I am Penn State

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Obviously, I haven’t been blogging in a while.  Life happens.  And honestly, there hasn’t been anything that I have felt was important enough to write about recently.  Until now.  I’ve debated saying anything about the subject, knowing there are so many people out there who are quick to place blame and judge.   But there are so many people out there saying such disparaging things about the school I love that I can no longer keep quiet.
What Jerry Sandusky did was disgusting and reprehensible.  And anyone who knowingly covered it up is equally horrible.  However, I honestly do not believe that everyone involved was out to “keep it quiet.”  I’ve read the indictment.  All 23 pages.  If you have time, you should do so as well (just don’t do it before lunch).
But the point of this post is not to analyze who-knew-what-and-told-whom.  That will all come out in the days to come.  The thing that drove me to this post is plain and simple.  I had a moment this morning where I considered taking the Penn State magnets off my car.  I felt ashamed of my school…that something this heinous could happen at a place that I considered home.  There has never been a moment in the eleven  years since I left State College where I felt anything but pride at being a Penn Stater.  It’s not just a college.  It’s part of who I am.  After all, those of us that went there “bleed blue and white,” as the saying goes.  I have a (small) Penn State flag at the office.  I worried that people would walk by and see that flag and associate me with the disgusting, horrible acts committed by Sandusky.  And it breaks my heart that my beloved school is now being associated that pervert.

But Sandusky is not Penn State.  He is a disgusting individual who used his power to prey on children.  He is not the hundreds of thousands of PSU alum.  He does not represent the approximately 45,000 students there.   There is a sense of pride at home games that is indescribable.  The students of Penn State have done so much good in the world.  THON (the annual Penn State Dance Marathon) raised almost $10,000,000 last year alone for "The Four Diamonds Fund, a charity devoted to defeating pediatric cancer through research and caring for patients at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center Children's Hospital"(thank you, Wikipedia).  And, having participated in THON, I can tell you, the sense of pride at that event is as overwhelming as the sense of pride on a Saturday in Beaver Stadium.  

So I will not be ashamed that I’m a Penn Stater.  Yes, I am broken-hearted and hurt.  Yes, it saddens me that people are losing sight of the victims.  The actions of one horrible excuse for a human being do not reflect on my school.  Whatever details come out in the days ahead about who-knew-what-and-told-whom, it cannot detract from the pride of having been a part of such an amazing school.

Most importantly, more than ever, we need to hold our heads up high and say “I am Penn State.”


An Open Letter to Virginia Drivers

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dear Virginia Drivers,

Because it seems that a lot of you did not take Driver's Ed in High School, I would like to fill you in on the common driving etiquette which you seem to be lacking:

  1. The far left lane is for passing.  Also for those of us who are attempting to break the sound barrier.  Unless you are driving at least five to ten miles per hour OVER the speed limit, please avoid this lane.  If I were armed, there would be far fewer of you in the left lane.
  2. Speaking of the left lane- if your exit is approaching, please do not wait until you are AT the exit to move into the right lane.  Slamming on your brakes, turning on your turn signal, and waiting for other drivers to stop and let you over is not proper road etiquette.
  3. Turn signals: These allow other drivers to know that you are either turning (hence the name "turn signals") or that you would like to change lanes. 
  4. Turn signals: After you have changed lanes or turned, please ensure that your turn signal is not still flashing.  They sometimes do not reset themselves, and this can lead to confusion for the people behind you. 
  5. Merging: The purpose of the "on ramp" is to allow you to gain enough speed so as to effortlessly merge into traffic and not disrupt the flow of said traffic.  Driving 20 mph onto a busy highway, then stopping at the end of the merge area and waiting for a break in traffic so that you can pull out and cut off another driver is not the proper way to merge.
  6. While we are on merging.... in other states, courteous drivers move out of the right lane when they see other drivers merging.  This allows those drivers to move onto the highway.  After you have passed the exit, you may move back into the right lane.
  7. Also, on the subject of merging: there is a large triangular sign on your on-ramp.  This sign has the word "Yield" on it.  "Yield" means that you do not have the right-of-way (right-of-way; a noun meaning "a common law or statutory right granted to a vehicle, as an airplane or boat, to proceed ahead of another").  While it would be courteous for drivers in the right lane to move to the left to allow you to merge, they sometimes cannot.  This does not mean that you should accelerate to 80 mph in an effort to race ahead of them- particularly if there is no one directly behind them. 
  8. High beams- there is absolutely NO need to use your high beams in Northern VA, MD, or DC.  These are for rural areas, where there is very little traffic and no ambient light.  Please do not use your high beams- especially if you are not skilled at switching between your high- and low beams.
  9. When driving around curves- you should not slam on your brakes in the middle of a curve (clover-leaf, turns, etc).  Instead, you should slow down BEFORE you get to it, then gently accelerate around the curve.  If this curve is properly banked, accelerating around it should help you to navigate it with very little help from your steering wheel. 
  10. Inclement weather:  I realize that if you grew up in an area with very little snow and/or rain, driving in such weather can be scary.  If you are uncomfortable, for the love of God, STAY HOME.  Please do not venture out in such weather.  Those of us who grew up (and took our driver's test after a large snow storm in February, natch) in areas with high amounts of snowfall know what we are doing in such weather.  Your being on the road, either riding your brakes or assuming that your SUV with 4-wheel drive is invincible, is dangerous to those of us who have the experience necessary to drive in such weather.  If your inability to properly handle your vehicle in inclement weather causes me to lose control, I will cut you.
  11. The 2-car-length rule:  In non-congested areas, the rule of thumb is that you maintain a distance of two car-lengths behind the person in front of you.  This is not the case in this area.  Doing so is an invitation for all of the other drivers in other lanes to pull in front of you.  Also, if traffic is moving at a fairly slow pace, you do not need as much of a stopping distance.  If you aren't comfortable with driving closer to other vehicles, get the hell out of the way.  
  12. Multi-tasking: Reading a newspaper while in traffic is NEVER okay.  Especially if said traffic is actually moving.  Again, if your stupidity affects me, I will cut you.
  13. Forcing everyone around to listen to your shitty music:  Blasting your crap music with all of your windows down and the bass turned up in your crappy little car is grounds for being rear-ended.  I sometimes listen to shitty music as well... the difference is that I don't force everyone around me to either listen to it or to roll up their windows.  Absolutely NO ONE else on the road wants to listen to your music. They have their own.
  14. A good general rule: The world does not revolve around you and your car.  Please stay out of my way.

Hugs and kisses,



"To every thing, turn, turn, turn...."

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I've made no secret of my past issues with my dad.  He and I have never been close and there has never been that "daddy's little girl" relationship.  I've realized, though, that I have been hanging on to a lot of anger.

See, this past weekend I almost lost my dad.  He had a heart attack Sunday night.  I found out third-hand yesterday afternoon.  His wife waited until late morning and called my grandmother, who called my mom, who called me.  And one of my early reactions (after learning he was stable, of course) was, "why the hell didn't that bitch call me?  and why did she wait until today to let his family know?"

Whoa.  I've never thought of myself as an angry person (except while driving), but I was pissed.  I was hurt and angry and concerned.

While I've moved past a lot of the anger over my relationship with my dad, I clearly haven't moved past other things- such as the wedge his wife has driven between him and the rest of his family.  She has made it almost impossible for him to have any kind of relationship with his family.  But I have to move past that.  Almost losing him was a wake up call that, while he may not have the strength to put his foot down with her and insist on spending time with his family, I can.  It's up to me to make that effort.  Should it be?  No.  But such is life.

I'm also holding on the anger in other areas of my life.  I'm still very angry at the ex.  In fact, everyone in my life refers to him as Douche Bag.  That's his name.  While this may help in that saying his actual name still hurts and I get a chuckle every time my mom says something like "remember that place that you and Douche Bag went..."  it's not healthy.  Negativity spreads, and the last thing I want to do is allow any more negativity into my life.  Yes, he's a coward who pretty much stomped on my heart.  But is that negativity helping me at all?  It's certainly not helping me to get over the pain.  He has clearly moved on and forgotten about me; now it's my turn to do the same.  To let go.  I don't know that I'll ever be able to forgive him, but I do need to let go of the anger.  Besides, who is it hurting?  My anger at him hasn't hurt him at all or made one difference to him, and it's just keeping me from moving on.

And there's the fact that no one wants to be with someone who is angry.  I briefly dated someone who was still very angry at his ex.  Scarily angry.  Needless to say, it didn't last past the 2nd time he referred to her as "that bitch."

So, time to let go. I wish it hadn't taken almost losing my dad to realize it, but they say everything happens for a reason.

(side note- as of this morning, it looks like he'll be discharged tomorrow.  He's still very weak, and they'll be keeping a very close eye on him.  One artery was completely blocked, the other was 95% blocked.  He's lucky as hell to have survived this.  I only hope this was a wake-up call for him to make some changes.)


Mars vs Venus

Thursday, September 02, 2010

"Whatever happened to a boyfriend;  the kind of guy who tries to win you over.  Whatever happened to a boyfriend;  the kind of guy who makes love 'cuz he's in it." 
Liz Phair "Fuck & Run"

All of the dating issues I've had recently have really gotten me thinking about the whole "Mars & Venus" thing as it relates to our mindsets.  We women are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to dating- especially after 30.  In our early 20's it seems that there is all the time in the world to find a mate and so many from which to choose.  But, after we have those few unsuccessful relationships and find ourselves over 30 and either still alone or divorced, while all of those men from our 20's have settled down, things start looking extremely bleak.

And this is when we start to settle.  We start dating men not because they are right for us, but because they are "good enough."  That 30 year-old mark is so destructive in so many ways.  We stop making men try to win us over.  We start doing all of the work.  And boy, have I put a lot of work into dating. 

Recently, my friend Ray reminded me of this.  I was upset about yet another failed shot at dating.  I explained the whole situation to him, hoping for the male "take" on it.  And what I got was one of those "wake the hell up" moments.  He didn't say anything that harsh, of course, since he is too nice of a guy for that.  But, having himself at one time been one of my failed attempts at dating, he had first-hand knowledge of my "isms," for lack of a better word.  Apparently, I have forgotten how to let men pursue me.  And more importantly, I've forgotten that it is just as important for me to like the guy as it is for him to like me.

Seems elementary, yes?  Unfortunately, I think that far too often we women (especially those of us who are over 30 and single) forget this one very small, yet very important fact.  We should also like him. I know for a fact that I try too hard.  Maybe it's years of being picked last in gym class; maybe it's the "daddy issues;" maybe it's the horrible, gut-wrenching breakup from last year; who the hell knows, but I do know that I try way too hard.  I ignore red flags, I go out with anyone who asks, even if they don't excite me.  And I reek of desperation.

Am I desperate?  I don't think so.  I like my life and I want someone to share in it.  But I'm fairly certain that "desperate" is how I come across.  So when I do get back out there, I need to constantly remind myself that I have to like him.  And I really need to get back to the old me- the girl that let men pursue her.


Stepping Back

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

After months of disastrous dating, I think it’s time for me to give it up- at least for now.  See, it’s one thing for guys that don’t know me to reject me.  But when someone who knows the person that I am- who has read this blog for years- pursues me, then immediately drops me, telling me that the idea of me was so much better than the reality of me (via text no less- the modern equivalent of the post-it breakup), I think it’s time to hang up my dating shoes.  Maybe some of us were not meant to find a partner.  Maybe the whole “there’s a lid for every pot” adage is a lie.  I know I’m wallowing in self-pity here, but I think I’ve just finally had enough.

In the last 9 months, I have dated the following: 2 men with glaring “married” red flags, a psychopath with definite anger issues, a guy whose definition of “monogamy” was shaky at best, 2 men who were very clearly not ready for relationships, an egomaniac, and most recently someone who said I have no substance- which is especially hurtful when that someone knows all of the things I never show dates- all of my deep, dark secrets.

Maybe I don’t make very wise choices as to who to let in.  I’m a very honest and up-front person; and being so up-front about who you are makes it very difficult to keep a wall up and protect yourself when someone seems to accept you for the person that you put out there.  After all, putting a wall up is not who I am.  I’m someone who dives in head-first.  

But, maybe I do need to step back and learn how to protect my heart a little more.  All I know is that I am too sensitive to keep letting people reject me based on who I am.  It’s one thing when the person knows very little about me.  But it’s another whole issue when I let that person in- I let them see my vulnerabilities- THEN they reject me.

The problem is that I don’t know how I can still be me and not be vulnerable.  It’s part of who I am.  And if I construct a wall and not let anyone get too close, can I really find someone who is truly right for me?   


Be Mine?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The decision to exclusively date someone has always been a mystery.  Maybe I should rephrase that.  The timing is what baffles me.  I've read on numerous sites that the time line is somewhere around three months.  Personally, I think that's a bit too long.  But given my afore-mentioned inability to "juggle," it's not surprising that I prefer to date only one person at a time.

Of course, it all depends upon your specific relationship.  If you and the other person only see each other once or twice a month, I would consider the three-month timeline accurate.  However, I have always preferred to take myself off the market when I meet someone with which I see any potential.

That being said, I've made the mistake of jumping into that decision way too quickly- like after the first date.  Big, BIG mistake.  Why?  Because when you inevitably realize that you don't really know that person, or that they drive you insane (or any other variety of reasons you've realized your mistake), you have to have that uncomfortable conversation.  And, being that I am essentially chicken-shit, I tend to lean toward the "I'm not ready for this" cop-out.

The standard answer is "when it feels right."   However, if like myself, you want it to feel right every time you like someone, it's hard to know the difference between the situation "feeling right" and my desire for it it to feel right.  That is, I tend to convince myself that something is right because I want it so much.

There is also the fact that, in an age where you typically email and IM someone quite a lot (assuming you have met this person online) before even meeting.  You get to know the person before you even meet them.  This throws off the traditional custom of using the first several dates actually getting to know the person. 

So how do you decide when to become exclusive.  Damned if I know.  And I still have yet to master having that conversation without sounding like I'm asking "would you like to go steady?"


Very Superstitious

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In recent years, I’ve become more and more superstitious when it comes to dating.  And my (single) friends seem to be as well.  We now have this unspoken rule that when we go out on a great date with a guy who has actual potential, we don’t talk about it.  The conversation typically goes as follows:

                              L:        “what did you do last night?”
                              Ash:    “dinner date.”
                              L:        “who? how was it?”
                              Ash:    “it was good. end of discussion.”

It has become our rule that the better the date, the less we discuss.  I personally think that the more you discuss the date in those tender beginning stages, the more likely you are to jinx the situation.  Of course this presents the issue that none of us knows about the good dates that have been had (a price I’m willing to pay to avoid ruining a potentially good situation).

Whether you believe in superstitions or not, this one does have some validity.  After all, the more you discuss a new potential relationship, the more excited you become about it.  The more excited you are, the more that person is on your mind.  And given my propensity toward neediness, thinking about that other person too much tends to lead to me scaring them off by contacting them more often than I should.

But this does present one problem: at what point is it okay to tell your friends that you met someone you actually like?  This is usually where I fail.  See, my friends and I all love wine.  And I’m a talker when I drink.  So, of course, I usually end up spilling the beans way too early.  And when things eventually end before they got a chance to really take off, I then have to deal with the friends asking, “how’s what’s-his-name?”


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