Everything you need to know

Dear Joe,

I don’t consider myself a neat freak, but in my tiny dorm room, I find cleanliness to be the best way to maximize living space. My slob of a roommate thinks otherwise. Papers, clothes, and even food are littered on the floor, and his wave of filth has already crossed into my side of the room. I try telling him to pick his trash up, but it’s like talking to a wall. A filth-crusted wall. Help me before I’m engulfed by squalor.

—Trashed in ’Schlag

Dear Trashed,

Here’s the dirt. As dorm partners, you and your roommate are both entitled to certain rights. Basically, you don’t have to take his trash. While ideally a dorm room should be run as one country, sometimes secession is the only choice. Maybe you remember that episode of The Brady Bunch where Bobby and Peter separate their bedroom with a demarcation line. If all peace talks have failed, and you’d rather not move out, consider the line for yourself. That way, the filth ends on his side of the room. If any of his trash finds its way to your territory, you have the right to shove it right back. Sure, exercise care not to break anything, but don’t be afraid to show that you know the lines.

The line is a quick fix, and always guarantees at least half of the room to be clean. However, it’s very impersonal, and sticks out like a sore thumb to anyone mindless enough to visit your war zone. I’m guessing you are a freshman, and you can imagine how some students aren’t adjusted yet to doing their share of dorm room duties. Just keep reminding your slob to be more considerate, and eventually, the problem might just go away by itself.

One last thing: Filth is one thing, but bad smells are another. If your roommate’s trash is making odor, find a new roommate. No one deserves to smell like garbage.

Keep it clean,

Dear Joe,

I am having my 21st birthday this Wednesday. As it turns out, I also have an exam in my hardest class that’s worth a third of my grade the next day. This is so unfair. Does this mean I have to skip the most important birthday of my life just because of an exam?

—Drink or Derive

Dear Drink (or Derive),

You fell on some pretty tough luck. It’s a shame that in this great country the birthday isn’t given equal weight as other holidays. People should consider the birthday a personal holiday, with the same benefits as Christmas or Secretary’s Day: no work. But as it stands, we live in a cruel world that makes students attend class even on the hallowed 21st birthday. In the long run, grades matter more, so stay away from the bottle the night before the test.

Consider this alternative instead. You’re at Carnegie Mellon taking a test, so you’re probably going to bomb it. Plan a post-exam “drown your sorrows” event with those who are dear to you. That way, you can use your 21st as an effective tool to fight against post-exam depression. Just remember to have fun, but watch yourself. The last test you want to take is the BAC test.

Happy birthday,