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Published: Tue, 16 Jan 2018 11:00:50 -0500


The Sorting Test

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 11:00:50 -0500

If this is the first time you’ve ever taken a Sorting Test, then congratulations! You’re unique. The rest of us have taken about a hundred of these things, and then we took them again because we didn’t get the result we were looking for. But here’s the thing: this isn’t your grandma’s Sorting Test. We’re going to tackle the tough questions. I don’t care if you like lions or snakes; I don’t care if your favorite color is blue or yellow. I want to delve into your psyche. I want to figure out who you are as a person. I want to know your hopes. Your dreams. Your fears. [viralQuiz id=47]

Shakespeare Plays Summed Up In Relatable Headlines

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 11:00:11 -0500

I’m a simple woman. You take a headline from The Onion and slap it over a piece of relevant media, I laugh. And since I need to feel like I’m doing my part here on the Internet, I decided to do this exact thing with all the books on your English syllabus. And when the Pride and Prejudice one finally stopped making me laugh randomly whenever I remembered it on public transportation (so, like, two days ago), I decided to do it again, only this time with Shakespeare plays. The end result? This slideshow.

Open Thread for January 16!

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 09:00:24 -0500

Auntie SparkNotes: It Is Okay to Crush on My TA?

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 12:00:12 -0500

Auntie is out today, so we're bringing you a vintage post from the Auntie vault!—eds  Dear Auntie, I have a question concerning the ethics of crushing on a TA. I'm a junior in college and I've recently acquired a crush on one of my chemistry lab TAs. I know that TAs are different at every university and some have graduate student TAs. Mine, however, has undergraduate TAs, so the TA I'm crushing on is a senior (around a year older). So, age is not the problem. The professor who heads the lab is ultimately the one who decides grades, but TAs still grade our weekly lab reports and—as I understand it—then turn it into the professor. Would asking him out, or even flirting, be an acceptable thing to do given that he grades my work? I don't want to get him into trouble or put him in an awkward position. Which leads to two other slight problems. My original thought was just to wait until the semester was over, but remember, he's a senior. When the semester is over he graduates. The other problem is gauging his interest. I love your series on flirting. It has been an invaluable resource for me. But, again, he's my TA and I don't know how to flirt with him given that we are in lab full of other people and I'm always by my lab partner. The only time I see him is in lab. Plus, he's very shy. Crushes in themselves aren't inappropriate, but acting on them sometimes can be. Is this an example of a crush I shouldn't act on? I am interested in him and would like to get to know him better. And the good news, my darling Sparkler, is that there's nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, I think you already know that the really good news ends there. Because getting to know the guy is one thing; but when you move beyond the getting-to-know-him part, then yeah, you're basically in a perfect storm of bad timing and crappy circumstances. It's not strictly ideal to be romantically involved with someone who's in a position of power over you, and TAs aren't strictly supposed to date students in the classes they teach for precisely that reason. On the other hand—and this is neither good news nor bad news, but simply the reality of how things work—the rules and regulations surrounding TA-student relationships have never exactly been much of a deterrent to people who want to pursue them. TAs and teachees have always hooked up, irrespective of whether they're allowed to or not. And when the people involved in said hookups are all consenting adults, and particularly consenting adults of roughly the same age, is it really the place of some academic administrator (or some internet agony aunt, for that matter) to shake a finger at them and tell them not to? No, really: I'm asking you. Not that I don't have my own ideas about how I'd answer that question, personally, but my answer isn't the point. The question is, do you feel comfortable pursuing a guy under these particular circumstances, or does it strike you as problematic? Are you confident and mature enough to hold your own in a relationship with someone who may be evaluating and grading your work? And can you handle yourself with grace and decency if things go badly — if, for instance, you hooked up, and then broke up, and still had to see him in class every day? Obviously, the success of a potential relationship also hinges on your TA's answers to these questions. Even if you're down with all of this, he might not be (and it's worth noting that if things go badly, he's the one who stands to get in trouble for getting involved with you—which means that he might be understandably less keen on flouting the rules.) But if you think you can deal maturely with the various intricacies and potential outcomes of a relationship/hookup/flirtation/whatever, then there's no reason why you shouldn't give him the opportunity to return your interest and attention… or decline it, as the case may be. And as for how to do that, off the top of my head, you co[...]

QUIZ: How Dateable Would You Be in the 15th Century?

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 11:00:17 -0500

You’d think people wouldn’t be too concerned with dateability when they’re dealing with things like the Hundred Years’ War, but that didn’t stop the men and women of the 1400s from putting on their best sweeping gowns or belted doublets and hitting up the country fair. Needless to say, attractiveness and general dateability were pretty different back in those days. How dateable would you likely be in the 15th century? [viralQuiz id=418]

QUIZ: What Are Your Dreams Trying To Tell You?

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 10:00:16 -0500

Some people dream about unicorns and being able to fly; other people dream about regular, non-magical horses beating them up for their lunch money, and being completely unable to fly at all, cursed to just walk around like a normal person.  TLDR, your dreams about toothlessness probably mean something deeper (unless your teeth are actually falling out irl, in which case you should stop consulting SparkNotes and find a dentist).

If Literature's Biggest Romantics Could Text

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 10:00:00 -0500

There is no one in the history of the world who is GOOD at texting. I myself have sent thousands of texts over the course of my life, and all of them were a mistake. Mostly it’s just people saying “Hey, are you busy?” and me texting back “Sorry, I just saw this!” three years later. (I didn’t want to seem overeager. You understand.) And when you throw flirting and crushes into the mix? Forget about it. Now, if there was anyone who could possibly pull this off, you’d think it would fictional romantics. You know—those paragons of charm and perfection designed to make real-life men look like human-shaped garbage in a half-zipped pullover. Realistically, however, literature’s most prolific romantic heroes would likely be texting catastrophes. For example…

Open Thread for January 15!

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 09:00:14 -0500

Auntie SparkNotes: I Hate Talking About My Problems

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 14:32:30 -0500

Hey Auntie! I want to preface this by saying that I'm not generally unhappy. I don't feel tragically misunderstood, and my issues are typically pretty standard. I'm just a little concerned about a... thing. Thing being: I hate talking to people about my personal woes. It doesn't feel like a trust issue or a communication issue. Talking just doesn't help me process all. It's confusing because everyone says you shouldn't bottle up your feelings, that you should share your problems with others and get support when you need it. But even when I need support, I try not to discuss it with my friends and family. I've had some poor experiences with friends who marginalized my fears and made it feel like a chore to talk to me, and they kind of killed the whole concept for me. Bottling things up has been my go-to option for years now. I've got other outlets—I write and draw, for instance, but there's no catharsis in talking for me. Just this gloomy kind of... regret. I feel sort of sick if I complain about my lot in life to my friends. I feel like I'm letting myself down, somehow. (Which is stupid, I know.) I figure, no one piece of emotional advice fits everyone, right? Maybe I'm the exception to the rule? Still, I'm worried I'm just making an excuse here, that I've created this problem just so I can have something to complain about. Or what if I'm just convincing myself I don't need support so that I can feel more independent? Like I said, I'm just concerned. I don't want this to metastasize into something that puts me into an asylum later on. Well, allow me to assure you on that front, Sparkler: as a society, we don't institutionalize people just for being silent stoics who don't wanna talk about their problems. In fact, that kind of attitude might even buy you a free pass or two to do actually crazy things and get away with it! Clint Eastwood, for instance, once argued with an empty chair on national television for ten full minutes, and he's still out there! Walking around, glaring at things, making millions of dollars to make movies, etc. All of which is to say, this could be a totally workable approach to life for you. That is, if it were an approach that served you, and didn't get in the way of your emotional health. But that's where we run into an issue: if you're not gonna be honest about your feelings with others, it's all the more important that you be honest about 'em with yourself. Which is why Auntie SparkNotes is giving the hairiest of hairy eyeballs to the part of your letter where you're all, "This isn't a trust issue!" which is followed almost immediately by the part where it is so totally obviously a trust issue: "But even when I need support, I try not to discuss it with my friends and family. I've had some poor experiences with friends who marginalized my fears and made it feel like a chore to talk to me, and they kind of killed the whole concept for me." Yeeeeah. In short, there's a difference between not being inclined to share because you're just not much of a sharer, and actively bottling up your feelings because you don't trust people to treat them respectfully—or for that matter, getting so defensive about the bottling-up that you twist it into a point of perverse pride. ("I don't need to talk about my feelings! In fact, talking about my feelings MAKES ME SICK!") The former is a totally valid and healthy way to exist in the world; the latter is a form of self-delusion that'll come back to bite you in myriad unpleasant ways. And since your letter contains a mix of both sentiments, it's going to be up to you to figure out where your self-knowledge ends and your insecurities begin. That said, if you really, truly don't feel the need or desire to tell your friends when you're going through a hard time, that's fine.[...]