Category Archives: Humor

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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They Say, I Say

             Have you ever had a class where you would leave with a constant rotation of confused “What the heck?”-like phrases running through your head? Because I need only look back on my 8 o’clock class to remember this week’s biggest “What is the world coming to?” moment. Sorry to confirm some of the stereotypes but going to a community college does entail a lot of stupidity. The amount of people who think “library” is synonymous with “nap room” or “crank my tunes room” is pretty reflective of modern American education. So in my Speech class, which I actually really love because I’m that one annoying girl who always volunteers to present first, there are some interesting characters.

We have the meatheads, my affectionate name for gym buffs (buff, no pun intended), who without fail will always be drinking a wheatgrass protein shake or eating a granola bar (more like grossola bar). Then there’s the one outspoken opinion-on-everything guy. Don’t even get me started on the my-muscles-are-always-sore-let-me-make-you-feel-guilty-for-not-working-out-ever girl who sits next to me. NO I STILL DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH I CAN BENCH PRESS and YES IT WOULD TAKE ME THREE DAYS TO RUN A MILE. Sheesh. And then there’s my professor. Like I already said, I really love this class. I feel the most comfortable here and I’m rarely tempted to sleep even though it’s 8 am. That being said, imagine a sailor. No, a pirate. A sailor turned pirate who did hard time in prison for, I don’t know, stabbing some lady with a knife. He gets out of prison and meets up with his bros (brethren?), how do you imagine he talks? Does imaginary pirate felon use greet his friends with “Hip hip cheerio!” or does he use more choice words? What you imagine his vocabulary to be like, that is near what my Speech teacher’s is like.

Now I know what you’re thinking (channeling my inner Professor Xavier)! She’s a speech teacher, she shouldn’t talk like a sailor/pirate/stabber/felon. Ah, but the world is changing my friends. All words are now fair game. So today our class discussion was on the delightful subject of language. Or as I have dubbed it, Show How Gansgsta (sorry mom) You Are Day. I wonder how many swear words Jane Austen heard in her life. Because though I may never near her achievements in anything else, I am fairly certain I have passed her up in that respect. Do I have more street cred? Probably not.

People swear, I get it. And most people will disagree with me when I say this. There are other more efficient ways to let people know how you feel.  I’ve learned that “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is more accurately written, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but certain words will always make me blush.”

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Ready, Set, Wait a Second

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Even to the best of us, even to those of us who are dating, (hate you) or are married (hate you most), we feel lonely. I can speak from experience because approximately 6 minutes ago I was lying facedown on my floor chanting, “Why doesn’t anyone want me.” This is a prime example of wanting to be wanted but not wanting to want. If I haven’t lost you yet, if you’ve been able to keep up with my borderline psychotic thought process, I ask you to please not call a depression hotline on me or anything. It’s just one of your run of the mill sad days that requires a little pointless wallowing.

It’s easy to sing “Someday my prince will come” but much harder to wait without waiting. By wait without waiting I mean to live your life without secretly hoping and waiting for someone to notice and love you and make it all worthwhile. Excuse me while I break this record, but contrary to popular belief, the best days of your life don’t have to involve a significant other. Sure, it’s some people’s destiny to fall in love at 14 and get hitched at 20 but just because that’s where they find their bliss doesn’t mean you’ll find yours there. We have to learn to look at our future spouse as a missing piece to the 1000 piece puzzle instead of half of the entire puzzle. He won’t complete you. She won’t make you a better person.

Being in a relationship so you can feel complete is the supreme form of selfishness. Being single doesn’t mean you have to hate Valentine’s Day, tweet passive aggressive comments about couples, or watch P.S. I Love You while eating an entire pack of Oreo’s (it was just one time, ok). But it does mean you have to grow up a lot quicker. Personally, I’m almost 19 and I have my eye on a month long tour of Europe next summer. Would it be nice to have an American arm candy man along with me? Probably. Would it be equally as nice to see the European sights with a group of new exciting people? Definitely.

It’s not a race! And even if it was, everyone doesn’t run at the same pace. We can’t all come in first. Some people’s adventure of choice is marriage-and it truly is an adventure. But before you look at what you have and compare it to what they have, remember, adventures come in all shapes and sizes (like people). Just because yours isn’t like someone else’s it doesn’t make it any less right.  

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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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Yoga Cat

When I walked into my Health Biology class last Friday I didn’t expect much more than the usual sit-and-pretend-I’m-paying-attention that I usually participate in from 9-9:50. Don’t be fooled by my pretentious capitalization of Biology, I’m not a science major. This is one of those classes where no one wants to be there and the teacher knows it. All the tests are take home, we have fill in note sheets. It’s more like a 6th grade English class except with less talking. Virtually no talking. Actually, besides the hunky silent-type athletic guy in the back of my class, I can’t confidently say I even know any of my classmates’ names. So anyway, when my professor said Friday would be spent as a “relaxation day” in Valerie-speak that means, “Sit in silence, think of food, leave class.” So thanks for the free points Professor So-and-So! You would think by now I would know how off my women’s intuition is. The last time I had a correct instinct about anything was when I called Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens breakup. And that was more the wishful-thinking-so-it-will-come-true kind of thing.

So now that it’s established that I’m delusional college student with no aptitude for predicting the future, let’s continue to explore the world of my idiocy. So I walk the overly long distance to the classroom above the fitness center. If I had any foresight at all I would have known that the proximity to the fitness center was a serious omen. I mean, I tend to mentally censor the word fitness from most sentences. Which come to think of it, the distances between classes may be so long as the school’s passive aggressive way to make us exercise. (And PAY for it. I PAY to walk approximately 10 minutes to every class. Oh, America)

So I enter this small-mirrored room. If you’ve ever entered a room with mirrored walls and feel anything like me, you can’t stand the repeated reflection of that heifer staring back at you. Mirrored rooms: destroying self-esteem and motivating private exercise since the beginning of time! I grab a purple yoga mat, which is about as thin as my nerves at this point. I sit down as the room starts to fill up and suddenly the lights go out. I am beginning to understand what it feels like in those cheap horror movies when you know something bad is going to happen but it’s too late to turn back now.

There are Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling and marimba and maraca music playing from who-knows-where. When my professor enters and places her mat in front of us I am immediately rethinking the stylish, albeit long, grey maxi skirt stretching to my ankles. There are 3 key regrets from this yogaxperience (how I will heretofore refer to the yoga debacle) I’ll start with the most awkward and excel to the most laughable. If the goal was to give me abs induced by laughter: achieved.

1. The Howling Cat

I am not including this solely because of the reference to cats. It’s a primary yoga pose. I call them poses because they are motions only doable by the women on America’s Next Top Model because they are the only ones with limbs long enough. With hands and feet planted on the ground and rear end directly facing the sky, you move your head up and toward the ceiling as slowly and agonizingly as possible. Never did I think my love of felines and my hatred of ridiculous exercise would be molded into one embarrassing activity. But there’s a first time for everything.

2. Put My Leg Where?

Contrary to the way I talk about it, I am relatively fit. I eat pretty well and am more flexible than the average Walmart employee. So when I’m in my floor length skirt and my professor says lift your left leg vertically above your head, I start to rethink my boycott of high school sports. It’s not until you are forced to put your leg above your head for a grade that you start to honestly assess your priorities. In that moment, my number one priority of becoming Brad and Angelina’s nanny was knocked down to number two with “get my leg to the floor as soon as possible” taking the first place.

3. Guided Imagery

I’m a speech person. I can always go for a delicately crafted guided imagery story. You are floating in outer space, you are sleeping in a field of daffodils, you are playing Monopoly and not being bored to death. That kind of thing. So anyway when we get to the actual relaxation part of this yogaxperience, I’m thinking, “Cool, we get to lay here and take a mini nap while listening to xylophones.” There I go again, thinking I have this keen sense of the future. Just when I start to get comfortable (as comfortable as one can be on one of those parchment paper mats) she does it. With the soothing voice of someone who’s participated in one too many Pilates classes, she starts her guided imagery. While lying on a hardwood floor where countless other bodies have lain, besides “There’s a rat in here!”, the last thing you want to hear is, “Now place your body in corpse position.” Since I’m fairly confident that most bodies in that position are actually dead, I immediately felt the opposite of relaxed. But when, to this room packed with corpse-like bodies hears the professor say, “You are lying on a beach. The sand beneath your back. You’re staring up at the sky and hearing the tide come in.” This does two things to me. First, instead of making me feel like I am in the Caribbean, it simply makes me wish I was in the Caribbean, making the floor feel harder and the practice more ridiculous. Second, makes me think that if I have to be a corpse, at least I’m a corpse with a nice tan.

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Famous Adjacent

We all have things in our lives that in a moment of passion we vow to never do. “I will never break someone’s heart” “I will never eat more than one cookie” Well, my solemn vow was if I ever met a famous person I would be totally cool-headed. They are just normal people, right? Not right. Not even remotely correct. Like, I wish I could go back in time just to bash Past Valerie’s head into a wall for even thinking that thought. Someone who wears thousand dollar shoes and lives primarily inside of a television could not ever be normal.

I was in San Diego a few weeks ago with my senior class for our last hoorah together before graduation. After months of annoying begging from each of the girls, we set aside a California day to visit Los Angeles. The City of Angels- or as I fondly call it- The City of Zac Efron, since we all know angel and Zac Efron are synonymous. Anyway, I am getting off track. So we trekked out to LA on a Tuesday. Nothing exciting ever happens on Tuesdays, that is why plane tickets are the cheapest that day. That being said, you can understand how my LA expectations were limited to me putting my hands in Bing Crosby’s cement hand prints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. This was not the Maybe-If-My-Expectations-Are-Extremely-Low-Then-I’ll-Be-Very-Surprised-When-Something-Spectacular-Happens kind of thing. No it was more like the I-Never-Win-Anything-And-Have-The-Worst-Luck-Ever-So-Maybe-I’ll-Get-Lucky-And-Chip-My-Tooth-On-Lucille-Ball’s-Walk-Of-Fame-Star kind of thing.

We are not standing on LA ground more than five minutes when the vulturous tourism maniacs hone in on our mid-west pale skin and serious scrutiny of the Walk of Fame stars which no one else seems to mind stepping on. They offer us a tour that takes us through Beverly Hills and Hollywood and when they mention Elvis’ house as a sight, they had me hooked. As much as I wanted to hop on their bus right then and tour the most magical city in America, nature was calling most of us after a ninety minute ride and so we had to find a bathroom quickly. The charismatic, albeit sweaty, tourist guide- may he be infinitely blessed for eternity- directed us to a hotel two blocks over.

There are many moments in a girl’s life when she feels poor. The first time she picks up a pretty pair of sensible shoes in Nine West only to realize they cost three times the amount she has in her bank account. When she finds herself paying for her McDonald’s milkshake in pennies and nickles. Since I have experienced all of the above, I can say with confidence that I know what Eliza in My Fair Lady felt like when surrounded by people who made more in a month than she could make in her entire life. I walked into the ritzy W Hotel. I could not have felt more out of place if I had attended the Oscar’s wearing a potato sack. We scurry past the well dressed entourage of people in the lobby, climbing over a rock garden and through an inconveniently placed plant into the most lavish bathroom I have ever set foot in. A jeweled column stood in the center of this darkly tiled foyer with modern sinks and eight separate rooms which were considered stalls. I stood and gaped for a few moments and then went to investigate the stall décor. The funny thing was that for such an expensive bathroom there were no lights in the stalls.

I have always prided myself on my most useless and most treasured skill. I am scarily good at recognizing actor’s voices. I know that DJ’s boyfriend Steve on Full House played the speaking voice of Aladdin. I know that Mel Gibson in all his psychotic glory, played the voice of John Smith in Pocahontas. For this reason I am most ashamed of what happened next. I hear a voice of a woman across from me wondering where the lights are. I hear my friend say that we were looking for them too and could not find them. She then goes on to say something along the lines of, “Well, I think I’ve done this enough times to know how it works.” I walk out to wash my hands a few moments later. I find myself idly wondering where my friends are. I had soap on my hands and was impatiently looking for away to turn the fancy sink on, to no avail. I look up into the mirror and am going to ask the woman at the other sink if her’s is working when my tongue becomes glued to the roof of my mouth when I see Ellen DeGeneres smiling at me.

My mouth dropped open and I stood for a few silent seconds debating whether to yell out to my friends whom I thought were in the stalls, “ELLEN IS HERE I REPEAT, ELLEN IS IN THE BATHROOM.” It was the weirdest thing ever because minutes before we had all been talking about who we would like to meet if we had the chance while in LA and I said Ellen DeGeneres, which is so ironic. I think I was also so shocked because I think on the inside I kind of always thought celebrities were these animatronic creatures that did not exist in the normal world. I mean, you do not expect to look up and see a famous person doing something normal like washing their hands. If she had been average I would have proceeded to ask her about her sink and perhaps laugh at the idiotic construction of pretty sinks that do not do their jobs. But instead I elected to dart out of the bathroom, soapy, unwashed hands included, to make sure my friends would believe what I saw. It turns out they had already seen her and spoken to her and did not give me any warning at all. They could have given me three taps on the door or a bird call or something.

While laughing at me, my friends helped me clean the ridiculous blue soap off of my hands while the maitre’d looked on, laughing at my wide, disbelieving eyes. Ellen came out of the restroom and when we asked her to take a picture with us said, “Okay, should we get into a pyramid? As long as I can be on top.” to which we all forgot to laugh because we were in awe of her realness. I handed my phone to her right hand man, Andy. He started to look confused while trying to take our picture and Ellen asked him if he was doing all right and he said he was. After all was said and done, I had a blurry picture starring Andy’s finger and an accidental selfie he took with my front camera. How thankful I am that there were a few other cameras besides mine.

I called my mom and dad after this and told them what just happened. My dad told me I should have asked her for money for my missions trip and my mom wanted to know if I had told her I was born where she was in Louisiana. My mom also made sure to remind me that if I saw Robert Downey Jr. to grab his legs and hold on for dear life and if I were to see Johnny Depp to “not be afraid to give him her number” her words, not mine. I touched Ellen while we were taking the most exciting picture of my life. I feel that since Ellen has hugged and touched so many celebrities in her lifetime, a few of them rubbed off on me. So I have decided that through Ellen I have hugged Ryan Gosling, Taylor Swift, and Jude Law. I may not be famous but by golly, I do believe I can be considered famous adjacent now. I’m hoping my next brush with fame will be a little more graceful, but not likely.

Killer Genes

The first encounter I recall having with vicious Mother Nature is vividly, painfully pressed into my brain. My dad is this huggable lug of a man who has an unashamed fetish for birds. We have chickens in my garage at this very moment. I live in a Chicago suburb so I can safely say we are the only family within a fifteen mile radius that has a chirping garage. We actually raised a peacock in my garage. That garage has seen a lot less vehicles and a lot more poultry than should be allowed.

When I was about three years old my family lived right outside of New Orleans, a similar setting to where we live now. My dad’s fierce love of flying animals was stronger than ever. Macaws, doves, pigeons, cocktails, parrots; you name it, we had it in our backyard. Thinking back we probably could have opened up the Walker Family Bird Petting Farm for a little extra cash.

Our birds were all caged except our chickens. There was a specific rooster who was very territorial, I guess you could call it that, or you could just say he hated my bald little Valerie self and wanted to peck my eyes out. I toddled my chubby little legs outside one day, unaccompanied by my mother, and approached the temperamental rooster. I reached my stubby finger out to make a friend and the demon rooster took advantage of my kind heart and attacked me. Even now I have a very low tolerance for pain-like, I will sub tweet angry things for two days after a toe stubbing incident- so I ran into my house weeping like- well, like a three year old. Mother dearest was not pleased. She grabbed the broom from the kitchen and stormed outside, hitting the defenseless rooster until he was unresponsive. “Unresponsive” is my delicate way of saying dead. He was dead. She killed him. This is the reason I know I would have a good chance of surviving if the United States collapses and the Hunger Games become an actual thing. Thanks for the homicidal genes, mom.

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Unrealationships

We all know what it is like, that phase when two people are digging on each other but are not “exclusive” yet. Many times, for me anyway, this phase almost always lasts longer than the dating relationship. It is this agonizing time of asking obscure questions like, “What’s your favorite color?” or, if you are really deep, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” I have always found myself trying to think outside the box and ask “What color is your mailbox?” or “When was your carpet installed?” in the hope of sounding quirky and cute when, in fact, I was sending the message “I am a stalker, run while you can!” The point is, this idiotic stage that teen couples have invented to bridge the gap between “friends” and “friend friends” is called, perhaps the stupidest term I have ever heard, “talking”.

I am ashamed to admit the number of boys I have had talkationships with. I am this contradictory mix of stubborn and shrewd with empathy and the awful habit of always saying yes. A boy asks for my number, OF COURSE I give it to him. I would never embarrass anyone by saying no because I would never want it to be done to me. I know, I am a stupid girl, moving on. Since I am a female, I am wired with the mental stability of a grown woman and the emotional stability of a snail. Here I am assuming that snails tend to cry in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and angrily call their township whenever passing pathetic dead animals on the road. That being said, I have been in relationships with boys who do not know they were in a relationship with me. Unrequited love is still love. Can I get a woop woop?

For those of you who are pretending you do not understand how fickle this whole process is, I am going to pull out a real life example. This is sadly not hypothetical and please, feel sorry for me when you read this.

Fifteen years old. By this point I have been a teenager for a little over two years so I know everything already. I know about love because I have listened to every Taylor Swift song. I can relate to her song “Fifteen” even though I have not even kissed a boy. I’m all “IT’S A LOVE STORY BABY JUST SAY YES!” in the mirror every night. Totally mature enough for a relationship. I’m going to get my braces off soon and then LOOK OUT boys because I am going to charm the heck out of you with my Nancy Drew lingo and my exponential knowledge of Walt Disney. So here I am, the kind of girl who laughs when the Chinese nail salon people rub my feet, waiting-no- drooling in anticipation of my knight in shining armor to come and sweep me away. Side note: if you have not been told before, books give you unrealistic expectations and there is no Ned Nickerson or Jay Gatsby who is pining for you. If you find someone who has the sense not to pick his nose in public and he has nice teeth, grab him and do not let go.

So back to the point. Little Valerie was minding her own brace-face business when lo and behold I get a Facebook chat. You can laugh but seriously, a few years ago getting an IM chat from a boy totally counted as him making the first move. Well, it counted to fifteen year old me who did not have the sense to be picky. Anyway, I get a message from this boy who was not very cute but was really funny and I do not know what it is but I just want to hug boys who are funny because life is hard and confusing and I appreciate someone who can see it happy. Long story short we had a few more chat dates- that sounds even more pathetic when I write it- and then he gave me his phone number.

When a boy gives you his number it gives you all the power. I mean, you could have just accepted it to be polite and then you never have to actually call him. So I really can not blame anything that happens after that on anyone but myself. I text him a day or two later without saying who I am. That was my sneaky test. If he gave his number to girls all the time then he’d have to ask who I was, if not, then he would know it was me. He knew it was me. My one, poorly assimilated test had been passed. No more standards for him to meet. Bad idea.

In the following weeks I did not really get to know him at all. We would barely acknowledge each other in public and it was really exasperating and unhealthy. We talked on the phone for hours but there were always weird silences when we would realize we did not have much in common. He kind of hated everything. It is hard to relate to someone who only finds solace in computer games. (Yes I know, judge me later) Now, I complain a lot in my head, because I am the only one who has to hear but this dear boy liked to complain about everything. But I liked the attention he gave me and so I kept listening to stupid complaints and I actually endured a lecture on the difference between elves and knaves. Like what the heck? Boys, if you are going to be that weird, share it with your guy friends and please, spare us.

So eventually we “broke up”, if you could call it that. I remember calling my friends and feeling very “woe is me” that afternoon. I walked outside because it looked gloomy and went and sat on the swing in my backyard because it seemed like a bookish thing to do, and then I cried. I remember when it started to rain and I had the funniest, stupidest thought, “The sky is crying with me!” I barely even knew this boy but I think I liked feeling the heartbreak. In this weird way I finally understood a small part of what all those heroines in books were whining about.

What is the point of this? Of course you are asking yourself that right now. The point is that girls, the mysterious creatures we are, need to have a little more self-respect. You know what? I am eighteen now and I still think there are Noah Calhouns out there. Actually, I KNOW they are out there because of all the precious couple posts people feel inclined to plague us all with on every social media possible. I have not kissed a lot of frogs, but I have hugged a lot of frogs, held a few frog’s hands, and talked to so many frogs on Facebook chat that when my charming significant other decides to grace me with his presence I may throw a punch at his jaw for making me entertain amphibians for so long.

Signed,

Ms. Ranting and Raving

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