Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting Inside My Head... phones

Sometimes, instead of talking to my shrink, I want to say "Look, you'd understand a lot better this way", hand him my iPod set to whatever playlist I'm currently rocking, and just let him listen to that for an hour. 

I have different playlists for a lot of things. I have some for certain activities - music I like to listen to when I'm walking, because it has a good beat, or when I'm driving, because I like to sing along. I have some for certain people. Don't worry, That Man has a full 64 song playlist of songs that make me think of him. (It all started with one Sheryl Crow song that was playing one night at his apartment...) I update those playlists, and change them according to my moods. Some of them have a lot of overlap - some of the songs I like to bake to are songs I like to drive to, and some of the songs I like to exercise to are songs on That Man's playlist.

I really think that an interesting way to get inside someone's head is to look at the kind of music they're listening to, enjoying, and relating to. Music is an incredible thing to me, in the way it can express so much, and connect so many people. So I'm going to share a snippet of my playlist of choice these days:  

Some of these songs, I'm sure you guys have heard before. Some of them, I'm pretty sure you haven't. I've included YouTube links to listen to the songs when available, or a site where you can listen to clips if it's not on YouTube. One thing my playlists never do is stick to one genre - I have a rather interesting mix of songs on most of my playlists because I care more about relating to the song than whether it fits a specific genre. 

Some of them have a very pointed sense of irony to them, for one reason or another. Some I can relate to so much, it's a little frightening. Some of them are go-to favorites for karaoke. (That's mostly the Sheryl Crow) Some make me cry. (Seriously, go watch the video for "So Close", at 1:59 my heart breaks just a little bit every time. Ironically, Prince Charming didn't like that song at all, thought it was dumb.) 

They're all there for a reason, and they all mean something to me. I hope you find a couple that you like.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Life On Silent

For a couple of weeks now, I've had my cell phone on silent. And not just sometimes, all the time. And you know what? I don't think I'm ever going to change it back unless I run into some sort of a situation where I really need it. 

Have I missed a couple of calls? Yea, sure. Have a few text messages gone unanswered for longer than usual? Yes, yes they have. But I feel like there's a certain amount of peace and relaxation that I get from not jumping every time my phone vibrates or beeps. I have a greater ability to ignore it. 

I'm very attached to my phone, I'll admit it. Especially when I'm waiting for a text or an email or a phone call from a specific person. It rarely leaves my person. I carry it in my pocket basically all the time. I don't think this is healthy at all, but I really can't help it. However, if it's not immediately alerting me to the fact that I have a message, I'm able to let it chill out in my pocket, and check it intermittently. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better than snatching it up every time it makes a sound.

Granted, there have been a couple of times when I've sat and stared at it waiting for the light to blink. It happens to the best of us. But all in all, I find that I spend a lot less time paying attention to my phone, which I think is a lot healthier. I have a certain sense of freedom from my phone that I didn't have when I felt compelled to check it the second I heard it go off. And I enjoy that. 


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fairytales And Fortunes

Fun fact about my blog: Oftentimes, I don't make up the titles of my blogs. A lot of times they're quotes from songs, books, movies, or poems. For one thing, I'm not a particularly short winded person, as I'm sure you've noticed. Brevity is not my thing. Plus, I love quotes. I'm a quote person. I could probably singlehandedly keep quotable magnets in business. 

So every so often, if I'm quoting something obscure or that most people I know wouldn't have heard of, I'll give a shout out to the artist or author or whomever. 

So this is my shout out to my friend Geoff, whose song lyrics I have (lovingly, I promise) ripped off for a couple blog titles recently. 

There's only 4 songs on the album, which means it's clearly worth the four bucks it would take all you guys to go sample it. It sounds like something you would hear in an iPod commercial, or in a groovy hipster coffee shop. I mean that in a good way, if some of you are reading that and find it more of an insult than a compliment. 

Fun fact number two is that way back in the day before my ex-boyfriend and I were a couple, I was pimping his solo album on my blog. 

The point of that was basically to say, Hey, you never know who these people are going to turn out to be. You could download this now and a couple years from now see him on TV and think "Hey, I totally have his album from way back when!" and feel really cool, and have some indie cred to brag about to your hipster friends. (I think I'm mixing my social stereotypes there, but I'm not sure.) 

I really am eloquent and well-spoken sometimes, I promise. Go download the CD. 


Friday, November 26, 2010

When You Love Someone, You Tell Them Square

I know, if I spend any more time talking about love, heartbreak, or my fucked up relationships on this blog, people are just going to stop reading. And I promise, I'm going to cut the crap soon. 

For now, though, I'd like to talk about retroactive "I love you"'s. 

I have this chronic dilemma of only having guys tell me that they love me after the fact. Sometimes they don't actually say it. Sometimes they don't admit to caring about me at all until afterwards. (Which makes you wonder why I stay, doesn't it?) The bottom line is, if a guy tells me he loves me, tells me how much he cares, or acts like he cares about me a lot, it's usually after the relationship has ended. 

Which, ya know, leads cynical ol' me to call bullshit

When my ex and I broke up at the end of the summer, he seemed more angry at me than anything. I won't lie and say he was entirely unjustified. I came home from visiting him complaining to one of my closest guy friends about what a jerk he'd be at the end. My guy friend gave me a proverbial smack upside the head, and said "Because he really, really cared about you, you idiot." D'oh. Lo and behold, the next time we spoke (we were trying the whole "Let's still be friends" thing) he sounded terribly upset, and like he really did miss me.

That Man and I had a chat a few days ago. If we had an anniversary, I suppose that would have been it. We never actually went on any dates until about a year and a half into things, and I will never forget the date of our first kiss (and after our conversation, he claims he won't either, but he's a man, and we know how they are) We were reminiscing about when things had been good between us, before it got complicated. The conversation took a turn towards whether or not we're going to see each other again, and what would happen if we did. We both know that we're never going to have a functional, committed relationship. Upon him revisiting that point, I cut him off with a "I know, you were never going to love me." Expecting an awkward agreement, instead I got the opposite. "I could tell you that I love you very much, but it wouldn't mean anything to you if I couldn't commit to a real relationship." Yea. Caught me off guard too. I asked him not to lie to me, because telling someone you love them when you don't mean it is just cruel. He said he was going to take the safe route and not say anything. I rolled my eyes, said that's fine, because as much as I'd like to hear him say it, I didn't want him to lie. The reply? "I wouldn't ever say it like this." That Man has truly mastered the art of mind fuckery. Not holding my breath for that to change. 

To be fair, I did that to That Man once too. He was dumping me... for the third time, I believe... yes. Third time. In the argument that ensued over him doing this to me (again. No wonder I have that voice in the back of my head...) I finally let loose that thing that I'd wanted to say to him. I don't even remember what exactly he'd said to me. It something about asking why I stay with him, and why I put up with the bullshit, and why I don't want to just take the opportunity to move on from him. Through the tears, finally, came the admission. 

"Because I love you." 

And finally, there's Prince Charming. After kicking me to the curb in favor of a new girlfriend (Yea, she earned the title. He wants me to meet her. Sweet, isn't he?) he decides to inform me that he loves me and that I will always have a place in his heart for everything that I've done for him. And really, at this point, it just sounds patronizing and condescending. While That Man is hardly the most sincere person in the world, I find this final declaration of love (though probably intended as platonic anyway) to be the least genuine. 

After spilling my guts in all of that, all I really have left to say is... why? Why do we hold in all our "I love you"'s until they really don't matter anymore? Why don't we tell people what they mean to us at the time?

I know, we're scared. We're scared that they don't love us back, or that they don't care about us as much as we care about them, or that if they knew how much we really cared, they'd walk away. 

The only reason I had the courage to tell That Man that I loved him was because he was walking away anyway - I couldn't possibly lose him any more than I already had. (A falsehood, considering we did get back to... whatever we ever were a few months later. Story of our lives...) 

But seriously? We need to get over that. Because what good does "I love you" do when we use it that way? Seriously now. 

So just do me a favor, for my own peace of mind. Tell somebody that you love them. Let them know that you really do care about them. DO IT! Because to have to look back and retrospectively consider the fact that someone cared for you very much is kind of a bitch. 


Thursday, November 25, 2010

I'm Thankful

Alright, I'll admit it. This post has been future-posted. I'm writing this the night before Thanksgiving as I wait for the pumpkin pie to finish baking so that I can hit the hay at least 7 hours before the alarm goes off at 3:45am. This year, I'm working the Thanksgiving Day Parade on the costume crew, so when the Hess float goes by, look at the people on it, marvel at how well they're dressed, and think of me. 

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm doing what everyone else is doing on their blogs; I'm talking about all the things I'm thankful for. 

I'm thankful for a lot of things, even if the circumstances surrounding them are not what I wanted. I'm trying to look on the bright side and appreciate what I have instead of bemoaning all the things that I've lost. I'm trying to take the triumphs for what they are, and not get so caught up in the ongoing struggles.

So I'm thankful for my family, and how supportive they always are, even when I say I'm not coming home for Thanksgiving because I can't handle it right now. I'm thankful that they're able to give me what I need, even when what I need is time and space to sort through the things going on in my life on my own. 

I'm thankful for my friends, the true ones that are out there. The ones that have been sitting at bars with me as I down copious amounts of gin. The ones who talk me off ledges at three in the morning. The ones who always leave loving, insightful, and helpful advice on my blogs. The ones who do the goofy things we're all embarrassed of but do anyway with me. The ones who listen to my bitching. The one who stole my iPod when I wasn't looking to write a note about how beautiful I was, and leave it for me to find the next day. The ones who invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them when they found out I wasn't going home. The ones who actually care about me. I'm so thankful that you're here for me. 

I'm thankful for the opportunities that I have been afforded in my life. I'm thankful that I am gainfully employed, and that one of those jobs is in my desired field. I'm thankful that people have had faith in my abilities and entrusted me with important responsibilities. I'm thankful that I'm getting the chance to prove myself, and do what I want to do. I'm thankful that I'm getting a chance. 

I'm thankful that my apartment smells like pumpkin pie right now, and I'm even thankful for the fact that I had to wake up at 3:45am, because I'm on a costume crew, dammit! 


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You're Not Seeing, I'm Not Waiting

So I've spent a lot of time getting down on myself lately. Be it because of the heartache, or the disappointment of my job turning out to be rather short-lived, I've been moping. But in talking to a friend today, I realized that I actually have a lot to be proud of. 

I spend a lot of time not tooting my own horn, and just hoping that people see how intelligent, and hard working, and kind I am. Someone told me recently that I could have anything I wanted, and I quickly blew off the remark as a blatant falsehood. 

But you know what? I didn't end up where I was standing out of sheer luck, or happenstance. 

I was a mediocre high school student. This is not me getting down on myself, this is me being honest. I had a 3.0 GPA in high school. I went on from that to college. I graduated college early, in 3 years, with honors. I held down a job for that entire period of time, and I still work for that company now. Within a couple of weeks of graduating college, I was working as a wardrobe supervisor, albeit on a small non-profit production. From that point, I have never been without a job in my field for more than a few weeks. In fact, if you look at my resume, it would appear that there were no breaks in my wardrobe career at all, because it just so happens that my jobs have gone July-August, September-October, November, and November-January. If all goes accordingly, I'll qualify to enter the union by January. 

Yes, during a lot of those in between periods, I was going crazy

But you know what? I'm doing pretty damn good for myself. 

I'm intelligent, I'm motivated, I'm passionate, and I am getting what I want

I don't have anything to prove to anyone, because I am proud of what I've accomplished, and where I'm standing right now - I've got the whole world and the whole life ahead of me, and I'm not waiting for anything, I'm going out to get it. 


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Heart To Hearts Over Gin and Tonic

I will openly admit to drinking more than I should be lately. In the past weeks, I've had a lot of trouble sleeping, but if I stumble in the door with a head heavy with liquor, it's really not difficult. And I don't dream. 

Well, not at first anyway. Something I've noticed is that when I come home after drinking, I crash into a nice, relaxing dreamless sleep. Then I wake up, which happens regardless of whether or not I've been drinking, simply because my bladder is the size of a peanut, sometime between 6 and 8 in the morning. I then go back to sleep and have the craziest dreams ever. No, really, this morning I was watching people swim around with fishing poles and comparing condoms with Cameron Diaz. It's like everything the alcohol stops me from dreaming earlier crashes into each other. 

I get off track rather easily, don't I? Anyway...

I generally avoid drinking alone. Because if I'm hanging out with a friend and drinking socially it doesn't feel like I'm doing anything wrong. So as a compromise, I've been doing a lot of hanging out with people and drinking. One person in particular, who I'm sure is growing rather sick of me, has spent a good deal of time drinking with me in the past couple of weeks, both distracting me from my issues and helping me work through them. 

He's smarter than I am, this much is apparent. Though I generally hate to admit that people older than me do often know better simply on the grounds that they have more experience. What's interesting is that we're looking for a lot of the same things in our lives, but going about it in completely opposite ways. At any rate, he's helping me recognize the things that I do need in my life, and the things that I don't. 

And with that in mind, a little bit of the heartache I've been feeling has begun to fade. 

The pain exploded, initially. It caught me by surprise, like a jarring blow to the side of the head that makes you see stars. And it burned so brightly that it was impossible to see past how much it hurt. All the things that I was losing - the time and energy and love I'd poured out - were gone forever. And the pain of that realization was blinding. And perhaps it was even blown out of proportion by the feeling of repetition, the voice in my head screaming "No, this can't happen again, not again, I can't stand to go through this again." 

But at last, when I can look back honestly at the things I was glossing over, the shit I put up with, and the things I was giving up, I can almost hear my friend when he says that I'm going to be okay, and that it's better that I knew this now, instead of further down the road, and that I don't need someone like him in my life, and that it's his loss, that he didn't realize what he had in someone like me. 

And I know that's the stuff your friends are supposed to say anyway. And I'm still waiting for the smoke to clear, I can't deny that. But at least, with every little heart to heart, I'm able to acknowledge that the smoke is going to clear. And that it hurts a little less. 


Monday, November 22, 2010

The Colors Won't Last, They Bleed And They Burn

I've decided that I want to start featuring more of my photography on my blog. So from now on, I'm going to post a photo with all of my entries. I'm going to try to keep the photos related to the content, in some way shape or form, but my train of thought usually takes the scenic route so I'm not sure if it will always be apparent why I chose it. No matter. 

After reading Ali's blog on running away, I was inspired to share my own story, and thoughts on the matter. 

When I was 10, I packed my little pink roller suitcase. A few outfits, t-shirts, jeans, underwear. A few non-perishable snacks, a bottle of water, at least $100 in cash, and a few personal items I'd want to bring with me. I pushed the suitcase under my bed, and that's where it sat, until I was at least 13. It was always ready, should I decide to leave in the middle of the night. 

There are a couple of things people think when I tell them this. That I was a drama queen, or that it's "cute". It wasn't actually cute. I was having an extremely hard time emotionally at that point in my life, which people also brush off because "ten year olds can't be depressed". I would argue that they very much can be. At the time I was packing this suitcase, I had also cut off all my hair, stopped eating, lost 10 pounds (which is a rather significant drop when you haven't broken 100 pounds yet), and wore oversized shirts to try to disguise the fact that I was skeletal and pale. There's a 2 or 3 year period where there are just no photos of me. They literally don't exist. I can show you a photo from right before this happened, and from after I finally started to get better, but the photos from in between don't exist. 

I hated my school. I was frightened of it because the cops had to be around so often because kids were violent. I had already had some trouble with my anxiety in elementary school, especially social anxiety, but it only got worse as I grew older. I didn't have very many friends, and people made fun of me because of what I looked like. I sometimes think that the self esteem issues I suffer from today are leftover from that point in my life. 

So I packed my suitcase, and planned to run away. And of course, I was 10, so running away literally meant running (well, walking), and not the slightly smarter option of, you know, taking a bus or a train. My plan was to go down to Cape May, where my family lived in the summer, and my plan was to walk. I had actually figured out how long it would take me to walk down the Garden State Parkway based on how fast I could run and walk a mile according to gym class. Never mind the fact that it's not actually legal to walk down the Garden State Parkway as a pedestrian. Also never mind the fact that if I'd mastered use of the internet back in those days, I could have learned that it would have been far more practical to take a 163 bus into Port Authority, and transfer to a 319 down to Atlantic City and Cape May. No, I was going to walk. I forget how long I thought it was going to take me, but definitely a couple of days. It's 160 miles worth of parkway. And I was going to walk it, all the way to the end. I mean, they had rest stations every 30 miles, I could do 30 miles in a day, or so I thought. And when I got to the end, I was going to live on the beach. They have tents there on the beach, and my idea was to go there, and live in one of the tents on the beach. Yup, that was the whole plan. 

The farthest I ever got was the end of the driveway. I snuck out a couple times, in the middle of the night when things were really bad, and I dragged my little roller suitcase all the way to the end of the driveway. But I always found a reason to stay. I always found something, however small, to look forward to. It could be something simple, something small, but there was always some small light in the darkness that kept me from going. I don't think I ever stopped because afraid. In the worst of these years, I wished myself dead many times with no actual fear of death. I don't think it was ever fear that stopped me, just that something to look forward to. 

The ironic part is that when I was a little older, I actually did run away, and it was completely spontaneous. I got in a huge fight with my parents, turned on me heel, walked out the door, and didn't stop. Needless to say, you don't get very far when you do that right in front of everybody, because both my parents got in their cars, called my aunt and uncle and they got in their cars, and there were four people combing the streets for me. I lasted about an hour. I fail at running away. 

I don't keep a packed suitcase anymore. I don't keep travel plans set up to escape when things get tough. Because I'm an adult now, and as such, I have obligations. I can't pick up my suitcase, head to the airport, and just go somewhere. And yet...

Right now, I am in the best position in my life that I have ever been to make such a leap. 

I have enough money in my savings account that I could afford a plane ticket and living expenses for quite a while. I'm finished with school. My job in my field is ending soon, and it would give me no great grief to quit my dead-end retail job. But most importantly, there is no one here that I'm staying for. 

Ah, the bitter truth of it comes out at last. Apart from my extreme dedication to my education, the one thing that has always kept me from running away in my adult years has been a man. Not the same man, mind you. For a long time, it was That Man. He was all kinds of wonderful, and I never wanted to be away when he was around. Which was ironic, because he spent a good deal of time away. But I always made sure that I was here waiting for him when he came back. I was reluctant to so much as go on vacation when he was around - I didn't want to miss any opportunity to spend time with him. 

And then came Prince Charming. Into my life rode this gorgeous man who I believed to be perfect. (Funny how I keep making that mistake, isn't it?) We had everything in common, and he was fun and interesting and funny and kind. I immediately stopped looking for touring positions, and started looking for local work, so that I could stay here. 

In both cases, I wound up crushed and heartbroken.

So here I am. 

And once again, I'm itching to run. I have no reason to stay. But I don't know where I want to go.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Stereotype Me

As part of the trend started by thegirlwiththecamera, and in light of GreekPhysique's post about how his initial idea of who I was wound up being pretty off, I am asking you to stereotype me. 


Make assumptions about me based on this picture. How old you think I am, what you think I do for a living, what kind of hobbies you think I enjoy. Anything. 

If you didn't know me, who would you think I am?


Friday, November 19, 2010

What Is A Journey?

Being that I work evenings, I never actually watch TV on my TV. I don't even have cable. Because of this, I am a frequent (ab)user of Hulu. The commercial above, which is actually for Louis Vuitton (which I didn't pick up on the first time I saw it because I was too focused on how much I was enjoying the commercial) is one that comes up every once in a while when I'm watching my weekly episodes of Castle or The Office or Grey's Anatomy online. 

Now that I got some silly and sappy YouTube clips out of my system... back to the matter at hand.  

I actually really love this commercial. Because apart from the part where it's trying to sell you a ridiculously expensive handbag with an ugly designer pattern all over it, it actually has a really good point. 

The journey is life itself.

Our lives, and everything in them, are our journeys. You don't actually need a Louis Vuitton handbag to go on that journey. (That's the part I'm sure the commercial doesn't want me to say) Because we're all on that journey, whether we want to be or not. And that journey is only ever going to be what you make of it. You can either be an active part of your world, and find your place in it, or sit on your couch and accept that your place is on your ass. Now come on, who is honestly going to pick the latter option? 

We could sit here for days theorizing and hypothesizing and philosophizing (spell check tells me I have yet to make up a word in this sentence) about the meaning of life, and the point of the journey we all take in our lives, but we might, in fact, be missing the point.

Because what if there is no point? What if the point is the journey? You know, "Happiness is a journey, not a destination", "Half the fun is getting there" and all that jazz. 

None of us know what the point is. So if we spend all our time trying to get to the point, or find the point, or identify the point, what are we actually doing? 

This hits me especially hard, simply because I find myself constantly living for the unreachable tomorrow, which will obviously be better than today. I treat things in my life as a process. Every job is a stepping stone to another job. A notch on the belt. A line on the resume. I'm building up and adding on so that tomorrow will be better, because I'm better - I'm a better, more qualified, more experienced employee who is capable of getting a better job. I'm obsessed with making myself more prepared and more qualified for whatever comes next. 

And I'm not saying that being prepared is a bad thing. Because it's not. But at some point I do have to step back and realize that sometimes I don't actually know what I'm preparing for. And I'm missing out on all the steps in between because I'm so focused on the future. 

I felt like I had my heart physically wrenched from my chest when the guy that I'd been seeing told me he was calling it quits to go and pursue someone else. Because I was so focused on developing the relationship, and working on achieving things that would make us happier that I was unable to look at the wonderful time we spent together and just appreciate that for what it was. I was too busy being shattered that it didn't have a "tomorrow". 

So basically, what I'm saying is, there has to be a happy medium with the journey. There has to be a way to enjoy the journey without neglecting the destination, and enjoying the destination without blowing off the journey.

I just, ya know, haven't figured that part out yet.


Being Thankful For A Little Space

So my family is a bit displeased right now, because I just told them that I'm not coming home for Thanksgiving. 

There's a myriad of reasons behind this, honestly. The first simply being a matter of convenience. I'm working on the costume crew for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this year. That's all fine, and dandy, and great on the resume. However, it does require me to wake up at around 3:45 on Thanksgiving morning. After that I have to go to a hotel where thousands of people are going to get dressed and made up, take care of the people on my rack, and clear up the costumes at the end of the parade. By the time all this is said and done, it's going to be sometime after 1:00 in the afternoon. By the time I've hightailed it to a bus stop, gotten on, sat through the influx of traffic from the post-parade mass exodus, and made it to my parent's house (or my aunt's house, or whoever is responsible for Thanksgiving this year, I don't even know), I'll be lucky if I manage to be there before 3 or 4. 

At which point I'll scarf down some mashed potatoes because that's the only vegetarian food there ever is, not get to watch football because I have to socialize with my family, and then turn around and get on a bus back into the city because I have to work the following day. 

It really just doesn't seem worth all the stress. Especially when you factor in that middle bit there. You know, the part about not watching football because I'm socializing with my family. 

It's not really about the football. (Though I'm pleased that my plans involve football). 

Over the summer, I wrote a post entitled Family Barbecues: Answering THOSE Questions about all of the things that family gatherings force me to talk about that I frankly cannot stand talking about. 

This is really only magnified by everything going on in my life right now. 

I don't want to go home only to have all my aunts and uncles ask how my boyfriend is, because I can't actually tackle that discussion yet without a rather swift onset of tears. I don't want to talk about school because no one wants to hear about how many offices I've been in and out of and how many rude assistants I've had to talk to, and how even though I finished classes in July, the huge mess of paperwork has still not been completely solved yet. I don't want to have everybody asking about the new job that I just got, because not only does no one in my family have a clear concept of what I do, but the job that was supposed to be a solid position for 3 months has been cut drastically short due to a closing notice that was posted the day I got there. This of course means that I return to retail servitude with no other prospects as of mid-January. (Which leaves me, as I joked to a friend, in a perfect position to be alone and unemployed just in time for my next birthday. How delightful.) 

I don't want to talk about it. Any of it. Because my family is not known for being particularly... tactful at dealing with any of the above. I get ripped a new one for some reason or another, or are made fun of, or mocked, or some other such thing at basically every holiday dinner. I don't claim that everyone gangs up on me - my sisters get it too, as do various other relatives. While my dad has insisted that none of it is ever malicious and that people would be respectful of me, I just don't have the heart to deal with it right now. Any conversation that my family could possibly start with me at Thanksgiving dinner would have me on the brink of tears, and I'm not putting myself in that position. 

So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I am going to take a little space. I'm thankful that I'm going to hang out with one of my friends, we're going to eat turkey sandwiches and pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes and maybe cranberry sauce. I'm thankful that we're going to sit on her couch and watch football and then we're going to walk around the city and look at all the Christmas decorations. But most of all, I'm thankful that we're not going to talk about any of the things I don't want to talk about, because I know that if I don't bring it up, she won't ask. 


Sunday, November 14, 2010

No Need To Do It Yourself

Between thinking about what I wrote about the deterioration of the kind of childhood I experienced, and watching a lot of car commercials about cars that essentially drive themselves (no, really, they're trying to create a car that can avoid collisions all on its own), I was thinking about the vast number of life skills that have somehow managed to become obsolete. 

There a lot of things that people just don't learn to do anymore because technology has advanced to a point that it's deemed unnecessary. In my last entry, I focused on how children no longer see any point in playing outside, or using their imaginations because they have their televisions, video games, and hand held electronics to amuse them from a very, VERY young age. 

Now we also have cars that can parallel park FOR you. I mean, come on! Who didn't have the "I HATE parallel parking!" moment as a young teen learning to drive? Well, future teens may have the option of avoiding the frustration, because their car might come equipped with that skill. Not to mention the commercials you see for the cars that "notice you drifting off the road" or "notice that the car in front of you stopped short". Somehow, I'm not convinced my the tiny, nigh-illegible fine print that reminds us that such technology is not meant to replace safe, responsible driving. 

This is something I mentioned in another entry, Things I Wish I'd Learned In School. A remarkable number of people my age don't know how to cook. They know how to boil water for ramen, or microwave a box of frozen Weight Watchers dinner, but ask them to make macaroni and cheese that was actually made from scratch and they'd probably toss a slice of Kraft cheese in the pot and call it done. This obviously doesn't go for everyone I know, I have a few friends who are really great cooks, but there's an overwhelming majority that just didn't learn. Because at this point, you can get whatever it is you want to eat either frozen, and ready to prepare, or at a fast food joint in the vicinity. 

I think one of the painfully obvious things we don't have to do anymore is develop social skills. I will willingly admit to being a victim of this. To be fair, my social anxiety was around before my cell phone and my AIM screen name, so it was probably inevitable that when given the crutch of electronic communication, I'd scoop it up with no questions asked. So now I'm an adult with telephone anxiety. Seriously. Even calling someone stresses me out. I've gotten a lot better about it simply because it's a life necessity to be able to call people, but in the age of texting, IM, and email, it was so often unnecessary that I never really became comfortable with it. And I've recently realized that, especially amid my own age group, I am hardly the only one. 

So here's the big question - since none of us are spending any time using our imaginations, or learning to drive our own cars, or cooking our own food, or developing our social skills... what the hell are we doing with all that free time? 


For all the time we're not spending acquired life skills, it doesn't seem like we have any abundance of free time to do anything else. So really, we're just skimping out on life skills so we can have more time to work. 

How fun.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Homage To My Childhood

Or, Why I Weep Through The End Of Toy Story 3

So work gave us Toy Story 3 on Blu-Ray and DVD yesterday, so clearly, the first thing I did after getting home from the gym last night was pop it into my DVD player. 

I will never deny that I am a Disney person, and frustrated though my job may make me with the company itself, I cannot deny the kind of magic that is inherent, somewhere inside. I grew up during the Disney Renaissance (a term given to the years between 1989 and 1999, which produced such classics as "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin", and "The Lion King", and which also just so happen to be the first 10 years of my life). So I love my Disney movies. Hence, why I still watch them at age 21. (One of the things that is unanimously frowned upon by pretty much everyone I ever date - curse my requisite 10 year age difference.)

The original Toy Story film came out in 1995, when I was 6 years old, making me around the age of the children characters in the story. And now, at age 21, I'm just a bit older than the all-grown-up Andy of Toy Story 3. 

And in the home video montage that provides part of the opening of Toy Story 3, I was immediately moved by a reminder of my own childhood, and, as it faded to black, hurt by the realization that I made. 

Kids don't play like that anymore.

While I'm comforted to know that kids still grow up on the classic movies that I loved so dearly, as well as by the fact that I still have a few childish bones left in my body, I was saddened by the realization that my not-so-distant childhood is actually a thing of the past. 

When I was little, I had toys like many of the ones you see in Toy Story. I had a whole collection of plastic dinosaurs, and more Barbie dolls than were probably ever really necessary. I had lots of Beanie Babies, and a whole rack of costumes to dress up in that were actually my mom's old clothes. But let's face it - stuff from the 60's, 70's, and 80's often deserves to be on a costume rack. I had an Etch-a-Sketch, and stuffed animals. I had an American Girl doll. I didn't have video games, or electronics, or the internet until I was much older. The extent of my childhood computer use was playing the occasional game of Tetris on my grandparent's dinosaur of a Macintosh. 

I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that I had a lot of toys that didn't do anything on their own. They didn't have any electronic parts, or need any batteries. My dolls didn't talk, I made them talk. And I would create elaborate stories for them, though I always got mad when mom was playing along and didn't want Barbie to agree to marry Ken after one dinner date. (Come on, mom, a five year old does not have the patience to pretend 2 years of  dating and a relationship before popping the question and changing Barbie into her pretty white wedding dress!) 

I took my toys outside with me, and we got wet, and dirty, and we scraped up our knees, and that was okay! Sure, maybe I spent a little more time in the emergency room than I would have liked (skateboarding down the slide seemed like a good idea at the time) but I'm no worse for the wear. Most of what I remember of my childhood actually involves being outside. I lived in the neighborhood where on any given Saturday, one child would go outside to play, and eventually all the neighborhood kids would be traipsing through everyone's back yards playing some ridiculous war game or building a fort in someone's trees. 

If you walk through my neighborhood now, you don't see that anymore. And it's not because we've all grown up. We all had younger sisters and brothers, and new kids have moved into the neighborhood. Though many of us have left for college, there are many kids there now who are the same age we were then. But you don't see them out on their bikes, or dragging their favorite dinosaur down the street by his tail. Sometimes you can see them through the windows, silhouettes against the flashing TV screens as video games entertain them. 

And I have nothing against video games, really, I don't. I love them just as much as the next kid. But when I was little, playing video games meant going outside, walking to my friend's house who lived around the corner and had an N64, going into his basement and helping him cart his television, video game system, and a whole bunch of extension cords out through the garage and onto the front lawn so we could play them outside. (Yes, we actually did that). 

I'm sad that often, when I babysit, kids are so engrossed by their handheld devices, electronic toys, and televisions at such a young age that they just don't want to go outside, or play with their friends, or play with a toy that doesn't talk and move on its own. I'm sad because all the happiest memories of my childhood are outdated. 

Maybe I'm just jaded, and there are still kids out there somewhere who are growing up like I did. And I really hope there are. But growing childhood obesity rates seem indicative of the fact that it's more likely they aren't. 

So as I cry through the end of the final Toy Story movie, (shut up, I dare you to watch it and not get teary - you have a heart of stone if you can.) I wanted to give a bit of an homage to the childhood I knew and loved. The one where I played with dolls and dinosaurs, and ran around in the mud, and tore holes in countless pairs of tights, and dug up worms, and used my imagination. 


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ladies, Stand Tall and Stand Together

So I ran across this blog a couple of days ago, which is entitled "Why I Am Personally Offended When A Slut Walks Into The Room"

Through a liberal use of the word "slut" and the application of basic economic principles to dating, the girl who wrote this managed to not only slap herself with a big old "rude, ignorant, moron" sticker (if you even begin to read the comments, you'll see what I mean), but to degrade the entire rest of her gender in the process. 

The post basically berates any woman who has any sort of sex life, and complains about how women have allowed men to reduce them to sex objects... all while bitterly objectifying women and treating sex as a commodity throughout the post. 

As a woman, I just need to say WE NEED TO STOP DOING THIS TO EACH OTHER! 

Are we really all so jealous, bitter, competitive, and insecure that we have to waste our time degrading the women around us? Because guess what girls, that doesn't make you any more attractive. To refer back to a movie we've probably all seen (and one that we clearly didn't learn from, if we're still pulling this crap), calling someone fat doesn't make you any skinner. Calling someone stupid doesn't make you any smarter. 

All it does is make you look bitter. 

So instead of sitting around and ragging on everybody else, calling each other "sluts", "whores" and "bitches" when 90% of the time, the terms don't actually apply and we're just trying to be mean, and then complaining about how no guys ever treat us right, why not actually treat each other the way you want guys to treat us. 

Like we're special, like we're beautiful, and like we're worth respect. 

Yes, some guys will still be total and complete assholes. Believe me when I say I get that. And some girls will still be total bitches too. And yes, some of them will sleep around, and engage in unhealthy activities. 

But why let that have any effect on you? Does it really impact you in any way? 

Ladies, stand up with confidence that you are worth it, and stop working about tearing down everyone around you to make yourself look good by comparison. There's a reason guys think we're crazy - a lot of the time, we are. 

Stop calling each other "sluts". Embrace the fact that some people make different life choices, and the fact that there's nothing wrong with having a healthy sex life. Same goes for the word "whore". If we can't stop treating each other like this, how can we expect men to stop treating us like this? We're sitting here holding ourselves back because we can't get over our stupid disagreements with each other. 

Live and let live, it's as easy as that.

I hope that my point has come across somewhere between the movie references and the overused bold face and italicized font. 


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I'll See You On The 7 Train

I never take the 7 train, except to see you. I never have. In fact, I think I subconsciously avoid it just so I can continue to make that statement. 

But my quirky subway habits aren't really the point here. 

The point is, that I still can't see the train and not think of you. You'd think that after you ripped my heart out, not once, but three times, I'd have mustered up the courage to not care anymore. 

No such luck. If ever I am in the Queensboro Plaza station when a 7 train rolls into the station (only the local, the green circle that I could always see from around the bend) my heart rate still accelerates. 

Which is pretty fucking stupid, let's be honest. I'm not getting on it, and even if I did, you're not home.

And yet, I still want to. I want to take the train to Bliss Street, (I'm so not even joking, my life is THAT ironic) and walk down the stairs, two blocks down, and two blocks over, knowing that by the time I've hit the last corner before your building, I'll probably already be able to pick out the scent that I associate with you. 

I'm not sure what it is, actually. But your whole building smells like it. When I open the door to your lobby, it's a kind of comforting, familiar thing and it follows me as I get into the elevator. It's on you when I collapse into your arms when you open the door, and it's on my clothes for a couple of days until I wash them. It smells warm and clean, and just the tiniest bit spicy.

Clearly, it's all some sort of psychological mind fuck, because I couldn't possibly pick up on that from half a block away, but I do. 

I've also been known to full on stop in my tracks if someone passes me on the street carrying a similar aroma. I've literally jerked my head 180 degrees expecting to see you. 

And all of this, all this bullshit I'm rambling about, sparked by seeing your stupid train pass mine in the station. I haven't seen you since June, and there have been two other men who have happily taken your place in breaking my heart, so I'm not really sure why I still care. I'm not sure why I'm hoping that, come January, I'll find myself on a 7 train again.

Because I never wanted to be this person. I never wanted to be that girl that can't let you go. 


Monday, November 8, 2010

Finding Beauty At 10,000 Feet

I flew back into New York today. 

I've done a lot of flying in the past year. Between a need to abuse the one perk of my crappy retail job, studying abroad, and being involved in a long distance relationship, I spent a lot of time in and out of airports. And in that time, I learned a couple of things.

Never check a bag if you can avoid it, don't wear shoes you have to tie, hide your sexy underwear in case they search your bag, and always go for the window seat, because wherever you're leaving from or going to is prettier from 10,000 feet up.

My favorite time to leave on a flight is in the late afternoon. If I pick my seat right, I get to watch the sunset out the window, which is one of the most beautiful things in the world, and I get to glide into whatever city I'm arriving at when it is lit up for the evening. 

I'm a New Yorker, and there are a lot of things I like about living here. But a concrete jungle isn't really my idea of a beautiful place to live. The skyscrapers and the traffic feel cold to me. 

But from 10,000 feet up, New York City is beautiful. It glitters in the darkness like a million tiny Christmas lights. You're not caught in foot traffic, smelling garbage, or missing your train. The headlights of cars are strung together down the streets like diamonds, and everything is quiet. It's the most peaceful the city ever is. 

And while I'm still far above it, I can see the stars.

I had a moment, on the plane this evening. As we were preparing to land, I looked out the window at the city below me, and then up at the sky. There was a single star twinkling in the night sky. I was struck by the beauty of that single point of light in the darkness. 

But my plane descended, below the cloud cover, and the star vanished. I was closer to the ground where I could see all the things I didn't like about New York. I'm always slightly bitter that there is little beauty to be found in Manhattan. Central Park is my one exception to that notion, though it's difficult, even there, to find a place where the skyscrapers don't protrude. 

I pouted out the window at the disappearance of my star as we came in for a landing, but just before we hit the runway, I looked up again. And wouldn't you know it, through a break in the clouds, in the midst of the lights of the 6 other planes flitting this way and that across the night sky, there was a single star twinkling. 

Maybe the beauty is always there. We're just not always looking at it from the right angle. I can't look down on Manhattan from an airplane every time it makes me unhappy, and I can't always see the stars, but someone can. And maybe it makes them smile too.