For more pictures of Italy, Summer 2017...
Yesterday marked the four-year anniversary of my graduation from Florida State University.
I feel so many things simultaneously. Disbelief, pride, happiness, sadness, nostalgia. Always nostalgia.
Sometimes Tallahassee feels like it all happened yesterday. Other times it's as if it was nine lives ago.
Mostly it’s like it was a dream. Blurry at the edges, like I’m not able to discern between what's actually real and what, over the years, has been twisted into myth, more fiction than fact.
Honestly, does it even matter?
I’m not sure it does. All I have now are the memories from that period of my life, and for me that's enough. I wouldn't want to go back, but it took me an astonishingly (and embarrassingly) long time to realize this and move on. From the experiences, the town, the school. From my friends and my hedonistic life.
I switched that Garnet and Gold tassel from the right to the left side and just like that, my life was different.
I graduated on Saturday morning. Andrew’s ceremony was the night before. Which meant I was up late drinking in excess and had to pay the price, like many of my fellow borderline-alcoholic Seminole peers.
I sat in the uncomfortable folding chairs wearing the graduation gown over a white dress I’d bought from I-don’t-remember-where. The shoes were brown wedges from Charlotte Russe that Andrew picked out. I was not fashionable then (I'm still not), and I didn’t know how to dress myself (I still don’t).
I have no idea what happened to that dress, but the shoes are still in my closet. I wore them to my brother’s wedding last October.
Unfortunately my brother couldn’t make it to my graduation. Because four years ago, he was in China teaching English and dating a girl he’d met there. The girl he eventually married last October.
Four years is a lifetime.
The gown was hot, which was not particularly helping my beer-and-gin-and-whisky-fueled hangover.
I fidgeted with my cap and squirmed in my seat.
Mr. Zeigler continued reciting names like he did, and likely still does, for every single commencement ceremony. That is a lot of saliva.
I looked up at him on the stage reading all those names and thought about the two classes I took with him during my tenure as a Media / Comm. major. Dustin Hopkins was in one of them. He was always very polite and seemed humble. I wonder if getting picked in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Bills one week prior changed that.
He signed a four-year contract with them six days after graduation and eventually went on to kick for the Saints and currently, for the Redskins.
Four years is a lifetime.
More names. It was never-ending. I let out a whine and slid even further down in my seat. I was so slumped down that the top of my chair was starting to edge the back of the cap off of my head.
“I think it’s almost over,” the girl to my left said almost apologetically. She looked genuinely sorry for me. I must have looked worse than I felt. Which, as I remember it, was quite terrible.
When the final name had been called and it was all over, a few people threw their caps in the air, as we were strictly encouraged not to do. For the most part though, it was all very anticlimactic. And boring. And annoying.
Maybe it’s because we didn’t have a cool commencement speaker like Conan O’Brien or David Foster Wallace. Maybe it’s because I was dying a slow, dehydrated death. It’s anyone’s guess really.
I found my parents in the throngs of fellow graduates and their happy families, periodically having to duck out of pictures or maneuver around the small children that looked so out of place in Tallahassee. My folks treated me to lunch and took pictures around campus afterwards. And that was it. They left the next day and I celebrated Cinco de Mayo appropriating Mexican culture by day-drinking with The Boys and getting sloppy, as you do on Cinco de Mayo (or any other day for that matter) in Tally.
I was 22 and everything about my life was uncertain.
I didn’t know if Andrew and I would work or what the end of college meant for our relationship.
I didn’t have a lead for a job or my nonexistent career. I’d spent the last year and a half folding glittery t-shirts at Aeropostale for $8.00 an hour at the same mall I’d bought the brown wedges from.
I didn’t have a lease at the house I was living in, which meant I had the option to stay there. In Tallahassee. Indefinitely.
Graduation felt more like an ellipses than a period. I was done with undergrad, that much was certain, but not much else was.
I spent the summer continuing to fold shirts and interning at an advertising agency. With the help of a good friend I secured my first “big girl” job. Andrew and I said what we thought would be our final goodbyes and I drove away from Tallahassee one last time in my 2003 Mazda Protege, which I had affectionately nicknamed The Vessel of Death.
It was 2013 and “Thrift Shop” was number three on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the year The Boston Marathon experienced violence and tragedy, Fast & Furious 6 earned $789 million worldwide, and the year Paul Walker died.
I moved in with my cousin in Miami and began my new job. I got a new car, published poetry, visited my brother in Ohio, ran a half-marathon. In other words, life went on.
A lot has happened in four years. One friend is entering her last year of grad school to become a clinical therapist. Another got married, gave birth to her son, and moved to New Jersey; her brother is back in the states after years of backpacking and living all over Europe and China and Chile.
Both of my brothers got married.
The cousin that I lived with in Miami bought a house, got married, and adopted a dog.
I moved from Tallahassee to Miami and finally to Austin, Texas with Andrew, where I’ve lived in four different apartments in three years, including the studio on the East Side where I lived alone for the first time.
I visited Florida, Ohio, Arizona, New York, New Jersey, and Seattle, Washington. I went to Europe for the first time and next month I'll be back again to explore Italy, with Andrew.
I got a dog and a different job. I started freelancing. I saw Dave Chappelle drinking a Miller Lite while he was at the same club as me and I've watched more live music and eaten more tacos than I ever have in my life.
I've made new friends and a new life here, and now Austin feels more like home to me than anywhere else.
I wonder what my life will look like when I'm 30?
Four years is a lifetime, after all.
The echoes of my ancient past
Keep flooding into every pore
Like scattered seeds of sycamore
Suddenly I started wondering how I got here
Was it a matter of time?
"Timelines" - Motion City Soundtrack
I was 13 the first time I French kissed a boy. I was wearing a green skirt and a navy blue t-shirt that, ironically, had a pair of lips on it.
I also had on leg warmers, black All Stars, and make-shift wrist bands fashioned out of old socks.
Style was never my strong suit.
My friends and I snuck into a movie; I don’t remember which. At first we were at some mall in Dallas, loitering and being the prepubescent pests who ate all the free samples but never bought anything. Somehow we made our way to the one movie theater in McKinney and felt very cool, and very rebellious, having bypassed the box office and thus the $2.50 for a matinee ticket. It was all very exhilarating. And, we were meeting even more people inside. Boys.Read more
To this day, the best and most effective diet I’ve ever been on was the one where I didn’t eat and I drank the entire island of Cuba.
See, I went away to college and gained the regrettable and inevitable "Freshman 15." And, I had already put on some weight after quitting dance my junior year of high school, so by the time my first collegiate year was over I was pretty chubby.
But then I realized how gross I was being, eating whole bags of Cool Ranch Doritos and shoving truckloads of ice cream straight from the tub to my face while I was stoned off my ass (I don’t even like ice cream…).
So I decided to do something about it. I started eating better and running in excess, and it worked! I started to lose weight! I ate even better and ran even more and then I also started this whole “not eating” diet. It worked even better! I lost even more weight!
So, I got pretty thin. It was awesome. I was insane and possessed and in a perpetual state of inebriation followed by intense dehydration but godddamn I looked good.
But then I got hungry so after like two years I finally ate a saltine and my body was like "WAT IZ THIS MAGICAL FRUIT???" and I immediately gained some of that weight back and I keep trying to give it back to the universe but my body is like, "NNNNOO! NEVER! I'M KEEPING THE SALTINE, YOU EVIL BITCH!"
Basically, one day I consumed something other than nine beers and Camel Crush cigarettes and my body held onto that shit and hasn’t let it go since.
The moral of the story is, I will never be as skinny, or as hungry, as I used to be.
And as fucked up as it is, sometimes that makes me sad. But then I just think about the Skeptical Third World Kid, and he puts it all into perspective for me.
Vanity is a lifelong addiction.
The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
- Socrates, 469 - 399 B.C.
Clearly, public opinion of young people hasn’t changed since 399 B.C.
Looking back on a previous post I wrote about today’s youth (Gen Y vs. The World), I’m slightly disappointed that I didn’t aptly illustrate my point. It was much too convoluted when in reality, it’s so simple.Read more
“If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”Read more
- Stephen King
I’ve been thinking about sex a lot lately. I’m anxious to lose my virginity just because.
I’m 17 and a junior. But I’m not talking to anyone nor am I in a relationship and I’ve never been in one before.
When am I ever going to lose it?! There’s no way I’m going to college a virgin. I barely want to be a virgin right now.
My friends aren’t. Although I doubt they even do it right.
Anyways, I think about it entirely too much. If I’d go on the pill, where, how, who?
I think about diseases and getting tested. Would I? Should I? What if I get a disease and can’t ever do it again? Or worse - what if my vagina isn’t normal? Healthy?
What’s wrong with me? God. Why do I think about this stuff? Am I the only one?Read more
1. When I thanked the human race for their contributions
2. When I had this PSA for FSU bus drivers & my mom was super proud
3. When I took the time to really appreciate the start of my day
4. When I reflected fondly on a great semester
5. When I used driving as my time to meditate
6. When I took responsibility for my emotions
7. When I rode the runner's endorphin high
8. When I found inner peace and a way to cope with my anxiety
9. When I embraced popular trends
10. When I understood how to be politically correct in the work-place
11. When the positivity of others lifted my spirits
12. When I made friends with others who shared my love for fitness
13. When I appreciated how far we've come technologically
14. When I adhered to the practice of always showing the customer the utmost respect
15. When I didn't let a little inconvenience spoil my mood
16. When I forgave & forgot
17. When I appreciated the diversity of my friends on social media
18. When I went jet-setting and made friends on the plane
19. When I understood the meaning of romance in relationships
20. And finally, when I moved to the Bible Belt & embraced the lifestyle with dignity & grace
I didn’t grow up poor. I mean, I wasn’t rich by any means. My family was just, normal. We always had food in the pantry; we took modest vacations during the summer, lived on a cul-de-sac. All that jazz.
So I don’t really know why I started stealing toilet paper from my job.
One day I was running late for work and when I went to pee before leaving, I noticed there wasn’t anything left on the roll. I checked under the sink for more. Nothing. I checked the cabinets, the linen closet, and for some reason, the kitchen. Still nothing. There wasn’t a square to be found in my apartment.
When I got to the office I headed straight to the bathroom and stuffed a roll into my purse without thinking. After that, it kind of just became this weekly thing I did. Monday morning would arrive and I’d show up to work with a gym bag.
Tracy, our receptionist, would be all, “Maggie how’s that new gym you signed up for? You look great! I can already see a difference.”
And I’d say, “Oh, it’s so great! They have an indoor track and a sauna. It’s really just about making healthy choices, you know?”
And then I’d go to the bathroom and fill my empty gym bag with stolen toilet paper.Read more
Exactly one year ago today I posted my first (and so far my only) short story, “Ellipses,” on this blog. The day it went up I got 17 views. The second day, 56. It tapered off very quickly after that and, for the whole month of October 2014, "Ellipses" raked in a total of 103 viewers.
A lot has changed in a year...
Yesterday I did something that apparently most people find strange, which was ripping out my own broken, disgusting, aching, bleeding, heart and making fun of the most painful situation I’ve been in thus far in my short life. Not only that, in the midst of my little joke, I (hopefully) insulted obnoxious-in-love couples on social media, and involved the perpetrator of my broken heart - my ex boyfriend.
Your reactions were hilarious. I received a few confused but supportive texts. Some thought it was insensitive to involve Andrew (I asked him if he was okay with it, not that it’s his say OR anyone else’s goddamn business. But still.). A few of you were highly uncomfortable.
I gladly welcomed all of them. Posting that entry was extremely therapeutic for me, and as the title suggests, the only way I’m going to get through this god-awful fucking ordeal is to laugh...in between hysterically ugly-crying. And being drunk.
I broke my record for views in a day with yesterday’s post at 222 views.
Previously, my record was 193 for “I Said Yes,” (you guys are really loving my stuff when I’m miserable. I’m not sure whether I should be insulted or flattered), and before that, 93 for “Dark Matter” (Okay so you wanna read about broken hearts and sex. Got it.).
The moment I saw that number, I admittedly felt immense joy. Three years ago I didn’t even want to start this blog, and I’m pretty sure my first entry was called “The First of Many Meaningless and Unread Posts,” or something equally cheery.
So with that said, I want to take a moment and do something rare, which is be serious. And (wait for it) nice. So here goes -
I want to thank any and everyone who has ever read a single thing from Stuff.
For anyone who has ever reached out to me to let me know they liked what I wrote; some of you I barely even know or talk to.
Thank you to everyone who said kind things, gave me constructive criticism, or politely disagreed with my opinion / something I wrote.
Thank you to the Miami-based artists who gave my words another dimension.
To those of you whom I’ve never even met but you somehow found my blog - you’re fucking awesome. To ya’ll that comment, like, and share my stuff - I love you.
For those who challenged and continue to challenge me; for those who pester me when I haven’t posted anything in a long time; for those who constantly encourage and support me - Thank you.
And lastly, thank you to the person who shall remain nameless for pushing and pushing me until I finally created this thing that I didn’t even believe in at first.
Before Stuff, I had never, ever, let anyone read things I wrote, nor did I share anything. Like my feelings and emotions, I kept everything hidden away in boxes - Concealed. Protected. Guarded.
Since Stuff, I’ve collaborated with artists, read original poetry to a room full of strangers, and become a better and more confident writer (I lost the air-quotes. Ballsy move, I know).
This blog is still small, with probably an even smaller reach. The stats may not seem like a big deal, but I assure ya’ll that it is, and means, much more than a number. And it is a big deal.
My only hope is to keep writing things that people will find honest, whatever that entails is up to you. Whether it’s sadness, heartache, anger, laughter, empathy - whatever. I just hope you feel something.
THANK YOU all for being awesome. You have no idea how much it means to me, and how much it’s saving me right now. I’ll keep ‘em coming as best as I can (insert standard sex joke here).
Who knows, I might even self-publish a book one day soon…