Rock Bottom

Even though I’m now a fifth year senior and in a new relationship navigating mishaps and humiliation left and right, I’ve been neglecting proper blog documentation by watering down the amassing tragedies as being not quite tragic enough to write about yet.  And sorta because I forgot about this blog for about a year…  But mostly the watering down thing.  Mostly the watering down thing, that is, until this past weekend, when a tragedy so pathetic, so utterly lame, occurred, that I could no longer ignore my duty to the web.

If you read my last post, you already have a hint.  But, let’s be honest, you didn’t.  So buckle up.

I’ve spent a lot of time in college trying to evolve myself from a closet YouTuber to a Pro-fessional Videographer gal.  It’s taken some time for me to learn the jargon of my trade (or how to escape conversation fast enough before people find out I haven’t) and to develop my technical skills, but I’m getting there.  One of my latest duties-to-learn has been the glamorous world of location scouting, which actually sucks ass.

So, anyway.  My teammate, Alex (aka “Cobb”), and I had been in talks with a local musician for about two months to make her a music video.  Indoor locations were out because bureaucracy is the devil (hear, hear!), so we decided to find a spot in the mountains surrounding Boonetown.  The plan was to find someplace with a waterfall where we could film without any casualties.  Taking a few suggestions from Alex’s brother, we resolved first and foremost to scope out the “Bertha” of waterfalls: Trash Can Falls.  (Did that joke hit?  It’s supposed to be about having a crappy name.  Oh shoot, I should have gone for trashy!  Something like “Marguerite.”)

Starting the car to leave for the Marguerite of waterfalls went well enough, but not much else.  Due to causes entirely unrelated to our chronic irresponsibility and inadequacy as human beings, we were sort of in a rush because it was sort of the day before the shoot.  Partway there, it began to rain, plus Alex was driving like a blind animal, so we were lucky to even make it to the site alive to begin with.  After that, we got onto the trail and I was forced into keeping guard while he took a leak in the forest, also like a blind animal, which was pleasant.  Raindrops and pee were crashing down all around me, but I still felt hopeful that my dreams for the day wouldn’t.

It was a short path, but a wee bit treacherous.  The rainfall (and urine) did not help the cause, as the trail was already dominated by puddles and muck.  A little ways into the trek, Alex pointed down a steep semi-trail/semi-dropoff toward a huge rocky platform and said, “what about that?”  I looked at it for about two seconds before definitively knowing that it was not going to work.  But I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I tried to say it delicately.  “That is not going to happen, Alex.”  “But–” he began.  “No. We are not f***ing doing that,” I stated politely.

He laughed, probably, or got tensed up and sad (what’s the difference, am I right?!), and abandoned his post to finish the trail.  When we made it to the top, we saw a few collegiate hooligans in swimsuits, hanging around, drinking beers, and then jumping intoxicated off of a 15 foot rock face into murky construction-site-puddle-opaque waters.  For a second, I worried that I was going to have to jump off of it to impress Alex.  I had already gotten out of it the last time I visited by having mother nature pouring out of my uterus into a pad that would have exploded up with water like a giant turd in my pants if I had jumped in.  But this time, there was no such pad.  Every piece of me was saying, “I don’t want to do this,” but, if he was bold enough to do it, I had appearances and my own pride to keep up with, and I was going to have to do it.  He watched them and, to my surprise declared, “that is a horrible idea.”  This meant a) that I was off the hook, and b) that I would have to prove myself in some other way.

We spent a few minutes watching our intoxicated peers climb up the rock, say they didn’t want to do it, and then get peer pressured into doing it by their friends, and somehow not die.  (That’s the thing–at some of these waterfalls, people actually have died.  They really have.  And yet…here we all were.)  I decided I’d get my pride by jumping off of a diving board into a big pool or something later.  It felt great to know that I would never put myself in a situation like that, willingly jumping into a murky waterfall pool in the mountains.  In a lot of ways, I was superior to all of them for being so wise.

Turning back, Alex motioned toward the initial spot once again.  I still knew it was a terrible idea, but since our first scout had been an utter failure up to this point, and because I needed to redeem myself for being a total wiener for being too scared to jump off of Trash Can Falls, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and explore it.

Phone at the ready to snap some pictures of the spot, professionalism was coursing through my veins.  We climbed down some treacherous tree roots and rocks before we came to a clearing of sorts–a plain, gently sloped, gigantic rock face bordering the stream.  The hardest of the trail was behind us.  Eager to impress and show off my adventurousness, I took the lead and crossed down toward the –WHOOP.

Shit!  Damn it!  Arms flailing, I searched for something to hold on to.  There’s nothing to hold onto!  Ahh!!  I thought.  Then, for the 14th time or so in the past two years that I’ve wondered it, I wondered if I was about to die.  Am I about to die?  This is so embarrassing.  Aaaand yep, that’s the edge.  Wellp, guess this is the–


And that’s when I hit it.  Rock bottom.  (…How’d that one land?  Eh, a literal rock bottom? Hey-oh!)  (No, but actually, I fell into a gorge.)


Photo used without permission from Thomas Fore. Edited by Alex Cobb.  [Circle: me, rectangle: phone.]

There were no alligators.  There were no deep river rapids.  I had landed in a shallow section of water less than a foot deep full of rocks, and at its most treacherous, litter and algae.  My bones were not broken, which kinda pissed me off.  I had literally just fallen into a ravine.  I deserved some battle wounds besides a bump on my shin and 5 scratches on my knee.  How else was I supposed to make people give me attention?  Boobs?  I’m too ashamed of my body!  But anyway, despite the intact bones, it actually did hurt and I was a little shaken.  But I still stood back up, much like a firefighter who rises from a pile of rubble after a building collapses around her, and gathered my bearings.  I looked up to Alex, expecting him to ask if I was okay.  “Where’s your phone?!” he yelled.  Dammit, Cobb.

There’s a saying about how what goes up must come down (haven’t heard of it? oh, I’m not surprised, oh ho ho *adjusts glasses pretentiously*), and the terrible truth of that is that if you say the phrase backwards you get to the point that I had fallen down and was going to have to climb back up.  And so, with reluctant nerves, I took off my $5 traction-less cheetah print shoes (a professional location scout staple), threw them back up to Alex, and began my return climb, amidst opposition.

I imagine that I looked something like Bear Grylls accomplishing another great feat of survival, but if I didn’t, I don’t want to know.

When I made it back out, I was feeling pretty happy about being alive.  But once that wore off I was able to go back to my normal hateful self and look at the world with eyes full of darkness because, of all of the things I thought would mess up the scout, slipping down a rock face into a river because I was wearing bad shoes while it was raining and I was on a mossy rock wasn’t one of them.  It was totally unexpected.

My iPhone was lost in the accident.  The location scout was a failure.  I was no longer superior to the trash can jumpers.  I had dirt in my butt.

But at least I had proved myself.

I felt a little better because when we got back to the car, Alex realized that he had forgotten to turn it off and left it running the whole time.  Again.  He laid out a cardboard slab for me to sit on, enjoying it all way too much, and we began our return journey.  I confided in him that the only thing that would make it better was making a funny Facebook status about it.

The status was an abysmal failure, bringing in less than a third of the likes of my post prior about shrimp with lobster sauce.

So here we are.  The blog.  Y’all thought you could get away with not caring.  I will not go without my honor, and a second chance at garnering sympathy and attention.  The writer in me is back, and she is ready to tell her story.  Even when you don’t want to hear it…

One day, I’ll return my cheetah print shoes to Target and use the $5 to boost my post, so that you HAVE to see it!  Then you’ll see!  Then you’ll all see!  And scroll by!  And I will be out of $5 and a nice pair of shoes!  Even though they’re hard to match to clothing anyway!  But, I digress.  The point is:  I’m back.  Stick around, sweet readers.

P.S.  Shoutout to Alex Cobb, for a temporary replacement phone, and to Mr. Darius Hillard, for always encouraging me to keep up the plight with this blog.


Editorial: “An Adventure Fit for Hobbits: A Trip to Boone with Melanie Lech”

An Editorial by Amber Mangione

Being friends with Melanie Lech is interesting to say the least. Don’t get me wrong- she’s a great friend and a joy to spend time with (when she’s actually on time for something). She can make you laugh just by her mere attitude, has jokes for days, and is an amazing singer. She is also the biggest procrastinator that I know (but is getting better), difficult to make plans with at times (by now I’m used to it), and after three years, still has a meltdown before moving back to Boone for the school year. Yes, life being friends with Melanie is interesting, but also an adventure. Like Bilbo’s journey to wherever they were going I can’t remember; unexpected and life-changing.

This adventure begins at ASU where my sister, Nicole, and I went to visit Melanie in October of 2013 for homecoming weekend. We arrived at her residence hall with pillows and blankets in tow, looking like two new students moving in because of all the stuff we had for the weekend. Melanie had planned to show us around campus and go to the homecoming game later while we were there. After taking a tour of her room and piling our belongings onto the futon, we began the usual “So what should we do?” escapade before finally settling on getting food. We headed to the beloved Cookout down the street and got the usual tray with a milkshake. We commemorated this moment of glorious food with a classy picture outside the Cookout and devoured our delicious trays.

pic for editorial 5

Then, Melanie and Nicole said, “Let’s go on a hike,” to which I looked down at my outfit and cringed. I’m all for a good hike in the mountains, but not when my attire consists of a sweatshirt, jeans, and Keds. Sure, I would have worn something different if someone had told me that we were going on a hike, but as usual, both Nicole and Melanie failed to tell me. Despite my slight panic and protest because it was wet outside and Keds have zero traction, we headed to the parkway. After finding a trail and a spot to park, Melanie wanted to get pictures of all of us at an overlook. Well, not exactly an overlook; more like the side of the road. After getting a good handful of pictures, we set off for the trail. All was well in the beginning until we began the uphill battle with giant, slippery rocks. After asking “How long is this trail, exactly?” and getting the hesitant response of “Not that long… I think,” I knew it was going to be an interesting walk. On our way up, we found a large rock and got a group of people to take a picture of the three of us. This was one of many pictures taken over the course of our hike; it’s always a photoshoot when Melanie has her camera. We continued farther up the trail and repeatedly heard, “We’re almost to the top!” and I almost slipped multiple times climbing on the rocks.

When we finally made it to the view, I will say that it was worth it. Melanie did pick a good trail after all, I thought to myself while snapping pictures on my phone. We headed up a bit farther to the rocks jutting out from the trail and ran into the group of people that took our picture earlier. They were an elderly bunch of people, probably in their 60s or 70s, who were alumni at ASU. They had hiked all the way up with picnic baskets full of glasses and wine and had started reminiscing about their time in college. They asked Melanie about her experience at ASU so far and proceeded to take a picture of the three of us on the rock. When we looked at them later, we realized that they looked like the stereotypical awkward family photos that you dread taking every year.

pic for editorial 3

To this day, my dad still thinks the photos are photoshopped because we are up so high on the rock. See, my dad has some experience with Photoshop like this. When Nicole and I were little, he would insert our faces into things like the moon and sun. He even went so far as to take a picture of me standing with my blanket and put me on a rock on the Niagra Falls (a picture to which my great-grandmother thought was real and yelled at my parents for not dressing me up in warmer clothing).

The homecoming game had already started, but we decided to head back down to try and catch some of it. After once again almost falling and Nicole constantly commenting on how she wanted to be like those people drinking on the mountain when she gets older, we finally made it back down and headed for the game. We made it back to Melanie’s residence hall, dressed in some ASU gear, and walked to the stadium, which again, was farther away than Melanie led on. As we got closer to the stadium, we noticed that herds of people were coming back from that direction. “It looks like everyone is leaving, they must be losing. Should we just head back?” Nicole and I asked in fear of this being a huge waste of time. “Let’s keep going! I want you guys to go to a game and the food is really good inside,” she said. We were all hungry again at this point, so we all wanted some sort of nourishment, and for Melanie that was pizza from the stadium. When we finally got to the stadium and saw the scoreboard, ASU was at a huge defeat and there was barely any time left. So like we predicted, this was a huge waste of time. But Melanie wanted to go inside for the food, so Nicole and I stood outside for about 15 minutes waiting for her until she came back empty-handed because they did not accept money from her meal plan.

By this point, we were all pretty hungry and just had food on our mind. Melanie suggested going to a hibachi restaurant and said that we could just take one of the buses down there. We headed down to the station and waited in line for our bus, double checking with Melanie that we were getting on the right one. After assuring us multiple times that we were getting on the right one, we headed to the back and made conversation with the people near us. As the number of people on the bus started dwindling down and we started getting farther away from our desired destination, I noticed that Melanie looked a little worried. There’s no way she had put us on the wrong bus, I thought; she seemed so certain that we got on the right one. We headed up a winding hill up to some apartments that the last group of people got off at. As we headed back down, Melanie got up to ask the driver if he was going near the stop at the restaurant. She headed back to us with an apologetic look on her face. “Guys, we’re on the wrong bus.”

“The driver is going to drop us off as close as he can and we’ll walk to the restaurant,” she said. This is when the panic started to set in; walking on the sidewalks on a busy road at night did not seem like the safest thing to do. The bus stopped and we got off, heading towards the dimly lit sidewalk. “Melanie, please, PLEASE tell me that this place is not that far away,” I asked multiple times, being very cautious about our current endeavors. “I don’t think it’s that far, really” she tried assuring us. After walking about a mile, Nicole and I were pretty done with this whole situation. Melanie apologized time and time again, saying that we were fine, nothing was going to happen to us, and that we were almost there. At this point I wanted to kill her (not really) for making us do another hike, but I had to keep reminding myself that we really had no other choice.

Finally, we made it to the plaza that the restaurant was in. Nestled in the strip of stores and bars was the illuminated sign for Hokkaido’s. After walking for a couple of miles in the dark with nothing but the sounds of passing cars and our rumbling stomachs, we were finally there. After half an hour waiting for our table, we got to sit down and devour our delicious food. I had to hand it to Melanie once again, she picked a good place. Would a restaurant by her dorm have been just as fine? Probably. But once Melanie had it in her head that we had to go to Hokkaido’s, there was no changing her mind. For instance, on Melanie’s 21st birthday, she had the idea of doing a bonfire on the parkway. Once we got to the spot she thought had pits to do so, it came to our attention that they were not bonfire pits, but charcoal grills instead. It was very damp outside so nothing would catch on fire, so intoxicated Melanie rode with her roommate all the way to Wal-Mart for lighter fluid while Nicole and I waited in a car with her friends (whom we had just met half an hour earlier at dinner) for over an hour on the parkway at 12:30 at night. The lighter fluid still failed to make the logs catch on fire, so Melanie left defeated and upset because she had the plan in her mind to do a bonfire Kumbaya style.

When we finished eating, our next plan of attack was figuring out how to get back to her dorm. The buses were still running and she was certain that we could get on a bus that could drop us off there. We waited at the bus stop situated between the Wal-Mart and Golden Corral for about 45 minutes before the bus arrived. Waiting here was probably sketchier than the walk over, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to hike again. We asked the driver more than once if we were heading back in the right direction and he confirmed that we were. It seemed as though every activity we tried had some sort of obstacle (except for Cookout. No problems there). But finally, something was going right on this trip.

By the time we got back, we were all ridiculously exhausted. It had been a long day, to say the least. Now we had to figure out where we were all going to sleep. We decided to push the futon down and move it up against her bed and have the three of us sleep side-by-side. I thought this was a genius idea until I got stuck in the middle with Nicole snoring in my ear and Melanie’s face next to mine on the other side.

pic for editorial 4

Even though I felt like I was about to drop dead from this tumultuous day, I barely slept. The next morning, Nicole and I got up and prepared to go back home to Charlotte.

Needless to say, this trip was not what I expected it to be; this was definitely one of the most interesting, mishap-filled experiences with Melanie and Nicole that I have ever had. Despite some of our setbacks, I still had an awesome time in Boone and I would do it all over again with the two of them. Although everything didn’t go according to plan, we still had a memorable trip and did things that we can laugh about now. Like I said, being friends with Melanie Lech can be interesting, but I know she means well and cares deeply about all of her friends. We can always count on her to make a boring day more exciting.

My name is Amber Mangione and this is the first editorial I have done for Melanie’s blog. Thanks for reading!

pic for editoiral 1

pic for editorial 2

Hey ya’ll, so it’s Melanie again!  I hope you enjoyed Ambear’s editorial.  Know that even if you are judging me, I am judging myself more.  (A moment of thanks to Amber for including such touching, heartfelt, completely unprompted kinds words at the end so you all know (think) I’m not actually the worst.)  So as you’ve seen, I decided to do something a little bit different this week by having one of my friends submit an editorial.  This is something I’d like to do more of!  On the third or fourth week every month, I’m going to post someone else’s disastrous life story or embarrassing tale, because I want this blog to be about more than just me; I want it to be about stupidity in general, and how it brings us all together.  And while today’s editorial was about a trip I was involved with, in the future, the stories featured might have nothing to do with me.  I’ve got a few people in mind I’d like to ask to write something, but the door’s really wide open.  So, readers, if you’ve got a good tale and want to share it with an audience of 100 that dwindles lower and lower each week, email me!  Let’s build a community.

See you next Thursday (God willing),