Tag Archives: Virginia Tech

Hokie Hugs: Takes One to Give One

April is such a beautiful month. Flowers bloom. More importantly, tulips bloom (my favorite!). Pollen makes us sneeze. The weather is warm, but tolerably cool thanks to April afternoon showers. Easter is in April and Easter is happy. Praise His Light. April for college students is just that much closer to May, when classes finally end. In the working world, April is the start of vacations. People take their kids to Disney World in April. April is Momma Sassy’s birthday. April has just always been a good month.

Then some psycho a-hole (sorry Ma) decided to go ape-shit crazy (Sorry again Ma, but “go nuts” just doesn’t do it justice) on our beautiful campus and took our innocence and our happy April away from us. But my Aprils are happy again because I have great friends. I formed some pretty awesome friendships at Virginia Tech, and on that day in April 4 years ago, our awesome friendships went from deep and meaningful to something that was and is beyond description. Simply put, they are even deeper and more meaningful. I made new friends and deepened connections with others who I will always love, and I can go weeks and even months without talking to them and still know that when I call, no time will have weakened our bond. We all handled that tragedy differently, but mostly we clung to each other. Nothing was for sure except that we loved each other.

Now that I am out of school and have been making friends in the regular world, I see such a stark difference between people I meet now and people I met back then. I think I said this last year, and I don’t want to repeat myself, but having that kind of tragedy in common with people bonds you like you wouldn’t believe. It is hard to explain to others. When I was living in California and people found out I went to VT, they always had two questions: What did I think of Michael Vick, and was I there when that guy, you know. I’ll briefly interject myself and say that I support Michael Vick and think he is an excellent football player. I believe he paid and is still paying (literally) his dues. And I like watching him make awesome plays on Sunday and Monday nights. Sue me.

Anyway, the next question they’d ask was always a little trickier. I think people are curious and they do really want to know, “were you there?!” But they don’t actually want to deal with the answer if the answer is yes. They want me to say no, and then we can have a polite and sincere conversation about how terrible it must have been for all those students and everyone, and perhaps make some generic comments about campus security and then grab lunch. But I don’t like to lie, and I wear this bracelet with one of those 32 angel’s name on it, so I say yes. The reactions are all the same. “Oh wow!” “That must have been awful!” Followed by, “Did you know anyone?!” said with wide eyes. Then of course when I say yes again, it’s almost worse. Eyes get wider. Because they just don’t know what to do with themselves. How does one politely excuse themselves from a conversation about a tragic death and personal sadness to go back to one’s cubicle? Shootings aren’t really common cubicle gossip fodder, and undoubtedly many of them were trying at this point to figure out how to get the conversation back to Michael Vick. Heaven forbid I start crying all of a sudden and then they might have to comfort me or something. “Nice to meet you, do you need a hug?” is a little awkward, admittedly. Much easier to criticize a celebrity athlete for his poor treatment of animals and too-light punishment than talk about something heavy like a dear friend and 31 other loved Hokies being shot to death by a psycho. No one wants to get lunch after that conversation.

So it’s hard to explain. But you just had to be there to really get it. No one that wasn’t there really gets it. No one who isn’t a Hokie gets it. And since that’s a confusing statement with multiple negatives, I’ll rephrase: Only Hokies get it. You can’t comfort me unless you are a Hokie. You just can’t know what to say and how to hug (Hokies have special hugs in case you didn’t know). And you can’t learn it either. I could talk your ear off all day about what I was thinking, how my closest friends reacted, how my entire hall and building yearned all day to hear something about our angel, and then when we finally did hear, we wanted to un-hear. I could tell you about my friend’s sprained ankle when he jumped out of a second story window as death pushed open the classroom door. Or about a childhood friend who I learned later was shot twice and lived to graduate with honors. These are things we Hokies keep with us and I think it makes us better. Not necessarily better than you (though our school can beat your school in football which does make us better than you, natch), just better people. It makes us better citizens. It gives new meaning to our motto, Ut Prosim, That I May Serve. And we live it even more on purpose ever day because those 32 can’t.

At some point last week, the date occurred to me and I realized how close it was to April 16th, a date that will never look the same to me again. One part of me wants to have a wedding planned on that day, or have a baby that I know born, or something else happy and magical so that I can relate something other than this to the date. But another part of me wants to keep it sacred almost. I want it to be special forever because it is special. It was a totally crappy day when all was said and done, but so much goodness came of it, and I can’t say I wish it never happened. Of course I wish no one had been taken from us. But these things all happen for a reason and we can’t doubt that there was a higher meaning.

When I realized that “the date” was nearing, I marveled that so much time can pass so quickly, and then I immediately think about what I will be doing that day. It must be good because otherwise I will cry all day. There is an awesome concert in Raleigh and some other seemingly-fun festivalish events happening that would quite satisfyingly fill a sunny Saturday in April. But this isn’t just any Saturday. It’s April 16th. I need to be with my Hokie family and I need it bad. Last year I journeyed to the beach to be with my regular family and ended up crying alone with my teddy-bear of a German Shepherd Kyra for a good part of the day. She’s a good cuddler but her kisses are a little slobbery and she leaves pounds of hair on my clothes after we hug. And I LOVE my parents, alot a lot, and admittedly they are both Hokies. But this year I need some legit Hokie family by my side. I will attempt to run 3.2 miles for 32 lives lost (physical activity = yikes), and I will see some friends I haven’t seen in a year or more but it will be like I saw them yesterday. We will enjoy each other’s company. We’ll talk about the angels we knew, or we’ll talk about our boring jobs. Either way when I need that special kind of hug, I can get one. And I can give one, too. Ut prosim hugs, ya’ll.

Nothing like going home to Blacksburg to be with Hokie family to celebrate our lives, and the abbreviated lives of those who were sent to heaven a bit early.


No better way to say it: How Bout Them Hokies!

Happy Friday people. I know I missed the next entry of the Thursday Rookie Series, but I was otherwise occupied getting excited for, being excited while, and reveling in the excitement of an awesome Hokie victory versus that other school in Georgia. We all know there is only one Tech, and that is VIRGINIA TECH. Or as the Voice of VT says, THE University of Virginia, TECH. However you say it, we rocked it last night and it was awesome. I ventured into SF to enjoy the game with other Bay Area Hokies at TOTS’ San Fran location, otherwise known as the Bus Stop. We were drinking PBR, eating pizza, and yelling LET’S GO….HOKIES like we should. It was glorious. Then we played flip cup at another bar and I discovered I’m still a master like I was in school. Baller. And I discovered yet another weird thing people on the west coast do: play beer pong with 10 cups instead of 6. While I have certainly seen this before on the east coast, I learned specifically that it’s a self-proclaimed west coast thing. Another thing I learned: west coast people like to claim things as a “west coast thing” even when they’re not.


It really is something to be a Hokie. The cool thing is that I think I actually have gotten at least 3 people formerly uninterested in college football to watch some games! This is exciting for me, because now I have at least a couple people with which (which whom? with who? with which sounds best) to discuss game happenings and polls on Mondays. It is so non-exciting to have no one to gab about QB stats, Heisman possibilities, and how terrible UVA is this year (regardless of if this last one is true, I have to say it).

But back to the Hokies. I freaking love them. I love us more now than I did yesterday before the game. It is the best game I have watched in a while. And as we all know, there is nothing like being in Blacksburg on a Thursday night for a game, even if we’re not physically there. It’s freezing cold, it rains, we skip class ridiculously to enjoy pre-game activities, and we love it. Or in my case we leave work super early to travel to the bar, sweat on the bus because it’s 80 degrees and a gorgeous sunny afternoon, and are near tears when we see fellow Hokies on TV shaking the stands at Lane. It’s jealousy but it’s love because I’ve been there and had my fair share of Thursday nights in that town. It’s just as glorious on TV. And I especially love it when even the commentators admit that there is nothing like Blacksburg on a Thursday night. No, I’ve never been to other schools on a Thursday but I’m willing to bet we do it best, as we do most things best. Because we’re the best. I could go on because I’m just so full of love and happiness for our victory and awesomeness but I’ll stop.

Here’s to you Frank, Bud, T-Mobile, RMFW, Wilson, and again to you Greg Nosal just because you lack a finger now, the O-line (who were freaking aweosome, btw), and to the rest of you. You’re awesome. I raise my Corona Light which I will have in my hand  momentarily to you. Here’s to my new “Get MSP to the Bowl Game” fund. Here’s to my parents who took me to games when I was a wee one of 12, braces and all, and created a little Hokie football loving monster. Here’s to my parents again for paying my way through 4 years of awesome college and here’s to me for making it all the way through and only missing one game (stupid lottery). I’m just all blubbery now. Someone get me a tissue. Go Hokies. Virginia Tech for Life.

Hokies. I love us.

As you know, I am currently swankin it up on the west coast. It is great. San Fran is an awesome city, and though I do not actually live in EssEff, I live close enough to do some cool stuff. Cool points for me. What is not cool however, is lack of freaking college football around these parts. Namely Virginia Tech football. I have been in desperate need of a heated argument with someone about whether ACC or SEC is better, or which TECH is better: VA or GA. We all know the answer to the latter, and we all know who’s in our hearts for the former, regardless of facts and stats which may or may not back us up. ANYWHO.

Recently, I was out at a local establishment with TVs and noticed something. Despite minimal numbers of people who care about college football, those that do care, STILL care more about east coast ball than west coast! Awesome! So I’m thinking I just need to look harder for people and places which support really good college football. Because seriously who cares about the PAC 10 or 12 or 14 or whatever it is now? Who? Crickets. No one cares. Biggest game around this bay is UC Berkeley vs. Stanford. Again, no one but alums of those schools care. And even the alums don’t really care because their schools are never ranked. So they get hyped for one game per season and the rest of the time only watch baseball post-season (which I’m SO into this year. Go Giants. Don’t tell Grandad.) and the 49ers (blah).

So to fill the void in my heart for college football and everything Virginia Tech, I’ve found some love in places other than bars and TV. I’m sharing because even you losers who actually get to attend games (is that bitter jealousy you sense? yes) should be hitting this stuff. It’s good. The first is the North End Zone. I don’t know any of these dudes who write this blog, but they are hilarious. I’m an avid fan now and I check it weekly to see predictions, game recaps, and in general awesomeness relating to good and terrible Hokie football.

Next. Two words. Kyle Tucker. I believe know I am late joining this bandwagon but this guy has got it going on. I follow him on twitter, I read his blog, I hang on his every comment about our team. I wish I could have the Virginia-Pilot delivered to my doorstep just to read his words of bliss. Be still my beating heart.

This next one is kind of mean but also hilarious: FBS. That’s right, the notion of firing our ill-favored head offensive coach Bryan Stinespring has its own website. This is glorious, and I will say I knew about this site back in the day but it had completely vacated my memory banks. Well, it’s back – in my memory that is, as it never actually went away. And it’s glorious. Because seriously, if the coach’s son can call plays better than the coach himself, why are we paying him? To not coach? I’m no expert, but even I can see that this is just silly.

Here’s something new. Alumni Associations. Virginia Tech has a ginormous alumni association. And there are chapters all over the world. If I move to Ireland for my next rotation, there will be a VT Alumni Chapter which I will join. If I moved to China or India or Bali or freaking anywhere on the entire planet, there would be a group of VT alumni in that area doing something together as Hokies on some kind of regular schedule. AWESOME. Here in the San Fran Bay area, there are over 2,000 [known] Hokies! And there’s a distro list! And they tailgate at bars! And they volunteer! Ut Prosim ya’ll. The guy who writes the regular weekly emails is hilarious and makes me laugh and love my school even more. He calls himself Hokie Hans. This is to you Hokie Hans: you are the man. Your emails are long, ridiculously enthusiastic, and wonderful. Keep being aweosme. Love, Hokie Sassy Pants.

And lastly, I must pay homage to mobile.ESPN.com. Thanks to AT&T’s [awesomely terrible] service on my iPhone, I can view games on the go like never before. For example, last weekend I went on an epic hike (epic = 11 miles = 4000 ft. = couldn’t walk the next day) at 7am. The hike was estimated to take about 5 or 6 hours give or take. 7am + 5 or 6 hours = I would miss the game, which started at 9am Pacific time. No fear. We hiked and got a little more than halfway up the mountain before kickoff. At promptly 10 minutes after 9am, I was hiking with phone in hand, watching live updates as they happen. Thank goodness cell towers sat atop this mountain, otherwise my tears would have accompanied me to the top instead of my cries of joy at each touchdown.

So thank you, all you people and Hokies, for making sure that I can still get my fill even while I am far away. This is probably the most successful long-distance relationship I will ever have. GO HOKIES!

Stoked for your frat’s rush party next week. Thanks for the 500 invites.

End of August / beginning of September brings a number of wonderful things: college football (OMG 7 days until HOKIE FOOTBALL!!!!!!!), some respite from the gawd-awful heat of summer, Autumn and leaves changing,  and for some it means heading back to college. For Miss Sassy Pants, the only perks are the college football, and this season will even be a minimal perk since I will pretty much be going to zero games. Could not be more depressed about this, but I am wearing big girl panties and dealing with it. 9am kickoff can be awesome I am sure, and there are over 2,000 alumni in the SF area. Hokies Holler! ANYWHO.

Back to the point. College. College is so fun, and I totally miss it, possibly more than I did at this time last year since I was newly appreciating my paycheck from my gainful employer. This year however, the paycheck (while still nice) is less of a new commodity and does not combat my yearning to be back at Virginia Tech as much as it did previously. Blacksburg is probably the greatest place in the entire universe, and I do miss it dearly. Classes not so much, as we all know I was a less-than-stellar student (got me a job anywayz though obvs). My yearning and sadness to be back in this wonderful place is made worse by everyone constantly publishing statuses on numerous social networking sites with things such as “OMG SO EXCITED TO BE IN BLACKSBURG!!!!” and “Headed to TOTS, gosh I’ve missed this place!!!” and even “Already had my first quiz…first week of classes UGH!” These status updates make me want to do the following, respectively: cry, cry harder / drink a blue motorcycle, and slap that person in the face. Of course you will have quizzes dumbo, it’s college. I kind of miss quizzes when I am feeling nostalgic for those times of yore when I would go to class all unprepared-like, and still get A’s (LOL/JK).

The other thing that is so awesome about people going back to college are all the stinking invites! College is full of so much more than academics and going to class. Probably more so than any other place or time in life, college is filled with organized events. Someone’s having a birthday party, or a welcome-back-to-campus party, or a holy-crap-we’re-seniors party, or a I-lost-my-cellphone-last-night-in-TOTS-bathroom-so-I-need-your-number party. And of course every single organization ever created needs money and wants you to buy their cookies, t-shirts, topless carwash, or do a dance-a-thon or some such nonsense. Seriously, lets party for any reason (awesome), raise money for something random (we’re all broke), make it a FB event (obvs), and invite every person we’re friends with. Yes all 1,000 people. I am so over this for the following reasons:

  1. I have graduated. Therefore I am not able to attend your awesome so-excited-to-be-a-Hokie party.
  2. I have graduated and moved away from Blacksburg. Far away. Therefore I am unable to attend your fraternity’s rush party, though it sounds super cool and fun. BYOB ya’ll. Maybe you could bring the party to me out west next time? Might need to check that keg though, not sure they allow that as a carry-on item.
  3. I didn’t even go to your school. Therefore I do not want to attend a fundraiser pancake breakfast at JMU. Or go to your grad-school get-to-know-you picnic at the University of Never Heard of It. Super fun. Stop inviting every single person you’ve ever met. SO not necessary. It takes an extra 60 to 120 seconds (that’s 1 to 2 minutes for you business majors) to uncheck certain names from the invite list. Not a lot of wasted time for a whole bunch of people you won’t be bothering. Win-win.

I am sure I could go on, so instead I will stop and put out this general call to every single person who has ever used FB for event planning: PLEASE be a little more particular when inviting people to your events. Because even if I RSVP no-effing-way will I attend your event, I still get the 900 messages you send to all invitees after the fact. My phone chimes with the special little FB noise, I get all excited thinking someone sent something special to me only to realize I got yet another message from you and your stupid “VIP” party.  Who decided you were VIP anyway…that’s not the kind of thing that should be self-appointed. And speaking of 900 messages, it is definitely not necessary for you to send an event reminder daily for 3 weeks prior to your event. I got the invite. I remember. Maybe send one or two a couple days before. GEEZ. US. Can I get a virtual hallelujah.

That’s my soap box. Having said all of this, I will probably un-friend a record number of people this year JUST because you send too many messages to invitees. Even my best friends. Trust. Also trust that MSP loves being invited to stuff! There’s a huge difference though. Invite me specifically. It’s like that friend that always group texts and tries to make it feel personal. No one likes those texts because everyone knows it wasn’t special for them. And basically everyone just wants to feel special. So make me feel special by excluding me from your next fraternity party or band car wash. My lower annoyance level thanks you.

A Hokie heart is the biggest heart of all

Today is a special day. 3 years ago it was a really sad and scary day, and the days that followed were some of the saddest, most surreal, and loving days I’ve experienced. I know I usually try to make ya’ll chuckle at my funny little stories (remember Jason’s Deli? that ish is funny) and keep this here blog light and fun. But today I’m taking a mini break to remember some things and say some things. Today is a day to remember, reminisce, maybe cry, and definitely laugh at the innocent happy and funny memories that were there before and take joy in appreciative happiness that came after.

3 years ago today, I was up early (JK it was 10am…not early) throwing on boots (the warm fuzzy kind that go with sweats, not cute ones) and a hoodie, prepared to be late for Econ at 10:10. Then some emails alert us that there’s some crazy shit going down on campus and maybe we should stay away from windows. So now I’m a little annoyed (having been through the “crazy man loose on campus” once before back in September) and worried that I might lose that sorely needed extra credit being given in class today. Econ was so not my thing. Anyway, hours go by and we slowly learn that the unthinkable has happened. Unthinkable, because who, really, would suppose that something like that could ever happen? In Blacksburg of all places. Tragedies we often think about were more like…getting hit by a drunk driver, or maybe getting into a car accident. “Dangers” in Blacksburg consist of normal college dangers – drunk boys, drunk drivers, alcohol poisoning, girls alone on campus late at night (idiots), slipping on the ice, and getting blown away by the ridiculous wind. Those are all manageable dangers. We take a calculated risk to drink and not poison ourselves. We take a calculated risk walking home from TOTS or driving home when we shouldn’t. It is a reasonable risk to walk to class in ice and snow if class is not cancelled. But we do not even think of – never even occurs to us to think, there are crazy people out there in this little town. Maybe I should wear a bullet proof vest to class today. Unthinkable. Hours and hours go by, and what was unthinkable is now unfathomable and surreal and not really sinking in at all. It’s real but it’s weird real. We hug each other and cry, cry alone, use a million boxes of tissues because we can’t stop crying, take a different stairwell downstairs to avoid walking past that room that used to be occupied. We see others on campus  and don’t smile or greet them, because in their eyes we see what we are feeling. There isn’t anything to say because it’s not like other tragedies. It’s not like when a family member dies and you go to the funeral to support that person. It happened to all of us and we are all sad and we have all lost. So there is no “I’m sorry for your loss”, or making casseroles for that one family, or condolence cards. There are just hugs. And hand-holding. And singing. And candle lighting. And of course there’s some Go Hokies chanting and cheers.

This thing that happened to us, it was awful. It is not something anyone should have to go through, much less the parents and families of 32 students and professors, and their extended Hokie family of 27,000. That’s a big family! And that’s what we are, and if anything, this awful thing made us more aware and more thankful and more happy to be apart of that family. Family – the kind you share blood with – I will always love no matter what. It’s the rules. But Hokie family is different. We chose each other before this thing happened, and now we are bound by the love that has come from this awful thing.

So to all my family, those with whom I share holidays and hereditary OCD (you know who you are), and those with whom I have hilarious stories from TOTS: I love you, you lift me up every day. We are all far apart now and no longer living in that tiny town of love together, sleeping on each others couches, eating MJs fruit snacks and Pringles, ordering Pokie sticks at 3am, or going to hilarious parties in that cleanest of clean fraternity basement. But I carry you with me, we carry Caitlin with us, and Hokies everywhere are living for 32 today, and all days.

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-ee cummings