Monthly Archives: April 2014

18 Lessons Learned From My First Semester Single.

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As I am wrapping up my last semester as a undergrad, I discovered something monumental. This has been the first whole semester where I have been single. But really, I have never been single for the entirety of a semester and I’m fairly certain that this fact is my sole regret of my college experience. I should have experienced this all much earlier, BUT, it actually couldn’t have come at a more perfect time and I couldn’t be more thankful.

This semester, I learned vital lessons that, if I had not learned them, I would not have been prepared to face my future.

Although tiresome, troubling, and torturous at times, I ultimately learned 18 lessons that I value more than any boyfriend.

  1.  how to be alone
  2. how to not have a sole companion to tell my daily stories to
  3. how to pay attention, real attention, to my friends
  4. how to stop looking at my iPhone screen and look at the world and people around me
  5. how to use public transportation effectively–boyfriend ain’t gonna pick me up when I have a flat tire no more
  6. how to really be independent–no one does me favors or runs me errands anymore, it’s all me
  7. experimenting with different hair styles and outfits can help you shape yourself into the person you want to be
  8. how to accept and embrace failure without a shoulder to cry on
  9. how to spot bullshit
  10. and how to call it out as such
  11. going to the movies alone is liberating
  12. loneliness is a real emotion
  13.  it’s ok to feel it
  14. and how to deal with those feelings
  15. how to overcome my “struggles”, chin-up, and move forward
  16. grace and strength are often overrated and it’s ok to have a breakdown
  17. no one can define you, limit you, or hold you back unless you allow them to
  18. AND FINALLY, self respect will always be worth more than company
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The Trials and Tribulations of Tiny Titties

Confession-I never wear bras with underwires.

I just don’t need to! I am blessed with the best and I can comfortably sport a t-shirt bra every waking moment of every day with zero problems. But tonight, I decided to bust out the big ones and wear a real bra with a clasp and everything to my Senior Honors Night. I wore a dress. It took me two attempts to “get it right” and even on the second dress, I fucked that up REAL good.

I wore my ONLY Victoria’s Secret, 32A push-up bra. It was gel infused and horribly uncomfortable. Somehow, at some course throughout the 30 minutes I wore the dress before Honors Night began, I poked myself in the titty. Then, slowly, my right boob drained of its gel, seeping a HUGE stain onto the boob of the dress. At first, the stain was small, but then it grew, and grew, and grew until it literally consumed my whole right half.

All of the gel was oozing onto my real pretty, and NEW dress. All I could do was hold my fucking “Made in China” award in front of it in hopes that no one would notice the massive grease stain that was forming and growing on my chest…

It was one of the most epic wardrobe malfunctions in the history of the world, I’m very sure. HAHA! It would only happen to me. 20140429-005142.jpg

Have no shame, don’t be embarrassed–zoom in! You can even see the “poke” hole that started it all. My life is hysterical.

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13 days til Freedom.

In thirteen days, I will walk across a stage and complete my Bachelor’s Degree. I cannot wait for this day.

I’ve loved this journey, absolutely loved it. I have completely changed as an individual since first venturing to the University of Hipsterville four years ago. This experience has changed my world, my outlook on life, my passions, my desires; everything. It has been full of laughter, hilarious memories, and amazing friends.

But, I cannot wait to do something new. I cannot wait to put this all behind me and jump in with both feet into the new adventures that are ahead of me. I am bursting with excitement.

I cannot wait to have a fresh start, where people can judge me based on who I am, not what they’ve heard. Where no one knows about the embarrassing, yet hilarious mess that my senior year has been. Where no one stops talking when I walk into a room. Where no one watches if I eat the food the plate before me. Where no one looks to see if I have bandaids covering my fingers or hands.

I cannot wait to have a fresh start, where malicious lies do not facilitate public opinions.

In thirteen days, I will be free.

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A Weird Life

This year, by far, has been the weirdest year in my 22 years of life. And I’ve led a pretty weird life! Weird things, weird experiences, weird as shit stories–all wonderfully weird, but weird nonetheless. For example, here’s a timeline of the weird shit of my life…

  • Birth–was legally adopted by my biological parents because the hospital lost my records. I don’t have a birth certificate, I only have an adoption certificate, making getting drivers licenses and passports the most difficult.
  • Age 4–was “kidnapped” by my nanny each day for a week and then returned safely home at night. My mother discovered this when she went to pay for my half-days at daycare and they said they hadn’t seen me for a week. My nanny never budged on telling her and to this day, my mom has no idea where she took me.
  • Age 4–played with the “sidewalk goop” AKA toxic sludge that seeped through the cement on hot days. Our first home was on a reclaimed landfill. We found that out when men in hazmat suits came one day to test my goop. It was better than Play-Doh. Just saying..
  • Age 5–I threw coconuts off of the King and Queen’s float at the Zulu Parade.
  • Age 6–was denied entry along with my mother and sister at the local Kwanza festival. I cried.
  • Age 7–received a standing ovation at my piano recital for playing upside-down and backwards.
  • Age 8–escaped “kidnappers” in Belgium who pulled me into their van and attempted to drive off by biting a man’s finger practically all the way off and kicking him in the balls. It was disgusting and glorious.
  • Age 9–survived a head butting by a cow.
  • Age 10–was partially tear gassed by the Dutch Riot Police when I was separated from my parents during a riot at the train station.
  • Age 11–went on a field trip to the Red Light District in Amsterdam… NBD.
  • Age 13–received a voicemail on my first-ever cell phone that was a butt-dial documenting the attempted murder of a woman. Arguing, hysterics, and finally four gunshots were all recorded on my pre-paid cell phone. The police used it to locate the woman, who ended up surviving, and later in court. I never got my phone back.
  • Age 16–was legally adopted by a family friend for a semester while my mom lived in Florida, caring for her dying mother-in-law, and my father lived in The Philippines.
  • Age 18–moved to Hipsterville, which is WEIRD! (but badass)
  • Age 21–rapped Nicki Minaj’ “Super Bass” to an audience of puzzled Japanese people.
  • Age 21–was punched in the stomach in a metro station.

I already had a hilarious and outrageous plethora of stories and adventures of weird-as-shit things, but, after this year, I’m pretty sure my crazy life stories should win some type of prize. It’s all a part of the “journey” and it’s all fucking hysterical. I cannot wait to see what’s next…

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Hating Shannon.

Today was a great day, until 12:30 p.m. Which I guess realistically means that this morning was a great morning…

At 12:30 p.m. I made my way to Japanese class practically skipping. I gave my final presentation of my undergraduate career, I was wearing pink pants, it was sunny and warm–life was fabulous! I took my seat and felt unusually social with Phillip the bully and some of the other odd ones in the class.

The class began normally, but less than five minutes into it, the door opened and some rando chick walks in. “Oh class!” the sensei cooed. “This is Shannon! She’s here to talk to us about Japan, she’s moving there this summer because she was recently accepted to the JET Programme!“.


PAUSE- The JET Programme has been my dream for over two years. I applied in November and didn’t get past the first round of selections.

Confession- I instantly hated Shannon.


Then, for the next 1 HOUR I had to sit there, in the front row I might add, and listen to this girl’s story about getting into JET and how excited she was and blah, blah, blah. Oh go fuck off already….

What really pissed me off was that she…

  • had never been to Japan
  • applied on a whim
  • doesn’t know any Japanese
  • had never taken a Japanese course-neither language nor culture
  • graduated from the University of Hipsterville one or two years ago and didn’t get a job and was just looking for something that “paid decent”

How? It took everything I had in me not to cry or be visually angry. I really wanted that. I really wanted what she had and I didn’t even get the chance to show someone at JET how badly I wanted that! I invested three semesters in Japanese courses, I did a summer cultural immersion program, I worked my ass off and saved for two years  to pay for that program and for my flight because my dickwad parents didn’t see it as beneficial. I was on the mailing list and email list for TWO YEARS before I even applied!

Finally when the hour ended, I took a walk in the sunshine and my spirits were finally lifted when I bought a tank top with a cat on it from a student organization sale on campus.

My morning was made perfect by a presentation on Beyonce, then turned into a shitty afternoon because of Japanese bullshit, and was ultimately fixed by a cat on a tank. I guess experiencing all of those emotions in one 24 hour period is basically the life of a university senior.

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Mary Wildes

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Over the Easter Break, I found myself digging through old photo albums and scrapbooks. During this time I stumbled upon my personal hero and inspiration for my penn name, my great grandmother Mary Wildes.

I never knew her, but my apartment is filled with her paintings and I’ve been told by countless relatives that I behave just as she did. This makes the me most happy, because from the stories I’ve heard about Mary Wildes, she was a complete and total badass. She…

  • smoked like chimney.
  • HATED being called “sweet”–it was her least favorite world.
  • was an awesome feminist! She owned her own car and didn’t get married until she was nearly 30 which, apparently, was a big fucking deal back in the 1930s.
  • also despised being called cute.
  • was one of five women in the first female graduating class at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
  • was the daughter of William Wildes, the owner of American Crystal Sugar Company ,and together they were pioneers in workers’ health and health care. They provided  a “universal health care” type system for their employees before, throughout, and after the Great Depression.
  • balanced her own check book without a calculator until she passed away in her 80s.
  • was fiercely independent before and during her marriage and after she was widowed.
  • was the CEO of a major corporation at the age of 30 when she briefly took over American Crystal Sugar while her father was ill.
  • preferred firm handshakes and straight scotch.
  • hated the south, only relocating with her husband, my grandfather, and his siblings to Alabama on doctor’s orders to seek lower altitude for her husband’s blood pressure.
  • hated terms like “bless your heart” and “I’m so blessed” and most things that southern ladies said and did.
  • stood 6 ft. tall and preferred her two inch heeled pumps.

Women in my family have been shrinking in terms of impact and influence for decades. But it is uplifting and amazing how only four generations ago, such an incredible woman existed in my family.

Here’s to you, Mary Wildes! Thank you for being a badass and for reminding me that great things are possible.

 

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8 Screenshots From An Asshole

Today is Easter Sunday. The second most boring day on Earth, after Christmas. Out of boredom, I decided to go through my camera roll and I discovered disturbing screenshots after screenshots of the bullshit I endured in a past bad relationship. You guessed it, with Dexter.

Confession: I need to provide full disclosure that these screenshots are, of course, only portions of conversations and, that if someone took screenshots of all of my conversations, there would certainly be some things that I would not be proud of. However, these images and segments of conversations are only snippets and limited examples of red flags that I SHOULD HAVE recognized and shut. the fuck. down. I did not alter the texts or delete any responses on either side. I clearly took multiply screenshots in the same sitting, but that does not mean that every instance was related or associated with one another. I only blurred out names and phone numbers and any information that would disclose the identity of others or my true identity. *winky face

I am choosing to post this article to 1) empower myself to never, ever repeat the mistakes of the past and never allow myself to be treated, spoken to in such ways again and 2) empower others to spot red flags and recognize them as such.

  • The time I hid at Savannah’s house when he cussed me out…

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  • And when I refused to reply and things just got worse…

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  • And when it continued with a “real threat”
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  • The time he threw a hissy fit because I didn’t invite him to hang out with me and my friends

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  • The time he broke up with me, but then was jealous of my friends…

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  • The time he broke up with me but wouldn’t leave me alone… and I fell for it AND even basically begged to not be left alone…. DAMN IT I’M AN IDIOT! I am the most pissed at my past self for this…

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  • The time he wanted to explain that he was just “a kind person with compassion”…gag

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  • And finally, the time I was the cold hearted one…

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 A huge mistake was tolerating all of this. A huge mistake Dexter made was obviously, sending these texts. There are countless texts I regret sending too. Everybody makes mistakes. Mistakes are a part of learning. I will learn from this. I have learned from this. Although bad, these experiences were good because I grew from them. Now to move forward and conquer the world *hair flip 

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16 Things People Have Said in Response to Accepting ATF Mississippi

  1. That will be really hard. —No shit, thanks for the reminder. 
  2. Oh wow… Ok.— Please stop judging me with your eyes. 
  3. Have you explored other options?–Yes, and I ultimately decided that this is what I want to do. 
  4. So you like black people?–Wait, do you not? 
  5. HAHAHAHA–*checks over shoulder to see if there’s something funny behind me. 
  6. I’m sorry.–I’m sorry too. Sorry that you were born. 
  7. You can go to the casinos!–Actually, that’s like, 4 hours away…
  8. I heard segregation is still like, a thing.–And why do you think that’s the case? 
  9. That’s unfortunate.Oh is it? Well fuck you in the face. 
  10. They’re gonna call you “Ms. Cracker”!I can’t believe that just came out of your mouth.  
  11. That will certainly be an…. experience.–Ya… a great one. Dip shit. 
  12. Why?–Why would you ask that? 
  13. Do you know what you’ve signed up for?–Ya, a life that is not as boring as yours…
  14. They aren’t going to like you there. —Oh really? Tell me why?
  15. That’ll be rough.--It’s just Mississippi… It’s not Antarctica.
  16. Are you terrified?!Um.. no. Why, should I be?

 

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Why Won’t You Talk to Me?

My mother rarely speaks to me. It’s just a fact.  I’ll get random texts sporadically, but they mostly consist of three words or less.

And for whatever reason, this fact really bothers me. 

She never calls. I call her occasionally, but not nearly as often as the people around me. In daily conversations I hear people talking about their mom, the conversation they had with their mom, their mom’s opinion on something, and it all sounds so foreign and so distant. Your mom has an opinion? And she cares enough to share it with you? These are concepts that do not compute…

Today, I called my mom. I had a logistical question about moving home for two night between moving out of Hipsterville and moving to Mississippi for Teach For America. 30 seconds later, the logistical question was cleared up and we both sat on the line, silent.

  • ME: So…What else is new with you?
  • MOM: Oh, nothing new here.
  • CRICKETS

I dove into a story about my weekend and my day and that I was killing some time before my meeting in an hour. Then, I wrapped it up.

  • MOM: That’s nice, so you’ll let me know if you need any help with the move? I’ll let you get to your meeting now.
  • ME: Wait! It’s not for an hour, I have lots of time. We can chat!
  • MOM: Well, I don’t really have anything to say.
  • ME: *scoff. Ok.
  • CRICKETS…….
  • MOM: Ya, can’t think of anything. Have a good night.

I hung up the phone and just felt empty. I racked my brain, when did my relationship with her get this way? After scouring over timelines and years and years in my head it finally occurred to me. Freshmen year. Christmas Break. I came home after my first semester of university cheery and bubbling with excitement to sleep in my own bed and cuddle my parents’ dog.

“Want to see something crazy?” she asked casually. “Ya!” I got up to join her in the kitchen. “Watch this,” she pulled a can of Diet Dr. Pepper (her addiction) out of the fridge and held it in her right hand. The can began to shake. A steady, obvious, shake. Back and forth, not slowly, but not quickly. “What am I watching for?” I asked, the most confused. I honestly thought she was shaking up the can to show me something about how it would or would not explode… I had no idea.

“It’s a tremor,” she said bluntly. “I have Parkinson’s Disease.” 

And it was from that very moment in the presence of a Diet Dr. Pepper and the obese family weenie dog that my mom began to shut me out.

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AEON…

Yesterday, I went to an “interview” to be a English teacher for the Japanese business, AEON. This is the story of my experience.

At a nearby hotel, several young white women and men gathered in the lobby nervously chatting and awaiting the beginning of the first round of group interviews. From my research, I knew that AEON was a private company with 250 English instruction schools throughout Japan. For me, private company equated to better pay, tighter regulations, more resources for training and teacher development. AEON has its own textbooks and materials. It has its own teaching method. It seemed to have its own culture.

What I did not connect was that AEON is not just a private company, it is a corporation.

Once the doors opened at 9:30 a.m. (which was 30 minutes prior to the interview, which in Japanese terms is “right on time”) the first thing I encountered was a table full of AEON’s own textbooks, workbooks, and materials. There was also this interesting guide to professionalism,  20140413-143115.jpg20140413-143104.jpg

Now, Sara Wildes looks like ratchet shit 90 percent of the time, I’m the first to admit it. But I found this guide to be absurd for three reasons.

  1. Ballet flats are unacceptable? Really?
  2. Pink is too bold…. oh my god STRIKE ONE
  3. There was NO information on the table for the required dress code of men…. STRIKE TWO-THOUSAND.

I looked down at my ballet flats that I had carefully selected from my collection of tennis shoes, combat boots, and torn up Target-brand Keds… FUCK. I thought I looked nice today! Business clothes can suck it… I don’t own any. The Banana Republic skirt I was rocking was a big step up for me!

So I was already irritated by the apparent sexism I saw within 5 minutes of this group interview. I filed the information away in my mind and took my seat in the cold conference room along with 12-15 other hopefully adventurers. The first part would be an information meeting. The Japanese woman presenting stressed that it was good practice in Japanese culture to take good notes. I furiously scribbled all that I thought was relevant to the job and to what I needed to know to potentially be successful in my interview.

For 4 hours…. The Japanese woman and American man ran the information meeting robotically. Sounding like scripted info-mercial salespeople, they took turns presenting on different subjects regarding a career with AEON. Everytime it was the others’ turn, one would take a seat in a chair in the front of the room. As I boringly listened to the Japanese woman and practiced my best “I’m totally interested face”, I observed the American man. He looked slimly, like a used car salesman and every time he took a seat, he stared into space endlessly. For what seemed like minutes at a time, he would check out and stare, straight stare, without  blinking. As if he was mentally escaping, I wondered how many 4 hour information meetings he has done recently… He looked miserable.

As the information meeting processed, I began to feeling increasingly uncomfortable. AEON, I soon discovered, is a corporation in the business of selling English. Foreign English teachers are owned by the corporation, possessed because of their endless value of the native language we speak. AEON teachers cannot be employed by anyone else, cannot teach English outside of the AEON corporation, not even casually or as a mentor, and are restricted to volunteer and community involvement because they represent the AEON corporation in their daily lives. By being white and English speaking in Japan, you walk the streets and represent AEON and sell the brand and services by simply existing.

Another discovery was that you are not employed solely as a teacher, but foreigners are employed as salespeople. Part of the job consists of passing out pamphlets promoting the enrollment  in English classes. Teachers go to the mall and hand out fliers, teachers wait outside of public schools and hand them out as students file out. Like white evangelists there to offer the saving graces of English.

I want to be a teacher, I want to volunteer and work with young women empowerment groups. I do not want to be a saleswoman and a promoter of a cram school.  That’s not what I’m signing up for. I learned in my Japanese class about the record breaking suicide rates among Japanese youths. A large percent is due to academic underachievement. I do not want to be associate with Jukus, Japanese cram schools.

The AEON corporate had all of the lesson plans from beginner to advanced levels already created. That seemed to impress other people in the room, but I was not loving that idea at all. It sounded boring as fuck. It left no room for creativity or activities. It left no room to connect and adapt your lessons to the interest of the individuals in the class. Anyone can follow a lesson if you give it to them in entirety, anyone can do the same thing over and over again for 9 hours a day. Anyone can be a puppet. I have more to offer. There is more impact that I can make. 

I had 4 hours to sit and decide, I had 4 hours to mentally beat myself up.

This has been my dream for years. Years! But this specific corporation directly contradicted what I wanted to do and what I was most interested in learning, understanding, and maybe fighting about Japanese education culture. 

Finally, we were given a sheet of paper with two boxes. One, you checked if you planned on staying for the second portion, the mock-lesson plan we were instructed to create and bring with us. The second, you checked if you did not wish to continue in the selection process. My face grew hot, I could see it all before me, my dreams flushing down the toilet. I starred at the paper. SHIT. I could feel the redness in my face. After what seemed like an entirety, I realized I was the last in the room who had not turned my paper in.

I scrambled for my pen. My hand shaking, I checked the second box. Below it existed a blank line labeled REASON: My hand steadied, I mentally gave myself a pep talk and attempted to calm down. The heat from my face began to dissipate. I calmly filled in the blank.

Education is not for sale. 

And then, I left the interview.

 

 

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