How I spent my weekend: drinking, hanging out, Skyping Paul (which is a form of interactive lounging, basically), and gabbing whilst drinking.

How I should’ve spent my weekend: writing and packing. After all, I’m moving out in a week and have a packed bedroom to shove into boxes.

I’m excited. Closer to work, out of my parents’ house, one step closer to being on my own and living my own adult life.

On Penn State

Recap: a few months back, word got out that a member of Penn State coaching staff Sandusky had raped numerous 10-year-old boys during his time there. One of these rapes was walked in on by a grad student, who told Penn State’s Lord and Savior Joe Paterno, who did legally everything he should have by going to his own bosses, who in turn ignored it and have since been charged with perjury and fired. The consensus outside of Penn State seems to be that Paterno was morally obligated to do more. Personally, I have a hard time believing that the subject was only discussed once and Paterno was like, “Oh, nothing has been done to that guy? Hmm. Oh well.” When the scandal broke, Penn State officials probably figured they needed to save face and clean house and even though Paterno had decided to retire, officials fired him.

Penn State students, in an astounding display of a lack of morals, intelligence, and maturity, rioted in State College, going so far as to flip a van. Because a football coach was fired. Not because said coach was indirectly involved in a child-sex scandal but because they fired him.

Shortly after, it was revealed that Paterno had lung cancer and he died over the weekend and those genius kids are it at again.

First, free tickets were available for the public viewing and may were promptly listed on eBay for thousands of dollars. Now Penn State students are choosing to once deify Paterno.

I wholeheartedly believe that the dead do deserve respect, even the worst of them. A life has still been lost, and people did love that person and are mourning. That does go for a student body, too. He was a huge part of that school and did a hell of a lot for it, and that should by no means be forgotten, nor will it be. But the reality is that he unfortunately played a role in the scandal, and that is a blemish on his legacy. Penn State isn’t mourning right now–they’re practically worshipping.

No one that I’ve seen so far is saying anything like, “It was a bad situation, but as we mourn, let’s focus on the happy times.” That would be understandable and fair. Instead, everything that has happened is being ignored–except, of course, for when someone (usually outside of that community) calls them out and says, “Hold on, this isn’t quite right.” That’s when the magnitude of the pretension at Penn State truly shows itself.

After several months of dating Paul, I realize that Penn State is a terribly overrated place. I’ve heard plenty of stories of professors who don’t seem to even care that they have students. They’re bad teachers. They don’t bother to listen to their students’ concerns. They take long trips in the middle of the semester. They’re there for the name and the research. Classes are too big. As a result, the students aren’t getting the wonderful education they were promised. They’re being cheated, yet many of them still need to use drugs to focus and get through the day.

As a lady with an English degree, I understand and accept that I am going to be judged by basically everyone around me. I spent four years being told I wasn’t going to find a job, and I still feel like I get little to no support from my friends with my writing (aside from Paul, Meri is a huge exception–she bought a copy of nearly every paper I had an article in, bless her heart). I always thought that Paul belonged in English and would’ve been happier there, and he was always supportive and awesome about my choice of major/career. Until he started spending a lot of time with his fellow engineering classmates.

Gradually, he became subtly condescending. After some tears, long conversations, and the ultimatum of, “I’m not staying with a man who looks down on me or puts me down,” we settled it. The bottom line is that he was falling into a mindset he’d heard repeatedly from his peers, and he hasn’t said a single negative thing since. He also does an excellent job of fixing his mistakes but that’s another post.

This kind of mindset is rampant there, and I’ve seen it from nearly every person I know up there, especially ones that use Facebook and Twitter. It doesn’t just apply to majors, either–many Penn State students have this mindset that they are better than others by virtue of their school, when their school keeps proving its not that great anyway. At the moment, this is manifesting itself in the mentality that they are the only school with any pride.

A lot of the statements being made right now basically say that no one understands, no one knows their pain, etc. Banding together in a loss is one thing, but this is being taken to an extreme that assumes Penn State is the one exception to everything, and its ridiculous.

This needs to stop. Penn State students need to step back and think about the way they’re representing their school right now and how this looks to the victims of the abuse, especially. They are once again sending the message that those kids don’t matter–football does.

Long-Distance Relationships Are the Worst Thing Ever

A few weeks after Paul and I started dating last August, he went off to State College three hours away from home. While he was getting used to the campus, I was in Delaware with the Craigs, lounging on beaches and drinking and bonding in the hotel room.

I remember telling Meri specifically but essentially everyone else paying attention that I thought Paul’s feelings for me were stronger than mine for him and that I was fine with him being three hours away.

We all talked a lot that weekend about relationships and being in love. I asked lots of questions. I’d never been in a real relationship before, and we were playing our favorite hotel-room game, Just Truth (Truth or Dare without dares because we’re all wimps and fear each other’s dares). I was on the brink of love. Almost there, but not quite.

By Halloween, I was dressed as a flapper on the phone saying, “I love you, too” to a chorus of “aww” from my friends within earshot.

That’s also about the time being long-distance became a huge pain in my ass.

At first, it’s just kind of annoying and inconvenient. Then you start to see couples everywhere, reminding you of what you could have but don’t, and it’s worse than seeing couples when you’re single. Then you start questioning a lot and wondering if it’s even worth it. You determine it is when you’re together and that doubts are probably a defense mechanism of the heart from how much being apart actually sucks. Then military girlfriends and wives try to invalidate your long-distance woes because theirs are, like, so much harder. For the most part, that’s true, but that doesn’t make my problems suck any less. Then we barely made it through the summer without breaking up. My reasoning for this is that things that would’ve come up earlier were postponed due to the distance, and when they did come up, they came up all at once and it took a toll.

Long-distance relationships muddle both the heart and head. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Most of the time, that’s true. Sometimes absence just complicates and frustrates instead.

The last time I saw Paul was a week after New Year’s. The only time I definitely know I’ll see him again is the first week of March, when he’s on spring break. When I can visit him depends on the weather, and the same applies for when he can visit me, except he doesn’t have a car and has to bum rides with his roommate. He only made two or three weekend trips home last semester. On top of that, I’m moving in the next few weeks and then going to Mexico.

I was going to go up over the weekend. An ice storm had different plans. This made Paul a cranky asshole the entire weekend.

(Side note–I would never actually call him an asshole, even though he called himself one and it’s the most accurate word. I have this thing with swearing at him. I find it harsh and uncalled for. Similarly, I don’t tolerate it being done to me and try not to being it into serious conversations.)

His mom had said the week before that he’s going through “Janelle withdrawal.” He openly admits that. And he was expecting a weekend together after all the stress of school and couldn’t have it.

It’s not that he was mad at me. It’s just that he was in such an abysmal mood that he was accidentally bordering on being mean in the simplest of situations. I was met with far more attitude and shortness than I’ve ever seen from him and than I deserved. More or less all because we’re three hours apart.

Shit happens. I get it. But even when I told him he was getting like that and he stopped and we worked it out, we’re still three hours away. Troubles end with apologies and “I love you”s, but that’s all. No kisses or  hugs or cuddling or make-up sex. Not that those things are crucial for fully resolving an issue, but they’d be nice to have as a kind of final word. Instead we’re left to stare at each other on Skype or change the subject.

Which leaves us at the beginning–three hours apart, not knowing when we’ll see each other next.


I don’t really like beer. But at a place with over 600 options, I was bound to find something, right?

To celebrate my cousin Adam’s birthday, he had some friends at Headkeeper’s in Greensburg. Marion and I went. We joke that Marion is Adam’s favorite sibling, a joke which is solidified by the fact that his actually siblings didn’t know and didn’t go.

I really like nights out with just me and Marion. In some ways, we’re the more low-key Craigs. In fact, if Paul got to hang out with us more, she’d probably be his favorite. We share a brain on a lot of different things, we’ve been friends for a long time, and she’s a good time.

Headkeeper’s was a pretty cool place.

“You better get a beer,” Marion said, “or your cousin will be disappointed.”

I started with a mild raspberry beer, which I nursed for a long time. I also tasted about all of Adam and Marion’s beers, including chocolate, vanilla java, super hoppy Flower Power, alcoholic Bigfoot, and the beer to end all beers, some cherry stuff. Marion and I split a bottle of the same brand’s peach version. $9.50 a bottle. Worth every penny.

Adam was pleased I was drinking beer. Baby steps, he said. One day I’ll vote Republican, he said. Given the asshole nature of nearly every single Republican I know (aside from Paul. Who knew I’d fall in love with a conservative Republican?), this is highly unlikely.

The night also involved a drunken argument over snuff. Who spends $300 on snuff? I get smoking, even though that’s also pretty gross, but snuff has to be the most disgusting habit on the planet. How is that worth $300 a month?

We ended the night wonderfully–at Eat ‘N’ Park, a little bit drunk, where Marion assumed based on voice alone that the table behind us was full of softball-playing lesbians. Marion played softball in high school with lesbians, so she would know, I guess.

On SOPA and Cranky People

For the record, if I’d had more time/notice, I would’ve blacked out the blog yesterday. Not that a little blog I put up a week ago or something would make a difference, but hey, it’s a matter of standing up for what you believe in regardless of who’s listening.

We all know all about SOPA and PIPA at this point. I’m more interested in cranky activists complaining about people not caring until websites started blacking out.

I first heard rumblings about SOPA on Twitter and Tumblr a while back. If you run in the right circles–or even follow people like me who aren’t ALL ACTIVISM ALL THE TIME but do retweet and reblog things–you heard about it. SOPA didn’t seem to get much media coverage until the end, either. You can’t really be informed on an issue that media outlets aren’t devoting a lot of time to, but that also shows the power of social media. Tumblr and Facebook both had information circulating before the blackouts, so things gained momentum that way.

True, SOPA got the most attention yesterday, and plenty of people weren’t talking until then. Yeah, that level of discourse and activism would be nice all the time. I’ve known and talked about SOPA for a while, but I refuse to throw a Facebook-status hissy fit like the multiple ones I saw yesterday because others weren’t doing the same. Sure, people who don’t pay attention to things or are anti-politics annoy me, and maybe I was more active and more informed than others, but that doesn’t make me better. Besides, since when is a massive, high-profile internet protest that raises awareness and kills a bad act a bad thing?

Say someone didn’t know a thing about SOPA until they went to Wikipedia or Tumblr or PostSecret or In Your Speakers or local favorite Pensblog (all the sites I visit that I can recall offhand blacking out). They get there hoping for all kinds of fun and shenanigans and they’re slapped in the face with serious business about laws and going to jail for five years for streaming a copyrighted song (streaming!? REALLY!?). They now know something they didn’t before. They’re now worried about losing their favorite websites to this nonsense or maybe even getting in trouble because of their Tumblr content. So they speak out. Maybe they post a Facebook status or tweet. Maybe they even sign a petition or call or write a politician.

That’s pretty much what happened. SOPA opposition was already pretty strong, but it gained momentum until it was everywhere for 24 hours. The blackouts accomplished exactly what they were supposed to, perhaps more, and that’s a bad thing? Maybe some people even thought, “Man, I live under a rock. I need to keep up with these things” and now reads more news sites or signed up for some newsletters or something.

Instead of complaining that you were the one ~speshul snowflake~ that already knew about SOPA, sit back and think about the scope of what the interwebz did yesterday.

Constant Communication, Or Why Paul Is Perfect for Me

The Craigs don’t officially communicate with each other daily, aside from maybe a reply on Twitter or a Facebook like. This is probably a combination of being busy and not really feeling the need to keep in constant contact. Sure, we’re a tight group, but weekend dinners and movies are enough. So are our vacations.

I only communicate with two people on a daily basis–Paul and Terra. And talking to Terra that often can be a bit much.

I have a history of getting sick of people. In high school, I used to skip school on occasion just because I needed a day alone. I didn’t want to see anybody. I even went through that with the Craigs at times, and every single person I’ve ever been friends with. Once, my friend Shawn considered me to be one of his best friends and developed a crush on me and messaged me daily. Now, Shawn’s a great guy, but for some reason, I couldn’t take the constant talk. As I’ve gotten older, that feeling has pretty much disappeared but not completely. I occasionally still have moments of, “I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU.”

Enter Paul.

The summer we met, he messaged me every day, and we’d talk for hours. I never got tired of him. He thought he annoyed me, but instead, I looked forward to talking to him every day, even when we’d been up late talking the night before. Nearly two years later, I’ve talked to him every day in some form since.

How’s that for compatibility and exceptions to annoyances? I may never find such a humanoid again, romantically or otherwise.

Women in Commercials: Tampons

Every female complains about tampon commercials. They like to make us think that their tampons will make our periods full of sunshine and daisies (this WILL happen on birth control, though!), but we know better. So there’s no point in complaining about those.

But Kotex has got a point in with their new one with the girl being all secretive about her period. Why are some girls embarrassed about the periods? Sure, it’s uncomfortable and no one wants to announce or hear, “Be right back, I need to change my tampon” any more than someone wants to announce or here, “Be right back, I have diarrhea” (for some reason, pee seems to be more socially acceptable. No idea why. Regular shit, in some circles, is also acceptable). But at the same time, why does it have to be some shameful thing? Why be all freaked out like, “Oh, can’t let anyone see my tampon!” Everyone knows women have periods. Everyone knows women have to handle them. So who really cares? Why make it seem so shameful?

I mean, sometimes, need overrides discretion. When you’re drunk on New Year’s and your period’s decided to pull a fast one on you and show up at random and you need to ask your cousin for a tampon, sometimes you just have to poke your head in the door and ask for a tampon, even though other partygoers will hear you and laugh. First of all, that shit is actually pretty funny. Second, your options are to sidle next to your cousin and whisper it and create a really awkward situation where no one knows what’s going on, or you can just be real about it.

So thanks, Kotex, for keeping it real. And making great tampons.

Women in Fiction: Jealousy

I never really thought about this until the other day, but fiction has this way of making girls out to be jealous, catty bitches.

I know what you’re thinking. “Because girls are jealous, catty bitches.”

Okay, fine. But movies and TV take this to a whole new level.

Take, for example, two girls arguing. Plenty of times, it ends in, “You’re just jealous because [insert absurd reason for jealousy here]!”

On what planet does this actually happen?

Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I have sane, rational friends. But seriously, never once have I ever even heard of that happening. I get actually being jealous of another girl. Everybody gets jealous. I do believe that it is a normal response and is practically harmless when it’s slight and kept in check, but to actually assume that someone is approaching you about something because they’re jealous?

I mean, how conceited of an assumption is that? Who does that? Who actually assumes that the root of an argument is jealousy? Maybe you’re just an asshole who had to be called out on your shit. Maybe no one is jealous of you. And even if they are, why are you friends with people who don’t want you to be happy but instead want to be better than you so they fell good? And why do people keep using this plot/conflict device that is really illogical, contrived, and a scape goat? Is this all maybe just a sign of a weak writer that needed a fight but couldn’t find a good way to get it going? How come people all the time say, “Men like the ones in the movies don’t exist” but never seem to question the horrible, unrealistic, evil girls, especially when there’s a relatively normal, non-jealous girl talking to you right now?

I need answers!

Less Heavy Business

I can’t really talk about work. Since my job is watching TV shows, movies, and commercials before they air/are released, I signed a confidentiality agreement so I’m not running and telling the whole internet and getting in big trouble. Plus, I don’t think the networks would want me blabbing if I thought something was terrible. If I have something to say after something airs, though, maybe I’ll talk about it.

Paul came over for a bit Friday before leaving for State College on Saturday morning. This long-distance thing sucks more and more each time he leaves. The only time I know I’ll definitely see him next is when he comes home for spring break at the beginning of March. He doesn’t know if or when he’ll be coming home for a weekend, and I don’t know if or when I’ll be able to go visit. If the weather stays warm enough to not snow, I can make it up in the next week or so.

So, while he went back to school, I had dinner with Terra. We finally exchanged Christmas presents. I got her a book of unlikely animal friendships and a hand-painted ornament that says “peace.” She made me a bracelet and a Beatles blanket and got me a Pens shirt. The blanket is this amazing double-layered fleece beast.

And of course, there was much talk of everything going on in our lives, as girls do at dinner.

Meanwhile, I was missing out on a Craig outing for about the thousandth time. I work 3-11. This means while all my friends, most of whom are still in college, were on break and going to dinner and movies all the time, I was missing out. I knew this would happen when I started the shift, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I am glad they keep inviting me out. I appreciate being included.

Apparently what I missed this time included the decision to use the lovely and hilarious CatPaint app to put cats all over pictures of Paul. As awesome as the pictures are, this made me paranoid that they were making fun of him.

I know this to be completely illogical. Marion, who was behind most of it, doesn’t really do things like CatPaint people she doesn’t like. Plus she’s told me on numerous occasions that she likes Paul.

But I do wonder if other Craigs dislike him. Admittedly, it’s hard to form an opinion when he’s gone for most of the year and has probably only hung out with the Craigs five or six times. Even then, he says so little that other than thinking he’s shy and awkward, they wouldn’t be able to form real opinions.

However, I do notice little things on occasion from a minority of the Craigs. Other Craig couples are seemingly kind of put on this pedestal…and then there’s me and Paul. Even Meri and Erio, who barely make it through a party without some kind of drama, seem to be hailed as a fantastic couple.

But like I said–what can we do when he’s barely around?

I used the word “paranoid” for a reason.

Amanda Palmer Is My Spirit Animal

I’m obviously stuck on love and relationship issues right now. I blame this on an incident between friends and Amanda Palmer’s wedding blog, obviously on two opposite ends of the romantic spectrum.

The wedding blog really resonated with me, probably because I’m a lady in love and because Ms. Palmer (or Mrs. Neil Gaiman, if you prefer) said a lot of things that express my own beliefs almost exactly. In some ways, I see a lot of similarities between Amanda and Neil and Paul and myself. Almost like we’re younger versions of them or something.

I’ve explored a lot of this in a well-organized essay-type piece, but talking about things informally is fun!

Like Amanda, I was anti-marriage. My parents have never had the best marriage. That said, I was exposed to my grandparents’ amazing marriage and I’ve since based all my ideas of love and marriage on them. We’ll come to that. I saw marriage as unnecessary. I don’t need a ring or a priest and the government to make it official for me to commit my life to someone. We’ll come to that, too. And while Amanda swore off marriage at 23, I was probably still in high school when I came to this conclusion.

Until I started writing that essay-type piece, I didn’t think Paul and I had some romantic story to tell, but we kind of do. In short, my grandfather was the greatest man I have ever known, for various reasons. Most importantly now, though, he was a true gentleman. He truly loved my grandmother. He’d do any little thing selflessly just to make her life easier, even if that meant simply relieving her of dish duty. They still held hands. They still kissed. I wanted to love and be loved like that. Thanks to just enough encounters with total douchebags, I was convinced I never would and that I’d end up settling for someone who wasn’t what I wanted.

The universe likes to make me look like an ass. So, the very night I met Paul, I happened to hang out with Meri and Sarah and talk all about how I was going to stay single and could never date a guy in college because I can’t stand most guys in college.

Paul was kind of a double-whammy. First, he ruined my single decision. Second, he proved that I could have the man of my dreams.

Paul did gentlemanly things like wait a few dates before kissing me and asking beforehand. The fact that this impressed me should be an indicator of the kind of crap I’d endured from other men. He does any little thing selflessly just to make my life easier (clearing snow off my car, getting things down from the high shelves, cooking for me, offering to go buy Dr. Pepper when I joke that Dr. Thunder is a sad imitation…). I’ve gone from saying, “He reminds me of Pap Pap” to basically saying, “I think Grandma and Pap Pap sent him to me,” because I truly believe that. Even if we don’t last, I’ll come out of this relationship with renewed faith in love and men and a better outlook than I had when we met. I have my moments of “I’m never going to do better than this,” and then I think, “That’s stupid. Your silly ideas have already been proven wrong.”

Amazing guys do exist. The nice guy does really get the girl sometimes.

I do think this plays a part in why I get so upset over the bad relationships I’ve watched friends stay in. On the one hand, it’s like I want everyone to have a man like Paul, and on the other hand, I’ve learned that the whole “I’ll never do better” attitude is stupid and I fear others are stuck in it.

I have no idea when I fell in love with him or how I knew. I didn’t have a breakthrough moment, or one where I knew he loved me. I just know that at some point, when I listened to love songs and watched romance movies, I didn’t wonder what that felt like anymore. I didn’t yearn for it. And as far as knowing he loved me goes, I had a lot of learning to do. People make mistakes. His mistakes didn’t mean he didn’t love me, and I don’t know how that crazy idea got in my head. I know he loves me by the way he looks at me and, ironically, by the crushing look of disappointment and pain he gets on his face when he knows he’s hurt me. Or by how committed he is to fixing things when he makes mistakes, and in those little things he does that remind me of Pap Pap. Most of all, though, he smiles a hell of a lot more when we’re together than any other time.

In many ways, our relationship shouldn’t work and almost hasn’t. We’ve nearly dumped each other plenty of times, and once when he was the one contemplating it, he said, “Do you think we’re too different?” I said, “No.” I told him that our differences will only be problems if we make them problems, and they haven’t been problems since. Still, there was a lot that I thought would’ve had one of us ending it. He rarely drinks. I have many nights I can just barely piece together. He doesn’t like tattoos and piercings. I have both. He’s a practicing Catholic. I’m not, expect for some occasions where he asks me to go to church with him. He’s a scientist. I’m a writer. Okay, so he’s really a displaced English major who sold out. I majored in writing when everyone told me I’d never find a job with my degree (proved them wrong!). He’s shy and unsure of himself. I’m loud, outgoing, and pretty confident most days (or I fake it). We’re three hours away from each other for about eight to nine months out of the year. Yet we still love each other and still work everything out to our mutual satisfaction.

We balance each other out.

For all of our differences, though, we have a lot in common, too. We understand each other. He’s the only person I know that I can talk to about writing. We nerd out together over all kinds of things. He really is my best friend.

Best of all, he respects my individuality and independence. Amanda Palmer says it better than I ever could:

“i despise being told what to do. i just hate it. i like making things up as i go along, i like kissing who i want to when i want to, and i have no desire to be possessed, owned, kept or put in my place as a girlfriend or a wife.

it was a constant cause of marvel to me that neil looked at these determined and fiercely independent qualities and he not only withstood them, he not only tolerated them, he actually encouraged them. i’d fantasized for years that i’d someday find this person, who would hold me but let me go flying into the void, and simultaneously let me go flying but hold me, keep me tethered to the earth. and when i found him, true to my long-held assumption about what would come to pass should i find a human this miraculous, i actually clung. “

Paul has never told me what to do. I’ve never felt like I’m with a man who views or treats me as a possession or like as a woman or girlfriend, I’m cast into some role. I think he’d agree that in our relationship, we are both equals. And that’s the way I want it. That’s exactly what I need.

Where does this leave us?

I, who didn’t need marriage, have come to want it. I still don’t need it, but the thought is nice. As Amanda says, marriage tells the world that you have who you want and love.

I set conditions should I one day desire to get married. I won’t accept a proposal until I’m 25. I’ve since agreed that I can bump it down to when Paul’s been done with school and working for one year. Life is too hectic in the early 20s for marriage. Not that it gets any less hectic, but who wants to be worrying about graduating, finding a  job and a place to live, planning a wedding, marriage classes for the Catholics, and the logistics and stress of committing to another person. “Smart girl,” many married adults have told me.

My mother told me when I made my conditions that I’d probably meet someone who’d sweep me off my feet and make me want to break my own vow. I’ve only altered it.

When Paul and I say things like, “if we get married,” I think we both know we really mean “when.” And I can think of plenty of reasons as to why we should. Someday.