Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Letter to the Editor

I said I was going to do it... and I did.  I've never actually written a letter to the editor in response to anything (and those who know me, know that lots of articles actually piss me off).  But this is something that I know.  And something that I love.  

Here is what I wrote in response to the article: Should Colleges Get Rid of Fraternities?

To Ms. Robbins:

I could not be more offended by your piece in the article “Should Colleges Get Rid of Fraternities?”.  I am a sorority woman.  I am a university graduate and an alumna of an NPC sorority.  I was an active member of my sorority – serving on my executive board and also serving as the President of the Panhellenic Council at my university.  As an alumna – I have volunteered my time as Chapter Advisor and Panhellenic Advisor to my local chapter.  I am a well-educated, successful woman who is still actively involved in my sorority. 

I do not deny that poor choices have been made by fraternity and sorority members over the years – and most especially recently. These fraternities and sororities have deserved every punishment that is coming to them. But lumping all fraternities and sororities into the same category is simply not fair.  According to the National Panhellenic Conference website - each year, NPC-affiliated collegians and alumnae donate more than $5 million to worthy causes, provide $2.8 million in scholarships to women, and volunteer 500,000 hours in their communities.  Does that sound like the works of terrible organizations that no one should be a part of?  And that’s just sororities – fraternities have amazing stats too, just like the ones listed alongside your article.    

You ask How many students have to die before universities step in and protect the young adults whom parents entrust with their care?”  The answer should be zero.  No students should die at college.  When parents drop their children off at the university steps, they should be able to trust that their children will come home safely.  But that is not the world that we live in.  It’s estimated that 1,825 students between the ages of 18-24 die yearly from binge drinking.  That number is too high and it’s tragic. 

But I have watched hazing take place across all college organizations.  If one of the drunk freshman that I watched jog through a crowded shopping center in a Speedo in 30 degree weather last Christmas as ‘swim team initiation’ had an unfortunate accident and died – would that have been enough to make people take a look at hazing across the board?  It’s time that people realize it’s not just Greeks who make mistakes and poor decisions.  Just two weeks ago, a man was sentenced to four years in jail for the 2011 hazing death of a FAMU drum major.   

With regards to the study that fraternity men are twice as likely to rape – are you also using that logic to suggest that we ban sports teams from college campuses?  UVA, Vanderbilt, FSU, University of Montana, William and Mary – these colleges are just a tiny sampling of schools that have had athletes’ accused of and/or found guilty of rape.  Take a look at the professional athletes who have been accused and/or found guilty of rape post-college – Ben Roethlisberger and Darren Sharper just to name a couple.

Just yesterday, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton praised the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity for fighting sexual assault.  She must not have seen the report that those men were twice as likely to rape someone.  

On another note, shame on you for not giving your fellow women any credit. 

“As long as fraternities exist, sororities will revolve around them, focusing their considerable womanpower on demeaning activities like wooing Homecoming or Greek Week escorts rather than women’s activism and empowerment.” 

You are clearly a fan of womanpower, but you think so little of all sorority women. We empower girls through our various philanthropies – many which focus on working with young girls, fighting women’s health issues, and even creating foundations of our own for leadership development and academic excellence in women.  Our friendships alone are testament to womanpower.  I have been out of college for 10 years and my sorority sisters are still my best friends.  When my fiancĂ© was killed almost four years ago – my sisters traveled from all over the state and country to be with me at his funeral.  Even girls who I wouldn’t consider part of my ‘inner circle’ dropped everything in their lives to sit there and hold my hand during the worst time of my life – because we were bonded by the sisterhood and rituals that you make light of.  You have no way of understanding what that is like because you never took the time to take a sorority seriously – you went in looking for anything bad and you made (and continue to make) a mockery of what we love.    

I have great friends who are fraternity men.  They are smart, driven, successful, wonderful men. Some of these men would not be the men that they are today without fraternity life – it taught them invaluable leadership skills and expected excellence of them.  It taught them how to grow from boys into great men who I am proud to call my friends.  To call for a universal shut down of fraternities shows your ignorance into what a fraternity really is. 

I have read your book.  I read it when it first came out as I needed to know what the anti-Greek argument was going to be as I headed into recruitment in one of the most important Greek life leadership roles at my university.  When I read this Wall Street Journal article, I also wiped the dust off your book on my shelf.  For some reason, I have held onto it through all these years.  Your book and this article do nothing but perpetuate the stereotypes that I, and all the Greek leaders that I have ever known, spent all of their college years (and many years after) fighting against. 

Greeks are not the people that you make them out to be.  And as sorority women, I am proud to say that we will continue to harness our 3.5 million members towards vital causes.  And we will do it alongside fraternities who support vital causes of their own.  I am, and always will be, proud to be Greek. 

Danielle Molle

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Rules of Attraction (Or Lack There Of)

Attraction is a funny beast.  It's one of those things that sometimes it's there - and sometimes, it just isn't.  And it's SO RIDICULOUS. (And no, this is not just because I got sucked into a 'Married at First Sight' marathon and now I'm overanalyzing EVERY relationship I've ever had.)

I have been dating for at least 17 years - ever since the 8th grade when my very first boyfriend held my hand on the bus.  Our relationship lasted the three hour bus ride home from the state capital during that particular stage in life when having a boyfriend was everything that a girl needed to be popular.  Pretty sure we broke up immediately afterwards - I probably had one of my friends call one of his friends and break the bad news to him.  And that still didn't stop him from trying to feel me up during an innocent back rub during freshman year.  And sophomore year.  And probably senior year too.  (For the record - it never worked.)

During the last few years, I have gone on a lot of dates.  I'm not sure it's more than the average single person (it's actually probably not - I have friends that have gone on LOTS of dates.  Like multiple dates in a day kind of dating) - I'm not like that.  But I've still gone on my fair share of dates.  And have spent even more time talking to various dudes via messenger and text.  And generally - I can tell within a few short messages if this is something that has potential or not.

I don't mean that to sound so judgmental. But seriously. It is baffling to me how someone who is great on paper - handsome, successful, charismatic - can fall so flat on my attraction scale, while on the other hand, I can be so crazy attracted to someone who I only have a few hilarious text message exchanges with.  Is chemistry truly a result of a physical meeting?  Or is it something that we can develop before we actually lay eyes on each other?

These are the ultimate questions of dating.  How much 'foreplay' is too much?  When you meet someone via online dating (or really - any relationship where a face-to-face meeting isn't immediately possible), how long can you text, message, call, and flirt before the spark wears itself out? If the spark isn't there during initial contact - should you even bother meeting?  And heaven forbid - what if the spark is so good during the foreplay that it puts too much pressure on for the actual meeting and you blow it?  What then?

Seriously.  I'm exhausted just thinking about all these questions.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Girl Walks Into A Bar...

Alright... so it wasn't a bar.  It was a wedding.  And really, the heading should be 'Two Girls Walk Into A Wedding in the EXACT SAME DRESS'.  It's like every girls nightmare come true - no one ever wants to be the one who shows up in the same thing as someone else (it's bad enough when you are a bridesmaid and forced to match up to 10 other peeps).  Well... nightmare realized.

A guy friend asked me how my weekend as a bridesmaid was.  Well... it was awesome.
B-squad bridesmaids - just in case you need backups.   
For the record - one of the most annoying things you can do is walk up to a set of girls at a wedding and ask 'do you know that you're wearing the same dress?'.  Nope.  Hadn't noticed.  Unless you see that one of us with a seeing eye dog - it's probably safe to assume that we are aware.

Although it was mildly annoying - there is no one that I would rather match than this girl.  She obviously has great taste.

The wedding was one of my sorority sisters and while I have expounded on the joys of being a Gamma Phi Beta before - let me just do so again.  My life would be drastically different if I had not walked into the house and met these women.

Yes.  We're all wearing green and blue.  It was apparently a Seahawks themed event.
Unbeknownst to the bride and groom of course.  
No matter how much things change - marriage, kids, death, divorce - some things never change.  We're all older and wiser (okay - it's guaranteed that we're older.  Wiser is still up for debate.).  We can still reminisce about the old days - but we know when we've hit our limit (or most of us do - some of us still end up kissing boys outside the wedding.  Me?  Never.  I'm an adult.)  We are there for each other thru thick and thin, that's just how we roll.  It's like a marriage vow - only without the benefits.

Joining a sorority was the best decision that I ever made.  Not just because I can now call myself a sorority girl for the rest of my existence (you are welcome future children!) but because the girls that I met will be stuck with me for the rest of forever.  For. Eh. Ver.  (Just like the Sandlot folks, just like the Sandlot...)

In other news.  I caught the bouquet.  So... stay tuned for updates in that realm.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hawaii... Part 3 (And 4. And Maybe 5)

Well, my Hawaii adventure is officially over.  I seriously think I'm having withdrawals from the beach and the sunshine.  And I'm already agonizing over losing my tan.


Part 3: No one told me to bring long johns.  

What they should really put in the Big Island guidebook is that you probably won't see any actual lava.  Don't get me wrong... seeing the glow of lava at night was pretty darn cool.  But besides the illusion of lava, we really didn't see anything but rocks.  A lot of rocks.  So. Many. Rocks.

Walking the lava rock wasteland.
The other thing that should be in the guidebook?  How bloody, freaking cold it was on the volcano side of the mountain.  At least we brought sweatshirts and wore yoga pants.  It could have been worse - I saw people grossly unprepared.  That gift shop must make a killing off of sweatshirt sales.  It's probably the only place in all of Hawaii that sells more sweatshirts than anything else.

We saw almost every major volcano site on the Big Island.  We even saw where the lava flowed into the transfer station. For those of you who don't know what a transfer station is - it's a dump.  We saw hardened lava at the dump.  That's not in the guidebook either.  

Bucket List Item #394: See a volcano.  


Part 4: We would have been terrible Vikings.  

Let's just get back to the fact that the ocean is terrifying.  The creatures that swim in the ocean are ginormous and sneak up on you.  I'm prepared to handle the predators of land - I can hear a bear crashing through the woods a mile away (okay... that may be a little exaggeration) but you get the idea.  Sharks?  Those suckers sneak up on you.  Urchins?  They just sit there like silent jagged rocks.  Manta rays?  Don't even get me started... 

While my first snorkeling experience didn't exactly go swimmingly (pun intended), my second was much better.  We look a sea kayak tour that included some snorkel time -  and after a serious internal battle (one in which my body was pretty adamant about remaining in the kayak and my brain was saying 'stop being a baby'), I jumped out of the kayak and snorkeled around a bit.  Actually... it went something more like this: put feet over edge of kayak. Pull them back in. Get yelled at by Paige for being a weenie.  Put feet back out - touch them to the water and try not to think of the story of the guy having his legs bitten off by a shark out of a kayak (thanks for that, Maui guy).  Fling self into water (yup... just as graceful as it sounds).  Immediately try to curl up into a floating version of the fetal position.  Realize I'll drown if I don't swim.  Tentatively swim.  Finally... snorkel.  I definitely never let the boat get more than 20 feet away from me.  But I did it.  And I didn't cry.  

Proof that I was, at one point, totally submerged in the ocean.
And not because I was drowning.  Two thumbs up!

Sea kayaking on the other hand was something COMPLETELY different than what I've gotten used to doing around here.  This was for several reasons:  
  1. There are waves.
  2. There is seasickness.  
  3. There are shadows under the water that you are convinced are manta rays (and come on, at least one of them must have been something slightly more terrifying than a rock). 
  4. We were terrible at rowing in tandem.  
Oh well... you can't be good at everything. 
When no one else is on the water to take your picture - selfies become your only option. 
We're in a sea cave. (If you sing it to the tune of 'I'm On A Boat', it gets way more exciting) 
Things we learned while on our kayaking adventure?
We would have made terrible vikings.
 Rowing in tandem?  Not our thing. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hawaii... Part 2 (Or... How I Puked in a Hawaii Costco Parking Lot)

I realized as I typed 'Part 2' that there may be many parts to this series... I'll be like the never ending Fast and the Furious franchise that is already up to like 18 or something mind-boggling like that. Although I legitimately would like to see the newest edition to the franchise - mostly as a tribute to  Paul Walker, who I had a gigantic crush on after the first movie - which I saw at least 5 times in the movie theater and totally fan-girled out over the cars at Universal Studios when I was a senior in high school. I almost wish I had access to those pictures just so I could share the total dorkiness that was me at 18... almost.

Anyways... back around to Hawaii...

Hawaii is still beautiful and I am still a shade of cherry tomato red.  Apparently my ability to rock a tan abandoned me when I became a Seattle resident. Fingers crossed that the latest in my battle with the glowing orb in the sky is a tan tomorrow.

PBR smells like college.
In other news... I SNORKELED!!!  And I didn't drown, cry, or freak out.  Okay... maybe I freaked out a little bit.  But the lifeguard didn't have to swim out to get me - so we're going to go ahead and call it a win.  I'll be the first to admit that I didn't love the general snorkeling experience.  There's something unnatural about breathing through a plastic tube with your face in the water.  My depth perception was all out of whack and so fish that were 20 feet away looked like they were right in my face - it's freaky.  When I saw a sea urchin that was no less than 12inches across, I was done.

So while yesterday started with some innocent snorkeling - it ended with a night out on the town.  For those of you who are familiar with my schedule - you are aware that generally my bedtime is early.  If I'm up til 10, I start to get concerned that I'll be all yawn-y the next day.  And I wish I could say that this only applies to 'school nights' but it doesn't.  It's all the time.  I like bed.  And sleeping.  It's a thing.  8 hours of sleep and I are a match made in heaven.  

Let's just say that I didn't get 8 hours of sleep yesterday.  I probably didn't even get 4.

We shut down the bar.  We made friends with locals.  We convinced a guy who wouldn't go away that we were a lesbian couple here for our wedding (to which he still didn't get the hint and hung around telling us how beautiful our love was and getting teary eyed over the fact that he isn't married. True story.).  We played giant Jenga.  We drank all the beers.

Today we went to one of the beautiful white sand beaches near Kona. (What I have learned is that Hawaii is the newest of the Hawaiian Islands and is full of lava.  Most of the beaches are really rocky because the rocks haven't broken down over hundreds of years into sand.  Just a quick knowledge bomb for you.) And I woke up this morning feeling like I had been hit by a Mack Truck.  Apparently 72 IPAs and two Gilligan's Girl coconut cocktails will do that to you.

So a little known fact about me is that I get terribly motion sick - the back seat of cars, rides at amusement parks, probably boats on the ocean - all of them make me want to hurl.  Well.  Today I did.  In the parking lot of Costco.  Awesome.  Vacation high point.  But, like Paige pointed out, at least it wasn't in the parking lot of a Walmart.  TouchĂ©.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hawaii... Part 1

First off, I know that I've been a terrible blogger for the last year.  I've had a lot of personal things going on that have made it hard for me to be collected and put my thoughts down on paper and definitely, I have not been funny.  So... moving on. 

Hawaii!!!  The land of secret beaches in the middle of lava flows. 
I have been talking with one of my best friends for at least two years about taking a vacation somewhere - we've talked about London and Paris, all over the United States, and finally, Hawaii.  Paige is one of my sorority sisters from college and we are very much like two peas in a pod - minus that she carries a gun for work and I'm typically accessorizing the crap out of myself.  Well... she turned 30 this year, and I never took a 30th birthday trip - so we decided to make Kona, Hawaii, our big trip.  It's perfect - her family has a condo here and so basically all we had to do was get here.  Perfect.
She brought me a lei at the airport!  HAWAII!!!!
I've never been to Hawaii.  Growing up, our family vacations consisted of wherever we could go in the camper (i.e. NOT Hawaii).  I did get to spend a lot of time camping on a beach in Mexico - something that most people will never get to do (namely because now people get beheaded for even stepping foot in parts of Mexico).

Even growing up in California, I was never much of a beach kid.  I can't remember ever spending much time there (with the exception of Mexico).  I'm sure we went, but I just can't really remember it.  I have a vague memory of camping near the beach with my parents and my cousin and it being cold and rainy the entire time.  That being said - this could just be some dream I had once and it never actually happened.

Moral of the story?  I haven't spent much time in the ocean.  One time, in Mexico, a kid camping near us stepped on a sea urchin and impaled himself with no less than 70 quills in his foot (that's why you wear water shoes kids!).  It led to my first child-sized anxiety attack - in a less than ideal location - a boogie board in the middle of a deep tide pool.  There's some debate in my family about what happened next - but the general consensus is that I screamed my head off until my mom crawled out on the rocks and rescued me (thanks Mom).  I was 8. Add in the discovery of movies like Jaws and the ocean has been ruined for me since.

I am now 31 and am generally consider myself to be relatively tough. Well... tell that to the sea turtle who scared the shit out of me yesterday.  (And yes, he was 20 yards away - something I didn't know when Paige said 'Oh look - a sea turtle!')  Here's the thing about the ocean:  it is TERRIFYING.  For those of you who think sharks are the only scary things out there - you'd be wrong.  I have discovered my new greatest fear: manta rays (no - not manatees - I've conquered that fear - or at least laid it to wait until my next Florida or Puerto Rico trip).

See.  Terrifying.  And no, I didn't take this picture.  I will never in this lifetime be that close to one of these sea monsters. 
Manta rays are like the giant bats of the sea (and I don't particularly love the bats of land either) and here in Hawaii, they grow to a wingspan of something like 12 feet (sometimes bigger).  12 feet.  12 FEET.  We saw one at a distance yesterday - I mean a LONG distance, like 100 yards - and while it was beautiful, it also made my stomach jump into my throat.  People do night scuba diving with these creatures here and let them swim all around them - they are attracted to the flashlights.  Hell to the no.  Those people be crazy.

I'm looking forward to trying snorkeling (yes, I'm 31 and haven't snorkeled since I was probably 8) but I'm also terrified that I'll have a full fledged freakout in the water.  Water creatures are squirrely and the current adds to the mystery of where they are going.  On top of that, I'm not a super great swimmer - I can swim to save my life and the life of someone who is drowning - but besides that - not really great.  I didn't grow up swimming... that's not a thing we did in Montana a lot.  Floating the river?  Yes.  Jumping off the bridge into the river?  Yes.  Swimming?  No.

Turns out that I'm much better with scary land animals.  Maybe it's because we're on the same playing field.  When I get into the water, I very much feel how a fish out of water must feel.  I have been raised to know how to handle running into a bear in the woods - but put me in the water with a sea turtle and I have no idea what to do.  And before you say it, those suckers bite - I've seen it on NatGeoWild.

So... fingers crossed for my impending snorkeling experience.  I've borrowed an underwater camera so I can chronicle the entire experience - complete with scared face underwater selfies. Maybe I'll even get a picture or two of fishies.

I should be off - Hawaii is a land where everyone gets up at the crack of dawn and sitting out here on the lanai (can I please start calling my patio that?),  I'm pretty sure I just saw a small child out jogging with her parents. That probably means its time to get my butt in gear. Unfortunately, no one that I'm staying with understands the importance of coffee like I do.  At least Paige knows that I'm much more amenable to life in general after a cup of coffee. That's the joy of having a friend for 10+ years.