Thoughts From A Firefighter's Daughter

Thoughts From A Firefighter's Daughter

How I came to realize just what those in the fire service sacrifice for us every day.
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Growing up in a fire station was one of the coolest thing about my childhood. On any given Saturday my mom would announce that we were going to visit Dad at work, and I knew I was in for a day of excitement. Getting to flash the engine lights, blare the ambulance siren, run around the fire hydrants and steal medical gloves from the medical stock were some of my favorite things as a kid. I threw around a football for the first time in the open truck bay with the guys on my dad's shift, knew exactly which pantry had the best snacks and which recliner was the most comfortable in the TV room. These were all just things that were apart of my life as a kid. I didn't realize until much later in my life exactly how amazing and important what my Dad did really was.

It took me quite a few years to realize that my home life was much different from most, if not all, of my friends. Most of my classmates had parents who went to work in the mornings, and returned home at nights. I didn't know that it was unusual to have your dad live and sleep somewhere else every third day. I didn't understand that my friends parents almost never had to work on Christmas or Thanksgiving; or that they would come home and be able to talk about every aspect of there day with their families. It was always "My daddy is a fireman," and that was that. I never really gave much thought to it.

As I got older, things about my dad's job became clearer and clearer to me. I remember on mornings when my dad would be getting off of work, returning home around seven a.m. just as my sister and I were getting ready for school, that on some mornings he would surprise us with donuts for breakfast. At the time, I just thought that was a fun, nice thing my dad was doing for us— but little did I know that those were the mornings following a night with a particular terrible call my dad had to run on. That bringing those treats as a surprise for our family was his way of trying to return to some normalcy after loosing a patient or having to respond to an especially tough accident.

And that was the moment I began to realize exactly what it was my dad did for a living.

I began to realize that the reason he would come home smelling like smoke in the mornings was because he had been out until four o'clock in the morning trying to save a family's house from a deadly blaze. That the reason he would come home from work in a less than perfect mood some days and didn't want to talk about why is because he had to tell a man that his wife died of a stroke in her sleep the night before, or had been unable to save a baby from a wrecked car. The reason we would sometimes get cards in the mail is because people like sending thank you letters to people who help deliver their babies in the back of ambulances, or are able to save their son from an overdose.

I started to realize how much of a hero my daddy was. That firemen and paramedics are more than just attractive men, shirtless in calendar spreads, or who you call when your cat is stuck in a tree. They're the ones who drop everything and run into a 104 story building that had just been targeted by terrorists high jacking airplanes knowing full well that they would probably never be running out. They're the ones who spend weeks away from their families deployed to help fight wildfires threatening people's homes and property with little more than axes and spray bottles. They're the ones who kiss their wives and children goodbye every morning knowing that they might not be coming home again.

I realized that my daddy was a hero. That he delivered babies, saved houses and car and saved lives, of teenagers and old people, and cats and dogs. That Santa had to deliver presents to our house the day before Christmas some years because daddy had to go to work and help people, or that he missed my tee-ball game because someone else needed his help.

I learned that my daddy was a hero. Not only to me and my sister and my mom, but to hundreds of other people all over the state. And on the day he retired from the fire service after 25 years and received salutes from his captain and crew mates and people whose lives he had touched, that those tears in the eyes of everyone in the room were those of respect and gratitude, admiration and thanks.

And in that moment, everything that happened while I was growing up came into focus, because as far as i'm concerned I grew up with a daddy who had the greatest job of all.

So this is an open letter to all first responders and their families. Thank you for all you have sacrificed to keep our cities safe. Thank you for being that face in the smoke or the shattered car window telling us everything is going to be OK and getting us to safety. Because I understand now, everything you had to sacrifice for us. How often you put your life on the line for us. Thousands and thousands of you everyday, across the country, doing everything in your power to keep us safe.

From the bottom of my heart, to daddys, and husbands and even mothers and wives who risk their lives every day to keep us safe...

Thank you.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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No UNC Residence Hall Is The Same, So I've Provided Pros And Cons For The Top 5 First-Year Halls

Did yours make the cut?

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Residence halls are a big (and sometimes dreaded) part of the first-year experience at UNC-Chapel Hill. Honestly, though, life in the residence halls is nothing to dread. It's not perfect, but it can definitely be fun.

Beyond the convenient proximity of other first-years in the different residence halls, your social life may also benefit from UNC Housing's many community events. You get a lot of community support, too—your RA, your suite-/hallmates, your community director, and hopefully your roommate.

What about the buildings themselves, though? They're definitely not all the same. The following is a definitive list of the best five residence halls for first-years on UNC's campus.

5. Craige

http://reslife.web.unc.edu/2015/06/01/the-view-from-craige/

Pros: This residence hall is suite-style, which means there are four double rooms (i.e. eight residents per suite) and one bathroom—arguably better than sharing a larger bathroom with 20 more residents in a hall-style dorm. More privacy, a better chance of bonding with those seven other students, etc.. If you're interested in UNC basketball (and you should be, honestly), you'll be happy to know this residence hall is right up the road from the Dean Smith Center. It's also nestled into a quaint little grove of trees, which is cute.

Cons: This residence hall is (somewhat affectionately) known as Crusty Craige, and not without reason (according to previous residents). While it is in a nice location, it's still a good trek from main campus—the hill from Craige up to Manning is killer on one side, and that's just the beginning of the walk. Since the residence hall is only six floors high (and is mostly surrounded by short trees), the view isn't as impressive as that of, say, Hinton James' balconies.

4. Lewis

https://conferences.unc.edu/lodging/residence-halls/lewis-residence-hall/

Coming in at number four, Lewis is the only residence hall on this list that isn't located on South Campus.

Pros: This building does have laundry facilities, unlike some of the other residence halls on North Campus. Also, it is a remarkable one-minute walk from the student union and Davis Library, meaning you aren't nearly as likely to get lost during your first week (at least, on your way to the Pit—class buildings are a whole other story). I cannot stress this enough: it is super convenient to live so close to main campus.

Cons: You miss out on the first-year experience of living on South Campus, where most first-years begin their UNC journey. Also, there are typically less than 100 other residents in Lewis, which limits the number of people with whom you can bond during your first year (when you'll likely be the most focused on building your college network). That also means less RAs and smaller hall events. Also, it's a hall-style residence hall (this is a debatable con, though, since some people would definitely prefer hall-style over suite-style).

3. Koury

https://unc.freshu.io/melissa-cordell-751/best-freshmen-dorm-to-live-in

Pros: Koury is pretty close to the SASB buildings, which are full of great resources for first-years (namely the Learning and Writing Centers, where you can receive free tutoring, academic coaching, and feedback on your essays). There are internal suites, which means that only three other residents will be sharing a bathroom with you. This means you can furnish the bathroom with whatever rugs or trash cans you prefer, and you have a lot more privacy than in other residence halls, as far as the bathroom goes.

Cons: Since the bathroom is between the two double bedrooms, you have to clean the bathroom yourself, as well as provide your own toilet paper—the flip side of enhanced privacy is that you don't get custodial services. Also, with the internal suites, sometimes it can be more difficult to socialize with other people on the hall (although your RA is there to solve that problem!). Lastly, if you walk out of your room and forget your key, you're locked out—the door locks automatically upon shutting.

2. Hinton James

https://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2017/07/hinton-james-leaves-a-legend-and-a-legacy-in-uncs-most-populated-dorm

Maybe I'm biased—Hojo was my own first-year res hall. I'm sure someone will fight me on this, but I really enjoyed living there.

Pros: There are tons of people, which means there's a good chance you'll find some friends near your room. It's a suite-style dorm, so obviously, the suite-style advantages of Craige apply here as well. Also, there is a package center located on the first floor, so you don't have to trek to some other residence hall to pick up your latest Amazon orders. There's a huge staff of really fun RAs, which means there's always someone around with whom you can talk about any problems or concerns you may have. The view from the balconies isn't bad, either.

Cons: I encountered a roach once. Also, again, there are a lot of people in Hojo, so sometimes it's kind of loud. Not ideal if you prefer studying (or sleeping) in total silence. Lastly—and perhaps most annoyingly—this is the furthest residence hall from main campus (and therefore your classes). It's about a fifteen-minute walk to the Pit...doable, but aggravating after a while. On the bright side, it's close to several bus stops.

1. The Winner: Ehringhaus

http://reslife.web.unc.edu/2015/06/23/the-view-from-ehringhaus/

This residence hall is right behind Koury, so a lot of the location-based advantages/disadvantages still apply.

Pros: There's a bus stop literally right out front, there aren't a ridiculous number of residents (so it isn't super loud or anything), and it's suite-style. As if that isn't enough, you only have to cross the road once outside the residence hall if you're walking to class (and trust me, crossing Manning/Skipper Bowles/Ridge is a whole experience). Additionally, this residence hall is one of the closest to Subway and Rams Market.

Cons: The pronunciation isn't always agreed upon by incoming students (but by all accounts I've heard, it's pronounced like "Air-ing-house," you're welcome). Also, it's kind of far from class buildings (like a 12-minute walk from the Pit).

Really, the cons aren't bad at all. This residence hall offers all of the community excitement of Hinton James but is slightly calmer and closer to main campus. That, coupled with the fulfillment of the crucial first-year experience of living on south campus, puts Ehringhaus at number one in my book.

I think the south campus residence halls are inherently better than the north campus ones just because the daily 15-minute trek to class is practically a rite of passage for UNC first-years. That said, all of the residence halls have their unique advantages and disadvantages, and you can have an awesome first year no matter where you live.

For more information on each residence hall, I'd recommend scouring https://housing.unc.edu/housing/residence-halls. Welcome to UNC, kiddos!

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