This is Your Brain on Mugs

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Hey guys, happy Friday.  Here’s a throwback to a story I wrote for The Black Sheep last year. What better time to post it than post-mugs? Hope you’re all recovering well. PS we’re not hungover. Love, the post-grads.

Friday through Sunday is for casual drinkers. Monday is for potential alcoholics. Tuesday is for karaoke. Wednesday is for pints. And Thursday – Thursday is for mugs. I know I don’t speak just for myself when I say mug night is the best night. Everyone is ready to let loose by Thursday, and nothing brings people together quite like a blackout on a budget. As with any addiction, the trickiest part of mug night is knowing when to stop. When do four mugs become the standard instead of the challenge? Sometimes it’s difficult to pick up on your friends’ warning signs. Your buddy ordering a mug of Patron might be a good indication it’s time to head out. Or that the party’s just getting started. But in all fairness, Ames bars are asking for the drunkenness they get: the curiosity AJ’s Ultra Lounge and Big Shots bring. The Friday morning stories that Yokes dance floor promises. The hope that the rage cage will open up at Mickey’s. The blackout thrill of requesting a non-country song at Outlaw’s. The almost too cold but still enjoyable patio at Cy’s. The casual frat lap around Paddy’s. The tradition of the stripper pole at Sips. What are we left to do besides use them for all they’re worth? I suppose we can still grasp some sort of responsibility by getting familiar with the mental and physical state of each mug consumption, and save ourselves the hassle of making one more mistake that evening.

Half-a-muggers: Get out.

One-muggers: You’re just really happy to be out with others. Maybe you’ve had a long week, or maybe you feel like you haven’t been out in a while. We’ll accept that you’re clearly not looking to get rowdy, but we won’t condone it. If you’re trying that whole “responsibility” thing, then stick with your one mug at your one bar and enjoy not being hung over for your Friday 8 AM. You’ll hear recounts of mug stories on CyRide the next morning and think, “Ahh, that could have been me. Maybe next weekend.” We hope that’s the case too.

Two-muggers: You’re the person enablers feed on. After two mugs, there’s definitely some headway in mental and physical impairment, but there’s so much room for more. You’re amidst coaxing friends and friendly strangers, and you have to decide if you’re going in all or nothing this evening. At this point, you’re ready to confront others you  A.) don’t know but want to be friends with, B.) don’t know but can probably score a free drink from, or C.) used to know and can talk to now that you’re intoxicated. You finished the night speaking in a few slurs, but not enough that your friends can make fun of you for anything. There’s a good chance you texted either an ex-boyfriend or a sophomore year hook up, but no serious damage has been done.

Three-muggers: You’re feeling good, and that dance floor is begging you for a solo performance. It’s near the end of that third mug that you struggle with the toughest bar debate: another mug or do you casually switch over to shots? $30 for 3 shots? Sounds like a deal. Twitter is blowing up. You’re trying desperately to fit your crazy emotions into a content field that only allows 140 characters; you most likely end up with something like, “Omg I love my biddies #mugz” attached to a Twitpic of you and your friends proving you don’t have to be vertical to be photogenic. You head out a bit before bar close because a hot slice of Jeff’s sounds too good to pass up.

Four-plus-muggers: The phrase “last call” translates into “whose bed am I sleeping in tonight?” By the time, you’re crawling for snacks, eyes half open and most of your outgoing texts contain numbers and emojis instead of words and phrases. Or on the flip side, you’re finishing strong on the dance floor, rage hands high and self-esteem higher. You weren’t the guy who threw up in the bathroom and you weren’t the girl who punched the bouncer. Both are valid wins.

An Open Letter to PNM’s

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Dear PNM,

You’ve made it through the deafening claps, rhyming chants and ceaseless “so what’s your major/where are you living” questions. Your Instagram (which we didn’t have in my day) is now blowing up, and you’re adding 30 new Facebook friends daily. You’re probably out enjoying the still-summer sun in a bid day tank – most likely some sort of Aztec print – and taking in all that Iowa State has to offer. You don’t really know what “serenades” means, but if it doesn’t immediately become a college highlight for you, then you’re doing something wrong. We’ve all sat on some sweaty freshman boy who’s trying to stay on key as he sings Katy Perry and tries to get your phone number imprinted somewhere on his body. We’ve all gotten used to the new vocabulary and language — traditional words like “sisterhood,” “chapter,” and “Sister President” and some not so traditional terms like “Yell Like Hell,” “super dog” and “are you going out tonight?” All of these things will soon become second nature, and you’ll start to wonder how it never before crossed your mind that you should always sorority squat (given the opportunity). You’ll begin to notice that as soon as someone takes their iPhone out for a pic, your hand will automatically find a place on your hip. And despite the craziness of the first couple days, you’ll find that you’ve entered into something that is so much more than coordinated outfits and over-caffeinated women.

Going through formal recruitment is unlike anything else, but it builds skills that you never thought you could have. Bet you never thought you could last that long in heels. Ever think you could carry on a 20-minute conversation with a stranger? No one in the world can form a line more quickly or quieter than you. And those are just the perks because it’s true when your Rho Gammas tell you that you stay friends with your recruitment group. It’s true when everyone tells you college will be the best four years of your life. And it’s true that you may not have a clue as to what you’re doing. But you’ve already made the best decision at Iowa State – and that’s deciding to go Greek.

Throughout your four years, your party scene, wardrobe and friends may change. And that’s okay. It’s funny how we can never see ourselves growing or changing in the moment, but it’s innately clear when you look back on everything. Just be thankful that Pinterest came about before you started college. You all dress better than I could ever have dreamed when I was a freshman in college. Day 1 of recruitment: over-sized Go Greek tee with a denim mini skirt. I’ll just leave it at that. You all joined your respective chapters for a reason, and they are all lucky to have you. They’ll love you on the nights when you go out looking like ANTM, and they’ll love you even more the next morning when you look like death. Immerse yourself in everything and talk to everyone. Apart from being a one-hit wonder, the New Radicals knew what they were talking about when they said you get what you give.

We are all so jealous that you’re just starting out. Have the best time. We all did.

Love,

a recruitment, sorority, and Greek community-obsessed alum

A Craft for the Craft-Impaired

photoMoving into two new places – both an apartment and a desk – mostly just reminded me how creative I am not. For some of us, creativity is in the intangible: music, writing, mental comebacks we form but never actually say, etc. But then there are the lucky ones who can actually make something, like, with their hands. In grade school, I despised going to art class. I prayed that we got to create paper mache instead of creating something that actually took talent. In middle school, I think I just blacked out during any activity involving acrylic paint or charcoal. In high school, I never took an art class. (This was a crowd-pleaser for everyone, namely my parents.) As soon as I got to college, I had successfully suppressed my art blunders until I GOT TO A SORAWRITY AND NEEDED TO CRAFT ALL THE TIME OR WHATEVER.

It became common knowledge that while I could supply creative ideas, I could never follow through with an actual “thing.” Creating costumes for house parties involved me going to Hobby Lobby buying five yards of fabric (my spacial/measurement skills are worse than my creative ones) and wrapping it around myself and calling it a dress. There were innumerable safety pins and paper clips holding me together. I wish that were a metaphor.

If you have suffered any of the aforementioned traumas, I have found the perfect craft for us. It involves two things: painting (no brushes or fingers necessary) and mason jars (who doesn’t love ‘em?). I wanted to personalize my work space, so I started with just one mason jar – the smaller size – and Martha Stewart acrylic paint (about 2 fl. oz.). Squeeze a generous amount of paint into the mason jar and then turn the jar upside down and every which way. This allows the paint to spread on its own. Once the inside of the jar is covered, turn it upside down on some paper towels. This will let the excess paint drip out. It should be ready to go by morning!

Look, Mom. No hands.

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Moving to Somewhere That’s Not Your College Town

31747493-mjs_great_river_road_in_wisconsin-_view_from_maiden_rock_blAs predicted, I figured most of us wouldn’t let this whole “graduation” thing set into until we were absolutely forced to do so. August is in full swing, so now we’re seeing all of these statuses and tweets pop up about moving back to respective college campuses. A little (cough big cough cough) part of me dies – I mean that in the least dramatic way. But there’s nothing that gets nostalgia going quite like reminiscing about what “back to school” means in the college sense. It means we’re that much closer to living with our best friends again, that much closer to tailgating season, and that much closer to feeling at home. Maybe that’s why this summer has flown by. This is the first time that a lot of us haven’t been thinking about heading back to school. Time always goes more slowly when you’re counting down the days to something. But now what are we counting down? I can’t be the only one against an iPhone app telling me the only countdown I have to look forward to is when the State Fair starts. (Okay but really… I might have a countdown for that.)

Now to get away from this seemingly bummed out postponed post, I think a move – a literal move – is in order for every college graduate at some point, especially if your college was in a small(er) town. Upon entering college, I had the plan of graduating in four years and then moving back to the Twin Cities and never leaving. About halfway through college, I was doing everything to extend those four years, but the thought of moving back to my hometown was still ingrained in my mind. I had a one-track mind when it came to where I’d end up post-grad, and I wasn’t about to veer off course. Then all of a sudden, as an actual post-grad, I was forced to think about things I never considered in college: I always knew that money would factor into a job I would take, but I didn’t realize how much. I started to look at jobs for their long-term gain, as opposed to the types of hours I’d be working. I talked and networked with people who worked at those companies to get an inside view, instead of just trusting Google (albeit is the holy grail). And I pro-conned more in a week about moving than I did in an entire four years of sorority chapter meetings about philanthropy tees.

It’s no question that there’s a sense of familiarity when moving back to college, and it feels normal wanting to move back. But think about it: there’s a good chance you didn’t know anything about the college you were heading to when you were an 18-year-old baby. You were looking up or down, trying to get an idea of the scenes around you. By the end of it, you could make any walk to any place without even thinking. Every place, no matter how young or old you are and no matter where it is, is going to feel new at some point. And it’s going to feel scary at some point – even if it has a familiar name or if you know a few people in the area. We all get crazy comfortable in college with who we are and what we know. And moving away challenges all of that. But I think we can all agree that no one wants to be the graduate who’s still the first and last one to leave the college bars; the one who shows up to every Greek event even though, “SHE DOESN’T EVEN GO HERE”; or the one who’s stuck and can’t get going. We’ll hit hardships – that’s a given. But how lucky for us that we made such great friends in college that they’re around to help us through it all, and together.

Top 10 Student Discounts

Because they don’t know you’re not a student, right? The only downside is for us Iowa State alums who may be on our ninth student ID but were forced to keep the freshman year pic. But most stores won’t notice – or they just won’t choose to call you out. Even if you are a recent grad, it’s not like you’re rolling in cash right away so use that student discount for what it’s worth! I’ve gotten into the habit of automatically asking the cashier if they offer a student discount. Some do not, but on more than one occasion, the cashier has been apologetic and searched for other coupons for me to use for my purchase. (That’s how you get returning customers, kids.) But I made a list of my top 10 favorite discounts.

1. Banana  Republic: 15% off

2. Buffalo Wild Wings: 10% off

3. J. Crew: 15% off

4. Madewell: 15% off

5. Steve Madden: 10% off

6. Chipotle: free drink with purchase

7. CorePower Yoga: special membership pricing

8. Verizon: 18% off your bill (random number, but hey we’ll take it)

9. Apple: 8% off (online or in-store)

10. AMC Movie Theaters: discounted movie tickets every Thursday