Tuesday, March 25, 2014

re: What It's Like Being Short

As the first audience suggestion, I received this email:
what it's like being short ;)

The following is my response:
            I’m not tall.  Never have been; never will be.   Honestly, I’m pretty sure I’ve never even had a growth spurt.  Being vertically challenged certainly has its limitations, but there are definitely some advantages to being of the shorter variety of human beings.  I’m 5’6” and I’m proud.
            Still, being short isn’t always easy.  I’ll never forget getting cut from the basketball team in seventh grade.  The coach told me to “grow a couple inches this summer” and then I’d be a real ballplayer.  I didn’t.  I made the team the next year, only to sit on the bench and watch my friends play.
            One time a girl told me that if I was four inches taller she might be interested.  Thanks a lot, babe.  The realization that the mere luck of the draw was the only fault in my persona was devastating.  I guess I could blame my dad for being 5’4”, but that’s a pretty immature response.
            The key to being short and happy is having a strong sense of identity.  Rather than being bothered by the endless Bilbo Baggins jokes, it’s better to own the role and speak to the jokesters as if they were Gandalf the Grey.  Instead of saying I’m 24 when I go to a bar, I say I’m 14.  My 1989 ID has never been taken.
            Confidence is king.  There is a reason why the words Napoleon Complex are thrown around so casually.  Sometimes, it requires more effort for short people to gain power.  Therefore, the reward, for us, is much sweeter.  I don’t personally aspire to be an emperor, but I have no qualms with short people who crave power.  We do what it takes to turn our weakness into a strength.
            In the end, there will always be people who look down on me because of my height.  I’ll never be able to dunk a basketball.  Beer pong is harder for us, I swear.  And no, I cannot help you get that down off the top shelf.  But, I could totally be a jockey.  Also, did you watch the Olympics?  Those gymnasts were tiny!  And yes darling, you can wear flats on our date.

What Do You Want To Read?

            I’ve been doing this for almost 3 years now, and I’ve covered a wide range of topics.  That being said, my friends always joke that I write about the same thing every time.  I’d be lying if I said that was entirely inaccurate, so I’d like to start a new tradition where I address the issues that you want to read about.  The rules are simple: send me a message with a topic, and if it’s relevant I’ll address it.  This blog is at its best when the audience is invested in the material, so fire away.  I’ll take anything from photos and videos, to stories and even guest posts.  All ideas and responses are welcome at studentparkingonly@gmail.com.  I hope to hear from you soon and cannot wait to turn the page on a new chapter of SPO.  So don’t be shy; send me your ideas.  I’m looking forward to seeing what my readers have to offer.

All the best.  My best always.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Maggie's is Getting Old

Thursdays we go to Maggie's. Fridays we go to Maggie's. Saturdays we go to Maggie's. What's wrong with that picture? It's not that I don't like Maggie's (most of the time I do), but sometimes I'd rather not wait in line for an hour to get pushed around, spilled and sweat on. The bottom line is that every once in a while, I crave something more exciting than a neighborhood bar and grill, and I know that I'm not alone.

It's clear that Emory's social scene is evolving. Fraternity row certainly isn't what it was 30 years ago--my parents reminisce of times when kegs lined the street on Saturday nights, and Greek life was a real community. These days, you're more likely to see two guys in a fist fight on Eagle Row than making a new friend.

Of course, the slow deterioration of Greek life at Emory only accounts for a small portion of the struggling social structure. Emory boasts diversity amongst its students, but rarely is a party truly diverse. It baffles me that there are 6500 students at this school and I see the same 200 every Saturday night. Where is everyone else?

When I want a change of pace, I go to the gym. Pick-up basketball is one of the few places outside of class that I've managed to meet new people. As long as I don't jack up too many 3's, I do a pretty good job of making friends. Still, even the basketball court falls victim to Emory's heterogeneous culture. There is a group of international students that refuses to play with anyone else (trust me, I've asked many times). These guys love playing the same sport that I do, but won't share the court because I don't speak their language.

Obviously, I'm generalizing. In fact, I live with two international students, and I certainly don't hate every fraternity on the row. My point, however, is a very real one. Emory lacks community. There are thousands of students at this school that I've never spoken to for more than 30 seconds. I'm sure that most of those people like to have a good time.

The truth is, I exacerbate the problem by going to Maggie's every night. I yearn for community but I refuse to be seen on campus after dark. It's not easy to break out of routine. I'm not asking you to change your life, rather, I'm asking you to take a small step. Make a new friend when you're waiting in line at Cox for lunch. Ask that guy in your class what he's doing tonight. Go to a concert, or a movie, or a Braves game. It's always surprising to learn that there are kids just like you hiding on the other side of campus, waiting to be discovered. In the end, Maggie's isn't going anywhere, but people are. It's up to you to meet them, before it's too late. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Get Your Priorities Straight

            Every single decision we make, from what pair of shoes we put on in the morning, to how many hours we study for an exam, can be explained by our priorities.  Having priorities is a necessity for survival—a guide to both daily activities and life-changing decisions.  We all have priorities, but the challenge most of us face is becoming aware of them.
            I drove to New Orleans this weekend for Mardi Gras.  I have two midterms this week.  I’m not going to pretend that my trip to Tulane helped me prepare for my tests.  It most certainly did not.  Many of my classmates spent the weekend in the library studying while I drove 16 hours round trip and spent 3 exhausting days exploring Bourbon Street, rekindling relationships with old friends, and meeting many new ones.  Will my grades suffer for it?  Perhaps, but that’s okay with me.
            The way I see it, life is bigger than test scores.  Sure, I strive to do well in school, and this semester more than ever I am truly intrigued by the material covered in my courses.  That being said, if my calculations are correct, no single mid-term can be worth more than one or two percent of a typical student’s GPA.  That’s pretty much insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
On the other side of the spectrum, these days, the people who I once considered my best friends in the world, I only see a couple times a year.  After seeing them every day for most of my adolescent life, long weekends and vacations are the only opportunities I have to maintain some of the relationships that I have spent my entire youth building.
            When I decided that I was going to Mardi Gras, I was fully aware of my academic obligations.  I knew the risk I was taking by putting my books away the weekend before two exams.  That being said, I didn’t neglect my schoolwork completely.  I studied all last week, and made sure that I was caught up in class before I left.  Still, a little extra studying can never hurt.  My first test is in an hour yet I find myself sitting here writing this post instead of going through my notes again.
            Why do I act in this way that many of my peers see as completely irrational?  The answer is that I am extremely aware of my priorities.  As my parents would readily admit, I’ve been a bit of a slacker for as long as I can remember.  GPA has never been something that has concerned me very much.  The truth is, I’d sacrifice a GPA point for a friendship any day, and I’d sacrifice a lot more than GPA points to be happy.  I firmly believe that a 4.0 means absolutely nothing if you had a miserable time getting there.  Moreover, what good is a lucrative paycheck if you have no one to share it with?
            In the end, success, and perhaps more importantly, happiness boils down to an equation much more complex than the one used to calculate a cumulative GPA.  The people you meet, the places you go, and the experiences that go along with those adventures, are all things worth considering when making decisions.  So, as much as I appreciate and honestly enjoy the material that I am learning in school, you’ll probably never catch me in the library on a Saturday night.  As far as I’m concerned, if I don’t get a job because my GPA is a couple points too low, I don’t want to work there anyway.  People are more than just a number.  I know what my priorities are.  Do you?