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What’s Hiding in Plain Sight at the Debby Ellis Writing Center

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What’s Hiding in Plain Sight at the Debby Ellis Writing Center


The next time you’re panicking about your paper due in two hours, sitting in front of your consultant who is trying to figure out how to best split up your five-line-long run-on sentence, take a look around!

Disclaimer: I work as a writing consultant at the Debby Ellis Writing Center, meaning I have stared around the room in many 15-minute increments between appointments.

Many students have used the writing center at one point or another, whether their FYS professor required it, they had a paper due VERY SOON, or they were simply being a responsible, proactive student. During your appointment, you’re usually too busy highlighting wacky sentences in a google doc to notice the unique and strange decorations strewn about the dim room. As a person who spends a considerable amount of time in the writing center, I want to share my favorite odd accouterments with the people who don’t have the time to appreciate them as deeply as I do.

Fidget Toys

When your anxiety has infiltrated every pore of your body and is overflowing through your hands, you might reach for one of the many fidget toys strewn around the room. Obviously, you already own the painfully mainstream fidget spinners and your basic spherical stress balls (yawn!), but the Writing Center also  has an impressive collection of quirky, kneadable figures. My favorites include this single-clawed lobster, and this very, very uncomfortable man. However stressed you are, take comfort in the fact that he is feeling even worse.

Photo by Danielle Ferebee
Photo by Danielle Ferebee

Food Book Covers

As you stare into space, trying to figure out what you meant when you wrote “ideology” in that sentence, your eyes might catch on an illustrated, food-related book cover by an author you read in high school. There are many of these framed and dispersed around the room, some more hidden than others. Before you feel dumb for not recognizing their titles, know that these are fictional! (I had to look it up to be sure). Feast your eyes on these illustrations—they could be good food for thought during your appointment.

Actual Book Covers

A pulse of legitimate literary energy might pull your eyes to the door in the corner. Here lie the corpses of such classics as Fantasy by Emma Darcy (not the actor), and Canyon O’Grady: Assassin’s Trail by Jon Sharpe. These are the real organs (covers and spines) of desiccated books displayed for your pleasure. Perhaps, if you stare hard enough, you can absorb their scholarly essence and imbue it into your next topic sentence.

Photo by Danielle Ferebee



AP Whiskers

When you just can’t stand your screen or your paper or your thoughts or the fact that you are in college writing a paper and not four years old taking a nap after snack time, look for my patron saint, AP Whiskers. AP Whiskers is the writing center mascot, and also comprises its logo. He graces the walls in vintage y2k DEWC posters that show off his many hobbies (acting, writing, investigating). Whiskers is even graffitied on the special writing center combination timer/whiteboards. As much as I love AP Whiskers, I only know the face he shows to the public. Though he has made consistent appearances throughout the DEWC history, current DEWC staff doesn’t know his origins. As you leave the writing center, hopefully feeling better about your paper than when you came in, you can imagine the storied history of AP Whiskers and his many talents. Or you could simply appreciate how cute he is then move on with your life.

I’m so glad I could share these niche observations with you, and I hope you take a closer look at the silly things that surround you!

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