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Archive for July, 2013

CHAPTER 1

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.

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