your unsaid college packing list

For college freshman, the weeks preceding your first day are riddled with exhaustive Target trips, parents who think a lack of extra sheets or towels will result in your imminent death, and the steady realization that you have no fucking clue what you’re doing. In between figuring out how to not pay $1500 for textbooks and finding ways to pack your vodka and weed, you may forget a few things that most college packing lists keep on the down-low. Lucky for you, Internet Killed The Cat isn’t like most creative outlets (and whether that’s good or bad, we still don’t know). Keep reading to find out how to arrive at school with an arsenal of intangibles that’ll keep you alive, passing your classes, and best prepared to tackle whatever the fuck it is that college is supposed to be.

INTANGIBLE #1: YOUR DIGNITY

It’s one of the first weekends of the school year, and you wake up at 10:30 am in your dorm room bed. Your roommate is gone, her bed neatly made, and is probably off working out or studying or something else related to having your life together. Meanwhile, all the sheets have fallen off your bed, exposing your outfit of superhero boxer shorts and last night’s crop top, which smells like sweat and beer. You remember that you went to your first frat party last night; what you don’t remember is everything that happened after that 4th shot, including whether that dude you hooked up with was actually cute and how you got back to your dorm. As you grab a robe and stumble with your toothbrush to a communal bathroom, glitter eyeliner and black mascara crusted all over your face, it will hit you: life (and you) can be an utter piece of shit. In moments like these, buck up. Strut your hungover self with confidence, clean the party out of you, and then at least try to read a textbook. Reminding yourself that you’re a respectable human being matters just as much as buying the right shower caddy from Bed Bath & Beyond (and remembering to maybe hold off on the Absolut, next time).

INTANGIBLE #2: ABILITY TO INTRODUCE YOURSELF

With its abundance of people who know nothing about you, college is hailed as a fresh start. Every freshman nurtures the hope of showing up and impressing their “true selves” upon their peers, finally earning that cool reputation and social status yearned for (or, for you lucky bastards, achieved) in high school. There’s so much you’ll want to convey when you lock eyes with your fellow newbies and awkwardly shuffle towards each other to say hello; your killer taste in music, the fact that you know you’re gonna be better than math at them, or your impressive ability to take a bong hit. All this and more lead up to the moment where you open your mouth to a person for the very first time, unleashing the soul and essence of your being with one poetic, heartfelt line:

“Hey, I’m Anna and I’m from Arkansas!!”

As much as we’d like our first impressions to be based on who we are as people, get ready to be temporarily defined by your name, hometown, and potential major. You’re gonna need to be really comfy with this, because you’ll be spouting it dozens of times a day.

There are some gray areas when it comes to introductions. If I live in the suburbs, can I attempt the facade of being “from Chicago”? Can I make (bad) jokes when I introduce myself? Should I even be allowed to make jokes, period? And do I really have to confess to people that I’m spending $60,000 a year just to be a goddamn writing major?!

But hey, just remember— you’re Anna from fucking Arkansas, and yes, you are going to kill yourself and one day make bank by becoming an engineering major. Nice meeting you!

 

INTANGIBLE #3: MASTERY OF THE FRIEND-OFF

By the end of high school, our brains’ social filters had done some serious work. We figured out how to avoid those who’d talk you ear off for thirty minutes (when I asked you how you weekend was, I didn’t actually need the in-depth picture…), friends who were fun drunks versus not-so-fun drunks, and those who just sucked no matter what state of mind they were in. Here’s where another downside of the quasi-holy “fresh start” thing comes up: new people, new (and inexperienced) social filter. People can easily be deceptive, and by the time you realize how much of a psychotic bitch Cherry from D.C is, you’ll find yourself locked into your 4th coffee date with her. That’s why you’ll need to come into college with mastery of a highly important skill: the friend-off.

To clearly outline what a friend-off entails, I’m going to pull a definition from one of the finest sources of English vocabulary: Urban Dictionary. According to Urban,

Friend- off: When an acquaintance of yours starts to irritate you, particularly when they begin to act like your best friend as soon as you just met them. When you’ve had enough, you introduce them to another friend of yours who you think has a chance of getting along with them, in hopes that your friend will be more accepting of this person’s annoying behaviours than you are. A friend-off is successful when your acquaintance quickly attaches themselves to your friend rather than you. Thus, you have passed off your “friend” to another friend.

Essentially, you’re gifting one obnoxious friend to another. The friend-off is truly a versatile move; I’ve heard a story of two guys who each hated their roommates “friend-offing” their terrible roomies to each other. Get out there in the world, start building a friend lineup, and revise if you have to— the friend-off will be there waiting for you.

 

INTANGIBLE #4: EXPANSIVENESS

I’m not talking about welcoming the “freshman 15” with open arms (although feel free to do that— life’s too short not to eat tons of cookies and bacon mac n’ cheese). By expansiveness, I mean this: avoid making your college experience a bubble. I come from a high school where white affluence is the majority, and in many ways, my college experience will be far more diverse than where I’m coming from. But at the same time, my school, Johns Hopkins University, and most others can be an isolated sect of the world. The people I’m going to be immediately surrounded with for the next four years have been filtered out from the world. We all must possess a certain amount of academic focus, drive, and ability, dedication to extracurricular passions, and, even in spite of financial aid, a certain degree of socio economic leverage. While there’s nothing wrong with these facts, my college is by no means a realistic sample of the world.  Even on a city campus, it’s easy to stay secluded mentally and physically within your institution’s walls, making college just another period of suburban-esque refuge.

Whether your college is out in the cornfields or nestled in a major city, there is always a world in and around it that expands past the mindset of your own. Dust off your basic-bitch white converse and head out into the world to meet these other people. Maybe it’s a local jazz musician who decided not to go to college, or the owner of that amazing Thai restaurant who grew up as a first-gen immigrant. Meet people at the grocery store. Mingle at coffee shops and diners. If you’re truly afraid of the whole “stranger danger” thing, then opportunities for an expansive social network still exist within your university. Employees (especially the non-academics) at your school will often have different life experiences than the students who populate it. Grad students can also be a good resource— and they have off-campus housing, which means hella better opportunities for partying. The point is, having a more diversified worldview means going past the sheltered walls of a university. It’s only 4 years until we get thrown back into the world— might as well get to know it now.


 

Whatever shit you ultimately show up to college with (yourself included), freshman year will work out if you take a breath, accept that things will be a bit of a clusterfuck, and remain adaptable. Go make friends, attempt to learn a thing or two, and enjoy the goddamn beauty of getting to eat Insomnia Cookies whenever you want. Life is short, and college is even shorter. Enjoy your next four years.

xx, IKTC.

 

music crushin’: Foals

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As a large crowd settled in for Foals’ main-stage set at Lollapalooza last weekend, it was fitting that a hazy August mist loomed overhead. Hailing from Oxford, England, Foals know how to make music that goes well with fog. Coolly entering the stage, the rockers kicked off their afternoon slot with Snake Oil from their 2016 album What Went Down. Crisp yet psychedelic ramblings from a plethora of instruments, including singer Yannis Philippakis and his Gibson electric, began to rumble out as the five Englishmen wielded their blend of contradictory indie rock.

Listening to Foals is a mind-consuming experience. The band, which has been around for just over a decade, manages to incorporate airy vibes of psychedelics (especially with earlier albums such as Antidotes and Total Life Forever) while coming together in full to be a polished, intricate, and edgy sound, a phenomenon witnessed with other 2000s-born indie rock bands like TV on The Radio and Portugal The Man. What Went Down, released by the band in 2015, is by far Foals’ most mainstream and radio-ready record. However, most Foals fans wouldn’t cite this as a bad thing. The record has been wildly successful: it won the NME Award for Best Album in 2016, and two of its hits, Mountain at My Gates and What Went Down, get regular air time on alternative radio stations. The broad appeal can likely be attributed to the album’s combination of the intricate, funky beats that long-time Foals fans know and love, and a smooth, danceable pop sound that the band has been honing since hit song “My Number” on their 2013 album Holy Fire. It’s also arguably the most “rock” album the band has made, featuring intense, escalating guitar riffs in many of its songs.

“Oh man, I forgot they even played this song!,” A girl next to me exclaimed, gleaming as she bouncily started to sway into the upbeat rhythm of “My Number”. I wouldn’t peg the majority of crowd constituents at Foals’ set as major fans; truthfully, it seemed like the kind of audience that knew one or two hits, or stumbled across it while waiting for another band. For me, this kind of experience is fascinating to witness, and in this case I watched Foals impress themselves upon the mood of the crowd. During most of the set, you had a classic array– hardcore fans dancing jumping around in the very front, and the rest a general consensus of head bobbing and the occasional hands in the air when the vibe amped up. But whether the band picked up on this or not, you wouldn’t know. Instead, all that could be interpreted was Foals’ consistent ability to crank out musically intricate tunes with such beautiful live efficiency. In this way, their set was perhaps most emblematic of the journey of a band; you make your music, try to do it well, and put it out there for the world to hear (and hopefully like). 

By the band’s closer, which was the smooth, edgy, and popular tune What Went Down, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the crowd had experienced a spiritual transition into die-hard Foals fans. But there was a noticeable atmosphere of appreciation and enjoyment radiating from the large gathering of strangers while the skilled musicians boomed their music into the foggy air. Foals might have been going through the typical plight of a band, but this day, they experienced the end goal: make music, do it really freaking well, and get people to love it, too.

drift

 

nicotine pillow pricks keeping me calm
and the sweet song of sky lifts me up and beyond
I’m dreaming of you
or the you that I want,
and their soft hands, soft lips
guiding me on.
spontaneity is key,
and I’m kind of high,
and it’s moments like these:
drifting,
high,
lustful,
mine
that scare me
and gulp me
and help me get by

tropical weather makes for terrible writing

sans mute, brooding clouds

and soul-filling cold,

what is a writer to do?

 
for God knows our air

must match our despair,

so our words can be dark and deep too.

 
how must we write

when our heart is alight

with the tropical sea’s pale blue hues?

 
or the sun glistening down

like a heavenly crown,

washing our minds anew

 
sins must we write,

and take joy in the rite

of pencils singing the blues

 
for if we stopped,

we’d lose our excuse

to be sad,

and depressed,

and acknowledge that truth.

sanctuary

 

 

exit (a poem by kelly page)

the first time i stepped

out of my window, onto the roof

i started with just one foot,

to see if it could hold my weight.

 

i found that the slats were solid,

and did not ripple under me

so i walked out into the sky.

humid air ran through the window

 

over my head and moved my curtains:

a spirit making herself known

which had been quiet in my heart

for too long. we flew away.

fear talk

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it’s a strange feeling when the world is at your fingertips, and all you can be is afraid.

i am going to a fantastic school in a city i love, with family and friends at close call. i will be challenged, motivated, and inspired, given a chance to engage in the city of Baltimore, and placed in a track for a top-notch career. i’ll be around intellectual people where my interests and passion won’t be seen as strange, but rather accepted as part of a eclectic, smart, and diverse group of humans. in theory, i’m going to my dream school.

so why the f*ck am i scared?

luckily for you, the anxious brain enjoys picking the brain for these kinds of thoughts, so some answers to that question prevail.

i’m not usually one for cliches, but the short and sweet adage “too much of a good thing” has been on the mind lately, particularly in the context of the social atmosphere i’ll be entering.

feeling out of place in high school is, admittedly, something I’ve come to savor. i’ve spent the last four years unabashedly embracing my passions and personality, even when they don’t fit my idea of the social norm. my intentions were good, but they led me down a narcisstic path. feeling like i was somehow different from my peers made me feel like a special little snowflake, and i liked the attention of wielding an intellect and passion that i viewed as beyond the norm.

but where i’m headed, being smart and passionate is nothing special. this doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing– passion and intellect is accepted and embraced with open arms, and if anything, expected from your peers. this means that i likely won’t be the odd one out–instead, what’ll be odd about the situation is the fact that i might not like that.

in all aspects, I am fearing change. what if I decide I no longer love the environment? will I like being in a city? will I lose my love for learning because I care too much about grades? will people like me? will I like myself?

truthfully, I don’t know. but at this point, I must embrace fear and move forward.

I am going to a place I love, and I am afraid.

but change is good–

at least, that’s what they say.