In the South, college football is a religion.
Prior to going to UGA, I never followed sports. The sport I knew most about was basketball (in that I could watch a game and was generally aware of what was happening). But something happens when you’re a student and there’s a home football game.
Saturdays in Athens are sacred.
Before each game, 90,000 fans file into Sanford Stadium. After the Dawgs warm up, the crowd is silent. A solo trumpeter from the Redcoats marching band plays “The Battle Hymn of the Bulldog Nation.” As the trumpeter holds the last note, the crowd roars and the game begins.
On Saturday mornings during senior year, we pitched our Young Dems tailgating tent on north campus next to Sanford Stadium. We usually arrived around 8AM, when fellow fans were already firing up their grills and drinking beers. Guys wore red or black polos and slacks. Girls wore red, black, and white game day dresses. Students, alumni, and random fans who never went to UGA united to cheer on the Dawgs.
Andrea didn’t get to experience living in a college town, as she went to NYU. Still, she visited us several times a semester. Some people were surprised that she didn’t actually go to school with us, since she was always there for our biggest parties. That year, she was in town for the LSU game. The Dawgs lost that game, but we had one of our best tailgates — booze, food, and a vodka spiked watermelon. Andrea borrowed one of my dresses and we spent the morning drinking and dancing with Ames and our other friends.
Big sunglasses helped shield our eyes from the glaring sun and also hide the drunken progression.
“Party in the USA” was our theme song that fall, so Andrea made sure to play it on loop.
Southern girls wear dresses to football games. Some people think it’s impractical. We call them haters.
Hopefully, the Dawgs will prevail against the Gamecocks today, in spite of the fact we aren’t going to be there for the game. Go Dawgs!
I’ve never been able to talk my way out of a ticket.
Cops sense my disdain for them. I can’t help it. The ones I’ve dealt with in the South have reinforced the fact that they profile people. Plus, I’m not smooth enough to bullshit reasons for why I was speeding or why I cut off incoming cars while making a left turn.
The only time I was able to avoid a ticket was last summer when a cop was posted by Ceddy’s old place near the Highlands. The cop pulled over every person who rolled this one stop sign, in an attempt to catch drunk drivers. I hadn’t drank a drop that night, so I just got a warning.
In college, Labor Day was a cursed holiday. Every time I’d drive to Alpharetta for the long weekend (or when I’d drive back to Athens), I’d get a ticket. That year, it was a particularly stressful weekend of dealing with our parents, so Raf and I wanted to get the hell out of Alpharetta and back to Athens as soon as possible.
Once traffic slowed, Raf fell asleep. After crawling down GA-316, I maneuvered around the wreck that had caused the delay and sped up the hill past The Georgia Club. From what I could tell, I was going with the flow of traffic…until a cop’s sirens blared and lights flashed in my rearview mirror. Groaning, I pulled to the side of the road and rolled my window down. Raf jerked awake.
“Sis, what happened?”
“I got pulled over.”
“Shit. Are you gonna get a ticket?”
The cop leaned onto my window.
“D’ya speak English?”
My eyebrows shot up in disbelief. “Yes.” Better than you, asshole.
“D’ya know how fast you were goin’?”
“Nope. 83. Gonna hafta write you a speeding ticket for that. Gimme your license and registration.”
I sighed and complied.
The cop squinted at my shoes. “Are you Native American?”
“You’re wearin’ moccasins.”
“They’re from Macy’s.”
“I didn’t know Native Americans sold their goods at Macy’s.”
Before I could reply, Raf coughed loudly and shot me a look. Don’t make it worse, sis!
Fine. But he’s a racist moron.
“Sorry for speeding.” I said flatly.
“Just watch it coming up that hill, next time.” The cop smiled, “Your English is great, by the way.”
“I was born in New York, but thanks.”
College was a strange but exhilarating time for me, as it is for many kids with strict parents.
Freshman year, I met Ames. We quickly bonded over a love of emo music and the fact that we were nerds who weren’t socially awkward. Ames’s parents own a house on the east side of Athens, where we lived from sophomore year until we graduated. We named the house Odessa, after the Texas town featured on the awesomely bad show Heroes. Even after we stopped watching Heroes, we continued to call the house Odessa.
Ames and I often joked that we weren’t just roommates, we were soul mates (and thus dubbed ourselves “rolemates.” Though, other friends also called us the Odessans.). We made midnight Kroger runs, because it was a pain to shop for groceries at any other time. We threw awesome parties. We got matching tattoos. (I have it on my right shoulder blade, while she has it on her hip. But that’s a story for another day.) We cooked and drank together. Most importantly, we helped each other through the trials and tribulations of our college lives.
Eighteen years of repression from overbearing Filipino parents has two possible effects: you’re either conditioned forever to seek your parents’ approval in everything you do or you slowly start to live for yourself. I did the latter. After leading a sheltered existence, I wanted to have crazy tales to tell.
After graduation, I worked in LA for six months. While I was in LA, we had weekly Skype video chats. As always, we texted everyday. The following January, I boomeranged back to Georgia. That summer, I visited Ames. We sat on the Odessa back porch, drinking wine and talking. So much had changed — we changed — yet our bond stayed the same. We’ve continued to have our “real talks,” when we hash out issues and offer (sometimes bluntly) honest advice.
“It’s weird, Ames.”
“What is, Sam?”
“I wanted so badly to get out of the South, but when I did, I realized it’s home. I’m glad to be back.”
“I’m glad you’re back, too.”
“Though, there were some epic stories from living in LA. I doubt anything as exciting will happen now that I’m in Georgia.”
“It’s not a story. It’s your life. Cali was just one chapter. Plus, it doesn’t matter if what you do is ‘story worthy,’ as long as you’re happy.”
Since then, I’ve mellowed. I don’t do things just to add to my archive of shenanigans. Ames and I don’t party like we did in our college years. We’re responsible adults. Still, we’ll always be rolemates — part of the family that we’ve chosen.
Last night, my boyfriend met my mother for the first time.
Technically, they met at our UGA graduation three years ago (we both met each other’s families in passing, then). Yesterday afternoon, I received a text from my mother asking if Ceddy and I wanted to have dinner at her house. I replied that we would. After work, we got stuck in traffic for an hour and a half, but finally made it to Alpharetta at a quarter to eight.
Ceddy gave my mother the orchid we got her. She said it was pretty, but admitted she had a tendency to kill plants. After chastising us for being late (though I called her with a traffic update), we had dinner in the kitchen. Brie and her nanny scurried upstairs. Raf was out with his friends. We faced her without buffers.
For the next hour, we endured a lecture on living in sin and the importance of family (even when they treat you like shit). Ceddy fielded a barrage of questions. He took the high road and apologized to her for offending her and my dad, since that was not our intention when we moved in together. When I started to get angry, he squeezed my hand as a reminder to take yoga breaths.
By the end of the hour, we left Alpharetta with three bags of food. My mother is the passive aggressive hostess. Her selective amnesia allowed her to pass judgment while projecting all of her and my dad’s issues onto us.
In the car, I fidgeted anxiously. As always, Ceddy reassured me that it was no big deal. It’s not our job to make haters (like my mother) see that we are good for each other. All we can do is continue to live our life together.
During summers in college, Athens was a ghost town. When we weren’t taking summer classes, working, or taking advantage of the discounted drink prices downtown, my friends and I would bake delicious desserts. This one is easy to make and is relatively healthy, since it’s topped with fruit. Normally, I make cookie dough from scratch, but for simplicity’s sake, I use pre-made dough for this recipe. Note: you can use whatever fruits you like, if you don’t like the ones in my recipe.
Fruit pizza with a sugar cookie crust
Adapted from this Pillsbury recipe
Makes one pizza, between 8-12 slices, depending on how large you make each slice
Prep time: about 20 minutes
Baking time: 12-18 minutes; Cooling time: 10 minutes
Decorating time: 5-10 minutes
Chilling time: 15 minutes to an hour (we were never able to wait longer than 15 minutes before digging in, but it didn’t taste less awesome)
Ingredients & supplies:
- 1 roll of sugar cookie dough (I use Pillsbury)
- 1 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese (I use 1/3 less fat Philadelphia cream cheese)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 of a kiwi, peeled and sliced
- 10 strawberries, hulled & halved
- 1/2 cup of blackberries
- 1 banana, sliced
- 1 pizza pan
- plain cooking spray or butter to grease pan
- small bowl to mix cream cheese “sauce” in and spatula to do mixing
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease pizza pan with cooking spray. Spread sugar cookie dough evenly onto pan. Bake for 12-18 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Cool for 10 minutes.
- While the sugar cookie crust is baking, mix cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl until fully incorporated. (I use a spatula, not a whisk when mixing this, as cream cheese tends to get stuck in a whisk.)
- After the sugar cookie crust has cooled, spread the cream cheese onto crust.
- Decorate the pizza with the banana, strawberries, kiwi, and blackberries. Enjoy!
When Brie was diagnosed with autism, I became her defender. I was an aggressive crusader against people who said “retarded” or “retard” in a derogatory way (or ever, really).
Tenth grade was the height of my belligerence. On a bus ride after a marching band competition, an obnoxious drummer was impersonating a boy with Downs Syndrome from a rival band.
“I’m a reeetaaaard.” He kept repeating as he intentionally tripped down the bus aisle.
I tapped him on the shoulder and slapped him across the face as he turned around.
“What gives you the right to make fun of that boy?! You’re pathetic — making fun of a kid who can’t defend himself.”
“Damn — I was just joking, Sam.”
“Did it ever occur to you that he’s someone’s brother? Or maybe, that I’ve got a sister who’s in special ed? Or that other people do, too?”
“No it didn’t. Shit. I’m sorry.”
When you’re a former chubby girl, it’s hard to overcome body image issues even after you’ve lost weight. Most days, I believed what I saw in the mirror and in photos. Every once in awhile, old insecurities crept into the back of my mind.
Andrea is lovely. She has long eyelashes and brown hair. Her favorite food groups are cheese and bacon, but she’s naturally slim. She’s also one of the smartest and quirkiest people I know. We’ve been The Ridiculous for over a decade, so it’s uncertain whether we react to things similarly because we’ve been best friends so long, or if that’s why we became friends in the first place.
In college, there were times when guys (acquaintances, not friends or romantic prospects) would say,
“Your friend’s hot. Hook me up?”
I would laugh. “You wouldn’t stand a chance.”
Yet self-loathing mantras of days past persisted.
Your best friend is hot. You’re the funny, sassy one. Why would someone ever think you’re pretty?
When I was in middle school, there was no one more insufferable to have as a classmate than me. I went to a small Catholic school in Birmingham with less than fifty kids per grade (from preschool to eighth grade). I was the Filipino Hermione Granger from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and due to the size of the school, most people knew it.
In eighth grade, my group of friends was constantly getting dragged into the guidance counselor’s office because of another group of girls. Our group was comprised of overachievers. We won the spelling and geography bees. We had the highest test scores. We genuinely liked and got along with our teachers.
The other group was comprised of the girls who were wearing full makeup in sixth grade. By eighth grade, they either were or knew people who were partying with their older siblings who went to the Catholic high school. The situation was a Taylor Swift song personified.
The other group’s queen bee and I would get into emailing wars. We accused each other of talking shit. Finally, our homeroom teachers staged an intervention, Mean Girls style. We gathered in a circle and each girl aired her grievances. Tears were shed. Everyone got along (for the moment).
Still, I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself because the queen bee claimed that our group was put on a podium, not a pedestal.