‘Though years have fled and years shall flow’

My voice wavers during the Alma Mater, turning into my grandmother’s not-so-great singing voice I remember hearing during church services while growing up.

Think about Bradley. Think about those quotes that supposedly make you feel better about things being over. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Yeah. That crap. You paid thousands of dollars NOT TO CRY RIGHT NOW. So smile.

“WiTh mYrTle WrEAtH wE’ll DEcK thY bRoW,
bONA’s, oLd ST. BoNA’S.”

Remember when you were a junior in high school and your mom graduated in this very chapel? Think about that, Emily. She was smiling as she walked down the aisle. NOT crying. You’re FINE.

“The verdant leaves our love avow,
Bona’s, old ST. bONa’S.”

Okay, okay. Some of the other graduates around you aren’t singing. They kind of suck. Maybe they can’t find their programs? None of us actually learned this shit. You’re fine, Emily.

“Thy name was ever fair and bright:
We’ll keep it thus with memory’s light
And laud thy glorious Brown and White,
BONa’S, Ollld sT. BoNA’s.”

But seriously. WHAT THE HECK? I hadn’t planned to graduate this early. Haley, sitting two rows ahead of me with the purple-y hair…SHE’S ready. She’s been ready. She even said she felt bad for me because she commuted, so she doesn’t have the same connection to the school that I do. One more verse. One stanza away.

“Our HEaRts shAlL EVeR be thy shrine,
bONa’S, ollllLd St. BOnA’s.”

I remember coming in here and studying the stained glass windows for two different classes. One with Dr. Tate, and the other with Bob Donius. I think… Clare College is kind of a blur to me now. Thank goodness Denny had me take all those classes my freshman and sophomore years. I wish he were sitting right behind me instead of diagonally. He’d probably keep kicking my chair and distract me from the tears welling up in my eyes right now.

“Around thy name shall honor twine,
Bona’s, old St. Bona’s.”

When my freshman-year R.A. said this goes by way too fast, I honestly didn’t believe her. She said to take a lot of pictures. I hope I took enough pictures. 

E’er hallowed shall thy memory grow:
THOugH YeARs haVE FLeD AND yEaRS ShaLL fLoW”

Shit. Here come the tears.

“WiTHin OuR SOulS tHy LoVE sHalL gloWw
BOnA’S, oOooLLd ST. BoNa’sS”

"Done," said the alumna.
“Done,” said the alumna.
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The dreaded questions

“What are you going to do?”

“What are your plans?”

…the dreaded questions people from high school asked me last Wednesday night as I slowly sipped my Labatt Blue Light.

“I’d like to do this.

“I’ve applied to this place.”

“I’ve interviewed at this other place.” 

“I interned there.”

“I’ll live at home, eat my parents’ food, feed my parents’ and brother’s dogs and try not sink into a deep depression come late January when everyone goes back to school and I. Stay. Home. In my raspberry, sky blue, burnt orange and lime green 13-year-old bedroom.”

Finishes first LBL, excuses self (ESCAPES THE AWKWARD QUESTIONS), approaches bar, buys drink, leaves tip and takes a sip.

Rinse and repeat.

Answer more awkward questions, receive hugs from people I haven’t seen in four years and get talked up by my brother’s 27-year-old friends who *GASP* didn’t realize their friend’s little sister would become a full-fledged woman someday.

I don’t think I realized adulthood for me was on the horizon, either.

Finishes second LBL, excuses self (ESCAPES THE AWKWARD PICK-UP LINE-ESQUE CONVERSATIONS), approaches bar, buys drink, leaves tip and takes a sip.

By my fourth drink, I’m ready to leave the small-town bar and sleep in my childhood bedroom. I’ll figure this shit out eventually. Next time I go back there, I hope I have some answers.

Your stereotypical Millennial

This is accurate. Except I’m not a guy. Nor am I bald.

I live in short snippets of language, and not necessarily by choice. To save characters, I shorten “and” to its misunderstood fraternal twin brother, the ampersand: “&” (though their cousin, the pound key – “#” – is like the sexually confused misfit of the family). I take vwls t f wrds, realizing the words “out” & “of” are pretty impossible without them. Eff. The ampersand strikes again.

You following me? Liking me? Linking up with me? Pinning me? (I think you can actually do that at the bottom of this post.)

Because of this 140-characters-or-less lifestyle I live, I have a short attention span… when it comes to focusing on only one thing at a time. You should see how many tabs I have open on Chrome at once, how many things I’m reading, how quickly I change the long link to a short one via bit.ly and post onto Twitter or Facebook in one fell swoop.

Swipe three fingers up on my track pad.

Photo on 9-25-14 at 12.41 AM #3 copy
My face isn’t actually this blotchy.

Tap to find the page I need and tap the URL box.

Command A.

Command C.

Swipe three fingers up on my track pad.

Tap in box I need.

Command V.

Typing those five “sentences” took longer than it takes me to do what I highlighted in them. Because I do things without thinking now and always try to find the answers on my own before looking for a different source and oh my good golly gosh it feels good to not have to limit myself to 140 or 600 characters to write out a good, long and uncalled for run-on sentence.

I’m not a stupid Millennial; I’m a cog in the Net Generation’s clock, and I’m taking advantage of what I grew up learning. I’m earning money doing things I did for fun before. Stupid Millennial? Nah, just a woman on a mission to at least enjoy what she does for a living and find fulfillment in it.

…I’m not sure why I’m getting all defensive. I’ve only ever been swept into the Millennial stereotype by default; nobody’s ever actually called me out based on my generational status.

But I’ll sign off before my brain forces me to spend hours on this one blog post. I’ve only been writing in this box for 15 minutes. Tht’s gotta b a new rcrd 4 – just joshin’; I AVOID using numbers – for @SeeEmilyPlay.

Bye.

An abundance of positives

I don't know why I'm in a bush, but I look pretty happy.
I don’t know why I’m in a bush, but I look pretty happy.

I’m excited.

Because things often don’t come together so smoothly, so readily, so perfectly, so… so… <insert-another-adverb-here>.

But many things have been lately.

Like, uh, my internship. And other things I cannot disclose about said internship. All you need to know is this: everything is pretty friggin’ cool.

Oh! And that road bike I recently bought off a woman on Craig’s List. Sure, I’ve only ridden it two times, but I have plans to ride it more.

I decided I’d buy myself those turquoise pumps I’ve been wanting. And maybe a black pair, too. Another scholarship came in the mail; Emily’s still takin’ care of herself; she’s doin’ fine.

My capstone project has been officially approved. I have to do it in order to graduate, and I came up with a plan I believe to be foolproof. And it will be fun. Call me a nerd, but I’ve been thinking about this project since my freshman year and now it has kind of just fallen into place. Good things come to those who wait, or, if you’re like me, those who get trampled on, screwed over, taken advantage of and abused.

…but those are stories for another day.

Finally, there’s, umm, a boy. Yes. A boy. Those ‘Y’ chromosomes have been trouble for a while now, but this one isn’t. He’s super sweet and fun and makes my stomach flip upside down and backward. We’ve hiked two state parks, hung out in a treehouse, gone to the movies, gone swimming, gone out to dinner, made dinner together and we have a trip to Long Island planned in a few weeks. The company of one another is always enough. Like tonight when we’ll make dinner, eat chocolate-peanut butter ice cream and then fall asleep on the couch while watching Scrubs.

Our relationship is simple. Turns out Emily really likes simple.

I’ve gone through phases where I’ve lacked purpose. Where it seemed as though my bed grew arms that wrapped around me, physically and mentally containing me. I don’t feel like that anymore. Sure, sometimes seeing 6:45 a.m. absolutely sucks ass, but I like what I’m doing. I feel important. I feel needed. For the first time in a long time, I feel positive.

Peanut butter & jelly

I always try to do what makes sense.

Take bread, peanut butter and jelly from the hotel continental breakfast in the morning to have for lunch. (Don’t forget the banana and yogurt.)

10397226_10203581310885364_8723498419017002550_oIf it’s a beautiful day, go outside instead of staying in staring at a rectangle.

Ride your bike to the gym instead of driving. It’s only three miles away.

Getting a master’s in business administration makes sense. Right?

I have seven credits to take before graduation knocks on my door and force-feeds me a diploma. So let’s take a foundations accounting course, get a little math in there, get a taste of what an MBA would be all about. Be one of those few woman CEOs and run an entire company. Make a shitload of money.

…there goes my right brain.

I want to be successful, but maybe there’s another way. Another master’s program to enroll in, another path that is math free and more Emily-esque.

When I hung up from a phone call with the director of the MBA program at my school on Tuesday, I almost cried. Partly because of PMS, but also because I’m scared. College has basically been a walk in the park for me. The mistakes I’ve made have helped me learn and I’ve become a better writer, a better listener and a better intellectual. The idea of buying more textbooks, studying business strategies, solving math problems, stumbling over statistics… well, it scares me. Even though it makes sense. Even though I like the idea of being a boss to many.

For now I’ll save money by making a PB&J sandwich for my lunches with supplies taken from my hotel’s lobby. I’m a “poor” college student who can’t figure out if she wants to pursue what she loves or what makes sense.

Help?

Life, man

Writing is hard.

Writing sucks. A lot (of dick, if we’re going beyond PG here).

Writing takes me forever. 

So that explains my absence. I can’t tell you  how many times I’ve conjured up the “Add New Post” screen, only to look at the clock and realize two hours of writing would cut my sleeping time down immensely.

Writing a post means spending time away from the book I’ve been reading or the people I could get to know. Writing means solitude, a word and thing I’ve been trying to avoid as of late. Writing means having to pay close attention to detail and trying so very hard not to make a mistake I’m sure my “enemies” would call me out on Twitter for.

Three years of college and I’ve made some enemies, apparently. Imagine that.

I’ve spent the last couple days at home, watching my grandparents’ belongings get sold to strangers and Walnut trees fall in all their green-and-brown glory.

Some things are ending, but others are beginning. Like my life. My life, man.

IMG_20140427_114504Seven credits of college classes separate me from what I’m told is actually – this time – the “real world.” They had lied to me before when I graduated from high school. College isn’t the real world. College is the excuse I use for the drunken weekends and the hangover I have on Friday mornings that is too severe to make it through that morning’s class. But the professor understands when I email him. It’s college, after all.

More than 30 credits separated me from life then. Now I’m down to seven. Seven credits. Seven.

I could graduate early. Get a job. Leave my friends. Get an apartment. Save money. Pay back my loans.

Writing is hard, yet I’m trying to make a career out of it.

A career that I can actually see now. A career where an email on Friday morning from a hungover Emily just won’t fly anymore. I’m more mature than most at my age, but I am having difficulty with accepting this.

Life, man.

Diamonds vs. Claddaghs

I’m young. My parents’ generation got married at my age. My mother was married at my age. I’m not even close to that. I get excited about new books and the next tattoo I’m going to get. I get excited when the guy I like texts me, goddammit. So the fact people my age –– especially classmates from high school –– are close to marriage really freaks me out. Here’s one of the results.

“Single” changes to “In a relationship.”

“Who is it?!?” 17 of her 1,042 friends type, and click “post.” “He’s a lucky guy!” 

All 1,042 of you will know as soon as he logs in and changes his status as well. Which will be in, like, five minutes. Hold your horses. Half of you won’t even know him, anyway.  Follow the link and creep. Half of you don’t even know her, anyway.

FacebookLikeLet the Facebook Official (FBO, as it’s often called) nonsense begin, complete with kissy-face photos, longwinded statuses about “the best boyfriend ever!” and vice versa.

I scroll through my feed and laugh at the stupid couple-y messages written on friends’ pages. I did that once, but I know better now. I’m happier now.

“In a relationship” changes to “Engaged to.”

Fuck. Game changer.

Am I the one doing something wrong? Did I miss this memo? Should be meeting someone I can see myself settling down with?

What does “settle down” mean? WHAT THE FUCK DOES “SETTLE DOWN” MEAN?

“Congratulations!” 

“We’re so happy for you!”

“What a beautiful couple!” 

I have a Claddagh ring I switch back and forth on what seems like a monthly basis. Sometimes men want to date you, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I want to date, sometimes I don’t. That’s college. That’s life. I’m not torn up about it.

“When’s the wedding?”

“Look at that ring!” 

I sip from the Dollar Tree glass I filled with red wine from the box I’ve been working on all semester. I upload pictures from our agency’s trip to compete in New York City. I get tagged in pictures from our drunken escapades the weekend before.

I take another sip.

“Married to.”

Last name changes (maiden name in parentheses).

Wedding photos.

One more sip.  One more scroll through. One more click.

Then I’m back to applying for internships and scholarships, perfecting my résumé, designing the freshman newsletter, writing a story, setting up an interview, proofing students’ papers, (homework?), reading, writing blog posts, updating my digital portfolio, fiddling with my camera.

My 472 “friends” don’t need to know all my business.

Go back to high school, sweetheart

I probably shouldn’t roll my eyes at relationships that extended original roots whilst in high school, but I just can’t help it. I’ve seen so many young women with short leashes too often to sit back and shut up. Especially since I too once had a useless, constraining leash.

Christian and me at 15 and 14
Christian and me at 15 and 14

I talked to my friend Christian on the phone for over an hour the other night. He was my first boyfriend, first kiss; now we’re just very good friends. We talked about our self-diagnosed psychological problems and I, of course, blame a lot of mine on the controlling relationship I’d been in after Christian and I broke up. I couldn’t hang out with anyone but the boyfriend, forcing other friendships to fade and often igniting arguments.

“I remember you saying that you couldn’t tell him I was there when you hung out with Kevin,” Christian said, referring to our other good friend. “Shouldn’t that have been a red flag?”

Yeah. I definitely should have realized that was wrong.

When my two best girlfriends stopped contacting me to hang out, I should have realized something was up. Everyone else did. Nobody told me.

When my friend died last October, I really didn’t want to see everyone from high school again. My boyfriend-shrouded brain thought nobody from high school liked me.

Quite the contrary, actually.

We sat around the fire exchanging stories about our friend. My former classmates laughed at things I said and several of them told me sincerely they’d missed me and wanted to see me around more. I don’t think they realized how much those comments truly meant to me.

My high school-rooted relationship made me hate college my freshman year. I had fun when he visited me, but I also lost out on plenty of potential friendships because he always wanted it to be just the two of us.

Here are five things for you high school sweethearts to keep in mind:

1.) Can you really see the relationship going anywhere?
I don’t care how long you’ve been dating or how easy everything is, if the two of you are going in completely different directions, it’s probably not worth it.

2.) Will your significant other hold you back?
Maybe he or she isn’t as motivated as you are. If that person doesn’t support you in reaching your full potential, better think twice.

3.) How far away are you from each other? 
It’s one thing to go to the same school, it’s another to be left at home, or vice versa. If you’ve answered “no” and “yes” so far respectively, driving two hours to see him/her every weekend isn’t worth it. Maybe you can work things out if you go to the same school, but read on to number four.

4.) Does he/she support your friendships/trust you?
If your only friend is him or her because you’re not allowed to spend time with anyone else, see ya. If you do end up attending the same school, you still need to branch out. What happens if it really doesn’t work out and you had invested all of your time and energy for friendships into him/her? That sucks.

5.) Are you happy?
The most important one. If the person who is supposed to make you happy is failing, you need to really think about your relationship. The constant Snap Chatting and texting is obnoxious if he/she doesn’t even satisfy your happiness. You should be happy to see him/her, not dreading the sight of him/her. You should enjoy one another’s company. Once that excitement stops, your relationship probably should, too.

 

I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I’ve been there. Two years ago, I would have answered each of those questions negatively. Clearly something was wrong, it just took me a while to realize it.

Cardinals and Red Sox

Originally written for my creative nonfiction course last semester.

The St. Louis Cardinals should have won the 2013 World Series. Not just because I loathe the Red Sox, but because I have two cardinals tattooed on my ankle.

_________________________________________

I climbed onto the padded table, settled down on my side and Todd, the tattoo artist and a family friend, fired up the tattoo gun. “Don’t worry,” he said. “You’ll get used to the sensation.”

My mom shot me a look. You’re going to be fine, Em, her expression said.

The needle punctured my skin. I gritted my teeth and stared at the exposed bricks on the wall of the Fredonia tattoo parlor.

“You wouldn’t believe how many women I’ve made orgasm while tattooing them,” Todd said as he drew the outlines of the two cardinals on my right ankle, just above one of my moles.

We had been discussing weird reactions he’d experienced from his clients while tattooing them.

“My ex girlfriend was even there once when it happened,” he continued. “How many guys can say their girlfriends have watched them make another woman orgasm?”

Probably not many, I thought, teeth still mashed together. And they certainly didn’t orgasm while getting their ankle tattooed.

Or, at least, I hoped they hadn’t.

My mother laughed. She really likes Todd. She refers to him as her tattoo artist and isn’t fazed by his tattoo-covered body and rather large, pedophile-esque spectacles.

He had just finished tattooing the same cardinals on her left wrist; her second tattoo. My mom’s pretty darn cool.

My turn had come. She sat behind me and watched Todd draw the outline, then begin coloring the shapes in. She kept admiring her Saran Wrap-covered wrist and then glanced over at me.

“You doing okay, Em?” she asked.

I’m squeamish, you see, and could feel the little bulbs of perspiration forming on my forehead.

“Yeah… I just don’t wanna look at it,” I admitted, secretly thinking, How far along is he? If it looks decent enough I might just ask him to stop…

I squeezed my eyes shut and the fat man with an awful, grizzly beard sitting in the chair next to me getting his oh-so-manly bicep tattoo retouched laughed at me. “He kept staring at your crotch!” my mom told me later on.

I shot a sheepish smile his way while my mom and Todd jabbered away. The needle made its way into my skin again and again while I shut my mouth and clenched my teeth.

Thirty minutes later, Todd got up to clean his equipment. “That’ll do it,” he said.

I sighed, twisted to crack my back and then got up to take a peek.

DSC_0522“They’re beautiful…” I said, craning my neck and angling my leg to see them.

Brilliant shades of crimson color in the male cardinal. The female cardinal next to him has more yellows and oranges.

“Now I can carry Grandma and Papa with me everywhere.”

 

_________________________________________

My family and I believe in rebirth. When we die, we have the opportunity to come back and dwell in something else or some other creature.

A male cardinal has followed my aunt around by her home in Illinois since my papa died in 2011.

The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series that year.

Now a pair of cardinals –– male and female –– has followed my aunt around since my grandma’s death in August.

The St. Louis Cardinals should have won the World Series this year, too.

_________________________________________

It had been a couple months since Grandma died.

My Aunt Bobbe flew in from Illinois in August to help begin cleaning out her childhood home. With my mom and uncle at work, she went in alone, rifling through my packrat Papa’s basement treasures and deciding who in the family would get what of my grandparents’ belongings.

After a full, dusty day, she stepped out into the garage to leave. Then she heard it.

THUD.

THUD.

Aunt Bobbe walked around the cluttered space to find the source of the noise, then sat down on the garage steps and lost her composure.

A bright red male cardinal threw his body up against the window of the garage’s back door, trying to break through. A female cardinal, perched peacefully on the nearby shelving units, waited patiently for him to break through the glass.

THUD.

THUD.

In a panic, Aunt Bobbe climbed up the garage steps and pushed the button to open the garage door.

The songbirds stayed put and Aunt Bobbe watched them for a moment before walking to my parents’ brand-new Chrysler 200, climbing in and driving away.

She picked up my mom from work and, shaking, told her the story.

“It was them –– I know it was!” Aunt Bobbe exclaimed.

She drove back to my grandparents’ house to show my mom, but the cardinals had flown away.

_________________________________________

Mom asked me how my tattoo looked and felt the last time I saw her, just after the Red Sox had won the 2013 World Series.

“Fine,” I said. “But I wish the fucking Red Sox would have lost like they should have.”

She gave me a funny look.

“You know what, Em?” my mom asked. “After the Boston Marathon bombing, I think the Red Sox needed a victory more than we did this year.”

All 5’2″ of me

The light is still on in the far-right room on the second floor of Townhouse 31 because Emily CANNOT sleep. And she just gave away WHERE she sleeps. Whoops. She’d make some potatoes to eat right now if she had any. Unfortunately, she threw her last bag of sprout-covered potatoes in the trash can last weekend during a spring-cleaning binge. New potatoes have yet to be purchased. Tsk tsk. I know.

Enough of this third-person shiite.

I was texting my friend who lives in Iowa, but he seems to have fallen asleep. So that’s fun.

I wrote in my journal already and couldn’t come up with any material for a poem, so there’s that.

Oh, and I updated a few things on this here portfolio blog in case you’d like to take a gander. I finally –– FINALLY! –– added a picture of myself. Seems that’s been on my to-do list for two years.

What else to do but to open my laptop and try to write something? I’ve done my fair share of Facebook and Twitter stalking tonight and have grown a tad bored. Not a lot is happening on Instagram either, though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised after seeing what hour I’ve reached in the early goddamn morning.

I guess this is what I get for loading myself with sleeping pills every night this week except tonight. I really thought I was tired enough to just roll over and conk out, but I stand, erm, lay, corrected.

I ran tonight. Yes, as in the past verb tense of “run.” Shocking, I know. I had some pent-up energy that needed to be released, and staring at Natty World notes for another second sure as hell wasn’t going to help things. I ran to the gym. I ran around the track a few times. I walked. I ran again. I skipped a song on my iPod. I managed to forego what could have been an awkward encounter and just flipped that group of people the bird instead. I never said I was nice. (They laughed at me, though…people don’t seem to expect shit like that to come from me in all my 5-foot-2-inch glory. Hmph.)

It felt great to experience physical pain instead of the emotional-bullshit kind. It felt great to breathe heavily –– though my lungs are seriously suffering now –– and work up a sweat. I also got what is to me a rare glimpse of gym culture. It’s fascinating, really. Men flooded the basketball courts for intramural games, hogged the weight-lifting equipment and women took up the cardio room. I just kept running. And walking. And skipping songs on my iPod. Oh, and rehydrating.

I’ve said this before, but I really mean it when I say it this time: I’m going to take some time to really focus on myself. 

My roommate doesn’t believe that I will, so I’m going to prove her wrong. I have text messages from friends who agree that it really would/will be beneficial for me:

“Just give it a few days and you’ll be back to feeling like the wonderful person you are all by yourself!” said one.

“You need to get back in touch with you and stop trying to please everyone and stop trying to fix people, hun,” said another.

“You definitely deserve time for yourself,” said a third.

So I’m going to keep running and exercising, in general. I came back home tonight high off endorphins and ready to go. Go do anything.

I got the summer internship I really wanted, have plans to get serious about road biking and, best of all, my parents, brothers and sister-in-law are all in good health.

I’m done stalking social networks and I’m especially done writing this post for the night. Good night/morning.