Tag Archives: College

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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I’m A Big Kid Now

Image            So, birthdays. They’re just self-centered excuses for us to dedicate a day to ourselves. (As if every day of our life isn’t already doing that) So, we expect all our fair weather Facebook friends to post the hollow, obligatory, well wishes on our wall. We expect birds to help us dress in the morning, everyone to bow before our birth, and all other unreasonable dreams to come true. That being said, yesterday was my birthday. Like most other women, I adopted the I-Don’t-Care-What-We-Do-Wait-No-Not-That attitude. The older I get, I understand that birthdays become less important- but no matter how grand it is, I’m always left with the feeling it’s supposed to be bigger, badder, better. Nevertheless, considering it was the first birthday I didn’t have an emotional Peter Pan I-Don’t-Wanna-Grow-Up moment, it was pretty successful. So, in the theme of acting like a pretentious know it all (which I am), I’d like to share 19 things I’ve learned over the last 19 years.

1. You can’t always get what you want (to be sung in Rolling Stones fashion) Message to myself and the world: You’re spoiled, get a job and get over yourself.

2. But if you try sometimes, you get what you need (Also to be sung like the Stones) I started college with the intent to teach in the future. I liked the idea of it and still do. But since then, I realized what I really wanted to do is Law. Why didn’t I think about it before? Because I’ve been underestimating myself all these years. “Lawyers are rich people that go to Harvard” –stupid thought I used to have. With the risk of contradicting my number one, there are some things you can afford to work for that will pay off.

3. People are mean

If you know yourself at all, you know this one is true. The rude thought I just had about the Mexican man shoes the girl next to me is wearing proves this. We hate to be teased but we love to tease. Woe is man.

4. Moderation matters

Cake is good. You won’t see me posting passive aggressive subtweets toward cake. But eating 5 pieces of cake in one sitting? You’re single handedly keeping the cardiovascular disease treatment industry alive. You can have your cake and eat (small portions of) it too.

5. Secrets don’t make friends (unless they keep people from being hurt)

We all know them, those people who always have the scoop on everything. People who religiously use the phrase “I’m just being honest” undoubtedly enjoy telling you what’s what under the guise of honesty. If you can’t think of anyone like this, it’s you. People might like to hear shocking secrets about other people from you but you can bet your deceptive little mouth they won’t be telling you anything important to them.

6. Stranger danger

Yes, smiling and greeting strangers in public may get you some funny looks but wearing your most unapproachable stink eye face will definitely enhance your chances of getting beat up in the Walmart parking lot. So be good for goodness sake! (Santa Clause is coming to town so watch out)

           

7. Return your grocery cart in the parking lot

Unless you are physically impaired, there’s no acceptable excuse for why you can’t walk the 20 feet to the nearest cart corral. WWJD?

8. Cook dinner at home

You can eat more, be healthier, and have more money in your pocket. If any of those sound like a con, I know a good therapist you can see.

9. Go to college

I understand that some people aren’t “college people”, but I dare you to find someone who took a few semesters to take some basic courses who says they don’t use any of it today. I double dog dare you.

10. Send letters

You know you love getting them, so take the time to send them. They don’t have to be Pilgrim’s Progress length to get the job done. A simple, “Hey look at this unflattering doodle I drew of my dreary Philosophy professor yesterday. I miss you!” will do.

11. Read a different book each month

It’s impossible for reading books to make you stupid. Read more books and you’ll find yourself winning more arguments. (The more you know the more you get to school people)

12. Watch the news

Yes, it’s depressing. Yes, it will make you paranoid. Yes, it will make you a well-informed contribution to the world. (Just do it)

13. Go to town meetings

These things are like they’re depicted in Gilmore Girls, except with less silliness and more drama than the whole of MTV can contain. Bring some popcorn, sit in the back, and it’s a free dinner and a show.

14. Smile and thank people who accidentally mess up your food order

We all know that feeling of victory when your food comes towards you. We also know the feeling when your steak is overcooked, there are unwanted pickles on your burger, or you get potatoes instead of fries. But it really makes you feel better when you’re gracious and understanding when an establishment that serves hundreds of meals a day makes an error. Move on! Eat your fries!

15. Journal

NONE OF US ARE CONSISTENT ENOUGH TO KEEP A DAILY JOURNAL. Now that that’s out of the way, Future You will thank you for the laughs when they run across the angrily scrawled note you wrote to yourself after getting a flat tire- in the rain.

16. Think first, speak later

I was wacked out mad at my English professor because of a grading error and wrote a steamed interview on the Rate My Professor website. When I went to class, he had corrected the error and complimented my writing. Shame ensued.

17. Some people will never be nice

You can’t be everyone’s friend. There are a lot of people who will never like you. Don’t take it so hard! Haters gon’ hate. Wipe the sweat off your forehead and eat some Oreos.

18. Take less pictures

While I really appreciate capturing special moments, it’s a shame to only remember the way it looked through my camera lens.

19. Sing…..a lot

Whether you’re Celine Dion or Cee Lo Green, singing releases endorphins- just like eating chocolate, without the calories. Do a deer, a female deer, re a drop of golden sun…..

I am 19, going on Too Old (to be sung in Sound of Music fashion)

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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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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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