What do you call a fake noodle?

Q: What do you call a fake noodle?

A: An Impasta

I student taught first grade this semester, and I quickly learned that a six year old’s sense of humor is very different from my fellow Barnard students.  They loved it when I did the unexpected.  If I said the month was July instead of December it would cause an uproar.  At first I was puzzled at what they found so funny about going against expectations, but then it hit me.  Little kids have just figured out the system.  A little kid has just figured out that December follows November.  When I kid and say the new month is July they laugh because they are finally in on the joke.

College humor is a bit different.  There are definitely some things that never change, as the dick that is often drawn in the snow outside the Quad shows.  But for more “highbrow” humor, adults love biting illuminations of the system.  Shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report thrive on showing the ridiculousness of government.  Topical humor is based on the idea of bringing a new light to common experiences.  Adults, and especially college students, crave this humor because we’ve realized that we don’t know the rules of the system.  We may know the months of the year, but we don’t know what we are doing a year from now. We love it when it seems like someone else knows what’s going on.

It’s hard to know the rules of the system when the system is always changing.  Once you’ve mastered high school you get thrown into college where a whole new host of expectations await.  Once you’ve finally understood all the campus jokes and explored the tunnels it’s time to graduate into the “real world”.  It’s scary and daunting.  But unlike a six-year old, you have experience that proves your strength.  It’s hard to tell a child that everything is going to be all right because they don’t have any empirical data to back it up.  “How do you know my friends will still love me if I don’t sit at the same table as them, even if there’s no room?  I’ve never experienced that before.”

But as college students we have.  We have been faced with challenges and have proven our mettle.  Even if it may seem like we haven’t done much, just the sheer fact that we have made it to where we are, wherever that may be, shows our worth.  We may not know all the rules, but we have the experience to know we can figure it out.

As I graduate and move onto the next chapter of my life I want to leave a few parting words.  Laugh at the elucidation of the system.  But also laugh at the unexpected; the mistakes you should have stopped making years ago.  Like trying to balance hot coffee and a full stack of papers.  Or believing that a 9 AM lab on a Friday will encourage you to go to bed early.  We are all still figuring it out.  Some of us are just better at faking it than others.

Just remember to be well and always look on the bright side of life.

So long Barnard, and thanks for all the feminism,


Ways to Reset

As we approach the last few days of this finals week, hanging onto calm can sometimes begin to feel more difficult. When I feel myself beginning to sink into a pattern of anxiety and bad feelings, finding a way to “reset,” or break out of the spiral, helps enormously. Whether it’s taking a quick fun video break or getting up and moving around a little bit (even if you feel you don’t have time for a full-fledged walk) a little bit of variety can help. Here are some other strategies for breaking out of the rut:

1. A quick breathing exercise: A simple one is inhaling through your nose for 2 counts, exhaling through your mouth for 4; pause, and repeat. (You can also use any rhythm of slow breathing that feels comfortable for you).

2. Drinking water: Even mild dehydration (which can happen even before you feel thirsty) has the ability to affect mood, focusing ability, and feelings of fatigue, so drinking cool water or tea (available in the Well-Woman office!) can offer both a little break and a feeling of relief.

3. Doing a simple chore: If you have a quick chore that could use doing – wiping down your desk, maybe, or washing your dishes – completing the chore and focusing your attention on it – the spots on the desk, the feeling of water running over your hands – can help relieve some stress and leave you feeling more balanced.

4. “Bzzt” reset: A friend swears by doing a “physical” reset to help snap out of a distracted, negative, or unproductive way of thinking – making a “bzzt” noise with your mouth and shivering, as if you’re a kitchen timer that’s just gone off. The physical absurdness of the gesture is often enough to make you laugh, and it’s supposed to symbolize a physical reset. Afterward, it can be helpful to ask yourself “Okay, where do I go from here?”

And that kids is the story of how I met…. Part 3!

We now continue our quest to learn how to make friends in college, in life, and beyond with a few more words of wisdom from some Barnard staff and administrators, including Well Woman’s own Jessica!

Natalie J. Friedman,Dean of Studies

Right after graduation, I moved back in with my parents in order to save money while attending graduate school. I thought that would be the end of my social life! I was happily wrong: I met some of my closest friends in graduate school, and they saw me through the ups and downs of graduate study, my first real love, and my first job post-Ph.D. Much to my delight and surprise, amazing friends came along when I became a mom — other moms I met through schools and daycares, or even at my workplaces, became close friends who taught me about parenting, working, and womanhood. Just the other night, I spent an evening talking with a woman I met through my son’s friend, and although we started out talking about our kids, we ended up talking about what it means to be a woman in the 21st century and how different it is from the experience our mothers and grandmothers had. Sharing a conversation and a glass of wine with this woman made me realize that you never stop making new friends along your path, and these new people are important for seeing you through life’s transitions and direction-shifts.

Abigail Sara Lewis, Athena Center for Leadership Studies

My first job was in a new city, where I knew two people.  I got off to a rocky start with one staff member, who encouraged the rest of the staff not to be friendly with me. I was pretty lonely the first month.  So, I threw myself into my work and I soon impressed my boss – who was very vocal on the good work I was doing.  This lead to a serious thaw at the office, and I soon made friends with all of my co-workers.  Eighteen years later, two of them are still my best friends.

Heather Van Volkinburg, Associate Director of Learning Initiatives and Data Services 

Most of my friends I’ve met through work and the networks I’ve developed as a part of my work. For example, I used to teach English as a Second Language in Madrid, Spain. I met one of my best friends while we were both teaching English. Even after we both left Madrid and we never lived in the same city again and sometimes we didn’t live in the same country, we still managed to remain very close. We travel to see each other and sometimes meet at places in between. She’s a closer friend than some of the friends I made in college!

Jessica Cannon, Program Director, Health Promotion and Education

Graduating from Barnard and staying in NYC, I was lucky enough to have a number of my college friends close by in my first post grad years. But after a bit, many of those folks moved farther away. And when they did, I made new friends through…a book club! I found the book club in an interesting way–I wrote a fan email to a Brooklyn-based blogger I thought was fantastic, telling her that her posts had helped me feel cheerful in a tough time. She wrote back to say thank you, and after a few more emails back and forth she asked if I would like to join the book club she was forming. There were eight of us–all total strangers–at the first meeting, and we met every month for almost four years. I still remember walking out of the very first meeting, feeling so excited about the people I had just met. We’ve stopped having official book club meetings (a few folks moved and a few others had babies!), but three of the women I met, including the original blogger, have become some of my closest friends. So I definitely recommend book clubs, and just taking the plunge and introducing yourself to people who seem like they’d be fun to know.

Need a Study Break?

Finals are approaching, the weather is getting colder, and it’s getting darker earlier. BUT, check out this adorable post to brighten your day! When the stress is getting to me, looking at some adorable animals can make getting through the day a little easier. Check out the Buzzfeed post below if you like puppies, kittens, ducklings (a personal favorite of mine), and Patrick Stewart as a lobster in a bathtub.


Also, feel free to stop by the Well-Woman office to de-stress or just do your work with a cup of tea. I will probably see you there!

-Rachel Katz

And that kids is the story of how I met…. Part 2!

As the leaves finish falling, many of us head home to our hometowns to see old friends and family. Being reunited with the people we’ve known for so long may make us forget how long it took us to build such intimate relationships. In our last installment of “And that’s the story of how I met…” peer eds shared how they met their friends in college. But as graduating seniors know, life continues after college. It may seem daunting to have to make friends without the comfort of a shared living space or classroom struggles. Below a few Barnard staff share how they made their first “grown-up” friendships. Check back again next week to read more stories from staff members about how they met their friends!

Dean Grabiner, First-Year Class Dean and Dean for Academic Assistance

One way I’ve found to make friends post-college is to be my authentic self when I interact with people at work, to the extent that it’s professionally appropriate. For example, I was in a meeting some years ago where a topic came up that related to my own identity politics, and I made a comment that began, “As a gay woman, I….” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman at the far end of the table swivel her head over to look at me, and I saw a look of recognition on her face. The next time I ran into her, she made a point of coming up to me to talk about how she always attends the Michigan Women’s Music Festival and used to visit the West Village as a teenager from Long Island because it made her feel free. These moments of connection were the beginning of our friendship.

Mary Joan L. Murphy,Executive Director of Student Health and Wellness Programs
I would say that I made many of my post college friends from volunteering and graduate school.
Immediately after college, I worked for two yearsa as a teacher volunteer in Belize, Central America with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps-similiar to Peace Corps but much smaller and has some value components attached with it. I made a group of life long friends from that experience. I also joined the group Team and Training with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society when I moved back to NYC and completed a marathon and a couple triatholons with them and made a great group of friends through this. I also have a few friends (one of whom I just went out to dinner with last night) from my graduate work.
My advice would be to get involved with groups and topics you are interested in where you will find like minded people!

Jenna Freedman, Associate Director of Communications & Zine Librarian
My core group of non-professional friends are folks I worked with as a lighting technician at the Public Theater and Shakespeare in the Park. Long hours, hard work, danger and lots of fun build intense friendship.

I’m also close to a lot of librarians, online and in person, IMing daily with my BFF from grad school. You might be surprised at how social librarians are.

Over the last few years I’ve gotten back into letter-writing. I can spend an hour writing someone a letter and decorating the envelope. Doing that, and getting similarly crafted mail back makes me feel close to people, one of whom I’ve never met and probably never will.

I still consider my college roommate my lifelong bestie though she lives in Connecticut and I rarely see her.

Little Acts of Self Care

I’ve been thinking about self-care a lot lately, primarily because I’ve been feeling pretty constricted by midterms (shouldn’t those be over??), final papers, looming final exams, etc. I feel like my life is scheduled to the minute, and with a schedule like that, who has time to read a book (for fun) or take a bubble bath (or a place to take a bubble bath, for that matter)?

To solve this, I’ve been trying to think of little ways to take care of yourself. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

1) Eat. Okay, seriously. I hear people say almost every day that they didn’t have time to eat, which is so tragic. Personally, if I don’t eat, I get even more anxious and emotional, and am just a general mess. If you take care of your body, your brain will feel a whole lot better.

2) Along the same lines…sleep. Do your laundry. Clean up the pile of clothes that has been accumulating since you started studying for that test. Doing the little, mundane-feeling things can take a load off of your stress levels. Besides, doing somewhat mindless tasks gives your mind a chance to rest.

3) Breathe. Taking deep breaths is so easy and so calming. You can do it literally anywhere, from the middle of class to a subway platform. Taking a breath to put things into perspective is one of the most helpful things for me–especially because, after I take that breath, I realize I had been taking shallow, panicked breaths, thus continuing the cycle of panic (i.e. bad thing happens -> freak out -> stop breathing properly -> bodily response creates more panic -> feeling of panic escalates…etc.) Taking a second to breathe takes you away from the overwhelming stuff and into your own little safe space.

4) Listen. You know those songs that you just feel in your gut? The ones that you could be in the middle of a circus, but if that song comes on, it will get your attention? Well, those songs are the ones I want you to remember for moments when you’re feeling like you need a little love. In those moments, sit (or lie or whatever) down and just listen–not while you’re doing work, not while you’re in the gym, only when you force yourself to put the world on hold and listen.

5) Be an active participant in your life. Check in with yourself to make sure you’re doing things that you can handle and that you enjoy. It’s so easy to get caught up in life and stop paying attention to the way you feel or the things that you’re doing, but giving attention to these things is easy and can help you to make sure you’re living your life the way you want to. An easy way to do this is to create a gratitude log or a highs and lows log each day, detailing what you’re grateful for or what your best and worst moments were throughout the day. It will help you to be present and mindful in the everyday.

What little things do you do to take care of yourself? Share any ideas you have in the comments!