By Chris Slater

I remember exactly where I was on Jan. 20, 2009. It was the first day of the spring semester at Concord University, during my fifth year of college. It was also the inauguration of the nation’s 44th President, Barack Obama. It was such a happy feeling that day; the mood was so upbeat. My girlfriend and I walked hand-in-hand around campus enjoying the moment. Televisions in every building were airing the festivities live as they happened. To paraphrase a fellow student’s MySpace status I saw that day: Things just felt… fresh.

Let’s fast forward to eight years later, and where I happened to be on Jan. 20, 2017. I’m sitting at a diner in Luray, Virginia with a friend. She and I are staring at our cheeseburgers so that we won’t have to look at the live inauguration on the two televisions in the room. I had just finished covering a protest rally, and quoted the police chief as saying he had been a little worried about all of the counter protesters carrying guns. What’s the opposite of fresh? That’s how the day felt.

donald-trump-picturesWhat did we learn from this last election? Did the right person win? I think that’s a rhetorical question. Did the most qualified person win? I think even the most ardent Trump supporter will admit that he was the least qualified. That was part of his charm. Or, whatever that quality he has is called.

Did the election tell us that the electoral college is bad? In what may shock some of my contemporaries, I will admit that I do see both some pros and cons of the electoral college system. Now, the big con — figuratively, and possibly literally — got elected as a result of the electoral college. But, imagine that we actually had two or three legit, qualified candidates who weren’t offensive train wrecks running. An electoral college system wouldn’t be horrible then.

While Trump is in office, we can try and gleam some insight and wisdom from him. The healthiest president in history couldn’t be a total idiot and get elected to the highest office in the country. Right?

There are actually a few life lessons that we can learn from Trump. If you ignore the comments about African countries and the allegations from several different women against him, he has a few admirable qualities that we should all try to emulate.

Be assertive

Trump didn’t become a billionaire, a reality show star, and president of these United States of America by being a pushover. If you want people to notice you, you need to have an alpha mentality. Find a nicer way of doing it than Trump did; don’t belittle people with nasty nicknames or mock the physically handicapped.

Take chances

In the course of acquiring those billions, Trump lost a lot of money. Airlines, race horses, an arena football team, and a university are just a number of failed entrepreneurial endeavors from Trump. He took a chance on those and failed. But, he took a chance on becoming president and look where we’re at now. Don’t look too hard, though, as it hurts to think about it.

Don’t dwell on mistakes

If you’re running for president as a Republican and mock one of the most-beloved Republicans for being a prisoner of war, that’s a pretty big mistake. If you’re caught on tape commenting that you’re allowed to sexually assault women because you’re famous, that’s a pretty big mistake. But, what did Trump do? He didn’t let it stop him. A verbal faux pas here and there shouldn’t be enough to make you quit following your dreams. Just, try not to refer to all Mexicans as rapists.

Stroke your ego

You need to know the importance of yourself. If you made a good deal, there’s no problem with letting people know. If you made the greatest deal in the history of America, that’s something to talk about as well. There is a difference between being positive and knowing your own self worth and being an obnoxious blowhard. Walk that line closely, but don’t cross it.

Create your own style

If you like the way you look, don’t worry about what others think. If you haven’t noticed, the president has a fairly ridiculous hairstyle. He has enough money to get a decent haircut, but he refuses. Why? Because it’s his look. He doesn’t care, and neither should you.

Million dollar loan

I can not stress enough how important it is to get a loan of $1 million from your family upon graduating college (and some say the loan was much higher). Donald Trump would not be the man he became today without that cash from his father. I’ve noticed that an easy $1 million you don’t have to work for really makes your dreams much easier to attain.

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Do you have any other tips for success from our president? Leave them in the comments section. Any other thoughts? Let me know here, over at Facebook, send me a tweet, or hit up the email (chris.slater@wvgazettemail.com).

By Chris Slater

The first thing that hit me was the smell. It wasn’t horrible, but this guy’s apartment was definitely too small for the three large dogs that lived there with him. I could tell he cleaned, but it wasn’t enough to mask the smell of damp fur.

“Why am I even here?” I thought to myself. Oh yeah, I’m here for the reason I do most dumb things in my life: a woman.

He comes into the kitchen, where I’m awkwardly sitting at the table. “I’m ready for it,” he said. I hand him a $20 bill. “I’ll be back in a minute,” he tells me.

I sit there staring at my phone, trying to avoid looking at the three dogs eyeing me suspiciously. Finally, he comes back. The dogs seem relieved. He hands me a small plastic bag. I don’t even smoke pot, and I can tell this is garbage.

Again, I question myself as I drive home. Why? Oh yeah, trying to impress her.

• • •

lurayLuray, Virginia is a fun town to visit. It looks like it would be a fun town to retire in and settle down. There are the Luray Caverns, there’s a thriving triathlon and bike races, the scenery is wonderful, and the people are nice.

I don’t like to run or ride bikes, I don’t like to go hiking, and I have no desire to wander around a giant hole in the ground. The 15 months I spent there working at the newspaper were very challenging in terms of making friends and finding ways to spend my time.

With Tinder, everybody interesting was an hour away, either in Harrisonburg or Winchester. So, when I found a beautiful 24-year-old on Tinder who was 1 mile away – which meant right in town – I was excited. We matched up, and began talking. Turns out she had just moved to Luray for a job from Texas. So, she and I had that in common at least; we both had come to this small town from other places, although my 4-hour trip from West Virginia was much closer than her trek.

We begin texting and are hitting it off well. I’m instantly attracted to everything about her. “Smitten” to use a word that nobody says anymore. We meet for the first time at her house. She gives a very fake-sounding and hollow “Hugs!” as she wraps her arms around me. I later found out that was her greeting for people she wasn’t close to, just kind of a way for her to appear bubbly.

She smoked pot, and I didn’t. But, she said she felt weird if she did it by herself, so I agreed to partake with her. It hit me harder than I expected, but I tried to maintain my cool, as we sat on her couch to watch Rick Moranis in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

After a while, I excuse myself to the bathroom. I start washing my hands and think about how the night is going. The water feels good on my hands. I’m trying to calm myself down from my altered state, but also thinking about how fun the night is going. Then, a moment of terror: “How long have I been washing my hands?!” Now I’m panicking, worried that I’ve been standing at the bathroom sink for 20 minutes.

I decide that I’m going to just walk out and play it cool. She doesn’t notice anything. Once we become closer, I ask her about that night and if I was in there for a long time. She tells me it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary; just a little paranoia on my part. She also agrees with me when I say I shouldn’t smoke with her anymore. She’s running out of her “Texas supply,” and asks if I know anybody. I do, and I tell her I’ll get on that later.

• • •

50300789613__e1c8f947-a07e-4e40-88dd-02927a055d53We had been hanging out for about three weeks; we mostly just sat in her apartment and watched “Rick and Morty,” or “Black Mirror.” She cooked pasta for me one night, and I made tacos for her once. I used my only real “move” that I know: I casually made conversation about candy, and then brought her favorite candy with me the next time (Sour Patch Kids).img_0215

She is upset that Christmas is coming up and she is so far from her family. Christmas is her favorite holiday. She has a tiny, fake Christmas tree up in her apartment; it’s like three feet tall. I quickly hatch a plan. One of these nights when she is asleep, I’m going to sneak in some presents and put them under her tree.

img_0217I go to Walmart and pick up a bunch of cheap stuff; I’m mostly going for things that are rectangle shaped and would look good in wrapping paper. I also got her some candles, gloves (she didn’t need any when she was in Texas) and some wine glasses (since she had lost hers in the move). I spent like $30; it was nothing crazy.

I took her out on our first official date. We went to the fancy restaurant in town, and I spent way too much money. The police chief from the next town over was there, and he knew me from town council meetings. I think he was excited to see me outside of “work.”

We go back to her place, and she follows her normal procedure of toking up and turning out. She fell asleep on the couch, and I quietly brought in a bunch of Christmas presents. And then I went home. I woke up to a text message from her telling me I didn’t have to do that. I played dumb, and implied that it was Santa.

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We agreed to meet up later that night. I really have no clue what happened next. I didn’t hear from her for a couple days after that. I accepted her excuse of getting called into work out of town and forgetting her phone. I accepted it until things stopped adding up. I felt like I was being lied to, and I needed to know the truth.

I had left my coat in her car after our date. So, I needed it back. She told me she was busy and asked if she could drop it off at the newspaper office. I told her to drop it off at my apartment; I would come down and grab it, and she could continue with her plans. When she texts me that she’s arrived, I grab that $20 bag of subpar pot and walk out to meet her. I trade the bag for my coat. She didn’t have any money, but I told her it was cool. She opens her arms and I hear a fake-sounding “Hugs!” I’m back down to that level, apparently. As she walks away and tells me we need to do something together soon, I know that I’m never going to see her again.

• • •

I spent the next few days being very sad, as one is prone to do. I hadn’t texted her for a few days. The plan had been to spend Christmas with her. She didn’t have anybody to be with, and my family was four hours away. Christmas Day, I’m moping around my apartment alone. I decided to text her. I have to be on her mind, right? It’s Christmas and she has a bunch of presents under her tree. I’ve sent much-riskier texts without any hesitation. But, as I stared at the words “Merry Christmas” on my phone, I felt such a nervousness about hitting send.

I hit send. Then I waited. And waited. Of course she never responded. She was done with me.

I’m sure we’ve all been in those situations. What do you do when the other person doesn’t like you back anymore? Can you do anything? How do you heal the hurt? I’ve found three options that help.

Time

There’s no way you’ll immediately feel better after a breakup. You need more than days, and likely more than weeks. It might take months, but hopefully not years. There is no set system for when one feels better. But, the pain eventually gets lessened with time.

Keep busy

My mistake was to sit around the apartment and mope. Keep your mind occupied and you won’t have time to think back on the previous relationship. Exercise, consume yourself with work, video games; anything that stimulates your mind and keeps you busy is necessary directly afterward.

Positive relationships

Yeah, it may not have worked out with this person, but you’ve got somebody else in your life. A friend, parent, co-worker, there are people with a positive attitude who can be there to take you out of your negative doldrums. Smiling is contagious; if there’s somebody is around who can have a wine and movie night, or just a fun dinner, or casual conversation; any little bit of positive thinking helps.

• • •

There’s no set way to get over somebody. We all work at our own pace and need our own ways to cope with heartache and sadness. What are some of your ways? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, or shoot me an email (chris.slater@wvgazettemail.com).

Holiday hiatus

30-Something is taking a little break for the holiday season. We’ll let you know what the future holds in the new year.

A helpful list of handy Tinder hints

By Chris Slater

Tinder has changed our lives; well, the dating part of our lives at least. No longer do we have to get dressed, style our hair, go to a restaurant or bar, and talk to somebody. Now, we have this little contraption in our hands with a magical app that does all the work for us. We all know how it works: it’s GPS and age based. You select an area, say within 50 miles of you and an age bracket, let’s say 25-35. Ladies or fellas who meet those requirements will show up. You can give them your approval with a right swipe, or pass with a left swipe. If you both swipe right, you match up and are allowed to chat.

We all have different reasons for why we’re on Tinder. Some people want to find a long-term relationship. Some don’t even want a commitment that lasts longer than that night. Some people want love, some want friendship, some just want sex. And, it’s all good. You do you, and have fun with it.

But, there are some simple ground rules that we all need to abide by. You may only want one thing, but we’re all in this together. Respect, common courtesy and decency will go a long way.

With that, here is a handy, helpful list of Tinder Do’s and Do Not Do’s.

Pictures

img_3198Do: Have a clear, current picture of you to start off with. Let people know who you are and what you look like.

Do Not Do: Multiple group pictures. If the first picture is you and five other people, which one are you? And, if they’re all you and other people, then it implies that you’re trying to hide something; why can’t you just be you?

Do: A mix of serious and fun pictures. If you’re proud of your professional life, a picture of you doing something related to that is fine. If you like to go out and party, a picture of you at the bar with a drink in your hand won’t hurt. But, we don’t need six pictures that are all similar. Mix it up and give people a look at your life.

Do Not Do: Shirtless pictures. Yeah, you love your abs and want to show them off. But, here’s a tip: Don’t. Ladies don’t like it. If you have a lot of muscles, we can tell with your shirt on.

Do: Puppers. “I just swiped right for your dog” is a bio line that girls think is clever, but not when 95 percent of them all say it. But, it’s true. If you have a doggo, take a picture with her and make it prominent.

Do Not Do: Dead animals. If you like to hunt, just say that. A potential mate can overlook those ideological differences and like you for who you are. But, not if you’re sprawled out on a dead deer holding his lifeless corpse up by the antlers. Talk about a mood killer.

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Do: Give a thoughtful, honest representation of yourself. If you’re looking for something serious, mention it in your profile. Tell about your hobbies, career, dreams, anything that you think is interesting. A picture says a lot, but words are literally the definition of saying something.

Do Not Do: Be disgusting. There are clever, non-pornographic ways to say you’re just interested in sex. The sexiest organ is the brain. Use it.

Messaging

Do: Be fun, flirty and lighthearted. Start with a joke. A well-timed GIF is always welcome. Compliment a picture tastefully. You’re communicating with a new person; be on your best behavior.

Do Not Do: Be immediately crude. I would say roughly 98% of Tinder conversations are initiated by men. With that said, give the dirty talk a slow burn. Girls love to be filthy, too. But, they usually don’t like it within the first couple messages. Patience is a virtue. If you know how to properly talk to a woman, you will eventually get rewarded.

• • •

This is not a comprehensive list by any means. It is merely a quick look at how to get started and better enjoy your Tinder experience. Has it been working for you? Got any other tips? Sound off in the comments section, over at Facebook or slide into my Twitter DM’s and let me know.

bigBy Chris Slater

Sitting in a packed newsroom, I often hear things going on around me. I didn’t think much of it when I was hearing talk of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central West Virginia group losing a lot of funding. I didn’t know any details, and thought to myself, “Shame. But, that happens.”

Then I read the article. And then I got angry.

The group had somewhere between $60,000 to $80,000 in local grants taken away, and the Raleigh County office recently shut down due to them being unable to make up that money.

Why did they lose that money? Nobody can say for sure, but here’s what we know: the organization had recently received a $20,000 grant to assist with training staff members in LGBTQ issues.

From the original article, Sara McDowell, the local group’s executive director said about the grant:

“I said, ‘Yes, we would be interested,’ especially considering that, earlier this year, UCLA came out with a study that found West Virginia has the highest number of teens who identify themselves as transgendered,” McDowell said.

What happened shortly after that grant was announced? From McDowell: “[W]e were notified that a representative for several donors wanted to discuss issues we had been previously unaware of.”

She declined to announce who was rescinding their donations, but did note: “I don’t think the timing is coincidental,” McDowell said. “It is my opinion that the LGBTQ program was not going to be welcomed by the representative for those donors. That’s based on my experience with the donor representative and the conversations I’ve had with others.”

So, basically, what we have here is a situation where this group received money that would help them better meet the needs of LGBTQ kids in their care. After hearing that, some people got upset and pulled their funding.

There is one word for that: reprehensible. Well, there are a lot of other words I could use, but those may not be fit for print.

To the people who heard that their money was going to an organization that wants to help LGBTQ kids and decided to pull their funding: you are more disgusting than you could ever imagine homosexuality to be. You are what’s wrong with the world; not a boy who likes kissing another boy.

People like you are the reason that LGBTQ kids need this extra help and assistance. They feel ostracized in their community because of people stuck in some antiquated “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” way of living.

Because of your actions, if some of these LGBTQ kids do not get the assistance, help, or compassion that they need, I hope you’re ready for any consequences. If one of those kids doesn’t know what to do anymore and grabs a bottle of pills, ties a rope around their neck, or cocks a gun, I hope you know that the blood is on your hands.

This whole situation is disgusting, and I hope the names of those who took away their donations becomes public. Those are the people who need to be shamed and ostracized, not some innocent kids who are trying to discover who they are.

The introduction: What is 30-Something?

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By Chris Slater

Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m the writer for “30-Something,” the newest blog for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. A little about me: I’ve been a lifelong resident of West Virginia for roughly 30 of my 31 years. I spent 15 months working at a newspaper in Luray, Virginia from late 2015 to early 2017. (If you’re wondering, Virginia and West Virginia are essentially the same, with the main exception being that Virginia has an obsession with the Civil War… which is weird, because… you know… they were on the wrong side.)

I’ve been a writer all of my life. The first time I realized that words could be powerful was in the third grade. Mrs. Beverly gave the class a simple assignment: write the funniest story, and our laughter would judge the winner. I crafted a tale about a time I fell down a hill and got the loudest reaction. After that, I was hooked.

Two things stick out from the night I went to Ravenswood High School in 2000 for a tour and to pick out ninth grade classes: for the first time ever I saw a little person, and I also signed up for my first journalism class. The next year, tenth grade in Princeton High School, was when I fell in love with journalism and realized it was what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

Life isn’t always a fairy tale; things don’t always go the way you would prefer. I spent way too much of my 20s wasting my potential, being a manager at Pizza Hut and waiting tables at Outback Steakhouse. But, I eventually woke up and went out to make something of myself. That’s still a work in progress.

My journey has taken me to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, where I’ve been a copy editor since March, checking grammar and designing pages. I always want to be the best at everything I can do. I want to contribute to the team and “maximize my minutes,” to throw out a sports cliché. In fact, it’s the main reason I left my last job in Luray; I kept asking if I could help out and do more, and kept getting told no.

I started writing some op-eds for the Gazette opinion page. Mostly about politics. And I started reading the opinion section closely. I noticed a trend here in my newsroom that also seemed to extend nationwide: the editorial voice of the newspaper wasn’t talking to me. It wasn’t talking to a 31-year-old man, and it surely wasn’t talking to anybody younger.

Now, don’t get me wrong: people of all ages need to pick up the Gazette-Mail, as well as any other local or national paper. The news is all-ages friendly; you definitely need to be reading that. But, young people in the area didn’t have a specific home for just their issues and concerns. And, that got me thinking. And, plotting. And, starting a blog.

That’s the goal behind 30-Something. This is the home for all issues that Young America cares about. In the forthcoming posts, we’re going to be talking about life, love, sex, relationships, careers, LGBT rights, women’s issues (#metoo), money, social media, body image, style, politics, drugs, mental health and more.

Join me here, once a week, as we take a look at all of those issues. I encourage reader participation, either here in the comments, on Facebook or over at Twitter, or send me an email (chris.slater@wvgazettemail.com).