Ch. 3

We spent the next day tripping over each other in our tiny suite bathroom preparing to get ready for the party.  It was, after all, our very first frat party and the impressions we made there would either make or break our Greek reputations.   Having recently decided to go through Panhellenic recruitment together, we knew that there would be sorority girls from every house that mattered at The Party tonight.  The slightest miscalculation in appearance or attitude on our part and we might as well move to an all girls school in Podunk, Nowhere, USA.  Our entire collegiate social standing was riding on which house we pledged.  Sorority rush was basically State’s version of survivor, and if you didn’t get into one of the top houses, you were pretty much voted off the Greek Island.  Certainly, in a campus of over 40,000 undergraduate students, there were plenty of kids who were not involved in a fraternity or sorority, but everyone who mattered was attached to some house.

What would college even look like without socials, Greek Week, formals, philanthropies and chapter?  Want kind of person would even want that?  I mean, sure, class, academics, that is probably important too, but don’t we live in a world where networking is the new Ivy League diploma?

“You girls do realize the importance of this night,” Libby asked us as we all huddled around the one tiny mirror in the bathroom.  “I mean I will just die if I’m not invited into one of the top three.”

“And which exactly are the top three?” Fran asked plugging in the flat iron.

Libby looked dumbfounded. “You’re kidding right?  Ronni you know what we need to be in, don’t you?  What would you girls do without me?  We have to be in one of three houses: Chi Phi Omega, Delta Delta, and Phi Delta.”

“Hey, have you guys seen Colleen today?” I asked referring to our fourth and typically invisible suitemate.  “I ran out of my curling gel and since you both have straight hair, you are completely useless to me.”

“I think she’s at her boyfriend’s house again,” Fran answered rolling her eyes in obvious annoyance that Colleen spent exactly twenty minutes out of every day in our suite.  “I don’t know why she even bothered signing up for a dorm.”

“It’s because her mom and dad don’t know that she sleeps at the boy’s house,” Libby offered clearly excited to divulge a small piece of potential gossip.  “That’s why she stops by every day.  Her parents have caller ID and they know the dorm number so she calls them.”

“Why doesn’t she just use her cell?” I interjected.

“Apparently her parents don’t believe in them.  I think they are in some sort of weird religious cult.”

“Just because they don’t believe in cell phones doesn’t mean they are in a cult,” Fran said rolling her eyes.

Again, Libby was determined to set our friend straight. “Fran, you are always trying to see the best in people.  They are total weirdos.  I mean, who doesn’t believe in cell phones?  It’s really a safety issue when you think about it.  Anyway, good riddance.  All the girl does is talk about that boyfriend of hers.  I really don’t like him.”

“Have you even met him,” I said reaching for Colleen’s hair gel.  I figured since she had moved everything else out of our dorm she must not have needed it.

“He came to pick Colleen up once and just sort of stood there lurking.  He was a total lurker.”

Fran just stood there shaking her head.  “Can we please change the subject?  We need to come up with a plan for getting ready because it is really hot in here and there is no way the three of us can get ready in this tiny bathroom.”

Whoever came up with the concept of dorm bathrooms was a sadist.  How were four girls supposed to share something that barely fit a shower, toilet and sink?  How is it possible for more than one person at a time to put on makeup in the minuscule square mirror that barely showed three quarters of your face at a time?

Our suite had four prominently distinct style themes displayed.  Well, three really.  The entire area was maybe six hundred square feet of kitchen, living area, two bedrooms and a bathroom.  I shared a room with Fran and Libby shared a room with the vanishing woman.  Fran’s style could most accurately be described as practical.  She had pictures of her boyfriend and family surrounding her bed, and a framed poster of Starry, Starry Night on the wall.  Her sheets were blue denim and simplistic.  The only thing on her desk was her laptop.  My side of the room, however, was starkly different.  I had gone with a more, well, I’ll just call it complete look.  My color scheme was pink and brown and I had tons of satin pink throw pillows and about six childhood stuffed animals that lived on my bed.  My wall was mostly covered by a large corkboard covered with pictures of my family and high school friends.  At the foot of my bed I had a six-foot high book shelf filled with DVDs and books.  Above my headboard was a whiteboard calendar that would change with the month and was already filled with meeting times, orientation workshops, classes, and my gym schedule.  I was cluttered.  She was organized.  Libby’s room, like everything about her, was modern and sheik.  She had Calvin Klein bedding in mauve and cream.  Her walls were plastered with framed portraits of Colin Farrell, the entire cast of Ocean’s 11, and even a vintage poster of Mark Wahlberg in an underwear ad before he was Marky Mark.  On her desk was her bright orange iMac, a vase of fresh sunflowers replaced every three days, and a basket of personalized stationary.  Our three themes all clashed with each other in the common area, and it conflicted so badly that it almost looked like a purposeful statement on global blending of cultural differences in a shrinking world.  At least I justified it that way.

“Ok, well I’m going to jump in the shower and then I can start getting ready in my room,” Libby stated.  “I have a huge mirror in there and it’s much cooler.”

“Well, while you’re in the shower I’ll do my hair in here, and Fran you can do your makeup in Libby’s room until your flat iron heats up.”

“Fine.  That’ll give me time to debate whether I need to do it up or leave it down.”

“Down, definitely down, Fran,” Libby said turning on the shower.  “Ok, ladies, let’s get gorgeous! It’s time to wow them all.”

When I arrived at the house with my two new girlfriends, I began looking around for Devon.  Before we could enter, though, we had to “sign in” to the guest list at the door and provide our campus phone number and email address.  The boys claimed that this was for the safety of everyone at the house in case of an accident, but looking back, I think it was more of a stalker list than anything else.  The house had been converted into a beach scene complete with what looked like a ton of playground sand poured all over the living room floor.  The guy to girl ratio was about one:ten which was pretty typical for a frat party.  The biggest fear about these things was the possibility that they would become a “sausage fest” thus ruining the reputation of the fraternity for the entirety of the five-month semester ahead.   Libby had immediately disappeared somewhere the moment we stepped into the house.  The girl was nothing if not a social butterfly.  Fran, on the other hand, had not gotten off her cell phone since we hopped onto the campus bus to take us to frat row.  Fran’s boyfriend was a year younger and still a senior in high school, but they were working through the distance.  They were also working on a stellar cell phone bill – her dad had left a pretty irate message on the machine earlier in the week, but clearly it hadn’t affected her too much.  They were currently arguing over the fact that Fran was headed to a Frat party less than a week into the fall semester.  He seemed to be arguing the safety of such events.  Apparently, Kyle was less concerned about her well being during the summer semester before frat season had commenced.  I look at her and she winced in sympathy and guilt, but I just shrugged my shoulders and set off in search of my prey.  I had done three laps around the house fending off horny freshmen pledges before I finally spotted Devon standing by the keg with her.  I casually walked over to refill my cup, smiled, said hello and then promptly walked over to one of the boys who had drooled on me earlier and asked him to dance.  Six songs later, with freshmen pledge beer sweat on my arm and something (I didn’t want to know what) sticking to the bottom of my shoe, I couldn’t help but notice that Lyssa had stormed off dramatically up the stairs.  I also saw Devon roll his eyes and chase after her.  Naturally, this brought a huge smile to face because for the past six songs I had also observed Devon staring at me on the dance floor.

Could Lyssa have possibly noticed this as well?  Could it be true?  I knew he loved me.  And the first set goes to me!

After those two disappeared upstairs, I found my girlfriends and told them everything.  They agreed that Devon would be mine before he knew what hit him!  We spent the rest of the evening drinking the free beer and punch and dancing together until the DJ quit around three am.  Aside from my boyfriend-to-be slam-dunk, we had also met and instantly bonded with sisters from five different sororities on campus including Libby’s “top three.”  We could not have had a more successful first frat experience.

The next day I got a random phone call from Devon.  He had found my number on the stalker list, which had quickly gone from creepy to absolutely and utterly fabulous in all of ten seconds and decided to call since we didn’t get much of a chance to talk at the party the night before.   He had called to ask me if I had fun at the party and told me that I should hang out more at the house.  He said that he heard from his other brothers I was a “cool girl” and there was always something going on like impromptu parties, pizza and sports on the big screen, and beer, lots and lots of beer.

This is it!  My in!  I will casually come around the house and act indifferent.  That will definitely get him noticing.  I will wow him with my understanding of football (thanks, Mom!), and awe him with my casualness.  Just when he starts falling for me, I will go in for the kill – I will ask him to teach me how to play Halo on his xBox.  Of course, I could probably kick his butt from here to Kentucky, but I will act like I just can’t figure it out, and I would never actually beat him.  Do I look that stupid?

Devon and my relationship was definitely advancing in the right direction.  We talked on the computer all the time and I started hanging out with the guys on a regular basis.  Of course, Lyssa seemed to always be hanging around, but that was something I was just going to have to deal with it seemed.  Devon and I weren’t the only two getting close.  As chummy as Libby, Fran and I had gotten when we first moved in, we became inseparable when we all rushed together.  There is something about that hellish week of dog and pony show prancing that will bring girls together.  It would seem as if the person who had come up with the tiny dorm bathrooms had an evil twin who had come up with sorority recruitment.

Panhellenic recruitment is less of an actual recruitment and more of a do-or-die, sink-or-swim beauty pageant-like audition and popularity contest that would more or less determine your social status for the next four years.  “Rush” (as it is called by those in-the-know), consists of four different rounds over a six-day period concluding at bid day at which the girls would learn their fate.  The truly torturous part of this whole process was the fact that we somehow had to maintain our flat-ironed hair, flawless makeup, and all-around put together look while sitting in tents in front of each house for no less than twenty minutes a piece in the ninety degree heat and 100% humidity.

Round one, or the blitz round as I have come to call it was over a two-day period.  During these two days, we would go to each of the sixteen sorority houses at State for about thirty minutes each.  At each house you would talk to no less than three sisters and see some sort of canned-skit that would highlight all the reasons why House XYZ was the best house around.  By house seven, however, I realized that each house had “winning intramural teams”, “stellar GPAs”, “socials with the cutest boys on campus”, and my personal favorite, “the closest sisterhood you will find anywhere.”  This revelation was always followed by a poignant pause during which the sisters would smile at each other and hug.  I only found out later when I was doing rush from the other side that you had to hug the sister next to you even if you really could not stand each other and the thought of actually hugging would cause a little bit of bile to rise in your throat.  By the time you hit the end of day two and house sixteen, I was so sick of discussing GPAs and intramural sports that I started to make stuff up.  In fact, I had one girl convinced that I was majoring in acrobatics and planned on joining Cirque de Solei after graduation.  Without missing a beat, Suzy Sorority told me how much she loved “O” and thought that living in Vegas would be the coolest.  After round one finished, we had to wait a whole night before finding out which houses had invited you back.  Apparently, the Panhellenic gods had determined that ten minutes of forced canned conversation was enough time to accurately determine your personality and fit in a particular house.  Our Phi Chis (these are sorority women who served as recruitment counselors and kept their house a secret as not to sway our decision – as if we had much choice in who asked us back) assured us as we sat sweating off our mascara and praying that our Secret did not wear off by House Three leaving us smelling more like an old shoe than powdery fresh, that our appearance did not matter.

What a joke!

At each “revealing day” we would gather in a big room with the other recruits and be handed an envelope that had in it a list of the houses that had asked us back.  It seemed as if the entire room would be holding its collective breath as these envelopes were passed out.  Inevitably there would be two distinct reactions to The List: elation that you got asked back to the house where you met your sister soul mate, or crushing devastation if you only got asked back a handful of the smaller houses.  In a few horrible instances, some girls did not get asked back to any house and your Pi Chi would call you the night before so you did not have to publicly face that kind of reaction.  Instead, you would just not be there the next day leaving the possibility open that you had decided to drop out because you really did not want to rush after all.  The night after Round 1, Libby, Fran and I stayed up most of the night dreading that call.  Fortunately, the next day arrived with no call, and much to my pleasure I had been asked back by at least six of the houses I had liked.  Although I did not get asked back to every house, I had a nice solid list of twelve and was overall pleased with my first round success.  Rounds 2 and 3 continued similarly to Round 1 with the number of houses you were allowed to visit decreasing each time, but the length of the visit increasing.  After Round 3, came the Preferential Round or “Prefs.”  This round was very serious and formal.  This time you would only visit three houses and you would be there for well over an hour.  During this round the sisters would dress in all black or all white and there was usually some sort of candle light ceremony.  Libby, Fran and I had dwindled our lists down to the same three houses and went through Prefs together.  All three houses had similar cult like chants and tearful poetry about the joys of sisterhood.  It was enough to make anyone gag.  Our Pi Chis were hovering over us the entire night to make sure we did not discuss our choices with the other recruits.  Panhellenic was entirely severe about making your own choice without any type of outside pressure.  Naturally, though, Fran, Libby and I had come up with a system to indicate the order in which we were going to rank the three houses.  Now, all we had to do was wait.  Wait all night and most of the next day until Bid Day when our fate would be decided.

“What if we’re not all in the same house,” Libby exclaimed as we came back to our dorms Saturday night following Prefs.

“Well, then, I guess I will have to stop being your friend,” I said seriously.  “I mean I’m not sure I can fraternize with a person of different letters.”

“Oh, very cute,” Fran said rolling her eyes.  “I will be bummed, too if we are not together, but I guess it won’t make that much of a difference.”

“Still, how terrible is it that they make us wait until six o’clock tomorrow evening to find out!” Libby exclaimed throwing herself onto Fran’s bed.  “I just know I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight!”

“Well, I have a brilliant idea,” I said.  “Let’s order pizza, get ice cream and rent a bunch of 80’s movies.  Everything looks brighter after some quality John Hughes dialogue.”

“Perfect,” Libby said jumping up.  “I’m going to change, let’s meet at the door in five.”

We spent the rest of the night and most of the next day stuffing our faces with two large pizzas, a gallon of ice cream, Doritos, two cases of Diet Coke, popcorn and yogurt raisins while watching Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire, The Breakfast Club and For Keeps.  At three the next afternoon, we cleaned up our mess and began to get ready for the big moment: Bid Day.

The tradition of Bid Day at State was one of the most ridiculous things I had ever seen.  At exactly 5:45 pm, all five hundred or so recruits would be led onto a field by our Pi Chis.  We would then have to stand in circles of forty or so while we were handed a cream colored envelope that sealed our fate, quite literally.  The ridiculous part was what happened next.  As soon as we were handed these cards, we had to place them on our foreheads until exactly six pm when every woman would open it at the same time and run as fast as we could in our heels and sundresses to our new House.  The frat boys had coined this event the “Running of the Greeks.”

When I walked onto the field, I could not help but notice the crowd that Bid Day had drawn.  Not only was every frat boy on campus gathered for the “Run,” but it seemed like half of the 40,000 undergraduate students had come to tailgate and watch.  Naturally, I was handed my envelope first in my group.  So, I had to stand for almost twelve whole minutes just barely resisting the urge to rip open the envelope right then and there.

This has to be the most ridiculous situation I have ever been in.  I mean, it’s a hundred degrees out here!  I will just die if Libby and Fran get into Phi Delta without me!  How horribly awkward would our room be then?  I can just see it.  They will be closer than close and always be whispering about their house secrets.  I will be such a third wheel.  I’m sure Fran will move out of our room and in with Libby.  They’ll probably completely forget about me.  I should just pack up my room now and save myself the–

“Ok, girls, open your cards and join your sisters on the lawn!”

Moment of truth.

I ripped open my card and scanned immediately to the bottom.  Written in perfect script I saw it: Phi Delta Epsilon.

I got in!  I’m a Phi Delta!  Where are Fran and Libby?

As I scanned the field searching for my two girlfriends, I felt like an offensive lineman during a huge rivalry game.  I was being body chucked left and right by ecstatic girls running in every direction towards sorority row.  I saw a few girls sobbing and being led off the field with a Pi Chi back towards their dorm.  I knew that these girls had not received good news on the field and were too devastated to go the house that had given them a bid.

As I stood on my tippy-toes trying to find Libby or Fran, I heard Libby calling my name from behind me.  “Ronni, there you are!  Don’t say anything yet!  Where’s Fran.”

“I’m here!” Fran called running over completely out of breath.

“Ok, so?”  Libby asked tentatively.

In unison we all yelled out “Phi Delta!”  At once, we all began hugging, jumping up and down and squealing in excitement.  Then, we grasped hands and sprinted towards the Phi Delta house.  The sprint turned more into a speed walk since our house was located at the furthest point from the field possible, but as we approached we saw the purple and gold balloons displaying our house colors.  Our new sisters were all standing outside clapping, smiling and ready to lead us inside for our first taste of sisterhood.  As I was running off the field, I couldn’t help but notice Devon hanging by the fence.  I caught his eyes that clearly asked the obvious question and I mouthed “Phi Delta” and smiled.  He smiled back at me and responded just as silently, “Very nice.”


Ch. 2

Elizabeth “Libby” Mertz and I had been randomly assigned to the same dorm freshman year, and we shared a suite with Frances Dietz and Colleen Writhe.  Libby was the girl you wanted to hate but ended up loving even more.  Standing 5’11” tall, most of that made up in legs, she towered over my 5’2” frame.  She was as lean as she was tall and the concept of “working out” was as foreign to her as paying less than $150 for a pair of shoes.  A rarity for a nice Jewish girl from Long Island, Libby was blessed with long, curly naturally blonde hair that contrasted her chocolate eyes and naturally tanned skin.  The worst part about Libby was that she was as loyal and loving as she was beautiful.  Although she was one of the only people I had met who could fit into Cache jeans without having them altered, she never acted superior.  In fact, although she had this supreme confidence with men, she lacked that same security with women.  Because of her appearance, Libby had trouble making female friends.  I am pretty sure that Fran and I were her first.

Fran, on the other hand, was a girls’ girl.  Although she had always had a steady boyfriend – the same steady boyfriend for about ever – Fran always had a solid core of girlfriends.  An avid soccer player in high school, she was incredibly in shape.  She stood about 5’6” and it was all lean muscle.  She had the body of a ballet dancer – medium height, solid long muscles, and not very many curves.   Of course, her complete lack of grace and inability to hold tempo quickly dashes that imagery.  Fran was the red head of the group, and the three of us together looked like an ad for hair dye.  We were as different as we were alike, but our connection was immediate.  When colleges pair up roommates it really is hit or miss.  Our friendship was magnetic – a definite hit.

“Ronni, you just have to buy this dress,” Libby squealed.  “It’s five different kinds of fabulous all rolled up into perfect!”

“Libby, be reasonable, I don’t think Ronni should spend that much for a dress she will wear for one night at a frat party,” Fran interjected.  “By midnight some freshman will have probably poured beer down the front and puked Jell-o shots down the back.”

“That’s a lovely image,” I laughed shaking my head.  “It is really cute though, and I could totally wear it during the summer.”

The three of us stood in front of the dressing room mirror staring at the fiftieth dress I had tried on that evening.  We must have been a sight all standing there with our heads cocked towards our right shoulders.  I peeked down at the price tag once again.

Why is it that girls always look at themselves in the mirror crooked?  Do we think that if we look at an angle we will suddenly appear taller, leaner and sexier?  Are we like an artist analyzing how we look from every angle on the off chance that the boy of our dreams decides to check us out upside down?  What is that about?  This dress costs how much!?

“I don’t know,” I frowned.  “Maybe Fran is right.  I mean it is a lot of money to spend on a frat party dress.”

Immediately Libby protested.  “Do you or do you not like this boy?”

“Yes, but –“

“And do you or do you not want to make a killer impression?”

“Yes, but –“

“You look freakin’ hot in that dress, Ronni.”

I cocked my head to the other side hoping to maybe get another perspective that would indicate whether or not this dress was worth the $85 it would cost me.

It really is cute, and it is really hard for me to find cute dresses.  Although, it is sort of low cut. So, is it trashy or voluptuous?  Anna Nicole or Marilyn?

“Plus, your eyes look gorgeous in that color,” Libby continued on her quest to lobby for the purchase of the dress.  “That purple makes your eyes look so green.  I love it.  You just have to get it!”

“I guess she does have a point,” Fran conceded.  “Gosh Ronni, I’d kill for your curves.  I swear if it wasn’t for my hair and my height people would think I am a boy!”

“Are you kidding?” I asked in disbelief.  “I’d give my right arm to be a size two!”

“Don’t kid yourself, Ronni,” Libby added.  “Men love a girl with boobs and hips!  You have that sexy va-va-va-voom thing going.”

The dress in question was something straight out of a 1950’s movie.  I could picture some flawless woman with oversized sunglasses, a scarf in her hair and kitty heels wearing it while cruising in a convertible Chevy – powder blue, of course.

“I think I’m going to get it!” I squealed.

“Thank goodness for that,” Libby cheered.  “Now, let’s get to Victoria’s Secret.  We need to get the essentials.”

When I took the dress up to pay, it turned out that it was 30% off.  This day just kept getting better.   First, I meet the man of my dreams while exerting my newly discovered independence.  Then, I find the ideal dress to win his heart and discover it is on sale to boot!

Soak it in, Ronni because these are the start to the best days of your life.  Oh yes, college is going to be fabulous.  Maybe I don’t have to re-invent myself after all.  I think just being Ronni will work out fine for me.  With great new girlfriends and a definite man-of-my-dreams possibility all within the first week, I’d say that things are going to work out better than fine. 


Once upon a time there was a girl.  She didn’t live in a far off place and there was no wicked step mother.  In fact, there was nothing extraordinary about this girl at all.  She didn’t have seven dwarves that followed her around.  There was no enchanted mirror and most importantly there was no handsome prince, yet.  This girl found herself at a crossroads.  She had reached that proverbial fork in the road.  This is where our tale begins.  From this point on the girl must take those first steps down the yellow brick road to an Emerald City of her own making.  Actually, I must take those first steps because as you see, this is me, Veronica Hope Krantz, and I am embarking on my first adventure.  This adventure will force me to face many different challenges.  I mean, where should I start?  I could go anywhere from produce aisle to dairy.  Well, I guess the first thing I should do is open the door.  When I first embarked on this journey and started down the path that laid before me, I couldn’t help but take a moment to stop and take in everything around me.  I stepped through the doors and took in a long deep breath.

How can I describe that smell?  It is kind of a mix of overly sweet strawberries, butter cream frosting, sweet Vidalia onions, and just a hint of powder fresh Secret deodorant.  It is the smell of freedom!  I am exceedingly fashionable in my polo shirt dress, reef sandals, and sleek pony tail.  I have an air of sophistication about me.  At this specific moment, I feel brave, secure, wise, and independent.   I need to commit this exact, precise occasion to memory.  I need to remember every smell, every taste, every thought that floats into my head.  I am experiencing a once-in-a-life time significant event.  I, Veronica Krantz, recent high school graduate, am standing at the entrance to Publix with my eyes closed shut smiling like an idiot trying to savor my very first adult grocery shopping experience. 

Someone is going to have you committed, Ronni.  That mother in the deli line has grabbed the hand of her curious toddler tighter at my presence.  The pharmacist is probably already bottling the Prozac.  Oh, whatever!  Breathe it in, Ronni, you are about to start a new, exciting chapter in your life.  You are a college woman.  Sophisticated.  Graceful.    Not at all that “high school kid.”

 It’s amazing how independence takes on new importance when you leave the sanctity and security of your parents’ home and go to college.  Seemingly meaningless tasks suddenly become consequential — a testament to the fact that you are suddenly on your own to assert your newly acquired freedom.

For instance, I could, at this very moment, walk over to the cereal aisle and buy whatever sugary, chocolaty, disgustingly sweet box catches my eye.  No longer would I be a slave to the bland, nausea inducing fiber packed flake shaped cardboard varieties!  I could buy Coco Puffs and Froot Loops!  I no longer had to pick just one.  Heck!  I could even go crazy and throw in a box of Lucky Charms for kicks!  There was no Mom telling me that I had to put it back on the shelf.  There were no comments being made about the cost of cavities or the fact that children were starving in some far off country while I left half empty stale boxes of cereal in the cupboard.  As I made my ways up and down the aisles, however, I couldn’t help but notice how my newly acquired freedom was going to take quite the toll on my newly acquired financial independence.

Four dollars for a box of cereal!?  Did REAL leprechauns leave gold flecks in the cereal?  Are they serious?  I only just graduated high school!  I cannot afford to pay rent, buy text books, get cute new rush clothes and pay four dollars for a box of cereal.  That’s it!  I am just going to have to live on Raman noodles alone.  It’s a sacrifice I am going to have to make if I want those new sandals I saw on Zappos. 

From someplace outside of my head came a voice thrusting me back into the cereal aisle, “Dear, are you ok?”

I looked up and realized that the box of Lucky Charms that I was holding in my hand had now been squeezed and smashed so it resembled something more out of a trash compactor than a grocery shelf.  Clearly, I had been standing in that very spot for more than a few minutes and had managed to commit homicide.  Not two minutes into my new college life and I had redefined myself.  Standing in the grocery store looking sheepishly at the gray haired woman who had nothing but concern in her eyes, I had become a cereal murderer.

This was not how I pictured starting this new phase in my life.  Back home, I had garnered a reputation for being the co-dependent, difficult middle child.  In high school, I was a model of teenage high school excellence, but here at the State University of Florida, I had the perfect opportunity to reinvent myself.  Nobody knew who I was here.  There were no pre-judgments or expectations.   I no longer had to be “Miss High School,” varsity cheerleading captain, Salutatorian, community service chair, and honor society president.  I could be mysterious, an artist, a philosopher, and an enigma.  I could be lazy or adventurous.  It was my moment to establish my adult guise, and the possibilities were endless.

Although, I was a far cry from a 5’10” size two blonde, I always seemed to be accepted by the popular and elite.  Precocious to a fault, I quickly garnered a reputation for being witty, dependable, and maybe just a little – well we’ll just say — meticulous at the ripe age of four.  Thus far, I had suffered only two tragedies in my life: the death of my grandfather and the fact that I was a fully developed C-cup in the fourth grade.  My three greatest attributes were my sharp mind, contagious smile, and fabulous brunette hair.  All in all, I had a pretty phenomenal childhood and even better adolescence.  Naturally, my collegiate journey into adulthood would be the pinnacle of a so far extraordinary existence.  I could not, however, ignore this rare opportunity for reinvention.

Nobody knows you here, Ronni.  You can be whomever you want!  How great will it be to not have to organize, plan, systemize, arrange, categorize, budget, or classify.  I could be a Ronni without pro-con lists, charts, and spreadsheets.  Maybe I’ll even start going by Vicki!  Nah, that’s weird.

I was lost in thought until a shrill, banshee-like shriek from across the cabbage pulled me back into reality.

“Ronni!?! VERONICA KRANTZ!? Is that you? Ohmigod, Ohmigod, Ohmigod!”

At once I realized that maybe I may have been a bit premature with the ‘nobody knows me’ speech.  In fact, seeing that over half of my high school went to State, I realized my past would be inescapable, but then again, I’m not sure that it is a bad thing.  There are worse things than being known as a slightly pushy overachieving perfectionist.

No sooner had I turned around to see who was calling at me from across the tomatoes did I feel the familiar but slightly awkward thud of an old friend barreling down on me with a giant bear hug.  I looked up expecting to see one of my best friends or squad mates, and suddenly my stomach sank.  Here was a girl from my past embracing me in a loving sisterly hug as if we were long lost friends separated through the years, and I had no idea who she was!

Ok, think Ronni, think.

 As quickly as I possibly could I began scrolling down the year book photos in my head and running through the alphabet.  Surely when I got the letter of her first name it would trigger some recognition.  Being a cheerleader and Salutatorian certainly had its perks, but there was one giant down side.  You are recognizable, and that does not mean you recognize everyone else.

You can figure this out Ronni!  Let’s see who do you know with blonde hair, green eyes, 5’5”, probably about a size eight?  Ok, so I just described about twenty percent of the female senior class. Could she be a Meghan?  She kind of looks like a Meghan.  Do I even know a Meghan?

Well, when you’re caught in an impossible situation you go into survival mode.  There is no way that I was going to be embarrassed standing in the middle of the dry goods my first week in college.  So, I did what any self respecting co-ed would do: faked it.

With my well trained cheerleading smile beaming and feigning elation I played the part beaming, “Can you believe it?  To bump into you here of all places!  How are you? It’s been forever!  How’s the family?  I didn’t know you decided to come to state.”

Ok, those were safe generic questionsGood girl, Ronni.

What came next was exactly what I had been hoping to hear.  Suddenly the unknown girl embracing me was a fountain of information.  All I had to do was string together the clues and wrack my brain for some recognition.

“Ronni Krantz, I haven’t seen you since middle school,” she replied.

Ok, middle school.  Good.  Now, we’re getting somewhere.  And, for the record – it is completely acceptable to not remember someone who you haven’t seen since you were fourteen.   I mean who would fault me?

“My family is great!  They were just up here.  I actually came up for summer session, but my parents and Kelsey—I’m not sure if you met my sister – but anyway, they helped me move into my new dorm.  What classes are you taking?  Do we have any classes together,” random middle school friend who for the life of me I couldn’t remember asked digging through her purse.

Did you take a breath during that diatribe?  What are you looking for in that really hideous teal vinyl Fucci bag?  Sweet!  That’s her class list!  She’s giving me her class list! Score!

I had just hit the jackpot.  As of yet, unidentified childhood friend would soon have a name and become recognizable.  I would not need the Rosetta Stone to decipher the name boldly plastered on the top of the page.  I looked over the class schedule of “Flowers, Lyssa” and realization finally came to me.  Lyssa and I had attended middle school together before she moved right before freshman year of high school.  We weren’t really close friends in middle school and I hadn’t spoken to her in over 4 years, so I guess it was understandable that I had temporarily misplaced her in my memory.  I was just about to comment on how we didn’t have any classes together and I was also thinking that with an undergraduate class of 10,000 it was probably unlikely, when I heard his voice for the first time.

Standing at the end of the aisle was the cutest boy I had ever seen and the insta-crush hit me.  He may not have been the best looking, most built, or most fantastic guy I had ever seen – but the electricity was instant.  He was standing about three rows over looking at us with the clearest blue eyes that looked amazingly bright when contrasted to his dark hair.  I could get shipwrecked in those sea blue eyes.

      Did I really just think something that corny?  What has this boy done to me!?

I don’t know if I can completely describe the feeling, but it was there and it was fierce.  I felt like I was in one of those “chick flick” movies starring Meg Ryan or Drew Barrymore at the meet-cute where the girl sees and instantly falls in love with the man of her dreams, and here, in the grocery store I had seen him – Mr. Right.  This was the part of the movie where the time seems to slow and some REO Speedwagon song hums in the background.

Chills ran down my spine and all the blood in my entire body rose to my cheeks.  I could feel the red heat emanating from my face and I was sure the temperature in the produce aisle had risen to a balmy 110 degrees.  Didn’t the manager know that his vegetables were going to rot in this heat?  Maybe someone should tell him.

Ronni, focus!  You are standing between the green peppers and asparagus drooling on yourself.  You look like a freak of nature.  Ok, what was I doing? Oh yeah, staring at the future Mr. Veronica Krantz.

I knew he saw me standing there and had fallen head over heels in love.  It was like the scene at the party in “Romeo and Juliet” where their eyes met across the room and they fell hard for each other.  Our eyes locked and I couldn’t believe it!  He was walking right for me! Yes! Here he was, the man of my dreams, heading straight at me.

Oh yeah, Ronni.  He definitely feels the sparks.  It is so obvious how completely hard the boy has fallen.  It is written all over his face.  It’s kind of sweet, really.  He looks so determined to meet me.  I can see it now; he’ll come over and get my number.  Of course, he’ll wait a day and then call and ask me out on a date.  Immediately, we’ll have everything in common and we will talk for hours about how we knew the minute we saw each other that we were a perfect fit.  He will naturally want to take me out again and it won’t be long before we realize that we were meant to be together forever.  Ok, stop grinning like an idiot.  Maintain your composure, Ronni.  Deep breaths.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  He’s so already in love with me! 

There I was right in the middle of my wedding fantasy when I was abruptly pulled out of my bliss.

“Ronni!” Lyssa screeched again.  “I can’t believe I haven’t seen you in what has it been… 4 years since I moved?  Wow, I feel like we’ve never been separated.  I just know we are going to be the best of friends.  You look terrific.  How is everyone from back home? Oh, look at me Ms. Rude.  Ronni, meet my boyfriend, Devon.”

No.  She is not talking about the 5’10” dark haired, blue eyed boy that I had planned my future with? It can’t be.  Why is she hugging my future husband! Why is he HOLDING HER HAND!?!

Fantasy over.  There it was.  My Mr. Right was actually Mr. Right for pseudo-middle-school-friend.  Or, shall I say “former-psuedo-middle-school-acquantance-ex-friend.”  Best friends, what a joke.  I hated her, loathed her, and wished she would spontaneously combust into flames.  If I could pick one person in the world that I would like to never see again, it would be Lyssa Flowers.  It was like she had been sent to State to make my life miserable.  My college life was over.  This girl standing in front of me had been sent here to destroy me.  Weren’t these supposed to be the best days of my life? Wasn’t I supposed to be relishing in my new found freedom and independence?  Why had this girl come out of my past to haunt me? What did he see in her anyway? I mean she wasn’t exactly “Miss America”.  Other than the blonde hair and piercing green eyes, what did she have going for her, really?  I’m sure the hair is dyed.  Nobody’s hair is really that color, and the eyes have got to be contacts.  In fact, I was quite sure I remembered her having mousy colored hair and dull eyes in middle school.  What a phony!  He has to see through that act of hers.  I was also pretty sure that her right arm looked slightly longer than her left.  Clearly, she was not right for him.

The more I thought about it, I do remember that somewhere in our past she had done something really horrible to justify the pure loathing that was bubbling up inside of me.  Oh yes, there was something that she had done at sometime that was completely unforgivable.  I must have forgotten that I took a vow to hate the evil bitch long ago.  Somehow at the very moment that I met my soul mate and discovered he was her boyfriend, I just happened to remember that very thing that she had done to become in the words of Shakespeare, my loathed enemy.

Ok, Ronni, breathe, compose yourself.  The best offense is a good defense and I’ll be damned if I let my newest (or is it oldest) enemy see me weak.  This is my Count of Monte Cristo moment and it is time for me to start playing the game!

So, in the sweetest most loving voice I could muster I simply let her know where I stood.  There was no way I was going to let her see me squirm.

“Lyssa!  You are too right! It’s been so long – too long.  We’ll have to get together soon and totally catch up. And, Dennis was it?” I asked indifferently as if I had forgotten the man on my dreams’ name.  Please.  I knew it was Devon.  I had committed that to memory the moment I heard it.

“Oh, it’s Devon, actually,” he replied offering me his hand.

When we shook hands it was like fireworks.  I am sure he felt it too.  I am sure he will realize from this simple act that I am the woman of his dreams and we will live happily ever after.  Actually, now that I think about it, I saw the goosebumps on his arms when we touched, and he did linger for a few moments as he gazed into my eyes.

If I was Lyssa, I would be really worried right about now.  I mean he is so obviously in love with me.  Yes, he will be mine.  It’s just a matter of time.

“Ronni, it was nice to meet you,” Devon said as he stared lovingly at me.  “But Lyssa and I have to get back to the house.  There is a frat party tomorrow night and we need to get back there to help set up.  You should come and bring any of your girlfriends – it’s at the Alpha Lambda Pi house on row.”

“Yes, Ronni!” Lyssa wretchedly squealed once again. “You absolutely must come!  Say you will.  It’s a Hawaiian theme, but you can wear whatever.  You’ll come, won’t you?”

Was she serious?  Miss an opportunity to hang out with the man of my dreams? She cannot possibly be so blind as to see what is happening between me and her boyfriend.  She is practically throwing us together!

“Of course!” I replied perhaps a bit louder than I had expected.  “Thanks for the invite, Devon.  I’ll see you both later.  Have fun getting dressed!”

Have fun getting dressed?  What was that? Ok, minor moment of social retardation but hopefully nobody noticed.

By the odd smirk on Devon’s face, though, I was pretty sure he did not miss much.  His girlfriend and my nemesis however did not pick up on anything.  Unlike clueless, though, I was completely aware that as they turned to leave and Lyssa went to grab his hand, he promptly put it in his pocket.

Oh, this is going to be too easy.

And with that fantastic image in my mind, I turned around and hurriedly finished my shopping.  Not only was this going to be my first frat party, but Devon was going to be there.  I called my new suite mates, Libby and Fran to ask them if they wanted to go to a party, and naturally we all agreed that a trip to the mall for new sexy luau wear was in order.

My Novel

So, some of you know that I have been working on a novel since 2006.  It is largely unfinished and unedited, but hey… I’m an engineer, not a writer!  I want to finish it so my thought is that maybe I should just publish it in installments on my blog and let my friends read it 🙂  It makes me laugh and smile so maybe it’ll do the same for you!

CYA: These characters are pure fiction of the author and any resemblance to real life people or circumstances is purely coincidental.  (Or whatever it says at the beginning of Law and Order to prevent them from being sued!)

So, stayed tuned:  My Prince Was a Frog debuts soon!

Riddle me this…

So, what happens when Greg heads off to a football game and I’m left to my own devices? Well, new craft projects of course!!!

It all started when I found this awesome jar project on Pinterest.  I immediately wanted to try it because I have all the jars (thanks, Mom and Dad).  BUT, what the heck is “magic paper”?  I can tell you that it is not at Target.  It’s not at Staples.  When I asked for magic paper, the clerk looked at me like I was a loon.  Plus, I also needed the equally as evasive “decal paper.”  Oh, and a laminator.  Suddenly, my afternoon jar project was getting pretty costly.  Oh, and the only place I could find “magic paper” was some vendor in Australia.  So, now I am going to add to Global Climate Change (re: carbon footprint of shipping across the planet) just to label some jars.  This is crazy pants!!!

So, now I am project-less and at Target.  But, you know something about Target?  Well, the wonderful things about Targets, is Targets’ are wonderful things! (Sung to the Tigger Song).  And, there are all kinds of fun things to find.  What if I get some clear labels, I thought?  Could I use the idea from above and just print them out?  How would that look???? And without further ado…. Jar Labels:

They came out pretty good!!!! And, now I know what’s in the jars!  The only issue I had was with the small “honey jars.”    The stickers just didn’t want to stay on the rounded jars.  So, I guess we’ll have to just wait and see if they last!

How did I do it you ask?  Well, it was simple.  First, I used Avery shipping labels 18664 (I also tried labels 22822 — but these were small and didn’t stick well).  Then, I opened the template in word.  I used American Typewriter font to give it an “old time” feel.  Next, I printed, peeled and stuck!  That was it!  I imagine they are not dishwasher safe… so it will be handwashing for these guys in the future.  All the while, I watched college football and waited for Greg to get home!

So, what did you do with your Saturday????

And…. we’re back!

Ok, so a lot happened over the past year… here’s the recap:

First… Greg and I got married!  On 11/12/11 we tied the proverbial knot in Charlotte, NC.  It was the best night of my life!!! 

Then… we went on our amazing honeymoon to Whistler and Vancouver, BC.  It was an AWESOME time, but I totally understand why people spend their honeymoons laying on the beach and not doing adventure sports… it’s exhausting!  

As if those changes weren’t enough… Greg got a new job… in Colorado.  Yep, you read that right… Colorado!  Fortunately, his new company is the SHIZ and is letting him work from our Blacksburg home until I finish up this May… oh yeah, that’s right… I’m finishing!  I will be defending my PhD in March and I teach until May… and then… we’re off to new adventures out west.  

Ok, now that you are caught up, you are probably thinking… “But, Farmer Ran… what about that garden you spent all that time making???” I know!  I know!  Well, the time came and since we’re renting out our house, Dread Pirate Roberts finally bit the dust.  Or did he???? We have a potential renter that is looking to garden, so no funerals just yet… he may live on to fight the good fight once again.  Stay tuned to find out.  That being said, I don’t know what the future holds for my gardening endeavors in the mile-high city, but that is why my I Beg Your Garden blog will be expanding!  Instead of just gardening, I’m going to be blogging about our move, our adventures, eating local, farmers markets and all things Western!  Greg and I are both self described foodies who will try anything, so I’m super excited to expand to locally farmed and hunted game.  I may not hunt, but I happy to reap the spoils of another’s effort. 😉 I will experiment with cooking and baking at high altitude (this could spell disaster) and trying new recipes.  I have heard WONDERFUL things about the farmers markets around Denver so get excited — 2012 is all about trying new things.  

Happy Farming (and Eating)!

🙂 Farmer Ran

Garden (Blog) Hiatus???

Hello friends!

I haven’t written in FOREVER.  Well, that’s because Dred Pirate Roberts is dead (but a good dead, I swear).  I guess he’s more “hibernating” than dead.  Today, though, we should chat about pine needles and chemistry.  Chemistry? I know, I hate it too (and I’m getting a PhD in science).

Anywho, last summer we explored the many reasons for blossom end rot.  One of the reasons we get this nasty rot on our peppers and tomatoes is due to a chemical imbalance in the soil (re: too much acid).  There are a few “cures” for acid in the soil… egg shells, Tums, etc.  However, the most effective way to change the pH back to more neutral is by using lime (CaCO3).  This is standard practice in farming.  Here’s the ABC’s of the chemistry.  Things that add ammonium (NH3-) to the soil (re: fertilizer, pine needles) will make the soil more acidic.  How?  Well, the Nitrogen in ammonium and bacteria in the soil convert the NH3- to nitrite and then Nitrate in a process known as Nitrification (shout out to my friend Allian — this was part of her masters thesis!).  Ok, so what happens to all that Hydrogen?  Well, H+ is floating around making the soil all acidic, that’s what!   So, what does the lime do?  Well, the CaCO3 combines with the H+ and turns  it to H2O and CO2 (gas form… leaves soil) which raises the pH of the soil back to a more neutral state.  Did I mention that my masters degree is in soil?  For more info on this process (if you’re curious) visit this WSU page: http://www.ncw.wsu.edu/treefruit/soil/lime.htm.

CAUTION: too much  of a good thing leads to… well too much lime will raise the pH too high.  For a more complete discussion we’d have to get into alkalinity and the carbonate system… bicarb vs carbonate… and now my head hurts.  Take home message:  Do not over lime!  Apparently there are fast acting limes and slower limes.  I think it’s probably a good idea too add slow acting lime to your soil right before the first snow fall and let it work it’s magic during winter.  Of course, I never did this, so I will be trying a little bit of fast acting lime come March!  🙂 Too much science?  Well, gardening (like most things) is based on science and it’s good to know what’s happening in that soil of ours!  Once we get a handle on what causes problems, we can try to fix them, right!?!

So, I have big news.  Greg and I are engaged!  Thus, baking and gardening have been replaced by wedding planning and the like.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing all about it.

Farmer Ran Out!

Tales of an Urban Gardener

Taking life one potato at a time

Cupcake Addiction

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