Monday, June 26, 2006

Stories about Life...

Charley loved it when we wrote about our own lives, or examined things about ourself. These are pieces where I did just that.

The Well-Organized Procrastinator

Whenever an English or Theatre class meets at St. Joseph’s College, I am usually present and accounted for. Unless of course I am still sitting in my apartment finishing homework for one of the aforementioned classes. I am a small in stature English major, with platinum blonde hair, and I possess two very special, yet different, characteristics. I am extremely organized, but at the same time, I manage to be one of the biggest procrastinators on this earth. Although planning ahead is a favorite pastime of mine, starting papers the night before they are due happens to be one as well.

It was a hot mid-August day, and I had just finished unpacking my very girlish and pink bedroom and my first day of classes when I came to the realization that I still did not have my Puma Guide. I had homework already, so naturally I wanted to write it down, but I had nowhere to do that. I pulled out my old puma guides, since I keep all of them, and looked for space to write, but every page was filled.

When this proved pointless I went on to interrogate my other suite mates on the location of the coveted “Puma Guide” day planner, but to no avail. No one could help me. After I realized that I would not be able to decorate and organize my planner, I decided to label all my folders, spirals, and books instead. Before retiring to bed on Monday night, I printed out a much more organized and of course pink, schedule to put outside my door.

Tuesday arrived, and there was still no sign of the Puma guide in my child sized hands. Meetings and assignments were half-heartedly written on post-it notes that were all over her desk. I still had my lists I thought, and examined what I had left to do for the night. I have a habit of writing down already finished on my tasks so that I may triumphantly highlight them as done. I had almost given up hope on my planner, when an angel stepped in. Joan Cramer from student development had come to my rescue, and called to inform me of the planner’s whereabouts.

The laundry room mailboxes, of course! I sprinted-well, walked briskly, to the room and happily claimed my Puma Guide. It was beautiful, crisp, and new. I spent the next hour writing down assignments and meetings from Monday and Tuesday, and marked birthdays and special events as well. Of course, I had yet to do any of the homework I had written down, but I vowed to start my exercises for fiction writing soon. It was after all only 10:00 pm, and I still had some arranging and organizing left to do in my room.


My Name


In the dictionary, my name means spinning wheel or donkey. In Pig Latin, it is enniferJ. It means grace, and purity. It is like the number 8. A furry texture. It is the show tunes my mother sings off key in the kitchen when she is not cooking, but smoking.

It was no one’s name before mine and it is still mine. It was however, the most popular name in the mid-eighties-- my parents were very original. You would expect more from my Dad, being a Gemini and all. I’m a Gemini too, which is supposed to mean I have split personalities—but I don’t believe in that Astrology mumbo jumbo because Astrologers, like the Republicans, always doom people with huge flaws.

My dad, I would have liked to have known him in his younger years, a skinny Andy Gibb look-alike, so crazy he had a carpeted van. Until my mom took clippers to his hair and told him to eat some more. Just like that, as if he were a Ken doll. That’s how she does it.

And the story goes on that he never fought her again. He has apologized under his breath his whole life, the way some women do after they’ve been abused for too long. I wonder if he made the worst of it by sulking or was he happy because he never had to be the decision maker again. Gemini. I have inherited his sign, but I don’t want to inherit his self-worth.

At school, they made fun of me when we looked in the dictionaries for the meaning of our names. But I knew my name was wonderful, interchangeable, and I used it to create a variety of personas with different spellings and endings. I guess I really am I Gemini. At least it’s not Christopher, my cousins’ name—which is a much worse “fur” name than mine. But he was always CJ at home, I was always Jennifer.

I baptized myself under a new name at school, which I think is the real me, but I’m not quite sure yet. Jen…I was Jenny, Jennie, Jenni when I was younger. But I’d really love my name to be Zoey. I love that name.

The Red Backpack

When I was little, I would walk to school. My favorite thing abut walking to school was the fact that I got to show off my new backpack. I was in Kindergarten, and to kick it off my parents bought me a red backpack with all sorts of school supplies sewn into the plastic pockets. There were scissors, pencils and pens, and a great teddy bear pencil sharpener. Although the backpack was half my size, I never minded lugging it to school with nothing but my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunch box and my show and tell inside of it. My obsession for bags has evolved past plastic backpacks to $200 Coach Purses, and when my parents nag on me, I just remind them it was their wonderful gift that started it all.

Pillow People

I loved my baby doll pillow person more than life itself. I brought it with me everywhere, including Disney World when I was seven. The doll was shaped like a rectangle, with lace edging around. It had two satin covered feet and cloth arms as well. I could never go to bed at night without something silky to rub while I sucked my thumb. My pillow person’s feet took on this job in full and were beginning to wear after a few months of use.

When we left the Wonderful World of Disney, about 20 miles out and ready for a nap, I realized my pillow person was nowhere to be found. I panicked, as did my parents. We even went as for as to drive al the way back to the Polynesian Village, but the maids had already cleaned up. I was distraught for weeks, and no replacement could be found. My parents bought me a sweetheart pillow person, but I scoffed at it. Accepting it would mean I would have to accept that my baby doll pillow person really was no more. This consolation prize failed to fill the void in my seven-year-old heart.

Childhood Memories I

I was eight, and the butterflies were in full force as I listened anxiously for sleigh bells on the roof. Instead, there were angry voices. I sat upright in my parents waterbed with the covers pulled tightly around me. What could my parents possibly have to fight about on Christmas Eve? Then I heard my mother’s voice. It sounded so eerily drained of emotion. “Well, I guess you could take her on the weekends,” she said. I sat frozen as I listened to their voices continue about custody and whatnot. What was I going to do now, I thought. Who could I turn to? Surely, I could not go out there and inform them that I had just heard everything. Numb with shock, I suddenly remembered that my brother Jack was here and he was staying in the bedroom at the back of the house. I slowly crept to the door and mustered up all the courage I had before I shot through the living room, where my parents were, to our guest bedrooms.

Somehow, I still had not cried, but as soon as I met my brother’s eyes, I burst into tears. I told him everything though sobs and gasping breaths. He merely said to me with kind eyes, “Don’t worry little punk, it’ll be all right.” And I believed him. I followed behind him to the main hallway that connected the back of the house to the front. From there I had a direct view of the living room where my parents were. I watched as my brother stormed in and unleashed upon my father, his stepfather. In his fury, he lashed out at my dad, ripping his shirt from collar to hem. My father stood dumbstruck with his half-torn shirt slumping awkwardly off him. My mother offered a few squeaks but was miraculously struck speechless as my brother left the room. When he came back, I slept that night in his bed, safe and warm.

I awoke Christmas morning to breakfast being made and the typical eight-year-olds dream, mounds of toys. I had temporarily forgotten the night before, but it would change us as a family forever.

Childhood Memories II

In the fall of 1999, I met Colin. Actually, I had met Colin when we were in Kindergarten, but being a typical child I only really hung out with other children like me. The thing about Colin is that he was severely mentally handicapped, which scared many of the other kids my age. I had always been nice to him, but never really made the effort to be his friend. This year I had been selected to be a peer tutor. Mrs. “P” had asked me if I would help Colin, and I had agreed. He was in a sophomore level English class, and supposedly, when he did the work it was good quality. When I stepped into class, I spotted Colin immediately as he had grown to a very tall height of 6’2. I however, had remained as small in stature as ever, so I was thankful he had taken his seat.

I walked over and “introduced” myself, though he ignored me and stared blankly at his computer booting up. I kept talking for the hour, mostly to myself. This went on for days, where I would walk in and introduce myself, and I was afraid we were not going to make any progress at all. Two weeks passed, and I made the realization that he was playing a game with me. When I entered he said, “Who are you?” blankly as usual, to which I responded, “Colin, you know my name-I’ve known you since Kindergarten.” From then on, he dropped the act, and even smiled at me once in awhile. Over the term he opened up to me and revealed how much he loved the cartoon, “Hey Arnold!” which I immediately started watching at home so we would have something to talk about. In class, he was working on letters and basic writing techniques, and I asked the teacher if she would let him work on something a little different. She went along with it, but made me promise it would be productive and educational.

Colin had been showing me comics he had drawn and sent in to Nickelodeon, because someday he wanted to work for “Hey Arnold!” So I had him bring in some of the plot lines he had come up with, and together we wrote a script. He seemed to really enjoy this project and was excited at the idea of being a professional cartoonist after high school. At the end of the term, I was very sad to leave, but happy that we had made a connection. We still made contact in the halls with a wave every now and then, and even today, I see Colin at the Jewel, where he still works. I wave every time I see him, but that familiar blank look comes across his eyes, and this time I really don’t think he remembers.

The Small in Stature Identity Snatcher

Tasha Lippi moved to Batavia, Illinois in the beginning of sixth grade. She was tiny, and had shiny brown hair that was cut into a chin-length bob. We immediately became friends. We were both in Mr. Carlson’s homeroom on team 6-5, the “South Side Lemmings.” She also lived around the corner from me, so we rode the same bus to school every day. We shared clothes because we were the same size, and talked on the phone everyday after school. I told her all about the guy I liked, Brent, and we gossiped about people in our classes. I introduced her to my best friend Nikki during the first week, and pretty soon, we were all great friends with each other.

After a month or two, things began to change. I noticed that Tasha had a habit of borrowing things and never returning them, like my green silk shirt. I also found out that she and Brent had been talking on the phone a lot. One day Nikki, Tasha, her brother Nathan and I were walking our bikes to Memorial Park to hang out. Tasha was busy talking to Nikki about her Grandma’s apple pie and I asked Tasha how she knew about it. It was then that Tasha looked at me and said, “Maybe you just don’t know Nikki as well as I does, because we’ve been hanging out a lot more together than you have.”

Nicole Arlene Spies had been my best friend since third grade, and I was not going to stand some out of town insignificant brat stealing her, and the rest of my life, away. I set my bike down on the sidewalk gently and calmly walked over to Tasha. Then in a fit of rage, I grabbed her entire head of hair and began pulling it to the side as hard as I could. With my free hand I began slapping and punching her face and kicking at the same time. Soon after that, her brother Nathan jumped on my back and began choking me until I let go. When I finally broke free, I tore off, leaving my bike behind. Tasha moved after that year, but the other friends she did make threatened to beat me up for the rest of my middle school years. I did not care though; I had won my best friend and my life back.

The Outfits We Wore,
The Way We Were


What a difference sobriety makes when recalling the events of the night before. The only problem was that no one else remembered what had happened the night before either. Then, the evidence comes back, developed from a disposable camera at the local Walgreens. All I knew was that I would soon have in my possession a picture of the mysterious freshman I was unexplainably obsessed with. What I did not know, as I tore off the red Walgreens seal, was that I was also in the picture, all over him.

The 80’s dance that S.U.B. sponsored in the fall was one of the best nights I have ever had on St. Joe’s campus. Looking back on my coveted picture, that night really brought my friend Becky and I together as we both left the apartment looking ridiculous but laughing all the way. She was dressed as Sir Elton John, inspired solely by a pair of purple glitter sunglasses I had spotted in her room. We dragged her to thrift store after thrift store that Saturday, but it was not until we nervously entered the Gary Salvation Army store that Sir Elton John was reincarnated in Indiana. I had decided on Chrissy from Three’s Company in memory of John Ritter, and although I decided against the 1980’s roller skates, I did find a pair of patent leather killer red pumps and increased my bust size by two socks each.

Armed with her purple boa and a buzz, Becky was more confident than ever, and even won the best costume contest. While I blurrily eyed my prey Marco, Becky pounced, dragging him to the center of the “dance floor” to take a picture with “Chrissy.” It is quite obvious when I look at the picture that Marco was somewhat petrified, especially since he was without a costume or an alcohol stretched smile.

As I recalled, I was only posing with my arm around him, not with my entire body pressed against him like a lush, but everything looks different through the eyes of a drunkard. Becky poses free and confident in the picture, and this is my favorite memory of her. The night was so carefully planned, and it is hard to believe that we spent so much time getting ready, just to get sloshed and stagger home. Nevertheless, we all suspended reality for a while and jumped aboard the time warp back to the eighties.

Becky’s psychedelic mish-mash of colors and patterns transformed her into eccentric Elton and everything from my hideous red clip-on earrings to my homemade “Chrissy” shirt and suspenders helped me forget about all the stress of classes. I also had the courage to flirt a little bit and realize that I’m not married, and I should be having the time of my life right now, not sitting at home pining away for a boy. I think judging by the picture, that pretending to be a male diva and a dumb bimbo brought out the wild side in both of us.

I will admit that it was very hard to look at my “ethnic luva,” as Becky would say, in the eye after that night, and I hope he knows that my obsession is purely playful and I do not intend to stalk him or tap his phone line anytime soon.

Though we couldn’t do half the things we did that night today without serious drugs, it is very clear that a costume, a bottle of cheap wine, and good friends will bring out the best and make for a great and memorable night.

Sniffles

It is amazing how many people find it appropriate to come to class sick, hacking, coughing, dripping and sniffing to no end. Sure, I understand these must be dedicated young scholars, but as a dedicated student myself, I expect to be able to learn in a quiet and healthy environment.
Picture if you will the Shen Auditorium at Saint Joseph’s College. The Shen is a place where the acoustics are already ridiculous and the sound system often fails. As I quietly listen, they come creeping in slowly like thunder. Sniffles…sneezes…coughs…and hacks. From the left, the right, and then from behind me they pounce. The coughs begin to get deeper, and I can hear the phlegm that resides within the swollen gullets.

Not only do I feel cheated because I can no longer listen patiently to Bro. Reuter, but I fear for my life and health as well. Who do these people think they are coming to class to share their disease with the rest of school?

In addition to this, I begin to conjure up an image of whoever was sitting in my lecture seat before me. I immediately picture a person with the most stomach churning sickness of all, the leaky nose. This person probably did not carry Kleenex in their bag as I do, and had to wipe their nose onto an already germ infested sweatshirt sleeve that would rest where my very forearms were now. My stomach folds over on itself as I think of the germs infesting my workspace.

Before I was so rudely interrupted, I had been listening to Bro. Reuter discuss human rights. One of my human rights is to an education that does not take place in an environment that is hazardous to my health. So I would like to ask all sick people to report to our pristine health center so that I may learn in peace.

This is my favorite piece, probably because the character is so amazing on her own that she needs no embellishment. If she wishes I remove this piece she should kindly let me know... but i love it.

beckylovesrob: the woman, the friend, the enigma

Typing away at about 70 words per minute, beckylovesrob talks to four of her closest friends in various IM window boxes and counsels them on their lives and problems. I sit comfortably in my spot, her blue chair by the window and watch curiously, as she guides them to sanity and reasoning in a matter of minutes. She is also working on a couple of news releases at the same time, along with Core homework and a paper or two, but she gives generously of her time to the people she cares about most, her friends.

She is known to people outside of the AIM realm as Rebecca Lynn Scherer, and currently resides in the apartments at Saint Joseph’s College, where she studies English creative writing. Becky is always busy, running in and out of the door with her coral colored backpack, but tonight she seems calm, amidst the brewing storm of papers that have found their way to her desk. I don’t have many questions for her, and I don’t really know how to interview someone whom I know everything about, so I just sit and smile, watching her LOL (laugh out loud) and WTF (what the fuck) as various messages pop up on the screen.

As more and more messages appear, she starts to get flustered, and begins to type goodbye messages and click them closed while popping her gum at rapid speed. After an especially long message, she will flick her hand and pop all of her fingers as well. Then with a flip of her red curly hair, she gets up and heads to the kitchen to make her signature sandwich. “I wish someone would call me, no one likes me,” she says audibly to anyone listening. She knows she is lying, but she continues to play the self-proclaimed martyr. “They all want me to listen to their problems and then they are out the door with other friends, fuckers.” Putting the tub of margarine away and slapping her turkey on wheat toast, she settles in the living room on the “no-sex couch.” No one really knows why it is called that, but she comfortably sinks in and turns on Season 2 of Sex and the City.

Within the apartment, set character roles have been established for each of the roommates except one, who does not partake in the cult viewing and re-viewing of Sex and the City episodes. Becky is known as Carrie Bradshaw, the fun loving best friend of all the other female characters on the show. Carrie is also the column writer for the New York Star, which coincides perfectly with Becky’s dream to work as an editor for a newspaper. Becky, like Carrie, is more often than not found gazing at the computer screen, developing new thoughts and ideas. As I looked over at Becky I couldn’t help but wonder, in the journalistic style of Carrie Bradshaw, “Does Becky realize how much her friendships affect her and influence her?”

As we watch Carrie and Aidan sit in their oversized leather chair, talk turns of course, to boys. There are two men in Becky’s life that she cares very deeply for, with the handles sandler39 and multimedia43. Almost every night, and especially on Tuesdays, Becky and sandler39 watch 24 together and hang out at his house or go to Grandma’s. The two of them share a special bond and we yell at him every time he comes to pick her up for not coming up to the door, but honking his horn. We tease her about how much she leaves us to hang out with him, but it is obvious that he has a profound impact on her life, and makes her very happy when she is around him.

Then there is Multimedia43, her other best guy friend, who enters the apartment in Kramer-esque style, slamming the door and standing proudly on the tile floor. They sit in her room and he tells her his problems, and one can only imagine that she pulls out a long couch for him to lie on and receive his daily therapy session. No matter how busy Becky is, she makes time for these people and lets them into her life with an unselfish attitude.

Of course, they leave and she explodes about how busy she is, but for that hour or two, her time belongs to them. Becky is also very involved in other things on campus, and is always up in the Observer office doing newspaper or Measure magazine work. Although this semester she is terribly busy, her roommates have somehow molded her into a reality TV watching freak, and she partakes in this ritual nightly to watch people make fools of themselves.

As the credits for Sex and the City roll past the screen, Becky gets up to throw away her plate, and knocks over a cup of water on the floor. Cursing and stomping, because she does this daily, she races to the kitchen for paper towels and sops it up. It is not an uncommon occurrence to come into Apartment 201 and see paper towels or bath towels mopping up water spills on the carpet. After her crisis, she escapes into her room to secretly check voicemail, IM screens, away messages and e-mail…a habit everyone in college seems to pick up.

Becky does not talk much about her family, but she is always talking online with her 16-year-old brother Tim, or relaying gossip to her mother on the phone. Her relationship with her mother is one of brutal honesty and laughter, and they both share the same contagious laugh and smile. Becky and her father share bright red hair and the quiet side that most people see of her. Hailing from St. John, Becky could easily be a suitcase student, but she rarely goes home unless meeting up with friends or going to a doctor’s appointment.

Becky is always well aware that she needs to start her homework, but instead she is on the computer talking to her best friend from high school linprin83, Lindsay, and they are making plans to meet up at home the next weekend. After getting off the phone, she comes back to the living room, and one by one the rest of her roommates saunter in with popcorn, peanut butter, or tomato soup to snack on. This gathering usually results in wisecracks and inside jokes, most of which end up on the “The Note Card Wall” in the kitchen. It is 7:00, which means reality TV time in the Apt. 201 household. Annie yells at Becky for telling a story during Average Joe II: Hawaii, and in typical Becky fashion she gives Annie her best scowl, stands up, and says, “I hate you right now!” and stomps of to her room and slams the door. She comes back out a minute later and after giving Annie one more mock dirty look, returns to her position on the couch.

Some days Becky is quiet and reserved, but more often than not she is laughing and joining in a chorus of made up songs, gossip, or screaming matches in the hallway outside her room. Within the comfort of the apartment, Becky is confident, crass, and extremely witty, but the weekends always bring out the shy side of Becky for a while, hiding behind a Melon Ball bottle of Boone’s Farm. Usually after two drinks, she returns to her confident self and she shows off her wonderful sense of humor to the rest of the crowd at Core XI. Although she is always telling me to not care what other people think of her, she does it herself at times, which is common with so many cliques on St. Joe’s campus.

Whether it’s being ditched for dinner, stood up for a 24 viewing, or being ignored by far-away friends, Becky sometimes learns the hard way what it is like to give 110% and not get it back in return. Although very independent, Becky tends to rely on her friends and their advice more than anything else, and their quirks and opinions influence her and help her to develop her own personality. She is not a clone though, of one or more of her friends, but her own unique person. From her fiery temper to match her red hair, to her conservative girlish side we never see, she exudes a loving and devoted loyalty to everyone in her life. There is also her darker side, the gossiper whose most common line is, “We’re going to hell, seriously.” Yet we continue to sit at the same table in the café and amuse ourselves with others fashion mistakes, relationships and idiotic comments.

The best thing about Becky is that she does not change her personality depending on who she is with, she is always the same Girk to me, a nickname that originated from a typo of girl. She is the same person I met three years ago during the musical, befriending people with ease and cracking jokes about others behind their backs. This trait is not necessarily malicious, but more of a hobby that tends to be habitual when in the company of women. Her other activities include making Ramen, leaving funny away messages, and thinking up clever excuses to miss choir and not start homework. Procrastinating is also a practiced art of Becky’s, and one ore more roommates are always willing to help her accomplish this. Amazingly, she always manages to get her work done on time, often pulling all-nighters or getting two or three hours of sleep.

Sometimes I wonder how she can stand to do so much hard work and get so little in return, but then I will catch her enjoying the newspaper or writing poetry in her room and I am assured that she would not involve herself in something if she did not get some sort of satisfaction or pleasure from doing it. In addition to scholastic work, Becky is a member of the SJC choir, involved in the theatre program, and a cantor for music ministry. With her angelic alto voice, she brings the congregation to make a joyful noise. Becky also was involved with the Student Association and is always busy with her internship in the Public Relations department at St. Joe.

Her friends are often competing for her attention, as many of us will be graduating and want to spend time with her before our time at St. Joe is through, which can be tough on Becky and her busy schedule. It is while walking to class, lying around the apartment or eating meals together where I talk to Becky the most, and we joke and kid around about stupid things we have both said. Most memorable is one of the first nights Becky and I hung out, the previous year when we both lived in Justin hall. I drove her to Wal-Mart, and as we exited my car, she dropped her case of Diet Pepsi, and as they rapidly rolled away, she panicked and cried, “Get back here, all of you!” in a high-pitched voice comparable to my own. This was indeed, the night that jump-started a friendship based on mockery and inside jokes that no one else will ever understand.

As Average Joe II: Hawaii comes to an end, Becky announces that, “Now I really have to do my homework,” but we all know she is faking it. So instead, we divert her with popcorn and the Real World: San Diego and she is stuck in our reality TV clutches for one more hour. Though she will never admit it, Becky Scherer, the anti-reality show person, was once spotted with the American Idol website up on her computer screen. Purely for research, we are sure…

Whether it is during our weekly trips to Subway, outside walks so I can receive therapy from Dr. Scherer, midnight viewings of Dave Matthews Band DVD’s, or good old re-runs of Sex and the City, I can count on beckylovesrob to give me, tinydancer619, a good LOL (laugh out loud) to my IM screen, and a :) to my face.

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5:02 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

Hey! What a wonderful story :) :) :) I had forgotten that you wrote that... and it made me remember just how much I miss the "beckylovesrob" screenname. Stupid AIM service!!!

Anyway... thanks again for writing such a lovely tribute to our friendship. I completely forgot about "Get back here, all of you!" but when I read it, I lol'd for about five minutes straight.

I miss you!!!

1:23 PM  

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