Posts Tagged University of Arizona
I’m pretty bummed out, guys. The Cactus Moon, which was my favorite bar/nightclub in my college town, has closed up shop. Hard to believe the girls and I were there just dancing to the “Cupid Shuffle” there two weeks ago for Dyanna’s bachelorette party, when we had no clue this was going to happen. The Arizona Daily Star had this to say about it:
The urban saloon- a favorite midtown watering hole for redneck gals and long-haired country boys since 1989 – has closed.
As for those good-hearted women and ramblin’ men who may fall to pieces over closure of the Cactus Moon, they will have to ease their achy breaky hearts with suds in a bucket from another country-Western establishment.
On my last trip at the Moon, I commented on how crazy it was that I could get 25 cent drinks on Wednesdays before 10 p.m. — Ladie’s Night. After 10, each drink cost a whopping $1.25 for women. It was such a good deal and an amazing time. During the first semester of senior year, my creative writing professor assigned his students to write an essay about a Tucson spot that meant a lot to them. I chose Cactus Moon, which was a ton of fun to research. I interviewed regulars, staffers, and the bathroom employee, who was tasked with watching the stall doors.
Several reports attest that the club was struggling financially, and I wouldn’t be surprised given the low drink prices and entrance fee. What a shame, though.
For whatever reason, I had an urge to dig up some of my old college newspapers columns this evening (here’s one!). They’re rather hard to find on the Internet, as the Daily Wildcat website keeps undergoing changes and futzing with the archive, but during my aimless search, I stumbled upon something that was written about me exactly two years ago today. The author, Ben, who worked with me at the school publication, had written a farewell blog post to me and fellow columnist Evan Lisull, as the two of us had just graduated college and were headed for new things. Evan’s immediate future was certain, but I didn’t quite know where I was headed:
I should have posted this a couple of weeks ago: Desert Lamp co-founder Evan Lisull and Daily Wildcat writer/editor and independent ‘blogger Laura Donovan took their bachelors’ degrees at the University of Arizona and will be moving on to bigger things.
Laura Donovan was one of the most capable people I’ve encountered on Wildcat staff in my seven years in town. No word on her future “plans” other than that the plan for now is no plan, aside from ending up in Washington DC in the fall. It should be interesting.
Best wishes to both of them in their future endeavors!
Interesting, it has certainly been, not to mention far more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. The funny thing is, I kept my word and moved to D.C., even though very few people actually thought I’d follow through with that goal. Who could blame them? I wasn’t actively searching for work. I had some vague desire to relocate across the country to the east coast, having interned there one summer and thrived off the hustle and bustle, but could I actually make the big move? With the help of Anna Baker, to whom I’m eternally grateful, I did. Tucker Carlson was kind enough to offer me my first post-college position and allow me to joke around with his other employees all day every day. Things suddenly fell into place, but I got restless. Not with the Daily Caller, which is hands down the most fun office in the country (fully equipped with a bar, ping pong table, and keg), but with D.C. in general. The politics energized me, yet I felt too old and under-stimulated with the city, which felt very business-like and sterile. I didn’t love commuting among 45-year-old suit and tie folks every morning. I was always the youngest individual on the train. Some said this was admirable, as I had my life together for a 20-something, but I found it depressing. I wanted to be surrounded by every type of person, not just bureaucratic, disillusioned, serious men. There had to me more to a city than sanitized D.C. I could have hung around my cousin more, but in the long run, I just needed to be in New York, where my weird antics would be celebrated and, well, not so weird to anyone — at least in comparison to the others around.
As much as I whine about NYC’s bipolar weather patterns and pathetic excuse for sunshine, I absolutely love living in a place in which couples can check
their teeth for food on a crowded subway home. Yes, I witnessed this happening the other night and it put a smile on my face. To an extent, I love some of the crazy people. The bars are incomparable and the subway was made for me. But thanks to my inherent need for excitement, I’ve held three full-time jobs since graduating college. For a two-year period, that is too many. I need to settle down and fully establish myself at one place. I did that at the Daily Wildcat, where I worked for two and a half years, but I was also in college at the time and school was my big focus. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until the day I die: the Arizona Daily Wildcat was the most rewarding writing experience I have ever had, and that includes all the writing positions I’ve held since then. You know why? Because it was the first platform in which I could put my sole talent and love to good use. Up until college, I’d been filling journal after journal to practice, but I rarely embraced local writing opportunities, as they were few and far between and not for me. I also wasn’t courageous enough to stand my ground back then, but college proved to be a much better, more responsive, and more open environment for that. It wasn’t until I started working for the Wildcat that I truly believed I could make a career out of writing, and by the time I left, I knew I was incapable of doing anything else. I still feel that way and am insanely lucky to have remained in the profession after college. It means the world to me to have had the support and confidence of Ben, Evan, Justyn, Jazmine, Anna, Alex, Luke, Woodhams, Lance, Misha, and everybody else on staff. I wouldn’t have made it to New York without them. Thanks, guys. The Wildcat will always and forever have my whole heart.
I dedicate much of my blog to complaints about the travails of living in Brooklyn, so when people say my living situation isn’t nearly as awful as I let on, I perk up and breathe a sigh of relief, mainly because I know my mother would be relieved to hear someone thinks my apartment is perfectly safe.
This week, my friends Anna and Maddie visited from the University of Arizona. Faithful readers of this blog (among the few!), they’ve heard all about my problems with the area and what not, but upon seeing my new home for themselves, they concluded that I exaggerated its awfulness. Which I already knew. Sort of.
They agree that my bedroom view of a junkyard is unpleasant and uninspiring. They also see why I constantly gripe about the G train, which is the most unreliable line on the New York subway system. But my other issues aren’t so grave, they say. College seniors, they claim I seem to be living the dream for supporting myself in a big city. It doesn’t feel that way to me, especially since I limit my nights on the town and experience immense loneliness every time I return to my isolated apartment.
While we’re on the topic of the apartment, I have to move out as soon as possible. There’s nothing I dislike more than relocating, packing up my stuff, and apartment hunting, but this will be a worthwhile change. I need to reside closer to my office and friends, so I think I’ll be a lot more cheerful once I’m in a new spot. Hopefully my next neighborhood will have a stronger community and not cause me so much shame and stress. Anna and Maddie watched me fight with the lock to the front door of my apartment building and realized firsthand how hard it is for me to actually enter my home. Things simply don’t have to be that way.
The girls understand why I believe my apartment is haunted. I warned them of the supernatural force when they first arrived, and last night as we were about to fall asleep, Maddie whispered, “Is that sound the ghost?”
“What?” I asked.
“The constant ticking. It has a weird pattern and rhythm to it.”
“Oh, I’ve grown to tune it out. But yeah, that’s the ghost.”
She was right: We hear tons of creaks in the night, but the noise is constant. The building is either really old or something weird is going on. We already find odd objects that belong to none of us around the apartment, so there’s no doubt in my mind that this old, sorry place is occupied by an annoying attention whore ghost. I used to imagine this sort of thing would scare me, but I’m honestly more bothered than frightened by it. I get that you have unfinished business and all, but don’t really like sharing my already-too tiny apartment with a lost soul.
In spite of it all, I don’t have it all that hard, but hopefully my circumstances improve when I leave this behind next month:
Though writing for the University of Arizona newspaper remains the most rewarding journalism experience I’ve ever had, I wish I’d also contributed to HerCampus, an online magazine for college women. I would have had so much fun blogging for the publication. After all, it has a designated ranter, a beat that would have suited me well in school.
There was plenty to rant about: Tuition increases, student government’s lack of transparency, on-campus food prices and nutritional value, textbook costs, student fees, residence life, etc. I had my fair share of outrageous opinions in college, but never pertaining to clothes. I recently stumbled upon a HerCampus article blasting the girls who sport “skants” — a skirt and pair of pants together — at my alma mater.
I’ve never even heard of the combination, much less seen it at the UA, but let’s not forget that I graduated nearly two years ago. Clearly times have changed since my Kappa Alpha fangirl days (hi, Chris, Joey, Matt, and Erik!). Back when I was a student, there was a widely known movement against anyone who wore Uggs and a skirt at the same time. The argument was that we lived in the desert, where Uggs are unnecessary to begin with (but let’s not forget the 30 degree winter nights…). The contrast was too absurd for most people, but I personally couldn’t have cared less about the clothing of my classmates. I basically lived in bright-colored Victoria’s Secret Pink sweats year-round, much to the amusement of my newspaper coworkers. I probably offended a lot of people with my casual outfit selection, but I did whatever I wanted in school. It was the only time in my life in which I could fully march to my own drum without backlash.
With that, this young woman’s rant about the UA student “skant” fad has me fairly perplexed:
“Dear U of A, I LOL’d so hard when I found out there is actually a name for what I am about to rant to you all, my lovely readers, about…Apparently some girls think it is trendy to add extra layers and bulk to an otherwise fine outfit.”
How dare anyone be unfashionable in college, the only time in one’s life that condones sloppiness?! Don’t seize the opportunity, run away from it!
“I am sorry, but when did a classic jean and a tank top become tired?”
When it’s 70 degrees one day and 95 the next and you need to have the option to either slip out of your pants or pull off the skirt depending on the weather. This is southern Arizona.
“If you want to add individualism or flare to an outfit, there is a whole world of accessories out there for you. What ever happened to statement necklaces, belts, and what about shoes!? Must you really add a whole other article of clothing to feel satisfied when you look in the mirror?”
Haven’t you ever heard of Lady Gaga?
“If skirts are ok to wear over jeans, where will it stop? Shorts over jeans? Capris over jeans? What about leggings over jeans? I can picture it now….Sexy. -___-”
The uglier we dress, the larger your dating pool will be. You should be THANKING us.
“If you ask me, I think it is just an excuse for girls to not have to shave their legs in the spring. That is the only possible reason I can think of why someone would do this.”
You caught me. I would rather sweat like crazy in a pair of jeans than take two minutes to shave my legs every other night. It’s much easier to simply overheat. That’s why people like this style.
“Did you know it makes you look bigger?”
OMG I LOOK FAT?! Now I’m going to go vomit up my dinner, thanks for destroying my self-esteem.
“Ladies! Now would be the time to shave and do the pants off dance off. In other words, take off the jeans. If I see ANY Skants this Spring I cannot be held accountable for my actions. AKA, you’re going down. Love, Haylie”
I don’t mean to put down a fellow Wildcat by any means, but this piece is either a joke or an unflattering reflection of the UA student body. The writer of this post is probably a terrific individual, but she’s not sending a good message about our world class university by making fun of the way her classmates dress. This isn’t high school, this is college, where you’re free to broaden your horizons and mind and try new things. I’ll let you in on a little secret, Haylie: You may or may not be in Greek life, but college isn’t the time to bash people for expressing themselves and experimenting with their look.
I’d give anything to return to my sweatpants donning, blueberry scone eating routine. Was I in a sorority or a member of the UA Homecoming court? No, but I had the greatest time of my life in the Daily Wildcat newsroom, where Misha and I would frequently stuff our faces with breadsticks, Luke, Jazmine, and I would laugh up a storm every few minutes, and Anna and I would have endless conversations about the things that kept us awake at night.
I may have looked like a lazy Californian, but I won a lot of awards for the work I did whilst wearing lime green and magenta Victoria’s Secret sweatpants, both of which I still own and occasionally slip on during weekends in New York City. You can’t really slum it on the east coast, but you’re totally entitled to do so in Tucson, so don’t disparage those who live their college years to the fullest and abide by unconventional styles.
So, Haylie, do the UA proud and rant about something other than the unsightly attire of you schoolmates. Even at a grand institution like the UA, there’s plenty for you to take issue with, and if you need any help coming up with rant subjects, I’d be glad to give my two cents. Otherwise, read the Daily Wildcat for updates on budget cuts, campus news, etc.
Every other blog entry, I complain about living in Brooklyn, but the borough has a lot more to offer than I initially thought. “Me Talk Pretty One Day” author David Sedaris, my favorite writer of all time, will be visiting Brooklyn in early May!
He’s hosting a reading and book signing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on May 8, just in time for summer. This will be the third time we meet, as I saw him in 2010 and 2007 during his book tour visits to the University of Arizona.
The first instance we chatted, I confessed that I hadn’t yet read his books but was coming to his reading to get a signed book for my older sister, a big fan of his.
“Don’t waste your time on my books,” Sedaris said to me. “You have better things to do.”
I considered his advice until he recited a chapter of his memoir, which had me doubled over on the ground in laughter. Really. Inside my sister’s paperback book, Sedaris wrote that I was enchanting, a compliment I’ll never forget. That night, I finished “Me Talk Pretty One Day” in a single sitting and decided that Sedaris had the exact career I wanted for myself: To write books of essays on goofy life experiences.
It seems Sedaris and I are meant to cross paths every two years. I first met him in 2007, so by our second encounter in 2010, I had already become a full-blown fan. Kendra and I were the first people to show up to his reading, and I sat in his chair until he arrived.
We were the first to have our books signed, and in honor of his latest book on talking animals, he said he would draw our animal of choice in our books.
“What kind of animal would you like?”
“A pig,” I said.
“You know what? I struggle with my pig drawing skills, so thank you for this opportunity,” he said.
As he sketched out the swine, I confessed I dreamed of emulating his career and thanked him for showing me exactly which path I wanted to take. This put him in an obvious state of discomfort, but he laughed and warned me of the awkward times that go hand-in-hand with memoir writing and documenting the behavior of others.
I covered this well in my 2010 entry about him, so here’s exactly what he told me back then:
“I wrote about this rude dermatologist and then my friend called him when the book came out. I was like, ‘FUCK! I don’t want him to see what I said about him!’ So you have to be prepared for that.”
And I will be. I hope. Perhaps he can further help me out with this when he gets to New York. I can’t get enough of his essays, so let’s hope he pushes out another book soon. I need more laughing material besides his essays, “You Can’t Kill the Rooster” and “That’s Amore.” Here are some of my favorite excerpts from those works:
Essay about David Sedaris’s crude hillbilly brother, Paul:
“‘The Rooster’ is what Paul calls himself when he’s feeling threatened. Asked how he came up with that name, he says only, ‘Certain motherfuckers think they can fuck with my shit, but you can’t kill the Rooster. You might can fuck him up sometimes, but, bitch, nobody kills the motherfucking Rooster. You know what I’m saying?’
It often seems that my brother and I were raised in two completely different households. He’s eleven years younger than I am, and by the time he reached high school, the rest of us had all left home. When I was young, we weren’t allowed to say ‘shut up,’ but by the time Paul reached his teens, it had become acceptable to shout, ‘Shut your motherfucking mouth.’
My mother was, for the most part, delighted with my brother and regarded him with the bemused curiosity of a brood hen discovering she has hatched a completely different species. ‘I think it was very nice of Paul to give me this vase,’ she once said, arranging a bouquet of wildflowers into the skull-shaped bong my brother had left on the dining-room table. ‘It’s nontraditional, but that’s the Rooster’s way. He’s a free spirit, and we’re lucky to have him.’”
Here’s a funny portion of the essay, “That’s Amore,” which is about Sedaris’s rude New York neighbor Helen:
“My only real constant was Helen, who would watch Hugh leave the building, and then cross the hall to lean on our doorbell. I would wake up, and just as I was belting my robe, the ringing would be replaced by a pounding, frantic and relentless, the way you might rail against a coffin lid if you’d accidentally been buried alive.
‘All right, all right.’
‘What were you, asleep?’ Helen would say as I opened the door. ‘I’ve been up since five.’
‘Well,’ I’d tell her, ‘I didn’t go to bed until three.’
‘I didn’t go to bed until 3.30.’
This was how it was with her: if you got 15 minutes of sleep, she got only 10. If you had a cold, she had a flu. If you’d dodged one bullet, she’d dodged five. Blindfolded.
After my mother’s funeral, I remember her greeting me with, ‘So what? My mother died when I was half your age.’
‘Gosh,’ I said. ‘Think of everything she missed.’
With the exception of my immediate family, no one could provoke me quite like Helen could. One perfectly aimed word, and within an instant I was eight years old and unable to control my temper. I often left her apartment swearing I’d never return. Once I slammed her door so hard, her clock fell off the wall, but still I went back -’crawled back,’ she would say – and apologised. It seemed wrong to yell at a grandmother, but more than that I found that I missed her, or at least missed someone I could so easily drop in on. The beauty of Helen was that she was always there, practically begging to be disturbed. Was that a friend, or had I chosen the wrong word? What was the name for this thing we had?
Helen fell in the tub and sprained her wrist. While she was laid up, I went to the store for her. Hugh took down her trash and delivered her mail. Joe, a widower now, offered to help as well. ‘Anything that needs doing around the house, you just let me know,’ he told her.
He meant that he’d change lightbulbs or run a mop across her floor, but Helen took it the wrong way and threw him out of her apartment. ‘He wants to see my twat,’ she told me.”
You’d be astounded by the number of University of Arizona graduates in the D.C. area. Several of my close college buddies joined me on the opposite side of the country this year, and last night we ventured to our school’s official alumni event at the Rayburn building by the capitol.
Like many Arizona Wildcats, the attendees were boisterous, friendly, and excited to meet new people. I caught up with former Daily Wildcat news editor Cody, with whom I worked on the school paper for a few years, and College Republican member Mikey, a McCain staffer. Joey, who I’ve known since the beginning of freshman year, came as well. It was fun catching up with everyone, even though we were far from the warmth, intense sun, and cheerful spirit of southern Arizona. Not everything has to be different, though. Joey and I used to banter over drinks at outdoor Tucson bar Gentle Ben’s, and yesterday we clinked beer glasses on the balcony of an H-shaped government building, checking out the flickering, foreboding sky above.
It’s funny how people change, move, and grow yet maintain the same rapport that they always had in the past. Some friendships wither away overtime, so I’m lucky to still relate to pals from an earlier, simpler period of life. Some things never change, and considering the uncertainty of youth, reliable friends are sources of comfort.
D.C. may experience snowstorms, be bursting with icy bureaucrats and pretentious wannabe politicos, but it’s not totally different than friendly, down-to-earth Tucson. Arizona monsoons usually trickle into September, so UA students know what it’s like to soak up the sun one moment and get rained on the next.
This happened to Cody, Joey, and me on our walk to the metro last night, when a downpour struck. We were completely drenched within a minute of being outside and jokingly asked why we ever moved to D.C. At least we face the storms together.
In sunnier news, I finally made professional use of my French minor yesterday when I translated an article from Le Monde for my own piece. Check it out!
Also, the creep who verbally abused Bristol Palin apologized. Too little, too late.
The sixth grader who famously approached Chris Christie about campaign tips just lost the student council election. When it comes to junior high politics, school popularity is everything.
“60 Minutes” resident curmudgeon Andy Rooney retires.
My childhood hero Stephen King is writing a sequel to “The Shining.” I looked up to him all throughout high school and read his books like a madwoman (but not the “Misery” kind), so I eagerly await this one.
Coffee lowers depression risk for women…that explains why I’m always bouncing off the walls in excitement.
Today marks my one-year anniversary of being at The Daily Caller, so it’s only fitting that the site is hosting a FOX/Google debate watch party tonight. Many of my D.C. friends and acquaintances plan to attend, so I look forward to catching up with them at the bar.
But a year ago yesterday, I was nervous about September 22. Since mid-August, I’d suffered sleepless nights as a result of sheer boredom. After a month and a half in D.C. and zero job application success, I swallowed my pride and considered an unpaid internship. Matt Purple, a former Townhall.com co-worker, advised me to check out The Daily Caller, for which he freelanced from time to time.
“We’ve gotta get you hooked up at The Daily Caller,” he told me over beers at a Foggy Bottom bar two weeks earlier. “It’s the next Huffington Post.”
Conveniently, a brief glance at TheDC’s Twitterfeed revealed that the site needed fall interns. I immediately emailed office manager Laura Banos, who invited me to come in for an interview that week. Sporting my new pair of H&M pumps (that I’ve worn a total of five times in my year here), I entered TheDC office in a state of anxiousness, desperation, and excitement. After chatting with Laura and leaving TheDC, I realized that had been the first hour in months that I hadn’t thought about a painful situation from school. You see, I graduated the University of Arizona on bad terms with someone and took forever to stop thinking about the peculiar circumstances. For the longest time, I simply couldn’t wrap my head around the injustice of it all or why I’d never even gotten a “sorry” from someone who knew he’d let me down immensely. When at TheDC, I forgot about him as well as the amazing life and friendships I’d left behind in Tucson.
On Wednesday September 22, I got to TheDC early to set up my wifi connection and introduce myself to the employees before the staff meeting, which Laura had advised me to attend.
Aside from Laura, the first person I met was Vince Coglianese, who would eventually become one of my best friends on staff. Because I’m soft spoken around new people, I was initially hesitant to interact with the other office mates. Regardless of my obvious bashfulness, I approached Vince, who was patient and helpful with my Internet connection problems. It was clear from the start that he’s a natural leader — undoubtedly the result of being the oldest of three children in a nomadic military family. In spite of my shyness, I knew he’d assist me and was sad to learn Vince covered the night shift. Luckily, he switched to a day time schedule several months later and finally had the opportunity to work with the rest of us.
At 8:30, I stepped into the conference room for the daily staff meeting. The staffers glanced up at me with curiosity but kept their mouths shut. It would have been too awkward to announce I was a new intern (that would have made me seem real cool), so I didn’t say a word. Thankfully Caroline May, whose women-related articles I’d devoured and loved, broke the silence by asking red-haired Peter Tucci if he was related to me.
“Tucci, is that your sister?” she inquired.
We shook our heads and remained quiet. I laughed but said nothing and subsequently worried my silence would be perceived as rude. Nevertheless, I took a seat next to fellow ginger Tucci and observed the meeting. Within months, people would joke that Tucci and I were actually siblings, as we were born two days apart in the same hospital.
I immediately liked the atmosphere because staff members pursued edgy stories, laughed freely, and used foul language if necessary (believe it or not, I struggle to break the cursing habit myself. I’ve accidentally sworn in front of my little nephew Sawyer several times, prompting him to remind me, “We don’t say shit, Aunt Lala.” Got it.) Having worked at a college newspaper for 2.5 years, I knew all about being employed at a goofy place, so I was beyond relieved that TheDC was the opposite of uptight or judgmental.
On day one, I gravitated towards interns Jessica and Chris, who had been at the office for about a week. To me, they were Daily Caller veterans, and I thrust myself upon them. As I noted in a blog post, I’d been lonely for four months before interning at TheDC. Graduating college had that effect on me, and while unemployed I had few outlets to meet new people. With that, I sort of forced myself on those around me because I was starved for human contact. Take a look at my September 26, 2010 blog entry for some evidence of just how lonely I’d been:
“I [just] began interning at an exciting 24-hour news website. I absolutely love the newsroom and staff members, and this gives me something to do while I job search. Who knows, this may even turn into a job (that’s what I’m hoping for). After all, some of the current reporters started off as summer interns, but let’s not get too excited yet.
Anyway, I’m the happiest I’ve been in four months. I realized this when I met up with my co-interns/co-workers on Friday night. It’s so nice to be around people again. Ever since I left Tucson in July, I’ve been kind of lonely, being that the majority of my college friends have either moved to other parts of the country or stayed in Arizona. I kind of got used to just doing my own thing, but it wasn’t very fun. As much as I adore my roommate Anna, I missed having group interaction. Whether or not this is a good thing, I thrive off social consistency and large groups.
I’m glad to be working around people who love new ideas and opinions, and the interns are all really smart. Some of the interns are recent grads like me and the others are college seniors. Everyone is nice and excited about their work.”
On Thursday, I met business intern Hillary Poirier, an Arkansas girl who has a magical way of charming every single person she meets. Hillary is impossible not to love, especially since she is an incredible event planner. That Friday, she set up an intern happy hour and helped me make new friends. As I noted in my blog a year ago, that was the first evening in four months that I’d felt happy. Though Hillary and Jessica moved back to the south before Christmas, I was grateful that they kept me company during my first few months in D.C. Intern Keith Cottingham was also hysterical and kind.
Aside from the social aspects of TheDC, I enjoyed the writing opportunities. I also took to former executive editor Megan Mulligan immediately. Like me, she had previously lived in France and knew the language. Every few months, she’d travel overseas and return with gifts for everyone. A Columbia grad and former Forbes writer, Megan was as sharp as they come, but understood the cultural significance of light topics and celebrity gossip. One afternoon, I pitched a story about Britney Spears and Ke$ha that I assumed the editors would reject. To the surprise of many, Megan found the article idea hilarious and encouraged me to go forward with it. Megan is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, not because she went to an Ivy league university, but because she recognized that she could learn from all article ideas. Many would be quick to say that there’s nothing to gain from a Hollywood story, but Megan would understand its cultural relevance and treat it with the same respect as she would for a political article.
Though it took me a week and a half to publish my first news story at TheDC, I figured out quickly that I had a good thing going at the office. Before Christmas, they hired me. While outsiders called me irresponsible for interning full-time at an office with no guarantee of employment, the risk turned out to be worthwhile. Within days of starting my internship at TheDC, I knew I wanted to work there, so I did everything possible to prove myself. I took on a broad range of tasks from transcribing interviews to assisting with Capitol Hill reporting. Though unpolished, I worked hard, and luckily Neil and Tucker decided my talents would serve their new site well.
After Christmas, I upgraded from intern to online editor. The transition was a surprising challenge, as I’d previously had the freedom to go on trips without anyone questioning my absence. At first, the position was more stressful than I anticipated, but I got the hang of my duties quickly, all thanks to my trusty fellow online eds Will, Vince, and Steven, all of whom had befriended me long before I became a staffer. I especially enjoyed exchanging creeper/weirdo stories with Steven, who also seems to be a magnet for crazy people.
Spring was tough, but I wrote prolifically, interviewed some of my favorite public figures and celebrities, and tested my limits. Then came the summer 2011 interns, all of whom wowed me with their spirit, enthusiasm, and work ethic so much that I found myself genuinely thrilled to see each of them every morning. To this day, I miss having the summer crowd around but admit their departure did wonders for my productivity, as I spent much of June, July, and August giggling with them about one thing or another.
When they took off, I resurrected my workhorse tendencies and began pushing out several stories a day. A year after starting up at TheDC, I have a healthier approach to social situations. I no longer depend on my workplace for friendship or activity. As my buddy Kyana pointed out, our friend Alec is an amazing organizer and will keep our social calendars completely booked forever. Every weekend, he has some awesome group happy hour special lined up, so I know I’ll never, ever be lonely in this city again. Not only that, but several of my University of Arizona friends — Vishal, Evan, Joey, Katie, Tracey — live in the area now and are always up for adventures.
My first year at TheDC was quite a learning experience, and I know I’ll continue to learn from those around me. I’m thankful for the online editors — Vince for being the voice of reason and genuinely wanting everyone to be happy, Kells for maintaining a positive attitude daily, Paul for his willingness and calming presence, and Steven for patiently listening to my long-winded stories and doling out advice. Long-standing editor Joe, who knows a little bit about everything, is another calming presence at the newsroom. I’ve said this about several people so far, but due to the nature of the office environment, you need these folks to offset the stress of constantly changing news. Matthew Boyle’s energy continues to inspire and shock us on a daily basis, but TheDC wouldn’t be the same without his spirit and intensity.
When I graduated college in May 2010, I worried I’d never have fun again or enjoy a newsroom as much as I had my college publication, Arizona Daily Wildcat. Quite frankly, I was also concerned that I’d be angry at an undeserving certain someone for ten years, and nobody wants to go through life with bottled up disappointment like that. Though I miss Cactus Moon club, Gentle Ben’s bar, the University of Arizona campus, and bars on University Boulevard, I was absolutely wrong that my life had peaked during undergrad. Rather than get lost in my poisonous, bitter thoughts about an apology I never received, I got to know dozens of interesting, intriguing D.C. folks who restored my faith in men and dating (even though I still facetiously gripe about both). Though I often complain about “soulless D.C.,” the city is home to many brilliant people who have more on their minds than constant partying. When I left UA, I feared my post-college pals would wan in comparison to my university friends, but I’m happy to report I was proven wrong. After all, I didn’t even meet Nikki Grey until May 2011, and she is hands down one of the greatest friends I will ever have. I also got to know Kate Robards, a pint-sized Texan who lights up the room and can read others immediately. Life went on after UA, and boy, did it surpass my expectations all thanks to TheDC.
Two weeks ago, I mourned the loss of summer. Nikki returned to Reno, the weather cooled down, and all my new friends fled D.C. Thursday was like a dagger to the heart because the last of the interns finished up at TheDC, so I thought the transitional month of August couldn’t be more disruptive.
Last night was a good boost from all the uncertainty. I got together with a few University of Arizona friends for drinks, dinner, bar hopping, and nostalgic purposes. It’s truly amazing that the five of us moved to the same spot across the country, especially considering the sluggish pace and Zen culture of Tucson. There’s no question that we miss the southern Arizona mentality and lifestyle, which we abandoned for better employment opportunities in D.C. Though I’d love to divorce myself from college as much as possible, I’m very lucky to have my classmates and old friends in the area. That way, I won’t forget my pre-Washington self.
I also had the chance to meet non-UA folks, all of whom were very sweet, well educated, and fun. Later on in the evening, one of the girls ran off to dance with a fabulous young man from San Francisco. He quickly waved me over, screamed, and gave me a big hug. We couldn’t contain our excitement when we found out we’re both from the bay area, although he metaphorically slapped my wrist for saying I’m a San Franciscan. I’m from the Santa Cruz area, Scotts Valley to be exact, but San Fran is more likely to ring a bell than either of those locations, so I stretch the truth on this side of the country and say I hail from San Francisco to avoid confusion.
After chatting with Luis, I know to be more careful next time! The truth shall set you free!
When one door closes, several more open. Nikki may have said farewell to D.C. earlier this month, but Joey, who I’ve known since the first week of freshman year at UA, just relocated to the nation’s capital to study business at GWU. We met in the College Republicans club as freshmen, back when we both pined for our home state of California and hadn’t yet acclimated to college life. He ended up joining my favorite fraternity, so I spent lots of time at the K.A. house. It’s great to have an old pal in this new, disorienting place.
Joey went out a lot more than I did back in school, so he knows how to assist people in bad conditions. Last night, I hurled onto the metro platform in front of dozens of passengers who had just boarded the train. I got sick before the car doors closed, giving the poor saps a perfect view of my inebriated state at its worst. Joey got me some towels, but I was pretty embarrassed. When I fall ill, I prefer to be alone and not put others through any trouble, but he wasn’t going to leave me stranded.
I lost control again after we boarded the train. If there’s such a thing as Metro Hell, I’m fated to end up there for throwing up inside the train and on the platform. I wiped down the floor with some newspapers but was pretty useless all around. Joey is a good friend for sticking around and offering me a hug while I was covered in sweat and reeked of vomit. I could really benefit from an iron stomach, which he and the majority of my buddies have acquired after years of adventure.
Now that I’m through regaling you about my low tolerance evening, here are some of the weirdest search terms that people Googled to arrive at my blog today. These will surely crack you up:
virginia hicks online dating
angela gross arch enemy
instruct me to jerk off please
“natural redhead” pubic
dreamstreet it’s happen every time
how to make thank you cards
weird pictures of the week
bubble tea powerpoint background
laura donovan speach
Even though we’re reuniting tomorrow night, Crystal and I talked on the phone for two and a half hours this evening. To be fair, we took the first 30 minutes to coordinate travel plans. After that, we spent an hour laughing and reminiscing about the past, which is oddly comforting in spite of some of our traumatic junior high school dance memories.
A few weeks ago, one of the interns asked if I would be attending my 5-year high school reunion. I’d never heard of a 5-year reunion before, but apparently tons of schools host these gatherings for folks who simply can’t wait another five years to return to high school. I mentioned this to Crystal, who said high school reunions in general are becoming increasingly irrelevant. With Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, and now Google+, it’s pretty easy to keep
tabs on in touch with old classmates if you please. Social media kind of spoils any potential surprises that would surface at these events.
Suffice it to say, we probably won’t go to the 10-year reunion, unless of course we decide to collaborate on a column about the undoubtedly awkward experience. There’s no way we’d make an appearance without each other and Nikita.
I expressed an interest in getting the three of us together for one of our hilarious reunions, but it dawned on me that we’ll have to worry about a babysitter for the following meet-up. Though we’ll surely enjoy catching up, Nikita will miss little Brandon all night long. Good parents never want to be away from their kids for long periods of time. Nikita thinks the world of her week-old son, who can already smile.
After slipping into childhood memory lane, Crystal and I discussed our respective college experiences. Though we went to different universities, the two of us remained close throughout our academic careers. We adored our schools, so the both of us acquire lumps in our throat upon reflection of that four-year period. Crystal recently visited UC Davis, where she did her undergrad studies, and was overcome with nostalgia and sadness upon seeing summer school students bike to class. That used to be her. That was me when I visited her in April 2007. Crystal hadn’t been to the campus since graduating last June, so the atmosphere was a lot to take in after a year away.
I feel the same about the University of Arizona, but I was lucky enough to travel back to Tucson three times after moving to D.C., so I don’t miss my alma mater to the same extent. For the longest time, I behaved as if I never left. It took until April 2011 to mentally check out of southern Arizona, so I have no desire to get back there until Homecoming. On the other hand, I miss Jazmine, Luke, Dyanna, Kendra, Anna, and several other Tucsonans dearly, but I simply can’t keep running back to my college town every time I want to feel super young again. New York City is much closer, and I have an inexplicable desire to venture up there by myself sometime soon. That Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met is awfully tempting.
During our college chat, Crystal said she feels deep homesickness for two places at once. A grad student in Oregon, she frequently misses her California hometown. Now, she longs for her days as an undergrad. We’re being pulled in a million different directions.
I miss the bay area as well, but not half as much as I pine for Tucson. I miss drinking chocolate iced mochas outside of Espresso Art, unaffected by the triple digits outside. I miss the friendly female baristas at Canyon Cafe, which most students criticized but I loved. I miss venturing to Kappa Alpha with Tracey, who finished college without ever having to make a trip to the library. I miss kissing guys who give me goosebumps. I miss Thirsty Thursdays at Gentle Ben’s and darting my eyes around the bar in search of a certain someone. I miss Wednesday dance nights at the Cactus Moon club, where my friends and I interacted with some of the weirdest people we’ve ever met. I miss dropping Jazmine off at her house and inadvertently spending six hours cracking up in the car with her on 100 degree afternoons. I miss “Troll 2″ marathons with Jazmine and Luke. I miss Target excursions with Anna. I miss driving home from parties and boys’ houses after the sun has already risen. I miss charging up the three flights of stairs to my NorthPointe apartment and feeling breathless upon reaching the front door. I miss 3:00 a.m. trips to Nico’s Taco Shop. I miss long-winded newsroom conversations with Anna, Luke, and Jazmine that prevented each of us from filing stories on deadline. I miss the exhilarating feeling of picking up the college newspaper and seeing my byline sprinkled throughout the issue. I miss meeting people who already know my name from my Wildcat pieces. I even miss all the hate mail I’d receive for my opinion columns.
Though I’d sacrifice a lot to re-live any given day at college, I truly love the life I lead right now aside from being so far away from long-time friends. It’s because of this that I can’t totally call California my home anymore. Tucson, with its eclectic coffee shops, cheerful residents, cacti, and reliable sunshine, has earned that title.
Besides, there’s almost nothing about my childhood residence that has remained the same since my senior year of high school, when tragedy struck. My mom has remodeled and repainted the house so many times that I can’t recall what it used to look like. To give you an idea of the house’s physical changes, here are some snapshots of my bedroom transformations:
My 11-year-old dog Roxy appears distraught in that final photograph, but who could blame her? By 2010, her routine had shifted so much that she apparently quit seeking consistency. If you ask my mom and Glenn, the dog experienced extreme anxiety from lacking structure (oh, Californians). I didn’t mind that I no longer had a bedroom, but I did miss having a sense of predictability at home.
Earlier today, I realized that Roxy is the only aspect of my home life that has remained the same since 2006. In the past five years, the house has gone through more makeovers than those awful reality shows, the man of the house has changed thrice, and all the furniture is brand new. The family pet has been my sole constant and main incentive to go back to California (aside from seeing my mother, of course). Call it silly if you will, but I take my hat off to young Roxy, a reminder of the way things used to be and should have stayed.
I’ll write a “Marley and Me” style post when I have more time, but for now, take a moment to honor my wild, undisciplined Terrier who comforts sick humans, instantly recognizes when others feel sad, and leads a spry lifestyle in spite of old age.
During childhood, life revolves around birthdays. You can never sleep the evening before the big day, and when it finally comes, you’ve psyched yourself out into thinking you’ve transformed into another person. Overnight, you have somehow matured and made a leap towards adulthood. If you’re lucky, you receive some nice gifts and get to spend the day with friends. If your birthday falls between August and June, you have the chance to be the birthday kid at school and possibly tie balloons onto your backpack. If, like me, you were born in the summer, you’re deprived of this experience but always celebrate your birthday in warm weather. Life hasn’t been all that unfair to you.
When it comes to birthdays, I had it made.
The day I moved from Los Angeles to the bay area, my new teacher said her fourth grade class had only one spare seat, which was right beside a tall female with long blond hair.
“Her name is Crystal. She’s a nice girl,” were my instructor’s exact words. Little did I know, Ms. Hancock had just introduced me to one of the greatest friends I would ever have.
That day, Crystal and I discussed dozens of low brow subjects, one of them being birthdays, which I brought up after knowing Crystal for several hours. It was our final icebreaker.
“When’s your birthday?” I asked, hoping I’d be older than her.
“July,” she answered, holding off on providing more information. Crystal has always been that way. She never gives everything away upfront. You have to goad her a bit to get the full story.
“Me too!” I yelled, talking out of turn in class for the third time that day. “Which day?”
“July 23,” Crystal said.
“Mine is July 25!” I responded.
From then on, the two of us knew we had to stick together. Birthdays were a huge deal to the both of us, and even at age nine we knew there was something special about this random connection.
And so we spent much of our elementary, junior high, and early high school birthdays together, laughing about the fact that we’d been born just two days apart. You could never think about Crystal’s birthday without mine coming to mind and vice versa.
On July 22 of each year, I’d call Crystal and say, “One more day!”
When July 23 rolled around, she would yell, “It’s my birthday!”
“That’s right!” I’d say.
“You know what that means, Laura? Yours is two days away!”
That’s how it went for us. It was convenient for our parents, but not so much our other lovely best friend, Nikita, whose birthday takes place on Thanksgiving of every year.
Because I was out for myself, I remember being so wrapped up in Crystal and my birthdays that I didn’t think twice about the fact that Nikita might feel left out of our celebrations. As a matter of fact, she did have a rough time with it, but not for the reasons I assumed. Nikita’s birthdays were always overshadowed by the holiday season and Thanksgiving meals, so most of her friends couldn’t hang out on her big day. The weather was chilly, so my parents were less inclined to drive me to her house. She definitely got short-changed, and Crystal and my excitement over our special days certainly didn’t help.
Regardless, we were a unit. From fourth through eighth grades, the three of us did everything together. I got especially close Nikita in fifth grade, when we bunked together at science camp and giggled the nights away as everyone around us slept. When you put us in a room, there was no chance we’d get any shut eye or contain our excitement. Later that year, we attended movies with my parents and fabricated stories about the odd homeless folks we encountered. We came to school with countless outrageous false accounts about hobos who chased us, threw sleeping bags in our direction, dipped their hair in red paint, and jumped off airplanes as a result of being denied spare change. The tales were absurd, childish, and untrue, but we had fun making them up nonetheless. No one believed us, but they found our “famous stories” hysterical. We had a special relationship, Nikita and I. We could be as bizarre, loud, and wild as we wanted around each other. Sometimes our jokes were too much for Crystal, but we were all for the insanity. We fed off each other’s peculiarity, energy, and creativity, even though we often faced punishment from our parents for getting out of hand.
Crystal, Nikita, and I experienced lots of milestone birthdays together. I remember our thirteenth birthdays as terrible, mostly because we were all in the midst of physically awkward stages, but things improved by sixteen, when we’d grown into our bodies, finally caught the attention of boys, and mapped out our futures. At that point, my friends were ahead of me in terms of dating, but I only had a few months to go before falling in love and getting kissed for the first time.
As you can imagine, we wanted our sixteenth birthdays to be memorable. In other words, we saw too many Molly Ringwald movies (or, as my father used to say, Molly Ringworm).
That year, Crystal had a boyfriend, so the four of us headed to the Boardwalk, our favorite summer hotspot, for some amusement park rides and junk food. Crystal and I knew a big secret on July 23, 2004. Nikita’s mom had planned a surprise sweet sixteenth birthday party for Nikita on July 24, the day before my birthday and after Crystal’s.
“Nikita has never had a fun birthday before. She deserves to like it for a change,” her mom said.
But, being selfish teenagers, Crystal and I were livid. We felt robbed of our special days, even though we’d just spent the last seven years enjoying our birthdays as a dynamic duo. This would never happen for November-born Nikita.
We couldn’t even blame Nikita, who had no clue her family was putting on a surprise early birthday bash for her.
Nevertheless, Crystal and I helped set up for the July 24 party two hours prior to Nikita’s arrival. When Nikita first got to the party, she seemed confused. We all shouted “surprise!”, but all Nikita would say was, “What the fuck?!”
Like Crystal, Nikita is skeptical of many situations at first. They’re wise not to trust so easily, and I admire that about them. Nikita couldn’t understand why anyone wanted to recognize her birthday four months ahead of time.
“Happy Sweet Sixteen, Nikita!” her mom yelled as soon as Nikita processed what was going on.
“It was just my Sweet Sixteen,” Crystal whispered to me.
“And mine is tomorrow,” I mumbled, fearing no one would even give a shit by then.
And my prediction had been correct. By July 25, everyone was too exhausted by birthday parties to bother spending the day with me. Even Crystal was tired from all the activity, but I wasn’t upset with her. The two of us were a bit miffed at Nikita’s mom, yet we got over it quickly.
That day, the two of us learned that it wasn’t all about us. The world didn’t stop for our birthdays, and we couldn’t act like we could do whatever we wanted for the sake of birthdays.
How our perspectives have changed over the last seven years. This year, the extraordinary happened. Wonderwoman Nikita gave birth to her first child on July 22, 2011, the day before Crystal’s 23rd birthday. In 2004, Crystal and I pouted about having others ruin our special days, but this is the best gift we could have ever received. I couldn’t be happier for Nikita, and I can’t help but choke up at the Facebook photos of her new little boy. She’s already such a devoted mother, I can’t wait to watch young Brandon grow up.
Nevertheless, I find it slightly ironic that Nikita had to sit through so many of Crystal and my birthdays and now her son was born right around the same time. It’s wonderful that things happened that way, although I feel ancient having known these ladies for fourteen years.
Today, Crystal had her 23rd birthday. Mine is on Monday. I’m a little bummed about about reaching 23, but I felt the same way about 22. I wanted to be forever 21 (the store speaks true to the feelings of many).
This year, Crystal wrote in her birthday card to me, “In the words of Blink 182, ‘Nobody likes you when you’re 23.’ Let’s be miserable together.” I couldn’t think of a better way to put it. She’s brilliant, that girl.
From what I’ve heard, Crystal’s 23rd wasn’t all that magical. Thankfully, she’s coming to D.C. next month, so we’ll surely have a blast then. I’m sure my birthday won’t be glamorous, as I stopped obsessing over birthdays on my sweet sixteenth. Crystal and I owe Nikita’s mother a thank you for proving that birthdays aren’t all about us. In truth, you don’t feel like a changed person, and you don’t get any special treatment for being born that day.
With that, I’m anything but stoked about Monday. I am, however, thrilled to spend the evening with close friends.
I’ve been meaning to inform you of my developments in that area of life. I’ve become close with lots of new people this summer, and I attribute much of this to the good weather. I’m a different person in the warm months than in winter. I’m much more fun in May, June, July, and August than in the brutally chilly fall and winter months. Yuck. Anyway, I count my blessings every night. I’ve been lucky to meet some incredible folks this summer. Something must be in the air. Here’s to hoping it never goes away.
Tonight, I went to a college buddy’s going-away party. She introduced me to a fellow Wildcat, who happens to know some of my friends. We laughed about our favorite University of Arizona crazies. Trust me, there were plenty.
We talked mainly about Fake Business Man, a guy who roams the campus with a briefcase and clashing suit. He often giggles to himself, speaks to non-existent people, pretends to be a law student, and orders large cups of ice water from Espresso Art Cafe. He’s famous at the UA, and many took notice when he blimped up. It’s not surprising, as he stops by the coffee shop daily and apparently lives off fast food. Here’s a video of him. UA students have spent years trying to figure this guy out, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
I approached him when I was a junior. My friends were around for the scary incident. He began shouting in Italian and ran away. Our interactions were limited to that short altercation, and probably for the better.
Another odd figure was the No Anchovies dancing hobo, a long-time loiterer of University Boulevard.
This discussion made me miss Arizona/California crazy people. All the D.C. nutcases I’ve met have been aggressive, judgmental, hostile, violent, and mean-spirited. They haven’t been funny or personable. The kooks out west become iconic characters whereas the D.C. homeless people all seem to be ruthless scumbags. I’m generalizing like a total asshole, but I miss being surrounded by hilarious colorful characters. Will I ever find that on the east coast?