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Green Walls

Going to a community college has exposed me to some interesting people. The most common theme I come across is actually pretty heartening. Change. See, all the students I’m surrounded with are on the blurry border of adolescence and adulthood. We haven’t been in the real world long enough to be conditioned to resist change. Girls change their hair color daily and guys wear mismatched shoes (on purpose). The environment is this, sometimes annoyingly, tolerant place where everyone feels that change is okay. Unfortunately, I’ve never been quite as fearless as some of these people are.

If I had to pinpoint a certain day in my childhood when I had my personal revelation that being different wasn’t cool I’d nail it down to Halloween when I was in fifth grade. Not surprisingly, this is one of my more embarrassing memories. I had buried this memory deep in my brain folds along with memories of Aeropostale polos and my 7th grade YouTube channel. It was recently forced to the surface when I was walking through the halls on the first day of classes (I am retrospectively SO thankful I set my alarm to pluck my eyebrows that day) this semester. There I was, waiting in the halls alongside strangers with too-strong cologne and too-new Nikes, when I recognized a familiar face. As is often the case when I recognize someone in public, I am 110% positive they do not remember me at all. If I have met you one time, I will remember you forever. So when I pass someone without saying hello, it is almost ALWAYS because I assume their memory is not as eerily accurate as mine and they have no clue who I am. So, I was faced with a boy I spent the majority of my 5th and 6th grade life crushing so hard on. I am positive there are numerous notebook pages and homework assignments with Mrs. Fill In The Blank scrawled all over them. 5th graders know how to crush on someone right.

Anyway, that Halloween, I decided to costume myself in the greatest costume of all time. Gone were the amateur days of veterinarian, teacher, or ballerina. I had graduated to the Halloween big leagues. I was going to be a princess. But not just any princess, a princess with more than a beautiful side, one with a real personality.
So I suited up, took the obligatory “In Front of the House” pictures with the sibs, and went on my merry way throughout the subdivision. It was just turning dark when I walked up to yet another house. The door swings open and mid-“Trick or Treat” I turn red as a beet (beets are red, right?). Lo and behold, there stands Man of My Elementary Dreams with a total Boy Smirk (here used to describe the condescending look boys of all ages wear when holding back a joke). After getting candy from the Man of My Elementary Dreams (who looked so cool in a Not Costume) I bashfully returned to my family. I wish I could say Man of My Elementary dreams was ugly and bald and had a lazy eye when I saw him the other day. But since the world is not fair, he’s brutally more attractive than he even was in 5th grade and harshly even more unaware of my existence than he was then. Hard to believe a college student is cuter than a  5th grader but trust me, it’s possible. In my defense, Fiona the Ogre Princess would have been the coolest costume ever if you know, I wasn’t wearing ogre ears. And my face wasn’t green.

Regardless of how “uncool” changing is, especially for grownups, I decided to do a small experiment on myself this summer. Since the Ogre Incident of ’05, I haven’t been inclined to change much in my life. I don’t like to get rid of things or redecorate my personal space. I like to be comfortable and what’s more comfortable than the way I’ve lived the past 8+ years? (Nothing, that’s what) When I was in the 6th grade my mom helped me paint the room I had just moved into. The grey walls were forsaken in favor of lime green and hot pink and zebra print throw pillows (I’m not making this stuff up). My walls were pink and green and have stayed that way for as long as I’ve been here. This summer I suddenly decided it was time for a change. I went to Home Depot, bought some paint, and came home and started painting my walls. I chose a near-white pink color called “Sweet Nothing.” It was a nice concept, covering my childhood with a clean slate of sweet nothing. I got to fill every nail and screw hole and paint over the scuffs. All the places with chipped paint from my Chad Michael Murray posters that had been taped to my walls were now being completely erased. It felt good and clean and fresh and devastating. After all the green was gone, instead of feeling relief, I felt separation anxiety. Those green walls had seen me read some of my favorite books, they could quote Gone With the Wind, Anne of Green Gables, Ever After, and Phantom of the Opera just as well as I could, they were the backdrop for embarrassing junior high webcam photos, they heard some of the happiest and saddest conversations of my young life, the walls were essentially all of who I was up to that point. I know I sound ridiculous and you’re probably thinking I’m a psychopath for basically saying “I am one with the walls”, “the walls are my friends.” But figuratively, they reminded me of all the things I wanted to remember and the things I wanted to forget.

After christening my new walls by ugly crying about how my childhood was slipping away, I realized something. How many times in life are we allowed a do-over? How many times do we get to paint over the scuffs and the holes and the mistakes? It’s easy for us to physically re-invent ourselves and proverbially “paint over” the walls of our past. But like I said, it wasn’t just the bad things I painted over, it was the happy things too. If my walls taught me anything it was this: it’s great to change for the better and allow yourself to mature with the world, but even though it’s easier to allow the change to cover all the mistakes, don’t let it make you forget. Even the bad memories have a purpose. So sometimes, when I look at my “Sweet Nothing” walls, it comforts me to know that my green walls aren’t really gone, they’re just below the surface, reminding me of all the terrifying, mortifying, wonderful things that make being human so incredible.

Green Walls

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Holy Cow (How Milk Ruined My Life)

           First, a brief history of my relationship with dairy. When I was 10 my family relocated to Lake Charles, LA. Never heard of it? Yeah, you and the rest of the world. Anyway, we moved to a ranch style home planted conveniently across from, and sandwiched between, 3 cow fields. I’m sure you’re familiar with the smell of cows. And if not, go sit in your neighbor’s yard in the springtime as they mulch their garden. Your empathy for me will grow deeper than the part of the ocean where they found that creepy sharp toothed fish with the light bulb hanging from it’s head. Yeah-that deep. Now we move to the preteen years. In Illinois, where I relocated after the cows and fire ants started to drive my family the way of Norman Bates, the ice cream truck running through a subdivision is a daily occurrence. I always scrounged up all the money I could find (usually someone else’s) and rushed outside. After a few months of my happy childhood routine a teenager- they’re all rotten, every one- told me, “Ice cream men kidnap little girls. Why do you think they need such a big truck?” ‘Twas the bitter end to my childhood happiness. Not to mention sophomore year when I thought getting my license was a fancy way of saying I could get a milkshake any time I wanted. So you understand that dairy and I have had a tumultuous relationship to say the least. But I’m older, adult-like, I thought we could be mature about this and put the past behind us, let bygones be bygones, and other similar clichés. This is a cautionary tale to say, ‘Don’t forget the past or else it will ruin your appliances and ergo, your life.”

The beautiful bliss about being a full-time student without a job can be explained in two words: long weekends. So it has to be quite awful if by the middle of the vacation-like weekend the pieces of your brain are individually screaming out, “I would rather be doing a group project than this!” Now, to the root of the melodrama. On Sunday, I found myself in a troubling situation- once again. By now I should know that if there is an ordeal to be had in Chicago’s southeast suburbs it will find me. Anyway, I was eating dinner and watching Gilmore Girls with my dad (and by “watching with my dad” I mean I was trying to brainwash him into the fandom with me). He’s single handedly keeping the dairy industry thriving with the amount of milk he drinks with each meal. So he’s guzzling the milk content of the state of Wisconsin and Lorelai Gilmore says something characteristically funny and he erupts with laughter. Said laughter is so intense it travels down his neck, through his arm, and out his fingers and incidentally knocks over the milk silo. And so the epic begins.

When something catches fire in your immediate area, you suddenly become aware of how little sense you have. So when the infamous milk crept into the stove top in front of us we were a little cautious. But, c’mon, not that cautious because it’s just milk! (Mental note: remove phrases like ‘it’s just milk!’ from vocabulary) But no, nothing can ever just be anything in my household. Sure it was a little unusual when the stove knobs started to click. Yes maybe it was a tad odd for toxic smelling smoke to start billowing out of the same knobs. But Beevis and Butthead, (right now that’s me and my dad, for all intensive purposes) think they can solve problems like this with water and paper towels. I mean, I can’t think of any kitchen problem I’ve ever had that couldn’t be solved that way. It was not until a blast more akin to a firework went off from the devil knobs that we realized the answer to this did not lie in the omnipotent roll of Bounty on our counter. So we resolved to switch the breaker off. Simple enough, right? Well, when we finally flipped the right switch, it was also the wrong switch. By some cruel twist of fate, our refrigerator was controlled by the same switch. We gave up the stove but we could NOT sacrifice the fridge too.

We unplug the fridge and try to find an alternate outlet. Hurrah! We found one! Except wait, this is the Walker household and nothing is ever what it seems. Chocolate chip cookies are actually raisin cookies, Coca Cola is actually the zero calorie stuff, and the refrigerator has a vindictive alter ego. We plug her in and then we hear it. The buzzing sound of death. I only recognize the sound because it is the same sound our late fridge- may she rest in peace- made before passing on. So we do what any other typical living-the-American-dream family would do. We arm ourselves with the weapon of choice: hair dryer. Then the grueling task of blow drying our ice box commences. After much trial and error, and a few persuasive/pleading phrases from me (i.e. “Don’t walk into the light!”), we brought her back to consciousness.

The End. Oh wait, did I neglect to mention the other casualty? As I mentioned before, we were watching Gilmore Girls– on my MacBook Pro. Ah yes, the plot thickens. It was not until the next day that I realized Lorelai and Rory Gilmore were stuck. Not figuratively or emotionally- literally stuck in my computer DVD drive. After an embarrassing amount of YouTube fix-it-yourself videos and a borderline sexual harassment IM chat with James from Apple Tech Support, I reluctantly pried myself off of the couch to drive to the mall to visit the Apple Store. Some people have children, I have my MacBook. So I took off, extremely slowly due to the amount of snow falling, the lack of snow plows plowing, and my broken windshield wipers almost audibly saying, “I think I can, I think I can.” After passing all the cars in ditches and haphazardly parking closer to the mall than I ever had (apparently snowstorms deter people from going on shopping trips, even on President’s Day, who knew??), I stroll into the mall. Luckily, Jonathan from the Genius Bar knows everything and used his weird little foam tool to fix whatever do-hickey was amiss. For future personal reference: marry someone techy- they might wear Star Trek shirts to the movie theater, but you have free technical labor for life!

I may give up my unpaid job as a low-time blogger to write Aesop-esque fables. Except with the modern times in mind, I’ll use appliances as characters instead of animals. Hashtag twenty first century. Moral of the story: “There’s no use crying over spilled milk” is an idiotic phrase.

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