Thursday, August 28, 2008

This May Come As a Shock..

I'm going to stop sugarcoating things: I love men. Older men. They're my favorite.

Now, if you'll excuse my mother's heart attack in the corner due to my bluntness, I will explain. I'm talking about professors [see, Mom? That's not so bad now, is it?]. I don't really know why, but for some reason I have had the most absolutely endearing string of older, male professors, and I think that they are just completely cute. And not cute in the way that I think that the kid in my Honors class who looks like Elvis is cute -- he's cute, although his chin's resemblance to that of the King's is kind of silly. No, I think that my old man professors are cute like babies are cute...I think that's fitting. Some girls love babies, while I love adorable little old professors. Besides, I'm not very good with babies. They always cry when I hold them.

My Honors history prof from last year, for instance. He has to be in his sixties or seventies, and he teaches a year-long Honors course with his wife. It's the ultimate academic adventure, let me tell you. Professor Wife is a wickedly intelligent woman and a wonderful professor; she coerced me into Russian courses, so you know she's good at her job. She's loud and intimidating and scary until you get to know her, at which point she is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. By contrast, Professor Hubby is just a charming, quaint, absent-minded man who wandered about class and giggled when lecturing on the French Revolution. He once said that he wanted to write a book about France's history and title it The Dynastic Hangover. If I were to walk across campus and see Professor Hubby quite literally chasing butterflies, only to be distracted by a rare bird call, and then turn away due to some sort of mythical creature fleeting across the grounds, it honestly would not surprise me one bit. He has that much of a child-like innocence to him.

My Honors Sociology prof from this semester, however, has enough attitude for his entire department. While he has an obnoxiously clear-cut agenda to challenge his students ideology and change our thinking process, he is rude and sarcastic and hilarious and therefore, I love him already. An aged sort of hippie, from the looks of his casual, short-sleeved button downs and the wool socks beneath his sandals, he jumps around class with an energy that makes me question its source. Professor Hippie talks faster than Daddy on caffeine, and the topics fly by so fast that none of us can get a word in anywhere. Though I have an inclination that things are going to get very interesting very quickly [he consistently says, "So maybe you're from a conservative, middle-class family from West Michigan," with mirth and a touch of condescension], I cannot foresee being bored, if for nothing else than the fact that I'm kind of anticipating his grumpy old man days as being very entertaining.

Professor Hippie's counterpart is a sort of hybrid between Hippie and Hubby. This particular old man is very paternal, grandfatherly and sweet, but there is a certain sense of biting "stick it to the Man" vibe emitting from him. He's a slight man [especially in comparison to Professor Hippie's boisterous, lumbering persona] and he has a shock of full, white hair on his head that he runs his hands through when he's thinking....he almost resembles Dustin Hoffman, in a way. Yes, Dustin Hoffman with a beard. Professor Hoffman is seemingly just so sweet, but he has the same peculiar energy as Professor really makes you wonder...he gets quite excited about his topic as well, but as it is psychology, you can basically say nothing wrong in his class. "Oh, yes, of course, that is interesting," he would say to even the most oddball comment. "I have never thought about it that way -- please explain why you think that!" You see? Completely charming old man.

Even my English professor from last year was awesome. He was laid-back to a fault; when looking over the syllabus, he would say things like, "I mean, Milton is good, but Paradise Lost is so long and you guys want to read all of it? I don't really Okay. We'll just do sonnets." Brett was much younger than any of the other professors that I'm talking about [probably somewhere in his forties], and he looked like a combination of men from my family -- it was eerie to walk in the first day and stare straight into the face of a pseudo-Creamer. Sometimes he seemed bored about his topic, so he would regale us with any number of unrelated and semi-inappropriate was a great class, albeit almost unproductive...

I just love male professors. Obviously, some of my best and favorite professors have been women [Mrs. Jones, Gail, Professor Wife...], and it's not like there is any schoolgirl crush that has exploded into the Indiana Jones situation [you know, where the girls in his class wrote "I love you" on their eyelids and blinked veeeery slowly?], but still. I can't help it. I love men.

Oh, and if somebody could resuscitate my mother, I would appreciate it. I would, of course, but I have a class with Professor Hippie soon...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Forever and Ever.

I love how friendships grow and change and mature and morph over time. It's really an incredible thing -- when I think about the first time I met some of my closest friends, it amazes me to see how far we've come. My head nearly explodes sometimes at how God perfectly orchestrated everything for us. Take, for instance, Jessie. Who would have thought that the random girl I met in the lobby my second day of college would turn into one of the best friends that I have ever had?

The first time we met, I think that I scared Jess. Between my terrifying nighttime look [glasses, disheveled ponytail, sweatpants – it’s enough to make anyone cry], my abrupt question [“Do you get phone service anywhere in here??”], and instant bond twenty minutes after we met [“Do you want to be Best Friends??!”], she had to be at least a tiny bit overwhelmed. Something, however, clicked between us the very instant that we met, and ever since that moment, one year ago today, she has been a rock in my life.

Jessie is different than any of my other friends. I have a lot of “best” friends. There are six or seven girls in particular who form a sort of counsel for me, a soundboard of love and advice and encouragement and laughs. They all mean everything to me, in a different way. Jessie fits among them in a place all her own. I think that it’s because when I met Jess, it was the first time I instantly bonded with someone because of our common foundation in Christ. Ours was my first friendship that was forged out of a need for fellowship. From the very start, Jessie and I were sisters, and relationships between sisters are always different than relationships between even the best of friends.

There is just something about Jess’s passion and love for Jesus that is inspiring. Her drive to know Him better, to be His light into this world, to live every day for His glory is something that I had never seen in motion before. I think that when people look at us, they see me as a leader, because I’m loud and obnoxious and I like to be in front of people. Jessie is more timid, shy perhaps, but believe me when I say that she garners more confidence and strength from her faith than anyone I know. She and I faced some intense trials last year, and she was the strong one. She was faithful and loving and she helped carry me through the situations. I do not know where I would be right now if it weren’t for her friendship.

And it’s not like we sit around, quoting Scripture in a dark room for fun. We have the best time when we’re together. In merely a year, we have made the most incredible memories – adventures downtown, spontaneous concerts, spring break, late night roadtrips, and all nighters all over campus, just to touch on a couple. I’ve never been as instantly comfortable being exactly myself with anybody but Jess.

It completely and utterly blows my mind to think how perfectly God placed us together. Jessie and I compliment one another so well, that we balance each other out, highlight the strengths and help with the weaknesses. I could write an entire book about what an amazing friend she is, how caring and sensitive she is, how resilient and hopeful she is, how much fun we have together. I could keep going and write that she is purely beautiful, inside and out, and that she makes me think and laugh and love more. I could keep going and going and going, until the only person who was still reading at the end was Jessie herself, because everyone else finally decided that for a person to be that wonderful, she must be fictional.

A very wise person once looked at us and said, “You guys are like the best best friends.” That made Jessie and I smile at the time, but now looking back, it’s true. Jessie has helped define my college career so far, and our relationship has deepened and matured more in one year than I ever thought possible. I literally feel like I have known her forever, and even though that isn’t the case, I love knowing that we have the rest of our lives to keep being friends. I really can’t wait to see what else God has in store for us, because the future only looks brighter.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Keep Going Until The Pavement Ends

They say opposites attract. Katie and I are quite opposite...sometimes. Sort of. Okay, so we're really not at all -- we both love to laugh [I prefer mine snort-free, however] and have fun, we both love the non-food at Kleiner with an unhealthy abandon, we both love our friends and families more than anything else in this world, and we are both directionally and domestically challenged. It's true; as much as we may want to, Katie and I could never live together, because we would burn the house down with our "cooking," and then we'd get lost whenever we left on a desperately needed fast food run. I'm sure our mothers cringe at the very idea.

Regardless of the fact that I cannot read, give, or follow directions at all, there is one circumstance under which my inner compass resembles my father's instead of my mom's, and that is in a mall. I know, I know, it's pathetic, but it's true -- ask any of my friends or my sister, when there is shopping involved, I have the nose of a bloodhound. Even if I have never been INTO a certain mall, I instinctively know where to find the stores I want, I sense when I am going the wrong way, I can find whatever I am looking for. It is beyond strange.

Because of this, I had enough faith in my shopping-center savvy [and GoogleMaps, naturally] to think that even Katie and I could find Woodland Mall on Wednesday morning. The last time I went there was with my genius friend Alyssa, and it was easy to get to...of course, Alyssa uses words like, "north" and "east" in regular conversations, so maybe she and I are more opposite than Katie and I...but either way, the mall was one turn off the highway, and Katie and I were already IN the general area, so how hard could it be to find??

Though construction tried to thwart us, nothing gets between two twenty-year-old girls and the notion of spending the money that they should save for things like food and rent. We suffered minor delays and opposition, but when we pulled of the highway at the correct exit, we were one turn, 8.9 miles, and approximately 17 minutes from our destination. Sure, it confused us a little bit that we passed Rivertown, the shopping mega-center that so delighted us when we were younger. "I thought that they were on opposite sides of town..." we said to each other. We re-examined our directions, though, and according to them, we were right on track. So we kept going.

I don't know what our first clue was. Maybe it was the fact that we were looking for 28th street, and I noticed that we were crossing streets like 46th, 52nd, 78th, 83rd...but then again, maybe the street numbers start over after 100, so we kept going.

Maybe it was the fact that civilization slowly started to trickle behind us, a distant memory by the time we reached the first cornfield. Maybe it was around the time that the cornfields became so plentiful that they gave way to cabbage patches and darling little farms, complete with the red barns and the silos that Julie loves so much...maybe then we should have figured it out. But then again, maybe a burst of commercialism awaited after the next light and we were almost there, so we kept going.

Maybe by the time we passed the North Door County Store, we should have known that a mall was nowhere nearby. I mean, I'll bet the little shack still accepted credit from Ma Ingalls and bartered for fresh eggs. Something was definitely wrong, even though we had followed the directions PERFECTLY. In a last vain attempt to find the ever elusive mall, we kept going.

Finally, we lost hope. Choking on laughter at our ridiculous situation, we decided that at the next light, we would turn around and try to figure out where we were going. We didn't even get that opportunity, though, because there WAS no "next light." The pavement ended. We had driven until we ran out of road.

Obviously, we turned around, and by the time we pulled over at the North Door County Store, there were two people sitting on the front porch [see? a store with a front porch...because they've made on of THOSE in the past one hundred years...] and I rolled down the window. "You lost?" they asked, inherently knowing out situation.

"Um, yeah," I said. "We're trying to get to the Woodland Mall."

Their mouths dropped open, and they stared at us incredulously. The red-headed woman barked a laugh. "You're really lost," she said.

The nice hillbillies gave us directions to Woodland, but at that point, we didn't really want to risk we ended up at Rivertown, safe, familiar Rivertown.

And so, our shopping adventure turned into quite another adventure, but hey -- we figured out where Woodland was NOT. And it was hilarious. And it merited a blog. And we still got to hang out and start this year right. And Katie and I have the rest of our lives to figure out directions. And learn how to cook. I think we're going to be all right.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The End.

The day has finally come. I never thought that it would happen. I have hoped and cried and dreamed and prayed for this very moment, and here it is. It is Monday afternoon, and I am in my apartment, in my fabulous little bedroom. Not a real estate office. Not a loud restaurant. Not driving between the two. I am at school. I am where I belong.

This summer...oh, this summer. Where to begin. I worked a lot and I learned a lot, and that is all a part of the process of growing up, I suppose. Was it fun? Not particularly. I had some fun times -- the Chicago trip, the cabin in South Haven, visiting friends, and family parties are all wonderful. But overall, it was kind of a place holder, a bookmark between the chapters of my life. The problem is, when I'm in the middle of a book that I like, I can't put it down -- bookmarks make me pause and catch my breath, and I don't like that. I've been dying to get to this part, this chapter, if you will, of my life for a long time, so to have a four month hiatus from what I love wears on me.

Well, that's all over now. I have been here for less than 24 hours, and I already know that I am about to start what is going to be the best year of my life so far. As much as I would love to pretend as if I never left this place, I don't want to forget the summer. I don't want to forget the things that I learned about work, ever-changing friendships, growing up, and myself. So while the Misadventures of My First Summer Home may be done, and thankfully so, I want to build upon the things that I took away from it.

Nevertheless, the name of this blog is now obsolete and needs to be changed. The URL will remain the same, but I'm trying to think of a new title. As any author will tell you, naming a piece is often harder than writing it, so this process may take a while...but I'll get it eventually.

I want to thank you for reading this. I can't really tell you how much it means to me without sounding insincere, but truly, I love and value your feedback and encouragement. I'm excited to write about the adventures and ridiculous situations in which I find myself at school, so hopefully you'll stick around for fall semester. It's looking quite promising. :-)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Attn: Replacement Slave

From the desk of C. Crookston, listing coordinator.

To Whom It May Concern:

It has recently come to my attention that you will be taking over my job. Assuming that I meet you [although, as my days dwindle to hours here, that possibility seems less and less likely], I promise to try and teach you what wisdom I have gleaned from this office over the past three and a half months. I have prepared multiple documents for you, detailing different bank procedures, stored mock folders for you, so that you can reference them whenever necessary, and organized the show log, for easy access. After I leave, you will be working in an office with at least two competent people who will be able to answer your questions....I can't really vouch for the rest.

Some things, however, cannot be divulged via Word document. Nuances of the office, if you will, such as the fact that the manager involuntarily coughs every time he walks in the back door, and that if Uncle Realtor says he'll be back in an hour, he really means three and a half. You need this information, and that's why I'm here. Attached is a [very] brief list of tips and secrets, which may or may not help you adjust to "work" in this office.
  • Your job can be completed fairly quickly, when efficiently done. Avoid such productivity at all costs, because otherwise, odd jobs that are not related to your work will be piled on your desk.
  • The patriarch of the business, Uncle Realtor's "pappy" is a creeper. Doddering and mostly harmless, true, but a lurker and a mumbler and a secret farter and obnoxious phlegm hacker nonetheless. You have been forewarned.
  • During Tuesday meetings, Uncle Realtor drums his misshapen fingers against the table with such force and intensity that one would think that he has percussion ambitions. I am sorry that I had to point it out, because now it's the only thing that you'll be able to hear...
  • Along the same lines, there is a certain agent who puckers her lips, chews her tongue, makes faces, random noises, sometimes whispers during conversations, and constantly uses strange voice inflection. I don't know why she does this, but it drives me insane. Hopefully you'll be able to handle the madness.
  • Wing Heaven makes Fridays worth getting out of bed. Don't let the North Side scare you -- everyone loves fried chicken and kool-aid.
  • Screen calls: If the name of the _______ tenant [enter adjective of your choice after meeting said tenant: insane? disgusting? terrifying?] next door flashes on the phone, DO NOT PICK UP. Chances are she'll come over in a stretched out, old, white sports bra, and let's be honest -- who wants to miss such a treat? *Note* If such a travesty occurs [again], do everything in your power to look away. It will be hard, but at least try...nobody wants to end up in therapy, really.
  • Try not to stare at One-Armed Jim's stub. It's hard to look away, especially when he's making lewd comments ["I never seen yo legs befo, girl -- they's pretty!"], but again, try. And when he gruffly rumbles and mumbles something in your direction, smile and nod, but keep your distance.
  • Don't make eye contact with Charlie. Or inhale within a ten foot radius of him. Just don't do it.
  • The words "Top Producer" are to become synonymous with "I don't care." It doesn't matter...everyone accepts this, except Uncle Realtor. He'll forget about it eventually...just give it time.
  • Brush up on your telepathy, because communication between workers is nearly impossible. You have entered a place where chaos reigns -- hopefully you are organized so that you don't lose your mind.

If I could, I would tell you to run...but that wouldn't be very good of me. Instead, I will simply warn you: if you try to internalize this job too much, it will destroy you. Of soul-crushing proportions, this office takes no prisoners.

I truly, deeply, sincerely wish you the very best of luck.


PS: Please disregard any sudden sounds of joyful laughter, maniacal cackling, relieved screaming, or breathless sobs of delight...that's just me, driving away.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

sputters of a dying brain

I'm sitting here.

Just sitting.

The clock turns slowly, grains of sand keeping me from freedom.

The phone rings and I answer. It rings again. I answer again. We are caught in this dance that only ends when I leave, run away, breathless in anticipation to get out.

There it goes again, ringing its brash little fist in my face. Awful dance partner, really, so evil and passive aggressive and demanding. It's always the same choreography: Good afternoon, just a moment, let me transfer you, may I put you on hold, I just need to look that information up for you.

Did the last woman to call really just identify herself as Rydolin? The irony is an overdose in itself. Then again, it may have been my brain knocking on the side of my skull, crashing into the walls of my head like that bird that just flew into the window a moment ago. Seriously. Oh how I empathize.

I just left a message for an agent and I actually said something about information and then I said reiteration a few words later. I inadvertently rhyme now? I need to be done with work for the summer...

Look at this, I can't even write prose. I can't string coherent thoughts together or formulate a style. I have approximately 49 hours and 57 minutes left of work here...not that I'm counting or anything.

What a summer. Fun? No. Long? Yes. Fast? Like light. Eventful? Sure. Is a repeat in order?