Inbetweeners: Rules

Note: This is a part of a small collection of short pieces written when I couldn’t decipher what emotion I was feeling. There I found the “in-between.” These pieces were written quickly when my brain needed an outlet and then lightly edited later.

I’m ashamed at the raw sting I feel under my eyes. It’s the second time I’ve cried in my car this week, and I’m frantically drying my eyes just in case someone looks over at me as we wait for the green light.

They probably won’t, but the “if” looms large in my mind.

I’ve trained myself to swallow my anxiety tears unless I’m in

1.) the shower,

2.) my office’s bathroom (only if it’s empty),

3.) a stairwell (it also has to be empty),

4.) my bed,

5.) or my car.

Part of my training has been tied to spending time on my makeup and scolding myself into not ruining it. I’ve broken this rule a few times when the panic attack makes me forget all of that, and I’ve cried in

1.) Dobb’s dining hall at Mizzou (RIP),

2.) the hall coordinator office at Jones (also RIP),

3.) outside of Ri Ra in Midtown,

4.) in the bus on the way to Delta Chi formal,

5.) and a Waffle House.

I hate crying almost more than I hate vomiting (which always makes me cry). Sadness (anxiety-induced or not) has been something I’ve always struggled with emoting. I feel constant guilt because my tears might as well be over spilt milk compared to the problems of others/the world.

My brain is sneaky enough to make me feel shitty about feeling shitty.

Sometimes Sunday Scaries turn into Monday Bad Moods that last all week. Sometimes a pang of despair hits the bottom of my stomach so quick that I’m numb for a second and then it’s like nothing happened. Sometimes hormones activate the tightness in my chest and the feelings I’ve tried to forget.

But most of the time I try to follow my rules. Most of the time I don’t feel the salty sting under my eyes. Most of the time the little happies hush the sads (if not for at least a little bit). Most of the time I know better.


On your marks…

It’s been nearly two months.

It’s been nearly two months since I walked across the stage to a chorus of cheering and vuvuzelas (courtesy of Naif Bartlett), giggled at Dean Kurpius and promptly returned to the mini Prosecco bottle under my chair that I smuggled into Hearnes between my boobs.

It’s been nearly two months of waking up in my pink and paisley patterned walls of my room in my family home, always slightly confused that my bed is the same from my East Campus apartment.

Trying to figure out what light I am supposed to bear.

Trying to figure out what light I am supposed to bear, tbh. I don’t know if I am part of “the wise.”

For someone who uses the phrase “I’m crying” as often as I do, it takes unexpected timing and random things to actually make me shed tears. I didn’t cry during or after either of my graduation ceremonies (my makeup looked to good to do that, honestly). I didn’t cry when hugging the best friends I made and the ladies that lived with me for the crazy school year (we had our apartment pet dildo sign a travel journal and danced to One Direction’s “Drag Me Down” instead). I even held it (mostly) together when I drove home alone in my stuffed car when sad or overly reminiscent songs popped up on my mix CDs.

A T-shirt made me cry.

An oversized, disgusting neon Mizzou Student Health T-shirt that I was pulling out for my pajamas my first night home made me sob. Classic.

Pretty accurate description of me before gathering my Tiger's Lair troops on game days.

Pretty accurate description of me before gathering my Tiger’s Lair troops on game days.

I thought I had been adequately preparing myself for the big rip of the Band-Aid. I had been slowly becoming more and more “irrelevant” in the Mizzou world. I finished out my last season in charge of the football spirit section, Tiger’s Lair, and picked my new successor. I had already split from live-in ResLife duties, said goodbye to my favorite rickety hall, Jones, and was finishing up my duties of giving tours through Defoe-Graham (partially in an ankle brace). I welcomed the new class of Summer Welcome Leaders and did my crying about missing those times last summer. Except for being honored as a member of the 2016 class of Mizzou ’39, I was successfully starting to fade into the black and gold background. I thought that made me ready.

Shoutout to the legacy of ladies that make up one of my favorite traditions.

Shoutout to the Dobbs area and the legacy of ladies that make up one of my favorite traditions.

But, in actuality, that was my least favorite question to answer. I could easily converse with people that asked “What are you doing after you graduate?” and tell them how I wasn’t exactly sure but applying to this and that and had confidence that I would figure it out. I would always fumble when asked “Are you ready to graduate?” Of course, I was ready to leave the stress and schedule of classes and extracurriculars. I’ve always been slightly apprehensive of approaching change, but this was one I knew was coming and was too busy to even fully worry about it. So, instead of letting myself even contemplate that question more, I just ripped the Band-Aid off by leaving behind a lifestyle I was comfortable with less than 12 hours after receiving my diploma cover.

Although I would spend some days at home shaking and slightly holding my breath to try to stifle a panic attack or hopping on my bike to ride miles away from job applications, I don’t think I could’ve done it a different way. I’ve been trying to write this post for a couple weeks now, but there have been times where I couldn’t really grasp what all the different transitionary feelings meant. I wasn’t always sure what I was scared, excited, anxious or ready for. I just knew I felt different.

But, I’ve been lucky to have such a supportive family that let me come back home and gave me time to figure things out. I’ve been lucky to have friends who sent me job postings and wished me luck for interviews. I’ve been lucky to land a job only a couple months after graduating.

Looking at my little magazine children.

Looking lovingly at my little magazine children.

But, even when that landed in my lap I didn’t know exactly what to do with it. It’s a job, I should just want that, right? The people were cool and the company vibe seemed right, but it was different than what I thought people thought I should be doing and in a place I had only spent a maximum of a week in. Part of me didn’t think I deserved the offer and that I wouldn’t be good enough. It took two days of walking around Columbus, Ohio, and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race for me to really listen to my gut and accept the job.

Completing my education has taught me a lot more in the past couple months than probably my last month of college. Things don’t always have to be exactly what you imagined to be right. And I’ll always be kind of scared of change, but I know that in the end it will all work out. I didn’t work my butt off for four years to not feel like I deserve this. So, whether I am completely ready or not, I’m going to start this new race.

Creative Class Reflection 4: Metaphor Art

As a journalist and writer, metaphors are old friends of mine. I am used to explaining the difference of metaphors and similes and avoiding the cliche ones. But, in my Creativity class we were pushed into exploring the cliches and depth of metaphors with school as a factory, business and garden. It was pretty easy brainstorming with my group what works were the vehicle to connect school and the different words, but then we were prompted to put it into action. Much like an earlier class exercise, we had to create “machines” with our bodies and sounds to exemplify what these different metaphors represented. The business/school machine was hectic and anxiety-ridden. The factory/school machine was monotonous and eerily quiet. The garden/school machine was joyful and childish. All of these machines were accurate to different parts of my schooling life, though. Throughout my education I have felt nurtured, pushed to perfection or just a small cog in a bigger thing.

Creativity works in a lot of metaphors because of how intangible it can be at times. Creating human “machine” is one way to make it tangible and to show how creative thoughts can be put into action. Besides the many theatric activities we do in class to explore our creativity, we were asked last week to sit and draw our creativity/creative process. As a lover of crayons (which I pronounce crahn in my so-called “Chicago accent”), I was very excited by this opportunity. I was surprised how quickly I started drawing and how I didn’t even really think or plan it out, which is very unlike how I do anything. My creativity drawing included all my inspiration, such as magazines, my family, my logical to-do lists, music and dancing. We got to do an art gallery walk of all of our creative drawings and I was floored by how one of my classmates drew a thought map that almost exactly replicated how I visualize my creativity. I thought I would be embarrassed to have other people see my drawing, but when I set it up I didn’t feel nervous or anything. It felt very freeing to be able to let my mind wander on the paper through the waxy crayons. 

Metaphors don’t have to be creative crutch holding you to overused ideas. They allow you to connect yourself and your experiences to other people and things. Sometimes they can create the best masterpieces.

Creativity Reading 1: Fly Between

Nearly everyone knows the myth of Icarus. That Greek goof created some wings with wax and was warned to not fly too close to the sun. His ambition got the best of him and his high heights made his wings melt so that he fell to his death. Parents use Icarus as an idiom to warn their children of getting too ahead of themselves and Bastille even sings about it in one of his catchy pop songs.

But, people always forget one part of the mythical story. Seth Godin brings that part back into view in his book. We forget that Icarus was also warned to not fly too low so that the water doesn’t get in his wings and drags him down. This missing piece of the story many of us know well slams into our brains that we shouldn’t stand up, but we should stay down and stay safe. But safe isn’t always right. Safe can be restrictive. Safe can keep you from your true potential.

Safe also doesn’t allow for your creativity to flow. My creativity class through discussion of this text and other things has taught me (and the rest of my classmates) that you can’t keep your comfort zone so firmly in your safety zone if you want to grow. You have to allow yourself to mess up and make mistakes in order to figure out creative ideas. Monotony and compliance breed a plateau of ideas and whatever works with the systems in place. The education system has taught us to stay low to the water, almost too safe so that we drown in the the standards of right and wrong, instead of questioning and prodding for new ideas. But, breaking out of that rut is when change can happen. I am already thankful for this class being the wind in my wings that help lift me away from the fake safety of the see so I can see more than just the same reflection in the waves.

S to the Dub

I almost didn’t show up to the last info session (I made sure I sat all the way in the back).

I almost didn’t turn in my application.

I almost just said “F*** it” and wasn’t going to show up to my first (let alone, my second and third) interview.

But, third times the charm, right?

Right, even though I accidentally missed that charming call telling me that I was, indeed, a Summer Welcome Leader and that I needed to begin my journey tramping around the campus grounds to reveal the collective of humans now known as SWondoro.

Back when we barely knew each other at Venture Out.

Back when we barely knew each other at Venture Out.

I went into this attempt at what is know as one of the “most coveted positions at Mizzou” with, to put it nicely, a lot of sass. First time around, I was much like the overly eager, still very lost freshman that joined me for my first round interview this past January. I bounced back from not getting it fast because I knew I was a baby still. Second time around, I had been told that this time was for me, that I knew exactly what they wanted and I made myself that way. Everything was calculated, everything was mechanized, and everything was done after a second round interview, one round shorter than the year before. This past year, the third time, I had become hardened to the Mizzou-rah-rah exterior to the involvement hierarchy that I knowingly was a part of. So, I told them that in my interviews. I emphasized my feministic side and weirdness and how I didn’t play into what it took to be Mizzou famous. I quite literally bitched about the University. But, it worked.

The ladies being SWondorks at my second home, Faurot Field.

The ladies being SWondorks at my second home, Faurot Field.

Enough about me, because that isn’t why I wanted the job. The job is about the incoming Tigers and their families. The job is about me being my awkward, strangely old in comparison, Mizzou-loving self for students to feel comfortable around and learn from. It is about calming the fears and slowing the rotors of the helicopter parents and guests and reassuring them that yes, me, the tiny female in front of them in a khaki skort, felt safe on campus. It is about representing just one little corner of Mizzou but opening the doors to all the other ones, prompting them to take a peek and find their fit. It is also all about being the little cogs that complete the machine known as Summer Welcome, from the glamorous job of whipping a golf cart to the sometimes mind-numbing desk duties. But, we are the faces that they would see first, the faces that (cheesy, I know) welcomed them to Mizzou. It allowed me to continue to extend myself as a little black and gold resource with a nice dose of substance behind the gleam of the gold name tag.

The Children Went SWimming.

The Children Went SWimming.

The biggest perk of this job wasn’t the visibility, the room and board, or even the dancing, pizza and ice cream every night. It was the 33 people I got to work with everyday. Though I scoffed at the former Summer Welcome leaders coos about “meeting your best friends” through the training and Summer, they were sort of right. Sure, you bond better with some people over others because human differences and similarities and all that personality jazz, but these leaders truly became the dysfunctional family that I needed this summer. They elected me their “VeronMom” and they taught me a thing or two about how leaders come in all different forms. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry during all the sappy end of the summer videos, pictures, etc. and I didn’t. But, here I am, rereading 33 notes of encouragement and love while listening to the song that has been passed down throughout the years for SWithdrawal and crying when people say cute things in our GroupMe.

It’s been a week since our last Freshman Session and it’s been weird being outside of the Summer Welcome bubble, the one I knew I was stuck in all along. It’s hard to explain the hours, pace or environment of the job, though fellow leader Steven tried with a Snapchat story. Through the stupid arguments, annoying guests and uninterested students, there was still a lot of light in our days because of our mission, because of each other and because of our crazy schedule that shoved us into rooms, hallways and napping under tables together. I didn’t cry when I packed up my things from the ResHall room I had been living in since the end of May or when I gave hugs to people in the circle driveway. I didn’t cry then because I knew we weren’t ever saying goodbye to each other. What I am (and probably 33 others) struggling with is how I have to say goodbye to the experiences and opportunities of “Welcoming” that are only created in that bubble and the environment of 34 people interacting so deeply. But, none of us have to say goodbye to the impact that those experiences had on the people with served through the program, as well as each other.

As we all continue to chirp on our GroupMe, SnapChats and other social media outlets about the experiences we had over the past months, remember how lucky we were and what presence we hold on campus. I realized that even with me being slightly out of touch (#Classof2019 taught me a lot about Internet sensations, though), students looked up to me and my role meant a lot to them. Though I don’t know if I will ever completely feel as big as maybe they thought I was, that just pushes me to take those feelings, encouragement, goals, and missions with me for my final year at Mizzou. I can’t welcome thousands of people to a huge transition in their lives and not be able to welcome myself to move on and continue to grow and strive to be the best I can be. I challenge the rest of SWondoro (and my fellow Tigers and friends) to do what we do best–Strive.



I’ve done my fair share of crying in dorm rooms, possibly while Coldplay’s “Fix You” plays in the background, typically over J-school stress. But, this time tears started to trickle down my face as I stared at the bare, blue walls with their signature white splotches of repair paint, known lovingly as “clouds” to former residents (including me) of Jones 205. With a quick “ok” or two on my room inventory list, my supervisor, Adam, asked for my keys and ushered me out of my room for one last goodbye. So, maybe this seems a tad melodramatic for a 57-year-old residence hall upon its closing for demolition. But the residence at 502 Kentucky Blvd. was more than just my place of work (and living) as a RA for the past year and a half. It’s been my “place,” my community, my home.


Honestly, I didn’t ever think I would become so attached to the old tower known for its all-women, 90 percent Greek Life population. I was coming into the ResLife pool as a non-Greek (never anti-Greek!) journalism major from a predominantly male floor (with no Greek woman) in Schurz and a background of only living with boys (my three brothers). I was hoping to be fished out for a job as a Journalism FIG Peer Advisor, but I got the news that I was the 5th floor PA for the Textile & Apparel Management FIG. I wasn’t upset (I mean, I posted an excited status about it). But, more than anything, I was interested in how I would fit in a community I had no experience with teaching a class that was about my minor that I hadn’t even declared at that point.


Before I even laid eyes on the lovely ladies I would spend my first year in Jones with, I knew I would be in good care with the Hall Coordinator of the building. Adam Callahan was the instructor of my candidate class for ResLife (i.e. the pre-interview) and I knew from the get-go that he was the kind of supervisor for me. He became more than just a supervisor as we bonded over feminism, Dobbs omelets and “Blank Space” being my theme song. He helped push me to help myself, as well as sing Meghan Trainor’s “Lips Are Movin” at the top of his lungs while we sorted paperwork. He has seen me cry and dealt with me when I laughed at his expense (especially when we shot a ball from his cow toy at him). I don’t think my experience in Jones would be as amazing as it was if it weren’t for him.


A great director needs a star-studded cast, and the last two staffs of Jones have been just that. The last all-female staff gave Jones a run for its money. We didn’t lack personality, that’s for sure. We knew each other almost too well at times and worked as a team off of our pure chemistry and knowledge of each other’s strengths. We were a ResLife force to be reckoned with, but we always knew how to have a good time. If anything, we were laughing and singing (Usually Beyoncé, like the badass women that we are) as we did our jobs. Staff meetings usually turned into giggling and Adam tuning our “girl talk” out. These women helped show me what strong women can be. Jones Love was and continues to be real for my lady partners-in-crime. Here’s to you Bailey, Rebecca, Emily (and then Tracy), Zasmine, Kirsten, Alex and Tarae. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/ab7/56830660/files/2014/12/img_2822.jpg


I came in this year as the only old Jones staff member, taking the role as “Jones Mom” of sorts to the 11 other members of my staff, with seven of our total 12 being completely new to ResLife. The proved from our first couple of team on-calls that they were as ready as they could be for our closing building shenanigans that our newly coed resident populous got into. Shoutout to Tanner for being my other half for weird on-calls with lots of Vomit Comet “snow” even though I scared you. We were known throughout training for dancing to “Black Widow” on a JamBox speaker as we walked from building to building, which is nearly perfect for me. I got to work with my BESTAROO, Ryan, as well as my former resident, Autumn, to rule the best community known as Two-Thirds. I got to grow friendships with lovely ResLife ladies from Hatch (that’s Sarah and Layla), which was grand. It wasn’t the same sisterhood as before, but we we were a crazy, dysfunctional family, and we were there for each other. Much love to my Jones babies: Autumn, Ryan, Caiti, Martha, Tanner, Eva, #Joof, Garrett, Sarah, Layla and Josh.


Jones has taught me a lot through the residents I have gotten to work with. My first year disappointed me with some of the stereotypical catty behavior that I was warned about. Some women on my floor were textbook examples of privileged white women that were completely ignorant to their privileges, which frustrated me to the point of tears a couple times. But, I had ladies who were lovely, kind and even agreeable with me when I explained slut shaming and asking them to put on a jacket when going out on a cold night. Those are the ones I keep in touch with and miss. Plus, the throw away attitude of the privileged allowed me to obtain a Mac accessory or two and some Ray Bans (trash and lost/found is always fair game). My second year brought me residents and a community that I loved. My FIGlets, though some of them were disrespectful and showed privilege problems at times, were great and I grew close with many of them. The men and women of my community all became fast friends and leaders in the hall. I would talk about life with the ladies, play Super Smash Bros. with the guys, talk hockey and give advice to anybody who asked. There were problem residents and general shenanigans throughout the building that the Dobbs area knows well, and I had to scare my residents out of the lounge a couple times, but they are a group that I will definitely miss.



I am so lucky to have been exposed to the deep historical ties that Jones has and I am happy to be apart of it. There are few that love the building and the Jones staff history like I do, and I have had the great honor to work with them. But, it is history and with the wake of 2015, Jones’ reign has ended. I am sad, but happy I got to be a part of it. I get to longingly look at the construction from my new digs in Center, teasing me with memories on the 2nd and 5th floors. Thank you Jones for being flawed and weird and crazy and perfect all the same. Jones Love forever.



Michael Sam was a first team All-American player as well as top defensive player in the SEC.

Michael Sam was a first team All-American player as well as top defensive player in the SEC.

Sunday, Feb. 9. That date was familiarized in my brain because of its reference in multiple planners and iCal for my weekend General Assignment shift at the Columbia Missourian. A seemingly sleepy Sunday that started with me flipping through the first 5 pages of the MUPD blotter making sure that there really was not anything for me get a story out of. I then came back to work on a life story of Polly Anna Dunavant that eventually got pushed aside for the life story of Wynna Faye Elbert.

Wynna Faye Elbert worked closely with fellow deceased activist Almeta Crayton and was known for her work with the First Ward, especially Douglass Park and the Blind Boone House. She worked to preserve the history of the African-American community in Columbia and created many programs for them in her position of recreations supervisor for the Parks and Recreations Department of Columbia.

Her story became my priority because of her prominence in the community. I worked to get in contact with some co-workers and friends to get a little taste of her life to put something together to put on the site. The community needed to know.

The ACE desk became my perch for the hell that was about to break loose.

The phone rang. Adam, my Assistant City Editor, picked up as I tapped my rings on my laptop, impatiently waiting to finish my editing session. My antsy pants had come on around 7 p.m. after being there since noon. The click of the phone halted my tapping as Adam told me to go let someone in the north door to the building.

I skittered down the stairs to let in Tom Warhover, our Executive Editor, who greeted me with a “How are you this evening?”

My standard “Decent” was the reply as I bounded up the stairs to return to the roll-y chair on Adam’s right.

The ICE Desk came to life as they all started exclaiming, “Check New York Times, they broke the story. Michael Sam came out as gay!”

Tom started commanding the one sport guy to get his fellow sports desk mates to come in as Sports Editor Greg Bowers bust through the doorway.

Being the crazy football fan that I am, an all too typical “Oh my god!” escaped my lips as Adam flipped back and forth to different tabs to the New York Times story, Twitter and ESPN.

“I don’t even care about football,” he said nervously as he clicked.

“Oh, I do. Football is my thing,” I replied as I freaked out at this strangely familiar sounding news. It felt a little like deja vu to me hearing the words “Michael Sam is gay.” I still can’t place how I knew about it before the blast of news Sunday night, but it sounded too familiar for me to not have encountered this information before.

The rest of the sports desk filled up as Greg and Tom barked orders for people to finish stories that should’ve been done, getting photos from the photo bubble and adding to the django file that had been under construction for awhile.

“They are stressing me out… and I don’t even like football,” Adam repeated as he flipped tabs as Tom threw up the first post on the site.

The cacophony of frantic, near yelling phone calls, mutterings of “fuck” and “shit” intertwined with news terms under bated breath  and clomps of salty snow boots back and forth in the room was fascinating as I spaced out from my story. Tom joked with me on his one occasion of using “frickin'” as a replacement.

“Care to comment on Michael Sam coming out?” was the broken record playing as the sports reporters rushed around the room trying to space themselves out from each other to frantically phone interview sources.

“We’ll have Sam on the phone in 30! His agent said we can call him back if he doesn’t call by 8:30!” one of them bellowed talking the phone only ever so slightly down from their ear.

The Mizzou Store had an unfortunately placed banner ad over the the story in the Missourian that Tom was on the phone with the ads guy to try to get taken out. The ad had a football figure that the general public could just use as placeholder for Sam if they felt the need. The main worry was that we weren’t sure if the Mizzou Store would want to be so closely connected to the story right yet, and we couldn’t take that chance.

“It’s your decision, I just have to live with it,” Tom as he hung up the phone.

He turned to me and asked about my story and I told him that it was about Wynna Faye.

“She has done a lot for the community,” he nodded as I explained our rush to get something out for that reason. “Thank you for doing that,” he said. Her story was still important and he slightly apologized for the craziness that might overshadow it.


Sure, I had been in the newsroom for over 8 hours, I had left my Alternative Break Co-site leader without my help for a site meeting, my FiberOne bar was only doing so much to tide me over, and it might be all for nought because my quick little story would whimper in comparison to the package they were completing. But, I didn’t feel sorry for myself (maybe my stomach a bit, and definitely my co-site leader). (I still got a budget shout out for my story).

I got to experience the side of news that I loved. I got to get that second-hand adrenaline and watch a story be pieced together, like a chaotic, timed puzzle. I saw the human side and the mechanical side. It was real, live journalism that I saw.

It was the makings of the storm and the rainbow that broke through the clouds and it was crazy and beautiful.