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Post College Reading List: Perks of Being A Wallflower

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Being not even two weeks out of my academic career, I now find myself facing dozens of new challenges. Where will I find a job? What kind of job should I look for? Where should I live? How will I take care of myself? Will I ever see my friends again?

Oddly enough though, one of my biggest dilemmas is, “How have I not read so many books in my 16 years of schooling?” Maybe it’s just the English degree coming out here (okay, it’s totally the English degree), but I feel like I have missed out on so many great works of writing. How could I have gone through high school and college and not read classic books? I began making a list of just the titles that came to my head, and when I got to the bookstore that list grew even longer. The bibliophile in me wanted to buy all of them, but the unemployed college graduate told me to calm down and just pick a couple to start out. I picked the four cheapest ones (unemployed college graduate was pleased) and took them to the register to check out. The check out clerk asked if it was for summer reading, and I replied, “Sort of.”

The first book I chose to read from my list was Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

perks

I started it last night and I am almost done with it. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do. It’s an epistolary novel (written in a series of letters), which not only makes it a fast read, but allows the reader to get inside the mind of Charlie (the protagonist), since all the letters are from him to an unknown “friend.”

While the main characters are all in high school, the subjects they deal with are far from immature. Sex, drugs, alcohol, abuse, suicide, and abortion are all themes with which the characters struggle, and they are presented with incredible honesty and bluntness. Chbosky doesn’t sugar coat the negative side effects any of these, which makes for compelling characters and narration.

I haven’t finished the book yet (that will most likely happen tonight), but unless the book goes downhill fast, I would say it is definitely a book you should read if you haven’t already.

And as a side note, I thought the movie version that came out last year was pretty good too. The book is better, but then again, it always is.

And as another side note, I am aware that I basically just wrote a book report. Old habits die hard. At least I didn’t use quotes or MLA formatting.

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So, It Has Come to This

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I just turned in my last final paper this morning, and I can now officially report I am done with college, which honestly is crazy, because I still feel like I should be a sophomore or something. But it’s true. Four years ago I was about to graduate high school, and now I’m about to graduate from college. Come to think of it, a lot has changed in four years.

This was me at high school graduation:

Yikes. Thank god that cap is hiding my middle part.

Yikes. Thank god that cap is hiding my middle part.

And this is me now. Okay, about a month ago, but still.

It was a themed race. I don't normally wear tutus when I run (although I totally should).

I don’t normally wear tutus when I run (although I totally should).

This is where I thought I would be working once I graduated:

Getting paid to go on vacation and write about it? Yes please! And entry level jobs totally include jobs like that. Especially when it comes to journalism...

Getting paid to go on vacation and write about it? Yes please! And entry-level jobs totally include jobs like that. Especially when it comes to journalism…

And this is more my job prospects now:

Life of an English Major.

Life of an English Major.

I had rather high hopes for college me when it came to a love life. By senior year, I expected my life to be revolving around this:

Because everyone knows senior year of college you get engaged and then get married right after graduation, right?

Because everyone knows senior year of college you get engaged and then get married right after graduation, right?

However, my love life looks a bit more like this:

Except I'm not nearly as awesome as Tina Fey and I have to buy my own drinks and mozzarella sticks.

Except I’m not nearly as awesome as Tina Fey and I have to buy my own drinks and mozzarella sticks.

High School Me graduated with honors and a 4.0 GPA

womens-smarty-pants-logo-hr

 

But college is different from high school. Your goals in life tend to shift a bit.

dont fail

There’s more to college than just academics. High School Me didn’t realize this. Everyone tells you that you have to make sure you study enough and use your time wisely, because you don’t want to get behind. But what they don’t tell you is that if you put a little less effort into an assignment or skip a reading every once in a while in order to hang out with your friends, you’ll have a lot better time. I don’t remember the ending to Moll Flanders, because I decided to go sledding with my friends when a blizzard hit instead of staying inside my apartment to read it. But you know what, ten years from now, I will remember going sledding. I won’t remember having to read Moll Flanders.

At my high school graduation, I (thought I) knew exactly what my future was going to look like. University of Missouri. Studying Journalism.

Now at college graduation, nothing is certain. I mean, I will have a degree from Mizzou, but apart from that I don’t know what life entails. Part of it is scary, not knowing if I will get a job, or even what that job may be, or where I will live. Who knows what will happen in the next four years of my life.

I could get a great job. I could still be unemployed.

I could live in Austin, Texas, like I’m hoping I will. I could be living in Chicago still.

I could be engaged or married. I could still be single.

I could run a marathon. I could break my leg and never walk again.

I could develop a taste for olives. I could still hate them with a blinding fury.

The point is, I don’t know, and that’s alright. If there is one thing I have learned from college, it is this: things will happen when they happen, and when they happen, there is a reason for it. You may not understand it at the time, but looking back, you will see that helped you get to where you are today.

It’s weird to think that my life won’t be measured anymore in terms of years of schooling. Homework won’t exist. Summer and winter break are gone (sadly). I’m still trying to wrap my mind around all this. But I know that whatever the next few years brings will be awesome, and will shape me more into the person I’m meant to be.

I also know that in a few years I will look back at this post and think, “Wow, I was so naive, I didn’t know anything back then. What a loser.” Looking forward to that, Future Me.

So in summation:

dogs

The Unintentional Anti-Feminist

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This semester I am taking a Women’s Studies class all about the history and overview of feminism in the US. Now while some things are entertaining to learn, for the most part I find myself sitting there thinking, “This seems a bit over the top.” Now please don’t get me wrong, treating women like an object and property is never okay under any circumstances, and abusing them in any way is absolutely unacceptable.

I think it’s great that women can now vote, own property, inherit from their parents, hold any job they want (although they still aren’t paid the same as men), and wear pants (if that’s the kind of thing you want to wear). I like knowing that I can do all these things.

But here’s the thing: I don’t really consider myself a feminist. I’m sure if true feminists were to look at my stances on things, they would say I set the feminist movement back fifty years. And honestly, they’re probably right.

Just how anti-feminist am I? Let’s take a look, shall we?

I hate wearing pants. Given the opportunity, I would wear a dress or a skirt every single day. I love feeling girly and feminine. Add a cute pair of heels (kitten heels, not stripper heals, let’s be classy here) and a headband and you have the perfect outfit. I hate the cold because I have to wear pants. Pants feel so restrictive and it is so hard finding pants that fit well.

I would totally wear any of these dresses, and not even for a special occasion, unless Tuesday counts as something special.

I would totally wear any of these dresses, and not even for a special occasion, unless Tuesday counts as something special.

I love to cook and bake. I make dinner every night for myself and one of my roommates, and I don’t mind doing it. It isn’t a burden. I bake sweets on a regular basis and give them to my friends. If I am upset or stressed, nothing calms me down more than cooking or baking something. I love it. I don’t mind making a boy a sandwich so long as he asks for it nicely. I don’t think it’s demeaning when my guy friends call me up to ask me to bake them banana bread or “show them how” to make meatballs. Cooking for others is one of my favorite things to do. There are not too many things that I am really good at, but I know I can cook. It’s one way I can show others that I care about them.

And for those wondering, yes, that is Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony. And yes, I do sing that song every time I make cupcakes.

My life’s ambition is to be a housewife/mom. Not kidding. Given the opportunity, I would be a soccer mom in a second. I want to stay home and take care of my kids. When they’re at school, I want to run errands and do laundry and clean the house and have dinner ready by the time my husband gets home from work. I want to have one of those calendars where each kid is color coded on there to show who has to be where at what time. I want to be one of THOSE moms. With graduation so quickly approaching, I keep getting asked what my plans are for the future. Somehow, “Stay at Home Mom” isn’t exactly the answer people are looking for, especially when I am currently single and have no prospects for a husband on the horizon.

Charlotte York. She understand me.

Charlotte York. She understands me. And those cupcakes look delicious. 

I love Disney Princesses and think they are actually pretty great role models. Before you all grab your pitchforks and yell, “KILL THE BEAST!” or some other word that starts with ‘B’ hear me out. Honestly, I could write a whole blog post about how great Disney Princesses are, but that is for another time. No, I don’t think they are passive women who just allow men to save them. They were dreamers. They had dreams far bigger than what their families or societies had for them. They took risks and even when things looked dim, they still believed in a happy ending. And what’s so bad about a happy ending? I don’t know of a single person who says, “Man, I hope things turn out badly for me in the end.”

My favorite Princess. Booyah.

My favorite Princess. Booyah.

Now please note that what I believe is strictly in view of my own self. If a woman wants to wear pants, more power to ya.  If she only uses her oven to store sweaters (I’m looking at you, Carrie Bradshaw), then go ahead. If she wants to have a high-powered job and work 60 hours a week at a super competitive job, by all means follow your dreams. I applaud the women before me who fought so hard for women to have the option to take advantage of all these choices. My  choice though is this.

It’s not as though I was told as a child that I had to be this girly girl. My mother is very driven and worked very hard to be where she is today. My grandparents told be from a very young age that I could be whatever I wanted to be. My mom signed me up for a full arrangement of park district classes, from ballet to soccer, from cooking classes to amateur aviation classes. Clearly the ballet and cooking lasted longer than soccer and flying (You got to wear tutus in ballet! And you got to eat everything you made in the cooking classes! I got muddy and bruised in soccer, and aviation wasn’t very fun when you weren’t actually allowed to fly the plane. Apparently you must have a pilot’s license to that). I just always gravitated towards the more girly things. And for the record, I did not choose to be an English major as a cover up for a MRS degree. I chose English because I like to read and write. And nothing else seemed like me.

I’m sure there are going to be people who read this and feel bad for me or become angry with me for thinking this way. I hope you don’t. Like I have said before, women should be whatever they want to be. Don’t let me stop you. Trust me, I live with two very driven young women who I am sure will go very far in their fields and I cannot wait to see where they will end up. I would never try to push my feelings about feminism on them, because they would never buy into it. And that’s totally fine. I love them for their drive and spirit.

This has totally happened to me before. Whatever. At least I'm not a thief like Eugene!

This has totally happened to me before. Whatever. At least I’m not a thief like Eugene!

I have no idea where I will be in ten years. Hopefully I will be married with a kid or two, or maybe I will be single working somewhere awesome (or not so awesome. I can be realistic sometimes). I don’t know. What I do know is that no matter what I do or where I am, I will always be girly. And I will always have these likes and desires. It’s what makes me who I am. And really, how weird would it be if I was a tomboy who couldn’t even make so much as a grilled cheese? That would just be weird. A lot of people would be missing out, myself included. No, I think I will stick to skirts and cupcakes.

Stomach Flu Revisited

This is a sort of misleading title, but it’s almost 11:00 at night and I haven’t written for a while, so give me a break. I am not in fact sick with the stomach flu, but rather I am referring to a blog post I wrote back in November, in which I chronicle the twelve stages of the stomach flu. When I wrote the blog post, I was fresh from finally reaching stage twelve, feeling well enough to actually sit at my computer to write something instead of lay in bed and wish that my stomach would calm the crap down.

What I had no idea was the popularity that post would receive. Because of the title, it appeared in google searches when people would search stomach flu. What they thought was WebMD was in fact a twenty-one year old’s account of her illness. Initially, it was mainly garnering views, but then the comments started pouring in. People writing about what stage in the process they were, thanking me for writing such a well thought out and humorous post that made the feel better in their time of sickness. The view count soared–in this past week alone, I have gotten over 600 views of just that post, not counting any of my other blog posts I’ve written here.

It’s exactly what a writer wishes for: popularity and fans. The writer in me becomes so giddy when I get an email saying some random person in Canada commented on my blog. My writing is meaningful to someone, and that someone is not related to me in any way, shape or form (Sorry, Mom, I appreciate your support too!). It makes me think that writing is what I am supposed to do. It makes we want to blog more, but when I sit down to write about something, nothing comes to mind. Nothing seems worthwhile to dedicate an entire blog post to. At this point I think the Drafts queue on my dashboard is almost as long as my published posts queue. How can a writer be a writer if she has nothing to write about?

That is the question that keeps burning into my brain as I am getting ready to graduate in a few short months. I will have a degree in creative writing, and I’m not even sure if writing is what I want (or can) do. What could I write that would make people want to read it?

I never expected to have such popularity in writing about being sick (On a side note, my blog post about Lyme Disease is far less popular), and yet it has. Maybe that’s the key to writing. Whatever is on your mind at that moment, that is what you write about. Sometimes you get a gem, and more often you get a nice piece of writing that your roommates and grandmother read. But in order to find those gems, I’m going to have to keep writing, that much is for sure.

The Problem with Princesses

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I overheard a conversation a couple of days ago between what seemed to be a couple having a disagreement. I’m not quite sure what the disagreement was about, but what I do know was that the girl was quite whiny and demanding, and the guy was very sarcastic in his responses to her. The argument ended with the guy saying, “Whatever you want, princess.”

It always annoys me when people call a woman “Princess” as a negative term. Being a princess is not a negative thing. At least it shouldn’t be.

A true princess is kind, gentle, poised, and a good role model. She puts others wants and needs before her own. She looks out for those who need help. She serves her community (and country). She is mature, classy, and (almost) never finds herself in bad press.

A True Princess. Okay, technically Duchess, but we all know she's a princess.

The term “Princess” has become the opposite of that. It describes a spoiled little rich girl who throws tantrums when she doesn’t get what she wants. She is frivolous in her spending and her lifestyle. She is selfish and immature and more often finds herself un-tagging photos of herself underage drinking on Facebook than she is posting fun pictures of her weekend. No young girl should look at her and say, “That’s exactly what I want to be when I grow up.”

NOT a princess. For goodness sake, put something over your bazoombas before you have a wardrobe malfunction!

95% of girls grow up believing they are princesses. Disney movies sear into our brains the idea that we are beautiful and deserve to be happy. I am still waiting for Prince Charming to arrive with my glass slipper, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t acquired quite the shoe collection myself. Princesses don’t necessarily need a prince to rule. If you think about it, in every Disney movie was the prince desperately trying to find the princess because he couldn’t live without her. She had learned to take care of herself (Except for Aurora, who went into a coma. She was however under a spell by an evil witch when she pricked her finger, so we can’t put all the blame on her).

That's some crazy in her eyes.

The point I’m trying to make is that yes, girls and women should aspire to be princesses, but they should be a true princess. Being a spoiled brat is not something that should be celebrated. Being a good role model is.

So the next time you consider using the word “princess” to describe a woman, stop and wonder if “ugly stepsister” would be a better description.

Letter to myself, circa December 1997

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Dear Seven Year Old Me,

Last night one of our dreams came true. We finally got to see Titanic in the theaters. We went with our friend Julia. We drove ourselves. Mom didn’t come with us. We snuck a pint of ice cream into the theaters to eat because we’re hard core like that. We whispered our favorite lines along with the characters. We cried when Jack wouldn’t wake up when he was floating in the freezing water, and cried even harder when Rose met him at the top of the staircase at the very end. It was everything we ever dreamed it would be and more, because James Cameron (the director) re-released the movie in 3D. We wore our 3D glasses over our regular glasses (yeah, we get glasses, and we still wear them), and we marveled at the movie that we’ve loved for 15 years.

As I was sitting there watching the movie though, I kept thinking of you, and how much has changed in these few short years. I know the idea of being 21 seems really far off, but it’s not. And trust me, we go through so much between then and now. Some of our dreams come true; others not so much. For example:

We do not:

  • Get the replica of the Heart of the Ocean. But trust me, we would never have worn it more than once or twice. It would have gotten lost in one of our drawers never to be seen again until Stupid Teenager Us finds it one day and decides to sell it in a garage sale.
  • Hold onto our Beanie Babies and get rich off of them. Again, Stupid Teenager Us sold them in a garage sale for $1 each. I know, we paid $5 each for them initially. Trust me, we will regret this decision later on in life.
  • Meet/marry Zac Hanson. He never knows we exist. He is, however, still very attractive and he and Taylor and Isaac are still playing music. Unfortunately we haven’t gotten to see them in concert. Yet.
  • Get a boyfriend. Not yet at least. But before you look at me and say, “But you’re 21…” remember that we are a princess and frogs simply do not make the cut. There are only so many princes out there and we must be patient to find him.
  • Become a teacher. This is a GOOD THING. We are an English major now, and have no idea where our path may take us. We are both excited and terrified at that idea. On a side note, Mom DOES become a teacher. Weird, right?
  • Chew Tobacco like a man like Rose. Again, this is a GOOD THING. We will NEVER do this because tobacco is ICKY. We will STAY AWAY from it. Our body does not need that put inside of us. DO YOU UNDERSTAND????
  • Go to University of Texas. No Longhorns for us. Instead we go to University of Missouri, which is a pretty awesome place. Trust me. And trust Mom. She’s the one that found out about it.

We do, however:

  • Get to see the Titanic exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry with Alexis. It will be one of our favorite days ever, and we will still talk about it when we’re my age.
  • Visit five countries in Europe and five countries in the Caribbean. Plus Canada. All of these (minus Canada) will be without Mom and Dad. We survive. Our only child independent skills kick in.
  • Get our heart broken by a boy. By two boys, actually. No, neither of them was our boyfriend, but they still crushed our crushes. And while we went through these heartbreaks we believed that no boy would ever truly love us, but there is one out there. We just haven’t found him yet.
  • Get our hearts broken by many other things too. I don’t want to tell you all of them, because that would a long list, and some things are best left to getting through on our own. There will be times when we question everything around us, and wonder if there is any good in the world, but believe me when I say there is. We will never lose the hope of a happy ending. Never.
  • Ride a roller coaster, like Rose. A lot of them. We don’t throw up on one though. We will almost lose our glasses and/or phone (yep, we have our very own phone now) on multiple occasions. And upside down roller coasters really aren’t that scary. We won’t fall out, I promise.
  • Ride a horse, one leg on each side, like Rose. We do this on multiple occasions, in many different places. Yes, it is a bit intimidating, but if we relax, it’s actually really fun.
  • Drink cheap beer, like Rose. We will hate it though. Beer is icky. We will love wine instead.
  • Try to spit like a man, like Rose. It won’t turn out well though. There’s too much princess in us to do it properly.

There are so many things that I wish we knew at your age. But then when I look back, I realize that learning them will be half the fun. Seeing Titanic is certainly an experience that we will never forget, but it pales in comparison to some of the other wonderful things we get to see and do. I can only hope that we never let go of that passion and drive for our desires. After all, every princess deserves a happy ending, and we will be Queen on the World one day. We must remember to never let go of our dreams. Never.

With much love,

Twenty One Year Old Me

Why I Just Don’t Care About Sports (And Why I’m Okay With That)

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Mizzou suffered a great loss yesterday. At least that’s what I heard, I was busy playing Oregon Trail on my phone while my friends were listening to the game (if it makes you feel any better, Martha died of dysentery right before we made it to the fort). While most of the population of Mizzou mourned our sad loss to Norfolk, I went about my evening. I mean sure, it’s kind of a bummer that we lost, but in all reality, I didn’t really care.

Before you grab your pitchforks and torches to get me, know that it wouldn’t matter what sport we were playing. I wouldn’t care. I just don’t care about sports in the same way normal people do.

This isn’t a new thing either. I’ve never cared about sports. When I was six, my mom signed me up for pee-wee soccer. I was so excited to get the cute little uniform, but my very first game, I ran over to my mom in the middle of the game crying and said, “They took the ball from me! I had it and they took it! And they kicked me in the shins! I need an ice pack.” I then spent the rest of the game cradling ice packs to my legs. And that was the end of my soccer career.

In junior high, I played both volleyball and basketball. I wasn’t very good at either. Volleyball I played mainly because my friends were playing, and I was taller than most of the guys, so I would look intimidating (at least before the game started). I played basketball again for the sake of pre game intimidation, and because my crush played and any extra time I could spend with him was a win in my book.

High school I came to my senses and didn’t even bother trying out for sports. I did however, have to suffer through P.E. still. I hated P.E. more than anything. There is nothing worse than having to 1) change in front of other girls whom you kind of know but not really and 2) be in a co-ed class where most of the guys were really attractive. It also didn’t help that my teacher was a die-hard runner and that was the worst possible thing for me to do at the time. During our warm up run, he would always walk up beside me (because I wouldn’t run, I’d just power walk) and say, “You know you’re being graded on attitude, Weathers,” to which I would reply, “I have an attitude, it’s just not a positive one.” Somehow I still got a B in that class.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I even began to give physical activity a positive thought. I didn’t know that exercise could actually be fun. Now (well, before I got Lyme Disease) I run, swim, do yoga and pilates, zumba, hip hop and the occasional circuit training.

Note none of the activities I like to do are “sports.” I really just don’t care about sports. I have tried to watch them. I end up asking those around me what’s going on that I miss most of the game. A lot of the contact sports seem really violent and I find myself yelling, “Be nice!” to the players rather than “Get ’em!” like the rest of the crowd. Non-contact sports are boring, because nothing seems to happen really.

The Olympics are coming up this summer, and I will tune in to watch that. Well, I’ll tune in to watch the gymnastics and the swimming. The other things aren’t that interesting (although if they have trampolining on tv, I may consider watching that).

So I don’t like sports. I can’t help it. I’ve tried. It just doesn’t appeal to me. I’ve come to the conclusion that some people become giddy at the prospect of their favorite team going to the Superbowl, and I become giddy over my favorite actor getting nominated for an Oscar. I am already beginning to plan for the 2013 Oscar Party that Kate, Rae and I are hosting (there may be a Pinterest board for it). I scour over movie trailers and reviews. I get more excited that I found a great recipe to try than I do when a baseball team wins its division championship (baseball is in divisions, right?).

We all have different tastes. You can watch the Superbowl. I’ll throw a football themed party for all of you to watch the game at. I don’t mind. You shouldn’t either.

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