Saturday, April 2, 2011


I grew up in a suburban town. We had hills and trees and the like, and while those always interested me as a child, what truly fascinated me were the mountains. Always looming somewhere off in the distance, rolling behind the skyline in muted blues and grays, and ever beyond my reach were the mountains. 

I wanted to go to them. Every time my mother drove us over the bridge over the highway to get to the supermarket, I wanted us to keep driving and head for the mountains. they called to me for some reason, even as a child. 

Sometimes I'd get closer to them. When we went to visit my aunt, we'd drive out in that direction and reach the foot of some mountains, though usually small ones, and cliffs that fascinated me with their miniature waterfalls. But whenever we reached a break in the hilly terrain, what did I see rolling off in the distance? 

Of course. More mountains. And then I wanted to follow the road until I reached those mountains. I suppose this interests me now simple because the more I think about it, the more I realize that I've been carrying this insatiable wanderlust with me my whole life, even when I was young, before anything had happened to me, and before I was running away from things. There was something pure about it then. I didn't want to go to escape any pain or sadness, or because I was afraid. I wanted to go because, well, there were mountains, and it was beautiful how they seemed to melt into the sky. It was almost as if they weren't real. I wanted to see them up close and climb them, and look down from the top and see what I could see in the distance.

I stood atop mountains a few times in my life. I used to ski a lot, and that brings you to an awful lot of mountains. The trouble with that, of course, is that every peak has its own amazing view - of more mountains in the distance waiting to be climbed and explored. 

Someday, I'll go and chase after my mountains. I can't say when, and I can't explain why, I just know that someday, I'll get in a car and drive towards the blue-gray mountains until they come into focus and I can climb to the top and scout out a new blurry peak to conquer somewhere out in the distance. 


Friday, April 1, 2011

Reconciling My Split Personality

Sometimes I feel like I'm actually two different people trapped in one body. My desires and needs are so often at war with one another, it's as though my metaphorical angel and devil are permanently stationed on each shoulder - and both with a seemingly legitimate point of view.

The problem is that those two points of view are generally mutually exclusive.

Something I've been very proud of recently has been settling down and getting my life in order, and somewhat stabilized. For age 22, I think I'm doing pretty well. I have a 9 to 5 job like I wanted, a fairly stable relationship, and for all intents and purposes, a quiet, normal, and stable life. I still live in New York City, so I only ever get so quiet and normal, but still, great strides have been made. And part of me is so pleased, proud, and content.

Then there's the other part of me, who is stricken with insatiable wanderlust, and is damn near crawling out of her skin. That part of me dreams of just packing the car, driving across the country, settling in a random town and just taking it from there. But that's not stable or responsible. Would it be exciting? Sure. Could I really walk away from my life here? Not so sure.

I've come close a few times. Almost two years ago, I lost the job that I loved and the man I thought I loved all in the same month. I was broken, and for the first time in years, I felt completely free. I ran away to London for a few weeks, which had less than the desired effect. As Sheryl Crow said, "They say you gotta get away to wanna go back home again." With the exception of my time in Oxford, I spent most of my time overseas wanting to leave. Still, to this day, every time I close a show, or get dumped I am hit hard with an urge to run somewhere - anywhere. 

Last week, I was offered a job on Norwegian Cruiselines. I had applied for the job months ago, shortly after being brutally dumped by the douchebag formerly known as Prince Charming, and finding out that yet another show was closing and leaving me jobless. At the time, I wanted to run and where better than a cruiseship? But now? I'm too comfortable in my job and relationship to jeopardize my stability by uprooting my life now. So I won't go. 

And there we see the problem - I get too comfortable, too attached to things. The part of me that loves safety, and stability, and normalcy always wins out in the long term, despite occasional flights of fancy. But I still yearn for excitement, and a certain degree of freedom that stability does not afford me. And so I wall myself in, with jobs and men, and all the messy emotions that accompany those things, and I can;t bring myself to abandon ship until all of that comes tumbling down.

And it will, someday. And when it goes, I'll cry and I'll ache, and I'll shake an angry fist at the sky, begging the stars for answers to the age old "Why me?"

But somewhere beneath all that, there will be a packed suitcase, a tank of gas, and a little voice that says "I've always wanted to see the Grand Canyon."


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spiderman The Musical and The Lowest Common Denominator

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to see Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark on Broadway. After reading reviews in which it was panned, hearing from friends about the trainwreck it was, and catching articles online and in the paper about various accidents, it was pretty clear what to expect going in. And by the end of the evening, it was even more clear that I got exactly what I paid for. (My ticket was comped). 

Before anyone asks, yes, they stopped the show during the first act while there was a flying sequence with Spiderman and the Green Goblin. Both were stuck suspended above the audience for a few minutes as stage hands rushed out and slowly retrieved them from their wires. The audience was rather good natured during the process, probably because anyone who hasn't learned to expect that must have their head in the sand. Though, frankly, if this is still going on when previews started in November, I'm not sure they're ever going to work it out completely. Furthermore, if they haven't worked it out, I don't agree with them continuing to charge full price for tickets during the preview period. But we'll address that later. 

The show began with a "greek chorus" of dorks discussing their new Spiderman comic book. We get a flash-forward to the end of the show, and a glimpse of Spidey and MJ, and the set that is the real star of the show. But back to the dorky comic book kids. Instead of an origin story, they want to do the origin of the origin story, and we get a woven web of swinging chorus girls as they tell the myth of Arachne the weaver who was turned into the world's first spider. We assume this will be relevant later. 

Cut to a high school classroom where we find Peter Parker, whose performance I actually quite like until he starts to sing in an obnoxious Bono-esque character voice. (A surprise and a half there). We see Peter bullied, and we see how badly his and MJ's home lives suck. On a field trip to a laboratory filled with genetic experiments, he is bitten by the mutant spider that turns him into the superhero we all know and love. Then, in a scene that caused me to turn to my friend and whisper "Are they serious?", Peter Parker dressed in a 5th grader's Home Ec project Spidey suit battles an inflated wrestler for long enough that it becomes uncomfortable to watch. (I have this thing where it makes me uncomfortable to watch other people look foolish). 

After winning the fight, Peter Parker walks home with his cash when all of a sudden, there is a laughable car crash that kills Uncle Ben. I'd put my cynicism for aside for a moment and remove "laughable" from that sentence, but in reality, I'm just being honest, as the audience did in fact laugh out loud as it happened. The "With great power comes great responsibility" line is given the boot for now in favor of having Uncle Ben's dying words be a reference to a song in the show, "Rise Above". 

Meanwhile, the scientist from the genetic laboratory that housed the spider that originally bit Peter is busy being harassed by the government for his gene splicing technology. Due to his upstanding moral fiber, he refuses to let the government have access to his technology. Instead, he turns it upon himself, jumping into a pod borrowed from The Little Mermaid's Ursula, accidentally killing his wife, and turning himself into the Green Goblin, who coincidentally, is quite lacking in moral fiber, but has a green piano that he plays on top of the Chrysler building. (That's another embarrassing moment, but the audience eats this one up, so it will probably stay.) It was at this point that Spidey and the Green Goblin commence in the fight that would cause the first hold of the night, and end the act. 

The second act is a disaster for which the term "hot tranny mess" actually would apply in the most literal of ways. It features a scene in which an angry Arachne calls upon an ensemble of spiders, who come out donning, not extra spider legs as one would expect, but extra human legs complete with stockings, garters, and drag queen heels. They are easily upstaged, however, by the fashion show of villains in elaborate costumes that are pretty much Julie Taymor and the costume designer's masturbation come to life onstage, parading across the stage for her own pleasure and to stroke her own ego to no real point or purpose. (They are all destroyed in the span of about a minute and a half later in the second act in a cartoonish video montage projected onto large screen)

I'd try to follow the plot of the second act, but it's difficult to decipher. Arachne seduces Peter in his sleep, and he misses MJ's show. MJ is tired of his crap, and Peter, in his frustration tosses his Spidey suit in the trash. This enrages Arachne, who unleashes hell on the city in the form of a variety of supervillains. We find out later that none of this is actually real, but a fabrication of Arachne's to try and ensnare Peter. 

It ends with a scene that is blatantly stolen from Phantom of the Opera, so if you don't want either show ruined for you, I suggest you skip ahead. Having kidnapped MJ and trapped her in a web, Arachne fights with Peter, who then offers to stay with her forever in order to save MJ. In Phantom of the Opera, the same scene plays out with the Phantom realizing that even though Christine may choose to stay with him and end his unbearable loneliness, she would do so only out of love for Raoul, and that hard as he may try, she will never truly be his. In a truly heartbreaking moment, he sets them both free. 

Now, in Phantom of the Opera, where the characters and their motivations have been well developed for you, none of this is actually said out loud, the above merely describes his internal thought process that can be inferred by the audience. In Spiderman, sadly, those points are all painfully spelled out for the audience in a monologue by Arachne because no one in the scene has been developed well enough for such inferences to be made if they are not clearly stated. That doesn't make it any less embarrassing to watch. The audience actually laughed out loud. (As they did at many times when it was hardly appropriate... a comment moreso on the writing and less so on the audience).

So what? So it's a bad show. There have been loads of those in recent years. What bothers me is the fact that we're willing to settle for this. The original figure of 65 million dollars has been estimated to have risen to over 100 million. I can't even fathom how much money that is. 100 million dollars for Bono and Julie Taymor to masturbate on a Broadway stage and we're willing to take that. There's no substance to the show, no plot, no character development. Nothing but flashy lights and costumes, and a couple of stunt doubles hooked up to wires. They're catering to the lowest common denominator, and we're not demanding anything better. 

And it's not just that. It's all over the place. Movies, music, entertainment... we're settling. We're not demanding anything better. We're okay with shitty lyrics, autotune, explosions, and special effects. Where's the depth? Where's the humanity? I understand that some stuff has to be just meaningless fun or we'd go crazy, but still... can we demand excellence from somebody? Anybody?

Since writing this, Julie Taymor, ironically enough, has been fired. Although, if you read the articles, they'll phrase it a little differently...


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Celebrity Idolization

Newspapers. Magazines. Television. Lovelyish. Everywhere you look, there is some new article or photograph or sex tape about some celebrity pariah. And every time it happens, we're all compelled to look. Has anybody noticed that we care about this crap a lot more than we should? 

Is Hayden's boyfriend too tall for her? Oh my heavens, Justin Bieber cut his hair! Is Miley getting fat? How badly did Christina fuck up the national anthem at the Superbowl? And most importantly, what has Charlie Sheen done and said today? 

Do we really have nothing better to do with our lives? There are people today who are famous for absolutely no reason at all apart from the fact that the American public is willing to pay attention to them. What has Paris Hilton ever done to deserve the attention she receives? Why do we continue to perpetuate the popularity of Snooki and her crew when they do nothing but destroy the already limping reputation of New Jersey (since no one is smart enough to notice that they're actually all from other states, mostly New York). 

Debates rage on over whether or not teachers in Wisconsin are being paid too much, though I have yet to see many stand up and complain that there's no reason why Kim Kardashian should be paid millions to appear across magazine covers to discuss her cellulite. I mean, really? You're concerned about whether you might be paying too much to the people who are educating the youth of America and preparing them for the workforce while Charlie Sheen is sitting pretty on 2 million dollars per episode of a crappy sitcom to blow on cocaine and hookers and you don't even blink? Priorities, people.

The fact of the matter is, we idolize people, sometimes for talentless autotuned music, sometimes for mediocre acting, and sometimes for absolutely no reason at all beyond having a sex tape or being able to party harder and get arrested better than anyone else. How many so-called celebrities are actually famous without having done anything worth being famous for? We make them famous because we give them the attention required to be so. We know the name of every finalist on American Idol, but I highly doubt as many people could name recent Pulitzer or Nobel Prize winners. 

But at the end of the day, it's our own fault. We're the ones giving these people the attention they need to continue their ridiculous lifestyles. We're the ones who send the papa razzi after them so that we can see pictures of their ridiculous lifestyles. And maybe it's because we're jealous, and because we want a taste of things we can never attain. But maybe if we weren't so busy putting other people up on pedestals for no reason, we could actually accomplish something ourselves. 

If no one paid attention to Lady Gaga's ridiculous stunts, she would stop doing them. If no one talked about how ridiculously expensive Paris Hilton's useless birthday gifts were, maybe she'd keep it to herself. We're the ones going to their movies, and watching their TV shows, and buying loads of their ridiculous merchandise. Twilight is subpar teen literature that should haunt the shelves of Barnes & Noble's young adult section next to all the other teen vampires, but it doesn't because we're willing to give it a degree of attention far beyond its actual merit. In fact, we shun things that actually might have merit. No one reads the classics anymore. What does that say about us?

It says we have no standards anymore. We're content to let the entertainment industry pander to the lower common denominator, and we're happy to take that place at the bottom of the totem pole and wallow in it with our trashy reality TV and gossip tabloids. And you know what? It's fucking pathetic, and I'm disgusted by it. 

Don't worry, American Public, this is only the first post of the week in which I point the finger at you for allowing the degradation of our culture. But digging into the 65 million dollar debacle that is Spiderman really deserves a post all its own. 


Sunday, February 6, 2011

When You Wish Upon A Star* *Some Restrictions Apply

Earlier this week, the guy I'm dating (who has somehow managed to escape any sort of clever nickname thus far) was getting dressed for work, and telling me about a meeting he was having with someone important at the office about potential job opportunities for him. I told him how sure I was that it was going to go well. After all, he's smart, and motivated, and reliable, and confident, he has all the tools to succeed. I kissed him goodbye and sent him off, wishing him well again, but in the back of my mind, I didn't believe what I was saying. 

I know that sounds like a terrible thing to say, but it has nothing to do with him. He really is great. But unfortunately, that's not good enough anymore. I don't know if it ever was good enough to begin with, but I was raised to believe it was. 

I was raised on ideals. I was raised on Disney movies that said when you wish upon a star, it makes no difference who you are, you can get what you want. You know, "no request is too extreme", and all that fun stuff. I was taught that if I set my mind to it, I could be anything I wanted to be. I was taught that if I worked hard, I could achieve my goals. I was told I was special and unique, and that working hard was enough. 

That's a really nice thought when you're a kid, but now that I'm older, it pretty much just sucks. Because it's not true. It's as much about who you know, what you have handed to you, and luck as it is about hard work or talent. Out in the real world, no one cares what my GPA was, or that I graduated early. No one cares what awards I got in school, or what clubs I participated in. My SAT scores are more irrelevant than a walkman. Nothing I worked hard at actually matters. And it's frustrating, because I'm a smart, motivated, enthusiastic person who can't get her foot in the door because my resume doesn't have the only thing people care about - experience.

I mean, sure. I have experience. I have a 2 page resume chock full of education, jobs, activities, and references. I've been in the work force for 6 years now. I've got plenty of experience. But it's not experience that is necessarily specific to many of the jobs I'm trying to get. My guy expressed a similar frustration. He said that people look at his resume and immediately write him off because he's trying to break into a new area that he hasn't worked in. Unfortunately, his logic on how to deal with it doesn't seem to have a good enough answer: "I can either spend half the interview defending my resume and experience, or I can just try to show them why they should give me a chance, because I know I can do it." I find that I have a similar problem - in interviews, I realize that people know very little about what any of the jobs on my resume actually entail. I have to spend the whole time explaining everything I used to do, or I risk them misconstruing it. And the whole time, I'm just thinking "I'm a hard worker. I'm smart. That was supposed to be good enough." 

It's a frustrating place to be in, and I'm not exactly sure what to do about it except keep trying. But I can't help feeling like I'm wasting so much of my time and potential. I can do these jobs, all I need is to get one foot in the door.

"Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off." -Tyler Durden, Fight Club


Friday, February 4, 2011

Thoughts At A Job Interview

So I had a job interview today, and due to the incomprehensible and highly unusual competence of the MTA and the Manhattan subway system, I arrived at the office 20 minutes before my interview was scheduled. As I was waiting in the lobby, my mind was racing with a myriad of different thoughts, many of which I'm sure you all will find amusing, and can relate to. Here are some of them.

"Is 20 minutes early too early? It's too cold to wait outside, I might as well go upstairs."
"Oh man, I totally don't know how to pronounce the name of the woman I'm supposed to be interviewing with." 
"The receptionist probably thinks I'm an idiot for pronouncing this woman's name wrong." 
"Wow, everybody who works here is really young."
"Oh jeez, I am totally overdressed. Nobody here is in business attire."
"Oh, wait, it's Friday. So, casual Fridays?"
"Do jeans count for casual Fridays? That's really casual..." 
"I wish the receptionist would call this woman again to tell her I'm here."
"These girls are totally judging my tights right now..."
"My shoes don't really match, do they?" 
"Now I really wish she'd call her again... now it looks like I'm late."
"I hope she doesn't think I don't care about being on time, that looks so bad." 
"This woman has no idea what any of the jobs on my resume actually are, does she?"
"Why do I have to explain why I'm not pursuing a job in what I majored in? Lots of people do that, right?"
"Maybe I should just take my major off my resume..."
"Why is wanting to make a career out of administrative assisting so weird? It's stable, it pays well, it makes sense."
"How come no one pays attention to my GPA?"
"I should make my resume say that I graduated early, that would be more impressive."
"She sounds like she has a thing for the CEO. But I'm probably just reading too much into it."
"What is the appropriate amount of 'impressed' to express at this point in the tour?" 
"Am I smiling too much?" 
"I haven't shaken her hand yet, how am I demonstrate a strong handshake?"
"Wait, maybe the handshake is just a guy thing."
"Eye contact, that's what I'm supposed to do."
"But if I do that too much, isn't it creepy?"

Enjoy, and share your own fun job interview thoughts. 


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why Did I Tell The Internet I Needed A Job?

As many of you know, I am on the job hunt again. I'm looking for a more stable line of work, and while I do still have my retail job, I'd do just about anything for a cozy little cubicle in an office somewhere. My seemingly endless quest for such a cubicle has lead me through endless job websites, online applications, and other such internet extravaganzas. 

As a result of this, it seems that my personal information has been leaked to just about anyone who could ever want it. In the past weeks, I've received literally hundreds of spam emails, and cannot go a single day without getting phone calls to my cell that are completely unrelated to any of the jobs I've applied for. I've had people try to get me to sell life insurance, and I've been tricked into going to a staffing company full of hope only to realize it was a complete waste of time. 

Is it just me, or is that a lot of unnecessary bullshit that I shouldn't have to go through in order to get a job? All I'm looking to do is start a promising and stable career as some kind of office assistant. Really. That's all I'm asking for. I shouldn't have to get harassed via phone and email about things that have nothing to do with the job I'm looking for. To say that I'm pissed is an understatement. 

All this just so that I can have the security of having a more stable job, and have the great delight of actually knowing what nights and weekends are after spending all of my adult life working them. Paid vacation? What's that? A SICK DAY? God forbid. Benefits? Don't make me laugh. I make no secret of the fact that the company I've spent most of my working years employed by only ensures a magical experience for the guests it serves and is a bit of a trainwreck for many of us behind the scenes. Apart from the lack of decent salary or benefits for anyone below a certain level, I have seen some SKETCHY shit go down upstairs. But god forbid those people don't get their hefty bonuses at the end of the year...

I digress. Point is, I'm looking for a job that is a little more like a job and a little less like exploitation while the head honchos upstairs frown upon you from their seats of inscrutable power. Or perhaps every job is actually like that, but if so, I would like to experience it from the inside of a cubicle.

I continue to digress. The point is, I am regretting the path my desperation has lead me down in hunting for a job, because I cannot stand the phone calls and the emails and wading through all the crap. I'm just looking for a job. In an office. In a cubicle. Behind a reception desk. I'm really not being picky here. And I don't think I deserve to have my information spewed to anyone who wants it every time I try to apply for a job. I'm sick of the job hunt being 80% bullshit and 20% actual job hunting. And I'm sick of watching people who don't even try manage to land jobs when those of us who are working our asses off to get them can't even get a phone call. 

I'm not asking for it to be easy, but seriously? Can we cut the crap?