Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hello? Anyone Still Alive in Here?

The other day, I was thinking about all the ideas I had for things to write that didn't quite fit into the various projects I write for. I've wriggled in my weight loss into Succeed After College (which has finally launched, so please check it out), and found a way to write about cupcakes for Austin Knitting Examiner (stay tuned for that one), but there are still a myriad of random thoughts running through my mind. And other than repeating them annoyingly to the six or so people who seem to be the only human contact I have had lately, I've got nowhere to share them.

Oh, wait, there's that blog I had, right? The one I stopped writing for in November under the delusion that I would be able to write a novel in 30 days? I guess I could write whatever I like there...why didn't I think of that before?

I know, I know, it's the same song all over again. The epiphany that I can do what I like, and the promise that what I like is to blog. The fact is, this is on the bottom of my list when it comes to ways to spend my time. That's right, under wasting time with online games. I'm sorry, Bejeweled Blitz is addictive. Frankly, it's hard to muster motivation after completing the requisite writing activities I've created for myself. But I swear, of the dozens of resolutions I'm considering, blogging regularly is one of them.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

November Blog Posts - Don't Hold Your Breath

So it's nearly November, and while I'm sure you're all super-excited about reading all about my life in the eleventh month, I'm going to just admit it now: I'm not going to have a lot of time for blogging.

Aside from the dreaded Black Friday looming, and the holiday shopping season making my work hours more demanding, there's one big reason that I'm not likely to be typing up posts for the next 30 days or so. And that's NaNoWriMo.

That's right. National Novel Writing Month is back, and I need to get cracking whenever possible. If I have a free five minutes for a blog post, it's going to be better spent banging out a few paragraphs of fiction instead. For my sanity, certainly. Gotta keep that word count growing.

Maybe once that's done, I can tell you all about it. For now, here's some details on my novel. It's not really a novel, it's a collection of short stories I've had in my mind and worked on since high school. So it's been rattling around for a while. That means it'll come out quickly and easily, right? Right?!?! We'll see I guess.

So, yeah, consider this notice that you probably won't see me around. Keep reading my Examiner articles, though, because I get paid for those, so they'll still be daily. That's just how it is.

Oh, and Happy Halloween and all that.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Doctors and Dentists: Nag, nag, nag!

Okay, so I know that it's a health professionals job to make us patients as healthy as possible, promoting all the things we could do better. But seriously, it sometimes feels like all there is is a series of things you HAVE to do to be healthy, and your only reward for doing each one is moving onto the next one.

First, I had my teeth cleaned at the dentist. It had been 9 months rather than 6 since my last visit, mostly because making appointments gets complicated when working retail with about two weeks notice of my schedule. So I guess my teeth were filthy. But anyway, I've been flossing every day for the past few years after being guilted into it by my dental hygienist and the fear that congenital gum disease might strike me down.

The problem is, apparently just flossing isn't enough, because she doesn't always believe me. As she was cleaning my teeth, she told me, in the nicest way possible, that since I was a writer, I should write down to floss everyday. I said that I do, but I guess not hard enough. So she told me to make sure to catch the back teeth. Seriously, though? It's annoying to floss your teeth every single night, no matter how late it is or how tired you are. To hear that despite improving your habits, there's little difference made, that's pretty freaking discouraging. However, I'm still flossing.

Then later this week I had a doctor's visit. I went into it feeling pretty good, ready to show off my continued weight loss. And things did go well. For the one day. The next morning, I got a voicemail about my blood work. Apparently my cholesterol is high, so I've been instructed to start taking fish oil supplements to bring it down.

Aside from being downright unappetizing (belches that taste like fish are apparently the most common side-effect), fish oil has calories. With the dosage they gave me (the maximum recommended, by the by), it could be up to 100 calories a day in pill form. Now, I just cut my calorie intake by more than half over the past year or so, I'm not about to make further cuts to make room for another pill based on one blood test that I didn't even fast for (which you normally do).

After a little mental and emotional breakdown, I got my physician's assistant to call me back, negotiated a lower dosage, and sullenly agreed to add another pill to pop nightly. If anyone has any advice on taking fish oil without gross side-effects, give me a shout-out. Also, I then had to decide on an even lower dose because when I got to H-E-B, the capsules all came in dosages that didn't match. Because it's not just about lowering cholesterol, it's also about testing math skills every time you take it.

I know this is a rant, and I'm lucky to be so relatively healthy. But it just seems like, despite all the things I have done to make myself healthy are met with the short term congratulations, and the long term return to that darn list. It feels like you aren't allowed to live at a certain point, in order to extend your lifespan. What comes after flossing with the force of a drill and downing fish oil? Are they going to tell me that knitting is in fact cavity-causing? Or will they forcibly curb my television-watching time? Because you can take my mac and cheese, but I'm not giving up Tim Gunn!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Civic Duty? DONE!

So, I've just been to city hall and voted, and I have a few thoughts on the experience:

First of all, those cars that drive by, and the volunteers waving their posters with the candidates' names on them: what are they supposed to do? I mean, am I supposed to catch a glimpse of that poster and think, 'Okay, that's who I'm going to vote for. I came into this booth with no idea, but seeing your name last has convinced me.' I would think (or perhaps hope) that people who can be swayed so easily are the people who lack the inertia to go and vote at all, much less early.

Okay, next up is a related request for those of us who vote early. As well as that neat-o sticker that proclaims that 'I Voted Today', I would like a guarantee that candidates will no longer send me campaign spam for the remaining days between now and November 2. My vote is cast, and even though that means you have nothing to lose in annoying me, one more ridiculous postcard of political mud-slinging might just send me over the edge.

Ideally, I'd like technology to advance enough to make it so that, as soon as you vote, the commercials on TV are actually filtered to remove the campaign commercials as well. Because really, I'd like to be able to foster my new-found appreciation for watching baseball, America's favorite past-time, without having to watch voter scare tactics, which is apparently America's other favorite past-time. Basically, I would like to achieve full-on censorship of all things political after I've voted, and the candidate that can promise me that will get my vote in the next election cycle.

Then there's one totally random consequence of voting. Because of the proximity of the library to city hall, I decided to park there. And to soothe my conscience of using their lot, it was only right that I should step inside and see what books they had available. You see? A totally innocent peak into the land of books. But of course, even the most innocent of trips inevitably results in more books that I simply must read. In this case, Aimee Bender's 'The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake'.

Super-excited to read it, but it brings it's own conundrum: do I start reading it immediately in order to try and finish it without extending the loan from the library, or do I hold off until I can finish the final hundred pages or so that I have left of Jane Austen's 'Emma'. I've reached a pivotal plot point there which might propel me to a quick finish, and I've already hibernated the novel once in favor of Kazuo Ishiguro's 'Never Let Me Go' (in preparation of seeing the film adaptation).

Decisions, decisions! First I decide on my governmental representatives, and now I have to make a serious reading decision? It's too much, I tell you!

Friday, October 15, 2010

*Sneaks Guiltily Back into the Blogosphere*

Hey guys! What's going on? How's your October been?

What? Oh, right, those WEEKS of me not posting. Yeah, sorry about that. It's just that, well, when you have a long list of things you should do, your non-profit blog tends to be the last line item. Which is good, because my store manager would probably not be okay with the excuse, 'Oh, yeah, I meant to open the store this morning, but I had this blog post to finish up.' Priorities, people.

There's so much to tell you all, I don't know where to start. Should I delve into my continued weight loss, my climb up the retail career ladder, my freelance exploits, or my TV-watching habits? All fascinating I'm sure, and impossible to choose between.

For now, it's a little late to really delve into anything, but I'm going to try and make a compromise here: I'm going to post more, but it might not be as put together. More casual, blogger-on-the-go, less painstaking search for interesting topics and development. Something's gotta give, and I don't want it to be between this blog and my sanity.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fantasy Registration League, part two

Okay, part two of my obsessive look at courses I wish I could be taking at SLC this year:
  • The Feeling Brain: The Biology and Psychology of Emotions with Elizabeth Johnston and Leah Olson (Psychology): Tell me why I'm a basketcase of emotions, please! Maybe my brain is to blame for my sobbing every time I watch West Side Story...
  • Children’s Literature: Developmental and Literary Perspectives with Charlotte L. Doyle and Sara Wilford (Psychology): Not until spring, but still. The possibility of writing a children's book for conference is all too tempting.
  • Theories and Methods of Media Analysis with Sarah Wilcox (Sociology): Is staring at a mirror a valid method of analyzing the media?
  • Changing Places: Social/Spatial Dimensions of Urbanization with Shahnaz Rouse (Sociology): Get out of my space, man! Again, potential conference projects abound...
  • Travel and Tourism: Economies of Pleasure, Profit, and Power with Shahnaz Rouse (Sociology): Again, I'm interested in courses that have to do with things I like to do. And I like to travel, but I hate to look like a tourist.
  • Drawing: Translating an Invisible World with John O'Connor (Visual Arts): Wish I had gotten to take an artsy class at SLC. All I got to do was be a monitor in the building. Not as fun.
  • Beginning Painting: Color and Composition with Ursula Schneider (Visual Arts): Ditto, but with paint brushes.
  • Basic Black-and-White Photography with Phillip Pisciotta (Visual Arts): Ditto, but with a camera.
  • Printmaking I, II with Kris Phillipps (Visual Arts): Oh, the posters I could make!
  • Artist Books with Kris Phillipps (Visual Arts): If I can't write a book, maybe I could create one?
  • Words and Pictures with Myra Goldberg (Writing): So technically I already took this class, but it was AWESOME. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
  • Connected Collections with Mary Morris (Writing): It hurts to read a description of a workshop that perfectly describes the very writing project I have been working on since high school.
  • Place in Fiction with Lucy Rosenthal (Writing): Yeah, I already have an idea for this one...
  • Nonfiction Laboratory with Stephen O'Connor (Writing): My only fear would be somehow blowing up the lab with a mixed metaphor.
  • The Source of Stories: Writing From Your Own Experience with Mary Morris (Writing): Navel-gazing is one of the things I do best, so writing about me couldn't be that hard. Reading it to the class on the other hand...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fantasy Registration League

Once again, Sarah Lawrence somehow goes on without me. Another batch of students are already settled into the New Dorms, and returning students are running across North Lawn to hug old friends and smoke a hookah. Ahh, it brings a cynical tear to my eye.

We all know I'm having trouble letting go. So no one should be surprised that, much like a first year, I was anxiously awaiting the release of this year's course catalogue (anyway I can get them to send me a copy each year?). And once it was available, I searched through it as if I really was looking for the magical three classes I would take this semester. Alas, I will continue toiling in the real world, but I still want to dream of academia. Here are a few of the classes I've chosen as a part of my fantasy registration, the ones I would try to interview for, and possibly put my bid in with the computer registration gods to take. It's a long list, so bear with me, I'm working through nostalgic demons:

  • Global Feminisms with Una Chung (Literature): A chance to use the word 'patriarchy' at least once a week? Count me in! Really, though, this sounds like one of those awesome courses that is a foundation for the way you think the rest of your life.
  • Fantastic Gallery: 20th-Century Latin American Short Fiction with Maria Negroni (Literature): Gothic literature, score! This stuff is fantastic, it has all the guilty pleasure of a soap opera or trashy reality television show, but wrapped up in the legitimacy of good writing. I just might swoon.
  • Hail Wedded Love: Courtship and Marriage from Milton to Austen with James Horowitz (Literature): I would take any class with James, because The 18th Century British Novel in Context was possibly my favorite SLC class ever. But even so, this course looks like a dream. I might have to try and pinch the syllabus for this for reading recommendations...
  • An Introduction to Shakespeare with Danny Kaiser (Literature): Dear God, yes! I wish I had gotten to take a class on Shakespeare, but this is really the only one you can get into without already having written a thesis on Hamlet.
  • Reading Oe Kenzaburo and Murakami Haruki with Sayuri I. Oyama (Literature): After my Tokyo trip, I'm a little bit obsessed with sucking up all possible Japanese culture (I was hypnotized by an episode of No Reservations last night with Anthony Bourdain in Osaka). Also, the whole battle between 'pure' and popular literature resonates with me anyway.
  • The Reading Complex with Bella Brodzki (Literature): I've heard that taking a class with Bella is tough but worth it, and I definitely have the reading complex, so I should probably study it!
  • Studies in the 19th-Century Novel with Ilja Wachs (Literature): Got bumped from this my senior year, so I have to keep it in my fantasy list, even though it gave me James' class.
  • After Eve: Medieval Women with Ann Lauinger (Literature): Medieval is not my favorite era, but this looks interesting, and it says conference work can be broadly related, which I like (because that's important in taking an imaginary course).
  • Japanese Religion and Culture with T. Griffith Foulk (Religion): Based on aforementioned recent obsession with Japan.
  • Investigating Culture with Kathleen Kilroy-Marac (Anthropology): I heart culture and deciphering what it is and means. Especially because it usually involves food. Blast, I just thought of an awesome conference topic.
  • Hunger and Excess: Histories, Politics, and Cultures of Food with Persis Charles and Charles Zerner (Environmental Studies, History): Well, what do you know? I could feel guilty about food in a whole other way with this class!
  • “Not by Fact Alone”: The Making of History with Eileen Ka-May Cheng (History): A little broad, but the concept of how history is actually written is fascinating.
  • Powers of Desire: Urban Narratives of Politics and Sex with Rona Holub (History): Tours of NYC, yay! And, you know, delving into the mysteries of urban planning and consumerism, etc.
  • Public Stories, Private Lives: Methods of Oral History with Mary Dillard (History): A little intimidating, but again with the making of history, and close relation to the telling of stories.
  • The Feeling Brain: The Biology and Psychology of Emotions with Elizabeth Johnston and Leah Olson (Psychology): Tell me why I'm a basketcase of emotions, please! Maybe my brain is to blame for my sobbing every time I watch West Side Story...
  • Children’s Literature: Developmental and Literary Perspectives with Charlotte L. Doyle and Sara Wilford (Psychology): Not until spring, but still. The possibility of writing a children's book for conference is all too tempting.
  • Theories and Methods of Media Analysis with Sarah Wilcox (Sociology): Is staring at a mirror a valid method of analyzing the media?
  • Changing Places: Social/Spatial Dimensions of Urbanization with Shahnaz Rouse (Sociology): Get out of my space, man! Again, potential conference projects abound...
  • Travel and Tourism: Economies of Pleasure, Profit, and Power with Shahnaz Rouse (Sociology): Again, I'm interested in courses that have to do with things I like to do. And I like to travel, but I hate to look like a tourist.
  • Drawing: Translating an Invisible World with John O'Connor (Visual Arts): Wish I had gotten to take an artsy class at SLC. All I got to do was be a monitor in the building. Not as fun.
  • Beginning Painting: Color and Composition with Ursula Schneider (Visual Arts): Ditto, but with paint brushes.
  • Basic Black-and-White Photography with Phillip Pisciotta (Visual Arts): Ditto, but with a camera.
  • Printmaking I, II with Kris Phillipps (Visual Arts): Oh, the posters I could make!
  • Artist Books with Kris Phillipps (Visual Arts): If I can't write a book, maybe I could create one?
  • Words and Pictures with Myra Goldberg (Writing): So technically I already took this class, but it was AWESOME. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
  • Connected Collections with Mary Morris (Writing): It hurts to read a description of a workshop that perfectly describes the very writing project I have been working on since high school.
  • Place in Fiction with Lucy Rosenthal (Writing): Yeah, I already have an idea for this one...
  • Nonfiction Laboratory with Stephen O'Connor (Writing): My only fear would be somehow blowing up the lab with a mixed metaphor.
  • The Source of Stories: Writing From Your Own Experience with Mary Morris (Writing): Navel-gazing is one of the things I do best, so writing about me couldn't be that hard. Reading it to the class on the other hand...
Okay, I give in, this is going to have to take two posts! At least this may guarantee two posts in the same week for the first time in a while.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Superpower Theory

So I have a lot to write about, like a retail promotion and a whirlwind tour of Tokyo, but since I keep procrastinating on getting those posts done, I'm going to go ahead and write about something that just happened.

While heating up a Lean Pocket (I swear, so addictive!), I was listening to what I believe was the latest podcast episode of This American Life. For those who haven't heard it before: one, it's a weekly radio show that features different stories, one theme at a time; two, shame on you, go download it now!

This week superpowers were the subject to be analyzed. It was the first act that caught my attention. John Hodgman mused on the ultimate battle of the superpowers: flight or invisibility, which is better? He asked random people, and explored not only what we would do with a lone power, but what out choice says about us.

Aside from instantly thinking, 'This would make an awesome Sarah Lawrence conference paper!' (because I am who I am and I can't help it), I of course made my own choice of superpower.

I would undoubtedly choose flight. To me, it's a positive power, where invisibility is a negative power. I don't mean that as a judgement, but that it's a power of taking something away. When you fly, you get to go places and see things that others never get the chance to. When you're invisible, you're eliminating yourself. Sure, you still get to see things others never get the chance to, but it's all stuff you probably don't want to see, like what people think of you when you're not around.

And think about it: if you could suddenly fly, you could tell all your friends and they'd probably think it was super-cool. They'd be jealous, sure, but they wouldn't suddenly be paranoid that you were spying on them when they least suspected it. Also, flying is a much less perverted power.

Now, I don't want to alienate the invisibility-choosers out there. I can see the temptation of being able to hear those dirty little secrets and sneak into movies for free. I just can't help it, the idea of touching a cloud is still totally more awesome in my geeky little mind. I would also seriously consider accepting the ability to breathe under water and fulfill my Little Mermaid dreams.

So if anyone finds a two-pack of superpowers and wants to be the creepy invisible dude, give me a call and I'll take that flying power off your hands.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pause for a Girl Power Break

Okay, so there are some guilty pleasures I am actually ashamed to enjoy. Like, the whole Real Housewives franchise (along with the Watch What Happens after-show with a slightly soused Andy Cohen) for one. But some things I refuse to feel guilt over. And the Spice Girls are one.

Oh, sure, they won't be winning any Grammy's any time soon, but that was some straight-up awesome pop music that they put out there for a few years. And despite wearing truly tiny outfits, they were way more body-positive than any of today's pop princesses. It was good, old-fashioned fun. And no matter how old I am, I will alway be a screaming little teenybopper in the face of the fab five.

I missed the reunion tour because the evil overlords rescheduled the New York dates to put them smack dab after my arrival in Prague for my semester abroad. But apparently there might be a DVD of the tour on the way, because there are professional-looking videos that have leaked of a few songs. So here's my favorite for you to watch. This was the only way I could figure out to embed a YouTube video, sorry it's a little, um, sad. Look it up for the way it's meant to be enjoyed. Crank up the jam!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Big Reveal

You would think I'd be done celebrating anniversaries. I mean, how many can there be? Graduating, blogging, there are only so many things you can mark the years with. Well, there's one more thing, and it's something not everyone knows I've been doing. On July 20th 2009, I decided that while I was looking for work, there was something I could change without sending out a resume and going in for an interview.

I decided to lose some weight.

I started keeping a food diary, counted all my calories and kept them down according to what my body supposedly needed. I don't know what flipped the switch for me, but I just decided to see what I could do and give it a try. Eventually I got a Basal Metabolic Rate test at the doctor's office for the real numbers. Day by day, I just made the choice to keep going.

I didn't write about it here, and I didn't post it on Facebook. My family and some friends knew, but I wasn't really advertising it. There didn't seem to be a reason to remind people that I was fat. Especially since I had lost weight in high school and gained it back in college. That's one thing I didn't want to get from my four years at Sarah Lawrence. I created a separate blog to talk about my new way of eating, but really, after you talk about being hungry or how to get in extra steps, it seemed a little boring to tell people about my newfound love of Lean Pockets and cocoa-roasted almonds.

Today, though, I'm just going to ignore the embarrassment of talking about having been fat to talk about not being fat anymore. I mean, I'm no Kate Moss, but then, I'm not on crack. I've lost more than a hundred pounds, I can shop for clothes wherever I want, and I just feel better. I don't plan on running a marathon any time soon, but you never know, maybe I'll do one of those weird ones Austin does so well.

So in celebration, I admit my weight loss to the blogosphere. Now I just need to decide on my celebratory dessert of choice...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Is It All Felicity's Fault?

I've been wondering why I'm still so focused on college, even a year later. I also wonder why I had always seen it as the goal, rather than just the means to an end. Part of it has to be the fact that today's culture builds up your college years the same way it does turning sixteen and other hallmarks of youth. College is billed as "the best four years of your life." Not only does that make every crappy day you have in college feel twice as bad, it makes graduation loom more darkly than it rightly should.

No one ever tells you, "Oh, I miss those first few years after college searching for a job and slogging up the corporate ladder." So not only do you find yourself without your own personal map for your life, you don't even really have that great a social script to go by. There are some shows about twenty-somethings making good, but not many. But there was at least one television show that was pivotal in creating the concept of the epic years of college: Felicity. A cerebral (read: a little bit dorky) girl goes to New York in search of a high school crush, and finds herself in the process. Sure, there was a lot of wishy-washy romance going on (and a truly bizarre time-travel storyline near the end there), but the main point was clear, four years to decide the rest of your life. Once they graduated, the show was over. Add to the fact that most young adult shows take place in high school, with college as the goal, and if they make it to college, they very rarely make it past graduation, and you have a whole set of stories that map out what everything up to college means. After that, you're on your own.

Of course, I know what to do without TV Guide telling me. But in terms of the social script, I'm improvising more than usual. And I love a script. So I'm trying to write my own, through this blog and just in my own head. JJ Abrams might not be making a show out of it (though it would be a drastic shift after the final season of Lost), but I am.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Dessert Intern Tempts Again

I'm no master baker, but the act of baking speaks deeply to my love of order. Follow the recipe, weigh out all the necessary ingredients, add them together and it will equal something tasty. It's like math. Delicious, delicious math.

I like cupcakes because they are portion-controlled by definition, and easier to frost. Plus, never underestimate the cute factor. But I can't eat a batch of cupcakes on my own. Well, I could, but the results would be digestively disastrous. So I tend to bake for others as well as myself. For two summers, I interned at Freescale Semiconductors, converting their documentation into fancy XML. After bringing in a few rounds of cookies and cupcakes, DITA, which traditionally stands for Darwin Information Typing Architecture (woo!), came to mean the Dessert Intern Tempts Again.

I may have moved from 9-to-5 cubicles to all-hours retail, but I'm still armed with baked goods. So far I've brought in a few dozen cupcakes, experimenting with marshmallows (on top, in the batter, added at the last minute, etc.) and keeping everyone motivated on those long Saturday sale shifts. Potential employers should note: not only am I highly qualified and a creative problem solver with an independent work ethic, I also bake a mean cupcake, and often. Call it bribery, but I call it team-building.

Lately, my cupcake concoctions have had one theme: marshmallows. Who doesn't like marshmallows? I've been trying to think of the best way to integrate them into cupcakes. I've dropped them on top of unbaked chocolate batter (see photo), and gently folded them into vanilla batter. Next up: added to mostly-baked cakes with a minute or two left on the oven. Look out, co-workers, I'm coming, and the chances are good that I'm bringing baked goods.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The anniversaries just keep rolling by...

So Saturday was the first birthday of this blog. And I celebrated by...doing nothing. I've been a little lax in my blogging recently, for various reasons: sports, work, heat-related laziness and a seeming lack of subject matter.

Well, Wimbledon will be done on the 4th, World Cup on the 11th, and then it's a wasteland of commentary until the US Open in September. Work will always be work, but the sale which is making it a little extra taxing at the moment is coming to a close. I can't do anything about the heat but stay inside or swim in the pool (which would not be conducive to blogging, this laptop is not waterproof).

So having something to write about is going to be the ultimate decider in my future blogging output. It's not that I don't have plenty to say. I harangue my mother with new opinions every day. But not all of them seem entirely on-topic in terms of being a post-grad survivor. There are only so many things to say about the ridiculousness of resumes and the how the heath care debate affects part-time retail and recent graduates.

So there may be a little thinking outside the box coming your way. I'll try to keep the reality show rantings to a minimum, I promise. And there will always be at least a tenuous connection to what it means to be a member of the class of 2009. As I type this various ideas are already coming into my head. Maybe all I needed to do was start typing to get the bloggy juices flowing. So, you know, stay tuned...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is this tennis...or a Test match?

(I'm warning you now: it's another post about sports. I can't help it! If you don't know what this post is about, Google it.)

I knew these two weeks would be amazing, sports-wise. When the World Cup and Wimbledon collide, there is no other option. I could even blame it on my not having posted in more than a few days (yeah, let's go with that). But I would never have guessed that I would be as blessed a sports fan as I have been the past three days.

It's my favorite grand slam. It's the first I ever cared about, and marks the beginning of the transition, which took years, of becoming an avid sports fan. The green grass turning brown, the crisp white outfits,, the strawberries and cream. It's just perfect.

Take all of that, and add in a match that lasts three days. Three days. Isner-Mahut is going to be the calling card for the 2010 Championships. The only possible event to eclipse it would be if Murray took the title, and even then I'm not sure that fifty years from now it wouldn't be the more important statistic. The Queen was there for the first time in several decades, and that doesn't matter as much today.

I missed the first day of action, when this was just a five-setter suspended for darkness. The second day, I caught on somewhere around 25 games all. I was absolutely transfixed by the never-ending service games being held, many times at love. World Cup matches came and went, and they were still going until it was too dark to see the ball. It went from an interesting first-round match to an record-breaker, to an epic marathon that filled every one of the 750 seats of Court 18.

Because of simultaneous World Cup matches, I had to resort to ESPN3 online to watch the third day begin (seriously? Bad form ESPN/ABC). I couldn't turn away. Every game, every point, wasn't just a possible turning point in the match, it was part of history.

It had to end eventually. And when it did, I burst out with a shriek of happiness and tears of amazement as Isner fell to the ground. Hours later, watching the final day repeat in it's entirety, I'm still tearing up. I can't even tell you exactly why. It's just magnificent. They went to 70-68. They shattered every record and just kept going. They played it one game at a time, one serve at a time. Physically, it's impressive that they were able to walk today. Mentally, it's impressive that they were able to get out of bed this morning.

I'm an emotional person. I've already said it's the stories that have made me a sports convert. I think the reason I'm so emotional about this marathon match is that I know that these two players just gave me one of the best stories ever. With the greatest lesson. I think 'Finding Nemo' paraphrases it perfectly: Just keep swimming.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Me? A Sports Fan? No....Seriously?

I've written about tennis and football already, so it won't be a surprise that I watch sports. But for the past year, I've gotten so much further into the wide wide world of sports than I ever thought I would.

For years I've been a tennis fan. And the World Cup makes a soccer fan out of most of the world. But football is a recent addition to my resume. Once that was over, I half-expected to just go back to life as normal until next fall. But I kept watching ESPN, and so even if I didn't watch actual games, I kept up with other sports results. Tiger's return to golf, Butler's near-total upset of the world of college basketball, I watched it all, getting sucked deeper and deeper into the world of fandom.

And now, I watch basketball. Seriously, this is getting ridiculous. As I write this, the Celtics are up ten points in the fifth game of the series, and I'm totally into it, I know the players and the history. This is ridiculous. A few months ago I couldn't give a flying hoot. I have a bracket for the World Cup predicting the winners and losers. It's official: amongst other things, I am now also a nerd about sports.

My parents don't understand it. My dad is absolutely uninterested, and my mother is only vaguely aware of sports (unless it's cricket!), though she'll watch with me. It's clearly not genetic.

So what is it?

I think it's pretty simple. Apart from the increased exposure from days working at home with the TV lingering on ESPN, I'm a sucker for a story. Sports, in the end, after all the statistics and muscle and rules, is a narrative-producing machine. The battles, the comebacks, the heartbreak: I take it all in like the most finely-crafted novel.

It's a golden time of year for the sports nerd within me. The French Open has just wrapped up (Nadal back on top!), and Wimbledon is just within reach. The NBA Finals series will be done soon, and the World Cup is just getting going. I'm not going to hole up inside with the television rooting for my favorites the entire summer, but I'll at least keep my iPhone with me by the pool if there's a match on.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Is it too late to add to my conference paper, James?

After devouring thousands of pages every year for the sake of class the next morning while at Sarah Lawrence, I've been a little lax in my reading in the past few months in comparison. I do like reading. Always have. I'm sure at some point I'll write a more in-depth post about that. But right now, I have something more specific to tell you.

In an effort to get on to all those books I'd still like to get under my belt and in my brain before I die, I started reading one of two Jane Austen books I haven't read yet: Sense & Sensibility. Bit by bit, I'm got through it. Not at any great speed, but with great pleasure. I also continued the reading roll with a few more books, and I'm keeping the habit going with a book always in my purse for 15-minute stints of reading before work. One day at a time...

There was one sensation which irked me as I read it, though. It's uniquely Sarah Lawrence of me, I'm sure. You see, my final conference paper was about comparing two authors: the perennially re-adapted Jane Austen and the perennially under-appreciated Barbara Pym. Both authors wrote about women living in England, novels filled with social commentary and quiet romance, except Austen wrote in the 18th and 19th centuries, while Pym wrote in the mid-20th. I compared how reading appeared in their stories; how and what their characters read and what the authors were saying about it. I couldn't read all six (well, seven) Austen novels in one semester as well as an ample supply of Pym. Well, I could, but I couldn't write a paper about it all as well. Well, I could, but not before the end of the semester. So I focused on Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, hoping these would be the best for insights into Austen's views on reading.

Of course, now that I have read Sense & Sensibility (and two more Pym novels), I can't help but notice all the quotes which would have fit perfectly into my thesis. Marianne is not so unlike Catherine Morland in her voracious love of books, with her passion for them going as far as becoming a requirement for compatibility with a possible husband. Oh, the paragraphs I could have written analyzing these instances, and how her love of books is reflective of her personality and her evolution in the novel.

Yeah, nerd alert, I know. But I am this close to actually opening up the Word document that was/is my conference paper and re-reading it, possibly adding to it. To what point and purpose I have no idea. Perhaps just to quell my inane obsession. I could send it to my professor, but I think he'll probably have enough papers to grade as it is. Just goes to show, you can take the student out of college....

.......But you can't take the nerd out of me!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

This is a Public Service Blog Post

Okay, I know this isn't a very interesting topic, but it's one I've come across often enough that I have to speak out: People, you need to stop not signing your credit cards.

Every time someone uses a credit card to pay for a purchase at work, I have to ask to see the card to approve the signature. But very quickly, I learned that asking for the card doesn't help with the task, and most of the time I also need a driver's license. The reason I need that identification? People don't sign their cards, apparently to prevent thieves from being able to copy their signature after stealing the card. I find it hilariously disturbing that they don't realize that leaving that space blank means that they don't need to go to the trouble of copying the signature, they can just make one up themselves.

So please, if you don't want to sign your card, I understand. But for the love of credit theft, put 'Check ID' in that blank space. That way whoever has your wallet has to go to a lot more trouble to have a spree at the mall.

There, I feel better now.

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Feminist Reading of 'The Little Mermaid'

Because my favorite radio station was having a 'Revenge of the 80s Weekend', and because they do that about twice a month (rendering my absolutely sick of the 80s), I was listening to my iPod in the car the other day. It was a mix of random songs I had chosen for their ability to be welcome to my ears almost 100% of the time. And so of course, there are more than a few Disney songs on there.

'Poor Unfortunate Souls' is the one which happened to come on, and in the middle of my emotional rendition of Ursula's soul-selling pitch, the Sarah Lawrence in my started thinking. Here are a few lyrics that particularly caught my ear, where Ursula tries to convince Ariel that selling her voice for a pair of legs is 'a trifle':

The men up there don't like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore!
Yet on land it's much prefered for ladies not to say a word
And after all dear, what is idle babble for?
Come on, they're not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who's withdrawn
It's she who holds her tongue who get's a man

It almost sounds like a Dorothy Parker poem. And then when Ursula shouts through Ariel's staring at Eric, 'It won't cost much, just your voice!' I can't help thinking how that could have easily been applied to a housewife in 'Mad Men'. Get married and become just like everyone else. It won't cost much, just your voice.

I can't decide if this is meant to be ironic or not. Was Howard Ashman trying to make a statement, or is Ursula's argument ultimately proven right without a trace of irony? Disney isn't known for the most positive messages for young girls, and considering that Ursula also helped a young mer-woman who was 'longing to be thinner', it's hard to know whether the song perpetuates standards or pokes fun at them. After all, Ariel does end up marrying Eric and, despite having supposedly regained her voice, doesn't do a lot of talking, other than thanking Daddy for her new legs.

I'm starting to think I'm more on Ursula's side than I should be. I'm beginning to imagine a history between herself and Triton which involves him using her badly and her scorn turning her to witchcraft. This is what happens when you listen to or watch Disney without turning off your pesky 21st-century brain. I still love it, though. Actually, this makes me love it more!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

[Insert 'Lost' Pun Here.]

So tonight is going to be different. Unlike most Tuesday evenings for several months, I will not be watching 'Lost'. And unlike every previous year when this fact was temporary, it's not coming back. It's over. The End. Literally (that was the finale title).

I don't want to hash out the actual content of the show, I'll leave that to critics and message boards. I just want to take a moment to consider the journey I took as an audience member. From 2004 to three days ago, the show has encompassed a relatively large percentage of my life, and has provided several great milestones with which to measure it.

I distinctly remember watching the first episode of 'Lost' on September 22, 2004. It was a Wednesday, so I was at my dad's for the evening. He was in the garage working on something, and I was flipping through channels just to pass the time when I settled on the much-hyped pilot. I say all this to show that I was only mildly interested when I began watching, but after making it through that first night, I was hooked. I sat on that sofa completely gripped and hoping that Dad wouldn't finish whatever he was doing before it was over.

I taped the show after that, because it came on at 7 pm and that was often a time still being taken by dinner. So I watched episodes after the fact. Somehow, around the second season, I fell behind in watching the recordings, and I just let it fall away completely from my viewing. To this day, I'm not sure I've seen the entire second season, and the 'tailies' never completely captured my interest because of that.

When I went to college I re-discovered the show. Communal viewing necessitated arriving early to secure the television, and I watched 'Lost' again at first just to facilitate getting a good seat for 'Project Runway', which packed the Red Room. But there's no such thing as casual viewing, and the drama and mystery roped me back in in no time. I was either watching the night of with other fans or watching the next day online, again with others. Call it peer pressure, but I was back in the fold. This time, it stuck. I watched the freighter arrive and explode, the Losties travel back and forth in time and reality, and I loved every minute of it.

And finally, it all came to an end on Sunday. Being the only person at home who really watches the show, I decided to watch the finale at a local movie theater to enjoy, just one more time, the feeling of community as a roomful of people gasp, laugh and cry together. So I made the harrowing journey downtown and found a parking space that didn't require testing my parallel parking skills. I arrived four hours early. Yes, I know, a mark of insane obsession, but I wanted to make sure I got a good seat, and I came prepared with knitting, snacks and reading. Plus, the fact that I was joined in line just ten minutes later proves that if I am crazy, at least I am not alone.

Hours later, we were sitting, waiting for the recap and finale. I was a little concerned that the guy sitting next to me would ruin the experience, because before it started they were showing epic scenes and he kept pointing to plot holes that aren't plot holes (you can't swim out of a porthole until the room fills with water because of the enormous amounts of pressure, and Jin choosing his wife over his daughter isn't a plot hole, it's disagreeing with the character's decision). Plus, he laughed a little more loudly than necessary. Thankfully, though, he was relatively silent during the actual show. Didn't inhibit my suspense or sobbing.

There was one more surprise at our screening than in others: special guest Frank Lapidus! That's right, everyone's favorite chesty pilot was filming in town and stopped on by to watch with us. When it turned out his character wasn't dead, there was even more applause all around.

About three hours later, it was all over. Some people were angry, but I was just in shock with red eyes and a snotty nose. I was almost in a daze as I walked outside, past the bright lights and thumping music of the clubs towards my car, diligently waiting for me on the street. As I drove home, I nearly started crying all over again. Because you can't just turn off the emotions when the lights go up. It didn't feel over, but it was.

I'm going to move on to other shows and other mysteries which may or may not be answered. But this wasn't just a show, it was something that started in high school, cropped up again in college, and ended in the 'real' world. Just another thing to look back on fondly and remember. Growing up. I guess it means all your favorite shows are over. But thankfully I'm not all grown up yet...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

(Un?)Happy Anniversary

Today is my official one-year anniversary as a former student and graduate from Sarah Lawrence College. 365 days have passed since I crossed the stage of Westlands stone deck. They have passed so quickly, and yet, when I look back, a lot has happened. I've taken on jobs, I've left jobs, and had them leave me. True, I have yet to find the holy grail of full-time employment, but there has been a fair amount work of various kind. Even today, I went to work at the mall, but only for a three hour shift, giving me time to enjoy the summer weather which has made it warm enough to actually swim in the pool.

Yesterday was the 2010 commencement, and I don't know what it says about me that I watched it live online. I watched Julianna Margulies' speech and listened as Dean Green read out the names of each undergraduate, as he does so well, making each one sound like the main event. I even recognized a few people, though I have to admit most were strangers to me. You'd think that on a campus of 1400 or so everyone would be recognizable, but a cap and gown might as well be a mustache and glasses as far as my memory goes.

How should one celebrate this kind of anniversary? Balloons and streamers seems wrong, and there's no one to exchange gifts with. I'm thinking just a little nostalgic thinking before bed, and perhaps some tea out of my Sarah Lawrence mug which is in fact the size of a bowl. That sounds about right. Of course, a viewing of '10 Things I Hate About You' wouldn't go amiss either.

I suppose it's the kind of thing that gets forgotten as you get older, unlike birthdays and weddings, it's really only the first few that stick out. Eventually the exact date will give way to 'late May', which will become 'sometime in May', and then perhaps I'll just know it's around the time everyone else graduated, after spring and before summer. But I think I've got enough obsessive fact-grabbing tendencies that it will be several decades before I reach this point.

As it is, I still miss the campus, but as more and more friends leave it, I have come to terms with the fact that as a place it can never truly be what it once was. And I guess that's okay. But that doesn't mean I can't miss it, at least once every 52 weeks or so.

So raise your glasses and toast to one full year in the so-called real world. Woo.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh, oh! Pick Me!

I've written before about the hindrances of cover letters. The script of what one has to say leaves little room for sincerity, or at least a recognizable way of communicating it. Because each one must include promises of how much we would love to work here or there, it's hard to tell one potential employer that they are your first choice.

There's something about forced politeness that makes everything sound less enthusiastic than you actually are. Let's face it, when you are scripted to say, "I would be great for this position, I look forward to hearing from you," it's hard to make sure that they truly understand that I would be awesome for this position and I'm crossing my fingers that I hear back soon. Because you can't write that. You have to be eager but not desperate. Available but not at such a loose end you appear undesirable. Seriously, the fine points of the art of flirting are more easily understandable than the rules and regulations of cover letter enthusiasm.

I find that the hardest thing is to try and follow all the rules without just washing myself out, or, conversely, trying to make myself stand out without turning a potential employer off. Because you never know who is on the other end of that cover letter, especially when sent through an e-mail. You don't know their opinions on exclamation points and a little humor.

So crossing my fingers, toes and eyes that I can type with sincerity, and that whoever reads my cover letters can read with a little as well.

Friday, May 14, 2010

La la la la la...this is my stop.

I know I've just had a love-rant for Emma Thompson, but I've got another one for a cartoon. 'Daria' came out on DVD today, and I have to say, I owe a lot to those darn MTV people who made this show. A sarcastic bookworm with a tinge of misanthropy? Hello, my teenage idol!

I mean, let's look at most teen shows, and let's look at the girls in those shows. How many of them read Machiavelli? How many wear combat boots and glasses with pride? How many trade in boy-crazy for a biting wit, while still blushing in front of their crush? There was only ever one such girl. Daria Morgendorffer, take a bow.
I waited about 8 years for the show to come out on DVD. When it finally arrived on the doorstep, and I held it in my hands, I actually teared up a little. I mean, I'm building up quite a library of childhood memories, and this is one of the big ones. I remember waking up on a Saturday morning, tuning into MTV with my fingers crossed that there would be a marathon on. I remember watching the final mini-movie and not believing that this was the end.

So I just had to give a little shout-out to the most awesome girl in Lawndale, while also continuing to reveal my unending geekdom.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Emma Thompson: I Love You, I Thank You

Last weekend I watched 'An Education', and was again reminded of something I never really forget: I love Emma Thompson. There were other things I took from the film, but because I then followed it up by falling asleep watching 'Sense & Sensibility' with commentary, the moral was fairly deeply engrained for the night.

There are a few pop culture places I can turn to explain parts of my personality, movies and shows that I identified with and reinforced who I wanted to be. Belle in 'Beauty and the Beast' (that library!), Vada Sultenfuss in 'My Girl' (1 and 2), Daria in, well, 'Daria'. And then there was Emma Thompson, as herself and as both Elinor Dashwood and, perhaps even more importantly, Beatrice in 'Much Ado About Nothing'. All of these women read. Some of them were literary characters of their own. They had spunk, and were just generally awesome. I wanted to be them.

Daria, Vada and Belle aren't real. Heck, two out of the three are cartoons. But Emma Thompson is, and if I ever saw her randomly out somewhere, I wouldn't hesitate to go up to her and thank her for being her. I once saw Woody Allen in New York, but I just kept walking because I haven't seen enough of his work to feel like it's worth bothering him. Maybe this is weird, but I feel like I'm enough of a fan to bug Thompson.

But the chances of bumping into her in the mall seem pretty slim. So I'll just put it all here, and hope that the wonders of the internet might bring it to her in some form. Emma, you are awesome. Not just in the roles you play, but just in being who you are, and you made me a better person because of both. Thank you.

And, hey, can I get an autograph?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another One for the Rant Files...

I follow the tweets of Roger Ebert, and while that often means a barrage of re-tweets and incomprehensible references, it also means that once in a while, you get a gem of information or entertainment. This morning, as I perused the dozens of accumulated tweets produced by people who stay up later, wake up earlier, or live in another time zone than me. One tweet caught my eye, a re-tweet from Ebert about bloggers not being slaves. Well, how could I resist?

It seems that the Washington Post, like many other newspapers, is looking to expand its online content to stay alive. By creating a local blogging network, they are providing several markets with a directory of blogs, which they find and ask to sign up. The blogger gets their photo and biography on the website, along with a link to every new blog post. They also get to create content for the Post on demand and engage in discussions with other bloggers and editors. But what they really get is nothing.

Sure, there is the prospect of increased traffic from being promoted by Washington Post on their local site, but there's no guarantee, especially since the blogs they choose could easily have more traffic than they do at the moment. Many bloggers write for nothing. It's like volunteer work. You write what you are interested in and take your pay however you can, either from pure satisfaction or Google Ad pennies. But that doesn't work when you know that someone else is looking to line their pockets with your content. If it's worth something to them, it should mean something for you.

You can read the post itself here. He has a really good point about why bloggers shouldn't sell themselves short. It's not just about us. It's about the other writers who have climbed their way to a position that actually gets them paid. If you provide content for free just because other people do, you contribute to circumstances that lead to paid writers getting phased out. For the sake of more page views, you dismantle a whole system of writers getting wages.

It's a diabolical plan, and it's probably working for them for the most part. But I believe in karma, and I believe that value eventually gets its due. So I'm going to end this rant on a positive note. See how we're evolving together?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Flip Side: Advice to the Class of 2010

I figure, I just gave a few choice tidbits of nostalgic advice to those looking forward to four blissful (ha!) collegiate years. How about doing the same for those about to say goodbye to those same four years? After all, you are the guys I'm closer to, I even know a few of you. So here we go, the best I can offer you (keeping in mind that this is coming from a one-year old graduate still searching for their place in the aforementioned real world):

1. Savor the stress. This is your final conference session. And you have a week less than everyone else. It's enough to make you pull your hair out. Believe it or not, I miss that. Because it's crazy, but it's kind of awesome. It's a special kind of stress that will soon be replaced by the stresses of the real world. And those stresses can't be cured by locking yourself up in a study room and living on Pub grub.

2. After conference is done, it's time for a job search (unless you are one of those inexplicably lucky people to already have plans). When you're sending those resumes, crafting the cover letters and eventually taking interviews, learn how to sell your Sarah Lawrence degree. Some people will know what it means to be an SLC grad, but others won't know how you've spent the past four years, and won't know how impressed they should be. Let them know that you know how to project-plan, can work independently and make tight deadlines. You can dig deep for research and you know how to present your projects to upper management for approval.

3. Go to Mayfair. Sure, your time is nearly up. But don't just live in the future, take advantage of what's going on right now. This weekend it's Mayfair, and it's too easy to just let it pass and ignore the cotton candy while you make a final push to complete your work and wrap everything up. Don't. I told the incoming first years to take advantage of on-campus events, and that goes quadruple for you guys. Your last midnight breakfast, last brunch, last theater show, last dance party, these are milestones that should be exploited for all possible nostalgia and self-pity. Take pictures of your dorm room, the campus, everything you see everyday and might not even notice anymore. Then the nostalgia can continue for decades.

And take pictures at the faculty show. Secretly, of course, and for your own personal use (no Facebook posting!), but just do it.

Sorry you only get three pieces of advice. Honestly, I don't feel qualified to offer much else. Just hang in there, I guess. And I'm still jealous of the few days you have left there. (Let me have my jealousy, it keeps me going.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

How Not to Attract Customers

Recently, while in the mall, I witnessed perhaps the worst method of engaging customers: by haranguing their political beliefs.

An employee of on of those cell phone kiosks spotted a mall customer walking by, and he or she must have been wearing something which denoted support of Obama (there are pins, shirts, posters, as much merchandise as I still have from the Spice Girls heyday). In response to this, he asked, "What has he changed?" Keep in mind, this person had not spoken to this employee, he was merely yelling out at a passerby. And he wasn't offering a hand massage or roasted nuts like most other extroverted kiosk-ers.

Now, call me crazy, but this doesn't seem like the best way to attract customers. But how could this be considered normal? Have we become so politically fractured that pulling a Glenn Beck (or a Keith Olbermann) on unsuspecting passersby is considered acceptable, even a good idea, especially when at work (no matter what your job)?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Advice to the Sarah Lawrence Class of 2014

Following SLC on Facebook and Twitter, I was asked last week to provide some advice to the newly accepted members of the class of 2014. I provided the obligatory 140-character tweet, but it got me thinking about all the things that don't quite fit into that. And so I want to share them now, while indulging in a little nostalgia.

1. Take a chance on an over-registered class. Is there a great course taught by one of the institutions at SLC? You know, one where every interview is tripled up and everyone seems to have it as their first choice? Go for it. There are 15 spots, and the chance that you will get one of them is just as high as it is for anyone else. Why not put yourself out there to take a class with one of the greats; what's the worst that could happen?

2. Well, the worst that could happen is that you get bumped. Getting bumped is not the end of the world, even though it might feel like it at two in the morning when you check MySLC, see that you only have two classes and realize you won't be spending Saturday morning sleeping in and enjoying brunch, but running around campus doing more interviews. Thoughts flash before your eyes, of truly boring classes, something you would never want to take, with books you can't even understand and a teacher who hates you. You see your entire year go up in smoke, from potential amazingness to certain doom.

Snap out of it! It's not the end of the world. I've been bumped from a "rock star" class, and I ended up registering for what turned out to be my favorite class. There are plenty of classes out there, and chances are that alternate registration is going to show you some great options you didn't even notice the first time around.

3. Don't return your books at the end of the semester/year. There are books I tossed aside that I wish I still had. After staying up until the wee hours trying to read just enough to get by, you might hate the sight of it, but that book might be worth a second read one day, or it might just be worth the sentimental value.

If you are absolutely sure you aren't going to want a book, at least don't return it at the campus bookstore. Sure, it's convenient, but it wears away at your soul to buy books for hundreds of dollars, only to return them for a few quarters each, knowing that next semester, someone will be paying another few hundred dollars for them (I am not exaggerating). You are better off going to eBay or another website designed to exchange books between students. Also, chances are your class will be offered again, and if you wait until that happens, you can get a lot more for your used copy because there will be people with an immediate need for it.

4. Go to the on-campus events. It's all to easy to fall into the apathetic mode of the Sarah Lawrence bubble, lock yourself up in your dorm and ignore the great shows and other events going on all around you. The theater department does some great things, and the dances are a fun way to blow off steam. The same reasoning goes for joining clubs and being generally involved in the community. Don't be a hermit, because four years goes by in a flash, and you're going to wish you went to some of these crazy things. One of my favorites was the song night in spring, where a particular class has spent the semester preparing a show of pop songs, performed cabaret-style. Look out for that one.

5. Get out! There's plenty to do one campus, but there's exponentially more to do in New York City (well, duh). When you're coming from states away, half an hour by train seems like nothing. But when you're actually on campus, it seems like such a hassle sometimes. Take advantage of the Met van that runs between campus at the Metropolitan museum over the weekends as often as you can, and explore the coolest city around. Not every weekend, but don't go too long without doing something fun.

6. Having a crazy-stressful conference week is a tradition you don't need to follow. It's common knowledge that once the library goes into 24/7 mode, that's when things start getting insane, and as the end of the semester gets closer, it only gets worse. People will go for days without sleep, plowing away on three conference papers all due the next morning. They are fueled only by stress and greasy Pub food. This affliction, though common, is avoidable. Here's how: planning.

My personal plan of attack was always to count up the number of pages I was going to need to write, add at least 7, and then that number of days before the due date, I would start writing a page a day. Simple. So when you've got two 15-20 page conferences, you start about six weeks out. It lets you take tiny nibbles at your work, and though 20 pages is intimidating, one is easy. Just take one idea, one source at a time and work through it. Some days you can do more than one page, but as long as you get just one, you'll be all set. And with those extra 7 days you have a week to edit. You could even send the professor some of your draft to make sure you're on track, knowing you have room to change it.

This routine served me well for each and every conference paper I completed. And while I did miss out on the midnight library experience, I was able to enjoy midnight breakfast a lot more than those who were rushing french toast before returning to their books.

7. Just enjoy it. If you've read this blog before, you know I am suffering from serious post-grad separation anxiety. I would love to do all four years all over again, but I can't. You, the newly accepted class of 2014, are the ones with all that time, all those classes and all those experiences ahead of you. Know that you are one of the lucky ones, and know that I am supremely jealous.

Also, live in the old dorms at least once, and explore your study abroad options, even if you end up staying in Bronxville for every semester.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Little Unpaid Ranting*

As a part of my continued job search, I scan over the ads of various open positions, including the "gigs" on Craigslist in the area. And I'm just wondering: why is it that, when you're a writer, you're expected to accept unpaid positions with start-up companies for doing straight-up work? I'm pretty sure start-up banks don't wait until they get going to pay the tellers, and construction workers expect compensation for their time whether your building houses a money-maker or a flop. It seems that only "creative" careers can expect to work without compensation until the company they work for makes good.

Sure, a start-up can't pay as much as an established business. They can't afford to. But why should writers get paid nothing to provide the content for a magazine, whether online or on paper. The company which hosts the site still gets paid, and the printers get paid, whether or not there are readers in the end. But the writers, the people providing the actual words, are left to hope that enough funds are produced that they might just trickle on down to us. Doesn't that seem wrong? The point is, it shouldn't matter whether the company is starting out or going on 20 years. Work is work, and it should be compensated as such. Promises and hopes are about as good as Monopoly money, and experience and references only go so far.

Everyone can write. Well, most people can write. And I think it is because of that basic fact that writers are constantly undervalued. Because not everyone can write well, and not just any writing is going to get you the results you are looking for. Why do businesses realize their need to invest in their building, their computers, their accountants, but fail to see the value in words?

*This rant brought to you by Craigslist, and Friday afternoons.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Give Me My $3, Uncle Sam!

It's tax day, everybody! Dun dun dun! My mom set up my taxes on Turbo Tax and I sent it off a few days ago, with an expected return of....three bucks. Super exciting. Better than owing, I guess.

So, what to do with my newly-found fortune? Let's see what $3 buys you.

I could get some value meal items at a fast food restaurant. But once you factor in the cost of health insurance to deal with having eaten fast food, it hardly seems worth it. I could get a gallon of milk. The would be very calcium-conscientous of me. A gallon of gas would get me further though (pun intended). It could buy me a magazine, but I pretty much subscribe to everything I want to read. And why pay $3 for 25 pages on content and 50 pages of ads (sorry, publishers, maybe if you hired me I'd have the money to buy more). I could get 12 quarters and have a fun round of Pac-Man somewhere.

I think I'll just save it. In twenty years it can be my retirement fund for half a day.

Anyway, another year, another tax day. Another reminder that I'm supposed to be "an adult". I wonder if you ever really feel like an adult. Or do we all just walk around feeling like pretenders?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Unpaid Internships are Evil, the New York Times Said So!

I read an interesting article in the New York Times that talked about unpaid internships, and I got yet another glimpse into the abyss that is the current entry-level job market. The number of unpaid internships is sky-rocketing, and some of them are just plain illegal. It seems that because students are so desperate for experience that can bolster their resume, they are taking jobs which should be paid and thanking their employers for giving them squat. That, in turn, probably lessens the overall number of entry-level positions available when they graduate, because why pay someone when you can get a whole new batch of freshman next semester?

I also learned a few things. Did you know that internships are supposed to be about benefitting the intern, not the employer? That's kind of the main idea. The majority of your time spent should be in educational tasks, shadowing and learning from people whose jobs match up with your future goals. The cliche of the coffee-fetching intern is actually illegal if that person is unpaid. More disturbing is the fact that apparently, because interns aren't technically employees, they aren't protected under certain laws, leaving them vulnerable to discrimination and sexual harassment with no way to seek help.

Sometimes things just look freaking bleak. The fact that we're continually willing to let younger people suffer through the ritual of the bottom rungs of the corporate ladder, to me speaks to a horrible masochism. It's this groupthink of, "We had to go through these terrible trials, they should too." Except it's getting to the point where the things my parents would have to do are what I should have done in high school, and their first jobs are today's unpaid college internships. And doing those things isn't a guarantee of the position you want when you graduate. It's just the least you can do to hope to be in the running. Because now you're competing with people who were laid off with five years experience. It's like fraternity hazing gone extreme.

But eventually you have to think we're all going to get through it. I just hope that I'm never jaded enough to be willing to save money by underpaying an intern who deserves more. Break the cycle? Yes we can.

This indignant and depressing blog post brought to you by Friday nights.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Is This an April Fool's Joke?

Seriously, how is it April already? What happened to March? It only started the other day. I haven't experienced March with nearly enough madness, I say we extend it or another week or so. Anything to keep April at bay.

Not that I have anything against April. It's a perfectly fine month. Full of showers and flowers and warm weather before it turns into summer's oppressive heat. It's not so much about April itself, it's the fact that time is just passing so quickly. I swear, a year at school never went by this quickly, from Kindergarten to senior year. Why is that? Does time pass more quickly when you don't have homework?

Well, either way, welcome April. I won't hold it against you that it looks like it might rain. I might even make a resolution for the month: more and more blogging! I'm talking multiple times a week, people! Get ready!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dear Diary...

For as long as I could write, I've written in a journal or diary. But it's been on and off. Sometimes I write every day, and then there are years that went by undocumented (a terrible loss for posterity I'm sure). Taking the time to write out what I'm thinking about or what's going on feels absolutely necessary at times and a complete chore at others.

I wonder if the hassle of journaling has anything to do with the fast pace of today. It seems as though in the time it takes me to write out just one sentence, my mind has already worked through the entire paragraph, and finishing the entry just becomes a boring dictation from my mind rather than the rapacious writing flowing seamlessly from thought to page.

Recording my voice would be faster, but listening to it years later wouldn't be as interesting. I think most people cringe when they hear their voice, because it never sounds the same as you perceive it as you speak. So though I experimented with 'Felicity'-style recording sessions (that I never sent to anyone), it never replaced writing, despite the speed. The other difference is that, as long as they can't see onto the page, you can write with other people in the room and jot down whatever you feel. You could be critiquing the outfit of the girl sitting in front of you and she'll never know. However, if you try to make a voice memo, you will never get away with it. For audio diaries, you need to be alone. And then, there's the battery requirement.

So paper it is! But not just paper. I have a long list of requirements in my notebooks and journals. I don't like words on the cover. Inspirational or not, they don't belong for me. I also prefer something closer to college-ruled. It just feels neater. I've gone with blank before, but though that opens up the page for doodles, I'm just not a free-form journaler. I have visions of myself doodling and jotting down random things, but the pressure to make it pretty means I generally do better keeping within the lines. Getting a diary is not about just grabbing a book and pen. There are important requirements involved.

In high school I tried to write a page a day, and was able to do it until I started falling behind. First one day, then another. Soon I was catching up for entire weeks. And then, I stopped all together. There are several stories like this in my past. Lots of writing, usually on a schedule. Then my discipline slips, my life becomes less interesting, and my writing stops. In trying to restart my journaling, I'm hoping that keeping it casual will extend the habit. Of course, writing this blog and daily articles for Examiner have drained me a little of my literary tendencies, because I find that after hashing something out in my brain, then on my blog, and then possibly in conversation, I don't really have the energy to put it down in a formal journal. I end up repeating myself and just going through the motions. And cramping my hand.

I'm also exploring some more technological routes, like journaling software. It's still just sitting in my laptop, yet to be utilized, but the beginning is always the hardest for some reason. I always want something worthy of an opening line in a novel, despite the fact that I never plan on letting anyone else read it. Maybe I just have high standards for my having to re-read it in the years to come!

I want to keep a journal because I think it's important to remember how you felt at various points in your life, to be able to revisit them and learn from them, however embarrassing or hilarious. I'm nostalgic to the point of sentimentality, so having a record of my life is fodder for many hours of reminiscing. Even if I am just recording my lost years between college and career.

So we'll see if I can keep up a log of my life. Because, though I love you, blog readers, I don't tell you everything. And it's got to go somewhere.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The First Bluebonnets of Spring

Two weeks ago, as I drove to work, my normal route was given a burst of seasonal specialness. As a looked forward at a T-stop, I saw tiny bursts of blue in the grassy ditch ahead. The first bluebonnets of spring. I've spotted a few more groupings since then, pretty blues and even one side of the road field of Indian paintbrushes, the other wildflower that takes over this time of year. Other patches are still in the leaf phase. But soon, there will be bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes speckling the sides of almost every road in the heart of Texas.

It's one of the things I love about this state. It almost makes up for the absolutely offensive things about it. For instance, the fact that it is now required by law for a woman to have a sonogram before undergoing an elective abortion. This state flower is the only thing which can make anyone think of Texas as a blue state as it covers each grassy knoll. There are certainly plenty of things that can grate on my nerves about being somewhere so politically lonely at times. But for just a moment, bluebonnets almost make up for all of that. Maybe that's weird, taking flowers as concillation for some very real issues. Hey, I'm a girl, what can I say?

The thing with the bluebonnets is, it signifies the beginning of spring, as does the fact that this week is spring break for most Austin students. Yet another blip on the timeline that was mine just last year. This time twelve months ago, I would be right where I am now, but just for two weeks before returning to campus to get down to the business of finishing up a semester. It's a strange reminder that time is passing by faster than I would like or can even believe. Even though that's is something I'd rather not think about, the flowers still make me smile, because they also make me think of the countless childhood photos I've taken amongst the wildflowers, annual portraits my mother took to mark another year gone by.

So for me, bluebonnets are one of those little things that make home home. Like Big Red soda and Blue Bell ice cream, it's one of those background details that comforts me just by being there.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Getting Spellbound, or: A Late Night Blog Post

Just finished watching the 2002 documentary 'Spellbound', and decided to wax a little nostalgic.

I doubt there are many of you who have never been part of a spelling bee. I remember one at school when I was in 4th grade. I don't remember any of the words I spelled correctly, but I'm sure I made it through a few rounds. In a cruel twist of fate that is likely the rule for most, I remember the one word which tripped me up: cafeteria. It's the only moment I can remember perfectly. I just remember standing in front of the microphone and hearing a ding. It's not emotional at all; I don't remember the feeling of losing. It is literally just the sensory memory of that moment. And the word.

I also remember the next year, telling my teacher in front of the class that one word I could definitely spell was cafeteria. I'm not sure why, I think we were talking about spelling bees for some reason or other and a few of us were in front of the class as an example of how it worked. My teacher asked me to spell a word, and I offered cafeteria, saying that because I mis-spelled it last year I would always know it. Of course, I instantly felt the panic of how awful it would be to then incorrectly spell this word for the second time, this time after having promised I knew it.

Thankfully, I got it right that time.

It's funny the things you remember. It's also funny the things you think of when watching these kinds of things. Because, almost without fail, whenever I see anything dramatic which has to do with kids, anyone younger than a junior or senior in high school, I instantly think, "Well, that's going to make a good college applications essay." Everything. From this documentary about studying and stressing out to a degree which cannot be healthy for a twelve year old, to watching crime dramas where a kid makes it through safe and sound. It's a little weird, but watching an episode of 'Criminal Minds' about kids who are kidnapped and kept for years, when they were finally rescued I thought, "He could get into any college he wants with that story." Isn't that a sick tribute to how desensitized I am to violence? It's also a testimony to just how college-centric my life has always been. Everything is about getting to that one point. Might be why I'm missing it so much now.

So this is what you get when you watch a movie and write a blog post on the fly. Some memories, some disturbing insights, and yet another woe-is-me post-grad moment. Good night and good luck.

Oh, that's right. I went there.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

“How much did they pay you to give up on your dreams?”

Over the holidays, I went to see 'Up in the Air', thanks to the local radio station (shout-out Mix 94.7!) contest that allowed me to cash in on celebrity knowledge and deft Googling skills. My prize was two tickets to the movie, a copy of the novel it is based on, and a cap and tee from the film.

As a side note, I just finished reading the novel, and it's nothing like the movie. Sure, Clooney's character still fires people and obsesses over his frequent flier miles, but everything else is a twisted take on that foundation. There are fairly important characters who are not even in the book, and some who bare no resemblance to their ink and paper counterpart. In an odd twist, I think the movie is better, but maybe the book just isn't my style.

But moving swiftly on to the point of this post. The above title is the quote which stuck with me months after viewing. It's part of a monologue Clooney delivers to J.K Simmons, who plays Bob, one of the many employees Clooney must steer through being downsized. Clooney asks Bob about attending culinary school, and his dreams of being a chef (or perhaps owning a bakery. It's been a while, and though I remember the essence of the lesson, the details and sketchy). Soon after graduating, Bob took a job with this faceless firm in order to make ends meet, pay bills and feed the family. And somehow the years passed to find him sitting across the table from Clooney, losing a job he didn't particularly like and breaking down because of it.

How much is doing what you love worth? How much is paying the bills worth? The problem is that the credit card companies react quickly when you choose to forego money, and so that need seems most important. The ramifications of taking a job you hate for menial but regular pay are less obvious and take longer to surface. But that doesn't mean that they aren't just as scary, or just as important to avoid.

Being on the job hunt, I often face the dilemma of applying to a job I could probably do, but wouldn't really want. Usually I still apply, and so far the job market has kept me from having to choose whether or not to take it, because I never hear anything from them (blessing or curse, I'm not sure). I long for stability and security, but there is always that nagging part of my brain that pushes me to aim for something more, something I love. I know that no one's first job is their last, and that I can't expect to love everything I do. But I also know the slippery slope between taking a job just until something better comes along. It's the slippery slope that ends with Bob.

This week, I've been having some crazy ideas enter my head about projects and things I could do. We'll see how many come to fruition, but I think it's a sign of my thinking of this time less as a failure to be fully employed and more as an opportunity to try some new things.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Taking the Shame Out of Guilty Pleasures

Why are there some things we have to apologize for liking? Songs, bands, movies, television shows, books; it seems there is a whole category of pop culture based around making those who consume it feel ashamed of it. Guilty pleasures. I'm sure everyone reading this has one. I'm sure I have more than my fair share. But lately I'm just wondering: what's the point of feeling guilty?

Maybe it's because of my newly mature 23-year-old mind, but I'm starting to think that wasting time worrying about how the world feels about my taste in music, movies and literature is pointless. It seems ironic now that there seems to be just as much power pushing us to like the Top 40 pop singles as there is shaming us if we do. There is precious little middle ground of popular artists who have enough "cred" to be considered worthy of your iPod. I wonder what gets VH1 more ratings: the insane celebrity love shows, or the talking head shows which mock them? There's really no winning. Either you become part of the millions who like the popular, derided as lemmings, or you become the cynic with taste that isn't really allowed to like anything.

And when it comes down to it, what are we ashamed of? Food is the only arena of the guilty pleasure where the base act is necessary to life. We must eat. And so eating a HoHo instead of an apple can rightly bring on some shame just because you could have taken in nutrients that weren't invented in a laboratory (but if it's not a daily habit, there's no need to obsess). But when it comes to the food for our eyes and ears, it's all kind of superfluous. No one starves when they don't read, watch television or listen to music. And so whether you read Jane Austen or Danielle Steel, there's no quantitative difference, and there's nothing physically unhealthy about it. At least you're reading! Sure, PBS documentaries can give your brain synapses a work out, especially when compared to Survivor, but it's still you sitting down and watching television. There are levels of something being a "waste of time," but they aren't hard and fast and they don't lend you a heck of a lot of moral superiority. We're all still lazy, selfish no-good bums when compared to Mother Teresa and wonderful human beings when compared to Adolf Hitler. Everything in between is mostly grandstanding.

The bottom line is this: we all need something to take our minds off of things. We all deserve to indulge in the entertainment of our choice. And no one deserves to feel bad about it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hello, 23!

So this week I turned 23. Still not sure how I feel about that. The actual birthday was good. Presents galore (as usual, more than I deserve!) and tasty, tasty cake. And there's something really nice about getting Facebook birthday wishes from around the world.

But actually being 23 is starting to sink in, and it's a little weird. I mean, at this point, there's nothing really special about turning another year older. Except being older. Milestones of decades are ahead of me, but there aren't really any formal advantages to reaching them. The only thing I can think to look forward to is renting a car at 25 without massive fees. But that's not really on the same level as driving, voting and drinking. No one goes Hertz-hopping.

So as birthdays are supposed to get a little less exciting, I'm having to resign myself to adulthood. But I'm fighting maturity tooth and claw! That's right, I have every intention of using some of my birthday gift card money to purchase toys based on Disney films, as well as DVDs of the cartoons I watched when I was a kid. I still maintain that the 90s was the golden age of Nickelodeon and I think I could start up a popular daycare/babysitting business in which we show the kids "real" shows like Ahh! Real Monsters and Doug (and, you know, do other things that don't involve plonking kinds in front of the TV).

So while I know that I have turned 23, I haven't really accepted it yet.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Cocktail Reunion

Everyone understands homesickness: it's when you're away from home and longing to return. But I'm entering a phase which seems greatly under-documented: schoolsickness. Maybe this is an illness only known to weirdos like me, but I am genuinely in mourning for my loss of Sarah Lawrence.

Over the summer, it was alright. I had gone this long without school before. It was a break from the papers and the reading, a happy homecoming and the beginning of the job search. As summer turned to fall, I read the Facebook updates of friends with years left in their education and waxed nostalgic on the registration process (as my blog readers well know). But I still appreciated my working-from-home freedom and enjoyed the extension of summer I had not experienced since I was five.

Recently, however, I have missed school to a terrifying degree. I have dreams about seminar debates, and daydreams about conference topics I wish I had explored. I watched a documentary on PBS about teenage girls today, and when one girl was about the graduate high school and was receiving her college acceptance letters, I actually cried in longing for that time. I found a jacket in my closet from my senior year of high school, clearly last worn during a 'Spirit Week', on a day when seniors were meant to advertise the college they would be attending. Not having a baseball cap or t-shirt of SLC, I made a badge of honor out of shoebox cardboard adorned with glitter and ribbons. Again, the nostalgia for the days when I had four years of Bronxville ahead of me.

Anyway, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with the title of this post-A Cocktail Reunion. Well, just in time to either cure or worsen my schoolsickness, I attended a happy hour gathering brought together by the Office of Alumnae/i Relations. A happy hour for SLC grads in Austin.

Seeing as it has taken me a few days to get around to finishing this post, I'll skip an excess of details and just say that it was nice to meet fellow weirdos like myself, and see how life after SLC has been going for them. And though there were semi-depressing moments (like when one alum mentioned that she was a former freelancer who gave it up because of publisher's shrinking budgets), overall it was one step closer to thinking of myself as an adult who went to college instead of a college student who has been flung into the real world.

I still miss it, though. I still wish I was being forced into reading 3 books a week and analyzing a single paragraph in five pages due the next day. I miss conferences and Pub dinners, I miss it all. My father tells me I'm lucky that given the opportunity, I would do four more years of college. He could not express the same sentiments about his own university days. And in a way, this is the first instance of, "It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." I would rather miss midnight breakfast than never have gone and made the friends that I did.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Employment Countdown

Just wanted to give an update and catalogue all my current jobs. Partly to inform the blogosphere, partly to show myself that I'm doing something (and then a third partly: to make sure I remember them all!). So, here's what's up:

1. My retail job, which was meant to be seasonal, has kept me on for part-time year round. Which means a shift or two every week. It was such good news because not only does it mean that I can make a little cash, it means that one of my jobs actually involves human interaction! I love freelancing and getting to work from home, but I'm not gonna lie, spending day after day in my living room was giving me cabin fever. Plus, making new friends is one of those intangible job benefits that I appreciate.

2. Still writing for Examiner.com in Literature and Knitting for Austin. Loving the structure of writing an article every day, and it's all stuff I'm really interested in, which is a major bonus. If anyone is interested in writing for Examiner, I totally encourage it for the experience, as well as for giving you an easy way to provide writing samples for anything else you apply for. Plus, it does pay at least a little something. If you're in the US or Canada (where Examiner is) and really want to give it a shot, leave a comment here or contact me and I'll walk you through it and you can add me as having referred you.

3. Also still going strong with Moogi, cataloguing the ins and outs of every Project Runway episode and the products it features. I'm a little burnt out on the second show I edit, just because it involves a certain amount of time and menial mind labor. But I love television and I think the site is going to be awesome when we get bigger and bigger. Also, the guys who run it are amazing. Seriously, I e-mail a question, and I get an answer within an hour 85% of the time, plus random e-mails that have extra info for me that they found.

4. Freelancing for the local paper is still on. My first article was published in January (Maybe I'll post a pic soon!), and I'm working with the editor to figure out my next assignments. There's something about seeing your work published in a true publication (i.e. not run by a school) and on paper, not just a screen. It feels so legit.

5. Just started a new blog writing position contributing weekly for the Food Culture Blog. My first post isn't up yet, but it's another gig that let's me put my writing out there and tackle a subject I love (fooooooood!). Without conferences to write for SLC, I've been missing the opportunity to delve into a subject and do some research. Getting to do this lets me think of mini-conference topics every week. Plus, I'm going to be trying out some awesome new recipes for it as well. Yum!

And.....I think that's it! Isn't it enough? Well, no. Still looking for more, and as always, looking for benefits. I heard Obama wants to make it possible for students who graduate to be covered by their parent's plan up to age 24. Hoping that not only this is true, but that it will be applied retroactively because COBRA is kind of a scam.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why did it have to be Australia?

We're nearing the end of the first grand slam of the year for tennis. It's one of the hardest to watch, simply because of where it's held. Australia. Seventeen hours ahead of my time zone. Great. But when forced to choose between a good night's rest and a tense tennis match...well, let's just say I've been yawning a lot this week! I have reinstated my college schedule of staying up as late as necessary and only waking up when required. My alarm clock is getting a little dusty as ten in the morning seems all too early. Hopefully come Sunday I'll be able to get back into a reasonable sleeping pattern, but for now I'm just going to sit back and enjoy.

Whenever a grand slam comes around, I start to appreciate the free time that comes from part-time employment. When I was working full time over the summer I remember getting withdrawls from not getting to watch Wimbledon 24/7. I had my pop-up window for scores, but that's just not as exciting. When the 4th of July came around, I wasn't looking forward to fireworks or hot dogs. No, it was the day off to watch tennis.

Of course, I would much rather have health insurance, annual salary and stability than just eight weeks of tennis bliss. But somewhere deep down, I'm hoping I can have both...I don't suppose the ESPN team is looking for an energetic and nerdy writer to join the squad?

Monday, January 25, 2010

No Offense, But...

Oh, the things you learn about people working in retail. Last week, people seemed particularly crabby. Whether it was the weather or the fact that many were returning to work or school for the first time since the holidays began, I don't know, but people were a little crabby pants.

One woman came into the anonymous store in which I work and made a comment which began, "No offense, but," and ended, quite obviously, in something offensive. I can't give all the details without giving away where I work, but basically she was making a comment about something in the store being less than clean (a clearance item which had been through the wringer, but was essentially fine. Trust me, this was not actually gross). I commented that it was easy to clean. Her response was, "No offense, but if that were true you all would have done it already."

Well, excuse me. I didn't tell her off, but in my mind, I thought about the nine hours I had spent here on my last shift, with about six other people until three in the morning setting up the store, changing the tables and putting up new posters about the new deals for the week. I'm sorry that after killing my feet and making myself sore for days afterwards that I didn't wash down each individual clearance item for your convenience. I mean, sure it's 90% off, but hey, that's worth stretching into four in the morning, just to make sure that you don't have any "eww" factor when gracing us with your custom.

Ahh, that feels better. Sometimes the annoyance builds up, and it has nowhere to go. Here's my suggestion: never use the phrase, "No offense, but..." It's like oxymoronic, and actually pretty rude. It's like punching someone in the face, but telling them not to complain about it. It means that you get to say something mean, and the person you say it to has to forgive you, otherwise they're being super-sensitive. Because, after all, you didn't mean to offend. It's a faux-superiority, and I think that most of the time, people know exactly what they're doing when they say it. We all dabble in superiority after all. But from now on, I'm going to make sure to stop myself any time those words start coming out of my mouth. Then I can feel superior about not acting superior!

I do feel the need to apologize yet again for being an absent blogger, but I'm feeling a resurgence in productivity, so fingers crossed that I'll be pestering you with my thoughts more frequently in the coming weeks!