Posts Tagged ‘college’

My Alpha Phi

APhi photo

I’ve been debating whether to share my thoughts on the “controversy” over the recruitment video posted by the Alabama Alpha Phi chapter. Frankly, I’ve moved past the need to defend my choice to be part of a Greek organization, but I suppose I’ll do it one last time.

Joining Alpha Phi at the University of Montana almost 12 years ago marked the first time I felt I could truly be myself without feeling judged. When I was with my sisters, I finally felt comfortable in my own skin, squirrely awkwardness and all. Every women — every human — deserves to feel like this.

This self-esteem gradually radiated into other areas of my life, and I owe much of the confidence and self-acceptance I possess today to Alpha Phi.

I could go on ad nauseam about the other benefits of being in a sorority, but surely you’ve heard them all before. Philanthropy, scholarship, leadership, etc. I have no doubt I am a more well-rounded person because I decided to go Greek.

But when it comes down to it, being an Alpha Phi in college made me happy. Being involved as an alumna and helping mentor our young collegians embarking on their own Alpha Phi experience makes me happy. Spending an evening laughing with my Alpha Phi sisters, who are still my best friends today and will be 30 years from now, makes me happy.

If that makes me “vapid” and “unempowering” (which is not actually a word, Ms. Smarty Pants Columnist who jettisoned this non-issue into the limelight) and “worse for women than Donald Trump,” so be it. (Side note: It doesn’t.)

I’m not defending the video by any means. The criticism of it, while overblown, is valid. I suspect most of the Alpha Phis who appear in it appreciate other “more respectable” qualities above good looks and having fun, and the video sells them short in that respect. But some probably don’t, and that’s OK. I hope their Alpha Phi still makes them feel valued for who they truly are, just as mine did for me.


Why I’m blaming my reluctance to vacuum on the 1980s animated classic ‘The Brave Little Toaster’

I had a massive revelation recently. Out of all the various chores you have to do to keep your house from looking like a hoarder’s, I’ve always loathed vacuuming the most. Mainly because I’m terrified I’m going to run over the cord and get electrocuted and die, and then who would be around to take Pancake’s selfies for her or defend against the rise of the Oxford comma-nistas or remind you when it’s Squirrel Appreciation Day?

I’m 60 percent sure that “don’t run over the vacuum cleaner cord because you’ll get electrocuted” is one of those urban myths perpetuated during childhood, like “mixing Pop Rocks and soda will make your stomach explode” or “if you cross your eyes for too long, they’ll stay like that.” (Sooooooooo … I kinda-sorta seriously believed that one until college. College, people. Good thing “True or false: If you cross your eyes for more than 10 minutes, they’ll stay like that” wasn’t a question on the SAT.)

For some reason, the vacuum cleaner one has managed to stick with me well into adulthood, and we’re practically living in squalor because of it. A few days ago, something deep in my subconscious must have clicked, because it finally dawned on me: The scene in the classic ’80s animated film “The Brave Little Toaster” in which everything’s just going to hell for the talking appliances, and then Kirby the Vacuum eats his cord and dies — DIES — apparently gave me PTSD that’s lasted for 20-plus years.


This is actually one of the more lighthearted scenes in this fucked-up movie. Seriously.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an actual clip of that scene in the movie, so you’ll just have to rely upon the photo above and your trust in me to believe it was absolutely horrifying and a totally legit reason to be afraid of the vacuum cleaner for the rest of your life.

Who else remembers this movie? Did it also scar you for life?

Why I’m not drinking (not even a drop)

Drunk squirrel

I woke up on the first day of 2014 the same way I imagine a lot of people did: with a pounding headache and the desire, if I could work out the pertinent details quickly enough, to never move again for the rest of my life.

I decided several times in 2013 to stop drinking. The first time, I made it around 40 days. The second time, a week or so. With the last streak, which started toward the end of September, I lasted exactly 100 days. I discovered near the end of the month that I would hit the century mark on the last day of 2013. The coincidence seemed like an auspicious start to the new year, so I decided I would break my streak at the end of that evening. At midnight, I had my first drink in more than three months: a glass of wine.

Then I had another. And another. And another.

It always starts with one drink, of course, but that’s never the one that gets me in trouble. It’s the second, the third, the fourth …

Thing is, I have a really tough time saying no to those subsequent drinks, even when it’s just me asking the question. Once I start feeling a little tipsy, I can’t resist alcohol’s promise to at least make me feel that I’m interacting like a normal, un-awkward human person. Despite learning the hard way that booze has a compounding effect when consumed in a condensed period — over and over and over again throughout the past decade — the lesson never quite seems to stick.

So, instead of starting the new year off right by enjoying a cup of coffee and going on a nice long run on a sunny winter morning, I wasted it trying to block out the light while watching How I Met Your Mother reruns on Netflix for the umpteenth time and relying on cheese fries for sustenance. (EDITOR’S NOTE:  Cheese fries are .4 percent sustenance, 99.6 percent ooey-gooey deliciousness.)

I’m still glad I decided to imbibe while ringing in the new year, because now I’ve officially confirmed a realization I’d suspected but chose to deny for years: For me, it’s easier to abstain from drinking all together than to try to drink in moderation.

I wish I could simply enjoy one drink and call it good. I envy those who can. But the inner angel-versus-devil monologue launched by one measly drink is exhausting, and the devil currently sports what must be a 98-to-2 record. Sometimes, I handle the aftermath of the devil’s victory well. Other times, it turns me into a genuine psychopath who bursts into tears at the slightest provocation and spontaneously stomps and kicks. It’s not pretty.

It’s a hard realization, especially in your 20s, when a lot of social outings still revolve around getting together at bars and breweries. And I genuinely enjoy a good Montana craft beer for the taste, not just its inebriating effect. It seems almost sacrilegious to live in a state with the second-most microbreweries per capita and not enjoy a brew from one, not even once in a while.

But, my 100-day streak has inspired confidence that I can, in fact, do this. And do it without completely retreating into a hermit cave.

I’m sure my willingness to give up this oft-enjoyed pastime would come as a shock to many people, especially those who knew me in college and could tell you how hilarious it is that I think I can dance after a few beers. Trust me, you don’t earn the nickname “Little Kicks” if you have amazing rhythm and killer moves. (Don’t worry, friends. I’m sure I’ll work up the confidence to dance without that liquid courage sooner or later.)

Am I never going to drink another drop of alcohol again? I don’t know. Forever seems like a long time to give up anything. But I’m at the point where I know those drops must come sparingly. I’ll just have to take it one day at a time.

Apples to Apples

Every time Zach and I go to a party and someone suggests we play the popular and delightful game Apples to Apples, I have to quickly suggest another option, such as taking turns punching one another in the stomach.

That’s how bad Zach is at Apples to Apples.

If you’re not familiar with A2A, the premise is simple yet unique: Each player receives seven red cards, each with a noun printed on it. They then take turns being the judge, who draws from a stack of green cards with adjectives on them. The other players decide which of their noun cards best fits that adjective. The judge ranks the red cards, and the person who put in the No. 1 card — according to the judge AND NO ONE ELSE — wins that round.

Anyone who’s ever played A2A understands the key is to play into the personality of the current judge. For example, if the person likes funny or ironic combinations (which make the game infinitely more enjoyable than the seriously lame literal pairings, I might add), then you know that during her turn, you should opt for that over a noun that works in a more conventional sense. All other humans who have played A2A fully comprehend this and strategize accordingly. Zach does not.

See, when Zach plays A2A, he apparently loses the quick sense of wit and humor he exudes so effortlessly otherwise. If you played with him, you’d soon realize he’s one of those people who prefers the literal pairings, and whenever his turn rolled around, you’d play a card to suit this preference.

So, while playing the combination “delicious babies” might be some of the funniest shit ever, you would still put down “chocolate cake” if it were Zach’s turn. Unless you didn’t give a shit about his preference and just wanted to create the funniest combination possible, because who needs to take life that seriously when you’re getting drunk with a bunch of college buddies and you just want to laugh and have a good time?

That scenario describes the first time Zach and I played A2A. It was a wintry Friday night our senior year, and we were hanging out with a bunch of co-workers from the school newspaper, enjoying some adult beverages. We started the game, and most everyone quickly caught on.

One guy in particular took to the ironic combinations, so when he judged, everyone knew to come up with the most absurd pairing possible. Except Zach. Zach still played the most literal choice he could, and he grew increasingly angry each time the other player chose another card over his.

One time, this player drew the “neglected” card. Zach played “New Orleans,” while someone else played the noun “politicians.” When the judge chose “neglected politicians” over “neglected New Orleans,” I thought Zach was going to lose it. (Granted, this was about a year after Katrina, FEMA and heckuva job Brownie, so it was probably the best choice …)

At this point, I should have foreseen the storm brewing. When he threatened to quit the game, I should not have persuaded him otherwise. I should have faked dysentery and asked him to take me home. (Yes, telling my friends I had the grossest disease you could get on the Oregon Trail would have been better than what happened next.)

But I didn’t. Oh, how I didn’t …

Next, someone drew the word “cosmic” from the adjective pile. Zach laid down the “big bang theory.” As the big bang theory is about as cosmic as it gets, he considered this a sure-fire winner. Someone else played “bigfoot.” It came down to “big bang theory” and “bigfoot.”

“Bigfoot” won.

Zach freaked out.

“No. NO! There is NOTHING more cosmic than the big bang theory! This game is so GAY!”

(Now, Zach is a fairly upstanding individual who doesn’t normally throw around the word “gay” to mean “stupid” like an illiterate, ignorant seventh-grader would. Nor would we have started dating in the first place if he did. But Apples to Apples had thrown him into such a blinding rage that he reverted to this uncouth description.)

“I’M LEAVING!” he bellowed. He shot a glance at me, foam dripping from his mouth. “ARE YOU COMING WITH ME?”

I sat at the table, a little panicked, my eyes flitting back and forth between him and the group of drunk people snickering at his outburst. On the one hand, he was my normally calm, personable boyfriend. On the other hand, he was acting like a psycho.

I chose to go with him. Mainly because I was mortified and didn’t want to explain his behavior if I stayed. We barely spoke in the car. (I told him I would prefer if he wouldn’t use the word “gay” like that; he replied, “Yeah, fine, whatever.”)

To this day, no one can mention A2A to Zach without provoking a fit of rage. Just last week, a friend mentioned it on Facebook, and he immediately commented to say how stupid it is.

I’ve given up trying to explain it to him, because he just doesn’t get it. In my last attempt, I tried to explain that the other players didn’t always agree with the judge’s choice, but they didn’t freak out.

His reply?

“So, if you see someone getting attacked, and everyone else is staying calm, but you’re sort of freaking out and want to call 9-1-1, does that make you the weird one? NO!”

That’s more like comparing apples to oranges than apples to apples, I replied.

No wonder he doesn’t get it.

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