Saturday, September 19, 2009

Obsession: Home

When I was in London I took an English course called Writing London, and we spent one whole class period discussing the idea that part of being a writer is obsession and addiction. We acknowledged that many great writers have had detrimental addictions, but also talked about the idea that in order to be any kind of successful writer, one must be completely obsessed with certain ideas and tropes, addicted to the belief that if one just writes one more time about that Thing, the Thing that grips you and keeps you up at night and follows you around relentlessly, it will solve everything.

We read an excerpt by a prominent author (it is a painfully obvious author, one that I will look up when I am feeling less lazy, one that I will be embarrassed not to have remember off the top of my head–maybe it wasn't an author, maybe it was Freud, whoever it was I am definitely going to be mortified that I couldn't just go look him up immediately, but being home makes me slothful and it's easier to type a few extra sentences about being embarrassed than it would be to get up, find my Writing London folder, flip through the sheets, and locate the author) that addressed this phenomenon. He wrote about traveling to a specific town and wandering around the town, but no matter how he wandered or what route he took, he ended up in the same spot: the road filled with the prostitutes. He didn't want to get away from that route, even though by wandering around he could pretend he wasn't stuck there. But he was, emotionally, intellectually, even physically. And I think that translates over well to the idea of writing: we write about certain ideas because we are stuck on them, fixated by them, totally and completely obsessed with them. We spend our whole lives writing about them, thinking it will help us move away from them, thinking it might help us make sense of them. It usually doesn't. It usually just makes us look like obsessive loons. But that's a writer, you know?

Anyway I've realized that one of my obsessions is Home, and what it means, and how it functions in a human's life once we leave it. In an act of serendipity made possible by the Internet, just as I was thinking about how one of my obsessions is Home, and I can finally acknowledge that, I got an email from The Photographer's Gallery in London (see, it all ties back together in the end, yes? No, not really, the Internet has just made the world one giant coincidence. But pretend with me for a moment.) Anyway the Gallery, which is one of my favorites, emails: "We want your stories & photographs for An Idea of Home!"
The word home conjures up many images, as well as posing many quesitons. What makes a home–the roof over your head, or knowing your neighbors? What does it mean for refugees, or the homeless? What makes a person leave their home–and how do you create home in a new country?
I'm glad they asked, because I want to know! Anyway they've started a Flickr group to explore the question and they want people to contribute. I just might. Check it out.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I get anxious if I don't see her

Probably just the sappy English major in me, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say this movie will be my favorite fall flick. Who wants to come see it with me immediately?

"Mr. Keats is very brilliant." Indeed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Last First

That's Molly and me "underwater" @ P.S.1 MoMa

My last few days of summer vacation have been positively blissful. The apartment is coming together, my friends have been reliable and wonderful, I've been actively doing cool shit, and New York feels like home. I'm so lucky, and I'm going to try and remind myself that every single day this year, especially when all the work I've signed up for starts feeling overwhelming, or I get the urge to freak out about The Future, or when I get caught up in the tiny little things that ultimately don't really matter. I'm incredibly excited for this school year, even more so when I realize it could be my last official school year ever. Which means I'm like, growing up...or something.

Happy first day of school everyone–let's get to it!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Almost my last first day of school!

Can't believe tonight
was the last night of summer
break. Hey, Senior Year.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tracey Emin's coming to New York!

I almost forgot! Sam told me earlier today that Tracey Emin, one of my favorite artists (as well as being one of my biggest girl crushes), is having a show in New York in November! I was so bummed to miss her London show, so I'm doubly psyched about this one. And seeing as it goes until December 19, it works as a perfect early birthday present. Thanks, Tracey!

PS: When Googling Tracey Emin, I stumbled upon this: "I'm not happy being a feminist. It should all be over by now." And my heart skips another beat.

Indulgent Reflections

It's been a busy week. On Thursday, in the "first milestone since graduating high school that has been me feel pretty fucking old" category, we drove to Vermont to drop my baby brother off at college. Baby being relative, of course, seeing as the boy is 18 and about 8 inches taller than me. Nonetheless, I felt more than a reasonable amount of sadness upon leaving him all by his lonesome in a dorm room that is perhaps tinier than my Hayden Hall one from three years ago but definitely more social, as when we left he already had 4 "friends" and I'm pretty sure when my family left me at NYU I had 0. So that's good. And, as Dan helpfully pointed out, I'm the one who had the nerve to pack up and leave first, so it's not like I can feel betrayed or abandoned...it's not like we've lived in the same house for three years now. But what can I say? I have far more motherly feelings towards my baby bro than is normal, and I worry about him and care about him and I just want him to love college and grow into his own and keep writing and be awesome. Which he will be, so I should shut up and stop worrying.

A fun, true, FML-this-is-pathetically-accurate, story: we drove past the UVM rugby team practicing on a random field and Dan pointed it out. My dad got a very confused look and was like, "Wait, those aren't college boys! They're so big!" To which I had to explain, no, they are college boys, my dad is just used to the emaciated hipster boys populating the streets of NYC, his only other reference to college. I am seriously contemplating moving to Vermont, or like, Minnesota after graduation, simply so I can attempt to secure a burly sexy mountain man. Then of course I will have to lure him back to New York, because I don't think I could really make do with a place where "downtown" indicates four restaurants and a few karaoke bars, but really, I have never seen men in New York who compare to the kind they were harvesting in Vermont. So, states where farmland exists, watch out...I might be coming to borrow some men post-grad!

Anyway after we dropped Dan off, to distract my mother from impending suicide at the thought of being an empty-nester, we drove up to the Birkshires to see James Taylor in concert with Sheryl Crow and Yo Yo Ma. Which was, as could be expected, absolutely glorious. The Birkshires is another place where I could see myself after graduation. You know, lounging about in a cute bed and breakfast, forcing random townspeople to pose in the wilderness a la a Norman Rockwell painting, finding myself a husband...all valid ways to wile away my time as my undergrad degree (presuming I manage to procure one, please god let me graduate in May) goes to waste. I kid, I kid...kind of.

Now I'm back in Newton for one more night (read: 5 more hours and I'm still not packed!) before driving back to the city and moving into my brand new first real big girl apartment! Which currently has no furniture. And no internet. And possibly no heat, though I guess that's not much of a problem on August 31. Point is, I shouldn't really be blogging, but I probably won't get a chance to hop on line for the next few days (anyone who knows me will understand when I say I absolutely cannot relax until things are at least vaguely organized at my new place.) I do intend to keep up with the blog though, and now that school's about to start I'm hoping my desire to procrastinate writing my thesis all year long combined with an enforced schedule will help kick my ass into gear. So get ready for lots of rambling over here and hopefully some coherent stuff over at NYULocal, which I am attempting to contribute to for the third time and plan to actually follow through with this time around (third time's a charm blah blah blah right? Right.)

I feel good about everything coming my way. Yeah, it's fucking terrifying that in one week I start the last year of my undergraduate experience, but at the same time, I'm ready for everything. I feel zen about the future, calm about my probable lack of employment after graduation, and just incredibly excited about everything that's coming up before all that. Bring it on, Fall 2009. I can take you on! But first I have to finish packing, otherwise I will never get to you.

Ready, break.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This might be an overreaction but the fat-shaming of women in this country makes me want to scream

I'm currently seething.

I was just thinking that maybe it's time to abandon this blog, maybe it's been too many days where I just don't know how to articulate what's in my head into a meaningful or useful post, maybe I should focus on my creative writing elsewhere and hopefully contribute to some other publications and just shut the fuck up online for a little bit because we all know I secretly believe the world wide web is going to be the end of imagination and creativity and life on earth, or something.

But then I do a quick scan of my Google Reader (that's a lie, I still don't really understand how a Google Reader works so I don't have one, but I think I get the gist and I have some sites bookmarked that I click through quickly every time I turn on my computer which seems to serve the same function, so uh anyway...). And I find out that Star magazine has now pronounced Mary Kate Olsen "bloated." And I want to scream.

Maybe on the surface this doesn't seem like a big deal. Gossip magazines spend their pathetic existences churning out lie after lie about whichever celebrity they can snatch some new paparazzi photos of for that week, and although the American public seems to gobble it all up I'd like to think that most people know that very little of it is the truth. It would also be nice to assume that most of America actually doesn't give a shit about the lives of a few people we have elevated to the status of "celebrity," but sadly I don't think that's the case. So I mean, I know that all "stars" have to deal with reading upsetting and often untrue things about themselves, day after day, week after week, etc. There are plenty of sites online that trash celebs as a way to make a living (yes I'm talking about you, Perez Fucker, but no I will never link to you lest I provide you even a single pageview). This happens a lot. I get it. Star is not the only offender. But that does not make me less mad and it does not make it any less of a big deal.

Just for full disclosure, I'll admit that Mary Kate is my ultimate girl crush. So obviously I love her, but rest assured, I'd be raging right now even if Star magazine decided to assault my worst enemy with their stupidity. There is absolutely no excuse for shaming a woman for her size publicly, whether she is a celebrity or not. There is no excuse for expecting all women to be a specific size. There is no fucking excuse for going out of your way to point out that a woman who used to suffer from an eating disorder has gained weight. Not only is this insensitive, it's both physically and emotionally triggering. It proves that you are a fucking asshole.

My two main issues with this article:

1. It reinforces the idea that there is some magical ideal weight for every person and that if you are even an ounce over it you are fat. Yes, being too fat is not healthy. No, most of the time when people say you can "tell" a person is too fat they are not correct. Our country's vision of a "healthy" body is not based on a truth. It is based on the perception that all women should be skin and bones, it is based on the idea that the only way to be the best version of yourself is through extensive PhotoShopping, it is based on the premise that aging is bad and youth is good and fat is evil and skinny, no matter how you achieve it, is magical. As someone who is overweight, I know the dangers of eating too much and not exercising. I am aware that being healthy means not eating 5000 calories a day and dragging my ass to the gym more than once a month. You know what though? Most of the women and girls I know who are "overweight" are a lot healthier than the women and girls I know who look "awesome" aka super thin. I may be overweight, but I am healthier than a girl who only drinks water all day and then eats some crackers at night so she doesn't pass out. I am healthier than the girls who chain smoke so they don't have to eat lunch. I am healthier than someone who pukes up her meals, healthier than someone who goes to the gym for four hours every day, healthier than someone who starves herself to death because society says thin is pretty. And I am not blaming any of these women–I am blaming the falsehoods we, as a society, pass on to children. When my brother was about 7 years old, he turned to my mom at dinner and asked, "Mommy, why do calories kill you?" What the fuck. What the FUCK?! At the time, as a ten year old, I just giggled, but now as a twenty year old I want to cry. Are we really raising a generation that equates calories, the sustenance and energy that keeps our bodies alive, with death? Yes. Yes we are. And that mentality is far scarier and far more unhealthy than being a little bit overweight.

Which brings me back to the original point that I strayed from a bit: a "healthy weight" is not a perfect equation. Everyone's body is different, so everyone should weight a different amount. Muscle weighs more than fat, some people have bigger boobs, some people have bigger bones. A healthy weight for one person is not automatically the same healthy weight for another person, even if they are the exact same height. BMI is misleading, remember?

2. Why are we obsessed with weight in the first place? Seriously, I am the first one to say that when one takes on the role of celebrity, one must accept the label of "role model" whether it's invited or not. Yes, Miley, even though you are a teenager, by deciding to be a pop star you have made the decision to be a role model to the many little girls who look up to you. It's not fair because you're just a kid yourself, but you put yourself out there and now you do have a responsibility. Yes, President Obama, you are now a role model. Sorry if that's annoying and we all stalk you on the Vineyard, but you knew it was coming, right? Right. Hey, random reality show stars–you signed up for people to videotape your life. And we live in a weird culture where the masses will actually follow through with that bizarre concept–you know, sitting in front of the TV, watching your "every day" life. But we'll judge you on it, too, and you had to know that when you signed up. What celebrities should not have to sign up for? The public monitoring their size. I don't know when our obsession with skinny women will go away (maybe when we're all dead because we stop eating because Star says 5'1" and 130 lbs is fat?) but I find it so upsetting that instead of focusing on what celebrities do–if we're gonna insist they be role models then we should care if they do volunteer work, are kind people, etc, right?–all we care about is their weight. Specifically, females. More to the point: we don't want 'em fat.

The Star article writes, "At 5'1" tall, the formerly superskinny twin–who spent her 18th birthday in rehab–looks like she's tipping the scales at 130 lbs, which is 20 lbs more than her ideal weight, according to North Carolina-based weight-loss expert Dr. Aaron Tabor." Obviously Star can guess MK's weight just from looking at the photo. And we should definitely trust Aaron Tabor to know what MK's true healthy weight would be. And also, we get the subtext–you think us readers at home are Fatty McFatFats, right, because we might weigh–gasp–the same weight as Mary Kate Olsen, a beautiful young women who used to be anorexic. Which, you know, would make us fat. Also, super subtext: you are less beautiful if you're fat, less special, less worthy of a boyfriend, and all around a lesser person. Duh.

You know what? Fuck you, Star. And fuck you, Dr. Tabor. Not only did you just almost make me, a fairly well adjusted and healthy 20 year old, feel bad about my weight (which, without getting too personal, let me just say is a tinyyy bit more than 130 lbs, and I stand 5'1", too), but you also just said that someone who suffered from an eating disorder is now too fat. At a healthy weight. I would like to know where you practiced medicine, because where I come from, you know, The School of Common Sense, it is far preferable for a young woman to stand 5'1" and weigh 130 lbs than oh, I don't know, under 100 lbs.

Fuck American beauty standards. If this sort of thinking is acceptable to the majority of society, then I think we're all fucked. And I just don't know how to fix that.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

BBMe?

My friend Stacy/Sloan (see: her blog for the name change explanation) was in Copenhagen for the semester and California for the summer working on film stuff and being generally hilarious (actually we haven't really caught up in 6+ months so I'm not 100% sure that's accurate but she is usually hilarious so I'm gonna go ahead and assume things haven't changed.) Anyway thanks to my creepy cyber-stalking ways I found this video she made about Blackberry Addiction and I love it so much I had to share it. Probably you'll only find it funny if you, too, are addicted to the Crack, but maybe you can also appreciate it if I've ever zoned out of a conversation we're having IRL due to my fixation over BBM/brickbreaker/an important spam email that I absolutely must read ASAP. The best news? Stacy informed me that she will be expanding on this project for an independent study at school this year, so there's sure to be an even better and funnier version out eventually. I'll definitely keep you guys posted, as long as I can tear my fingers away from my Blackberry keyboard long enough to actually do something besides BBM.


**Unfortunately the format of my blog makes it kind of difficult to read certain parts of the video–check it out
here for a better viewing experience.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Soothed

Cleaned out my inbox
today. Went from 7-8-3
to zero. So cleansed.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Haiku Comeback

My blog was better
when it was all poetry.
Back to that, for now.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Coming attractions

Sam's right. People blog less when they are busy and/or happy. I think. I mean that's not a definitive statement, but it seems to ring true with me.

That being said I do have a few really crucial things I'd like to get out into the blogosphere (and then I realize how silly I sound, because come on, how could any of my thoughts be that crucial to share with a world of Internet strangers?), including but not limited to: a quote from UP that made me cry at work yesterday, an indecisive statement about online dating, some deep thoughts about Taylor Swift's You Belong With Me, a quote from one Melissa Rosen that spurred some serious reflection, and an encounter with the man behind "Creative Approaches To What You Have Been Thinking About." I mean really, it is just absolutely necessary that all these topics be neatly organized by my brain and then spit out and recorded on my blog. Truly. Otherwise the world will end. LOL, get it? I'm being sarcastic, because obviously no one will give a shit if I write this stuff or not (except maybe Melissa. Hi Meliss!) But in all seriousness, I care. I don't blog as much as I did at one point and I don't think that's a huge problem, but I do intend to continue writing, and I think if I stop trying to reach people through my writing then I'll have cause for concern.

Which is all to say that right now may not be the time for me to write any of those posts. In fact, right now may just be the time to post a quick snippet of an AIM conversation and then take a nap. But they're coming. Probably accompanied by some whining, because as Sam points out (below), who am I kidding?

*I never got that permission, but I'm hoping it's cool.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I have a pretty heart

I've been babysitting two adorable little boys, ages 1 and 3. Yesterday I took the older one, N, to the water park to meet up with one of his friends and his sitter. We were chatting as the boys played and she said something that struck me: "I love being with kids because they're so present." It's really true–babysitting may tire me out more than an office job, but it also gives so much more.

A sample of a typical work day:

"Why do you have boobies?"
"What is dirt?"
"I'm scared of bees because I don't like being hurt."
"You're my good friend because you help me a lot."
"It's hard to share because I like all my favorite toys."
"What's energy?"
"Can we just talk? This is how we do that: how was your day? Now you ask me."
"I love you."

And an anecdote:

I have a heart keychain that my mom gave me right before I left for college. It's fairly plain, just a simple pink heart–I think it was a "free gift" or whatever that came with some cosmetics. So yesterday N saw my keychain and really liked it. A couple of hours later, as I was getting ready to leave, he started tugging on my arm and saying, "I want to see your heart." I was so confused, and it took me literally 5 minutes (a long time in child-tugging-your-arm-time!) to figure out that he meant my keychain heart, not, you know, my real live beating one. I just kept saying, "N, you can't see someone else's heart, it's inside my body!" to which he kept looking at me like I was a total idiot and saying, "No, I want to see your heart!" When it finally dawned on me that he meant the keychain I fished it out of my bag and gave it to him. He examined it for a few moments before looking up at me: "See? I can see your heart. It's a pretty heart. You have a pretty heart."

And that's why I need to keep working with kids for forever.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Brooklyn's Coming, by Jeanann Verlee

If you've been my friend for longer than say, 10 minutes, I've probably asked you to come to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe with me on a Friday night. This is because A. I love it so much and wish I could go every Friday, B. I think a lot of my friends would actually love it as well if they gave it a chance, and C. It's on E3rd between B and C and while that is not a "dangerous" area I do feel slightly uncomfortable walking alone there by myself at night (oh who am I kidding I feel totally terrified).

In all seriousness, I think spoken word poetry is one of the most powerful mediums in the world of words, and I honestly get chills watching many of the performers when I go to poetry slams. Last night was no different. I wanted to shout out one specific poet and one specific poem: Jeanann Verlee's "Brooklyn's Coming." What's it about? "An open letter to Sarah Palin after her comments that small towns are the 'real America.'"

When Palin was running with McCain back in November, I tried to write an essay for my non-fiction class entitled "If Sarah Palin is a Feminist then I Don't Want To Call Myself One Anymore." It ultimately failed because I was too angry to be coherent. Verlee's poem is literally everything I could have hoped to convey in that essay and more. I went to speak to her after her performance, to thank her for being so fucking brilliant. She was so sweet and thanked me for the feedback, confiding that she was thinking about retiring the poem soon because she wasn't sure if it was still relevant, since Palin resigned and all. "It is," I assured her. "Well, it's at least relevant for me."

Here's Verlee performing this poem at the Seattle Poetry Slam in March 09. Check out the rest of her performances and, if you're in the New York area, do yourself a favor and check out the Nuyorican Friday Night Poetry Slam. I don't care if you "don't like poetry"--these poets are fucking brilliant because they specialize in emotion, and if you're human, that's got to appeal to you on some level.

Enjoy.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Wrote This On Monday

When my dad dropped me at the train station this morning so I could head back to New York after a lovely weekend at home, we ended up having a philosophical conversation about my future for the fifteen minutes we spent waiting for the train. I was trying to explain all the fears I have about next year, which I tend to hide in the flippant response, “Oh, English major, fast track to unemployment, LOL” when people ask what my future plans are. Usually this makes people chuckle and they forget about the question, but sometimes they feel the need to reassure me, “Oh no, don’t worry, English majors do get hired, you can do anything you want with an English major,” but that kind of just pisses me off because although I may be asking for it with that kind of response, obviously I know that English majors get hired. Duh. And it’s nice for everyone to encourage me that I can do anything I want, but I also sort of know that. The hard part is figuring out what that is. I don’t know. And I’m terrified that any move I make will hurtle me into the wrong direction, and I’ll do a great job and climb corporate ladders or study hard through law school or even just pick up and go, travel, live, whatever…and then suddenly it’ll be ten years from now and I’ll be 30 and I’ll realize I haven’t achieved anything I wanted to, and I’m not living my dreams I’m simply existing, and I won’t know how to get back on track. I think 20 is the scariest time, or maybe I mean the year before you finish college is the scariest time, because the world is open and you can literally try anything, whether you’re an English major or not…but then it seems like doors will start to shut very suddenly and with each decision you’re one step closer to fucking it all up and never having any opportunities ever again. Or maybe all 20 year olds, soon to be college grads, don’t feel that way. But I definitely do.

My dad, however, ever the rational pragmatic, had some sound advice. Be a nanny if you want to, but make sure you’re not closing doors or selling yourself short. Don’t worry about impressing anyone with you credentials or your job, just make sure you’re really happy. Realize that sometimes you make decisions not because you’ve always planned to do it that way (taking some time off before grad school), but because opportunity presents itself (a poor job market makes more school a pretty tantalizing option.) Try not to worry too much about “closing doors” or making “the wrong choice” because you can always change your mind—my dad speaks from experience on this one, and informed me that a close family friend (age 52) is starting a new job this morning. Remember that going to law school doesn’t mean you have to be a corporate lawyer. Going to med school doesn’t mean you have to be a doctor. Doing one thing doesn’t automatically lead to anything. Try not to fixate so much on a path. Then he said the best thing: “The thing is, for what you are most passionate about, there is no path. The only real path is to write. So just keep writing.”

And that is why I love my dad. And also why I need to write, now more than ever. It’s really the only thing I’m sure of.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

No eyes!

At least vacillating about cutting my bangs (versus growing them out) makes Photobooth fun again.



Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fuck the picket fence, I want a spice cabinet

Today I said to the mother of the kids I babysit for:
"I am so jealous of your spice cupboard. I know that sounds silly, but I feel like college students always just have salt and pepper, maybe some paprika or garlic salt. But grown ups always have such stocked spice cabinets. I feel like having so many spices is such a real person thing."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy 4th of July

I went to Coney Island today to witness the hot dog eating competition (not the human-versus-elephant one, just the regular ol' human-versus-human one!) I also attended a lovely bbq, watched the fireworks, and dined on gelato. But the real unbelievable, amazing, absolute best surprise moment of my day occurred as I walked down St. Marks on my way home at about 8pm.

I left Josh's to go home, change, and meet Sara near the West Side Highway so we could see the fireworks. On the way home, as I walked down 2nd, I noticed a glowing light coming from the top of St. Marks. There is no other way to describe it. The street literally glowed yellow. Stunned, and excited that I had my camera with me (I've got to start carrying that thing with me at ALL TIMES), I scampered down the street, almost getting hit by more than a few taxis on my way. But it was worth it, because as I approached Astor, this is what I saw:








I mean, the fireworks were great and all, but seriously...only Mother Nature can provide this kind of spectacle. Happy 4th of July.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I do things sometimes

A bit of self-promotion to prove that I don't just fill my days sitting on babies (not that there is anything wrong with hanging out with 3 year olds who ask deep, soul searching questions such as, "What is dirt?")

I'm interning at Time Out Kids for the summer. It is a dream job. So far I've written this and that. I should have some more web clips coming up and maybe even a small something in the September print issue.

I also somehow ended up with one of my photos from Borough Market published in a guide of London, made by Flickr (hover your mouse over the "Borough Market" tab to see my lil' thumbnail.) I haven't really done a lot of research into the publication, but it seems Flickr publishes "Schmap" guides of different cities and uses photos published on the site to illustrate them. I got an email a while ago saying one of mine was one of many that were chosen, and it recently went live. It's actually one of my least favorite from the market, but still, exciting that my Flickr account is getting some exposure I suppose. Even if the only real exposure comes from me posting about it here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

On Blackberry Addiction

Got dinner at the adorable Penelope Cafe last night with an old friend from high school. We talked about many things, including how she started running marathons to get her mind off an ex (I mean, I usually grab a pint of the most unhealthy ice cream I can find when I have boy troubles, but to each her own). We eventually found ourselves at a lull in conversation, whereupon we both whipped out our Blackberry's and exclaimed in shock that we hadn't become BBM friends yet. I then realized I am my biggest nightmare:

Me: Ugh, I promised I wouldn't become one of those people who have their Blackberry's like an extension of their hand, attached to them at all times. But of course now I am. I carry it and wave it around and am never without it--I find myself clutching it in the subway. I'm not going to get any reception in the subway! What the fuck am I doing with it in the subway?!
Ali: Brickbreaker. Duh.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is 2009. Welcome. Generation Robot up next. Be afraid.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Repeat After Me: Fiction Still Matters

Tonight I went to a reading by Rachel DeWoskin, my former (and future! YAY!) professor and embarrassingly obvious girl crush, for her new book Repeat After Me. Judging from the short excerpts she read aloud and the delightful time I had reading her memoir, Foreign Babes in Beijing, I'm going to really enjoy her first novel.

What seems most relevant to point out on this lil' blog is the fact that she wrote a novel. Yep, in an age where my peers cry that fiction is dying and my school starts a blog because newspapers aren't being read and the whole freaking world has pronounced print dead dead dead (ILY! RIP! I'm not even going to link any of the PRINT IS DEAD articles because god they're boring at this point aren't they?!) it seems shocking that someone got it together to write a whole freaking book from her imagination. And they're printed on real pages! And while Rachel says she drew a lot of the novel from her own ex-pat experiences in China (good fiction is, after all, writing what you know), the novel is a novel. It is fiction. There are no links to follow, no embedded videos to watch, no viral stories spreading quickly. Nope, it's a book that you have to read from cover to cover. It doesn't direct you anywhere else except perhaps inside your own head to ponder what it all means. It focuses on "the acquisition of language" because that is something Rachel explained fascinates her. What I mean to say is: it's not like reading Jezebel in the morning. AND I'M GLAD. Not because I don't like and appreciate Jezebel. But because I think we, as a generation, are facing a major problem. And I think the way to fix it might be writing good fiction.

I don't think Josh was wrong when he wrote about fiction falling by the wayside, and I think that problem comes from a combination of growing up and exposing ourselves to too much technology. I will address both of those issues in a post that I'm very excited to write but simply have no time to do tonight. But stay tuned! I will say now, though, that I think it is very fair to call this situation a problem. There is a reason fiction exists. However important it is to educate ourselves about current events, the news, our political climate, etc. (and it is, it's very important--not that my favorite Gawker guilty pleasure can exactly be called "educating myself" but you know, not everything online is educational...LOL maybe nothing online is educational?) it is equally, if not MORE, important to encourage imagination. Fiction forces us to examine our souls. It gets you going inside your own head like nothing else. I would argue that fiction is absolutely necessary for our survival as complex individuals.

I'm going to keep exploring these issues because I think they're important, possibly part of the most important conversation I hear my generation having (New Media vs. Everything Else and How It Can All Survive Together, Maybe, Please?). But right now I have to go to bed because I plan on waking up at 7am to get to the Alice + Olivia sample sale before work. Because that's where my priorities lie. And fuck you for judging me, because I know you are–but you know what? Sometimes a really gorgeous party dress can inspire the imagination. So sample sales are important, too!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Staten Island fucks up my gaydar

We're talking in all caps because Skyler is in Madrid and I miss her and we were excited to finally catch each other on Skype. I sound like an asshole because I am an asshole (some days). The rest is self-explanatory, yeah?

PS!

As a post-script to my previous post, I have to add that a lot of those ramblings just come from my head. What I mean is, sometimes I feel as though I write these long things explicitly stating I'M OKAY, and then I get a few friends who diligently read this blog (thank you, and I'm sorry that there hasn't been content in forever, but that is changing, I hope) calling me up and saying, "Oh my it sounds like you were doing just awful and here we were this whole time thinking you were fine!" And that's the thing. I am fine. I was fine. I was never not fine.

But what was that whole self-obsessed ramble you just posted, Vanessa, you might ask. Ah, that. Well that's what goes on in my head. I exaggerate both the actual problems (don't we all?) and my reactions to them, and when I write it all down I sound like I'm headed for the looney bin, or Alcohol Anonymous at the very least. Wrong to both, fair readers! I'm sane (I think). And I don't drink that much, even when I'm saying, "Oh and then I was drinking too much." (Seriously Mom. Seriously.) It's just how I process the world, and myself, and in turn how I churn it all back out again.

But for realsies, I really am fine now, but I know I always was. I am fortunate and I am responsible and I'm doing well. Friends, Mom, and future employers alike, rest easy.

And on that note, time for me to rest easy. My bed is calling me. Goodnight!

Sunny times ahead on all fronts

The weather isn't getting any better, but I am. I've definitely lost the blogging bug a bit, and after not updating in so long it's going to feel strange getting back into the swing of things, but I am determined not to let this project slide out from underneath me and so I will continue to update, even when I have to push myself through it, like now. I'll start simple.

A fact that I enjoy: even when I pretend like I don't, I DO have my shit together.

I was with some close friends from London a couple of weeks ago and we all got drunk and I ended up falling asleep in a bed that was not my own, spending the night at an apartment that wasn't mine, and missing out on all the shenanigans of the evening because I was...sleeping. I'm terribly exciting, I know. Anyway, my friends engaged in fun activities while I slept, some making good choices and some making bad choices and some making neutral choices, like, say, deciding to go to sleep. You know, whatever. Who am I to judge. Etc.

What got me was the morning after conversation. As we moved about slowly in that morning-after-head-still-throbbing haze that comes with too much red wine the night before, my one friend giggled and said something like, "Ha, I thought we'd all get our shit together when we got home from London." And suddenly I was enraged. Like, absolutely livid. It wasn't my friend's fault. No, I was mad at myself. "I have my shit together," I muttered, as I searched around the room trying to find the leggings I had peeled off my sticky body the night before when I started sweating from the humid rain seeping through the open window. And I realized that my refute was laughable. I was the very picture of a mess. I didn't look like I had anything together. I couldn't even find my pants. And in that moment I was so frustrated. Because the fact of the matter is, I know I have things together. I know that I haven't deserved the nickname Matt gave me, VaMessa, in at least a year. More. I don't sob hysterically every time I get drunk. I don't leave drunk voicemails that I'll regret in the morning. I don't mope about this boy I once loved when I was 16. I have direction. I have life goals. I try to put healthy food in my body and avoid poisonous stuff like alcohol and weed and cookie dough. I go to the gym. I have an internship and a job and I am happy. Really that's the most important thing. I am happy. I am not a mess.

But I was letting myself slip. That's why I was mad. My semester in London was unbelievable and I would never ever trade it for anything, but I made decisions abroad that strike a little too close to the version of myself I was freshman year, and that's no good. I let myself get caught up in a crush that should never have started, and when it didn't work out the way I wanted it to I allowed myself to wallow and pine and embarrass myself at every opportunity. I drank so much that my mom eventually emailed me to say she was worried (don't be, Mommy). I gained back a lot of the weight I lost in the fall. I got confused about who I am and what I want to be. I never thought of it as losing my shit, but in a sense, it was.

And so my friend's flippant comment about "getting our shit back together" when we returned from London hit hard because I had not yet allowed myself to acknowledge that I might have lost it a bit when I was abroad. The implication that I had any ground to reclaim offended me only because I realized it was true. I am proud that I was indignant, though, and that's how I know I am still with it. I don't want to be a person who is all over the place. I have no desire to slip back into my messy old ways. I like the person I am now. I might have fudged it a little bit in London, but she's back. She goes to bed before 2am and wakes up and gets stuff done. She dreams big and makes sure to work hard enough to achieve bigger. She doesn't get blackout drunk and she sleeps in her own bed and she doesn't cling to people who clearly aren't interested. She's still fun, and she's funny, but she's mature and that's awesome. I like that person very much. And I am proud to be that way.

So I think that's it, kids. I let myself get in a funk over a lot of things that weren't really worth it. And I let myself relive some old habits when it comes to coping with things I don't feel like dealing with outright. But I'm over that. I don't want to spend the summer nursing hangover headaches and trying to remember hazy evenings spent sipping too much wine. I don't want to put all my effort into people who don't appreciate it. I'm reevaluating relationships and prioritizing my time and generally keeping myself healthy and happy. And the fact that I could recognize all of that, organize it into coherent thought, make a solid effort to fix it, and then blog about it confidently assures me that I haven't regressed as far as I might have feared.

I'm back from London and I do have my shit together. I'm getting my life back in order and it's grand. I'm getting better. Now if only the weather could follow my lead. It looks like the summer might finally start existing on Wednesday; I couldn't be more excited.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fail on all counts

My goal for the day was to apply to some more internships and write a non-emo blog post.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Peter Pan


Maybe I just shouldn't grow up. That might solve all my problems, current and future.

Lost my wisdom

These babies came out three weeks ago. Because I am a freak, I insisted on keeping them. Because I'm a creative freak, I then did a photo shoot with them. And now, because I am a freak suffering from writer's block (or rather, an ability to process the thoughts I am consumed with into appropriate-for-the-Internet paragraphs), I'm posting this photo to kick off a series of mostly-picture-filled posts that I'm sure will be as evasive as the last one. In my cliche-filled head it seems appropriate that after getting my wisdom teeth out I seem to have lost my ability to make wise choices. I need to get my shit together, but until that happens, let's enjoy some pretty pictures together.

And they are kind of pretty, aren't they?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Evasive

I want to write about emotion but I'm too emotional to do it properly.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Big Dicks, etc.

I didn't really like Lady GaGa that much initially. I mean I thought she was fine, but Just Dance didn't blow me away and I thought Pokerface was okay. Then I saw this clip.

Opinion changed. LOVE this lady.

Sex Stuff

I just discovered 25 Things About My Sexuality, a blog that encourages people to write down 25 things about their sexuality (sex life, sexual orientation, sex fantasies, sexual partners, sexy stuff...whatever) and send it in to 25thingsaboutmysexuality@gmail.com, then posts the lists anonymously.

Now I'm obsessively reading every entry and contemplating putting together my own list. I don't know if I'd send it in to the blog or not, but it would surely be an interesting introspective look at my sexual self either way. Anyone else suddenly wanna grab a pen and paper and start scribbling? Jess, I'm looking at you...

We Honor Dr. Tiller, NYC 6/1/09

















Photos from the vigil held yesterday in Union Square to honor Dr. George Tiller. 

Dr. Tiller was one of the few late-term abortion doctors in America. He was shot and killed as he entered his church this past Sunday. 

I felt both unbelievably sad and unbelievably motivated as I walked home from Union Square yesterday. I'll write more on this soon, I just wanted to get the photos up ASAP.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Newton vs. New York: Where is home?

Typical Newton, circa 2005

It's 5am and I'm wide awake. Tomorrow (today?) is my last day in Newton. On Sunday my father and I will pack up the family mini-van and drive to New York, where I will be spending the summer. And then the fall. And then the spring. And then, I will graduate, and I will (hopefully–please somebody hire me and pay me so I can pay rent) continue living there. Which makes New York...the place where I will be living as an adult. Which makes it home. Which makes Newton...what?

I always tell people that I love coming home, and that I wouldn't appreciate New York as much as I do if Newton did not exist. To an extent, that is true. I would never just regard Newton as "my parent's home" or "a town where I used to live." Supposedly when one leaves, home evaporates, but I have not found that to be true. In fact, the most disconcerting part about being home is how the same it is. I leave for long periods of time and I change. But I come back, and everything is identical. It's confusing trying to fit the new version of myself back into the same mold. Sometimes it's impossible.

This is the first time I've come home and felt old. I'm not sure what it is: the fact that my brother is graduating high school? The fact that most of my friends are studying for tests that will grant them admittance into grad school? The fact that I attended the engagement party of a girl I went to high school with? The fact that at any given moment my mother will look at me, tear up, and either yell at me for "becoming an adult and moving to New York" or just hug me very tightly? Whatever the cause, the result is that I finally feel like one of the big kids. I've spent my whole life wondering when I would feel as old as the people I had once looked up to, and I'm finally there.

The problem is that as I curl up in my big queen size bed each night in Newton, I feel my high school self seep into my pores. Most of my NYU friends say they do the least damage when they are home, but I am the exact opposite. I am a wreck when I'm home. Not on the outside: you'd never notice from looking at me. But my brain acts as though it is on drugs, and by drugs I mean it regresses four years. I act like my old self. I make the same poor decisions. I call boys who I have long since gotten over and allow them to upset me all over again. I engage in stupid dramatics with girls who I didn't even know I remembered. I whine to my mom about trivial matters, and I suddenly become too shy to pop into grocery stores and pick up challah. It's baffling. I have grown up so much since leaving home the first time around; why does returning seem to nullify each and every stride I have made as a human being?

I have yet to figure out why. It's not a calamity. On the outside I seem fine. On the inside I know I will be fine. But I feel the change, and my actions confirm that it's there, and I'd like to understand what causes it and what it means. It makes my conception of home fuzzy. It's not that I don't enjoy being here, it's just that I feel like I'm...not here. It's really just an impostor in my body. The Vanessa who has spent the past two weeks in Newton is not an accurate representation of the Vanessa I know I am these days. Rather, she is a weird hybrid of my high school self and someone who knows much better. She's confusing, and she's left me confused.

So Newton is stressful. It's not that I don't consider it home, it's just that I don't consider myself a reality here. I am either floating above everything, or I am a bit too immersed. I'm not really living a current life here: I am either avoiding the past or trying to recreate it. Neither is appropriate. Which I suppose is what makes New York an easy place to call home now. Everything that happens there is current, grounding me in a time and space that I can grasp and understand. The past is very recent and the present is tangible. I can accept my role in New York and I know how to play the most up to date version of myself there. Interestingly, the lack of a comfort zone there is exactly what makes it comfortable. Here everything is just a little too close for comfort.

O HAI!

Just one more reason to absolutely love Flickr.

My mama is funnier than yours

The following conversation is probably reason #100,384 why I love my mom.

Scene: Driving around Newton with my mama this evening. Listening to KISS 108, naturally. Specifically, Lady Gaga's Just Dance.

Me: She went to NYU, you know.
Mom: Who?
Me: Lady Gaga.
Mom: Oh! I know her. She was on Idol.
Me: Oh?
Mom: Yeah. She had...things on her face. Zippers. She's good. I don't like this song, though.
Me: Yeah, she's interesting.
Mom: She reminds me of that woman from Iceland. The one who wore the bird to the Oscars.
Me: Bjork?
Mom: Yes, Bjork.
Me: Um...in what sense does she remind you of Bjork?
Mom: Looks offended. What do you mean?
Me: Like...what similarities do you see between them?
Mom: Well. They both dress interestingly.
Me: Oh, okay, so like, they remind you of each other from a fashion perspective?
Mom: Still huffy. Yes.
Me: Hm, okay. Yeah I see that.

Silence for a few minutes.

Mom: You know, I like Kanye, too.

Something hopeful

The Globe published an article on Monday that gave me a strange sense of assurance. Always one to be overly prepared, I've jumped the gun on the whole "anxiety due to graduating" phase and am having my own "anxiety due to graduating in a year" phase. I like to get a head start on most projects; far be it for me to leave an impending quarter life crisis for its appropriate time.

Anyway, "What to tell my journalism grads" by Madeleine Blais is one of the few things that has soothed my overeager nerves, which is somewhat strange seeing as I am neither a journalism major nor a graduate. I think it might have been fair to title this article "What to tell any stressed out ex-college-undergrad who just realized their $200,000 degree might actually be useless right now", but I understand the desire to be succinct in a newspaper. That's why I blog instead.

Blais admits her initial speech was going to be a bit on the depressing side: "Even in the best of times, your 20s can be rough...and these are not the best of times." Oof. But then she realized that young writers (read: masochistic crazy people intent on living in a box and eating ramen for the rest of their lives) "need pipe dreams, not lectures, now as much as ever." So she remembers her good friend Ann Banks giving some sweet advice: "The key to finding a parking spot is to drive to exactly where you want to be and only then to start looking for a place to park. Your passengers will probably try to undermine your confidence in this plan by urging you to take the first place you come across - claiming that 'we aren't going to do better than that.' Ignore them. You need to demonstrate to the Parking Gods that you expect to be lucky. In parking, as in life, start by going after exactly what you want. Because you never know." She then revises her speech so instead of basically saying, "As a writer you will always have a rough time, except now, when you are going to have a very rough time," she said: "Despite the realities facing you, I urge you to believe in the Parking Gods...Why? Because you really do never know."

And you know? Despite the fact that when I tried to parallel park in Newton Centre today an awful woman came and knocked on my window and claimed that I hit her car (false) and then bullied me into giving her all my information and assured me she'd be calling my parents to discuss the matter ("Not tonight please," I said politely. "We'll be celebrating Shabbos."), I do believe in the Parking Gods. Very strangely and quite inexplicably, the idea that the Parking Gods are going to help me out next year is the only thing keeping me glued to reality in the present. And for that idea, I thank Ms. Blais. It's nice to ignore the depressing and focus on the hopeful, just for a moment. 

Then I remember that print is dying dead and there are no jobs anywhere and the future is hopeless, and I slip comfortably back into anxiety. Hopeful moment over.

But it was nice while it lasted.