November in 800 Words or Less

Where have I been all November?

Happy Halloween! Happy Birthday to me! Happy Thanksgiving! :)

I’ve thought about writing many times this month, but haven’t made the time to do it, partially because I’ve been busy and partially because I’ve been lazy. Getting used to a new work routine that changes every week has not been fun. I do enjoy some things about my job, but I don’t get to do those things very often. I really want to find a better job that will pay me more than minimum wage.

To celebrate my birthday, my sister and best friend went out to dinner and drank wine. I got Caged, which was hilarious. This was followed later that week with a family dinner that was surprisingly pleasant. No one was fighting or drunk, there was an ice cream cake. Success.

Capture

On the 19th, I spoke at a Faces of Homelessness panel at Elon, my alma mater. I met with the other speakers and some current students for dinner before the panel. One formerly homeless man asked me how many times I had spoken and he looked shocked when I said this was my first time. Then I learned the event was being filmed. I suddenly grew really nervous. I didn’t really know what I was going to say. I had printed out the Pendulum article I wrote in the spring and the blog entries I wrote as well, which I thought would help. The truth is I have often doubted whether what I went through was actually homelessness or something else. One of my former professors blatantly told me I had no right to use that term, so speaking about my experience on a panel about homelessness made me feel a bit like a fake. Hearing the stories of the other speakers made me think what I had gone through was not really that intense or tragic, even if it felt that way to me at the time.

When it was my turn, I started with something about invisible homeless and then spoke about what and how it happened last year. I honestly don’t remember what I said afterwards. It was so difficult to say those things in front of my peers, some of which I had classes with last fall. Did I mention the room was packed? People were sitting all around on the floor and near the door. I didn’t know where to look. I finished by saying that what I went through was only a fraction of what the other speakers had been through and could only imagine how much more difficult it would have been had it not been for my friends and church.

There was a short question and answer session after we shared. I was asked what the school said when I told them. I answered by telling her that there wasn’t anything they really could have done but that was an area of improvement for the school.  Another person asked me what kept me going through the experience. I told her that I was plain stubborn and knew that if I didn’t push through, I wouldn’t have graduated. I also mentioned that my faith in Christ was a huge source of hope and comfort as well as solution for my situation.

After the event was over, people came up to me and shook my hand thanking me for sharing. One guy kept saying how “gusty” it was for me to talk about that in front of my classmates “especially at Elon”. The wife of Elon’s president also spoke to me and said she remembered reading my article in the spring and wished me luck in the future. One student gave me a hug and said that my story moved his friends deeply, even though he had dragged them to the event and they had previously made fun of homeless people. It was so reassuring hearing things like that from the audience. I could tell a lot of them were close to tears, although I can’t claim credit for that. This has given me the courage to claim my experience and speak at further events about homelessness.

I haven’t had the courage to watch the video yet, but I believe there is a video in this Pendulum article.

There are two more things I want to mention in this post. (1) Starting a diet and workout regime during Thanksgiving week is probably the worst week of the year to start anything requiring physical activity and calorie counting. #getswole (2) I APPLIED TO GRAD SCHOOL!!! I should begin to hear back from schools mid-December. Let us pray.

Beck

PS: My friend and future brother-in-law, Andrew, started a blog this month. Check it out y’all. He’s super well-read…like, better than me. #jealous

The One with the Sex Toys

This weekend was certainly interesting and a little scary.

On Saturday, a friend invited me to joint birthday party for her and another friend of mine. On the invitations it described the event as a “home novelties” party. I thought it was going to be party showcasing and selling tupperware or jewelry. Oh boy, was I wrong. I walked in and immediately noticed two things, all the guests were girls, and they all looked uncomfortable. A quick glance around told me why. Penises. There were penises on the coffee table. My friend threw a sex toy party for her birthday.

sd

Our first task after we were seated was to introduce ourselves and describe how we “like our sex” by using an adjective that matches the first letter of our name. My name starts with a ‘B’ so…I said “beastly”, and that’s what they called me for two hours during the demonstration. For a virgin, of which there were maybe two or three in attendance, it was an awkward experience. I cannot unsee those images. Did I mention they passed all the “products” around? I didn’t know where to look half the time. I know I sound like a prude, but I don’t judge people who use those products, I just would never think to broadcast my use or throw a party about it, especially for my birthday.

My friend hosted this party so she could purchase, um…a new friend…at a discounted price. Most girls were buying products, and I just sat there, a poor virgin who can’t even afford some of the cool spa products they sell. I’m not sure if the party generated enough credit for her to buy herself a birthday present, but I’m pretty sure the coffee mug I got her was not what she was looking for.

After the party, we went to dinner and then to a bar called Arizona Pete in Greensboro, NC. The bar was as country as it gets, complete with a mechanical bull and barrels for tables. I’m not a country girl at all, so when I walked in I was a bit disappointed. But it turned out to be fun. The DJ wasn’t anything to shake a stick at (or shake your anything at) but once you get tipsy enough, the music doesn’t matter so much. I say all this to tell you that I didn’t leave for home until 3:30am.

I knew I was taking a risk by driving home so late, but I felt sober and alert so I started home anyway. Big mistake. Not long into my drive, I zoned out for a minute and ran off the road, or really the road ran out. I didn’t realize the road was ending in a T intersection and ended up in a man’s front yard, which was still covered in snow and ice. I remember thinking, “Don’t hit the tree.” and “You’re not going to stop in time.” Thankfully, I did stop before hitting the front of the brick house. I waited for a minute for someone to come out of the house and yell at me for being in their yard, but no one did. I got out of the car and checked for damage, but since I didn’t hit anything, there wasn’t any that I could see. I did worry that my brakes wouldn’t work, but they do, although I’m sure I need to get them checked now. After a few minutes of hyperventilating and praying, I backed up onto the road again.

I made it home safely, but I could have very easily died that night. This experience scared me straight; I definitely won’t be driving that late anymore.

Beck

Blueberry and Toothpicks

The nature of blogging is very self-centered. “Everyone look at me and read what I have to say. It’s super interesting because it’s about me and I’m super interesting” said every blogger ever. To avoid the “I’m awesome” trap, I want to say something a little different; “Look at us and how interesting we are”. I want to share the stories of other people as well as my own because we all live interesting stories every day. With this in mind, I want to share a story my sister told me recently.

My sister’s work place has the makings of a perfect office sitcom. She works at the Academic Support Center at a local community college as a science tutor. The center includes tutoring services in math and science, a writing center, and a computer lab, each of which is overseen by a coordinator. The cast of characters includes such classics as the old racist white man, the sassy black woman and her posse, the loner who eats the same lunch every day, the foreigner, and the two young friends, who are the cool ones. (Guess which one my sister is.) Just think of all the funny situations these characters could get into, let alone the weirdo students who come in looking for help. I really want to write that sitcom.

One day, Mac, the loner who eats soup and crackers every day for lunch (he sometimes eats goldfish for variety), was given two beautiful blueberry muffins homemade by the baker of the office, Linda. Linda loves to bake and brings in goodies for her coworkers on occasion. But Mac made a fatal mistake. He left his blueberry muffins in a sealed container on the counter of the office kitchen without any label or friendly eye to watch over them. Will, the old racist, and Sarah were both in the kitchen for their lunch break soon afterwards.
“Want a muffin? They’re for everybody.” Will said.
“Are you sure? There’s only two.”
“Yeah. Why else would they be on the kitchen counter?” Will opens the container and begins to shove warm pieces of muffin into his racist mouth. Sarah eyes the second muffin and decides that Will must be right. The muffins looked too delicious for her to listen to the small voice in the back of her head that told her she may be about to commit muffin theft. “That muffin was delicious” she thought as she took her seat and waited for students to arrive. Meanwhile, Mac discovered his loss and decided to confront Will about the muffins. Will isn’t even sorry.
“You shouldn’t have left them on the counter, man. They were delicious.” He grins.
“Linda baked those for my birthday!” Mac said. Sarah listened on in horror and regret as the scene unfolded behind her table in the tutoring center. Her friend, Cara, heard this too and doesn’t let her forget her shame.
“I can’t believe you stole Mac’s birthday muffin, Blueberry.” She shook her head in mock disappointment and proceeded to email Sarah a collage of blueberry muffins for her enjoyment. Thus, Sarah got a snack and a nickname at the same time by stealing a muffin from a coworker. Poor Mac.

***

Cara likes to play pranks, especially on her guy friends that work in the building. One day, her pranks went a bit too far. While instant messaging through the staff network, Cara asked a friend to get her four menus and seventeen toothpicks from a local Chinese restaurant for a “project”. Her friend believes it is a prank, but Cara is so convincing and urgent that he decides to do her this favor anyway. Cara, distracted from her computer, doesn’t see his message until it’s too late to tell him she was joking. He proudly walks in to deliver his menus and toothpicks while Cara tries to think of a project that would require such odd ingredients. She even pretended that what he brought wasn’t enough and she would have to go back for more. To this day, she hasn’t told him it was a joke and told Sarah, “I will never use my powers of manipulation for evil ever again.” We’ll see Toothpicks, we’ll see.

Beck