Monday, December 30, 2013

Plan (Un) Accordingly

I fell in love with making plans when I was in the fifth grade. At the beginning of the school year, Mrs. K gave us planners with shiny covers and spiral binding. She required we write down our assignments daily, and she checked our planners weekly, signing her name with a flourish to provide proof that we were, indeed, planning. Like the nerd I am, I enjoyed the process. Here was this planner with boxes and dates, times and schedules that provided me with life structure. Such control! Such ease!
I have used a planner ever since. I write down appointments, schedules, ideas, trips. I daydream about the future, the hows and where’s and what’s. I make plans.
But here’s the thing… A thing I am starting to understand more and more as life goes on:
We have no true control in this life. And plans? They fall through. Plans change because circumstances change. Situations change.
People change.
The change seems to always hit you where it hurts, that thing you weren’t prepared for or expected, your Achilles heel. The career major, or the school, or the state you live in. The job. The person you date, the friends you make, the places you love.
It all can change.
This past weekend, I traveled to Nebraska to stand up in a friend’s wedding. Another friend was also in the wedding, and we were having a great time dancing and laughing during the reception. Later on in the night, however, after the bouquet toss but before the Conga line, my friend checked her email.
“They canceled my flight,” she said, staring down at her smart phone. It was 10 p.m. Her flight was originally scheduled to leave at 2:45 p.m. the next day. There weren’t signs of bad weather, no explanation for the cancelation in the airline’s email. We didn’t understand.
And so we did what you do what plans fall through: We made new ones. It took one hour, two long phone calls, another flight delay and some extra driving, but my friend made it to her family the next day. It worked out.
Because it always does, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
A change in plans pushes us to change our course, right as we think we’re steering it in one solid direction. Just around the riverbend, and all that. During this whole growing up thing, I’ve looked back and realize that failed plans can be a good thing and, if not a good thing, a necessary one at least.
If we truly did have control over our life’s paths and life really worked according to OUR plan, then we’d be stuck being the versions of ourselves based on the decisions we’ve made at the time. Which means I would have married my first boyfriend and moved to New York City to become a magazine editor at Seventeen. Looking back now, I know I would have hated living in NYC, my first boyfriend should not have been my last, and I would have gotten tired of writing about hot crushes, male boy bands, and current prom dress trends.
But I didn’t know that back then.
Without a change in plans, I wouldn’t have gone to grad school. I wouldn’t have changed majors, or worked at a baseball stadium, or tried octopus.
We all deal with changes.
I know people who planned to do one career, then ended up pursuing a completely different path. Men who go to college, then go off to war instead. Women who don’t plan on being moms, then have a beautiful baby boy. Women who plan on having a baby, then suffer a heart-wrenching loss.
We don’t plan for the speeding tickets, the missed reservations, the job relocations across the country. The “We Have to Let You Go” speech. The “It’s Not You, It’s Me” speech.
The fighting, the breakup, the cheating, the divorce. The judge’s sentence, the doctor’s diagnosis. The car accident.
We don’t make these plans.
But these things happen. Life happens. And it’s in these moments, where we are scrambling to make new plans, to deal with the cracks in the ceiling and the pain or the panic, that we grow as people. As much as it can hurt, it’s these changes that allow ourselves to become ourselves.
So if something isn’t working, if the relationship is wrong or the career is wrong or your life is just all wrong, then we have to do the opposite of planning:
We have to let it go.
Life changes. Let’s plan (un) accordingly.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


It’s an alphabet carpet with pink As and orange Bs, blue Cs and a ragged looking D. All of us are sitting around the letters, X marks the spot, while Mrs. A reads us a story. I scoot next to you, our Keds barely touching. You move over, away from me, so I move closer. And we remain close for the next 15 years.
It’s a note scribbled “W/B/S” and “LYLAS” at the bottom, silently passed between desks in 4th Hour Social Studies. Those were the days before YOLO.
It’s an orientation line where your mom says,  “She looks nice,” so you come up to me and we make small talk that turns into years of deep talks, late night-in the hallway-or on the phone-talks.
It’s the piano I sat on, the teasing comb you used to make my hair look special and voluminous on my 21st birthday.
It’s the borrowed satin tops and sequined belts, the bikinis and flip flops at Pompano Beach. Red heels and a piggyback ride down Mission Street because those things hurt, and you were there to carry me.
It’s a Yukon he let you drive. A cafeteria table where we all ate and analyzed, gossiped and shared.
It’s a nickname.
It’s a Bob Evans restaurant. A bonding conversation over mean girls and bad boyfriends.
It’s a bar where we stand next to the juke box and mock the dudebros with the gel’ed hair. It’s grad school exams and getting excited about mint chocolate shakes because heck, we were too stressed to be excited most of the time. It’s eating ketchup packets and airline cookies in the Metropolitan Museum because hunger trumps NYC museum exhibits.
It’s a phone call saying, “He broke up with me.”
Or worse.
 “…Dad has leukemia.” It’s the fluorescent laundry room lights, blinding me as your words echo through the phone speaker. It’s the tears we cry together in separate places, the prayers we say, the Olive Garden breadsticks we bring to the hospital room.
It’s you being on my side by my side, even if that means us both losing in order to gain.
It’s a North Carolina beach and a corporate office and walking through the hallways giggling behind tight-lipped, white-collar suits.
It’s bridesmaid dresses.
It’s a tightly closed hug as you sob into her shoulder because you have never felt pain like this—heart-wrenching, gut aching, pain.
It’s a baby boy in a blue onesie named the name you told us back in high school hallways, before the parties and the boys, then the men and eventually, than the man that becomes your husband. The man who makes you a mom.
I guess the song is true, you know. Make new friends, keep the old, and all that. One is silver and the other is gold, and just like any currency, sometimes we make change. Break even. Break away.
And that’s okay.
Because there’s something to be said about the world of girls, the friendship ties that bind. As I get older and now have old memories mixed with new, I clearly see our past while standing in the midst of the future we dreamed about, talked about, wondered about.
All I know is the world is lonely without a shoulder to lean on. Despite the changes, the growth, the separations or the closeness, every bit of it counts. It’s part of the fabric of our histories, woven in and out.
Like letters on an alphabet carpet.
And for that, I am grateful.

Monday, December 2, 2013

That Time We Went Shopping on Black Friday

Black Friday is something I avoid. The idea of shopping the day after (or night of) Thanksgiving overwhelms me. Long lines, busy traffic, and getting in a wrestling match over a Hugging Elmo can create anxiety butterflies in my stomach full of turkey and pie. I’m more of an online shopper.
My mom, on the other hand, loves Black Friday. She and Dad usually go out shopping together the night of Thanksgiving, a Bonnie and Clyde tag team amongst the crowds and craze.
But last year, fate intervened, and I found myself at Walmart on the night of Thanksgiving.
“Lindsay, I have to work on Thanksgiving night,” my mom explained one early November afternoon. “Can you please go out and help your Dad? There’s this big screen TV on sale at Walmart we want to pick up.”
I looked at her. We all have our faults, and Mom and I both knew cranky shopping was mine. I have like, a two-hour maximum shopping threshold, and it’s all downhill from there. I’m like a toddler. I’m not proud of it.
“Mom,” I said after a pause, “I just don’t think I would be good at it like you are. You know I’m not the best shopper.”
“I know, honey, but I don’t want your Dad to go out there alone,” Mom continued. “It will be fine. It’s one store, just for the TV and a few video games for your brother, and that’s it. Adam could come with. All you have to do is stand in line.”
I already felt bad Mom wouldn’t be able to go out shopping with Dad. Every year after their price tag slashing conquests, she complained about how tired she was and how she “would never do THAT again.” But I knew better. I knew she loved scooping up the deals like ice cream flavors. So I decided, in that moment, to rise above.  Rise above my shopping dislikes and take my mother’s place—sort of like in that Disney movie, Mulan, when Mulan goes to battle in place of her father. I would bring honor to the family! I would fight the Battle of Black Friday! I WOULD GET THAT GINORMOUS WALMART TV.
“Well, okay,” I said after a pause.
It’s not like I’d be out all night like the Hardcore Shoppers, I thought. The stamina of those people is impressive. Survival of the Shoppers’ Fittest, and I was at the bottom of the retail chain. But I thought again of Mulan and Mom and family honor, and as my mom gave me a hug of thanks, I was glad I said yes.
On the afternoon of Thanksgiving, Dad, Adam and I set the plan. Dad would drive his truck, while Adam and I would drive in Adam’s Taurus. We’d meet at Walmart and assess the situation once we got there. The anxiety and excitement were starting to rile me up. So many questions. Would we get the big TV? Would we have to wait in line all night? How many people would be there?
Day turned to dinnertime, turkey became a carcass and the side dishes found new homes in plastic Tupperware containers, officially deemed Leftovers. Mom left for work, giving me a hug and a “Good luck, honey! Thanks so much!” as she walked out the door. I smiled and gave her a thumbs-up. “Okay guys, I’ll see you there,” Dad said as we walked out the door, cell phones charged and jackets on.
And we were off.
In the car, Adam and I turned on the Christmas music. This was our first Thanksgiving as a couple, and I liked the idea of Adam, Dad and I doing something together as a team—building the family bond, breaking in the boyfriend with the father and all that. Little did I know what the night had in store for us.
“Do you think Walmart is going to be nuts?” I asked Adam. Traffic was busier than usual. I felt like we were entering an entirely new world. Busy traffic was the first sign of change, like when you go to Florida and start to see palm trees.
“Nah, it’ll be good,” he replied, ever the optimist. “I think it will be fun.”
Adam and I pulled into the parking lot, cars quickly pulling into spaces on both sides of our car. As we started walking towards the sliding glass ENTRANCE doors, I saw Dad’s red truck parked near the back. He was already inside the Mad House.
“Here we go,” I said to Adam, grabbing his hand.
“Here we go,” he repeated with a smile.
Once in the store, my eyes widened with surprise. I knew there would be a lot of people, but there were so many people—all in lines weaving in and out, aisle after aisle. There were people amongst the glass freezers of frozen pizzas and Eggo Waffles, there were people in the main aisles towards electronics, there were people near the mangos and the fruits, crowded around displays of Barbies and basketballs.
There were tons of people in the Health & Beauty lines, all standing in aisles amongst creams and shampoo and razors. And there, near the boxes of hair color in between the Blondes and Brunettes, stood my dad.
“Here, take this.” I gave Adam the ticket in my hand. Ironically golden in color, this ticket could be redeemed for the TV that Mom wanted us to get. Our job was to stay in line and wait until the clock struck 8 p.m.; that’s when the TVs became available to purchase. We’d hand over the ticket in exchange for the TV, pay, leave, get home, collapse on the couch and call it a Successful Night.  
“Will you go stand in line for the TV and I’ll meet you there?” I asked Adam.
“Sure,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said, giving his hand a squeeze. “I’ll be over there in a minute, I just want to see how my dad is doing.”
“Take your time,” Adam said and started heading towards the lines near the Frozen Foods.
I turned back towards the Health & Beauty aisles. Dad hadn’t seen me yet, but I watched him for a second. I smiled. Wearing his favorite St. Charles Bulldogs sweatshirt and a red trucker hat, Dad looked slightly out of place as he stood in line amongst strangers. This was out of Dad’s comfort zone, doing this shopping stuff without my mom, but he was doing it anyway. This is love, I thought.
“Dad!” I waved, shouting from the main aisle. People turned to look at me.
“Sis!” Dad smiled, waving back. He was towards the end of the aisle, which was roped off so I couldn’t get to him. This is all so Titantic/every man for himself/women and children first, I thought.
Just as I began to move closer to the roped off area to talk to Dad, a large woman in a Walmart uniform started to shout.
“All right,” Walmart Woman said, her voice booming over conversations. “Move ahead,” she gestured towards the front–of-the-liners, sweeping her arm forward. “Thirty people go in at a time, and you get three minutes. JUST THREE MINUTES.”
People started moving ahead towards the woman, my dad now closer to the main aisle where I stood. Three minutes? I mouthed at Dad, confused.
Dad reached above his head and pointed over the Walmart woman’s shoulder. Right behind the woman was a gate-like metal bar. The woman lifted the bar and began to number off people who were allowed to enter into another roped off section. Normally reserved for Home & Garden Tools, this area had been transformed into a DVD/Video Game “Land,” where displays of DVDs and video games stood on the concrete. The whole roping off-thing reminded me of the black velvet curtained room at video rental places that housed the naughty, adult-only stuff.
“Sis, here I go!”
Dad had reached the front of the line, and the Walmart woman was motioning him forward.
“THREE MINUTES!” the woman reminded the group. Like ants on a picnic blanket, the shoppers started to scatter.
“Go, Dad, go!” I shouted, laughing as I watched the madness begin. Dad began to move like a burglar, all stealthy and quick as he darted amongst strangers.
I felt like I was watching a game show like Supermarket Sweep or Minute to Win It. These grown adults were grabbing DVDs like hotcakes, as if each DVD was a $100 bill. It was all just too much.
“Come on, Twinkle Toes!” I shouted jokingly. I couldn’t stop laughing. Dad fought back a smile as he looked back at me, brows furrowed, a DVD in his hand. I squinted at the cover: Breaking Dawn: Part 1.
“Sure, Dad!” I shouted. “Grab it!” Dad nodded, chuckling as he ran faster from display to display. I stood alongside other encouragers as they coached their people.
“Sue! SUE!” one guy wearing a Lions jersey shouted next to me. “Go to the back! Look for the NCAA game Jacob wants!” A husky woman with a red face and curly blonde hair nodded, determined, and headed towards the back.
Just then, the Walmart woman shouted.
“You have 10 seconds left! 1, 2, 3…” Now people really started to move, pushing past each other and grabbing cases left and right. Dad emerged from the roped off area, his hands full and breaths heavy.
“Dad,” I said, giving him a hug, “THAT was impressive. That was hardcore. It’s like a freaking jungle in there. I felt like I was watching a game show, geez. And there you were, in the thick of it all….just...running around, grabbing….” I was laughing hard now, waving my hands above my head as if I was grabbing things out of the sky.
Dad smiled and looked down at the Breaking Dawn DVD and video games. “Well,” he paused, all serious. “That’s how you do these things.”
“I guess so,” I said, smiling.
Dad and I started towards the Frozen Food section. During the DVD madhouse, Adam had texted me he was waiting in line near the ice cream.
“I wonder how good ole’ Adam is doing,” Dad said as we walked by Women’s Wear, People were everywhere, their carts already full of other Black Friday deals.
“I’m glad Adam came with us,” I said.
“Me too,” Dad replied, then stopped in his tracks. “Oh, wait, Sis. SIS. I gotta get this for Adam. He needs this.”
Uh-oh, I thought, walking faster to see what he was looking at. Dad is a notorious prankster, always has been.  Whatever he was holding, I could bet it was embarassing, inappropriate, or gross.
Or a combination of all three.
“This is perfect,” Dad said.
“Dad, what do you…” I looked down. “DAD, come on!” I said. Hanging off a hanger in Dad’s hand was a triple F cup-sized satin bra, bright purple. I could probably put my entire face in one of the bra cups. Dad looked down at the bra, a grin spreading over his face.
“Dad, you cannot give that to him, what are you doing?” I said half-heartedly, trying not to laugh. Laughing only encouraged him more.
“Oh no,” Dad said, nodding his head and smiling. “I think Adam would like to get one of these in front of all those nice shoppers.”
“OhmyGod, Dad, you are ridiculous, put it back.” I said, but I smiled. I couldn’t help it. The smile was all it took, like giving silent permission. Dad threw the bra in a nearby empty cart and started down the main aisle that ran parallel to the Frozen Foods. I shook my head and continued walking, searching for Adam up and down aisles full of people.
After passing the Pizzas and Frozen Veggies section, I found Adam near the Mackinac Island Fudge and Strawberry ice cream flavors.
Dad won’t give that bra to him, I thought as I walked towards Adam. Too soon. Too soon for pranks. Even my dad had a threshold, rules for when and how and where.
“Hey!” Adam said, opening his arms outwards in an embrace. I walked into his arms and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “How’d it go over there?”
“It was INSANE,” I said.
“Adam, it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, seriously,” I said. “They let people in, like, in waves, and you get a time limit.” Adam raised his eyebrows.
“I know, right?” I said. “So Dad was in there, amongst all of these people, and he was just darting in and out grabbing these DVDs...” I started to laugh again. “People were shouting, saying ‘Grab this! Get that!’ It was like a game show, for real.”
“Oh my God, that’s crazy,” Adam said. “I’ve just been standing here. I’ve heard people say at 8 p.m. they’ll start to give out these TVs.”
“Yeah, that’s the plan.” I looked around. We were surrounding by people. Most of them were middle-aged, but there were teens and older adults, too. We all were looking for the same thing: Deals. I guess Christmas did bring people together.
“Adam!” A deep voice shouted across the main aisle about 50 feet away. Adam and I turned towards the aisle.
I saw a glint of purple. Satin. Oh no, I thought. He’s doing it.
“Adam!” my dad shouted again. This time, people were staring at us. “Adam!”
Adam looked across the aisle where my dad stood, holding the giant purple bra over his head.  “Adam, is this the one you wanted?” Dad shouted. Our aisle-mates turned and looked at Dad, then back at us.
I stood frozen like a statue, staring at Adam’s face. Whatever Adam responded would be important. Dad would remember how he responded. For my dad, it was like a Project Runway, “either you’re in or out” moment. I could not believe Dad was doing this, here, in Walmart, with a purple satin BRA.
Dad continued to hold up the purple bra in the air, grinning. Adam stared. Oh no, I thought. He doesn’t think this is funny.
After a pause, Adam looked down at his feet. Then, he slowly began to smile as he lifted his head up.
“No,” Adam shouted to Dad. “I told you to get the leopard one!”
The crowd of people began to chuckle, and I laughed as I punched Adam playfully in the shoulder. Dad brought the purple bra down, smiling and nodding back towards him. He’s good, I could hear my dad thinking. Of course, I knew Adam was good all along.
“I’m so glad you came with us,” I said, taking Adam’s arm and putting it over my shoulder. “Thank you.”
“Of course,” he smiled. “Your dad is hilarious, did you know that?”
“Yes,” I said. “Yes, I do.”
Adam, Me, Dad: The Black Friday Trio.
In the end, the clock finally struck 8 p.m. and we were able to nab the giant TV, the DVDs and the video games from my dad’s mad dash. We did not, however, purchase the purple bra. But when I heard my dad re-telling the bra story to my grandma over the phone the next day (“And then he said, ‘No, I told you to get the leopard one!’”) I knew the bra would live on in our memories for years to come.
Despite my dislike of shopping, I started to see why my mom liked Black Friday. It wasn’t just getting the items for a good price, it was the planning, the strategy, the Us vs. Them. It was the adventure. The quest.
The fun.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Perspective of a Mirror

When I coached for an amazing, girl-power program called Girls on the Run, we taught weekly lessons to third through fifth-grade girls lessons about health, self-esteem, and confidence in an effort to promote positive self and body image. When you teach about the good, you often address the bad, and it was during these lessons stressing positivity and self-love when several girls would voice that they thought they looked fat or ugly.

It breaks my heart to think that an eight-year-old girl's mind will focus her thoughts on being fat, ugly, not enough. But you know what? It also sucks that 28, 38, 48-year woman thinks it all the time, too.

So one morning, I walked into the bathroom, the mirror hanging innocently on the wall. It's strange how an innocent object can turn into enemy as soon as you address meaning to it. Looking at my reflection, the mind chatter of "Ew, look at my nose" or "I need to do something with my hair" immediately began in my brain.

Suddenly, amidst the mind chatter, an idea bubble popped up. "I wonder what it'd be like," I thought, "if this mirror had a voice. If I told this scenario from the mirror's perspective instead of my brain's perspective, it's script running on REPEAT.

And so I wrote "Perspective of a Mirror." This blog post is featured on Libero Network, and you can read it here:

Perspective of a Mirror

Screw society's expectations. I, for one, will take the Mirror's side on this one.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Time Rudolph Fell Off my Roof

If there were a meter to determine Activeness of Imagination and Gullibility levels, my needle would be pointing towards the HIGH end. My mind is constantly going, going, going like a battery-activated brain powered by that pink Energizer Bunny, all BOOM, BOOM, BOOM like a bass in my brain waves.
Side effects shown in this highly active adult brain of mine include excessive worries, over analyzing and—on occasion—an idea or two at 3:14 a.m. But in my younger years, these cranium waves made little Lindsay’s World prettttty interesting.
For example, when it came to movies, I believed everything that happened to the characters would happen to me. Take Hocus Pocus.
I saw Hocus Pocus for the first time when I was 8-years-old. One afternoon in October—after seeing the movie—I was riding my bike down my street. As I approached the neighbor’s house down the street (I could only go so far, Mom’s rules) a jet black cat darted out front of me.
Now, in Hocus Pocus, one of the main characters is a talking black cat named Binx. So when I saw this black cat, my brakes squealed loud like a pig in pain as I brought my bike to a dead stop.
Ohmygosh, I thought. I can’t believe it. I hopped off my bike, not even kicking out the kickstand. I was too excited and eager to meet Thackery Binx, the talking black cat from Hocus Pocus.
The bike fell to the concrete with a clatter as I scrambled towards the ditch where the black cat had run.
“Binx!” I shouted, digging through the grass. “BINX, it’s me! I just saw you in the movie! Hocus Pocus?! Please come here! Let’s talk! ”
But “Binx” was nowhere to be found. I went back to the ditch every day that week, looking for the talking black cat. When my searches remained unfruitful, I used a different tactic.
Dear Binx,” I wrote in my practice cursive writing, “I promise I won’t tell anyone it’s you. Please come talk to me so we can be friends. I won’t tell. Pinky promise. Love, Lindsay
P.S. Please don’t let the witches come around here
I carefully placed the note in the ditch and waited a few days. Surely Binx would read my note, immediately trust me and talk to me like he talked to those kids in Hocus Pocus.  But when I rode my bike to the ditch later that week and discovered my note, wet and crumpled from rain and outdoors, I finally gave up the Search for Binx the Talking Black Cat.
My encouragement from films did not stop there, though.  Inspired by Disney’s movie Pochantas, my childhood best friend and I would often run to a large tree we named “Grandmother Willow” after a character in the movie that talked. Our tree didn’t talk. Come to think of it, our tree wasn’t even a willow tree; it was oak. But that’s neither here nor there.
In The Little Princess film, there is a scene where the father tells his daughter Sara that her dolls come to life when she leaves the room.
“But why don’t I see them move?” she asks her father.
“Because, as soon as they hear you coming, they quickly jump back into their places,” he explains. “It’s magic.”
I spent the next month hiding in the hallway outside my bedroom door, trying to get a peek at my dolls and stuffed animals having a party while I was out of the room. I would stand all stealthy, back flat against the wall. Then on the count of three—1,2, 3—I’d quickly dart inside my room, my eyes wild and searching for movement, catching my dolls in the act.
“Darn it,” I’d say with a sigh, walking out of the room every time with my head down. “I guess I’m just not quick enough.” It took me awhile to quit that one.
My eagerness to believe was always intense, but the levels went off the charts when it came to Christmas. One year always sticks out in my mind, though.
In the house I grew up in—a ranch-style at a dead-end street—my room was at the far end with a window facing down the road. This room was also farthest away from the chimney so if, oh I don’t know, a bearded man in a sleigh parked his ride on our roof in order to hop down the chimney, the reindeer would stand right above my sleeping, dancing sugarplum-ed head.
And so, the night before Christmas…no, let me do this right…Twas the night before Christmas, and I had just put on my special flannel Christmas pajamas, the acceptable kind to be seen in. Normally I wore just long ratty old T-Shirts, but I had this random fear for a while that Santa Claus actually would come into my room. I felt the need to look presentable for Intrusive St. Nick, I guess.
Anyway, my mom was tucking me in, my brother was asleep, and my dad was sitting in his chair in the living room. Just as Mom whispered goodnight, I turned my head towards the window and gasped.
There, shining in the glass amongst the darkness, was a big, bright red circle of light.
“Mom!” I shouted, sitting up in bed. “Mom! It’s Rudolph. Mom, it’s Rudolph! MOM, RUDOLPH HAS FALLEN OFF THE ROOF!”
“Oh no!” my mom said with raised eyebrows. “Rudolph is here? Wowww.”
I leaped out of the bed and starting running down the hallway towards the front door. If Rudolph had fallen off the roof, that meant Rudolph was ON the roof, and if Rudolph was on the roof, then SANTA was on the roof. SANTA WAS ON THE ROOF.
Now on the porch, I took one quick breath. “I am about to see Santa,” I thought. “Good thing I’ve been a good girl.”
I leaped from the porch onto the snow-covered front lawn, smiling as I turned my face towards the roof and saw…
“Wait, what?” I stood, breathless. The roof was empty, just as brown and slanted against the star-dotted sky as ever.
“Sis, what are you looking at?” my dad shouted from the porch with Mom standing next to him. They were both smiling.
“Dad!” I shouted from the yard, eyes scanning the sky. “Santa was just here! Santa…Rudolph…he… he fell.” I could barely talk as my brain tried to process the magic I just witnessed. Well, sort of witnessed. Taking a second to determine that yes, the roof was indeed Santa-less, I walked back towards my parents on the porch.
“Come in, honey, it’s freezing,” my mom said. Dad opened the front door and we went inside.
“But Mom, he was RIGHT there,” I said.
“I know,” she said, shutting the door.
“You almost saw ole’ Santa, huh?” my dad asked as he sat back down in his chair.
“What about Rudolph?”
I looked at Dad, my eyes big and serious.
“Dad,” I said in a hushed tone. “Rudolph fell off the roof. And I SAW IT.”
“Rudolph fell off the roof and you saw it?” Dad whispered. “You SAW him?” He glanced over at Mom in the kitchen and winked.
“Yes,” I replied, still whispering. “That’s why I ran out onto the porch. I tried to see Santa and the reindeer before they left but I wasn’t fast enough.”
“Wow,” Dad said. “No wonder you ran outside so fast.”
I thought for a moment. “I hope he’s OK.”
“You hope who’s OK?” Dad asked as Mom sat on the edge of his chair. She put her arm around his shoulder.
“Rudolph,” I said.
“Well, honey, let’s get you back to bed,” Mom said, standing up and taking my hand to lead me towards the bedrooms. “Maybe he’ll leave you a note in the morning.”
“Yeah,” I said, rubbing my eyes. “Maybe.”
Sure enough, the next morning, next to an empty glass of milk and a cookie crumb-covered plate, read a note in swirly writing:
Dear Lindsay,
We had a little accident last night. Rudolph fell off the roof. Don’t worry; he’s OK. Thanks for being a good girl, and thanks for the cookies.
Merry Christmas!
Santa Claus
You know, I think about these stories—these predicaments—my active imagination has gotten me in (with a little help here and there from my parents) and I could find them a bit heartbreaking. Focus on how I believed SO much and ended up disappointed; I ran SO fast and never saw what I wanted to see. But that’s the funny thing. The feeling of disappointment isn’t the part I remember. In fact, even when the event happened, I don’t recall my child-self feeling deep-down disappointed.
The excitement is what I remember. The hope is what I remember.
The dreams and the magic and the believing. The fun in the writing notes to talking cats and talking to Grandmother Willow-Oak trees and gasping because I just saw freaking Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer in MY WINDOW.
That’s what I remember.
So yes, as an adult, my active, Type-A brain can cause excessive worries and overanalyzing. But my imagination and willingness to believe is part of many joyful moments in my life.
And for those parents out there, I highly suggest the red-bulb in the window trick. I learned years later that Dad got a kick out of it as an adult back then just as much as I did as a child.
I hope you all have a happy Christmas season.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sometimes I Make Video Blogs....

....Like this one, which is titled "Like, Ever." Here you go:

Like, Ever.

The title of the video is pretty self-explanatory, once you watch it.

Also, I mention someone named Ryan. That's my brother. The orange cat is my pet. The otter is not (though I wish it was).

Friday, October 18, 2013

Misfit Toys

I got a new bike. Twenty-five bucks, a real steal. Target was selling them for $100 last weekend so I got lucky. Dad knew I wanted a bike and heard his friend was going to sell one at the garage sale, so Dad had his friend set it aside for me. Only rode once or twice, the friend said. Dark forest hunter green with gold letters. HUFFY.  Dad’s always been good with that kind of thing. I think it’s his love language.
Before I got the green bike, I figured I’d give my purple bike from eighth grade a try, just in case. I had some good memories on that bike, but that’s not why I wanted to try it out. I just didn’t want to spend money where it wasn’t needed.
We kept the bike in a garage. I went over there the other day, my feet stepping over the grass and weeds. I saw some dandelion leaves and remembered Copper, the bunny I won at a carnival when I was eight. OK, I didn’t win him. My dad bought him after several failed attempts to get the ping pong ball in the fish bowl. It really probably is my dad’s love language. Gift-giving. Or Acts of Service. Mine is Words of Affirmation. Anyway, Copper loved them. The dandelion leaves. He would nibble and nibble on those things. And I would giggle, feeding him more, like the coins in the slot machines my grandma played at Tropical Island Casino.
When I walked into the garage, I was overwhelmed. Not just with the amounts of stuff in the garage.  Overwhelmed with the amount of memories housed there. Like a tangible childhood—my childhood—sitting on this block of cement, within the four walls. Dark and damp and alone and forgotten. Just waiting. A true Land of Misfit Toys, with memories dangling off strings and clinging for dear life, hoping the mind that remembers comes to claim them.
I did.  I do. I claim them.
And it was overwhelming, those polar opposite of emotions I felt after walking into the garage. Like WHOOSH! All of these memories I had no recollection of, just came wading into my head, as if the toys and memories and love were so happy to find a vessel to connect to that understood. Like I was its owner.
I am. Their owner. Of the memories and the love and the meaning attached to these objects.
A purple and pink Huffy bike with a broken horn may not mean much to most people, but it does to me. An Arctic Cat Kitty Kat snowmobile with a faded leopard seat may be old and rusty and considered junk to some, but it’s not to me. My brother and I sat on that snowmobile when I was seven and he was three and we still loved each other and showed it. He’s a man with a beard and work boots and a love for swear words and a preference for Coors Light now. He still loves snowmobiles, though. And I still love him. And he still loves me, even if he doesn’t say it like he used to when he was three.
A Ford Explorer who I once named Dora and drove around to basketball games and on dirt roads and had a hanging lei air freshner that smelled part floral, part coconut like the perfume I wore back then.
 made me feel happy and sad at the same time, in the garage. Happy to see these objects that I loved so dearly for so long, yet sad to see them sitting there, alone. Forgotten about. And sometimes, I wish I could go back and do it all again.  Because now instead of toys comes bills and duties and responsibilities and your 20s is like your “Oh, Shit” decade because you need to get everything straightened out but it’s all so crooked.
It just seems so crooked.
And you wonder how that happened, how did we get here, it all changed so fast but time flew by and it seemed slow until it was fast. Like an ice cream cone melting, or going to sleep.
Or dying.
And here I stand. In the middle of it all. Wondering if the songs are right, and you can’t go home again, and the past always seems better than the present.
All I know is I can be happy, sad, and often somewhere in between. And that is a pretty constant state of emotion for me. But that’s OK. Because then I get the best of both worlds, I suppose. And I’d rather feel something than nothing at all.
So I’ll take it. I’ll take the old with the new, the good with the bad, and make new memories while taking walk through memory lane with the Misfit Toys once in awhile. Because that is how we reach our golden years:
By being misfits first.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Post for Beutiful Magazine

Happy Hump Day Folks. I recently wrote a blog post for this great online magazine called beutiful magazine, who has this inspiring mission and mantra about being U (the letter U meaning you, the person) and U/you are beUtiful. Clever, right? And awesome.

Anywho, my blog post talks about me, numbers, calories and yes, a lemon Jell-O cup. But mostly numbers. And how numbers often control my life, and often control others' lives because of society and its expectations.

Dang you, expectations. 

Here's the link if you want to read the post on beutiful magazine's site:

The Numbers Game

xoxo (Yes, I'm still in my Gossip Girl phase),


Sunday, September 29, 2013


I know,  I'm awful and haven't written in like, two months. Which I am trying to work on, really, I am. I've got some writing projects in the works that I will write more about later.


Anywho, fall is here, and I thought I would share a few blog posts I have written lately for this AWESOME nonprofit online magazine that is near and dear to my heart called Libero Network.  I'm passionate about female empowerment and women's/teen girl issues, and Libero Network is a wonderful site that focuses on many issues that girls (and guys, for that matter) deal with, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, etc. I've recently had the amazing opportunity to serve as the site's Assistant Editor/Community Blog manager, and it's been such a great learning experience for me. Reading contributor's submissions is mind-blowing. Everyone has a story, and so many are fighting inner-battles that they WIN. Every SINGLE day. The strength of people astound me.

Below are links to three of my posts--originally posted on Libero Network. It'd be cool if you, you know, read them. I'd like that.

Lindsay's Blog Posts on Libero Network:

 You Don't Have to Do Everything

Holes and Scars

Defining You

And I am going to write in here more. So I hope you read it. This blog. I find I write more easily if I feel I am writing for someone.

So there's that.

xoxo (I got the xoxo part from Gossip Girl, which probably has contributed to my lack-of-writing in here just a teeeeeny bit, I admit).


Thursday, August 1, 2013


Blazer didn’t bark. Tonight, when I ran up my parent’s driveway, Blazer didn’t bark.

He always used to bark. I didn’t even notice I noticed the bark until the bark was gone.

A German Shorthaired Pointer, Blazer was our outdoor dog, my dad’s hunting dog (or attempted hunting dog, rather), so he mainly lived outside in his doggy kennel-slash-area. As much as his bloodlines and breed called for a more serious personality, Blazer was….a goof. Since he was a puppy, he ran with a bowleg, his right leg kind of jutting out like some type of puppy-paw wing. He chased frogs in our pond. He ate grass. Most of all, Blazer hated being away from my family.

If Blazer was running around our yard and one of us went inside, you could count to 30 and he was at the door, pacing, wondering why we weren’t outside. If my dad, my brother and I took our small fishing boat for an even smaller lap around our pond, Blazer would immediately jump off our dock into the pond to be near us. He’d frantically swim until his paws scraped the side of the boat and we pulled his wriggling, wet, speckled body out of the water and into our laps.

“Come on, Blazer!” we’d laugh. Blazer would pant, his mission accomplished, with his pink tongue and mouth shaped into a doggy-faced grin to prove his pride. He’d then scramble to the bow of the boat, standing like Jack from Titantic: “I’M THE DOG KING OF THE WORLD!”

Because he hated being left out, Blazer got upset every time I went for a run. I wanted to take him with me, but Blazer never really became a “run on a leash” type of dog. We tried a few times, but it turned into less of a run and more of a “Blazer drags Lindsay” type of workout. I settled for letting him play and run around the pond once I got back.

Every time I laced up my tennis shoes in the driveway, Blazer would perk his ears up and watch anxiously. “We’ll play when I get back,” I’d say as he cocked his head. Then, as I began to run, one foot in front of the other down our gravel driveway, he’d start:

“Yip, yip, yip!”

As a German Shorthaired Pointer, he should have bellowed rather than yipped, but this was his whiney bark. His “Where are you going without me?” bark. It was this same bark he used when I returned from the run. As soon as I reached the end of my driveway, not even in sight of him yet, I could hear him barking, as if to say, “You’re back, you’re back, you’re back!” And I would run just a little bit faster, straight to my dog, sprinting all the way, sweaty and tired as he slobbered all over me but I didn’t care because I was gross already and it didn’t matter, because it was amazing to have a living thing be so excited for me to come back.

Blazer died earlier this year of old age. This is my first summer running down the driveway without him. The first time the frogs are back in our pond but Blazer isn’t here to chase them.

And I miss him. I miss how happy he was to see me. I miss how goofy he was and loving and silly. I miss how he showed his emotions as a dog more openly and honestly than a lot of people I know.
I miss how much he loved me, my brother, our family.

So on nights like tonight, where I lace up my shoes in my parent’s driveway for old times sake, and my feet hit the gravel, right foot, left foot, right foot, left food, and I don’t hear the “yip, yip, yip, where are you going??” bark, my heart aches.

And on nights like tonight, when I come back from that run, it’s not just sweat running down my face; it’s tears. Ever since he passed away, I let the tears flow as I run down the driveway to nothing but silence.

It’s funny how you don’t even notice the habits, the small details that make a presence known, like a bark or a lick or a nudge from a wet nose, that suddenly make the world feel a little more empty, a little less happy, when its gone.  There’s a reason we have pets. There’s a reason we say dogs are “man’s best friend.” And I know I am lucky to have had such a good friend in my dog.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

10 Travelers You Will See at the Airport

10 Travelers You Will See at the Airport

10. The Speedwalker:
Move that suitcase that you’re rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ to the gate or get steamrolled by the Speedwalker. Maybe they are overly excited to see whoever’s at the end of their Baggage Claimed Rainbow, but Speedwalkers are one second away from going all Super Mario hopped up on Star Power.

9. The Corporate Businessman:Has one or more of the following: Super Shiny Shoes (that get super-shined at the super shiny shoe booth); a Starbucks cup; a Blackberry used to echo Big Business Buzzwords like “strategic” and “connect later” or “engage offline.”

8. The College-Breakers:Usually in big groups during the months of December and March/April. Wears shirts that read RAGE or sweatpants that say PINK. Their sole purpose is to get drunk and make bad decisions because what happens in Vegas-Cabo-Cancun-Ft.Lauderdale stays there. Sure, it does. Sure. 

7. The Parent-and-Toddler Combo:
A sweet and Sour Patch-Kid mix of rebellion and anxiety, the toddler explores airport trash bins while the parent follows, scared his or her bundle of curious joy will be whisked away by a pedophile. Watch out for leashes on these kids, folks.

6.  The Person With A Thousand Things:Going through airport security can be stressful, but it’s an EXTRA LENGTHY, stressful process for Mr. or Mrs. Lots O’ Things. Not only do they need to take off their laced shoes, but their belts, their loads of jewelry, and unload the pockets, their laptop, the purse. There goes the liquids, then oops! they need the ID in the wallet in the pocket of the purse in that bin. Be patient, young grasshopper. Your time to take off your shoes will come.

5. The Fearful Flyer:
During take-off, the Fearful Flyers stare straight ahead or close their eyes to stop themselves from seeing the plane go up, up, and away because they are envisioning their lives spiraling down, down, down into flames. They can freak you out so much that you, too, will start to imagine your fiery, plane crash death. Watch out for white faces, sweaty palms, clenched arm rests.

4. The Talker:“What do you do?” “Are you from Oklahoma?” “Who are you visiting?” The Talker wants to know every aspect of your life and in turn, they can share a little bit too much of their own lives. Prepare yourself with headphones and a good fake-sleep strategy.

3. The Sleeper:The opposite of the Talker, the Sleeper is out cold before the plane even gets off the ground. Sleepers need to catch a few winks before conversing with the family they haven’t seen in 20 years in Nebraska. No complimentary pretzels or drinks for the Sleeper.

2. The Model:Get your cameras ready, because the Model believes the plane is not the only thing going down a runway. The Model struts down the airport terminal in six-inch heels and a mini skirt, wearing red lipstick that matches the color of the men’s faces as she walks by. Don’t trip on that moving sidewalk, girl. Werk.

1. The Sickee:
You hear The Sickees before you see them, all hacking cough and is-the-devil-coming-out-of-their-noses? sneezing. With their tissues and watery eyes, Sickees are probably a reason Howie Mandel won’t shake hands with people. Load up on vitamins ASAP after this flight. Orange juice is our friend.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Who's on First, What's on Second, and Lindsay is Angry at the Four-Way Stop

I got in a fight with an elderly man yesterday.

I’m not proud of it. But it happened.

To give the man credit, this fight had been brewing inside of me for a while.  An angry bear waiting to be poked. He just happened to be the one who poked the bear. “He” meaning the elderly man in the dark blue mini van at the four way stop on a Saturday afternoon.

I repeat: I’m not proud of it. But it happened.

It all started with a morning radio show. I was on my way to work and turned the radio on as I do, waiting to hear the weather and news amongst the too-many car dealership ads and catchy jingles (I do enjoy that Menards jingle, though. “Save big money at MENARRRRRRDS!”).

“You know what really gets under my skin?” the DJ said as I turned the radio volume up, settling in for the drive. “I get SO IRRITATED when people do that wave thing at four-way stops.”

“Wave thing?” his female co-host said, laughing.

“You know,” the DJ said, his voice booming. “The WAVE THING. The whole ‘You go first’ gesture. People always do that to me when I get stop after them, and it’s so annoying. It makes me mad.”

“Why would that make you mad?” the co-host asked. I swear she takes the other perspective just to keep the show going.  I guess that’s how radio shows must work.

“Because it messes up the whole system!” he shouted. “Don’t get to the stop sign after me, then just wave me along. There’s a law for a reason!”

That’s true, I thought, turning at a stoplight.

“Oh, come on,” the female DJ said. “They are being nice. I wave people along.”

“I get you are trying to be nice,” he continued, “but if you wave me ahead when you got there first, then how does ole Sally Stationwagon behind me know when SHE should go? It is a domino affect of confusion, not to mention you are increasing the chances of an accident.”

That is so true, I thought.

After the radio DJ’s rants, I began to notice the four-way stop wave happened to me, like, all the time. I would clearly get to a stop sign after a person, but yet they’d wave me ahead. I didn’t get it. Sometimes, I would do the wave back. But my wave was never insistent, more a half-hearted polite wave, a “No, it’s okay,” wave. So the driver would wave again, ignoring my gesture. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking, “They’re just trying to be nice and let me go first.” But as I drove on, I’d mutter, “I did not arrive there first.” The radio DJs comments had been burned into my brain.

And so, a new pet peeve was born.

This past week was the week of the wave ahead’s. Every time I approached a four-way stop, I was told to “go on,” either by nonverbal gesture or mouthed at me. One time as I was waved ahead, I was on the phone with my boyfriend. “I don’t get it,” I said, driving forward per the direction of a driver in a black Ford F-150. “Does my car look like it should just go first? Am I not assertive?”

My boyfriend laughed in response. “I know it. People do that to me all the time, too.”

The next time I am waved ahead when I shouldn’t be, I thought, I am going to wave back. I am going to be insistent. Yes. I will INSIST they go ahead.

 And that’s how I squared off with an elderly man in a blue van.

I was following a white truck on a back road. As he slowed to a stop, I followed suit behind him. Across from us, a man at the wheel of a blue van stopped shortly after the white truck in front me. He waved the white truck ahead.

Okay, I thought. Now he goes, then I go.

As the truck turned, I crawled towards the stop sign. The man sat idle, his glasses perched on his nose, his hand shaped like a claw as he waved for me to go on.

It’s time, I thought. Time to fight for my rights to go my rightful turn at the four-way stops within this state of Michigan. Fight for the DJs rants and my latest pet peeve and I WILL NO LONGER BE A NOT VERY ASSERTIVE DRIVER! So I stayed put.

He continued to wave. I felt awkward, like I was disobeying my grandfather. As his waves became more urgent, I thought, “No. He was here even a second before the GUY BEFORE ME.” I waved my hand slightly. The man shook his head no.

Insistent, Lindsay, I remembered. You must wave insistently. I sped up my wave, ignoring his own. I felt like freaking Clint Eastwood: “Draw!”  “No, you draw first!” and all that. White car vs. blue van.
Then I looked at my hand, moving rapidly as I continued to ignore this man. “What am I doing?” I realized how crazy this man and I must have looked, both waving each other ahead, neither of us moving forward.

“Oh, forget it,” I muttered. This is probably some giant life metaphor-lesson I can’t comprehend right now.

I reluctantly turned my car right, the blue van following behind me. As I drove, I thought to myself, “I just got in a fight with an elderly man about who’s turn it was to drive.” I shook my head. There are much bigger battles in this world to fight. I can stand on my Four-Way Stop Pedestal of Who Goes First, but fighting with an elderly man over it? That’s just a whole new low. Come ON.

I mean, I’m still down with the law and how to approach four-way stops. Then again, I get the kindness of a wave-ahead, too. I guess it isn’t black and white. But the next time I decide to stand my ground on something, I think it needs to be a bit more hardcore.

Plus that blue van man would never have backed down anyway.

Pick your battles, friends. Pick. Your. Battles. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Miscommunications at the Outback

My family likes to go to Outback Steakhouse. 

I think every family has one, that go-to restaurant for celebratory circumstances, like when your brother graduates high school or it’s your mom’s birthday or you just got your braces off and it’s all, NO MORE METAL MOUTH, heck yes, let’s eat steak and a fried onion shaped like a flower!

So my family believes what better way to celebrate any occasion—even if that occasion is basic hunger—then at a restaurant amongst boomerangs and entrees with Australian names? We will totally put a shrimp on that Barbie.

It was at the Outback Steakhouse where a conversation of Massive Miscommunication proportions occurred between my parents and I. We’re talking Total widening of the Age Gap between Parent and Daughter.  One of those moments where you truly believe your parents should have been on a sitcom or something.

The Incident occurred last summer. My mom deemed the day Too Hot and decided a family trip to our go-to steakhouse would do us all some good. The booths were sticky on the backs of my legs and the air conditioning felt cool on my face. The restaurant had dimmed the lights—I always love when they do that, like it’s this collective mood-changer signaling customers to begin their whispers and stolen glances. The server had just delivered our Bloomin’ Onion appetizer. No seasoning, though. Too spicy.

I took a bite of the onion, drenching the fried greasy splendor into the horseradish-y sauce of goodness.

“Sis,” my dad said, spreading a giant glob of butter on a piece of bread. “Let’s touch ‘er off.” He held up his tan forearm, horizontally even with the table. Grinning, he nodded towards me.

When I went through a let’s-go-to-the-tanning-bed-tons phase in high school, my dad found it amusing that he was still tanner than me. Now he plays this  “Who’s arm is more tan?” game all the time. He always “wins”, I always “lose” and it doesn’t really matter anyway.  Unless one of us gets skin cancer.

“Oh, come on, Dad,” I said, rolling my eyes. But I held up my own arm next to his, as I always did, my skin literally paling in comparison to his deep brown hue, like milk next to honey.

“Beat you,” he grinned.

 “Whatever, Dad,” I said, using sarcasm to hide my smile. “ Just roll up your T-Shirt sleeve a little higher and let that farmer’s tan poke through. Let’s compare shoulders. Or calves. Then there’ll be a different winner.”

“Lillllyyy,” Dad sung, ignoring me. “Lillllyyyy whiitteeeee.”

Mom and I laughed.

“Mom, do you want to go shopping with me this weekend?” I said. The server stood by the table, passing out side salads.

“I don’t know, honey,” she said, spearing her lettuce. “Maybe. What do you need to go shopping for?”
“I’m going to buy some new summer clothes at TJ Maxx,” I said. “I don’t have anything to keep me cool in this dang heat. Thought you’d want to come. Mother/Daughter shopping day-kinda thing.” I took a sip of my Coke.

“Sure, if I don’t have to work,” Mom said. “I’ll have to check.”
My dad, who had been focused on eating his salad covered in Tangy Tomato dressing, chewed, then paused.

“Thongs are on sale at Old Navy,” he said.

I sputtered on my drink. Did he just say what I think he said?

 We weren’t that kind of family, as in, my dad was not the kind of dad that bought my tampons or talked to me about my girl issues. Let along thong purchases.  It just wasn’t a topic of discussion,  and it felt even more silly to hear the word “THONG” come out of my blue-collared, tough guy-father’s mouth.

“What?” I asked.

“Thongs,” Dad said, taking another bite of salad. “On sale. Old Navy.” He chewed.

I looked over at Mom, my eyebrows raised in confusion. Sensing this, my mom turned to my dad, as if she was a translator.

“Jim, honey,” she said. “You have to call them FLIP FLOPS. Not thongs.”

My dad swallowed.  I stared.

“But thongs, that’s what we used to call them,” he said.

“I know, but that’s not what the kids call them now. You have to say flip flops. Or sandals.”

“Well, thongs, flip flops, whatever,” Dad said.

 “Wait a second,” I said, processing what my mom said. “Dad, you mean flip flops? FLIP FLOPS are on sale at Old Navy?” I started to smile, realizing what he meant, what I thought he meant, and the giant gap of misunderstanding that felt as large as Australia itself.  I started to laugh.

“Yeah, what the heck did you think I meant?”

Now I was really laughing. “Oh my God. “THONGS. I thought you mean, like, you know. THONGS.”

“She thought you meant underwear,” my mom said in a matter-of-fact tone. Always the bridge between us troubled waters.

“Oh geez, no,” Dad said. “Those things are like floss.”

“So there are no undergarments on sale at Old Navy,” I clarified, still laughing.

“I already told ya,” my dad said, now re-buttering another piece of bread. “Thongs—flip flops, whatever the dang things are called—they’re going to be on sale.”

“Ok, Dad,” I laughed. “Okay.”

Consequently, thongs were also on sale at Victoria’s Secret that weekend. So it was a twofer, win-win, thong/flip-flop type of weekend. And I guess my dad was right. Technically.


Happy summer, all. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Old Dogs, New Tricks. And Grumpy Cats.

It is June, which means graduation party-season is in full swing. Along with observing the “Congratulations Graduate” cakes and school colored-helium balloons at grocery stores, I also have been reminiscing about my own transition from high school to college.

Time flies.

The day I moved into my dorm room at Central Michigan University, it was raining. Hard. I remember because I felt like it was an omen, but I was trying to pretend it wasn’t a sign. Rain meant good luck. It did.

There were four of us living in the dorm. I was the second person to arrive. And with my twin-sized flower comforter from Target, a green shower caddy and overly highlighted hair, I felt prepared. 

OK, that’s BS. I was scared. And no shower caddy could contain my anxiety. Or my nerves. But at least they’d be squeaky clean. And my Neutrogena shampoos and Plumeria shower gel would all be in one spot. Please don’t let me get a roommate that steals my stuff, I thought.

Facebook was a Brand New Thing back then. We're talkin' just one profile picture, no wall, and  "Looking For: Whatever I Can Get" was a relationship selection on your profile. In my reminiscing, I also found my First Facebook Profile Picture Ever. Behold, a wide-eyed Teen Lindsay. And proof I really did have overly highlighted hair:

As a country girl who graduated from high school with a whopping 87 kids, I had a right to be scared to go to college. I mean, we all have a right to be scared of anything new. But college? College is a whole new animal. It’s like… Let me think. OK, high school was a cat—maybe a grumpy cat, the kind of cat that hacks up hairballs and hisses at only you and no one else so everyone laughs when the cat walks near you. So it was a pain. But you figured out how avoid the cat’s bad attitudes, or play with the Lazer pointer, or rub it’s belly, but not on the left side because it hisses at you if you touch the left side.

But then you trade in the grumpy cat. And you get a cheetah.

If high school is the grumpy cat,  college is the cheetah. A fast freakin’ cheetah. With lots of spots. And it moves so fast, so it’s hard to keep up. But you have to. You have to. Or else you won’t make it—it will run you over. Or eat you alive, I suppose.  

Sorry. This is getting dramatic. Hold on.

Hallmark cards refer to college as “the real world.” I suppose this is because you have to make yourself go to class. And the food isn’t homemade.  And you have to make your bed and do the dishes and vacuum and stuff. But I still think college, despite its cheetah-ness, isn’t quite the Real World.  You are in a bubble. A bubble of classes and dudes with flat-billed hats and girls with Tiffany’s jewelry and Coach bags.You are in a drunken haze of new experiences and UV Blue. You’re bumping at the 18 and up clubs, and grinding out papers about osmosis and nonverbal communication.

And you aren’t alone in any of it.  You’re “all-in-this-together”, High School Musicall tune-style. Sometimes the classes suck. Sometimes the professors suck. Sometimes the roommates suck.

But maybe, just maybe, they don’t suck. That you find a group of girls who you can have fun with for four years. That you discover this random BIO 101 class and LOVE it and go on to be this freakin' awesome biologist who, like, saves the whales or studies West Nile virus or publishes an awesome book on the proper nesting environment for bluebirds. And if that was or is you--the bluebird nesting person-- please get ahold of me because my mother is currently mourning the loss of our bluebird couple in the backyard. It's sad. 


College can be scary, but it also is a way to break down the walls. Try new things. Meet new people.  And of course it sucks at first. It’s new. It’s uncertain. We as human beings don’t always do well with new and uncertain. We are old dogs that constantly are thrust into new situations, and suddenly, we are puppies with no clue what the difference is between the water dish and the toilet bowl.

But we learn. And as pups, we are capable of learning new tricks. Especially if we aren’t alone in it all.

So, my dear upcoming college freshman, I say to you as you take your trips to Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond: college is a time to figure out who you are. So figure it out by trying.

On purpose.

Because you are a new pup. And it’s time to leave the grumpy cats behind.

And if you don’t drink out of the toilet bowl, you still may find your head in there once in awhile. It’s okay.