Monday, April 13, 2015

Liquid Courage and the Dancing Queens

I returned from Italy last Tuesday evening, super crabby following the maddening inefficiency of the airport immigration experience. The dreary, gray skies and the general ugliness of Jamaica, NY did nothing to improve my mood, and the scary bus ride home only added to my misery. Within 24 hours I could add to my bitch list a canine chocolate overdose and an overwhelming to do list at work My full upcoming weekend should have lifted my spirits, but instead it all seemed like an ill-timed inconvenience given how much else I had to do. Given this piss poor attitude, the absolute blast I had this weekend came as a complete surprise.

On Saturday Rob and I went with friends Dave and Karen to Atlantic City. Dave and Karen are "those" friends. The bad influence kind with whom you always have a good time. Since our friendship began I've gone to more concerts and drank more beer than at any other point in my life.

The purpose of our trip to AC was not gambling-related. We were in town to see Jerry Seinfeld. You'll appreciate this tidbit: Karen originally proposed this idea to Rob because she knew I'd say "Hell no!" when I saw the price. But it was worth the gouging expense. Not only were Jerry and his opening act hysterical, but I had an absolutely awesome time post show, which translates into post 10 p.m. at which point in the evening I generally bow out and hit the sack. Not only did I not hit the sack after Seinfeld, but I actually hit the dance floor! This is BIG. I do not often dance in public. If you've seen me dance you know why. But we were at the Gypsy Bar where they serve beers not in 16 ounce pints, but in 22 ounce glasses. This liquid courage explains the dancing. And a good band playing today's popular hits also helped spur us on.

The wall-to-wall crowd offered a good deal of visual stimulation to go with the musical vibrations. I saw a woman with Life Savers strategically attached to her t-shirt, allowing various men to sample her wares. I gawked noted another woman whose dress ended where her thigh-high stockings began. I was surprised at the range of ages co-mingling. I'd guess 21-60, though I'm notoriously bad at guessing age. I still think I'm younger than everyone I meet, when in fact that rarely holds true anymore, which is depressing as hell, but that's a blog post for another time. Anyway, I was feeling pretty good about myself out there. Had on my favorite dress. My ass wasn't hanging out. I wasn't stumbling about in 4" heels. Wasn't spilling my beer while I danced. It was all good. Until my dancing and jumping caused a small leak and I was rudely reminded that I am not young and that I still need to do kegel exercises. But I didn't let that stop me! In fact, it was not boring old Kim who called it a night, but rather her usually gung-ho husband. We made our way to the hotel room where we promptly crashed and slept soundly until the next morning. (Note: Moderation is important if a romantic night is on your agenda.)

Sunday was a continuation of the good times that began with our AC adventures. I played with my pup and played in the dirt, readying the gardens for spring flowers. My pup also played in the dirt--if you need a hole dug, she's your girl. The evening ended on a more age-appropriate, but equally awesome note: Indigo Girls with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. Loved, loved, loved it! Even my aching hip, the result of the previous night's dancing, couldn't diminish my enthusiasm.

I figure if I get 10-hours of sleep each night this week I'll be good to go again next weekend!

Who's in?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Random Musings: Pre-Italy Edition

It's been awhile since I posted my random musings. Here's one for you: Why do women in public bathrooms (don't know if this applies to men) never choose a stall next to one that's occupied if there are others available? And speaking of bathrooms, the only upside to there being fewer women in engineering is that there's never a line for the ladies' room in my building.

I leave on Friday afternoon for a 10-day singing tour with the Strath Haven High School Silvertones (ST). I'm not singing; I'm chaperoning. I wish they'd let me sing. I'm still wondering if I'd make the group.

Yes, I chaperoned two years ago. First, someone has to do it; I'm taking one for the team. Second, my 16-year-old son is fine with me joining him/them. That alone means I have to go. How many teenagers are willing to have their parents go anywhere with them? And it's not just because he considers me a walking ATM. In fact, now that he's a working man I told him he has to provide his own spending money. Of course, this means I won't actually spend any time with him on this trip. But that's okay, too. I'm in it for the tours. As I've gotten older I've developed a strange passion for history. I actually get giddy when I learn something is hundreds or thousands of years old. It's the same reaction most women would have if they were told George Clooney was around the corner.

Did I tell you I've subscribed to National Geographic? I love it. I feel smart reading it. And if I don't feel like reading, I can always look at the pictures. The irony in my subscribing to National Geographic is that my grandfather ordered me subscriptions every year for my birthday when I was a kid and I didn't read a single issue. Threw them all away. Not too many kids are good candidates for that magazine. That's why they now offer the kids' edition. Still, I feel guilty.

Another reason to go to Italy? The wine. Did you know that prior to the previous trip I had never had a whole glass of red wine? And since returning I haven't had any either. There's something about red wine in Italy. It tastes better there. Kind of like mashed potatoes at my mom's house.

I also love Italian meats. This year I won't make the mistake of trying to bring them home in my suitcase. Or, I won't claim them on my official forms at the airport. I'm such a freakin' rule follower. Last time they took all my meat. The only thing I'd brought from Italy for my husband. I cried. Meat's expensive.

To prove to my son that going on this trip is not all about him, I have every intention of chaperoning again in 2017, when he'll be in (yikes!) college. This means I need Cornelia's son Alex, and/or Theresa's son AJ to make the group next year. Not for their own satisfaction, but for my own selfish travel purposes. It would be weird to chaperone if I didn't actually know any of the kids in the group. And I'm fully expecting Cornelia and/or Theresa to accompany me. Girls' week in Italy. Woo hoo!

This year I have a bit of anxiety about the trip for a couple reasons. One, there have been recurrent issues with paying for it. It went something like this:

  1. I sent an electronic check through my online bank. 
  2. Check was apparently lost in the maze of school district offices.
  3. Check was found and sent to ST director.
  4. ST director misplaced check. 
  5. ST director calls me; I stop check; incur $25 charge from my bank.
  6. Write new check; hand delivered to director.
  7. Receive text from director weeks later noting that my check did not clear.
  8. I go ape shit, insisting that I'm loaded with money; no way check bounced.
  9. Turns out mystery person in school district tried to deposit rediscovered original check.
  10. It's declined; school district charged fee.
  11. New check was cashed, but school district account shows negative balance. 
  12. Not my problem.
This might be a sign that I should not go on this trip. If I don't make it home alive, let's just say "I knew it."

Second concern: Roommate situation. For months leading up to the trip it looked like I was going to be the only female chaperone. A status I was quite happy with. I prefer to be the lone woman. It makes me feel powerful. But no, the director had to go and encourage others to join me. I don't really know the other ST moms, but there was only one I really didn't want to come with us. No particular reason other than that she's one of those moms who make us normal moms look bad. In other words, she's super attractive in a rock-n-roll kind of way. Great hair. Cool clothes. Way more hip than yours truly. So hip she probably knows the 2015 word for "hip." Then there's also the fact that her email and blog name are "I am Bossy." Personally, I'm more passive aggressive. 

Did I mention that her blog has tons of readers and gets bunches of comments? If you truly care about me you'll share a comment on this post, just to make me feel better about myself.

A third concern: My flat iron. At the time of the previous trip I had not yet discovered the magic of the flat iron. Of course my hair was short so I didn't need one. Now I need one, but I'm afraid if I use it I'll blow a fuse at the hotel, cutting  power to the whole place. Everything I read says you need a voltage adapter, and even then, hair dryers and the like are risky to use because of their voltage. Do I risk it or accept bad hair for 10 days? Keep in mind that my roommate has great hair. Long, blond, curly. If I come home with a k.d. lang cut, don't be surprised.

Finally, I've decided "Uptown Funk" is this decade's version of "Celebrate Good Times" by Kool & the Gang. I love Uptown Funk, but really hate Celebrate. Maybe I started out loving Celebrate, but they played it to death. Maybe I will one day hate Uptown Funk. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Don't Go Away

I have a bunch of work to do. Deadlines are looming. But there are more important things than the articles I need to write. Just as there are more important things than overdue homework assignments or a bad test grade.

Last week’s disappearance of 13-year-old Cayman Naib was frightening and beyond nerve wracking for his parents and even for us outsiders who wondered and waited. The discovery of his body two days ago was every parent’s worst nightmare. Learning that he had committed suicide made that nightmare even more unbearable.

When our kids are small we worry about doing something wrong, hurting them somehow. Are we sufficiently supporting the baby’s neck when we hold him? Are there too many blankets in the crib? Is she getting enough to eat? Are the outlets protected and the cleaning fluids locked up? Does he know not to talk to strangers? Are they okay crossing the street? Is this babysitter reliable?  Though we can make ourselves crazy with concern, to some degree we believe that we can keep them safe if we do everything right.

Of all the challenges that present themselves as the parents of teens, one of the biggest is trusting they will be okay when we can no longer hold them tight and keep them in our sights 24-7. Beyond the everyday risks that this world presents are the dangers that teens and young adults are to themselves. You pray that you've taught them well, but one bad decision can literally be the difference between life and death. Getting in the car with a buddy who’s been drinking, trying a drug that has disastrous consequences, checking out the handgun you found in a friend’s house, leaving home in anger at night, during a snowstorm. When we wondered whether Cayman had been hit by a car, I was struck with fear over one bad decision. It reminded me of the West Chester student who disappeared the night before Thanksgiving after going out drinking with friends and was later found drowned. One bad decision.

Learning that Cayman committed suicide compounds one life-ending decision with a parent’s overwhelming sense of guilt. Without knowing anything about this family, I can only surmise that they are asking themselves, “Did we put too much pressure on him? Did we see any signs that he was depressed?  Why didn't we go after him that night instead of thinking he just needed to let off some steam?”

As a parent I have agonized over how to raise productive, accomplished, hard-working, and happy children. How much do you push or "encourage?” When do you require commitment and when do you allow them to quit the team or the band to stop the tears and the fighting?  How do you know if they “can do better,” or if this is their best? How can you tell if they’re working hard to please themselves, or their teachers, or you? And when is it too much?

I imagine Cayman felt he had let someone down. That the pressure was ovewhelming. That he was never going to be successful and that meant he could never be happy. He didn't know that every 13-year-old has that doubt and fear and anxiety and that someday he would look back and shake his head and wonder why he let it matter so much.

As I was working on this post, I saw that my friend and Freakin’ Angel Kim Graham shared her thoughts about this tragedy on Facebook. And since she has a way of saying things so eloquently, I’m going to share some of what she wrote here. This is my plea as well. And parents, Kim's message about finding perspective and seeking help applies to you us too:
"If you need help finding perspective or seeing the big picture of whatever you are going through, tell an adult who loves you. I promise you there are adults who have loved you before you were ever graded on anything, and who will love you long after you’re no longer being graded. If--for whatever reason--you are too nervous to talk to them, come talk to me. And if you don't need to talk but just need a gentle reminder when things get stressful, stop and think about adults you know and respect. The ones you want to be like someday. Do you know what grade they got on their 9th grade social studies test? How many goals they scored for the soccer team? (Or if they were even on the soccer team?) What they got on their SATs? Exactly.
Driving home yesterday I heard the song "Father and Son" by Cat Stevens. Given the loss of this young man, I found the lyrics particularly painful:
“All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside, It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it. If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them you know not me. Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away. I know I have to go. Father, stay stay stay, why must you go and Make this decision alone?"
Don't go away.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Nothing I Love More than a Good Challenge!

I always hoped that someday I'd become a full-fledged adult who behaves like a full-fledged adult. No meltdowns, no whining, no crying, no throwing little fits, no breaking into a sweat and running away every time something doesn't go my way. Alas, it seems I have a ways to go.

Obviously this means that being my spouse can be hell on earth frustrating. Being my child isn't easy-breezy either. Close friends, too, have seen the ugly side. And I'm okay with exposing those I love to the real me. It's in the workplace that I really wish I had better control of my reactions to the down parts of life's ups and downs. When I imagine powerful, professional women who have successful careers, I see no resemblance between them and me. Sheryl Sandberg may tell me to "Lean In," but when the going gets tough, I lean so far out that I can touch the street from my third floor office.

You may be wondering how I arrived at this woe's me place. Two things: 1) A new marketing director, and 2) HTML tags and coding, URLs, and lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

My new marketing director started yesterday. She seems great. Very nice. Smart. Experienced. Capable and confident. And I'm not all wigged out about losing my "It girl" status to her, like I was with Kelly, her predecessor. "It" is already lost. That ship has sailed. No, this mostly internal meltdown is a function of having brain freeze on this young woman's first day on the job. The day when you most want to make a good first impression so that your new employee doesn't wonder what the hell kind of moron they're going to be working with. Ideally you don't want the individual it took you months to hire to go running for the hills when they realize their so-called boss is a blathering idiot. Yep. Blathering idiot. That about sums it up. In the process of showing her the ropes, I found myself unable to explain things that she really needs to know, like the status of our current marketing plan. And the location of important files. And how X-Y-Z works. I'm lucky I was able to communicate the location of the bathroom. I was completely incoherent. It was embarrassing. I can only hope that she was nervous enough on her first day to not notice my inadequacies. Except that I kept apologizing for my inadequacies. She's probably counting the days before we can switch job titles. I hope she shows up for her second day.

Even worse than my supervisory stumbling was the nearly overwhelming sense of panic I felt when confronted with a problem I didn't know how to solve. Here's the thing: There's nothing I hate more than not knowing how to do something and do it well. This explains why I don't ski, vehemently dislike magic tricks, don't dance unless I've been drinking, avoid math problems like the plague, and refuse to debate politics or religion. I don't like to lose and I don't like to look or feel stupid, unless it's voluntary on my part. Like blogging about it, for instance.

My childish refusal to work on something that does not come easily (I believe they call it "trying"), is really pathetic. I've become one of those old people who've been on the job for 40 years and refuse to work with that new fangled technology known as a computer. "What's wrong with hard copies, for cryin' out loud!"

This pattern of panic started months ago with a Google Analytics course. It's been toying with me recently on topics like landing pages and inquiry forms. And yesterday it blindsided me with an email subject line that read: "ROI Tag Instructions for multiple ROI Pages." Before I even read the message, my heart started pounding and I began whimpering and stomping my feet. The message itself -- sent from my ad agency -- took things from bad to worse:
"We do not have new ROI tags for Smartbrief and Technically. This will not affect the leads that you receive, but it will affect if I can see them in my ad server.  These tags should go on the Thank You Page that pertains to the Smartbrief and to Technically. It would be appreciated if you could have these implemented as soon as possible. Also, once implemented, if you could send me the url of the landing page, that would be great."
I could share with you the actual instructions for adding said ROI tags to the custom landing pages with the unique inquiry forms, but looking at them again may cause my head to explode. The email might as well have asked me to split the atom, scale Mt. Everest, or successfully train my puppy. Time to put on my running shoes. I can't do this!

I realize that very few of us (probably only those powerful and successful folks I dreamt of one day becoming) get psyched when confronted with something well outside our comfort zone, but my reaction seems a bit extreme. As in "I need to quit my job because I'm never going to understand how tagging works." I guess it hits so hard because my job is the one place I feel most secure in my abilities. I know there's lots of room for improvement in my performance as a wife and mother. I know I totally suck at cooking and general "home" stuff. I know that despite my best intentions, I'm not knocking it out of the park with this puppy thing. But Communications? I can do that. And do it well. I can write. I can work social media. I can deliver strong publications and make effective presentations (except to new employees). I can meet and beat deadlines and have a reputation for getting stuff done. I feel really good about my ability to do my job well. Why would I muck that up with ROI tags, SEO, SEM, and Google Analytics?

It really does make me want to cry. And that's not mature. Not adult. Not the sign of a powerful or successful professional. It's this kind of reaction that makes women look bad. I'm single handedly setting women back in the workplace every time I feign having a heart attack so I can run from the office.

I can go on whining about this or I can put on my big girl panties and deal with it. I'm smart. I can learn how to do this stuff. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'm having a heart attack.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Risk of Dirty Roses

It's amazing how something that lasts only about three minutes can make me feel so dirty. One bad decision before 8 a.m. and for the rest of the day I'm wishing I could take another shower. You would think that feeling this way just once would be enough to teach me a lesson, but I'm ashamed to say that I continue to go back for more.

The temptation begins around 7:20 a.m. when I consider my arrival time in the parking lot at work. I know I'll be there before 7:40, but will it be 7:30 or 7:39? Those few minutes make all the difference. I'm not so far gone that I'm willing to wait for 10 minutes, but a minute or two is a different story. If the timing is right, I wait. The regret will come just minutes later.
I blame one of Rob's coworkers for turning me on to this cheap thrill.  He once told me his daughter is obsessed with War of the Roses on MIX 106.1 FM. It airs at 7:40 a.m. The premise is simple. An insecure man or woman has suspicions about their significant other. Rather than speak with the individual whom they purportedly love, they call a radio station to air their concerns. The morning show host Chio involves "Marie from Accounting" who calls the presumably unfaithful, pretending to be from a flower shop. Said flower shop is giving that individual a dozen long stemmed roses, the only hitch is that said individual cannot accept them him/herself, but rather must send them to someone special. If that someone special is not the suspicious partner listening online, well then Houston we have a problem. What follows is ugly. Screaming, crying, general nastiness, and most recently threats of bodily harm when a guy played this game to see if another guy was into his girl, which naturally he was, otherwise they wouldn't have bothered airing it.

I've learned a lot listening to this program:
  1. There are entirely too many people in this world happy to air their dirty laundry for a couple minutes in the spotlight.
  2. There are bunches of people who should not marry, and most definitely should not procreate.
  3. There's something seriously wrong with those who listen to this shit. 
  4. This is a great example of what happens when you hang out in the wrong neighborhood.
Just like the wrong crowd can lead you astray, apparently, so can the wrong radio station. Not only have I heard stories that involve cheap whore earrings and lip gloss found in the husband's toolbox, but I now know that Kim Kardashian and Amber Rose had a huge blow up on Twitter. Thank God for Mario Lopez or I'd never stay up to date with this stuff. And, did you know that this past weekend more than a dozen teenage Sudanese boys were kidnapped by a militant group while studying for school exams? It's obviously not that important because Mario didn't mention it. I stumbled upon this bit of news while skimming the paper. It was only a short paragraph in small type in the back of the national/international news section, so don't feel bad if you missed it. 

I confess that prior to this fall from grace, I'd felt pretty damn superior to the rest of America. I read "real" literature, I watch independent films, and my television program choices are, for the most part, respectable. (Although I watch America's Next Top Model, I do fast forward through the tawdry portions.)

So why this, why now? Perhaps it's nothing more than the same sick need we have to look at car wrecks, in which case God is responsible for messing up our hard wiring. Or maybe I listen to that relationship absurdity to feel downright giddy about the blissful state of my marriage. Whatever the cause, I know it's a habit I must break if I ever want to regain my place of superiority in our great nation of fools.

If you've personally experienced an unhealthy addiction such as this, please share your story. I hope it will be more disturbing than mine. That way I'll feel better about myself. But I promise I won't judge.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Imagining a Temporary Reprieve from Adulthood

Today's one of those days when I don't want to be a grown up. I don't want to deal with those fairly
Real life. Look crappy. Cat ignores me.
mundane adult issues that are commonplace to us working parents of teenagers and pets. Stuff like:

  • Arranging for a tile pick up so the contractor can finish the kitchen. 
  • Picking up Lily from her meet and greet at the Barker Lounge, a doggie daycare facility where I can take her when the cleaners are at the house and board her when we go out of town.
  • Going out of town this weekend for our annual church retreat. Ian wants to stay home to work instead. Old enough to stay home alone? Sure. Do I trust him. Absolutely. Do I trust everyone he knows not to show up at the door with illegal goods in hand? No. Call neighbor, recent college grad now living at home. He'll hang with Ian and Lily, One problem solved.
  • Figuring out when to schedule Lily for dog training. I'll be in Italy with the Silvertones for two of the six Saturday classes. Can Rob take her on those days, or will Phillies' games be an issue? It's that time already...
  • Having that damn gum ball tree removed. It's the only tree left in the front yard and it's the one I've always hated the most. There goes another grand.
  • Deciding if we want to take in an 18-year-old refugee whose father and brother were killed by the Taliban. My parents think I should give up the dog because she's causing too much stress; imagine if I bring someone into our home who doesn't speak English. Hard to explain why the things that cause stress and major adjustments to our lives can also be the greatest gifts. 
  • Learning to vent elsewhere.
  • Managing the gender issues that frustrate me in the workplace.
  • Ian's first tutoring session and the college search process. Hoping we can get those SAT scores up just a couple hundred points. May make all the difference where merit scholarships are concerned. Villanova may not be the obvious choice after all. What fun these next 12 months will bring.
  • Working out? Don't see fitting it in tonight. That's three nights in a row. I really should work out on the weekends, but I think of that as my vacation time. And since working out isn't something I want to do, I'm definitely not doing it on vacation. 
  • Making dinner.
  • Doing laundry.
  • Figuring out how to get a crap load of work done before March 27, especially when all I want to do is cry, sleep, and write about my issues.

Goofy college girls. Not a care in the world.
So, I'd like to give up being a grown up for a few hours. Maybe days. Oh, who am I kidding? I'd like to be college-age again for at least a week, month, maybe a year.  Let's imagine I'm 19 and a sophomore at some competitive private liberal arts college in the South. One that turns out great writers.

8:00 a.m.: I've just woken from a recurring nightmare in which I'm late for a final exam, for a class that I forgot to attend for the entire semester.

I don't bother with my hair; a baseball cap will suffice. I pull on yoga pants and I don't iron my wrinkled shirt. Do I even own an iron?

Given that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, I hit the cafeteria and make myself a Belgium waffle, top it with fresh strawberries, maybe a dollop of whipped cream. No longer a freshman, no longer fearing the freshmen 15.

9:30 a.m.: Dramatic liturgy class. Looking forward to tonight's rehearsal for the musical. Surprised and delighted with my leading role!

11:00 a.m. Photography class. My digital skills are really developing (no pun intended). Definitely going to enter that photo contest.

Noon: Cheeseburger, fries, vanilla shake. I'll pay for it later. Someday I'll probably learn that I'm lactose intolerant.

1:00 p.m. Catch up on DVRd episodes of American Idol. I can't figure out why everyone disses this show. First, it's the only talent competition that's created bona fide stars, and second, Harry Connick Jr. is the man. So funny, charming, smart and talented. Not hard on the eyes, either. Actually, I'm dating this guy named Rob who has a lot of the same qualities. He could be a keeper. Rob, not Harry. I think Harry's taken.

2:00 p.m. A nap. A quick nap. I always say that, but it's always at least an hour or two.

4:00 p.m. Writing for publication class. I like that this course covers publishing for old fashioned print media, as well as social media. Still psyched that my piece about Greek Rush was picked up by the Huffington Post. Now if only National Geographic would consider the photos and article I wrote about my experience in Ghana with my friend Ann. She's going to be a great doctor someday, I just know it.

5:30 p.m. Leftover pizza. Should probably start refrigerating the leftovers, rather than leaving them on the counter for days. But hey, hasn't killed me yet.

6:00 p.m. Rehearsal starts, only going till 9. An early night. Looking forward to meeting up with the girls later.

9:00 p.m. A quick glass of Boone's Farm with Kathie & Cathie, Lisa, Amy, the Karens, and Kim and Theresa. GDIs, all of us. Love these girls. I hope we're friends well into old age. Can't imagine getting old. Hard to imagine life much past this year. Can't believe one day soon I'll have a full-time job, I'll get married. Probably have kids. Definitely want a dog and a cat. And a shore house. Would love a shore house.

Can't wait till tomorrow. Same shit, different day. Lots of new stuff to learn. Ideas to share. Fun to be had. Talents to engage. Love this life.

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's Greek Season. Rush. (Away)

Wow. It's been a whole month since I last wrote. It's nothing personal, I just haven't had much to say. And I've been whinier than usual, so I've done you a favor by not posting. Today, however, I have something "stuck in my craw" that I need to put out there, even at the risk of "wrankling" my Greek readers. And by Greek, I don't mean those whose last names end in "opolis." In this case I'm referring to those of you who were/are members of sororities or fraternities. I expect this post will be even less popular than the one in which I unintentionally offended women from the South.

For years I've considered writing on the topic of Greek life, but I just haven't taken the plunge. Yesterday, however, I read a piece in the Villanovan (the University student newspaper) that demands my response; even at the risk of wrankling some of you. The article "Sorority recruitment does not end in smiles for everyone" was written by a freshman who's been a sorority sister for all of one week. With memories of recruitment/rush still fresh in her mind, Deanna details a process she calls both "horrifying and exciting." She explains that rush requires every girl to attend nine 20-minute "rounds," one with each of the University's sororities--and then she describes the experience:
Lines of girls stood outside rooms of screaming sorority girls chanting songs about their chapters, wondering how they would be assessed once in the room and how they should act, if any different from themselves.
The rounds were exhausting, as I’m positive they were for the sororities as well. I like to consider myself a fairly social person, but I've never experienced a situation that called for so much social energy and effort in my life.
On the first day we all met two or three girls from each chapter and were expected to hold a conversation with them, about literally anything, for the full allotted time, without awkward silences. During each of these meetings all I could think about was “how is she judging me right now? The way I talk? My eye contact?” I’m still not sure I know.
By my final round I felt like a robot programmed for small talk and smiling—I was exhausted. And while that seemed like a lot of complaining, I did somehow have fun with many of the girls I met and I was happy to be able to meet so many of the faces I pass on campus every day. I didn't really know what to think when I “went to sleep” (stayed up all night re-living each conversation) on day one.
The writer goes on to report that she received a text the following morning at 4:30 a.m. telling her her schedule for day two. This is when you learn which chapters "dropped you." Deanna says, "If you thought your conversations went well, it’s difficult to not take the rejections personally." At the beginning of day two, she recalls the number of women she saw crying. By the end of that day, she was "seriously starting to wonder if recruitment was worth the social and emotional exhaustion." She continues:
I have to say, my wake-up text on the third day of rush was one of the worst rejections I’d ever felt. I now know that it was a blessing to have been dropped by the sororities that I was, but at the time I had no perspective, and I really just felt worthless. I know this isn't the intention of the sororities, and they “don’t want to drop any girl” but the reality is awful. And I didn't just feel sorry for myself. I felt horrible for my friends and even for strangers too. 
No woman should have to feel unwanted, but at the same time, how else would sorority recruitment work? 
Our writer says she couldn't be happier with where she ended up and she's glad that things worked out the way they did. She concludes, however, "I still look back on recruitment with negative memories, and I wish there was another way to do it. I think it may just be a necessary evil that some women won’t escape from with a smiling face. I know so many great women that fell through the cracks and I wish I could convince the sisters to go back on their decisions."

Wow. Where do I start?

My feelings about the Greek system have been firmly in place for 25 years, since I was a wee freshman myself. Deanna's honest evaluation of the sorority rush experience only adds to my conviction that this system is at best ludicrous, and at worst, cruel. Why any bright, personable college student would put themself through it is beyond my comprehension. And yet I have several friends who have nothing but great memories of their Greek experience. Even my husband is a former fraternity boy (though I'm not sure "former" ever applies to frat brothers).

I could go through Deanna's article line by line and comment on what I perceive to be madness, but I think I can sum it up by saying no one should voluntarily put themself in a position of being assessed/judged/evaluated unless there's a career move on the line. Don't we tell our kids, especially sensitive teenagers, to not let others determine their worth, to not let what others think or say bother them? I know that's a message I hope my kids hear, and yet, in just a few short years they may actually choose to have that very experience. And if selling yourself with fashion, a smile and small talk isn't enough, many of these groups will ask you to humiliate yourself and even risk your life to prove you have what it takes to be one of them. My husband would say it's about creating a bond, but I would say, "No thanks."

I understand that your first year in college is difficult. I know that making new friends isn't easy, and that there's something appealing about the idea of having a ready-made group of sisters or brothers to help you adjust. But no matter how hard I try, I just can't imagine allowing myself to be evaluated by my peers and waiting to hear whether I've impressed them enough that they want me to join them. Everyday in real life we're judged in some form or another; do I want to volunteer for a formalized version wherein I may be rejected not by one mean girl in high school, but by a couple dozen from different sisterhoods who are kind enough to turn me away by text message? I don't get it.

If all of that doesn't have you "rushing" for the hills, consider this:
Screaming sorority girls chanting songs about their chapters.
Enough said.