It’s Always Me

It’s always me. I am always the one in hot pursuit. The one who is head over heals. At least that’s how it feels.

I think I’m being obvious, maybe not. Maybe not at first, but at some point I always say something, point blank. But it’s always me. Why?

The old adage that I’m just “more mature” and they don’t know how to be straightforward may have passed a while ago, but I refuse to believe they still haven’t caught up.

Others say that I’m more mature than everyone. But going around in circles like this feels like a throwback to middle school. The way this feels in the antithesis of mature.

I know that I am likeable. I know I am attractive. So what on earth am I missing?

Am I to subtle? Am I too direct? Am I too intimidating? Am I too shy?

For the love of god can someone please give me the crash course on how to interact with boys because I clearly missed something in the 7th grade.

I think what I missed was the crash course in accepting the social norms. I didn’t receive a copy of the manual in how to play the “dating game”. I think I missed the memo on not getting invested to easily and instead “playing it cool”. No one bothered to inform me that you have to flirt and can’t just say how you feel because who on earth would do such a crazy thing as being straightforward.

What is wrong with society? If I went up to a guy and know and said “Hi I’m Freddy and I like you” I would be labeled a hundred different things, including but not limited to crazy and bitch.

There is a boy I like and I wrote him a letter that I could never send:

Dear S-

Preface: This is decidedly one of those “fuck it” moments. I do not intend to incite confusion, distress, or frustration, though all may ensue. I am trying to not be inconsiderate in doing so, but for my own sake, I had to. (Also, I know the format is a little unconventional, but it’s kinda my thing.)

For the record, I like you.

I’m at least 50% sure this is news to you. I can never tell. In a way, I hope it is, because the alternate is that you already knew and either didn’t care, or are just as awkward, oblivious, and unsure as I am. Either way, now it’s on the table. What remains to be seen is how you will respond.

As per usual, having it out helps, but only eases my muddled mind about half way, because of the still looming uncertainty. That’s the real killer, not knowing. The anticipation is literally killing me.

Obviously I have a preference, but a decisive answer, even a “no” is better than this wishy-washy nonsense.

I am utterly convinced that the full on “crazy brain” that is occurring is just due to the uncertainty. If I could just get a goddamn answer I would be like “cool, ok, awesome.” And then return to being the normal, rational, responsible person I once knew. All I want is to be upfront and get the same in return, how simple.

I would be happy, but not tripping on some psycho-chemical flood that’s occurring in my brain and making me do and think and feel inexplicable things. (Thanks biology).

But yeah, I like you. I don’t know when saying so became so taboo and such a damn big deal and we had to be all back-handed about things, but fuck it, screw the patriarchy! I. Like. You.

And why shouldn’t I like you. You’re funny. You’re smart. You’re nice. You’re talented. And you’re pretty damn cute.

And guess what, so am I. (Gasp! A woman with confidence, what can I say, but I’m not apologizing.) Funny how that works. In my humble opinion we would be an excellent pair. We would balance each other and play off each other and have a damn good time. What more could you ask for?

Nothing, that’s right. So why am I crazy for pointing this out? Because society said so. And that’s a load of bullshit. So frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.

So there it is. My grand gesture. My middle finger to the world. My confession. I like you.

Now you’re up.

-Freddy

But I can’t send that, even though I want to, because this is America and we don’t make any sense.

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The “Education” System

This is my rant for the day.

I have always known, and I would like to hope that at least most other people recognize too, that education system in America just straight up sucks. Fact. It’s a hot mess and in need of some serious rescue. I have known this for a while and have always spent hours hypothesizing what could be done to fix it and what are the most effective ways to educate people, in some weird pipe dream of retiring from film after winning a few Oscars, then reforming the entire education system. I know, it’s a little weird, but that just goes to show you how important education is to me.

Education has always been something I have deeply valued, and that mostly came from the fact that I feel like I received a pretty good education, thankfully, entirely apart from the public system. (The fact that I say thankfully should also tell you something.) While in the various private schools I attended, some better than others, I feel like in each I was instilled with the some key values, such as recognizing the power and need of education, to love learning for the sake of learning, and the importance of a well-rounded liberal arts education. The private institutions I attended tried, on some level, to inspire deep thinking, create autonomous learners and instill a quest for knowledge. But most importantly, to teach students not to simply learn how to exploit the system and “win” the academic competition, but to truly learn. Key word, tried. This competition was unavoidable, but at least they were trying to fight it. My high school didn’t have a class rank, swore they didn’t teach to the standardized tests and even had 21 “Valedictorians” in my graduating class. They did this, but it didn’t matter, we all knew, but I still applaud them for the last ditch effort.

These values often caused me to look upon the public education system with scorn and dismay; how could America be failing this badly? As a consequence of this, these beliefs also caused me to foster an unintentional, but distinct, feeling of academic superiority. Also, the presumption that those like me, with superior private educations, who I chose to surround myself with were equally intellectually superior. (I know, I’m terrible, but it’s not my fault, I swear. Proof: When I switched from the most prestigious, pretentious, expensive, all-girls school in the city, to what is, to others, regarded as one of the best catholic middle schools, my dad told me “You could not try at all and be better than all of them, or you could try just a little bit and blow them out of water.” See, not my fault.)

But once I arrived at college, I was in for a rude awakening. I thought things were bad, but they are much, much worse. And the sad thing is, it’s not these poor, ignorant, 20-somethings faults. When I arrived at my relatively academically rigorous, Jesuit-education-values-riddled, “educate the whole person” liberal arts, $60,000 a year, private university, I was so excited to be surrounded by intelligent, interesting people. I was told that I would no longer be the smartest person in the room, that these people rival and surpass me academically in all facets and fields. This was the academic wonderland I was promised.

This was not my experience. Here is what really happened: I was in an intro level history class, one that everyone is required to take. It covers from the French Revolution to Present Day. During lecture the professor, whom I really like, would ask basic, what he assumed to be common knowledge questions, to keep the class engaged, questions like “Now why would the ideals of the French Revolution appeal to the urban poor?” or “Who were the Allies in WWII?”. These questions were met with half blank stares, but most people could answer. But there was a distinct change from the 60s on. He would ask, “Why did we go to war with Vietnam” or “Who built the Berlin wall?” And 90% of people DIDN’T KNOW! And you know why they didn’t know, because schools spend years drilling in dates of battles and names of obscure leaders, and then just stop. I don’t remember a day that we spent in any history class talking about the 90s on. Not one day. The time period that is most directly relevant to our lives get blatantly ignored while useless facts get drilled, to be soon forgotten, because that’s what the system requires. What a system, huh?

This results in 3 distinct sets of people, all of which I have found at my University. About 10% of people here are these truly smart, interesting people, who read books for fun, and think about the world, and could spend an hour critically debating the new Great Gatsby movie. These wonderful people make up about 1/3 of the Honors Program I am apart of, a program that for the most part has been a wonderful educational experience, exposing me to great works, giving me access to great resources, pushing me harder than I have been before, and surrounding me with lots of interesting people. (Albeit there were the few times I was very bitter about getting very gipped on an exam because my chicken-scratch handwriting made it took like I didn’t know how to spell obscure Greek Goddesses Name “x” during one of the Hunger Games-level intense, time-pressured exams. Otherwise, I am very glad I did it.) Then there is the rest of the Honors Program that consists of almost entirely of Bio major, pre-med, 34 on their ACT, information-regurgitating robots who couldn’t possibly fathom reading Plato’s Republic “just for fun”. These people have mastered the art of beating the system without actually learning anything, and they make me the most sad. Because they are proud of it, they think they are winning, and in reality they are the biggest losers. They have so much true, untapped potential and it’s all getting thrown away. What’s worse is that the system encourages this, and that is where this attitude comes from.

Then there are the rest of them. These are the kids who couldn’t find out how to beat the system, or didn’t care to, and as a result that skate through, content with Bs and Cs, and remaining blissfully ignorant. These people are so frustrating to me, because I think “How can you not see what a problem this is?!?! How do you just not care about what is going on in the world?!?!” And then I realize, oh yeah, because no one ever told you to care. You went to 12 years of public schools that told you the only thing that mattered was that standardize test and if you can do that, you are set for life. That just sickening.

So what are we to do? I don’t know, but if we don’t do something soon, we are in for a very bleak future.

What do you want?

“What do you want?” they ask me.

Well, that’s a loaded question, now isn’t it?

I’ve been asked it a hundred different ways, but have never been quite sure how to answer.

It all depends on what exactly you mean.

What do I want right now? A Carmel Macchiato or a nap. Preferably both. And to not feel pangs of guilt that I should be writing a paper on The Odyssey instead of this right now.

What do I want this week? For the highlight of my week not to be making it to the gym, getting all my laundry done, and getting to eat Chipotle while I watch House of Cards. Again.

But what do I want… big picture? In the grand scheme of things? To do with the rest of my life?

I don’t really know.

Maybe it’s easier to start by figuring out what I don’t want.

I don’t want to feel like the only thing I have going on in my life is school. I don’t want the sense of fulfillment or productivity in my day to come from menial tasks like keeping my room tidy and getting all my reading done. I don’t want to be “homesick” for a concept of home, of comfort and familiarity, that now doesn’t exist anywhere anymore and won’t be waiting for me when I get back. I don’t want to desperately yearn to return to a time in the past that I tried to runway from, to the future, to now, while it was happening. I don’t want to feel like I have no idea what is going on in the lives of the people 3 months ago I was intricately apart of.

I do know now that I want several things, though. But these are more ambiguous things, things that are unclear as to how they are to be achieved.

I want to feel confident that I picked the right school, or at least establish that I didn’t. I want to not be jealous of people at tiny schools in cornfields because they went to college with their best friends. I want to feel like I’m actually in a big city that I am apart of, not trapped in a snow globe, looking out into a world I can’t have. I want just a callback, not a part, but just a callback, so that I don’t have to think I’m crazy all over again. I want someone to talk to that I don’t have to qualify or preface every other sentence to. I want to know whether or not the program I’m in will prepare me for my career goals. I want to know how the ugly, shy girl down the hall always has guys in her room and not one will even talk to me. I want to know what the hell my professor means by turn 3-4 writing assignments in about the readings by the end of the semester. I want my annoying aunt to stop texting me innate questions. I want to do something fun that doesn’t include keg parties or creepy guys trying to hit on me. I want to feel like I am doing anything that’s important, that’s relevant, that has meaning, that I care about.

So what do I really want? What one thing would fix all my problems and make me happy?

I wish I knew.

23 Classic ‘Cruising Things’ That Only Cruise People Understand:

(Ya know, unless you’re on Carnival…)

1. The shame-free, gluttonous amount of food you eat and the jokes everyone makes about it all week.

2. Ding-do-dee “Good Morning Oasis of the Seas, this is your captain speaking, we have a great day in store for you today…”

3. Tax and duty free: The second you hit open ocean, hello booze and Burberry bags. #ThanksInternationalWaters

4. Space toilets.

5. Not possibly being able to get to every show, party, event, and activity that you want to because there is simply too much to do including 3 stops at Sorrentos for pizza along the way.

6. Getting hardcore lost because you don’t know the difference between port and starboard. (Whatever happened to regular left and right?)

7. Cruise Virgins: Those that don’t know that there’s a difference between Midwest sun and Caribbean sun and end up redder than the lobster you had for dinner. They also don’t listen when they tell us to NOT drink the water on the island. (They get rather well acquainted with the space toilets…)

8. That super cool moment when you find someone who lives in the same city.

9. The epically bad decision making exhibited by all passengers because in a week you’ll never see any of these people again.

10. “Mustard drills” It’s called a muster drill, but that’s okay.

11. Steel drum music all day, er’y day because we in da Caribbean, mon.

12. Piña coladas in coconuts being an hourly occurrence. Plus, virgin drinks are totally a thing (you will still try very hard to make sure no one hears the virgin part), because even in international waters, the drinking age is 21 and that’s a total buzz kill, but you are certainly not going to miss out on the drinking-out-of-a-coconut fun.

13. Towel animals. Who doesn’t love when their linens come in the shape of monkey!?!

14. Every activity that is even mildly cool on land, and some things that are in no way interesting at all on land, are automatically incredibly cool because they are on a boat: rock walls, zip lines, Broadway shows, ice rinks.

15. SeaPass card and the delusion they induce because “It’s your sea pass card. That’s not really money, you never have to actually pay for that.” (And you don’t, because it’s your dad’s card on the account, woohoo!) Plus, at the end of the week there’s just one giant bill you don’t have to pay, and you parents are still too hung over to notice that you ordered room service at 3am every night. (SeaPasses are especially fun for the little ones who don’t understand the concept of credit cards and also posses no guilt for anything, little brats.)

16. The super competitive rivalry you feel with other ships for unexplained reasons. (And when you’re on The Oasis, you always win because it has a zip line and no one can beat a zip line.)

17. The international crew: Holy super attractive British guys!

18. The cruise director: He is the official ship celebrity. He is always seriously overly peppy, repeats the same 3 bad jokes all week, and by the end of the week you have a strong desire to slap him, but you still totally wish you had his job.

19. Pop-Up-Parade-Dance-Party-Conga-Lines: Equipped with Madagascar characters and confetti at 2pm, because what else are you gonna do between lunch #2 and the aqua show?

20. Formal nights: The fun of dressing up more than you did for Prom, awkward family portraits, and laughing at all the Cruise Virgins who clearly never got the memo about formal night and try to get away with a palm tree tie with a polo and flip flops.

21. Staterooms the size of a closet. (They say the room can accommodate 4 people but that thing isn’t even big enough for your dog.)

22. Being absolutely convinced that you could live on the boat forever in utter bliss and totally leave your old life behind, forgetting about things like jobs, friends, and Netflix. (The crew will tell you otherwise: After being on a boat so long you miss land and once you go home you miss the boat, talk about the struggle.)

23. Having the time of your life and wanting to share it with all your land dwelling friends (who now secretly hate you and are one more tweet with #paradise away from blocking you on all social media) and ending up getting frustrated because it’s one of those ‘cruise things’.

And the extra special set of #OnlyOnOasis
1. Rising Tides Bar, which moves up and down from floor to floor: giving a whole new meaning to raising the bar.
2. Zip line
3. The seven neighborhoods: Central Park. In the freakin’ ocean.
4. The carousel
5. The aqua theatre
6. The glass bridge that unfolds out of the globe over the promenade
7. Starbucks
8. Ultimate bragging rights because you’re in the world’s largest ship (Fun fact: technically the sister ship Allure of the Seas has us beat by 2 inches due to a welding mistake, but no need to harp on that…)

Those Sunday Evenings

7:23pm. Goddamn, it’s still to early. I can’t check yet.

Sunday nights always have a faint sense of gloom, but this Sunday, these Sundays, are agonizing, each worse than the last, and for good reason. They’ve never ended well, past Sundays. They’ve ended in tears and queasy stomachs and embarrassing phone calls and crushed dreams and restless nights and even more miserable Mondays. These Sundays suck. Because they’re supposed to be wonderful; they are for some, but never for me, yet.  I hope, vainly—I always hope, I try not to, but I hope. And, in the end, that’s what gets me, the hope, dashed hope. I don’t really know what I’m missing out on, I just loose the hope, the dream of what I imagine it to be, not the real thing. I know it would be much worse if I did know, I take some solace in that. I pretend it helps as a mope, pathetically, melodramatically, for weeks. That makes it worse, that I know, objectively, that I’m being utterly ridiculous, objectively. But to me, I’m not. It doesn’t feel ridiculous to me. That’s just how much I care, how much it means to me—far too much. I know it’s too much. I know I shouldn’t. And yet, I do, because when has ‘should’ ever stopped me from doing anything, ever. I care much too much. I do this over and over, desperately hoping that the next Sunday will turn out differently. I’m pretty sure that’s the textbook definition of insanity, but that beside the point. By now, I have learned how to combat the hope, keep it from running rampant and out of control. It is impossible to not hope at all, but I have learned to not torture myself. To wait until it is time and check once, fast, like a band-aid, instead of staring at an empty computer screen, hitting the refresh button for the 9th time, knowing nothing will be there. Still.        

It’s still too early, so I can’t check yet. To make a point of it, I snap my computer shut, shove my phone under a pillow and march downstairs. I turn on Scandal because it’s supposed to be an exciting episode and it will keep me distracted long enough, until it is time to check, just once, like a band-aid. I try to focus on the show as I try to keep from eyeing the clock and chant in my head ‘it’s a long shot, I don’t expect anything, I’m only checking because I have to check, don’t be too disappointed.’ Scandal is good and does its job, I forget every once in a while and can lie and tell myself my racing heart and sweaty palms are because of the dramatic plot twist and not the clock. Finally it’s over, I fulfilled my promise with myself, it 8:10, time to check. Walking upstairs, I take deep breaths.  Once I reach my room, out of mindless teenager habit, I grab my phone first because subliminally it was disconcerting to not be within an arms reach of my fifth appendage.

4 missed calls, 3 for Shannon, the other from Tess, and 3 text Shannon and Tess as well.  Good Lord, was it really necessary… I mean, call? Yes. But 4 times? That’s a bit much, it’s been 10 minutes. I know they want to commiserate, but really. I set down the phone, I still have to check, for good measure, I can’t just not. Then I’ll call them both, because you never know, stranger things have happened. There is technically a chance that it’s just me, technically… Gmail is taking what feel like an eternity to load. The seconds tick by, with enviably growing anxiety. I just want it over with. Despite myself, my eyes are glued to the screen and I hold my breath. But then, finally the page loads.

And then I see. I don’t believe my eyes. I blink, but there it is. My heart pounding away in my ears makes it hard to think coherently. Could it really… I click on the link. Read it once, then again. But there it is, there no mistaking it, plain as day in black and white…

“Allison, are you alright…?”

It take as moment but I process that my mother is calling up to me, concern in her voice. She hates these Sundays too, because she knows how I get. I try to respond back, which makes me realize I am already screaming. I stop myself and catch my breath and then I’m able to sputter out a “Y-y-yeah, I’m fine”. I am boarder-line hysterical, and it was some mix of crying and laughing as I dial the phone.

 

“Freddy!!! It’s about t—”

“No. Friggin. Way.” Holy shit holy shit holy shit.

“Why didn’t you answer the phone!?! What’s wrong with you? He sent it out 20 minutes ago, you have to email him back right now!!!”

“No way.”  I’m dazed. I must be dreaming.

“Freddy, NOW.”

 I grab my computer but my damn hands are still shaking, but then I pause—

“…what do I say?”

“ ‘Yes’ and ‘thank you’ ”

“How about ‘thank you, god’? And by god, I mean him, of course, because he is.”

“Ha. Really though, he is.”

I managed to put together a somewhat coherent sentence and hit send…

“Wow.”

“Oh my god, is this really—…”

“Is it?”

“Yeah.”

“I wouldn’t know.”

“Yeah…”

“I feel like I’m having an out of body experience.”

“Yeah.”

“I’m crying.”

“Me too.”

“I’m so happy”

“Me too.”

“But how—why…?”

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t care, just so long as he really did”

“Well, he did.”

“Yeah… Now what?”

“We gotta call Tess.”

“Oh my god yeah!!! Aww Tess!”

“…And you gotta tell Liz…and Danny”

“Oh god…yeah.”

 

I know I have to tell them, and it won’t be fun. But I am beyond ecstatic, literally tigger-dance jumping up and down cannot contain myself level excitement. And nothing in the world could make me happier. And nothing in the world could ruin it for me. This is the beginning of the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. It is what I have worked for and wanted for the past 3 years. And finally, this is it. I made it. But I just wish that small part of me still didn’t feel like I was loosing something, too.

It’s not about me

It’s not about me. I wish it were the Freddy Show, all about Freddy, starring Freddy. But it’s not. I want to make it about me, I really, really want to, but I can’t do that, I know I can’t do that. But I still want to. And that’s a problem. Because that is selfish. That is not how this works. And I can’t do that. So now, it is time to set my ego aside, check my emotions at the door, and get over myself, even if I don’t want to.
I was not the first and I will certainly not be the last who is disappointed and didn’t get what I want, what I may have even deserved. But if you want to be apart of this, you are going to have to get over what you think you are entitled to right now. Because you aren’t entitled to anything. No one owes you squat. Because this isn’t about you and it’s not about me. There is no place for selfishness and egos here.

It’s about us. We. The Show. And it is fair. Because I am the show. You are the show. We are all the show. And anything that is good for the show, now and in the future, is good for all, not the other way around. All for one. One goal. One Show.
If one of us is hurt, upset, weak, or has a problem with another, the whole system fails.

I would have loved to be the star, to have my moment in the spotlight. But I am not going to. That really hurts. But that is not why I do this. Why I do this is more than a moment in the spotlight. I love this thing more than I love anything else in this world, so that means I will do what is best for it, even when I don’t want to. Because that’s what love is.

So I will sing every “oooh” and “ahhh” with every ounce of energy I have, I will put every last drop of emotion I can muster into each line I deliver, I will execute my jazz squares with the utmost precision, I will concern myself with each and every character I portray, and I will never again consider how the one singing the lead could’ve been me.

I will never get the chance to have my own standing ovation. No one will likely ever know how many hours I spent perfecting each note to sing in the background. No one will see how I checked everyone’s props, one extra time, because I know they didn’t. I will not be a showstopper. I won’t be memorable. But that’s okay. Because he will get a standing ovation. They will ponder how long it took her to hit that note. They will be showstoppers. It will be memorable. We will have achieved our goal. And no one may ever realize, but I made that happen. I get to know I am one of the many reasons that could happen. I am the show. And that is enough.

I Am In Love

I was heartbroken. Because I wasn’t in love. I wasn’t in love when I so desperately wanted to be. To know what that feels like.

And then it occurred to me, I am.

I am in love. Hopelessly, recklessly, stubbornly, endlessly, in love. With an idea. An ideal, a dream, a future, so grand, no words could articulate the grandeur.

It took only the smallest of sparks to reignite the fire within myself—a fire that never truly died, but burned on, small and strong, through the darkest of days. The fire is once again alight and it burns with determined strength.

A love, a passion, a drive this unadulterated—a love of a thing so perfect to me—may have a force greater than anything else in this world. The idyllic hope of pure love cannot be touched.

I now see again that all pursuits should be turned toward the actualization of this end. My focus is on one and only one thing. No feat is too great, no request is too taxing. For when you love something, you give all of yourself, every fiber and nothing less, to that cause.

This is rash and short sighted and unrealistic and melodramatic. But in this moment I don’t care. Because I am in love, and nothing could possible shake my resolve. And nothing brings me greater joy.

I am in love.