You’re Not a Badass Unless…

You’re not a badass unless…
You can do a shot of vodka chased with a saltine chaser.
 
You’re not a badass unless…
You can do a shot of vodka without the saltine.
 
You’re not a badass unless…
You can do a shot of vodka and six more immediately following.
 
You’re not a badass unless…
You can do seven shots of vodka followed by a shot of Ten High Whiskey.
 

Freshman year of college, I was determined to be the baddest of all asses when it came to boozin’. I realize now that this was not the smartest goal that one should go into their college years with, but I was 18 and looking to prove something to anyone.

Cue Porno Steve and all I was looking for in drunken encouragement. He repeatedly tested my drunken daring, by provoking me into doing really stupid shit like swallowing a live goldfish. Mostly with drinking a whole lot of vodka. He also tried to get me to show him my boobs, but that never did happen.

At Bradley, Calling Out Weekend, which was held in the first month of school, was the time when all of the frats and sororities chose their people. This meant very little to our group of friends, other than the fact that it was like opening day for the party season. The Greeks would all get wasted and throw some killer parties. My very first frat party! I was stoked. In fact, one of my best friends from high school was visiting from ISU. Elizabeth, Katie, Sheila, and I spent hours getting ready to go, but were still able to start pre-gaming by 8. We made our way over to Geisert 8 to meet up with Mama Missy and the gang.

It was on Geisert 8 that I introduced Elizabeth to Porno Steve. The dares got higher.

You’re not a badass unless…
You can chug Aristocrat (Aristocrap) Vodka from the handle.
 

Oh Sure, what the hell!? It was at this point that I introduced Elizabeth to vodka. As it turns out, vodka became her drink of choice as well.

Chug Chug Chug!

So after pre-gaming like rockstars, we made our way to the frat scene. There was a brief drunken cry (OK, maybe a little more than brief) that Katie still teases me about, when Elizabeth revealed some secrets she had kept from me. This is what vodka does. It lulls you into a sense of false, yet warm and fuzzy, security; then it whacks you down with truth telling and overly emotional behavior.

No worries, though, because just as fast as vodka pulls you down, another swig can lift you up. After some parties, we stopped over at our dorm to grab another beverage, and were greeted by the Bradley police, The Residence Halls Association, and a few other choice “grown ups.”

Ruh Roh Raggy.

It appeared to be a sobriety testing facility that we had walked in on…and we were defo not sober. The Director of our hall came over and explained the situation.

“We are doing sobriety tests for freshman. This is just for a study we’re doing. You can choose to participate or not participate. No one will get in any trouble. Would you be interested in joining?”

“HELL YES!” Maybe I was a little overly excited.

I touched my nose, I followed the light, I sang the alphabet, I walked the line, and I blew into a breathalizer.

I wish I could tell you how drunk I was, but the number has since left my brain. I know that I was over the “legal limit,” but hey…I wasn’t driving.

Proudly Blowing Since 2001

They posted the results on a big poster in the hall, that everyone could see. Of course, I think it had an opposite effect to what they were hoping. I’ll never forget seeing the girl with the highest level of intoxication and her pride, showing off to others and pointing to her name. I’m not going to lie… I was jealous.

What dares would you take on after a few cocktails? Did you ever breathalize when you were underage? What was your freshman year of college like?

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Which One Was He?

In order to make forthcoming blogs make a little more sense, I thought it important to explain the history of the ridiculous nicknames that boys and men in my life have acquired.

Ever since high school, it’s been important to have nicknames for the guys in our lives. At first, it was so that we could talk about our top-secret crushes in front of them, giggling and smiling, like they had no idea we were talking about our undying love for them. Freshman year, they were all named after cars. Sophomore year, they were named after candy bars. I remember secretly loving a boy we had nicknamed “Snickers,” for no other reason than a Snickers bar was delicious. Junior year, we had a bazillion created nicknames for boys, and my future high school sweetheart was TS (Tango Stud as we had been tangoing in Spanish Class).

As the years progressed, though, nicknames became more of an endearing way of referring to our men. In college, Penny was dating the Moose (God only knows why), Sheila was dating the Viking (for his blonde hair and giant Norseman-ish size), Claire was dating the Lumberjack (for his plaid shirts and big burly man facial hair), and I was dating the Ethiopian (who was just really really skinny).

After college, though, the nicknaming became a way for my friends to remember some of my boyfriends/guys I was dating. Of course, for me it had a lot to do with not wanting to get too personal. If a guy met a couple of my friends, he wasn’t just a fling. If he met a lot of my friends, he was a little important. If my friends called him by name, he was insta-important. The nicknaming system was a great way to keep track of who we were talking about.

Everyone has that one friend who is constantly moving on from guy to guy. Maybe not even stopping to call one a boyfriend, maybe trying it on like an okay-looking dress that you’re not really going to buy. You know, “Wait, which one was he?” syndrome.

I was the master of that game. I played it very very very well. I really loved dating. And then I really hated dating. I went through some very distinct phases. The really crazy phases (where the nicknames became incredibly important) were always post boyfriend. I really don’t think I could handle another one of those, so lets hope Brian intends to keep me. 🙂

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I’m Not Crazy; I’m Hungry

A bout of insomnia last weekend made me think of this story.

During the second semester of our sophomore year of college, Penny and I decided that we were going to stop drinking as much, join Weight Watchers, and lose weight. As a team, this seemed incredibly possible. Mama Missy and her roommate were doing it. We could too.

So we joined up. We got skinny. We looked WAY hot. But… we cried a lot. We had given up the drink for water. Butter and cheese for cooking spray and butter flavored spray. Chips for veggies. The list goes on. This was when Penny and I came up with the Cinderblocks.

So it was strange that even though we were crying…we managed to get boyfriends. Sheila, Penny, and I all became non-singles in a span of 4 months–me being the last, of course. After a summer of wearing size 11 pants and medium tops, I felt like I was on top of the world. Sort of. On the verge of my first “adult relationship,” I moved into our junior year apartment.

This may seem a little crazy, but I was REALLY annoyed by the situation in the kitchen. Pots were in the same cabinet with bowls. Utensils were as far away from the stove as possible. Glasses were with plates and baking dishes, and other cups were with kitchen gadgets. It. Just. Didn’t. Make. Sense. Anyone can see that, right?

So when I couldn’t sleep one night…and woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning…I decided that it was silly to waste time that I was wide awake. I was going to do something. So I rearranged the entire kitchen. It took several hours. It freaked my roommates out. But it felt so much better. I felt much better. Maybe that’s when I started to notice my OCD tendencies, but whatever. I wasn’t crazy.

So I had my moments. We all did. After talking with my dad and the school health center doctor, I decided to try out Zoloft. I was told that it would take time to kick in, but really after 2 or 3 years, I don’t think it ever kicked in. I’m pretty sure that breaking up with Johnny for good and my minimized crazy were eerily related. But that’s a whole other story for another time.

So I went on some medication that was supposed to make me less “crazy,” but then my boyfriend broke up (for the first of many times) with me because I was “crazy.” Really, I think that I was hungry. I wasn’t eating cheese, because it would make me gain weight. I wasn’t happy with my lifestyle. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t indulgent. It wasn’t me. This is not to say that I would rather be the fat kid…But I would rather find a healthy way to enjoy cheese…err, to enjoy good food.

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A Family Born on Geisert 8

Melisa, AKA Mama Missy, burst into our lives like a rainbow out of the clouds on a storm-filled afternoon. Her vivacious energy was like a magnet. I think that I can safely say that Penny, Sheila, and I would not be the same without her.

After my parents moved me into my U-Hall freshman dorm room, with a tearful goodbye (my mom’s tears; not mine), I was free! No parents until Fall Break! Brilliant. So, of course, I had to call home everyday just to say “Hi.”

Every morning, it was the same routine. Wake up, call mom, live college life, sleep. Every morning, mom would ask, “So, did you get drunk last night?” Every morning (for the first few days, at least, I would say, “Nope. Not yet, mom.” Of course, that was before I was reacquainted with Penny.

After our decision to be drinking buddies, I took it upon myself to bring my old pal from high school (the sophomore) into the mix. I had met him and his cute roommate (who ended up becoming one of my very best friends, Mark) for lunch earlier in the week, and I knew that they could get us the “hook up” with the Bradley party scene.

So I instant messaged Joe, and asked what he was up to that evening. It was a Friday, after all, and the weekend had just begun. He invited Penny and I over (Penny would eventually become the secret crush of a bazillion of our friends without ever having a clue that they loved her) for an evening of drinking on Geisert 8. Yes. Geisert 8. That’s where I somehow became cool. Mark and Joe had a mini-fridge full of (OK, they had a six-pack of) Mike’s Hard Lemonade to share. After one drink Penny and I were giggly and smiley.

Just as we were running out of drink options, a quick knock-turned-open-door welcomed a loud and sassy blond with a sparkly shirt, a huge cup of something, and an even bigger back pack.

“Hello boys!” she cried in an adorably central Illinois “southern” accent. She zoned in on Penny and I and introduced herself. I’m Melisa, but everyone here calls me Missy. Who are you, ladies?”

Joe interjected and introduced us, “This is my friend Chrissy from high school and her friend Penny. They’re freshman.”

“Oh my God! How cute!” From anyone else, this might have seemed patronizing, but from Missy, it seemed genuine. I’m not sure what went through her brain but she took us on as a project. We would later find out that we were her second project of that first week of school. “What are you girls drinking?”

We giggled and spoke in unison, “Mike’s Hard Lemonade.”

“But it’s almost gone!” Penny confided in her.

“Oh goodness, don’t worry about that.” Missy whipped her backpack around propped it on the desk. She pulled out 2 strange bottles in addition to a bottle of Aristocrat vodka and a bottle of Diet 7Up. She explained the unknown bottles first, “This is Boone’s Farm. It’s fucking awesome. Here. Try it.” She popped open the first bottle,Fuzzy Naveland passed it to Penny then me.

“Damn! That’s delicious!” I told her.

“I know, right?!” Missy opened the other bottle, Strawberry Hill, which was equally as delicious. “Enjoy, ladies.” Missy sat down with us and started chatting, telling us her college life story, and asking for ours (well, about the first week anyways).

By the end of the night, Missy was showing us how to properly mix a cocktail by using your hands to twist the cup back and forth, just right. We had learned about Boone’s Farm, the oh-so-important bar bag, and why we should drink Diet 7Up with our vodka instead of regular 7Up (We don’t want the freshman 15 to become the freshman 45). Penny and I, giggly as we were, decided that Missy would be forever known as Mama Missy. We also thought that Joe needed a title since he was the one who brought us all together. Papa Joey, it was.

And so our little family was created.

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Cinderblocks

Hello World,
This is Katie. I’m sure you’ve seen me mentioned in Chrissy’s blog before. Chrissy clearly has both writer’s block AND poor judgment, because she’s offered to let me write a guest post.

This is an unprecedented opportunity. In fact, I’ve been mulling over what I would say in my Maid of Honor speech at Chrissy’s wedding for years now. It doesn’t matter to me that I may not be “Maid of Honor” or “in the wedding,” but I’ve decided I’m giving a speech at her eventual wedding. No. Matter. What. I guess this is as good a time as any for a rough draft.

I first met Chrissy at freshman orientation at Bradley University. Since I didn’t know anyone, I accepted the invitation of a peppy student aide to accompany a group of fellow orientees to Steak and Shake. This is where I first laid eyes on the girl who would become one of the most important people in my life. My first impression? PINK. She was wearing a pink halter top, pink sneakers, and a pink scrunchie (in fairness, scrunchies were only about 4 years out of fashion at the time). She was also drinking a child sized pink milkshake. I was still in my grunge phase, sporting enormously baggy pants and black t-shirts. By the end of the evening I knew one thing for sure. This girl was going to make sure I had fun, in spite of myself.

Katie and Chrissy Disney

In life you make a lot of friends. You make friends of convenience, acquaintances, surface friends. The best way I can describe my friendship with Chrissy, is that it’s like a marriage. Lesser friendships would not have survived the chaos of college and boyfriends and minor bouts of charming mental illness. There are friendships that, like relationships, implode at the first sign of trouble. That can’t handle a real fight. The ones you never cared enough about to fight for. Chrissy has always been worth fighting for. I liken our cosmic bond to something beyond a typical friendship. I’m fond of telling Chrissy she was my butter churning best friend in a past life, and as such, she’ll never be rid of me.

We’ve taken a sappy turn here, so I may as well go for the gusto. Our sophomore year of college, I was going through a rough patch. I was sitting in my dorm room crying because one of the boys I had a crush on wasn’t interested in me. It was then that Chrissy did what Chrissy does best. She put her arm around me and said “Katie, my love for you goes through walls” (at a loss for further description she glanced at the dorm room wall) “Thick ones. Cinderblocks.” I started laughing. And to quote one of our favorite movies, Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”

(This is a wedding speech, I hope you hadn’t forgotten that!) This is where I’ll raise my glass and offer a toast to the newlyweds: “May your love go through cinderblock walls, and may laughter always shine through your tears. Congratulations. And Groom… Good luck!”

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Olympic Memories

I have an obsession.

A complete and utter Olympic sized obsession with…the Olympics. Specifically, the Summer Olympics.

From the time that I was a very little girl, when the Olympic Games were on, I wanted to be watching them. I remember playing outside with some of the kids in the neighborhood on summer days, and telling them that I needed to go inside because my mom wanted me…but really I just wanted to be inside watching the competitions. Swimming, Diving, Gymnastics. When those events were on, I was glued to my TV.

I was going to be an Olympian. The gymnastics classes that I took at the age of 3 are ingrained in my memory. Jumping into the foam pit, performing on the low balance beam, cartwheels, and somersaults. I loved it. But it was pricey. Really pricey. After a year, we switched to Ballet. And that didn’t work out either. As I got older, I wished for Olympic Cheerleading. Which has yet to happen. But it will. These days, cheerleaders are hardcore.

Of course, as I got older, my knowledge of the games grew and I no longer focused solely on my mother’s favorite events. While they remain my choice events, I’ve expanded my joy into the entire 17 day journey.

In college, I got my roommates super into the games. “Family bonding nights” included dinner, drinking, and making fun of *Insert non-American team here*. We really loved the super tall Russian gymnast, who never broke a smile. We created a whole personality surrounding this woman and re-named our alter-ego of her.

“Olga” was a beast. She never smiled. She never had any inflection in her voice. And we would often use our “Olga” voice during Romance Novel Theater (in which we, the roommates, would verbalize the naughty bits in trashy romance novels performance-style. Usually it was Pat Piper and me…with Pat playing the part of the female lead, and me playing the part of the dude.) The Viking (the boyfriend of my other best friend and roommate, Sheila) and I bonded over Olga, and I’m pretty sure he still remembers her fondly.

During the last Olympic summer, I obsessed even more. If I wasn’t somewhere where there was a TV, I wasn’t happy. I required Olympic coverage morning until night. Lombard had just built its first Buffalo Wild Wings, and I was there ALL. THE. TIME. Not for the food, but for the multiple TVs. And the company. Flaherty’s had just closed, and I needed a home bar. B-Dubs worked for a while. No matter where I was that year, I was falling asleep to the late night Olympic Coverage. It was great.

This year is no different. I’ve gotten my current roommate into the games as well. We’re even attempting a cook-around-the-world feat. Saturday night was Greek Night. Last night, there were tasty homemade tamales courtesy of the fabulous roommate. An exciting time, I hope you enjoy it as well. I leave you with this chant…USA! USA! USA!

To start the festivities, just as the Greeks started the Olympics: Greek Night at our house.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Accident Prone

As I sit here with a cut on my right hand from God only knows what this afternoon, a gash on my left ring finger from this morning (when I was putting my shampoo back into the shower caddy and my razor jumped up and bit me), and a visible scar on my left thumb from cleaning the bathroom several weeks ago (and slicing my thumb open on a screw at the base of the toilet), I can’t help but back-track to all of the other ridiculous cuts/gashes/bruises that I’ve incurred over the course of my lifetime…

This is just a glimpse of a few of my idiot injuries.

Cooking a bagel–finger burn
Toasting an English muffin-hand burn
Cooking a frozen pizza–wrist burn
Opening a cereal box–paper cut
Walking down stairs–more injuries than I can count
 
The time when I was doing my civic duty, throwing away my trash after a movie. I tossed the drink cup into the garbage attached to the wall, and something bit me. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but something cut deep under my nail bed. So bad that it swelled up, bruised up, and I had to go to the doctor for antibiotics thanks to a raging infection. SUPER FUN.

One of my favorite “cutter” stories is from the start of junior year at Bradley. I had just officially moved into my college apartment, and I was waiting for my future boyfriend to arrive in town. I was having one of those really great days; you know the ones where you’re dancing around your apartment and doing all sorts of random cleaning/organizing because you’re actually motivated to do them?

So I was about ready to make some lunch, and I decided that I would have a turkey ham sandwich with cheese. I grabbed a steak knife to open the plastic packaging, and was having trouble when WHAM! I sliced into half of my finger. Luckily, Katie’s then boyfriend, Jim was arriving at the apartment, as I was panicking. He barely looked at it, but went off to CVS to pick up some medical supplies in order to handle my little situation.

Cletus showed up while Jim was at the pharmacy, learning everything he could from the pharmacist to ensure that I kept my entire finger in tact. When Cletus saw the blood soaking through all ten paper towels I had wrapped around my hand, he panicked. He told me that I should probably go to the hospital and get that shit handled. I had plans that night and I was NOT going to mess around with doctors and hospitals.

Jim returned with supplies and helpful tips from the local pharmacist, and he helped bandage me up. Welcome Week certainly started with a bang that year.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

An Inspirational Teacher

While I was in the early stages of my M.A. in Education, I was assigned an interview project. Meet with a teacher in your future specialty, and find out about their take on teaching. Ms. Tanner was one of the two teachers that inspired me to teach high school English. Here is what I wrote:

I had the privilege to learn from one of my personal heroes her views and beliefs on teaching. Having been one of her students eight years ago, I am able to understand how she has become such an amazing teacher.
Prior to becoming a teacher at the age of 37, Ms. Tanner had many career changes; from factories, restaurants, and retail, to running her own advertising agency, she truly tried them all. At that time, she was provided with the opportunity to travel with a fifth grade class to France. She and the fifth grade teacher toured France with the children, while keeping them up to date with their schooling.  Ms. Tanner learned that she greatly enjoyed being with the students, as well as being in the classroom environment, so she decided that she would become a teacher.
After considering teaching fifth grade, and remembering that she wasn’t a fan of math or science, Ms. Tanner decided that she would prefer more specified subject matter. A journalism degree and her strength in English classes led her to teaching high school English, where she would be able to help run a student newspaper.
As a teacher, Ms. Tanner has many roles. First and foremost, Ms. Tanner is a role model and a listener. I can attest that she has inspired many students, including myself, who still think extremely fondly of her. She makes a point to know something about each and every one of her students. She takes their writing to heart and keeps the information confidential. She provides a shoulder to cry on for students who need someone to talk out their problems with. She shares in the excitement of students who have succeeded and want to tell her first. She still visits with students who have graduated, and takes joy in learning about everything in their lives. As I was sitting in her classroom after school, an old student of Ms. Tanner’s came to visit. As he spoke, she listened with her entire being, happy for his accomplishments, and sorry for his losses.
Ms. Tanner believes that “the classroom is a mirror.” The way you treat the students reflects back on you. If you treat them with kindness, respect, and trust, you will get that back to you. She also believes that it’s important to divulge a piece of herself to her class. One of the first things you learn about Ms. Tanner, is that she’s married to Keanue Reeves. Or at least that’s what she tells you.  A little humor and embarrassment can go a long way. Her classroom is full of possibilities.
Another role that Ms. Tanner takes on a daily basis is that of a disciplinarian. She describes herself as a “foot soldier in the trenches to convey the administration’s rules,” and a “prison matron for the warden.”  She also considers herself a facilitator and a guider of learning. Her job is to “expose students to opportunities for learning.” Over the years she learned that her job is to bring the horses to the water, but she can’t always force them to drink.  She is not in charge of the learning. She provides the tools and the knowledge to learn. Only the students can make themselves learn.
Ms. Tanner is a professional colleague. She is a resource for young teachers. She feels a sense of camaraderie with her fellow teachers. Ms. Tanner also considers herself a bookkeeper. She tracks everything from assignments and grades to tardies and truancies. She is one of the few remaining of her colleagues to still use a paper grade book. She feels it’s important to have everything in one place, accessible immediately.
The challenges of teaching are always present. Some days Ms. Tanner wants to be too mean. She wants to yell and scream about the small things. She recounted a recent experience about a student who didn’t do his work all semester, but when grades came out, he asked what he could do. She told me that she was probably too harsh in her response, and days later she softened, giving him an opportunity to improve his grade. She sometimes wishes she didn’t react quite so immediately.
With challenges, come rewards. Ms. Tanner divulges all the perks of being a teacher. She loves working with students. All of the rewards are student based. “Students are fun. Adults not so fun,” she tells me. She appreciates seeing all of the students who come to visit her and the people she’s helped. She had inspirational teachers in high school and hopes that she is doing the same. I know from experience that she is.
In the 17 years that she has been teaching, Ms. Tanner has learned one very important thing. She never stops learning. “There’s never a dull, boring moment in teaching,” she reveals. She learns about human nature, her contribution to her job, and there’s always something new to learn about the subject. She regularly learns new things about the pedagogy. She recalls visiting several schools that run on a block schedule, which her school was considering. She is always learning new ways to deliver instruction. She smiles when she tells me, “You never know what the day will bring.”
Since becoming a teacher, Ms. Tanner has never looked back. Her only regret is that she didn’t start sooner. She wishes that she had known at 22 that she would love being a teacher. Of all the careers and jobs that she has had, teaching is, by far, the most rewarding and best job she has ever had.  She fondly discusses how enriching the job has been for her. She shares with me that she has been to many graduation parties, weddings, baby showers, and even funerals. Because she never had any children of her own, she always feels as though her students are her children. Ms. Tanner puts her whole world into teaching, and from what it appears, she gets a world back.
 

Of course, inspiration from a truly great teacher does not a great teacher make, and teaching just wasn’t for me. As much as I loved working with the students, teaching was not what I hoped it would be. Ms. Tanner is still an encouragement, and I know that she’ll be proud, no matter which direction I take.  She has one of the rosiest, shiniest, happiest personalities in the whole world, and I’m proud to say that I know her.

To this day, when I chat with her, she’ll still call me Sunny or Sunshine, and I’m glad that she considers me a bright spot in her world of amazing students.

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Mind Games or Mindless Games?

I love stupid mindless games. Maybe they help me think. Or stop thinking for just a little while. Maybe they bring me to a certain focus that regular games can’t… I’m currently addicted to Bejeweled Blitz and this crazy adventure game that I’ve been playing addictively for weeks now…

A few months ago, it was a game called Balloons Tower Defense.

Several years ago, I was sitting at my computer, procrastinating. Word Twist wasn’t really doing it for me. All of my friends were busy doing…their jobs….and I was bored. And then I thought of snood. And visited snood.com. And thus began another circle of the 6th level of hell that is snood.

Still, I blame Penny for this never-ending cycle. In fact, while we’re placing blame, I’m going to go ahead and blame Snood for not graduating from Bradley with honors. Single-handedly ruined my GPA, snood did.  Remember when I couldn’t think of anything to write for George Chambers? And I kept sitting there, playing Snood. And then I wrote him a poem about Snood? I do.

What about the time that a friend of mine tried to hook me up with the guy who looked like they Grey Snood? No matter how drunk I got, no matter how hard I tried to convince myself he really was cute….All I could see was Grey Snood.

And then I deleted snood.

And life was good. Until I found Snood Towers. And re-addicted myself to Snood. Fucking Snood. Then, while working towards my masters degree,  I supposed that because I was back in college, grad school, even….I should have had Snood back up and running. Just plain old original Snood….but there were oh so many more options than just Snood. That guy started running some crazy multimillion dollar organization or something.

There are now a hundred different versions of Snood! I wish I had bought stock in it when I first started. Maybe I wouldn’t be so damn broke. Maybe I wouldn’t waste hours at snood. Maybe I would be able to pay for my masters degree with money from SNOOD!

I am the master of procrastination.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Bradley University and Me

I almost didn’t make it to Bradley. As the one school that had almost everything I wanted from the time we started looking at colleges sophomore year in high school, Bradley was definitely on my list of future schools. My junior year, I discovered that my high school boyfriend, Sam, also aspired to go to Bradley University…so when we broke up right before senior year, Bradley was the last place I wanted to apply.

With the help of a guidance counselor that I adored and spent a lot of time with senior year — thanks to the undecided nature of what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I narrowed down my search. The lazy procrastinator in me didn’t want to spend all of my weekends touring colleges, researching schools, and applying to a wide range. My counselor recommended 3 schools — my goal, my reach, and my fall back. My goal was a small school, but I still wasn’t sure which. My reach was Notre Dame, and if I had gotten in, my dad would have sold his soul to pay for it. I’m pretty glad he got to keep his soul. 🙂 My fall back was ISU, though I feared the lack of success that would come with such a large school.

After many conversations with my pal Joe, who was a freshman at Bradley and loving it, I decided that Bradley was definitely the place for me. Joe, a comm major, assured me that my future in journalism would rest in the capable hands of the Global Communications Center at Bradley.

While the comm major in me never made it past freshman orientation, I survived four of the most amazing years at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. Home of the Bradley…Squirrels? Crazy Bicycling Asian Men? Rivermen? My school spirit was minimal, but my personal spirit thrived at BU.

As an English major, required literature was something Chrissy considered...optional. She managed to pull off a splendid GPA considering she didn't read one entire book for class.

Spring of my senior year, Dad and I drove down to Peoria for a school visit. Driving through the quaint but large downtown area, over the river, and onto the beautiful campus, I fell in love. On the tour, we found that Bradley had everything I wanted except for a football team. We ate lunch at Geisert Cafeteria, which we thought provided a pretty decent meal (little did we know that “visitation days” were Bradley’s best-kept meal secrets.) I was done. Sold. This is the school for me.

So I had a plan. And I got accepted.

That summer, I was to attend the freshman orientation: Two and a half days of the college experience. When Mom and I started the trip down, I was terrified. I cried. I didn’t know what to expect or what I was going to do. I wouldn’t know anyone. I kept thinking, What if it’s horrible?

They separated the parents and the students pretty quickly, so I was forced to fend for myself in the collegiate jungle…amidst 80-some-odd other scared freshmen. I met another kid from Glen Ellyn, who we referred to as Glen Ellyn Steve until he later gained the name, Speech Class Steve. I also ran into another Glenbard East alum, who I had never spoken to. Throughout the rest of college, Danny and I maintained an excellent passerby-acquaintanceship based solely on our mutual high schooling. Funnier still, he ended up living with my best bud Cletus senior year. Additionally, I made a gaggle of girlfriends during the orientation activities.

On the first night, we stayed up until 3:00 AM, playing Truth or Dare Jenga, eating grilled cheese sandwiches made on one of the best inventions, ever–the grilled cheese sandwich press, and talking up a storm in a Geisert common room.

On the second night, I met my best friend in the whole world. After a rockin’ dance party, in which I became the ringleader of a small group of suburbanites–promising that we would all get together over the summer for nights of dancing and hanging out and awesomeness, we made our way over to the East Peoria Steak & Shake.

Katie and I started chatting. She seemed like a pretty cool chick with her sassy punk rock princess tee-shirt, brightly colored Chuck Taylor’s, and wide leg jeans. I remember making her giggle when I ordered cheese fries and a kid-sized strawberry milkshake. This girl was going to be my pal. I just knew it.

While I left for orientation crying because I didn’t want to go, I left orientation crying because I wanted college to start right away. No one to tell you what to do? No one worrying what time you’re going to bed? All the time in the world, and living in a mini hotel with all of your friends? That was the place for me. Bring it on college. Bring. It. On.

Mom and I left for my uncle’s house–we had our family reunion the day after orientation. On the way home, she began telling me her orientation stories. She hated it. After meeting Glen Ellyn Steve’s parents on Day 1, she ditched out on half of the activities and hung out at the casino most of the time. Here’s why:

The conversation between the Glen Ellyn-ites parents went as follows:

Mr. Glen Ellyn said, “Oh! Hey, you’re from Glen Ellyn, too!”

Mom replied with a smile, “Yep.”

Mrs. Glen Ellyn asked, “So, where in Glen Ellyn are you?”

“Right off Roosevelt, east of the tollway.”

Mrs. Glen Ellyn looked at her confused, “Oh, where in Glen Ellyn is that?”

Mr. Glen Ellyn looked at his wife, patted her on the shoulder and said, “You know, honey…the projects.”

My mom-disgusted-walked away. She was done. I don’t blame her.

I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to return. The first few days of college were a blur, and I spent them with a new friend, Jessa, who I had met in my building. Every morning, Mom would call and ask me if I had gotten drunk yet. I hadn’t. During my wandering and exploring with Jessa, I kept passing this girl I knew from orientation. I couldn’t remember her name until day 3 when we were passing each other in U-Hall. I looked at her and said, “Katie?” She smiled back at me in recognition. We started chatting and got into a conversation about drinking. She told me that her roommate, who she had met at orientation, wasn’t a drinker and that she needed a drinking buddy. I told her that I was in. We’ve been best friends ever since.

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