A MinD in MoTown

…I’m a Toys ‘R Us kid.
October 13, 2009, 5:02 pm
Filed under: I am getting old..., MoTown, Pourquoi?, WE ARE...

Every time I travel to Penn State for a visit – about once per semester – I leave the borough of State College with mixed feelings that seem to slightly cloud my first few days back in reality.

My weekends surrounded by the blue and white are always fabulous. Filled with plenty of laughs, crazy times, drunken debauchery (of sorts) and occasionally new friends, it’s easy to depart Pennsylvania feeling a bit more nostalgic and missing my college life oodles more than the day I arrived.

But – and perhaps this is a sign that I truly am growing up despite my attempts not to entirely – I also leave State College a little happy, anxious to return to the adulthood I’ve created for myself in North Carolina. I strangely start looking forward to lounging on my couch, in sweats, with my puppy and watching TV all night, rather than putting on my sexiest heels and tightest cleavage-exposing shirt as I head to the bar.

I typically expect to feel old and somewhat more mature diving head first back into college fun for a few days, but it’s a strange morose, glum mood that accompanies those sentiments as my brief vacation comes to a close. Days like today, only 24 hours after making my way back home, I find myself lingering somewhere between happy and longing for the weekend that passed and relieved and excited to have it end. Bizarre, right?

It’s easy to anticipate eventually noting a significant detachment from those college years, hitting that point where it’s clear how truly over those “glory days” are. Is this what that feels like? Because, if so, I never supposed it’d arrive while I still had students for friends and people there to visit. When I was married and had kids, perhaps, but not while I’m still only 24 years old, out of school just more than two years, and always longing to return to State College even if for a brief moment.

Is this something different? Maybe just a recognition that I am, indeed, getting older and farther from those days I so completely miss… As I type this post, that seems to be the most logical reasoning because why else – if choosing the former option – would such excitement envelop me in the weeks leading to my Penn State arrival as well as my total happiness throughout the weekend (and I will note that I had an AMAZING time this past weekend, without a doubt!).

Maybe it’s all just another part of growing up and leaving behind the college life I loved so much. Maybe it’s because there are things I would change about how I spent my PSU days, or maybe because I look at all those who are still students and I’m completely filled with jealousy at what they’re just starting to experience. Or hey, maybe I just totally miss the lack of responsibility or care for anything in the world other than fun.

I’m sure a variety of factors and feelings are contributing to my mediocre mood today – and a cold I seemingly got at Penn State is surely not helping – but either way, when this passes and I start planning for my next trip to State College, at least I’ll remember what to expect. Sure, I knew this time, at least to some extent, but writing it now, today, as I’m feeling it seemed like a wise decision.

I suppose the real question is: Will these feelings and emotions change my desire to jump on a plane and fly 500 miles north again in a few months? Will I forego the pure exhiliration of seeing friends, partying, shopping and happily laughing my way through a weekend because I might feel a bit “blah” afterward? Likely not. I can always deal with a little “meh” for something as amazing as a Penn State weekend because, when it truly comes down to it, that place and everything about it will run through my veins forevermore. After all, like the PSU saying goes, I bleed blue and white, and really, I’m not sure I’d have it any other way.

Ah, Happy Valley.
October 9, 2009, 2:05 pm
Filed under: I clearly have nothing better to say, WE ARE...

Well folks, I’m yet again out of town, enjoying a four-day weekend in central Pennsylvania – Happy Valley/State College/University Park/PENN STATE, to be exact.

We Are...!

We Are...!

And right there, within Beaver Stadium, is where I’ll spend several hours Saturday (woohoo, I get to go to a game), cheering on my Nittany Lions!

So try not to miss me too much. I’ll return to the blogosphere on Tuesday. ‘Til then, catch me on Twitter (and take in this weekend’s crazy shenanigans!) and have a great weekend!

I bleed blue and white.
November 13, 2008, 4:54 pm
Filed under: Are you ready for some football?, WE ARE...

I may not be a sports-guru, or that amazing chick every guy lusts over because she’s so-into sports and yet, still straight. However, college football is my thing, and – I’m sure you’ve noticed by now – Penn State is not just my team, but my alma mater.

And like every other Nittany Lion fan in the world, I cringed on Saturday when, with one second remaining on the game clock, Iowa kicked a field goal and ruined our perfect season, 24-23 … yep, with one second left.

By the way, when I say “cringed,” I actually mean I cursed, a lot, and told people who laughed in my face to do things that are rather inappropriate considering I was serving tables at the time. I digress.

This weekend the boys in blue and white head into Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. and face the Indiana Hoosiers who, with 1-5 in the Big Ten conference and 3-7 overall, will likely fail miserably on the field (or so I hope). Despite our mild offensive line in the last two games, scoring only 36 points overall, I hope they can come back this week and not just trample the Hoosiers – um, what the fuck is a Hoosier anyway? – but prepare themselves, mentally and physically, to likewise dominate Michigan State next weekend – away game, uh oh – and give us an 11-1/7-1 season, even though we all hoped to end undefeated.

Projections say we’ll be headed for the Rose Bowl this year, potentially against USC, and I just hope those boys get their shit together fast and don’t let us fans down in the final two weeks.

It’s amazing, if you ask me, that we can go from instilling this in our opponents at the end of a game:

Ohio State University freshman quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, following their loss to Penn State on Oct. 25, 13-6.

Ohio State University freshman quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, following their loss to Penn State on Oct. 25, 13-6.

To this:

Iowa kicker Daniel Murray (1) and two teammates after their game-winning field goal. 24-23 ... with one friggin' second left. Argh.

Iowa kicker Daniel Murray (1) after their game-winning, 24-23, field goal on Nov. 8.

Such a change, and in just two weeks, with a bye week squeezed between games. Ohio State played harder, they played with more on the line, than Iowa did going into last week’s matchup. And with barely a moment remaining, every hope of a BCS championship game was lost this season.

It’s seriously time for those PSU boys, currently ranked 7th (a drop from 3rd before the Iowa State game) to step up and finish the season without further disappointment. It’s one thing for us fans to be left with a frown, but nobody wants to disappoint JoePa. I mean, look at that face:

Penn State's Joe Paterno on Nov. 11 at his weekly news conference.

How can you really let him down? LET’S GO STATE!

A letter to my favorite octogenarian.
October 13, 2008, 5:58 pm
Filed under: Are you ready for some football?, WE ARE...

Dear Joseph Paterno (may I call you JoePa?):

As my favorite octogenarian – mostly by default since my eldest grandparent (my maternal grandfather) was born after 1930 and my great-grandmother (paternal side) has already hit the 90-year mark – I have a humble favor to ask of you.

Please, please do not leave Penn State.

I know there is pressure, unfortunately, from outside sources – media sources even – to relinquish your coveted position once your contract expires following this season. And while these forces are clearly unspoken of and people such as athletic director Tim Curley – who I’ve spoken to in the past, though he likely would not recall – only tout your accomplishments, I think we both know that the PSU administration, including Graham Spanier himself, would prefer you walk off the field before a hearse must do the job.

And while this thought may seem morbid, those of us who are and forever remain die-hard Penn State fans believe Beaver Stadium – respectfully known as “The House that JoePa Built” – is where you should stay until your (God forbid!) final days.

This year’s team, 7-0 thus far, has gone far beyond many of our hopes, and you have led them to those numerous victories only two months into the season, though we acknowledge a few challenges (i.e. Ohio State and potentially Michigan State) remain in the weeks ahead. We recognize how much truly rides on each week’s game as we Tweet our PSU commitment – “WE ARE … PENN STATE” – and proudly wear alumni T-shirts from dawn until awakening Sunday mornings from our drunken slumbers.

Some of us sport that dedication – albeit to the memories and the University as a whole – every day, as I do with the tattoo on my left foot. And some of us are the first to tear down an Ohio State Fan – BOOOOOOOOOOOO! – when he attempts to tell me (true story) that on Oct. 8, 2005, as rain poured from above and I stood shivering in the bleachers – but overcome with more Penn State pride than any day beforehand – OSU defeated PSU, when I know, for certain, the truth behind that outcome, for I was there as my fellow fanatics jumped from the stands and stormed the field in a fit of joyous celebration as we beat those Buckeyes 17-10.

I graduated from that school, and sadly the stadium’s student section, hoping all I left behind would forever remain. And you, JoePa, are an institution of your own for Penn State University. Thus, I hope you, too, live every day of your life under that college umbrella with the football monarchy you have so beautifully and exceedingly led for the past 43 years; a team you have shaped and molded, despite constant student turnover, in your 59 total seasons with the Nittany Lions.

Your contract may expire in January, following what could be – and many of us cross our fingers each day for – a truly momentous season for the boys in blue and white. But we also hope the PSU administrators, coaching staff, powers that be recognize all you have done for that school and the symbolism you have brought to the football program.

You, JoePa, are more than one of the winningest college football coaches. YOU ARE … PENN STATE!

Sincerely yours,

MinD, Class of 2007

JoePa statue outside Beaver Stadium, and yours truly (in my graduation garb).

JoePa statue outside Beaver Stadium, and yours truly (in my graduation garb).

Looking for some cheese to accompany my w(h)ine.
June 30, 2008, 5:14 pm
Filed under: Argh, News Girl, WE ARE...

After four years of college at a pretty well-known school – Penn State University – you would think that it’d be possible to get a “good” job and make a “decent” living. I’d like to inform all journalism majors, yes, ALL, that believing that theory is entirely incorrect. Let me explain.

Without adding the mounting interest my student loans acquire each day to the principal I invested, I spent $50,000 on my collegiate education; this is a figure that has not even seen the most mild dent since I began paying it off at $350/month at the onset of 2008. To even say I’ve chipped the surface would be an exaggeration. And although I did what was “highly recommended” by consolidating my loans, the interest that builds up each month is nearly half of what I pay. Perhaps less, but for the sake of my argument, I’m going with half because it is, unfortunately, at least $125 per month.

Back to my initial thought… I have two jobs – yes, two, because I cannot survive on one place of employment despite 40-hour weeks. Instead, I throw on an apron and serve tables on the weekends to earn myself the $200 additional dollars I need each month to pay my bills and to put a few bucks of spending cash in my otherwise empty pockets. A typical week for me runs between 55 and 60 hours of work with one solitary day off from either job.

For as long as I could remember – and in nearly every movie about “kids going off to college” that I have ever viewed – higher education was touted as the means toward a better paying/more rewarding job, and thus, future. By putting my time and effort toward a Bachelor’s degree, I would open doors otherwise closed and be able to make a substantial step in the best direction for my continued success.

And since graduating in May 2007, I have learned one thing: When choosing journalism as your career path, the ideas previously held about a collegiate education are nothing more than BULLSHIT.

Yes, it’s true, bullshit. Did I go into this occupation because I wanted to strike it rich in the newspaper industry? No. But you would think, perhaps even assume, that a person with two Bachelor’s degrees – that’s correct, I have two, in both journalism and English – could make enough money to support oneself. Rather, an individual who barely made it through his collegiate courses can throw a ball 200 yards and make seven figures, while students like myself, graduating with a 3.5+ GPA, need to work six or seven days per week “in the real world” following college just to pay rent.

I’ve had this argument in the past with several people about the unfairness of today’s society in that those without a college degree often earn more than those with one, or two in my case. And I am not trying to demean anyone who went into a field that did not require a four-year education. What I am saying, however, is that a job – such as one as a newspaper reporter – that requires an individual to have a degree should, at the very least, be able to pay that employee enough money to allow him or her to pay for that required education. To spend $50,000 and not even earn enough to watch that principal diminish sometimes makes actually enjoying my job a little less important.

And for me, for someone whose only goal in life was “to write” and have others read what I had to say … for me to begin thinking that I’m actually sacrificing my happiness in the end by wearing myself out with every six-day week, every 60-hour work week, that passes because I want to do what I enjoy, that makes me question everything.

I went into journalism because of a love for the written word, because it was something I thoroughly took pleasure in doing. But having to work a second job to make ends meet causes a constant barrage of emotions, primarily grief, that overwhelmingly push aside the love I have for this career.

I have never been one to believe that money buys happiness, but what I’m gradually learning is that having an empty wallet can surely make someone pretty damn miserable.