The 8 Worst Jobs at a Music Festival

govball2014

This weekend I attended my first-ever multi-day music festival: The Governors Ball. It was fantastic and amazing and exhausting and disgusting, and all those things you expect a festival to be, but as I tripped over Miller Light cans and muddy French fries on Sunday afternoon, I began to feel a bit bad for the people who actually help make the event happen. Jobs that made me super thankful I had a wristband? These.

1. Porta Potty Checker.  By Day 3, I stopped drinking so much so I wouldn't have to use those plastic poop bins.

2.  Paramedic.  A noble career, but I imagine it gets frustrating dealing when every single teenager forgets to drink water.

3. Security.  Telling people they can't get into the VIP lounge constantly?  No.

4. Garbage collector.  SO. MUCH. TRASH.

5. Balloon arch maker.  These people looked super frustrated.

6. Bartender.  No one is tipping you, also, you're just sticking your hands in buckets of ice all day and counting change for drunk people.

7. Shuttle/ferry driver.  Everyone is in a hurry to get there and in a rush to leave.  Also, everyone is dirty and smelly.

8.  Bag checker.  I imagine this would be very frustrating, checking everything for contraband but still seeing mini bottles and joints all over the festival grounds...

Back at the Barre

I'm sure most of you (Mom and Dad) read this and thought I had one tequila shot too many, misspelling one of my most commonly used locations. But, no, actually, I write this sipping on lemon water, sprawled on on floor, stretching my sore arms and legs. (And no, I did't fall off a bar stool, come on, guys...)

Last January, aware of my propensity to choose fro-yo over yoga, I signed up for a ballet class, thinking that it would keep me active in the lazy winter months. I loved waking up early on weekends, pulling on tights and an old leotard, and layering sweatpants and old wrap sweaters over my dance clothes to head out in the brisk weather.

I felt like my old self.

Well, we know which one I am

I used to think I'd be a professional dancer-- click that link if you want to hear about my (spoiler alert) failed dance career. More than that, I was a quadruple threat: actor, singer, model-- any job looking pretty in the spotlight was mine. This path only made sense, considering my talent and good looks.

But somehow, books and education and goals to make money (ha! I'm a professional blogger! laugh away, dusty dance shoes)  led me to an Ivy League school to pursue a career not in the performing arts.

At the end of high school, I went from spending countless hours a week in dance, singing, and acting classes, as well as performance groups, to just, well not.  Time was spent with friends and new hobbies, and while I still loved the performing arts, not choosing a career on stage gave me no reason to continue my training.  The skills were useless.  I had deluded myself.

But signing up for that ballet class in January had nothing to do with my goals to be applauded by an audience, to appear in a Playbill, be photographed on stage. The ballet class was about a love of ballet, for it's own sake.

If someone had told me how much fun adult ballet classes are, I never would have stopped training.

Adult classes are comprised of a motley crew: retired professionals, younger dancers who aspired to dance professionally but never did, and those of all ages, who are just learning to dance properly for the first time.  But it seems that no one cares.  We're all just there for our own reasons, for a love of the exercise, the art, or a combination, we mind our own business, with no goals of auditioning for prestigious ballet companies or fighting for the coveted solos at the end of year concert.  We were all colors of tights and hairstyles and leg warmers, and only sometimes do we get scolded for leaning against the barre in class.

I love ballet for its discipline.  I love quickly remembering the barre combinations in French, having to concentrate on each part of my body- head up, arms strong, tummy in, hips out, knees straight, toes pointed- and clear almost all other thoughts from my head.

I'm not the worst in class, but I'm certainly not the best.  Names of steps sound familiar to me, but I can't remember how to do them, or how to properly position my body to dance them gracefully. I'm not as flexible as I was or should be nor am I as strong or balanced.

Knowing that with continuous practice I may beat my old self, become a better dancer than I ever was inspires me.  Knowing that if I never improve it will be of no consequence keeps me going back to the school at the Joffrey Ballet each week. Knowing that you can just do something for the love of it, without an external pressure or major life consequences, is freeing and beautiful, and a lovely thing to remember when I perhaps pick up improv or tennis again...

I may not remember the choreography across the floor each class, but at least I enjoy leaping through the air as I cross.

issa baby ballet

Trippin': Best of the Midwest

This past week I went on my first ever road trip!  (Family driving vacations, as fun as they are, not included, for obvious reasons).

After many years of Girl Scout camping trips, it has always been a dream of ours to take a Culties road trip.  Unfortunately, in the past few years, we have become more geographically distant than many of us would like to be, and having everyone in the same place at the same time is nearly impossible.
However, when a few of us found ourselves overlapping for a few days at home, it only made sense to scurry across the Midwest and see what kind of trouble we could find. 
Only after about an hour of driving south on the Toll way, my mom’s suggestion as there was major construction on the highway (who knew?!)  we realized that a) we didn’t know where the highway was, b) we didn’t have a map, a compass, GPS, or really any way to know where we were going!  But, not a problem, Girl Scouts are always prepared, and the three of us were confident in our navigational skills. 
“Look!” I exclaimed as I pointed from the front seat to a blue sign with an H in it, “The highway! We found it!” 
  
My friends collapsed in laughter.  Turns out, this means Hospital, not highway. 
Guess I shouldn’t have doodled and daydreamed my way through driver’s ed.  

At this point, I should probably mention that at no point in this entire journey was I behind the wheel.  I shriek at the sight of a truck in my rearview mirror, the radio easily distracts me from changing traffic signals, so no, the life of my friends was not going to be put in my hands. 

Beautiful Midwestern landscape. 
But this was what was so special about our trip:  we each have our own special qualities that bring us closer together: humor, patience, bravery, a sense of direction, and spending countless hours in a car together forced us to bond even quicker, to take advantage of each other’s talents and utilize our strengths to get to our final destination. 

We made up a license plate game to keep us entertained when miles of cornfields seemed almost unbearable (Midwest = 1 point, South = 2 points, West = 3 points, East = 4 points, Canada = 10 points, Hawaii or Alaska win the game).  I highly recommend it, but be forewarned, it gets competitive when you spot Oregon simultaneously!
Queens of the Midwest!
We made playlists of our favorite old and new music, sang the entire Dreamgirls soundtrack, reminisced about our times dancing to Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child, and learned all the words to Ellie Goulding’s newest album. 
We saved a dog’s life, made quirky and interesting new friends, tried local cuisine (read: various fried foods), learned about the imprecise albeit fascinating history of Route 66, debated whether wearing boating shoes made it a cruise instead of a road trip, kept each other constantly entertained, stayed dry at a zoo in the rain, and so much more. 
While the trip was short, it was so memorable.  We could have been in the middle of nowhere (and we pretty much were, for the most part Southern Illinois/Missouri are not epicenters of excitement) but we had each other for everything we could ever need.  Having best friends is the absolute best.  

The End of the World

Contrary to popular belief, and much to my own personal astonishment, the world did not end today.  Shocking, I know, but at 6:00 I was quite contently making a fool of myself in dance class, awkwardly shrugging my shoulders up to my enormous ears when I should have been sensually shimmying to the music.  I am no Tila Tequila.
However, all this hype made me think about the end of the world, about what would actually happen if I knew for sure the world was ending in a matter of days, minutes even.  What would I do?  Who would I call?  Where would I go?  And most importantly, what would I eat?
This is the worldwide web, so I’m going to stray from specifics, as I’m pretty sure Tyra/future employers/my rabbi keep up with my blog regularly.
Before May 21st’s projected end of the world, my world completely fell apart.
One after another, all the things that kept me stable and happy started slipping away from me, and I felt like I lost all sense of control.
It started slowly at first, school stress, family fights, friendship drama, relationship challenges, all the regular issues a college student endures, nothing to get too bummed about.
And suddenly everything built up. Maintaining my Dean’s List status meant sacrificing valuable time I could be maintaining relationships with old friends.  Having a wonderful relationship meant lying to my family.  Lying to my family equated to constant paranoia over what my friends knew and said and repeated.  Paranoia about my friends’ activity led to unnecessary insecurity about my relationship.  Ridiculous insecurities led to me being unpleasant, upset and angry and sad and frustrated for no understandable reason, taking it out on the people I loved most. There was so much to be afraid of and I just wanted to believe I was fearless.
I denied my own unhappiness because it made no sense to me.  I had it all: a fantastic life in New York City, amazing friends, love.  I was brighter, prettier, and all around more talented than most people, so what is there to be miserable about?
I remembered being happy, fantasizing about the times I felt light and free and on top of the world, a mere three or six months ago, and I had faith that this too shall pass, and I wouldn’t feel so heavy and bogged down and glum. I excused my behavior for so many reasons: bad weather, lack of sleep, PMS.
I distanced myself from the girl who would silently cry herself to sleep, unsure why the tears came in the first place.
I blamed those nearest and dearest to me for not making me happy enough, for not doing enough for me, for not understanding anything I was going through. But how could they when I couldn’t even acknowledge my own struggles? I was strong and independent and didn't need help from anyone, especially when nothing was wrong. I didn't want to be a burden.
I knew I was loved by so many people, but I had stopped loving myself.  I couldn’t turn to anyone, I couldn’t ask for help. I didn’t need any help- why would I?
And then the world came to an end.
And I was still alive.
I had been living and breathing for so long, walking and talking and thinking and feeling, but I wasn’t living.  My world had been slipping away from me for so long, and I thought I was ready to let it go.
My friends and family were there to pick up the pieces of the world I had crushed and forced into the ground.  They were there with tight hugs and kind words and luminous smiles and delicious treats.  They told me they had always been there, that I could always tell them what I was feeling, what disturbed me, what I needed to feel good.
They had no idea I was so unhappy, or unhappy at all for that matter.  I’m all giggles and smiles and fun all the time. I have an ideal life.  What went wrong?
Everything.  Everything was wrong for so long, and kept getting worse and worse and worse.
And then it started to get better.
Faster than everything went downhill, I defied the laws of physics as everything started looking brighter and happier and more hopeful.
Life is great!Bad things happen.  So do great, amazing things.  You have to have some bad in order to appreciate all the good.  You have to endure stress and loss and disappointment in order to fully appreciate all the truly wonderful things life has to offer.  What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

I’m happy.  I really am.  It really took me falling apart to begin to work on myself and become the best me possible.  And I know I’m still getting there, problems don't just disappear overnight, but for the first time in far too long I feel so good.  I’ve been able to express things I’ve never been able to express, to see the world for the beautiful place it truly is, and to love myself for who I really am. I've reconnected with old friends, opened up to family members who became distant over the years, and suddenly I feel like everything is falling into place. I haven't bit my nails in a month, truly record-breaking, and I have no desire to. I’ve been having so much fun, feeling so real and alive and ready to take on the world. And it’s truly amazing.
The false ending of the world taught me how much I have to appreciate and how truly fortunate I am for all that I have.  There’s so much to live for, so many beautifully unpredictable things to look forward to, so many mistakes to make and learn from and perhaps go back and fix.
I can only hope that the Mayans are wrong about 2012, just like they were with the Conquistadors and anesthesia, because there are so many incredible things just waiting to happen and I want to experience them all!
Giraffes, for one, are incredible.

I Throw My Hands Up In The Air Sometimes

I danced the role of Gingerbread in my dance studio’s production of “The Nutcracker” in 2002. All evidence of this performance has been destroyed, but the fond memories live on. I was much too old to be in the Sugar Plum Court, and as I tried on my one-piece, brown felt costume the week before the dress rehearsal, I broke down in tears.  I was supposed to be Prima Ballerina, what was I doing wearing a smelly old potato sack?  I had a solo, for goodness sake, bouréeing across the stage to give Clara her tiara.  It was humiliating.  My mom told me I could quit, I wasn’t contracted or anything, but I was too afraid to let the director down.  Not only was she terrifying, but without me, the performance clearly could not go on- Clara’s dream wouldn’t be complete without my vital participation! I was a star in my own right.
My dance career only took off from there! I joined my middle school’s pom-pom squad, show choir, and when I moved up to high school, I joined the step dancing team (this is a story for another time), performed in the spring dance concert, and sacrificed my lunch period for additional performance classes. I spent hours in dance class each week, traveled to Upstate New York for performing arts camp, took intensive pre-college workshops in Chicago.   I still know every word to Flashdance and Dirty Dancing.
I was told I was good, but not a star.  Ouch.  It never bothered me that I was usually placed in the back row during ensemble numbers—I’m tall!  When an instructor moved me from the head of the barre to the middle, I blamed it on the fact that I had a wandering mind and couldn’t always remember the precise combinations, no big deal, my technique was great. I still firmly believe this-- memorizing plie and tendue combinations is challenging!
I’m gangly and awkward.  There’s no way to get around it.  It took me about 17 years to embrace this.  I slowly phased out dance as a lifestyle and turned it into more of a hobby.  Which was totally fine, I didn’t need to be a triple threat, my other talents were suffice.
And while I may be gangly and awkward, I also have tons of energy.
Sophomore year of high school, I began taking yoga.  It was nice.  Sometimes we did downward facing dog to Corrine Bailey Rae.  Occasionally we’d breathe in rhythm with a gong.  I’d roll up my mat feeling restless.
Junior year, I began kickboxing.  It was awesome. I felt tough, I felt powerful, I felt so cool.  My friends and I would gear up for an hour of jumping around and punching to Michael Jackson and Britney Spears re-mixes while the instructor would call out directions.  Occasionally, she’d go for a sip of water or to change the track and I’d be left in front, trustworthy enough to lead the group in Uppercuts and Roundhouse kicks.  This was so much better than ballet!  I could follow the combinations.  I could envision fighting my enemies. My gangliness gave me that extra oomph in the double-time exercises. I’d leave every week feeling amazing!
Inevitably, the gym schedule changed and my weekly cardio kickboxing routine was replaced by Zumba. Zumba, what the hell was that?  And more importantly, why would I want to do anything any less badass than kickboxing?
But I needed something to do with my endless energy, as I had kicked my tap shoes, jazz sneakers, and ballet slippers far into the depths of my closet. After a week of monotonous repetitions with the Jackie Warner DVD in my living room, I begrudgingly agreed to try Zumba.  (This is not an insult to Jackie, I love her dearly, but something about counting to twenty with a recording while flexing my abs and waving my arms just wasn’t cutting it for me).
Zumba was unbelievable.  It was everything a gangly, ex-dancer, Latina-wannabe could ever wish for.  And more.  We shook our hips to Ricky Martin and Shakira and Michael Buble and the Hairspray soundtrack.  We grapevined across the floor and waved our arms to the music and shook our booties wildly.  Whatever we did, however badly we messed up, the teacher continued dishing out constant praise and smiles.  There was no one holding a cold pole to keep my knees straight, no one correcting me for pivoting to my left instead of my right.  It was just fun!
I love dancing, I love to dance, but I’m not a dancer.  And for this reason, Zumba has been my perfect solution to life.  I always leave feeling so alive, so free, so on top of the world.  I can move my body like a maniac, shout out affirmations with my fellow Zumba-ers (Yeah!  Wooo!), and just let go of all my worries.  I can only imagine how crazy I look, twisting my bony hips in a figure eight and throwing my long arms in the air, but it doesn’t matter!  Everyone is perfect in Zumba.
I may never be Prima Ballerina, my name will never be in lights at the New York City Ballet, but for an hour every week, I am the Dancing Queen, and that’s more than enough for me.

Midnight Van to Manhattan

Living in New York, it’s easy to get caught up in all the glamour of the greatest city in the universe. The beautiful streets of our city offer us so much- fashion, art, culture, food, people- yet an even more passes by unnoticed with all the extravagant distractions that so easily catch our attention.
We may say hi to the homeless man on our street, toss a quarter in his raggedy Starbucks cup and continue our journey to Whole Foods, by which time he is fully out of our minds and we’re stocking up on organic apples at $13/pound.  We may even make an effort, bring our cherished neighborhood bum a warm blanket in the snow, give her a bottle of water on a particularly hot day, but in the end, they stay there, on the grit-covered sidewalk in the smog of the city, and we push them out of our heads as we continue on with our fabulous lives. 
Every New Yorker has problems:  we missed the 1 train by half a second and our iPhone app tells us the next train won’t arrive for 4 more minutes.  We spent our weekly budget going out on Thursday night and have to live on Hallel cart bagels for six days. We found a cockroach, or worse, a mouse in the kitchen we pay far too much rent for, and the exterminator can’t come for ten more days.  And while so many things may seem like a crisis, there are worse things in life than getting your Manolo stuck in a subway grate. 
This is not to say that all New Yorkers are materialistic, self-absorbed drones.  On the contrary, I find that so many of us are concerned with community issues, with the greater world, with discussing culture and politics and so many issues that would perhaps be left untouched in a city without such magnificent diversity. 
We are thinkers, New Yorkers. And sometimes things happen that make us perceive our world in a different way, adding just another diversion to the daily business of being a city dweller. 
The last Thursday in March I participated in a program called Midnight Run.  The organization coordinates groups of volunteers to prepare meals and collect clothing for the homeless, which will then be distributed by van starting around 10:00 pm. 
I spent the early part of the evening alongside JTS students, assembling sandwiches (tuna, egg salad, cheese) to stuff in paper bags alongside an apple and a cookie.  We sorted through piles of donated clothes, separating men’s from women’s apparel, folding blankets and matching socks. After a hard week, it was nice to relax with my peers, everyone smiley that they were doing something to help the less fortunate, and everyone ready to unwind for the weekend.  It was comforting to be able to methodically label sandwich bags and appreciate my classmate’s terrifyingly accurate impressions of our favorite (read: most entertaining) professors. 
We soon loaded the two enormous vans that we had borrowed from the Midnight Run office for the evening with dinners and blankets and hot chocolate, and set off on the route arranged for us.  While my anxiety about driving surely had me riled up (“Omigod, there’s a bus turning, we’re going to die!” “You can’t drive through Central Park!”  “How do we know who’s drunk?  We don’t.  Get off the road!”) even more excitement was bubbling inside of me as I prepared for what I expected to be a memorable experience. 
Our van full of food!

We pulled up to the first location on the Upper East Side. The vans are unmarked, meaning, the people who need the resources know when and where they will be, so there is no need to promote the organization with any advertisements on the vehicle. We offered a sandwich and a blanket to a man sleeping on the steps of the church and after a few more minutes of waiting, we drove off for our next stop. That’s it? I thought. Do people really need us or are we just doing this program to make ourselves feel good? Slightly disappointed, I sang along to Ke$ha with my car mates as we navigated to the next destination (Madison Avenue is a one-way street, just fyi).

The next few stops were similar. One or two people approached the van, grateful indeed, but I wondered what we would do with over 150 sandwiches at the end of the night.

Passing out clothing from the van.
By the time we reached midtown, however, I was beginning to see how necessary our mission truly was. Men and women approached the van, many of them so visibly cold and hungry I found it difficult to keep a smile on my face. “Have a nice evening, sir,” I would grin as I handed out a dinner much smaller than my own on any given night to someone who had probably not eaten all day. And I was deeply disturbed. How could I wish them well, knowing most of them didn’t have a bed to sleep in, a person nearby to love them, an assurance that they would have anything to eat when they wake up?

I also didn’t know them. I had no idea what their circumstances, what their stories were. Sure, I had a few short details from a college drop out and others I could tell had turned to drugs for one reason or another, but how could I so deeply empathize with people I knew so little about?

Sitting pretzel-style in the trunk of the van passing out sandwiches, my velvet-gloved hands numb and my entire body shaking from the cold, I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to live on the street. I have my needs: warm food, a different pair of shoes for every day of the week, nail polish, toilet paper. How could anybody do without this?

Tyra once did an episode of her show in which she lived as a homeless person for 24 hours. She wore a bandana over her weave, bathed herself with a bar of soap in a public restroom, and slept on the street while someone watched over her so she wouldn’t be mugged/raped/harassed for autographs. During the interview segment she was brought to tears multiple times, and I remember being to interested that she would willingly do this, so intrigued in the way she was able to portray homelessness. But in the end, she was still a celebrity, had a multimillion-dollar apartment and assistants and career to return to, while her homeless companions had no hope of ever achieving any of this.

By the time we arrived at our last stop, I could see we were absolutely making an impact.  Sure, it was only one more meal, one extra hat or sweater or pair of shoes, but it was something.  And yes, there was definitely more we could be doing. I worry that the people with whom we interacted never have the chance to engage in a life-changing novel, to walk through New York for aesthetic value not just to find a place to nap, to build lifelong friendships.  Though we can’t hope to improve the world with any singular project, every little bit helps. Recognizing that I am privileged, that I have to opportunity to help the world and actively want to do so is the most important thing I can take away from projects like these. 
And while I cannot say my life has changed since this incredible evening, I still walk past homeless people asking for money, I’ve been guilty of throwing away meals I cannot finish, I know that I see the city differently.  On my way to Bloomingdale’s last weekend I walked past the first corner at which we handed out our first sandwich, and I paused to reflect on it. As Tory Burch flats and Prada bags swished by me in one of New York’s wealthiest neighborhoods, I knew that there was so much unseen suffering in this same location. In fear of sounding self-righteous, I told my shopping friend the amazing event that had taken place at this intersection, passing on the awareness and hopefully promoting further discussions that will lead to progress and absolutely make New York the greatest city in the universe. 
Cold but satisfied with our Midnight Run.

Smiling with My Eyes

While I used to be the type of person who read Perez Hilton religiously, talked about the celebrities on the cover of US Weekly as if they were my BFFS, and dream about stardom, these days have since passed. I’ve shifted my daily distractions to TFLN and FML and MLIA—you know, real life things—and aspire to become world famous for my incredible writing talent rather than my dramatic skills.

However, when presented with the occasion to meet the one and only Tyra Banks, I was not one to pass up this once-in a lifetime opportunity (until I win ANTM cycle 17, that is).

Tyra, for as long as I can remember, has been my favorite celebrity. Perhaps it’s her stunning beauty, her quirky phrases and outbursts, her mission to make all women feel gorgeous and perfect. Regardless, Tyra is quite beloved and dear to me. She’s been on locker posters, T-shirts, been there to chat with me after-school when all I wanted to do was stuff my face with pasta, taught me how to work the runway, smile with my eyes, and rock my natural hair without a weave. Maybe I don’t actually need a weave, but seriously, Tyra is my girl!

I probably shrieked for an hour when I learned I had the opportunity to breathe the same air as her. While Tyra may provide us with episodes like “10 women, 5 vaginas” and “Marijuana Moms,” I still wholeheartedly enjoy her hour-long afternoon talk show. After doing my makeup as well as she taught me, picking out a cute outfit, and downing a coffee, I felt ready for my day in her studio. I couldn’t contain my excitement as I cheered and clapped and screamed for my role model long before she even stepped on stage. I volunteered myself for all the diversions until filming began; I finally was called upon to stand onstage and answer Tyra trivia, and won a free t-shirt. My favorite t-shirt.

Tyra finally pranced down her runway, tall and glamorous and flawless, and I was unsure what to think. I don’t really remember thinking. I remember staring and shrieking more and doubting that Tyra Banks stood twenty feet away from me. The taping went by quickly, although the producers continuously paused to push Tyra’s curls around with a strange stick, I went home with more than enough Valentine’s day gifts from my lady and a never-ending smile on my face.

It seemed that everyone I saw that day needed to know that I saw Tyra, shared her space, seen the legend in person. Shockingly enough, people listened, or maybe they were just hoping for some of the two pounds of Godiva chocolate she gave me...

So here’s the thing: it may seem stupid to have a celebrity icon, to look up to someone you don’t know, aspire to be her, meet her, befriend her, there’s a specialness about this impossibility that makes our lives more interesting. While I never actually believed I would meet Tyra (I swear she waved at me after the taping!), seeing her in person reaffirmed my belief in the distant. Tyra, the first African American model for Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret; the star of Lindsay Lohan’s television movie debut, Lifesize; a face in Michael Jackson’s iconic “Black or White” video has always been this distant superstar, a force so powerful and far away, she barely seemed real. And now, I’ve seen her. I believe in the things she’s done and the things I’m capable to do. Tyra encourages me to release my silly side, imitate the “Single Ladies” dance on national TV (is now a good time to drop that Beyoncé was on the show), feel beautiful and perfect and just be who I am.

And while my celebrity life may be far in my past, my hours spent with Tyra will keep me smiling with my eyes for a long, long time….

Girl Talk

I can competently find the bathroom, order food, and get directions in myriad countries. I look forward to watching Telemundo after midnight, observe American Sign Language speakers intently as I secretly eavesdrop on their conversations (is that horrible?), and even have a special language with my friends, yet I find my linguistic skills lack when it comes to insanely fanatical girlish statements. What may appear as mundane, apathetic comments are truly packed with meaning, which can take hours to deduce— far too late to apply the actual meaning to the situation. I was recently at a friend’s house for an all night movie party. Awesome? I know. She paused the first movie before it even started and called out to her sister, “We’re going to wait for you, okay?”

“Yeah, sure, I’m just getting food,” her sister called back.

Translation: “We want to watch the movie so get your butt over here. Now.” Translation: “I’m hungry. It’s Saturday night. We’re watching chick flicks. I’ll eat what I want and take as long as I want picking it out.”

It took another friend to properly decode the language from one girl to another, joking that only the female gender would understand this dialect. But do we? Can we just deduce whatever meaning we like from what these girls say and enjoy it?

I sure cannot. I either a) fail to realize that the implications of the code, or even notice that the conversation is being carried on in code or b) respond with some unreasonable code of my own.

“Would you like to come inside?” “Well, I have to be somewhere in an hour.” (Said place is fifteen minutes away) “Okay.” “Sure.”

Now what? Seriously? Stay? Go? Nod rapidly and walk away? What decision was deduced from this foolish, implausible, language of the female gender, in which each girl feigns indifference, never reaching a solution but causing the other girl to completely twist the words in every possible combination in order to conclude something?

This weekend I took a trip to Cleveland with a couple friends. The theme of the weekend was “100% neutral” as in, when we would make plans during our time in Ohio, none of us would make a decision.

“Want to go to a party?” “I’m 100% neutral.”

“Would you prefer a hot or cold breakfast?” “I’m 100% neutral.”

“How do you feel about the flattest land on Earth?” “100% neutral.”

As we boarded the train to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame my friend asked, “Are you sure this is smart?”

Friend 2: “100% neutral.” (I should mention at this point friend 2 is actually male, however exhibits many female tendencies—upon typing this I realize I will be beaten later, sorry man).

Me: “What do you mean? Of course this is smart. We’re here. We’re going.”

Translation: “Do we really want to pay $22 for a stupid museum? I don’t!” Translation: “Not really, but I’ll just go with the flow.” Translation: “Stop talking in code. We’re going to see Madonna’s cone shaped bustier, end of story.”

Upon leaving the museum, which is clearly one of the coolest places ever, there was no question whether the experience was worth our money. Absolutely no question.

We are never indifferent. We cannot accomplish anything by being 100% Neutral. And in lieu of quoting John Mayer, I do however need to ask: Why can we never just say what we need to say? Is it that difficult?

What is with all the code? Why can’t we just say what we really mean? What is going on that even in the closest of friendships we cannot even express our simplest desires? From where did this girl code originate, who thought it was a good idea, and when will it stop?