Every once in a while I suck at writing. It usually happens around the 9th or 10th of the month when I actually try to write something (ahem, this). Four hours later I’m sitting in a muddle of words, few of which relate to one another, realizing I have way more emotions about way more issues than I thought I did, and—who knew—a blog post can’t begin to address half of them.

So, this is a post about coping with my own ineptitude and frustration. This is a post about Baby Groot.

When I say I’m not a materialistic person, I mean I’m like a Tolkien dragon. Pay day is a great day. Money in the bank account feels good. But what feels really good to me is taking a nap while I save that money. Or eating cookies. I live for simple pleasures. Mostly food. And books. And plane flights. Outside of that, I don’t buy a lot. So when I do buy a thing or receive a thing, it’s a big deal.

This is a post about those things. This is a post about Baby Groot.

And my parking pass. For the last year and a half I’ve been parking a half a kilometer away from my building and walking to work, because I work at Purdue University and their parking is the worst. My previous C-parking pass was $100, available to just about anyone affiliated with Purdue and willing/able to pay for it. But now working three-quarters time, I am eligible for a $250 A-parking pass. The A-garage is about 20 steps from my building.

Let’s be clear, I can buy many books and many more cookies with $250. So when I shelled it out, my tummy ached with the loss of thousands of cookies I was hypothetically never going to eat. Since then I have fallen quite in love with my parking pass. It has saved me so much time and so many frozen fingers. And I have eaten the cookies anyway.

But this was supposed to be a post about Baby Groot.

Baby Groot appeared in my hands last week from a Malaysian student of mine who had to drop my class. Let’s back up. Last week was horrible. I made mistakes, offended a student, got called in for the talk with my course director (who was very nice, all things considering). I was kind of a wreck, and I didn’t even want to meet with my Malaysian student—he hadn’t even turned in his first major assignment! Moreover, I had self-pity to attend to.

But he showed up in my office just to apologize for having to drop my class. I can’t share his reasons with you, but they were better than the average student who hasn’t turned in an assignment. By a lot. And then he said,

“I have a present for you.”

Graduate assistants are not allowed to accept presents from students—because of bias and every other reason you’re thinking of right now. I once had a student give me chocolate for Christmas, and I accidentally accepted and ate it and worried for weeks the Purdue police were going to find me and expel me. So, I panicked a little when my student reached into his adorable backpack with kitties on it.

“I was waiting to give it to you until the end of the semester—to avoid grading bias, of course. But since I have to drop the class . . .”

Baby Groot.

I have mentioned maybe once my passion for all things Guardians of the Galaxy in class. Once. (Also I might have made one quiz question “True or False: I am Groot.”) And the sweet parting gift I received from my student was a Dancing Baby Groot Bobble Head. When he left I put my head on my desk and cried with bemused gratitude that people like my student exist and that they buy Baby Groots for people like me.

This has been a post about things that are true and noble and right, pure and lovely, excellent and praiseworthy. A post about Baby Groot.


  1. Paul

    I also feel like I suck at writing. Usually right around when I have to write an article for this blog. Or any time I try to write ahead of time of posting for this blog. Fuuuuuck, I suck at writing.

    • Elaine Schnabel


  2. Jojo

    I liked how you used “half a kilometer away”. Metric system y’all (that’s right, that’s my takeaway from this post)


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