Thursday, July 14, 2011

Confusion's Fall or The Time Tone was Right about Snape or The Final Potter Day

Like many, many others, I will be leaving a theatre at 3am tomorrow morning having witnessed the end of Harry Potter's movie franchise. I've spent days reading the articles, the blogs, the Facebook posts about the end of an era, the end of childhood for many in my generation. After so much input, I feel the need to throw my hat in the ring. And so, for your viewing pleasure, I present:

Confusion's Fall


The Time Tone was Right about Snape


The Final Potter Day

I came to Potter late, mostly due to a lack of Potter obsession on Catalina Island before 2001. Once I arrived at college, I was introduced to Pottermania, but I was a contrarian by nature and had never liked the books that "everyone" liked... especially in the fantasy genre. I hate LotR, always have. It's a book series about a field trip full of wizards and monsters and furry-footed burrowers. If all the people who loved LotR loved HP, then why would I read HP? Besides, I was double majoring in English and Theatre. I certainly did not have time during the school year to read 4 increasingly large children's books that promised to be 7 eventually.

Of course, I caved. At some point during Sophomore year of undergrad, I borrowed the first book. The writing wasn't polished and perfect, but the world was amazing, the characters had depth, and I wanted more. I got the second. It was a sophomore book, and much like other second books, it wasn't as good as the first. Still, the writing was getting smoother, the world was getting broader, and I began to understand why my roommate and her friends had a text-based roleplaying game based on this world. Time for the third. Oh, Prisoner of Azkaban, I'm in love. Rowling has matured; we get the Marauder's era. Brilliant. Sure, I don't really have time with lines to memorize and classics to read, but bring on Goblet of Fire. At this point, homework be damned. I must catch up with the books.

Suddenly, I began to get the jokes my roommate and her friends were making. They linked me to hilarious fanfic and burned me copies of soundtracks they'd made for characters in their RPG. I had taken the bullet train from snubbing HP straight into the deepest trenches of the Potter nerds. I was prone to hysterics whenever I thought of the phrase, "What am I doing with you children? I am the Slytherin sex god!" and Millicent Bullstrode's soundtrack became my make-a-bad-day-better mix. Sweet Merlin's panties, I was in too deep.

Then, there was Aftermath, a new RPG that the lovely and talented Sarah, then my roomie's girlfriend, was making. I was invited. Not only invited, but invited to be Hermione. With much trepidation, I stepped into the shoes of one of the Trio and became only one-step higher than a fanfic writer, an HP roleplayer. I took on multiple characters, I actually teared up when Hermione told Ron it just wasn't working between them, and when we lost a pivotal player, I took on even more characters to keep the game afloat.

Cue the publishing of Order of the Phoenix. I stood outside Lloyd's candy shop on the island, waiting in line for butterbeer and chocolate wands. I wasn't getting the book that night given the crazy prices the island bookstore was charging, but I had to be there. I had to feel the energy. I had to tell the pointy-blonde man in Armani in front of me that he looked like Draco "but in the best possible way." He looked offended, but his arm candy laughed. I got the book the next morning from Amazon and disappeared until I could plow through it. Tonks! OMG, Tonks! So many new characters. I made my own game that Christmas after agonizing for months about what to call it, when to set it.

Confusion Fall, title taken from Titus Andronicus, skipped ahead a year and a half to Christmas of seventh year. Dumbledore was dead, Fudge had quit, Hermione was a ghost, Draco had a Dark Mark. I recruited a handful of my friends and away we went. Harry killed Voldemort, Snape faked his death and disappeared, Harry went through the crisis of realizing that he'd done what he was supposed to do with his whole life by the time he was 18, and Bellatrix became the Dark Lady. For the rest of undergrad, Confusion Fall was what I did and I kept it going through losing players and gaining new ones.

When Half-Blood Prince came out, I was once again on the island. I chatted with the CF players, rejoicing that we had killed many of the right people and whining about how boring Tonks suddenly was. That Fall, Tone and I began debating the Snape issue. He firmly believed that Snape loved Lily. I denied it over and over. It was too Disney. Rowling wouldn't do it. The argument happened over and over. I would not believe it.

By the time Deathly Hallows came out, I'm sure I was insufferable with my speculations. I needed to know. I got the book, once again on the island, and put up a sign at the coffee shop threatening anyone who ruined any part of it for me with no caffeine for life. I was dead serious. At home, I read so many passages aloud to my then-husband that I eventually gave up nd just read the last two-thirds to him completely. When Dobby died, a character I had never really liked, I had to put book the book down and finish crying. Yes, she went the Snape+Lily direction. Yes, the train station scene was a little to Matrix-esque. Yes, the epilogue was an abomination, but I had closure.

After a respectful waiting period, Tone messaged me, "Remember that time I was right about Harry Potter?" To this day, he will message me that a few times a year. Sometimes, it's the only thing he'll say in months. Somehow, it keeps our friendship alive... that stupid time he was right about Harry Potter.

So now, Harry Potter is ending, in a way. The movies will be over. Pottermore looks to be little more than a Band-aid, and everyone is celebrating as they mourn. But honestly, for me, Potter ended last summer, like lots of things ended for me. My Tonks cosplay got packed in a separate box from his Lupin cosplay and Brett took his Harry robes to Wisconsin. Confusion Fall couldn't survive when the player of Bellatrix, Fred, George, and Lupin played a big part in the end of my marriage. To me, Harry began to play a new role in my life long before tonight.

Even so, I sit here in a cubicle a year later at my grown up job in a Slytherin head scarf, wearing a lovely Venetian glass snake necklace and a silver blouse with a Prefect badge attached to it. I spent hours last night making Sorting Hat cookies with house color sprinkles. I passed them out this morning to coworkers, some bewildered at my nerdiness but all grateful for baked goods. I worked 9 hour days this week, so I can get a half-day at work tomorrow and avoid being a Potter zombie. I have learned to be grown-up and keep Potter with me.

I suppose I'm lucky that I didn't grab a book until college. Potter has never been about childhood to me. I don't see 3 am as the end of my young adulthood. I see 3 am as the culmination of 10 years of hard work on the part of a talented group of actors. Potter will always be there when I need it. It will always be there when we all need it. We all had to pass our NEWTs eventually. I just hope I see you all at the castle's next reunion.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Triumphant Return to Blogging and Day 2: Titus County Pie Adventure

Hey there. Remember this blog thing I have? It's ok if you don't, I almost forgot myself. Oh well, we're all back now. Thanks for coming back, by the way. It's pretty awesome of you.

Anyway, a lot has happened since I posted last. I am all settled in on the island and applying for jobs. I've been informed that my marriage is over for real, so that's settled. Being settled, even on something unpleasant, is still marginally better than being unsure. I am moving on mentally even if physical movement is not happening because it would require a job. I am positively addicted to yoga. Seriously, it's amazing. I love it even when I suck at it or fall down or realize that headstands are scary and give me flashbacks to unpleasant and unsuccessful movement classes... Someday, I will do a damn headstand... Just not, like, tomorrow or even this week probably.

So, yeah, I figured I should keep telling the exciting story of my mom and I crossing the country. When last we left off, the pair were in Tennessee. Now onto:

Day 2: The Titus County Pie Adventure

We began the day in Lebanon, Tennessee and got on the road bright and early after raiding the hotel's free breakfast and making coffee. Just like most of Tennessee, this last bit had lots and lots of porn and all the porn warehouses liked to argue over whose selection was the largest. There were slightly fewer fireworks emporiums, but they still made their roadside appearance occasionally.

The border between Tennessee and Arkansas is determined by the Mississippi River. I was excited to see the Mississippi, since it's freaking huge. Honestly, it was muddy and not all that exciting once you got past it being big. Still, I can say I crossed it now. Unfortunately, I crossed it right into Arkansas, the nation's trailer park. I never expected Arkansas to be gorgeous. In fact, I expected a trailer park feel, but I didn't expect it to be sudden. The Tennessee side of the river was a beautiful forest of bright green heading into Fall's red and brown. The Arkansas side was flat, brown, dusty, and seemed to mandate that people kept non-functional machinery in front of their double-wides. The only thing these states had in common was deep and all consuming love of XXX Adult Superstores. Needless to say, we drove through Arkansas as quickly as possible.

The Texas border was a welcome sight. Northwest Texas is much prettier than I expected and certainly prettier than Arkansas. We decided to stay in Mount Pleasant, TX that night, which is about an hour from the border. As we drove, I saw a sign saying we'd entered Titus County. As most of you know, I costumed a production of Titus Andronicus that my friend Brett directed last Spring. Therefore, I had to text him about the awesomeness of my location. He responded that I needed to eat pie there. If you don't know the significance of pie in Titus Andronicus, here's a facebook style summary courtesy of the American Shakespeare Center and the Wikipedia entry for the play. I really wanted to eat pie in Titus county, but I was on the road and figured that a pie stop was probably a bad idea.

However, I was in luck and super happy to find out that Mount Pleasant was located in Titus county. I would eat pie in Titus county, dammit! But first, mom and I would find a liquor store and a decent restaurant, in that order. We have priorities. We ditched our bags and got in the car to quest for booze. The town wasn't huge, but it sprawled. Things in Texas are one story and large, assumedly because land is cheap. We drove near the highway exit, we found the downtown, but we found no liquor stores. None. I kept my eyes open, scanning the storefronts. Still nothing. Suddenly, I saw it. Not a liquor store, but the best building in all of Titus County: the Titus County Justice Center. OMFG. Brilliant. My mind filled with visions of rows of little rooms with hand guillotines, industrial ovens, and grates in the floor... Yeah, if you know the plot of the play, that's funny. If not, I'm sorry. Read the wikipedia synopsis.

I got stupid excited about the building as we kept driving and knew that, when I got pie, I was eating it in front of the justice center and there would be pictures. Luckily, my mom is as crazy as I am and thought this was a great idea... You know, after booze and food. We gave up on the liquor store quest a few minutes later and stopped at a Mexican restaurant. Get used to reading "stopped at a Mexican restaurant." My mom and I pretty much took a tour of Mexican food from this point of the trip on, eating it in Northeast Texas, West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California... regional differences in Mexican food practically deserve their own post.

Anyway, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant, ordered sangria margaritas, and the waitress asked if we had Texas drivers licenses. It turns out that we couldn't find a liquor store because Titus county is dry. Not completely dry, since you can order booze at a restaurant, but you can't buy any to take home. However, if you're not from Texas, you have to fill out a special form to drink in the dry counties. The card you get for filling out the form became my mom's new favorite thing. It's like a business card sized permission slip for drinking. She immediately put it in her wallet, where I think it still is after two months. Neither of us had any idea that Texas had dry counties. Texas of all states... random. We found it incredibly entertaining, and the waitress was clearly amused by the novelty of us being "not from around here."

After dinner, we were off to find pie. There was an IHOP next to the hotel... No pie. Ok, let's find a diner. No diners. Let's go downtown. Nothing. We drove and drove looking for pie. Quickly, we became very silly and our jokes got lamer and lamer. After giving up on Mount Pleasant's pie, we set out on a country road, looking for pie elsewhere. That road had no pie but many cows. We began to realize that a cow, while not pie, would make a great souvenir. One farm even had a sign stating that their cows were for sale. Here's a paraphrased and condensed version of our cow conversation:
Awesome! Let's get a cow.
Wait, it won't fit in the car... I wonder how fast that cow can run.
Well, let's just tell the farmer that we're very interested in his cows, but only the ones that can run at 70 mph while tethered to a car.
Come on, Bessie! Faster! California's still a long jog away!
*delirious giggling that makes talking impossible*

Once we composed ourselves, we realized we were coming up on a gas station that claimed to also have food. Maybe, they'd have pie. I went inside, looked around, and found this:

Ordinarily, I call these things an abomination unto real pie, but I was desperate. 50 cents later, I owned this bad boy and was ready for the Justice Center. We took the country roads back without getting lost and found our destination with surprisingly little confusion. I handed my mom my cell phone, taught her how to take pictures with it, and took a giant bite of pie.

It was awful. Like cardboard filled with old jelly and maraschino cherries and lightly glazed with sugary paste. Still, I had eaten pie in Titus County. My quest was complete!!! I swallowed the bite with difficulty, got back in the car, and drove to a trashcan. I tossed the pie, missed the can and watched it hit the ground... and not break. It didn't even chip. I got out, threw it away properly, and vowed to never eat gas station "pie" again. Still, I was triumphant! I was awesome! We could finally go back to the hotel and sleep.

Come back for Day 3 and 4: The long drive across Texas to Midland and going to a County Fair in Oil Country.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 1: Staunton, VA to Lebanon, TN

Now that I'm settled on Catalina Island, I think it's about time that I tell you my travel stories. Some days will have longer entries than others, but there will be an entry for each day.

Day 1
Wednesday the 8th.
484 miles from Staunton, VA to Lebanon, TN.

I didn't sleep well the night before. I wasn't really sure when my mom would get into town, and I felt like there were a thousand things I was still forgetting. Consequently, I started the day tired and understandbly emo about driving away. Jer and I had breakfast, packed up the last of my things, and loaded the car before Mom got in at 9 am-ish. Since she took a red-eye, she napped while Jer and I got gas, checked tire pressure, etc.

11 am rolled around and Mom wanted to get out of town. I will save you all the scene that got me out of my apartment and on the road, both because I don't want to kill any chance of this post being funny and because I've no desire to retell it. At any rate, Mom and I were in the car and, after brief stops at Split Banana and MugShots for gelato and coffee, on the road by noon.

I had already driven south on I-81 before, so the scenery wasn't exactly interesting to me until a few hours into the drive. Instead, I distracted myself with music (7 days of music on my iPod put on shuffle) and asking my mom questions out of the Would You Rather? books. They are excellent methods of in-car distraction, btw. About the time that the scenery got interesting, I realized that my giant goodbye latte had a metric fuckton of caffeine and that the caffeine was taking over my bloodstream. Caffeine is an even better in-car distraction than music or Would You Rather? books.

Suddenly, every topic of conversation was awesome and most jokes were taken too far. This led to a discussion about Catholic communion wafer. I'm not Catholic. My mom used to be, though, so she knew what it tasted like. This led to a bunch of jokes about the "melt in your mouth, not in your hand" nature of the body of Christ which were made far more hilarious by the caffeine and my desperation for a good laugh. Yeah, I'm going to Hell if it exists, and to those of you that are Christian, I promise there are no more Jesus jokes in this post. You can keep reading.

Either the Welcome to Tennessee sign is really small or it doesn't exist. Either way, we had no clue we had crossed the border into a new state until at least 30 miles into Tennessee. It's a pretty state with leaves that are already changing color for Fall. The only drawback to the forest is that it's getting totally swallowed by Kudzu, which is pretty much evil in plant form. Not that Kudzu isn't kind of pretty, it just destroys natural plant life underneath the pretty. Seriously, do an image search. That stuff is crazy. Actually, you don't need to search. Here's a picture of what used to be a house (not taken by me).

Seriously, that was a house! A frakking house!

Knoxville was the only big city we went through on day 1. Things I learned: Knoxville is really dirty, they love strip clubs, they love 24-hour "adult superstores," and they love fireworks. Next to the freeway, we saw 3 strip club signs and at least that many adult stores, one of which claimed to be the "Largest Adult Superstore in the South." By far my favorite roadside Knoxville sight was a neon sign shared by two businesses: Romano's Macaroni Grill and a "gentleman's club." I was amazed. I mean, Macaroni Grill is a national, family-oriented chain. I guess franchises can do whatever they please with their signage.

As we left Knoxville, the adult superstores decreased and the firework emporiums increased. Apparently, explosions are better than nudity in West Tennessee. This part of the state is very pretty, except for the giant freaking nuclear plant that kind of distracts from the pretty and adds an ominous feel to a chunk of the state. Maybe that's why they like fireworks. All the little explosions are a preparation for the nuclear holocaust they're expecting.

We put some distance between us and the nuclear plant, stopping for the night in Lebanon at a Hampton Inn and Suites. By then, I was exhausted emotionally and physically and was very happy to see an Outback Steakhouse next to the hotel. Hunk of beef + vodka = happy Kitty. When we got back to the hotel, they had really good chocolate chip cookies which made a great before bed snack.

So, that was pretty much Day 1. Day 2 gets us to Texas and a story about Titus county, super fast cows, and stupid alcohol laws. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Leaving Staunton

I leave Staunton, Virginia in roughly 24 hours. This is surreal. It shouldn't be. I'm 90% packed. I closed my bank account. Theoretically, the surreal phase should be gone, but nope. Still feels like tomorrow isn't leaving day.

In honor of leaving this town, I thought I'd just write a quick post listing things I will and will not miss about it.

I will not miss:
1) Rednecks.
2) Evangelical Christians who blindly ignore Matthew 7.1 and think Halloween is Satan's holiday. (Satan is a Christian construct. Pagans made All Hallow's Eve. Candy companies took it over. If you want to hate Halloween, you need to start blaming Pagans or boycotting Mars and Nestle.)
3) Humidity.
4) Bugs that apparently find me delicious.
5) One-way streets.
6) Going to the ABC store for liquor.
7) Finding parking on Sunday mornings. (There are 4 churches within 2 blocks of my apartment.)
8) The undergrad upstairs who can't do laundry without a threat from the landlord.
9) Virginia labor laws.
10) Young, Republican women who try to convince me that Sarah Palin is good for womankind.
11) People who say the word Obama in the same tone I would use if I had to describe falling into a gushing sewer and having to claw my way out.

Things I will miss:
1) Jer.
2) Friends. (Seriously guys, you know who you are. You rock. I hope I keep running into you forever.)
3) My gerbil.
4) The Split Banana. (Greatest gelato ever.)
5) Blackfriars Playhouse. (How can you not love that space?)
6) All of Professor Cline's stuff down in Lexington.
7) Pufferbellies. (Greatest toy store ever)
8) Biscuits. (Only the South makes them right, and they're the only Southern food I like.)
9) The Easy Shop handsets at Martin's grocery store. (Set your phasers to buy.)
10) The Dragon's Hoard. (I get some serious geek points for this, Shaun. I know.)
11) Awesome stage combat classes with seriously skilled instructors.

Overall, I'm happy to be leaving the South. I don't get this region of the country, and it doesn't get me. That said, the good parts of Staunton are frakking amazing, and I will miss them. Mostly, I'll miss the people.

Ok, I drive out tomorrow. I will blog as much as possible on the road. Send me good avoiding accidents and police juju. We all know I drive too fast.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Joy of Insurance

As we all rationally know, moving and separation generate a metric fuckton of busywork. I rationally knew that too, but I am still surprised by its sheer magnitude in one particular area: phone calls to companies. In the last two months, I have called the gas company, electric company, Verizon (which warranted its own post and has since necessitated further phone calls), Toyota Financial Services, Chase bank, and a few others. I have heard a year's worth of bad hold music and talked to countless cheery women with generic phone voices. Most of them have been very nice; all of them have been incredibly accommodating as soon as I drop the "separation" bomb. Most of the phone calls don't deserve posts, but this morning, I feel like passing on my experience with the USAA insurance people.

USAA is for military people and their families. I am an actor who would never even dream of joining the armed forces, so I really shouldn't have access to the cheap insurance they offer. However, my grandpa was in the Navy, so he had it. My grandpa had it, so my mom had it. My mom had it, so I have it. Anyway, my car and renter's insurance are through them, which put them on my long list of companies to call.

I tried to do what I needed online when I was uncaffeinated and barely awake. Clearly, that was doomed to fail for multiple reasons, including the fact that it is impossible to do what I needed to do on the website (make myself the only the person on the auto policy). So, I called the 800 number at 9-ish and jumped through their automated hoops only to be told that the office is closed. Ok, that's confusing. It's 9 am on a Friday. Why would they be closed? The little automated message didn't explain, so it was back to the website for investigation time.

Turns out, the office is open 7am-7pm based on the area code of the phone from which you're dialing. I've had the same cell phone number since I was 18 and lived in the 310 area code of California. Therefore, it didn't matter that it was 9 here in Virginia because it was 6 to my phone. Great. Now, I've got an hour to kill...

Enter a cup of coffee, lemon poppyseed muffin, and reruns of NewsRadio on Netflix instant. Ok, hour killed. I called back at 9:58, figuring the automated hoops would take 2 minutes. They took a minute and a half, and I was told the office was closed again. Really? I murmured at the phone about how 30 seconds was hardly worth making me call again and redialed. This time, I actually got through to someone, told them the whole issue, and was transferred to a "specialist". Here's the thing I love about USAA: when an operator transfers you to someone else, they actually tell the next person what your situation is so that the customer doesn't have to launch into the same story over and over. That right there is customer service.

The "specialist" told me that she'd do all the insurance stuff with me and then transfer me to a financial adviser who would discuss my "life change" with me and make sure I'd thought of everything. I'm kind of a detail-oriented person, so I wasn't sure that was needed but I figured I'd go with it. The actual insurance policy stuff was pretty simple. The "specialist" was friendly and made some jokes. Then, we got to the stupid part: the premium change. I know that Southern California has more weird driving situations and more car theft than rural Virginia. I know I've only been driving for a year, and Jer's been driving way longer. I know there are multiple reasons that my premium was going to go up. I did not expect my premium to double.

Really? Double? Not cool man. Not freakin' cool, but whatever, I'm not in a position to do much about it. I just have to deal. I restrained myself from saying any obscenities aloud to the nice lady, reminded myself that it wasn't her fault, and let myself get transferred to the financial adviser. This part was the most entertaining. I knew that I had my ducks in a row as much as I could. I have a small savings, no student loans, a place to live, and a job that should pay the bills even if it doesn't let me save. Bring it, Lady. Ask me your questions. I'm all over this.

This woman was also nice and clearly expected to have to help me through my "life change" which she understood was a "difficult time." This is the great thing about all these phone calls. Everyone thinks I'm all super delicate and bends over backwards to help me. It's like they think I make these phone calls at the precise moments when I am least stable. I don't know about how most people do it, but I only engage with strangers when I'm doing pretty all right. She asked me a series of questions about moving, work, housing, debt, legal paperwork, what my plans are for the next year, etc and was surprised when I had the "right" answer for pretty much everything. It only took about 2 minutes for her to realize that she could do nothing for me.

So, there I was 25 minutes later and finally off the phone. I think (and don't quote me on this) that I may be done with these phone calls. Of course, I might need to call Verizon again. I think they may be charging my credit card for internet still even though we changed it to Jer's card over a month ago. Oh man, I totally hate Verizon. Also not a fan of the metric fuckton of busywork. In other news, the packing is nearly done... 5 days. So surreal.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Post wherein our Heroine Requests Feedback

Hey Readers!

I am driving from Staunton, Virginia to Newport Beach, California beginning on September 8th. While on this rather epic trip of nearly-cross-country proportions, I will hopefully find Wi-Fi and be able to keep up my online presence. With any luck, my mom (who is my travel buddy on this madness) will help me find a connection rather than think I've become a crazy Internet addict.

Here are the relevant details you should know: I will be in a car with my mother. We will be driving 2,600 miles. On the way, we'll be seeing friends in two locations. This whole trip should take six days.

Now, we get to the part where I ask for feedback.

How should I handle blogging while on this trip or about this trip?

Should I blog about each day separately? Should I give you guys just the highlights at the end? How much do you really want to know? Do you want me to be polite about the locals? If I get emo on the trip, do you want to hear about it or should I just stick to the funny? If my mom and I end up resorting to animal sounds, do you want to know which animals?

Really, any feedback is helpful. After all, I'm here to please... Yeah, that sounded awkward. Oh well. Take it how you will and let me know how you want this journey blogged.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Office Supplies: The Only Reason I Miss School

The other day, I went to Staples to get business card paper. Since I'm moving away from Virginia in just under 3 weeks, the need has arisen to be able to give people my new contact info. Jotting it down is fine for a few people, but I need to pass this on a lot. Hence, business card paper.

As I walked into Staples, the super-bright advertisements reminded me that it's Back to School season. The impulse buy section was covered in backpacks, water bottles, binders, pens, paper clips, and notebooks in funky colors and patterns. Usually boring Staples was decked out in all its try-to-appeal-to-the-younger-market glory. I got terribly distracted by a fuchsia water bottle with a pop top that revealed a sport top. This was amazingly, shockingly pink and handy. Plus, it matched this awesome book bag and this pretty decent notebook and sweet pens. I totally should---

And it hit me. I am done with grad school. I don't want a PhD. I no longer get to celebrate Back to School with an orgy of coordinating office supplies.

With a small sigh, I pushed along and found the business card paper. I scanned the different types and sizes, trying to find the cheapest and most basic, and discovered that the fewest business cards I could buy is 200. 200? Really? I need like 50. Once again, I scanned the shelf, convinced I had overlooked the pack of 50 or even 100.... Nope. 200 or nothing. With a mumbled obscenity, I grabbed the pack four times bigger than my need and headed to the checkout.

In order to reach the register, I had to pass Back to School Land again. I looked at it all and chose to this time not look at the bright colors and shiny pens but to look at the price tags. Man, they totally gouge you for a freaking notebook, and those water bottles are crazy overpriced. Suddenly, I didn't feel so bad about missing the opportunity to hand over buckets of money for multi-color paper clips. I was saving at least $20 even with having to buy 200 business cards.

You know what that $20 could get me? Shipping a whole box of books across the country. I'm pretty sure a whole box of books beats that fuchsia water bottle. Just sayin'.