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Rats! Episode 96 – If I could turn back time


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Ah yes, the joys of looking ahead to next year. Things always look better when they’re still a year away, but the here and now never satisfies. And then suddenly that year passes and you’re exactly where you wanted to be and you wish you could go back.

I can’t tell you how many nights I dream of going back to Blacksburg, of being a student again, living in the cadet dorms or a tiny little apartment (I had the nicest little apartment when I was a grad student at Radford!). A lot of times though, those dreams are nightmares. I’m lost on campus and can’t figure out how to get to my next class. A lot of times I don’t even know what my next class is. Or I’m stuck in the drop-add line the first day of the semester and I can’t get anyone to help me fix my class schedule, which is bad because someone signed me up for 6 hours of calculus and I’m majoring in communications! Communications majors don’t DO math, people!

And then there are the nightmares where I’m wandering around on campus in civilian clothes and I know that’s wrong and I’ve simply got to get back to the dorm and change into my uniform, only I never got my uniforms and I’m going to be in so much trouble when my cadet first sergeant finds out about that—

I’m trying to recall right now if I ever had any pleasant dreams about being a cadet at Virginia Tech. The short answer to that is “no.” The long answer is “hell no.” I’m much happier where I am, here and now, I think.

Rats! Episode 95 – What is this thing you call “Break?”


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Does this still happen? Do professors still assign projects and papers that are due the day after you get back from Spring Break? I remember that made my life pretty miserable at times. I could never figure out why they did that. Even when I worked in the corporate world, I never had anybody hand me an assignment right before a major holiday with a deadline that occurred the day after said holiday was over.

By the way, as of yesterday, the Hubster and I have been married 19 years. We met at Virginia Tech during our junior year, and it’s been “Wuv, twue wuv” ever since.

Rats! Episode 94 – The Ties that Bind


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Ah, traditions! Such wonderful ways to mark the passage of time, especially in such esteemed institutions as the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets! I personally never cut off anyone’s tie. I simply didn’t have the muscle-power necessary to wrestle a senior student twice my size to the floor so I could take a pair of scissors to his neck. In hindsight, I’m glad I never tried it. The end results could have been… messy.

This particular cartoon was drawn in March 1991, and so it would have marked my final winter formatin with the VTCC. I don’t recall being wrestled to the floor and having my tie cut off either, so maybe I got a lot bigger between my days as a rat and my days as a senior cadet. Or maybe I just got too weird to be messed with.

Rats! Episode 93 – Alley-OOPS!


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Again, I must re-iterate, I had the world’s shortest roommate my senior year at Viriginia Tech.

Sorry I missed last week’s Rats! post. I came back from Balticon and immediately got sucked into end-of-year activities for Girl Scouts and the kids’ school. We had no less than 3 Girl Scout events, a field day, two class parties, and Pixie’s birthday all in the course of ten days. On Saturday, we’ll be at Girl Scouts Rock the Mall and then we celebrate the Hubster’s birthday. School ended yesterday for the kids, and now everything around here is kind of topsy-turvey as I try to get on some sort of workable schedule with two screaming children around.

Oh yeah, did I mention I’m going to be the troop leader for Princess’ Girl Scout troop next year? Because cookie mom simply wasn’t enough…

So my schedule is a bit off this week and promises to be a bit off next week. I’m at my desk right now trying to write up as many blog posts as I can in advance. Next Monday’s Adventures of Cynical Woman webcomic will be late, as I cannot start on that before Friday due to all that’s going on. But I will get that up as soon as I can. And if any other blog posts go up, you know I at least got something done today beyond laundry and screaming at the kids.

Rats! Episode 92 – Setting the Bar


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My roommate during my senior year at Tech was one of the shortest people I ever knew. She was just barely tall enough to get into the military, and she had to tackle all kinds of obstacles caused by her lack of stature (mainly a lot of short jokes made by her snarky, wise-ass roommate). Today, my former roommate is a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force. And I’m still teasing her about her height  Some things never change.

Rats! Episode 91 – Graduating, or Not


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Around about the end of my sophomore year or the start of my junior year, the Army ROTC program came up with something called “Professional Military Educational Requirements,” or something like that. The acronym was PME, the reaction was, “Oh f—-!”  The PME was a list of courses the Army had decided all ROTC cadets needed to take, and it included many classes that were not part of some people’s majors.  For instance, I majored in broadcast journalism, but ended up having to take courses in politcal science and military history, plus an additional English course, to fulfill these new requirements to get my commission.  Many of my fellow Army ROTC cadets ended up going from the 4–year program to the 5 or 6–year program because so many of the PME did not fall within their degree field and they had already completed 2 years of college not knowing they’d need to take these classes.  It kind of sucked.

However, looking back I can understand the need for the extra classes I was required to take. I was going into the Army, after all. Military history might not have been related to my degree, but it was certainly related to my plans to join the Army. It just would have been nice if they could have informed my classmates and I about this before we’d already spent two years taking classes.

Rats! Episode 90 – More Weather


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Sorry for not posting these the last couple weeks. Once again, real life sort of eats up all my free time.

I must have been obsessed with the weather back in February of 1991. This comic and the one prior both dealt with the inadequacy of the cadet uniforms and the fickleness of the weather in Blacksburg. Of course, the weather where I’m at now is just as fickle. It’s freezing one day, sweltering hot the next. But I no longer have to wear a cadet uniform, so it’s not as bad.

Rats! Episode 89 – Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful


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And we’re back from camping with the Girl Scouts! I gotta tell ya, today’s comic is a pretty accurate reflection of the camping trip I went on this weekend, only in reverse. We were freezing our butts off in our tents Friday night, and then sweltering and swatting away the mosquitoes on Saturday night. The turn-around in temperature definitely reminded me of dear old Blacksburg.

The fun thing about the weather in Blacksburg was that is was always awful. At least it was if you had to wear a uniform that was 50% wool, 50% polyester. When it was cold, the thin fabric of the uniform did damned little to protect you from the freezing wind. When it was hot, the wool made you sweat like a pig. And when it rained, you smelled like a wet sheep. Yes, the weather was always awful when I was a cadet.

But today it’s very warm and balmy and I’ve been traipsing around in my favorite floor length skirt and my favorite t-shirt (the one with the time machine, the mummy, and the killer robot). It’s nice. And because it’s Virginia, it won’t last. I expect summer to arrive in the next five minutes. Therefore I’m headed out of the office now to go find some popsicles. Enjoy today’s webcomic.

Rats! Episode 88 – Rank Hath Its Privileges


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When I was a cadet, it used to be that only a couple of seniors had to show up to formation at any given time –  usually whoever was selected to run the company during formation that and anyone else awake and hungry enough to bother marching over the Shultz dining hall.  But that changed my senior year.

My senior year, EVERY cadet had to show up to formation unless they had a good excuse (a signed good excuse) not to (see last week’s Rats! for more on that topic).  Seniors, however, now had the privilege of leaving their ties untucked from their shirts. Why the heck that even mattered to anyone is beyond me.

I should point out when this particular comic strip was drawn, a second student newspaper started up at Virginia Tech, and yours truly was invited to submit Rats! for publication there. I got a phone from the editor and everything, and let me tell you, I was thrilled at the chance to publish in TWO newspapers.  The strip above was the one and only strip I sent them, however, because they never printed it and when I stopped by their offices to ask them what had happened, I got told that Rats! was not wanted for their paper after all.

I don’t recall the name of that newspaper, and I don’t know if they’re even still around.  If they aren’t, then all I can say is, “GOOD! You didn’t deserve to survive after turning down my masterpiece!”

Not that I’m bitter.