How Embarassing

You’d think that after two decades of practice controlling what comes out of my mouth I’d have learned how to avoid shoving my foot so far down my throat my toes are eroded by stomach acid. Sadly, I’ve done this so many times I’ve lost count. A select few of these occurrences are burned into my memory, like the time in third grade when I was, admittedly, being a nasty show-off and one of my peers called me out on it with an insult that made me feel like a kicked puppy.

Needless to say, I cried. Source.
This recent episode was far worse, however, and has been haunting me for almost a week now.  I won’t go into detail, but some friends and I were teasing our friend (who is black) and, caught up in the laughter, I made a horribly racist comment. Racial stereotypes were fair game, but my comment crossed the line. And not only did I cross the line, I got everyone’s attention and repeated it because nobody heard it the first time. Then there was that terrible silence where everyone knows what’s happened and they’re all waiting for someone else to take control of the situation. It’s that silence that makes me feel the worst. If silences can be described as pregnant, this one was definitely just punched in the stomach. It was like the silence had all the wind knocked out of it, and was utterly empty. The group was all guys, so apart from a low whistle from one kid and “duuuuuude,” from another, my faux-pas was largely ignored, and I think that only exacerbated my resentment. Some part of me feels like it would have been better if they called me out on it and responded like an enraged Joey on Friends did when he discovered Chandler had kissed his girlfriend: 
“You’re so far past the line, you can’t even see the line! The line is a dot to you!”
Source.
I know all of those guys have long forgotten what I said and don’t hold it against me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still feel bad about it, and I’ll keep feeling bad about it until I confront my mistake in some way or another. So, for my own piece of mind, I’d like to apologize for what I said. There was no malicious intent, I’m just a silly girl with no foresight to speak of who, for some reason, really likes the taste of feet.

"Friday" Five: Self-Authored Poems

Poetry has been my writing form of choice since before I even knew I liked to write. I wrote poetry way back in middle school, when I was convinced I wanted to be a computer programmer like my mom. As in most things with me my poetic muse has waxed and waned in phases, but I keep coming back to it, and for that I am glad. I thought I’d entertain with a few poems I’ve written since beginning college, and because this has really been more of a waning period there are really only about five, which I thought to be a perfect fit.
My poetry is constantly evolving, just about every time I read it I change something. I even changed some things while copying them into this post. I’m not sure why that is, but sometimes some words just work better for me. It’s probably a mood thing.
If you like my writing, you should look into the man who has inspired my current style, Billy Collins.

1) Prophets

I hold on to the thought of you
like an anxious Noah held on to the olive branch
waiting for his roaming doves to fly home.

I remember our time together like Moses
unsure if the flaming bush he thought he saw
was real.

They must have wanted to tell the world what they knew
but were doubtful, scared that it was all a dream,
all false hope.

God is lucky I’m not one of his chosen prophets
because if I had been Moses
I probably would have chalked it up to the heat
and someone who had never heard of Smokey the Bear.

2) On Losing a Notebook

It is depressing indeed
for a notebook to be left behind:
abandoned, unfinished,
with many blank pages on which could have lived
a thousand new poems, ideas,
or maybe just directions to the eyeglasses store.

If found, would anyone care enough to mail it back
to the neatly scripted address inside the front cover?
Would they leave it, unconcerned with its value?
Or would they read it,
and discover the writer’s most intimate thoughts
and most unpolished ideas?

I should hope mine will be returned to me,
but I wouldn’t mind so much
if someone read it first.

3) A Scrape

My heart hurts
when I think of you.
It’s not a big hurt —
not fatal like a stab wound or anything —
it’s just a little hurt,
like my heart fell down and scraped its knee.

And in reality, the hurt is more like
disappointment
when I look up from my bloodied skin and
see empty space,
realizing you’re not there,
hand extended,
waiting to pick me back up again.

4) On Completion

How pathetic it is
to believe something complete;
how self-centered and arrogant!
halting a work of your mind,
which itself is constantly evolving,
and stop any further development.

Do you believe yourself better than even God,
who gifted his creations
with the ability to adapt and transform?
This God did for the birds;
are you so great your trivial poem
does not command the same luxury?

5) A Benediction

May this journal be filled
with all of your greatest ideas
that may someday change the world,
with your most private thoughts
you hope will never see the light of day,
and with every mundane,
trivial detail in between.

May this journal be your refuge
from judgement and cruelty,
from heartache and pain,
and from whatever petty insult saddens your soul.

Let these pages be a silent voice
for every thought you’re glad you didn’t say
and those you wish you had.

I hope these pages echo your mind
and when you listen to their reverberation,
I hope it helps you discover yourself.

My Nasty Bad Habit

I have a number of bad habits, some of which I prefer not to mention, but one that has stuck with me for the longest time and refuses to be kicked is that of biting my nails. It’s embarrassing, really, but the instant my nails get long enough to be noticed I bite them down again. I know it’s nasty, I know it’s not very ladylike, but I’ll be damned if that’s not the truth.

What’s particularly funny to me is that when I was younger (about kindergarten through fifth grade), I had the longest nails known to man.  They were my pride and joy. My long, delicate nails made me feel grown-up and feminine, and I was so enamored of them that whenever they would break I would be desolate. In second grade, I started taking piano lessons from my voice teacher and she had quite the vendetta against my nails. Justly so, because they were so long they would clack against the keys and make it impossible for me to play correctly. There are adorable little passive-aggressive notes written on my “homework” that said, “Cut your nails!!” in sweet, innocent script decorated with hearts and smiling faces. Of course that didn’t sway me. I remember her saying that if I could see the tops of my nails over my fingertips, they were too long. That was just too much to ask. I was so much more passionate about my nails than about playing the piano that I would throw legitimate fits about them, enraged that I had to chop off my true beauty. Because I was a headstrong, stubborn youngster who rejected instruction of any kind, piano lessons didn’t last that long.

There’s a bit of a fingernail-history void from the end of my voice lessons to the first time I ever bit my nails. I guess once the trauma subsided and I was allowed to enjoy my dainty nails unimpeded my brain began to gloss over the details. Either way, I first picked up a guitar in the fifth grade. It was my dad’s that he kept in the spare bedroom (a.k.a. his office), and I wasn’t allowed to touch it. Maybe it was the taboo that made me do it, maybe I was genuinely interested, I’m not really sure, but what I do know is that I fell in love.

Now, playing guitar is impossible with long nails. Not impossible like piano with long nails is, impossible period. They scrape against the strings and make notes buzz like mad — it’s just all around bad karma. But when I picked up the guitar in my dad’s office, I didn’t know that. I taught myself simple chords without knowing it could be easier. It wasn’t until I started taking lessons (something I was still big-headed enough to be set against) that I was told I needed to cut my nails. My guitar teacher told me to do it with pretty much the same tactics as my piano teacher: the classic note on the homework. But you know what? That time, I cut those nails.

Let me set one thing straight: as a kid, I hated music lessons. I loved music very much, but so much that I thought I was the end-all-be-all of musicianship and believed I didn’t need some dumb teacher to tell me what to do. My voice/piano teacher was a very talented, very kind lady but, frankly, I despised her. My guitar teacher was a very cool, very understanding gentleman, but, well, I despised him too. The teacher had nothing to do with it. It was the instrument.

I only took guitar lessons for a year. It was all I could handle. After that, I taught myself guitar. I’m not an excellent player or anything, but I know or know how to figure out just about any necessary chord and that’s all I need for simple guitar accompaniment. My guitar has become very emotional for me: whether I’m feeling down or crazy in love or so angry I could spit, singing and playing my guitar helps me keep my calm. I am a firm believer in the healing power of music, and now that I’ve found my musical niche I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

So maybe biting my nails is disgusting. I should probably invest in some clippers. But if I pick up my guitar and there aren’t any clippers to be found, you can damn well better believe I’ll bite them off short. It’s not that I’m immune to the sight of my nasty, ragged nails, or the general unsanitariness of it all, it’s just that I’ve found something more important than my looks. My trivial vanities never stood a chance against music.

The Difference Between Men and Women

Actually, to be more politically correct, this post is about a difference I’ve discovered in the masculine vs. the feminine ways of viewing appearances. It all started two nights ago, when I was talking to my good buddy Alex about my gender identity. You see, I’m very much a girl, but my personality and some of my interests tend to be more masculine. Disclaimer: this has nothing to do with my sexuality and everything to do about my frame of mind and how I view the world.
I was raised in a family full of girls, so we really didn’t exposed to as much gender stereotyping as some families with mixed gender children are. We were girls — so what? We played with Barbies and trains, we wore jeans and skirts, we hauled wood and folded laundry. My dad also got us into Star Wars and action movies, and then when I started driving he taught me a bit about how stuff works under the hood.
I also generally prefer to hang out with guys because it seems to me to be so much easier to fit in. When I’m hanging out with “super girly” girls, I have to work to pull out my “super girly” side because, although it is there, it rarely sees the light of day. Don’t get me wrong, I have some girlfriends who think like me, and they’re excellent company and generally my closest confidants, but as a rule, I dislike groups of shallow girls.
Which brings me to the story. On a whim last night I got my nose pierced. I’d been thinking about it for a long, long time, and I had actually made plans earlier that day to go with some of my girlfriends in early May, but it seems I’m so much more prone to do things like this on a whim. It’s just so exhilarating. The girlfriend I had with me is one of my laid-back girlfriends, but even she was super excited that I got my piercing. She kept saying things like, “I can’t believe you did it!” and, “I’m so jealous, now I want one!”
Later that night I went to hang out with the guy I’m currently seeing. He met me at the door, kissed me, and then started asking about my day as we walked upstairs. I was shocked he didn’t say anything and wanted to see if he’d notice (that’s my girl side).  I didn’t say anything for a good two minutes (it was hard).
Finally, I stopped and said, “Really? You didn’t notice?” and he said, “Notice what?” and I just looked at him. After a few seconds he goes, “Oh, are you talking about your nose?”
“Um, yes, I was talking about my nose!”
He shrugged. “You told me you were going to get it. It looks cute.”
“So you like it?”
“Yeah, I do.” He smiled, kissed me and kept walking.
It’s such a classic exchange. “Aren’t you going to say something about my hair?” “Don’t you like my new dress?” It didn’t matter to him because I said I was going to do it and he said he’d approve. He didn’t see why he had to make a big deal out of it. My girl friends have ALL made a big deal out of it. Why? Because girls put so much emphasis on appearances.
I am positively sick of blow drying and straightening my hair every morning so it will look just right, but I keep doing it because if I don’t I’ll feel weird all day. If I put on the wrong shoes and walk out the door my day is ruined. If a shirt doesn’t fit just right or my pants give me a bit of a muffin top I won’t be able to focus in class. I finally understand why those middle-age mom magazines are obsessed with beauty shortcuts. Even if I’m just going to the gym, I have to look good. How shallow is that? It’s just the way a feminine mind works.
OK, so my discovery is not revolutionary, but it has changed the way I look at myself and the way I judge others. Yes, appearances are important. Girls know looks make the first impression and looks change how people act towards you, but the problem with the way we collectively judge appearance is that so often it is the only factor in determining how to treat a person. The issue here is that for some girls, appearance has become the goal rather than a means to obtain a goal.
And sure, there are masculine-minded guys who like to look good, but they don’t require it of themselves every damn day. It’s a front, really, a façade girls put on when they go for mani/pedis or for “girls’ night out”s. I enjoy those activities, but they’re so trying. Example: what do girls talk about when they go get manicures? Guy troubles. Work troubles. School troubles. Girl drama troubles. Who wants to talk about troubles all the time? Just like a perfectly made-up face, these cliché girl-time worries are part of a façade.
Give me a beer and good, meaningful conversation and I’ll have myself a grand time. Give me a tried-but-true sweatshirt and my snug-but-comfortable jeans and I’ll enjoy myself that much more. It’s almost as if “girly” girls can’t be comfortable in their own skin. There’s always some worry. It’s not that I don’t like looking nice, or that I want to be a guy, I just don’t want to keep living my life behind that made-up mask of girl problems.
So, my “gender struggle” continues. I stress about my looks but simultaneously know it doesn’t  matter. It doesn’t make sense, really, but I’ll keep doing it, and just have remember to look beyond others’ appearances so I can find what’s really underneath.

Friday Five: About my Car

Okay, I realize this is a bit wimpy of me, but I came across these five questions in a random blog labeled “The Friday Five” and because they’re about cars and I love my car, I’m using it!
1. What vehicle do you drive?
A 2008 Mazda 6i. It’s beige, what of it? I call it El Tigrito.
It’s this, without the spoiler.  Source.

2. How long have you had it?

I bought it two Januaries ago, so that’d be a year and a quarter. 
Cool story: It was decided that I needed my own car before I went off to college, which I was totally okay with. I’d been looking at Craigslist cars in my area for over a year and saving like mad. One day near the end of January ’10 my dad and I decided on a whim to go car shopping.
The first car we looked at that day was nearly identical to mine (it was beige, too!) but with a manual transmission for $10 grand. The guy didn’t know what he had so we told him  we were interested and we’d have our mechanic take a look at it on Monday. We saw some other cars that day, but nothing special, and pretty much consistently over my price range (10k was pushing it). 
The very last place we looked was a Ford dealership. We got there right at closing but they were so busy they just pushed on through into the night. They had several ’08 Mazda 6s for some reason, and most of them were black or silver with spoilers and cost about $14k, but mine, the homely beige 6 with a few more miles on her, was only $9,500. I took a lovely sporty black one out for a test drive and then told the guy, “Hey, I want that one.” And I paid for it myself. How’s that for a happy ending?

3. What is the coolest feature on your vehicle?
Probably the way the windows keep rolling if you pull or push the button all the way and then rebound if an object (like a hand) gets caught in it. My friend Lacey and I discovered that one day while I was driving in town and I nearly ran someone over ’cause I got so excited. You don’t even know.

4. What is the most annoying thing about your vehicle?
The lack of an auxiliary input jack. I mean, it’s an ’08! I realize my car is made for old people and old people really have no need for an aux in jack, but seriously, that would have been nice. My mom’s Mazda CX-9 is a year or two older than my car and it has an aux in jack! And it’s a mom car!

5. If money were no object, what vehicle would you be driving right now?
That is such a tough call. I think, if money were no object, for my day-to-day driving car, I would want an Audi R8.

Source.

Such smooth lines and excellent acceleration. That, my friend, is a sexy car. But I also have a very soft spot for classic American muscle, like ’70s Chevelles and ’69 Mustangs. Those are terribly sexy as well. But for my daily driver, definitely an Audi R8.

Friday Five: My Love Affair with Hair Metal

The first time I ever got attached to something remotely like eighties hair metal was when my first boyfriend introduced me to the Darkness. Although a millennium band, I’m positive the lead singer of the Darkness wanted nothing more than to have been born twenty years sooner so he could have been part of the eighties glam rock movement. And I was addicted.
I love eighties hair because it’s just so damned fun. It’s what I listen to when I’m speeding down the highway with my shades on and my windows down, singing at the top of my lungs. How can I not? I can’t be unhappy while listening to these songs, there’s just no way. When I’m stressed out, I kick back with some Van Halen and let my worries fly out the window.
That being said, here’s my list of my top five songs from this wildly eccentric era. Enjoy!

5) “You Give Love a Bad Name”
Bon Jovi (Slippery When Wet) (1986)

“Bon Jovi?” “Bon Jovi rocks! On occasion.” – Supernatural (2008)
Okay, so this isn’t the song Sam and Dean were talking about, but in my opinion it’s one of the three on which Bon Jovi really hit the hair metal mark. Sure, I like “Wanted” and “Living on a Prayer,” but this one is so angry and so sexy that I can’t help but claim it as my favorite Bon Jovi song. 

4) “Pour Some Sugar on Me”
Def Leppard (Hysteria) (1987)

This is one of the few eighties songs that made it in my parents’ music collection, so I’ve known it since I was little but I only truly enjoyed it after my eighties renaissance in high school. Is it sad that I know every single word? This song always makes me feel like a BAMF, like I’m that crazy little woman and I can take on the world.

3) “Beautiful Girls”
Van Halen (Van Halen II) (1979)

Awesome, awesome Halen song. “Beautiful Girls” is a great representative of their typical sound that does, admittedly, lean more towards classic than glam rock, but it still qualifies as hair metal because it’s David Lee Roth and have you seen that man’s hair?

2) “Talk Dirty to Me”
Poison (Look What the Cat Dragged In) (1987)

Forget Katy Perry, this is the anthem of teenage flings everywhere; it’s certainly been the theme song of several of mine! It’s super catchy, super sexy and, like Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar,” after almost 25 years it’s still considered pop culture.

1) “Jump”
Van Halen (1984) (1984)

This is the quintessential eighties song. Van Halen added a synth and oh-my-god the result changed music forever. One of my friends believes hardcore that they could have done so much more with the synth, but I think that it’s important that this song was a departure from their typical style because it’s taken on a life all its own. This song doesn’t just belong to Van Halen, it belongs to the whole group of hair metal artists. The message, the tune, the synthesizer, everything is all eighties and all spectacular and by far, my favorite song of the entire genre.

A Couple Scholarship Essays

So, to prove to you, my invisible friends on the world wide web, that I’m being productive and not just ignoring my blag, I thought I’d entertain with a couple scholarship essays I wrote this week. I happen to be particularly proud of them, so don’t judge!
And P.S. It’s legal for an under-21 to drink with his/her parents in Texas. I love the south.

Essay #1: Why I Want to be a Writer
I used to be a hopeless traditionalist. I resisted change anywhere it reared its inconsistent head and dreamed my life would be the story of an independent yet desperately feminine Barbie: I would get a job in a hot new industry, learn to support myself and then fall madly in love and raise two-point-five kids without letting go of my career or sense of style. Then I discovered writing.
Who are writers? They are authors, researchers, bookkeepers. In short, they are old news. Writing, in and of itself, is not a hot new industry. Writing is Shakespeare, writing is Thoreau, writing is the girl with the awkward beret in the same old coffee shop. What can be new about writing?
To me, everything. Throughout grade school each subject came easily to me, straight As down the page. Whether it was science, math, or English, the hot new industry I dreamed of fell under a subject in which I always excelled. It was too easy. I never even considered a career in writing until my junior year of high school when my English teacher handed back an essay with a comment that forever changed my mind: “This could be in a magazine.” Until that point, a writer in my mind was the stereotypical genius behind intricate fantasy stories spun in circles to culminate in a baffling blowout ending. There are no such stories in my head. My English teacher’s comment opened a new world of writing to me: writing the stories of reality.
Writing is not like science or math in which there is one goal. Writing is much more abstract, and although teachers attempt to assign a numerical grade to a student’s work, both teacher and student know the number is rather meaningless. As a writer, one will never reach perfection but instead work to hone constantly evolving skills. Thankfully, writing will challenge me for the rest of my life.
And as far as that hot new industry goes, I still want to chase it. I may not dream anymore to be at the front of a breakthrough technology, but I do want to be there when it happens, to tell its story.

Essay #2: A Family Affair
Most people don’t expect a nineteen-year-old American college student to have a preference in wines. The typical college kid just likes booze and uses it for only one purpose: getting drunk. In fact, this trend holds true until the initial excitement of legal drinking wears away. This phenomenon is rampant throughout America.
My mother was raised in a German household. She recalls sharing beers with her grandfather on Saturday nights and having sips of bourbon from the open bar on Christmas day. Alcohol was not a large part of my childhood, in fact, there was very little of it until I was about fifteen, when my parents developed a wonderful habit: a glass of red wine every night before bed. Because of my mother’s German heritage, I was often offered a taste, and those were the very beginnings of my love affair with wine.
My parents began like most starter wine drinkers, with boxed wine, but as time went on their tastes (and consequently my own) developed. My mother still likes the sweeter wines, the blushes and the sweet reds, and my dad enjoys the driest wines, but my favorites tend to be the bold, rich reds like Merlot and Shiraz. None of us are sommeliers yet, but we know we definitely share an affinity for Sangiovese grapes.
Now that I’m in college, sharing a bottle of wine with my parents has become a bonding experience. When we go to wine tastings my dad and I discuss the various merits of the wines at the bar while my mom frowns at him for letting me drink so much. When I come home from college and tell my mom about guy trouble, she knows to have a bottle of wine on hand to gently rinse away my sorrows. Drinking wine with my mom and dad has brought me closer to them, not just as parents, but as my friends. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Syrah, a glass of red wine will always remind me of family.