The Dreaded Question

You’re in college.  You occasionally cry in a dirty, rancid-smelling bathroom stall because you have an unbelievably heavy workload and a ton of tasks to do and you don’t know where to start.

On weekends (and some weekdays), you end up either shit-faced or having to take care of a shit-faced friend who is being seduced by some creep.

With your second energy drink that leaves an odd taste on your tongue, you spend the night studying (rather, cramming because you waited the very last 24-hour period to start looking at your chicken scratch handwriting) for an exam you, honest to God, don’t know how is going to help you in the future.

But you pass the class and you’re on top of the world.  The end of another semester is approaching, and you realize you’re really invested in this college thing.  You set up a meeting your academic adviser on your free time and you feel like a real adult.  Look at you, setting up meetings to talk about your future.  Astounding!

You sit across from your adviser, and you two chat about how each of you are, the weather, how you’ve been in your classes.  Then your adviser asks, “What are your plans for graduation?”

Your heart  trips over itself and continues to beat, but frantically.  You stare at your adviser with the same look you had a few seconds before.  The question echoes in your head.  This isn’t an essay question in which there’s on e term from the chapter you distantly recognize and can expertly conjure up a flawless short answer response with seamless transitions, fully aware that it’s something fresh from your ass.

No, you’re facing your potential career, your Real Adult Life with real bills, obligations and errands.  You see the face of Real Adult Life and you don’t recognize the face.  Rather, you do, but it’s just so damn scary so you avoid it.  You’re hoping to get a soothing, parental response, but all your adviser gives you is a disappointed look and continues to tell you about the remaining classes you are required to take.

Later that day, you feel worse than the dirt on the ground.  You meet up with your friends over laxative-laced food and hear about their frustrations with their own majors and seemingly impossible goals and aspirations.  You laugh at how your one friend describes the way her adviser speaks and feel bad when another says he is still undecided and he’s a junior.  And then you realize that you’re not that alone in your despair.  Surprisingly, that’s okay.  You’re fresh off the teen boat and have entered the world of your twenties.  It’s okay to feel lost and scratch your head whenever the thought of plans after graduation comes to mind.  Everything does not need to be a plan.


The End is Near and It’s Okay

Having gave up in the daunting process of trying to find a summer job, I was somehow fortunate enough to start honing my skills with working with kids when my godfather swooped in, saving the day, and asked if I could babysit my three-year-old godbrother.  He’s a smart, simple kid, finding joy in crashing his toy cars and watching videos about toy trains on YouTube.  I was simultaneously envious and fascinated, watching him run around with an adorable smile on his face, and that’s when it sunk in — I am halfway done with my college career.

I want to rewind time (doesn’t everyone?) and be a kid again.  To not have worries and focus only on having fun and choosing what doll to bring with me to the park would be lovely and, to be honest, a godsend.

Almost four weeks of being home was somehow enough for me to realize that I am halfway done with The College Struggle.  I felt oddly nostalgic coming home to catch two hours of sleep before getting ready for my older brother’s college graduation ceremony.  Sitting in Madison Square Garden, hearing his name being called, caused me to feel itchy and old — such an odd combination.  But it put things into focus.  I was getting older and closer my inevitable encounter with my ominous loans.

Welcome to Adulthood, Reggianie.  There’s no Adulthood for Dummies manual.  May the odds be ever in your favor.  Sincerely, The Universe

This worry and fear of the future and of potential failure is seemingly everlasting.  I don’t think there was a time when I actually thought, “Everything will be okay” before babysitting my godbrother.  The simplicity of his life was invigorating.  I thought, maybe everything will be okay.  I remember reading somewhere, “Will the little things matter a year from now?”  My usually pessimistic self replied, “Uh, yes!”  And then I thought, maybe that was rhetorical.  The little things are just that — the little things and there’s no reason to fret over them.  Once in a while, I can worry about what to wear for the day rather than worry about my looming loans every few minutes, chanting everything will be okay.

Get It Together

With the intention of a soothing shower, what appeared to be a small mouse greeted me.  I squeaked inwardly and cringed away, as much as I could in the cramped, claustrophobic shower stall.  I squinted and saw that it was a tangled mangle of dark brown hair.


I found a piece of bacon in one of the sinks in the bathroom.


That is unacceptable.

My gag reflex was definitely working when I spotted the puffed up piece of meat the color of an uncooked chicken leg last week.  It had been there for about three days.

I am not a clean freak, nor do I have a non-severe, self-diagnosed form of OCD, but I do appreciate efforts to be hygienic and sanitary.

It’s hard to expect college students (of all people!) to be clean when they’re juggling grades, a potential social life and hope for a good night’s sleep (or maybe a students’ minimum of 4 hours).

Some girls on my floor seem to think it’s okay to leave the kernels of corn and rods of green beans in the water fountain.  Excuse me, I didn’t receive the memo about the new garbage disposal, handy with cool water to wash away your trash.

This is the part when I close my eyes and call on God to give me one more ounce of patience, chanting “Jesus, take the wheel.  Take the whole car, because I can’t even.”

Get it together, people.  Just because your parents or guardian is no longer (at least, temporarily) breathing down your neck, waiting for you to screw up and leave around dirty crap, does not mean you can slack and make the job of a custodian that much harder.  It’s simple.  Your hair is falling out?  Pick it up.  I don’t want to see it, nor do I want to pick it up for you.  I am 100 percent positive that the custodian does not want to see it or pick it up either.  Please walk the 5 or so meters to the trash room and toss out the Cup Noodles you’ve devoured.  I’d like my water to taste like um, I don’t know, water, not textured soy protein.

12 Struggles Only People In Their Early Twenties Will Understand

I’m just under a year away from officially being in my “20s,” but so many points in this post resonated with me. Great and realistic post!

The Perfect Piece


I went to visit my friend yesterday. I thought I was in Kent but I was really in Uxbridge (new lows of ignorance for me). It was so refreshing to get away from my world for the day; this week has been a challenging one in many ways. I haven’t been on a campus in almost two years so it felt strange being around students again. You know how students are just ‘up’ until the early hours of the morning without any real concern for the next day? Yeah, there’s a lecture but attendance is still a choice and there are no real consequences if the lecture is missed. I dare not sleep after 12pm these days (even that is living life on the edge) because my alarm is going off at 6.45am and my train is leaving at 7.40am and I need to be on it.

When did life become…

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Back on the Grind

Bumping music fills my ears and rattles my rib cage and the caving-in ceiling.  Gyrating bodies circle me.  Liquids of different colors and alcohol content dribble down my calves and splash on my chestnut brown combat boots.  There’s a level of dankness in the air that makes one almost taste the salt in others’ sweat.

I always find myself observing these things at college parties rather than enjoying the actual party.  I’d have to say I enjoy 60 percent of it while whatever is happening around me is fascinating me, and I’m genuinely analyzing it.  I laugh inwardly when I dance with a guy with zero rhythm.  I grimace, hugely annoyed, when a girl screams insanely loud for no apparent reason.

The social grind of college students is quite fascinating.  A good chunk of us run on less than 6 hours of sleep, jugging coffee (and those disgusting 40s and odd mixes of vodka and whisky with an array of juices on weekends) and gossiping over rancid, laxative-laced food.  It’s a horrible lifestyle, yet we enjoy it because we’re indirectly paying more than an arm and a leg for education that may or may not guarantee us an okay-paying job after we leave the sleepless, partying nest.  Despite the ugly bags under my eyes and the way my joints squeak from a night’s poor rest, I get a certain high from this bustling way of life.

The Unexpected Expectation

College is just one of those places where I’m bound to run into trouble.  My very first semester of college started out smoothly, as most first-year college students’ semesters start off—or, at least, I’d like to think so.  It was a roller coaster.  Everything was going well.  I would even go as far to say it was superb.  I was climbing to the top, the climax, and I honestly believed that it would go up and up forever.

I was in a triple room, sharing a fairly large room with two other women. The three of us met at our college’s freshman orientation in the summer.  I was rooming with one of them (Let’s call her A) and the other (She’ll be B) was living down the hall.  A and I got along and started having our three meals during orientation together.  We all got along, like a fresh plate from iHOP’s kitchen.  A was the bacon, B was the scrambled eggs and I was the stack of pancakes (Their pancakes are amazing!).  We agreed to request each other as roommates for the fall because we were wary of getting strangers as roommates.  Now, we weren’t “besties” in the three days we’d known each other, but we got along.  A seemed like a good roommate. She was friendly, neat and didn’t snore like a dinosaur ready to attack. I’ve heard too many roommate horror stories (a trail of used feminine products, unruly BO, sex with an audience, etc.), not to mention the 2011 movie The Roommate.

A had a falling out with B and I after she’d pretty much done two of those “horror stories.”  I had a hard time forgiving her because we were good friends.  She was a good listener and we were both sarcastic—it was a college girl’s dream.  My mother had advised me to just respect her, despite the fact that A hadn’t done so toward B and me.  At the time, I couldn’t really wrap my head around what my mother was trying to say.

B and I learned to deal with what A had done.  We moved out and that was it.  It was beyond awkward a little after that, but B and I eventually made out peace with what happened and with A.

Maybe two months later, toward the end of the semester, I had had a really long day and I knew for sure that I was not going to be up studying or doing homework.  I had just come home from work;  I wasn’t planning to pack with B like we said we were going to do that morning—I was going to shower and sleep.

As I settled in my bed, B said my name.


“Would you be upset if a friend came over?  Just to help me pack.”

I didn’t answer right away.  I took a couple deep breaths, telling myself not to overreact or get upset.  I tend to sleep with some background noise as soon as I got used it, which didn’t take long.  I figured a few whispers and the shuffling of clothes and boxes couldn’t hurt for fifteen or so minutes.

I asked if it was a mutual male friend, C.

She said C and she were supposed to go out on a walk, but canceled because of the rain and now he was going to help her pack.  I tried not to cringe or get more upset and agitated than I already had been.  I shrugged and told her it was fine.

Not ten minutes later, C arrived.  He could not mask his booming voice with a quiet whisper.  If I were Cyclops, I would have burned holes in the wall as I glared at it.  They were obviously flirting.  His teasing her and her laughing quietly got the best of me and I flipped over on the bed.  I asked C to leave the room for a minute.

“Ooh, B, you’re in trouble.”

“Aye, I’m sorry,” she said.

C left the room, and I hopped off my bed.  I threw on my pajama bottoms and started to gather my laptop and headphones.  B continued to say she was sorry as I slipped my feet into my sandals.  “It’s fine,” I snapped.  “I’ll just go watch a movie.”  As I headed straight for the floor lounge, C said he was sorry too.

“I’m sorry, girl.  Come on, girl, go to sleep.”

(I never liked how he called every female he knew “girl.”  I found it odd and iffy.)

I told him it was fine and to go help her pack.  I added extra emphasis on “pack.”  I was grateful that no one was in the lounge and I settled into one of the smelly cushioned seats.  I turned on my laptop and proceeded to watch Disney’s Pocahontas and an episode of Gossip Girl on Netflix.

I was distracting myself from my steaming anger.  How could B do this to me?  I’d thought after what happened with A, we had an unspoken agreement that if one of us had a friend (particularly a person whom we were planning to have sex with or sexual activities with), we would warn the other maybe, I don’t know, 72 hours in advance.  I felt so minute and insignificant.  It was hard to believe that my first two roommates in college had basically done the same thing to me.  I felt so disrespected, as if I didn’t matter.  I was the go-to friend for everything, but I didn’t deserve an ounce of respect?

The anger I felt was worse than the anger I had when I was dealing with A I think because it was unexpected.  I was disappointed and I hadn’t expected this from B.  She totally threw all her morals out the window.  She didn’t even like C!  She hated C!

Okay, hate is a strong word.  She talked behind C’s back and always said, “I hope he doesn’t think we’re, like together.  I don’t like him like that.”

And yet, here B was, messing around with C in OUR room until 5AM.

I witnessed the sun rising and everything.  It was a beautiful sight.  Despite that, I very much wanted my bed and my too-flat pillows.

Just when Pocahontas was finishing up, the door to the lounge creaked open and B’s face popped into the lounge.  I glanced at her fleetingly and pursed my lips.

“Are you mad?’ she asked.

I really hate when people ask that, especially when they add “at me” and an ugly attempt at a puppy face.

I didn’t answer her, and she shuffled over to me with socks on and her flowery fleece wrapped around her.  Her black bun bobbed at the crown of her head.  She laid her head on my shoulder.  Her next words hit me like a train:

“You can come back into the room now.”


She was giving me permission to step back into our room?  Ha, was I glad.

[Insert emoji of straight face]

I grabbed my things and leaped from the chair, speeding toward our room.  I heard her shuffling behind me quickly and I tried to drown the noise out.  I tossed everything on my messy desk and plugged my headphones into my phone, tuning into the “Sleep Tight” playlist on Spotify.  I curled onto my side, facing the wall, and she sat on the edge of my bed.  I don’t know how I suppressed the urge to throw a punch, but I did.

She continued to ask if I was mad, and I didn’t reply.  I was too furious to reply.  I expected a sincere apology.  We were in college and we were adults.  It was what I expected and wanted.

I never got one.  The next morning, C simply continued to pack and live life as if last night hadn’t happened.  The only thing she acknowledged about that night was the hickeys she had on the right side of her neck.  I smiled tightly and asked if she got much packing done with a raised eyebrow.

I was upset with myself for not standing up to her and for myself, telling her to go to his room and subconsciously enforcing the stereotype that college guys didn’t care about their roommates having sex with them in the same room.

I was wondering why had I expected her to apologize.  Just because people got into in college and were legally adults didn’t mean they were mature.  Some of them didn’t know where lines were drawn and they tended to stumble over those lines.  A lot of them didn’t consider other people’s feelings, personal beliefs and morals.  What was wrong with the world?

What is wrong with the world?

What is wrong with college students?

I’ll let you know when I find out.

[Deal] With the Punches

Being a student journalist is one of the hardest things I think I am going to push through during my college career over the next few years.  There are a lot of rules to journalism, ethically speaking, morally speaking, grammatically speaking and just in terms of common sense.  I suppose there aren’t rules to cope with the one in five interviews that go horribly wrong (that is a fictional statistic.  I suppose I would have to hunt for an actual statistic).

I was scheduled to interview a close colleague of an alumna on whom I was writing a feature profile.  Typically, I get nervous a couple of hours before my interview and, as the time approaches, my anxiety intensifies.  Just when I meet the person and shake her hand or pick up my phone to call him, the nervousness dissipates.

Such was the situation when I dialed the number to call him.  I was polite, greeted him and reintroduced myself to make sure there was no confusion as to whom I was.

“How are you?” I asked.

“Fine,” he replied curtly.

My head snapped back slightly, as if his curtness was a hand and it’d reached through the phone and slapped me.  I recovered quickly and jumped right into the interview.  I thought I’d ask simple, open-ended questions that would receive great, fulfilling and juicy answers.  To my dismay, my interviewee replied in short, abrupt sentences, barely giving me anything to grasp, let alone paraphrase enough to make my article come alive.  Nonetheless, I used two of his relatively dull quotes and published my article.

This is definitely one difficult aspect of being a journalist who is just starting out and learning the ropes.  I used to be particularly shy and introverted, and I still am, but I’m learning to get out of my comfort zone.  I get anxious for about six seconds, and then I start to look forward to meeting new people.

It’s, obviously, the terse people who discourage me from wanting to branch out and meet all kinds of people.  But that’s just another aspect of — impartiality, not heartlessness.  I can’t let my feelings get in the way.  I don’t live in the land of nice people, bacon and life-changing books.  I have to accept the crazy world I live in and deal with the punches.

Documenting the Streets: Street Photography Tips from Dominic Stafford

Great tips!

The Daily Post

A street photographer must adapt, improvise, and blend in to any situation — and be ready to find beauty in even the dullest of scenes.

Photographing on the streets is like no other form of photography. It’s real, it’s pure luck, and most importantly it shows life as it is, in real time. A street photographer must adapt, improvise, and blend in to any situation — and be ready to find beauty in even the dullest of scenes.

When I brave the streets of South East Asia, I never really think about anything else other than: “Would that be a good shot? Would that be a good shot? Or would that be a good shot?” I’m in photo mode, and it can become quite tiring. After thirty minutes I’m sitting down, enjoying a soft drink. But even then, I think: “That would be a great shot, and that would…

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A Band of Sisters

When I received the email recruiting students for women’s rugby at my college, I was instantly curious.  I liked trying out new things, but only if I knew I could actually succeed—which, I think, really didn’t mean I was trying something new.

Nonetheless, I read on.  The email shouted out at me, “New players welcome!  No experience necessary.”  The logical side of me thought, “Hey, this could be easy.  I can come into this knowing nothing and leave with a new skill set.”

One of my best friends wanted to join the women’s rugby team back home.  She goes to Fordham University.  She had been excited and I was excited—and scared—for her.  She has broad shoulders and is generally a tough person, but, despite that, I felt like she would be literally crushed.  I had heard crazy stories about rugby and seen my share of daunting clips of mangled bodies and players flinging other players around like they were rag dolls.

My best friend never joined the rugby team.  After seeing the YouTube videos, her more than slightly strict mother wouldn’t have it.  Clubs and athletic practices were late at night and her mother was concerned about her mouth’s survival against the angry opposing team (she had had braces at the time and now she is content with retainers).

After reading the email for the umpteenth time, hunting for hidden messages prohibiting a person like me with no experience with the rough sport from joining the team, I hastily added the meeting date and time to my phone’s calendar and my planner.  I was jittery with excitement and fear.  I spent the day telling all my friends that I joined.  The majority of them were dubious as to my ability to succeed in such a rough sport.  One of my friends, whom I do not see as often as I had last semester because she spent a good majority of her waking hours with her significant other, blatantly said she didn’t believe in me.

Well, she didn’t say that (I tend to be dramatic too).

She had actually said, “You?  Joining rugby?  But . . . you’re so skinny.  I mean, I wanted to join, but I have no time.  You’re so . . . skinny.  They’re going to crush you.”

That didn’t help my nerves at all.  It caused me to genuinely be upset.  I knew there was some logic to her repetitive acknowledgement that I was a thin person.  But who cared?  This is college—the place to experiment, explore and grow.  Sure, it seemed foolish to experiment with my skinny, frail body, but who cared?

When I told my best friend that I decided to join women’s rugby three weeks ago, she was happy for me, but I could tell she was jealous or slightly hurt in some way.  I couldn’t place the emotion, but I knew there was something off about her voice.  I felt bad.  Maybe she would live vicariously through me.

I had gotten the email on Sunday afternoon and the following Tuesday was the first meet.  To say I was fearful and panicky was an understatement.  I went to the informational meeting Monday night.  I had arrived late with one of my good friends at my college.  She was concerned for me, but, I suppose, was light-hearted about it.  Maybe she did believe in me.  And I was thankful for that.  However, she refused to join the team.

“I will kill someone with my big butt,” she said, and I laughed with her.

The meeting was short and a lot of the experienced players tried to convince the new members that they weren’t experienced as we might have thought they were.

“I, like literally learned from watching YouTube videos,” said one senior player with her dirty blond hair up in a raggedy side ponytail.

“It won’t make sense until you’re physically playing out in the field,” added another short-haired girl after they tried to explain the rules and steps to an average 80-minute game.

After the meeting, I realized my former residential assistant and a friend of hers were joining the team too.  I was happy that I had another friend with me on the team.  I tended to be very shy when I met new people or found myself in situations far beyond my comfort zone.

Playing rugby for the first time with a group of seemingly friendly, stocky college girls was definitely more than a couple feet out of my comfort zone.

That Tuesday I found myself distracted during my two classes for the day.  I daydreamed about my skinny limbs snapping after being tackled and my barely-there muscles dwindling and quaking as I tried to push against a stronger opponent.

My friend joined the team as well.  Nonetheless, I was jealous of her body type:  much thicker and meatier, although she was just about my height.  She and I met up at 8 o’clock outside the gym’s parking lot and we were able to ride with one of players in her car toward the field house.

To make matters worse, while we were practicing, the men’s rugby team would practice on the other half of the gymnasium.  How lovely, I thought.  Not only would I be willingly approaching my imminent injury, but I would also be facing humiliation in front of athletic men I tended to see every day on campus while working or on my way to class.

As soon as everyone arrived at the field house and 8:15 rolled around, one of the captains led us through a series of stretches.  I could deal with that.  I had been on my track team in high school and elementary school.  I had worked out on my own during the summer and I liked stretching.  It was kind of like yoga, sans the “ohms” and soporific deep breaths.

We started to do what is called Indian runs (why it is called an Indian run is beyond me), which entailed our running in two lines around the track that wrapped around the gym and tossing a larger, more awkward version of a football behind us.  That was the key—you could never toss the ball forward; that was an illegal pass in rugby.

That was definitely odd for me because the last sport I played in a group setting was flag football.  I kept tossing the awkwardly shaped ball sideways and forward while I felt like a lot of the players shot me looks and muttered obscenities under their breaths.  I could hear my brain making their thoughts worse and that worried me.  I watched the players ahead of me with meticulous effort.  With smooth grace, the experienced players tossed the ball back and forth, almost causing my eyes to bounce side to side with scary speed.

When I got the ball again, I tossed it fairly well behind me to a girl with a colorful tank top, and one of the players told me, “Great job.”

One could say I was giddy.

When the last person on the line got the ball, they had to sprint to the front of the line (if they ran through the middle, they had to call out “middle” to warn the other players they were coming through) and hand off the ball to the player in the front of the line.  And the cycle started again for another few laps around the track.

Then, the captain broke us up into groups and we practiced tossing the ball between each other within our groups.  Again, I watched as the adept players coolly chucked the ball toward and up and over other girls.  Once, an overweight black-haired girl kicked the ball up high in the air and a willowy player caught it with a majestic leap.

I grew self-conscious through practice until 9:45, despite my few good throws and murmured approvals from the old players.  At the end of practice, however, I felt like I belonged to something special and private.  We huddled in a circle after discussing Thursday’s practice and gathered our hands in the middle, shouting “Plattsburgh” on three.  It didn’t seem largely significant, but I thought I was in a much less satanic version of a cult.  I was joining a team and we were a family.

Or maybe, as my crazy imagination had thought, we were auditioning and they would drop the dead weight later on and change the days of practice so we horrible players wouldn’t come to practice.

That, lucky for me, was not the case.  On Thursday, My friend and I waited at 8 o’clock outside the gym’s parking lot and were picked up by a short-haired player.  She was friendly and played country music in her small car.  We started practicing again and I tried to tell myself that I wasn’t perfect.  No one was.  And that was okay.  I was learning something new and I was bound to make more than a few mistakes.

By the third week of practice, I started to actually feel part of the team.  We were a band of sisters not only tossing an awkwardly shaped ball toward one another, but we had jokes.  We jokingly cussed at each other.  We tackled each other, not in hatred or vain, but guidance.  We helped each other get stronger and I think that was the main point of rugby.  I figured that was why you always had to stay behind your teammate who had the ball.  You had to back her up.  You had to support her, physically and mentally, as she charged down the field toward her opponents.