Surgery as a path to happiness.

Hello friends/people who read this blog!

Just wanted to write a quick little update since I haven’t posted since JULY… oops.

Life has been getting sweeter and sweeter in my corner of the world, but recently I’ve had a hard time recognizing it. I’m still struggling to find my path in life- to find a career that I love, to find motivation to be adventurous, to find the time to be healthy. For a while it was easiest for me to just enjoy life passively while it flew by me.

But about a week ago I had surgery (on my bum, which is just hilarious to try to explain to strangers), and it changed my world view just enough to be massively helpful. I went into the operating room terrified of anesthesia and knives and the whole idea of someone cutting into me, frustrated that I was about to be out of commission for two weeks, and really friggin thirsty. I came out of surgery blissfully happy, in no pain, and ah… okay yeah it was probably the drugs. But in all seriousness, I was so happy for some reason. When I got back home I had my mom, my boyfriend, my dog, and a huge dish of lasagna. My mom made me ELEVEN crockpot meals to keep in my freezer so I could focus on healing instead of cooking, let me show her my entire Pinterest wedding board, and played Settlers of Catan with me for the first time. My dad came over the next day and made banana cream pie from scratch, played the first piano/guitar duet in our new house, and… played Settlers of Catan with me for the first time. (I have a new favorite board game, guys.) Two of my best friends checked up on me and my butt and let me complain about the absurdity of my wound. My boyfriend waited on me hand and foot, listened to my constant whine of “my butt hurts”, and massaged all of my weird surgery aches.

I felt really, really happy.

For the past five or six years, I’ve constantly felt like I was waiting for something, like my life was just a transition period before the good stuff started happening. Now finally I feel like I’ve arrived at that point I was waiting on for so long. No, I definitely do NOT have my life figured out, but what I do have is the best family on the planet. It just took me a while to figure out that that was the end goal all along.

I’m still in pain and grumpy and there are stitches in my butt (WHICH REALLY SUCKS) but life is so so so good. I’ve got a puppy and friends and family and a house and a bed and I am alive.

I guess the point of all of this is to say that I’m thankful to butt surgery for making me realize how ridiculously lucky I am.

That’s all folks :)

Nadia keeping me company during recovery :)

Nadia keeping me company during recovery :)

How College Should Have Been

If you don’t know me well, you might not know that I really struggled through college. After doing very well in high school, I thought the next four years would be a breeze.

I WAS WRONG.

College is weird, and not for everybody… as I realized my very first semester, though I decided to stick it out anyway. Six years later, I am still unsatisfied with my college education. A large part of this disappointment stems from not really learning a lot of things that are useful or beneficial to me in any way.

college

What follows is a list of courses that I think should have been offered in my quest for a degree.

1. How to Write a Really Good Cover Letter/Resume - This should be a requirement for every student, everywhere. Heck, even high school students should know how to do this. Alas, I am still stumped every time a job application requires a cover letter. To be fair, there is a career center at my university, but when I made an appointment to have my resume proofread, my career counselor was a student whom I had most recently seen smoking an illicit substance on my couch with my degenerate roommate. Not ideal.

2. Understanding Mortgages or Should You Rent or Buy? – Look. I would like to know how not to get screwed over when I am purchasing the biggest thing I will probably ever purchase. Mortgages confuse me. That is all. In the same vein:

3. How to Stop Using So Many Darn Credit Cards Since You’re Already Accumulating a Huge Amount of Debt By Taking This Class LOL – Please teach our youth not to rely on credit. Build your credit history, yes. Don’t put your bar tab on your card every weekend when you can’t even afford to pay your rent.

4. Laundry 101 – In fact, a class that just teaches you how to do everything your mom did for you for the first 18 years of your life would be great. I got lucky with a mom that taught me how to drive stick and do laundry and cook pasta and stuff, but seriously, there are SO MANY college kids that google “How to boil water”. #what.

5. How to Use the Tools of Our Generation – As silly as it sounds, I’m of the opinion that if you have a college degree you should know how to use social media to your advantage. Know how to use things like Photoshop and Garage Band and iMovie (or some variation of those things) because eventually somewhere in your career that knowledge will help you. Learn how to sort through the junk on the internet to get to the useful stuff, and then cram that useful stuff into your head. The internet is a magical place.

6. GRAMMAR 101 – You’re = you are. Your = your. Learn it. I’ve caught wind that this is now considered sort of pretentious but come on, people in other countries know like three languages. Learn your own, at least.

 

I’ll stop my list here, lest I start getting really heated, but feel free to add on! What classes do you wish your college had offered to get you through the real world?

Erin

*note: I do realize that variations of some of these classes may be offered at my school, but my degree program (like many degree programs) had a strict schedule of what classes to take and when to take them… so deviating from that schedule to learn more useful things would have kept me in school longer than the SIX YEARS that I already spent there… no thank you.

 

The end of a beautiful journey, the start of a new adventure

Hi friends.

I’ve taken more than a week to reflect on my experience at Miss Delaware this year, and I think I’m finally ready to talk about it.

Almost five years ago, my best friend asked me to compete in a pageant. I’m gonna be honest, I did not want to. I had never watched Miss America or Miss USA, I had never had a life changing encounter with a pageant queen, and my clearest view of pageant girls came from the movie “Drop Dead Gorgeous”. The only experience I had ever had competing in a “pageant” was losing the title of “Little Miss Fire Prevention” because I spoke so quietly no one could hear me. But my best friend asked me, and I said yes.

The first pageant we competed in was Miss Wilmington/Miss Newark, and I had no idea what I was doing. My mom bought me a gown from Macy’s which I felt absolutely gorgeous in, and which was also four inches too short for me. I wore a white one piece bathing suit with a HUGE bow right over the butt, and matched it with these totally rad chunky white heels. I also hot glued the hem of my opening number dress.

I had no idea what I was doing.

But as scared and clueless as I was, I felt so powerful and confident on that stage. I sang in front of people for the first time in over a year (wearing a kick-ass fedora, might I add), I pranced around in a swimsuit and heels, and most importantly, I made a lot of amazing friends. So many people adopted me and cared for me right from the start, and that was what made me want to come back.

Shortly after competing in my first couple of local pageants, I began to receive messages from people I really looked up to in the pageant world, encouraging me to continue, giving me tips to improve, and kindly teaching me the ways of pageantry (THANK YOU to Lauren Stevenson for making me get rid of those white swimsuit shoes).

By the time I reached Miss Delaware for the first time, I was in love. In love with the people, the organization, and the job. I was 100% sure I was not ready to be Miss Delaware that year, but I knew that someday I would be.

 

Flash forward to January 2013. When it came to pageantry my spirit was pretty defeated, and I had made the decision not to compete again for the job of Miss Delaware. I even cut my hair super short to help myself stay strong. :D But when I watched Miss America I felt a twinge of regret, a subtle sadness that I was giving up on my dream. So after many, many phone calls and late night discussions with Kayla Martell and my boyfriend, Michael, I decided to give it one more try. I was so nervous about my decision, I didn’t even tell my mom until the day before the local pageant.

 

At the end of January, I won my fifth local, and became Miss Milford. I decided to approach Miss Delaware in an entirely different way. Every time I had competed, I knew the judges wanted something specific, and without knowing what that was, I tried to be “it”. This time I resolved to be only myself.

I can truly say that this year at Miss Delaware, I was nothing but myself. In my interview I beat boxed (with one of the judges rapping… AWESOME), talked truthfully about my platform and why it is so important to me and to our nation, and really showed the judges my whole self. I sang a song with notes that I NEVER thought I could hit when I was 19 years old. I finally walked on stage in swimsuit with honest-to-goodness abs and a whole boatload of confidence. I was me, and I’m extremely proud of that.

 

Now for the hard part. I’ve spent the past week wondering why I wasn’t crowned this year, when I felt the most like Miss Delaware. I hope that I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings with my reaction to not making the top five (Inside scoop: I cried a LOT… really loudly), but know that it was not because I think I am better than anyone who was on that stage that night. It is extraordinarily difficult to be forced to give up on a dream. Aging out sucks.

However.

In the past five years, I have competed for Miss Delaware five times, I have competed at the National Sweetheart pageant, I’ve won the Carol Maclary Excellence in Education Award, preliminary talent and evening gown, the Judges’ Award of Distinction, and my favorite, the Miss Spirit award. I have made countless friends and have met amazing people who have truly changed my life. I have held a high school girl as she cried after I spoke to the class about depression. I have played music for a classroom of special needs kids and saw bigger smiles than I’ve ever seen. I’ve cut up pizza for a little girl with a tiara on her head, and I’ve gotten more pint-sized hugs than I can count.

 

I am blessed beyond belief.

I’ll never know why I was not meant to win Miss Delaware, but I know without a doubt why I was meant to become involved in this organization. So now, at the risk of this post becoming ridiculously long-winded, I need to thank a whole bunch of people.

Thank you to the Miss Wilmington team, for having faith in me from the very beginning (Miss Northern Delaware, woot woot!), for building my confidence, and for always being there for me.

 

Thank you to the many other people who saw something in me when I was young and a “hot mess” as someone once described me ;)  Thank you for lending clothes, advice, and your ears.

Thank you to Laura Moylan, Brooke Janney, and Brittany Newman for making me really believe that I could be Miss Delaware, pumping my interview wayyyy up, and for loving my goofy side.

 

Thank you to Heather McKinney for being a wonderful friend and director, and for allowing me to really do it my way this year. I can be a SARK!

 

Thank you to Chris Saltalamacchio for teaching me how to walk, how to work it, and how to be the best version of myself.

 

To Steffi Holmes, thank you for being my friend first and foremost, for always keeping me grounded, for telling me everything I needed to know about Sweetheart, and for commiserating :)

 

To Kayla Martell, my Miss America. You were one of my biggest inspirations to be Miss Delaware. You became a sister and a friend. Thank you for lending me everything I ever needed, for talking to me for hours on the phone, for calming my nerves, and for telling me constantly that I could and would be Miss Delaware.

 

Thank you to the Miss Delaware Board of Directors for giving your time, money, energy, and love. Special thanks to Aimee Voshell String, who always told me exactly what I needed to hear and cheered me up many times when no one else could. And also helped me not look a fool in production numbers. :D

To Kristina Magnin (what.) THANK YOU for starting all of this madness. Thank you for crazy eyes, backstage shenanigans, and being brave enough to ride in a golf cart with me.

 

Thank you to all the Miss Delaware contestants, past, present, and future, for being the reason I came back every year. The world might not know it yet, but you are the most articulate, kind, big-hearted, and beautiful women that exist on this planet. Several of you told me that you wanted me to win this year, and that means more than actually winning ever would.

 

To Michael, I don’t know how I ever got so lucky. Thank you for supporting me since before you really had to, and for telling me I could be Miss Delaware (and really, really believing it).

 

Thank you Dad, for expressing the proper amount of outrage that I didn’t win every year, for showing up every time I competed for Miss Delaware even though you thought those judges were crazy, and for really listening when I talk to you.

 

And finally, to my biggest supporter, thank you Mom. You are there for me through thick and thin. You gave and continue to give everything you have in hopes that I will be the best I can be, and I can only hope my heart grows that big when I have kids. You gave me gowns, feedback, interview help, and reality checks. I wouldn’t have made it this far without you.

 

Now, my dear, beautiful friends, if you have made it this far…

Stay goofy.

283068_1826698158342_1084956_n

Computers. Bleh.

Last week my computer broke. To put it in real-person terms, the hard drive died. I didn’t have anything backed up, so now three years of pictures, songs, poetry, homework, love letters and videos are gone. I spent a lot of time crying and yelling and just generally freaking out. I felt like I was losing three years of my life.

But my best friend softly whispered in my ear, “Your memories are in your head, not in your computer.” And then I was mostly okay.

I don’t want to make this a whole existential moment, but really, I think it’s about time I shifted my attitude toward technology. We all laugh about computers ruling the world someday, but don’t they sort of rule our lives already? The first thing I do in the morning is check my phone. Then I get on my computer and check my email, facebook, tumblr, twitter, my friends’ tumblrs… you get the idea. I don’t walk out on my porch and look at the horizon, or take the time to pray or stretch or meditate. I’d rather skip breakfast than ignore the internet. How much of this precious life am I wasting by escaping into an internet connection instead of a real, face-to-face connection?

I think it’s time for a change. It’s going to be difficult since I am a student, and thus spend most of my time parked in front of a computer out of necessity. But I think I can do it. Google doesn’t need to be my best friend. I don’t need to have proof of every life event on Instagram. Maybe I could sing my new songs to the birds and the trees instead of a microphone plugged into a laptop.

Like I said, this will be hard. So if you have any tips on how to ease oneself back into the real world, I’m all ears.