Thursday, December 22, 2011

Graduate School

Two weeks ago, my two-point-five years of graduate school came to a close, and I officially graduated from CMU (again).

Those two years were filled with a plethora of different emotions and experiences: hard times, fun times, challenging times, difficult discussions, hilarious moments, and everything in between. I grew up even more than I thought I could. I realized there's always more growing up to do. I met some amazing friends, got closer with others, and learned...God, I was always learning. Learning about myself, about people, about communication. 

I learned I can freestyle rap sometimes.  I learned the argyle pattern can bring people together. I learned others want to see you fall sometimes, but you shouldn't focus on them, but the people that are there to pick you up. 

I learned someone always has something going on in their lives that is difficult. I learned to give people a break (and that I desperately need to learn how to give myself a break). I learned to avoid using loud pens when taking exams, and shaking your hand after writing a long essay can ease the hand cramps.

I learned Casi has the best hair possible, a mutual love of Taylor Swift can bond people (shoutout Laura!)  and Sarah can make the phrase "sweet angel dolphin baby" make complete sense. Also, it helps when your friends are with you on a train to Tumble Town. And Chili's chips and salsa is both delicious and a life-saver. Bennigan's potato soup and salads are a MUST after a long night class discussing paradigm shifts.

I learned that boyfriends you bring to wine and cheese parties don't usually stick around for the second wine and cheese party. And that's okay. And coffee shop talks change everything for the better.

I learned things get hard. You want to quit. But it's your friends that keep you going. And in the midst of it all, perseverance always wins.

I would say more about the memories I have of graduate school, but these videos show more than I could ever tell in words:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm a Big Girl Now...That Needs to Floss More.

Well, Christmas came early for me this year, and I got a present even better than the My Life-Size Barbie that Santa brought me when I was eight: a real, official, full-time, Big Girl Job. Starting Monday, I will be an advertising account executive assistant at an advertising agency in Midland. Look Ma, no hands. 
This truly is the Best Christmas Present ever, which beats out that Life-Size Barbie (she was too quiet) and my gray and pink Furby (he was too loud…always squawking “Bay-Bay, FUR-BEEEE!” in that creepy alien voice in that creepy Furbish language until I had enough and threw him in my closet). To make it Christmas present-official, I just might put my job offer letter in a box, wrap it up with fancy wrapping paper-the kind with glittered gold stars and silver holographic swirls- and put a thick, gold bow on top, tying its loose ends much like this job is tying a lot of my life’s loose ends. Loop, swoop, and pull.
Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll put it in a bag with tissue paper; I am a terrible present-wrapper. However, if you took out the “w” in wrapper and just asked if I was a good rapper, though, my answer would be yes. Absolutely, yes. Especially if the rap song is by Nicki Minaj. Or Ludacris. Ask my friends.
It’s funny to think how one day, you can be unemployed, and the next, you’re employed. Just like that, a huge weight lifted, a “Get Out of Unemployment Free” card. I am excited to begin my career, but even more grateful to all those who have helped me with my job search along the way, or listened to my woes and worries about said job search (You’re free from listening to me! It’s a win for you, too!). Many of my old friends, new friends, friends of friends, family members, past co-workers, and colleagues would e-mail me about job postings or try to reach out to their connections, passing along my resume across the World Wide Web and plopping it in people’s e-mail inboxes. Like I’ve said before, one person, one phone call, one day can change everything, and in my case, I think it was a combination of all three. If you helped me in some way with my job search in any way whatsoever: Thank you, thank you, thank you… I think you deserve a couple of exclamation marks, too: Thank you!! I appreciate it more than words can be written in this blog.
Since Christmas came early for me this year, all of the holidays have shifted ahead in my mind. This means I needed to get a proper New Year’s Resolution. And today, I found it.  In the dentist’s chair.
I used to not mind going to the dentist. I have a total of zero-that’s right, zero- teeth cavities in my entire life, a feat that I am very proud of and not so modest about.  Plus I always left the dentist’s chair in a good mood for some reason. I once read a quote by Shia Labeouf, that guy from the Transformers movies, that always stuck with me, though I can’t remember the exact words at this moment...Hm. I guess it didn’t really stick with me, then. But the jist of it was “If you are ever in a bad mood, brush your teeth. It always makes you feel 100% better.”
And it’s true. It’s like a clean, non-fuzzy, minty-fresh mouth and freshly scrubbed tongue seems to perk up the spirits a bit.  Try it. Next time you’re in a bad mood, don’t bite people’s heads off, brush those chompers clean. Seriously.
Maybe that’s why my dentist is always in a chipper mood, as he was this afternoon during my six-month cleaning. He has golden skin, dark ebony hair, and of course, one of those smiles that makes you think a sparkle should come off the corner of his mouth and a “Ding!” noise should play when he shows his teeth (I wonder if that’s a job requirement for dentists, a perfect smile?) As I sat in the green plastic chair, my dentist sat down next to me, positioning his silver scraper-tool thing (technical term).  I opened my mouth wide, staring up at that poor dangling cat telling me to “Hang In There.” 
“How’s school?” he asked as he inspected my incisors. Tap, tap, tap.
“Itschfine; I gwaduate neckweed”” I grumbled the best I could. WHY do they insist on asking questions when your mouth is open?
“Good, good,” he replied, but I couldn’t tell if he was talking to me or my teeth. “Could you bite down for me?”
I bit down hard, my mind suddenly thinking of Edward Cullen and vampires.
“Great!” my dentist enthusiastically proclaimed.  He fumbled around a bit more, peering at my teeth. I felt like my mouth was a car engine and he was making sure the transmission was running smoothly.
“You have great teeth. No cavities. Lindsay,  you and your teeth are all set!” And with a swish of his white coat, he was off to the next patient. Merry Teeth to all, and to all, a good night.
But as my Greek God of a dentist left the room and flashed me a smile (literally flashed..such white teeth!) I felt guilty. I am a fake. A phony girl with bloody gums.  Had he had seen me and my “great teeth” moments before, he probably wouldn’t be so quick on the trigger to be passing out compliments.
But Nancy the Dental Hygienist knew my secret. We exchanged looks as he left, and I avoided her gaze as I picked out a blue Colgate toothbrush from the cabinet. She put the toothbrush in my dentist goodie bag, along with a free sample of Crest toothpaste and a white circle container of floss. She looked, thought for a moment, then put another container of floss in the bag.
Ouch, Nancy, I thought. I get the message.
You see, I brush my teeth regularly: It’s good hygiene, I don’t want to lose my zero cavity streak, and as I said, it puts me in a good mood. Flossing, however, is another story. I floss, I do, but… not as much as I should. This is a fact I alone know, my dirty, bad hygiened little secret, until today when Nancy the Dental Hygienist caught me red-handed…or red gum-ed, I guess.
Flossing is something you can’t get away with. If your doctor asks you “Do you drink?” you can say, “No, Doctor, I don’t touch the stuff.”  But there’s no hiding with flossing. Even if you lie, and say, “Yup, I floss all the time! Watching TV, after a meal, when I get up, when I go to bed! I’m a flossing machine!”, the blood or puffed tissue  gives you away on the spot, like wearing hunter orange in the middle of the woods. And the worst of it is, you have your mouth open, so you can’t even explain yourself  and those red, inflamed gums of yours.
This is what I was thinking when I opened my mouth wide and watched Nancy wrap the floss around her gloved forefingers, smiling at me. She knows, I thought. She knows.
In between my two front teeth Nancy worked and the floss went, back and forth, up and down. I kept my eyes on the cat poster. I’m hanging in there, I told the cat silently. I’m hanging in there.
The top teeth weren’t so bad. It was the bottom teeth where I felt the slight pain, tasted the salty blood. Here we go, as I felt slivers of my dark and dirty secret expose with each sawing motion of the floss.
 “So,” Nancy began, sitting back and putting her weapon, that thin, wiry floss, down. “Do you floss regularly? Every morning and every night?”
Come on, Nancy, I thought. You and I both know the answer to this question. Don’t make this harder than it has to be.
I took a second to decide: Do I lie and look like a fool, because I could tell from Nancy’s voice and my throbbing mouth that my gums were not exactly looking perky and pink, or do I fess up? I decided to go for an in-between, which was the actual truth:
“I do floss, but not as much as I should,” I replied honestly.
 “Yes, I can see that,” Nancy said, peering in my mouth as she picked up the floss once again. I winced, and she noticed.
“It’s okay though, your gums aren’t that bad,” she said reassuringly. Just make sure you really get down deep in there. Some people buy those flossing tools, maybe that would help.” She wrapped the floss around her fingers again, nodding at me to open my mouth.
“Ot-ahy,” I replied, leaned back with my mouth open, the floss already back at it. Well, there it was. And just like that, Nancy finished her back and forth flossing along my top and bottom rows of teeth. At the same time, a lightbulb went off in my head: This can be my New Year’s Resolution. Come 2012, I will be the best flosser in the world. Watch out, gingivitis.
And so now I walked out of the office, my yellow plastic good bag of teeth-friendly treats and a new promise to myself and my gums.  Perhaps Santa will bring me one of those flossing tools, and if so, that probably will take the Number Two spot on the list of Lindsay’s Top Christmas Presents.
But bloody gums and all, I am a lucky girl to even be able to make a list of top Christmas presents. Or to have teeth, for that matter. And a job. And most importantly, amazing friends and family.
So with a new job and a new resolution, I will turn to the next holiday, which is, hold on, let me check:
Valentine’s Day.
…Maybe I’ll wait on that one. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Field of Dreams Moment

It’s ironic how it’s such a small word. Just four letters, one syllable, to describe an emotion that has such a big presence in my life. Despite hope’s small word count (probably wouldn’t get too many points on Words With Friends), it can fill a large void; it can be what inspires us to get up in the morning. It’s gas for our engine.
I saw the word on the side of a barn tonight. Driving home and rocking out to Nicki Minaj, I randomly looked to my left on the empty country road. There, in white twinkle lights shining in the dark, it glowed:
It didn’t even register to me that it was on the side of the barn as part of the farmer’s Christmas decorations; when I first saw it, it just looked like the word floating in the air by itself. I felt like I was Kevin Costner in “Field of Dreams” having my own “If you build it, they will come” moment. Then I realized it was part of spreading holiday cheer and I wasn’t as freaked out about “HOPE” randomly floating by a field like a sign from God himself or something.
Seeing this word ironically bright in the dark of night (at 6 p.m., sadly) made me realize how I never really thought about what hope means, or how many times I hope for something to happen or a situation to turn around. Life’s funny that way, I guess.  Leave it to me to overanalyze a man’s Christmas lights and turn it into a blog.
I feel hope in huge doses and small glimmers. I feel it in those everyday situations: “I hope there’s good coupons in the newspaper this week;” “I hope I can get to doing my laundry this weekend;” “I hope the ice cream machine at McDonalds isn’t closed down for cleaning right now.”
Of course I feel it in the big stuff, those situations that tear at your heartstrings. I hope the surgery goes well. I hope I get this job. I hope that flash on my cell phone means it’s a missed call, an unread text message, from that person. I hope they still care, still think about me. I hope I’m not wasting my time.
I picture hope looking like my dad’s fishing line on his old fishing pole. When your heartstrings are tugged, stretched, pulled as far as they can go, hope is the wire to step in and wrap around the weak spots. Hope supports your heartstrings so your heart doesn’t shatter from the possible pain, the potential disappointment.
And yet…
Sometimes it feels having hope can only lead to disappointment. Having hope could also mean getting hurt, your expectations unmet. The surgery doesn’t go well. Your date goes terribly. You didn’t make it through the job cuts. He’s dating someone new and damnit, she’s really pretty.
If having hope and getting your expectations up is the very reason your heart gets hurt, how do you fix it? How can you support your heart if the very thing that supports it is what caused it to hurt in the first place?
Having hope hurts sometimes.
And that sucks.
Last weekend was the Girls on the Run end of the season 5k race. It’s a big celebratory event, complete with pictures, photos, balloons, and parents coming to watch their girls and sing their praises, those much-needed “I’m so proud of you, honey” and “We watched you the whole time!” comments that these girls really need at this age. Come to think of it, I guess those comments are needed at any age.
During the race, one of our 9-year-old girls on our team was doing an amazing job running. She was pushing herself harder and faster; it was almost like she was a different girl. Her dad had come to the race to watch his daughter, but her mom could not make it. As our girl ran, my co-coaches and I raised our eyebrows at each other, all in silent agreement: “Can you believe this? Look at her go!” Throughout the past 10 weeks, we had never seen this girl run so hard or be so enthusiastic about running.
Near the end of the race, my co-coaches and I were taking a walking break with her. We had less than one mile to go until the 5k was complete. As we walked, our little running machine turned to us, her face flushed and her eyes bright and said, “I hope my mom comes. Wouldn’t it be great if she said she couldn’t come, then surprised me and showed up?”
When I heard that, I felt my heart break for this little girl. I knew her mom wasn’t coming to the race, but here her daughter was, running her hardest, listening to our praises, hoping her mom would be there. All she could think about and hang on to was the hope that maybe, just maybe, her mom would be there to cheer her on at the finish line.
We started running after that and she was one of our first girls on the team to finish the race. We cheered, we hollered, we high-fived, and told her how great she did. But her mom wasn’t there.
I think that’s where we learn it; those days when we are young and innocent and hope as much as we can. But then our hope is sometimes followed by disappointment, and the habit forms: We try to avoid feeling happy about something that could be somewhat exciting because we are scared of the disappointment. And if a situation ends up not going the way we want it to, then we are hurt, and it just confirms our belief that we shouldn’t have gotten our hopes up, shouldn’t have set such high expectations. Our bar of life is lowered. We settle.
And we try not to have hope.
I do it all the time. I spend a painstaking amount of energy in my attempts to keep the happy hope feelings at bay. Don’t raise your expectations, don’t set the bar too high, Lindsay. Happy situations call for a “I don’t want to get my hopes up” response or “I am not expecting anything; I don’t want to get hurt.” 
But then, I think: Why? Why supress the hope? Why not get my expectations up?
It does hurt when you get let down, when your plans fall through, when people let you down…even with the little stuff. You don’t get to hang out with your friends like you wanted to.  No, he didn’t call like he said he would. Yes, the machine at McDonalds is closed for cleaning right now. And man, I really wanted a Shamrock shake (aka the Best Shake Flavor in the World).
But at the same time, by supressing hope and feelings of excitement, what do you get then? Just mediocricity and living off of fear that this -whatever this is- might fall through, might not happen. I don't want to live my life half-heartedly because of what might be, what could happen.
Lucky for me, despite the disappointment, hope somehow still finds it way into my life. And I’m glad it does, even despite the times I get mad at myself for getting my hopes up. Hope is one of those feelings that reminds you you’re alive; just like pain and rejection are, as well. When life is hard, hope is one of the things you hold on to, one of the strings that keeps everything together.  So I will hold on to hope, sometimes fall down from disappointments, and hold on again.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude, appreciation, thanks

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I told myself I wasn't going to write the typical blog addressing the typical topic listing the typical things I am thankful for.

But I have to. I can't not. (Yup, that is me using a double negative to address a positive).

I know it sounds corny, cheesy....
....Hm. I never noticed those similar adjectives both have a food in the word. Interesting.

Okay, this blog is jumping over the place. Stay on track, Lindsay.

I have to address how thankful I feel because I am almost overwhelmed by it. Though I attempt to be appreciative and grateful every day, every Thanksgiving, I think sometimes it is easy to fall into the trap of negativity, which sucks out the appreciation, the ability to stay positive. Thoughts of  "Why didn't it work out for me?" "Why is this happening? "Why did he leave, why didn't she stay, why didn't they care as much as I did?" enter my mind like a snake that just wraps itself tightly around my thoughts, suffocating the positive. Sometimes,  I take the easy way out. And too many times,  I have taken my wonderful friends and family for granted. I have been blessed to have such amazing people in my life; I got spoiled. 

But over the course of this past year, when I have dealt with a lot of change and challenges in a variety of contexts, I think about the people that have been there, over and over and over and over again. And I just feel especially grateful. Grateful for the people who stood by me or helped me through the tough times, the losses, the rejections; those nights I couldn't get to sleep and my friends would say "Call me if you need anything" and they would listen to me on the phone. The times I felt I would never finish my thesis and that it wasn't good enough or I didn't know what the heck I was writing; my parents and friends who would try their best to offer their opinion when I would babble, "That sounds like social constructionism, right?" or when I texted my friend Adam in the middle of a kickboxing workout because I was obsessing over the difference between reasons and motivations and needed him to look it up for me, right now, on his iPhone, before I went crazy (I was already way past crazy).

The situations where my friends reminded me what I deserved when I completely would forget. The  conversations at coffee shops where I was reassured I am not the only one that feels like I have no idea what the heck I am doing, ever. The times I eat dinner at a restaurant and my friends or parents put the ketchup bottle in front of me without me asking. 

My family members that are also my friends. My friends that are like my family. The relationships I still have with people despite the fact they live in North Carolina, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, DC. The relationships I no longer have, because even though they ended, I have definitely learned. Grown. Changed.  

It's the people in my life that make my life what it is.
And sometimes, when you feel the weight of the world is bearing down on you, all it takes is a shoulder to lean on to take off the pressure. I don't know what I would do without others' shoulders of support.

I am a lucky girl. And for that, I am grateful. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gunna Do?

Earlier last week, my friend Brandi and I got ourselves in a little bit of a..."situation."

We got pulled over by a cop.
For speeding.
In a school zone.
(I broke up that sentence to make it sound more dramatic).

Now, before I tell this tale, I feel I must throw out a disclaimer that I got Brandi's approval to blog about our mishap, since we were in her car when it happened. Gotta attempt to protect people's privacy. But Brandi assured me she didn't care, so here we go (Thank you, Brandi).

Brandi and Lindsay Get Pulled Over, Scene One

As a girl who lives in the middle of the woods, across from a corn field and down the street from a cow farm (Yes, I can hear the cows mooing at night. It's quite peaceful, actually. Maybe I'll put out a CD: "The Sounds of Nature, Volume I: Cows").  I generally have to drive at least 15 minutes to go anywhere that has something I might need, want, or have to do.  This means I welcome carpooling situations like a soccer mom with five kids.

This fall, I signed up to be a coach of an after school program for girls called Girls on the Run; the program took place at an elementary school about 45 minutes away. Brandi also served as a coach with me, so we created a convenient system where I would drive to Brandi's apartment (about 25 minutes away) and then she would drive us the rest of the way to the elementary school to coach. More time to chat, less driving time for me, lower gas emissions with fewer cars on the road (Go green! Save the environment!). Bada-bing, bada-boom. Life is good.

Scene Two

On this particular Monday of our weekly carpool trip, Brandi and I were anxious to get home after coaching. At practice, the girls had been antsy, I had been starving ("I feel like my stomach is eating itself!") and Brandi needed to head up to Alma to go to Pizza Hut with friends. (It is important to state Brandi was going to Pizza Hut. That place is delicious; I do not blame her for speeding).

We hopped into Brandi's car and drove out of the elementary school parking lot, turned left, and headed down the road towards Saginaw like we did at the end of every practice. As girls do, we were intensely chatting back and forth, talking about the practice, pizza, and what we were going to do when we got home. We didn't even see the cop without his lights on, sitting on the side of the road, until he pulled out as we passed him.

Sneaky, sneaky cop.

Scene Three

Brandi's eyes jumped to the rearview mirror. She slowed down.

"Did you see that cop?" she said to me.

I didn't turn around, playing the game "If I Don't See Them, They Won't See Me" like a kindergartner playing hide-and-seek. But yes, I had seen him.

"It's okay, he didn't even pull out behind us," I said.

"He just did," Brandi said hurriedly, her eyes on the mirror. Sure enough, I looked behind me to see the white vehicle now behind us, gaining speed.

What I then said out loud to Brandi: 
"It's fine," I told her. "He probably is just driving, going back to the station."

What I thought in my head: 
"Oh, crap. He's following us. He is going to pull us over, he is going to pull us over."


See, if you're my good friend, you probably already know this about me: I hate driving, especially in places I have never been before. HATE. And I dislike cops almost as much, if not more. It's like a Police Phobia. I recognize it's ridiculous, but you cannot pick what you fear. If you could, I would fear something less common, like, pink-winged dinosaurs. Brown unicorns. Taylor Swift songs that do not include a pause at the end where the music slows and it is just her singing (And I say that as a Taylor Swift fan).

Yup. If I had to choose, I would not choose to fear the police.

I want to be clear: I don't have anything against cops as people and am grateful for their services (one of my best friends' dad served as the Chief of Police for years; another one of my friends is a cop). I recognize the profession is difficult and you gotta do what you gotta do.  But still. Cops, especially in their cop cars, freak me out.

Even if I catch a police car in my peripheral vision, my eyes dart so fast you'd think I was watching Forrest Gump play ping-pong. My hands clamp tight to the steering wheel like a vise and I have to remind myself that I am not doing anything illegal. I don't know what it is about cops that cause me anxiety or why it occurs. If I had to guess, it's because they have the power, with one little piece of paper, to tarnish my driving record, deplete my bank account, and provide more support to my dad's sexist belief that women are terrible drivers.

Plus I just feel stupid being pulled over.

I think the birth of my cop anxiety began the first time I was pulled over (I haven't been pulled over a lot, but there have been a couple of times, I admit). I was in high school, it was 2 a.m.,  and I was driving home from a friend's house.  There was no alcohol in my system; I was driving the speed limit like a good citizen.  Minus the fact I was breaking my dad's midnight curfew rule (hated that damn rule) I was doing nothing wrong.  I was like a driving angel, might as well have given me wings.

Then I saw the cop car behind me.

Since it was late, I was pretty much the only one on the road. I was a lone ranger, sticking out like a sore thumb in my '87 Mustang with the cow-covered seats and hanging dice.

"Oh, crap," I thought. "There's a cop. Oh, no." Hands grip tighter on the wheel. Knuckles turn white. Pulse quickens.

I slowed down, even though I was already going the speed limit. "If he pulls me over," I thought, "I will have to tell my dad, and then he will know I broke curfew, and I will be in major trouble."

Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As I continued to drive, the cop was immediately behind me now, since I was driving so slow a turtle could pass me; paint would dry before I reached the next street.  And then I met my obstacle: a series of blinking yellow lights.

In my defense, I had just gotten my license, so Driver's Training 101 lessons were still fresh in my mind. "At yellow lights," the words in my driver's training booklet flashed in my mind, "You must cross with caution."

And so...I crossed with caution. Meaning I slowed down at every single blinking yellow light, stopped, looked cautiously, and proceeded ahead. After about the third light of me looking like a fool by stopping and going like a bad football game, the cop finally had enough. On came the red and blue flashing lights.

"I knew it," I groaned. "But I was driving cautiously!"

I pulled into the 7-11 parking lot, the cop right behind me. I stared at my lap and rolled down my window as he got out of his car, strolling towards me.

"Are you drunk?" he peered down at me, a mix of amusement and confusion on his face. He was tall with a thick mustache, Tom Seleck-style, clothed in a dark blue uniform.

"No...." I said, my voice quivering, looking up at him.

"Well, then why the hell are you driving like an idiot?" he said, not harshly, just matter-of-factly. He bent down.

"Because...I'm...scared," I said slowly. I didn't know what else to say; it was the first thing that came into my head.

The cop looked at me, now even more confused.  What a thick mustache, I thought. I wonder if he could grow that when he was like, five-years-old.

"Okay then," his face softened. "Make sure you know what you're doing."

"Yes, sir," I said.

I drove off, thanking God I didn't get a ticket stamped, "For Driving Like an Idiot." That would have been hard to explain to Dad. When I got home, I immediately looked up the lesson on yellow lights. Oops. Blinking yellow lights mean you can go. And the Idiot Award goes to....

And so, Lindsay's Fear of Cops was born. I also have an appreciation for Tom Seleck.

Scene Four

Brandi and I had turned left now, the cop still behind us. All of a sudden, red and blue lit up the semi-dark sky.

"There he goes," Brandi said matter-of-factly. The cop was pulling us over.

"It's okay," I said, more to myself than Brandi. I had a flashback of my Yellow Light incident. My pulse was quickening again, but Brandi remained calm.

"Okay, Lindsay, we are definitely getting pulled over," she said cooly. "Andddd we are pulling over," narrating her actions out loud. I remained quiet.

Since it was getting dark, the policeman's lights lit up the parking lot we had pulled into, an Italian eatery that looked to be closed, though the lights were on inside. An heavier middle-aged woman with an apron looked out the dirty window, perplexed. You could read her thoughts on her face: "What is going on?" She walked to the back door, peering out at us through the screen.

Brandi and I looked at her, waving.

"Yup, no worries," we semi-laughed while looking at her. "He's here for us." We continued waving as the woman looked at us, smiling a little bit and nodding her head.

We waited. Brandi rummaged around for her license and registration, going through papers and receipts. I stayed quiet, noticing how cool and collected Brandi remained. I knew if it was me instead of her getting pulled over, I would have been more like "Oh my God, oh my God, where the heck is my license?!" type of response.

"Lindsay, I'm shaking," she said. I looked at the registration in her hand and sure enough, the paper was trembling. I found a bit of relief in the fact that I wasn't the only one that got shaken up from being pulled over.

The cop came up to our window.

"Hello Officer," Brandi said in an almost cheery voice. Despite her shaking, she appeared calm. No tears. No hysterics.The perfect person to pull over, if there was such a thing.

"Do you know what the speed limit was back there?" the cop asked.

"Um..." Brandi paused.

Thirty-five, I thought. Thirty-five.

"Thirty-five," Brandi said. Atta girl, Brandi.

"Yup. And you were going 45," the cop said.

"I'm sorry," Brandi replied genuinely.

"How's your driving record?" he asked as he grabbed her license and registration.

"Fan-tas-tic," Brandi replied cheerily and confidently. I smiled. Brandi laughed nervously.

"Okay, hold on." The cop walked back to his car.

"Lindsay, I guessed on the 35 mph thing!" she immediately turned to me. We laughed, because what else can you do as you await your ticket sentence?

Scene Five

"I don't think he will give you a ticket," I said, trying to will it to be true.

Soon, the officer walked back to the car. Moment of truth: ticket or no ticket, ticket or no ticket.

"Slowww dowwnn," he said in almost a father-like way, handing Brandi her papers back. I looked to see if there was a ticket in his hand. "I just saved you a lot of money and points."

"Thank youuu," Brandi responded in a similar sing-songy way. We had avoided the ticket. Whew.

The cop drove off, and Brandi started her car back up. As the engine roared, so did our simultaneous chatter:

"Oh my God, I can't believe we just got pulled over."
"He didn't give us a ticket, thank God."
"I wasn't even sure it was 35 miles per hour, oh my God."
"I am so happy we didn't get a ticket!"


The following Saturday, I got into Brandi's car as we begin our last carpool trip for Girls on the Run.

"I still can't believe we got pulled over," Brandi said.
"I know it," I replied.

At that moment, we turned on to the street.

"Oh, look, Lindsay," Brandi said.
I looked ahead. A cop car was coming towards us.

"It's a conspiracy!" we laughed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's That Time of Year Again

I felt my first twinge of Christmas spirit this week. It was small and fleeting, similar to a quick body spasm that wakes you up in the middle of that annoying dream where you're falling. I hate both feelings: the scary sense that you're falling, and the sudden body-jerk of reassurance that you actually aren't, that it was just a dream.

It surprised me, to be honest, this sudden burst of Christmas cheer. I have never been one to allow myself to truly get in the Christmas spirit until after Thanksgiving. It's not that I go all Scrooge and "bah-humbug" on the holidays; I just want to take it one celebration at a time. But this year, I am feeling some uncommon pre-Turkey Day excitement.

Maybe it's my recent introduction to Starbucks peppermint mocha drinks that did it. Coffee AND mocha AND peppermint? Plus dollops of whipped cream and those adorable chocolate curls on top? For $3.25, you've got yourself a cup of Christmas cheer.

Aside from the seasonal drinks sweet enough to give you a cavity, I think my burst of holiday spirits started with the trees. I have lived in the woods and surrounded by nature since I was a little girl, which makes me somewhat of a 21st century Pochahontas by default ("Just around the riverbenddddd!!" Or in my case, just around the one-acre pond.)  I have learned you really can judge a lot by nature, especially the trees. I know that is pretty obvious, since everyone can clearly see trees lose their leaves, but aside from their looks, the trees just feel different, sound different. In the summer, their limbs are loud and alive, swirling their leaves around like they are having a conversation with the wind. But now it's November, and the trees are no longer chatty; with no leaves to swirl around with the air, they stand still and silent. I often find myself staring out the kitchen window, noticing how the limbs look skeletal, pointing awkwardly to the sky like broken fingertips. RIP pretty fall leaves.

I'm not a hippie.  I don't think...
I just appreciate nature. You know that Neature Walk Guy clip on Youtube where he's walking in the woods pointing at random nature-like things and saying, "How neat is that? Look at this, this is an Aspen. How neat!"
I'm like that.
Sort of.

Anyway, though the trees' lackluster limbs make the woods look depressingly bare and cold, it calls for celebration in the Henry household, a special holiday called "The Return of Normal TV Channels Day." The leave-less trees in the winter allow for a stronger signal presence straight to our Direct TV dish behind our house, which means we get what my mom calls "The Normal Channels": ABC, FOX, NBC, and CW. When the trees regain their leaves in the spring until the last leave drops in the fall, the thick foliage blocks the signal, and for some reason, it wipes out only the local stations. Or so that is what our Direct TV rep tells us.

The Return of the Normal TV Channels means a reunion of sorts. For me, it means reuniting with Grey's Anatomy, Glee, popular football games, Robin Roberts (I just like her for some reason). And perhaps most importantly, Modern Family. I really missed Phil and Cam.

My dad and I looking our
best in the Dad Recliner
Unlike Christmas falling on the 25th or Thanksgiving falling on the fourth Thursday of the month,  we don't know when the Return of the Normal TV Channels Day will happen;  it all depends on the signal strength. So every day for the past few weeks, my dad has sat in his traditional "Dad Chair": a hunter green leather recliner we bought him at Godwins about six Christmases ago. I myself do not see the appeal to the chair; the leather feels cold and uncomfortable in the winter or hot and sticky in the summer. But Dad sits like a king in his throne in that Lazy Boy (such an ironic name) and made it his mission to see when we would get the local TV channels. An avid sports fan and news viewer, my dad was really missing those channels.

My father has a process he performed nightly. He'd slide into the leather seat, simultaneously easing his knees up and reaching for the wooden handle to recline the chair's footrest. Taking his time putting his legs up due to a bad left knee from years of blue-collar work, he'd reach for the remote.

"Let's see if we get the local channels yet, Sis!" my dad would say to me excitedly as he turned on the TV.

I'd smile, looking over the book I was reading.

"Maybe today's the day," I would reply.

"Let's take a look."

My dad would then press the remote button, and on would come the TV, the screen showing a clear screenshot from the MTV channel it was left on: Snooki from Jersey Shore dancing on a table in all her guidette glory.

Grabbing the gray remote again as Snooki now fell off the bar table, my dad would point the remote purposefully at the TV, pressing the fateful buttons. "005." Staring at the screen-- my dad versus the TV signal-- I would sit amused at his obvious hope that today would be the day we would get local TV, even though I really wanted it to come through too. I missed my guilty-pleasure shows.

As the TV registered the remote's request, my dad and I would stare at the screen, waiting. Then suddenly, a shot of the local newsman would come through, though it was pixalated. The newscaster looked like a robot, a square of his eye over to the left with a patch of green to his right, his mouth moving like a puppeteer, choppy words coming through that didn't make sense: "The....she one was hurt..."

"We're getting closer," my dad grinned, albeit disappointed the TV signal was not strong enough yet.

Every night, we'd go through this process: eagerness, anticipation, semi-excitement coupled with disappointment.

It wasn't until this weekend that we got to fully celebrate The Return of the Normal TV Channels. My dad sat in his recliner, pressing the remote buttons as usual. This time, though, the pictures were clear:

"005," he'd type, and a clear picture of the newscaster popped up, now looking human instead of robotic: "Tonight, on abc12, we will discuss how you can prepare your home for winter."

"Look, Linds!" he said. "It's coming in!"

"Yes!" I grinned at his happiness.

"012" he typed next. Ty Pennington on Extreme Home Makeover was now smiling back at us, screaming, "Move that bus!" as a family of four began crying at the sight of their new home.

"Jean!" my dad called excitedly to my mom, flipping to channel 25, 66. It was true. We now got local TV.

We probably shouldn't be so elated that we are getting local channels; there are certainly better or more productive things to do than watch TV. I think it has to do with the whole "want what you can't have" effect, plus the excitement from checking every day to see if today was "the day." And yes, what can I say? We are a TV-loving family.

So the trees are bare, we're getting local TV channels, and Starbucks has their Christmas drinks out. I think it is safe to say my levels of Christmas spirit will only increase. Bring on the snow. And the cold. And wet jean pantlegs. And cold cars with ice covering the windshield.

Hm. Maybe I'm in the Christmas spirit, but I am not quite ready for winter yet.

And with that, I am going to go back to listening to my Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas album.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Goodnight Neverland

I lie in my queen-sized bed, tuck myself in under the comforter and sheet set from Target. The sheets have a green, black and white flower print; one of my best friends has the same set. When I first described the print to her on the phone --I had just bought the set to accompany my new apartment bedroom decor--we both laughed at how, out of all the comforters in the world, we had bought the same one.

Now, I move my legs tighter to my chest, darkness wrapping around me like a thick blanket. I blink a few times, my eyes adjusting to the night. My bed has always felt too big for me. I never used the whole space; something seemed to keep me from sprawling my legs, stretching my arms out wide like those Stretch Armstrong toys they made in the 80s. Instead, I slept on the side closest to the door, the other side staying cold and untouched. As I lie there staring at the ceiling, things begin to take shape: the frame of the TV screen, the oak dresser next to my bed, the outline of Mr. Hersheys-a teddy bear I received as a gift a few ex-boyfriends ago.

My mom always wanted me to throw him out, that teddy bear. But I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I liked his matted fur, found comfort in his bulky shape. Sometimes, I would position him so he would be laying next to me, my head on his teddy bear chest. Because of his size, it sometimes felt like he was an actual person instead of a stuffed animal. I sometimes laugh at myself, thinking about what I would like to an outsider, a 24-year-old grown woman clutching onto a teddy bear.  I move Mr. Hersheys next to me now, lay my head on the cloth of his tan belly. I close my eyes and the thoughts come.

It isn't fun, missing someone, missing many someones. It can sometimes make you feel like your entire heart is breaking. With each person that leaves my life,  whether its because they physically move away or emotionally move on, it is always hard on me. That's one of my faults as a person: my inability to let go. I clutch on to Mr. Hersheys harder now as I think about those who have come in and out of my life, faces circulating around my brain, memories leaping out to me. I turn and look at the pictures on my dresser, the metal of the frames now glowing from the moonlight coming in from the window.

Many of my friends have moved, scattered across the country like sprinkles scattered over a vanilla ice cream cone.  Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, North Carolina. Nebraska, Washington, DC. Those who still are near me sometimes feel far away because of our jobs, our schedules, our lives. 

It's a strange time. For once, things are aligning for many -getting a job, getting a house, marrying, having a baby-but yet it causes a separation. Lives are moving in different directions, literally and figuratively. Relationships end. They begin. They end again. Its the relationships with people that often define my life; a give and take cycle of love and inside jokes that can turn against me. Sometimes, you get tired of doing all the giving. Or you feel guilty that you may be doing all the taking.  Sometimes, its both: both taking, no giving. I know I have done it...been less than a good friend, girlfriend, family member. Nobody's perfect.

I look out the bedroom window.

I wonder what's next for my friends, for me. Relationships are a funny thing, whether it be a romantic or not. It's always...complicated. Especially when you need to make a decision whether to hang on or let go.  And even if you decide to let go, the memories aren't always as easily deleted as a cell phone number, the feelings not easily as blocked as a Facebook profile.

I stare at the glow of the clock, it's red numbers glowing like greedy red eyes. I need to go to sleep.

 That's the thing about missing...even if others are missing the same person, they do it in their own way. Missing is something you own all on your own.

I turn back towards Mr. Hersheys, close my eyes, and wait for sleep to come.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Adventures of Lindsay the Bartender

Today is Tuesday, and I am currently at my local library because I am nerdy (aka cool) like that.  As I sit at the pine table near the back of the romance section, right in front of the coveted computer rooms, there is a sign to my left:


I sit. I turn to my left. Read the sign. Turn to my right. No signs of librarians with carts of books ready to look down on me with their reading glasses balanced on the tip of their nose.

I reach in my bag, pull out my Granny Smith apple, and take a bite.

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

I am breaking the rules.  I am eating in the library. And never before have I realized how noisy an apple is.

Well. There's my adrenaline rush for the day.

.....Sigh. I need to do something more exciting.

Well, I should give myself some more credit.  I really have been attempting to branch out of my comfort zone, meet new people, try new things, and to be honest, I've been doing pretty well at breaking out of my box.  For example, a few weeks ago, an old friend/co-worker of mine called me up and left me a strangely vague voicemail:

"Hey Linds, give me a call back. I sort of have something pretty cool to tell you about, if you're interested...It's pretty neat, so..anyway, just call me back."

I had no idea what he was talking about, especially because this wasn't one of those friends that called me up all the time. In fact, I don't think he had ever called me on the phone before. Wondering what the heck he could be talking about (Is he trying to set me up? Does he know of a job opening? Did I get him in trouble accidentally with something?) I called back.

"Hey, what's going on?" I said.

"Oh hey, Linds!" he said enthusiastically.  "So listen, how's the job search going?"

Ugh, I thought. One of the Top 5 Questions again.

"It's going," I said.  I had been working on shortening my answer to that question so as not to bore people.

"Well, hey are you busy next week?"

"I'm not sure," I said, now curious. "How come?"

 "Well, there's this fundraising event I bartend at every year, and it's an auction, so there's tons of people, and I need help making drinks and bartending. My girlfriend will be there, and you get 100 bucks, so I was hoping you could help me out?"

Hm, I thought. I had never bartended in my life, and only served alcohol to actual customers two times. The first time was at the baseball stadium I worked at, where they put me on the beer port, only to immediately take me off of beer port because I was serving cups of foam rather than cups of beer (I know, I don't know how I was unable to pour a cup of beer either. We all have our weaknesses.). The second time was again at the stadium, this time for a beer tasting event. Rather than pour beer, I was to open beer bottles, but when I used the bottle opener, I pulled up too hard, so the bottle fell on the table, the cap scratching my knuckles and the beer spilling all over me and the floor.

But hey, apparently I thought this third time would be the charm:

"Sure," I heard myself tell my friend. "I'll bartend."

"Great!" he said. "I'll get you more information next week."

Later that week, my friend called me again and told me more details. The event was to take place at the local Armory, a large VFW-like hall. There was going to be about 500 event-goers, all prepared to raise money and drink adult beverages.  My job was to help them raise their BAC and lower their inhibitions from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Another co-worker friend of mine was going to help out with me; she had never bartended either. On our way to the event, we began to joke about how we had no idea how to make many mixed drinks.

"They'll ask me for a Bloody Mary, and I'll say to them, 'That's the one with the celery in it?'," we laughed.

I was a bit nervous because this was definitely out of my comfort zone. Though it was only bartending, I am the type of person that likes to have some idea of how to do something before doing it; bartending was something I had absolutely zero experience in, and since it was unexpected, I was a bit uncomfortable. Damn you, control-freak characteristics.

"It's pouring drinks, not performing surgery. Chill out, " I kept reminding myself.

When we walked into the building, the bartending area was already set up. A table with a white tablecloth sat near the back, another table behind it had bottles lining its counter: Jack Daniels, Captain Morgan, Jose Cuervo, Kahlua; you name it, it was there. Tonic water, soda water, whisky sour mix. Diet Coke, Coke, Sprite, 7-Up.  It was like every college freshman's dream.

My bartending friend came up to us.

"Hey guys, thanks for coming," he said. "Just pour them what they want, and if they ask for something you don't know, just yell." And that was that.

We took off our coats and began to help set up the large silver keg of LaBatt Blue Light behind the center of the table.

"Oh Beer Keg, we meet again," I thought.

People started pouring in. Immediately they made a beeline for us, ready to feel the warmth and looseness only alcohol can so easily provide.

A man with a sweater vest and a bald spot approached me.

"Can I get a Bloody Mary?" he asked.

How ironic.

"Sure," I stumbled. I felt like an idiot for not knowing what is in a damn Bloody Mary. Of course that would be the first thing someone would ask me to make. My jokes were jinxes.

My friend shouted over to his shoulder to me: "Vodka, Bloody Mary mix!"

I took the clear bottle of Absolut Vodka, pouring the cup halfway. I figured the more alcohol, the better. I then grabbed the bloody Mary mixture, a deep rust-colored red that looked disgusting to me.

"There you go," I said to the man and gave him the drink. He took a sip, smiled, and off he went. Well, I thought. That was easy.

As soon as Bloody Mary Bald Man left, I became a drink-making machine. Jack and Cokes, rum and diets, White Russians. I don't know what I had gotten so nervous about. Plus, I soon realized bartending provided great people-watching opportunities.

I learned people really like their alcohol, and they really like their alcohol a certain way. One man I called "With A Twist Guy."

"I would like a Vodka and Squirt. With a Twisttttt" he'd say. Every time. As the night went on and he got drunker:

"Yesss, I'd reallly like a Vodkkaaa, squirtttt," he'd slur. "With-a..."

"I know, with a twist," I'd reply.

"Egggg-act-llyyy," he'd say as I handed him the drink.

Another guy I labeled "Mr. Refreshing."

"I would laahhhvveee a refreshing Jack and Coke, please," he'd say as he approached the table.

"Can you get me a refreshing Scotch on the rocks?" he'd then say.

"I want another refreshing Jack and Coke." Refreshing, refreshing, refreshing.

The last hour of the night was the most interesting. Middle-aged men standing next to skinny blonde women, their faces too close and their hands too low. People asking me random questions or statements as if we were best friends forever, like "So how is your night, eh?" and "This is just so much fun! Are you having fun??" It also got really loud, like someone turned up the volume in the entire building. And judging by people's behavior, our drinks were clearly doing what they were supposed to do.


I gave her the gin and tonic.

Another time, a different woman came up to me, all sparkles. Sparkly jeans, sparkly top, sparkly earrings. I felt like I needed sunglasses to look at her directly.

"Say chheeseeee!" I looked up and Ms. Sparkles had pulled out a purpled-colored Canon camera, smiling and pointing the lens at me.

"Oh, no, no, no, that's okay," I said awkwardly. I began to pour her some amber-colored rum into the clear glass.

"Come onnnnn," she said. "Cheese!" Ms. Sparkles was not giving up.  She pressed a button near the camera's top, and immediately the lens closed back into the device, turning it off.

"WHY WON'T IT TAKE A PICTURE!" she yelled, drunkenly fumbling with the camera, looking at me, then back at the camera.

"You just turned it off, schweeeeetie," her friend slurred next to her, leaning her head against her friend's shoulder.

"Hahahaha!" they both laughed. Ms. Sparkles pressed a button, and the camera made a clicky sound, now back to life.

"Okay, come on. Cheese?!" she said, looking at me as I pushed her drink towards her.

"No, that's okay," I said.

"Come on! Just one picture!" Ms. Sparkles looked at me eagerly.

Oh, what the hell, I thought.  I looked up and grinned at her.

"Cheese!" I said through clenched teeth as I looked into the lens, giving her a thumbs up.

"Aw, there we go!" Ms. Sparkles said happily. "Look at how pretty you are. You are just the prettiest bartender, look at how pretty you are." The way she cooed, it sounded the same as how my mom talks to my cat.

She reached over, turning the camera towards me, now sucking on her rum and coke straw. I glanced at the camera screen, looking at the image of me staring back.  Yikes. My hair was standing up, my eyebrows raised awkwardly, my thumbs up making me look like I was 12-years-old.

Yup. I was a hot mess.

Despite my hot mess-ness, I had a lot of fun bartending, which surprised me. The night came to an end, and the event-goers paired off, some going off to other bars, others going off to their new friend's houses or apartments or whatever.

"Good job, girls," my friend told my co-worker and I when everyone had left. "Here's your tips." We walked out of there with a wad of dollar bills, which is good, because I needed gas money.

Today, I went to the bank, my wad of dollar bills in hand.

"I swear I'm not a stripper," I said to the teller. "I was just bartending."

I wonder what my next out-of-the-box adventure will be. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Adulthood Lobby

I am currently spending some time waiting in the lobby of Adulthood. I don't feel like a full-grown adult yet because I am still trying to "figure it all out." And so I hang out in the lobby.

The lobby of Adulthood can sometimes feel as bad as when you have the flu and feel terrible and gross and have to wait 45 minutes in the Med Express lobby, only to get called back to one of those cold rooms and they make you wait even longer for the doctor to come in :pause for breath: So you feel sick, cold, gross, and now agitated because you just want some medicine and to go home and sleep, but you can't. You have to wait.

The lobby of Adulthood can sometimes be sort of like that.

And I don't like to wait. Ask anyone who has to go to a restaurant with me when I am hungry. It gets ugly. I get whiney. Unless there's a bread basket. Bread baskets are a win.

Anyway, now that I am done with school and waiting in the lobby of adulthood, I get a lot of those "next-step questions" from people. Or, as I like to call them, questions-that-make-me-feel awkward-because-I need-to-provide-an-adequate-answer-to-show-I-am-doing-something-with-my-life. People are just asking me these questions because they care about me or are curious about what I'm doing, which is nice, but sometimes answering them isn't as easy as it should be. I feel pressure.  The answers should be black and white, but  I can't answer them in black and white because I am in major gray territory. it gray? Grey. Gray. Okay, I Googled it. It's grey. (Fact: There is a website called Lucky me).

Those next-step questions remind me of college exam questions because I end up having to say a lot more than I originally thought I would. For example, for college exams, the professor would say, "The exam is all essay; there's only three questions." I would be all geeked that there were only three questions and no true and false (because let's face it, everyone hates true and false, especially when you have to explain why it's true or why it's false). But when it would be time to take the exam, I would look at the first question and it would appear like this: 

"1. Describe the family systems theory. What are it's strengths? It's weaknesses? Give an example of how family systems theory could affect a conflict in your own family."

That is four questions in one.  Four. So out would come my pencil, and just my luck, I would have the old school kind of pencil that I had to sharpen, not the cool clicky lead pencils, and I would begin to compose a novel of an answer. I would shake my hand furiously as my fingers would cramp up, both my pencil and my mind losing their sharpness. Up I would go to sharpen my pencil. People would look at me. I would sigh as I looked at my lined-paper, thinking, "I thought there was only three questions."

My exam answers always ended up being much longer than I originally planned, which is the same with the common life questions I get asked because I give grey answers. Grey answers are very long. They are long because I feel like I need to defend the fact that yes, I DO have a life, and it's great, and it's everything I hoped it would be. But the truth is, I'm in a transition phase, and transition phases aren't always fun.  I think we all have to wait for that next big break, or that next big sign, or that next big...whatever.  And so, while waiting, I must answer questions about what exactly I am doing.

The good thing is I have had a lot of practice giving answers, because people's questions are usually the same:

Top 5 Questions I Get Asked:

"What are you doing now?"

"Any luck on the job search?"

"What would you do, if you could do anything? What's your dream job?"

"Where are you living?"

"Are you dating anyone?"

And so my answers will be like, "The job search is going okay; I am looking every day and really trying to network with people, but with this economy, I am definitely feeling the struggle, but I am hopeful and trying the best I can, so..." or "No, I'm not dating anyone, but I don't want a boyfriend right now because I am just trying to figure out where my life is going and what I am going to be doing, and I don't think I have time for a boyfriend right now anyway, and it's because..."

And so on and so forth.

Overall though, I think I need to accept the fact that it is OK to not have all the answers right now. None of us know where our lives are going. We can plan all we want, but one decision can change everything, one person, one phone call.  As a Type-A, planner person to my core, sometimes waiting in this lobby of adulthood can be frustrating. But I have faith it will all work out.

Until then, I will continue to bore people with my long answers. Or just buy a T-Shirt that says, "I don't know." Because let's face it: who does?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What's in a Name

Hi. My name is Lindsay. 

It's spelled with an a instead of an e, an i instead of a y, an s instead of a z. There are so many ways to spell it. Lyndsy, Linzi, Lindsey, Lindsay. Only fellow Lindsays probably are aware of the multiple ways to spell it though; it's like initiation into the name club. 

I like to think my way is the correct way of spelling it, but obviously I am bias. My name has given me problems over the years,  a lot of  "No, it's with an A, not an E" comments that make me feel rude and the other person who is taking my name for an appointment, writing my name out on a name tag or a coffee to-go cup,  feel awkward.

I remember the first time I realized my name was going to be difficult was when I was five-years-old, standing in line for kindergarten registration. It was held in the elementary school gym, and I was to tell the teacher what my name was so she could write it out on my name tag. The name tag itself was a Mexican-sombrero cutout hanging on a string we were to place around our neck, then go stand next to a cardboard cutout of a donkey; apparently kindergarten registration had a Mexican theme that year. A polaroid picture would be taken of me with my name tag and an official kindergartner I would become. Ole!

I remember approaching the woman filling out the name tags. "My name is Lindsay," I told her.  She wrote it down. 


I looked at it and knew that was not how my name was spelled. Feeling embarrassed, I did not want to correct her, so I took the sombrero, stood in front of the donkey, and said cheese as Lindsey instead of Lindsay. My first day as a kindergarten student and I am a girl with the wrong name, standing next to a donkey. Aye caremba.

Now a twenty-four year old, I am pretty blunt about how my name is spelled. Plus it's a good way at figuring out if a potential dateable guy is worth it and paying attention. If he spells my name with an e, forget it. No date for you. Okay, I am not that harsh, but I definitely notice if they spell it wrong. Alas, even the ones who do spell my name right often end up being...well....douchebags. Or douchebag-like. Or just not right for me.  I need to work on my filtering system. But anyway, Lindsay is my name. 

I used to dance. Tap dance, ballet, jazz, I did it all. The only thing I didn't do was gymnastics, and that was because I got headaches every time the teacher told us to bend backwards. I loved the attention of being on the stage, loved the sequins, loved the moves. The only thing I did not love was the instructor, who, coincidentally, was not only unable to spell my name, she didn't even KNOW my name.  Add this to the fact that she was quite vocal and not shy at giving criticism, and you got a recipe for an awkward situation. One afternoon in beginner's ballet when I was eight-years-old was especially horrible:

"Stacey! Stacey! STACEY! POINT. YOUR. TOE!!!!"

I continued to perform my plie at the barre.


I bent my knees further into the position. I felt bad for this Stacey girl who was getting criticized in front of the entire class.  I continued to dance, feeling grateful it wasn't me she was yelling at.

I looked up as I noticed other girls glancing towards me. "Nope," I wanted to tell them. "Not me. My name's Lindsay." 

I noticed the instructor was looking in my general direction, but because she was wearing dark glasses--the kind with the almost black unpractical-- I couldn't tell if she was looking at me, a girl in front of me or behind me. I kept bending my legs, trying to look graceful, not meeting eye contact. Ignore her, it's not you she's yelling at, I thought. Your name is Lindsay.


The instructor was now standing in front of me. She bent down, grabbed my pink, ballet-slippered foot, bending it into a pointing direction.

"Stacey, make sure you are listening when I am talking to you," she said as she walked back to her stool in the corner.

So it was me. I was Stacey. 

I spent the rest of the class charading as Stacey the Sucky Dancer. Every time I made a mistake, it was a "Stacey!" remark. I was not sure what was more embarassing: getting yelled at or getting yelled at by the wrong name. 

After class, I decided enough was enough. Though my instructor was quite the intimidating woman, with those black lensed glasses and her all-black outfit, I decided I could not go the entire year with her calling me by the wrong name. Let her yell at me, but I'll be damned if I will be yelled at as Stacey.  Stacey, for God's sakes? It does not even sound like Lindsay.

I approached her stool where she sat, swearing at the cassette player that seemed to be eating the cassette tape.

"Um..." I was off to a great start.

The instructor turned from the cassette player and looked down at me.

"Yes, what is it?" the instructor asked.

"My name isn't Stacey," I replied feebly.


"My name isn't Stacey," I said, louder this time.

"It isn't?" she said. She looked surprised. "What is it?" I could tell she felt bad; her tone had softened.


"Oh, okay. I'm sorry, Lindsay."

I think that was the first time I had stood up for myself. I still have problems with that now, ironically, but every now and then,  I will think back to that time and how I corrected that intimidating teacher. It gives me a bit more self-confidence in myself. If my eight-year-old self can stand up to someone intimidating,  my 24-year-old self should be able to. 

So this is my blog. My name is Lindsay. With an A.