Boston

In April of 2016, I traveled to Boston, Massachusetts for the first time. My eagerness to travel was based on several factors. First, I was feeling burnt out at work. Working full time and attending graduate school full time can certainly take a toll on one’s body and mind. While my academic writing skills were up to par, my creative writing skills were lacking. I attributed it to lack of motivation and inspiration. I believed that traveling to Boston would inspire me and I would overcome my writer’s block. It did! I was eager to share my experience upon my return. But, life got in the way. I had other responsibilities to attend to and until this point in time, I had not found the time to sit down and discuss my experience. But, given that I’ve traveled again since Boston, I think this is the right time. I should not delay it any longer.

The day did not start off well. I decided to drive myself to the airport and self-park. Due a delay in the garage, I did not make the flight on time and had to delay my flight to the night. At this point, I figured I would park at the tri-rail station and take an uber back to the airport. A good friend of mine picked me up at the airport so that I would not have to be sitting there for hours. Believe me, we’ve already had a good laugh about this and it was recorded thoroughly via snapchat. So, please hold your laughter and giggling. I debated not taking the trip at all, feeling nothing but apprehension, given the many delays I had already encountered. But, I’ve overcome more difficult fears. I was going to Boston. On a 9:45PM flight.

Boarding the flight, I was filled with tension. I hadn’t been on an airplane since 2008. I was comforted by the fact that the flight was quite short. The majority of those on my flight were traveling back home while I was traveling towards my vacation. Naturally, people who aren’t from Miami just tend to be nicer. I’ve found this to be a fact, rather than just an opinion. Side note: I was flying JetBlue out of Fort Lauderdale Airport. I hadn’t had a chance to have dinner. One girl, waiting to board, about my age, heard my loud and obnoxious stomach growling and offered me her muffin. I was appalled and comforted by the fact that people like this still exist in the world and I was eager to be traveling to a place where many people like this came from: New England. My flight with JetBlue was incredible. The seats were the most comfortable I have been on. There was sufficient legroom. There was wifi. There was dinner! I had my own TV, where I watched a Bernie Sanders rally. By the grace of God, the plane landed and my worries subsided. I felt as though I would be able to enjoy the city the following day if only I offered myself the opportunity of a good night’s rest. As I walked to the area where the taxi cabs waited, the cold air touched my face. It was quite a surprise boarding a plane in a city where the temperature reached 89 degrees and exiting a plane where temperatures were 39 degrees! My eyes took in everything different from what I call home. For one, it was interesting to see Massachusetts license plates, rather than Florida. Driving through tunnels was a rather different experience. The taxi cabs, in and of themselves, were much different looking vehicles than those you would find in Florida. But, the breathtaking moment was when I arrived to the hotel.

I stepped out of the cab and my jaw dropped to the floor. I stayed at a Hilton in downtown, a historical hotel which I was able to get for a wonderful price due to my government employee discount. Thank you state of Florida for letting me be your employee :). It was completely breathtaking. I thought I had entered into the set of Pretty Little Liars. I thought the plane had landed in Rosewood. I can’t quite describe the feeling, but it was like I had been there before, many, many times. This place was familiar and comforting. Regardless of all the hassles, I was so happy to have arrived there. It was nearly 2:00 in the morning. Now, this isn’t Miami. This city does sleep. But, the city itself, has a personality. The city has an energy about itself, like no other. Despite the deep and rich history it holds, it doesn’t bear a haunted vibe. It’s cheerful. It’s beautiful. Up until this point, the phrase “take your breath away” held no real meaning other than a figure of speech. But, seeing the mere street that I was staying on, in Boston, took my breath away. Grant you, this was prior to seeing Malibu, California: that will be my next post!

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I have both bachelors and master’s level education on… well… education. So, I am an academia persona by trait. I am, indeed, a nerd. I love to study. Since I work in the field of higher education, I naturally enjoyed the ambiance of higher level learning institutions around me. I embraced the world of the ivy’s… and I was quite surprised as many of the stereotypes that I proved to myself were false.

Harvard is an amazing place. Perhaps it was the fact that it was the weekend of Easter, but the campus had a far smaller population rate than what I had imagined. It felt that the majority of those on campus were tourists or families taking advantage of the amazing and beautiful campus. In the main courtyard, children played, dogs ran, and students walked across. It looked like a scene straight out of a movie.

The nightlife in Boston is quite different from that of Miami. As a person who drinks very limited and does no drugs, I often shy away from Miami nightlife completely and totally. But, Boston’s nightlife is inviting to a much more diverse population. Since my visit was short, I visited two pubs. Both are the oldest in America. Sitting near the window at Green Dragon was historically chilling. Looking out the window, I could imagine the horse drawn carriages driving by. The 1776 newspaper article hangs on the wall.

It was more than Boston’s charm and physical beauty. It was that… in 39 degrees, I felt warm on the inside… warmer than I’ve ever felt during 90 degree summers in Florida.

 

 

 

The Truth about being in a Sorority

I don’t have regrets about joining a sorority. In fact, I am very grateful that I went through this experience. I was able to meet women who I formed a life lasting friendship with. I had the chance to engage in leadership opportunities, which I probably would not have had the same chance otherwise. There’s much to say about every experience: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But, I’m not here to talk about that. I’m not here to out the drama that happens when 150 woman come together to have a discussion about dramatic events. I’m not here to share personal issues that every chapter experiences individually. I just want to clear the air and tell you what it’s NOT. This is an honest “yelp review” of what it means to be in a sorority.

The marketing for sorority life is filled with women who are happy and whole. Stories are often shared about how joining a sorority changed someone’s life and made them into the person they are today. But, the reality of the situation is that joining a sorority is not finding the Lord, Jesus Christ. It’s not some freeing experience and it’s most certainly not sisterhood of the traveling pants. This is what is advertised. The marketing for sorority life is exceptional and I applaud the marketing crew. They are truly successful and their skills should be rewarded with high financial compensation. They truly are great at what they do. At this point in my life, I found myself wanting to fit in somewhere. I thought that in a sorority, I would find a sisterhood filled with genuine friendships, which I had craved for so long.

I was the perfect sorority candidate. I was bubbly, happy, and stylish. But, this version of me faded as I spiraled into a depression. Like a domino effect, it all happened so fast, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had a death in the family that effected me a great deal. During the time that he was ill, the surgery and rehabilitation took place nearly 600 miles away for two reasons: 1) insurance and 2) because we really believed it was the best hospital. Having a close family member in a life or death situation 600 miles away leaves you in a state of heightened fear constantly. The only way you know any information is by calling. Every call was either going to be positive or negative. He was either going to get better or get worse. It was rarely ever the case that he was doing the same. In this state of worry, you’re only way of surviving is by holding up the fort. You don’t let yourself break, no matter how much you’re cracking. The same thing happened when my baby girl, Luna Mia, was poisoned by a toad. I arrived to the animal hospital faster than speeding bullet. I was concerned, but poised. As soon as the vet took her in her arms, that’s when I broke down. I think we intuitively are aware of when we need strength and when we can give into our emotions. His illness was not a time to give into my emotions. It was in my best interest to be a rock to everyone around me.

But after he passed away, that’s when the cracks finally broke. The pain in my chest grew rapidly, but I had no time to care for myself. I dealt with this while working a full time job, a second part-time job, taking a full time load of classes, and meeting the requirements of being in the sorority. I started spiraling slowly, but surely. The bags under my eyes were reaching the floor. My hair was always in a messy bun. I was so incredibly tired. I ran on about 5 hours of sleep a night. I was driving home from my second job around 7pm and I had to pull over because I legitimately thought I was having a heart attack at the age of 22. I opened the car door and started throwing up. My vision was blurred. My fingers were purple. If you would have seen me, you would have thought I was dying. Low and behold the effects of chronic stress (http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9527/10-signs-you-have-way-too-much-cortisol.html) . This is what happens when a person has reached their limits. Since that day, I have never been the same. I don’t discourage challenge, but, try to remember that there are only 24 hours in a day. I had quite a few friends stick by me at my worse. People who saw past the messy bun and the dark circles. People who saw my life for what it truly was: a grieving person trying to hold it all together: her job, her school, her life. But, to the chapter as a whole, I was invisible. I only held value when I was the epitome of what was advertised at every recruitment event.

To make matters even more offensive, during recruitment, I was told by someone not to share with the potential new members that I was adopted. The topic came up because someone asked me about heritage. I am no stranger to this occurrence. It happens all the time! People are always asking me if I’m Irish or Russian, especially people who are not from Miami. Then they say… where did you get your accent? I love being the unique individual that I am. I don’t find myself “weird” because I deviate from the “norm” in this respect. It just makes me unique. I can understand how some things are inappropriate to share at an event. You wouldn’t share that you are a recovered drug addict. The point of recruitment is to mimic a professional environment. You become keenly aware of how to  talk to people, how to hold positive conversation. Thus, it’s not the appropriate time to to delve into emotional or controversial topics. But, this is not controversial. This is a fact. This is a legal process that occurred. It is documented and notarized. I am not interested in anyone’s opinions. The purpose of sharing was not to engage in a debate, but rather, to answer the question: where did I get my accent from? What would they have preferred? For me to lie? How convenient that must be, huh? To erase yourself and conform to something that fits into a nice, neat box with a bow and not have to share something about yourself that makes you different. Adoption doesn’t change race or ethnicity. If you can’t accept that, then you should just purchase a doll and save everybody the anguish. Don’t adopt children and raise another generation of people as dumb as you.

This is discrimination and unfortunately, discrimination does happen in Greek Life. You recruit based off of your preferences, without any type of real, solid qualifications in place. You’re recruiting people for a clique but sugar-coating it with words such as “sisterhood,” “home,” and “baby *insert mascot here*.” I was enamored during my recruitment process because I would hear girls introduce each other as “my sister.” People’s social media was always filled with cute pictures that usually contained matching shirts and a quote about sisterhood. But, this is part of the marketing process. It’s not to say that you won’t meet genuine people. I did. But, the marketing for sororities portrays that you will find a home away from home, when in reality, that’s not what this is. Being in a sorority can be compared to a part-time job or any other campus involvement. There’s a standards committee in place to hold people accountable. There is no alcohol served at events. In fact, active members cannot be caught drinking alcohol or holding a red cup while wearing sorority memorabilia.  There’s a dress code for chapter meetings, which is strictly outlined in the handbook. If you are not dressed appropriately, which can mean that you’re shirt was sleeveless, for instance, you will not be allowed into the chapter meeting. If for any reason, you’re grades were to drop, you would be suspended. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these standards. I applaud the fact that this is not an open invitation to be wild. The issue is that it is presented as a community of friends who gather together to drink tea and have mixers. It’s advertised as a community where you could let your guard down and be yourself. And this is precisely what it is NOT! If you get too comfortable, if the smile comes off, if you’re falling apart, you will be held accountable and penalized. At the very least, you will be looked at differently. It’s a professional atmosphere cloaked in superficial friendship.

I reiterate that I DO NOT have a problem with this. This is how every organization on campus works. But, sororities primarily do not draw in crowds that are interested in that, because that part of the story is never advertised. People come for the sisterhood, the friendships, and to be part of a “family.” I think that people are vastly disappointed when they discover what it really is… not because it’s “bad,” but because it’s deceiving. I think a lot would be solved if there was honesty in the marketing. If it were presented as an opportunity to grow and develop leadership skills and give back to the community, it would be honest. But then again… just like in adoption… honesty means a great loss of money. If you can gain the same in the Pre-Health Club that you would in a Greek organization, why would you join the one where you have to pay? Trying to turn in the invaluable into a monetary figure has become the trend. If you want to join because you want the experience and you want to break out your shell, by all means! But, join for the honest reason. Don’t be coerced into joining for something that these types of organizations cannot provide you.