Friday, March 30, 2007


I am at the LT's house in Bremerton today, not only because it's cleaner than my own (in SPITE of me doing my dishes and cleaning the fridge!) and certainly not because his TV equals five of mine, maybe six (because I can't work it anyway) but because I came in late last night from California (again), picked up the Monster, and desperately needed a big hug, which he successfully provided. (Uh, the LT provided it, not Titan. Titan takes hugs well, but he lacks the appropriate muscles to really GIVE hugs.)


It's been an interesting week. A week ago today, I returned from California. Last night, I ALSO returned from California. (Deja vu! Trippy!) Monday, I unpacked a brand new office in a brand new building. Tuesday I wrote a presentation and joined a gym. (I WILL lose the winter pounds.) Wednesday I apparently lost my brain, as I arrived at an airport without my wallet OR ID. No word yet on my brain, but I did track down my wallet, although my ID remains in the wind. (Possibly it ran off with my brain.) Wednesday night I checked into a $1200/night hotel room and immediately called everyone I knew about it.

Thursday I presented to one of probably the top five physicists in the U.S., and I had a run in my pantyhose, but if he noticed, he was far too polite to say anything. (Relax, mom, it was under my skirt.) (Um. I mean. It was HIDDEN under my skirt unless I sat down.)


Today, Friday, I am working on my day off, but it's not too bad. I am relaxing and thinking of all the ways I can spend money this weekend, and that will certainly include new underwear--treat your girls right and they'll treat YOU right!--and possibly new jeans, because there is a Warehouse Sale, ladies, and I am SO GOING.

Additional things I need: this robot vacuum. If I won the lottery, this is the first thing I would buy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Picture of My Day Today

8:00 a.m.: Wake up. Start to clean kitchen, because dishes are threatening to grow feet (again) and jump out of the window (again.)

9:30 a.m.: Clean out fridge for no apparent reason. Jeez, how long has that ill-fated salsa been in there? Since December?

11:00 a.m.:
Realize you must leave almost momentarily for your performance evaluation at noon, scheduled in a panic right before you must leave (at 12:30) for your flight to Southern California.

11:30 a.m.: Forgo shower. (Days without shower count: three.) Leave for performance evaluation.

12:00 p.m.: Rock performance evaluation, in spite of lack of shower. Check in for flight online. Learn, from chatty secretary, that you apparently have a doppelganger at work, who drives a Scion. (!) (Note to self: investigate this.)

12:40 p.m.:
Leave, a scant ten minutes behind schedule, for flight.

1:00 p.m.: Pulling car into Masterpark, realize that you have left you wallet--including all of your money, credit cards, and business credit card, not to mention ID, at home.

1:04 p.m.: Highly entertain the valets at Masterpark as you frantically waver back and forth between trying to make it on just your checkbook in your pocket or trying to go home and get your wallet.

1:04:47 p.m.:
Flying back north on I-5.

1:24:39 p.m.:
Enter apartment, grab wallet. Rack brain to see if there is anything else you need. Decide there is not. (For those of you playing along at home, pay special attention to this--it will be important later.)

1:25:03 p.m.: Flying back south on I-5.

1:38 p.m.:
Pull into Masterpark for the second time in forty minutes. Vastly impress the Masterpark guys, and everyone else on the shuttle.

1:58 p.m.:
Having already checked in online, walk straight into the security line...

1:58:in hell p.m.:
...And realize that you have left a small part of your wallet, including your Driver's License and your Business Credit Card, At Home In @#*&(@*#&@(*&#(&*)*!!# Seattle.

2:03 p.m.: Smile pretty at the security guard and show your work ID.

2:03:14 p.m.: Security guard stamps your boarding pass.

2:04 p.m.: Thank all gods listening for good luck. Immediately start worrying about how you will get BACK to Seattle.

2:23 p.m.: Board plane.

5:17:48 p.m.: Exit plane in the O.C.

5:18 p.m.: Feel for sunglasses on top of head. Realize you have left sunglasses on airplane.

5:19 p.m.: Following New Year's Resolutions, resolve to chase down forty dollar sunglasses and stand in a long line to talk to Alaska customer service.

5:26 p.m.: Learn that you will have to get a boarding pass (for no flight) simply to get back through security to retrieve sunglasses. Show work ID again, with trepidation. Attendant does not blink an eye.

5:28 p.m.: Receive unspecific boarding pass.

5:30 p.m.: Smile pretty at second security guard in three hours. Security Guard: "Is this a Government-Issued ID?" You: "No." SG: *rolls eyes and lets you through*

5:33 p.m.: Taking off shoes and taking laptop out of bag. Again.

5:33:37 p.m.: Friendly guy behind you says, "Well, that worked for you! I once flew on nothing at all." You (turning around): "Really? After 9/11?" Him: "Yep. I had my wallet stolen and had no ID at all. They just put me through extra screening. Apparently it happens a lot." You: "REALLY!" (Thinking: Sweet. Maybe I'll make it home after all.) Him: "Yep."

5:38 p.m.: Retrieve sunglasses.

5:47 p.m.: Belly up to rental car counter.

5:53 p.m.: Learn that, no matter how pretty you smile, Alamo will NOT rent you a car without a driver's license.

5:56 p.m.: Investigate shuttles.

6:09 p.m.: Board a shuttle for hotel.

6:26 p.m.: Arrive at hotel.

6:28 p.m.: Learn that Hilton cannot use the credit card on file for charging the room, and since you ALSO forgot your BUSINESS CREDIT CARD...

6:29 p.m.: ...Mentally calculate work's expense return cycle.

6:29:48 p.m.: Sigh heavily and pay with personal credit card.

6:31 p.m.: Walk into largest hotel room you have ever seen.

6:38 p.m.: Call boyfriend.

6:39 p.m.: Call Houseguest. Houseguest agrees to come pick you up around nine.

6:40 p.m.: Boyfriend calls back. Boyfriend is very calming. Reassures you that you have already passed all difficult hurdles, and from here on out, all that's necessary is: getting to meeting tomorrow, and getting to the airport after that.

6:50 p.m.: Thank all gods listening for the LT.

7:00 p.m.: In hotel bar.

8:16 p.m.: Posting.

9:35 p.m.: Strolling around nighttime Huntington Beach with Houseguest.

12:03 a.m.: Comatose.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Psychosis, or, Too Many Pictures

I have an ass-ton of pictures to label, categorize, post to flickr, and post to this blog. I'm annoyed.

I have a flickr account, and I like it, but what I really have is tons of pictures that I want to store somewhere where only people who want to see them can access them--I only want my pretty pictures to show up on flickr. And yet I don't want to start ANOTHER online account, anywhere!

Sigh. Grumble, grumble. Please see pretty mountain picture below.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Posting Tons, to Make up for the Shortage

It's always odd when you see yourself through someone else's eyes, even if you're an attention hound like me.

For example: LT recently played a song for me, a song that (he said) reminded him of me, and when the song was over he said, "What do you think?" And I murmured, sort of speechless, that I was flattered.

Because the song was Whiskey Girl, and for those of you who aren't familiar with country music (you're lucky), the lyrics are about a girl who is, without a doubt, the perfect girlfriend. She drinks whiskey, doesn't care so much for flowers and silks, likes to drive fast and doesn't mind when "her man" stays out late, and of course, since it's a country song, her man is totally worthy of her trust. I get an image of long-legged girl in jeans and a white muscle tank, sandy hair blowing in the wind, perfect skin, deep blue eyes, exuding a sense of western calm, drinking whiskey and laughing at danger.

Readers, I am 5'6" on a good day, too curvy to be called skinny under any circumstances, tend to clutch the oh-shit bar when the LT takes a corner too fast, love flowers (although I'd rather have live plants) and am never, EVER, calm. I resemble a round bouncy ball with hair and a mouth, and hardly ever, if at all, do I look in the mirror and see a Western-looking Tommy Hilfiger model! (And if you think I am lying, please check out the following pictures:)

(All images from

Usually I just put flattering pictures of my self in this blog--hey, it's MY blog!--but I thought the time had come to show all the other pictures, in which you mainly see my cleavage, my butt, or my open mouth, occasionally with drool--and also, apparently, my burning need to DRAPE myself over every surface. I need to either learn to sit up STRAIGHT, for the LOVE of PUDGE, or buy a burkha, and frankly I haven't decided which of the two is more practical.

Anyway, you can see why I was enormously flattered, something I couldn't properly articulate to the LT at the time, which is why this blog is so handy, and not just to show embarrassing pictures of myself. Perhaps one of the definitions of love--human love, not dog love--is that your beloved sees you the way you WANT to be seen, not only a better person, but also taller, slimmer, more graceful, sans the annoying habit of turning my chin up at the camera when I smile or without flub sticking out above my jeans. The more I can appear like the girl in Whiskey Girl, so much the better.

After all, I already drink whiskey. How hard can the rest be?

Yeah, right. Some days, even on a really nice day in which I'm unpacking my brand new office, perfection seems a long damn way away.

Mishmash Monday

Hello! I am in a brand new office, and I have unpacked exactly half a box, out of three. I am cold--the heat doesn't work yet, or if it does, it's set way too low. (It's not just me, EVERYONE has their coats on.)

However! It is SUNNY here! Yes, sunny. As in, the big yellow thing in the sky has FINALLY decided to make an appearance, which is damn good because the ski season (sniff!) is coming to an end (SNIFF!) in just three short weeks. (SNIFF, SNIFF!) I'll miss the mountains, of course, but with the sunshine out, and with a day of actual spring skiing under my belt on Sunday, in which the sunshine was gorgeous, we took our jackets off as we sat outside and ate lunch, and I had some absolutely spectacular falls, I am almost pacified. And now, onto the mishmash:

An Outline of My Life In Chapters, or, Computer Withdrawal and How I Survived

Sunday: Computer stops working. Completely. Stops. Cannot be Revived. I did not realize how dependent I was on the internet until that exact moment. I do not know the hotel at which I am staying, can't look it up, and have no work numbers to call, can't even get in touch with the coworker who I am meeting. I accost random strangers in the airport, hoping to use their power brick to make my computer work. No luck. I call my dad. He, blessedly, and with great patience, listens to me ramble, looks up my hotel, and wishes me well. Bless you, dad.

Monday: I call the B In-House Computer Group. After reassuring themselves that I had tried everything I could, including pushing the power button for a longer time, actually something they suggested, they advise me that the computer is "dead" and that I should go to the nearest laptop service center, in spite of the fact that I had specifically said I was at a conference, away from my desk, in California, early on in the conversation.

Tuesday: More Eyeball Conference. Usually at these conferences I have quite a bit of down time, but not so at this one. I spend ten hours a day inside talking about lasers, with no latte. I have no internet connection and I cannot blog. Someone is going to get hurt.

Wednesday: My conference buddy Ashley and I are chased away from enjoying our lunch by some damn aggressive geese. I finally get to post.

Thursday: Conference ends, thank the good Lord above, and I get to see family, who takes me out to a very nice dinner and listens sympathetically as I blabber on about politics, food, eyeballs, and the LT.

Friday: I'm HOME FROM CALIFORNIA! Immediately stuff myself with Ethiopian food and excellent company, thanks to the visit of two old, and dear, friends from college. (Shoutout to R and A!) It's raining in Seattle and we lose track of time, enough time that the LT makes it to my house before I do. Whoops.

Friday night: I shower and pick up my place, and attempt to unpack, while the LT naps and watches a little TV. He also has a friend in town for the weekend (Hi, Nick!) a nice guy that I also know, from CMU, and pretty soon it gets to be about 10 and Nick calls LT, saying he's parking by my apartment. LT goes out to fetch him.

Friday Night, ten minutes later: Four hot Navy guys walk into my apartment. Only two of them I know.

Friday Night, five minutes later: I curse myself for not having beer, pour out the wine, and slap some makeup on while simultaneous calling my close girlfriends to come join us. No answer on anyone's phone. The rest of the evening turns out very nice, actually, we shoot some pool down at The Garage, and are home not too late.

Saturday morning: SLEEPING IN! Then brunch, and then shopping at Whole Paycheck. The LT fills up his beer collection while I spend an embarrassing amount of money on Mrs. Meyer's Cleaning Products, partly because the packaging is so adorable, and partly because I'm hoping to propel myself to finish my apartment. (I bought this freakin' adorable spring-cleaning kit. Don't look at that and say it wasn't worth the money!)

Saturday Afternoon: LT and I watch Stranger Than Fiction, just as good (and maybe better!) than I thought it was going to be, and even better, a movie (a NEW movie!) we both enjoy! A rarity! (Note to self: the soundtrack is awesome. Investigate this.)

Saturday night: More Navy men show up at my apartment.

Sunday: Spring skiing! And the most spectacular fall ever, of my entire life, of which sadly there is not a single picture. And so I have attempted to recreate it by Paint instead:

Yes. In this picture, I am hanging upside down by my skis, as they are cross braced on a couple of handy trees. (Right under a lift. I received several helpful suggestions, none of which I followed.)

Yes, I made it down the mountain in one piece. No, I will not do it again!

Monday morning: Off to unpacking!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Leaving California

I got to see family, I met a genuine rock star, and I am drinking a proper latte for the first time in five damn days. I may not get to fly first class on this flight (darn!) but so far today, in spite of getting up at 5 in the effin' morning, my life isn't too bad. Hope all is well with everyone--I have tons of pictures coming!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mind-Numbing Monterey

...And right now everyone is saying, "...huh?"

Hello from California! I am here for a top secret conference, which I can't really talk about, so just imagine that I'm here to talk about installing lasers in my brain so I can kill people with just a look, and you wouldn't be far wrong.

Unfortunately the technology isn't quite ready yet. (Or maybe fortunately. Because I know people who would happily sign up to be part of THAT testing. People that I will not name here because it is not good for your health to piss off people who really, really want lasers to shoot out of their eyeballs.)

Anyway, not only is THAT technology not ready yet, but neither is any OTHER technology. My own laptop crapped out four days ago, went to that great big Circuit City in the sky. This was a big deal four days ago, when I was in the middle of traveling here and I didn't have my hotel reservation information, and no way to look it up, plus no phone numbers of people to call, and it got to the point where I was accosting random people at SeaTac, hoping their power cords would work with my laptop. (Pipe dream. My own power brick was fine the whole time.)

And then I learned that my flight had been overbooked, which sounds like a bad thing until I realized I had plenty of time to give up my seat, happily accept a free round-trip ticket as thanks, and also get bumped up to first class. Readers, I have not flown first class since I was thirteen. Let's just say that soon I forgot all about my laptop problems.

Sunday night I tried to post three times from a sticky (!) and ridiculous mobile keyboard, on the TV INTERNET (!!) from my hotel room here at the resort before I gave up and crawled into bed. Today, Wednesday, I am more than halfway through the conference, I am tired of talking about eyeballs, I just sat out in the sun with friend and ate lunch while being eyed by some damn aggressive geese (fortunately sans lasers) and this evening I have to attend a large banquet featuring old men and food I don't want to eat, when all I want to do is have a big salad and take a walk on the Monterey Coastline, and maybe bark at some sea lions.

Because at least the sea lions won't talk about eyeballs.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Don't Try This At Home

Have you ever promised your boyfriend that you would be packed, for the trip you were both about to take, ahead of time, possibly for the first time in your entire life, and you realize that if you break this promise he would have every right to break up with you, and so you stay up until 1 in morning packing?

Have you ever discovered that it is 1:30 in the morning and you have no idea where your Passport is?

Have you ever torn your apartment apart at 2:30 in the morning?

Have you ever fallen sleep at 3:15, exhausted, beaten, and imagining a terrible future in your head?

Have you ever dragged yourself out of bed the next morning with all the energy of a slug on Valium, half an hour AFTER you were supposed to be AT work?

Have you ever gone to work without taking a shower for the THIRD DAY IN A ROW?

Have you ever packed up your cube while running a teleconference, since not only are you going to Whistler, but are also flying straight from Whistler to California, and will be there for a week, as in, over the time that your office is scheduled to MOVE from one building from another, and so you have to pack up in advance?

Have you ever left your cube in complete disarray while you dashed home, sending prayers to various deities that you would FIND YOUR PASSPORT, ALREADY?

Have you ever had such a profound sense of relief when, at lunchtime, back at your apartment, you finally lay your hands on your passport, that the subsequent energy crash from the four hours of sleep and huge adrenaline rush causes you to fall asleep at your desk?


Good. Me either.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hungry, Hungry!

My Little left today (in fact, honey, I hope you're already in the taxi!) and we agreed that we should never be allowed to hang out again with the supervision (and assistance) of a cook. Dear God. I don't think I've ever eaten so much in a weekend, ever before in my life. If we were taking it easy at home, we ate; if we were out walking around, we ate; if we were driving somewhere, we ate, and all the other times that we weren't recharging at home, walking around, or driving somewhere, we were actually at restaurants, and at those restaurants, we were...eating!

I should have seen this coming. Most of our college hanging out revolved around her showing up at the house and throwing pillows at my head until I woke up and agreed to come to Pamela's (in/famous breakfast place.) After eating our own weights at Pamela's, we'd go next door to the bakery and buy raspberry and blueberry tarts with sour cream, and when we weren't doing that, we stopped off for Frappucinos on the way home. When she was sick in the hospital I brought her bagel sandwiches from Bruegger's and her favorite Frappucino.

Both of us absolutely love food, so we're bad influences on each other, and we have huge appetites. We immediately went to the grocery store upon her arrival. At Pike Place Market, she bought garlic-infused olive oil and Dungeness Crab, and in wine country, we bought bottles of wine that cost more than a restaurant meal and artisan chocolate.

I couldn't be prouder. In her honor, I am writing a long post about food and foodie-ism on the OTHER blog. (Eventually. It'll be there eventually. I promise.)

Anyway, we had a great time, in spite of me not washing the sheets, even though I said I was going to, and in spite of my shower head attacking her one morning, and in spite of the CONSTANT rain. (It's sunny today! Yay!) Pictures are coming!

Next up for me: a trip to NYC!

Saturday, March 10, 2007


About fifteen people went to Sushi and Sake (if you went: holla!) last night to meet both my Little and LT, who indeed lives in the area but hasn't met a lot of my work friends, and for reasons why, see, "Skiing, Addicted To."

(We're gone all the time in the winter.)

One of the LT's friends was also in town, mainly to ski and see the LT, and a lot of our mutual friends came out, too. Many, many funny and brilliant things were said, as I have brilliant and funny friends, and almost all of us are engineers, so we have similar senses of humor and play off of each other--and those of us who are NOT engineers, mainly work with engineers, and they don't take any crap FROM engineers, and really, I am very lucky in that I am surrounded by really cool people. Of course, I showed my special brand of love by insulting everyone.

A classic example:

Me, telling the story of the crime wave that hit my neighborhod: "...So then my car, and my then-landord's car and his BOYFRIEND'S car all got broken into. In the same month."

RBB: "I have to confess that I totally stopped listening at "his boyfriend."

Now, RBB is a hick from Pennsylvania, but he normally hides it so well that I was surprised at this. He saw that on my face and continued:

"...But only because I'm dumb! Sex makes me laugh! I mean, my good friend has recently gone to Thailand, and I'm the guy who, every time he mentions it, snickers. 'Ha. You said BANGKOK.'"

I began to laugh. "Ha! That's good, you should make that explanation every time. It's hard to be politically offended by an idiot. Actually, I'll start mentioning that, 'Hi, meet my friend RBB! If he says anything offensive, just ignore him, his IQ is like, 70."

RBB: "HA! Awesome."

Later, RBB was telling this story to Dave (mentioned here before) and our other friend D, and they laughed, and in the process, Dave took off his jacket, at which point I noticed that he and D were dressed almost identically in red polo shirts.

Me: "AWWWWW! You guys look like a well-dressed couple!"

Dave: (shoots me a look) (heavy sarcasm) "Thank you, Aarwenn. This is why we love you."

Whoops. I do try to avoid insulting the LT, though.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I've Been Gently Reminded

I've been told I need to post more, specifically for Quatoes, who apparently needs more things to read at work.

The problem is, my Little (hi, Little!) is in town, and she is awesome, and I'm grabbing a few minutes to write this post between social engagements while she naps. And my brain is sort of tapped out.

So: I'll tell a story.

A lot of people have been asking questions about the LT, or if that's not entirely accurate, a lot of people have been surprised about facts like, "Oh, LT went to CMU?" or, "Oh, LT works for the Navy?"

It's time for a profile.

Name: L.T.
Age: 27
Job: As he says, "Parking Valet."
To Which I Say: "You mean, a traffic director for Nuclear Submarines?"
Employer: U.S. Navy (Only until OCTOBER!)

How We Met:

A little over a year ago now, I got this message on MySpace:

"Hey, Aarwenn, it's LT! From CMU! Remember me? Hope you're doing well, etc, etc. I need a girl, and not for that. I just bought a house and moved into it, I'm trying to paint and trying to hang curtains. And I have no taste. So, do you want to come over sometime? I'll feed you, if you lend your girly advice, to colors and curtains and so forth. And I'm in Seattle a fair amount, so maybe we'll connect before then."

And I sure did remember him, he was a fraternity brother of my then-boyfriend, and he dated the best friend of my big sister, and in a strange twist of fate, I once rode in his brand-new car one night when he was about to graduate, both of us extremely intoxicated, to fetch an inhaler that my then-boyfriend desperately needed. (I ride around in that very same car today, both of us much less intoxicated.) A very wise and prudent man named Nick stopped us on the way out of the fraternity parking lot and convinced us to walk to fetch the inhaler instead, and indeed went WITH me all the way up the hill, me furiously smoking a cigarette the whole time, to fetch said inhaler. Such a man cannot be thanked enough. (Thanks, Nick. You rock. Really hard.)

Anyway, back to the email chain. Me: "Sure, I'll lend my advice! How are you, how's everything? Next time you're in Seattle, give me a buzz--Bremerton's a long way away. Feel to join the rotating cast that crashes on my couch."

Him: "Sweet."

(Fast forward two or four or maybe six weeks later.)

We kept getting beers, I went over to his house several times. At first, I was trying to set him up with my friends, because he was a stand-up guy, and good bachelors cannot be wasted, and then after awhile, I thought, "Hmmmmm!"

(As our friend Dave puts it, "Well, no one ELSE would date him, so Aarwenn finally had to date him herself!) (Aarwenn says: perhaps if we had been closer in college, we would have known each other too well, but since I met him all of three times--one of those times involving the car incident, above--we barely knew each other. And that proved to be a good thing.)

That was---a little less than--nine months ago. Hi, sweetie! Hope you enjoyed this, please feel free to correct any mistakes. And I know you will.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Mountain comes to Mohammed!

T-Town came up to Seattle last night! We devoured a loaf of French bread, two bottles of wine, cheese (for her) and fake cheese and hummus (for me), and talked a ton. And it was good.

(I was actually trying to use her for apartment wisdom, and we got nothing accomplished except hanging a picture of my father. So much for that.)

Before T-Town arrived, Titan and I walked, as usual, except it wasn't very usual because my Jeep in-car thermometer said it was 64 degrees yesterday. For the record, those of us who have been stuck in Seattle during The Gray, which has been with us for the past four months, including November, which was the rainiest month EVER, in Seattle HISTORY, were pretty damn happy to see any sunshine at all. I thought about going straight to the park, but chose to walk Broadway instead, hoping that the sunshine might bring out the people, and I was so right, Broadway was packed. The most interesting thing I saw on my walk: an elephant strapped to a truck! (A topiary elephant.) Reason I didn't get a picture: the old gross guy driving the truck thought I was staring at him and was leering back, mouth actually hanging open. GROSS. (I should have gotten a picture anyway.)

Speaking of elephants, I was browsing Half-Price Books the other day and found an old copy of Babar! Anyone remember Babar, King of the Elephants? As a child, I didn't realize that it was translated from the original French, although of course as an adult it's a lot more obvious. I bought the copy to add to my "nostalgia" collection of books. (Like I need any more books.) Moving on!

It's Titan!

(I hope. Can anyone see the video? If not, try original YouTube video.)

(Note: It's amazing how clean-ish my apartment looks if you only look at one tiny corner. And that gray futon is now covered in white dog hair.)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Women's History Month: Sorority Girls, Image, and Other Problems

Note: March is women's history month. There might be a lot of these posts to follow.

Or there might be none, as I've been sitting here with an empty screen for almost an hour.

Here is one of the saddest, and yet most typical, articles about sororities I have ever seen: Sorority Evictions Raise Issue of Looks Bias.

Right when I got this notice, I emailed LT. He and I went to college together, and he was a fraternity brother--that's how I met him. The following is our correspondence.

From: Aarwenn
To: LT

This particularly hits home for me--and many other Zetas--since although there were exceptions, this was Zeta's rep at CMU, too. Zeta never had this problem, specifically, because we weren't national and didn't have a national chapter to please. One of the reasons I'm happy with AChiO is that they seem to put a lot of emphasis on grades, not on looks--their national chapter is very concerned with philanthropy and extra-curricular activities, and making sure its girls lead well-rounded lives.

That doesn't mean, of course, that they don't want to be the prettiest and most popular house on campus, but I think if given the need, they'd try to invigorate recruitment by pushing each sister to be more interesting, more entertaining, express herself more at Rush, etc. And also to brush their hair and put on a little makeup, of course, but a few reminders towards personal appearance aren't a bad thing, especially at CMU where we tend to sleep in our clothes. It's a well-known fact that good personal appearance enhances people's perceptions.

I don't know how my AChiO chapter is doing at CMU, and I'm scared to find out; I'm pretty sure they're still having a problem with recruitment. I hope the methods they use are similar to the ones I described above and not similar to the ones Delta Zeta used.

The real problems with this terrible story are:

1. Obviously Delta Zeta National is a lot different from the mood at the DePauw chapter, or there was a miscommunication at a basic level or something. The sisters of the sorority assumed their brains and personalities would be welcomed on a national level as they were on the local level. That turned out to be not true. That's the first big problem with Delta Zeta that I see. Either keep a tighter rein over your local chapters or truly be the kind of national house that allows each chapter to blossom differently. Don't suddenly decide that a local chapter has strayed too far from the MotherShip and employ strong-arm tactics to make it bland and pretty again--now they have to start all over because they have six sisters and three pledges. They're in ten times as bad a shape as they were.

(Side note: I know girls at Sorority ABC AND Sorority DEF--names changed to protect the entirely guilty--who were asked to stay in their rooms during rush. It really does happen.)

2. Delta Zeta seems to be taking its reputation as a sorority way too seriously, especially about weight. Haven't they heard this joke: "How do you get a sorority girl into your room?"
"Grease her hips so she can get through the door and throw a twinkie on to the bed!"

I mean, it's mean and terrible, but I know that on many campuses, sorority girls are often stereotyped as overweight--that much beer and pizza, not to mention partying, will do that to any figure. Does Delta Zeta not know this? Some chapter, on every campus, has to be the dog chapter, the chapter that welcomes brains and personality over looks, and more to the point, these reputations change over time. But instead of waiting for that, or taking comfort in the fact that surely other Delta Zeta chapters have better reputations on other campuses, Delta Zeta employed these terrible, awful, no-good very bad tactics. I don't know what to say.

From: LT
To: Aarwenn

Honestly, I don't think I've ever heard that stereotype of sorority
chicks; I've heard more that they're hot, dumb, and easy. WHICH IS NOT
WHY I'm dating you :) You're hot and smart, know. :)

Seriously, one of the huge problems I have about this article is it
doesn't distinguish between NATIONAL and LOCAL representatives. "The DZ
president...." Which one?! Local or National? It EFFIN' MATTERS!

Also, I'm not sure what you mean that the sorority is taking their
reputation too seriously...your reputation is vitally important.
Locally, it's how you stay alive, and if your reputation is that you're
a bunch of drunk partiers, you won't attract any decent recruits.
Nationally, it's a Public Affairs NIGHTMARE if you're apparently a bunch
of drunk partiers.

Enjoy your blog post. :)

From: Aarwenn
To: LT

Yes, reputation is vitally important. What I mean is, I think there's room on a campus for sororities with all sorts of reputations, although I may be wrong.

Zeta always went for girls who weren't "typical" sorority girls, which seemed to go well at first but began to work against us as CMU became more mainstream, and the girls who rushed became more mainstream, so our market shrank.

However. There's a big difference between a negative and a positive approach, that is, there's a big difference between painting yourselves as "the anti-sorority" (read: "anti-beauty") and instead painting yourself as "focused on achievement and well-rounded lives". That way, you're not purposely shutting out girls who might happen to be mainstream/pretty in looks but are also choosing to focus more on their lives than their reputation at the fraternity houses. We had a sister who was a perfect example of this. She was stunningly gorgeous, laughed at all the right times, was an asset to any party. We heard that Sorority XYZ's Rush Chair cried when she learned that this girl had pledged Zeta instead. This girl didn't want a typical sorority experience; she wanted a house that would be there for her, but she wasn't interested in what she called "sorority bullshit." We would have never gotten her if we had immediately looked at her and said, "Oh, she's too pretty for us."

Side note: Girls who don't think of themselves as pretty discriminate just as badly as pretty ones do. Had we done that with this girl, we would have been judging her personality by her looks, and we would have been really wrong.

So: reputation IS vitally important. I agree it's how you keep a chapter going. I'm saying that there's ways to be non-mainstream and still succeed in the sorority system, I think, and national DZ took the wrong path in "fixing" their supposed problem. I agree, though, too, that perhaps the local chapter of DZ was going about recruitment the wrong way too. The proof would have been in whether the sorority was shrinking in numbers or staying steady as a smaller chapter.

Sigh. Do you think I'm wrong? Do you think all sororities have to be known as pretty to succeed? It seems logically impossible to me--we can't ALL be "the pretty ones".

Can we?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dog Is My Co-Pilot

Someday I will start a whole series of posts about what Titan and I see when we walk. We don't always see interesting things, although perhaps I should amend that since we live in Capitol Hill, and my definition of "interesting" is "a guy on stilts". A hooker on the corner wouldn't even make the list. It might be more accurate to say that we always see interesting things, but rarely does a sight or sound stay in my head on the long trek back, and almost never all the way back to the apartment, ready to flow through the fingers and onto the page. It's either been lost or relegated to long-term memory by then, and my long-term memory has quite a cache, let me tell YOU.

Titan and I walk every day, at least twice if not three times a day. Usually we walk for about an hour total, sometimes less in bad weather. Walking is my therapy. It keeps me grounded, no pun intended. Sometimes I go out for a walk while actually crying, sometimes I'm happy, sometimes I just want to Get It Over With, but no matter what, when I enter the apartment again with Titan, and he sits and I take off his leash and haltie and he dances around while I get his dinner ready, and then he sits patiently while I tell him to eat, well...that is the best feeling in the world.

And then I immediately sit down at the computer looking for entertainment and lose all the creativity I found on the walk.

Although in my defense, or maybe in defense of my habits, it's not just the computer, it's my brain--somehow all the thoughts and thoughts on thoughts that I have while walking hide, or dissipate into the wind, or get completely deleted when my brain deletes its history, search me how it happens but it DOES.

Oh, well. Guess I'll have to spend more time walking! Darn. Come to think of it... this all a secret plot by the dogs of this world? Has anyone studied this? Because Titan already has me trained to scratch his belly on command and sleep on the futon, for God's sake. The future is almost too scary to contemplate.