Anne of Teen Fables

Michelle’s Only Got 17 Minutes to Save the World
April 26, 2011, 12:31 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The minutes were falling away effortlessly. I sat there on the bus leading a sort of vigil by the little clock on my iPhone lock screen. I assumed an expression of desperate hope and tried willing the clock to stop its periodic changes, but it was all to no avail. It was 4:43pm and the bus was stopped at Railway Square, waiting for the lights to turn green so it could glide in and pick up some MyMulti-clutching strangers. The deadline was 5pm. Seventeen minutes remained, and in this time I would have to take drastic measures in order to achieve the magnificent feat of handing in this wretched essay.

The Backstreet Boys were warbling stirring melodies in my ears – “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” reminded me that I was friendless and abandoned on this mission. Yes, it was I alone who had to dash to the Woolley Building, wildly complete a cover sheet, staple the crap out of these papers, and then sashay my way over to the essay drop-box. Possible? Perhaps. My level of confidence was on par with Draco Malfoy’s level of evil – ultimately, not too evil, but the signs were there.

Sixteen minutes. 4:44pm. Looking grim, my friends. Quite. And yet my closest acquaintances (in the literal, geographical sense) seemed not to care; the man on the seat beside me kept on with his knitting (WHAT?), and did not sacrifice a single moment for sympathy or encouragement. A wayward youth was watching YouTube videos on his iPhone. Pah! The bus lurched forward, and my fingers pressed the pages of my essay together, making a little crease in the corner. I should have put it in a plastic sleeve to save it from my careless, sweaty fingers…

Some zany travellers clambered onto the bus, all seemingly unaware of THE CRISIS that consumed me. A middle-aged woman in a fuchsia beanie scratched her nose, and then sneezed with great fanfare. One concerned passenger muttered a shy “bless you” under his breath – perhaps they ought to marry? But more to the point, it was now 4:45 and all of Broadway, plus a sprint past the Holme Building, stood between me and a punctual essay turn-in. I took to feverishly refreshing the Facebook newsfeed in case Sabrina the Teenage Witch updated her status asking if anyone needed time stopped briefly (she’d oblige).

It was a painful six minutes to the bus stop. I got up from my seat a full minute and a half earlier than was necessary, warranting some “too keen” glances from the lady in fuchsia and her soon-to-be lawfully wedded husband. As soon as the doors pulled back I FLUNG myself from the vehicle, stopping only for a cursory wave at the driver, and then I was on my way. The refrain from a Katy Perry song ran through my mind, punctuating each step with profound and heartfelt lyrics. I ran, I scrambled, I leapt.

Approaching my destination, I felt for all the world like a sort of magnificent action hero. I turned the corner without slowing, and as I powered down the hallway, I felt the portraits of old professors and academics that looked down from the walls approving of me. An expression of pride replaced the look of desperation that had been on my face these last thirteen minutes. 4:56pm, and I now had FOUR luxurious minutes in which to scribble my word count and student ID number onto a pristine cover sheet in enviable penmanship.

And so I did. I reached the slot at 4:59pm, and looked around for some congratulatory smiles from nearby students as I pushed the papers in and heard them reach the bottom of the box with a dull thud. There were none. But all the same, I clapped my hands together in self-satisfaction, and left the Woolley Building with a swagger. Praise be to me!

On my way out I spied a young student running wildly towards the entrance, all aflutter. Her skirt was splaying out in the wind, and her eyes betrayed a sense of blind hope. Looking down at my iPhone, I saw the digits swap over to 5:00pm… My heart broke for her.


Discourse on an Awkward Philosophy Tutorial
September 5, 2010, 10:35 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I tried in vain to confine my focus to the panorama that included my philosophy tutor, and the whiteboard on which he scribbled with increasingly desperate hope. It was kind of quaint, the way he clung so stubbornly to the discussion topics while a band of disinterested students avoided his gaze like they’d killed his mother.

It wasn’t an unusual sight as such. I remembered this scene well from my semester one English tutorials, when we first years had felt the first pangs of self-doubt upon being posed such questions such as, “how does the novel’s focalisation iowdy rqd frame our perceptions of iwo meiwofm wfio wefmiom iwefmoi?” Discussion had dwindled after the first week, and we settled into a sort of vague apathy under the cold stare of our frustrated tutor.

I saw the same expressions in the features of my classmates now as had met Chaucer mere months ago in those ill-fated English tutorials; yet despite the parallels, this particular class seemed unique in its mediocrity, the situation being as follows:

As we sat stoically in wait for the semester’s first philosophical epiphanies, the academic tranquility was unexpectedly shattered by the steady reverberations of RAVE MUSIC that filtered in unapologetically through the stained-glass windows. This, at 5pm on a Tuesday afternoon – an awkward hour for a rave, I noted. The anarchic sounds of a classic club beat and incomprehensible lyrics rang out in a faithful rhythm, and though his students shuffled uncomfortably at their desks, the tutor continued to breeze through Aristotle as if a bass line had never been heard. Was it MADNESS on our part? The lack of acknowledgment was disconcerting.

I glanced out the window and spied a TANGO CLASS in the next building. The world seemed to have a vendetta against my ability to concentrate on ancient philosophical arguments. I watched pairs of awkward dancers sashay about a disused tutorial room, and forgot about the possibility of contributing to class discussion…

When the tutor turned his back on the class briefly, I saw a girl in the front row grab her satchel and slip out subtly like lightning. I was consumed by jealousy in an Othello sort of way. I was bitter, like 80% dark chocolate.

A woman in a flowing floral-print kaftan revealed herself as the mouthpiece for the wandering and oppressed, with observations on the sexual repression of women, as well as a string of ideas using the words ’emotional’ and ‘inner’ more frequently than necessary. Though I instinctively branded her as The Bothersome One, I was appreciative of her input for the glorious interlude it brought to the painful recitations of the demoralised, but far from defeated tutor.

All the while, the RAVE MUSIC continued to RAVE, and the tango dancers continued to taunt me with their liberty. I rifled through my philosophy reader, and tried to construct philosophy-themed puns, but the best I could come up with was a sort of hybrid between ‘Plato’ and ‘potato’. The room was uneasy. I tried counting sheep.

With glee, I saw students begin to pack away their stationery with the conspicuous sounds of stacking and zips. I watched their pantomime with elation. It was Christmas, celebrated with shoulder-slung canvas bags, and a whiteboard eraser. The droning halted, and now that its office was done, so too did the RAVE MUSIC. The world was again in perfect harmony.

I looked forward to the eleven remaining tutorials like one looks forward to a new Nickelback album.

In Which Michelle is “Mildy Hilarious”
June 15, 2010, 3:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

As my first semester of university reaches its breathless conclusion, I have arrived at my own conclusion; given I am an Arts student, meaning I have precious little else of note to do with my time, and because all my friends are doing it, I’d best start recounting my life on the Internet. You see, in a flurry of motivation several months ago, I reserved this brilliant URL for that precise purpose. I spent hours working on a skilful play of words to title this page. As a something of an English nerd, I was adamant that a literary pun would suffice, but even with all the potential in Dickens’ complete works (I tried – see Sedate Expectations), I was left with nothing worthy of titling this page, so great an honour it is.

So, drawing inspiration from the streets of Shanghai, the unbearable vastness of oceans, the philosophy behind Kantian ethics, and a number of artworks I visited at the Louvre last Autumn, I settled for the prodigious name you now see. I finished feeling smug, filled with good intentions of elaborate play-by-play recounts of my daily encounters. If you cast your eyes down to the bottom of the page, you will see that this was a lie.

As consolation, I thought I would compile an introduction to the band of zany characters who have entered into my life this past semester so as to orient you to my stories. I am nothing if not a gracious host to this URL (would you care for a beverage?), so it is only fair that I give you the required reading in advance. Alas, I begin with such tales.

So being thrust into unfamiliar classes and lecture theatres, one is forced to befriend a series of strangers of various levels of palatability in order to avoid the awkward “don’t mind me, I’m just scrolling through my inbox on my iPhone” manoeuvre. Consequently, I have amassed quite an impressive posse of ludicrous acquaintances that surface like dolphins, or perhaps porpoises, at unexpected moments.  As several Facebook groups will inform you, it is commonplace to assign nicknames to these recurring persons, and so I have indulged. Meet my monikers!

First of all, I will introduce you to Olive Green Socialist Alternative Guy, so known for being socialist alternative and unfailingly clothed in olive green. I have had several encounters with this extraordinary character, and I’m going to go ahead and suggest that these experiences have shaped me a little as a person.  We first met in O-Week, on a particularly warm and unbearable day on which even I could not bring myself to don a cardigan (a rare condition). But there he was, resembling a ripe avocado in his thick olive green jacket, seemingly unaware and unaffected by the heat. Every time since, I have been captivated by his awkward stride, undoubtedly advanced by the protest marches he heads. Always in olive green…

You should also know about the Mainstay of my Life. I refer to the glasses-clad, floundering figure who would sit behind me in Thursday philosophy lectures. It so happened that my posse of Plato enthusiasts and I occupied a certain row each Thursday. Being of the obnoxious disposition on Thursdays, anticipating a three-day weekend, I made several attempts to befriend any surrounding students. After awhile, I noticed the same bespectacled figure was always sitting stoically in the same spot, so I acknowledged this fact… I told him that he was “a mainstay in my life”, and was met with a bemused, but unreceptive expression. Oh reader, he refused to accept my advances into acquaintance-ship. I tried again and again, but he resisted, deeming my ‘sup nods as we passed on campus worthless. I admit I’m a little bitter towards this character, but I accept that he is but one failure in a sea of flourishing relationships based on seating regularity.

I will now describe for you another landmark personage that peppers my days. Reader, meet The Barbecue Nun. There is not a lot to be said of this admirable creature, but that she significantly improves my Monday afternoons, as I walk by Manning and see her there as always with a cooking apron over her habit, tongs in hand. How I wish you could see and appreciate the glory of this, but truly, my meagre words cannot convey the hilarity of the scene at hand. I implore you to summon your inner Christian and seek out a sausage for this cause. For what cause is there greater or more noble than The Barbecue Nun?

On that memorable note, I feel that I should conclude these introductions. I had wished to work my way through a significant portion of the characters I encounter each day, but it seems that, like, actual study (lol) is calling me away from such a task. So to preserve both my sanity and your attention span, I shall regrettably leave it here. Perhaps next entry, I will discuss the various advantages to having a Philosophy professor with a side-career in erotic poetry, or perhaps I will introduce you to the cold, cold gaze of my English tutor still etched in my mind (consider it therapy). But such tales must wait. I will do my best to keep you from too many disturbed, sleepless nights as you mourn my absence.

I ran this blog post by my brother, and he described it as “mildly hilarious”. I only hope you found it so. If I have heartily failed, I regret that I cannot return to you the lost time, however I can direct you to my sickeningly talented friend Alex’s musings, found here, and in my growing pit of envy.