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Pre-college

22 Oct

The New Student Orientation was like EFY for college students. From the tacky colored wristbands to the awkward get-to-know-you games right on down to the multiple mosh-pit (sober) dances, it felt like camp all over again. I met many girls, and a few guys. I became pretty close with the Y-group leader, who we call Jimbo, and a girl called Gaps. Jimbo took Gaps and I to dinner off-campus–we were that cool. The guy was an upperclassman, with perpetually slicked-back blackish hair and a cheesy smile. We went to a small Salvadorian place, since he served his mission in El Salvador. The unpretentious little woman who took our order smiled with recognition and spoke Spanish to him.

NSO ended and I still hadn’t met my roommate. The girls in my hall were nice: Apple had already met some boy and Kiara… well, hadn’t. Kiara and I lived off of Apple’s stories of dates and holding hands. When we were alone, we discussed how we simultaneously were overjoyed and distraught at her success.
We all got antsy for church to start. The infamous student wards were mysterious to us. Rumors abounded of a wonderful place where you meet your man while learning about your Maker. I had Facebook-stalked most of the boys in our ward, but it was no substitute for really seeing and talking.

Sunday was like any other day: I met many girls and talked to a few guys. Curse the 2:1 ratio at this school. I did meet my roommate, though. Tay is sweet, pretty, intelligent, funny. At first I worried that she would get all the guys. So far that hasn’t happened, so I can laugh and moan with her at our boy failures.

Sunday night, though, was ward prayer. I went down to the lobby of my hall, where we were told to meet, in comfy clothes. Comfy, as many of you know, is girl-talk for ugly. To my chagrin, everyone looked cute. Including the–is THAT what a boy is? I hadn’t seen one for so long, I’d forgotten. A short intro speech by the Bishop, a few announcements, a talent (two people sang and ukelele-d), a hymn and a prayer. And then… magic. We talked to BOYS.

I half fell for a blond boy (not my usual type) on the diving team. Something about his smile and his whatever attitude made me crazy. It helped that I’d met him before, at a dance during NSO.

The next day was Labor Day, the day before classes started. I don’t remember what happened during the day, but the night I can tell you all about. It was our first Ward FHE (Family Home Evening), and it was all get-to-know-you type stuff. Naturally, I won longest name–I always do–and was a tie for most exotic place lived/travelled to. There were some crazy stories of near-death experiences and embarrassing stories. But the really fun part was, for me, afterwards. I got to talking to this one guy with short brown hair and green eyes. He was ridiculously easy to talk to, which was convenient since I’m a-scared of boyses. After a while, some other girls came up to the two of us and asked if they could join our conversation.

“Oh, sorry,” they said, “are we interrupting something?”

UM, YES! ONLY THE FIRST SUSTAINED GUY-GIRL INTERACTION I’VE HAD SINCE WE CAME! “Oh, no, of course not,” I answered. 

So, we all talked about who knows what, until Spiderman came.

Yup, Spiderman. For some reason, somebody somewhere thought it a good idea to put on a Spiderman morph suit and a pair of red high-tops and parade around Campus. We quizzed him on Spiderman trivia and he seemed pretty legit. The guy knew his stuff. Ya gotta respect that. He told us how two girls had earlier asked for the spiderman kiss. So some big guy held him upside down… and he kissed em. COLLEGE!

I dropped and shattered my phone trying to get a pic with Spiderman. But I got it.

THE PHOTO THAT KILLED MY POOR PHONE

THE PHOTO THAT KILLED MY POOR PHONE

Note: this post was going to be much different, except that I never finished it. It’s been almost two months since I wrote the bulk of it… and oh so much dirt’s gone down. I have so much going on I hardly ever get the chance to write anymore. Or read, for that matter–sorry fellow bloggers.

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the brand

19 Aug

The following piece was written for this week’s trifecta challenge. Originally I planned to write a fictional story based off my experiences in Ghana, but I ended up with this truthful reflection instead. The views expressed are my own, and are not intended to offend.

BRAND (noun)
3a (1) : a mark made by burning with a hot iron to attest manufacture or quality or to designate ownership
(2) : a printed mark made for similar purposes : trademark
b (1) : a mark put on criminals with a hot iron
(2) : a mark of disgrace : stigma

Word count: 270

Everywhere I went, people called me by the color of my skin. Children would yell out to me, “Obruni!” and I would respond, “Obibini!” White, and black.

We were different. We were separate species, almost. You’d think so by the way the children would stare and, when they got braver, run up and touch or hug my skin. I suppose they wanted to see if it felt the same, this alien skin.

Even adults called me Obruni, or at church, Sister Obruni. It was my name, truer than Chloe and truer than the name I adopted for ease of pronunciation: Gloria.

I tripped, once, and the response was “Watch it, white girl!” followed by a silent conversation.
A man held up his plastic bag containing drinking water, bought for the equivalent of five cents. I nodded, sheepish, and he poured it over my skin, darkened by mud. I watched as the man restored that awful brand of my relative wealth.

I was branded to forever be a part of cyclical imperialism, a naive but well-meaning volunteer. Questions and accusations flooded my mind. How dare I try to step in with my WHITE, and lead children and adults both to believe that they need WHITE to fix their problems? How dare I spend more on the flight out there than on the Ghanian people themselves? How dare I give money to the beggar children on the beach, setting them up to starve when the next WHITE can’t or won’t give likewise?

And yet, many want my cursed brand.

••••••••
To read more about my experiences in Ghana, you can read my travel blog I used to communicate with my family while I was there: Chloe’s Ghana

one night stands (diary post)

11 Aug

20130811-000631.jpg

They hurt. Even if they’re with random strangers, even if they’re not even one night stands in the traditional sense (Okay, okay, so you only made out.) they still are painful.
You spend hours in eager anticipation, allowing yourself to believe that they’ll text you or call you. You carefully consider the possible reasons for his late response: it didn’t go through; he’s busy; he got captured by ravenous mutant monkeys that shot him into deep space; finally, the idea that’s omnipresent in the back of your worrying mind… he really doesn’t want to talk to you.
Why WOULDN’T people want to talk to their random hookups? Why NOT make it a more-than-once type thing, if it was good? Was it good? Were you the only one who enjoyed it? Was he really saying goodbye when he said text me whenever you want?
So much confusion over someone you hardly know. I’m going back to my ‘expect the worst, hope for the best’ attitude towards guys and life (the same thing, really). He’s not gonna call me.

But I can still wish he would.

believing in big bro

2 Aug

You hear it, you say it, you ponder what it means. But you can’t quite believe it, not yet. Not that you want to believe it.

You try to think of the bright side (or the side that you hope, you pray, you wish will turn out to be bright) rather than focus on reality, stark, cold and naked.

Your big brother, the one you love; the one you look up to; the one you ask for advice on clothing and hair and boys and school and why am I such an incapable, antisocial, ugly, self-pitying person; the big brother who once peed on you in the kitchen when you were both younger and the one who became your sole source of music in high school; the brother who in childhood made up an imaginary amusement park where you both jump on the bed; the brother who was sent away for a while for what he did to you that nobody talks about; the brother who used to fake punch you and then you’d cry because he had to do his homework and couldn’t play with you; the big brother who sometimes told you a little bit about his life and his girlfriend(s?) and who mostly didn’t; the big brother who swore he never drank or smoke (but what about those pictures on Facebook?); the brother who you defended against your parents (and the world if necessary) for the wrong girlfriend, the bad grades, the depression, the never-found-a-job, the more bad grades–THAT brother:

He failed out of Princeton.
He failed. You believed in him and he failed. You didn’t apply to Princeton because he was there, that was HIS school (not anymore…). Now he will be coming to your school this fall, just as you start your own Freshman year.

Focus on the (hopefully) bright side: you can visit him and get an in with his cute roommate. You can hang out with him and his friends as well as your own. He might, maybe, possibly, eventually learn to be happy at your school.
But maybe he won’t. You envision him struggling with an inner critic, this one worst than the last. But this time you won’t catch it in time. This time it’ll be too late. You can already hear the phone call from the hospital, they’re sorry and they did their best but–
Your fears are real, but too early. And yet, you fear it nonetheless. It isn’t the first time you’ve feared that thing. It won’t be the last, either.

You hear it, you say it, you ponder what it means. But you can’t quite believe it, not yet. Not that you want to believe it.

epiphanies

2 Aug

My life has been a series of epiphanies. When I was in elementary school, I sat at the peanut-free table in the cafeteria. I had no allergies myself, but one little brat of a girl, Molly, forced all of my friends to come sit there. Molly was a pale redhead with freckles dotting her dry, wrinkly skin. Metal wires and rubber bands and other dentalware invaded her chapped smile. I don’t even remember why I disliked her so much. To this day, though, I can’t help but grimace at the very thought of her. Anyway, I remember very clearly going to a birthday party where we all sang karaoke. After both Molly and I had sung, I asked my friends which one of us was a better singer. With creased eyebrows and apologetic half-smiles, the girls told me that they thought Molly was better. I was incensed. How could Molly–whose voice was as scratchy and coarse as her hands (and this is not a biased description)–how could she possibly be a better singer than I? My voice was smooth and sonorous, and even at that age had a hint of natural vibrato. I puzzled over it for days.
I’m not sure how long afterwards my epiphany was, but I do know that it occurred sometime in fourth or fifth grade music class. We always sat in a circle, listening and singing and drumming and clapping. It wasn’t until the teacher started teaching us the hand signs that go along with each note (do, re, mi) that I realized: melodies are made up of individual segmented tones. Molly was a better singer than me so long ago not because her voice was prettier (it wasn’t) but because she knew about the whole “note” secret! After it clicked, I was finally able to distinguish one note from another. I’ve since joined choirs and won vocal awards. Because my voice is way better than stupid Molly’s.
A similar epiphany of mine was that of ballet. It wasn’t until I had already quit, forgotten everything, and then attempted a new class in Japan that I realized that ballet is about patterns of motions more than anything. Call me crazy, but it simply never dawned on me that barre work is, more or less, ALWAYS THE SAME.
My mother introduced me to pimple squishing during my ghastly early adolescence. It took another couple of years for it to occur to me that one could squeeze blackheads, too. My nose has never looked so spotty since.
It wasn’t until the middle of my junior year of high school that I realized that fashion involves paying attention to arbitrary ins and outs, rather than wearing the same dreary men’s sweatshirt every day.
I’m sure I have plenty more epiphanic experiences that I simply can’t remember, cant be bothered to write or just can’t be sure you’d want to read, anyway. But I’ve determined that everything that I can’t do is just something I haven’t had an epiphany for yet.
I suppose someday, hopefully when I’m old (but not too old), my eyes will widen with that final epiphany
and my blood will
lose its momentum,
slowing to a halt,
and my skin
will grow
cold
and
stiff.

Graduation, Vacation, Asphyxiation (Part 1)

11 Jul

It was stifling hot, and I was late. I guess part of the problem was the fact that I really didn’t care: I hadn’t gotten my hair or makeup done; I hadn’t done my nails; I had only even looked at the cap and gown a few hours earlier. It was a lonely drive in my silver Ford. I blasted crappy pop songs and kicked off my heels. When I pulled in to West Conn, I wasn’t sure where to go. I followed the car ahead of me and happened to park next to my friend’s mom.

“Aren’t you late?” she asked as I pulled the oversized plastic mumu over my dress.

“I don’t even know where to go,” I confessed. We walked together making small talk. “I’ll be fiiiiiine,” I assured both of us. And I was.

My friends laughed as I ran up to get in line. Their twinkling eyes screamed, of course you’re late. I searched for faces I recognized and asked their last names: Waxton, Keeler, Ding–too far!

“You’re right here!” Biscuit was pointing to a space a few people in front of her, surrounded by people I knew. Thank goodness there are only a few E’s at this school.

We stood there outside for a few minutes until they started ushering people inside. We got nervous, antsy. We fidgeted with our ugly hats and read the decorations people had plastered on top–I hadn’t bothered to write my college’s name on my cap–and waited. And we waited some more. Somehow, we E’s were the last ones to go in, and the last ones to stand in the scorching sun. I started to sweat and worried my makeup might smudge. At least I hadn’t done anything to my hair.

Finally, it was time to go inside. The place was packed, and I smiled big and wondered if my family had got there yet. Pomp and Circumstance. We grads were presented to the people in the stands, as if our marching wasn’t clear enough that we’d got there. That we’d made it. That we were done.

I listened to the first boring speech and cringed at the athlete guys who blew up giant beach balls and threw them around. One landed on my head and knocked my cap off. The poor girl giving the speech–I don’t remember her name–looked miserable. A Thoreau quote or two and it was over soon enough.

The valedictorian spoke next. It was awful. Not even memorable. Couldn’t tell you how long it lasted… probably about five good long Temple Runs. Or was I playing Fall Down?It doesn’t matter.

Mr. FuturePresident spoke next. At first I only half listened. The beach balls flew as usual, and the soft ssfffffft of skin on plastic drew my attention away at times. Mr. FuturePresident was a natural at public speaking. His speech had the pacing, intonations and inflections of a practiced politician. I don’t even know what he was saying until he mentioned how our year was a great one, a complex one, which had seen great joy and terrible tragedy. The beach balls were caught, one by one, as he mentioned the two people who’d died the summer that I got here, and the Newtown Shooting so very close to us. Nothing and nobody moved for the rest of his speech, which was moving and motivating. Well done, Mr. FuturePresident.

Image

My parents brought me two bouquets because they were on sale.

And then I got my diploma, and I was done.

puffed

15 Jun

We always talk about people who are puffed up. You know the kind–proud, egotistical, narcissistic. They complain about their problems without listening to those of others. At prom, it’s kind of what you’re SUPPOSED to be. You’re supposed to show up with glitz and glam in a limo you shouldn’t have spent so much on; you’re supposed to reveal all too much with all too little fabric; you’re supposed to showcase your trophy date to the world.
Well. We did. We showed up at Ubergay’s place and ran from the rain into the heat of the crowd. My dad stayed for about five or ten minutes to take pictures of my date and I desperately trying not to look stupid while putting on the corsage and boutonniere. It was humid and sticky. That was my excuse for not wearing the little black jacket I’d brought. Looking back at the pictures, I definitely should have covered up a bit more. And my dress was too puffy. Oh well. I was too caught up in the spectacle to notice.

We rode in a limo with two other couples we knew a little bit. Redhead brought sparkling cider to share, since they breathylize at Prom. The rain dampened our mood.

At prom, I liked my date pretty well. I mean, I wouldn’t say I have a crush or anything, but  I had a great time chatting with him and dancing with him. He held me close and that drives me wild. I knew that it was leading up to a kiss at the end of the night… until in the limo ride back, he didn’t put his arm around me or anything. Nothing.
He left the afterparty before it really started. No kiss, no romantic parting, just a quick hug and an insincere “Ihadagreattime.” Such a shame. I mean, I definitely would have kissed him. But if we were to hang out now that prom’s over, I probably wouldn’t. But then, kissing at prom is tradition. It’s expected. It’s part of the glitz and glam.
Despite the let-down, after-prom was a blast. The first three or four hours was just me chilling with friends who progressively got drunker and, consequently, funnier and dumber. They got wasted out of their minds–so wasted that my friend Bambi/Mutton hooked up (and more) with my friend Goldfish… even though he wasn’t her prom date. His date cried for hours, but I hear she always cries when she gets drunk.
I got lots of “You’re my favorite Mormon” and “I was going to kiss you on the mouth, but then I decided not to because auuuuugh mormonnnnn” (from a girl who made out with another girl like six times… both have boyfriends). I was surprised to learn that even when completely out of it, my friends all remembered that I was mormon. I guess it’s that much a part of my identity to them. For example, Bambi kept starting to offer me a drink and then apologizing profusely for offering a drink to a mormon. As if I cared.
The afterparty was at Goldfish’s house, which is a minute from mine. I left at five in the morning after babysitting the drunkards all night (even the mom fell off her couch because she was drunk when we all arrived), showered, and went to volunteer all day at the special olympics–covering for a friend. Immediately after that, the group of volunteers from my church went to a dance. I didn’t get home till nine and I hadn’t gotten any sleep except an hour on the bus. The dance was perfect. It was tiny, because nobody showed up, but I still had fun because I chose to.
While we were slow dancing, my friend The Wrestler asked me about prom. He asked, “So I’m hotter than your date, right?” Who actually asks that?! I said I wouldn’t answer that question. But he persisted, and I do find him attractive, so eventually I just said yes. After that, he held me closer and started twirling me and spinning me around. We ended up waltzing. He was impressed that I knew how to waltz. I hate talking to him… he is so charming that I always start to like him afterwards. But he’s just a flirt, which confuses and frustrates me immensely.
The next day at church, I sang a duet. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. It was the first time I’d had the courage to sing in front of the congregation. This failure began my melancholy mood. By the end of the day, I couldn’t get the negative thoughts out of my head. Insults stung my brain and stuck to it. Words and phrases as sharp as knives spun circles around my consciousness’ positive defenses. But the attack came from all angles–
You can’t sing
Your dress was too puffy. You didn’t fit in with the rest of them
You won’t make any friends in college, because you couldn’t make friends here
You can’t even land a kiss at prom
You feel sorry for yourself when you don’t even know what suffering means. Have you even seen what other people go through on a daily basis? What about the victims of the Newtown tragedy, so close to your own home? What about those who can’t find the money to feed their worm-infected families? What about just about anyone except yourself? Do you even care about anyone else? How dare you cry when you have no cause other than a bit of well-deserved rejection.
So I gave in. I cried and cried until my eyes were red and puffed.