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Ba15312.24.15 The first round of holidays after losing a loved one.

This time last year, I was braving the overly crowded nonsense that was the shopping center right before Christmas. While I stood there in full, claustrophobia panic mode, ready to bolt, I grabbed my last gift for the day, a bath set from Bed, Bath and Body Works, and headed for the parking lot smelling like an array of holiday scents. I didn’t know it at that moment, but I had just purchased the last gift I would ever get my grandmother.

It’s something I would soon find out.

My grandmother had been sick for awhile, but losing someone always seems to crash into you like a freight train.

Even if you expect it, you still don’t really expect it.

And then it happened.

The tears were there. The endless sifting through memories and carefully sorting the remains of someone’s life into boxes took place. The flowers were bought and the prayers were said. And after time, our family readjusted and continued on.

And then December came.

Holidays, for me, have always been a time when my family comes together. It’s a time to catch up on life after a year has passed. It’s the time of year when everything slows down for a minute and we put aside all of the madness that comes with the real world and just enjoy each other’s company. This year, we’ll be one short.

While it is easy to get swept away in the sadness, it’s best to not let it carry you out to sea. The first one is the hardest. But there are ways to brace yourself as the tide rushes in.

First of all, I’ve decided to acknowledge that she isn’t here. You know, the first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have one.

I have her picture up. I know she won’t show up. I watched the slideshow from her funeral, for what only could have been some twisted sort of self-torture. I’m not lying to myself.

But I’ve also accepted that, while she may not be here physically, she will always be here in a million different ways.

She’ll be there in the memories our family shares around the dinner table. She’ll be in every bite of her famous cooking that we will continuously attempt and fail to recreate. She’ll be there when I look at my mom and uncles. She’ll be there in every shuffle, when we deal out our annual game of pitch.

She’ll be there every time I go into Bed, Bath and Body Works and pick up that last holiday gift. 

The thing about this world is that it is all temporary. We don’t get to keep the ones that we love forever. Eventually, everyone’s days comes to an end.

And when the holidays sneak up on us and we sit down to dinner filled with the gaping hole that is the empty seat across the room, it is important to remember that we always get to keep something.

Holidays are meant to bring us all together. To push all of the pieces back together after a long year has made them spread apart. That’s the beauty of it. Even the pieces we lose will still always have their place.

From mine to yours, Happy Holidays. Now, go hug someone.

12.1.15 An open letter to the non-traditional parent.

Most people can look at me and my family and think that everything has always been neatly in its place. My parents try everyday to balance on the line of keeping me and my two siblings in line, while simultaneously trying to make sure that we know we’re loved. They both go to work every week, shuttle kids to practices and events, and make sure the whole lot is fed, clothed and bathed regularly. In between all of the madness, they attempt to point us in the right direction, fully knowing that we’ll make our own mistakes along the way.

Today, we are complete. But twenty years ago, the dynamic of my family was much different.

I don’t remember the exact timeline (the memory of a child is not always a reliable one) but around the age of four, my mom became a single parent and a new chapter of our lives began.

Yea, at one point I was a child of divorce. But before we get into that, I want everyone to know that I don’t feel damaged by it. It didn’t rip my world apart. I never went without. And the main reason for that is because when one parent stepped down, the other one stepped up. And so did a mess of other people. Which is the main point of this blog post. That family things don’t always come out right the first time, but because of the work of wonderful people doing more than their share, things can work out in the long run.

Today, I tell my mom regularly how grateful I am for her, because when I was younger I didn’t quite recognize the sacrifices she was making daily (at the ripe age of 24) as a single parent. So to everyone out there who is doing things solo, this is to you as well.

It takes a lot to raise a child. It takes a lot to go to work, pay the bills and make sure the small human is getting everything he or she needs in life, all at the same time. It takes a lot to put your wants and dreams on the back-burner. It takes a lot to do all of that and still make it to dance recitals and t-ball games. To do all of that and still braid hair in the mornings and read bedtime stories at night. It takes a lot to be doing it alone and still being known as “the one who shows up” (and let’s be honest, that’s what will be remembered). But I know so many people out there do it and you are truly amazing.

Aside from the very real struggles that come from being a single parent, one thing that really helps that route be a success is the help that comes from friends and family. I was very lucky to have a great grandma who taught me to read while my mom was working and two uncles who kept me busy, made me laugh and taught me (somewhat forcefully, because they were sick of doing it) to tie my shoes.

I was surrounded by my mom’s friends, who put together my first swimming pool, helped assemble my first swing set and didn’t mind when I tagged along for the occasional mushroom hunt. None of those people were my parents, but there is no denying that they played a huge role in my upbringing.

And lastly, but most definitely not least (I’m doing this chronologically) my dad (technically my step dad, but I hate that term) came into our lives. I don’t like the term “step dad” because he’s never really been that to me. He married my mom when I was six years old (and he was 22 years old) and since that time has always just been my dad.

He has been there for skinned knees and broken hearts. He intimidated every guy who ever brought me to a dance and last week he was there when I bought my first car. Next August, he’ll be the one who walks me down the aisle and I would never have it any other way.

There are a lot of people who step into that role and it takes a lot of time and dedication to make sure that a child doesn’t see themselves as extra baggage in your life. I think he was always meant to be my dad, we just took a little detour in getting acquainted.

What I have learned over my past 24 years of life is that blood is only a small factor in making people family.

So to everyone out there, doing the best they can with what they have…you rock. To the foster parents who love kids that really need it, to single parents who do it all, to step parents that take over someone else’s responsibilities, to adoptive parents, to grandparents and aunts and uncles that help or in some cases, take full responsibility, to friends that offer support along the way…thank you.

To the non-traditional parents that don’t fit into the well-known mold (and those that do), thank you. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for pointing them (us) in the right direction. Thank you for keeping it all together. Thank you for giving things up for the next generation.

A strong parent will result in a strong child. And while sometimes you may forget, because we forgot to tell you, we’re always watching. We notice who is there. And when we get older, we notice the sacrifices that were made. And incase we haven’t said it before…thank you.

Welp, that’s all I got.

Peace out, Earthlings.

– Alex

2.20.15 Adulthood expectations vs. reality

It’s hard to believe that in a few months, I’ll have been out of college for two years. Yikes. Out of high school for six year *face palm*. And while being an adult means that I get to pick my own bedtime, it also means that I get to pay my own bills and I feel like somewhere along the way someone misled me about how post-college life would be.

So for those of you who are about to join us fine, young adults, here are some cold, hard truths about the abyss you are about to fall in. This is your warning, stay in college forever.

1. Expectation: Hanging out with friends every day and night, because I make my own rules. 

– Reality: Making plans for DINNER a month in advance because everyone is so busy and spread around the state/country. It’s freaking dinner and I have to write it down on the calendar a MONTH in advance or it won’t happen. DINNER. 

2. Expectation: Late nights and beer all day, err-day.

– Reality: Go to sleep by 10 p.m. (which is late, since I have to be up at 6 a.m.) and drinking a pot, you heard me right the whole pot, of coffee all day, err-day.

3. Expectation: Having a full-time job + no school + no kids = SO MUCH MONEY FOR ME.

– Reality: Rent + utilities + groceries + gas = Praying that your crappy car holds on for another two years so you don’t have to waste your small amount of hard earned cash on anything else that could potentially cost any amount of money.

4. Expectation: Monday-Friday jobs means you have two days to party, shop, go to concerts, etc.

– Reality: You will definitely do that stuff on some weekends, you’re an adult not dead. But seriously, 75 percent of your weekends will be spent watching Netflix and praying that you have enough food and water so that you don’t even have to move from your couch for 48 hours.   

5. Expectation: You will try all sorts of different beer/wine. You’re an adult, you will have a sophisticated palate.

– Reality: You will know the perfect amount of coffee to put in the filter. Too much and you’ll be drinking it fast and burning your tastebuds off  just to avoid the taste. Too little and you may as well drink some water mixed with a little bit of dirt. 

There are definitely perks to being on your own and there are other downfalls. But I’m not going to type them all because I have a real job to get back to. Also, why should everyone else find out how crappy adulthood is beforehand. Everyone should have to learn on their own…that’s another “perk”.

But seriously, quadruple major and never leave college.

– Alex

9.14.14 I didn’t know it all, just assumed I did

1934626_1044125585631_3547186_nI’ve been watching my little sister grow up over the past few years. She’s 16 now, which is insane to me because it wasn’t all that long ago that she was 3 years old, sporting an atrocious haircut my dad gave her and running around our house on her tricycle. (Also I’ve seen her drive a tricycle…so the thought of her driving a car sends chills up my spine.)

But I remember being 16, and I can tell when I look at her or when my mom and I tell her something, that she is listening, but she still thinks she knows better. The problem with teenagers is that they are always the same, they all think they are the exception to the rule. I was there once, I thought it too.

That feeling of invincibility that engulfs you during your days in the high school hallways, that infinite wisdom you possess while standing next to your locker door…16 years on this Earth and you assume you are as enlightened as you will ever be. You think that the 30 years that separate you and your parents’ lifelines is all of the difference in the world. The only problem with that method of thinking is that it is wrong. Whether it’s the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s..or whatever decade these new babies are in, it’s all the same.

Everyone hurts. Everyone makes wrong turns. And everyone brushes off good advice because they think they hold all of the answers.

So I thought long and hard about what I would tell any teenager, including myself, if I thought they would actually listen.

1. Boys in high school are the worst. So are girls, girls suck too. We are all so self-involved at that age, that thinking of other people before we think of ourselves is not what usually happens. We all hurt each other because we’re young, dumb and reckless. A big part of the reason that high school relationships don’t work out is because we’re so busy loving ourselves that we don’t take the time to really love someone else. If you’re the exception, then good for you. But I wasn’t. Even when my mom told me I wasn’t, I still thought I was.

2. You’re not too cool for homework. That is literally not a thing. If you come to class and tell them that you didn’t study or that your dog ate your homework and then laugh because you’re going through a Kurt Cobain phase and you don’t care about anything ever, then good for you, here is your F. Trying hard in school does not make you a loser or a geek… it gives you the chance at a future.

3. Be kind. If there is one thing that I have learned about teenagers, it is that they can be pretty cruel. They say things because it gets them a laugh, even if it is at someone else’s expense. So dear ego maniacs, take a minute out of your own head and step into someone else’s shoes. Doesn’t feel good, does it? Now grow up and be nice.

4. Your parents know things. I remember something that was really annoying was that my mom was always right. And no matter how many times she proved it, I always had to learn the lesson on my own. I remember looking at my dad like he was just the dumbest man on the planet when he shared his wisdom of teenage boys with me, and I remember him looking at the dumbest daughter on the planet when it turned out that he actually knew what he was talking about.

They’ll tell you things. They’ll try to save you the heartache. And they will fail. Because we all have to touch the flame to know for sure that it burns. And when we’ve ignored their advice, they won’t rub it in your face. It will make them sad and they will be there to console you. Because that’s what parents are for, being there to pick you up, when they couldn’t stop you from falling.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 1.58.49 PM5. You won’t lose all of your friends if you don’t want to. I don’t know who sent out the memo that when you leave high school, you lose everyone, because you don’t. But friendships do become more work further down the road, you aren’t thrown in the perfect atmosphere where you see and talk to them everyday. You have to make an effort. Send a text, call every now and again, set a lunch date, make little attempts to make sure that you don’t lose that connection. Luckily, present day technology has made it easier than ever. I still have a handful of high school friends that I’m really close with, some of my best friends in the world and I would be lost without them. So hold tight.

6. You aren’t done changing into who you’re going to be. I think this one settled with me the most. I was this person in high school and now I’m someone else. I’m quieter. Less dramatic. More emotionally stable. That girl was exhausting. But everyone grows up. That’s why some friendships fall apart and relationships you swore would go the distance are left in shambles. Everyone changes, it’s just part of it. We learn from our behaviors and we alter them as we go along.

That’s what high school is for, it helps you develop your personality and who you are. We’re all stuck in the petri dish, surrounded by other specimens, so closely intertwined with one another’s lives. We thrive off one another, we bring out the best and the worst because of such tight quarters. And then high school ends and it gives us some space to stretch our legs. And we start molding ourselves more based on our own wants and needs.

7. Be young, dumb and reckless…to an extent. Have fun, because it will never be this easy again. You’ll leave the hallways and the classrooms and life outside is more difficult. You’ll have to try. You’ll have to adapt and make real decisions. You’ll lose touch with people, because your parents aren’t lying when they say life is busy. So keep your friends close, laugh, be silly. Be smart, be safe, but still have fun. Be a teenager. As annoying as teenagers are, I remember being there and it’s a fun chapter, so don’t waste it.

Until next time…

– Alex

8.13.14 The casualties of flight.

As many of you know, in the next couple of weeks I am closing one chapter of my life and starting a new one. It is always an exciting and terrifying thing to do; putting the final period on a page and indenting the paragraph of a new one. There are always ups and downs, but it’s all part of the game.

I am excited to move out (probably, hopefully for the last time) of my parents house and start a new life somewhere else. My mom has, hands down, been my biggest cheerleader for the past 23 years; she is so excited for me, so proud of me. However for the past few days, when she tells me that, there is just the smallest hint of sadness in her voice. She cuts off my dad and brother when they say “You’re gonna bawl when she leaves.” or “How do you feel about your baby being gone?”

She doesn’t want to hear it, so she laughs it off instead. After 23 years of idolizing her and holding onto her every word, I can tell when there is something hidden in my mom’s voice. And the truth of the matter is she is a little sad about my departure. Not because she isn’t happy for me and not because she doesn’t want me to live my life (my mom is the only person on this Earth who has always dreamed bigger for me than I did for myself), but because when I close that chapter, that chapter is partly hers as well.

I’m the oldest of three children and my mom and I have always had a really close relationship. For years, I’ve been a stone’s throw away. She was always within shouting distance if I ever needed to vent or cry or question. For 23 years, she has filled the role of doctor, therapist and grad02guidance counselor. She has been a solid parent when I needed one and a kind friend when I needed that too. Knowing that I’ll never be down the hall again, at least not regularly, isn’t the easiest. And I hope she knows that I’m going to miss her just as much as she will miss me.

We have to make these choices, choices to move forward, choices to avoid standing still. It is part of the lives we lead. Without progress, what is the point of anything? I am so excited to begin this new phase, excited to see what all is ahead. And I’m excited to call her and tell her all about it. I am excited to come home and visit and share my journey with her every step of the way. After all, my book never would have even began if it wasn’t for her.

Sometimes when we jump out of the nest, we bring these aspects of our lives with us and they fall to the ground as we spread  our wings. These casualties of flight remind us to never forget what got us to the sky in the first place. They allow us to evolve and adapt. And at the end of the day, they may not be the same thing that we always thought they would be, but they’ll never really be gone. A little part of me will always be six years old and listening to my mom read to me or a teenager telling her all the useless facts of my life. A big part of me will always need my mom. No matter where we end up, we always carry a little bit of home on our shoulders.

So thank you mom for building the nest, for keeping me close when needed and for pushing me out when the conditions were right. I wouldn’t be flying anywhere if it wasn’t for you.

-Alex

P.S. For the record, I love my dad and siblings as well. I am going to miss them a ton. My life would be incomplete and boring without the three of them. But lets be honest, those birds keep there emotions in check pretty well.


6.12.14 A Christian Missourian’s view on gay marriage
When I first started this blog, some three or four years ago, I was a much different person. When I named the blog “The Alex Rash Project,” I think it was the perfect choice, because this platform that I use to share my uneventful life and write, just for the sake of writing, is a project, it is ever changing, as am I.

So today, as I type words onto this blank page, this will be the first time I will use my little space on the Internet to share my personal views on a topic that tends to press the buttons of just about anyone you talk to. It’s a choice that I made after a lot of thinking. Because I do not think that it is ever wise to blare your thoughts, for the entire world to hear, without first thinking about how it will affect the ears of those on the receiving end.

This post was partly sparked by a conversation that I had a long time ago, with someone who shall remain without an identity, because this post is not meant as an attack… actually it is meant as the opposite. I was having a conversation about gay marriage with a conservative, Missouri native, who in response to my support of equal marriage rights for gay couples, said to me, with complete seriousness, that they believed if it was allowed, it would take away the integrity of their own marriage, what about the children that would be affected by being raised by these “different sorts of people” and what was to stop people from marrying inanimate objects or other crazy things, if this was to be allowed? They uttered all of this with conviction in their voice, because they believed every word. And that is understandable, after being born and bread in the heart of the Midwestern region of the United States, where conservative beliefs are far from uncommon. But, the thing is, I know a lot of people who feel this same way, so that wasn’t enough in itself to trigger me to write.

What really did me in, was reading an essay (“I Break for Traditional Marriage”) out of David Sedaris’ “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls,” which gave a satirical representation of how a Midwestern conservative views gay marriage. First, I suppose I should state that I think Sedaris, who is openly gay and lives in England with his longtime partner, is a very talented writer. I enjoy most of what he writes and this piece didn’t offend me, but rather startled me because I think that some people might actually view people of this region like that. You know, the gay-hating Christian, who spends their spare time picketing gay marriage, and shoving God down your throat.  Anyways, in a nutshell, the essay is from the point of view of a very conservative man, who when he hears that marriage equality for gays has been passed in his state, proceeds to murder his entire family because “if homosexuality is no longer a sin, then who’s to say that murder is?” (Pg. 168)

By Alex RashI think that both ends of this endless argument have been painted in such a terrible light. I, being a Christian, am somewhat appalled by the fact that Christians are becoming known as people who spread hate and do not, even in the slightest, respect the beliefs of others. This I find particularly terrible, because Christians are supposed to be quite the opposite of that. (You know, spread the love of God and all…not the wrath) I know so many wonderful Christian people who use their Bible as a tool to spread love, not hate, who are beautiful all the way through, loving and accepting to all people.

I also find it unsettling, that in the country that has used itself as a beacon of freedom and equality, we, not as straight or gay, but as human beings, think that it is our right to dictate who is allowed to be married or not.

If gay marriage makes you uncomfortable, that is okay, I understand, especially when it comes to the way people were raised. Many things can be uncomfortable, and you do not have to agree with it, you don’t even have to pretend to agree with it, because that is your right. But I do not believe that your rights include getting to make the decision, for an entire mass of people, what can and cannot be allowed when it comes to who can be married. (We’ve heard it in every teen move… “You can’t tell me who I’m gonna love!”)

My parents have been happily married for 17 years, and I highly doubt that any couple, gay or straight, has an impact on their happiness. A marriage, for many reasons, is a commitment between two people, and those two people alone decide the level of bliss and integrity in that relationship. I find it silly that the meaning and integrity of a marriage comes into question if people of the same sex are allowed to marry. Your marriage is as strong as that individual relationship and I believe that it is solely in your power to decide how important that is to you.

Also, when it comes to children, I can understand some peoples viewpoints on how being raised by same sex couples can be confusing. However, I believe that gay couples, as well as straight couples, have the ability to teach a child right from wrong, give them the tools to succeed in the future and give them the love and support that it takes to become a well adjusted human being. As long as you do all of those things and do not abuse or neglect said child, I think that gay couples are just as suitable as parents as anyone else. Maybe it’s just me, but I know quite a bit of people with issues who were raised by perfectly straight people and I know kids with same sex parents who are happy as can be. So congratulations, as far as equality goes, gay and straight people alike have the ability to screw some poor kid up, but they also have the ability to give them a good, worthwhile life.

And lastly, the argument that gay marriage is the gateway drug to marrying your toaster, honestly, this is the one that rubs me wrong the most. I can sum it up in a single sentence: Gay couples are human beings, not some damn kitchen appliances.

I didn’t write this to bash anyone’s beliefs. I come from a pretty conservative background from the heart of this great nation. I wrote this for the same reason that I write anything, which is for my own benefit and to release my thoughts that are taking up too much room in my own head. This is not to persuade anyone from believing a certain way. It is simply something written on paper, that says to anyone who might be wondering, that there is a God-loving Christian from a small town in Missouri, raised in a conservative household, who believes that you have every right to share in the happiness that I would want for myself one day, and I’m not the only one. And no matter who you love, you are loved.

– Rash

Where do I go from here? 05.28.13

I have crash landed into the real world where finding a job is harder than one would think and where there are expenses that my naive mind hadn’t even considered. Where do I go next seems to be the question of the year…everyone wants to know and sometimes I think everyone expects me to know…however, I am just as curious as the rest of them.

I spent the last four years with a set goal – graduate, with good grades…so I could succeed in life afterward. However, I never really had a clear picture of what would come when the final test was taken, when I would shake President Jasinski’s hand and step off the stage and fall into a world of uncertainty.

I am far from patient and everyday that passes and I don’t have a job lined up, one that I love, I think I lose a little faith. I’ve started praying more…I’ve spent hours trolling sites and redesigning my resume. My typing skills have improved due to the time I invest looking for tips on how to write the perfect cover letter. I have looked myself in the mirror and thought “Journalism, really? Why didn’t you try to be a doctor or something?”…

I find myself envious of my friends who are still in college. The ones who still have another year to figure it out.

I know I will figure it out, I keep telling myself that everyone does, everyone figures it out eventually. It will be worth it.

I’m young…I have my entire life to spend it working…a lot of people think I should enjoy my brief moment before responsibility kicks in for the rest of my existence. So while I continue to search for my place in the world, I’ll try to enjoy the small things…like waking up at 11 a.m. on a weekday, watching my brother and sister grow up, making more memories with my friends and the importance of simple conversations.

So I suppose this story is “to be continued…”

-Alex

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” 5.6.132013-04-29

My tassel and cap lie on a shelf in my closet and cardboard boxes labeled “clothes,” “books,” and “there’s breakable stuff in here, for goodness sakes be careful” line the walls. The images that remind me that a chapter in my life has closed sleep in my room every night. College is over. Something new is on the horizon.

I know I’m going to miss it. There won’t be a time that is like it was these last two years. I won’t see my friends everyday. I won’t be at Mug Night regularly to sing Journey and Bon Jovi songs with everyone. I’ll miss out on the small details that are going on in people’s lives.

I knew when I walked out the doors of the bar, where my friends and I had been sitting and talking, that things were going to change. Cue that Green Day song and fade away special effects, call Judd Nelson and tell him we need him for a “fist in the air” moment as “Don’t You Forget About Me” blares in the background.

Things are changing. Chapter 3 in the “Life of Alex Rash” is kicking off.

It’s not negative…it’s just new. I’m ready for it to an extent, I’m excited for it. It will be neat to see what mountains are out there to climb, what obstacles are going to get thrown my way, what new memories will become unforgettable.

However, even as I am propelled into this new world, I hope to keep the people I have met along the way with me for the ride. So I’ll do my best to remember birthdays, send a “How are you doing?” text, take an interest in their lives, stay up to date, and always make time reminisce in the booth of a low-key bar.

I don’t know what comes next, but I’m ready to find out. I graduated college…I’m done with school…wow.

Cue the scene after the credits in a Marvel movie. I’ll leave the audiences guessing what will come next in the sequel.

– Alex

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What I’ll miss about Wells Hall 4.1.13

As April begins, I am quickly reminded of how fleeting the next four weeks will be. New people will be hired at The Missourian, incoming freshmen will make new arrangements in Bearcat country, three new girls will occupy what I have grown used to being “my house.” When all that happens, I will figure out what is in store for me next.

I was walking down the hall today in Wells and thought, of all the buildings on campus, this is the one I’ll miss most. Even though sometimes it becomes unnaturally cold and all of the bathrooms are on the wrong side of the building for my class and work schedule…this is what I’ll miss most about campus.

I’ll miss walking by a classroom and hearing the squeak of what I can only assume is Doug’s attempt to smash the tip of an Expo marker on a white board in the quickest and most efficient way.

I’ll miss seeing the look of pure terror and respect of the students that sit facing an infamous Fred lecture.

I’ll miss walking down the poorly lit hallway and waving at Erin while she sits in the multimedia lab on a random night.

I’ll miss the fact that in a 24-hour span on any given weekday, you can find a student in Wells working. Lack of sleep, food and coffee, never slams the breaks on the mass communication department.

I’ll miss hearing what is nothing less than the worship of President Jasinski’s mustache.

I’ll miss sitting with The Missourian staff and debating how many people we think will be offended enough by The Stroller to send in Letters to the Editor.

I’ll miss how, for the people in this hall, Mug Night wasn’t just a nice drink special, it was a way of life.

I’ll miss the newsroom…oh man, will I ever miss the newsroom.

I’ll miss the look on Cassie’s face when she hears that someone brought food into the newsroom. I’ll miss the look of self-satisfaction on Trey’s face when someone gives him a compliment and I’ll miss Chris’s immediate attempt to shoot it down.

I’ll miss the staff. This place has been good to me.

34 days left, I better enjoy them.

–This post was not written to discriminate against other areas of town or campus. It should be noted that I will also miss The Palms an unhealthy amount.

– Alex

Four years. 3.9.13

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The days have been dwindling. I know one chapter is about to close and a new one will open and I will have to figure out how to cope in an unfamiliar circumstance. I have done it before and I can do it again.

I’ve spent a lot of time being worried…a lot of time dreading having to “really grow up”…as if there was someway to stop it. However, as I sit here tonight, I’m not as scared as I was. It’s new, but it will be okay. Sitting here tonight…or this morning (technically)…I’m just pretty thankful for the last four years I have spent transitioning to this point in my life.

I think sometimes we all forget to take a look around and appreciate what we have in life. We get caught up with work and school and sleeping in between. We get sucked into the madness that is the world and everything else fades into the background. It’s understandable, life is busy. However, the destination that we are so focused on is nothing compared to the ride it takes to get there.

In the past four years I have learned that this world is so much bigger than my little town of 2,000 people. I have learned that I will meet many amazing people along the way, because that’s what happened when I went to Northwest. I have the pleasure of spending my days with some of the best people that I know and I am thankful having met them. You don’t expect people you didn’t know two years ago to become such an important part of your life, but they do. There will never be a day that I am not grateful for the fact that I chose to be a Bearcat, meeting them was enough for that to be worth it.

I also learned that that small town cannot be overlooked. From the outside, it doesn’t look like there is much to offer except a Sonic and a gas station. However, they don’t call it close-knit for nothing. There are people from that sleepy town with the red, blinking light that will always wave when you come home, give you a smile and a small conversation after months of not seeing you and be there in minutes if you ever need a hand. As big as the world is, small pieces are what make it something whole.

In the past four years I have seen friendships fade, relationships end, and people change. While not every bond can hold its grip for the long haul, there are ones that can. We have our differences at times, but there is never a doubt in my mind that when I need something Kelly will still be there. Knowing that even when we finish college and figure out the next steps in our lives, we will figure out a way to include each other in them. It’s not about things not changing, it’s about figuring out how to adjust when they do. I’m very thankful to have a best friend like her, through the good, the bad and the ugly.

And I guess for girls, there is always some lesson about love that we think we need to address. It’s simple. 1. Be with someone who makes you laugh. 2. Be with someone you can trust. 3. Be with someone who wants what’s best for you. 4. Be with someone who challenges you and makes you want to be a better version of who you are.

Family is something that will never change, I can already tell. No matter how infrequent my visits home become, even on days when I’m to busy to call, nothing ever changes. There is still a long conversation waiting for me every week. Always someone to confide in when I’m not sure who else to talk to. Someone to help me out when my “poor college kid” wallet walks to the nearest bridge and takes a leap. These past four years have taught me to never doubt the strength that a family bond holds.

I’ve learned a lot about me too. I’m not the same person who swore she’d live and die a Cardinal. I’m also not the rebellious teen who swore she’d leave Lawson in a trail of dust. I’m somewhere in the middle of wanting to have the world, but appreciating where I came from. Nothing works out well without a good foundation at its base.

And I guess these four years taught me a few things within the seats of a classroom. So for that, I thank my teachers.

Now, I guess we’ll see what the next four years has in store.

-Alex

BLURRY 10.10.2012

It’s been awhile since I have written, maybe because I have been busy…more likely because I haven’t had that much to say. Life lately seems to be moving in fast-forward, but instead of letting it roll by like some untamable freight train, I have spent everyday enjoying the fleeting moments that are left of my senior year of college.

I’m scared. Terrified, really. The day is rapidly approaching when I will have to take the next big step in my life and close another chapter in this big book. I don’t remember being this scared when I left high school, with that ending I always knew what was in store. However, with this ending, the lines seem a little more blurry.

I think we make these small decisions in our lives that mold us into who we are supposed to be. Maybe it’s deciding to sleep for ten extra minutes, starting a conversation, sacrificing a few minutes out of a busy day to call home or taking a small leap of faith. Regardless, we end up in the destination that we are supposed to be, at least that’s what I believe.

I remember four years ago, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that by the fall of 2009, I would be a Mizzou Tiger. I remember getting the letter and how excited I was that all of the pieces were falling into place. I remember how devastated and somewhat embarrassed I was when my parents informed me that my unemployed butt would be landing in community college for two years. I remember hanging onto that black and gold dream for nearly all of those two years. And then I remember being scared and choosing a different school that felt more comfortable to me.

Nothing went as planned. Basically everything that I had set in stone wasn’t as permanent as it seemed. But here I am, I have amazing friends that I would have never met had I not come here and I have a job that, despite trying to cause mental harm to me, I love.

Everything fell into place, I was just playing with different pieces than I originally thought.

So I guess that’s how I’ll play this round too. Maybe the world knows me a little better than I know myself. Life is scary, especially when you can’t make out the images in the distance, but we’ll see where the wind takes me I suppose.

-Rash

photo credit: Flickr

Question Marks 06.07.2012

Lately I have come to the realization that growing up is right around the corner. I mean when I was in high school, I always knew that after I was done with that, that I would go to college. I always had a clear and precise plan, it was expected of me to attend higher education so the future beyond high school wasn’t a question mark to me. However, as the end of my college years rapidly approaches, I find myself with nothing but question marks of what lies ahead.

My field of study (journalism) is in a transitional phase at this moment. Print media is suffering and online is gaining a larger presence, so at the moment where I will end up is a mystery to me. I worry often if I will be able to write or if I will be running coffee for the next six years to the people who will do the actual writing. For my whole life I have gotten the best grades, attempted to get involved and keep myself afloat, but I have been playing children’s games in a secure area (educational institutions) and I fear that the real world will not be an environment so easily tackled.

I juggle my options everyday. Whether to attend grad school? Which I am greatly considering. And if I do, how many jobs will I need to satisfy the cost of living?… I am heading towards a crossroads at full speed with no hope of slowing down and the planner in me needs an outline as soon as humanly possible. I always knew that I would have to grow up, I always expected to one day be out of school and launched into the real world… I just didn’t realize that that day would come so soon and maybe I never really expected it to arrive at all.

I know that I will figure it out. Everyone does, of course. However, understanding this combined with the unknown road to get there is what becomes tricky. Words make sense to me, I enjoy writing and I enjoy reporting, I would love to travel, I want to make my mark, however small it may be, on this world…those are the things that I know. Everything else is a series of question marks and whether to choose door number one or door number two.

-Alex

photo credit: http://www.flickriver.com/explore/interesting/24hours/

The Big Easy 05.21.2012

For the past week I have spent my time exploring new cultures and cuisines of the United States. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to enjoy the city of New Orleans with my best friend, Kelly Brock, and her mom (a.k.a. my second mother). We stuffed ourselves full of cajun dishes and seafood galore (which I will be paying for this week via extensive workouts), we met some unique people who swore that even if the levies break again they will never leave N.O.LA. and we got a small taste of what makes such a crazy town so appealing to beings all across the 50 states.

Bourbon Street proved to be just as intimidating in real life as it is on TV,so when the sun went down, it was a location we did our best to avoid. While I understand the hype and the craziness that makes it such a “interesting” location, the very…hands-on/persistent…street performers and the extensive variety of adult-themed stores kind of left us three women (not armed with mace or packing heat) to take our chances on lower-risk areas.

However, Bourbon did offer one of our most prized locations of the trip, Pat O’Brien’s, which is an Irish restaurant/pub/piano bar. I think we visited it every night, and if New Orleans lived up to my food expectations, it exceeded my alcoholic beverage expectations and as a 21-year-old of only 14 days, I kicked off a week that I would love in the evenings and regret in the mornings…oh how naive I was when it came to my perceived strength of my liver. To everyone who received my very…”happy” texts during my week in the swamp lands, well…my apologies.

A word to the wise = hurricanes aren’t always a bad thing down in the Big Easy.

Which brings me along to another point, Katrina. While it has been six years since the devastating hurricane wrecked much of the south, it was still really weird to be in the place that I had seen so often on CNN. Even driving by the Superdome where so many residents took refuge was somewhat surreal. We got the opportunity to travel to the Ninth Ward, which is the location that was completely wiped out when the levies broke. There is a lot of damage still present in the area, multiple houses stand empty and abandoned, but reconstruction is still in full swing.

It was eye-opening. For many years I remember wondering why anyone would stay there, everyone knows that their houses lie below sea level, many understand that if a hurricane of Katrina’s magnitude was to occur again then the levies could possibly break, sending the same chaos through the area. I felt remorse for those who lost their lives, but in a way I didn’t understand why they would put themselves in such risk to begin with…until we went on a guided tour and he said “this is our home, and we’ll keep coming back no matter how many times it goes under water. We love New Orleans, this is our home.” Then I got it.

New Orleans lived up to it’s party-like reputation, but it also lived up to something more than that. It was a home to thousands, a city devastated and rebuilt by people who love it for much more than beads and booze. It was years of culture, it was broken English with heavy French accents, it was an outdoor market run by craftsmen and gator farmers, it was recipes passed down for decades, it was mansions sharing the same road as shacks, it was funerals that resembled the same energy as parades, it was a very wonderful experience that I am grateful to have had.

Yes, there were beads hanging from the trees, there were creepy guys around many corners and my mom wasn’t nearly as proud as I was that the bartender remembered me and my drink. But I was lucky to find that it was also so much more. I recommend that anyone visit it, I suggest that girls travel in packs and maybe bring a hefty amount of mace, but it is worth all the moments :)

-Rash

Remember when the 2000s were cool?…Yea, me neither. 03.21.2012

Well recently I have been listening to a healthy amount of 90s music…only the best: Oasis, Third Eye Blind, Matchbox 20, The Wallflowers and a couple of songs that I enjoy from the Cranberries…basically I have been making my life even cooler than it usually is. All I really need now is cut off jean shorts and a multi-color windbreaker and I’ll be thrown straight back into the decade that produced me.

That is what drives me crazy about the 2000s’/20-teens…or whatever they are called. We don’t have anything that sticks, we don’t have any monumental music that will be played for decades to come. We don’t have trademarks or trends…we are a generation of copy-cats. Everyone in a pair of leg warmers, well you didn’t come up with that all by yourself, that was thirty years ago so congratulations on remembering. Every time you pop Sixteen Candles into the DVD player don’t smile to yourself and think that you are original for having a love for good movies, because we didn’t produce that…our generation is responsible for train wrecks such as Spice World  and the Hannah Montana fad…so proud.

I’m not saying that this generation hasn’t created anything worth remembering…there have been a few noteworthy accomplishments…like technology, Harry Potter and tricking people into believing that “Reality TV” means reality…that was no easy feat. But for us to sit here wearing leggings, teasing our hair and bumping Aerosmith through our speakers and calling it “our time” is like Mark Zuckerburg calling Facebook his idea.

There is a reason that people still listen to Michael Jackson and watch reruns of Boy Meets World …because stuff like that was and still remains good. But somewhere around the turn of the century we traded quality for quantity.

We will be remembered for the generation that was too lazy to do anything creative, the group that looked up to the cast of Jersey Shore and who listened to a bunch of nearly mediocre music. Have all the good ideas ran out? Are we just going to have to settle for the fact that this is the downward spiral of society? Because I could listen to “Jumper” 75 million times and it not get old, I could blare The Eagles for days and I could fall asleep to Pearl Jam every night…but there isn’t a single band in the last 12 years that I could say the same about.

I could wear bright colors and pretend that the 80s didn’t exist. I could get excited about the new Footloose movie and pretend that Kevin Bacon didn’t do it first and didn’t do it better. I could act like Transformers isn’t just good graphics thrown on a TV series that ran from ’84-’87. I could sit here and make believe that Snooki is cool and that Nickelodeon doesn’t suck. But why fool ourselves?

Harsh, but it’s true. I would like to be able to sit here and say to my kid some day “this is what I listened to when I was in high school/college, it’s so much cooler than your generation.” But no, it’ll be more like “here are some sweet songs that played when I was seven and there was a time when morning cartoons were worth waking up for…and the rest of the memorable stuff you’ll have to go to your grandmother for because I’m all out, my generation was a little too busy being idiots to create anything worth remembering, unless you want to count stealing from other decades. But we sure did drink to a lot of 80s/90s music.”

-Rash

photo credit childhood-nostalgia.tumblr.com

1000 Words. 03.18.2012

There is a movie (A Thousand Words) out with Eddie Murphy, where he only has a  thousand words left in his lifetime. And the idea of the movie got me thinking about what if that were the case in real life…what if there was a limit to the words we could use? What if after a certain point we just went silent? Would people use their words less frivolously? Would our actions speak louder? How would everyone spend each syllable? How much more important would every letter become?

I can’t even imagine a life with a word limit. I’m pretty sure I use well over a thousand words in a matter of hours (I’m quite the talker once you get to know me, which is both a gift and a curse). I wonder how I would spend my words if they became so much more precious…I’m sure I would spend a great deal making sure that the people I loved knew so. Maybe I would fit in an apology or two…mend bridges, remedy injuries…and I’m pretty sure it would be the end of my cussing issue.

There are a few people who would get a fair share of what was left of my vocabulary. I wouldn’t hesitate or circle around what I wanted/needed to say…I would just say it. No more regrets, no more wondering if what words I chose would find the right answers that I desired…I would say what I needed to say, to who I needed to say it to, because my chances would be dwindling.

The thing is, we do have a word limit in a way…except we don’t know what it is. We don’t simply go silent, we simply no longer exist. We are not given a time, we are not given a date…we play with chance every day we leave words unspoken.

It would be nice to believe that knowing this, knowing that there is time limit on everything that we have, we would try harder to tell people how we feel…regardless of their reaction. However, that much is easier said than done…or not said at all. Maybe the pain of not knowing is more bearable than the reality of an answer that we do not desire. Maybe silence is our simple way of saving ourselves from unnecessary heartbreak in an already painful world.

1000 words…100 words every day for 10 days and it would all be done. How would we use them? Who would we use them on? Would we leave some things silent forever, just because explaining ourselves would take too many more words? Would we save ourselves the heartbreak and just lock it up and throw away the key? Or would we muster up some courage…close our eyes…and take the jump?

-Rash

photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/walking-on/6202228910/in/photostream 

Sometimes paper listens better than people. 04.06.2011

Over the last two years of my life, I have teetered on and off what major I wanted to pursue.

I have went from a journalist…

To a teacher…but I can barely handle my brother and sister, I felt like a class full of defiant little rugrats would probably be the death of me…

To an anesthesiologist…but 7 years of school and a 4-year residency, would result in a broke and exhausted Alex.

To an accountant…but then I realized how much I hate math, and wouldn’t you know it, that’s the basis to accounting.

To a journalist once again… my first true love.

So it made me wonder…what makes me keep coming back to the love-hate relationship with journalism.

I remember when I was 12 year-old, my Pappy gave me a professional pen set, which at the time was quite the letdown…considering I was 12. But apparently he knew something that I didn’t, because since I’ve been about 16 years old, that pen set has been a constant reminder of my love for writing that I have adapted over the years.

(So if I ever make it big, I owe it to you)

There is just something about writing that is liberating…knowing that the piece of paper in front of you will accept whatever you have bottled up inside of you with open arms, the fact that whatever you’re holding onto you are able to release out onto those blue lines…it’s about creating something from seemingly nothing and inspiring yourself and others through simple words on a page.

Through break-ups and make-ups…that notebook was always faithful…which can be a scarce trait in humans.

The downfall to this life of attempting to make a career out of my artistic release is that print journalism has hit a time of suffering and finding a paying job (without compromising my morals) is a difficult task at the present moment.

So money, I suppose has been my main reason for being so indecisive…

But I’ve recently came to the realization that I would rather experience a little bit of early struggle financially and doing something that I adore, than rich and dreading waking up for a 9-5 job for the rest of my life…because after all, you could make all the money in the world and still not be able to take it with you when you go.

I will always choose love over money…I have a knack for the dramatic and am a hopeless romantic at heart.

Some people have drugs…I have a pen and paper…(or a keyboard and a blog page I suppose).

-Alex

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