, i can get coffee after!" or "C'mon Lilly, if you go to this incredibly boring lecture, you can have a coooooffee (read that in a singsong voice)"

(5) increasing time spent using or getting drugs "drug" is such a strong word!

(6) giving up important life activities due to using (like not going to school or quitting a job) there is no way that ditching something to have a peaceful cup of coffee could be a bad thing... could it?


(7) continuing to use despite knowledge of the problem’s impact. Define "problem"...

Is there a support group for this?

Repondez S'il Vous Plait

Wedding bells are a-ringing all around me. One of my partners in crime just up and married this weekend, so the singletons lose another key player! All these wedding bells chiming around me cause me to take note.

1: (unrelated) I have one (1) follower on this blog. I try to sing and dance and keep you people entertained, but alas, just that one person remains. I wanted to send out a heartfelt thanks to all one of you... but I fear that the system may count me as my own follower, which would just be depressing.

2: I realized tonight that I have never taken a date to a wedding. I have been taken to a wedding, but I have never taken someone with me. And that time I went was with my mom's best friend's son, as a favor. It was a play on the cliche "going with your cousin to the prom" sort of thing. Blech.

My single appearances used to be because so many people were single that you had tons of people to sit with, and why cost someone another $150? (Yes, I think this way). But now it's just because I can't figure out the right date to take. The guys I would take either have girlfriends or wives or they MOVE on me (HI JON!) Today a friend asked why I hadn't taken him this weekend and I wanted to hit him- where were you 6 weeks ago, BUCKO? I didn't want to drag guys I wasn't in a very serious relationship with (or, in most cases, *any* relationship) to Pittsburgh or, you know, Jacksonville. I don't even know the protocol, so fearing the headache, I go "+0" over and again. I should just get a freakin stamp at this point.

I notice that I rsvp "+0" without even thinking or pausing. I don't lie on the couch and meditate, flip through my phone, debate who I can take. I just kinda assume. I might be bolder with friends I don't talk to frequently, but with my girlfriends, it feels pathetic to say "I'm responding +1 out of sheer hope, friend. It's a forced gesture to say I haven't given up on myself". Is it self-fulfilling prophecy? Example: My own sister (Pronounced "seeeester") asked me if I was bringing a date to her wedding, and again I did the calculation for all of a half-second and said "nope!" I mean, you think I'd take the chance with my own sister's wedding!

And here's the rub: the older we get, the fewer singles who travel to weddings. The Single Table buffer is no longer really a guarantee. I've already been seated at a wedding with a 9 year old at the singles table, so those lines are bluuuurry.

And worse yet, I find myself completely unsure of what to do when I'll be the only person I know at a particular wedding. That's when you *really* need a date. Do you even go? It's a modern girl's dilemma.

3: I believe there should be a governmental subsidy for people who get married later. To my calculations, my wedding will need to host 2x the number of people my other friends' weddings have because they are -- or will be -- all married by the time I am. (at this rate, the wedding hall will also need to be redesigned to accommodate my friends' wheelchairs and walkers) These days I can literally count my single friends -- men and women -- on two hands. So I think there should be some sort of government compensation so we can host everyone we need to without being financially penalized for being late bloomers.

Come to think of it, I should have suggested the "Late Bloomer Wedding" proposal to the government's Stimulus Package. I could have put it in line right after the "Middle Eastern Hair Removal Subsidy", which I've been suggesting for years. Lilly for Congress!

Get Well Soon

I've decided the world is broken into people who are "good" at being sick, and people who stink at it. The people who are good at it revel in the attention, the soup pilgrims, the curling up and sniffing and looking with puppy dog eyes at whoever is caring for them. The people who stink at it, author included, either live in denial of being sick, or act like complete and utter babies while feeling less than par. Nasty, whiny babies. Babies who forget that their stomach flu has nothing on people who have- you know, CANCER. Who think the universe is out to get them, and who make sure everyone knows their every moment of suffering (I can text and email at length from my phone while lying curled up on my side in dim half-light I have learned).

I've spent the last two days with a stomach flu that rendered me incapable of doing anything except, and only at times, watching television. This is my idea of hell. To be laid up in bed with a stack of "to-reads" and yet not have the energy to read- this is literally my idea of a bad place that bad people go to after doing very bad things. Somehow, in my head, I had believed that if I ever got sick I'd finally get around to reading War and Peace or to watching all those random foreign films in my Netflix queue. I'd clean out my inbox. I'd lose 5 pounds inadvertently. I'd get all my reading done for school and work, just from my bed!

But it didn't work out like that. I lay prostrate on the couch, surrounded by an army of Gatorade and Ginger Ale bottles. The sole people to pierce my veil of solitude were my brother and sister, who each broke my quarantine of the last 48 hours to bring the prisoner something to survive on (Susie, perhaps offering the best house call of all time, tucked an US Weekly between the Pepto and the soup. (*Applause*)

By the way, I think being sick in the internet age is a curse. I grew up with parents who didn't take you to the hospital unless you were missing an appendage- everything could be cured with tylenol and a nap -- they'd seen it all. Well, the other night I got a backache and of course I immediately assumed that I was departing this cruel world with meningitis. And then this morning I woke up with incredibly sore arms - and just knew that a blood clot was working its way to my heart to finish me off. I wish I could tell you I didn't entertain these thoughts -- rather seriously-- for 2-3 minutes each. Then I remembered I had worked out my arms the other morning before this flu sucked my body under, so it made sense that my arms would be, you know, sore.

I shake a fist at you, WebMD!

Anyhow, seeing as I guess I'm gonna LIVE and all, I've been working on my speech for Jessica's wedding. For the first time I'm stumped with what to say. Not in a cheesy way, just can't seem to find a story that's appropriate to tell in front of parents. Not a one! Go figure.

"We're not cynical, we're just experienced."

Jon beat me to it and has revealed to the world (ie. his reading public) my new proclamation: an immediate cease on the acquisition of new guy friends. Lilly Code 44.2201 states that "A single woman over the age of 31 will proceed forth with romantic dating, and continue to pay great attention to current friendships. However, under no circumstances will she seek out or allocate more than a modicum of time to new platonic male associates unless an exception applies, such as professional necessity."

The fact is, I am blessed. I have more guy friends than I can count. I have guy friends who are handsome, funny, caring, thoughtful, brilliant, artsy, sporty, you name it. I have a rainbow of wonderful friends. And because of this, for a long time I didn't notice that I, well, wasn't dating. It began back in high school and has followed me until now. A friend pointed out a few months ago that it's really not typical for a girl to have so many guy friends (unless she's one of those "I don't have girlfriends" girls, who we don't trust farther than we can throw her).

As it turned out, I got so caught up in always having a guy around for company that I didn't realize I didn't have exclusive rights to any of them. In the time I was accumulating charming guy friends, everyone else on the planet my age was pairing off (Source: Facebook.com). I can't be the first one this is happening to in history. I wonder if at the end of the ark's line there was a lone animal (perhaps a Lillymonster) galloping forward as they lifted the bridge and saying "Wait, Noah, I didn't get the memo! Wait for meeeeeee!"

Then more recently my girlfriends, in an impromptu session of self-analysis (perfectly timed with the looming of V-day), constructively pointed out that I have a habit of immediately boxing men into the "friend" category. I plead guilty as charged on this one. It just seems to easy to do- nice guy, not sure how I feel or if it has longer-term potential --> friend! And then we can have fun without any of the strings or drama or whatever. It's very rare actually that I *don't* put a guy in this category. My friends have also pointed out that these completely platonic guy friends can sometimes hover protectively, thereby affecting the potential advances of other guys when we're out.

The inspiration: I have lived much of my life (say, oh, 30 years) thinking that you could make the jump (I accidentally typed "hump". yikes) from friendship to relationship later on down the line. You know, get to know him while everyone's defenses were down, and then he'd wake up and realize he loved me and I wouldn't have to go through the awkward "what to wear on the date" thing that I detest.

Perhaps Miranda says it best for us (she's not a tv character, in my sad little mind, she's a friend), "I'm not sexy. Smart, yes, cute, sometimes. But sexy is what i try to get them to see me as after i win them over with my personality!"

But the clock is a-ticking. Not even the biological clock, just the "if I respond "Lilly+0" to another wedding invitation, I will scream" clock. I had to do something.

Please understand, I've had to take preventative measures in part because the species guyus friendus has evolved. Back in the day (example: high school), you had guy friends who you bummed around with after school. You had some beers on the weekend, you went to see a show, you hung out at home and listened to music. A guy was a guy was a guy. You knew what to expect.

Now the lines are blurrier. Just like a cracker jack box, when I open a friendship file with a new guy friend, I don't know what to expect. In multiple cases I'm finding that my guy friends have mutated from the kind where you knew what to expect. Certainly they offer more in some ways, but they also require more TLC than the most sensitive of ferns. They bruise when their calls go unreturned (as in, within the hour), they want to hang out all the time, they text obsessively while they know you're doing something important, and want an explanation when you can't hang out. I have actually had to have a "status of the friendship" talk with a guy friend. I don't initiate those talks when I'm dating; why are we having one now???

Fortunately for me, these guys are not blog readers, so don't think me callous, dear reader. Just reflective.

So because sometimes Guy Friend 2.0 has the potential to require 3x as much attention as a female friend, and because many of my female friends are pairing off and I need to replenish said girlfriend roster (guy friends can be game for most anything, but you always need a battalion of ladies for chocolate runs, mani/pedi afternoons, and the recession-proof shopping spree, no?) -- because of these factors, I have to build a wall at the border, and I don't know how we're handling visas just yet.

Fortunately for lazy me, Jon really summed it up, this new dictum of mine. Basically, if a guy was my friend before January 1, 2009, he will continue to be such, happily for me. If I meet a new guy, he either has to enter the dating line, or we're just friendly acquaintances. Thanks to that wonderful gene of obliviousness that so many of them carry (not you, Jon, not you), they'll never be any the wiser to the new system. Let's just keep this between us, shall we?

Thanks for the Memories

This morning I woke up with a raging hangover. I wish I could tell you it was because I'd done my age's worth of shots, danced on the bar last night, etc., but I actually had a nice and mellow night out with friends. Apparently my body just rejects light to moderate amounts of alcohol. Or maybe it was rejecting my bad attitude about V-Day, who knows.

Anyhow, the morning began (after what amounted to maybe 3 hours of actual/comforting sleep) with some texting with my friends. One of them suggested that I drink Pedialyte in order to feel better. She said "it's the one thing I learned from my ex. ha" Which got me to thinking- what takeaways have *I* gotten?

I'm ever the fan of education. I need to constantly read or be watching something insightful or I get bored. I often end relationships because I'm bored... I wonder if there's a correlation? I've never sat and tried to compile the lessons I've learned from the boys I've been romantically linked with, adored, or otherwise dined with. (I'll exclude "fun facts" or trivia; for example, I won't include facts such as "Miller Lite is a 4x ribbon winner") Without naming names, I will go ahead and try to list them here:

1. how to grind coffee. first "boyfriend". he loved coffee and made fun of my coffee maker, thereby replacing it and getting me a coffee grinder to go with it. i wish i could say this was a huge gesture, but given the track of our relationship, it was more about accommodating his need for caffeine than insight into my own.

2. how to put someone in a headlock

3. how to break someone's arm (in the interest of fairness, #2/3 came from a Mixed Martial Arts fighter. a beefy guy, to be sure, but extremely smart and i've always been a sucker for the brains. i wish he'd taught me more about his legal specialty or something classy, but these days on the dating battlefield you take what you can get. that said, upon reflection, i do admit that this is slightly creepy. And perhaps foreshadows that I'd end up inadvertently go on a date with a self-professed reformed "ear collector".)

4. how to tie a tie. I love how women do this for men in the movies, and I felt inadequate not knowing myself, so a guy taught me and I got to do it maybe once or twice, thereby checking off one of my "must have" lady skills.

5. how to swing a golf club

Oh my God this is so depressing. Do men really have nothing to teach me? Wait, don't answer that.

Some Things Just Go Unsaid

Fact: People borrow things from other people. Cool. As it should be.

Fact: Many people read in the bathroom. (I have a theory that Blender and Maxim get 75% of their circulation based in this fact, but I digress...)

Unspoken rule: You can't borrow someone's book and then read it in the bathroom! That's just unconscionable. I don't care if it's the length of War and Peace and seems like its sole purpose is to be read in a bathroom.


how about you don't leave it in your bathroom where the person might see it when they come over?

...Especially if the book is one of their favorite books and they told you this.

...And if that person had to buy the book overseas because it's not published in the States, a fact which they made known to you.

And for God's sake, can you not leave it propped next to the matches?!

Concerned Book-Loaner


The movie finally came out. Now, folks, I had banked on going in, gorging myself on moviecorn, and watching the Holy Grail of dating knowledge. I thought I'd leave a changed woman. Instead, I left an entertained woman with m&m-related food coma (if men aren't into me, at least I can eat what I want!). Oh well, ya win some, you lose some.

Reasons to love this movie:

1) Ben Affleck suddenly got hot! Did anyone else notice this? Was anyone else as surprised as I was to find him attractive after all these years? I thought he'd gone off and bloated himself on Violet's leftover cookies, but he was looking pretty good. A little skinny, but if you're in a scene with Jennifer Aniston I suppose you have to do that or you'll look like a piglet, and no one wants that for their big on-screen comeback. Ok, not the #1 thing to love about the movie, but the first one that comes to mind.

2) Fun cast of characters. A lot of people are in this movie, yet none of the big names carry the movie. I spent much of the movie wondering if Jennifer A/Ben Affleck had ever co-starred; it felt like they must have, but they probably hadn't. There's probably a fun 6-degrees of something game to get out of this movie? Everyone plays their typecasting, so don't get your panties in a bunch. Ben is "your typical guy". The hot sleazy guy from Wedding Crashers is a hot sleazy guy (whose name apparently escapes me). Scarlett as nymphette. Drew as quirky. And so on. I like knowing what to expect I guess! At least on a Sunday, and especially when my mouth is too full of candy to really, you know, think.

3) Insight. In case any of you missed a page of the book, even just a page, then you should see this. It's a really nice, subtle way to help your friend who just doesn't get it get it. But nicely. (more on the insight in a bit)

4) Hope for single people. Worth the price of admission, naturally.

5) Delicate balance of cute and insightful. It's cute and sweet, but not enough to make you cry. I HATE when movies prey upon my emotions. Keep your little heartwarming moments, your five-hanky drawn-out deaths scenes, and incredible reunions to yourself Hollywood. Stuff it! If I cry, it's gonna be on my terms!

6) Jennifer Connelly's eyebrows' cameo. I think they deserve separate billing, don't you? I DARE you to try watching this movie without thinking about how you'd shape them, given the opportunity.

So SOMEHOW people missed this whole phenomenon. Is it warm under your rock? The other night a friend asked me "Wait, so this was a BOOK before a movie? How interesting!" I excuse her on grounds of her being married. While the rest of us read this book and discussed it in depth to the point that Oprah's book club would be proud, she was at home with her husband. Go figure.

The beginning of the movie brings up something I don't recall being in the book, but it's insightful and worth repeating. It says when you're little and a boy is mean to you or calls you names or whatever, that we're told "it's because he LIKES YOU!" Cute, and probably true at age, oh, 6. But then we process using this "fact" for the rest of our lives. Problematically, we forget to untangle ourselves from the idiocy of childhood, and we continue with that assumption straight though adulthood. We never reboot. We just keep going because no one pulled us aside around 13 or 14 years of age to tell us that "so um, P.S, right around now, you can start banking on it that if he's mean he's just an asshole. Have a nice life!"

Instead, we eternally read into everything guys do optimistically. When he doesn't call or he blows us off or he "forgets" something, we smile, feeling the warmth inside of unrequited love (aka heartburn). And because *no one* got the memo in those teenage years, our girlfriends bolster each other with equally misinformed interpretations. It's a serious blind leading the blind situation we have here.

If a guy doesn't call me, I have 10 girls on speed dial who will tell me that he's hesitating because he is intimidated by some aspect of me, or that the timing is off, or that he's just feeling it out, or that he's restrained by some social custom that somehow overrides his "undoubted" attraction to me. Now, friends, this movie and book has made its bizillions by popping the aforementioned balloon. Greg Behrendt unabashedly overshadows his co-author Amy Tucillo and offers himself up as the brutally honest guy friend you never asked for: You want to know why he didn't call? Because He's just not that into you. You want to know why he makes out with you but never takes you on proper dates? Because he's just not that into you. You want to know why he doesn't introduce you to his friends? Why he flakes? Why he doesn't call you his girlfriend... SAY IT WITH ME NOW!

The movie gives you the brutal lessons and weaves it into a sometimes-awkward narrative. It does an interesting thing, though, diverging from the book in a distinct way. As background: the protagonist is a somehow charmingly annoying girl who is a composite of every overly-optimistic-clingy-trait you and your 4 closest girlfriends have. You each have one such trait, she carries them ALL. You spend the movie alternatively rooting for her and cringing at her.

So, back to the schism between book and film - the book teaches you to give these "not into you"-having guys the big single-finger salute and move on, an empowered woman; it tells you to move on to greener pastures and halfheartedly assures you someone else more "deserving" will be out there. But then, in typical guy fashion, the movie SENDS MIXED MESSAGES! I actually looked this up, and according to Imdb, the movie is written by Abby Kohn and Mark Silverstein. Now, my guess is that Abby wanted to give it a clear ending: the girl learns her lesson and is empowered as a single. Stay the course, stay true to the book, mission accomplished.

But then Mark comes in and effs it up. He thinks about how he has put his masculine cred on the line by writing a chick flick and says "Abby, our movie will NEVER make it big if we don't give it a Hollywood ending. People are suffering a recession; now is not the time to promote a feminist agenda. Let the guy get the girl, would you? For AMERICA!"

And so [SPOILER ALERT!!!] he decides that in the end of the script the main girl -- who has spent two cringe-inducing hours over-reading the subtle signs of the guy we are SURE isn't interested in and who has been humiliated into finally believing that guys aren't into her and she's basically psycho (slash clingy slash pathetic)-- ends up being right about him all along!

Now what's the takeaway in that?!

Well, I can't tell you. What I can tell you is that the movie has some funny lines and some insightful observations about dating in the modern age. Coupled-off people should go see it so they can feel self-congratulatory for getting off this freakin battlefield. And singles should see it because, at least on screen, there's someone more pathetic than even your most pathetic, Facebook-stalking-drive-by-go-where-he-is-coincidentally day.

Personally, I came home from the movie purged of the last remnants of "does he or doesn't he" I've been carrying around about a few different people. It lightens your mental load quite a bit. I asked in an earlier post if guys give "hints"; the movie (mostly) suggests that they do not. That they communicate in broad strokes, that they will make their interest known, so don't sit around waiting for it. That you won't miss their signs if there *are* signs.

But I've gotta say, it's not that we girls don't *know* this. I think we just suffer choosy amnesia. You can have all the factual knowledge in the world and still want to follow your optimism. If you tell me I have a terminal disease (analogy made in honor of pending Valentine's day?), do I stop living? Nope! I keep moving on, doing my best, hoping for a miracle cure. We all do it, all day long.

What's lovely about this movie is that dating sucks on all levels, and someone pointed fun at it in a compassionate, non-barfy way, and without needing to resort to disgusting sexual humor. This one is for the girls. Relentless romantic optimism is personified, and -- for ONCE -- it wins.

In such a disillusioned and sarcastic world as the one we seem to be living in these days, it's just what the love doctor ordered.

"Who, me? Yes, you. Couldn't be! Then who?"

Ding! School is back in session. It's funny how a month away can make you forget how incredibly annoying people are. And by "people" I mean my fellow students.

You see, when you're in college you're so hungover that you don't realize how irritating people are. You're sleeping in the back of a lecture hall, or you're passing notes (remember, I went to college before the Millenium. The people who invented facebook IM'ing probably weren't even born yet.), or you're thinking about where to go for $1 Pitcher Night.

However, I have attended business school free of said haze. As a result I feel the annoyeur (my word) of my classmates intensely. It may be like the "if a tree falls" question, but do irritating people KNOW how irritating they are? I have a friend who likes to ask if people who are a 2 (ie. on a looks scale of 1-2) KNOW that they're a 2. The same friend wonders (aloud) if the 2s view other 2s as a 10. How true are people's assessments of their own attractiveness?

But back to the issue at hand, I've categorized these Annoyeurs into a few:

1) Secretary General.
This is the girl (in our class, anyhow) who constantly emails the professor and cc's the entire class (again, annoying habits that didn't exist when I went to college in '95. They were just teaching us how to use "electronic mail" and we were overwhelmed).

Anyhow, this girl not only repeatedly will email the professor, but she will then nudge them when they don't respond.

"Dear Professor X,

Our exam is tomorrow and we haven't yet heard from you whether you would like us to arrive with our #2 pencils sharpened or still in the box. Please advise.

Sincerely and with great respect for your infinite wisdom,
Miss X."

So basically this person is the grad-school version of a hall monitor. Sadly for me, her email address at school is misleading and I kept thinking they were official school emails. I was debating sending an "Unsubscribe" email when finals rolled around.

2) The Stupid Echo.

We've already spotted this guy. You know him too. He's the one who listens intently to the professor, probably nodding, and then waits a little lag time before repeating exactly what they said, albeit less eloquently.

Prof: "When we talk about money, it's important to distinguish present value of a dollar from its future value."

*two minutes later*

TSE: "So, Professor, it seems like it's probably useful for us to consider that money has a different value right now than it does later on. We should probably calculate that, right?"

Sadly this, guy will go on to get perfect class participation (you find me a professor who doesn't like to hear his own ideas and I'll find you a woman who doesn't like Sawyer).

This personality spawned a new business idea for me: an anonymous email address a la "shutthehellup@yahoo.com". It would send "courtesy notices" to people.

From: Shutthehellup@yahoo.com
To: So-and-so@sdsu.edu

Subject: Courtesy reminder

Dear So-and-so,

This note is an automatically-generated request for you to shut the hell up in class. Someone thinks you should know :)

Have a nice day!

-The Shutthehellup Team

I'd pay a pretty penny for the use of that service, lemme tell you.

3) The Undercover Genius. aka "that guy"

I can't stand this one, and yet I befriend them in every class. While I'm wearing my fingers to the bone (or my eyes, reading), they breeze through. We come back on Monday and I'll hear about their wild partying weekend, the crazy story that is absolutely incomprehensible and only apparently happens to Barney on How I Met Your Mother... and this guy. During class discussion, he'll be fiddling with his iPhone or text messaging, and then look up and say something brilliant so the professor is short of kissing his hand. And it's not even the filler comment (see below), but a solid one.

The exam will creep up and This Guy has yet to buy the books. (In one case he borrowed mine and left me a yellow-highlightered rendering of a penis, thanks man.) And then grades come out. This Guy KILLS it, leaves all of us in the dust. It's just a magical thing. You have it or you don't.

4) Bingo Guy.

Some people earn a bingo card. What I mean is, every class has a guy/girl who needs to get their two cents in. Daily. This person can't seem to breathe through a day without contributing something to the class. Maybe it's a question, maybe it's a stupid comment (The Echo is often a Bingo Guy hybrid), but they'll get their moment to talk talk talk.

There's a girl in my new class like this. She knew she *needed* to make her daily comment, so she stuck her hand up. Prof called on her. "um, I, hm. What I was thinking was... um. Wait, lost my train of thought..."

At that point, a normal, merciful human being would just shut the hell up and let us move on with our lives. But she didn't! She didn't say "come back to me." She was terrified by the thought of conversation rolling past her inane observation. So it went on and on. "Um, wait, just a second... ugh!"

We have one guy like this in our class, but he's a triple threat. He almost deserves his own subcategory. If I had to name the subcategory I might call it "I DIDN'T THINK PEOPLE LIKE THIS EXISTED IN REAL LIFE." I mean, by looks he's a Monchichi. By design (read: the stickers on his laptop) he's a Dungeons and Dragons fan. By fashion --- well, fashion doesn't play into it. Let's just say that no one deserves to see plumber crack AND a santa hat with goofy ears in the same day.

Not ONLY does he comment every single class, not ONLY does he get up to pee every single class (it's only an hour and half long lecture), but one day he fell asleep... sucking his thumb. Yowzers. The next day a friend showed up with a betting board, so at least we could bet on what he'd do that day. You'd place a wager on a certain time slot of the day (3 minute increments) as to whether he'd "potty", "question" or "sleep" (thumbsucking optional). It was a great way to make money on the side. I had his bladder capacity timer DOWN!

I'm sure I'll have additional species of graduate student to contribute to this soon, but I wanted to notate my thoughts from the field. Jane Goodall's got nothing on me. I've got these people pegged. That said, it's gonna be a looooong semester.

And if you wanted to know which girl I am, I'm the one who is in the back looking up thoughtfully at the professor and then down... under her desk, to the cell phone in her hand. Where her email and Twitter are active. Sometimes I'm texting with someone sitting right next to me (Hi Tina!), sometimes I'm making notes of what I need to get done that day. Once in a while I break to do a crossword puzzle (i'm getting really good, thank you Daily Aztec!) or a sudoku. Then it's back to my phone. Worth every penny of its price.

Thank God for the digital age. Seriously, how did I get two degrees without it?!