Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Maybe I'm just jealous of her hot (underaged) boyfriend...we'll never really know

There is a channel we get in my apartment and it’s called something like “Palladia”. It’s all very unclear, but it plays concerts, performances, etc. Sometimes you get super lucky and get to watch Celine Dion smack herself in the chest in Vegas, other times you get Coldplay and their monotone, sleep inducing music, but SOMETIMES…you get the MTV VMAs and get to watch the Kanye and Taylor debacle over again. I got lucky last night, you guys. And now:

Things I Noticed This Time Around That I Missed Due To The Shock:

1. Taylor Lautner is presenting the award to his girlfriend! And at the time, I don’t know how long they’d been dating, but can we say awkward? Also, she hugs him and he almost recoils from her touch, the whole thing makes me want to be anywhere but watching these two interact. After all, she’s all atwitter over her award and he’s nervous that something will happen and she’ll write a song about it and use his name. And in MERE MOMENTS, a crazy man will ruin her speech.

2. Taylor Swift just kind of hands the microphone to Kanye. Were I accepting an award on national television and a crazy man with awful hair and indoor sunglasses approached me for my microphone, I might kick him, I might punch him, but I would not hand over my microphone.

3. Where does Taylor think she is? The Grammys? WHAT IS SHE WEARING? It’s pretty, but these are the VMAs, you don’t wear long, glittering gowns. Look around you, darling. Who styled you? Fire them. There is a time for the gown you are wearing. It is not right now.

In other Taylor news…

Before arriving home yesterday, I was listening to a lot of Carrie Underwood to get in the mood for her Christmas special (shut your mouth). If you’ve ever listened to a lot of Carrie Underwood at once (and I will assume all of you have), you know that she can get kind of heavy after a while and you need something lighter to balance. I chose Taylor, because if ever there was a lighter balance, it is Taylor Swift. Even her “serious” songs are light, or at least they are to me, because I’m not fifteen, in high school, and lusting after seniors. ANYWAY, I love Taylor, but I was listening to “Fifteen” and “You Belong To Me” yesterday and I had some thoughts. What better place to share my thoughts than here…with all of you…

'Cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love youYou're gonna believe them

This is supposed to evoke an “aw, puppy love” response, but let us pause and reflect. Why do you believe them? When I was fifteen, I think I would have believed the sky would be green tomorrow before I believed that some guy loved me. Seriously. It’s high school. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but I’m saying that if you’re gullible to just believe whatever the guy you’re dating is saying to you, you have some personal growing to do.

And your momma's waiting up and you're thinking he's the one

You are FIFTEEN. How late are you out? Why is your mom “waiting up”? Is your dad not waiting up too? Because mine would be, with his shotgun by his side. Because I am FIFTEEN in this story. Did no one else have strict parents who would have laughed if you said, “Sooo, this 18 year old guy picking me up and we’ll be back around 11:30”? I did. And thank goodness for it.

But in your life you'll do things greater than
Dating the boy on the football team
But I didn't know it at fifteen

Really, Taylor. You didn’t know that at fifteen? If your biggest ambition in life at fifteen was dating the boy on the football team, I don’t think we can be friends.

Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday

OMG. Stop. Just stop.

But I realized some bigger dreams of mine

Just in time because…

And Abigail gave everything she had to a boy
Who changed his mind and we both cried

And we all know, once a girl is not a virgin anymore, she has nothing left to give.


Clearly, the song is catchy and I sing along to every word, but geeze. I’m not worried about the effect this has on my own psyche, I’m pretty well-formed in my opinions by now. But is this what has happened to fifteen year old girls? I don’t think so. I know some fifteen year old girls and they are sharper than this tomfoolery. I don’t think I was an atypical teenager. Or am I wrong? Did you girls all think you were in LOVE in high school? I just don’t understand how this song is as relatable as her record sales indicate.

Now, I have two younger brothers. They’re 22 and hilarious. Last year, one of them saw the movie, “He’s Just Not That Into You” and proclaimed that every girl should have to watch it at least five times a year, every year, from the time she is 9 until forever. I thought it was a stupid movie, but in general it tried to portray the idea that if someone likes you, then they will make it happen, if they don’t make it happen, then they probably don’t dig you and your stuff. Clearly, Taylor has never seen this movie, or if she did, she missed the lesson in its entirety. Let us turn our hymnals to the song “You Belong With Me” and see what I mean:

You're on the phone with your girlfriend,
She's upset
She's going off about something that you said
She doesn’t get your humor like I do

I'm in the room, its a typical Tuesday night
I'm listening to the kind of music she doesn’t like
And she'll never know your story like I do

These first two verses make me think a couple of things. Taylor, how do you know what they’re arguing about? Creepy McCreeperson.

If you could see that I'm the one who understands you
Been here all along so why can't you see?
You belong with me You belong with me

Taylor. He knows. Or rather, he knows that you like him. Because if you’re writing this song, I can only imagine how you interact with him in person. And boys play a good game of pretending they don’t know, but they do. We’ve all been there, sweetie. You’re friends with someone, you become better friends, and you develop a massive crush on them. It’s normal. And usually, it passes, so resist the urge to write a song and give it a few weeks. It’s what happens when attractive young people are put into situations together. But really, he is your friend. It’s fun to idealize a possible relationship, but how long do you think things will remain like this if you date:

Walkin the streets with you in your worn out jeans
I can’t help thinking this is how it ought to be
Laughing on the park bench thinkin to myself
Hey isn’t this easy?

Oh I remember you driving to my house in the middle of the night
I'm the one who makes you laugh when you know you're about to cry
I know your favorite songs and you tell me about your dreams
I think I know where you belong. I think I know it's with me.

Here’s a hint: Things will change. Why? Because we have different expectations for our friends and our significant others (or at least you should). The same behaviors you find quirky and adorable in a friend quickly become things you hate in a SO. There isn’t a guy or girl out there, myself included, who hasn’t looked at a good friend and thought about it, but you don’t actually make it happen. Learn to have a platonic relationship with a boy. There, more personal growth homework for you. Also, why is he about to cry? Are you secretly dating Tim Tebow and Taylor Lautner? Lautner deserves so much better than that.

Hey, Whatcha doing with a girl like that?

We all know what he’s doing with a girl like that, and so do you. Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to.

She wears high heels, I wear sneakers

Take some pointers from her here, please. Thanks.

Standin’ by, waiting at your back door
All this time how could you not know that?

Don’t wait by his back door. You are increasing the level of creepy and no one wants that. You know who else skulked around back doors? Ted Bundy. Not a good role model. At. All.

Interestingly, I still like Taylor Swift. I feel like she has other redeeming qualities and I do genuinely enjoy the music (even if I have to ignore large parts of my belief systems when I listen to it). I toyed with the idea of not posting this, but I went through all the effort of italicizing stuff…I’ll try to post something nicer this week (unlikely).

Monday, December 7, 2009

FDR was right...it lives in infamy...

It’s Pearl Harbor day, ladies and gentlemen. This is going to sound weird, but I really like Pearl Harbor day. I absolutely regret that Pearl Harbor had to happen, that 2,200 people died today 68 years ago, and that so many are still trapped inside the tomb that the Arizona has become. But Pearl Harbor was a wake up call. I think we all have our own views on the US intervening in the affairs of other countries, but if ever there was a time to be meddlesome, it was in the forties in Germany, Japan, the Pacific, etc. In a lot of ways, Pearl Harbor was the 9/11 of a generation. People all across the country enlisted the next day not knowing what the government’s plan for the war was, really. And years later, some of them got to come home, knowing that they had helped stop awful things from happening to innocent people. So maybe it’s weird to think about today as hopeful, and maybe it’s naïve of me to believe that the wars we’re in now can be resolved with finality like wars of the past. But even as the world gets smaller and the politics get more complicated, part of me hangs on to the idea that we’ll find a way to make it better. And with that here’s an article about a Pearl Harbor vet going back for the first time today and my favorite part of the FDR Infamy Speech:

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

Serous time is over. So I had a nice weekend of calm. I had dinner with an old friend (I’ve known her for nearly FIFTEEN years, which is insane) in town for grad school stuff and it was absolutely lovely to see her. We caught up on life, boys, school, family, etc. Sometimes it is just so nice to have that little piece of “home” pop up in your life. Her friends were super nice too, which is always a plus. Except one of them tried to convince me I was dressed appropriately for the K Street Lounge. Excuse me sir, I have on UGGS, do not let the big earrings fool you, this is not lounge-apparel. And do not try to convince me it’s fine as if I don’t live here and know very well what is not acceptable.

Other than that I watch a lot of movies, which was the plan. After last weekend, I just wanted to hang out on my couch, sleep a lot, and watch the Harry Potter marathon on ABC Family. (I know, I know. Sarah, why don’t you own the movies. I am WAITING people, for ALL of them. I want to buy the obnoxious box set that will surely be released with all kinds of delicious movie extras. I live for the extras on DVDs.) And watch Harry Potter I did. A lot of Harry Potter. I haven’t watched the old movies in quite a while so I was able to appreciate, yet again, how magnificently Rowling gave us little pieces of information that seemed so unimportant at the time that turned out to be HUGE.

The other thing that happened on Saturday…well, Internet, I don’t know if you know, but Alabama kicked the Gators’ asses and told their mommas about it on Saturday. The game was nice to watch. I sometimes like to watch football alone. I can focus, I can yell without judgment, and I can do little celebration dances without feeling like I’m rubbing salt into my Gator roommate’s wounds (hey, Allie!). And I was happy that Alabama had beaten them so soundly when IT happened. In case you don’t know, Tim Tebow cries when he loses. Now to be fair, this was the second time in two years that he’s lost a game, so I’m only going on a very small sample of information, but it’s true he cries. It would be one thing if he hadn’t cried after the Ole Miss game last year, because truly, it wasn’t a season-ending game. Crying was a little much. Or, had he just shed a few tears, or been a little choked up for this game, because the SEC championship is arguably a big deal, that would have been acceptable. But the open crying. I’m all for boys expressing emotion and crying if they need to, but for goodness’s sake, don’t do it on national television. For one, I’ve spoken about girls crying in public here before, and the same rules apply to boys, because crying, for the most part, is a private activity! And two, I just feel so AWKWARD when he cries. I don’t know where to look, what to do, how to react. And you know, it makes the Gator loss a little less satisfactory because he is crying and now parts of my FEEL BAD. You know what I don’t like? Feeling bad for Gators. So,you there, Tim Tebow. Stop your crying. Your ridiculous eye black now just looks like mascara running (shoutout to Beth for that line) all down your face. And all I can think to do is give you some make up remover and a kick in the ass.

And now, Sunday, you guys. Do you know what was happening on TNT this Sunday? The played ALL THREE Lord of the Rings movies, back to back. I missed the first one, I got up to late. But I surely did watch the second and third ones as my secondary channel all day. I really like Lord of the Rings. In fact, Allie has not seen any of the films so she would ask little questions here and there. That’s cool, because you know what I LOVE to talk about? Lord of the Rings. I know. I’m not really ashamed of it either because it’s just so damn cool. Tolkien created a WORLD, you guys (he really created more than one, but we’ll stick with Middle Earth). With languages. And cultures. And history. And politics. Anyway, my favorite question from Allie over the course of the day was:

Allie: Why can’t he just build a fire in his backyard and melt that ring there?

Anyway, the point of my story is that I will be rewatching Lord of the Rings this holiday season. All three. On DVD, not on TV. There’s just something about them that says, “Christmas.” It’s probably because they came out on Christmas day for three years. So part of enjoying Christmastime this year will be watching Lord of the Rings. If you want in, let me know, we’ll make a thing of it.

Finally, I have a friend who is doing this on her little piece of the Internet. I don’t know if I believe in things like The Secret or Abraham-Hicks or The Laws of Attraction, but I DO know that her gratitude lists in the morning are a good way to get centered every morning. And today, I actually have a little list of my own:

Things that don’t suck I am grateful for:
1. The view of DC in the morning on the metro bridge from Pentagon to L’Enfant
2. The coat that keeps me warm on cold mornings
3. Seeing my family for Christmas
4. Liking my family enough to want to see them for Christmas
5. A job with work I like and people I like

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A little word vomit for you this morning...

Before too much time passes and Thanksgiving becomes irrelevant, I have some things to share about my weekend. Here is a list of things that may or may not have happened. I really can’t be sure. I can be sure that I had an absolutely fantastic time in Michigan. (I know! MICHIGAN! I didn’t see this one coming, guys!) I know that it was a really great time because I wrote thank you notes yesterday and got stamps. If I were a grown up, I would always do this step super quickly, but, I won’t lie, sometimes it falls by the wayside. Not these thank you notes, no sir.

1. My best friend and I might have done part of the Single Ladies dance at the wedding reception. In unison. With her father behind us as a back up dancer waving his hands back and forth. No, there’s no video, so don’t ask. Mostly, I’m impressed, not with our ability to learn fifteen counts of eight that morning and perform under the influence of an open bar, but with her dad’s ability to Beyonce-it-up with two replacement knees and one replacement hip. You go, Joe!

2. Oh yeah, there was a wedding! There was Thanksgiving, a wedding, and then a night of bars. It’s always good to test yourself and see how many nights you can party and survive. This way you always know where you stand.

3. Ann Arbor is a whore. Apparently, this is what Michigan haters say when they play Michigan in football. I like it. It’s colorful and purposeful.

4. There might have been a bar offering dollar drafts and dollar rail drinks. Instead of sticking with drafts and being smart, I started drinking rail-quality whiskey. I think the undergrad bar we were in transformed me into a 19 year-old who didn’t know how to drink. This may have been the worst decision of 2009. I like to think about the best and worst decisions of the year, and this is, for sure, top five.

5. Someone might have been serenaded while drinking her rail whiskey with classic songs like Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.” The specific song escapes me, but I feel like it was something off of the Daydream album.

6. Billy Ocean plays in my head on repeat. This has been going on for FIVE DAYS. HELP ME.

Moving on.

Sometimes I have thoughts that I don’t feel like working out into full posts, and so instead I offer you nuggets of wisdom, wit, or crazy. Assign tags as you wish.

1. Everyone is freaking out about 30,000 more troops in Afghanistan. And a lot of the ones freaking out on the news are Republicans. What’s annoying is that were it McCain, no one would be questioning the decision. Obama and I don’t live on many of the same ideological pages, but he’s not an idiot. I also recognize that he has information that most people don’t have. Frankly, politicians have to have really big reasons to do unpopular things. So I would just like for everyone to stop freaking out about this. Not only is there nothing you can do about it, most of you don’t even argue intelligently. And it bothers me.

2. I’ve been tweeting about this a lot, but there’s something about 140 characters that limits my rant in ways I don’t like. It is officially Christmastime now and nowhere is it more obvious than on television commercials, specifically mall jewelry store commercials. In general, when Kay Jewelers (I like to make fun of Kay the most, I don’t know why) commercials come on, I shield my eyes, because really, why are we ruining perfectly good gems like this, but I digress. Part of my hate is that I really like jewelry. In a sick way. In fact, my friends’ boyfriends, fiancées, and husbands all rue the day I influenced the girls’ tastes (ahem – sorry, Mike). Why? Because I see jewelry as a good way to distinguish oneself from the crowd, which means that I tend to not be a fan of commercials hoisting the same five items onto America. But really, back to the point. I’ve begun to imagine ways to make these commercials. Wouldn’t you much prefer to see the two ice skaters skate around, cut to the man with a ring in his pocket, BUT THEN cut to Tanya Harding and her man skulking up the path to the pond combined with a crack beginning to form in the ice, and then a dramatic cut to a black screen? MUCH BETTER than the almost falling, being caught, and then given a ring. Or the guy who is dating the deaf girl and is apologizing for not being able to sign very well yet. I just feel like there is a TON of unexplored comedy in that situation that I would prefer to just watching her get an ugly watch.

3. I’d forgotten about the annual run of weddings and engagements during this time of the year. The girly part of me I don’t talk about much gets jealous, and then the practical side reminds her that I have a hard time committing to dinner plans in two weeks, let alone one person forever (yes, I’m old-fashioned enough to believe in one person forever, SHUT UP). I think mostly I get jealous of the wedding, because I love a good party, but the marriage part doesn’t interest me as much. Can we say, “Signs you shouldn’t get married anytime soon”? Alas, I was reminded yesterday that growing up is something that happens, but I think baby steps. Like keeping a boyfriend for a whole year, instead of losing interest six months in. See, I set goals for myself!

4. I’m working on some party mixes for New Year’s Eve and then a weekend-long party things and I’m curious about what people love to hear and hate to hear at parties like this. So I need your help. I know there are only six of you who read this semi-regularly, but I want your opinions, dammit. So either email me or leave a comment with the following:

Song that makes me want to shake it:

Song that makes me want to attack the next button on the iPod:

Song that makes me want to take a nap:

Song everyone loves that I hate:

Song everyone hates that I love:

Feel free to make up more categories. And a fair warning to you all, if the name Sufjan Stevens appears on this blog in any way other than this reference, I will judge you. I think the name Sufjan is ridiculous. Ridiculous enough to keep me away from his music forever.

5. What other things do you like to happen at New Year’s Eve parties? I have to eat twelve grapes at midnight. It’s a Latin thing. I know some people eat black-eyed peas. That’s a Southern thing. What else have you got?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

You mean Friday comes every week?

Good morning, Internet. The good mood continues. I woke up at 5:30 AM today and just bounded out of bed. It is SO WEIRD. I keep waiting for my usual snarky self to return, but instead I’m just nice. I think that’s so boring! Anyway, I know yesterday I said I was going to write about important things like this and this and this, but clearly something more pressing (read: not even close) has happened that I need to discuss with you.

My friend Cailin, who I’ve featured here before, and I were talking last night. Cailin is that girl who has that “thing.” Most girls have a friend like her, and damn, if I could bottle it and sell it I would be a very rich woman. Guys flock to her. That’s not an exaggeration. On the street, on the subway, at work, at clubs, at bars, at grad school, in the laundry room of her building…it’s just part of her charm. She thinks it’s hilarious and has a good amount of fun with it. I enjoy it because she always has THE BEST stories. Anyway, last night as we gchatted away, she told me about her latest predicament: boys who call too late/at bad times/without enough notice. It went like this:

Cailin: I’m so over it. It’s like, “Hi Curly, do not contact me Friday afternoon for Friday night. I have plans!”
Me: I hate that!
Cailin: Hi Larry, do not call me at 4 AM. I am asleep. OK, great.
Cailin: Oh what’s that, you’d like to take me to dinner on Wed? Yeah, I’m busy, but you know Tuesday does. See you at 7:30 PM and thanks for thinking ahead! And you know what else? Hello, Moe, do not summon me to Inwood!
Me: Inwood?
Cailin: F*cking bottleneck of Manhattan
Me: Yeah, I’m sorry. My boundary is 160th.
Cailin: Haha. It’s above Washington Heights! No, sir!

We continued on and talked about how guys who call at 12:30 PM and then leave a message giving her crap about not answering are clearly lacking in the critical thinking category (for all you TFAers out there, it’s totally a CT flag). And Inwood? This is going to sound really snotty, but, in Manhattan, if you are geographically undesirable, you need to step up your game. Maybe you love Inwood, but the girl you’re seeing lives at 135th and you live at 201st. Get your butt on the ABC or 123 and go see her in civilization. She can start going to Inwood when you guys are more than people who see each other a few times a month. And yes, I realize this is unfair, but I remain old-fashioned about maybe five things in life. This is one of them. I am a contradiction in terms. Deal.

But really, my issue is with the Friday day call for Friday night plans:

Friday night is not a surprise phenomenon. Neither is Saturday night. They come once a week. They’ve come once a week for as long as you’ve been alive. You should plan for them accordingly. I do. So no, when you call me on Thursday night or Friday morning, I can’t go somewhere with you. I have plans. Because I have a life. Of my own.

Sometimes it is the lack of planning, but more insidious than that: the need for a last minute replacement because someone cancelled on you. Look dude, we’re not exclusive, we expect you’re dating around, it’s 2009, no shocker here. But you know what you should not do? Call a girl on Friday morning and say something like, “I have tickets to _______” or “I have reservations for _______” because now we know that we’re going on a date you intended for someone else. Honestly, I’m mean. And if it’s good tickets or good dinner, I’ll go and definitely not go home with you after, because that’s what happens to boys who don’t think before acting.

Never throw an instance where we turned you down back into our faces. This was your fault. We had another date, plans with friends, or something else because YOU were late in asking. And please don’t feed me a line right now about how you guys have to play it cool because girls don’t like it if you show interest and if you call too early in the week, it’s not “cool.” This is not MIDDLE SCHOOL. This is real life. I don’t know if you noticed or not, so I needed to make that really clear. If you like a girl, like a girl. It’s ok. She might like you too! (But I can’t imagine why if you can’t plan anything more than a day or two in advance.) Take a chance, call her on Tuesday.

So now the ornery among you are saying, “It shouldn’t matter when he calls, if you like him you should just go.” Oh, ornery people…it does matter. You know why? Because should this be a rare instance where dating morphs into a relationship, now one person is accustomed to the other person dropping their life whenever he needs something. Girls complain about boys’ bad habits a lot, but frankly, we encourage them when we don’t stand by the things we want/expect. You know what I hate? When my friends start dating someone and they disappear from the face of the earth. There’s a natural drop in the amount of time you’ll see them, but don’t make plans with me and then cancel because Todd needs you. Unless Todd is ill, on the verge of suicide, or crying, he does not need you. It’s obnoxious. It’s rude. And it’s the kind of codependency that dooms a relationship from the start, in my humble opinion.

So go forth, ye of the Y chromosome, and call a sister up before midnight on Thursday. I promise you, some of us are actually worth it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I'm Pretty Bored...

I’m in a surprisingly fantastic mood on this Monday morning. I woke up earlier than usual, had more time to lounge in the morning, go to work early. I think it’s the lounge time. I’m a lounger. Fifteen minutes of local news while I sip my coffee makes all the difference. But on top of being a lounger, I’m a snuggler. And I’m never a more hard-core snuggler than the minute before my alarm goes off. I snuggle my pillow and blankets like they will be ripped away from me like they took Sophie’s kid away from her (sorry, that was bad, but I don’t have plans to remove it). And then my snuggler and lounger fight each other to the death. I won’t lie; the snuggler is in WAY better shape. So then I’m running around like a crazy person in the morning and that pace kicks off my day. Those are usually the days where I am snarkier than usual and my friends suffer at my hands (sorry again). There’s another theory that my mood has to do with the weekend (specifically white chicken chili with a cheddar hushpuppy topping…OMG), but despite having a great weekend, I continue to think it’s the lounging.

So that was 200 words about nothing. Sorry about that. Some thoughts not long enough to stand alone in posts:

- Girls are hard to please. This isn’t inherently bad. Too often girls will take what is handed to them and tell themselves it’s all they deserved, which makes me sad/angry all at once. I’m hard to please (don’t hate), but that’s acceptable. I expect a lot from friends, family, significant others because I put effort into those relationships and expect it to be reciprocated. (And the first person to hand me a load of BS about how you’re not supposed to expect things in return in a relationship can sit their contrary ass back in their chair. OF COURSE you expect reciprocity. Don’t lie to yourself. I’m not talking about material things. I’m talking about consideration, respect, friendship, time, etc.) But that’s not the kind of “hard to please” I’m talking about. And I’m not talking about that either, get your mind out of the gutter. Girls spend their time whining about boys, and there are no good ones left, and if they could just find a guy who treats them right. But even when they do find a good one, girls suck. Guys are people. They are not perfect. Sometimes they are annoying. I have news for you, girls: you are annoying A LOT. For goodness sake, don’t write off someone you’re otherwise crazy about for one off night. If a guy did that to you, you and your friends would excommunicate him and hatch a plan to do something dumb. Be a grown up. Thanks.
- When I have a desire to write about something on here, I usually send myself an email with the subject, any thoughts I have on the topic, and then I leave it unopened in my inbox. It serves as a reminder that says, “Sarah, get your life together and write this blog post.” And the longer it stays in there the louder it mocks reminds me. Eventually, I will label it (love you, gmail!) “blog” and archive it because I can’t stand the constant ridicule reminder in my inbox. Why don’t I write about them? Well, part of me really wants to produce legitimate documents on these topics, present you all with facts and figures, and find credentialed people who agree with me. But this isn’t my Philosophy of Law class, so that hardly ever happens. And even when I do get my act together, things like this happen and become much more pressing to report. What? At least I’m honest about my priorities. All this to say, I owe the Internet a blog about hate crimes, tanning beds, and personality tests. I know you’re all waiting at the EDGES of your seats. This is an experiment to see if by publicly talking about what I will write about, I will actually write it.
- Some of the most social people I know refuse to karaoke. It’s fascinating. These are people who will go up to anyone in a bar and strike up a conversation. These are people who are loud, outgoing, and very lovable. But the singing in front of other people freaks them out. It’s karaoke. The entire idea is that you WILL be bad. You will not sound like Mariah Carey, Vanilla Ice, or Jennifer Nettles (but damn, if you sound like Nettles we need to be friends). You will sound like a normal person singing. I mean, I usually need to be in the mood to sing, going up with a friend helps, as does a little liquid courage, but I’ll do it. Here’s a secret: most people only pay attention to the person singing when they know them. So please stop thinking everyone in the bar has stopped their lives to watch you for three and a half minutes.
- Whoa. Insight. A lot of these people are the same people who refuse to dance. I love dancing. I don’t need the mood, friends, or liquid courage. I will pretty much dance anywhere at any time. I chair dance at work a lot, to the delight of my co-workers who come in to drop something off and stand there for about 15 seconds until I can feel them watching me. The curse of headphones, man, they distract me from noticing these people sooner. I dance in the car, waiting in line, sitting on the metro, ALL THE TIME. I’m not a great dancer. I did not take dance my whole life. I just like to shake my stuff. It brings me enough happiness that I don’t really care if I’m good or not. And people won’t dance in a club. Where there is music. And a dance floor. WHY DID YOU COME HERE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO DANCE? Ugh. Pet peeve. But maybe there is a link between the singing and the dancing. Is there a performance phobia in the world I don’t know about?
- In honor of seeing my best friend in ten days, I will mock her and her kind. I know it’s mean, but there is nothing funnier, in my head, than watching her go OFF about typography. She’s a terribly talented designer and takes this stuff SERIOUSLY. She uses words like “serif” when she gets going and gets annoyed when she has to explain to us laymen what she’s talking about. I like to think about sending her things in font like Jokerman or Gigi and wait for her to silently freak out at her desk. I know, I am SUCH a good friend. And for goodness’ sake, don’t call it font. Say typeface. Mostly I included this article as an homage, but also for this quote at the end: “In France recently, I drank some nice Côtes du Rhône wine with a fairly dreadful typographic dress. I was less bothered than I used to be; after all, it’s the wine that’s important!” If typeface is what is keeping you from boozing, I don’t even want to know you. End of story. See you next week, SK8!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Being the only girl rocked...and not just because of the no sharing clothes bit...

I was talking to some guy friends today about having brothers and siblings, in general. It started with me asking them for Christmas gift advice but that spiraled downward very quickly. But as we continued talking, the conversation morphed into how having a sibling of the opposite gender gave you perspective, taught you life lessons, etc. I don’t often think about the what if, it’s a waste of time and energy. I like the here, the now, and the what will be, not could or should, but will. I’m practical that way (and maybe stubborn). And so I took a thought trail that is uncharacteristic of me. I started to think what if I didn’t spend my childhood outnumbered by boys? What lessons would I have missed? What would I not know? The answer is: quite. a. lot.

1. I wouldn’t have my fine appreciation of all things comic book and superhero related. And don’t laugh number one off as not serious. This IS serious. Growing up it was my two brothers, my cousin Eric, who lived next door, and my cousin David, who lived downstairs…and then me. I don’t know if you remember how childhood works, but basically it boils down to this: what the majority wants, the majority gets. Now, I don’t really know if I ever had a desire to watch My Little Pony, I just know I never watched it. Same for Strawberry Shortcake and all that nonsense. I did watch some Care Bears, but so did my brothers, so I don’t have a barometer for how girly Care Bears are. Cartoon time was sacred and you watched the important things only. In our house, the important things were Batman’s Adventures, Superman, Spiderman, James Bond, Jr. X-Men (this was my favorite), Captain Planet, Power Rangers (original season, that’s right), and a host more. As a result, I can talk to you all about Bruce Wayne’s tortured psyche, the properties of adamantium, and how weird the kid who had the “Heart” ring was (you know you thought so too) with surprising expertise. I’m a big fan of the first and second X-men movies (the third had a plot that both the comics and the cartoon would have laughed at), I love Batman movies (except Batman Forever, that was regrettable), and my love for James Bond, Jr. has been replaced with a strong love for James Bond. Now let’s talk about My Little Pony. To be honest, I don’t even know what it’s about, why the show title is in the first person, or why the horses have Technicolor manes, but I know this: watching My Little Pony would have been a childhood experience only. I couldn’t have continued that love in any kind of adult, or public, way for the rest of my life. And I doubt My Little Pony taught the poignant life lessons we find in Batman, for example. Batman teaches us that even when someone is a bad person or has done bad things, killing him, while easy, is not the answer. X-Men is a lesson in being different. Celebrate your differences, embrace them, they’ll make you stronger. Captain Planet showed us that Mother Nature is not to be trifled with lest she come back and end you. So not only did the boys give me a lifelong love…I learned life lessons that Strawberry Shortcake and her freckles don’t know anything about.

2. They’re listening on some level, even if it doesn’t look like they are. For girls, listening is an active thing. Eye contact, head nodding, thoughtful questions. It’s work. I know my friends get annoyed because I’ll be doing three things while they’re talking to me. It’s called multitasking, people! Sorry, got sidetracked. Back to the point, my brothers remember random things. Sure, it’s mostly stuff they glom onto because they know it will annoy me in the future, but that’s beside the point. The point is that the ability to listen and recall are there. This is helpful when dealing with boys now, romantically or otherwise.

“You know I don’t listen!”

“You know I don’t remember that stuff!”

Excuses. Don’t take it. Don’t accept it. Boys try to play dumb and live up to the stereotype society hypes up. I am ON TO YOU, males. No go.

3. I learned how to argue with winning as the goal. Everyone argues. It’s human nature. One person thinks they are more right than another and feels passionately enough to argue. No problem. It happens. But few people treat arguing as an art form. I do. If I don’t see a clear win is possible, it has to be a damn fun argument to keep me in it. You know who can’t recognize when they’ve been beat in an argument? Girls. They repeat themselves over and over again. They don’t adapt their arguments to respond to your rebuttals. They invariably end the conversation with something wimpy like, “I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree,” before they send themselves into pout mode. It drives me crazy. Recognize that you’ve been beaten, that your skills were not up to par, and move on with your life. It doesn’t mean that you agree with me, it just means that you couldn’t articulate yourself clearly or persuasively enough to be declared the victor in this situation. Guys get this. Granted, they don’t like to lose, so pout mode might still happen, but usually they can recognize when they’ve lost the fight. So I avoid arguments with girls. Girls get mean, personal, and then they cry. I HATE IT when they start to CRY. Lose with some dignity!

4. How to pick a battle. You know what's not worth fighting about? The toilet seat. Put it down. They have to pick it up, so put it down. Don't fight about it. It's not a political statement. It's a piece of a toilet. Fight about real things. When they're important. If you complain, pick fights, or whine too much, you will be written off as a hysterical woman. It's not a pretty reality, but it's true. You can complain about that too, but I've already explained what will probably happen.

5. Keeping secrets is your life when you have two nosy little brothers. It’s not even that I did super secret or super interesting things. But brothers will pry and pry until they can get something they can use against you. Diaries and journals? That’s for suckers. Sex tapes? Incriminating photos? Not a chance. No matter how well you hide something, how much you trust the person you told, it WILL get out. Just stay quiet. Keep the secret. Don’t create evidence by documenting it for Pete's sake. It won’t kill you to keep your mouth shut; in fact, your life will be less stressful.

6. The difference between a semi-automatic and automatic firearm. I don’t have anymore to say here, it’s just one of the things I learned.

7. How to punch someone. Follow through. Power it with your body, not your arm. Plant your feet. And for goodness' sake, don't tuck your thumb into your fist or place it across your fingers. Save yourself a broken thumb.

What did you learn from your siblings?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Big Leaps...and making fun of Georgetown...all in one post

I like that I'm about to go from talking about global women's issues to talking about Tyra Banks...among other things.

Buckle your seat belts, kids.

I used to be an avid Top model fan. And by avid I mean I would watch an entire season on VH1 on a lazy Sunday while making a me-sized dent in the couch. So while waiting for Glee to come start this fine evening, I figured catching some Tyra action wouldn't be that bad, and it's the season for short people, so there's a new venue for humor. And then
during the ultra dramatic judging time, Tyra used the word "smeyezing" and I went deaf from the idiocy of the word. Any fan worth her salt knows she meant "smiling with your eyes," however, and human being worth the oxygen they breathe should cringe when hearing "smeyezing." This is like in mean Girls when Gretchen kept trying to get people to say "fetch" and Regina kept yelling at her, except no one is yelling at Tyra. No. No yelling. Instead, Nigel used the "word" when critiquing the same model. If Nigel jumped on that bandwagon, I don't know what the world is coming to...

Other ideas that I would like to share with no one in particular:
- Why does American Apparel make clothes for children? Being a kid was way hard without things like this mucking up your chances of being one of the cool girls:

Photo Credit: American Apparel

She'd be fine without the weird belt and the awkward leg bend. This is what happens when parents dress their kids as adults instead of like children. Another great example:

Photo Credit: American Apparel

This POOR girl. She is wearing pink. acid-washed. denim. shorts. REALLY? When did this happen? Who decided this was OK? Someone should let AA know that denim shorts are considered popular by residents of Gainesville, FL and pretty much no where else. So yeah...

And finally, my favorite:

Photo Credit: American Apparel

Is she a Batman villain? She looks like some weird version of the Riddler/Catwoman with the different colored legs. Are her legs different chess pieces? WHY? WHY?

(Random note: The football team just started dancing the "Single Ladies" on Glee. The roommate looks up and says, "I believe that is offsides," and continues computering. I love my house.)

- Sometimes I don't have much patience. And usually I recognize that people suck, they will be in the way, they will stop walking at the end of the escalator. But I hold my tongue, because you know, I don't know what kind of day they've had, if they have heavy thoughts weighing on them, etc. But sometimes I can't hold it. SO I was at the deli across the street from work waiting in line for my sandwich, when this guy is trying to walk out of the door. Well, this woman is in front of him and she is literally not moving at all. And so my day hadn't been great up to that point and I can feel the Yankee bitch boiling up inside of me...and then her friend turns and tells her quietly to move and I see the......RED TIPPED CANE. Yes. I almost berated a blind person in public for not moving out of the way. I almost ruined my chances to ever enter this establishment again. I'd like to say this will decrease the chance that I will yell at someone in the future, but that would be a lie, and that's not the kind of relationship I have with the Internet.

- Have you thought at all about how swine flu is messing up college students game? A kid being interviewed on the news said something about having to be careful when "interacting" with people at parties. Everyone knows that is college code for "making out with random people." The careless make out can now catch you swine flu! What the hell! That's not what college is about. College is about making questionable decisions. How will these kids do that now? Well, I guess they chose Georgetown...which, let's be honest, is questionable enough.

What other awkward is happening right now? Let's just say that I had an inappropriate dream about a friend and it's made all of my interactions with them an exercise in not blushing. I might share more about that. I might not. It all depends if I sit down in front of the computer drunk at some point in the near future.

I feel like there is more in life to comment on, but this will have to be all for now. This is already a super long post. I actually have work to do at work now, so I write less, which is sad, because there's so much ridiculous shit happening that deserves mockery. Sometimes life is sad like that.

Friday, August 21, 2009

More than 100 million women are missing...

…but it’s not news.

The statistics in this first article alone are mind boggling.

Five thousand honor killings a year? One percent of the world’s landowner’s are women?

Forgive me, but when people sit up on pedestals and preach to me about different cultures doing things differently, I usually think they’re full of it. It’s one thing to not eat pork. It’s quite another to beat your wife to “discipline” her. Throwing acid on girls going to school is another good one. You know, because we wouldn’t want their education to give them ideas about contributing to society. They need to stay home behind an abaya or burqa and not be exposed to the world. Other men might get the wrong idea.

Did they ever think that if a man gets the wrong sexual idea about seeing a woman’s face or arm or ::gasp:: leg in public, that there’s something wrong with the man? That maybe he only sees women as sexual beings and that’s all they’ll ever be to him? Oh wait…that was the idea all along…

Once again, the New York Times comes through with three amazing articles about women around the world.

I consider myself fairly well-informed on international women’s issues and I was staggered by this article (it’s long, but worth it):


Again, I’m not a big fan of Hillary, but she does stand up for the double-X chromosomes out there. What kills me the most about this interview, and is mentioned in the article I listed previously, is the fact that maternal health is ignored in so many of these places. It doesn’t make any kind of sense.


You would think that if you didn’t value women except for producing more sons to continue your horrible culture, you would make sure that having those sons didn’t kill them. Evidently that’s a silly thought, I mean, there are plenty of other wombs available right? Whether they’re willing or not doesn’t seem to matter either.

Also, way to avoid the explosive topic of Saudi Arabia, Hillary…they’re our “friends” who killed how many women and girls last year?

I am physically affected by this next story. That sounds overly dramatic, but it’s true. I don’t know anyone who can read about a government agency orchestrating an acid attack on school girls and not shiver a little. $1200 cash payment for each attacked girl. I suppose that’s fine. They’re girls. Not worth much anyway I suppose…who knows if they would even bring that much money in for their bride prices. I guess, economically speaking, these monsters were paid handsomely to ruin young girls’ lives. And it’s not an isolated incident either. Apparently, resorting to violent, cruel means to keep girls from getting an education is popular in the region.


Even sadder than the attack is a father’s unwillingness to help his daughter at no cost to himself and his selfishness to want to gain personally from his daughter’s suffering. I might have cried a little. Don’t judge me.

Now it’s time for an article that’s not like the others! Development is a powerful and, at times, dangerous force. Logically, having more money and education should increase your status in a society, but apparently this is a false notion. Life is hard for all of these women.


Do you ever wonder what kind of person commits infanticide? Or what kind of person lets their daughter die of neglect? Are they even people? It also begs the question: how can women do this to their daughters? If you spent your life suffering at the hands of men, and you have a daughter, how do you just ignore her and LET HER DIE?

I suppose the appropriate way to end this is to make some cute little comment about how this all going to show how afraid men are of empowering women, but I feel like that doesn’t even begin to describe what is happening in the world. The systematic hate of an entire gender is happening in front of us. I don’t really know what else I can say about it.

Office Etiquette -- How not to be one of "those people"

I sit in a corner cube at work. Aside from the wonderful space it affords me (decorating ideas anyone? I seriously have a lot of gray-fabric-wall here that needs help.), I can also hear pretty much everything that goes on in the bosses’ offices. Normally I just plug in my headphones, because no one likes a nosy Nancy, but sometimes I hear things on accident. It’s not a big deal, but sometimes people feel the need to talk loudly in Spanish. Thus begins the rant:

As someone who speaks Spanish and works at speaking, reading, and writing it properly…I get annoyed when people try to speak Spanish to hide things, which is the only reason you’d do it at work, and then end up doing it poorly! If you’re going to talk (loudly) about people, talk about projects, or just shoot the breeze, do it in a language you can speak rather than speaking an amalgamation of Spanish and English that makes no sense. Or, here’s a thought, you have an office, not a cube, CLOSE YOUR DOOR and talk in whatever language you’d like.
It’s rude. Plain rude. Sure, I can understand everything you’re saying and I know it’s not important, but other people don’t know that. It makes them uncomfortable. What happens when people are talking in a language you don’t speak around you? You get self conscious, right? Duh, you’re human! It’s like when you go to the nail salon and you sit down and immediately the manicurists start chattering in a language you don’t know. So you’re sitting there decoding body language and context clues and you convince yourself that they’re judging you for your cuticle beds, when they’re more likely having a conversation about their plans for that night. RUDE.
It’s unprofessional. This is a continuation of number two, but I like lists better when there are three items. It gives them more weight. Anyway, it’s unprofessional. You shouldn’t engage in secretive behavior at work. You’re perpetuating a clique culture which is never productive. Besides, how secretive is it when 15% of the floor can understand your secret, coded messages?

To be fair, I don’t think I would care as much as I do if it was someone else who orchestrated these linguistic parties. But I don’t like this person much, and I don’t trust her – she’s all about Eve. So kids, don’t be exclusionary, linguistically or otherwise.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dinner is dying and I don't like it one bit...

I feel like I should preface this by saying I’ve read way too many articles lately that start to talk about the Julie & Julia movie and just end up talking about Julia Child. And beef bourguignon. And butter. And spies. Really, I like anything that mixes cooking and espionage. It makes for good reading.

You know that feeling you get after you eat a REALLY good meal? You spend the fifteen minutes after the meal thinking about the flavor, texture, and aroma. You are content to bask in the feeling of fullness and even welcome to food coma that will set in shortly.

My next step is usually to figure out how I can recreate the meal. What spices and ingredients went into the sauce? What was the meat marinated in? Would I change anything? How can I make it better? How can I make it mine?

I find that I am too often alone in this next step. My friends don’t cook. I mean, some of them heat up, bake, or microwave, but none of them actually cook. Some of them try, but they don’t try on a regular basis. I get phone calls asking about everything from baking (which usually involves me telling them to read the box they’re most surely using more carefully) to what is missing in this salsa I just made (it was salt). I don’t know when cooking fell out of vogue with the 20-somethings. Sure, we didn’t really cook in college, but we were probably too drunk to operate the stove safely. But not that we’re starting our careers and have our own places, why does cooking still not happen?

I grew up cooking. Really. I lived next door to one grandma and not far from the other. Both of my parents are excellent cooks (like their mothers). I can remember watching dinner being made and wondering about things:

How do you know when the chicken is done?

How do you know how much salt to put on the raw meat?

How do you know when the bell pepper is bad?

How do you know if the steak is well, medium, or rare?

How do you fry things without burning your arm off?

How do you coat the pan with caramelized sugar without dripping the candy on your hand? (Oh, the successes, failures, and scars of flan…)

I mean, I really watched, and as I got older I started asking questions. All those years of watching, combined with food television and the power of the internet, developed my culinary skillZ. (Yes, I just invoked the “Z” because sometimes you need that bit of sarcasm in your morning.) But apparently I was alone in all of this developing. I mean, my friends WATCHED Nigella, Emeril, Rachael, etc. but they didn’t think to replicate what was happening in their own kitchens. As I think about it, I have ONE friend who cooks every day, which to be fair is more than me right now. And he COOKS. Yes, I said he, not she. I like it when my friends confound expectations. We compare culinary skillZ and I can’t wait to leave my sublease and have a kitchen of my own again so we can compare skillZ in my own home. I love these nights where we plan meals and make them happen. They’re fun. Cooking becomes the main event of the evening and while we’re waiting for something to finish we can have cocktails, play games, and just enjoy the company of our friends.

My dad and his friends have Iron Chef challenges (I’m not kidding, they pick the ingredient and everything. I gave him a roll up case for his knives last year because of these gatherings.) The wives encourage this behavior and sit like judges at the counters with martinis and watch the entertainment. I am jealous of this bit of my parents’ lives.

The idea of “grandma’s kitchen” is a popular one with its cozy warmth and delicious surprises simmering in pots and pans on an ancient stovetop. I have very old memories (yeah, all 23 years of me and my very old memories) of dinners in family kitchens. I can remember what was served, what I was wearing (proof that my love of clothes was nature, not nurture), who was there, but mostly you remember a feeling…of comfort? But not comfort the way a blanket is comfortable or the way you feel when you settle into the couch for a movie. It’s a different thing. It’s like comfort combined with safety? Security? Love? Sometimes there’s melancholy mixed in if the people starring in your memories aren’t with us anymore. Comfort with a cinnamon-sugar-nutmeg-pecan topping?

My worry is that such memories are behind me. The kitchen isn’t a place where things happen anymore. Usually my cooking involves cooking for myself and eating leftovers for the week because I cook in quantities for families, not for individuals. Let me tell you, eating alone is not happy. I look around the dining room or kitchen and find myself wishing for people to be there, to share dinner with. I miss the daily ritual. More than that, I worry that it’s dying out, that other friends don’t miss it, and that when we have families of our own, the idea of “dinnertime” won’t exist.

So I’ll fight the dying ritual of dinner in my own way. Dinner parties, cocktail parties, cooking parties. Even just having a friend over for dinner. Slowly, I’ll bring dinner back like Justin brought sexy back (you saw that coming and couldn’t do anything to stop it…poor reader). I’ll go finish planning my housewarming party menu now.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go...

When you start a new job, there’s an adjustment period. Aside from getting used to your new responsibilities, figuring out where the damn water fountain is and getting your desk chair to remain in a comfortable position, you have to figure out the office culture. Is this an office where we decorate our desk space with personal style? Are peep toes acceptable, or is it strictly closed toe pumps? Aside from the superficial fitting in, you have to prove you fit in a substantive way.

At my old job, you proved yourself through results. They set an incredibly high bar (that you really were only kind of expected to reach) and you did whatever was necessary to either hit that bar or at least make a good effort to show everyone you’d done everything you could to hit that bar. This is a hugely popular non-profit known for huge increases in everything from year to year. Some people were naturals for the environment and they were golden. If you weren’t a “fit”, you could choose to live your life for the organization (it’s beginning to sound like I’m referring to the Mafia, I’m not, I promise) and try to make up for your shortcomings. What do I mean by that? You can get to work at 9 AM. You can leave at 8 PM. You can eat lunch at your desk every day. You can turn on your laptop once you get home and work until midnight or later. And then you can do it again the next day. You can become accustomed to this and forget that there is a whole world out there where people stop working at 6 PM and don’t have work-issued laptops so they aren’t online everywhere they go. You forget that it’s possible to take time off from work without checking your email. What’s worse is that you expect other people in your life to understand this crazy workstyle you’ve developed. And if they don’t, they often disappear from your life.

I used to think that this was just an organization using energetic, recent college grads to do their bidding in a frenetic way. I mean, the results are undeniable. But now I see that some organizations function like this at all levels, from the lowliest assistant right on up to the president. If that’s truly how you want to live your life, I clearly have no way to prevent you from doing that. Do I have a problem with it? Sure. Because I believe that Americans spend too much time at work. However, you as an adult can work wherever and however long you want.

Let’s be clear about something. Sometimes stuff goes down at work that needs to be handled TODAY. There’s nothing wrong with that. You stay late, you do what needs to be done, and that’s life. But when this is the status quo, it becomes unhealthy.

I had dinner with friends who still work for my old company last week. They all asked me what it was like to “be on the outside” and what it was like to leave. I told them about my new job, about my great new hours, about being rewarded for overtime, and about all the extra things I can do now that I have time to commit to them. I even made a joke that I was working too fast, in a nod to the breakneck pace of my old life, and told them that normal places don’t run around like everything is an emergency. And I told them that it was a nice change of pace.

There is a phrase in the book The Devil Wears Prada, a book whose protagonist I’ve identified with many times in the last year of my life, the “Paranoid Runway Turnaround” and it refers to the behavior of magazine staff who complain about their crazy editor, and then justify her behavior. I’ve always thought the justification comes from two places:

1. CYA – no one ever wants the bad things they said about their boss to get back to them, and

2. Self-justification – Trust me, I’ve lived this, I’m not hating. Mentally, you can only take so much before you begin questioning why you do what you do. The only way I found to deal with this was to assure myself that the nature of the work was such that it put everyone in high stress and sometimes that manifested itself through bad behavior on the part of organizational leadership.

Translation: I lied to myself so I wouldn’t have to face that work ruled my life in every way. Here is where the danger starts. I lied to myself so much that I began to believe other lies being thrown at me. I couldn’t see the truth anymore. I began to believe that I was worthless, that I was bad at my job, that the team would be better off without me. Looking back now, and having been told otherwise by 95% of that team, I can see that what began as self-preservation ended as self-destruction and devolved into deep depression.

--Back to the story: In front of my very eyes, every single person (with one notable exception) at that dinner table did their own version of the Paranoid Runway Turnaround, but this time I was on the outside.

“I just don’t know what I would do with all that extra time, I mean, isn’t there more you could be doing to stay later?”

“You’re working too fast? I wouldn’t like an environment that told me that, I would see myself turning into a slacker who didn’t have a good work ethic.”

“Well, you would like an environment like that. You always had strict work-life boundaries yourself.”

I swear you guys, I wasn’t pissed until the last one. Sure, the others are indirect digs at me and mine, but that last one just angered me. She was right; I wouldn’t let myself work more than 60 hours a week unless there was a project that demanded it of me. I don’t think that the amount of time you spend at work reflects the amount of work you get done and I knew that in my 50 hours, I got more done than others did in 80. So it was at this point in the meal that I realized my friendships with these girls will change in the coming months. They’re still under the influence of management that instills in them this “work at all times, no matter what” and I’ve left that sphere of influence.

After an uncomfortable silence, because I wouldn’t agree with, or really acknowledge, their statements, the conversation picked up and was steered right back to their work. This is their life now, but it’s not mine anymore. I don’t miss it, but I might miss them. The idea of losing them makes me sad, but not sad enough to doubt that I’ve made the absolute correct choice and will be happier for it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Amendment to previous iPod rule

So today on the sojourn home, I boarded my metro car without an idea of what was to befall me in mere minutes!

First, a man sat next to me, which was annoying because it was 4 pm and the car was empty, but I digress...then it BEGAN!

Have you seen Step Up 2: The Streets? If you missed this cinematic masterpiece, please see the link below and take those two and a half minutes to educate yourself.

So that happened on the metro today. I mean. It was just one guy, but still. He was DANCING. Using the overhead bar for balance, spinning, kicking. He was polite enough not to invade the personal space of others. As the crowds grew and waned with each stop, so did his dance moves. I kept waiting for the rest of his crew to join in, hell, I wanted to join in on the fun. This may have been the greatest metro ride home ever. I got to watch this show from L'Enfant all the way to Crystal City. And I was sad to see him go!

All this to tell you, I have amended the rule. If I am on the metro, and can hear your iPod, it is NOT OKAY, unless you are giving me the performance of your life, then please allow your iPod to serve as your portable club.

I was also lucky enough to get a picture. Sadly, he spun away from the camera as I clicked, but here you go:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The political equivalent of Chuck Norris...except less so

I am so happy for the families of Euna Lee and Laura Ling (for those that don’t know: that’s Lisa Ling’s sister! One time for being a child of Channel One news!). Americans are so lucky to have a free press. It’s something I value dearly. In that same vein, journalists who travel to places where the same freedoms don’t exist do so at high personal risk and I respect and value their efforts. Because of these brave souls, we have non-biased news coming from otherwise media-dark places.

Now that we have that out of the way, I can begin the critique of news coverage. (You knew the beginning of that post was too happy. You felt this coming.)

We all know the media loves Bill Clinton. They love Bill Clinton in an obsessive way. I am not here to disparage him or to belittle his accomplishments. If you overlook impeachment, which is hard for me to do, even in my little theoretical vacuum, he made good decisions during his presidency and served the country well. He certainly was not the worst president we’ve seen. But he’s not God. He doesn’t have special powers.

The media is portraying the North Korea development like this:


Scene: Bill Clinton’s plane lands in Pyongyang. Bill exits plane and proceeds to Kim Jong Il’s place.

Bill: Hey, Kim! Lovely to see you!

Kim: Hello, William. I hate America.

Bill: Well, Kim, I think that’s an unfair sentiment, but I’m not here as a representative of the US government. I’m actually here to talk to you about two journalists that you’re holding. It would be GREAT if we could get them back.

Kim: Well, Bill, normally I am an angry man who likes to make an example of people, but since I like you, I guess you can have them. Just make sure that everyone knows it was you who persuaded me.

End scene.


Maybe it’s my years as a Model United Nations kid (go ahead and laugh, I used to spend four days at a time pretending to be X country in X committee, it’s silly), maybe it’s my healthy interest in international goings on, or maybe it’s just the fact that I’m not so easily swayed by the media, BUT just to let everyone know…North Korea is one of the most strategic governments in existence. If anything, they were keeping these journalists as an extra trump card for the never-ending game they play with the US. It is more likely that Bill took this unofficial trip in an effort to talk about nuclear issues and before he landed North Korea had already decided to give up the reporters to avoid having to talk about nuclear weapons programs they may or may not be developing at alarming rates. As a bonus, they get to make statements about what great humanitarians they are and how they are an example to the rest of the world.

This is the same government that imprisoned these girls for illegally entering their country and a vague “grave crime” for TWELVE YEARS. And prison is a gulag in North Korea. Prisoners don’t have rights. Everywhere else in the world, an illegal border crossing would be a simple matter of deporting the offending journalists back to their countries. Except that North Korea wouldn’t want anything these journalists discovered getting out into the international media.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop myself here and just say this:

Maybe I’m too cynical. Maybe he did convince them to let the girls go. But I just want to be able to expect more from the media and not be continuously disappointed by their coverage of just the party line. You would think that in a case like this, where investigative journalism was threatened, they would optimize the national attention by including more than four sentences about US-North Korean relations. If you thought that, you would be wrong.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Where constitutions are suggestions and even Elvis won't hide anymore...

Seriously, there are some mornings when the BBC Americas section just angers me.

Simple, pure anger.

Today’s anger is brought to you by yet another Latin American leader thumbing his nose at a country’s constitution. In this region that so desperately needs to gain international legitimacy, so much happens to keep these nations from moving forward. It’s almost like there’s only so much room for politically successful countries, so no matter what reforms are passed, no matter who is ousted from office, Latin America will remain a politically backward place.

Mr. Zelaya of Honduras is the newest offender of the pack. Before I get into this though, I want to give a brief synopsis of Latin America’s history with executive branches of government.

- Latin America is discovered by Europeans and subsequently serves as Spain’s bitch for centuries.
- Political revolutions begin, namely in Mexico, around 1910. Nothing happens in these revolutions. They happen about once every two to three years. It’s always a conservative replacing a conservative. Villa & Zapata run around some countryside. Santa Anna lost his leg, gave it a state funeral, had it dug up and paraded around the city, (GO AHEAD AND CHECK. I AM NOT KIDDING.) and then lost his cork leg in Texas.
- Most argue that it was until the PRI was elected in 2000 and Vincente Fox was the president of Mexico, however, constitutional reform was floating around Latin America in the 1980s. Since there was no money in the region, the idea of a weak executive didn’t bother politicians. They couldn’t afford to run and serve for more than one term.
- Then money started to pour into the region. And people got excited (read: greedy). That’s when presidents started closing down congresses and bribing militaries to back them into taking over the country until the next guy came along and bribed all of the original guy’s supporters into turning on him. Meanwhile, people in Latin America remain poor, uneducated, and receive no real services from the state. (Talk about a social contract in need of overthrowing.)
- Things calmed down a bit in the last ten years with Castro getting old and not being able to support crazy young guys, but then Chavez was elected and the crazy young guys got a big champion in him. Now people think it’s once again okay to try and change the constitution to give oneself more time in office. This clearly causes all kinds of problems.

So Mr. Zelaya tried to gauge public opinion about changing the constitution to allow for executive reelection. He was promptly escorted out of the country by the congress and the military. In a region where executives are notorious for abusing power once they’ve gained it via legitimate means, Zelaya had to see a negative reaction coming on that one.

So why the anger? Well…in true US fashion we’ve chosen a horse to back and it’s the wrong one. The right one being no horse, because the more we intervene in political decisions, the worse things get twisted. Sec. Clinton received Zelaya after he was booted out. Even better is that Obama wants to pretend he’s not intervening at all. For the most part, he’s not. He refuses to engage with Chavez, which may be one of the few things we agree on completely. But the invitation to Zelaya should have been rescinded. Sigh. Now he’s playing chicken with the Honduran border and Chavez is shouting his support louder and louder every day.

And people wonder why Latin America doesn’t make any kind of global progress. It’s a circus down there people. A CIRCUS.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

iPod etiquette continues

If you turn up your iPod to not be bothered by the announcements on the metro, do not turn to me and ask what they just said when you sense the announcement is over. Not only did I have to listen to the announcement AND your poor musical choices at the same time, but now you've taken out one earbud, I can hear the Jonas Brothers more clearly, and I have to repeat the announcement three times before you get it.

Just don't.

The one where I discuss why men aren't evil...

I just read a blog post where the author discussed having changed her name four times and then dove into the reasons behind each name change. Now, she’s a professional writer and some of her reasons have to do with the nom de plume issues of writing controversial (but highly entertaining) columns, but her first name change is what stuck with me. She changed her last name in order to undermine our patriarchal society. I can understand the reasoning behind this. Words are incredibly powerful, or at least I’ve always believed they are, and I suppose changing your last name will remove a public association to the men in your family. (And to be fair, her childhood was horrific enough to cut off her arm if it meant disassociating with some of the monsters in her life.) But then she mentioned the other women in society who change their names. And I started thinking, would I just up and change my name?

Well for starters, I definitely wouldn’t change my first name. I like it. Everything about it. I like my first initial in all kinds of script, I like the origin of my name, I like how my name sounds in a variety of languages. I love my name.

As for my last name? I would feel like I was betraying two amazing men who have done so much to make me the person I am today. I don’t feel like keeping their name in any way diminishes the efforts of women who also contributed to my upbringing, some with the same last name, some with another.

My father’s father was born in a tiny town in Cuba. His dad didn’t really want him, so one day he dropped my grandfather off at his grandparents’ house and left him there. I think he was around 4. He spent his childhood doing little boy things, his adolescence learning to be a welder, and his young adulthood fighting first in a revolution, then in a counterrevolution. He left his home, knowing he’d probably never see it again, and brought his family to a country where he worked like an animal to put his children in the best schools available. He was a tough man, and big, the kind of man who would frighten little children with his sheer size. I once saw him bring a grown uncle to his knees with a simple handshake. But he was also kind. I saw him every week as a young child. He would bring a pizza to our house for lunch and just sit and talk with us and with my mom. He was a pillar of the community and a lot of my faith in God comes from his example. He overcame alcoholism, heart disease, and was eventually brought down by the cruel condition, Alzheimer’s. But even when he was sick, when he couldn’t recognize me or my brothers, his children or his wife, he was still the man who bought my a bike, never held me back from doing anything because I was “just” a girl, and encouraged me to study hard and want for more than he had.

My father is a product of his father in so many good ways. He’s generous and loving, and still has that toughness. He’s got the handshake too. He spent his childhood studying hard. He was “that guy.” Top of his class, varsity wrestler, handsome, blah blah blah. He went to college and started studying to be a doctor. And then he met my mother. She was (and still is) a good friend of his little sister’s. After a while, it was evident that they were meant to be together. They got married his senior year, despite objections from both sides of the family. He crammed about five million credits into his last semester so he could get a job and they could start their life together. Most 23 year-old guys I know run away from that kind of commitment, emotion, and lifestyle change. His life plan was on a medical school track and here he was college-educated, married, working as a phlebotomist, and pumping gas at night. He met the love of his life and didn’t “keep things casual” or ask her to wait while he “dated around while he was young.” (I’ll keep my thoughts on the ridiculous antics of boys nowadays for another post.) He moved on to other jobs, settled into a successful career, and created an amazing family. I was always encouraged to go after what I wanted, to look for things that made me happy. I also was lucky to be reared in the presence of an amazing relationship. My parents are still sublimely happy, like high-schoolers in puppy love. And they fight. It wasn’t until I left home and got more insight into how the normal world works that I realized how rare it was to find a relationship where you can fight and use it to make the relationship stronger. I am immeasurably grateful to have this example in my life as a model for my future marriage (which is unlikely at this time, let’s be honest).

I could go on an on about both of these men. I could go on and on about their flaws too, but I won’t. It’s enough to mention that they have them, that they’ve passed some of them onto me (I'm not perfect! Shocker!), and that the good far outweighs the ugly. I could also go on about my uncles, cousins, brothers, friends. They are all amazing men in their own right who’ve made an impact, big or small, on me.

So there you have it. Why would I change my name? These men have given me everything I’ve ever wanted and needed and taught me how to get these things for myself. I don’t even know if I can change my name when my unlikely marriage happens. I’ll probably just tack the new one at the end. Because I like my last name’s first initial, I like how it sounds in Spanish the best, but mostly I like that it marks me as being a product of my patriarchy. Maybe that’s an unpopular thought among young women my age. Maybe I will be labeled an anti-feminist. It doesn’t really matter though, because the only label I care about is the Rodriguez one on my birth certificate.

(Just for the record, I carry the marks of the women in my family proudly too. And that’s another post for another time.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Conscious Effort...

I've been twittering like mad and don't think anything of it. But then I read an article about how twittering is replacing the actual dialogue taking place on the internet. And I didn't really like the tone of the article, because it assumed laziness, the bastards. And here I am making a concerted effort to "contribute" even though no one reads this.

Since my last post, I accepted that I hate my job/career path, quit in January, and am still unemployed. It's gotten easier to say. And I feel like such a poseur too, because someone will ask what I do, and when I answer, they give me the "oh, bad economy" look. Sometimes I let them think it, but I feel so bad when I do that. I did this to myself. I'm not a victim. I shouldn't pretend. I don't regret quitting my job. Ever. But unemployment has indeed gotten old and I'm dying to have a job at this point. Hopefully something works out soon.