Silver and Gold

I don’t think Mom was technically breaking the rules when she began my Girl Scouting career as a four-year-old. Sure, you’re not really supposed to start until you hit kindergarten, but Mom was a troop leader for my older sister — who was in first grade at the time — and let me come to the meetings. After a while I was dubbed the “Official Tag-A-Long,” leading me to a lifelong love for the Girl Scout cookies of the same name.
I used to love going to those meetings. The girls were just starting to learn how to read and write, and I would skim through their books, anxious to be on their level. But more than anything, I loved the singing. There was a lot of music involved in Girl Scouts. My favorite song, and one I know my Mom always loved went like this:

Make new friends
But keep the old
One is silver
And the other gold.

The words of that song have served as a life lesson for me throughout the past 17 years, as I transitioned from high school to college, college to internships, and made new bonds. But this morning I had a revelation. I have been lucky enough to not only make new friends, while hanging onto those I have had for decades; I have also had the opportunity to form a new family.

When my mother died last month, I thought for sure that my “family” —Mom, Dad, Sarah and myself — was permanently injured. There would be a giant hole at our dinner table, just like the one sitting in my chest. It was almost as if our family had been swept away, kicked down like an unwanted pile of Legos.

It’s true. The four of us will never gather together again to look at a beautiful sunset, to camp in the Adirondacks, road trip to the ocean, open Christmas presents in front of the fire, or play Scrabble at the kitchen table. But that does not mean that our family is broken.

Dad, Sarah and I have not yet grasped how we are going to work to remain a solidified family unit. With Sarah in graduate school, and me finishing up my undergrad this year, we’re not home often enough to play house. Thanksgiving will be our first true test.

In the mean time, my father bought a dog, and is soldiering on by himself for the most part. Sarah is traveling between home and school for work, spending time with Dad when she has the chance, and living alone in Burlington when she is at school. I am the only one who isn’t by herself in this situation.

I am at Syracuse, living with four other people. Two of them are the perhaps the most amazing women I have ever had the chance to know. We cook and clean for each other, rush to help during minor crises, and stay up talking until the not-so-wee hours of the morning. Just the other day I had a minor panic attack when our drier stopped working an hour before my father came to visit, and with a load of wet laundry in line to be dried. Without even a thought, Kayleigh scooped up my laundry and drove it to the Laundromat.

We wear each other’s clothes — often times without asking — borrow brushes and computers, and pet each other’s hair when we cry about lost mothers, boys, or the stresses of being a college senior. Kim was one of only a few student spectators at a candlelight vigil and Rose Laying ceremony Kayleigh and I were part of to remember the lives of the victims of the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. In return, Kayleigh and I made sure we were there when she led her sorority to a Powderpuff Championship the other day.

I would normally never go to a Powderpuff game, and to be honest, I did not make the games that my sorority participated in. But I knew how hard Kim had been working for her team, that she had been waking up, dead tired, for early morning practices after working late shifts for weeks. And I knew she would be there for me.

Kim, Me, Kay This is what family does for each other. Family sucks up their pride, pushes aside the list of tasks on a to-do list to help someone with theirs. Family isn’t about being born into a group of four people. It’s about unconditional love, even when you want to hurt someone.

It hurts to walk out of a test, after acing it or bombing it, and know that I can’t call my mother and rejoice or complain. In fact, there are a lot of things that hurt about my mother being gone. While I have no plans to replace her, I am beginning to see that it’s not about replacing, it’s about adapting and growing.

I don’t know if Mom was silver, or if she was gold. I never thought of her as a precious metal, because to me, she was the moon and the stars. I do know one thing though. I have her still, and I also have another amazing family, one she would be happy to see me fit into.

Top Ten Signs It’s Midterm Time At College:

10.) You haven’t seen your roommate in almost a week, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s not because she’s been out partying like Kate Moss, or over at that cute guy’s house for hours on end. You’ve been hearing rumors that she’s been hiding out in the stacks at the library, and the last time you caught a glimpse of her, she was passed out in a bag of Cheeto’s on her bed, surrounded by not one, not two, but three separate organic chemistry text books.


9.) The smell test has taken over your life. You know what I’m talking about. It’s been so long since you have had the time and energy to actually wash your clothes that you have to hold your jeans up to your nose in the morning while deciding if they can make it just one more time.


8.) You have absolutely no clue what is going on with your favorite TV show. For all you know, Hannah Montana’s secret identity has been found out, and so has Gossip Girl’s. Miss USA and Miss Teen USA could be BFF again on Pageant Place, and you would have no clue, because you have been busy writing a thirty-page rant about the importance of feminism in the global south.


7.) You finally made it home from the student union at two o’clock in the morning, after hiding out in a comfy chair to get your reading done, and noticed a yellow note taped to your door. Great, just great. It’s from the health department. Apparently the fact that you have not done your dishes in three weeks, and practically carpeted your formerly hardwood floors with loose leaf paper is a major health code violation. Congratulations, your modest rental property is being condemned.


6.) The chunky milk has taken over the refrigerator — once again.


5.) You used to fall asleep to the soothing sound of John Mayer’s voice, singing an acoustic version of Your Body is a Wonderland straight from his heart, through your iHome, and into your ears. Now you pass out to the tune of Fur Elise, and the rest of the classic studying playlist your mother forced you to create while studying for the SATs approximately a million years ago.


4.) You have decided, at the ripe-old age of 21, that it’s time for a face-lift — or at least a little bit of Botox. The bags beneath your eyes have begun to rival those of a basset hound, or more accurately, those of your high school principal. Yeesh.


3.) Your to-do list is so long it actually goes on for three pages in your spiral notebook. As if this isn’t discouraging enough, it is rivaled by one other document: your grocery list. You’re out of toilet paper, paper towels, chap stick, all five food groups, and dish detergent. The plus side? You still have two bags of frozen vegetables left. So what’s for dinner? Brussels Sprouts or Cauliflower?

2.) The barista at Starbucks rolls her eyes and grunts every time you come in the door. This is your third triple-shot espresso in the last two hours, and your twenty-seventh this week. Sure, she’s happy your tips are helping her pay for her own college tuition, but she’s beginning to wonder if you need some sort of clinical treatment.

1.) Your vocabulary, and the vocabulary of everyone around you has been severely affected over the past week. In fact, it’s been three days since you’ve heard anyone (outside of your professors and TAs of course) use an actual word. You even accept “Ug” as a proper salutation in the morning.

No Use Crying Over Chunky Milk

It’s amazing how long three 21-year-old women can survive without going grocery shopping.  I think our new record is three weeks.

Three weeks.  Let me put this into perspective for you.  Kayleigh thought it would be a fabulous idea to drink some milk the other day — straight from the carton, because of course when your mother’s not here to watch you, drinking from the carton is pretty darn tempting.  So there she was, refrigerator open, thirsty as hell, and finding nothing but milk and a couple beers.  She figured she’d take the chance with the milk.

It seemed like a great idea at the time — until she had to spit the chunks back to the sink.

I told her that’s why our mothers always told us not to drink from the carton.  If she had only poured it into a glass first, she would have seen its great attempt to turn into cheese.  She would have been warned.  As it was, she learned her lesson.

Well, maybe not really, because it was still another three weeks until we finally made our way to the grocery store tonight.

I think the best thing about grocery shopping with my roommates is that we always grab a loaf of fresh French bread when we first walk in, and eat it as we stroll through the aisles.  Now, I know what your thinking: What a bunch of Fatty McFat Fats.  But it’s not like that.  Think about it.  It’s a horrible idea to shop on an empty stomach (especially when you’re a poor college student), and the doorway of the supermarket is pretty much the first time we’ve seen food in about a month.

Today’s food adventure was pretty uneventful.  High School Musical 2 was over at 10 o’clock, and we were out the door 10 minutes later, singing along to the High School Musical Original Soundtrack — Yes, I understand this is quite pathetic, to be completely honest, there’s something about this CD that just makes me happy.

We started out by grabbing our token loaf of bread, ripping off bits and pieces and shoving them in our mouths like savages.  Then we sped down the aisles, looking for as many generic, bulk food items as we could find.  Mac and Cheese by the twelve-pack?  Sign me up!
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After buying what we deemed to be the bare necessities, we finally wheeled ourselves to the checkout line, where our eyes popped out of our heads.  How did we spend $120?  We didn’t even buy toilet paper, much less dish soap or mozzarella cheese.  Cue a car-ride home filled with complaining about inflation, the state of the economy as a whole, and of course, capitalism.

While unloading our bags back at the house, I notice that in our money-saving efforts, we decided to buy a single half-gallon of milk.  I can see this backfiring on us in the future…

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Top Ten Signs You Need A Vacation

10.) You find yourself so consumed with your work and other commitments that you can’t actually remember the last time you washed your hair, although you’re pretty sure it was a Thursday. This Thursday? Maybe.

9.) Your roommates start referring to you as Uncle Fester as they joke about the saucer-sized bags under your formerly blue (now foggy gray) eyes.

8.) You handed in your English paper the other day, quite proud of yourself. As the professor hands it back to you in class you are almost giddy to see just how much she loved it. Then you see the big red F circled at the top of the paper. You had been so tired while writing your treasure that you didn’t even notice you typed it all up in Spanish.

7.) Your alarm clock is broken. Your cell phone is in pieces across your bedroom. Your iHome is covered in Band-aids. Why? Because you have literally beaten the crap out of every instrument that attempts to wake you up in an orderly fashion — including your roommate, who is less than pleased.

6.) Your day planner went missing for approximately 15 minutes, after you left it at your last caffeine-refuel location, and you almost combusted. There was hair-pulling, cursing, lip-biting, foot-stomping, jumping up an down, slam-dancing, and of course frantic phone calls to anyone who might have a clue where exactly your BFF might be.

5.) Ur only route to survival has been the cat naps you’ve been able to squeeze in throughout the day in 10 minute intervals. They seemed like a great idea at first, until you realized you hadn’t been in your bed in more than a week, and your body left a permanent imprint on your brand new couches.

4.) Between meetings, classes, work, and homework, you haven’t really been outside in days. You find yourself having to wear sunglasses between classes, even though the skies over your city (ex: Syracuse, NY) are always gray, simply because your eyes have forgotten how to respond to natural light.

3.) Your mom is “worried about you,” something you haven’t heard since you didn’t make the tennis team in sixth grade.

2.) The pizza delivery man tells you he misses you after a three day period of not showing up on your doorstep. You’re almost too guilty to let him know that you have had Chinese food and a pita in his absence. It’s better he doesn’t know about the other men in your life.

1.) You realize you actually spent your sole snippet of free time writing a blog entry about what it’s like to not have free time…

The Price is Wrong

At the ripe old age of 162, I couldn’t help but think that Bob Barker still had that spark.  Sure, he had been a member of the geriatric population for my entire life, but there was something about him that just made sense.  A man like Bob Barker could be sexist, calling his spokeswomen “Barker’s Beauties,” and for some reason I wouldn’t even care.

He had that soothing voice, that made me feel like all my troubles would just melt away once I decided whether the stainless steel refrigerator was more than $700.  And for some reason my grandmother — my grandmother who spent most of her life bickering — was so infatuated with him that she taught her bird two words, and two words only: Bob Barker.  Bob Barker was and will always be a panty-dropper.  It’s science.

Drew Carey, on the other hand, is no panty-dropper.  When I think of Drew Carey, I think of my childhood introduction to prime time television.  I would sit on the couch with my sister while Mom and Dad sat in their chairs, and week after week I would watch Drew NOT get laid.

Is this the best we can do?  Sure, I’ll admit it: Drew Carey makes me laugh.  I love Whose Line is it Anyway, and there’s something about that skinny tie and thick-rimmed glasses that makes me chuckle.  But when women watch The Price is Right, do they want to chuckle?  No.  They want to fall in love with a mildly creepy old man.  Drew Carey is a mildly creepy middle-aged man, and I for one will not stand for it.

Think about it.  Drew Carey was basically chosen to play the role of a young Bob Barker.  He’s like the new James Bond.  Did they follow Sean Connery (another distinguished, lady-pleasing gentleman of a certain generation) with a 1970’s nerd?  No.  They replaced him with Roger Moore, and then Pierce Brosnan down the line!  Eat your heart out, Drew Carey.

And think about all the other times these distinguished men are replaced or portrayed by a younger man.  In the upcoming film about Hugh Hefner’s life, Leonardo DiCaprio is starring in the title role.  Leonardo DiCaprio!  He’s so hot he turned the sinking of the Titanic into a steamy love story that my 11-year-old self could not get enough of.  He is actually making people care about global warming with his documentary The 11th Hour.  To be quite honest, he makes me want to drive a Prius.

So, a public service announcement to the great people of America.  I am all for looking for the good in people beneath the surface.  Just because someone is not an incredibly good looking person does not mean they don’t have other endearing qualities.  Believe me, I hate the patriarchal cycle in this country that forces men and women to look a certain way, or feel inadequate if they don’t.

But when it comes to The Price is Right, embrace the cycle.  Embrace it like it were Plinko.  Save The Price is Right.  Hire Pierce Brosnan.