Monthly Archives: March 2012

Life in the Village

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I go to college in a village. Legitimately, it’s a village. It is not a town, a city, a suburb, a metropolis, a borough… it is a village. I go to school in the village of Ada, Ohio. We’ve covered this. I know. But really, y’all. I never in a million years would have dreamed that I would drive four hours from home to go to school in a VILLAGE.

 I don’t know what it takes to qualify as a village, but my guess is that everything has to close by 9 PM. Now, I love small towns. But this village is something completely different. It is it’s own damn world. A world where apparently the only food you are allowed to consume is Mexican, Chinese or pizza. Or McDonalds or Taco Bell. That is all. And you best believe there is not a Wal-Mart, mall, Target or ANYTHING anywhere around here. But rest assured, darlings, there is a damn good supply of corn.

Now. I’m not sure if y’all note the significance of what I’m telling you. But I’ll put this into perspective. Throughout high school, I was the epitome of teenage angst. I got into more trouble than necessary and I put my parents through Hell. Literally. They didn’t deserve a daughter as horrid and reckless and inconsiderate as I was. But, that’s what they got.

I hated my small town. I would not lay claim to it; I swore I’d get out and never come home. I had plans, and they did not include Greenville, PA. Everyone knew everything — it was like a damn cult. I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing at least ten people I knew. I loathed everything about it.

All through high school, the list of colleges I was planning to apply at included the ranks of Boston University, New York University, Loyola in Chicago, UCLA, Pitt, Carnegie Mellon, et cetera. Notice a trend? They were all in CITIES. Legitimate cities. Not towns or villages, sure as hell not flanked by cornfields and I could easily find a Dunkin Donuts or a Starbucks in the town, not have to drive three hours.

So, how did I end up at Ohio Northern University? Who the hell knows. I literally could not tell you how I heard of it, how it happened, how I decided to apply to one school, and why on Earth it was this one. Or how I decided to apply for pharmacy school. What the hell, Dortin? That’s what I say to myself when I look back at my life.

I mean, I’m not here for pharmacy school anymore, so that makes a bit more sense. And I’m happy, that’s certain. But I still haven’t figured out what brought me to this school. But what’s more is, I wouldn’t trade this little village for the world.

Yes, there’s never anything to do on a Friday night and there are more trailer parks than actual houses. The weather is absurd in the village and the townies are crazy. Yes, I would kill to be able to get a real iced coffee every once in a while. But I have the best group of friends a girl could ever imagine. I’ve got friends who will come pick me up in the morning at the cost of breakfast and a story, or pick me up from night class when its raining. I’ve got a group of guys who would go to bat for me anytime I get myself into some sort of trouble. I do that a lot. And I think that’s what brought me to Ada.

Ada has taught me to appreciate the little things. The friendships, the small town vibe, the ability to wander the streets aimlessly and not fear for my life — too much. Ada made me love my hometown. Ada taught me that I don’t want to live in a city. Life in the Village is unlike anything else I have ever experienced. Frustrating at times and a little imperfect, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Culture Shock

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Wednesday afternoon I received a text message that said: “Tomorrow we’re having dinner at Alma’s house.” My jaw dropped instantly, and hundreds of thoughts flashed through my mind. Now, I suppose a back story would be helpful, because after reading that line, I haven’t the faintest idea what you’d possibly think.

Alma is a Saudi Arabian preschool child. One of approximately five that I drive to and from school several days a week along with the help of three of my other sisters. Now, this in and of itself is a culture shock. The families barely speak any English, the men are the predominant leaders and women are not allowed to be seen in anything other than their Burkas.They normally say a few words to you, such as hi, thank you, good bye. Nothing too complex.

So when one of my counterparts informed me that we were having dinner at their house, we both thought instantly, this can’t be good. We acted upon our traditional stereotypes. Why would this foreign man want two college girls in his house at night? And, granted, I haven’t provided the entire scenario.. I would have been a little suspicious of the proposal even if they were of our same ethnicity.

But, of course, we can’t say no. That would be impolite and risky for our meager paying job. And we college kids need all the money we can get. So. Thursday evening at approximately 5:30, we embarked to The Last Supper, as I somewhat jokingly referred to it. The whole way there, we hashed over different scenarios in our heads of how the dinner might pan out. We pulled into the drive way, and this man was waiting there for us.

We walked inside and sat down in the living room. He spoke rather clear English, although at times it was hard to understand. He told us we could eat on the table, although in their culture, it is custom to eat on the floor. And then, the food came out. He brought out first a sweet, desert like substance, somewhat resembling flan and legitimately making my mouth water. Next came a huge plate of lamb and rice, with a threat that we absolutely had to eat all of it. This plate could easily feed a family. Of ten. And then there were grape leaves, and salad, and sauce and tea and by the end of the experience, I was barely able to walk. I had never, ever consumed so much food in my life. And I can eat.

Now. The experience was a little strange. The family did not sit with us. In fact, they did not eat. They served us and left the room. It was much like being at a restaurant. Only, it was the best meal I have ever eaten. So, clearly not restaurant quality. He came in a few times, offering us some interesting tidbits of their culture and poking fun at our fast food lifestyles in good ole ‘Merica.

And the time, gracious as ever. They welcomed two girls whose names they didn’t even know into their house and provided them a traditional meal with more courses than I think I could ever handle preparing. And I claim to be a pretty good cook. Imagine the guilt we felt, thinking the thoughts we were thinking. We were the prime examples of the American mindset. Our country is a melting pot, yet we instantly assume that those who are not a traditional white color are so extremely different that we fear them.

And I thought I was pretty open minded. Well, I guess I proved myself wrong. But none the less, I’m extremely happy that I went last evening. I learned a valuable lesson. I learned that no matter how open we are to people of other races or cultures, that we will still immediately jump to stereotype them, when in fact they are doing nothing but going out of their way for us — and we don’t deserve it at all.

Culture Shock. That’s what it was. And I tell you, I wouldn’t mind experiencing every culture like that. It was one of the most rewarding experiences to date in my college career, and I learned more from that than any class could ever teach me. Chalk it up to experience, or to about a ten pound weight gain, but I’m forever going to appreciate little Alma’s family for showing us a little piece of their culture.

 

Star Gazing

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Things I love about warm weather include the following: fishing. laying out. running outdoors. iced tea on the porch. driving with the windows down. stargazing. bonfires. taking long walks at night. and so, so, so much more.

Today, I was able to do so many of these things. I spent my whole day laying in the sunshine — getting burnt and studying, but still. I was warm and I was happy. I drank some iced tea outdoors, I’ll count that, although none will trump my daddy’s homemade iced tea.

Then, tonight, I went on a walk. From approximately 7:30 to 10:30 PM. Sorry, GPA. Now, I should have been writing papers and studying, but what was I doing? Basking in the warmth. Reflecting on my past, talking out my present and, of course, fantasizing about my future.

That’s what I love about walking at night. You’ve got a perfect view of the stars, at least in my little collegiate village, you do. Sorry, all of you from the city. Pretend with me. You walk outside, and the sun is just starting to set, the warmth wraps around you like your favorite blanket, your muscles thank you for allowing them to move instead of sitting cramped at a desk and studying all night. I know that one is a stretch. Its just what I tell myself to justify this three hour walk when I had so many things I needed to be doing.

And, then, it happens.The sun finishes its descent and you look up into the vast expanse of stars stretching above you. The world is endless — something I’m aware of, but the visual makes it all the better. It is constantly above you, reminding you of how small you are and how impressive our world truly is. Its the sort of thing that can cause an Ecologic Coming to Jesus moment of sorts, causing one to start biking, recycling and joining the WWF. You know, preserve that glory and all.

It’s my favorite thing. It reminds me of home. It reminds me of summer. It reminds me of first kisses and heart to hearts with my best friends. It reminds me of small town. It reminds me of country. It lets me dream of the future.

So, as I sit here, continuing to put off the massive pile of school work staring me down, I wish I could sit outside, and stare up at the sky forever, dreaming, imagining, reflecting. And a word of advice, if you want to know my deepest feelings, take me outside at night. Hint. Hint. Hint. Hey, that was subtle enough, right?

 

Less of a Marilyn and more of a Jackie.

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This is my first genuinely unhappy blog. I told myself that wasn’t what this was about; this is a blog of self acceptance, not self loathing. But while I’m upset about this particular character trait I’m about to share with you, It’s something I need to come to accept. So, I’ll look at it like that, I suppose.

I’ve always been “one of the guys”. My closest friends, for the post part, are of the opposite sex, and I’ve always felt more comfortable with them than with other girls. I’ve learned the ways of the world, I know more about rap than anyone I could imagine, I can hold my own on the topic of sports, attractive women and, well, just about anything else.  As a result, I would rather go fishing than to a nice dinner or ride around in a pick up truck with the guys than go out shopping. I’m relatively low maintenance and really, all I want is to be happy.

That being said, I’ve had my fair share of men. I’ve always been good enough. I was always accepted, and they appreciated me for what I was. I live to please the man I’m with. I strive to be the perfect girl. I am the one who gets rid of them because they aren’t good enough for me.

And then, it happened. I knew it was coming. But I met someone who had a checklist. Five specific things they looked for in a woman. I was a zero out of five. Unfortunately, I’m really inefficient when it comes to not being good enough. So, of course this bothers me. And, of course, I’m convinced I can change it.

So, yet again, I’m drawn back to my current life mantra — Legally Blonde. A wonderful friend who has been there for me regardless of what the situation posted a song on my wall from the musical, and I started listening again, and realized, this is my life.

Girl changes her career path to be a lawyer, isn’t good enough for a boy, tries to be, and then realizes she doesn’t need him and he actually doesn’t deserve her. I just need to get to that last point. And its not like I’m changing myself. Or anything. But. I need to accept that I’m not always going to be good enough. I need to be happy.

I have been more of a Marilyn and less of a Jackie for my entire life. I’m not “serious”, and my like the perfect Elle Woods, I’m not the cookie cutter girl that these boys are looking for. But I’m about to be so much more successful and do so much with my life. I don’t want to make anyone happy but myself. And I’m not going to let anyone bring me down. Be it a boy, a girl, anyone.

From this point forward, no one is telling me no. I am going to get what I want. And everything will be so much better than anyone could ever imagine. Instead of letting bitter words bring me down, I’m going to feed off of them, and be so much better than before.

So, maybe one day you’ll see that what you want is right in front of you, but then, as the story goes, I won’t want it anymore. Here’s the thing, sir, I’d rather have a woman with some depth than a cookie cutter that would never make you happy. Marilyn trumps Jackie, boy.

Ironically, this isn’t an upset blog at all. Probably because I find happiness in doing what I love. Which consequently is writing and not either of you trying to bring me down at the moment. But thanks for whipping me back into shape and reminding me what I need to do, acquire the taste for blood in the water. 

 

 

Oh, and props if you’ve caught any of my musical references here. That’s my inspiration, good sir and ma’am. So, I’ll continue being the girl you don’t want, and in the end, you’ll be the one asking me for my hand, but I’ll be so-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh much better, than before.

 

 

Homecoming

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There are a lot of things I like about coming home. My bed, all warm and cozy in the haven of my dark, basement bedroom is one of the biggest. My dog, Harley, who I get to cuddle with. My cute little red car, Roxie. Not having to go to class or study or deal with people. And seeing my family, of course. Late night chats with my daddy and cooking dinner with Mama Dort.. all things I love about home.

And then, there’s what I think might be the most important one — Seeing my best friends. One of which, I’ve had an on and off friendship with since fourth grade, who I can’t really picture myself without. She’s been my best friend for as long as I can remember, or as I affectionately reference to her — my better half.

This past trip home, we did the usual. Made poor life choices when it came to healthy eating and spent too much time sitting up talking, but you know, that’s what defines our relationship. That no matter what, even if we haven’t talked in months, we can still tell each other everything. And there is no judgement, no condescending glares or talking about each other to someone else. There is just acceptance, comfort, guidance and advice.

Eighth grade. Art class. The two of us fighting, as seemed to be the norm in our high school days. And every day, one of us would say: “This is strictly for business purposes” — and proceed to gush the details of whatever was going on in our lives to the other. I know, I know. Maturity at its finest. But, regardless of the nature, this showed just how much we needed each other.

I remember distinctly the beginning of my freshman year of college. I ostracized myself from everyone at home, prepared to make my own name and be someone completely different. I hadn’t spoken to her in ages, probably close to a year, when I texted her one distraught Sunday afternoon, telling her about my life. She responded with some equally distressed messages. Its funny how, after almost a year apart, we would end up reunited.

Now we’ve been pretty loyal to one another since then. Not always in communication, yet knowing that no matter the time or how long its been since we’ve spoken, we are there for one another. She truly is my better half. Its just sort of painful to have the other part of you so far away.

So. yes, I think I love going home to hug my daddy and snuggle all night with my dog. But those nights when we stay out talking about everything until four in the  morning, those are the nights I live for. That is the best part about coming home.

Dancing in the Rain

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73 Degrees. 2:19 AM. March 16, 2012 [List that as proof of the end of the world, y’all]. Thunder. Lightning. Rain.

What does this collection of events lead to? An absolutely ecstatic Rachel, sitting in her lofted bed, anticipating a beautiful storm. Oh, and clearly not sleeping. Oops.

Back that up, subtract ten years and keep everything else the same, and you’d have a 9 year old Rachel, absolutely terrified, crying in her parent’s bed, praying the storm would end. My, how things change.

Now, I’m pretty sure damn near every little kid has some sort of fear of storms. But I, oh, I took it to the extremes. At even the slightest rain fall I went into a panic, grabbing water bottles, canned food, flash lights, blankets and a radio, I would turn off the computers and the televisions and force my family to camp out in the basement with me while I cried. Countless times I would wake my parents up because it was raining and I was petrified (You know, from this whole blogging thing, I’ve realized that I was not a normal child).

As I got older, I progressed into being able to stay in my own bed, under the covers, crying. I didn’t need my parent’s to save me. Now, I still believed in the end of the world, but someone had introduced the 2012 theory to me, so I wasn’t all that afraid of a storm ending my life just yet. And then, one night, I remember I woke up to a storm. Only this time, I wasn’t afraid, I was intrigued. I watched it intently all night, the sky lighting up brilliantly, ablaze in purples, reds and other hues of lightning, the thunder soothing me instead of threatening me.

And now, I love most about summer, the rain storms. I’m content to stand in the rain, watch the sky filled with nature’s glory and in awe of God’s wonder. A good thunderstorm is so cleansing. The heat of the day combining with the coolness of the water hitting your flesh, washing everything away — it is the most indescribable feeling.

And as time tends to happen, the year 2012 finally rolled around. And being an avid believer in the end of the world, and maybe a bit of a history channel geek, having seen all of the documentaries, I fully prepared for the end of the world. Feel free to say: “Rachel told me so” when it happens, because, I did.

Here’s the ironic thing though. I don’t fear storms at all anymore. And if they bring about the end of the world, so be it. I wouldn’t mind going out in a blaze of God’s brilliant, awe-inspiring terror. So, I say, bring on the rain, 2012, and abandon my childish fears. After all, if the world’s ending, why live in fear when you could celebrate it?

So I think, instead of studying or sleeping or showering or doing anything productive for the class I have in seven hours, that I just might go dance in the storm. After all, life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. Or so a hallmark card might say.

 

Circle of Life

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“I do not want children. I want to live in a city and make a lot of money and wear fancy clothes. I don’t want to get married. I want to drive an expensive sports car. I will have a maid. I will never go back to my hometown. I will own enough clothes to wear something and give it away just so I don’t have to do laundry.”

 

Whoever is responsible for this quote is stuck up, arrogant and delusional. Hands down. Its a fact. There is no argument. Any guesses on who the heartless harlot might be? If you guessed the self-righteous brat that I was not too many moons ago, you would be right on the money.

My, my, my, how things have changed. I’ve got more important things on my mind than being rich, although I don’t exactly plan to start living on welfare or anything that extreme. I’m no longer driven my the easiest way to make bank, but by the passion to what I love. I am fighting the never ending battle with workaholic syndrome, and I’m being happy. Not material happy, but real happy. The kind of happy where I wake up excited about my day.

After recently having had a sleepover with my favorite little lady, Allison — my five year old niece and consequently, my world, I realized that I cannot wait to be a mother. And a damn good one at that. Okay, wait, hold on. I can wait. I can wait a very long time to start that portion of my life. But instead of dreading the possibility of ever bearing children, I can’t wait to outshine all the horrible parents out there and allow my children to be happy and do what they love. Because who doesn’t love doing what they love? Not this girl, that’s for damn certain. Oh, and to have a Candyland partner 24/7, cause I’m pretty talented at kids games. 

Oh, and relationships? Used to hate them. Yup. This girl. Was afraid. Me? Afraid of anything? I know. Its hard to believe. But I was. So I ran away from any boy who expressed any sort of interest in me. I got what I wanted and I ran. Who needs a boyfriend? Not Rachel, Oh nooo. But, funny thing. I sit here and I say to myself — you need a man to have those kids you decided you want. And I think, hmm, that doesn’t sound so bad. I wouldn’t mind someone to lay with me underneath the stars and take me camping (hint, hint, fellas). Now, I’m not saying I’m ever going to want someone to buy my roses or anything like that, and Valentine’s Day is still a cheap, commercial holiday that I will never appreciate, but hey, I think I’m finally ready to settle down.

And I’m never going to donate my clothes after one wear. Sorry, but I like my clothes a little too much. Call me obsessed. Oh, and who needs a bunch on fancy clothes, all I need is a collection of sundresses, boots and sperrys. Oh, and leggings — as pants. Sorry world, I’m not giving that one up.

And at this point, a big city has lost a lot of its appeal. I wouldn’t mind spending my days in the country, raising my kids to say ma’am and sir and drink from a mason jar. My girls will be tan wear cut offs and my boys will play sports and drive trucks and fish, and we’ll all be happy.

Instead of dreading the future, I’m lookin’ forward to it. I’m going back to my roots, and thus we follow the Circle of Life. Oh, and you can be damn sure my kids will watch every Disney movie known to man. And now, ladies and gents, we’ve reached the portion of our show where I say: “Yes, Mama, you told me so”, let go of my rebel years and look forward to the future, where I see nothing but sunshine and happiness.