There are two things I will keep with me forever upon my graduation from the University of Michigan, along with my degree in one hand and a pile of debt in another. One of them is my M-Planner, and the other is my poster collection.

When I was younger, I could never understand how obsessed my parents would get with remodeling their perfectly fine kitchen or redecorating their garden with even more useless masses of brick and mulch. But standing in my one-bedroom apartment with the smelly sink and the window that only opens a crack, I feel so much homeowner’s pride I could burst.

Above the couch, there’s my “America’s Next Top Model” shrine and some weird pages I ripped from Nylon that say “The revolution will be televised.” On top of the couch, a miniature Charlie Brown-esque evergreen tree that my roommate bought from Meijer last Christmas. And then there are the pictures of Woody Allen scattered around every corner; the posters of “Trainspotting,” “Lolita,” “Away We Go,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Gosford Park” framing my bed; the photograph of a tight-shirted Michael Vartan winking cheekily at my roommate and me whenever we go to brush our teeth.

And though I am not usually one to dispense advice, I believe that, in the spirit of the nation, we should encourage the public to partake in a little Martha Stewart. And so, some not-very-helpful tips on apartment/dorm decorating:

Themes are always good.

The theme of my apartment is “I do not like white walls so I am just going to cover every inch of it with pictures that I like,” but you can adopt any theme of your own. If you like “Transformers,” you can print out pictures of Michael Bay and then create impossibly loud explosions whenever people come in. If you like food, you can bake a lot of cookies and set your tantalizing treats out on your tables to double as room décor. And then invite me over.

Be inventive.

I know that’s like the most generic advice ever, but if you have any out-there idea clawing away at your brain, liberate it. The most ingenious invention of my short life is my CVS photos. I save random pictures of stuff I like on the internet (usually of Woody Allen), and then go to CVS to buy 4×6 glossy prints of them. Each print costs like six cents, and they often give free prints away anyway.

Be cheap.

Because your room is only a temporary haven for all your academic and social troubles, don’t buy original Picasso paintings and frame them on your walls. Actually, don’t even buy frames. The student poster sale at the Union is always a good resource for cool prints, but why not be even cheaper? Blockposters.com blows up your favorite images from the internet and prints them into a PDF file for your cutting and taping pleasure. All it really takes is a printer and a pair of scissors.

Poster putty sucks.

When I first moved into my apartment, my roommate and I decided that, in order to be all environmentally conscious or whatever, we would purchase some blue poster putty for sticking up our 203,948 pictures, instead of resorting to tree-killing rolls of tape. Cue to two weeks of catching fallen posters at all times of the day, from 2 a.m. to dinnertime. In one of the best days of my life, I accidentally set the fire alarm off while cooking (this happens at least once a day, no lie) and the high-frequency vibrations of the alarm managed to knock down three of my poster-puttied posters nearby. Once again, poster putty sucks.

Ugly lamps are OK

When buying lamps, it’s better to value function over style. Right now I’m staring at this beautiful five-color floor lamp held up with a shaky metal stick and I am deathly afraid it’s going to fall on my head. If you’re going to invest in at least one ugly piece of crap, please make it your lamp. Plus, you can cover its hideousness by doubling it as a coat hanger, and believe me, in your 8.5×8.5 postage-stamp dorm room, you’ll want anything that will keep you from falling face-forward on top of your clothes as you waddle your way across the bedroom floor.

Indulge on lasting items

I bought this $100 shaggy blue chair from Dry Ice a million years back on a total whim. Years later, people started sitting in it so much that it started smelling a little funny. All in all, a good and honorable investment. Other things I have: a paper lantern from some Chinese store in New York, a photo mobile hanger from Middle Earth and a canvas picture of three feathers from Urban Outfitters.

The point is, no matter what the method, be decorative, and be self-expressive when you’re doing it. At the risk of sounding too anti-hipster, I think that it’s healthy to get attached to the new possessions that we have once in a while. After all, we’re students, and we don’t own many things in our lives other than the clothes on our backs and the computers you’re reading this column on. Follow my advice, and sooner or later you’ll be known in your hall as “that crazy person that is always standing on chairs taping things.” It’s a good feeling.

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