Monday, August 27, 2012

Cry Baby Happy

We used to make fun of my mom when she cried in movies.

Whenever we'd watch something together, an exceptionally emotional scene would mean two things: One, The swelling with tears eyes of my beloved mother, and two, the consequent stares at her from everyone in the room, "The Check" to see if she was tearing up.

The things she cried at were weird to me as a second grader. When Shadow, the aging golden retriever in Homeward Bound, makes his fashionably late arrival over the hill of his family's backyard: waterworks.

She cried at the happy parts!

And I was so confused.

"You should be smiling!" Stupid Mommy. Her emotions are all wrong.

And I always prided myself as a person who didn't cry in movies. When Noah and Allie peacefully and beautifully die in one another's arms at the end of The Notebook (Spoiler Alert: Noah and Allie peacefully and beautifully die in one another's arms at the end of The Notebook), I didn't cry. When Scar lets his BABE of a a flowy-maned big bro fall to his death into a stampeding blur of antelopes in The Lion King, I didn't even cry when Simba finally talks to him via Rafeke Star-Weirdness.

But Internet, I am telling you, as of this summer I am a changed woman. I am my mother.

Not only have I been caught talking to myself while dusting the top of the TV or folding Tshirts, I have been crying at movies, especially the happy parts. And not just the extremely overwhelming happy parts, I've been crying at the moments in a movie that include even the slightest twinkle of happy resolve. For heavens sake, I cried at FREAKING Bride Wars when Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson's characters make up in their big white dresses on the floor of the Plaza (Spoiler Alert: Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson's characters make up in their big white dresses on the floor of the Plaza.)

And for the first time (in ever) I'm finally starting to understand why perhaps I'm crying at ordinary happy moments.

This is my hypothesis:

Crying is a coping mechanism. The body is literally shedding tension through tears and their subsequent blush and sweat. Just as crying makes our squished and sad little hearts feel a little less squished and sad, the overflow of joy from an exciting experience is one so large it can only be released via tears. I am overwhelmed by joy in my life. I am incredibly blessed with amazing people. I get very nostalgic. And I love happy so much that I cry.

People are brutal pieces of shit to each other a lot of the time. So when they actually take time to help and say something of particular love, it is worthy of tears.

Perhaps "The Check" we used to do to my mother was our own coping mechanism, so that we wouldn't cry ourselves.

If movies haven't gotten any happier, maybe I've gotten happier.

No complaints here, I'm just crying.

Friday, August 24, 2012

I lose my phone more than Lance loses Tour Titles.

As usual, it's story time.

Today was the first day of our leadership retreat for the managers and supervisors at OU's Ping Rec Center where I am Employee Relations Manager (WUDDUP).

The day started off pretty well. I'm still on my super lame summer schedule where I can't physically stay up past 10'o'clock and waking up is a natural occurrence at six am. So I woke up early enough to pack a pretty healthy lunch in my new Bengals lunchbox, got a good shower in and had enough time to stop by a coffee place on the way

(sidenote: I went to Court Street Coffee today and will be turning my first few morning walks into a recalculation of my favorite coffee on Court. It's not just a taste test: it's a geographical survey of the best locations, an anthropological study of the best groups of people at each shop and an economic look at which is best on my wallet. I'm calling it Coffeelympics 2012. But it's really just because my coffee maker doesn't come in until next week. end sidenote.)

I also found enough time this morning to ponder if I'd be spending the leadership retreat playing my new phone-game obsession: a brand new game the kids are calling 'euchre'. It's not the best on an iPhone's battery (probably more related to the ads for hot singles in my area constantly scrolling at the bottom of the app than the actual game). And because being able to use your phone to inconspicuously play euchre under a table is more important than, you know, making calls, or whatever, I disabled those obsolete, battery-killing softwares like wifi, location services and my by-the-minute Twitter updates (sorry @McSean3).

We had OHIO police officers come in and teach us about active shooters on campus and what we can do if that horrific situation is thrust upon us and our staff at Ping.

I spent my lunch break doodling and writing my next blogpost about how my mom always cries during the happy parts of movies (really, Erin? A blog plug on your own blog?).

Then we had Ping Olympics events where we ran around, er, sprinted around campus for two hours collecting clues. My team got silver. >>>

Tired from a long day, I dragged my feet the long mile home. Twenty minutes later, I'm walking into my new apartment to start working on my The Essay Magazine's new redesign coming this fall (really, Erin? A magazine plug on your own blog?)

Ready to send a couple emails, I realize I've left my phone at Ping.

I grab nothing but my keys and sprint to the Rec Center. Hands down, I set a new PR for my mile time (six years late from field hockey conditioning camp).

The building was locked and closed, but I saw my boss backing out and driving away in her micro SUV. So naturally I sprint after the car with arms flailing like I'm being chased by bees. She eventually sees me in her rearview and lets me in the closed building. No phone anywhere to be found.

I run to my friend's house to use his phone, but it starts to pour rain. I try to use his 'Find My iPhone App' but I had disabled location services this morning. I'm an idiot.

I am not really sure why I'm telling this long and boring story. I'm still trying to figure out the lesson to take from it all. How sad is it that I feel completely lost and helpless without it? Yes. (Let's not forget the overly dramatic call to my boyfriend from my neighbor's phone at two in the morning about how I was going to be murdered from an active shooter.. the kind I had learned about earlier that morning).

But I think the greatest lesson is that my reaction to realizing where I had left my phone-- the consequent olympic-speed run, the spaz chase after my boss' car, the work to find something so unimportant as a cell phone-- it all made me feel a little better about being ready for something that I will actually need to be ready for. When there are actual lives at stake. I know that I will be able to haul ass and hit the road.

And just what the world needs is another blogpost about the insanity in how much we care about the 4.9 ounce piece of stainless steel and glass in my back right pocket. But really, I didn't have my phone for twenty four hours. and it scared the crap out of me.

I eventually found my unharmed phone on a desk in one of Ping's back rooms. Nobody died. Nothing burned down. And I got to write a long blog post about it.

I'm going to try and get back to basics with my phone. Instead of laying in bed at night checking any extra emails and reading The Onion until I'm so tired I start to confuse the headlines for real news, I'm going to read a book or gather my thoughts like the OLD days. I may have an app for npr, but I also have a radio. I may have unlimited texting, but I don't have unlimited time to be with those people. Plus, in the time it took me to load the horrible Facebook app to look at the picture of your new puppy, I could have walked to your house and cuddled with the lil' guy myself.

And then maybe if I lose my phone again, which is a very high possibility, I won't be such a spaz. Lesson learned.

Friday, May 25, 2012


The things I overhear make me shake my head.

I'm guilty of eavesdropping. I suppose I'd actually call it guilty of, one, having ears and, two, being observant when someone happens to say something strange. It's not like I could close my ears. And I sure as hell can't turn off my brain (trust me, I've tried).

My favorite friends to hang out with (yes I have favorite friends to hang out with) are the ones that hold this skill as well, and we can spend our time overhearing odd crops of conversations together.

My friend Jamie and I play a game where we pretend to be having a conversation walking down the street, but make sure to say something loud and weird as we pass another group of friends. For example, we won't be talking about anything, but as we pass people, I'll add something like, "and so that's how I cut off the second guy's leg" or if they were walking on a certain part of the sidewalk I'd say something like, "remember when I pooped right on that storm drain cover?" right when the people walked over it. It really wasn't as funny as we thought it was.

Yesterday in Wal-Mart I overheard a guy say to his friend, "Trust me, I'm a philosophy major." Eye roll.

Friday at the park, I overheard some girl's conversation about casually sleeping with her friend's boyfriend. Open-mouthed eye roll.

What's worse is when you hear people having a discussion about something they are completely wrong about, but you can't intervene. In the library today, a group of three students at the computer next to mine spent five minutes practically arguing over when Memorial Day was, if Memorial Day was Monday, and even if it was, if there was class Monday. I politely butted in. "Memorial Day is Monday and there is no class since it's a national holiday."

 They said thank you, but proceeded to discuss matters for a project, starting the sentence with "If we don't have class on Monday..." One guy said, "I don't know. Sometimes there still is class on national holidays."

Memorial Day weekend is a big deal at OU. Half the school goes to Hilton Head and the other half goes home. It's known for being our sort of last hurrah before Summer.. because there's no school that Monday.

I was bothered that my butted in words weren't trusted.

So I punched them all and discarded their projects without saving.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

we need better chicks in superhero flicks

I was peer pressured into seeing The Avengers last night. I’m not one for superhero movies. Something about catchphrases, one-liners, and women with ginormous boobs and pinky-fingers for wastes that just doesn’t get me very excited.

Many people in my group of friends had already seen it though, and ‘because it was so good’ were out the door to their second viewing, and I decided to go with them.

compare The Avengers plotting-villain scene to this. 
The film re-established my beliefs about the Super Hero Genre, and I cannot say that I was not disappointed with my choice. The one-liners gagged me and the villain’s out-of-this-world scheming scene wouldn’t stop reminding me of the 1995 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, but my biggest critique was the role of women in the film. 

I sat next to my good writer-friend Anna, who enjoyed making fun of the movie with me the whole time. She told me about the test by Allison Bechdel in her 1985 comic Dykes to Watch Out For called the Bechdel test. It was created to show the underrepresentation of women in the film industry. To pass this test, a movie must pass three questions: Are there two or more women in it with names, do they talk to each other, and when they do talk to each other is it about something other than men? This has been proven as a systematic problem—There are currently 3,102 movies in the Bechdel database. Many superhero movies like Captain America: The First Avenger, The Dark Knight, GI Joe, Transformers, The Green Lantern, X Men, Wolverine, and many others are included in this database.

Don’t get me wrong, Scarlett Johannsen’s role as Black Widow is a total bad ass. It is always fun to watch a beautiful woman use her charm to outwit a nerdy doctor who has a problem with anger management that makes him turn into the Angry Green Giant, but she also plays into a number of gender stereotypes I not only find one-dimensional and trite, but also archaic.

Black Widow’s establishing scene features her in a tight black dress and tied to a chair surrounded by men. A viewer’s first impression is her objectification. Again, how she releases herself from this tied position shows strength and bad-assyness, but the amazement comes from the ‘wow, a girl just beat up all those men’ factor. Her costume would not have been lingerie if she was not to be noticed as a hot female. Black Widow is also the only character in the film who at one point is found sitting in a corner, hugging her knees and cowering.

Cobie Smulders plays Agent Maria Hill. (I had to look up her name because I could only think of her as the girl who plays Robin in How I Met Your Mother.) Agent Hill has an awesome supporting role as a captain who leads an entire ship of servicemen and women the entire film. Not much is learned about anything beyond her position and place with the Avengers and second-in-command to Fury.

Agent Hill and Black Widow do not hold a single conversation with one another, yet are on the same ship-plane-thing the entire movie. 

Also, I think Mark Ruffalo is attractive. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Festering Wounds

And I thought a couch was bad.

I woke up this morning to video links and Twitter blurbs about the fire at 11 Palmer Saturday. Every year there is a new reason the fests get shut down— out of control crowds, drunkards fighting, couches ablaze. But a fire starting in a basement of a house just shows how insane the OU Fests get.

Sometimes I’m embarrassed by this party reputation, and after this weekend’s events at Palmer Fest, I have once again found examples of the reasons behind my pink cheeks.

I guess I must start by admitting that I’m not too keen on the party scene, and I didn’t drink before I turned 21. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good brew with my pizza, and it’s sometimes nicer to watch the Blue Jackets lose after purchasing an $8 stadium Tall Boy, but that fine line between coherent and idiocracy is one I have few times crossed. I suppose because I'm already weird and loud there's no need to add anything else to the fire (too soon for Palmer Fest puns?). 

My embarrassment began as soon as I started telling people my college of choice  senior year of high school. Friends of my parents attempting conversation with me asked their go-to question: ”Where are you going to college?” I’d tell them OHIO, and they’d wink at me or nudge me with an elbow and say something like, “big party school, eh?”

No, I am not attending this particular institution because of something so trivial as a school’s party rep. I also appreciate you questioning the morality of my leisure activities, random stranger who knew my father in middle school.

A lot of people do attend OU because they went to Palmer Fest the week after their 18th birthdays and fell in love with their blurry memories of kegstands and horse cops.

However, I fell in love with Athens after visiting my brother and witnessing the kind of awesome things that happened beyond his East State house’s rotting floorboards and Natty-stenched walls. He had a one-of-a-kind bond with a group of guys that was attractive. I wanted friends like that. The way my brother talked about the town, the teams, the students-- that was attractive. I wanted to be a part of that.

The thing about the fests that irks me the most is the non-OU students’ complete disregard of laws, respect, and the university. When you study here, you begin to have a love for Athens. Your friends from Kent State and Bowling Green just don’t get it, no matter how many times you tell them how awesome it is to have grass grow at your school.

Miami Redhawks come for the weekend, make their marks via porch-couch vomit, and then they leave with no regard for College Green squirrels or Donkey’s refreshing chai. What’s worse, OU students get to take on that reputation.

A year from now when it’s time to interview for a job, I’ll be sitting there with a possible future employer. He or she will look at my resume, see OHIO, wink at me or nudge me with an elbow and say something like, “big party school, eh?”

Then I'll reply.

“…and a nationally ranked journalism program."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

people observation #25: Row Mans & Relation Ships

Notice the gum on my cup. I have
 no intention of chewing that later.
I'm currently sitting at a Starbucks window seat in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Coffee shop window seats provide prime location for people watching. One can eavesdrop to ongoings inside, but also watch some awesome people outside. I find a great deal of enjoyment in inventing stories for passersby.

Whenever I see people going on jogs, I pretend it's actually because he or she is running from the next jogger behind them, and depending how soon this next jogger comes, I determine if the first jogger makes it where he or she was going safely.

A Jeep pulls up to a man on the corner and asks for directions. I pretend the man giving directions takes them on a five mile detour passed his small sandwich shop he just opened up, because he's all about nonchalant and passive advertising, pun intended.

The longer I stare out the window, the more complex my stories get.

The person standing right outside the window from me is dressed fairly well. He's bald with decently stylish glasses, but he also has his septum pierced, a very thick metal hoop through both nostrils, with a two iron balls the size of large peas on the ends. I imagine he's a generally conservative fellow who, in a phase of self-searching, dated a free spirited hippie-chick a couple years back that made him do it, and now, he being the low-risk individual he is, is afraid to remove the metal out of fear that it's actually holding his entire nose together. He can make that excuse all he wants, but when he's really being honest with you, he'll confide that it brings back good memories of that strange, strange girl.

As Pandora picks my playlist, I pretend that anyone with headphones on is listening to the same song as me. (Unless they're wearing Beats by Dre. Then they're just sooo hardcore, and I couldn't imagine what explicit Jam they're pretending they wrote. But because the only headphones I could find are the jumbo and ear-sore inducing ones that came with my iPhone, I'm also kind of jealous of anyone's squishy Beats earpad.) Whenever a mildly embarrassing song comes on, I take out my headphones to make sure nobody can hear.

What is the most interesting to watch out the window and inside of Starbucks are the couples. Love is fun to observe, and I can also get the most creative with my stories. An elderly couple passes holding hands. I pretend they are both widows, but fell in love at a local church's BINGO night six years ago and despite the rarity of falling in love so late in life, they have become best friends.

 As a college couple passes, I lock eyes with the girl. She grabs her boyfriend's hand. I thought about hissing at her, just for dramatic effect, but I decided that their relationship is really struggling because she has jealousy problems and he has intimacy issues, and they didn't need some makeupless, messy-bunned, Starbucks writer who's had to pee for thirty minutes but doesn't want to leave her MacBook in an unknown place coming between them.

I watch co-ed groups pass and it seems that I just naturally divide them into couples. If there's an odd number of individuals in the group, I joke to myself about third and fifth wheels. Poor Bryan, he's going through a rough break up and the only thing he could find to do today is hang out with his bros and their clingy girlfriends.

But really, relationships are so weird. We naturally just put so much complexity into them. I mean, no, relationships may not be as simple as a random stranger creeping through the window having the ability to dissect then point out all strengths and weaknesses of a relationship in one passing, but they aren't as difficult as we make them out to be. Reading Cosmo may make me want to buy every single color in the Kardashian OPI line, but I refuse to believe that my boyfriend is cheating on me because he bought me flowers. And when it tells me that a guy's liking of the rounder parts of a woman is directly proportionate to his need to be hegemonic and controlling, I'm going to take it with a grain of salt.

Girls are the worst at over-analyzation. A girl angry at her boyfriend, when asked if something is wrong, may answer "I'm fine," When she is (woah, curveball) not actually fine.  And girls, when a guy says he doesn't want to talk, he doesn't have problems with speaking up or knowing what he wants or a fear of admitting the truth or just an overwhelming feeling because this girl is just the greatest girl he's every met, he probably just doesn't want to talk.

I initially sat down at this Starbucks to write my Gender and Politics paper, a review of several journal excerpts of university studies about masculinity's role in romance. One can study it as much as they want, but when it comes down to it, I think romance is a pretty simple thing. It comes in different forms for everyone, but every single person on this planet likes when they feel special because someone's expressing a care for them. Romance is necessary for first dates. It's necessary for marriages of fifty years. Of course, it evolves and a relationship's definition of what a romantic act is changes through time, as is one different for each couple.  But without it, a relationship will fall apart.

I like to think that Valentine's Day is stupid because we should be romantic and do special things for the one's we love more than one day out of the year. But that being said, time takes advantage of us, and all of a sudden it's been a month since we did something thoughtful for the person that we care about. It's nice to have a designated day to remind us about why we fell for that weirdo on the other side of the bed in the first place.

Two pieces of advice to leave with:
     1. Do thoughtful things. Going out of your way to do something nice for someone is so great.
     2. Don't be annoying about relationships. Just be honest. Don't make it so complex.

Also, when you're watching people through the Starbucks window and making up life stories for them, which I'm sure everybody does, I'm sure is completely normal, try to look at people and find positive things about them. It's very self-esteem boosting when you're being kind to others, even just in your thoughts.
Thanks to Instagram for making me feel like I can take cool pictures. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

people observation #24: buckle up

Grandpa drove a black Blazer before he gave it to my brother. From the time Sean got this black Blazer and until I graduated high school, every time we'd get in the car I'd say the same thing to him: "Whatever you do, don't kill me." It probably had something to do with my 54 memories of brushes with death in  the same car. What do I mean? Grandpa never got in any accidents, but he was one of the worst drivers I ever rode with.

My family used to joke about how my grandpa left accidents behind him as he ignorantly putted down the road. 

The more I think about it, the less funny it became, because he probably actually did in fact leave accidents in his wake.

You know the scene in Toy Story 2 where the toys are trying to cross the street to Al's Toy Barn and they travel via traffic cone? The toys cause mass confusion with all of the drivers left on the road. Mr. Potato Head's shoe gets stuck in a piece of gum as a giant cement cylinder, which has fallen off a truck in the scene, almost squishes him. The scene concludes with an establishing exit shot of mass commotion in the road, honking, Disney-style cursing, shaking fists. The cars are turned in all directions, not sure what to do or where to go.

My grandpa was the toys. My grandpa was Mr. Potato Head.

Even from a young age, I knew that he was a bad driver. I'd grab the 'We'reAllGonnaDieHandle' in panic, as if that would provide any safety as a wreck became imminent.

Once Sean and I were driving with him on the highway; I don't actually remember where we were going, but I do remember after a couple miles of his right blinker on, a failure to notice a speed bump at forty miles an hour, the six feet jump we took through the air, and the scariest merge onto 161 that I had ever experienced, he was doing something else against the law. We see a cruiser flash on his blue and reds, and grandpa pulls over, well kind of. He pulled over on an exit ramp.

Stay cool, Erin. I grew nervous as the Highway Patrol man walked over with his little pad and paper.

"How's your driving record?" He asked my grandpa.

With a mild shake of his head, "Beautiful," Grandpa replies.


People are awful at admitting what they aren't capable of behind the wheel. There's that trite joke that says 80% of people think they're above-average drivers, but really, it's actually true.

Have you ever been the passenger of a car where you had no control over the fact that your driver was completely ill equipped? If your life is not flashing before your eyes because said driver's wreckFULL driving, your eye is twitching because they didn't put on their turn indicator for the last three turns. Whenever in the latter situation, I usually mouth a "sorry" to cars that we pass. I suppose when in the former I'm too busy holding on for dear life.

If there's one thing to be learned from realizing you're in the passenger seat of a lunatic driver, it's exactly what not to do. Please use your turn signal. Please don't come to a complete stop before making a simple turn. For godsakes wear a freaking seatbelt. Remember, driving slow on the highway is probably more dangerous than driving fast.

And lastly, whatever you do, don't kill me.