Locked Out: Abroad

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The scene of the tragedy.

We’re housesitting for Caleb’s parents this week. It’s Thursday, and I know Caleb won’t be home for a couple hours. I left work early to rush home, there’s a swimming pool waiting for me. Pulling in the driveway at 5pm, I run through the house: in the front door, let the dog out of her room, pull off my clothes to put on my bathing suit, back out the back door in 45 seconds or less. I follow through on my momentum all the way off the diving board, nine hours of work gone in a plunge.

I swim a couple laps and then get back out. I’ve got a full evening agenda planned, workout, bath in the jacuzzi tub, painting my toenails. I want to be found completely at peace and cooking dinner when Caleb gets home. I wrap myself in a towel and reach for the back door.

Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.

Okay, so I’m locked out. No big deal. This is fine, I’m fine.

I reach for my phone to call Caleb in a SOS, what’s the garage code, how on earth can I get in, panic. Then I look through the window. My phone is sitting on the kitchen table.

This is why we are addicted to our phones. This is why we view them as extensions of our body. Because you just never know when you will be thrust into a near death situation with only a tiny dog companion. No one’s gonna praise your disconnectedness at your funeral when it was a direct contributor to your demise. Stay on the grid.

Upon realization that I am trapped outside with only my own strength, I instantly become a cast member on survivor and a kidnapping victim that must keep herself alive all at once. Let’s take stock of our resources: I don’t know what time it is, but probably around 5:20. Caleb might not be home until 7:30. I have a tiny dog named Sophie, a container of blueberries, and zero clothes. It’s Oklahoma summer, and I’m already sweating in fear and humidity. I have no idea if there’s a hide-a-key, but there are at least 35 flowerpots around the front and back yard. There’s a garage, but I don’t know the code. There are two doors, and a lot of windows.

Let’s do this.

Stage one: make sure there isn’t entry through a conventional method. Sophie and I start to pace around the house like stalkers. We try every window, every door. We consider whether we could scale up to the roof and decide no one will be there to call the ambulance so it isn’t worth the risk. We discover how to get to the front yard from the back yard (after trying to climb the fence once) and try our hand at the garage code. After at least one thousand guesses, we abandoned hope. Reality is beginning to close in around us, we will have to find another way.

Step two: find a key. Towel tied around me (all those beach fashion articles I read really do pay off) I start in on a flowerpot lifting marathon. I examine at least 105 flower pots, inside and outside, to make sure they don’t harbor the key to the kingdom. I am very proud of my perseverance; I wouldn’t die in an emergency situation, no sir. I’m a SURVIVOR. Well a survivor until there’s absolutely no hide-a-keys to be found, that is.

This is a break in our regularly scheduled programming to remind you what this looks like. I am dripping wet, in only a one piece bathing suit, sweating profusely, running back and forth around the house lifting up flower pots, and looking visibly irritated. My only companion is a tiny fluffy dog who will not shut up, and I interchangeably agree with her and tell her to be quiet.

Step three: Okay, so traditional methods aren’t working out. That’s fine. We’re innovative and clever. I start to really take stock of my materials. I don’t have a credit card, but surely something can finagle this door open. The BLUEBERRIES. I’ve been snacking on them sparingly to keep my sugar levels up, but it’s worth the sacrifice. I pull off the lid with my teeth and they scatter across the concrete. Sophie starts trying to eat them, so I have to scramble to beat her to all of them cause honestly who even knows what’s poisonous and nothing’s worse than being locked outside with a dead dog. I tear the plastic into a shape that is equal blunt dagger and hopefully magical door opener. Sophie watches in horror as I wiggle it into the door frame, succeeding at nothing but scraping off some paint. Minutes pass that way, me making eye contact with my phone on the kitchen table, wrestling blueberry plastic in between the wood to no avail. Nothing. I must have something else. I start wandering around the yard, in the shed, through the front yard, looking for something to open the door. They probably taught you how to pick locks in the girl scouts, didn’t they? I knew I should’ve been a freakin girl scout. I’m trying scraps of metal, ice scrapers, my own fingers, anything. It’s all hopeless. I will not be let in, and I’m beginning to submit myself to a life in the outdoors.

It’s okay, Sophie and I can live here. We’ll swim in the pool, and eat some leaves, and learn to thrive here. It’s fine. I throw myself down on the outdoor sofa, admittedly if you have to be trapped outside this is not a bad place. I pick up a Pottery Barn magazine and try to leaf through it, but I can’t muster up care for fine home furnishings in my distress. My plans are flashing before my eyes. What about the work out? What about the dinner? What about the BATH? I think of all I could be accomplishing on my phone. I could be working if only I had my phone! I could be building relationships! I could be WATCHING NETFLIX!

Okay, this is all I test. I am too accustomed to capitalistic society! I don’t need to be productive to be a human! I am valuable without work! PLEASE LET ME IN THIS HOUSE NOW.

Newly crazed, I take to the streets. “Sophie, I’ll be back for you. Hopefully this time with a plan.” I run out into the road, burning my feed on the asphalt and trying to remember if I know any neighbors. After 10 minutes without a single human sighting, I remember I met the neighbors to the left at a wedding. Taking a deep breath and wrapping my towel tighter around me, I walk up to ring their door bell. … … Nothing. I resume to my interchangeable pacing and hiding up by the house.  It’s been 20 minutes and I have yet to spot another human being. What is this, the Siberian plains? Where is everybody? It’s a Thursday evening, surely one of you has a dog to walk. I pace up and down the grass, walk back to check on Sophie. She’s beginning to look emaciated, I need to figure something out and fast or it’s going to be the end of both of us. I walk past the neighbor on the right, up… down… up… down, and I nod my head with resolve. I’m going in.

I walk up to the glass door, only to be met by an elderly woman and two small dogs, creating a racket. She looks at me, eyes passing my crazed frenzy, my swimsuit, and my desperation, “You locked out, honey? I have a key.”

The End.

Cedarville University Spring Break: My Week in Isolation

There are a lot of things nobody (everybody) tells you about post-grad living with a bunch of college students, not the least of which – they have a spring break, you do not. This week everyone in my gigantic, full-of-love-and-girl-power house disappeared, leaving me staring at a week of quiet.

Chill out, you might say. You still interact with other human beings at work. Also, you’re being a baby. These are all valid points, and to counter I say BUT STILL.

At first I thought it wouldn’t be that bad: I have a lot to do, I’ve been meaning to get into Father John Misty, I could learn French, I could learn how to code, I could learn how to code in French. But as I was wandering around Aldi’s-a place no one wants to spend more than the required amount of time-trying my best not to go home, I realized it was going to be a long week.

But interesting personal cultural study, right?

First I got like, really healthy. We’re talking meal planning, hot water with lemon, all the food groups healthy. I returned to my nonexistent gymnast roots and tried to do a back walkover for an entire evening before deciding some people have it some people don’t.

I read two books in two days, I did get pretty into Father John Misty, I spend the longest consecutive time in my history thinking about physics. I ate exclusively with my hands. I worked myself into a place of such emotion that just thinking about the concept of father-daughter dances for 6 seconds made me burst into tears.

I imagined at least 953 scenarios per day of my interaction with the kidnapper hiding in the room I was walking into, for some reason my kidnappers always have something devastatingly witty to say about my ignorance. Do you think they’re that sharp in real life?

I became freakishly clean, which is embarrassingly counter-intuitive. Normally it takes a week and a death threat for me to do the dishes, but this week with no one to be upset but me the kitchen was clean all the time. I can’t imagine why this would be except that I am a horrible person who hopes my friends will think my dishes are theirs and will do them for me. An alternative conclusion is that I’m a really great roommate but only to myself and no one else.

I even remembered to take the trash out, for the first time in recorded history.

Thank goodness my friends are home.

(Note: I am no longer alone in my home so kidnappers YOU MISSED YOUR CHANCE SORRY)

Olympia From the Interstate

We’re trying a new thing called Just Produce Content For Crying Out Loud. So here goes.
I love roadtrips by myself, driving through an America that’s totally different than the one I’m used to, flipping as erratically as I’d like between Malcolm Gladwell books on tape and Usher’s entire discography. I like driving through the mountains in Tennessee: the way the the Earth is forced to show it’s cards, layers and layers of rock on either side of straight flat roads.
Despite my romanticizing, no one else likes my roadtrips by myself quite as much as I do. It might be the standing reputation with car trouble (I get in a substantial accident more frequently than I see my dentist), or just the general idea that 21-year-old females shouldn’t cross 800 miles alone without a substantial measure of worry. But if I’m stubborn on a normal day, I’m three times as stubborn when you worry about me. My brain translates worry as patronization, I’m working on it.
So all that to say, this weekend I’m in Memphis with eight hours of Sunday afternoon separating me and home in southwest Ohio. What I don’t realize is that there’s an impromptu blizzard in Northern Tennessee and maybe actually the entire United States. I really should keep better in touch with my grandparents for a firmer handle on the weather.
So I’m driving home through the blizzard, more precisely Winter Storm Olympia, and there has to be 4 inches of snow on the roads themselves. We’re all feeling lucky if we can get up to thirty miles an hour. It’s the snowstorm solidarity of the highway, finding a truck to drive behind and playing follow the leader, lines of cars in each others tire tracks, making our own lanes. It was endless, anxiety-inducing, hell. And I drove the slow miles, every muscle clenched, having a serious conversation with myself.
“Victoria, this is why they say 21-year-old women should not go on solitary road trips. You got yourself into this mess because you are stubborn, and you are not allowed to feel sorry for yourself. You’re an adult, chill out. Imagine that you’re a suburban dad carrying his young children and their frightened mother to safety. Don’t you feel better now?” I did. For some reason being a father made my efforts seem worth it.
I coached myself through my New York background with hazardous weather conditions and the parts of my brain collectively agreed to ignore the way I slipped off the road and hit a sign just a couple weeks ago. It was an impressive display of personal teamwork.
At one point I reflexively reached over and locked my doors, only afterwards realizing my normal solution to fear in the car wouldn’t work this time.
I prayed with a singlemindedness that I chastised myself for not having all the time. “Gracious, Victoria. What if you prayed like this about everything. That’s what you’re taking from this experience, FYI. Put a pin in this.”
I slid out on the highway twice, the adrenaline proving much more powerful than my RedBull in keeping me alert. At a gas station/McDonalds on the edge of Tennessee (have I ever written a phrase as horror-inspiring as that?) filled with people that would have rather died than get back in the drivers seat, a trucker laughed that it took him four hours to get there from the Kentucky border. I didn’t get the humor.
A few hours later in Northern Kentucky I started seeing substantial patches of pavement. Malcolm continued calmly explaining to me his sociological theories, unaware that we’d been through a traumatizing event, and Caleb called to I Spy me through Cincinnati, the eleventh hour in every sense. I rolled in at 1AM, grateful. And sort of, just a little bit, planning my next trip.

In Sickness

This entire blog post is just a list of things I have diagnosed myself with and called my mom in panic about over the past two weeks. I guarantee you’re coming down with them too:

  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Walking pneumonia
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Vitamin B deficiency
  • General vitamin deficiency
  • Sinusitis
  • Boredom that could have clinical implications
  • Early-onset blindness (I realize this makes the assumption that blindness is inevitable at some point. Early-onset is an onset earlier than death)

 

I really appreciate your readership of this blog.

A Month Unphotographed

So I had this idea. And it was one of those ideas right off the bat you half hate and half love – I’ve found those are most important to follow through on.


So I had this idea and it goes Don’t Take Any Pictures For The Whole Month Of January. None. Zero. For three reasons:

  1. The whole, be present in the moment, feel things instead of capture them, do it for yourself not for the world, train of thought.
  2. To see if I remember the month differently when all is said and done.
  3. My iPhone is full and my computer is full and my brain is full, I can’t possibly store any new memories.

I’m not allowed to take pictures, but I am allowed (even encouraged!) to capture everything. If I want to remember something I either need to write a description or draw a picture or both. Out of this I hope to improve my descriptive writing and increase my humility.

So, if I stick to this (and I will), Instagram will be totally silent for the month. But I just might have some more to say over here. I’ll keep you posted.

The Blog You Write When You Graduate

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It’s weird where I’m at. I feel like I shed half of my college student identity months ago, moving my home and my life and my eating off campus and extracting myself from the grips of the SSC as well as I could. But at the same time, I’m in the delayed goodbye. I get to stay in my house and with my friends, and all the ways that life will be different are still hanging up in the air waiting for the second week of January to settle.

I’ve thought long and hard about this and concluded that the thing I will miss the most about being a Cedarville student is the water cooler water. Seriously, I can’t get enough of the stuff. Best way I’ve ever hydrated.

I’ll miss being in college, being a student and the easy identity that is assumed. I’ll miss naps in the middle of the day and skipping required reading.

I’ll miss the exquisite and forbidden pleasure of having classes with friends. This was the thing I was worst at out of all of college, class with friends was a free-for-all that assumed rambunctiousness, coughing to cover up laughs in the back row, and excessive snacking.

I’ll miss the commiseration and celebration. I’ll miss being forced to study the Bible and 10 o’clock being synonymous with chapel and the Twitter favorites. Oh, I will miss the Twitter favorites.

I’ll miss fighting to figure out what I believe in an environment that promoted heavy agreement and heavy disagreement all at once. I’ll miss class discussions and professors that pull you into their office to ask you how you’re really doing.

I’ll miss the knowing and the being known that came so easy. The comfortable shell of a place that, for better or worse, has seen you at all sides.

I’ll miss late nights and early mornings, sunsets through the windows of the BTS, and library cubicles as the final straw of desperation. I’ll miss the people that taught me and the people that showed me. You don’t know what it’s going to be like when you’re really gone, but Cedarville will always be a part of us, won’t it?

I won’t miss Milner.

Fall Semester in 22 Memoir Titles or Less

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I haven’t posted in a long time. Months. I don’t know even know how many months. I could count, but I won’t. It’s been so long that I’m trapped in the spiral, now I can’t write anything cause there were so many other things that I totally ignored and it’s impossible to catch up. So I decided to do a brief re-cap in a hopefully un-lame way.

The major events of the last some amount of months in my life, in potential memoir titles.

  • Do I Really Hate Capitalism Or Is This Reverse Culture Shock?
  • National Football Letdown (When All Your Teams Are 0-5)
  • Don’t Let Matt Pounds Sign Your Guest Book

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  • Boomer Sooner? A Brief Handbook On What That Even Means and How It Should Shape Your Worldview
  • Project Survive Milner: A 1,600 Page Guide to Keeping the Light In Your Eyes

  • She Totaled Her Car 800 Miles From Home, You Won’t Believe What Happens Next.
  • He’s Going to Ship You the Car From Omaha and Nine Other Ways To Tell This Is a Craigslist Scam
  • The Pursuit of Prius-ness

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  • 19 Jobs and Counting: Feeding Yourself as a College Student
  • I Left Consumer Behavior and I’m Never Going Back: One Woman’s Take On the Cedarville School of Business

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  • When Your Christianity Gets In the Way of Your Marketing Degree (Alternatively Titled: How to Quiet That Conscience and Get Down To Business)
  • Do Not Kill Humans and Other Advice for Group Projects
  • There Is Far Too Much Food Sharing Going On Back There

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  • Thirteen Hours Isn’t That Far to Drive And Other Long Distance Lies We Tell
  • Cool Kids Stay in School and Other Reasons You Shouldn’t Drop Out When You Only Have Eight Weeks Left

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  • Does Everyone Have Pants On? The Lodge Guide to Men
  • I Haven’t Remembered to Turn Off My Curling Iron For Two Weeks: the Pros and Cons of Fixed Utilities
  • Has Anyone Ever Interacted With a Butternut Squash Before? A Culinary Exploration

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  • Fake It Till You Make It (Outta There): A Guide to Conservatism at Family Reunions
  • Pajamas in Public: How Far is Too Far?
  • Have You Been Following What’s Happening With Drake?
  • Congratulations on Making It Through College Without an At-Risk Report, Sike! (Alternatively Titled: How to Motivate Yourself to Show Up to Class)

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