A Bunch Of Prom Dresses Worse Than A Tuxedo

Ah, prom season. It’s that time of year when high schoolers across America pay way too much money to go to a school dance. Speaking as a human adult who went through the shenanigans of prom, it’s never what you think it’s going to be, kids (See previous post here). Case in point: Pennsylvania teen Aniya Wolf.

So here’s what went down: officials at Aniya’s Catholic high school sent out an email in February requiring all females to wear a formal dress to prom, and if anyone failed to adhere to the dress code, they would not be allowed to attend the prom. They sent a reminder email in March and a day before the prom, an administrator sent an email to Aniya’s mom specifically saying they had found out her daughter was planning on wearing a tux and warned again that if she doesn’t wear a dress, she wouldn’t be let in. On Saturday, Aniya, with a brand new tux (complete with a vest), showed up to said prom and school officials threatened to call police if she didn’t leave. So she left.

Ok, on one hand, the school’s administrators made a rule, told parents and students about it multiple times, and Aniya still defied the dress code, knowing full well what she was doing. Prom was essentially a suicide mission.

On the other hand, the rule is dumb. Why have this put in place at all? What is this meant to be protecting? And why are they calling out one student? It’s clear they specifically made it to prevent Aniya from wearing a suit. And the thing is, Aniya has been a tomboy all her life. Instead of wearing the option of a skirt to school, she says she’s been wearing dress code pants all three years she’s been attending Bishop McDevitt high school. Officials knew full well of her clothing choices prior to prom. Also, although it shouldn’t normally matter, I feel like it’s important to note that Aniya is a lesbian and her date is a girl (wearing a formal dress). I’m just saying school officials might a hidden agenda besides taking down a girl in a tuxedo.

After news spread Aniya wasn’t let into prom, an uproar obviously ensued, so school admins released a statement:  “Without question, we love, respect and cherish all of our students… Bishop McDevitt will continue to practice acceptance and love for all of our students.”

Sure. Ok.

Since we also went to a Catholic high school, we know what it’s like to abide by a dress code, albeit I don’t remember ever receiving an email about dresses at prom. On days when you could dress down, I feel like people dressed “up” more than usual. It was time to show off your personal style rather than the required maroon polo and unflattering pleated khakis. So for prom, it was dress down day to the max, and girls went all out.

In saying that, Aniya is wearing multiple layers of clothing and is way more modest than the other girls wearing formal dresses. It’s hard to believe school officials would rather have a gal half dressed than a gal fully clothed. I mean, have you seen some of the dresses out there? Not only are a lot of them ugly but they’re showing a lot of skin and not appropriate for 15 to 18 year olds, IMO. Here are just some real prom dresses that are a fafillion times worse than Aniya’s tuxedo will ever be.

but maybe her prom was a toga party

what’s worse looking jealous or crazy jealous or crazy?

remember garters?

i really hope those two girls in the back learn what not to wear from this experience.

this is so 2000s i can barely comment on it. it strikes a chord within me.

could lit’rally poke an eye out

but they’re on a red “carpet” made from what seems to be a 99 cent plastic tablecloth

bless her date. bless him.

after the prom, girls wearing this dress can double up and go to a salsa dance competition in uruguay.

sigh.

because nothing says i’m going stag than an illuminated photo of rpatz on your dress.

 

Advertisements

Promposals: What Are They And Why Are They So On Fleek

We’re smack dab in the middle of prom time, and high schoolers across the country are either having the time of their lives or pretending they are, because LBR, we all know deep down that prom’s not as exciting as you ever think it’s going to be.

The tradition of prom is has a long history in the U.S., but one that’s been all the rage of late is the “Promposal”. Now back in our day, of course the boys would ask girls to prom. But I don’t ever remember it being as elaborate as it is today – or even having its own Urban Dictionary term. Although the kids of Laguna Beach would probably disagree.

We graduated the same year as LC and Lo and Stephen and Trey <3, so like many others, I found the show fascinating. But when it came to the prom episodes, the guys were going all out to surprise the girls with the big ask. In season one, Dieter asks Jessica in a baseball field, Trey *better than ur faves* keeps it classy with rose petals and candles, and Stephen, for some reason, hides in Kristin’s house and writes ‘Prom??’ on his chest, because that’s ‘hot’?

In season two, there was a tow truck involved with one of the blonde Alex-es involved, but basically, the show taught me that promposals were a thing before they were PROMPOSALS. Is this a West Coast thing? Because I swear it wasn’t a thing in Western New York.

Fast forward to present day, when it’s like a game between people to come up with the most creative and impressive ways to ask the person of your choosing to prom. I actually got to (kind of) witness one first hand recently, when I was on a cruise that my friends got married on. During dinner, my friend’s 18-year-old brother sneakily asked his GF to prom by having the server present her with a dessert plate that had ‘Prom?’ written out in a chocolate syrup-type substance. I saw it all happening from afar like a creep and got weirdly excited I got to witness something that the youngins are doing first-hand.

Kinda looked like this, sans the fried dough balls

But then you have the more intricate and carefully thought out Promposals, that range from making a sign and holding a basket of kitties, to putting those Scantrons to good use, to recruiting your friends to do a choreographed dance to One Direction in front of the entire student body.

But my favorite as of late is the Promposal by Jacob Lescenski of Las Vegas, who asked his best friend Anthony Martinez to prom. Not a big deal, right? Well it is when Anthony, who is gay, posted on Twitter that he never gets asked to prom (I’d be complaining too if everyone around me was getting Promposal’ed and I wasn’t). Jacob, who is straight, saw his tweet and decided that he would ask Anthony to prom, despite the fact he already had a girl date (she graciously bowed out).

Even though Jacob opted for a sign and a rhyme that didn’t involve a flash mob, the face that he decided to do it at all speaks volumes. Their story went viral, and major media outlets picked it up, including Teen Vogue, who chipped in an got the boys tuxes from Topman and paid for a limo, and Ellen invited them on her show and not only videotaped them at prom, but gave them each money for college.

As much as I love Jacob and Anthony’s story, it’s still crazy to me that teens are going to great lengths – as great lengths as they would as if they were actually proposing – to ask someone out to an overrated dance. I get it. It’s a special time in a teenager’s life, etc. Yet is it necessary to put on an entire show just to go to prom? What will you do when you actually propose to your future spouse?!

Moreover, we didn’t have GoPros and smart phones and social media during prom season in the mid 2000s. We took cameras with FILM and had to wait for a day or two to develop before we would go through and trash the ones that looked horrible. Like physically put them in the trash bin. To me, promposals are 90% about HOW you do it and 10% who is doing it. That ratio doesn’t seem right. Call me crazy, but it seems like they’re just trying to one up each other, because it is high school after all.

Is this all me talking in my old age and having a quarter(ish)-life crisis? Probably. Definitely. Am I maybe bitter that I had to ask my gay-but-not-out-yet-gay friend to my junior prom and never got a promposal? Most likely. But whatevs. I’m just going to sit back, watch the promopsals pop up all over the interwebs, and if you need me, I’ll be looking up words on Urban Dictionary with a full glass of wine in hand. Because I’m 29. And I can legally drink. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, teens.

What The World Was Like Then: Zoolander Edition

On Tuesday, Hollywood’s (no-so) best kept secret of a sequel to 2001’s cult comedy Zoolander was finally confirmed – but in a way that was totally kept secret. If you haven’t seen the video and gifs floating around, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson surprised the crowd during the Valentino show at Paris Fashion Week. They reprised their characters of Derek Zoolander and his arch nem Hansel McDonald, and went down the runway in a classic walk-off.

The stunt was brilliant and paid off, since it’s since gone viral on the internetz, including this very blog. We were in high school when Zoolander came out in 2001, and I vividly remember going to the movie theater with my friends to see it, and howling at the screen because I thought it was so funny (interestingly enough, I don’t think I would like it if I saw it for the first time now, but that’s beside the point). This scene (featuring a young Alexander Skarsgard) and the phrase “Orange mocha frappucinos” became an instant inside joke between us, and it is one of those memories that sticks out in the entirety of my 29 years of existence, for some reason.

While some will relate to Zoolander as a hilarious movie that they loved, I relate to it as a welcome and enjoyable memory from my teen years. So, it got me thinking, I can’t believe it’s been 14 years since Zoolander came out, and 2001, as we all know, was a turning point in world history, but there are a number of other things that happened in 2001 that make Lance Bass and Fred Durst’s cameos in Zoolander make much more sense if you remember the historical context around the movie. As a refresher, and while we wait for Zoolander 2 to come out next year, here are some highlights from 2001 to put you back in that Blue Steel mood.

But first – click on this medley of hits from ’01 and proceed.

  • Wikipedia goes live! I would not discover it until circa 2006.
  • George W. Bush is sworn into office (the first time)

  • Nicole Kidman realizes she’s better than this (*xenu*) and splits from Tom Cruise. Later, she goes on the world’s worst ‘date’ with Jimmy Fallon.
  • Backstreet Boys perform Larger than Life at the American Music Awards, and during the performance they’re joined on stage by ‘N Sync, marking it the only time that the boy bands performed on stage together. AND FOR SOME REASON I DON’T RECALL THIS SLASH THERE IS NO VIDEO TO PROVE IT.
  • Napster shuts down its entire network after losing the copyright case.

  • Meanwhile, Steve Jobs is on it and Apple introduces the iTunes media player.
  • Fox Family Channel is renamed ABC Family, which is why repeats of ABC shows like Life with Bonnie and Less Than Perfect aired when you got home from school.
  • Monica and Chandler finally get married – but I’m still wondering what happened to Joey’s World War II movie that was supposed to come out Memorial Day weekend 2002.
  • The first Kidz Bop CD (yes, CD) is released, including horribly covered Top 40 hits such as Smashmouth’s All Star, Bring It All To Me by Blaque ft. JC Chasez, and Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65.

*Ed. Note: I didn’t realize it was kids singing in the background with adults taking lead vocals??

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone premieres and becomes the highest-grossing film of the year, and has since made $974.7 million worldwide. Other movies that made their debut in 2001:  The Fast and the Furious, Legally Blonde, On the Line, Corky Romano (which I also embarrassingly saw in the theater – it was SNL fangirl inspired), and Glitter.
  • Speaking of Glitter, July 2001 marked the ICONIC time when Mariah unexpectedly visited Carson Daly on the set of TRL, pushing an ice cream cart and then stripping off her Glitter shirt which, as I recall, was the oddest, most uncomfortable live scene in TV history. She later checks into a hospital for “extreme exhaustion”.

  • Jennifer Lopez marries her back-up dancer Cris Judd – and they divorce in 2002. Don’t worry, J Lo, you still have a lot more hearts to break in the future…
  • Lizzie McGuire premieres! Somewhere, Aaron Carter is just waiting by his AOL account waiting for an email from his agent to tell him he’s got a cameo on the show.
  • After eight years, Nickelodeon’s iconic Saturday night line-up, called SNICK is rebranded as TEENick, and my childhood officially dies.

  • This happened at the VMAs and I’m still not over it.

Books That Should Be Banned Because I Hate Them

It’s Banned Books Week – the time every year when the academic and bookworm communities team up and tell meddlesome parent associations that they can suck it. And of course, they can and should: banning books is not cool. It usually happens because parents pressure schools and libraries to get rid of things they don’t want their kids to see. That would be fine if it was because these books were truly awful, like A Child’s Guide To Excluding Other Religions or Racism 4 Kidz. But that’s usually not the case.

Here’s the thing, though. If books can be banned simply because folks don’t want their kids exposed to the greater world, I think it’s only fair that the rest of us should get to arbitrarily have books banned too – because we hated them. I was in the AP/Honors track in high school, and in our particular school that meant that just about all we read were “the classics.” Now, don’t get me wrong, those dead white men can write. But some of those books were so dull and dusty that – even though I can see their value from an educational perspective – I wouldn’t mind banning them … because I hated them. Welcome to a very special edition of C+S Book Club, in which we become an anti-book club.

Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

In this book, we high school juniors learned about Africa from the perspective that really matters — this one white guy who is dead (see what I mean?). I couldn’t even get through the Wikipedia entry on this to refresh my memory, because even that was too boring. But the point is, a bunch of European dudes went through the Congo River on a boat getting obsessed with each other. There were definitely heads on sticks and some kind of a “native” rebellion and a melodramatic death scene. YAWN.

The Once And Future King by T.H. White

This was part of our summer reading before Freshman year of high school – and let me tell you, there’s no better way to stifle a lifelong love of reading than to assign seven books, including a 700-page Arthurian fantasy, to be read over the course of two months (read: the last two weeks before vacation ends), so that the kids don’t even have time to read of their own volition. But hey, high school is when you start to learn a lot about yourself — and this is when I learned that apparently, I hate Arthurian fantasy. The copy on the Barnes and Noble website says that this is a tale “of beasts who talk and men who fly, of wizardry and war.”

You know what else is that kind of tale of beasts who talk and men who fly, of wizardry and war? Harry Potter, which – fun fact! – did not ruin my fourteenth summer.

One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

It’s important for kids to understand that life in a Soviet gulag was tedious as hell, but even as a 15-year-old, I could have figured it out without having to read Ivan Denisovich’s boring day in prison develop in real time. When I discovered my study sheet from my AP English exam, I had subtitled this book something like “(more like 100 years in the life of me).”

I learned 1000% more about prison life by watching Orange Is The New Black, so maybe that can replace this 200-page snoozefest in the high school curriculum.

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Unfair grudge? Maybe.  I’m shooting for reading 50 books this year, and Gone With The Wind, with its 1000-page count and twerpy protagonist, singlehandedly threw off my timeline. I know of people who read this in high school, but we didn’t because a white guy didn’t write it* (Margaret Mitchell is a white lady). Still, I figured I should see what the fuss was about.

I still don’t get it. People are obsessed with this book. I usually am able to view books as  a product of their time, but GWTW really tested my patience. Rhett and Scarlett and the gang being racist? Totally unsurprising, and it would be unrealistic if they weren’t. But Mitchell portrayed all of the Black characters as simplistic, childlike dumb-dumbs who, even after emancipation, truly needed the guidance and protection of the good white people. Guys. The “mammy” is literally called Mammy. Mind you, this was written in 1936, not during the Civil War era.

There’s also a truly cringey “no means yes” rape scene (it’s totally fine, they were married and Scarlett wanted it UGH).

Finally, the book is only so long because the author takes about 200 pages to describe scenarios like “Scarlett goes to a barbeque and learns that this guy is engaged.”

If schools want to teach a civil-war era novel that also has inspired a feature film (because you can fill like a week of class days watching the movie), let’s go with Solomon Northrup’s 12 Years A Slave. Please.

* We did read To Kill A Mockingbird and Black Boy, so there’s two. Oh! And Wuthering Heights.

Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

Okay, I don’t really want this banned, and I didn’t hate it. But is there some way to short-list who gets to read it? I’m thinking about those earnest high school boys who think they’re deeper than everyone else, were born in the wrong era, and probably have Bob Dylan posters tacked up in their rooms. Give them one dose of Catcher and they become positively insufferable, because it reinforces their idea that they’re the only one who’s not a “phony” (except ol’ Phoebe, etc). Honestly, a great book, but teens who think they know everything don’t need more ammo. Let’s assign them Franny and Zooey instead, until they’re old enough to have a balanced perspective on the Holden Caulfield character.

F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, But Only For Some People

A few years ago I went on a huge Lost Generation reading kick, and I’m still so fascinated by the era they lived in, the style of writing, all of it. However, like Catcher In The Rye, some kids don’t  have the perspective to read these critically. I don’t really want these on the banned list. These are exactly the kind of books I want kids reading, even if some kids don’t understand it at an adult level. It’s just that from my own high school and college days, I remember a lot of people reading these books and feeling so much admiration and awe for the very people who were being criticized in them. It’s like watching Mean Girls and coming away with the message “man, those Plastics really were the coolest kids out there, weren’t they?”

I guess I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t read Catcher In The Rye or books about high society written by the Lost Generation. I’m just saying we should teach them to read critically or, barring that, teach them to shut the heck up.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Story time: we read this book in Honors English my Freshman year. I enjoyed it, but sometimes didn’t do awesome at the pop reading quizzes we had because I was more into binge reading on weekends than reading two chapters a night or whatever. When it got time to write the essay at the end of the unit, I killed it. A friend’s computer was broken, so I offered to type hers up too – not fixing the little mistakes I found because that would be dishonest and I was almost compulsively honorable at that stage of life.

When we got the graded papers back, I was ready to see the big fat A at the top of my page – and saw a 65%. WHAT. THE. HELL. 65% was a grade I’d only heard about before, from other people, unfortunate people whose lives weren’t like mine. My friend, whose paper I knew wasn’t as good, had like a 97%. All throughout my paper the teacher had scribbled snide little comments like “your words??” (next to the word “enamored” which is not even a weird word for a 14-year-old to know). So I went to the teacher to see what was up, and she scheduled a meeting with my parents and a vice principal because she thought it was plagiarized. The school was on a plagiarism witch hunt because some kids had been kicked out for it the year before. She claims she marked my paper down 30 points but that can’t even be right, because it was still 2 points less than my friend’s error-ridden paper. She obviously just failed it because she didn’t think I was smart enough to turn in something so good.

Anyway. I got the grade restored, in part because the vice principal vouched that she’d see me pour over Dickens when I was a third grader stuck at my brothers’ basketball games, and in part because my partial rough draft was still in my notebook, complete with crossouts and doodles. Only by the grace of God had I not written something embarrassing like “Mrs. Pacey Witter” or “Jack Dawson 4 lyfe” in the margins.

Point is: I liked this book initially, but thanks to that teacher (Mrs. Hammerton, Honors English, Aquinas Institute 2000, what’s up?) – well, if you can just have books banned willy-nilly because they give you uncomfy feelings, then I’d like to do that here, please.


 

I enjoyed just about everything I had to read in school: from Greek drama to ancient myths to Shakespeare to 19th century romanticism. But there were still those books that I just could not get into. How about you all – any books you wouldn’t lose sleep over the banning of, because you hated them so much?

 

 

Class of ’04: Traci & Molly’s High School Reunion

As Class of ’04 Week comes to a close, we’re taking today to look back at our own personal experience in high school. Like everyone else who spent four years trapped inside a building with pubescent teens and seemingly endless piles of homework (that we may or may not have done), we have fond memories of our time together in those hallowed halls. From being theatre nerds to drama with friends and a trip that took us to meet our very first (gay) boyfriend in Europe, the anecdotes are endless. Since the odds of us attending our upcoming (official) 10 year reunion are the same as, say, Britney and Justin getting back together or my Beanie Babies collection being worth $1 mil, or ever knowing the real way to pronounce ‘Xanga’, we now share with you reflections on our teen selves as adults 10 years later – in lieu of a real reunion.

Introduction to Theater

M: We sort of had a weirdly politicized high school theater department, which I think is such a normal thing. Like, the same kids got all the roles even if they weren’t great, and it was impossible to edge your way in there. Both of us came in with more “experience” (whatever) than a lot of kids, but since we started sophomore or junior year it was like “nope, sorry.” And I was like BITCH I WAS IN AN EDUCATIONAL VIDEO ALREADY.

T: And I was all BITCH I’VE BEEN IN ALL THE PRODUCTIONS OF MY CHURCH MUSICALS DAMNNNN. But really. I think I went into the freshman year audition of Cinderella thinking I was the shit and ended up not even getting into the chorus. It wasn’t until junior year when both Molly & I got into Crazy For You – and I got in only because I was good at tap dancing and somehow made the “dance troupe/Follies Girls”. I felt like I finally had an in but senior year, I was determined to get a good role for the musical, My Fair Lady. I started taking voice lessons from a local music school just so I could properly prepare for my audition. I guess it worked because I played Mrs. Pearce, the head housekeeper. CATCH YOUR DREAMS, KIDS. SHACKLE THEM TO YOUR HEART.

20140617-223033.jpg

M: But the most memorable theater experience by far was The Theater Bandit. During the spring musical, stuff kept disappearing from kids’ backpacks during rehearsals. After a while it became clear it was someone involved in the play. THEN a big sum of money went missing the day of our dress rehearsal, and the play was going to be cancelled – cancelled! – if the person didn’t fess up or turn in the money. The directors called everyone up onto the stage, one by one, and went through their bookbags to look for it. Girls were crying.

Honestly, even for the theater department, calling each kid up to be searched right at center stage was a liiiiitle dramatic. There were three chairs – one for the kid and one for each director – and in my imagination, a spotlight. Maybe some suspenseful piano music.

T: But really, in my head it looked like the “green mile” on So You Think You Can Dance right before they find out if they make the top 20 or not.

Screenshot 2014-06-20 00.05.10

Turns out that the girl who did it finally got caught and mystery of The Theater Bandit was solved. I still don’t know if she ‘fessed up or you know, our director found a huge wad of cash in her bookbag, but to this day, we still call this girl The Theater Bandit. Also I think I remember someone else claiming they had something stolen, and during the interrogation, she came crying back into the theater saying her mom found whatever it is she thought was stolen – at home.

M: I don’t know if she was officially caught, because I found out later when our friend Sarah went to college with someone knew The Theater Bandit. If our lives were Pretty Little Liars, that was the moment I found out who A was.

Recess/Lunch (You Can’t Sit With Us)

M: I could still draw the social geography of our high school cafeteria from memory. Having multiple groups you sit with depending on the day was okay – I floated a bit – but going to a table that wasn’t part of your usual scene just wasn’t done. To the extent that freshman year when I went to the senior boy table to give my brother my leftover lunch money and stayed there a while, THAT was the moment he decided I was sort-of cool. One time they tried to start this Change Your Seat Day, and we were all like “this is some kind of crazy bullshit.”

T: I weirdly remember the geography too. In fact freshman year, I almost sat with the girls who played sports – because my friends from middle school played volleyball, not because I did HAHA – but I decided to sit somewhere else instead. That somewhere else was the theater/band/chorus section, where I usually sat. Although, like Molly, I think I floated a bit, between that table, the table that our group of friends started that was kind of a mish mosh of folks, and when I felt daring, the minority table (read: black table). I used to sit at the black table all throughout middle school, but that’s because we were all friends. In high school, it was like two of them were my friends and the rest were the guys who played football. Nope.

This was not in our school’s cafeteria, this was at the annual theatre banquet our senior year.

M: The volleyball thing reminds me of that period right at the beginning of freshman year when you’re trying to get your bearings, and you hang out with people that you end up not even saying hi to in the hall four years later. The same thing happened in college, too. You befriended some random group of people, figured out who you really want to spend time with within a few months, and by graduation you didn’t even know their names.

T: And I’m still friends with those people on Facebook. Still trying to get myself to unfriend them, but stalking is just so satisfying on the internetz.

Dramatics

M: I was never properly at the center of any actual teen drama. I did have a few of those random girls who seemed to dislike me for no reason though. One girl from my tennis team hated me. She was sort of a poor student/bad girl type. I think she took my “Exceeds Expectations” personality type as a personal indictment, when in reality I couldn’t have given less of a shit about her. Also this one girl who used a lot of hairspray was always kind of snide and I was like “get over yourself, you leave the girls’ bathroom under a heavy fog of Aquanet.” If there is a tiny ozone hole directly above the science wing of our high school, she is the reason.

I did talk a lot of shit, though. I’ll own up to that. But I was always joking! I felt like it was okay to rip on people as long as it was funny. I hope I’ve gotten better, but that might be a lifelong journey.

T: I mean, we’ve gotten better to the extent that we know when it’s warranted because people are jackasses. Yeah, I don’t really remember any real teen drama happening, besides the normal secret romances, secret (not so secret) pregnancies… but senior year is when the real shit happened. One of my friends decided she was just going to stop talking to us – I honestly don’t even remember why – and as a last “olive branch/I’m going off to college peace offering” I sent her a copy of that video I made for everyone (see yesterday’s post re: Closing Time by Semisonic), and never got a response back. Until like 2 years ago when we met up when I was home and we made up, I guess? IDK I don’t have a problem with her anymore, I just think it’s funny that I still have no idea why there was a rift in the first place.

M: I was waiting for you to tell that story because I couldn’t figure out what had actually happened and figured I either forgot or wasn’t in the loop! It turns out it was just legitimately for no reason?

T: No reason. If there was a reason, I’ve clearly forgotten it with my old age.

Global Studies

M: Junior year, we went on a school trip to Spain. We brought along computer print-outs of Friends episodes and read them aloud in our hotel room. I feel like this is an important thing to know about us as friends and just people in general.

T: I clearly remember us in our hotel room in Valencia, maybe (?) sitting on the bed and reading the scripts between the two of us and our two friends. This was also the trip where we tried to convince one of our friends that Cups was a real game during the flight.

20140617-222958.jpg

“Gotcha suckaaa! Cups isn’t real!”

M: We totally did, too. I remember her being like “I think I’m getting it!”

I’d like to take this moment to publicly apologize to all of the other people on our flights, in our hotels, in restaurants, etc. We were probably all so loud and annoying.  A German couple did ask us to quiet down one morning when we were watching “That’s English!”, which was like the Spanish-to-English version of Destinos. Sample dialogue: A: Do you like ham? B: I like ham. A: Here’s a ham! Have some ham.

T: oh my GOD I forgot about That’s English! We also did a lot of ‘staring at European children and promising we would dress our kids like that one day’ too. The friggin tots looked straight out of Zara.

M: I’m still trying to work out how my future children can wear school smocks (is that even the right English term? IDK. Babis.) and speak French.

I believe this was post-churros con chocolate. My life has never been the same.

T: Since we went through the school, we were on one of those EF organized tours that give you a free backpack and a tour guide to join you the entire trip. Our tour guide’s name was Pablo *sigh*. I was pretty much obsessed/in love with him and his Spanish accent and knowledge of so much about his country. I even bought one of those novelty name plates that said PABLO on it, which still sits in my bedroom at home to this day. Looking back… he was absolutely, 100%, no doubt about it, homosexual. FORESHADOWING OF MY LIFE WITH THE GAYS.

Fun fact: the Theater Bandit is in this picture.

M: I remember debating whether he was gay or straight, and then he walked into the hotel lobby in a rainbow-print Dolce & Gabbana sweater. We were like “maybe he’s just European?” But Europe has gay people, too. And he was one of them.

❤ PABLO ❤

Photography Class

T: Kids these days don’t know just how good they have it. Someone was recently telling me that they saw a group of like 15 year old girls at the airport who kept taking selfies for 20 minutes while waiting for their flight. When we were 15, we had to take pictures on either our disposable KODAK cameras or actual point and shoots with real film (do kids know how to put film in cameras even?). When you got pix back after they were developed and you looked horrible in a picture, too bad. That’s why when there was a picture where everyone looked great, it was like the holy grail.

20140617-223018.jpg

And for big events – such as prom – I remember the agony of waiting a couple days to get the photos back. And then we would scour over them during lunch.

Junior prom.

Senior prom.

Post-Senior prom at our friend’s cottage and clearly taken on an old school camera since it’s not even in focus or centered.

M: But in a way, that was better. Because you kept your pictures, and if you looked bad, you either got rid of it or just didn’t show it to anybody. And if you looked bad in someone else’s pictures, only a finite group of people would ever see it. The downside was that if your pictures didn’t turn out you wouldn’t know til weeks later, and by then the moment was gone. I like how pictures used to be separate from events. Like you said, we’d all pour over them at lunch or study hall after they were developed. Now you’re expected to show everyone what you’re doing, while you’re doing it.

iPhones would’ve been the best for our band/chorus trip to Hershey Park. WE’RE NUMBER ONE! WE’RE NUMBER ONE!

T: Are senior pictures still a big thing with high schoolers? I think mine actually came out pretty good, but can someone explain to me why I was wearing a jersey like shirt in this one? I never played sports. But we did use these pictures like trading cards.

you’re welcome, internet.

M: Gotta catch ‘em all! You’d have people you weren’t even really friends with ask for your picture.

They’re still a thing some places at least – my little cousin is a senior now and she has like a hundred different poses that keep showing up on Facebook. When I got to college I learned that in other regions people only got that one picture that went in the yearbook, often where girls had to wear that weird off-the-shoulder black thing. We got straight-up glamour shots with three outfit changes, multiple settings, filters, etc. You had your yearbook pic and then like your sassy outdoor pic, your “wearing a prom dress on a swing” pic, etc. My wearing a prom dress on a swing pic was actually in SUCH demand that I ran out. My mom ordered more but, alas, she got extra prints of the wrong one. I was so ticked in the way only a seventeen-year-old whose mom is just trying to help can be ticked.

T: Um, I’m pretty sure I never got the one of you in a dress on a swing. That’s it. Friendship over.

M: Yeah, I’d love to give you one, but I still only have a giant stack of the wrong pose. THANKS MOM.

AP Life Class

M: While I think you really have to learn things by experience, there are still some things I wish I’d known:

♦ Straighten your hair or wear it curly, but please do not just blow-dry it and leave it sort of puffy and lumpy and sad.

♦ Being as young and enthusiastic and optimistic as you are at 17 is attractive no matter what you look like. But also, looking back at pictures I can’t believe I didn’t realize that I looked perfectly normal, not the ugly sewer-troll I thought I was. Besides, nobody cares what you look like; they’re all too busy with their own lives. Maybe that’s the biggest lesson: nobody else really cares what you look like, so you shouldn’t either.

♦ You really AREN’T going to use calculus.

♦ A high school teacher said this once, but I had to live it to know if was true: a lot of your best friends and people you’ll love most in your life are people you haven’t met yet.  It’s easy to be myopic when you’re a teenager but your relationships when you’re 16 aren’t IT. Or at 27, for that matter.

T: Like Tim Riggins, I also have no regrets, but here we go:

♦ Pay attention during instructions for school picture day. I came from a middle school where you could dress up (aka not wear the required uniform) for picture day, and assumed it was the same in high school. So freshman year, I showed up in a long black skirt, white shirt, with a black button up short sleeve shirt that wasn’t buttoned up. I got pulled over by one of the vice principals who asked why I wasn’t in dress code. I blamed it on my stupidity. Probs my most embarrassing moment in my high school career.

♦ Hang out with your friends outside of school more. Because our school was a private school with kids from all over the greater Rochester area, my friends lived all over the city, not down the street. In fact I had no friends that lived down the street from me. Anyways, I didn’t really hang out with my friends on weekends for real until late junior year. I wish we had more nights together.

♦ Take that journalism class. Because it will help you for your future job, probably (aka the job I have now).

♦ Don’t be afraid to do more extracurriculars. I wish I could’ve done choir all four years, been involved in theatre somehow even when I wasn’t cast in the show, and I totally could’ve made the yearbook much better than it was our senior year.

♦ Don’t be afraid. Period. I think I was trying too hard to be “adult” by the time I was a senior that I forgot how to be a teenager and just not think about the possible consequences. I mean, it’s not like I was breaking any laws, I just mean I shouldn’t have have been so uptight about life in general.

 

Lower Your Expectations: Prom Edition

Alright, kids. Time for me to be a cynical old hag right about now. It’s prom season. You’re gearing up for what could possibly be the biggest dance, nay, event of the year. Picking the perfect dress, choosing an elaborate hairstyle, getting your nails did, and possibly even splurging for that fake tan.

However I’m here to tell you, as someone from the future, prom isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Picking a dress

What you think will happen:

Finding a dress wil be soooo easy, and you will absolutely be the best dressed one at the prom!

What actually happens:

Your mom will judge you for your choices while trying dresses on.

The one you love the most doesn’t fit like you want it to.

Fuck it, all this stress is not worth it.

Figuring out limos and table assignments with friends

What you think will happen:

BFF4L!!!! We’re going to have so much fun planning the events leading up to and after the prom!

What actually happens:

Bitches be annoying and don’t want to sit at this table because of this person and why are we going to this person’s house after I wanna go here. STFU. How are we still friends rn?

Day of Prep

What you think will happen:

Celeb for a day with everyone doting on you.

What actually happens:

I literally cried while getting my hair done for junior prom because it wasn’t exactly how the picture I tore out from Teen People: Prom issue looked. But you know, everything worked out okay.

Taking pre-prom pictures with family

What you think will happen:

What actually happens:

Oh, parents taking pix of their kid before going to prom.

Dancing at prom

What you think will happen:

What actually happens:

You’re Britney for 10 minutes and then you realize you hate everyone else you go to school with.

After Party

What you think will happen:

What actually happens:

Over it.

So in summary, have fun, kids! You’ll have the time of your life that you’ll never get back again. Enjoy!

Digging Through the Archives: Vacation Bible School Treasures

Molly has previously written about how when we were in high school, the two of us, along with our friends Sarah and Monica, volunteered to be teachers at Vacation Bible School at my church (Spoiler: We got kicked out).

In the post, she mentions a lovely young girl we taught who we called A.C. Slater. An excerpt:

There was a girl who looked just like A.C. Slater. I don’t even mean like Slater’s nine-year-old sister, but I mean … I mean she had a jheri curl mullet. And the same dimples. Even her skin tone and eye shape were the same. Obviously we referred to her as A.C., and we may have tried to get her to repeat Saved By The Bell catch phrases and sit backwards on her chair like she was chillin after school at The Max. Oh, and on the last day, we took a picture with her, holding up a photo of Mario Lopez behind her head where she couldn’t see it. A.C. also had a younger brother who we predicted would grow up hot. Does anyone want to check on that? It’s been 10 years so that’s way less creepy now.

We may have been good people and volunteered with kids at a church, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t make fun of the children.

I recently came across this in one of my LiveJournal entries (yes, laugh all your want) during our time at VBS. It’s a worksheet we made the kids do, but apparently I stole it, scanned it, and put it in my LJ. What a loser. Except I’m so glad I did that, because I totally forgot about this. It’s like looking into a time capsule. I mean this 5th grader incorporated George Dubya into her VBS activity. I think we underestimated A.C. She even managed to name her dog – Molly.

The Harlem Shake is Making Me Reflect on Life

If you haven’t heard or seen of the Harlem Shake meme that is sweeping the internets, get out of your cave and read on. First of all, contrary to popular belief, it’s not the popular dance craze that hit the streets circa 2006. It’s a video that features the song Harlem Shake by some EDM artist called Baauer. The video, which is usually about 30 seconds long, starts off with a group of people who are seemingly unaware that there is a video being made and/or completely uninterested in what’s going on. One person, usually wearing a mask or helmet of some sort, is the only one who dances to the music for the first 15 seconds. Once the bass line drops, the last 15 seconds are filled with the rest of the group wearing insane costumes and dancing like crazy.

It’s stupid.

But recently I came across this Harlem Shake by the teachers at the high school Molly and I attended.

Watching this makes me feel a lot of feels. First of all, I can’t believe the teachers would agree to do something like this. Maybe it’s because I still feel like I’m 16, and adults of high authority shouldn’t be doing anything besides teaching or giving out detentions (or, as our school called it ‘Justice Under God’, or ‘JUGs’) but it also has to do with the fact that we went to a private Catholic high school. I mean not like there were nuns and priests lurking the halls with rulers, but in the sense that I just assumed a lot of them would be against it? (That’s what happens when you assume, folks.)

Second, I only recognize like maybe 10 of the people in the video, which makes sense because it’s been nine years since I’ve been in high school. !!! NINE YEARS?! Where did my youth go? Funnily enough, some of those teachers look exactly the same way I remember, so good for them. But also, it’s weird to see your old theology teacher dancing for an internet meme.

Third, I haven’t been back to that school since… probably 2005, and a lot has changed since then. There is a whole new wing, which includes a black box theater that I still am upset that we never got to use (long story short, there was a hold up and instead of it being finished our senior year, it finished after we graduated). Anyways, the large oval shapes on the walls in the back of the video used to be windows, but now they’re all covered up. I’m assuming it’s because of the new buildings, but I feel bad for all the kids who have to eat lunch in the cafeteria with no sense of the outside world. Thinking about the cafeteria also made me reminisce about the cliques during lunchtime. It was totally Mean Girls-esque. Well, maybe not as intense and segregated, but to the point where I sat at the theater table with the theater and band kids, and sometimes I would wander over to the black table, but never over to the cheerleaders, or jocks, or complete nerds. And now the cafeteria has become a closed off studio for the teachers to awkwardly dance.

So, thanks, AQ teachers for making me feel old. I aprpeciate it!

And if you are intrigued by this internet sensation, here are a few of my favorites. Luckily, they’re not that long, so you can go back to hating how old you’ve become.

The cast of Happy Endings (really, the only one that matters)

Ryan Seacrest, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, and the KISS morning show staff (Seacrest dancing is the best)

Cleveland Indians (Terry Francona, former manager of the Boston Red Sox, is probably my all-time favorite Red Sox ‘player’. And he shakes his butt in this.)

Retitled: What High School Required Reading Books Should Have Been Called, According To My 17-Year-Old Self

Wakefield High School Summer Reading

If you reach into the shadowy recesses of your memory, brush off the cobwebs, and are over the age of 22 or so, you probably remember taking class notes longhand. If so, you are lucky, because there’s a good chance that some of your high school musings have made it into this millennium. Unless you are one of those people who actually backs up all of their work on a flash drive or has had the same computer for a very long time, your electronic files probably haven’t survived so long.

I recently came across a notebook I kept in high school English. I was preparing for the AP Lit exam, and made a list of books I’d read that I could discuss in the essays. In brackets, I wrote a short summary (maybe 5-10 words) to jog my memory of the book. I can’t help but think that these would make excellent alternate titles.

I got a 5 on that AP, making this the best study method ever.

Here are some of my favorites:

The Great Gatsby: [Good Parties and Car Crashes]

The Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man: [Run-On Sentences That Don’t Make Sense (Irish)]

The Once And Future King: [Probably Interesting If You’re Into D&D]

The Catcher In The Rye: [Whiney Bitch Gets Kicked Out Of School]

The Bell Jar: [Mad Electroshock]

Something Wicked This Way Comes: [Watched The Movie Instead]

The Crucible: [I Saw Goody __ With The Devil! (POPPETS)]

Great Expectations: [Cobwebbed Wedding Cake & Unrequited Love]

Wuthering Heights: [Moors (Geographic)]

Othello: [Moors (Ethnic)]

The Scarlet Letter: [Mores (Social)]

Death Of A Salesman: [Salesman Totally Dies]

One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich: [Reading It Felt Like 10 Years In The Life Of Me]

Seriously, You Guys, Catholic School Was Fine

At a party in college, a friend from my city asked me about the high school in my suburb. “Well, I lived there, but I actually went to Catholic school.”
“Oh God,” he answered, “I’m sorry.”

But the thing is? I’m not sorry at all. People sometimes assume that, because I grew up into a politically liberal adult who likes outfits, my Catholic school years were probably unbearable — a wasteland of conservative repression and hideous uniforms. Or that since I don’t regularly go to a Catholic church these days, I’ve probably turned against it and am all bitter about it.[1] It’s true that I could go my whole life without wearing another jumper or hearing On Eagles’ Wings[2] again, but for the most part, it was a pretty non-traumatic way to grow up. Here are some misconceptions I’ve run across, and how things actually played out for me:

A nun named Sister William Gerald[3] probably hit you with rulers. First of all, most of my teachers weren’t nuns. They were middle-aged married women[4] wearing adult jumpers. And the nuns that were there were actually pretty nice, usually. True, they didn’t take crap from anyone, but generally in a typical old-lady sense. And I’d be stern too, if I were them. My piano lessons were in the convent, and they had the saddest, smallest, antennaed black and white t.v. – and this was in the mid-90s. Vow of poverty and all that. I mean, you all know how we feel about t.v. around here, right?  Also they had to listen to 6-year-olds play Hot Cross Buns and Ode To Joy all day long. They had a tiny chapel with stained glass windows in the convent, and that was pretty cool, though. But having my own personal, tiny church would not make up for a sub-par television experience. I guess that’s what you get for marrying a famous guy who is also invisible (read: Jesus).

You were denied self-expression because you had to wear uniforms. This probably is just me being a nerd, but I loved my plaid uniform. I liked that I didn’t have to think about what to wear every day. Before a dress-down day, I would look through my entire wardrobe and consult with 2-3 friends by telephone to plan my outfit. There is no way I could have handled that pressure on a daily basis. In retrospect, it was nice that you never knew which kids had tons of nice clothes and which ones didn’t.  Everyone, rich or poor, tall or short, fat or thin, had an equal opportunity to look shapeless and terrible. In terms of creative expression, I had things like crayons and school plays, you know? I creatively expressed myself through clothing in my off-hours, and let me tell you, the results were less than spectacular. Lots of stirrup pants, really, as was the style of the time.

By first grade, this uniform hadn’t stopped me from becoming 39 lbs of concentrated sass.

Your teachers were unqualified, and you only learned about Jesus(/Mary/Joseph). This is the only misconception that I take sort of personally: first of all, I know I received a really good education, and second, my mother is mega-educated and is a Catholic school principal. All of our teachers had masters degrees, just like yours. The graduation standards of my high school were well above my state’s regents diploma. I started college credit courses my sophomore year, and I think senior year was an all-AP schedule for me. I swear we learned about evolution and all of that.[5] We just had religion classes on top of it. This paid off in college, when I entertained friends with Bible Story Time With Molly, where I’d share ridiculous, gruesome, or filthy stories that actually appear in the Bible. In high school I developed a theory that some of that stuff was written by ancient Israelites who ate bad desert mushrooms, etched their musings on stone tablets, then stashed them in a bunch of holy scrolls where they assumed nobody would ever look.

My former elementary is now a public school, but there’s still a cross on top, which I guess is allowed??

You didn’t know about any other religions. In college, I remember meeting classmates and friends who had gone to public school and didn’t know the difference between Catholics and Protestants (or “Catholics and Christians,” as a few maintained that the two were mutually exclusive. Ugh.). I’m not saying that public schools do a bad job of teaching about world religions, I’m just saying that going to one is no guarantee that you are better-informed than a Catholic schooler. My schools did a great job teaching about other religions, and my class even had an awesome partnership with students at a school in Israel. I’d also like to point out that (1) not everyone in my school was Catholic, or even Christian, and (2) like public schoolers, I had … you know, neighbors and friends from outside of school and stuff.

Those were the kids who got beat up in my neighborhood. Yep … okay, yeah. I can’t refute that, because that’s potentially very true. On Sundays, public school kids from our church used to use our classrooms for religious ed. Those punks used to mess with our desks every single week! They even left the cover off of our incubator when we were hatching baby chickens. Luckily the teacher checked on them right after, so no harm there. We were so pathetic that we got out our big classroom chart paper and wrote them a letter asking them to please stop taking our things, if you don’t mind.

1 I would absolutely go to a friendly, non-judgmental church! But do I have to memorize the new mass responses?
2 On Eagles’ Wings is engineered to make people cry at funerals, and vows that God will “make you to shine like the sun,” like a new car or a Twilight vampire.

This song was part of the “contemporary” Catholic music movement of the 70s and 80s. Usually this kind of music is performed by a “folk group,” which is comprised of 4-7 elderly people, one of whom has a guitar. All of the ladies have wavery old-lady church voices. In many churches, the “folk group” is still a “hip” attempt to “reach out to the youth.”

3 My parents have verified that, in the ‘50s and ‘60s, nuns with men’s names were all-around more terrifying that nuns with ladies’ names. So, if your substitute was Sr. Damian Louis, you knew you were worse off than if you had Sr. Margaret Elizabeth.
4 One time someone asked if my mom was a nun since she’s always worked in Catholic schools, and I was all, I don’t think you really get how this nun thing works…
5 In the interest of transparency, our health class was lacking. It was one semester long, and sex ed was basically just graphic descriptions of STIs, and a warning that condoms had tiny holes for AIDS to get through (maybe it was just my teacher? When talking about the id he pronounced it “the I.D.”. He was only on staff because he was a coach, and I think this kind of thing happens at public schools too, maybe? I am basing this opinion entirely off of Mean Girls.) That lasted for about a week, and the rest of the time we watched outdated TV movies about Tracy Gold overcoming things. On a related note, there were like 3-4 pregnant girls my senior year.