Life is weird. Welcome to Moments of Pause, a weekly catalogue of whatever’s been needling you: a list of all the things so odd/pertinent/funny/serious/catchy/confusing that you just had to wrench open your bedroom window and bellow THE DRESS IS FUCKING BLUE AND BLACK. For our 5th edition, here is a collage of the very important things that stuck in a handful of our contributors’ brains this past week, those shiver-inducing gag-reflexive oh-so-edifying moments of pause that define life (OR IS IT) in the 21st Century. Prep your glands and tighten your sweatpants, cuz this week’s edition is especially confessional.
1. Twinkle Toes — Elisabeth Dee
I have been known to wear the least practical footwear in outrageous situations. 5-inch heels, pointy-toed flats, no shoes whatsoever. I can push through my screaming appendages for the sake of an outfit. However, at the end of the night, I almost inevitably end up with peeling, rounded blisters. Once they dry, I pick at them. It’s obsessive and compulsive- I can’t stop until I’ve picked off all of my skin in some sort of weird exoskeleton move. But the worst part is when you get the very end of picking at a round blister and there’s that one strip of skin that is inevitably connected to your intact epidermis. You grit your teeth, pull and rip. For some inexplicable reason severing that tiny bridge from the dead to the living is fucking painful. But I keep going anyways. And you can lie and say “oooooo I don’t do that”, to which I side-eye and say “ooooooo yes you do you sick masochist”. Why do we do this when we know it’s bad? We know how badly it’s going to hurt, yet we tear at ourselves anyway.
Skin is weird. Humans are weird.
2. DASH MY WIG AND FETCH THE SMELLING SALTS — Nikki Tran
Photoshop aficionados & Tavi Gevinsnobs, meet your maker.
Before Photoshop touched (up) our lives, our celebrities, and our red eyes, before the digital spackle empowered a generation of tech savvy narcissists to blur their skin, crop out their mortal enemies (or prettier friends), and desaturate colors to their sepia glory (all the while proclaiming “I woke up like this”), before bored teens capitalized on their suburban angst with zines and collages, the domestic divas of the 19th century put their successors to shame by cutting, copying, and pasting to their hysteria-laden hearts’ content PC free.
Lo and behold: the Victorian photocollage.
There is nothing else that can make me giggle like an Oscar Wilde-lite schoolboy than the thought of prim badasses painstakingly superimposing their resting bitch faces onto mallards and the ends of turkey tail feathers. Dash my wig, what a strange, wonderful world we live in.
3. Beauty is Danger — Alex Cheng
I’m currently in a tight-knit student group of twenty-odd members, as every Stanford student is. Recently, the most beautiful male and the most beautiful female in the group started flirting vigorously with each other. This set off a chain of heartbreak and despair in the rest of the group that was dishearteningly self-perpetuating – first affecting those infatuated with Beauties 1 and 2, then affecting those infatuated with those infatuated with Beauties 1 and 2 (as it was now apparent where their true desires lie), and so on. A row of lovesick young dominoes, toppling one after another.
I don’t mean to other-ize beautiful people by saying this, but after this experience, I feel it needs must be said: Beautiful people, you have to be more damn careful with the hearts of average-lookers like me and the majority of my readers. (I don’t mean to assume anything about your looks, dear reader – this is all statistically speaking.)
With great power comes great responsibility, beautiful people. I’m not saying that you’re actively and maliciously toying with the affections of those around you; I’m just saying that you need to be more wary of your own great attractiveness. In both love and war, simple ignorance can be deadly. The Commander-in-Chief isn’t absolved of guilt by claiming that he (or she – we’re all progressives here) was unaware what would happen after he/she (or she/he – we’re all progressives here) pressed that big red button labeled “NUCLEAR BOMB”. Similarly, you beautiful people aren’t absolved of guilt by claiming that you weren’t aware that there were other people who had fallen in love with you. Now you are become Beautiful, the destroyer of worlds. Act accordingly and save us all some heartbreak.
4. Perspective from an East Coaster — Cissy Shi
I forgot how much I loved the classical background music at dingy but vintage coffee shops. I forgot passing by crowded streets avoiding awkward eye contacts with strangers. I forgot the enticing smell of chicken and rice of nearby food carts. I forgot the excitement of waking up to a world covered in white. I forgot New York City, its fast pace, its gloominess that somehow came with a sliver of hopefulness that sustained me.
Besides taking a walk through the Graduate School of Business, the chic black style and put together fashion that can be picked straight out of a J. Crew catalogue is otherwise absent on campus. Having graduated from a Quaker private school on Long Island, sometimes I feel a tad overdressed amidst the scattered red and black Stanford sweatshirts.
California—so liberal and relaxing. Here, we are bathed in sunshine and surrounded by palm trees and arrive to class on our cruiser bikes or skateboards. Here, we have tech lounge and modern Huang Engineering center that captures the essence of Silicon Valley. Here, the seasons vary so slightly that it feels like we are blessed with eternal youth and happiness and that time isn’t slipping through our fingers.
But when I take a moment to look up from my computer, when I take a break from the techno background music, I realize that I miss NYC, its history, its cold, and even its melancholy that looms over the entire city.
5. Shots (of Fireball) Fired — Bojan Srb, Performance Editor
Whether you’re part of a Greek organization, living in a co-op, or just plain losing your shit in Manzanita, you’ll probably agree that Greek rush is the slime of the earth; a nasty, shallow, nepotistic process of selection that is founded on antiquated and regressive norms that would probably curl even Draco Malfoy’s greasy hair.
I think we’d all be fooling ourselves, though, if we said that Greek rush is the only selection of the sort. I think almost everyone at Stanford goes through some iteration of rush – whether it’s applying to be a freshman RA, trying to live in some co-op, going through row staff selection, vying for a spot in your favorite a capella group (yes, I know singing is a big part of it, but I imagine being “the right cultural fit” also plays a big role,) or feeling ready to cut a b*tch for a job at a particular beloved summer camp for rich alumni, you’re fighting the same fight, and you’re being judged by similarly dubious standards.
What awaits at the end of the tunnel includes, of course, special dinners, belonging, popularity, and the ill nattering of trite platitudes about how you are “awesome” and “I can’t believe we’ve only known each other for two weeks but I feel like you just get me.”
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and we all could use a disinfectant shower.
6. Useful Dreams — Claire Kim
I ran across this little phrase while I was flipping through Artforum magazine earlier today, and I just had to ask myself, what the hell would one useful dream of mine be? Every day, my average-sized skull echoes with all the useless fantasies existing in some alter-reality inside my head. I use up all my human energy dreaming about declaring love, making some kind of actual change in the world, doing all these things that I always dream of doing, when I know that what I really gotta do is do. Take the action. Say the words. Do the actual work, and stop just dreaming. God, it’s so hard to exist.
7. Like a Virgin? — Eric Eich, Visual Arts Editor and Shockingly, A Homosexual
Like Madonna, this video never gets old.
8. The Machines Were Talking — John Murray
A screaming came across the sky. The fire alarm was going off. Either someone pulled it or the thing was just acting up. Myself, and a friend, and everyone else in the library silently packed our bags. We closed our books and packed our computers. The day’s work was gathered and loaded into a variety of backpacks. No one said a word. We carried our labor towards the exit, the little red boxes on the wall screeching with marching orders. GET OUT. GET OUT. GET OUT.
We exited the building. The sanitary, academic silence of the library was replaced by the whispers of a gentle breeze passing through a perfect Californian afternoon. The skies were blue. The sun was warm and gentle. Everyone looked around for a bit, squinting as their eyes adjusted to the new lighting. I heard someone talking in the crowd. “I don’t have time for this,” he said. “Nobody has time for this.”
9. Ladies, Let’s Go — Brittany Newell, Culture Editor and Sociolinguist
Enter a slightly older building, preferably one built before 1970. Find the women’s restroom, quaintly and obliviously marked with that little triangle-skirted girl. Make sure the stalls are empty and situate yourself by the sinks.
Mounted on the opposite wall, peeling and askew, should hang an old-school tampon dispenser. It is probably broken and almost certainly devoid of tampons. Examine its charmingly understated cursive, which reads: belted sanitary napkins for your feminine needs. Check your nose-ring for boogers in the mirror (it’s a wild world) and take your leave.
Then, in the privacy of your room, reconsider: what the fuck is a belted sanitary napkin?
BELTED. SANITARY. NAPKIN.
Where would this belt attach to? When was the last time you saw belt used as an adjective?What would this even look like? Is it wrong if it sounds kind of sexy, like a garter belt? Or perhaps it’s like suspenders, which are definitionally unsexy? Does either of these things still exist?