Waking up early.
Playing Candy Crush for an hour.
Realizing you have a meeting and you’re now late.
Forgoing a shower.
Not preparing for said meeting.
Meeting followed immediately by research interview.
…followed immediately by class…
…wherein you finish your slides for your next class.
Twenty minute break.
Realizing you forgot to eat all day.
Fixing all the problems with your partner’s slides instead of eating.
At least there are people handing out chocolate on campus.
Here’s the thing about getting robbed.
You don’t actually believe it’s happening as it’s happening.
And when you start running after the fucker who snatched your iPhone out of your hands, you don’t even think about what you’re going to do when you catch up with him.
Because, at that moment, you’re GOING to catch up with him. Not catching up with him is not an option.
It becomes an option when your legs hurt, your lungs hurt, you’re in a neighborhood you know isn’t safe, and you can’t see the fucker anymore.
And that’s when you realize: You’ve just been motherfucking robbed. And that iPhone is not coming back.
Let’s review how it happened.
You’re sitting on the El, casually browsing Pinterest, when all the sudden you feel some fucker’s hands on your hands and your phone is ripped away from you. And you’re all, “MOTHER FUCK!”
You know, Regina George style.
So, as the train doors are closing, you take off after him and yell, “HE HAS MY PHONE! HE HAS MY PHONE!” And you run like hell in his direction.
And you wish you’d had started training for that 5k a few weeks earlier.
When you finally resolve that Michelle Obama isn’t coming back (that was my phone’s name, R.I.P.), you turn around. You don’t know what to do.
You see a bodega, but it looks sketchy. So you cross the street to the Subway.
You’ve never seen a Subway where the workers are behind panes of glass. You’re clearly not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
A woman, an angel named Beverly, asks you if you got your phone back. She was on the same train car and watched you take off after him. She offers you her phone to call the police and your husband. She asks what you’re doing on the west side, clearly noticing that a nerdy white girl is a bit out of place. You explain you live in the next suburb over. She waits with you and walks you to the street when the police arrive. You give her a hug, wishing you could give her more, wishing you could give her peace in her neighborhood, knowing this happens all too often.
The police take their sweet ass time. You wonder if they would’ve been quicker to respond had it happened in another part of the city, like the Gold Coast.
You file a report. You don’t expect to see your phone again.
You get back on the green line and shed a few tears. Not because you miss your phone, but because you just got motherfuckin’ ROBBED.
When you get back to your little suburb, you stop at the neighborhood bar and drink your feelings (they taste like amaretto sours). You wipe the data from your phone remotely and make sure your husband reported it stolen to AT&T. You let your hands stop shaking.
You explore all the feelings you’re feeling. And you realize that you’re pissed you’ve become a statistic. You’re pissed that the fucker that robbed you is a statistic. You’re pissed that he was a young Black male and you are a young white woman and he’s forced you two to play into stereotypes. You’re pissed that your race, your gender, and your age likely made you a target.
You pray he sells your phone for something good — to help his little brother buy books, to treat his lady to ice cream, to help his mom put food on the table.
You’re probably wrong.
But deep down, you still think that people are really good at heart.
What have been the event horizons of your life – the moments from which there is no turning back?
My junior year English teacher shot down all my research project proposals. She said, “Renee, I really think you should do body image and the media.”
I did. I’ve been studying some form of it since then.
It was time to consider colleges. I spent countless hours on CollegeBoard.com thinking about the decision. Butler? Bradley? Washington? American? Roosevelt? DePaul?
I took a tour of Saint Mary’s. I applied early decision.
I needed a summer internship. Everyone else was getting one. I decided to see if the local Congressman took interns.
He did. He catapulted my career in politics.
I developed a crush on Joe. I told myself I wasn’t going to hold back. No more walls. No more games. He deserved more. All or nothing. He got all.
We’ve been married almost four years.
I hated my job. I hated my boss. I hated my coworkers. I wanted to be a teacher. I was told it would take me 6 years part-time to be a high school social studies teacher.
I decided to apply to a Masters program instead.
I got in.
And then I got into a Ph.D. program.
And here I am. A feminist. Saint Mary’s alum. Political junkie. Married. Professor in training.
Write about a chance meeting that has stayed with you ever since.
I realize as I begin to write this that it may seem like my participation in the Scintilla Project is only serving to toot my own horn about all the fantastic famous people I’ve met. But, these stories are just some of my favorite stories and it’s a good excuse to share them.
One fall, Joe and I returned to the place we met–Notre Dame–for a football game, like we always do at least once a season. We have a few traditions. We park in his old neighborhood for $15. We hit up the library for a bathroom break. We watch the band. We eat port-a-pit chicken (which I didn’t realize is almost solely a South Bend thing; you guys are missing out). We watch more of the band. We head to the stadium.
It started out like a perfectly normal football Saturday. It was sunny and beautiful. We parked the car in Joe’s old neighbor’s lawn and head to the library for a bathroom break.
That’s when things get weird.
Once inside the library, there’s a bit of commotion. I mean, there’s a lot of commotion on game days at Notre Dame, but this was weird. I found myself being pushed back by a giant dude. Like, a giant giant dude.
That’s when I realize…
I had nearly run into Taylor Swift.
Her body guard moved me out of the way.
Because I was, like, gonna run into T. Swift.
You guys. She was crazy tall and skinny. Like. Scary. So tall. So skinny.
Apparently she was at ND because her brother goes there or was thinking of going there? I don’t know. I didn’t care. Because how often do you go to a Notre Dame game and get pushed out of the way by Taylor Swift’s giant body guard in the library?
Not everyday, folks.
Talk about a time when you were driving and you sang in the car, all alone. Why do you remember this song and that stretch of road?
I’m modifying today’s Scintilla prompt. There’s a second person in the car with me.
Her name is Erin and we were on our way from Chicago to Indianapolis for a mini blogging meetup. I had made the most ridiculous playlist for the 6-ish hour drive, full of showtunes, boy bands, and terrible pop music that we could sing along to without getting bored.
Somewhere around Lafeyette, Indiana on I-65, we found ourselves in a horrible rainstorm. I’m talking barely visible conditions. My windshield wipers could not go fast enough. We could barely hear one another over the pounding of the rain.
As the driver, I was scared. No doubt about that. But it seemed too dangerous to pull over–what if someone didn’t see us? what if someone skidded into us?–so I just gripped the steering wheel and took it slowly.
Around the height of the rainstorm, my iPod started playing “La Vie Boheme” from the musical Rent. Something about the rhythm and rhyme of that song settled me. Erin and I both started singing along, giggling like 12 year olds at the dirty lyrics.
It was almost meditative, nearly chant-like, and exactly what I needed behind the wheel.
…to Ginsberg, Dylan, Cunningham and Cage… Lenny Bruce… Langston Hughes… to the stage, to Uta, to Buddha, Pablo Neruda, too. Why Dorothy and Toto went over the rainbow to blow off Auntie Em…. la vie boheme.
Craving a bit of bloggy community, I decided to join The Scintilla Project. I remember seeing a lot of buzz about it last year, so I’m excited to be a part of the project this time around! Over the next two weeks, you’ll be seeing some stories that tell the tapestry of my life.
Today’s prompt is: Tell a story set at your first job.
My first job was slinging ice cream at a little shop called Ritter’s Frozen Custard. It’s a chain, but their locations are sparse. If you live near one, consider yourself lucky. It’s the best damn ice cream outside of real Italian gelato.
The environment at Ritter’s was happy. Like, really really happy. Employees are known for their friendliness, and if you have Ritter’s on your resume, service industry managers in town especially know that your service is top-notch. Because how could you be depressed when there’s so much free ice cream around? And you get to listen to the radio? And you work with your friends? I’m telling you, it was a fantastic job. (Even though I was paid $5.50 an hour.)
Except, let’s be realistic, everyone has bad days, even Ritter’s employees. And one day, I had a bad day. I don’t remember what set me off, but I was irritable, short-tempered, and just ready to leave. Now that I think about it, my bad attitude may have been due to a caramel apple sundae selling contest. (My kingdom for a caramel apple sundae right now.) Before the end of the night, I had absolutely snapped at my assistant manager.
I felt awful.
My assistant manager was a nice dude. He was very positive and knew how to motivate a team. But I was over it that night.
The worst part was, I assumed this was going to go into my file. You see, every Ritter’s employee at that time had a file. When you did something spectacular (like win a sundae selling contest), it went in your file. When you did something questionable (like snap at your AM), it also went in your file. When I saw my AM go into the office, I thought for sure he was writing my outburst into my file.
I knew I had to confront my general manager and apologize. It was one of the scariest things I’d ever done at the time.
During my next shift, I told my general manager that I needed to talk. He sat me down and I explained everything–that I was frustrated, that I snapped, and that I felt terrible about it. I figured he needed an explanation as to why this black mark was on my file.
He told me that the AM hadn’t written anything down from that shift. But he was proud of me for apologizing.
I was proud of me, too.