What They Don’t Tell You At College Orientation

A lot can happen in a year. Last year around this time I was going through college orientation—sitting through seminar after seminar held by adults trying to give me the information needed to navigate a whole new environment. Aside from the crushing awkwardness thousands of freshmen can produce in a single space, orientation felt more like a bullpen as we all were anxiously kicking to be let out of the gates and go experience the newness in front of us.

In the stressed seminars pertaining safety, words and phrases like “travel in groups,” “watch your drink,” “remember the blue light system,” were repeated constantly by adults as well as student ‘actors’ performing Oscar worthy renditions of party scenes.

However none of these issues were of immediate concern to me. I figured most of the advice they gave me was common knowledge and I was mature enough to handle any situation.

Yet the one pressing issue I didn’t understand was that the next six weeks of my life were going to put me in danger. Referred to as the “red zone,” education experts say that these six weeks are when students are most apt to experience alcohol and sexual abuses whether personally or as a witness. Reading this statement a year ago would have mindlessly washed over me like any of the seminar points I mention before.   I had taken AlcoholEdu and gone to the seminars what more could I possibly do?

The answer is nothing.  I just had to go see for myself.

My point is not to say that you’re going to be in extreme danger BEWARE! My point—that I hope my peers can understand—is let’s acknowledge where we are and what we are doing.

My first six weeks of college were indeed difficult and led me into a monster of year where I learned a lot about myself. My life didn’t suddenly turn into a drama where I was wailing and flailing all over the place. But there were hardships I endured that dissatisfyingly matched up with the seminars I once sat through.  They didn’t tell me during orientation that they were telling the truth.

Being fresh off my freshman year, I hope those beginning college in a couple weeks can take my word.   The seminars and lectures your school provides for you on safety issues like sexual assault aren’t because it’s mandatory, it’s because it happens. And it’s happening now to a point of recent government intervention.

President Obama addressed the nation with the statistic one in five women are sexually assaulted in college. While having our president acknowledge this is immensely powerful, what’s more so is that we (the people living it) acknowledge it too.

Young adults such as myself are famously known for being the ones to protest issues. With our hungry hearts and gusto we are very capable of throwing ourselves into any fight. While it’s admirable to protest issues like marriage equality, healthcare reform and even foreign wars, why don’t we protest the epidemic we started?

One in five means something to me, does it mean something to you?

 

 

 

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It’s not you, it’s me…and here’s why

Though it’s a pleasing even number, turning twenty this year has forced me to evaluate the milestones I’ve had and not had in my life.  First kiss (check), holding hands (check), asked to a dance (check), going on a date (check), having a boyfriend (nope).

Having never been asked to be someone’s girlfriend after twenty years of viable life, though a shame in societal terms, really doesn’t shock me.  I sleep well at night, maintain a normal self esteem for a young woman of my standing and continue to follow the @mancandy account on Twitter.

In 9th grade I rounded the steep steep hill of my awkward phase (that lasted 8-10 years) just as high school begun.  No longer did baby fat or phat (if we are being fabulous) riddle my prepubescent frame, my tug-of-war with braces came to a predictable end and contacts were added to my morning routine.  Reminiscing in a extraordinary way, I like to think as though I was that awkward girl in the movies who lets her hair down and takes off her glasses just as the star quarterback passes her in the hall and does a double take.  But in reality I just looked less like a middle schooler which can be considered a hollywood triumph in many situations.

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Middle school glory…

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Freshmen Homecoming…baby steps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things seemed to be looking up.  My confidence grew as I saw myself as beautiful and boys started to notice me.  I had a boy come over to watch a movie for the first time, went on my first date and went to all the dances that year–but still no boyfriends.

This continued on for the rest of my high school career–dulling in my upperclassmen years as it does for many girls due to the arrival of sparkly new underclassmen.  Around the time of my senior prom, I realized starkly that a lot of my peers were in serious relationships and this became even more evident in college.

Many females swoon at the idea of “high school sweethearts” or in my now current position the “Miami Merger,” but those kind of love stories don’t attract me for some reason.

Take for example one unfortunate encounter I had last fall.  After class about six of us decided to grab lunch together–huddling up in that awkward pack mentality most freshmen exercise.  We were talking about the series finale of HIMYM and I divulged myself entirely in the situation.  Plot lines, characters, the yellow umbrella all had me talking and unaware as to what was to come.

As I got up to throw away my trash and head to my next class one of the guys from the table came with me.  Smiling and still talking about the show, we proceeded away from the herd into open territory.  Just as casually as I talked about Ted and Robin’s relationship, he asked me if I was free Friday night for a date.

It felt like I had swallowed a coal sized lump of pop rocks as I tried to digest the situation. I panicked and told him my sister was coming to visit (which was 100% true) and said I’d see him later.

*Face palm* “Expletive, expletive, expletive.”

I scurried to the nearest bathroom, took off my backpack and began to pace.  I had been oblivious to his feelings toward me up until that moment and felt terrible. The air vents pushed cool air that stuck to my neck and back where I had sweat due to sheer terror.

I later had confirmation from mutual friends that he had liked me and I just felt queasy about the whole situation.  I avoided being last out of class or first in and I wanted to borrow Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak every Monday and Wednesday at 10:20.

Therefore as I reach my twentieth year of life, the notion that I’ve never had a boyfriend really doesn’t bother me or surprise me.

I am mature enough to ride the megabus alone, go to the world’s most impoverished country, walk into police departments and ask for records, interview strangers and even deal with hallmates passed out in their own puke at 3 am, but my maturity has yet to conquer the male species.

Being 20 in many ways makes me feel old, but in even more ways it’s just the beginning.  I am more than okay with the idea that I will not marry a “highschool sweetheart” or even be a “miami merger.”  Taking on the responsibility of another’s emotions is a perceivably more daunting task for me than it is for others and I don’t see that as a bad thing.

So here I am, single since birth and perfectly happy.  Blame it on boys, society’s standards of love or even my own hesitations–either way I am at peace with the events that have and have not transpired in my life.

But as a courtesy, I’d ask that in ten years if I still am perpetually single someone please set me up…

 

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Adult or Kid-Adult?

Think back to the days when you had a babysitter.  To any who have been babysat there is an inexplicable twilight zone of understanding the age of your babysitter.  Sometimes a clearly older person like a grandparent watched you and other times it was the neighbor kid.  But either way this person that your parent trusted to sub in as an authority figure for you had at least a dozen years on you, right?

The other day I had the pleasure of hanging out with a four year old friend who reminded me somewhat of myself back in the day–short brown hair, rubber sandals, little glasses and all.  While eating fudgesicles and enjoying the summer air that hung in the twilight above the July lightning bugs, she asked me a very simple and logical question:

“Are you an adult or a kid-adult?”

Just as I was savoring the melting fudgsicle dancing on my tongue, I couldn’t help but savor her honesty in asking me this.  Understanding that the person I am to her equates to the people who I view as adults made me think two things:

1. I’m old.

2. Wait, no no no, I’m a kid-adult okay…kid-adult!  The only adult like things about me are my outward appearance and ability to drive a car.

Our discussion ensued and I tried to regain my dignity and relative coolness with her by explaining I was 19 which meant I’m still a teenager.  Teenagers are young and cool.

Much to my relief, however, my friend told me that you only become an adult at 71 so I was in the clear.

Boil this story down and you can either laugh thinking her question was naive or analyze your own standings in the adult versus kid-adult arena.  But let me warn you, if you respond to this in a “kid’s say the darndest things” fashion then you are most definitely an adult.

All I can say for myself, though, is that I always enjoy fudgesicles and good conversation with a friend.

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Look past the adult physique I’ve acquired and you’ll find this is me. I mean, cheetah never goes out of style.

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You’re Not, Not Going to Get Randy Jackson’s Autograph

Any adult can tell you a time when they were a kid and they felt they were just the absolute “coolest.”  For me, one of my more suave moments of childhood happened on a warm summer evening when I ran the bases at PNC Park.  True to my father’s character, he disregarded the fact that he had all girls and dragged his family to as many Pirate games as possible when we were young because tickets were cheap and you were always guaranteed something free. Despite the t-shirts, cups and floppy hats given out at various games, however, there was one game where the kids were invited to stay after the game and go down to the field.

Various bumbling little ones tottered over the mound and plates; reaching the ultimate level of awesomeness any little “Yinzer” kid can possibly reach.  Before we left I grabbed several blades of grass from the field to take home. I then proceeded to fashion a display carrier for my turf from plastic baggies as soon as I got home.  It was a square inch and hung around my neck for about two weeks with string I found in the craft closet.

The time and effort that I spent in preserving and presenting my treasured blades of grass makes me wonder: why do humans become so intensely attached to physical things?

One of the best-put examples of this comes from the movie “Step Brothers” when Brennan asks Dale if he wants to see something really cool that only three people have ever seen before.   He explains the autograph on his samurai sword is Randy Jackson’s and there is a mutual understanding that there was no other action to take in Brennan scenario.

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While there are various elements of comedy within the bit, perhaps the funniest aspect is that it’s kinda true

Granted maybe Randy Jackson wouldn’t be the celebrity you would ask for an autograph, but we all have at least one person we would want to obtain a physical piece of memorabilia from.

Perhaps it’s because we are fearful creatures that do not want to lose things like our lives, loved ones or even memories that lead us to become so attached to objects.  It’s in our DNA to form attachment to physical objects. Ever wonder why peek-a-boo is such an entertaining concept with babies? Young brains take about two years to develop object permanence—meaning that for the first two years of our lives we didn’t believe in the existence of things we couldn’t see.

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Imagine the scene: a father and baby playing in the kitchen.  The baby, sitting in a high chair while dad holds up a dishtowel to his face. He drops the towel, makes a goofy “ohfph!” noise and the baby cries out in laughter—bobbing up and down, waving its chubby arms in elation.  Then, he covers his face again with the towel and the child is stricken with fear. Its eyes grow even bigger and weary of the idea that the one person it loves unconditionally is gone forever.  Panic.  Then “ohfph!” and relief.

So essentially my point is that if you are a pack rat, blame your parents for playing peek-a-boo one two many times with you as a child.

Aside from this point, however, I think it’s important to say that I have no idea where my blades of PNC Park turf are today.  Over time it got lost and is probably mixed in to a pile of lost socks somewhere.  At first I wanted to preserve this artifact because it represented that one time I was really, really cool.  I mean really cool.  I could materialize that coolness with a physical object and find great satisfaction in being able to prove it happened.

And though I am at peace now with not having my PNC Park turf, I can probably say that if I saw Randy Jackson today I might just ask for his autograph.

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We’ll All Float On Okay

During my brief two-year Girl Scout stint from fourth to fifth grade I saved few memories vividly.  One memory being the camping trip chaperoned by my mother where the tribe encountered water snakes on a nature hike and a deadly nausea-inducing blueberry cobbler.  Another recollection, that I assume most scouts never forget, is being taught the golden song.

“Make new friends, but keep the old ones. One is silver and the other’s gold.”

While this tune represents so much more than the bond all nine-year-old scouts share together, I’ve taken it with me past the evolutionary Brownie to Girl Scout ceremony performed on the Williamsburg Park bridge.

The song’s message is simple: maintain your old friendships while making new ones because every acquaintance you make in life is valuable. Yet, as of today NASDAQ projects the price of sliver as $19,388 and gold as $1,292.

Like the changing value of sliver and gold, do our friendships too have changing value?

Currently I find myself riding the tides of change every late teen to late twenty-something is forced to float upon.  Just as waves pulse up and down and in and back, our lives are inevitably bound to join this same revolution of boundless renewal.  Whether or not you go to college, move away, start a job, or start living in your mother’s basement—time is a constant and there is no way to stop it from pulsing through your life.

There are two ways to look at the change time brings, especially when it comes to friendships:

Idealistically, friendships can last a lifetime due to a bond true friends share.

Realistically: friendships are situational and with each new wave of change you will move on to a new group of friends.

Having just overcome the most changing and challenging year of my life thus far, I’ve come to realize both of these are true.  There are very few friendships in my life that I am fairly certain will be maintained long term.  While there are over a dozen other friendships I’ve made this year that I cannot see outliving my HBO subscription.

Friendship relies so much in situation.  Despite some people’s ability to be humble and selfless, everyone cares about their own lives foremost.  Therefore, friendships are formed when one person shares a common aspect of life with another.  The conversations you have with situational friends aren’t based on listening, they are based in a mutual benefit. Conversation relies in the overarching goal of indulging in one’s own problems through mutual understanding.

While ideally on the other hand, longterm friendships prove different value.  The difference lies in the other person’s genuine concern in understanding one another’s situation.

I can attest to this personally for one of my closest friends now lives a life I cannot relate to on any level.  Yet we maintain our friendship because we both sincerely want to know about each other’s lives, whether or not we can understand them. The value lies in the ability to listen without listening for personal benefit.

It’s easy to find friends to relate to when the situation of your life changes, but it’s so much harder to find a friend who wants to listen. A friend who saw you get made fun of in the second grade during a dodge ball game, a friend who knows about that time your parents weren’t talking, a friend who watched to you cry after not being asked to a high school dance.  These friends are the ones that will be there in every stage of your life, wanting to listen to you whether or not if they truly understand what it is you are saying.

Yet while friendships like these are invaluable, all friendships begin the same way.  It is unrealistic to predict you will have life long friendships, but it is also pessimistic to predict it’s impossible.

Though I would prefer not to attribute any of myself to the Girl Scouts, the golden song does have some merit to it.  The older I get the fewer golden friends I find exist, yet I do not dismiss the value and potential of my sliver friends.

So here we float, over waves of change pulsing persistently beneath our surrendered bodies.  And we’ll all float on okay.

 

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Why did I like Fight Club?

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“Wait, why did I like Fight Club?” I confusedly asked myself after I shut my laptop and the luminously clean LCD light erased itself from the white walls of my dorm room.

      As a female and analytic I feel it’s my responsibility to watch movies like Lord of the Rings, The Matrix and Star Wars in attempts to better understand the male mind.  With that initiative, I found myself watching the 1999 cult classic and oddly enough enjoying it.

My initial thought was that it was just going to be men fighting—a cinematic factor that’s a constant in the equation of masculine appeal.  Yet despite the film’s title, it’s organized in a fashion that when it got to the fighting it all made sense. Plus a shirtless Brad Pitt with freshly frosted tips may have helped…

The film is in fact a great satire on capitalism and consumer culture and the fighting done is done so because it causes the protagonists—desensitized by the middle child syndrome of our generation—to feel something.

However after understanding this, I still ask myself is this why boys like to fight? As to peel away a physical, emotional and spiritual numbness inflicted on them by society?

I ask this only because in my current environment boys will fight each other for reasons like they are in different fraternities, which incites my reaction: “you’re an idiot, stop.”

This preconceived disposition towards fighting is what caused my initial hesitation; I don’t know why boys like to fight.  But boys don’t know why either and obviously not all fights are fought for the same satirical and existential purposes portrayed in the film.

Yet despite the film’s ability to explain the metaphorical reasons for fighting, it also explains the unexplainable aspect when Tyler Durden details the eight rules of Fight Club, the first two being “You do not talk about Fight Club.” Whether this was for crowd control and secrecy reasons or not it explains perfectly the male reasoning for fighting, which is there is none.

There is no talking about Fight Club because the reason people fight is to gain an immediate and unexplainable feeling.  This is could also be why girls like to gossip and have drama because they are looking for an incomprehensible feeling of satisfaction with themselves.

Despite our ability to never fully understand what we want to feel and when, Fight Club showed me that everyone shares the indefinable desire to feel self-satisfaction.

Therefore, my reaction to Fight Club makes perfect sense.  I don’t know why I liked it but can leave it at that because after all it is against the rules to talk about it.

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The F-Word

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It’s not until this year that I ever considered I could be the “F-word.” The word that brings the same amount of cringe worthy discomfort to my body as “He who shall not be named,” “Pitbull,” and “Nick Carraway.” The word that labels women as outspoken, loud mouthed, pant suit-wearing nags.  The word that makes me not want to consider myself a woman who cares about her education, presence, and voice.

When it comes to women’s rights, I never really cared.  They way I saw it all those “F-words” could rub some dirt on their problems and move on.  When it comes to how I personally advocate for women I’ve always seen myself on the other side of the spectrum.

For example, currently I have over three pictures of half naked Beyoncés and this picture of Lana Del Ray decorating my walls.

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Some of my favorite songs have the following lyrics:

“Driver roll up the partition please/I don’t need you seeing ‘yonce on her knees” (Partition by Beyoncé)

“My pussy taste like Pepsi-Cola,/My eyes are wide like cherry pies./I gots a taste for men who’re older/It’s always been, so it’s no surprise” (Cola by Lana Del Ray)

“‘Cause you notice that butt was stuffed deep in the jeans she’s wearing/ I’m hooked and I can’t stop staring/ Oh baby, I wanna get with you and take your picture/ My homeboys tried to warn me, but that butt you got makes me so horny.” (Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A Lot)

“She was a fast machine/ She kept her motor clean/ She was the best damn woman that I ever seen/ She had the sightless eyes, telling me no lies/ Knocking me out with those American thighs” (Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC)

“You, you lookin’ good in them jeans/I bet you’d look even better with me in between/I keep my mind on my money, money on my mind/But you’se a hell of a distraction when you shake your behind” (Money Maker by Ludacris)

I wear dresses that come above my knees, make up, heels to make my legs look longer, dye my hair and shave. I like to dance as to emulate Beyoncé and if I ever get a ‘cat call’ from a boy I usually don’t object.

And, I wish I was Joan Holloway.

Therefore, my journey to the conclusion that I might be the “F-word” has been long and confusing.  I like to empower women by supporting that it’s okay to dress however you want, dance however you want to whatever song, wear make up, and watch The Bachelor.

Being the “F-word” doesn’t mean you have to defy or protest, it means you have to own yourself.  You must have an intelligent understanding of society and then a personal understanding of yourself and conglomerate the two.

Though I do enjoy many things that may seen misogynistic, I also understand that women are portrayed extremely poorly through these same outlets.

What people don’t realize, however, is that women are pretty smart cookies.  We know that society portrays us as sex symbols to be dominated by men, flustered feather heads who don’t know how to make a point, and Moms who are always there with a roll of Bounty when her kid knock over a glass of chocolate milk.  We get it.

But that’s on you.

You can accept these stereotypes or reject them and make them part of your personal identity.  Maybe you like seeing yourself as a beautiful woman who loves her body, maybe you like the fact that you have so much passion inside that it’s hard for you to make your ideas clear, and maybe you like being there to help people out and clean up their messes.

The “F-word” still makes me cringe because of the unfortunate connotations society links to it.  However as I’ve grown into my identity this year, I’ve realized how I view myself and harness my confidence which may or may not be obligatory towards this stereotype.

So I’ll let you in on a little secret, I am a feminist.

 

***P.S. I really held back with the Queen Bey references

 

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