That building looks even uglier in the rain

I have been in the library for approximately 7 hours. My butt is extremely sore from being planted on this not-so-cushioned chair. Seriously, it’s like I have bed sores on my butt. As I walked into the library today, dreading the work ahead, an ugly eye-sore of a building caught my attention. It may be an ugly building, but it’s my ugly building, and I called it home for many months last year.

The summer before my freshman year was a countdown. My future roomie and longtime friend (holla at Marge) could not wait to be on campus. We spent our summer collecting decorations and making plans our dorm room. However, we were disappointed to find that we would be living in Res Tower, complete with its horribly small rooms and loft beds. Regardless move-in day was exciting. We were assigned Quad C on the 4th floor of the building. Our quad had 4 other rooms and a bathroom to share. We lucked out and got the biggest room in the quad. We unpacked, my mom cried, and Marge and I got amped to start a new chapter. Marge discovered that she knew our next door neighbor, and I knew her through a mutual friend, so we latched on to her and her roommate for the rest of the day.

The afternoon continued with dreadful ice breakers with our floor mates and planned orientation activities. Around 9pm we were led to the gym for yet another orientation activity. My brother texted me and said he would pick me and my friends up at 10pm for a party. We knew what we had to do. Marge, our next door neighbors (Kelly and Rebecca), and I ran away from orientation. Our friendship became really real when we returned to our dorms and shared clothes and cheap vodka.

About a month later I was sitting in the common room doing homework. Stressed and hungry, I announced that all I wanted to do was go to happy hour and get some crab fries. “I’ll go with you” said a girl sitting across from me. So me and my stranger friend changed are clothes and waltzed ourselves to Batemans. We sat there for hours and talked about life. I put her number in my phone as Brooke Coli because I didn’t know her last name and that’s what her twitter name was (#logic).

And that’s how I met some of my very closest friends. And we were all so weird and had so much fun. Marge bought Beta fish and planned on making them fight, but she then convinced herself that they were conspiring against her and got rid of them. Kelly convinced a guy that he dated a girl that she made up. I still don’t know how she did that. Rebecca just said so many things that were so absurd and hilarious. She also wore heels to class one day and that was amusing. Brooke had the power to convince us to drop everything and go out. Come to think of it, Brooke is probably one of the most persuasive people I know.

We had sleepovers, and dorm room parties, and we added the 10th floor boys to our weird family. And we were all horrible influences on one another in the best way possible. We slept in on Sundays, refusing to emerge from our beds before 3pm. We had severe separation anxiety, which caused issues during winter break. We laughed, a lot. And we cried, a lot. And we felt a whole lot of pain, and a whole lot of hurt. And we held each other so tight during those times. And we convinced each other everything would be okay, even if we couldn’t convince ourselves of it.

And then before we knew it warm weather came and brought final exams. And slowly but surely the contents of the dorm rooms that held our secrets and memories got packed away. Then our parents came and cars were loaded and it was time to go. Hugs were given, and tears were shed, and doors were clicked shut for the final time. And just like that, the most eye-opening year of my life became a series of fantastic, hilarious, heartbreaking, and beautiful memories.

So here’s to freshman year. Here’s to bad food and cheap beer. Here’s to mistakes and heartbreak. Here’s to strangers that become friends, and friends that become family. Here’s to passing an ugly building filled with not-so-ugly memories.

luv

Well it’s that time again, kids! Love is in the air. The shelves in the drug stores are lined with chocolates, pink teddy bears, and those gross heart-shaped candies that say things like “be mine” on them.  Our television sets are flooded with commercials advertising Kay Jewelers’ chocolate diamond, Shari’s Berries, and 1-800-Flowers. Girlfriends nationwide not-so-subtly drop hints about the Pandora charm they would like to add to their collection. And single people everywhere are reminded of just how single they are.

Okay, maybe I don’t have a lot of room to talk since I am not single this Valentine’s day. But I have been single for like 85% of the Valentine’s Days in my life. Let’s journey together and take a look at Valentine’s Days of the past.

I think everyone can agree that the best Valentine’s Days of their life took place in elementary school. You know, when you decorated a shoe box and put a slit in the top and everyone in your class would put a little cheesy Valentine in your “mailbox”. Never in my life have I ever felt so popular. At the end of the day you’d count all of your valentines and feel SO embarrassed for Sarah and Kelsey because they gave out the exact same Lizzie McGuire valentines.

Then middle school comes around and everything gets all awkward and weird. No one really exchanges valentines with anyone because everyone is too concerned about what everyone else will think of them. But there is always those one or two boys who choose this day to reveal their secret crush on someone in the class, and during homeroom they present said crush with a box of chocolates that they picked up at CVS with their Mom the night before. Everyone laughs, the boys face turns red, and occasionally the girl will cry because she is so embarrassed.

Off to high school and things get sooooo serious. My high school boyfriend and I never celebrated in any ridiculous way, and I didn’t really have much of a desire to do so. The two Valentine’s Days we were together, we exchanged cards and candy and that was it. However, that was not the case for some of my classmates. Flowers were delivered to school, balloons cluttered the hallway, and there was always one girl roaming the halls with an oversized teddy bear. My senior year of high school, when I didn’t have a boyfriend, I made 50 stickers that said things like “Cate Reynolds is my Valentine”, “Cate holds the key to my heart”, “Cate + Me 4ever”, and passed them out around school. By the end of the day there were several people wearing those stickers that I had never seen in my life.

And at the end of all those Valentine’s Days of my childhood, one thing always remained the same. At the end of the day I would come home and find a chocolate bar, a one dollar bill, and a note that read “Catbird, Happy Valentine’s Day! I love you! Love, Dad”.

Last year was my first Valentine’s Day away from home, and the first Valentine’s Day I would not receive a chocolate bar on my bed. I was also in the midst of one of the hardest times in my life. A good friend of mine, who knew how rough of a time I was having, went to NYC that weekend. He texted me while he was on the bus, and told me he left something on his desk for me. So I ran up to his room and found a bag of Peanut M&Ms and about a million Dunder Mifflin valentines waiting for me.

Valentine’s Day is not a day exclusively for relationships. It’s a day to remind the people that you care about how much you care about them. I’m lucky enough to say that I have never had a Valentine’s Day in my life that I haven’t been reminded that I am cared about, whether it be by a boyfriend, a parent, or a thoughtful friend. Think about all of the people that you can’t imagine your life without. Then think about all the people that probably can’t imagine life without you. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, remember how lucky you are, remember how loved you are, and remember to never put off telling those you care about just how special they are to you.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends!

Thankful for the moments

Lately, I have been fixated on my memories. I’ve been curious as to why certain moments, and certain details about those moments, stick in one’s memory better than others. This past semester I’ve been taking an English course that requires me to base the majority of my papers on small moments. When writing, my professor asks that we describe the moment as vividly as possible. She asks that we describe our surroundings in extreme detail to “show, as well as tell.” What I’ve realized is that my most vivid and special memories are some of the simplest times. The memories I hold close to my heart usually have nothing to do with my surroundings, but rather the people that were present.

I am thankful for my family, both biological and not, that surround me with love everyday. I am thankful for my two big brothers, who never fail to have my back. I am thankful for my little sister, and our conversations that have us both falling on the floor laughing.

I am thankful for my best friend turned boyfriend, and all the coolness that has come along with that. I’m thankful that he always answered his phone at obscure hours of the day to deal with my shenanigans, long before it was his duty as my boyfriend.

I am thankful for my Towson family, each and every one of them. I am thankful for my room mate, who never refuses to cuddle with me, watch Netflix, and vent about our day-to-day stresses. I am thankful for my Res Tower crew, whom I remain close with even though we don’t live five feet away from each other anymore. I am thankful for all my boys, Rofo trips, games with cups, and South Park on Wednesdays.

I am thankful for my home friends. I am thankful for the modern technology that allows me to stay in touch with them, despite the many miles that separate us. I am thankful that I am able to reunite with them on holiday breaks, and hear all about their new lives and accomplishments.

Most importantly, I am thankful for the moments I share with all the people in my life. I am thankful for the feeling I get when I look around a room and see the people I love smiling. I am thankful for laughter that brings me to tears, which I experience so often. I am thankful that in the not-so-happy times, I always have a shoulder to cry on. I am thankful for the pain of a heartache, which is only present because I am lucky enough to feel so much love. I am thankful for hugs, kisses, and smile lines. I am thankful for all my people, and all the tiny, beautiful moments I share with each of them.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my people, and my people’s people, and my people’s people’s people. Never underestimate how much I adore you all, and appreciate the joy you bring to me each and every day.

My person

Some people say that you can’t have more than one best friend, I disagree. I’ve always felt that best friends fall into categories. There’s the long-time best friend, the high-school best friend, the guy best friend, the college best friend, and so on. Each impact your life in an extraordinary way, and hold an extremely special place in your heart. However, I believe that there is a ranking above best friend. It belongs to someone who is more than a best friend, but rather a piece of you. They are called your person.

For anyone who is not familiar with the idea of “a person”, I’ll give you a brief rundown. The idea of “a person” was introduced in the show Grey’s Anatomy. Meredith Grey believes that the person you marry is the love of your life, but your person is your soulmate. A person is a friend above a friend. A person is family. And if you are lucky enough to have a person, you know how hard it is to explain how much your person means to you.

I have a person. I have known my person my entire life. However, we were not always close. My most vivid memory of us being young was one day at our neighborhood pool. We were about ten, and she was screaming at her mother because her mom wouldn’t take her to get her nails done. I remember thinking “wow, what a brat.” Two years later we ended up at the same middle school, and bonded over our love for peanut M&M’s. The rest is history. We would have weekend sleepovers where we would laugh ourselves to tears, only to be interrupted by my mom yelling at us to go to sleep. We would show up on each other’s front porch in tears when our parents were being “so unfair”. She would fight (and still fights) with my brother like he was her own. We spilled every detail about our awkward first kisses. We swooned when the boy we liked asked us on a date, and cried into each other’s shoulders when he broke our heart. We call each other to celebrate about even the most minuscule accomplishments, like finally making scrambled eggs that don’t turn a weird color. Sometimes people don’t understand what we’re saying, because we speak in our own sort of language. We’re honest with each other, even when the other doesn’t want to hear it. We make it clear to significant others that if they hurt our person, we hurt them. We consult the other when we can’t make sense of our own feelings, knowing that we know each other better than we know ourselves. We hold hands through the hard times, and smile through the good. We’re supportive of each other’s dreams and talents, and brag about them like a proud mother. We do these things not because we have to, but because it’s second nature. If my person is hurting, I’m hurting. People have told us we’re too obsessed with each other, and we have never disagreed. Boyfriends have become frustrated with our closeness. However, we know that the right guy won’t try and compete, but rather accept our slightly out-of-the-ordinary closeness in all of it’s glory.

A person is a rare thing. A person is not someone you need to hang onto, because you already know they’ll never leave your side. Through thick, thin, and everything in between, your person will always be your person. Shoutout to persons everywhere, and all they do for their other half.

My main homie

On November 5th, 1997, I was two. Obviously, I was very young, so I remember close to nothing about that day. There are two very small things I remember. The first is being in the backseat of my family’s old mini-van with my two older brothers. The second is walking down a hospital corridor, turning into a room, and seeing my Mom holding my newborn baby sister.

Seventeen years ago, my lil Maddie was born. I’m not going to lie, she was pretty boring the first few years. She just slept, cried, ate, and pooped. I remember her sitting in her baby seat when she was about two, and I looked at her and just thought “man, you’re really just not that interesting”. Even though I gained a baby sister when I was two, little Cate Reynolds did not consider her useful until a few years later. And in that time when Maddie was boring, I had to resort to playing with my brothers. Which usually ended in them either telling me I couldn’t join them because I didn’t pee standing up, or them stealing my barbies and hanging them from their bunk bed.

Thankfully, Maddie eventually learned to walk and talk, and was able to play with me. We played dress up, we played house, we played barbies, and we fought. However, I would always end up being the one to get in trouble. When I get mad, I yell. When Maddie gets mad, she cries. So to mom and dad it just looked like big sis Cate was picking on her little sister, and I would be shunned to the stairs for time out. I’m not going to lie, I was an extremely bossy child, and Maddie seemed to always go along with my ideas. I would always make her ask mom and dad permission to do something, because I always felt she had a better chance of getting a yes out of them, and I was usually right.

Aside from the bickering and bossiness, Maddie and I had a lot of fun. We frequently would hang up a sheet in the doorway between the dining room and front hall, and perform skits and dances for our parents. We became pro fort builders. We could construct palaces out of a couple blankets and hair ties. We liked to experiment with food, and would concoct some of the most disgusting looking things, but we’d still eat them. We would drink grape juice out of wine glasses and pretend to be billionaires, discussing our most recent real estate endeavors. We had a lot of fun. And the older we got, the less bossy I became, and the bickering eventually came to an end.

Usually when someone thinks of an older sister, they think of a role model. Someone who knows how to do makeup before you, how to dress, how to talk to boys, how to do algebra, etc. A little sister comes to their big sister for advice, or when they need help doing their makeup, or when they just want to hangout. For the most part, those roles are completely switched when it comes to Maddie and I. I remember when I was 14 I was getting dressed for my first date. Maddie walked into my room, took one look at me, and said “you’re wearing that?”. She then proceeded to pick out an entirely new outfit for me, and forced me to put on some mascara. She was 12. Even as a 19 year old adult, I still will video chat Maddie to approve my outfit for the evening (thank God for modern technology).

By 15, Maddie was cooler than I could ever imagine myself to be. Like seriously, she’s so cool. And she always makes comments about being socially awkward, which is just completely untrue. Everyone loves Maddie Reynolds. I don’t think there is a single person who can think of something negative to say about my sister. I have friends at school who are 20+ years old that talk to me about how cool my little sister is. I watched her turn from this chubby little middle schooler, into a beautiful, unique young woman. She has a fantastic sense of style, as I mentioned above. She wore Chucks to her prom. How many people do you know that can wear Chucks with a prom dress and actually get away with it? Not many. She’s a tremendous photographer. We had photo class together my senior year of high school, and she killed it in the dark room. Now she’s and AP photo student. She’s also brilliant. Like so smart. But I won’t get into that because she hates when I talk about it. She also has a fabulous taste in music. It’s so eclectic and sometimes I don’t know where she finds half the music she finds. The other day I texted her about a song I like, and almost fainted when she said she hadn’t heard it before. And she’ll kill me for saying this, but she is a tremendous singer. It angers me that she won’t sing in public, because her voice is breathtaking. I’m not kidding, my sister is so cool. Cooler than any of you will ever be.

My little sister is my best friend. She is probably the best person I know, and I am so lucky to not only have her in my life, but to share blood with her (cool blood, because she’s so cool). Oh, and I kinda lied when I said Maddie and I don’t fight anymore. There is one thing we still fight about. We fight about who is cooler. She always says I am, and I always say she is, and we get into actual fights about this. I’m not even kidding.

So here is to seventeen years of Madeleine Jane Reynolds. Thank you for letting me boss you around. Thank you for being there for me when I am upset, even though I know crying people make you uncomfortable. Thanks for (sometimes) answering the phone and talking to me when I am walking home from campus. Thanks for making sure I look somewhat presentable when leaving the house. Thanks for all the slumber parties and impromptu kitchen dance parties. Thanks for taking care of me every time I broke a bone when I was little. Thanks for memorizing the harmonies of the Pitch Perfect version of “Since U Been Gone” with me, so we can accurately lip sync the different parts. Thanks for trekking up to Towson to cuddle with me and watch Bones. Thanks for helping me put in earring for the first time, since I was scared and you already had your ears pierced. Thanks for being my partner when it came to boys vs. girls Mario Party or Super Smash bros with Chris and Conor. Thanks for being my sister and my very best friend. Happy Birthday, lil one!! I love you so much.

P.S. You can’t go to college and leave me sry.

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Because Emma Watson

I have never labeled myself as a feminist. Mostly because this term tends to have a very negative connotation to it. Feminists are often portrayed as man-haters. Feminists think they’re better than their male counterparts. In my humble opinion, I always felt as though the feminist movement was creating an even larger gap between the sexes. I don’t hate men, I don’t think I’m better than the men in my life, I don’t feel oppressed based on my gender. Therefore, I am not a feminist.

Okay, well, this has changed over the past few years. Considerably over the past year.

I had a professor last year who asked everyone in the class to raise their hand if they identified themselves as a feminist. A few hands went up here or there, but it was definitely not the majority of the classroom. The professor then asked everyone in the class to raise their hand in they believed that men and women should have equal rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic opportunity. Bam. Every hand shot in the air. So my professor goes “Well then, you’re all feminists, because that last question was the dictionary definition of feminism.”

So suddenly I’m a feminist. I believe I should have the same rights and opportunities as my male counterpart. Which doesn’t mean I’m a man-hater. I’m far from being a man-hater. The majority of my close friends are men, and they are some of the most phenomenal people I have ever met. However, I don’t think that I deserve less than these men just because I have boobs and they don’t.

My freshman year of college continues, and in practically every class I get hit with these statistics and figures about gender inequality in the workplace. Did you know that a female doctor with the same qualifications as her male counterpart will only make about 71% of his salary? Oh and god forbid you’re a woman of color, because then that percentage is even lower. I’m sorry, but that is just absolutely ridiculous.

And it wasn’t just in the classroom where I began noticing this inequality. It was even more prominent in my social life, especially as a college student. There was constant slut-shaming everywhere I looked. Most of the time the women were just as guilty of it, if not more-so, as the men. There would be girls in my dorm who would get drunk, sleep with a guy they hardly knew, and then absolutely despise themselves the next day. On the other end of the spectrum, one of my guy friends would get high fives around the room because he managed to sleep with two different girls in one weekend. So a girl sleeps with one guy, and she’s a slut. And she knows that this is the title society would give her, so she gives it to herself too. But then if she doesn’t sleep with the guy, she’s a prude. So either way this girl is losing, and she’s beating herself up about it. But then a guy sleeps with two girls in one weekend, and he’s the man. Which, aside from being totally unfair, just really suck. And I’m absolutely not shaming people who think this way, because I definitely am guilty of it too.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever called a single woman who has slept with a few people a slut (in case you’re wondering, my hand is up).

So everywhere I go I see college girls dressed up for a night out. And there seems to be this big misconception about why girls gussy themselves up. At least speaking for myself, I doll myself up for myself. I wear what I wear out because I like to look good and feel good. Yes, there is the exception when you wear a certain dress or top because you know that your husband, boyfriend, crush etcetera will like it. But the majority of the time, it’s all for me.

This past New Years I went to a black dress party at one of my friend’s house with a bunch of people from school. My girlfriends and I all went out shopping for dresses the day of. I bought a black dress the dipped down in the front. The part that dipped down was covered with a sheer black material. I felt super fierce in this dress, so obviously my mother hated it. The next two days all I heard about was how much my mom hated this dress because it was a little “risqué” and “revealing”. Friends of ours would come over to hangout, and my mom would pull out a picture of me in this dress and ask them if they agreed with her. Which was extremely frustrating, but I just let it go. One of those days, our friends Maddie and Cody came over. We have been friends with their family for years, and they’re both close with my entire family. So my mom starts talking about this dress again. She shows a picture of me in the dress to Cody, and he turns to my mom and says “Honestly Ms. Val, I think Cate looks beautiful. And if guys are looking at her wrong in that dress, that’s on them, not here. She has every right to dress however she wants.” Mom fell silent, and I never heard about the dress again

Side note: Aside from being a tremendous human-being and musician, Cody is a HUGE advocator for gender equality. I’ll post some Cody links below, and I strongly encourage you to look at all of them.

So then a few weeks ago Emma Watson delivers this beautiful speech at the UN, and it goes viral. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but I attached a link below. It was so well done. I loved it because it didn’t shame or blame men. I think the man-hate was the biggest reason I didn’t identify myself as a feminist for the longest time. I just felt that those two words seemed to be synonyms for one another, and it frustrated me. The majority of the time, it’s other girls who are calling girls sluts, not men. And when my mom continuously nagged me for my New Years dress, it was a man who defended my right to wear whatever the hell I want. There are plenty of men who think if you dress, or act, or talk a certain way, that you are a certain way. But there are plenty of men who will knock the living shit out of whoever the guy was that made those assumptions about you.

I guess my point in all of this is that the inequality needs to stop, the double standards need to end, and we all have to stop making assumptions about one another. We need to stop the constant grouping and sub-grouping of people. Yes, we’re all different, and we have different needs. But we all deserve equal rights, opportunities, and respect regardless of race, or gender, or sexual orientation.  Just because you’re a dude, doesn’t mean you can’t cry. And just because you’re a girl, doesn’t mean you can’t make a dude cry by kicking his ass in Madden.

CODY LINKS:

http://codyisforlovers.wordpress.com

http://www.bates.edu/news/2013/08/23/part-of-the-solution-cody-tracey-15-discusses-the-role-of-men-in-combatting-sexual-assault-and-domestic-violence/

Emma Watson Video:

Val

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This Sunday, October 5th, is my Mommy’s birthday. You won’t believe this, and she’ll kill me for telling you, but she’ll be fifty. I know what you’re thinking, “how can she be fifty? She’s so damn hot?” Well, I’ve been wondering the same thing. But I swear, she’ll be fifty. Everyone swears that they have the best mom, but they’re all wrong, because I do. My mother has taught me a lot of things, but I have composed a list of the most important lessons Val has ever taught me.

1. Ice cream solves everything

The Reynolds are HUGE ice cream fanatics. We always had ice cream in our house. Over time, half eaten gallons would accumulate in our freezer and Val would host “smorgasbords”. Chris, Conor, Maddie, and I would each get a bowl filled with whatever flavor from the leftover ice cream we wanted, and we would feast. Smorgasbord days were the best. Val believes in the power of ice cream, and she taught us to do the same. Whether it was a bad day, a broken bone, or a tough breakup, you best believe mom has a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked ready for me. She swore it would make me feel better. It always has, and it always will.

2. Being ADD is cool

Every person who knows me and then meets my mom always says something along the lines of “When you’re older, you’re going to be just like your mom” or “Wow you make so much more sense now that I’ve met your mom.” My mother and I speak in a language that no one else seems to understand unless they spend a significant amount of time around the two of us. We talk over each other, and have a million conversations going at once, but it makes sense to us. That’s because we are both extremely ADD. Val has always told me that being ADD is what makes us, us. It’s the reason why we’re so talkative, and passionate, and creative, and all of those things are pretty cool. Yes, our room mates get frustrated with our clutter and disorganization (sorry Dad and Becca), but YOLO, we’re just two badass ADD women…SO DEAL WITH IT, HATERS.

3. Life’s too short to be stubborn

My mom is the queen of forgiveness. I never use to be that way. Sometimes, I’m still not. JBR* and I are both super stubborn (shoutout to dad #twopeasinapod), so my mom deals with stubbornness a lot. I hate to be wrong, and I hate to admit I am wrong, and I hate apologizing when I am wrong after I have spent time and energy trying to prove I was right. Val has never been like that. And even when I’m like that, or JBR is like that, she still forgives us. Even if our version of an apology is something like “I still don’t think I was wrong but I’m sorry that you think what I said was wrong”. My mom has always seen the best in people, and she has a tremendous capability for love. She’s always believed that life is too short for grudges, because you never know when you’re going to see someone for the last time. It’s one lesson she has taught me that I try to remember everyday, no matter how stubborn I am.

4. Family doesn’t have to be biological

Growing up, my mom was everyone’s second mom. Our house was the place our friends would run when they were being dramatic and fighting with their parents. My mom would happily feed them and give them a place to sleep, right after calling their parents and letting them know they were there. My mom has always loved all of our friends as if they are her own kids. On snow days she would make gallons of hot chocolate and mounds of cookies and grilled cheeses. She would let us do crazy things like pull all our mattresses into the living room and host movie nights. Even as I have grown older, moved out, and gone to college, my mom still knows all of my friends. Most of my friends at school have my moms number, and I know most of them will text her Sunday morning and wish her a happy birthday.

5. Gender norms aren’t really that important.

Val has always been a tom-boy. Not a typical tom-boy though, a classy one. She could spend hours in the backyard cutting down bushes with the chainsaw we got her for her forty-fifth birthday (yes, she asked for a chainsaw for her birthday), and then hop in the shower, throw on a fierce LBD, some heels and lipstick, and go out on the town. She taught Maddie and I that just because we were girls, didn’t mean we had to love pink, play with barbies, and do ballet. Although I did do ballet as a child, Val would’ve been fine if I wanted to play football instead. She taught us how to use power tools, and how to paint our nails. She taught us how to throw a football, and how to fix a run in panty hose. And when I got older and started hanging out with almost exclusively dudes, Val was never concerned, because she was the same way, and she understood just how awesome guy friends are.

6. Everything else that I can’t summarize in a single blog post

My mom is the greatest. She drives me crazy, but in the best way possible. She’s supportive, and she cares for people so deeply. She would do anything for the people she loves, and I am truly lucky to have a person like that in my life, and even more lucky to have that person as my mother. She is beautiful, kind, spontaneous, funny, creative, and fifty!!!! So here’s to Val, the best mom on the planet. I love you to pieces.

*JBR stands for John Baltimore Reynolds. Basically what all of my friends refer to my dad as.

Growin’ Up

Once upon a time, there was a young man with really tight pants, and a pretty lady who always wore skirts. They weren’t all too fond of each other, until one day they discovered they had something extremely important in common. These two people both loved Bruce Springsteen. So they became friends, and then they fell in love, and now they have four lovely children who share the same love.

Today is Bruce Springsteen’s birthday! Bruce has always been a big deal in my family. I’m not sure if I was even aware that there was any other music in the world for much of my childhood. Bruce was always playing. I remember loving the song “Hungry Heart” because it reminded me of the heart-shaped bowl filled with cereal on the front of the Cheerios box, which was my favorite cereal when I was little. I remember my mom driving across the bay bridge blasting Bruce so she could focus on the lyrics, rather than the fact that she is terrified of the bay bridge. I remember my dad going to a concert during The Rising tour, and calling me during “Waitin’ On A Sunny Day”, because he knew it was my current favorite. I remember my sister and I trying to learn the lyrics to “Open All Night”, so we could sing along as well as my mom. Whenever a new album would come out, it would be playing in our house practically all day everyday.

My family loves Bruce.

When I was twelve, we took a family outing to a Bruce concert. Fittingly, it was my very first concert. When I was fifteen, Clarence Clemons died, and my family mourned as if he was part of the family. When I was eighteen, I met someone at school who’s family loves Bruce as much as mine does, and she’s now one of my closest friends.

Bruce is a big deal to us. To this day, I can always find comfort in Bruce songs. I can easily put on “Thunder Road”, “Growin’ Up”, “Jungleland”, or a number of other songs and feel at ease. Bruce reminds of my family. Bruce reminds me of being in a carseat in the back of an old mini-van. Bruce reminds me of dancing with my dad in the living room of our old house. Bruce reminds me of singing with my mom in the kitchen. Bruce reminds me of driving to the beach with my siblings. Bruce reminds me of growing up, and every wonderful memory along the way.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Springsteen!

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?

Today has been an ordinary day. I woke up early, made a cup of coffee, took a shower, got dressed, I ate some cereal, finished some homework, popped in my earbuds, walked to class, I saw a hot guy on the street, I smiled at the hot guy on the street, I went to class, I got out of class, I ate a sandwich, I gave a friend a bite of my sandwich, he broke my sandwich, I got mad, and then I came home. This day will probably remain ordinary. I’ll most likely watch netflix, do some homework, and then watch the Ravens beat the Steelers. Today is an ordinary day.

Thirteen years ago, my day also began pretty ordinarily. I was six years old, but I still remember every detail of that day. It was a Tuesday, and it was beautiful outside. There was not a single cloud in the sky. I remember feeling sick that day. I was nauseous and anxious. I just felt off. My dad told me that if I continued to feel sick to let him know and he would pick me up early. I hated leaving school early, so even though I continued to feel sick, I went on with my day. During recess I found myself a nice shady spot under a tree and sat down. I remember laying in the grass and staring at the clear blue sky. It was such a beautiful day. I couldn’t have been out there for more than five minutes before one of my teachers came outside, blew her whistle, and called my name. I was so confused. Had my dad sensed I was still feeling sick and came back to get me? I hadn’t told anyone I wasn’t feeling well. Was I in trouble? I asked my teacher if I was in trouble, and she forced a smile and said no, I was just leaving school early. I could see the stress and concern in her eyes. When we entered the school it was an absolute madhouse. There were people everywhere, people yelling, people crying, I was terrified. After a moment I spotted my brothers and my aunt, and we made our way out of the school. We got into the car and my aunt explained to us that our country was under an attack. I responded to this by throwing up all over the back seat of her car.

Many people assume that just because I was young when it happened, I don’t remember it as well, or it didn’t effect me as much. I completely disagree. I don’t remember knowing much about my country before 9/11. I don’t remember a time when America wasn’t at war. I can’t remember a September when we didn’t take time to remember what happened that sunny Tuesday morning. Some may think say that’s horrible, and in a way it is, but in a way it is also beautiful. What I remember most about 9/11 is people coming together. There is one day of the year that people across the country seem to set aside their differences. There is one day when it doesn’t matter which political party you belong to, what the color of your skin is, your religious affiliation, or your sexual orientation. On September 11, we forget our differences, and focus on the one thing we all have in common; we are Americans. We belong to a wonderful, strong country, even though we often forget it. On September 11, 2001, we came together, and we showed the world just how strong we are. Yes, I did grow up in a time of war, but I also grew up in a time of extreme patriotism. I grew up in a time where I was constantly reminded of the sacrifices people have made so that I could have the life I have today.

Today, I remember the 2,996 mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends that were tragically taken too soon. Today, I remember the heroes and the sacrifices made. Today, I thank God for my blessings. Today, and everyday, I am proud to be an American.

God bless America.

The truth about frat boys

During his first semester of college, my brother joined a frat. Mother was concerned, the rest of the family made fun of his rapidly increasing collection of pastel colored clothing. Spring of Conor’s junior year, our monthly issue of Rolling Stone came in the mail. The featured article was entitled “Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth’s Hazing Abuses”. It was an article all about the Dartmouth chapter of my brother’s fraternity, and their intense hazing and date rape culture. My Mom flipped. She was so concerned that these were the kind of people Conor was associating himself with. Conor assured her over and over that his chapter was nothing like the one she read about. However, later that month my Mom went to Conor’s fraternity’s parent brunch, and he finally convinced her otherwise. My mother ranted about how great all the guys were, and how proud she was of Conor. I was unconvinced. Based on stereotypes, of course these guys were pros at shmoozing Moms. I still made fun of him for the pastels. 

My freshman year of college (Conor’s junior year), I joined him on the Towson campus. At this point, Conor was president of his fraternity. Conor and I spent a lot of time together, which meant I was also spending a lot of time with his brothers. I could not believe how absolutely wonderful these guys were. Over the past year, I have become extremely close with many of them. This year, six of them live in the apartment building behind me, and it’s fantastic. 

Let me tell you the truth about frat boys.

The truth about frat boys is they never let you walk home alone, and they make you text them when you’re safely home if you’re walking a building over. The truth about frat boys is they will always pretend to be your boyfriend when creepy guys hit on you at the bar. The truth about frat boys is that they’ll hand deliver you a smoothie when you’re sick in bed. The truth about frat boys is they’ll always tell you you’re too good for that jerk. The truth about frat boys is that they enjoy cultural movies on tuesday nights, and “family” dinners with close friends. The truth about frat boys is that they never have a problem teaching you how to play Madden or how to shotgun a beer, as long as you continue to cook for them. The truth about frat boys is that they love when you make them pancakes on Sunday mornings (so much that they renamed them panCATEs). The truth about frat boys is they’ll make fun of you a lot, but always in a playful manner. The truth about frat boys is that they’re loyal to each other, and the people they care about most. The truth about frat boys is that they prefer the phrase “fraternity men”, because there is absolutely a difference between the two.

There are plenty of jerks in fraternities, but there are also plenty of really awesome guys. Don’t judge a book by its cover, or a frat guy by his letters. You may miss out on some great friends and extraordinary memories if you constantly believe every stereotype. 

P.S. I still make fun of all their pastels