Thursday, September 22, 2011

Life is W.E.I.R.D.

Life is weird, you can’t deny it.

Come on, I’m sure you’ve had those days where it’s like “Wait, this cannot be real life!” Those days when you get home from a crazy day at class/work and just lay in the middle of your floor wondering why the hell that happened, or maybe, everything just turned out right for a change and you don’t know what to do next. Life is weird. Just read the headlines, watch the weather channel (or any channel for that matter), go to football games, walk around campus, or just go outside and breathe: life’s weirdness is everywhere and there is no escaping it. So embrace it.  

Wish. Life is all about wishes. I wish I had a Range Rover. I wish that annoying dude in my ceramics class would be quiet. I wish to have my own PR firm one day. I wish my family didn’t lie. I wish I wasn’t so awkward. I wish Hogwarts was real and Ron Weasely was single… And the list goes on. Some wishes are more realistic than others, obviously, but life would be nothing without them. The key to life’s wishes is action. My PR teachers say “Be Proactive!” So when I’m working my butt off and running between my internship and campus, and googling “best cities for PR jobs,” I’m taking action. Wishes can and do come true!

Entertainment. If laughter didn’t exist, I would be dead. Life is weird, and you have to be able to laugh with it. There is nothing better than a day full of laughter with people that mean the most to you. I love those car rides up to Dallas with my little sister where my abs hurt and throat is soar from laughing and scream-singing along to every song. Just throwing out a smile, even for no apparent reason, makes life more entertaining. Try it. Who cares if you look like that crazy girl singing to every broken-hearted song by Casey Donahew Band, or rapping at the top of your lungs to Lil Wayne’s We Be Steady Mobbin’ all the way up I-35. Life is hard sometimes, so have fun with it.  

Independence. Through all life’s craziness, there is always that moment where you need your space. Everyone has their rituals where it’s like: “Alright, I’m doing this right now, and no one better bother me.” Mine is art. That’s when I do my best thinking. There is nothing more refreshing than creating a piece that is all you; no distracting voices, no dictator, no worries, just you, your weirdness and a soon-to-be-masterpiece. It’s calming and self-assuring. Maybe that’s why I’ve been such a class-note doodler.         

Risky. Yeah, you better believe life has risks: risk of failing, risk of losing, risk of loving. Life is full of them. But the feeling, that rush of excitement, when we take risks is what drives us to keep going. No matter the size of the risk, whether it’s driving 70 in a 65 or giving someone that hurt you a second chance, we all take risks. The most important thing is to learn from them.      

Day. I come from a family of “planners,” always looking ahead to the next vacation or the next house they’re going to build, even if it’s years away. Planning is great and all, but if anything, life shouldn’t be one big mapped-out itinerary. Yes, it’s great to have a rough outline of what you wish to happen: plan for college, plan a career, plan a family vacation to the Maldives; but plan it out in pencil not sharpie. Life is weird, things happen and you have to live the now and enjoy every moment. Take life’s weirdness one day at a time.  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

So, I’m an addict…

Five (most random) things I can’t live without

The Today Show. After restless nights of fighting to fall asleep during Chelsea Lately or Sex and the City, I promptly wake up at 6:57 a.m.: just in time for the Matt Lauer in Studio 1A on Rockefeller Plaza. I guess I became a Today-Show-addict in high school, living in Kuwait. The show would air live at 3 p.m. Kuwait-time, conveniently right when I got home from school. I’d come in, grab my favorite Kuwaiti paprika chips, and turn on the big screen. Watching Meredith, Matt, Ann and Al, I suddenly felt like I was back home and not in the middle of the Kuwaiti desert. The show became an after-school ritual. It was comfortable, informative and fun. Since then, I’ve become addicted to the news and current events. As a Journalism-Public Relations major, I’m a news-junkie. I need to know what and where everything is happening, right away – thank God the Today Show has a Facebook and Twitter I can follow!

Baylor mug. I’m a college student, so it’s no surprise I live off coffee. I average at least 2 or 3 cups every morning (not including my afternoon brew or frequent Starbucks runs). But my morning coffee wouldn’t be the same without my Baylor-green-and-gold, oversized mug. It’s a fat mug, big enough to satisfy my incredible addiction. When I first came to Baylor, I had no idea I’d become the sic-em-baylor-proud college girl; well after three years, I definitely am. And I wouldn’t be able to start my day without pouring perfectly black coffee and way too much sugar into my favorite BU mug.   

Sunglasses. In the car. On the beach. Walking to class. Everyone has them, but they do more than just tame sunlight. They are magical. You know those mornings when you just don’t feel like going out and facing the world, but life doesn’t wait and you got to get up and go to class/work/watever anyways. Well, whether they’re designer shades from Nordstrom or seven bucks from Target, putting on any of my sunglasses is guaranteed to make those blah days better. I’m not quite sure how or why, but the world just looks better through the perfect pair of aviators. (Maybe they make me feel like a rockstar?)  

Bahrain Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt. Everyone has their shirt, you know, the comfiest and somewhat oversized shirt that just makes them smile. My Hard Rock tee from Bahrain is that shirt. I don’t know why I love it so much – maybe it’s an emotional connection because I bought it while visiting my family in the Middle East and had a great time, or it just fits perfectly and looks great with my Nike gym tights. Whether I wear it to the gym, to sleep, the mall or, hell, even the Waco Wal-Mart, I love that shirt. It’s crazy how one shirt can reveal so much about someone. I’m not that sensitive but I would literally cry if I lost this shirt, like it is the reason I do laundry. That’s not weird right?! Like I said, everyone has their shirt they’re crazy about.

Weekly trip to George’s. I would die if Georges wasn’t in Waco. I’ve come to love, love that place (yes, I said love twice). It’s probably not the healthiest addiction but you know those Tuesdays right after the gym where you’re just like: “Hey, I’m feeling some margaritas, chips and salsa and crazy wings.” Then Georges is the place to go.  Me and my friends can stroll in to the deck wearing our gym clothes (I’m usually a sweaty mess) and have the best time. So relaxing – it’s a perfect break from my crazy life. It’s a post-gym ritual. Some people make protein shakes or eat salads after working out, me, I’m all for post-workout margaritas and salsa. Great friends. Good food. Fun atmosphere. Definitely a place I can’t live without.      

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Ford: It’s True Love

OK, so my Ford is not the fanciest car on the block. It doesn’t have leather seats or LCD screens. There are a few nicks and scratches, oops! The left front tire has a slow leak. It’s never parked perfectly between the lines. It flies up and down I-35. It hasn’t made friends with the many BMWs and Mercedes of Baylor University. It’s had some close calls in the notorious Baylor parking garages. It doesn’t like pedestrians. Birds love to poop on it. Spiders love hiding in the rearview mirror, and appear at 70mph on Texas freeways (#truestory). It fights with the GPS. It’s impatient at red lights and stop signs. It loves mud. People honk at it. 18-Wheelers scare it. My puppy loves to shed in it. It likes getting towed at Buzzfest and the Outpost Apartments. It spends too much money at the Valero station. It killed a kitten on Valley Mills (#notmyfault). It gets lost in Wal-Mart parking lots. In fact, it gets lost in a lot of parking lots, but it always finds me.   
My car is my life, literally.  
As rarely as I say “I love you,” I can truly say: I love my car.
It’s the perfect size to fit all my favorite people. During the week it takes me and my friends to the gym. And on the weekends, it gets around: my friends can pile in and we hit the town. No matter where we go, my car gets us there safe and sound and gives us the ride of our lives.
Dance parties. Yes, my favorite dance parties are in my car. My friends and I jam out; whether it’s 50 Cent, HyperCrush, Rihanna or Jason Aldean, we are dancing and singing at the top of our lungs. When we are headed to downtown, I just tell my car “Play track: Lollipop,” and Lil Wayne cranks up. Then when I’m riding solo to San Antonio, I yell “Play artist: Brantley Gilbert” and I jam out to ‘Kick it in the Sticks’ and ‘My Kind of Crazy’ for miles. And my car loves when my little sister rides shotgun: it lets us sing along and dance to every song on her iPod. At the Starbucks drive-thru, it plays our favorite country songs and gives the barista a show.  
The sun roof makes my day. I love sunshine, tanning and wind blowing through my hair. It’s perfect for days like Baylor’s holiday, Diadeloso, when it’s just okay to toss out tortillas on La Salle. It keeps my freckles from fading. My hair always has volume. It lets me feel free. And it brightens up my life.    
Now, I don’t trust people. But my car, I trust it with all my heart. It never disappoints me. It doesn’t lie. It tells me what it needs. It protects me. It screams at me until I put my seatbelt on. It’s always on time. It doesn’t judge me. It comforts me when I need a break. It lets me escape Waco for a little while. It’s always down for an adventure. And it always brings me home safe.    
My Ford saves my life. It reminds me how important family is and to never take anything for granted. It teaches me confidence. It is my guardian angel.
I love my Ford.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Golden Opportunity: I experienced Heritage

Before April 10th, my Waco weekend rituals had become routine: SLC, pool, friends, restaurants and, if I was up for it, homework. I started to feel like I was in a never-ending university limbo. Was junior year ever going to end?
But on Sunday April 10th, things got groovy.
My internship site, the Baylor Alumni Association, held their annual Heritage Club event honoring alumni who attended Baylor fifty or more years ago. Lucky for me, I got to shake up my weekend routine and attend.
I worked the registration table with Lisa. In my bright powder-yellow Baylor Alumni Association button-down and sun-burned nose, I greeted the Heritage Club members. I gave them their name tags and info packets. And I tell you what, I had a blast!
I complimented the women’s elaborate jewelry and bright outfits. It was adorable how all the couples color coordinated their outfits. One man even wore his Baylor slime cap; he claimed freshmen boys were forced to wear their slime caps until homecoming! Oh, I love Baylor traditions!
I’m a people-watcher, so this event was perfect for me. Sorting through the name tags at my table, I found that alumni have the most fun nicknames, like B.E. Ware, and my favorite, Colbert “Cokie” Held. Now he was a cutie.
Speaking with Dr. Held was the highlight of my weekend. He graduated from Baylor in 1937. I had so many amazing, interesting quotes from Dr. Held I couldn’t choose which ones to include in my newsletter article.
Talking with Dr. Held, I felt like I was in the presence of a celebrity or famous president. In the sweetest voice and 93-year-old smile, he told me about his love for Baylor and his experience working in the Foreign Service. After graduation, he spent years traveling all over the Middle East.
Yes, the Middle East! How exciting, me too. Having lived in Egypt and Kuwait for 11 years, I was ecstatic. We were suddenly on the same page. We both knew and loved the Middle East. We both understand the hardships the countries face.
Dr. Held is my new favorite person. In our conversation, I wasn’t just that young, sun-burned writing intern wandering around the room taking quotes. I was a new friend. I could have talked with him forever and never get bored.  
After Dr. Held left, I continued to ask people questions like “What are your favorite Baylor memories?”
I loved learning about the alumni’s memories and most of all, the romance. For example, I almost welled up with joy (and a little jealousy) listening to the Hill’s love story. Gene Hill ’60 met his wife, Eleanor ’61, in a Baylor geology class. They were lab partners. Gene told me: “We were supposed to be looking at rocks, but instead we were looking at each other.”
Talk about the perfect love story. They had also just celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary and had arrived to Waco earlier to watch their granddaughter dance in Baylor’s step-show Stompfest.
OK, I totally should’ve taken geology! 
Then there was Dr. Packard and his wife. Dr. Packard is an infamous Baylor physics teacher; after his fifty years teaching at Baylor, the intro physics class had become known as “Packard Physics.” He is loved, I can see why. He’s a charmer. His beautiful personality shined through his smile as he flipped through old editions of Baylor yearbooks. He showed me his wife’s picture. “Isn’t she beautiful?” Packard said.
Heritage Club was a blast.
But, it also made me freak out.  Gosh, what have I been doing all this time? Will I have the same beautiful memories in 50 years as all these Heritage Club members? 
I realize these college years count more than I thought. Instead of just counting down the days ‘til graduation, I need to get out and take every opportunity I can.
In 51 years I want to attend Heritage Club with as much enthusiasm and love for Baylor as these people have. I want to be happy with my life accomplishments. And I want to be able to look back at my college years with joy and laughter. No regrets.
So this new no-regrets way of thinking starts now.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Flying around the world. A wild ride.

The United Airways ticket counter hadn’t even opened yet. There we were: eight duffle bags, one dog kennel and four one-way tickets to Kuwait City. Summer was over. We were headed home.

Transatlantic flights are a norm in my family. We have a routine. I don’t complain when we arrive at airports five hours before flights, it’s just my dad’s way of doing things. He’s always uncomfortably early for everything. I think he secretly competes to beat the other passengers to the ticket line. He wins every time.

Then there is his planner, this “magical” planner that never leaves his side. Our lives have been planned out by the minutes and every second recorded in his leather notebook. Waiting in the ticket line, he reviews the page titled, “Kuwait Checklist.” Blackberry charger, check. Garnier Fructis hair gel, check. Peanut M&M’s, check. Toothbrush, check. Why he had to write down toothbrush is beyond me. And the list goes on.

Every summer before leaving Texas, we would make these special stuff-for-Kuwait Wal-Mart trips. We filled our buggies with anything and everything we needed, mostly luxury brands we couldn’t find in the Kuwait supermarket, like Honey Barbeque Fritos, Oreo pop tarts and Herbal Essence Shampoo and Conditioner, to name a few. And we would buy in bulk. Instead of just one or two tubes of toothpaste, we’d buy six. To this day, it’s hard for me to go to Wal-Mart and just buy what I’ll need for a week.

Packing is an art. Living overseas for over 10 years, I’ve become an expert duffle-stuffer. There are a few crucial rules, like wrap all liquids and creams with masking tape and messy foods go in Ziploc bags. These rules have evolved from experience. I’ve had too many outfits ruined by shampoo explosions or melted M&M’s. Who knew traveling had so many technicalities.

Once we passed security and put our shoes and belts back on, that’s when the fun began. My parents walked straight to the gate, like always, to read their World War II novels or nap. We had a lot of time to kill. Once I wore out my magazines about Angelina Jolie or the new fashion trends, other passengers slowly but surely joined us at the gate. Me and my sister wanted to conserve our iPod batteries for the 12-hour flight ahead, so no music – just us and front row seats to a busy airport.

There was only one thing to do: people watch. And we had the time of our lives, just observing, laughing, and guessing peoples’ life stories. There was the couple at the coffee shop, but only one of them was wearing a wedding ring, “Scandalous!” Then there was the Arab family decked out in gold, Prada and Gucci, we were convinced they were members of the Saudi royal family. At airports it is okay to be a stalker. I really brushed up on my eavesdropping skills.

We were taking a direct flight from Washington, D.C. to Kuwait City. My favorite part of flying non-stop to the Middle East was the company of our fellow passengers: an abundance of US Military men. There is always so many of them, old, young, navy, air force, you name it and we’ve seen them. We checked out the fit boys with military buzz cuts and desert camouflage backpacks. They couldn’t have been much older than me. I was hit with a weird sense of reality. There I was boarding the same plane as these beautiful U.S. soldiers, except we were traveling to very different places. I was going home, back to school and my life. They were traveling to a war zone. I can’t even comprehend the courage they must have.

After high school graduation I left Kuwait for good. My sister and I traveled back to Texas alone for the first time. Our dad wasn’t with us but somehow we still managed to get to the airport too early. We waited at Starbucks. While sipping our non-fat vanilla lattes, we met the most inspirational men, ever. They were U.S. military. They commented on how random it was to see two American high school girls causally chilling at the Kuwait International Airport. And they couldn’t wait to get back to their families. The oldest had daughters about our age. His eyes lit up as he showed us his family pictures. It was refreshing to hear their stories and exciting adventures.

Now, being in college, I have to make those transatlantic flights by myself. I flew to Bahrain this summer to visit my family. Traveling alone was just not the same. I didn’t arrive super early like my dad, I didn’t have to pack a truck-load of shampoo and toothpaste, and I didn’t have my little sister there to people-watch with. I waited in terminal C, alone, and watched waves of people pass by. It was clear, life is all about people. Whether it’s our loving families or casual conversations with strangers at the airport, interactions and relationships shape our lives. I love airports.