Fall Wedding Fun

What better way to spend a perfect fall weekend than at a beautiful outdoor wedding?

Yesterday evening, I went to the most perfect wedding I have ever been to, and I spent most of today thinking about it.

Our closest family friends, the Corrys’, daughter got married and the wedding was held at their family farm house in Apex. The house is a couple hundred years old, dating back to the 1800’s. The family spent the last few months slaving over wedding preparations to make sure their house looked gorgeous, and it did.

When I first arrived, I was blown away by the seemingly effortless beauty of the house. I’ve been many times before, but this time it was different.

There were flowers everywhere. Anything that was once natural wood had been painted white. Hors d’oeuvres were served on shabby chic china. The wedding party wore dusty rose and tan, and the groomsmen wore beige vests. Even the attire of the guests went with the atmosphere- people were wearing airy fall colors and tasteful pops of greens, blues and pinks.

Abby and her now husband, John, were married by Abby’s aunt who spoke a shockingly non-traditional ceremony. I loved this. She filled her speech with inside jokes and Beatles references, a sure way to win the hearts of the many Beatles fans at the wedding (including myself).

Even though I went with my parents, I had the best time I’ve had in a while. Catching up with family friends I don’t remember meeting because I was too young, and some I had never met at all, was entertaining to say the least.

I don’t think this wedding could be topped, so I may have to use it as a model for my own special day. (No time soon, of course.)

We All Overuse Social Media… Sort of.

Today, I turned in a story about the supposed “addiction” teens have to social media.

At first, my stance was on the side of most adults- teens overuse social media, this is true, and it concerns me that lots of teens I know can’t eat a cookie without Instagramming a picture of it.

I eventually changed my mind after reading research articles on the topic. Another factor that made me less critical of teens’ social media use? My own social media use.

The irony of the situation was overwhelming. I spent hours last night going back and forth between Microsoft Word and my Twitter and Instagram feeds. I would constantly scroll through Pinterest. I would pause mid-sentence to send a Snapchat to my friend sitting across the room from me.

So why had I initially been so critical about teens’ usage of social media?

After lots of thought, I came to the conclusion that despite a few exceptions, my overuse of social media was just as bad.

I may not post as often as teens post to Instagram and Twitter, but I read everything they post. I may not Instagram a picture every time I eat a cookie, but chances are that I’m going to Snapchat it to at least one of my friends.

The only exception I could come up with was the fact that a lot of my Instagram and Twitter feeds are news sources. I use Twitter as my main news source and I use Instagram to keep up with relevant fashion bloggers and designers. I like to think these are productive uses of my time.

But overall, I don’t have much room to talk. Of course, I concluded that frequent social media usage might be a pretty good thing when I wrote my story. So I don’t feel as guilty anymore.

First Amendment Fun

I thought a lot about free speech today. Not because I had something controversial to say, but because it was First Amendment Day.

Once a year, UNC celebrates First Amendment Day to honor and raise awareness about the First Amendment and how it applies to students at a public university.

Today was my first time celebrating First Amendment Day, and to be completely honest, I had never given it a ton of thought until I started taking media law. Let’s be real- most students don’t think about the First Amendment every time they send out a tweet or pass out flyers on campus. These activities have become so routine to us that we don’t even consider the fact that there is a law protecting our rights of expression.

My media law professor, Cathy Packer, is a First Amendment enthusiast, and her passion for the law was contagious. Me and my j-school friends wore our free First Amendment t-shirts all day. We went to see the keynote speaker at 7 p.m., and none of us knew what to expect.

There was a DJ. There was a comedy routine. There was a dancing media law professor.

The speaker talked about universities across the nation who have restricted the First Amendment rights of students. These universities punished students for reading controversial books, passing out copies of the constitution and writing on a “free speech wall.” Some universities even had “free speech zones”- designated spots on campus where students could exercise their First Amendment rights.

But isn’t all of America a “free speech zone?!”

Me and my friends exchanged glances throughout the speech as if to say to each other, “can you believe that?”

I think we all underestimated how much the First Amendment protects our expression. I couldn’t imagine college without crazy, sometimes offensive means of expression decorating campus.

The First Amendment becomes more important every day, especially with the exponential growth of social media.

What’s offensive?

Thursday night, my sorority had a themed social function with a fraternity- AKA, a mixer.

I didn’t go to the mixer, but I saw everyone’s costumes- there were pizza delivery girls, homeless people, maids, trophy wives and yoga instructors- just to name a few.

Can you guess the theme? Probably. It was “what I would be without my degree.”

In my opinion, this theme was tip-toeing on the line of offensive, and various students on social media seemed to agree.

One tweet from a UNC student described the mixer as, “A bunch of privileged white girls dressing up homeless as a party theme, way to go ZTA.”

Yep.

A tweet from a member of my sorority: “What would I be without my degree: A human being.”

Yep yep.

Although I know the mixer theme wasn’t meant to offend people, I have to say I think it was careless planning. Some students are so wrapped up in a world where every member of their family has a degree, and if you don’t, you are going to be a failure. But while I don’t deny that a degree is important, (obviously I wouldn’t be in school otherwise), I will say there is so much more to a person than their level of schooling. To dismiss an entire group of people just because they didn’t go to college is sad.

A typical morning at Starbucks

I spend a lot of time (and money) at Starbucks.

I never use it as a study spot because I get distracted far too easily- usually, I grab it after a Pure Barre class or on the way to the library.

So on Thursday morning when I went solely for the purpose to observe, I was a little surprised at what I saw.

No one was talking. I sat with a classmate and friend, Leah, and we both listened for interesting orders and conversation. I didn’t notice anything special. In fact, everyone in the coffee shop was sitting with headphones in, studying or reading the paper. Leah and I were the only people talking, with the exception of the barista taking orders.

So I listened to people order. I wondered how each person came up with his or her order. I wondered why some people justified a venti frappuccino at 8 a.m- they must not come every day.  And I wondered how anyone could stand the taste of three espresso shots over ice. (Gross!)

I gathered two things from my trip to observe at Starbucks.

First, you can probably learn a lot about a person from their order. I order the same thing every day. A grande vanilla iced coffee with nonfat milk. It says, “I come every day. Can’t get anything crazy. But I can’t drink coffee straight- hence the milk and vanilla.” The really particular orders probably come from really particular people- the thing that baffles me about people in Starbucks every time I go is the way people behave when their complicated order isn’t perfect. Most people aren’t friendly about it- usually they look annoyed.

Second, the fact that I can’t study at Starbucks is a serious problem. Everyone looked concentrated on whatever they were doing at this time of the morning, but I couldn’t even concentrate on watching them concentrate. Pretty bad on my part.

Reading a Magazine as a Minority

I picked up a Cosmopolitan magazine last night and started to flip through the pages.

I don’t read Cosmo regularly, but I’ve skimmed it enough to know what to expect from the ads and stories. After reading this issue for less than five minutes, I realized it was different. I wasn’t relating to any of the advertisements- the models were all Latina and some of the catch phrases at the tops of the pages were written in Spanish. The clothes advertised were wildly colorful and the makeups advertised were all for bronzing.

I looked at the cover and realized it was Cosmo for Latinas.

I quickly gained a new perspective on mainstream magazines- do racial minorities feel the way I felt reading Cosmo Latina every time they pick a regular Cosmo off of a coffee table?

Everything about the magazine was different. Even the stories were different, and I couldn’t relate to most of them. One thing that stood out to me was the food section. The recipes didn’t focus on health at all- they were carby, cheesy and alcohol focused. Was the magazine speaking to a Latina stereotype?

It seemed crazy to me that race would change so much about a magazine.

Nothing to Complain About.

Today when I was walking home from the library, I passed an older couple taking a stroll through campus and overheard the man saying something everyone needs to hear.

“Look at this campus. If you went here, you would have nothing to complain about.”

The words stuck with me all the way home. I had spent my morning stressing over midterms I have this week and didn’t think once about how fortunate I am to study at such a beautiful university.

It’s so easy to forget to put things into perspective. Students, including myself, get wrapped up in exams, papers and quizzes and lose sight of the fact that we are students, we are students at a good school, and we are students at one of the most beautiful schools in the world.

The man on a walk with his wife (I’m assuming) could not have said it better. There they were, walking through campus just to walk through campus. I should clarify that right after I overheard his statement, I turned to look at Wilson Library. It was about 5 p.m. and the sun was making it’s way down, casting the most beautiful light on the building. In that moment, I realized it was true.

We have nothing to complain about.

What 9/11 Meant to Me

My best friend Jennifer Cane left school early on Sept. 11, 2001, and I didn’t understand why.

Two airplanes crashed into two buildings in New York City and a third plane flew straight into the Pentagon. But what was the Pentagon? And why was Jennifer’s dad there?

I remember how confused I felt by the concept of people from another country killing people in our country. I remember wondering if this could happen to me at any time, or to my parents at any time.

By lunch, half of my classmates were gone. These classmates had mothers and fathers in the military- not unusual, considering Camp Lejeune was a five-minute drive from school.

We were dismissed from school early that day. Although I was six years old and I can’t remember the day’s events in detail, the feeling I had is impossible to forget. All I knew for sure was that America wasn’t as safe as I thought it was.

I should clarify that Jennifer’s dad was unharmed. None of my close friends from school lost their parents due to the attacks, but no one was sure of anything until that evening.

I can confidently say September 11, 2001 was the day I realized there was evil in the world.

Happy Birthday From Me and My Instagram.

One of my best friends turned 21 yesterday. Exciting, right?? 

Even though I’m not 21, I constantly find myself celebrating the monumental birthday for my friends. Not only is it the age of legal drinking (honestly not that exciting to me, but most of my friends think it’s the most important thing in the world), but it’s also the age you officially feel like you’ve become an adult. Unless you’re trying to rent a car, the age of 21 is limitless as far as rules go. 

So back to my main point- I’m excited for anyone turning 21, which is why it’s all the more fabulous when the birthday girl is a best friend. With this particular friend, we’ll call her Lo, I went all out. I’m not the type to craft for friends, but I made a cute scrapbook page to go in her 21st birthday scrapbook. I also went and got her a gorgeous piece of jewelry from J.Crew, her favorite store, and it was definitely not cheap. I told Lo to get excited because I’m skipping my first sorority cocktail to come to her 21st birthday party in Raleigh, where she is pretty much my only friend. Oh, and not to mention- I have four midterms next week, so I’m giving up precious time to make sure she knows how important her birthday is to me.

Now here’s the kicker- despite all of this, I heard through the grapevine (aka a mutual friend) that Lo was mad last night because I didn’t post on Instagram in honor of her birthday. 

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

This news frustrated me. A lot. Just because we have social media outlets does not mean we need to make it a point to wish a friend happy birthday on every possible social network- especially when you called that friend, promised them a weekend together, made them a scrapbook page and bought them a gift. 

This especially troubled me because I know Lo isn’t the only person who thinks this way. I mentioned in my last blog post my concern about teens and preteens’ use of social media (emphasis on Instagram). It saddens me that we place so much emphasis on our social media presence- what is to gain from an Instagram post except popularity and views/likes? 

I constantly worry that social media is ruining the value of personal relationships. Unfortunately, it’s conflicts like this that confirm my fear is legitimate. 

5 Things That Happen When You Live In A Sorority House

Living in my sorority house has been a lot more of a pleasant experience than I thought it was going to be. I imagined there being tons of drama and attitude overloads. However, all 31 girls in the house get along shockingly well. There were, however, a few things I noticed within my first week of living at Zeta. 

1. Your closet becomes everyone’s closet. I’ve only been living in the house for three weeks, but at least six articles of clothing have been taken out of my closet, worn and returned in sub-par condition. Even though my friends and I constantly send out messages in the house group text about asking people to get permission, the secret borrowing continues. I’m considering a lock for the door, but I would probably lose the key. 

2. Your clean laundry will be thrown, in a pile, onto the floor if you leave it in the dryer any longer than 10 minutes after the cycle is over. Just last week, I had to turn on the dryer before heading off to class. I left my phone number on the dryer just in case the next girl needed to text me to see when I would be back to get my clothes out of the dryer. When I returned, my clothes were in a damp pile on the ground of the laundry room. I still haven’t figured out who the culprit is. 

3. You will try to do your homework in a group setting, aka the TV lounge, but you will actually end up wasting five hours listening to your sisters’ stories you don’t care about. At all. I just learned last week that no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to successfully study in the TV lounge at Zeta. I’m not sure how anyone does it, but I guess I’m cursed with the desire to constantly socialize with literally anyone. I have to get as far from the house as possible if I want to study- unfortunately, this means the library. 

4. You realize that your house somehow belongs to 130 girls, even if they don’t live there. There are always guests in the sorority house who don’t live in the sorority house. Unfortunately, these guests are normally members of the sorority, and therefore it’s not possible to kick them out. This means if it’s 1 a.m. on a Monday night and you have a test in your 8 a.m. chemistry class, and you hear five girls getting ready to go out across the hall, you have no option but to put in ear plugs or sleep through the noise. They aren’t going anywhere. 

5. You stay up too late. I’m an early bird. This does not combine well with my new habit of being a night owl. When I lived in an apartment last year, I was in bed by 10 p.m. at the latest- even on the weekends. Now, I somehow justify staying up past midnight because everyone around me is staying up even later. It’s like I said with the studying- if there are people around me talking, I HAVE to join in. Especially if it’s my friends who happen to be in my room. Must. Socialize.