Collegiate A Cappella

One of the first things I knew I wanted to do when I got to college was join an a cappella group. The University of Rochester has four groups, two of which are guys only, one all-women group, and one co-ed group. I knew I absolutely did not want to be in the all-girls group, but I auditioned for it and the co-ed group. I received a call back for each. I was told I'd find out if I'd gotten in on a Saturday. I waited all day, refreshing and refreshing my email. Around midnight, I finally gave up hope that I'd gotten in. I started to change into PJ's when someone knocked on my door. I finished getting dressed, and opened the door. The entire Co-ed group was standing outside my door. Some one blew a pitch pipe, and they all started singing "Stand by Me." All the freshman in my hall came running, circling around and taking pictures. At the conclusion of the song, I was swallowed into a gigantic group hug by my new a cappella group. That was one of the best nights of my freshman year.

Everything looks better from the outside. The group definitely had it's fair share of organizational issues. At the end of my freshman year, I decided to run for Administrative Director. I really wasn't expecting to win. I had run for office in high school, but never came close to getting elected. However, I found myself the new Administrative Director, in effect, the president. My first year in that position was a challenge. I had to figure everything out as I went along, because all old AD's had graduated. However, I really think that I did well, and helped push the group to achieve higher heights. I ran again at the end of last year, and no one ran against me. Now I know what to expect, and I really think all the responsibility I took on last year has made me a more organized person in general, and a better leader. I started preparing for orientation months in advance, reserving rooms for auditions, reminding other executive board members what needed to be done, typing up audition sign up sheets, and responding to people requesting us to sing at various events.

The thing I am most looking forward to is auditions. This Sunday is the annual a cappella interest meeting, where all the groups perform a small set in front of a group of interested freshman, and after which the students can sign up to audition for their group of choice. Auditions begin Tuesday, and end Friday, when we will choose who to call back for a second audition on Saturday. After call backs, there is a huge debate about who to take, and then we send the musical director and another eboard member to a meeting with the other groups. There, each group announces which freshman they would like to take. If there is any overlap between the groups, a third party will call the student and ask which group they'd rather be in. Because of this, we are really almost auditioning for those auditioning for us. I know I probably would have cried if I didn't get in to the co-ed group, and only the girls group.

Auditions are fun and rewarding. We get an opportunity to meet some new freshman, publicize ourselves, hear (sometimes) really great talent, and pick students that will improve our group. My favorite part is when we go to their doors and sing them in!

A little bit about my group: I'm in After Hours. The music we sing is arranged by anyone in the group, and it can be any song. Individual solos are auditioned for and voted on. Here are some songs from our youtube channel:

Shea makes an appearance in this one. We were a parody of the group called The YellowJackets. We are the YellowPants.


Thoughts on Bike Traffic

If you ride in the car with me while I'm driving, you will notice several things.

1. I hate driving.
2. I am very vocal about it.

Poor Shea. He has to deal with my constant rants at other drivers, pedestrians, and the worst offenders: Bicyclists.

Reasons I hate them:
-They think they are entitled to ride on the road with the cars, yet think they are above such petty things as traffic laws. Red light? Not a match for bikers. No turn on red? Who cares, let's run down the pedestrians!

-They are slow. "The speed limit is 30 mph and you are riding in my lane, Mr. Biker. You may be doing 10 mph. Now I must pass you."

-They are irritating. "I passed you Mr. Biker, now you are behind me! Oh, look, we've reached a red light! What are you doing? Are you still going? You are about to go around my car, aren't you? Now you are in front of me again, going 10mph. I must pass you again."

-They believe they are invincible. "So you were in such a rush that you just HAD to cross four lanes of traffic, and cause us all to slam on our brakes for you, yet you are biking away like nothing happened."

For the few bikers out there who follow traffic laws and don't get in my way again after I pass them, I thank you. For everyone else: PLEASE STAY ON THE SIDE WALK. Do it for Shea's ear drums and sanity.


Summer Visitor and People Issues

Yesterday morning concluded one of the best weeks Shea and I had this summer: Rory came to visit!
I got someone to make coffee for, an incentive to cook regular,  delicious meals, endless entertainment, social interaction with someone other than Shea, and an awesome time with a cool person.

I'm actually a little shocked that I never felt like I needed to be alone or hide in the corner as I usually do when someone visits for a while. Rory was an awesome guest. And I'm not sure whether I'm weirder now, or normal by comparison.

Now I'm sad because we have no one else around in Rochester that we regularly hang out with. It's been a little bit of a lonely summer because of this. There are so many interesting, intelligent and rational people out there, but they seem rather hard to come by in Rochester.

There are people I *want* to be friends with, despite their flaws, but I feel like I'm doing all the work in maintaining and developing those friendships, and lately I've just about given up.  I've accepted that these people aren't ideal, but they could be. They could be if they returned my emails, followed through when they said they would hang out, or tried to initiate a get together on their own.

I have a lot of issues when it comes to dealing with people. I'm an introvert. I'm shy. I have high standards. I have little patience. I give up very easily when I don't get anywhere with a friendship, because to develop something like that is very draining for me, and it just feels so much easier to forget about it when the efforts are not reciprocated. I usually have to put myself out of my comfort zone to engage with people in the first place, because these people aren't interested in the same kind of outings I am. They like loud music, dancing, and drinking. I would prefer to go to a quiet little coffee shop somewhere and have intelligent conversation. Or to cook them all a fancy dinner at my apartment that doesn't involve people wrestling on my floor (that happened at a dinner I went to at someone else's house). I feel like I can't be me if I want to have friends here, and that's an unacceptable sacrifice. I think I'm a pretty cool person! Other people don't see that, which is partially my fault for holding so much back,  but partially because I am not the average college student, and most of the people I know are very average college students. I think I enjoyed the "college experience" the first week I was in a dorm. Now I am very happy living with my boyfriend in our cozy apartment, working full time to support ourselves.

Another problem I'm having is with social interaction itself. I feel so out of my element when I talk to people! I usually have no idea what to say. My typical thoughts when having a conversation:

Person: "Hi!"
Me: Uh oh... "Hi! How are you?"
Person: "I'm good, you?"
Me: "I'm doing fine."... oh god, the conversation is going to awkwardly dwindle now, isn't it?  Should I ask another question? What should I ask about? What would a real person talk about? I'll pretend I'm at ease here..."So, er, how is your summer going?"
Person: "It's good! How is yours?"
Me: No fair. That was my question. You should have come up with your own. Now I have to think of something else to say..."It's good. Uh, what have you been up to?"
Person: "I'm working and taking classes."
Me: Please please please help me here! I don't know what to ask you! I don't know how to maintain this conversation! "Where are you working?"
Person: "I'm working at the pediatrics center."
Me: Oh please don't stop talking... I would feel much better just listening! "And... how, how is that?"
Person: "Good."
Me: ...This is not much to work with. What should I ask you now? Should I ask you what you ate for lunch? If you like cats? How you pronounce "route"? If you like pie? If you have ever been skydiving? All these questions are completely inappropriate but they are all I can think of. "... Do... you...er, what do you do at your work?"
Person: "I file papers and other office tasks."
Me: This is boring. I'm not entertained by your job description. Should I be? Are normal people? Should I change the subject? What should I talk about? Should I talk about myself? You didn't ask about me... are you interested? If I did talk about myself, would you think I wasn't interested in what you had to say? Maybe I should try to find common ground and identify with you. "I do similar things where I work."
Person: "Oh."
Me: Noo.... not the "oh"! I have nothing else. Should I tell you I have ice cream sandwiches in my freezer and you are welcome to come and eat one sometime? Would that be awkward? Of course that would be awkward. Here I am barely holding on to this conversation about nothing and I'm going to randomly blurt out that this person is welcome to eat my ice cream. Have we reached the ice cream sharing stage in our relationship? What if they are lactose intolerant? Will they be offended? What if they've told me they were lactose intolerant before? I should pay better attention to people! "Well, I should get going..."
Person: "Okay. Talk to you later!"
Me: "Bye!" AHHH I suck at human interaction. that was just the most boring conversation I've ever had. They probably think I hate them. They probably think I'm boring. I'm going to go find a little hole and curl up in it now...

This doesn't happen just with in person conversations. I find myself over-interpreting emails, tweets, and chats online all the time.
Some examples:

*Someone comments about one of my tweets* 
Oh! Wow! Someone was interested in something I said! I'm flattered! ...Now what? Should I reply? What do I say? I can't think of anything to say back to that... But if I don't reply, will they think I'm ignoring them? 

*Someone responds to the email I sent to my a cappella group regarding the possibility of doing an upcoming gig. Their email begins: "Seeing as this is sort of my purview, I would like to add my two cents..."*
Your purview? I know you are the business manager, but you haven't been doing much this summer in this domain, and it's been my job to do this for the past year, and you never replied to my first email when I asked you what you thought about it! Are you saying I am stepping on your toes? Doing your job for you? Do you not know what "purview" means?  Maybe you are just saying you are good at knowing about gigs. Maybe that was a completely innocent comment. Were you trying to be aggressive? Should I send you a passive aggressive email back that details all the reasons you are wrong? Maybe I should just ignore this. I'm going to pretend that I never read that. Why am I getting so worked up over your use of the word purview? 

*I send a co-worker the logos my boss told me to send her. I got them from the company websites, like my boss asked me to. She responds: "Thanks. . .is there any chance we could get higher res  versions?"*
Oh, oops! I'm a little embarrassed now... wait... is she being rude? Was that a sarcastic "Thanks"? She put dots after it, like maybe she is actually pissed that I sent her low res versions... Maybe she thinks I'm incompetent. I feel like crap now. I guess I should have known. Wait... maybe she is actually being nice! Maybe she was legitimately thanking me for the effort, and simply requesting something better... We'll go with that option. But I just cant ignore those three dots... She even put spaces between them.

This is how my brain works.  This is why it's so exhausting for me to carry on a conversation. I feel like I miss cues, subtle sarcasm, and I can't always tell if someone is sincere or not. And I have no idea what to do about it! My plan is to just keep trying, and maybe someday I'll figure out how to have a meaningful conversation without feeling strained or like I can't be myself.