Moderately Good Advice with Gardner and Kate
By Gardner Davis And Kate Taylor, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, January 25, 2013
Dear Gardner and Kate,
I’m looking for fun little changes to make in my life. What is something small that makes you happy on a daily basis?
— Melancholy Mark ’15
Gardner: Every morning when I wake up, remember how cold it is outside and see the snow drift deep along the road, I wonder why I didn’t go to school in some tropical locale like Nashville. Luckily, my day is immediately brightened by the opportunity to enjoy a hot beverage out of my Tervis tumbler with travel lid. I understand you probably don’t know the wonders of this seemingly innocuous beverage holder, so I will enlighten you. It immediately takes me back to warm days by a lake, not only because it’s plastered with the logo of my summer camp, but because it insulates both hot and cold drinks. People also give you lots of credit for being “sustainable,” whatever that means. I would recommend purchasing one immediately and watching your quality of life and body warmth skyrocket.
Kate: At a loss for a response as eloquent as Gardner’s, I decided to provide an overview of activities and items I wish I experienced everyday. Without revealing which points already occur daily, I have found comfort all too often in: not wearing pants, ice coffees with soy, eavesdropping, banana chocolate chip bread from FoCo, reading extensive analysis of Pretty Little Liars and One Direction, $2 margaritas and applying “Les Mis” songs to everyday dilemmas.
What are some fun study breaks that I can take in the library?
— Procrastinating Polly ’15
Kate: You should not choose study breaks — study breaks should choose you. My post in King Arthur Flour has seen me through thesis outlines, final papers on AIDS and early ’90s hip-hop and weekly advice column brainstorming. I could not have survived this semi-academic onslaught without the frequent interruptions. The convenient location allows me to convince myself that friends actually want to see me as opposed to just wanting to snag a brie and apple sandwich, which is always a great ego boost. Further, and perhaps more importantly, the constant milling around actually reduces my Internet activity: any Facebook stalking is guaranteed to result in the object of your investigation suddenly appearing behind you and forming a lifelong conviction of your creepiness.
As a junior who is on an off-term within driving distance of Dartmouth, how many visits are appropriate during the term?
— Interning Ivan ’14
Gardner: The answer is three at most, assuming it’s a reasonable drive. You probably came up for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so you can come up for Carnival and one other weekend of your choice. It’s not worth spending your whole off-term ignoring your surroundings and pining to be at Dartmouth. Most reasonable people would agree that New York and Boston have more going on than Hanover anyways. Full disclosure, I broke this rule last Winter but I give myself a pass because I was also off in the Fall, so that seems like a reasonable exception.
I’m really busy and not really looking for a relationship, but feel kind of lonely and insufficient when my friends talk about their thriving love/sex lives. What should I do?
— Frustrated Frances ’13
Kate: What you’re looking for is a “back burner boyfriend.” Here at Dartmouth, we want others to convince us that we are attractive and interesting and will not die alone, but often are not quite as receptive when this actually occurs due to our own standards or commitment-phobia. The perfect situation is a mild flirtation that both parties feel that they could rev up into a full relationship or tone down to an occasional booty call whenever possible: the back burner boyfriend.
This special individual can fill your need for a formal date, assist in venting “frustration,” and serve a conversation filler when your friends make you feel desperately boring. Also, your friends are probably lying about their own love lives, so don’t feel bad if you have to embellish a few details to give the situation a little more drama - the difference between texting you goodnight and “what’re you up to” at 2 a.m. is negligible, right? Heteronormativity side note: all of this could be applicable to a back burner girlfriend as well, as this phenomenon is just as applicable for most moderately affectionate non-straight ladies and straight men .
It’s currently Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and I’m realizing that I’ve been hanging out and drinking six out of the last seven nights. Should I be worried?
— Wasted Wallace ’14
Gardner: In almost every context, the answer to your question is yes but to use a more appropriate metaphor, I would give you a yellow light. It’s possible that you weren’t busy in the second week of classes, don’t have a 10A, went to FNR on Thursday and people were obviously looking to hang out over the three-day weekend so I wouldn’t be as worried. However, if this continues into the upcoming seven-week “midterm” period, I would start to worry. Many Dartmouth students drink a lot but don’t let it get in the way of work. If it starts to, you should try to understand why it’s happening and blitz a DAPA.
Dear Gardner and Kate,
I’ve started getting emails about Winter Carnival. What should I expect?
— Freddie Freshman ’16
Gardner: Winter Carnival is essentially a weekend when we throw big parties to make it more enticing to defy frost and storm and leave your room. If you expect it to be like Homecoming or the mythical Green Key, you’ll likely be disappointed. Discover it for yourself: go to the skiway, help build the snow sculpture, realize that building the snow sculpture is the physical equivalent of coal mining, feel overwhelmed by the work you put off for Sunday afternoon. You only get four of them (at most) so make it count.
Kate: As a history major, I’m forced to say that, regretfully, Winter Carnival hasn’t been the same since coeducation. Back in the day, Winter Carnival was the “Mardi Gras of the North.” The snow sculpture was broadcast on national television and women were bussed in from across the northeast to find husbands and/or get some. Frats would be whipped into a frenzy at the thought of seeing girls for the first time in months, and the eager males put significant effort into parties and really offensive snow sculptures. Don’t expect the same degree of effort this year. Personally, my most anticipated moment of Winter Carnival 2013 is working the phrase “This is a very grim carnival indeed!” into every situation that doesn’t go my way.