Let’s get compassionate

To start, I’d like to thank the confused masses for sending in great questions over the past two weeks. So many people are wondering about so many things! The TLC Tip runs on alternate Fridays. Direct your anonymous queries to lauren.rosenthal@yale.edu and they’ll be answered in confidence. If you have a question not for print, let me know and I’ll get back to you.

Q. How do you get your roommates to not eat your food?

A. There’s an old saying in the Pacific Northwest, where I’m from. It goes like this: “Give your roommates food poisoning once? Shame on you. Give your roommates food poisoning twice, and they will never touch your shit again.”

Q. How do I tell if a panhandler is honest?

A. WHOA. This question makes me squirm on the inside, and it should make you squirm, too. This summer, I had an awkward, completely unintended face-off with a man who sat on the curb outside my chi-chi neighborhood grocery store in Pittsburgh and asked passers-by for money. Most people ignored him as they walked by. As I entered the store one night, he asked me for money and I looked up and met his gaze. He yelled at me that I had no right to look into his eyes: “You look down at the ground! Don’t you glance at me! Look away!” People walking by stopped and stared. I was pretty shaken. It wasn’t my intention — and I assume it’s not yours — to make any panhandler feel like furniture as they stand on the street. With everyone’s gaze on me, wondering what the hell I did to make this man give me the tongue-lashing he did, I started to get an idea of how he felt when total strangers viewed him so dispassionately. Then, I went inside and cried a little in the frozen food aisle. Short answer is that it’s not up to you to judge whether a panhandler is honest, or whether they really need the money. If someone’s out on the street asking for change, treat them like a human being — not like they’re on trial.

Q. Up until the beginning of this year, my schedule moved like a runaway freight train en route to the gates of Hell. I was a “full-time student,” had a 50-plus hour weekly commitment and was, all the while, searching for gainful employment. But now all that is over and I know precisely what I’ll be doing when I graduate. What should define the last leg of my Yale career and motivate me to stop getting out of bed at 2:30 p.m. every day?

A. It sounds like your body is now engaged in a frantic campaign to recover the 10 years you took off your life with your schedule. What the hell were you even doing? Drug running? Domestic surveillance? Online poker? Porn? Speculation aside, you’re also in a minor funk. That’s very fixable! You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel if you go to sleep around the same time every night — midnight, 4 a.m., it doesn’t matter. Set your alarm to roust you at the same time every day. Even weekends. Life is hard, so fucking get used to it. You should try to create a happy morning ritual so you have something to look forward to upon waking. I like to listen to my go-to summertime playlist in the shower, and eat Kashi Heart to Heart while standing up in my kitchen. These are things I try not to allow myself to do on a regular basis, and now use as incentives. (I am so ready to be an adult, you guys don’t even know.) Structure your time well: Start using Gcal or iCal or if you’re me/a dinosaur, buy a real planner, and divide up your day into easily digestible chunks of studying and socialization. Sounds sad, but it will work. Your GPA is probably a negative number by now, so hop on the fast track to Phi Beta Kappa and start reading books again. You could also hang out with your friends, volunteer, and stop whining, because as much as I’d like to feel sorry for you, you have a job, and that means you and I are natural enemies.

Q. How do you survive Yale without going to class?

A. Holy skeeballs. Why don’t you ask the guy above?

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