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A Quick Post to Say…

I TOLD you so.

He's a MAN now.

And congrats to Coach K, record setting Duke basketball coach. Totally makes using the word ‘winningest’ okay. We love you! 903!

The Most Embarrassing Story (n)Ever Told [Part 1]

Anyone who even kind of knows me probably already knows this story. Regardless of how I feel about it, of how much it still haunts me almost two years later, of how it makes me look as a person–it’s a pretty damn good story. I recognize, and I utilize it: at parties, in awkward elevator situations, even once for a class paper. It does not change, however, it’s status as my most embarrassing moment EVER. Hands down. No competition. I tend to count on the fact that people will be too busying laughing to judge. Because I would judge me. I would judge me lots.

Anyway. Said story also goes by the alternative titles:

The Day I Learned About Irony

Mother Knows Best

How ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Landed Me in the ER

And, my personal favorite:

Bruise-Face

To start, I’ll set the scene:

It was early summer (for a semester-student), May. My younger brother wasn’t yet out of school, and most of my friends were either still away or else traveling post-semester. This left me home alone for most of the day, stranded without a car and bored out of my mind. I was still on North Carolina time, so I was waking up earlier enough to have a decent breakfast before…watching TV and falling asleep again.

This particular morning, I went with a fruit-and-tofu smoothie. A word of advice–don’t knock it ’til you try it. Also, when/if you try it, don’t add too much tofu. If you DO add too much tofu…go ‘head and knock it.

Banana, blueberry, tofu. One of these things is not like the others.

I think I had a dentist appointment or something–there was some reason I had to be up early enough to warrant me going back to bed, or else I had just been up late the night before (not that I need a reason to sleep, but this story makes me look like a terrible human being to begin with, so I will find any way possible to justify my actions early on). In any case, I downed my breakfast and went back to sleep, planning on heading to the gym whenever my brother got back with my car that afternoon.

I woke up about twenty minutes before he got back, got dressed and waited. At no point did it occur to me I hadn’t eaten anything but that smoothie all day; by the time it did occur to me, it was about eight hours after smoothie-consumption, and I was impatient to get to the gym.

Once I finally harassed my brother into getting in the car–I’d known he was coming for a while, and yet I still wonder how much embarrassment and discomfort I might have been saved if he hadn’t come with me–and I was pulling out of the driveway, but mother stuck her head out the front door and said something like, “Don’t you want to eat before you go?”

To which I replied, “No, Mom. I don’t want to get sick.”

This, of course, is the part where the irony comes in.

I remember getting to the gym and telling my brother we had to hurry–I had less than two hours to finish up, get home, and shower before ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ came on. I remember heading straight to the bikes–the bikes–where all you do is sit and peddle. I remember reaching my normal seven-mile marker a few minutes ahead of where I usually did, and thinking, ‘Awesome! I have some extra time, let’s make it an even ten miles!’

I remember getting to eight miles, and being concerned I wouldn’t finish in time. I remember making then-completely-sensical decision to up my pace AND elevation (because that makes you go faster?). I remember finishing ten miles within the hour, and feeling good. Tired, but good.

Then I remember seeing the time, and thinking, ‘There is absolutely no time to spare! Cooldown be damned, I must needs move on to the free weights! Right now!’ I remember reaching behind me to grab my iPod. I remember being extremely confused as it felt like it weighed about twenty pounds. I remember staring at my hand, trying to figure out why it felt like I was wearing one of those heavy lead vests they put on you at the dentist when taking x-rays.

I think I remember standing up. I think I remember a sudden zoom-in on the LED numbers on my bike. I think.

You ever have those moments where you half wake up in the middle of the night and feel like you’re supposed to be doing something, but all you can think is, “I have to go back to sleep. If I go back to sleep everything will be okay. This is just a dream. I’m dreaming.”

So, imagine one of those at about six in the evening, on the floor of a gym, one leg flung over the bike in what is probably the most unattractive, bow-legged position ever. In addition to thinking you’re dreaming, you’ve lost your glasses (why you wore glasses to the gym, when you have perfectly good contacts, you are not sure), so everything is blurry beyond recognition. You’ve also hit your head, though you don’t know it yet.

Weird, you might think. This isn’t my room. Strange dream. Well. Back to sleep.

Then you pass out again.

You do this for almost ten minutes, getting more and more frustrated that this dream–which is involving other people by now, blurry and crowded around you in a tight, whispering, sweaty circle–hasn’t ended yet. You’re doing your best to appease them: you don’t swat the lady (is it a lady? You pass out again before you can tell) holding a wet cloth over a spot on your head that might be sore, but not really, since this is a dream; you try and sit up, though you don’t remember ever moving from the floor; you answer their questions during brief lapses of conciousness.

Bystander: What’s your name, sweetie?

You: Z….(or whatever) *unconscious*

Bystander: How old are you?

You: Nine…nineteen *unconscious*

Bystander: What year is it?

You: Nine…nineteen–

The knowing (or at least you think they’re knowing…for a dream, it sure is difficult to see) glance that goes around is what finally begins to awaken you. Slowly, you remember what you were doing before your ‘impromptu nap’. Slowly, you begin to grasp what has happened.

You open your eyes, now fighting the pull of unconsciousness. There is a circle of people around you. Beyond them, hot young men stand at various weight machines, half torn between showing off, and watching you.

You, drenched in swat, bedraggled, and dopey as all get out. Awesome.

By the time you realize you ought to ask what’s going on, the paramedic has arrived, and if you didn’t think you were awake before, the sight of the white stretcher does it for you.

At this point, I sort of flipped. I wasn’t scared or concerned–prior to realizing there were going to wheel me out of the gym on a stretcher. Imagine you’re a fit young guy, and you see a fleshy gal being wheeled out of the gym. Does your heart go out to her? No. It erupts in glee as you pull out your cellphone and snap a picture for Reddit with a quippy, douchey caption.

At this point I panicked so suddenly that the paramedics had to all but drag me to the damn stretcher, being ‘soothing’ and patronizing the whole time. By this time, I knew I was awake, but still confused about what had happened.

Three things were on my mind:

1) My brother

2) SYTYCD

3) Please, please, please, for the love of all that is good, get me off of this stretcher. I can walk, I swear.

Care to see how these three things worked out? Did I catch SYTYCD? Why was my brother looking for 911 on speed dial? What happened to the lady-medic who tried to talk to me like a child? Who called me Bruise-Face?

Find out next time in…The Most Embarrassing Story (n)Ever Told:Part Two, the Continuing Saga

[But actually…I need to wake up early. Here’s a picture + video to send you off with. How is this show NOT worth rushing home for?]

Twilex: half hip-hop, half hip-hop-turned-ballet, all sexy.

Jeanine and Jason--she took a while to grow on me, but this (If It Kills Me, S5) dance was one of my favorites.

Super Sad Emo Post…and a haiku!

Knowledge of physics:

Ten-ton weight and GPA

Plummet at same rate

~If We Lived in a Vacuum, by Aziza Sullivan

Disclaimer: Explicit language!

As much as I would like to say I opted to write a haiku because I’m smart and creative, it’s mostly because my sleep-schedule is a little wonky and I’m borderline delirious. That’s cool, though, because this semester taught me how to power through.

Also, it taught me that I’m pretty awful at everything.

I mean, really. Not in a pessimistic, self-deprecating sort of way. In an objective, factual way. Like…humans breathe air. The sky is blue. I’m not smart.

And, yeah, okay, ‘not smart’ is not the same as ‘awful at everything’, but at Duke, they sort of go hand in hand.

I’ve complained countless times about last semester, acknowledging (sometimes more publicly than others) that as a privileged Duke student who also paradoxically developed a minor social life after taking on six classes, I had nothing much to complain about. Before I go into this, acknowledge this still stands true. All the whining and bitching I’m about to do is made even more shallow in light of the fact that I have: two loving parents, four working limbs, food, clean water, all the awesome friends, etc, etc. I am blessed and truly grateful.

And yet.

It’s weird to think I’d be feeling worse about myself two months after hellmester’s conclusion than I did during hellmester. And don’t get me wrong, it was rough. Like, junior year of high school, don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed-or-eat, should-probably-consider-CAPS rough. No lie—I was in a very, very bad place some days.

But, like junior year, there was a sort of permeating numbness. Now that I’m out on the other side, things have slowed down, and I no longer feel so constantly overwhelmed—I’m even happy—but I’m different.

After the first few months of freshmen year (also rocky, but in standard adjusting-to-college ways), I realized that, compared to junior year and middle school, my self-esteem was decent. I didn’t love my body, but I acknowledge that I had some outfits I felt really good in. I was sort of nice. I did fun, semi-hip things like theatre, and choir, and soccer and volleyball. I wasn’t great, or even good, by any means, but I got by, and I felt good (though all of these took decided blows at Duke…but that’s just part of the Duke experience: everyone is good at everything). As Lifetime as it sounds, I wasn’t perfect, but I was content.

Blogging etiquette (ettiquette? etttttt?) requires me to break up my words. #comedicrelief?

Which, in retrospect, was pretty cool, because now, I can’t even remember what it was like to feel anything good about myself.

Even without doing badly in most of my classes, or having an emo-thirteen-year-old body image meltdown, I’m still pretty much failing constantly. The stuff I used to fall back on when I was getting down on myself doesn’t even factor in anymore: I’m mediocre with writing at best, and even if I was okay with acting, I’ll never go anywhere with it. Not when X, Y, and Z (not me, different Z) do it so much better.

But the hardest part was coming to terms with the fact that not only am I not a top student at Duke (something I had adjusted to back in freshman year), but I am pretty much dumb as a fucking rock.

Seriously. I don’t read as fast as the other kids, I don’t understand history, or politics. I can’t do math or science worth shit, and even most of my math/science oriented friends have a wider, smarter vocabulary and grasp of grammar than I do. I’m awful at languages, I don’t know many big words, I forgot half the ones I do know. This is what I’m supposed to be good at—and even that’s failing.

They tell me 'suffragette' ≠ 'really sad woman'. Who knew? Oh--everyone else.

That conversation with my pubpol teacher back in March really started it all. I was upset when I got her e-mail about our meeting, and I was right to be. Even if I wasn’t going to learn I was doing horribly, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that conversation or how I felt afterwards.

More cheesy, cliché but true things: I’d never felt stupid before, but sometimes now I worry I’ll never feel smart again.

I can’t solve puzzles, or riddles. Basic concepts like driving directions and movie plots escape me. I will lose any game of tic-tac-toe put to me by anyone over the age of twelve–including myself (how do the Xs win when I’m gunning for the Os? I’m PLAYING Os and randomly filling in Xs…and miss all the winning spaces every time). Maybe I’d be okay out in the real world, but on top of all this, I’ve been hanging out with engineers and physicists all semester. It’s great, because they’re all so smart—but they’re all so smart. Even dinner with them is a reminder that I am pretty subpar.

I’ve been with me for 21.5 years, so I suppose, objectively, I understand I have a tendency to compare myself to people around me too harshly and too often. I can be hard on myself and discount what I’m good at. But even typing ‘what I’m good at’ feels like a lie—I’m not good at anything, what the fuck sort of right do I have to type that? This is a new feeling of inadequacy. It goes beyond false humility, or unnecessary self-degradation. This really feels like I’m stating fact. I’m just not smart. I’m not.

I guess logically I can’t be ‘stupid’. I don’t think you can go to Duke and be stupid. But I think I’m scraping by. Maybe I would have been okay out in the real world, but that’ll all be kind of pointless if I stay where I am right now.

A couple weeks ago, I was playing a video game, concentrating fairly intensely (there are two things I might be good at–the games Picross 3D and 15 (or 8 or 24, etc) and finding visual patterns. Maybe my spatial something-or-other is good, but I’m afraid to harp on it, lest I find out I’m awful at that, too), and my mom asked if I thought I was smart. I answered the same way I might have if she’d asked if I left the garage door open, or if I knew where my brother was: “Sorry? Oh. No.” She was taken aback, and at the time, I thought nothing of it, but now, it’s enough to make me want to cry.

Also.

I guess I should finish up by saying this was more of an emotional rant than a blog post. It sort of goes all over the place, and maybe if I’m feeling better in a week or eight, I’ll come back and edit it. But the important part is that I’m not looking for anything here. Not sympathy, or pity, or special treatment, or kind words. It’s not that I want to mope, or anything. It’s just more than I’m so rooted in this belief it wouldn’t make a difference anymore. You could tell me that water isn’t wet, or that God doesn’t exist. You can argue all you want—you do this, and you say this—I guess I’d appreciate it. But I just can’t believe it.

This was a super downer post. I’ll edit my funny one tonight so you can read it and not be a sad panda. ‘Til then, read this one. It’s and old(ish) one, but it’s one of my favorites, and nearly manages to convince me I’m sort of a person.

Also, here’s a video of a baby laughing at a dog.  Painfully cute.

Also, also, you may have noticed I’ve developed a new dog obsession. Expect a post about that shortly.

The Goats Who Stared at Me(n) OR Sad Chase Scene

I was at work this afternoon, taking a ‘brief, but frequent’ break to rest my eyes, because according to my ‘Duke Magazine Editorial Assistant Intern Handbook’, most errors occur during data entry. Also, I think I may have Duke ADD (in the same way I’m Duke Conservative…or maybe liberal), but that’s a different post.

Anyway, immediately within my line of site was an e-mail memo called ‘8 (or maybe 16…see? Duke ADD) Things Every College Journalist Should Know’ and number 2 was…(click this to get the full effect)…blog!

And I thought, “Hey, I have one of those!” Then I thought, “Well, I did, like…a month ago.” Then I thought, “How do people put up with this humidity?” #dukeadd

(In addition to being done with my junior year of college, and only half failing, I have also discovered a new obsession with hashtags. You know, like Twitter, except I don’t use mine, so I do this instead.)

After all this, I thought I ought to post a quick update, and by ‘update’ I mean ‘funny story I thought of the other day, that is probably funnier seen rather than said, but it would be a lot of work to go around and reenact this story to everyone who might read it instead’. I tried to give the post a clever name loosely based on the story, but it’s really hot, so all I really manged was a far-removed movie reference. There are no men in this story. Only me and goats. And some six-hundred pound pigs.

NOW THAT I’VE SPARKED YOUR INTEREST

we begin. (click here again; different sound)

((Okay, sorry. I wanted one of those flashback sounds, like in sitcoms, when a person remembers something wistfully, and the screen gets all wavy, but I couldn’t find one, and it’s hot. Did I mention it’s hot? Not even regular hot, like when I’m at home, but like…sticky hot, like I’m sitting in the bathroom after a shower, but instead of being clean and content, I am sticky and gross and not content. But anyway. Moving on.))

~*~*~

A few summers back, the first time I planned on not going back to camp (again, different post), I opted to intern at a ‘farm sanctuary’ near my house. It was cute. They owned a couple acres (that’s a complete guess…I have no idea how much land they owned, or how big an acre is), and a whole bunch of rescued farm animals. There were chickens and geese, and little tiny potbellied pigs, and cows, and my personal favorites, my babies for the summer, Summer and Freedom, two nine-month-old calves, who were the CUTEST thing ever. I wish I could post a picture of them from when I was bottle feeding, but the only copy was on my last phone, #RIP.

Anyway, this farm also had rattlesnakes, goats, and meat-pigs. (Also, Louie, a 3000-pound bull, who was sweet, and dangerously affectionate.) The goats weighed around three-hundred pounds each, the pigs about 600-hundred. They had maybe 5-8 of each. This is important. Altogether, that’s, like, 5000 pounds of animal. Remember this.

So, every day, I had kind of a set list of chores: feed the chickens, gather the eggs, feed the calves, watch out for the snakes, clean all the coops and stalls. My favorite part was feeding the calves, my least favorite part was cleaning the coops. Surprise! (Though I will say, gathering the chickens’ eggs was a close second. You had to reach underneath them in their little cubbyholes and dig around for eggs that may or may not have been there, while they pecked you. It mostly didn’t hurt, except for this one b*tch hen named Penny. Not even clever.)

Really, though, it wasn’t the cleaning itself that bothered me. That was close enough to cleaning my guinea pig’s cage back home, albeit a lot bigger and smellier. It was the actual emptying of the cages that made me nervous. After scooping all the nastiness into one hundred-pound wheel barrow (that is, it could hold up to one-hundred pounds, though I guess it would depend on what you filled it with…), I would wheel it out to a dumping place about 100 yards from the main barn, where the smaller animals (OH! THERE WERE BUNNIES, TOO! Did you know bunnies scream? It’s kind of sad. Also, scary.)

This wheeling bit was hard work, but so was moving bales of hay and all that. This part, however, came with an extra warning from my extremely perky, slightly too optimistic supervisor:

“So, hey, listen, sometimes the pigs and goats will try to chase you down with the wheelbarrow. They like digging through the hay and stuff. So, if they catch you, just let ‘em have it. It’s not worth trying to fight a couple thousand pounds wortha meat for it, amiright?” she laughed.

I stared. “…uh…what?”

“Yeah, just go ‘head and dump it where you are if they catch you.”

“If they catch me?” I was still in my super-polite-haven’t-gotten-acclimated-so-try-not-to-complain mode that I always am when I start a new job. But what she was telling me was making me a little anxious, to say the least.

“Yeah, just…you know. They won’t really hurt you or anything, just bump into you until you drop the barrel. Just don’t break into a run and you’ll be fine.”

“Right. Okay!” I said this as one might say, ‘Have a nice day!’ if they really meant it. But I did not really mean it. What I mean was, ‘Wait, these six hundred pound animals are going to ‘bump into me’ until I give them what I want and I’m *not* supposed to run away?’

So, I stood there, 3000 feet from where I was supposed to end up, in my snake-protection boots that were three sizes too big, lugging a wheelbarrow that weight nearly as much as I did. And then I said a silent prayer and started walking.

To be honest, the ‘not-breaking-int0-a-run’ part was pretty easy at first, because the ground was uneven, the wheelbarrow was heavy, and my feet were not cooperating with my borrowed shoes. And first the first hundred feet or so, still a safe distance from the barns and the bunnies and my two tiny, unscary cows (and my one big, kinda scary one), were okay. The goat-pigs hadn’t spotted me yet, and I hadn’t reached the slight crest before the final dump spot.

But then one spotted me. I swear, I will never forget that sudden, nearly imperceptible turn of the goat’s head, like it had smelled hay, chicken dung, and fear on the breeze. It’s eyes locked on me and my precious cargo. It turned from its fruitless digging at the sun-hardened soil and cocked it’s head. Curious, it seemed to say. But I knew it was lying. What might have been perceived as innocent intrigue by a naive bystander, I knew to be something much more. The thing was a long-horned semi-carnivore, and I was it’s target.

Curious? No. Kill.

(I’m going to try and include some visuals here, since I can’t act this all out for you. Credit goes to YouTube, and all the other people YouTube users stole this from.)

One by one, the alpha goat alerted all its companions, goat and pig alike, and they turned to me as I meekly attempted nonchalance and walked toward my destination. Still several hundred feet away, and I swear the distance was growing.

It was kind of like the opening scene in the Lion King when the sun comes up and one gazelle is like, “Oh, hey, look the sun,” and all the other gazelle’s are like, “Omg, you’re right.” (See below, ~12 seconds)

Then Alpha Goat, joined by who I can only assume was Alpha Pig, Beta Killer (both of whom reached my waist, and that was without Alpha Goat’s horns, roughly the length of my arm), began to lead his terrible forces toward me. Slowly, menacingly, they started forward, hoof after cloven hoof (clean animals, indeed!). From then on, it became an awkwardly slow chase scene. Me, because I’d been explicitly told not to break into a run, and them, because, well, 600 pounds is a lot of flesh to move.

Again, here’s another scene I wish I could act out for you. Picture, if you will, an Aziza. Awkward, sweaty, in boots several sizes too large, lugging (or attempting to lug) a wheelbarrow full of chicken poo. From an almost opposite direction approaches a seemingly innocent ragtag crew of three-foot pigs and goats. Somewhere in the background, there is epic chase music.

If you imagination is having some trouble, watch this. Only instead of George and a geriatric scooter, it’s me and a wheelbarrow. And instead of and old-people bike gang, it’s…well, goats and pigs. Start about halfway through.

Really. My life could be a sitcom. It’d be called ‘Sullivan’ and I would have nine seasons decreasing in quality as time passed.

Things went on like this for several seconds, increasing in speed as both the Killer Herd and I kicked it up to a trot. They were closing, but so was I. Fifty yards. Thirty yards. Twenty. Ten.

Then, the unthinkable happened: Alpha Goat bleated.

It might have sounded like this:

But I heard this:

Then I ran. What would you have done? And it would have been SO epic (and a much better ending, probably) if I had made it.

But remember the over-sized boots? I’m a horrible runner when conditions are perfect. But it was hot, and (super) gravelly* and I could hardly walk, let alone run in my snake-safety gear. It was either fall and be trampled, ala Mufasa, or give up. And as soon as I felt Alpha Goat bump the end of the wheelbarrow, I made my choice.

To this day, I wonder what those animals think of me. I’m no zoology expert, but I think this means their entitled to my young. Future husband, if you’re reading this, I apologize. When a pig comes in the night to steal our first born son, it’s probably my fault.

#faunafail

*Bridesmaids, anyone? Great movie.

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