Tatted Up

Readers, I forgot to mention that I got a tattoo last week! My sisters and I wanted to do something together that signified our commitment to each other. We may have been brought together by family, but we are choosing to stay together because we love each other.

Being apart from my eldest sister this past year has been really difficult for all of us. We had to get to know one another all over again during the past two weeks, but ultimately we are stronger in our relationship because of the challenges we faced together.

It took us forever to come to a consensus about what we wanted, how it would look, and where to place it. All of us had to compromise, but it was important that we all got the same thing. We decided on a lotus blossom for a number of reasons: (1) it’s the national flower of India, (2) it’s a symbol for purity, beauty, and flexibility, and (3) it’s really pretty. :)

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We went to a place called Tattoo Bills in Charlotte, NC. They were really nice and accommodating. I highly recommend them! We decided to go in age order, so I went last. Before my experience, a lot of people told me that getting a tattoo doesn’t hurt all that much. A lot of people are liers! It hurt SO MUCH. It was like getting deeply scratched by a cat with really long nails. The memory of that pain will haunt me. Luckily, it didn’t take more than 10 minutes. It’s strange that permanently altering your appearance should take that little time and be such an easy process…you know, besides the excruciating pain.

I’m kind of a badass now, cause I’m tatted up. ;)

Beck

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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.

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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

How to be Homeless in College

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I was stranded at my friends apartment last week while NC was in the middle of a snow storm. This reminded me of last semester when I was staying there almost every week because I had no other place to go. I learned a lot about how to go without last semester. Becoming homeless is a process that makes you realize exactly what you do and do not need to live. It’s a painful process.

I started the semester in a small apartment attached to a house nearby campus. The rent wasn’t bad and I had just gotten a job as a barista at the local B&N cafe. After about a month, I moved out because my landlady didn’t want me to keep my cat in her house, and I wanted to live with my cat (don’t judge me).

At the beginning of October, I moved into a house with a student couple, their evil cat, smelly dog, and loud chicken. (Yes, I did say chicken.) I settled in and then…I lost my job. Apparently, my availability was not working for them, even though I told them I could work anytime I wasn’t in class. With no job to pay rent and a new landlord asking for a deposit, I found myself, at the end of the month, moving for the third time that semester…home.

My Mom lives in Raleigh, about an hour from campus, and I had a full schedule with seven classes. I was so scared and I didn’t know what I was doing, but I had no choice but to keep going. For weeks, I woke up at 5:30am so I could drive the hour commute and be on time for my 8am class (and I’m not a morning person in the least). To save gas, I asked my friends if I could alternate sleeping on their couch, but I didn’t want to be a burden, so most of the time I slept in the library or took naps in my car.

I had a system. I would go home every Tuesday and Thursday night to get more clothes and food. I would shower in the gym locker room and do laundry on the weekends when I could stay home. I would work in the library and then drive home to sleep in my room with no bed. And I would student teach and try to finish my projects on time. Part of me knew this meant I wouldn’t be passing all my classes, but I’m nothing if not stubborn, and I thought I was strong enough to do it all.

Okay, so technically I wasn’t homeless, but I was constantly moving between my car, my friends’ apartments and public spaces like the library and gym. I felt homeless, and that anxiety really affected me and my ability to work. I learned how to get through the day by getting “free” coffee from faculty lounges and attending school events with free food. I ate a lot of pizza that semester.

Having no where to go makes one anxious and alone, and I very quickly fell apart. Every single one of my professors emailed me or “had the talk” with me about my low performance (some more than once). What could I say? “Sorry I didn’t finish the paper, Professor, I was busy trying to find somewhere to sleep last night.” I felt tired all the time and it wasn’t from the mountains of work I stayed up doing. I knew I needed to do something about my living situation and fast.

That’s when I remembered that I had been adopted recently. My church has a program that allows families in the church to “adopt” college students so they can get a home-cooked meal, and have a place to stay if they can’t go home for breaks. I emailed my “family” and asked if they knew of anyone that had an extra room to be rented out until May. I received a quick response offering a room in their own house for the year. It felt weird accepting help from people who were essentially strangers, but I wasn’t in a position to say no, and a 30 minute commute is better than an hour commute, so I said yes. I’ve been living here ever since. I won’t say it wasn’t awkward, really awkward, at first, but God has put me in a good home and I’m so grateful that He has provided a place for me to live during my senior year. I hope I can do the same for someone else one day.

What my adopted family did by taking me in reminds me of this passage in Matthew 25.35-40 (NIV)

‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I was a stranger and they invited me in, and that’s pretty awesome.

Beck