Another Planet: What’s Outside of the U.S. That is SO Much Worse

My editor for my newly found writing gig approached me a few weeks ago with an invitation to go to a film festival here in town. I jumped at the opportunity as soon as my media credentials were varified. I finally had an excuse to go to a film festival that seemed, well, not so dorky. Saying I was going for my column sounds like a better reason than something like, “I love independent films and have always wanted to go to a festival,” right?

Last Thursday night, I drove the six or so blocks to the Plaza Cinema Cafe, which was one of the venues for the festival, conveniently located close to my apartment. I attended a screening of a narrative feature called Another Planet. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the film as the festival was called the Global Peace Film Festival. Judging from the title alone, what was once a film fest was now turned into a world peace demonstration. But what I came to find in viewing this film wasn’t so much world peace, but a tale of children in this world who were born into a country much less fortunate than I ever will be in my lifetime.

I look around my apartment sometimes and think, “if I only lived at The Vue,” or, “if only I could have a job that could enable me to afford a loft at 55W.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for this apartment and know that I got an amazing deal on it, but as we all know, no matter what we have in life, we always seem to want more. I guess that’s the American way of thinking, at least for most of us that were raised in an upper-middle class family. This way of thinking, this freedom that we have to be what we want, to get what we want, and to even set goals for ourselves is such a privilege and blessing that so many of us take for granted every day.

The film was shot on four different continents and featured children from different countries describing (in their country’s native language) what their life is like from day to day. These children were from countries like Colombia, Ecuador, and Cambodia. Not one of them spoke English but even through the subtitles, I just wanted to cry at parts of this movie.

One child lives her life selling “chiclets” in the street at night to make money for the family. She said that if she doesn’t sell enough gum at night, she’s beaten by her mother when she comes home.

Another young girl lives her life in a whore house where her virginity was taken at age eight while she was high on Valium from her “client.” As she’s telling the story of her daily life, she’s smoking a joint. She’s no more than twelve years old and knows, already, more drugs than I know now at my age. She “works” on the streets at night prostituting herself, getting drugged, and living in this whore house made of practically cardboard in a town where law enforcement is so corrupt it’s almost unfathomable.

Another child tells her story of every morning waking up at seven and going straight to the dump to sort through all the city’s garbage. She sifts through this garbage with her bare hands for ten hours a day hoping to find something that is recyclable such as aluminum or plastic. At the end of the day, they take it somewhere (I’m not sure where, exactly) and someone weighs what they’ve collected. In the end, she says she receives about one dollar a day. That dollar she gets is what she has to buy her food with–and all she can afford is rice.

I almost had an anxiety attack, literally, watching these children sift through the trash. As a petrified-of-all-germs hand washing freak that I am, I couldn’t bare to see this innocent child expose her bare hands to such filth, not to mention all the airborne viruses that are around her as well. This was heartbreaking to me. All that work, all that exposure to so much disease–just to get the equivalent to a dollar.

And to think that I complain about my salary. What those children would make sifting garbage for 10 hours all year is less than half than one of my paychecks.

While this film didn’t have a narrator or a “point” being driven throughout, its message came across so much clearer to me than someone saying it to me time and again. It was a film that was told not by a director or writer, but by the kids themselves. They told their stories by talking and also by us watching them silently “work” in evenings or days before they told their story. Then, in the end, we see an animal slowly marching through an arctic climate as the snow whistles loudly as it blows with the wind. This is the same animal shown in the beginning of the film that has nothing to do with any of the children’s stories, but more of I guess, another part of the planet.

My point to all of the above is this: it was devastating to see how children in other parts of the world live their lives. It was sickening to me to think about how selfish I am as an American most of the time. And how much I wish I could help those children in some way and rescue them from that life as a child prostitute or garbage sifter. I wanted to reach into the screen and take them out of that filthy life they know and give them something better.

I don’t know anything about parenting or how to take care of my own dog barely, but I do know that I could give these children a much better life than what they have. If I could make a difference in one of their lives rescuing from that disaster, then maybe it will all be worth it.

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New Found Good in Humanity

A few weeks ago, while I was in the middle of my “Becoming, Being, and Leaving Greek” series, I had an amazing thing happen to me that I have enjoyed telling others because it has really strengthened my belief that maybe there are some good people left in the world.

As I have previously mentioned, money for me is tight almost all the time. I don’t make much at my job that I have and after benefits and taxes, I take home less than $1800 a month. I’ve become diligent in the last few months, however, cutting down my spending to, well…non-existent.

But there’s one exception: Starbucks.

I have to have Starbucks every day. It is a terrible addiction that I wish I hadn’t ever developed, but working an 8am-5pm job Monday-Friday slowly drains my energy. So, I’ve limited my spending to the necessities: rent, gas, car payment, bills, and coffee. I reached the “Starbucks Gold” level in less than a month after activating a gift card I received for my birthday. I am at the same Starbucks every day, where the employees know me by first and last name and my drink right down to my specifications to the point to where it is ready before I even reach the register (if there’s a line). A few Saturdays ago, however, I went to a different Starbucks a few miles from my house. I entered the drive-through line, after an indecisive, half-in-half-out Land Rover decided to leave the line. I ordered a drink for myself, my boyfriend, and a small chocolate donut. The total was $7.67 and I pulled forward, ready to pay with my reloaded Starbucks card. I noticed the car in front of me was a silver Accord with some old decals from UCF on the back window. I had my excited-in-all-drive-through-lines Jack Russell in the car with me who was bouncing around the passenger seat and dashboard eager to receive his milk bone treat when we reached the window.

I pulled up to the window after the Accord, and my drinks were handed to me right away. I started to hand the barista my card when she said, “She just paid for you.”

My mouth was gaping as I grabbed the drink. “Wh-what? What?”

“She just paid for your order,” the barista said, smiling.

“The whole thing? Are you serious?” I said.

“Yes, the whole thing. Does he want a treat?” the barista asked.

“Ye-yes please! Get out of town! I can’t believe she paid for my whole order!” I took the treat from her and gave it to my dog who swallowed it nearly whole.

“It happens a lot here. People doing random acts of kindness I guess,” she said.

“Are you serious? I can’t believe it,” I said.

“Yes, if I see her again, I’ll let her know what a smile she brought to your face,” the barista said as I started to drive away.

The whole ride home, I was hoping to see the silver Accord going in the same direction as me but I never did. I got back to my apartment to find my boyfriend waiting for me. When I told him what had just happened, his first response was, “You’re kidding.”

I shared the great news on Twitter with my followers. One response was, “On purpose or an accident?” It was most certainly on purpose and I cannot express how impressed I was by that lady to pay for my entire almost eight dollar order.

Since I started supporting myself fully a little over a year ago, I’ve learned more than I could explain about money. I still have a lot to learn about it though, unfortunately. But, more recently, I’ve learned the value of one dollar. I’ve learned, through paying all of my bills every month and literally leaving my checking account down to cents, just how much every cent and every dollar is worth. And, yes, I realize that $7.67 is a lot to spend on coffee for two people, but I like it to be my contribution sometimes!

I don’t want to say that this lady “picked the right person to pay for,” because that sounds selfish, but I believe that she did pick someone who was more than appreciative of what she did for me. I feel like a lot of people would have said, “Oh thanks,” and not thought about it much after that because it’s not a big deal to them. And I’ll admit, too, that though I was raised to be appreciative of anything anyone does for me (even driving me places or holding doors open), I am even more grateful since I’ve started supporting myself fully.

I’ve been challenged by pastors in church a few times to pay for someone else’s order at McDonald’s or Starbucks, but I haven’t actually done it before. This may sound selfish (again), but sometimes I think to myself, “Why would I want to do that for someone when people treat other people the way they do?” I guess you can say that over the years I’ve developed a mentality that most people are not good at heart. Most people wouldn’t turn in a wallet they found on the street bursting with cash. Most people wouldn’t pick up a dead animal in the road or even break for one. At least, not anymore.

But this lady proved me wrong. It turns out, there are some good people left in the world.

I’d like to challenge anyone who reads this to pay for the person behind them at Starbucks, or McDonald’s, or even at a sit down restaurant pay for the table next to you. Even if you never see the person’s reaction, remember that they may be someone who was eternally grateful for one small thing you did for them that made their day.

Post-Resignation: Almost Three Years Later

This is the tenth and final part in a multi-part tale of my experience with Greek life and sororities. This is not meant to offend, put down, or upset anyone about being in a sorority or being Greek (I was one too!). It is just my recount of how I became Greek, what happened once I became Greek, and how I ended my affiliation. Please do not take this offensively in any way.

It’s been almost three years since I resigned from my sorority. I am often asked how I feel about it and if I think I made the right decision or even if I regret my decision.

The way I see it now, and the way I’ve always seen it, is that I was almost backed into a corner when the information was dropped about the “cushion” being added to our dues. I financially could not afford for someone else to be “free loading” off of my hard-earned money and in return not able to have fun and go to events myself. I feel like, at that point, because all of us that actually pay our dues, were forced to pay for other people whether we chose to or not. I simply did not have the financial capabilities to do so and therefore, I was stuck in a hard place with almost no other choice but to get out of it.

I wish that the advisors could have worked with me more to get me to stay. When I received the “good luck with your life” email, it was almost like a slap in the face to me. All of the time, all of the money, and all of the effort I had spent over the last two years didn’t matter. Why? Because I wasn’t a “popular girl” or in a position of leadership. Like I mentioned before, it’s not because I didn’t want to be, it’s because I couldn’t be. Not everyone is handed things in life, and I come from a family that believes that I must work for what I want, and sorority dues were one of them.

I hate that I turned some of my own sisters against me in my resignation. I wish that perhaps I could have written a truthful, but less harsh resignation letter. But I was upset, and it showed through my written words. (Which I often tend to do in my life, as I express myself best through writing) I could have easily made up a reason and written a letter that said, “Sorry, I can’t give much of my time anymore and that’s not fair,” but that’s not who I am. I am a terrible liar and cannot write something I don’t believe in or that’s not the truth at all. I understand why sisters were upset with me, but I truthfully do not think it was ever a valid reason to end friendships and a sisterhood that we all share no matter if someone is active or not.

I truly in my heart believe that once someone is initiated, they are then let in to a sisterhood that no one else can even begin to experience except with other sisters. Whether a sister ends that early or not, they were still initated. I still share all the secrets. I still know the ritual. I still know our password, our handshake, and what our letters stand for. I still remember my initiation at FSU and what we as a pledge class went through that weekend to get there. And because I ended my “active years” early, that doesn’t make any of that go away. Once initiated, always initiated. Once a sister, always a sister.

Looking back on it now, almost three years since I was an active, I only keep in touch with a few girls from my chapter. These girls have proven to me that no matter what happened with my membership, they still consider me a sister. They believe that I did what I had to do for myself, but they don’t resent me for it. They still consider me a sister, a friend, and someone they can trust. A few told me that I was an amazing girl in our chapter and it was so unfortunate that I had to go. To this day, I still believe that, and I almost pride myself on those words I was once told. I hate that people hate me. I hate that they hate what I did. I hate that they won’t talk to me for reasons that were really, at the end of the day, out of either one’s control. I don’t resent, hold a grudge, or have anger toward my chapter or the organization. What’s done is done and what is in the past is over and there’s nothing I or anyone else can do to change it. I’m sorry for any pain or hurt I caused anyone, but I hope that through this chronicle of my story, the truth is spelled out in a way that everyone can understand.

I still consider myself a sister, even now. I associate myself with those letters and still believe that I am a part of that sisterhood. I’ve met a few people through this blog who are in the same sorority at other schools and I tell them that I am a Kappa too. Because I believe I am. No matter what, I am a Kappa. No matter what, I was initiated into my family as a part of the Eta class of the Eta Eta Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Lead Up to Resignation, Part 2 *please read disclaimer in RED*

This is the ninth in a multi-part tale of my experience with Greek life and sororities. This is not meant to offend, put down, or upset anyone about being in a sorority or being Greek (I was one too!). It is just my recount of how I became Greek, what happened once I became Greek, and how I ended my affiliation. Please do not take this offensively in any way.

Those that are in my chapter who were present during this time may not want to read this. Please do not send me hate mail or comments, for this is my opinion and my side of the story and it’s only fair that I present it as I saw it.

In January 2008, I returned to my normal “active” status as a member of my sorority. The first Sunday evening in January after school started was chapter. In the beginning of every semester, the treasurer presents the budget for that semester. She explains how much money is budgeted for socials, for formal, for sisterhood events, and so fourth for the entire chapter and also how much it breaks down per girl. Then at the bottom, it’s all added up and shows the total amount needed for the sorority divided by the number of active members that semester (those not on special or associate status as previously mentioned) and then you have your dues for that semester.

As mentioned before, the first semester a girl pledges a sorority is always the most expensive. There are a lot of one-time fees that girls must pay to join that they will honestly never pay again. Those fees on top of the already-pledged, initiated active members’ dues put my pledging semester at over $1000. However, the next semester, after initiation, was about $450. This is actually reasonable for someone who was, in the beginning, splitting her dues with her parents half and half. The next semester was about $575, then $600. These were still reasonable for me because at the maximum I was paying my portion of $300, which was easily attainable through the payment plans worked out with the treasurer.

I have never been someone who was “handed” everything in life. Most things that I’ve acquired, I’ve earned on my own. Most things that I’ve wanted, I’ve had to pay for on my own. My parents agreed to pay the first semester of dues for my sorority because they knew how badly I wanted it, and then agreed to split the rest of the semesters with me because they felt that I should be paying for at least part of my social life. I agreed, but then when the dues started to get higher, they told me that it was now up to me to pay my whole semester’s dues on my own.

At the time, I was making, no joke, $8.50 an hour as an assistant manager at Panera Bread. I was working, as previously mentioned, close to 40 hours per week and some weeks even more than that. I had also continued my internship for the second consecutive semester, which took away time from work as well. The little money I did make immediately went to credit card payments, gas, and the occasional dinner out.

I worked during the week on days I didn’t have school, I worked on the weekends, and I taught the new member class for the entire central Florida area every Saturday morning. I hardly time for my friends as I was constantly at work and certainly had no time for activities in my sorority. I felt like at that point I would be paying for something that I wasn’t even able to go to any of the events, because I was always working so I could afford to pay my dues.

Then, it happened. The budget, explained.

And I kid you not, the treasurer stood before the chapter giving a PowerPoint presentation that explained that the dues for this semester were now over $800 because “there has to be a cushion for girls that don’t pay.” And that cushion broken down to each girl (who actually pays their dues)? $200. EACH.

I remember sitting in my chair enraged. Pissed. Boiling. On the verge of screaming. Was she even allowed to say that? “To pay for girls who don’t pay?” I wanted to leave, right then. I was busting my butt at work, full-time, taking full-time classes whose grades were taking a serious nose dive, to now pay for something that I couldn’t even go to, and now had to cover out of my own pocket someone else who is getting away with going to everything and not paying a dime? She had to be kidding.

But she wasn’t.

I went to work the next day and I remember I was standing near the espresso machine watching everyone work diligently through our lunch rush. I paused for a second and thought, almost with no hesitation, “that’s it. I’m resigning.”

So I went home and I wrote my letter. I was mad at what this organization had become and it showed in my letter. I knew full well that this letter was going to be read by the Vice President of Standards (who was a soft-spoken, short, red-headed sweet girl) aloud to the whole chapter and that the chapter would then vote on my resignation. Usually resignation letters that were read aloud were from girls who were hardly known in the chapter, hadn’t been around long, or perhaps had just been initiated and decided it wasn’t for them. But I was known in the chapter, I had been around for two years, and was proud of my initiation and chapter. I had grown to become best friends with my chapter’s President, and after a year of searching, finally found my “close group” within the chapter. (Call it a clique if you want, but these girls were my best friends and my support group!) I was someone who was known. And I was about to write a letter of disappointment, of anger, and of sadness.

And regret.

But I knew in my heart there was no way I was going to pay for someone who doesn’t pay. That is not fair to someone who works to pay for things themselves. And works hard, long hours, at that. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. And I wanted no part in it.

I had been told by my big sister, that most people who write resignation letters, talk with advisors and the advisors work with them to get them to stay in the sorority. They usually do not want to see someone leave and will do “almost anything” to keep a girl in, especially one that’s been around for so long. But I guess I wasn’t that girl they wanted to keep. I guess since I wasn’t “popular” or “an amazing girl” as they would call some girls, or since I wasn’t a member of council, I wasn’t worth saving. The advisor emailed me back and said, “we hate to see you go, but good luck in your life.”

I got smart with her and responded with, “If I could become one of those girls that gets to stay in the sorority and not pay, then please sign me up for that. Because I can’t afford this.”

Maybe I shouldn’t have said that to her, but I was upset. How could someone stay in an organization and not be reprimanded for not paying, and to top it all off, have other girls who do pay, willingly or unwillingly pay a huge portion of their dues? And get away with it? It didn’t make sense to me and it still, to this day, doesn’t make sense.

When someone submits a resignation letter, they of course are not required to go to events or chapter after the letter is received. They also are not present when the letter is read aloud to the chapter. I heard that on that Sunday night when my letter was read to the entire sorority, girls were stunned. They couldn’t believe it was me who wrote it. They couldn’t believe I was resigning. And one girl even asked aloud, “what happens if we don’t have a majority vote to approve the resignation?”

The VP of Standards answered, “then we vote again.”

They wound up approving my resignation and I was done. I received (and still do receive) mixed emotions from my sisters regarding my decision to resign. Some girls were mad, de-friended me on Facebook, and wouldn’t speak to me if they saw me on campus. Some who saw me around were angry when they saw me, “How could do that? How could you say that in your letter? During a new member period? What were you thinking?”

My response? “I was speaking the truth. I cannot physically pay for someone else who doesn’t pay.”

Coming up: the last part in this tale, fast forwarding to now. My thoughts, my feelings, and my look on it now, almost three years later.

Tribute to My Father on This Day of Remembrance

For the last nine years, September 11 has always made me extremely nostalgic and appreciative in so many ways I never thought I’d ever realize in my life. It really doesn’t feel like nine years have gone by since our country was changed for the worst, and  also for the better. I still remember it like it just happened.

Sitting in the cinder-blocked lined walls of Ms.Novak’s Algebra 1 class and hearing that dreaded announcement from the principal peep through the intercom in the ceiling. “Two planes have crashed in New York City and one has crashed near the Pentagon. If anyone needs to call their parents, they may do so at this time.”

Hours later, I found out through other classmates that “crashed in” really meant “crashed into.” I’ve tried to describe what was going through my mind at that moment I realized a plane slashed its way into my father’s office building, but to this day, I cannot describe it in a way that anyone but myself can feel the distress, adrenaline, and sadness I felt soaring through my entire body in a matter of seconds.

I was more than blessed to have my father spared that day. I still remember the moment I heard his voice answer the house phone when I finally was able to get through in my counselor’s office. I remember the relief. I remember the happiness. But all along I knew there were so many people who were not as fortunate as I on that day.

A brother and sister from my high school lost their father that morning. He was on the plane that went into the Pentagon. I prayed for them for months afterward and only imagined the extreme pain and hurt they are probably still dealing with today.

Three co-workers of my father’s were killed that day setting up their new office the rest of the workers were supposed to transfer to three weeks after the attacks. I don’t know if they ever found anything remaining from those men as they remained on the “missing” list for weeks.

Even though my father and I don’t get along about, oh, 99% of the time, I still want him and everyone else to know how much I appreciate what he’s done for me. And how I realized, more than ever, on that day what it meant to be a “military brat.” And most importantly, I realized how close I was to loosing him, and to this day still remember how sick it made me feel to think I could have lost him.

I love you, Dad, and I thank you for all you have done for me over the last 23 years. You put your life in danger for me, my mother, my sister, and this country. We are ever appreciative of your service and love. I LOVE YOU!

The Other Side of Recruitment: Being a Rho Gamma, Part 3

This is the seventh in a multi-part tale of my experience with Greek life and sororities. This is not meant to offend, put down, or upset anyone about being in a sorority or being Greek (I was one too!). It is just my recount of how I became Greek, what happened once I became Greek, and how I ended my affiliation. Please do not take this offensively in any way.

On the final day of recruitment before Bid Day, I had successfully broken all the rules I had sworn by as a Rho Gamma, which were all grounds to get me thrown out of recruitment and maybe even Greek life altogether. As I watched that PNM from my group walk away from me that evening, I felt guilty, but also relieved, because I knew that though I did something that was highly illegal, I did it for the right reasons. And there was really no doubt in my mind, or her mind, that she had then made the right choice for herself. (Ask her today and I guarantee you that she will tell you it was the best decision she ever made.) I made the PNM promise to not mention a word of it to anyone ever again.

The next day was Bid Day. This is the final day of recruitment and when all of the PNMs receive their bid cards inviting them to join one chapter on campus. For the entire week, all of the Rho Gammas had to stay in a hotel about a mile away from campus. The hotel parking lot was small and couldn’t hold all of our cars, so they told us that everyone had to park their cars in a parking garage on campus for the week and one Rho Gamma from each group was going to use their car to shuffle their group back and fourth to campus. My car was one of the cars left on campus and a girl by the name of “MIA” used her car to tote us around every day. (If you remember, Rho Gammas were not allowed to reveal their real names, so for the sake of the story I’m about to tell, I am going to use the fake Rho Gamma names we had made up for ourselves)

Since I was in the middle of my manager training at work during recruitment, I couldn’t really afford to take off an entire week. So, I had planned on actually going straight to work from Bid Day after we all “ran home.” (Details on what that means will be revealed later) It was a crazy idea, I know, but truthfully I could not wait to get back to work after the week of so much estrogen and zero testosterone. So, I had asked MIA if, on Bid Day, before we arrived in the Student Union to meet our PNMs, she could take me to my car and I could drop my car off at my chapter’s house and then she could drive me and the other Rho Gammas in our group to the Student Union for Bid Day. The Student Union is too far of a walk from Greek Row and the garage where my car was staying was even further away from Greek Row, so it seemed like the perfect idea and also not much trouble. I had asked her earlier in the week (probably Wednesday or so), again on Saturday night just to make sure her plans hadn’t changed for whatever reason, and also that Sunday morning after we woke up. Every time she told me, “Yes, no problem,” and that she understood the plan, especially after I had gone over it with her.

Sunday morning came and we were due to be in the Student Union by 11am. We left around 10:30 from the hotel and were in the garage by 10:45. I got out of MIA’s car saying, “Okay, I’ll follow you over there.”

In her car was one other Rho Gamma from our group (I don’t remember where the other three were at that point), “Little Miss Sunshine.” They both said, “Okay,” and I got in my car and they drove off. Once we got out of the garage, I got stuck at a red light where they had continue to go through when it was yellow. I didn’t think it was a big deal because again, they knew the plan.

I got to my chapter’s house and didn’t see MIA’s car outside of the house. I drove all the way around the house, still no MIA car. I parked my car and walked around the house again, no sign of her car. I reached for my phone (since they were finally returned to us that morning) and I called Little Miss Sunshine’s phone since she had called me in the beginning of the week before we got to the hotel. No answer, just ringing followed by voicemail. I continued to walk around and watched for cars passing by but it was never MIA. I called Little Miss Sunshine again and still no answer, so I left her a voicemail.

It was 10:55am and we had to be in the Pegasus Ballroom in the Student Union by 11am, sharp, no exceptions. I started to panic because I couldn’t drive over there since there’s no parking near the union and I’d have no way back to my car later in the day. It was already getting hotter outside with the sun rays beating down on my head. The girls in my chapter were going to start arriving soon and I had already broken enough rules–talking to and getting rides from my sisters would have been beyond breaking a rule. All I could do was start walking to the union or hope that someone drives by that I can get a ride from to the union–in the next five minutes.

Suddenly, while I was standing outside of my car, I saw one of  my active sisters come out of the house. She was excited to see me, “HEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE!”

“Shhhhh! We can’t talk. I’m stuck here. My Rho Gamma group left me here and won’t come back for me. I have to be at the union in three minutes, where are you going?” I asked her, my voice shaking as I was whispering.

“I’m going to get some coffee but I’d be happy to drop you at the union,” she told me. We jumped in her car and she drove me there and I thanked her extensively and again, said, “Don’t tell anyone what just happened.” That phrase seemed come out of my mouth a lot in the last 24 hours.

I walked into the union through the back to find one of my sisters who was also a Rho Gamma outside smoking. “Ohmygosh wherewereyou?!” she said.

“They left me. MIA and Little Miss Sunshine left me. Stranded at the house with no way to get here,” I said, as I burst into tears.

“Those little… bitches!” she said, throwing her cigarette down and smashing it with the point of her foot. “That’s it! I’m gonna pound some ass!” She started to storm inside and I ran after her.

“No! No! It’s okay. I don’t want it to get blown out of proportion. The PNMs will be here in less than hour. Just don’t worry about it,” I said, wiping tears away from my eyes.

“No, Taylor. They have treated you like shit and that is just not acceptable. No one messes with my sister!” She stormed around outside of the ballroom looking for MIA and Little Miss Sunshine, who were nowhere to be found.

Finally, through the doors of the union walked Little Miss Sunshine and MIA, carrying all of the Rho Gammas bags from our group and all of our group signs, except mine. My sister marched up to them in a huff.

“Why did you leave her? Why? What were you thinking? She was left waiting there for you!” She exclaimed. The girls looked around for answers but couldn’t find any as their eyes scampered back and fourth.

“We… we… we thought she had a ride,” they said.

“Well she didn’t. And you knew that! She was following you to her house! You left her there and you didn’t answer her call,” my sister replied with a stern, loud voice.

“She didn’t call us,” Little Miss Sunshine said.

At that point I decided to intervene. “Yes I did call you. I called you twice. You didn’t answer. You purposefully didn’t answer me.”

I was trying so hard to hold back tears but it was impossible. My voice was shaking so bad I could barely get out entire words.

“I don’t even have your phone number,” Little Miss Sunshine said.

“Yes you do, bitch! You called me on Monday. Don’t even tell me that. Do not even tell me that. That’s it, I’m done!” I screamed, throwing my hand in her face. I walked out of the ballroom and started pacing back and fourth outside.

My sister followed me, “We’re telling exec. This is awful.”

“No, no we’re not telling exec. It’s not worth it. They don’t care, it’s over,” I said, crying harder.

At the exact second that I finished that sentence, the two head Rho Gammas stepped out of the Greek Life office. My sister ran up to them and said something to them and they both looked at me as I stood there crying, still.

They came over to me and asked me what was wrong and I gave them a shortened version, but told them that I was done with this. I had reached my breaking point and this was beyond upsetting.

They said, “You can quit now but you won’t get to run home. Your girls won’t have anyone to open their bid cards with and we’ll have to split them up between the other Rho Gammas in your group. Are you sure you want to do that?”

I stopped crying and wiped my mascara-filled tears off of my cheeks, smearing my make up. “I …umm…”

And then I thought about the PNMs that had grown to love me over the last week and the ones that I grew to love. Not to mention the one who changed who was her first choice on her final voting card because of what I said to her. Then I realized that everything I had been through didn’t matter. It was no longer about me. It was about the PNMs.

“I guess not,” I said.

The head Rho Gammas agreed to have my group of PNMs separated from the rest of my Rho Gamma group so I didn’t have to deal with Little Miss Sunshine or MIA for the time we were all in the ballroom. Soon after I went back into the ballroom, we could all hear the PNMs outside in the hallway waiting to be let inside. The head Rho Gammas came forward and asked us all to gather around in the front near the stage. They started off by stating the quota for this year. (Quota is based on how many girls rushed versus how many girls were given bids and a bunch of other things–it’s different every year) They said, “We are so happy to announce that for the first time since [some year I don’t remember] every single chapter but one made quota!”

At that moment, I felt my phone vibrate. I pulled it out of my pocket and flipped it open. Inside was a message from my chapter’s President who was my best friend at the time. “I know I could get in trouble for sending this but I don’t care. I miss you so much and cannot wait to have you back!”

As soon as I read that, right when they were making the good news announcement about the quota, I burst into tears. All of the Rho Gammas were cheering and clapping and the one next to me leaned over and said, “I know, isn’t that just the greatest news ever?”  As if I were crying because quota was made. HA.

I was crying because I was upset about what had happened that day already. I was crying because I was so happy it was over. I was crying because I was sick of being around all girls for an entire week without a moment to myself. I was crying because my best friend had just texted me (illegally) that she missed me and couldn’t wait until I came back. I was crying because I couldn’t have been happier to run any faster to my sorority that I knew would never abuse my trust, loyalty, or friendship.

…to be continued.