Fraternal Foundry

Being a teenager is all about feeling synchronized together with the people that should know you best. If you're not on the same page, it's time to turn to the that and start reading. If you're on a different wavelength, and doing your own thing - you're not going to be able to collaborate with people when they need you the most. Fraternal bonds, and all the connections friendships bring need a fire, a burning passion to care, and a flame that can never be extinguished. Time to lit 'em on up and start that fraternal foundry.

Saving the best for last, as always. We made it to the final day of Phi Mu Delta National Fraternity's Conclave in Cleveland, Ohio. Saturday morning, I wake up dazed and confused as to my whereabouts. Want to know where I ended up falling asleep, on the ground, cellphone in hand (incoherent blog post rant opened) and under the iron and ironing table. From just that ridiculousness, I could tell it was going to be that kind of day. Yet again the whole 4 guys and a bathroom routine didn't work out so well, but Zach, Derrick, Rob and I burned rubber to make it to the presentation on time. We literally had to run to Starbucks and as I waited for my Taso passion iced tea and iced lemon pound cake, I realized by business casual was doing the utmost and I was looking a mess. I skipped a belt loop, like how old am I ... five. Whatevs, no time to dilly-dally - we book it back to the hotel and there's that awkward moment when you're executive director calls your entire chapter out as you walk in. The worst part, like three other chapters came in after us (long after us) without any mention of it. I knew all hell was going to break loose soon enough. Zach at this point was not even having it, homeboy didn't make get his coffee and the raging expletives that came from my brothers mouth cannot even be repeated. Never disturb a sleeping Zachary. The morning starts with David Stollman's "Buy In or Get Out" presentation about how we have to bring back the good name of greek life. Dude, told the absolute truth. He went over stereotypes for both fraternities and sororities, and truthfully a lot of them were far fetched and utterly ridiculous but some were actual applicable and embarrassing that we knew people who fulfilled those nonsensical standards. We stood up and recited our creed, in unison and it was at that moment that this whole fraternity thing, once again, resonated for me. As I heard those words being echoed in all my brothers around me, in our deep manly man voice - we were one in the same and it was up to us to live up to those words or for real #GTFO. From there we had a short break before it was back to committee meetings to finalize all our presentation items. More talk of total member education and some guidelines for expansion from our chairman Joe, with commentary from Alabama's very own AJ and Solomon. When it came down to whether big brothers should be mandatory, that's where Phil and I disagreed with everyone else - but if you don't speak up, your voice is never heard, and sometimes it's not even the right time to voice your opinion. So we got through it and it was on to lunch. Hot damn, chicken and ribs (for lunch) and I was doing the utmost going hard on that food. That ish was good. I sat next to the ever-hilarious Leroy, who was sleighing me with his commentary on sugars, ribs, and everything fraternal. Great table discussion, but I dipped out to grab some gumballs and Warheads (both in the candy way and figuratively, #boom) in the room to before entering the battlefield that was about to be our formal business meeting. Sharpen those arrows, unsheathe those swords, and sound the alarm, the fraternal foundry is about to be unleashed.

And here we go. We enter the business meeting and the mood changing, I saying you literally cut the tension with a knife - it was that thick. We moved through the schedule quickly and promptly, until we hit that road bump called the constitution. That ish was cray. At first there were a few neighs, and then as we moved on there was more and more dissent. Then we got to whether or not you should be allowed to pin someone other than a brother (as in partners, spouses, sisters, mothers, fathers etc.). That's when people started going hard in the paint. I'm talking like double-edged sword call outs, being outraged, and rehashing the same stuff over and over. I don't know if people just wanted to be progressive and acknowledge the fact that we have gay brothers, we know - get over it. I'll pin my wife, whether it says we're allowed to in our constitution or not. I was sitting there and I noticed no one, not once did anyone mention the word "partner" or "husband" only boyfriends. That was awkward as hell for us Vermonters, especially because on our campus we're all about using the proper terminology - get with the times people. So the motion was passed, after a 45 minute back and forth full of low-blows and fraternal drama that significant others could be pinned. Then we moved on to the talk of money, where all hell brooke loose. I'm talking, back and forths, roaring chatter, and total chaos. I applaud our national president, Kevin for keeping it all under control - because that was a catastrophe in progress. We voted on our assessment fee where all the larger chapters supported and the smaller ones did not. Then came the talk about increasing the brotherhood fee by 10 dollars, and 20 dollars next semester - which was up for major, heated debate. It was like blow after blow in there, and we ended up being the only group to vote against it. Then, came the most uncalled for - melodramatic incident of the entire afternoon, getting called out by our "unbiased" ED; which was bull crap since, it was the only time our colony, UVM (a founding one at that) had even been mentioned, and we get chastised for not supporting a price increase. Bravo. We were more than heated, I don't care about the money - I care about being publicly disrespected and not giving the chance to properly retaliate. At that point, I was more than done. The previous night's ignorant comment, and now this complete slap to the face. Mmmkay, we're more than done here. Fraternal foundry, ignited, and I'm absolutely heated, ready to brand somebody's face, and wage fraternal war.

The men of PMD Nu Gamma colony at UVM (as in us) went upstairs to our to change, and really to gather ourselves and calm down. At this point, I was really glad for my brother, Phil, who got us to look at the big picture and over the public humiliation. Now we're motivated to run train on recruitment, make money with fundraising, and come back to wipe our success all over anyone who didn't think we could make it. Calmed down, looking dapping and unbelievably good looking, we went to mingle with our fraternal counterparts. It was hard to keep the conversation off what had just transpired mere minutes earlier, but I found that this part was the best for bonding. Like everyone, I mean everyone was getting their drink on, and once again I felt young as eff - signifying, I was once again the youngest one there, by a long shot. Pepsi on the rocks for me and it was soon dinner time. I sat with Philly, and the hilarious guys from Susquehanna, Will, Tom and Derek - plus the guys from IUP. We're having a grand ole time bro-bonding, and telling jokes. Dear gosh, we were a funny group. Dinner is served, bread, salad, and filet Mignon. Everybody digs in, and we're back to that fraternal peace time. All is well. We've got award presentations and all of a sudden, it's all over. We take picture with our president's handsome baby, and take group pictures before retiring to our room. I start packing, and everyone else watches PBS's "Downton Abbey" - half an episode later, I'm not impressed or interested at all (and I was literally everything on TV). Bed time creeps up on us and we knock out for our last night. I wake up Sunday morning to One Direction's "One Thing" and Zach drops me off at the Greyhound station. Too funny, I had overall an awesome weekend and I'll never forget this summer experience. It definitely had it's high and low moments, but my fraternal foundry burns bright.

Being a teenager is all about making it through those tough, unbearable, and completely awkward moments that always seem to happen. When you've got a support system, a sturdy group of friends, and a solid game plan, there's nothing you can't accomplish. It's time to armor up, prepare for battle, and light the fire that will forge everything you need. All it takes is your fraternal foundry.

My blog post question for the day is ... if you could be any video game character who would you be and why? Well, probably James Bond because homeboy is legit awesome and ruthless, but Borderlands and Soul Calibur have some pretty cool characters as well.

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