How to Reach an Unresponsive Friend

We all have that one friend. You know, the one we spam text until we get a reply from a week later? It’s frustrating. Makes you wonder what’s so unimaginably important that they can’t take two seconds to send off a simple text from a phone that never leaves their side. Unless, of course, their phone is dead, which, let’s be honest, could more than likely be the case with this particular friend.

I understand your pain. You’ve sent a billion texts. You’ve called them countless times, yet they still won’t get back to you. Good thing our technological world has provided a plethora of ways to contact people, even when our phones are out of commission. Here are four of those less-thought-of ways to hopefully speed up your inattentive friend’s response time.

1. Contact the Inner Circle

Want a quick and easy way to know what your friend is up to? Contact the people closest to them.

Shoot the boy/girlfriend a text. I’m sure they know why your friend hasn’t been responding to your desperate cries. Having the significant other pass along your desperate need for contact will more than likely reach your friend. This will work best if you have some sort of relationship with the boy/girlfriend. Otherwise you may just seem a little creepy…

You can even turn it up a notch and get the parents involved. Tell Mom or Dad you’ve been trying to get a hold of their child for awhile, but you haven’t gotten a response. Instill a little worry. Doesn’t matter how old your friend is. Your friend’s parents will surely get to the bottom of your friend’s mysterious disappearance. Once again, contacting the parents will work best if you know them to some degree, and if they are somewhat involved in their child’s life.

2. Spam Their Facebook Notifications

If you’ve tried texting and calling, perhaps their phone isn’t working. (Gotta give them the benefit of the doubt, right?) So the best thing would be moving to a different medium: Facebook.

Everyone and my grandmother has a Facebook account. Probably most of your friends have had an account since they were twelve–regrettably so. This means their wall is chalk-full of embarrassing posts to sift through. Revive the most ridiculous ones by liking or commenting on them.

(Bonus: I’ve even posted one-word comments on pictures so my friend would have to piece together a message by clicking on them all!)

No time to sift through your friend’s entire wall? Not a problem! Just like everything you see. Your friend will wonder why they’re so popular with the 247 new notifications, only to realize they are all stemmed from your desperate cry for communication.

3. Post and Tag an Embarrassing Picture

Contacting the inner circle fall through? Did the billion notifications fail to spurn a response? Then you have no shame to progress to this step: posting a ridiculous picture.

Friends constantly steal each other’s phones to take stupid selfies. And now you can use them as the perfect ammo. Find the least flattering selfies of your bestie tucked away in your phone gallery. Then shamelessly tag your friend and post it to any social media platform with a cheesy caption to encapsulate your mission: “Missing. Anyone seen this goon?”

If your friend has any sense of dignity, he/she will pounce on the opportunity to right the wrong and to delete any embarrassing evidence you posted on the internet. They’ll no doubt have to contact you for that.

4. Drop By Unexpectedly

If technology has failed you up until this point and your friend doesn’t live too far from you, I believe you have every right to charge their front door for an unexpected visit. Granted, your friend may not be home, but you can surely leave a post-it on the front door with a few choice words. Deep down it’s in the name of love, right?

If your friend happens to be home–bonus! Squeeze them in a bear hug for not being dead before you sucker punch their shoulder. Tell them how their absence made you feel forgotten or slighted, but communicate it gently. You don’t want to lose your friend in any confrontation you might have. Be honest with them in a loving way. Mutual respect will only strengthen your friendship.

If they’re a decent friend, he/she will apologize and explain the reason behind the disconnect. Sometimes certain friends are just honestly bad at communication and openly admit to this. If your friend honestly struggles with communicating and claims to be working on the issue, then you should give them some grace. Help them by reminding them of their commitment to become better communicators–when they finally decide to get a hold of you, that is.

Have any ridiculous stories of how you tried to contact an unresponsive friend? Maybe you have other ideas on how to get a hold of a friend gone MIA. Let me know in the comments below!


Manga: Encountering Literature Differently

Walk in any bookstore and guess what you’ll find—books! Of course, you’ll find them past stacks of calendars, beyond hordes of toys, and outside the sweet-smelling café. With a newly bought, eco-friendly mug steaming in your hand, you peruse the shelves. Between tongue-burning sips, you’ll stumble upon one aisle speckled with standing and squatting readers. The hooded introverts gather here. In silence, each reads a small graphic novel sporting big-eyed, spiky-haired characters. An occasional page turn breaks the quiet. Your heartbeat quickens. Upon discovering the geek’s haven, most will turn and run, but I dare you to investigate!

Manga Basics

In the bookstore scenario, the engrossed book-lovers are reading manga. Manga represents Japanese comics. These small volumes traditionally read from right to left, reverse of how Americans learn in elementary school. Dare opening a manga with the spine on the left and you’ll risk spoiling the ending! Some American printed mangas come with warning labels on the back to prevent this common mistake. Each booklet features a colored cover. Black-and-white drawings illustrate the story inside. When converted to an animated format, manga is then called “anime.”

Some lump manga directly with Westernized comics, but there are major differences between the two. For instance, most comics revolve around a superhero in the sci-fi genre. Storylines for comics follow a predictable cycle—solve the mystery, fight the battle, save the damsel. Repeat.

Although manga can revolve around a superhero-like protagonist, manga maintains a far greater reach. They branch into nearly every genre imaginable. There is manga about psycho circuses, twitterpated school girls, enormous robot battles, men’s volleyball games, and demons working part-time jobs. Unlike comics, manga appeals to readers of each gender, age group, and ethnicity.

Most manga genres fit into two broad categories: shonen and shojo. These categories help readers predict the nature of the story and who would find the story most appealing. Although each manga is written with a target audience in mind, those outside the intended audience can—and frequently do—enjoy reading them.

“Shonen” translates as “boy.” This genre typically focuses on a strong, young male protagonist with special abilities who goes on adventures with his friends. Together they grow stronger and learn life lessons along their perilous journeys. Eventually the protagonist faces his enemy who he defeats or converts to the good side—a popular trope in manga. Shonen also covers sports and mech genres. Although geared toward adolescent boys, girls and older individuals still find shonen entertaining.

Correspondingly, “shojo” translates as “girl.” This genre encapsulates stories of young girls looking for love in a high school setting. Stories include the dramas of everyday life blown out of proportion. Shojo includes the “magic girl” genre like Sailor Moon, which features super powered girls with iconic transformation sequences. Likewise, shojo is written with young girls in mind, but others frequently enjoy the genre as well.

Manga Sales Skyrocket

Japanese culture has saturated American life since the shaky relations of World War II. Thousands of people cosplay (costume + play) at anime conventions across the nation. Hollywood develops live-action movie adaptions for popular manga and anime (Death Note, Attack on Titan, and Ghost in the Shell.) Additionally, manga sales have steadily increased over the past three years. Thousands of ordinary people enjoy manga and express their love in various ways.

Manga sales have risen due to its increased availability to consumers and explosion of bestsellers. Barnes and Noble stores responded to the growing demand by nearly doubling their shelf space reserved for manga. Other bookstores have reacted similarly. Additionally, manga has become digitized for easy access on e-readers, lowering the price from paperback and encouraging readers to stockpile volumes in their virtual libraries. Anyone can dip their toes in the realm of manga by finding one of the many free resources online. Consider it an easy entry.

Millennials and Manga

Millennials, some of the biggest advocates of manga, encounter literature differently than other generations. Rather than reading an entire book, millennials scan for relevant material. The growing technology and fast-paced environment of social media has trained millennials to sift through piles of information. This unconscious indoctrination emphasizes the importance of visually stimulating material, thus revealing the appeal of manga.

Manga stretches an immense, emotionally-driven storyline into booklets meant for an hour’s reading time. This entertaining succinctness draws the millennial’s interest. Manga is deeply rooted in its Japanese heritage, which provides windows into Japanese culture. Manga also evokes an emotional response. With loveable and relatable characters, intense storylines, and stunning art work, a manga series easily engulfs any reader.

The otaku culture, comprised of anime/manga junkies, is entirely welcoming of new fans. To encounter a fellow fan means instant friendship. Complete strangers across the nation congregate at conventions to celebrate their love for fictional characters. Would you go? Would you join the family? I dare you.

Beginner’s Guide to Manga

Diving into the world of manga may re-shape your habits and engulf your free time. It may not. But with an overwhelming amount of titles and genres to choose from, it can be challenging to figure out where to begin. Here are some great beginners for those interested in starting manga:

  • Naruto, one of the top-rated shonen manga, follows a cursed boy named Naruto training to become a world-class ninja. The animated series recently ended after 700+ episodes, and the manga extends through 72 volumes. Finishing this series would take dedication, but, clearly, fans adore it.
  • One-Punch Man, probably closest to Western comics in story, yet it pokes fun at the stereotypes found in both Western comics and in Japanese entertainment. The protagonist represents an unbeatable, Superman-like hero. No enemy stands a chance against him, as he can defeat them in “one punch.”
  • Your Lie In April, an engrossing shojo manga, tells the story of a prodigy pianist who lost his mother. Since her death, he hasn’t gone near a piano. That is, until he meets an outgoing violinist who turns his world upside down. She inspires him to return to the keys and rediscover his passion for playing. Over all, the art style is beautiful and the themes are immensely moving.
  • Death Note will keep you on the edge of your seat. Probably labeled a shonen, this manga revolves around a notebook that murders anyone who’s name is written in its pages. An affluent high school student discovers the notebook’s hidden powers and vows to cleanse the world of unrighteous souls. The series evokes the reader to question morality as a renowned detective known only as L decides to stop the heinous killings.

I dare you—explore the manga section. It’s worth a visit.

The Vibrant Life of Being Ginger

Majestic Unicorns

It’s rough being a majestic unicorn. I never asked to live as a ginger. Society labels me both a mystery and a mutant, but my gingerness doesn’t define me. We shouldn’t judge by the color of our skin; neither should we judge by the color of our hair. I am more than my fiery mane, yet to say my pigmentation doesn’t affect the way I live my life would be an invalid statement. My hair comes with challenges, but don’t believe every stereotype you hear about gingers.

First off, know that less than 2% of the population sports a genuine crimson crown. The rest either dye their hair or envy our auburn locks—as least that’s how I imagine it. To those who dye their hair, I refer to as “box gingers.” The “organic gingers” are natural like me.

You can find organic gingers in most European countries or the Americas. Scotland boasts the densest population at 13% with Ireland heeling at 10%. The United States contains its fair number of redheads as well, which is where I live.

I have cool hair, not a cool accent. Sorry to disappoint.

As a recessive gene, red hair only reveals itself in a child who receives the “ginger gene” from both parents. My parents obviously blessed me with both despite being brunette. Surprise! Many people carry half the ginger gene without even knowing it. Undercover unicorns roam the earth, and you could very well be one of them.

Sensitive Skin

My rosy locks correlate with a small amount of melanin, which is the pigmentation of the skin. This lack of melanin results in a pale complexion susceptible to easy burning and bruising. Research shows that gingers also respond differently to pain and other sensations like heat and cold. Experts say we are more sensitive to stimuli and require more anesthesia during surgery.

I beg to differ. After my abdominal surgery, my head felt like a bobbling bowling ball and my anchored lungs forgot how to breathe. Fully gaining consciousness and teaching my tongue to talk sucked six hours from my life.

I had quite enough anesthesia.

On a different note, I would admit to bruising quite easily. Just look at me too intently and I’ll bruise. I remember jumping in bed one night, and my thigh grazed the edge of my opened dresser. I wailed in pain. The result—a murky bruise swelled to the size of a loaf of bread. It stayed for an entire month. I frequently scan my arms for little, painful surprises and always discover plenty. The winter months makes it easier to hide my ugly patches, the result of everyday scuffles.

Summer is wonderful, but the sun is my worst enemy. If I’m outside without any sunblock, I’m toast—literally. I need to lather on my 100+ SPF, hide in the shade, and don a sombrero to enjoy any quality time outdoors without risk of the painful afterward. Then I might last an hour without repercussions.

Practical Problems

Aside from fair skin, people rarely consider the practical problems of being ginger. For instance, having red hair complicates my fashion choices. Red is a bold color after all. I must avoid wearing bright reds, yellows, or oranges to prevent clashing. I can wear a dark crimson if feeling especially bold, but nothing lighter. I also can’t wear pale hues like soft peach, baby blue, or any shade of white. Against my snowy skin, I simply wash away. Aquas, teals, purples, and greens best compliment my candy-apple locks, and it shows in my wardrobe.

I’ll admit, I’m not very good at remembering names. Most people aren’t. But the pressure to remember only builds when you’re a ginger. As a ginger, I obviously look different from the Jessicas and Britneys of the world. My hair makes it easy for others to remember my name, and I feel guilty when I cannot reciprocate.

Occasionally, people will mix me up with other gingers. This gets on my nerves. Make us brunette and people suddenly won’t get us confused. We are different. And, no, we aren’t all distant cousins. We are ginger—not synonymous with underground cult member. Keep your gingers straight, and you’ll gain immense respect and adoration from us.

On another note, my hands suffer from notorious phalange freeze (NPF), a disease I just invented. This complicates formal introductions. Handshakes lead to the shocked, inevitable comment: “Geez! Your hands are cold.” My hands turn purple when they’re cold and, on rare occasion, red when they’re warm. Whether this is due to my flaming hair or my abnormally long fingers, I guess I’ll never know.

Dark Myths of Gingerhood

According to gingerhood mythology, I do not have a soul. News to me. Thanks to historical prejudice and an unfortunate South Park episode, we gingers continue to suffer mockery. In prior times, people hunted us and burned us at the stake thinking we were Satan-worshiping witches. Some surmised from our pale complexion that we change into vampires at death. Still others believed we were conceived through unclean sex, thus exposed in the color of our hair.

Nowadays, people ridicule us with ridiculous and offensive nicknames: carrot top, ketchup, fire extinguisher, hothead, leprechaun, fire crotch. Luckily, I’ve never suffered much ridicule. My grandma affectionally calls me “Red” and professors call me out in class, but I know others suffer adamant bullying. I ask that you consider the implications of a nickname before labeling a ginger.

We are more than our hair color.

Hotheadedness probably stands as the most common misconception about gingers. I understand red is associated with anger, but it also correlates with passion and love. Do I have a temper? Sure, we all get angry at times. I was quite stubborn as a child, but don’t all children sport an attitude at some point? Don’t call me hotheaded because of my flaming hair. It’s irrational.

Dying Breed

Anyone who tells you gingers are a dying breed is either uneducated or out of their mind. Although we comprise a small percentage of the population, thousands of people carry the ginger gene. The probability of become extinct is slim to none, but that doesn’t make us any less special.

Do you have a ginger friend? Appreciate them! Do you lack a ginger friend? Befriend one! Do you want to repopulate the gingers? Marry one! Even if you don’t naturally grow scarlet tresses, you may introduce another majestic unicorn to the world.

Or become a box ginger. We won’t judge—not too much anyway.