Thursday, August 28, 2008

Anti-climax.

After my big over-dramatic post about the differences between my Newton self and my NYC self, turns out there's really only one difference that matters: my current self doesn't have internet access, and won't until tomorrow at 12:45 (please God.) I'm stealing my roomie's right now (of course her ethernet jack works and mine doesn't) but this is literally the first time I've been on a computer in about...48 hours? I promise bigger and better things for the rest of the semester, beginning with the long-awaited-and-now-probably-over-hyped clitoris post. Oh, and aside from the lack of internet, I promise that I'm currently living in what is probably the nicest studio I will ever get to inhabit in my whole life. Gramercy Green, I love you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Goodbye, Safe Cocoon. Hello, Sexy Yet Abusive Lover.

New York Vanessa
I think I might be one of the few people I know who legitimately loves the suburbs. I can't help it; home is just so warm and safe and cozy. I love me some NYC, but let's be real people: sometimes you come home from a long day of having to fight with all these people who are just so angry, and your feet hurt because somehow flats can manage to be incredibly uncomfortable after even just 10 blocks, and the heater in your apartment is broken and there's no food in the refrigerator but walking to Trader Joe's just seems so damn far, and you simultaneously want to yell Why the fuck is everyone in this city so angry and punch a hole in your wall, which I guess kind of answers the question. Uh...so yeah, I do love the city, and I am psyched to get back, but I'm not going with any rose colored glasses on...I know there are days when New York can get me down.

That being said, the same can be true for my warm little cocoon of a home in Newton. Having lunch with my mother today, I noticed three younger girls also enjoying the fine cuisine of Baker's Best to our left. They looked as though they were attending some sort of pre-season event (something that I, as a strict Non Athlete, never had the joy of participating in), wearing matching orange shorts and bright blue t-shirts, giggling and chattering away. What I'm about to point out isn't particularly revolutionary, but it hit me as a big shock, so humor me here: I suddenly realized that Newton is just one huge cycle of the same thing over and over again. Now, I happen to be of the opinion that living in Newton was not bad at all (in fact, I enjoyed it), so I'm not saying cycling through it is bad...it just threw me for a loop to realize that these girls, entering high school, are about to experience all the same shit everyone who came before them experienced. My mom pointed out that life as a whole is a cycle, and the same is true in New York, California...really anywhere that people live. But I guess what seems different about Newton is that here, everyone really does exactly the same things. Once you finish high school, your life path can differ. Sure, I might be cycling through the same thing some woman in the media world went through ten years ago, but some of my friends are entering the pre-med cycle, or the law cycle, or the academia cycle, or the fuck-this-I'm-not-going-to-college-I'm-going-exploring cycle, etc etc etc. My peers and I are no longer on the exact same track. Whereas Newton, home sweet home, will forever and always house families who will produce babies who will go to pre-school and then elementary school, then middle school and high school, and they will experience all the same shit that every child before them experienced, and thinking about this suddenly made Newton seem like the poster town for the old Weeds theme song, "Little Boxes", and I was picturing little boxes made of ticky-tacky that would produce doctors and lawyers...anyway needless to say, I don't think it's a coincidence that this not-so-original epiphany hit me today. New York may abuse me at times, but I'm ready to (once again) leave home.

To conclude: there is no doubt in my mind that I am a different version of myself in the city. I'm not sure that I'd call it a more real version–nor would I call it a less real version–it's just different. I'm interested to see how that change manifests itself in this blog. Will it adapt to the personality shift seamlessly, or will it be easy to see the difference between the posts I wrote at home and the posts I have yet to write in New York? My friend Sarah read this blog when it was still all haikus, and her only comment was this: "When you read these haikus, it is just so obvious that you live in New York City." I wonder if an element of that will stick to my non-poetic-writing this time around?

Oh, and I'm leaving in six hours and I'm not packed yet. Packing is one thing that no version of myself is good at.

Monday, August 25, 2008

New Header

Tuesday: New York.
Today: New Header.

I like it. I hope you do, too.

I fucking love Annie Leibovitz.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Little Kid-isms

I'm moving back to the city on Tuesday and the past few days have been a combination of frantic cleaning, packing, and procrastinating. Since I've spent the day doing the two former, I'm taking some time right now to indulge in the latter.

This has been a fun summer. Not groundbreaking, and definitely different, but altogether very pleasant. It would be a lie to say I did not feel a few pangs for camp, but that is to be expected, when you don't return to the place that has meant "summer" for the past ten years. That being said, I know I made the right decision, and I know that ultimately I would have been unhappy at camp this summer. Interning, baby-sitting, reading, and spending time with my friends and family kept me entertained all summer, and I am now well-rested (sort of), healthy (except obese), and completely ready to return to my city (even if I sometimes pretend I hate it).

I'm still not quite up for the female anatomy post (why am I putting so much pressure on myself for this one stupid post?!) but I wanted to include a little bit more child-wisdom, seeing as so much of my summer was indeed spent with adorable children. As always, names have been changed to protect the 5 year olds.

While not giving Drew my full attention at the playground, because I had to keep a very close eye on his baby brother who is only 18 months and apt to jump off of tall structures if not carefully monitored:
Drew: Vanessa! If you're going to only pay attention to Simon, I can just hire myself another babysitter! God!

Vanessa: Drew, please help me clean up the clay.
Drew: Okay.
Drew continues making clay flowers.
V: Drew, if you don't start helping me clean, I'm going to get very upset. In fact, I am upset.
D: I know, I can tell. You're raising your voice! How would you like it if I got upset? I can raise my voice too you know. How would you like that!

I was hanging out in my room while my speech-therapist-mom worked with a patient. He took a break to go pee and ended up in my doorway:
Julian: Hey.
Vanessa: Hi?
J: You know...you shouldn't really hang out in here.
V: Confused stare.
J: Because like...there's nothing to do in here.
V: Well, I'm just sorta...hanging out.
J: Pause. You should get some toys.

When I subbed at my mom's preschool:
Ben: So you are here because Jane is on her Honeymoon?
Vanessa: Yep. I'm just subbing.
B: Have you been on a Honeymoon?
V: No, I'm a little young for that...
B: How old are you? Like 16?
V: No! I'm 19!
B: Oh! Well then how come you don't have kids?!

Ben: My dad works on the same floor as my grandpa and my uncle!
Vanessa: Oh really? What do they do?
B: Duh! They make lots of money!

Luke: (crying) Jacob called me mean! He did!
Vanessa: Um, but was there any reason for that?
L: YES!
V: And that was...?
L: DANIEL TOLD HIM TO!

Ella: ...and in High School Musical Two, they fall in love and get married because that's what people do when they're 16!

Photos feature the very adorable Hayley, whose real name can be used because she is not featured in any of these exchanges. That is probably because although she is the cutest girl ever, she is also the most mature kid I know, which makes for great conversations but very little LOL material. Full gallery of photos, taken with my beautiful new baby, can be found here.

FYI

It turns out writing an informational post about the clitoris is more difficult than one might think, at least for this blogger. So as a preview, to get us all in the mood to talk about vaginas, I am posting some advice from a good friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous. When she heard I was getting ready to write a post about the clitoris she suggested I include this tidbit, and really, I couldn't agree more. More info on the wonderful clit to come kids, so get excited, but for now, I would heed this wise advice:

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Mom's Diete"


Potential foreshadowing of my future fucked-up relationship with food, dieting, healthy eating, and all things body-image-related? 

(Background: My entire family is always on some sort of a diet. Clearly, my seven-year-old-self was just trying to help out.)

Perhaps the best part of the whole find (yes, this is what happens when you clean out your basement! Finding old gems such as this! Woohoo summer cleaning!) was my father's reaction: "Hm, you must have been quite young when you wrote this. Because look, your spelling is awful!"

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Babysitting for a sleeping child gives you time to raid the cabinets and also ponder the great disappointments of life

I think one of the most distressing things is when you pop a Jelly Belly into your mouth fully expecting it to be Toasted Marshmellow, and instead it is Top Banana, or worse, Buttered Popcorn.

What it's all about

This blog has definitely suffered some neglect through the month of August, and I've been trying to figure out why. Mostly, I think it's because I can't think of anything to say.

Those of you who actually know me are probably shaking your heads in disbelief at this point. "But Vanessa," you're thinking. "You always have something to say. Even if it's just an annoying stream of consciousness rant about your latest 'dramatic and important' boy troubles, you
always have something to say! We didn't even think you knew what the word silent meant!" Right. Well, I hear ya. I am a talkative one. And a wordy one, which is why it distresses me to see such a lack of words on this blog. But blogging versus talking is a big deal, for me.

I guess by the very nature of what this blog is
not, it makes it difficult sometimes to figure out what it is. It is not about media, gossip, celebrities, sub-culture, New York, or fashion. It is not solely about photography although I guess I could just throw up some photos when the thinking gets tough, but that seems like a cop out. My blog is, by virtue of being mine, inherently personal. And yet I was/am determined not to make it too personal. The post I wrote about high school emotions was about as personal as it's gonna get around here, at least for now, and even that seemed almost too over-sharey, for me. I am committed to making sure this does not become my high school Livejournal. I'm sorry if you ever had to read that. This is not it.

I read
this one website fairly often (okay I refresh it approximately 20 times a day); it is basically a guide to helping young hopefuls get their feet in the doors of the magazine world, so to speak. I particularly enjoy the message board, and this one post the other day caught my eye:
"Is it acceptable to put a link to your personal blog on your resume if it’s free of scandalous, incriminating entries and is more an accurate reflection of your (hopefully creative) writing style?"
I thought the response this question received was helpful and actually quite spot-on:
"I would be inclined to say yes, BUT it must be super neat and mature with nothing myspace-y and it must be a relevant topic to what you are interested in pursuing career-wise. I think it’s great when I see young aspiring editors with blogs about what they love- food, fashion, travel, etc. My only complaint about blogs is when they are unfocused babble/rants that mirror diaries."
I interviewed for an internship I was absolutely dying to get in July, and I gave the editor the link to this blog. I didn't put it on my resume, but it came up during the interview that I blog fairly regularly, and she asked if she could see it. Seeing as I put extra care not to put anything incriminating on here, I gladly gave her the link. As soon as I left the interview, though, I went into panic mode. It was completely irrational; not only do I censor myself and try to keep in mind that no matter what, the internet is not private, but I am actually proud of a lot of the writing on here. I like to think it is truthful and thoughtful. And yet I actually found myself sprinting to my friend Sam's apartment, anxious to log on immediately and make sure there wasn't any content up here that would cost me the internship. What exactly did I think would qualify for this? I have no idea! I write about my friends, the kids I babysit, and feminism. Literally nothing on this blog could or should embarrass me. But I was still petrified.

Reading the answer to the message board question, I think I finally understand why I was so nervous. This blog does not reflect "a relevant topic that I am interested in pursuing career-wise." Some days I have no idea what it reflects, except me. And some days, I have no idea what
I reflect. So. I worry that even though I put so much effort in not making this into a navel-gazing-arrogant-pretentious "unfocused babble...that mirrors [a] diary," I am doing exactly that. Because no matter how much I think before I hit "publish", no matter how much I insist I'm not writing about me...I really am. Because I am writing, and it's about my life, and really, how much more "me" can you get?

Now I said it: This blog is all about me. Because I'm part of the
narcissistic millenials who are all obsessed with themselves and think over-sharing is grand, right? Or because I've just always been that kind of kid. I don't know. I got the internship, by the by, so I guess if my editor did in fact peruse this blog she was not too offended by any of the content. I can only hope she actually liked some of it! But I still worry, and wonder, what exactly I am writing about. Who exactly I am writing for. How dumb this whole project actually is?

But those thoughts don't produce words, and without words (and pictures!) this blog is nothing. And ultimately, no matter how dumb this all may be, or how much I will cringe when I re-read it in a few years, I want to produce it now. I enjoy the sense of having a body of work, an archive of words. I like knowing that [
approximately 10] people read it. I enjoy expressing my voice. And so I force myself to sit down, to keep writing, to try and figure it out. I guess that's what it's all about.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Because I love her, and I can't say this any better myself:

"I thought a lot today about Limitless Love. Most of the time I spend worrying about the people in my life who love me conditionally–with limits, deciding when and how they will love me and how they will edit the love they will show me. The problem lies in how I then edit and limit the love I am showing and giving (for fear of not being loved in return). And that's not how I want to live in love." - Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself, Sabrina Ward Harrison

Monday, August 11, 2008

Advice circa 2000.

I've been cleaning out my closet for the past three days, and due to my pack-rat tendencies I have quite a lot of records to muse over now, including pages upon pages of AIM conversations, printed out and carefully archived. Now, seeing as reading AIM conversations from middle school is possibly one of the most painful and torturous things one can do, it has been a rough night, cringing- and wincing-wise. But in the midst of reading the ridiculous arguments, painfully awkward "flirtations," and all around embarrassing moments, I found a tiny piece of genius.

Blah blah blah discussing a girl my friend John* liked:
VeeGirlie**: have you asked out C yet?
JDB245: i'm prob gonna do it at jenna's party
V: that's like a month away!
J: i need to be positive she likes me
V: you are too precise about these things. it's middle school. you ask her out, you go out, the end. it's not life and death, it's not true love, it's not like you're gonna be together forever. just ask her out and then what happens happens.
J: corey and topanga...
V: TV...back to reality...

*Name has been changed to protect the delusional then-7th-grader.
**Don't judge.

I'm thinking my 2008-self should learn to take the only piece of wise AIM advice my 2000-self managed to give.

Chicken Little.

Eliza and Daniel, Polaroid transfer, winter 2005. This always reminded me of that scene on the ice in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, mostly because Eliza's hair was blue at the time.

"...we no longer need Chicken Little to tell us the sky is falling, because it already has. The issue now is how to take care of one another." - bird by bird, Anne Lamott

Read this book before school starts. Just do it. Trust me.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

This is to dying in another's arms, and why I had to try it.

Posing with my photo locker, circa 2005.
Driving around Newton, listening to Konstantine on repeat (don't judge), and finally archiving all the photos (1000+) I took senior year has me feeling way nostalgic. I'm not looking to go back to high school or anything, but I definitely didn't hate it--in fact, I would say it was a pretty good time. Being home, and being surrounded by all these memories in a very tangible way, has me thinking and reminiscing probably more than is healthy.

I hung out with Ariella tonight and we discussed how this summer feels very important, in some not-completely-defined way. It wasn't really particularly fun, but it just feels like the final...something. I guess it's because two years of college are over and for most of us, there are only two more--so it's a half-way point. A marker of us being halfway done with the first grown-up thing we had to achieve. An exclamation point reminding us that two years from now, we should be on our way to making new "homes," not counting on returning to these ones. For some reason it seems very final, though I'm still not entirely sure why.

The combination of focusing on both high school and this particular stretch of summer has made me realize exactly how significant high school is to the growth of a human being. Of course I feel much more mature now than I ever did in high school, but in the same way I feel it was completely necessary for me to have a very messy freshman year in order for me to evolve into the person I am now, going into junior year, I feel like the drama and the dramatics of high school were entirely necessary for me be who I am today. Let me try to explain properly.

Senior year of high school, we had the option of doing an independent project through this program called WISE. I have no idea what it stood for but I remember it was a bad acronym, so it shouldn't matter much to the story. Anyway, WISE was either a personal project or an internship/apprenticeship that one took on for the second half of senior year. People worked at the Boston Globe, with the police force, and at hospitals. Others built bikes, tried to make their own health bars, and trained for a marathon. I decided to make a scrapbook of my middle school/high school experience—a type of collage/craft/diary/photo album mega-book that would essentially represent my brain during the time I spent in Newton.

I slaved over this project. Literally, it took over my life. I am a pack-rat by nature, so I had all sorts of things saved up from over the years: photos, notes, journals, ticket stubs, wrapping paper, friendship bracelets, voicemails...you name it, I saved it. I also wrote some fresh journal entries and poems specifically for the book. I was very adamant, however, that I finish the book before I go to college. Otherwise, I argued, it wouldn't be a fair representation of my brain during high school. Somehow I knew as soon as I left, as soon as I broke the spell of attending Newton South and being a high school student, it would never be the same. Looking back is never the same as experiencing the moment as is, and I was determined to make the book something I could always look back on as a very real, in the moment, representation of my then-current life.

Needless to say, I did not finish the book before graduation. I finished a large chunk of it, but there were still blank pages and there was still stuff I knew I needed to include. I couldn't finish it before I left for college.

I've been working on it in small bits every time I come home, but any time I glue something to one of the pages I feel bad. I am betraying my high school self; I'm betraying my own vision. I have let myself down, because what I suspected all along is true: as soon as you're out of that phase of life, you can never go back. Looking back is not at all the same as looking around while it's all happening, and I feel an awful cloud of judgment from my current self every time she tries to emulate what her high school self once must have felt.

Which got me thinking about what high school is there for. Okay sure, it is there to provide you four years worth of education that you might possibly need before you apply to college. But aside from that, what is it really there for? High school is a ridiculous place. I think the reason so many people end up saying they hated high school is because there is just so much emotion all over the place, and many people don't know what to do with all that feeling. The title of this post, a lyric nabbed straight from my boys Something Corporate (I'm telling you, don't hate!), is so over dramatic and ridiculous that I couldn't have titled this essay anything else, because it is so true in terms of capturing the feeling of high school. I remember singing along to this song junior year, and empathizing so clearly with the lead singer, because of course I understood why he had to try out dying in another's arms. And the thing is, I'm not saying I was melodramatic because this empathy couldn't possibly exist, because I couldn't possibly feel feelings as deep and as strong as those—I'm saying high school is melodramatic because I could. I could feel those feelings, and I did, and truthfully, I don't think we feel anything as strongly or as deeply as we do during those four years of supposed hell.

A boy I am no longer close with once told me that he believed high school acted as a way to prepare us all for "real life." Supposedly, we were there to try out situations and try out reactions and see what worked, what didn't, what was appropriate, what absolutely wasn't. But I don't think I agree. High school is not a trial run for the real world—high school was as real as it is ever going to get. It was before we all learned to fake it, to play the game, to mask our feelings because apathy is oh so cool. When in my life am I ever going to break down sobbing in the middle of a semi-crowded room because my best friend has started dating a boy I really like, ever again? If that happened now there would surely be no tears. And yes, maybe my high school life was slightly more dramatic than others because I do have a penchant for the theater and for tears in general, but I do believe that everyone had a moment like that at one point or another. When else are our hearts so pure, so unbroken, so new? We are practically begging each other to tear knives through them, just to create some scars because they were so darn fresh! And of course those cuts hurt the most, because they were the first ones we ever experienced.

Maybe it's getting late and maybe my train of thought is getting fuzzy, but all I'm saying is that I think it's really unfair when people claim high school kids can't feel intense emotions, because they're "too young." I believe that high school was a time to feel the most emotion I will ever experience. Which is not to say that I am not looking forward to feeling intense emotions for the rest of my life; I'm simply saying high school afforded us all a place where we could act out on those emotions in ways that simply are no longer acceptable here in the real world.

And so I struggle to finish my high school senior year project, a collage book of my brain, with the mentality of a high school student. Two years down the line and that should not be so difficult, but it feels like a lifetime. I cannot help but judge my 17 year old self for feeling such intense emotions about things I can no longer bring myself to even roll my eyes over, and I know that the pages I complete now will represent an entirely different book, one that I never intended to make. I am sorry that I didn't finish my high school project when I was there, in that frame of mind, in that body, because I know I will never in my life be able to feel that way again. I will never be able to view the world through the eyes of myself as I was then. And even though I believe with all my heart that I am growing to be a better, and more mature, human being with every day, I can't help but miss both the recklessness and security I possessed at the end of senior year. I miss knowing, truly believing, that everything that happened was the most important thing in the world and always would be. I do miss that.

My school had the un-eco-friendly idea to give each senior a balloon (in our school colors!) and as the bell rang on our last day of high school we got to release them into the sky. I know it is very bad for the environment, but it was actually really cute and made for some great photos. And is an excellent examples of one of those things that felt like "the most important thing in the world."

Friday, August 8, 2008

Apocalypse.

Based on the intense level of this afternoon's storm, Jess and I decided the world is probably coming to an end. Though I guess Douglas Haddow tried to prove that point last Tuesday, so maybe I should just pay better attention.*

*Incase you can't tell by this weirdo two sentence post, I thought that article was the dumbest thing in the whole world. His vague, melodramatic statements and judgmental-asshole tone made me actually feel sorry for all the "hipsters" he was insulting. That's some serious talent, because when have you ever heard someone use the phrase "feel sorry for" and the word "hipster" in the same sentence? And, hasn't this topic been talked to death? Why do we care? And also, the last paragraph? Is he serious? "We are the last generation..." Seriously dude?!

Because I was kidding about the whole "world ending" thing. So I'm pretty sure we're not going to be able to claim the title as "last" anything. Trends and culture and pop-culture and style and partying and all that stuff is going to keep evolving until one day our kids are going to think we were so lame, or maybe things will turn around so fast they will actually think we were so cool because this hipster shtick will be popular again. Except my kids won't think I was so cool in reference to being a hipster, because I don't think I'm skinny enough to qualify. Alas. But whatever, that doesn't even matter, because maybe we'll all be living on the moon! That would be exciting. But those gosh darn kids will probably mess that up too, right Mr. Haddow? And then you can write another silly and dramatic essay. Perhaps you can title it The Dead End of Earth's Only Natural Satellite. 

My point? We're not the last anything. This is not a revolution, but it's not even an anti-revolution. Stop trying to make American Apparel v-necks, party photographers, and kids riding bicycles so important. It's a fad, the same way bell bottoms, Beanie Babies, and glitter pens were a fad for "our generation" back in the day. No one freaked out about that shit, so try to do the same for this. It's kids being kids. Just accept it for what it is and get ready to ride out the storm. 

Birds.

"I understood immediatley the thrill of seeing oneself in print. It provides some sort of primal verification: you are in print; therefore you exist. Who knows what this urge is all about, to appear somewhere outside yourself, instead of feeling stuck inside your muddled but stroboscopic mind, peering out like a little undersea animal—a spiny blenny, for instance—from inside your tiny cave? Seeing yourself in print is such an amazing concept: you can get so much attention without having to actually show up somewhere...There are many obvious advantages to this. You don't have to dress up, for instance, and you can't hear them boo you right away." — bird by bird, Anne Lamott

Speaking of birds: I woke up at 8am to my mother shrieking from the kitchen. "Vaness, come quick, a bird, oh god, a bird, a bird!" By the time I dragged myself to the scene of the crime (a baby bird, terrified, hiding behind a water jug near our sink) my mother was actually outside the house, cowering near the street, hyperventilating. The bird has since flown out the door, we are unclear how it came to be in our kitchen, it pooped on an apple, and my mother refuses to be home alone. Duh.

Speaking of seeing oneself in print: I am published in CosmoGIRL! magazine. The article is not up online so I can't link it, which is a bummer, but it's in the September issue, the one with LC on the cover. I interviewed Ann Brashares, author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, for CG's Project 2024 feature. I have a byline and a photograph and everything, and I'm really excited about it. Ann was awesome, really sweet and down to earth, and while only parts of the interview made it into the magazine, obviously, everything she said about writing and just living was really useful and inspirational. Plus her house was gorgeous. 

Speaking of Project Runway, which is related to nothing, but actually related to everything if you are me: I love Blayne. I don't care what anyone says. He is adorable and I LOVE him. Okay now that that's out of the way, on with my day...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Feminist World, Men Welcome.

Yesterday my friend Lee and I were talking, kind of about this blog, and he ended up asking if I really believe we should have a "feminist world." Well, not in so many words, but that's where the discussion lead. And I said yes, I absolutely 100% believe that we need this to be a feminist world, because for me, feminism is about equality for all human beings. The fact that the word "feminine" kind of makes it into the noun should not detract men from the ideology. Feminism is for everyone.


With that said, I think Sam brings up a great point about an article Jezebel ran on Monday. It's not fair to say that feminism is about equality and then belittle the very real hardships men face in this world, too. Yes, I think the world acts unfairly towards women. Yes, I think there is reason to assert that women are very often at a disadvantage simply because of their sex, and I think there is no reason to berate women for continuing to bring attention to this until true equality exists. I think it's unfair for men to say feminists are a bunch of women making a big fuss about nothing. But no, I don't believe that this means men can't be victimized. If we (women) want to be allowed to get all the privileges men have been entitled to for forever, we can't say that men aren't allowed to feel like victims, too. It just doesn't seem fair, and it doesn't seem to embody feminism, for me. Now I would never dream of calling someone a "bad feminist," because obviously everyone must follow their own beliefs and ideologies, and I think the very idea of a "bad" feminist is an oxymoron. I think the real importance behind feminism these days is for us all to support one another--but that means supporting our boys, too.

Possible reasons why I like American Apparel more than my mom does:

1. She calls it "cult fashion." I call it "I go to NYU."

2. She doesn't like that the sales people always seem "unhelpful and unfriendly." I explained to her that it is part of their shtick, then wondered why the fuck my generation considers this normal.

3. She has no comfy benches to sit on while I try stuff on like in Urban Outfitters. I never have the need to sit down in an AA store.

4. The above can be attributed to the fact that my mom claims there is "not one single item in the store that I would ever try on," whereas I enjoy trying them all on, even if I know it will result in tears when I realize items like this are not meant for anyone who weighs over 80 pounds.

5. She thinks their lame stuff is silly looking. I agree, but I like it anyway.

6. She thinks most of their stuff looks like underwear. I agree, but I wear it anyway.

7. It aggravates her that everything comes in nine million different colors because when I find something I like I generally want to buy it in every color. I see her point, but isn't that why I love it?

8. She doesn't like that it is so "cheap," because I generally use this fact to con her into purchasing more than she intended because "look ma, everything is so cheap!" I like cheap things. I think it is funny (read: embarrassing) how one's perception of "cheap" shifts when one is spending one's own money versus when one is spending one's parents' money. You know, hypothetically.

9. She doesn't like that the t-shirts are so thin because she thinks they provide no support. She also doesn't like that they are long. Here I have no comment because obviously she is just wrong.

10. "I love shopping with you, but it gives me no pleasure to shop with you in American Apparel, with those sullen, miserable, characters that inhabit that place. There is no individuality and they look like the very machines we're all trying to escape." Well actually, when she puts it that way...

Look out for an upcoming response from my mother!

Controlling Birth Control.

Hi kids. This is a public service announcement: sometimes, generic versions of prescribed drugs are not your BFF.

I've been on the Pill for about a year. I started out taking Apri, and even though my doctor warned me that often one has to switch a few times to find a pill that is right for them, and even though my dad warned me that he thinks the pill is like "attacking a spider web with an army tank" (thanks Dad), I was a-okay. No mood swings, no bloating, and of course, no pregnancy. Yay!

Fast forward to...January? Around then. I go to Walgreens one day to get my handy dandy Apri. A few hours later I crack the bag open to pop the pill--PANIC ENSUES! "Oh my god," I remember exclaiming to my friends. "They gave me the wrong pill! This is not my packaging at all! And...what the fuck? I don't take Reclipsen. THIS IS SO IRRESPONSIBLE OF WALGREENS!"

So I went back to Walgreens all ready to raise hell. Well, the lady at the pharmacy counter explained to me that apparently I was the crazy one, because duh, Reclipsen was the generic version of Apri, and could I please stop flipping out, because they are the exact same pill, and Walgreens just doesn't stock Apri anymore, but they're the same, so who cares. "Can I help the next customer now, please?"

But I was not convinced, so I called my mom and my gynecologist to check it out. Everyone seemed to think it was fine, my gyno confirmed that Reclipsen is the generic version of Apri, and I felt okay about taking them. So I did.

I also started getting awful headaches. Not right away, because that would have been too obvious. They sort of built up. During most of second semester they were under control, though sometimes I would get a really bad one and have to go to bed early. During finals they started to hit really hard, which sucked, because you can't exactly just take a quick cat nap when you're trying to catch up on 300 pages of reading and memorize the four different kinds of muscle (are there four?). Anyway, they got progressively worse and worse from that point on, and for most of the summer I've had a migraine every single day. I'd literally come home from work with a pounding tension behind my eyes and lie on my bed for a few hours with an ice pack until the pain passed. Sometimes it went away. Sometimes I would have to wait until the next morning to feel zero pain.

Advil didn't work. Tylenol didn't work. I went to a neurologist, took a dose of steroids, had an MRI...the doctor was stumped, the steroids stunted the pain for a few days, and the x-ray showed that everything was as it should be. I just still was in excruciating pain every single day.
I'd never had headaches growing up, so I really didn't know how to respond to these seemingly incurable monsters. The pain started to run my life.

I'm not sure why I didn't realize immediately that there could be a link with the pill. I think I had mentioned being on the pill to my neurologist, but she didn't seem too concerned. Also, the headaches and the switch from Apri to Reclipsen didn't happen at exactly the same time--there were actually a few months where I was taking Reclipsen and I was fine. Anyway for whatever reason, going off the pill was not the first reaction in anyone's mind.

Which is unfortunate, because if I had just gone off Reclipsen sooner, I could have been saved a summer of migraines.

My aunt is actually the woman who needs to be taking credit, because while my poor distraught mother was explaining the situation to her over the phone she sensibly asked, "Well, do you think it's her pill?" Duh.

I've been off Reclipsen for about two and a half weeks now, and I'm not joking when I say my headaches are gone. I don't want to jinx it, but it's literally like they never even happened. I'm going to stay off the pill for a few more weeks, or until my cycle returns (another fun fact--apparently after going off the pill your body needs some time to adjust, so you usually don't get your period for about 6 weeks--but don't worry, it doesn't mean you're pregnant. Excellent thing to know!) and then I'll go back on Apri. But here's where the public service part kicks in.

Guess what? Walgreens doesn't stock Apri anymore, presumably because of a legalities with the insurance companies (it's cheaper for them to provide the generic version of a drug, obviously.) But CVS actually won't stock Reclipsen, because they have had so many negative reactions to it. They only sell Apri (and, presumably, other brand-name Pills that Reclipsen acts as a substitute for.) It's not Walgreens fault that they no longer stock Apri, and they were even really nice and said they'd order it for me when I gave them my "no substitutes" prescription, but the point is, as a rule, they don't even bother ordering it. What the fuck? Obviously not all people have negative reactions to generic substitutes, but they are not the same as the original brand. All the main ingredients are the same, but that does not make it the same drug.

So basically the moral of the story is: when trying a new drug, even just a generic version of a brand name you are currently taking, be extra careful. Watch your body like a hawk, and even if weird symptoms/side effects show up a few months later, take heed. My body tried to tell me for 7 months that Reclipsen was fucking with my system, and I was too blase to take the hint.

Listen to your bodies, kiddies, and be weary of generic drugs. Actually, be weary of drugs in general--how's that for a public service announcement?!

Monday, August 4, 2008

"I wish I could marry your mom!"

*Names have been changed to protect the 5 year olds.
**Mandy is my mom, and she is a preschool teacher.

We're coloring while listening to the Mamma Mia soundtrack:
Dean*: Vanessa, I really miss Mandy**.
Vanessa: Aw Dean, I know she misses you too!
D: I wish she was at my new school!
V: Yeah, I think she would love to be a teacher at elementary school.
D: No, I don't want her to be a teacher...I just want her to hang out with me all day.
V: Uh...okay?
D: Because me and Mandy kind of fell in love at preschool.
V: Hm, really?
D: Yeah! I wish I could marry Mandy!
V: But Dean, she's already married to my dad!
D: I know. It's too bad I wasn't born just a little earlier. Deep sigh.

While talking about visiting his soon-to-be elementary school:
Vanessa: So, Bobby, did you like your new school?
Bobby*: Are you kidding? It's the coolest!
V: Really? What's so cool about it?
B: Vanessa! The president lives there!
V: Uh...
B: How could you not know that?!
V: Um, Bobby, I'm pretty sure the president doesn't live there.
B: Yeah he does! 
V: Well okay...why do you think the president lives there?
B: Because that's where I went with my mom to vote in November! Looks at me like I'm an idiot.

More to come.