Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Confessions of a Struggling 20 Something...

My mother was my favorite childhood storyteller.

As the oldest, in a very large family, my siblings and I were always vying for our own special place in the world. There were four of us; four drastically opposite individuals. Like many families, before and around us, our vast differences both made us unique and quite the handful for our parents. Lucky for us, our adorable mother maneuvered this with her own narrating.

I should note that I consider myself a creative individual, but not like my mother who’s creativity is so immense-I would do almost anything for an ounce of it. The most wonderful memories from my childhood were the instances our mother would pull the four of us together and present us with her creations in the form fairy tales.

The main characters for these: the four of us- naturally. And our names: Princess Jordan, Prince Jonathan, Princess Jennah, and Princess Julianna (Julie). Yes, the four of us have names that all begin with the letter “J,” AND middle names that begin with “C.” My cute little family

Similar to our contrasting personalities, the princesses and prince each had one special gift. Princess Jennah was the most beautiful in all the land. Prince Jonathan, as the only boy, was the bravest and strongest. My baby sister, Princess Julie, was the most athletic all around. For any of you that know the four of us, you’re aware of how accurate these depictions are. Jennah is incredibly beautiful, and that is a fact-even if I am biased. My brother is super strong and as kind-hearted as my mother portrayed him in those childhood accounts. And finally, Julie is naturally talented at every sport she attempts. Slightly ironic if you know her oldest sister- I’m the clumsiest person I’ve ever met. As for me, what was my gift?

I was the smart one—labeled at even a young age, but I was. I was a fast learner and a quick reader. I was witty and once I reached school age, I soared. You see, I figured out at an early age not only what I enjoyed, but what I was good at- English. A lot of that more than likely stemmed from my mother who relished in English, herself. So much in fact that she created these fairy tales to entertain her children each night; and when my thirst for reading surfaced my mother and I had a bond the others couldn’t touch. I loved that.

I still remember being young enough that my mother still bathed me, and sitting in a soapy bathtub she would instruct me to read the back of shampoo bottles; ingredients, too--not an easy feat even after twenty-three years of life.

So I’ve coasted through school without studying. High school was nothing, and undergrad the same; grad school just seemed like the next step in line for a nerdy English undergrad. I heard from my classmates who weren’t opting to continue towards the MA that grad school was “different,” a “totally different playing field,” it’s “so much more difficult than undergrad”…yeah, yeah I hear you.

I applied, registered, and started my pursuit of one M.A. in English. Grad School- you don’t scare me. And two of my three classes are just as simple as undergrad. I go through the motions of reading the material, coming to class, commenting here and there, participating in class discussion, taking the notes, writing the papers last minute. So far so good

But every Monday night, I hit a brick wall.

Meet my mortal enemy: Literary Theory

This is by far the most challenging, time consuming, difficult class I’ve ever taken. The sheer amount of time it takes to read and understand these post-structuralism French literary critics is mind-blowing, and who am I kidding? I don’t have that kind of time. It has literally come down to reading this material for class- or sleeping. Let’s just say these black circles under my eyes- not attractive.

But it’s more than that- I am genuinely lost. When I read this material I have to break it up into twenty pages each night, solely because it takes me about two hours to read those twenty pages to understand. I’m posted up in front of my lap top, dictionary in my lap, and forcing myself to read-then type summaries of almost every paragraph, just for comprehension. It is so bad that I’m actually finding myself, in Starbucks, screaming at my copy of Revolution in Poetic Language:

“Kristeva, what the hell are you talking about?”

I truly wake up each Monday morning in panic mode. I’m sitting at work re-reading my notes, re-reading sections of the material; and the rest of the week I’m resting in dread for Monday night’s class. In my head I’m running through the motions of how to make more time to read this stuff, and when I get to class- for those three painful hours, I don’t so much as utter a single word. I sit back in my seat and erratically jot down the words of my classmates, who-by the way-couldn’t be as lost as I find myself.

First paper due, and after hours and hours of reading and re-reading I wrote the thing. I’m thinking hey, writing—my bread and butter in school. Did I mention that in this class our entire grade comes from our writing? Our final paper an impressive 60% of the grade. Maybe I’ll be ok after all.

First paper returned, 87 B, my first

Ok so now I sound like a drama queen, or a little Princess (Mom’s fault), but I was utterly inconsolable… so much in fact that I wrote my teacher an e-mail….at 4 in the morning

He responded quickly, by 8 am the man had already sent me a rather lengthy e-mail. As it happens, I wasn’t the only concerned classmate. He assured me that this was my first paper, I had room for improvement, oh and that “an A in undergrad is a B in graduate school.”

Then for the love of God, what does a girl have to do to get an A around here?

Tell that to Dr. West who thinks my writing is ideal at the graduate level, said so on my last paper. Take that.

But none of that matters. In fact, what does matter is that I spend hours and hours reading this material prying for some burst of familiarity or some breakthrough that never comes; and it is the most frustrating, agonizing, terrifying and humbling experience of my life.

I was having this conversation with my roommate, Jared, last night. His response “oh, so you are human.” Smartass, but bear with me- my entire life I’ve been the kid who never studied. I didn’t need to. My identity, tracing all the way back to my childhood, has been based on how well I do in school. I’m well-read, I have an excellent memory, and I have a passion for this field I’ve chosen- and suddenly none of that matters. I’ve never had to work so hard inside the four walls of a classroom. I’ve never felt so utterly perplexed. I feel almost as if I’m regressing to childhood, yet my classmates are still my current age and older. Have I spread myself too thin? Or maybe, as it happens, I’m not as scholarly minded as I once thought.

However, I never start something without finishing it. I see everything all the way through. If I say I’m going to do something- I’ll do it, period. Someone once told me that a “Jack of all trades, is a master of nothing,” and while I both love and believe this notion-I’m going to dismantle it.

I’ll make it out of Literary Theory, most likely with a B, but I’ll survive it. I won’t have a life, and I’ll be a horrible friend/girlfriend/roommate/daughter/sister for the next little bit, but there is no other option. A Master of Arts in English is something I’ve set out to obtain, and I will. Then my writing, it is something that is so important to me-something that I love. Every day I learn something new about it, I love that. I’m a sponge right now, and these days are tough but one day it will all pay off, I have to believe that.

It is an unexplainably, remarkable moment when you find out you still have the ability to surprise yourself. I never thought I could write a 30 page paper in undergrad, but I did it. Sometimes in life you just have to stop worrying about things like what you’re missing out on, or how difficult something is, and just tackle one thing at a time. To whoever said “life is short,” …I’m with ya.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Stranger Side of Things

Since Saturday, something utterly ordinary and absolutely conventional has taken root in my mind.

…And I can’t seem to shake it.

I was driving up I-77, heading to my mom and dad’s for the night-something I don’t get to do nearly enough. Post the two bottles of water I’d already gone through on the drive I was literally about to burst; fortunately I-77 is flooded with rest stops. On a side note, it seems so odd to me to stop at a rest stop on the way home to see my parents. I mean the trip is two hours tops, does that seem strange to anyone else?

Either way, I was the sole passenger in my car (another reason it seems so awkward) and once parked I headed in the direction of the bathroom by way of winding sidewalk. In the distance of this particular sidewalk I noticed another person walking in my direction. This was an older lady, walking solo and donning a rather large bag. Based on the sheer lack of people at this particular stop, it is safe to say that I wasn’t the only one who saw the other coming. The closer we came to each other, the more I noticed about her.

She looked around the same age as my mother, wearing a large straw hat and a light pink shirt covered in some sort of dotted pattern. She had an exhausted look to her, dragging up the hill, and despite the fact I know that she had seen me from a mile away- it seemed as if my presence startled her. I suppose I could believe that, one minute she was climbing this long and twisting sidewalk back to her car with no one in proximity and the next, a 2o something girl is bounding down the hill in her direction. Remember- two whole bottles of water.

At the exact moment we stumbled upon one another, we made eye-contact, smiled and exchanged a couple “hey, how are you’s,” passed each other and continued on converse paths. Our split second encounter was over almost as soon as it had began, but once I was back in my car, and homebound again, I couldn’t take my mind off this unknown woman I had just passed.

Who was she? Where was she heading? What was her name? If I live to be 100 plus, I’ll never know-but this wasn’t the relevant notion I couldn’t shake. The point, we were total strangers who just happened to stumble into the same rest stop in between Troutman and Elkin on one muggy Saturday afternoon; and for one single second our paths crossed. She didn’t know me, I didn’t know her. She could have walked right past me without so much as a glance, what would it have mattered to her or to me? We didn’t owe each other the polite “hey, how are you,” we didn’t owe each other anything-but there on that snaking walkway our paths crossed and we both looked up, smiled, and exchanged a friendly sentiment.

Now rewind to Thursday night.

This particular night came with a little nervous energy; it was the night I met Ben’s parents. It was a brief first encounter; the four of us huddled around the kitchen area getting to know each other as best three people could in a short time. It was Ben’s stepfather, Gene, who in casual conversation set the ball in motion for the thoughts I would embrace in two days time.

With the BYU/Florida game on in the background there was naturally some talk about brackets and the sports in general. We were discussing the Panthers’ upcoming season, and Ben’s mother admitted she wasn’t a huge fan of attending the home games unless the weather was just right. This I am in complete agreement with, but I learned that Gene attends home games regularly, or at the very least tailgates. He told us stories of leaving the tailgates to venture to bars in proximity to the stadium, where fellow Panthers fans also watched the games. Shocked, his wife vowed to accompany him to some games this year; she was totally unaware of his solitary Sundays in only the company of strangers. Yet, Gene responded simply:

“A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.”

It’s the conventional idea that a friend now was once upon a time a stranger. It took an event, a discussion, a plight of some sort, or a moment of humor to pave the road to friendship; and yet, despite the simplicity of this notion, it packed a profound meaning. It was an idea I had almost forgotten, and then Saturday afternoon I walked past an unknown character and it all made sense. Obviously, it is much easier to strike up a conversation over beers and football than in passing at a rest stop on the side of I-77, but bear with me- I have a point.

Now fast-forward to today, to literally thirty minutes ago. I’m currently bundled up inside of McAlisters at UNCC sitting at a table all alone with my laptop in front of me, and just like my desk at home-books as far as the eye can see. It was while sitting here trying my very hardest to get into Kristeva’s literary notions that I saw him in the parking lot. When he entered I could feel his gaze. He placed his order and stepped out into the almost empty restaurant- but where did he end up? One table over, go figure

At the time I repressed a smug, more like a slight laugh, it was an unsurprising event. Note to guys, roughly 90% of the time you are very predictable creatures- but we like it:)

I can feel this guy’s eyes sliding in my direction, and fought it by looking down at Kristeva’s complex work open in front of me. I’m thinking there is no way this guy is going to interrupt me, right? I can see he’s battling the inner struggle to pose a conversation…but surely he sees I’m busy. Surely.

Guy- “What are you reading?”
Me- “Stuff for class”
Guy- “What class?”
Me- “Literary Theory”
Guy- “Sounds interesting”
Me- “Not really”
Guy- “English major?”
Me- “Yep”
Guy- “Ok, so if it’s not interesting why take a class on it, or better yet why study English?”

Touché guy

Me- “Literature courses are still required, but I focus on a different area of English”
Guy- “What area?”
Me- “Creative writing”
Guy- “oh you’re a writer? That is so impressive”

So far this conversation has gone exactly how I predicted it to go. Several times I pointed my head back to the notes open in front of me, but to no avail. This guy kept the questions coming: “Do you want to write novels?” “What is your favorite book?” “What types of things do you write?” “Where did you do your undergrad?” “What do you do when you’re not writing?”

Hey guys, get more creative with your commentary or at least your Q & A.

No matter how many times I returned my gaze to my work, this guy kept firing. Truth is, I wouldn’t be so annoyed if I either had this reading done before my class in t-minus 2 hours or if I understood what in the world Kristeva was talking about, so this is probably my fault for procrastinating. This guy was just trying to be friendly. My car keys are resting on the edge of my table with my work ID and photo attached, guy sees and poses: “Jordan Bullington, do you have a facebook?”

Me- (Against my better judgment… )“Yep”
Guy- (Already looking via phone…) “Chance is such a pretty middle name”

Wow, is this guy for real?

At this point, my thought process is: thank God for that relationship status, it really does come in handy. Moments later guy: “I posted a link on your wall.”

This guy might be genius, obviously I have to look at my wall since I’m sitting here with my laptop open. He’s got me. So I log in to Facebook and check it out:

This is a collaborative art movement that begins this Wednesday March 30, and will continue each Wednesday following. It lasts from 7-11 at NoDa’s own Amelie’s in the atrium. I’ve copied and pasted the introduction info below:

A happening is a performance, event or situation meant to be considered art. Happenings take place anywhere, and are often multi-disciplinary. Key elements of happenings are planned, but artists retain room for improvisation, eliminating the boundary between the artwork and its viewer. The interaction between the audience and the artwork makes the audience, in a sense, part of the art.

This is weekly workshops and creative people from all over come and paint, explore with photography, read their own work, play instruments…it’s an artistic person’s heaven.

I’m reading this; I’m blown away by this. I glanced back at this stranger one table over and asked him how he got involved. Turns out, he’s the creator. This guy singlehandedly saw an idea and ran with it. I quizzed him about his initial idea, and as it happens, the name “A Happening” stems from an artistic movement from the 50’s and 60’s. Color me impressed.

Color me a judgmental fool.

Here I was condemning this guy, who was just striking up a pleasant conversation. Just like the woman in passing at a rest stop on side of the highway with a friendly gesture, and Gene embracing a new friend over the bond of sporting events. This was a guy doing exactly what I was doing, having a quick lunch in the midst of a busy day, all by himself. I felt silly for being so ridiculous and automatically inferring the worst. There is an insightful and intriguing meaning within Gene’s words. At the heart of the matter, the utter truth of it all: the world is interesting purely because of the variety of people who roam it. Somewhere along the line of deadlines, paperwork, and meetings I’ve forgotten that; and it is that deficiency in my own life I’m ready to remedy.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Car Crazy Anyone?

This is how I spent my work day…

My drive to work each morning: roughly 45 minutes give or take, but almost entirely highway. This morning I caught myself doing what I always do-car shop, mid-drive. The girl to my left was driving a Volvo; the guy to my right was driving his BMW convertible, top down despite the chilling weather this morning. I was passed by a newer model Mustang, and when I pulled into work today it was behind cute little Mazda 3.

When I pulled into the parking deck I was a force to be reckoned with. Cars as far as the eye could see, new cars-old cars-big cars-small cars-red cars- alright, I’ll get out of Dr. Seuss mode-when I climbed out of my own car I took one step back, and gave it a once over. I literally just bought my car a year ago. It’s a nice and simple 2007 Nissan Sentra. I like her, she’s been good to me you know, for the last year.

I got to my desk, powered on my computer, and went straight to…where I have now been for four hours and counting. I really wish I could tell you that is an exaggeration. I then went to the big decision maker in my life, Facebook. Naturally, I had to consult with my Facebook friends; next up, Twitter-getting the picture?

And now I’m posting a blog?

I have utterly exhausted my Social Media outlets, and yet still I’m obsessed with this new car idea. So ridiculously obsessed that I’m texting people about it, like my father:

Me: I want a new car! Thoughts?
Dad: Up to you.
Me: I had a funny feeling you would say that:)
Dad: You can look into it.
Me: I’m thinking Volkswagen, maybe Honda Accord? I have always wanted an Xterra! Oh, an FJ Cruiser!! Do you like those? Why aren’t you as excited as me? This is big stuff daddy-O. Do you like your Murano?
Dad: Sure, I like it.
Me: “I like it.” That’s all you got?
Dad: I would buy another one?
Me: Are FJ Cruisers good cars?
Dad: Don’t know.
Me: Maybe, a Mustang? I love the new ones
Dad: How about a nice Corolla?
Dad: …or whatever

I should mention that if life were an A.A. Milne book, my father would play the character of Eeyore. Nonetheless, the search for my fifth car continues. If you’re still confused about how infatuated I am with the idea of new “whip” (for you Gracie) let me elaborate a little further: I currently have one Brooks Aker on the hunt. He is at this very moment constructing a list of the Top 5 Cars he sees me in. That is a true story. I have really great friends.

In the midst of all the car shopping I returned again to logic. What exactly is the reason behind my madness? I have a perfectly suitable and well-equipped car, just changed her oil yesterday as a matter of fact. So what am I doing here? I should also mention that my best friend, Grace, just bought a brand new Altima- oh and my sister, a new Jeep. See where this is going?

My car, in all her youth, not only gets me from A to B-but does it quickly. Not to mention the miles per gallon is impressive. The car I drive every day may be a year old in my book, but why the sudden desire to replace her with something new? And the more I thought about this, the more I felt like I was betraying my car. Deeper than that: am I betraying myself?

Why is it that in life I’m always looking for the next best thing, or better yet- why can’t I just be happy with exactly what I have? Don’t get me wrong, I’m one motivated girl-but always trying to “up” what’s already there should start and stop with my career…and maybe a little self-tweaking every now and then when I get in a funk. But the more I thought about this now rooted obsession with all things shiny and new, the more my eyes opened.

Maybe this need for something up-to-date is alive in all things. I started piecing together things in my life, and the relevance I found to this idea was astonishing. Everyone loves newer things, maybe that is the sole driving force in life: to advance, but do we stop with material possessions? What about cheating/infidelity? Maybe my two-timing ex didn’t see the situation as colorful as I had suspected. Maybe this is the way his mind was working…


Other (Younger) Girl:

I feel comfortable using the Mercury Cougar in my analogy above, mainly because I used to drive one of these bad boys. In fact, that one right there is my exact Cougar. She’s a classic.

Maybe our desire to always have the “next big thing” drives us to do all sorts of crazy things. When do we learn to just be happy with what we have? Life is short, and the truth of the matter is I’ve got it pretty good. I’m happy, healthy, I’ve got great friends, and I have an incredible family. Plus I’m living a life that allows me to do this thing called writing, that I love more than anything- what more could I want?

And by the way, for those of you who are interested in Brooks’ list of the cars he most sees me in- they are as follows:

1. Honda Accord Coupe

2. Volkswagen Jetta

3. Chevy Cruze

4. Mazda 3

5. Honda Civic

Thanks Brooks, you’re the best!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"So, Facebook Status?"

My relationship status changed, on Facebook.

And with it, the world as I knew it

I’m not the “relationship” girl. If you know me, that last statement: not a shocker. Yet, my latest “In a Relationship,” stamp by means of social media, was astonishing to many (Mom). It’s true that I’ve spent the last couple years of life finishing one degree and working things out in my own life, but give a girl a break- I’ve dated. Many of those past relationships flew under the radar, and Facebook didn’t get involved. One would think those unidentified and unknown types of relationships would be deemed much more scandalous. Wrong.

From the moment my relationship status changed, my phone hasn’t stopped buzzing or ringing. The usual commentary: “WHAT?” and “Is it that serious?” So, let me get this straight world, are you telling me that Facebook is the deciding factor on the relevance of relationships these days? Where have I been, and when did this happen? Have I been so out of loop in the dating world that I’ve totally missed this epic technological transformation?

And unfortunately the bombarding of questions didn’t stop with mobile devices. In less than seven days time, I’ve had the delightful run-in with two former guys. Neither could help themselves, apparently my Facebook unveiling as a “girlfriend” is too urgent to ignore. I got the face to face confrontation in the form of: “So, Facebook status?”

What have you guys been doing since we went our separate ways-stalking me? Wait, don’t answer that.

It is sort of mind blowing when you think about it. Why is it that my relationship can only be accepted as legit if Facebook declares it so? I’m fairly certain that no one is beginning a relationship by sending the request via Facebook. When a guy or girl wants to know if their “hanging out” is becoming an exclusive relationship there is typically a talk which determines this. More than likely it does not occur with one extending the invite, to be more, in the form of the e-mail stating:

“[Insert name here] has updated his relationship status to say that you two are in a relationship. Please confirm this relationship status.”

Obviously my relationship was budding long before Facebook stepped in; I would expect that’s the case for the rest of the relationships out there. Before the status was updated, we were already a couple so why does it take a click of the mouse to make my relationship official? Does this say that the couples out there who choose to live their romantic lives away from the online spotlight are less official?

How absurd; and what about my former relationships that I didn’t showcase via the internet? Just because I didn’t follow through with this modern-day prerequisite in the dating saga doesn’t mean those relationships were less noteworthy. On the contrary, I have a huge problem with that notion. Every single relationship I’ve ever been in has taught me lessons about both life and myself. Every partnership is vital. They are the chapters in my life story, and no matter how few the page count-they hold significance. I don’t think I need Facebook to establish that.

The truth: social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are introducing people at every second of every day. These sites could double as matchmakers, or online dating sites. There is “poking,” and “liking” and messaging or direct messaging on Twitter. The possibilities for meeting someone on these are endless. So who’s doing the dating here, us or Facebook? Even if these Social Media tools put us in contact with interesting people, at some point you’ve gotta get up and away from the computer screen.

Just because we carry it with us always by means of our smart phones, doesn’t mean the Facebook declaration is law. The last I checked, Facebook wasn’t sitting next to me at the movies, or taking me out to dinner. Nor was Facebook deciding who I hung out with or my agenda- so why should it be the decisive factor in my love life? Before Facebook came along, the only thing you needed to make your relationship official was a simple question. To all the contemporaries out there, can we get back to the fundamentals over here?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Just a Preview..

To all my ex-boyfriends:

…to be fair, you did all know I was a writer;)

Over the course of the next few months I’ll be contributing to my mentor and boss’ blog at Creative Loafing.

Introducing: Love, Brittney

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Brittney Cason, you should be! Her writing is both insightful and humorous; and if relationship/love reading is the name of your game-she’s a good candidate for team captain.

This blog post is to introduce one of the blogs I’ll be contributing, we’re calling it the:
"UNC-C Date List Blog"

What’s it about? Simple, dating; but its more than that…

Roughly six months ago Karen Owen shocked the world with her blatant and bold exposure of the gentlemen company she kept at Duke University. What once began as an inside joke, meant only for the eyes of a few friends, quickly escalated into a very public and humiliating episode. The most life-altering and revolutionary time in life are the college years, but it is one drum which has been beat to death. You figure out who you are in college—yeah, yeah we get it; but Owen did the unthinkable. She exposed her very private sexual encounters to society, and got no love in return.

Sure what Karen did was unconventional and a major slip in judgment, but in this day and age where girls younger than me are rushing to the altar- she’s sort of a breath of fresh air.

So I’ve written my own version. What Karen labeled her “Fuck List,” I’m calling my “Date List.” This blog both mimics and follows the Karen Owen formula. This is the story of a college graduate who dated an assortment of guys. The things learned have been documented, including the rather painful and embarrassing bits. It is Karen Owen’s story re-done sans sex scandal and body fluids -- because who are we kidding, sex is the given. It’s the game of relationships that makes or breaks you.

Stay tuned, the blog will launch soon...

The real question: Ben Califf, how scared are you right now ;)

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Switch-a-Roo

I’m the luckiest girl in the world

..but this has nothing to do with a boy, and everything to do with my friends.

As a result of a rather chaotic lifestyle, I travel all across the Queen City on a daily basis-but whether its work, class, or a night out my life wouldn’t be fun without my amusing friends. As it happens, they are the sweet sprinkles on the cupcake of my life (leave it to me to conjure up the food analogy). My friends are my backbone and my voices of reason; but more importantly, my friends are my entertainment.

So entertaining, in fact, that even when my own life is playing out in a standard black and white pattern- I can always count on my friends to provide the comical narrative.

Meet (Insert friend’s name here) who provided the outlandish and hilarious details for the picture I’m about to paint. My friend, who for the sake of this blog we’ll refer to as “Hopeful Mentality,” possessed exactly that. She is one of the more optimistic ladies I’ve met in quite a while. She’s witty, she’s honest, and her raw sense of reality is the breath of fresh air I crave on a daily basis. If insight were a drug-I would be feigning for this girl; and when she came to me with this more recent tale I had one question for her: “mind if I take notes?”

Not only did she agree, but she encouraged me to put this uproar of a story into words. She said “I know you’ll do it justice.” Well, “Hopeful Mentality,” I’m not prepared to let you down.

Why the token name of “Hopeful Mentality?” Simple, this girl possesses the “hopeful mentality” that there is good in every single one of us, everyone just deserves a chance.

Endearing or naïve? I’ll let you decide, but for what it’s worth- this story of hers is the perfect display of the optimistic belief system she’s operating on. Let’s take it from the top…

A few weeks ago, “Hopeful Mentality” was heading home in the early hours of the morning. Our main character had made an evening out of the best whiskey $7 could buy:
Meet Rich & Rare:

Freshly twenty-one, she wasn’t quite ready to call it a night but the bars were closed and friends exhausted, so she did what any one of us would do…ventured to the local gas station in search of a 40. Gets the job done much easier, and much quicker, did I mention “Hopeful Mentality” is not in the least a rookie to this game?

As a frequent customer of this particular gas station, the attendant “Teddy Bear” (I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried) was excited for the companionship in these premature hours of the day. While talking to Teddy, a gentleman noticed my friend and slipped his way into her conversation. Note- remember the theme of “slipping” with this new character, it’ll be a reoccurring one.

Insert Desmond into the story. I could tell you more about him at this point, but for the sake of honesty it wouldn’t be appropriate yet. I say this because at this point “Hopeful Mentality” knew only the name of this guy. Oh, and his telephone number.

A week and half later Desmond is texting and calling, finally convincing “Hopeful Mentality” to accompany him on a date. Now at this point our friend is racking her brain trying to remember what this guy looks like--Rich & Rare just does that to you sometimes. When she opens the door the night of, she finds an older Desmond fully decked with pigtail formed corn-rows, thus for the remainder of our story we’ll refer to him in the same manner of “Hopeful Mentality.” Meet “Corn-row Creeper.” Now, I know you’re wondering: what sort of agenda had this Corn-rowed character planned for this date?

First stop- the ABC store

Now I’ve heard of some dates ending at the ABC store, this is the first I’m hearing of one beginning there, but at this point-I’m intrigued. Let’s continue…

Our Corn-rowed character purchased our “Hopeful Mentality” one bottle of American Honey. Ah, romance. So now where to indulge in this liquid gift? Home, naturally where the roommate is a little stricter than most.

Yes meeting mom on date one is slightly unconventional, but hey- why break the pattern.

At this point, “Hopeful Mentality” is re-thinking her gas station born love, but then this Corn-rowed Creeper breaks out a guitar and requests to serenade her. Seems our leading role is a sucker for a musician, and a song or two later, she’s congratulating herself on a job well done. Underneath all those braids, maybe this guy really is a gentle giant.

Wait for it.

Next this guy informs our friend that he has three other guitars, would she like to see them? And our sweet protagonist is thinking-all he wants to do is show me his guitars.

“That’s not code for anything.”

She follows this guy into his bedroom, where the door is no longer attached to the hinges-but not to worry the door is actually in sight, just floor-slide and lucky for “Hopeful Mentality” this guy is quite the gentleman. Of course he doesn’t mind picking up and placing the actual door in its former doorway spot. Yes, it gets better…

Background music seemed fitting, so our gentleman friend rotated the radio dial to 97.9…Grind time. Boredom ensues, thus so does kissing; but just because “Hopeful Mentality’s” pity vote kept her hanging around our Corn-rowed creeper this didn’t change the fact that she’s a girl with principles. So she let him know right away that she wasn’t “that kind of girl,” and “sex on the first date” is a no-no. See ladies, there are still some of us out there with morals.

This guy seemed to get it, but I guess he thought our friend deserved a little something extra; and the Corn-rowed creeper got a little handsy.

“Hopeful Mentality,” thinks to herself, hey why not. What else did I have going on today?

Faintly the familiar sound of “zzz” rings nearby and “Hopeful Mentality” looks though her peripherals in time to notice the drop of one Corn-rowed character’s zipper.

What is this? The switch-a-roo?

Wait, people really do that?

At this point “Hopeful Mentality” is infuriated. She’s up quick and armed with a few biting remarks. Some examples of her responsive commentary:

“I said NO”

“This is not a hot dog down a hallway!”

“I’m human you jerk, if you cut me I still bleed”

“What the hell happened to board games and dinner and a movie?

“No Yahtzee? No Scrabble?”

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T obviously you don’t know what it means to me”

..just to name a few. Here we have our main character penalized for believing the best in this guy, despite all odds. She had dealt with the ABC store and one mom encounter. She had dealt with lack of door for crying out loud, and all for this Corn-rowed villain to take things a little too far. He of course apologized, and offered to drive her home. However, when he dropped her off in front of her house waved and honked the horn he offered: “next time we hang out you’ll have to stay the night.”

Is this guy for real?

Kind of makes you appreciate the guys in your own life, huh? Or at least makes you slightly terrified of dating. The moral(s) of the story are, but not limited to:

1. If you meet a guy who is not only familiar with, but feels comfortable locating 97.9 Grind Time on the radio dial when you’re alone….run like hell.

2. No door=red flag.

3. Meeting a guy at the gas station will more than likely not result in a good time.

The craziest stuff happens to my friends

“Justin Bieber was right; I just need someone to love.”
-Hopeful Mentality

Monday, March 7, 2011

Red Flag

Sunday night was a slow one..

..Just as I had feared- considering every place I made it out to Saturday night was packed. The UNC/Duke game brought the people out in crowds, and Sunday was recovery time. This meant, of course, closing the bar on Sunday was slightly less eventful. Although all was not lost, I did have some good company to endure the night with.

Accompanied by my good friend, Priti, the night was full of interesting conversation and plenty of laughter- as always when Priti is involved. In the midst of our conversation, which we extended to bar patrons and regulars alike, we stumbled across a stimulating and one of our more popular topics: relationships, or rather-their start.

I think the conversation stemmed from us making fun of our own relationships and then each other’s, and when we expanded our discussion we got some fascinating commentary. So we did what most would do in our present state: we wrote it down. Jokingly we thought wouldn’t it be incredible if before you began a relationship with a guy, you could give him a list of questions to answer.

Clear some things up ahead of time, save some time, or just keep you from wasting your time; our questions are as follows:

1. True or false- it is ok to wear sweatpants out in public with me?

2. Have you ever broken up with someone via a text message and/or facebook message?

3. If we were to go to the bar right now, would you need to read the drink menu from front to back/analyzing what you’re in the mood for before you order- or would you just know?

4. True or false- if we did break up-it’s totally ok to sleep with my friends.

5. What sports have you played in the past, and what sports would you like your future son to play?

(Side note- for this one, we have answers..

Good answers include, but are not limited to: football, basketball, baseball, golf, soccer, rugby, tennis, lacrosse.

Bad answers include, but are not limited to: bowling, tap-dancing, skateboarding, water polo, men’s volleyball)

6. Do you keep a roll of quarters on you at all times for the purpose of either the laundry mat and/or pay phone?


7. In 5 words or less, describe your feelings or thoughts on the Dixie Chicks and Justin Bieber.

(Side note- if “totally freaking awesome” is part of these—better luck next time.)

 8. Do you own either a cat or a small dog?

9. Which do you prefer..

Whiskey/Coke or Vodka Pineapple
Frozen Margarita or shot of Cuervo
Guinness or PBR
Long Island Ice Tea or Blue Motorcycle

10. True or false- you can’t decide who you like more: Snooki or Jwoww.

11. Do you, on a regular basis, send texts so lengthy that they break into more than 3 texts? Another way to ask this question, is your texting so extensive that your friends are forced to empty their inbox more than once a day in order to maintain communication with you?

(Side note- Priti and I are both sad to say we are currently operating on “old school” phones)

12. True or false- you have been to more buffets than bars.

13. Does your current roommate/living situation allow for any of the following scenarios: borrowing your little brother’s car, borrowing one of your dad’s ties, or texting your mother to let her know she doesn’t need to wait up?

14. Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?

(Side note- This one is a trick question..)

15. True of false- it’s ok to copy and paste song lyrics in their entirety, in an e-mail or facebook message, to a girl under the heading “how I feel about you.”

16. Does your movie collection include any 2 of the following:

-French Kiss
-The Prince and Me
-10 Things I Hate About You
-Space Jam
-Twilight (1 or 2)
-Any movie that includes a pro wrestler turned actor.

17. True or false- the term “macking” is a regular part of your vocabulary.

(Side note- we actually heard this over the course of the evening..)

18. Which of the following is your idea of “ruffin’ it” :

a. Waiting for Duke Power to turn your lights back on
b. Hotel stay sans room service
c. Sleeping in your car after an intoxicated evening
d. Digital converter box a.k.a. bunny ears TV (we weren’t sure what it was either).

19. Do the contents of your wallet include any of the following: a condom dated prior to the millennium, more than one expired credit card, membership to any male entertainment club, Dairy Queen and/or various buffet punch cards, an expired bus pass, or multiple girl’s phone numbers?

(Side note- we actually had a very cool guy at the bar volunteer his wallet for this experiment, very kind of him.)

And finally…

20. Do you have any of the following tattooed on your body: an ex-girlfriend’s name, Chinese symbols, your astrological sign, Yosemite Sam, barbed wire, Mighty Mouse, or multiple stars?

Yosemite Sam

(Side note- this is not a total random list, we were actually able to see this. The visuals were more than helpful)

For the record some of our answers scared even us, but it did help pass the time.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mother May I..

Overnight, I’m becoming my mother...

When my mother was younger she was every bit as fun-loving, vibrant, and sweet as she is today. To know my mother, is to love my mother; and the list of her character traits I wish I possessed fully is an extensive one.

Growing up in one of the small towns Virginia has to offer, my mom was the carefree second child in a rather large family. She was your typical girl, and every morning she rose from the comfy consoles of her bed set to catch the bus to school. As small towns come equipped with even smaller schools, my mother and her fellow classmates were very familiar with one another. This is a feeling I know all too well, right down to the cliques and the social circles embedded in classrooms amongst young students, even then.

Pretty little girl that she was, my mother rarely met with issues of social cruelty, so she coasted along. Not everyone was as lucky.

Meet Polly-or the name we’ll give her; Polly attended the school under the radar of the social circles-or attempted to, I should say. You see, no matter how hard Miss Polly tried to walk the halls of this small Virginia school unnoticed, the “in-crowd” wasn’t having it.

If the theory that Charles M. Schulz created his “Peanuts” characters as true representations of school-age children stands correct, Polly could have been your “Pig Pen.” The kids taunted this girl non-stop; and the more it occurred, and the worse the taunts became, the more buried in herself she became. With the lack of confidence established, the ridicule became even more malicious. While the “in-crowd” sneered and criticized, other students-my mother included- stood by as spectators.

They mocked her clothing, her appearance, and all the harsh bullying comments you could imagine. Finally things took a turn, for what seemed to be for the better, and the “in-crowd” became less hostile-bordering on the friendly side even-towards Polly. This latest acceptance was both remarkable and a little far-fetched, but who doesn’t want to assume people have the best of interests in mind?

This new found companionship between one social scene and their former outcast seemed to be a refreshing alteration in the grand scheme of things, and the spectators were at ease.

Now the “cool kids” had a leader, as most do, and for the sake of this blog we’ll call that particular character: “Paula” (I’m into names that start with “P” at the moment, don’t ask me why), but Paula was your pinnacle for the “in-crowd.” In this small middle school in Virginia Paula was your captain mean girl, with looks to destroy even the eighth grade boys, and all the Polly teasing began and spiraled with her.

The day came that Paula and followers proposed that Polly join them for a sleepover on the softball fields in the neighborhood. Surely thrilled by the invite, Polly gathered up her sleeping bag and pillows and ventured to the field on said evening- only Polly found herself the solo guest at this party. Unaccompanied, and humiliated, she made the trek home in the night-hoping this embarrassing episode would never be revealed.

Yeah, right.

Monday morning the school bus stopped at the top of the neighborhood and all these characters climbed aboard. Polly in the back, sitting alone, face pointed to her feet. If only Paula could have deemed the weekend events satisfaction enough we could put this story to rest, but this wasn’t the case. The tormenting began and the “cool kids” rallied behind. The jabs showed no sign of subsiding, and my mother, sitting a few seats away witnessing this bullying affair, was fuming. Let me paint the picture.

The bus stops outside the school and these classmates form a line in the center row waiting to be released. Polly with her head down, not responding to Paula’s insults, and my mother waiting behind the group in line. The doors open, and each rushes down the stairs. Standing behind Paula on the bus steps, listening and outraged, my mother unraveled. She leaped from the top of the bus step, knocking the “in-crowd” leader from step two straight to the pavement.

So much for being the spectator..

Knocking the breath out of this girl wasn’t enough; my mother pounded this girl until my aunt Monica pulled her off. The morality in my mother couldn’t take the abusive scene anymore and she burst. Polly, as a girl too afraid to defend herself, had been caught in the middle of this injustice for far too long. It was my mother’s first, and last, fight.

Fast-forward to the present. If you know me then you know I’m the most non-confrontational person you will ever meet. My friends give me a hard time because I’m the girl people walk all over. I’ve never been in a fight. I never want to be in a fight, and I’m fairly certain if someone hit me, I’d lie down and wait till it was over. Maybe play dead, who knows. Point is I’m a total pushover.

…but not in everything

If you read my more recent blog you read the story of my Neglected Ex who’s “Bruised Ego” landed us in one awkward situation. Typically I’m a fan of the awkward situations, even when they involve me- they are almost always amusing. This instance though, I probably could have done without. I say this solely because in the aftermath, things got a little wild.

For a few days Neglected Ex stayed away, probably needed some time to clear his head- but apparently all that thinking only escalated the negative side of it all. So what does one Neglected Ex do post such an occurrence?

Seek out and threaten roommate of former girlfriend? Of course, I mean that’s what all of you would do, right?

What do I do to these guys?

Now, let it be known that I’ve witnessed plenty of my friends who have lived through the eruption of conflict. I’ve seen altercations face to face, through word of mouth, and these days..I’ve even seen it via text messaging (hilarious), but being the pushover I am I’m the venting partner for my friends. When conflict ensues, I’m the girl they vent too. I never push anyone to fight, because who am I kidding, conflict blows. Plus, have you ever met me? That chick from ICarly could kick my ass- but someone pushes my roommate around, and I’m furious.

Now I’m not going to pull a “mom” move and leap from the top of the bar to take out my Neglected Ex. It’s just not in me, but in the past where I supported and tried to calm down my friends in the heat of the moment, suddenly I’m protective. My mother taught me a lot of valuable life lessons; she’s the wisest woman I’ve ever known. However, the most important message she ever taught me was to stand up for yourself, thanks Mom:)

A push-over I’ll be no more. I don’t have it in me to be confrontational, but we’ve all heard it before “Stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” Well, color me a believer.