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Archive for March, 2010

Twenty-one is an extremely arbitrary age.

The stroke of midnight upon my twenty-first birthday found me in Asheville, washing dishes with Vincent, so that my exhausted family and friends (we had come in from Charlotte that afternoon) could could go to bed at a slightly-respectable hour. And really, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Saturday, my birthday, we went hiking on the parkway and finished the evening with a wonderful dinner of serf-and-turf with a good bottle of wine.

Now, it is true that all of my friends happen to be younger then me by at least a few months. But still, I think it beat an evening in a smoky, loud bar, followed by a night hunched over a toilet. But the point is, today my sister was in Charlotte and she took me and Vincent out to lunch. I ordered a a drink for the first time. Yuengling, to be precise. And it was quite delicious, with my pub hamburger, dressed all the way with cheese and bacon… While the event was fun, yummy, and quite thrilling to sit there, boldly with a beer in my hand, the experience was shockingly arbitrary. I am twenty-one. Thus I can drink. Regardless of my personal responsibility or intelligence, I am deemed worthy of drinking myself under the table. If I so desire.

It is true, the fact that became a legal adult at age eighteen yet have been unable to buy a glass of wine when I go on a date has always bothered me. To think that young men can be drafted to give their lives for our country but cannot legally enjoy a beer seems… counterintuitive, to say the least. But the true arbitrary nature of the magical number 21 never fully impressed me until today, handing the waitress my license and thinking: wow, I am so NOT more grown up then eight days ago. It’s just a little piece of bitter irony to pucker my sense of justice.

Don’t get me wrong, I love having a bottle of merlot displayed on my bookshelf, flanked by zany wine-glasses my art-major-friend present to me. It’s just that, privileges are things to be earned, you know? Drinking is definitely a privilege. But I didn’t do anything to earn it. My mother just happened to give birth to me twenty-one-years-and-eight-days ago. And that is wonderful: I’m extremely grateful that she endured eight hours of hard labor to bring me into the world and then raised me in a loving home. She deserves some good Four Roses bourbon on the rocks. But me? I happened to turned twenty-one.

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Today, Rosi and I decided to visit the High Museum of Art.

So we headed off, gluten-free snacks and ipods in tow, trussed up for a day on the town. We found the museum on our second try, made it into the parking garage (we are both horrendous with directions), and after some season-pass confusion got our tickets and stopped by the ladies room before losing ourselves in the wonderfully sublime and elite joy of fine art.

It was in the ladies room that the going got tough. And it would happen to me: stuck in the middle of down-town Atlanta, my purse naively empty of tampons, and me in desperate need of something to staunch my feminine flow.

“Rosi….?”

Of course she didn’t have one. But there was, thankfully, one of those bathroom vending machines selling tampons for a quarter. Neither of us had a quarter. But the kind man watching the coat-room gave Rosi a quarter which the machine duly ingested, and kept, failing to produce the promised tampon.

“We’ll just have to find a Walgreens or something. Come on.”

I guiltily hemmed and hawed over this suggestion, not wanting to ruin our afternoon by searching for a tampon, but I really didn’t have much of an option. Mother Nature calls. On the way out of the ladies room I stopped a friendly-looking woman and asked if she would happen to have any sort of feminine product. “Sorry, no.” Same answer from the next lady I waylaid as we left the museum.

Hoping for some sort of brilliant miracle, like a sudden heavenly shower of tampons, we made our way across the street to Starbucks. Maybe it would have a vending machine. Maybe it would have friendly ladies carrying big purses stuffed with tampons.

I checked the Bathroom while Rosi bought us this-sucks-but-at-least-we-can-have-an-adventure-and -drink-Starbucks consolation coffees. No luck in the bathroom. So I turned to scout out the patrons. Now, I am from Asheville. I am used to slightly-sketchy people randomly asking for money, but I suddenly realized that it takes a lot of nerve to ask a complete stranger to shell out anything. At least I wasn’t straight-up asking for money, and had the universal “Women-Law” as justification for my actions. After all, every woma knows that it doesn’t matter who she is or how much you hate her, when another woman asks for a tampon, you give it! And really, all the ladies I asked were quite nice, though sadly lacking in tampons.

Finally, one of the Starbucks ladies directed me a to a bathroom in the shopping center which she thought might have one of those vending machines. It did. Sweet relief! Only this machine wouldn’t even take the quarter, let alone deliver a tampon. Ladies, I have decided that those vending machines are a thing of the devil! They lure innocent women into calm complacency and then, “Wham!” when she needs support most, she’s flat on her butt.

I was reaching panic-stage, not sure how much longer my jeans could hold out, randomly stopping women between stores, all of whom gave the same answer: “Sorry, no.”

I saw it then, a tiny little convenience store almost like a gas-station, “Oasis” in florescent pink letters. Aptly named. I’ve never been that happy to see the familiar row of little pink boxes, even if I did get robbed of five bucks for eight measly tampons.

We finally made it back to the High. And the art was pretty good. But I think my favorite part of the day was getting a picture in front of the Starbucks, clutching a box of tampons in the middle of Atlanta.

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A Post for Rosi

Yes, it’s been a shamefully long while since I last wrote.

I would plead academia as my excuse, but then who doesn’t have mounds of homework or paperwork or some kind of pressing unpleasantness eating up one’s time? And really, compared to last semester, I have little to complain about.

Last semester, English ate my soul. This semester, John Steinbeck’s “Of ┬áMice and Men” robbed me of life. By life I mean time to sit around on my bum and do whatever it is that college students do when they want to feel that their lives are terribly important, like surf wikipedia.

But I do love to step back and admire the contrast of life-lessons that I gained last semester as opposed to this semester. In the fall, I fell desperately in love with Dostoevsky and Russian literature in general. This semester, I learned to apply 1930’s makeup and be a whore. I enjoyed both experiences immensely. And on a wonderfully ironic note, I played a whore across from my lovely boyfriend who hated my whorish guts.

I was “Curley’s Wife” (please note the purposeful absence of a proper name), a star-struck, desperate young women who married a man she hates in order to escape her terrible home. At the end of the play the mentally challenged Lennie accidentally breaks her neck, causing the story’s tragic denouement. So, not only did I get to be a whore, I got to be dead whore, which involved laying in the hay for about fifteen minutes without moving. Oh the discomfort of playing dead…

And so, that is where I have been this semester, in the Haid Theatre learning to swing my hips and play dead when not writing papers between scenes. And when I get back to school after Spring Break I know that I won’t have the slightest idea of what to do with all my extra time.

But for now I am happily in Atlanta with Rosi and her wonderfully crazy Cuban family, feeling terribly ignorant that I only speak English. I can only imagine how ignorant I will feel in Rome this summer…

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