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.


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: 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.

Friday, May 29, 2009

How can anyone read this neon sign and not sigh and say, Fuck I know exactly what you mean?

Abi recently did a post on the things she misses about London, and I was going to follow suit but then I got lazy. Then I saw that Tracey Emin has an exhibit, Those Who Suffer Love, on for the first time in four years and suddenly all I want is to be transported back to Europe asap. I took a Contemporary Art class this semester, which was really the only formal art class I've taken in college (not counting studio classes), and we learned all about the yBa and Emin's past projects and I know she's controversial and not everyone thinks she makes real art, but to those people I say fuck off, because she does, and also because art is art if the artist says it is, and my brilliant artist friend Molly agrees with me, and we are right and you are wrong.

Um, but no, seriously, I find Emin's work incredibly compelling and really easy to relate to. I think her Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995 tent was brilliant, and I actually want to recreate something similar in my own apartment. I would like to take a huge canvas and paint the names of every person I have ever kissed (yes, I keep a detailed list–don't mock me, I'm a writer I need to record these kinds of things). Some names would be bigger than others, I don't know, I haven't really thought the project through yet. But I'd like to paint this canvas and then I'd like to hang it above my bed. Should be a good conversation starter for people whose names may eventually end up on the canvas. Though as Drew, my future roomie, pointed out: once you've got a person in your bedroom, one might assume the conversation has already started. But you know, maybe not. Either way I think it will be a great addition to my new home. Along with the historically Jewish American Girl doll, which will sit on our mantle.

What I'm trying to say is I love Emin's work and I think saying "we are never released from the pain of love" is poignant and sad and true. I wish I was in London to see Those Who Suffer Love. Instead I will go see Jenny Holzer's show at The Whitney. Because I can't miss London too much when I'm returning to New York on Sunday.

This post was rambley shambley. I love art, and powerful women artists, and London, and New York. That's all I was trying to say.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I need this doll right now.

When Sara told me about the new American Girl doll, Rebecca Rubin, a Jewish girl from the LES in 1914, my first thought was: HELLO, 21st birthday gift!

Yeah guys, this is what I want for the big day. Seriously, start pooling the non-money I know you all earn at your unpaid internships, because I need this doll in my life. Preferably with the "accessories like a sideboard with a challah resting on it," mmmkay? Great, thanks.

No but seriously, I'm really excited this doll is coming out. It's no secret that the amount of hate towards Israel/Judaism in the world makes me nervous, and honestly, the general apathy about religion amongst many of my peers just plain pisses me off. This seems like a great way for all little girls to learn a little bit about Jewish history, and education has always been the awesomeness behind the American Girl line. Yay. Now please go buy me my present.

Why can't you go hook up with them?

My mom was asking my brother why he wasn't hanging out with his best friend yesterday afternoon, and he explained that the boy in question was with his girlfriend. My brother also happens to be friends with this girl, so I guess it might have been logical in my mom's mind to wonder why the three of them weren't all just hanging out together. This is the conversation that ensued:
Mom: Why aren't you with James* and Katie*?
Brother: Because they're hooking up right now.
Mom: Why can't you go hook up with them?
Awkward pause.
Brother: Because that would be really weird.
Oh, "hooking up." How I love your ambiguity. For one of my journalism assignments senior year of high school, I wrote about hooking up (maybe if I can find the document on my old hard drive I will post some excerpts, in an attempt to educate the masses–HA–about what hooking up truly means.) A better idea would probably be to just advise everyone to read Tom Wolfe's very thorough and far better researched/written book, Hooking Up. Actually, after writing that paper and reading that book, I still usually have no idea what "hooking up" means. Here's to hoping it continues to confuse everyone, no matter what generation, for many more generations. The hilarity that ensues is totally worth the lack of ever knowing what the fuck is going on.

Why I Love My Friends, Reason #417

Came home to this message in my inbox. Actually LOLed.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dear Old Like

I am too lazy to structure this sentiment in a way that might get published on Dear Old Love, and anyway I don't think it's really accurate to call you an old "love," but I liked you very much and every time it pours the way it has been thunder-storming today I can't help but feel deep regret over the fact that we didn't just get naked and run out in the rain that time you suggested it. I could've finished eating my sandwich afterward, and I don't know when I'll next have a chance to have sex in a downpour with someone who cares about me as much as you did.

I just wanted some sashimi

Ugh, okay, I have so many more meaningful things I'd like to finally post about, but let's just get this out of the way. I had such a shitty night. Boston sucks. Sorry that I sound obnoxious when I act like New York is the center of the world and everything else pales in comparison but uh, it's true. I wasn't planning on drinking tonight because I still have stitches in my mouth, but I figured I'd get off my ass and try to have a good time anyway. FOILED. Got my fake ID confiscated by a douchebag bouncer at a SUSHI LOUNGE. Like, hi, your job is to check IDs outside a glorified sushi restaurant in Allston, where people dress like wannabe Williamsburg residents and think it's cool. I get it, your life sucks. Just give me back my ID. When I asked for it back I was told that if I really wanted, I could call the police about it, "but then, they might just arrest you." FML.

Anyway this whole thing is really dumb because the drinking age is a joke. I know it's very typical to argue against a 21+ drinking age when one is under 21, but I'm trying to be serious about it. In all honesty: I have been drinking legally in another country for the past four months. I can drink legally in Canada. In 6 months, I will be able to drink legally here. What will change within the next 6 months? ...Absolutely nothing. Maybe it's because both of my parents are from South Africa, where the legal drinking age is 18, but I've been raised to think the law is ridiculous. Not that my parents are not law-abiding citizens–they totally are. They follow the law. They just think it's absurd. Like, I'm old enough to vote for our president, operate a motor vehicle, die for our country if I so choose, but...HEY PUT DOWN THE BEER, KID! Fucking ridiculous.

They want to know how to cut down on underage drinking? Get rid of the unrealistic and insulting drinking age.

In the meantime, I would settle to just get my ID back. It's just such cruel circumstance: I wasn't even going to drink tonight. All I wanted was some sashimi, maybe a little sushi rice. Instead I drove home in an awful mood, drowned my sorrow in some smoked salmon and a movie, and am now on the very active look out for a new ID. Anyone feel like getting crazy and breaking the law? Holler at me.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Counter Culture Shock: WTF, 2 Liter Diet Coke Bottles?

Hi, I'm back.

I'm home. It's not that weird. NYU sent that letter about counter culture shock that I might experience but thus far I'm doing okay–I went to Cheesecake Factory with my family tonight and I was neither upset nor overwhelmed by the large, American-style menu. American accents are not throwing me off, and I am quite alright with the large selection of non-sketchy-looking meat at a non-Tesco grocery store. My one issue seems to be with the shape of Diet Coke 2 liter bottles–I'm just convinced that they are shorter and fatter (squatter, if you will) than when I left. Hence I am certain there has been a repackaging scheme similar to the one Poland Spring launched in an effort to use less plastic. My parents both assure me that the bottles are the exact same as they always have been, and I'm probably just confused because the bottles of soda in London are taller and thinner. I know this, but I'm still convinced the American version does not look the same as when I left. Anyway, this is my main counter culture shock. Really shows what's important to me in life, I think.

But yeah, the point is, Adventure Over. Back to Reality. All that jazz. I'm not bummed because as fun as the semester was, there is so much to look forward to: New York in two weeks, an internship I am very excited about, apartment hunting, friends turning 21, cool classes in the fall...I'm lucky enough that the future (minus the eventually-having-no-job-and-being-totally-unemployable-upon-graduation) holds a lot of good things. So dwelling on being upset about the past being over seems dumb.

I've been a really bad blogger this semester and for that I am sorry. A good friend and I were discussing today how it seems like everyone is sort of sick of blogging lately, or just not doing it that much. All the good ones I usually follow are a bit dull (no offense guys--I'm including myself.) I think the lazy (read: jam-packed and high-strung, probably) days of summer will help facilitate inspiration and motivation to post more. At least, I hope that's the case for me. Some days I wonder what the point of blogging even is, but then I remember that I like to write and I like for (approximately 20) people to read what I write...and then I post an entry. Rinse, repeat.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Alright, London, I get it. You're ready for me to go home. I can take a hint. It's fine, I'm ready to leave can we come to a mutual understanding that it's been a fun four months but we're both ready for it to end, and then stop with the damn rain?!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hey baby, what's your sign?

Dear February Edition of Cosmo, which I am only getting around to flipping through now,

Not only are you the only lady mag that marks me as a Capricorn (I mean, I know I'm on the cusp, but how come EVERY SINGLE OTHER PUBLICATION EVER labels me a Sagittarius?), but then you go and give me this advice: "Single? You'll meet a great guy somewhere unexpected (a family gathering)." Well thanks. If it's supposed to be unexpected, why'd you go and tell me to look out for him at a family gathering? Now every time I so much as see my family I will be on the look out for this supposed great guy. As an aside, I don't believe great guys exist, so you might be straight up lying. But anyway. So much for unexpected.

Very sincerely,
A girl who is really procrastinating writing the final paper that stands between her and the end of junior year

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Thoughts on Thinking

Lately I have been thinking a lot about thinking. I think some people think with their thoughts and some people think with their feelings. Thoughts are made by the brain and feelings are made by emotions, sort of. I know that is not scientifically sound at all, but cut an English major some slack and just go with me on this one.

This was all brought about by two things. 

First, one of my best friend's told me I am an incoherent and emotional drunk. Now, before you freak out over any alcoholism (Mom, I'm looking at you), she did not mean I am a drunkard. We were just talking about the ways people act when drunk (which I swear I am not all the time!), and I said I thought I was always quite coherent, at which point she burst out laughing. She then pointed out that I'm a pretty emotional drunk. She is right. Although I am pleased to announce that my days of crying hysterically on the Cosmic Cantina bathroom floor are long gone.

Secondly, I had a great conversation with my friend Tracy. She is possibly the most rational human being I know. Tonight she told me a story about how when she was three years old there was a pinata at her school, and once all the kids had hit it and the candy poured out everyone ran for it and she just stood there. "Why aren't you running for the candy," her mother asked. Three year old Tracy looked at her, shrugged, and said: "We have candy at home. We should let them have it." Now if that isn't the most thinking-with-your-brain type of reasoning you've ever heard, then I don't know what is.

Anyway, it was through these two instances that I realized that I will never be the type of rational human being that thinks with her brain. My brain works just fine, but at the end of the day, my emotions and feelings always rule. I don't think that's a bad thing, just something to be aware of. And maybe something to take into account when dealing with other people.

*I realized after writing this post that I'm dealing with a pretty touchy subject since many people like to write females off as "irrational" and the medical field as a whole used to write off pretty serious mental illnesses in women as "hysteria." I am by no means implying that all women are irrational, or incapable of logic. I'm just saying for THIS woman, when it comes to my thoughts versus my feelings, the emotional side tends to win.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fears about Love, Old & New

I was talking to my friend Lisa earlier today about the Dear Old Love that goes "My wife asks me why I keep that old pair of jeans. It's because I was wearing them the last time I was with you."

: My biggest fear is that I'll finally meet a great guy, and he'll be wonderful and amazing and we'll be happy together, but in the back of my mind I'll still love someone else. And no matter how good things are, I'll always be wondering what they're doing, how things could have been...
Me: My biggest fear is that I'll be the "wonderful, amazing" person and I'll end up with someone who feels that way about somebody else.

I think this sums up my deepest fear about relationships, and also the difference in the ways human beings process love and emotion in general. There will always be people more prone to giving, and there will always be people more prone to taking. There will always be the people who love each new person afresh, giving all they possibly can. And there will always be the people who collect lost loves, pine for them, try to focus on the present but just sort of can't. Sorry for this depressing-ness right after yesterdays "Yay Single Ladies!" post. I've been listening to the dramatic reading of Dear Old Love all day and if I don't start crying soon I'll be pretty surprised. Here, enjoy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Single ladies FTW

The tweet is mine, but I'm just quoting an unbelievably hilarious and undeniably sexy lady friend. She shall stay anonymous, but I have to say, what with this and a few other hilarious stories I've heard from female friends lately, I selfishly hope we all stay single for a long long time. Married life may one day be comfortable and secure, but for now I wouldn't trade anything for the "OMFG WHAT DO YOU MEAN I DID THAT LAST NIGHT...I mean I think I did that last night," shambley memories of the morning afters. Keep it up, single ladies. I fucking love us all.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

And then he turned out to be gay, right? (Story of my life)

Four cool sites you should all check out (because I'm kind and generous, not because I'm procrastinating...)

As I procrastinate writing three big papers and one small paper (otherwise known as, the only work I have really been assigned all semester, thus counting for absurd amounts of my grades but since I haven't been assigned work all semester I completely forget how to do it at all so I will probably fail COOL) I find myself stumbling upon a plethora of glorious things on this great world wide web. Since I'm feeling generous (and, oh yeah, NOT DOING ANY WORK), let me share.

1. Jeffro's Indie Rawk Blog, a satirical commentary on our hipster nation is hilarious. Like, LOL worthy. I had no idea someone could ever sum up my whole existence so succinctly.

2. I stumbled upon this new magazine (webzine?) Awkward is Awesome when one of the creators requested to follow me on Twitter. (Remind me to blog about how the fuck that works later, because I don't really understand.) Anyway, this project looks sweet; hopefully I'll think of something to contribute, because I really may as well walk around wearing a huge sign that says I'M AWKWARD/HELP ME PARTICIPATE IN AWKWARD SITUATIONS. Then maybe it would make sense when strange men at bars tell me they are attracted to me because I'm "so raw." Because you know, that's awkward. Uh, anyway.

3. My Little Little's (don't mock the sorority lingo, I have enough of a complex over being a sorority girl without any grief from others, thanks) boyfriend has created a pretty sweet site called The UCK, or Ultimate College Knowledge. It's kind of like Rate My Professor but way more detailed. I think the coolest part is the Advanced Search that allows you to pick criteria you're looking for in a course (lecture-based, easy A, etc.) and then it finds courses/professors that match your desires. It's still just starting out, but the only way it can flourish is if people register and rate their classes/ you should do that.

4. As a fat person, I'm always pro-"treat fat people like people, not like shit" campaigns. Kate Harding, who I originally discovered through Jezebel, is leading a pretty fucking fabulous one over at Shapely Prose. As if the fact that she refers to herself and her fellow bloggers as "urban, liberal, feminist, latte-drinking, overeducated, intellectual, unapologetically PC american patriots" isn't enough of a reason to check it out, her 10 principles about fat and health are an absolute must read. "Human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Fat people are human beings." Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. I'm sold.

Okay, now I'm going to try and write at least 1 of these papers. FML.