When I was a wee one, I belonged to a sticker club. It was this wonderfully 90s thing; it was this network of other wee ones, and we would mail each other stickers. It was like pen pals, but a thousand times better, because I care more about Lisa Frank-licensed decals than your time at summer camp. No words. Just stickers.
I got the coolest stickers: glittery ones, Toy Story ones, animal ones. But kindergarten-age G had a big issue: where was she to put these stickers? I could put them on the back of my hand, yes, but then they’d be discarded at bath time. I could put them on my shirt, but then they’d collect the fuzz of my sweater and have an ugly, furry perimeter. I didn’t want to just casually stick them on a sheet of paper because, hello, what kind of place is that for a sparkly ladybug sticker?
Little G didn’t have any place to put her stickers. Now,
Big Older G does. I have a fancy (read: expensive) laptop that isn’t going anywhere, and a Nalgene that would be my sidekick if I were a superhero. They’re always with me, which means my stickers get the special place of honor that they deserve, not the transient moment of fame on my forehead.
While my childhood stickers oozed inherent coolness, they didn’t mean a whole lot. Yeah, my rainbow Lisa Frank dolphin perfectly labeled me as a 6-year-old girl, but what else? Now, the stickers that I put on my gear mean something. They’re identifiers. People can glance up from their place in Brody cafe and rest their eyes on my stickers and figure out what kind of person I am. I wish the Lisa Frank dolphin could say so much about me, but it doesn’t.
And this isn’t unique to me; a ton of Hopkins students choose to slap different kinds of stickers—of identifiers—onto their stuff. It’s a way of broadcasting yourself to your peers. I’m suspicious of people who don’t slather their stuff with stickers. Do you even exist? Are you just some walking robot? All I know about you is that you have the self-control necessary not to vandalize your $1000 macbook.
Here’s what my stickers say about me.
On my Laptop
Note the stunning juxtaposition between pink-loving sorority girl and print-making, tattooed Baltimore girl.
Maryland crab It’s the most recognizable Maryland iconography, a crab and the flag pattern, mashed together. Every person who has ever said “I’m from the 410” has this bumper sticker. I’m no exception. | Saints and Sinners Tattoo I endured 30 minutes of pain and all I got was this lousy decal. | More Print I snagged this at Artscape from a local company, Baltimore Print Studios. I like print (debating working for a stationery company post-grad?! Stay tuned for more of JHU_Genevieve’s pipe dreams), and I love a good Bmore pun. | Boh So, if we’re being technical here, this is an alcohol reference. But it’s so much more than that. National Bohemian, or Natty Boh as you must call it, is Baltimore’s beer. That little Pringles-looking dude is Mr. Boh, and he’s basically Baltimore’s mascot. You’ll see people—including children—wearing gear with him on it. | JHU I hope this is self-explanatory? I think that admissions includes these in admit packets! | Alpha Phi 1 & 2 Gotta rep my sorority. I designed the one on the left.
Okay, this is the most terrifying picture ever taken. I tried to take a panorama, but I was too lazy to walk around my bottle, so I just turned it, hence my crazy-creepy finger. For this, I’ll be excluding the stickers that are already on my laptop.
Flying Dog Here I go with that Maryland flag again. Flying Dog is a Maryland brewery, and they make really cool Baltimore-oriented stuff with Old Bay and oysters. A promoter gave me this sticker at a ski lodge last winter. | Balt It’s kind of hard to see, but BALT is written on the silhouette of a rat. I love that recently Baltimore has really embraced its super blue collar roots, and the rat has become an unofficial symbol of the city in a very John Waters-y way. Yes, we have rats. They’re kind of cute. | I’d Tap That A student group on campus gave me this. Boo to disposable water bottles! | Yik Yak mascot: I called out Yik Yak’s Twitter twice on the fact that they misspelled our school’s name (John Hopkins University?? Johns Hopkins COLLEGE?), so they sent me a box of some merchandise. This was included, and I carry it as a subtle reminder that I am a crusader in defense of the S. | ME Sadly, this is not a self-promoting sticker. I traveled to Maine last summer, and bought this because I’m a tourist. | Gilman Not sure where I got this? But my favorite building on campus deserves its own special spot on my precious Nalgene. | Round sticker that you really can’t see very well This was given out for Commemoration Day, and it’s another graphic rendition of Gilman! | Sliver of blue that has been overtaken by other stickers So it used to be a skull and cross bones and a little tagline of “Get good or die trying.” I got it at a lacrosse tournament, where people aren’t scared of stickers with macabre sayings.
This is what I present to the world as I sit in the library. They can watch me study and figure out that I’m a Maryland-bred Alpha Phi who’s into Hopkins, tattoos, and local companies. That’s all people really need to know, anyway.