Weekends

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.

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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.

Headkeeper's

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.