27 June, 2009

Ear Worms

The way I go through music can (and has) driven many a friend temporarily mad. If I hear a song I really enjoy at first blush, I will play it on my itunes. On loop. For at least the next hour, if not couple hours. This method has greatly helped me through countless papers, take-home exams, and stupidly long problem sets. (Damn you, GEOS 216!) There must be some thing about the Psychology of background noise... I don't know. I never took a class on it. And while I'm not exactly proud that I listened to 'In Cairo' by Hot Hot Heat 76 times back to back while writing a my final for forensic psych this past spring, but I am rather impressed that I was able to keep my boyfriend who sat next to me through it all. That solidifies the song's greatness, for me. (And also proved to be an excellent test of will for the bf.)

So, in honor of all songs that rock AND the fact that I am (still) cleaning out my room, I'm posting songs that are so infectious one might be able to listen to them indefinitely. I'm not suggesting you should actually do it, but if push came to shove... you could.

AND- because blogger doesn't yet have a proper way to embed video, enjoy the youtube.

Ok, It's Alright With Me- Eric Hutchinson
Dorky white boy singing the "blues"? Sign me up. It's a terrible music video to a terrific-ly catchy song.

This is the Thing- Fink
Hauntingly beautiful, melancholy, and chill, I listened to this all fall through two long anthropology papers AND the final exam. It is my anthro anthem.

Plane- Jason Mraz
This is the song I listened to on loop throughout my entire A.P. Art portfolio senior year of high school. The total was 277 times. Just try and tell me that's not impressive.

26 June, 2009

A Champion of Mediocrity

Sometimes, late at night, I worry that I will never get a job. Not really in a "oh god, am I going to live on the street?!" kind of way, but a passing "hey, you know- emily. it's been a few weeks. maybe you should really be concerned about this." But then I make myself a pb and j sandwich and it's all better. PB and J is a pleasant reminder of my youthful, carefree days. As I am now 22 and graduated, what else do I have to look forward to? Retirement? Hence the pb and j therapy. You might say it hearkens back to my youth and more secure guidelines; I say it's delicious.

In the tradition of our victimless society, though, I feel I must be able to blame someone for these shortcomings. Let's start with... public education. Now, I have nothing AGAINST public education. Where else would I have learned about sex? Or had my fill of chicken tenders? But- and I'm being serious here, people- public education is where my downfall began.

In high school you could do a million extra-curriculars (assuming you're mildly intelligent and actually sit down every so often to write some things down as "homework"). Yearbook staff, soccer, the literary magazine, theater, and chorus? Of course you can! (Hypothetically.) All at once? Naturally. So what if you don't have a specific interest! People are just happy that you are interested in something. No one tells you that you can't do all these things, because they're just happy that you're not on the roof outside your window smoking pot (hypothetically assuming you have a roof outside your window) or pregnant. (Or both at the same time.) So after four years of endless club meetings, community service fairs, and that thing called "homework", you graduate. This is all well and good, and you go off skipping your merry way to COLLEGE. College is big and scary (or, in my case, small and scary) where there are people smarter than you. However- and here's the kicker- there's still no one there that says "Hey, you know Emily, maybe you should think about honing in on one or two activities. Y'know, really focus in." Or, if they did, you probably weren't listening because you were 18 and knew it all. So you can do anything you want, and you do! But this time there are a ton of free tee shirts and sometimes a lot of credit for when you do those things well. And life feels pretty good getting that "liberal arts" education that everyone seems to think is so sparkly and wonderful nowadays.

I have news: it is not. Because then you graduate and realize that there are people, people your age, who have real skills and have been doing real things like working for years. Years! After sixteen years of education and god-knows how much money (that usually and happily is not yours) your liberal arts education has made you a champion of mediocrity. Your skills are that you can play four instruments poorly (or six instruments very poorly), write a kind-of persuasive paper, sort-of do research, and you sort-of know a bit about computer programming, ecology, and history. You can kind of speak a few languages, but not enough to travel anywhere and get a dual-language job, and you're not that bad, really, at public speaking. But. You don't have any specialized skills, no, not really. Doing a lot of things kind of well certainly makes you interesting, but that's not exactly a strategy for securing a long-term job. You're not even quite sure about what field you should be in, let alone a job in that field. What has all this time been for?

Maybe in a different economy the thousands (ten thousands? hundred thousands?) of us who are liberal artists would be able to be hired in any field we choose. But now, in what is strategically one of the most terrible times to graduate in the history of ever, employers want people with marketable skills. You mean (you seem to ask yourself) that there are colleges that don't just give you to cursory knowledge of many different realms of learning? They actually teach you to "do" things? So you scoff you lofty liberal and arty scoff and then move back to your parents home, for what you thought would be a temporary move. Then, after a bit of time in"funemployment" (a happier way of thinking of yourself as unemployed) you realize that, "Hey, maybe people WON'T want you to come to meetings and only be able to offer quick retorts and snappy pop culture references." If you don't come to this conclusion, you should. Your overview of international politics, 18th century european novels, and the biology of the tropics can probably all be learned on wikipedia nowadays, anyway. Sixteen solid years of education and you're kind of at square one. But now you know a lot more useless facts. Maybe you could go on Jeopardy. (But alex trebeck does seem like kind of a dbag.)

Where did this all come from? Well, today I got "let go" from a job that, technically, I hadn't even started yet. Can I really call it being let go, then? So what if I didn't really "know" how to make chocolate- I would have made an excellent chocolatier, and don't you tell me differently.

The phone call still hurt my ego (isn't there a job for me... anywhere?). But then I got a peanut butter sandwich and sat down to the history channel to discover early Mayan culture. Because if I'm not doing anything, I might as well learn something. Or maybe that's how this whole mess started, sixteen long years ago...

24 June, 2009

Tee Shirt Guilt

Here's what I don't understand... how can one person accumulate so much STUFF?

I'm finally unpacking my dorm room boxes and hitting the childhood room hard, trying desperately to throw away all the things that are spilling out of closets, bookshelves, and threatening to takeover my rug. And, not to be totally victimless (I do adore the free tee-shirt a bit too heartily) but much of this schtuff was bequeathed to me from well-intentioned family and friends. Therefore, even if I haven't used it or even seen it because it's been at the bottom of my closet for years, the guilt that comes with "giving it away" is strong. But seriously, when will I ever wear an extra large purple tee-shirt with the words "Sisters: emotional tech support" scrawled in large white script? The gift was super thoughtful- my sisters are an emotional support network, and have been there many a time for me. But must I declare so on my chest for all the world to see? Also, I was given the gift years ago, when I was even smaller than the size small I am now. But it was hard when I tried to bring my teeshirt collection downstairs to give away, and my mom held up the "sisters" shirt and looked at me with eyes that can only be described as a mixture between shocked and a touch hurt.
"You're giving this away?"

"Yes mom."
"But... why?"

This is why I have so many damn tee shirts: everything I truly want to give away I'm guilted into keeping, either by other people, or, worse, by my own conscious.

That's another thing: I have (too) many soccer teeshirts from the various competitions, travel teams, and games that I've played over the year. My mom was really adamant about getting a larger size so that I'd "grow into it." Now, at 22, I have over 25 soccer tee shirts that I will never be able to rock as a nostalgic and sporty nod to my childhood pasttimes because they are still a person and a half larger than I ever hope to be. There always is the option to convert the designs on the shirts into pillows, but then again that would just create more stuff to deal with in my poor small room... it could be endless, this clutter.

But, on the bright side, I might be able to totally beat this guy's world record for the most tee shirts worn. The larger sizes will sure come in handy. Thanks, mom.

16 June, 2009

My First Day of High School

It was my first day of high school. Everyone was in the hot lunch line, steak tenders, chicken tenders, or hot dog, not really that tender, actually. The vegetarian option was not an option, unless the “salad” line, with iceberg lettuce and sunflower seeds- my cafeteria's attempt at culture- could count. Only the dieting or anorexic girls ate there, and I was not ready to take that social plunge. So there I was in the hot lunch line, contemplating the body odor of the boys in front, freshly out of gym class, as well as the poor handwriting of the daily specials on the board high above where I stood. And then, suddenly, while waiting in line, my friend told the people around her she was pregnant.

“I’m going to have twins! I haven’t told Mike yet, but he’s going to be so excited. We’ve always wanted to have twins. Twins!” Tanya exclaimed happily as we stood in line.

"Friend" here is a pretty generous term. We had been going to school together since middle school, and had taken more than a few classes together. But when you're years away from either a driver's license or a car, your social life is pretty much limited to what you do at school, anyway. So, we were friendly. Friends.

This conversation was unusual for a myriad of other reasons. The first that came to mind was that I thought it a pretty weird place to tell someone such news. Is there no sense of decorum anymore? There were at least thirty people in line, not including the eavesdropping lunch ladies eager for gossip or the teachers filing in and out attempting to keep the peace in our cafe-torium (our combined cafeteria and auditorium. It was a public school, funds were limited. Sometimes it was a cafe-class-itorium, a combined cafeteria, classroom, and auditorium, but that was only in the bad years.)

Secondly, she didn’t just tell one person. In effect, she told the whole world, or at least our whole world according to our school. Only the cool kids got hot lunch (...) and there were only two real lunchtime periods. So, by the entire school knew by the end of that first day, if not before the end of that lunch period, it was well-established news.

Thirdly, her comment wasn’t said in shame or fear, as one might expect based on Lifetime movie depictions of such events. Tanya stated it matter-of-factly, with audible pride and awe. Wouldn’t Mike be surprised? Of course he would.

After I thought about her words for a little while, I had one next thought. “Dear God.” I knew nothing about sex. Nothing at all. All I knew was gleaned from television and the movies. My mental picture went something like this: the scene would be set with intriguing music and perhaps an alluring one-liner from one of the sex partners. I loved the one liners. "But I love you!" or "What did you say?" or my favorite, ""I'll give you ten seconds to kiss me." Then there was kissing and maybe even lunging, depending on the passion of the situation. The two people would fall into bed and the camera would start to pan away, coming back when the sun rose the next morning. Intuitively I knew that something had happened between the lover's fall and the morning sunlight, but just what exactly was still fuzzy in my mind.

Not that I was completely illiterate about sex. I had watched all the videos in health class (they made me.) The videos were presented by an excitable and ambitiously overweight middle school gym teacher, and as health was always fourth period, I always had to watch them right before lunchtime. Sexually transmitted disease talks, self-breast examinations, pregnancy videos, eat up, kids! We were across the hall from the cafeteritorium, and sometimes the smell of tenders would be distracting.

The self-breast examination video that was pret-ty popular among the boys. There was a video about abstinence. (The videos message in sum: Don't have sex! But if you do, here's how awkward it will be when you tell your parents about that STD you got from Krista in the locker room between sixth and seventh period. Abstinence abstinence abstinence. And this before the Bush era. (Must've been the Reagan influence.) There video about STD's showed how one son had to confront his dad about having one, but they never really got to the sex part so much, which really might have saved the film. I remember the son's girlfriend was named Kelly, because I always envisioned her as being Kelly Kapowski, from Saved by the Bell. She had always looked a bit too easy to me. There was a video about alcoholism that was deeply tied to the recurring theme of spray-painting graffiti on a wall and double-dutch jump-roping. It went over my head. And then, of course, we would watch the "Miracle of Life" videos, also known as the scariest and most effective birth control video to show a middle-schooler in the whole wide universe. Scary scary. But little was talked about actual "sex," part, which would have been immensely helpful. What, did they just want us to figure these things out for ourselves?

On that memorable first day, I started to get the inkling that my high school experience might not be the most conventional. At the very least, the story makes for a great ice-breaker. Because what doesn't really tell you everything you wanted to know about a person and spark a new friendship than a story revolving around one's first day of high school, bad cafeteria food, and teenage pregnancy? (...) I don't remember what happened to Tanya and her baby, but I'd like to believe that she was right in her assertion that Mike really would be proud. At least I know that he had seen the Miracle of Life.

09 June, 2009

Tuesday Morning in the "Real World"

Coffee, itunes, and thank you cards. The real world is magical so far. It's raining (that's a good omen for weddings), a job interview at a local gourmet coffee/chocolate shop, and a day that will hopefully have at least one nap and one afternoon walk with my mom.

It's amazing the amount of pride I felt for simply waking up before 9:30am today. I even got congratulated on it! I hope people are this supportive for life, and that it's not just the first week of adulthood kind of thing (but I have a sinking suspicion this may not be so.)

The entirety of my life is in my parent's garage. My room is pretty barren, as I haven't had the heart to move in yet, because that makes it more real than it already is. Even my journal is packed. Life is pretty surreal. But, in the "real world", there is hdtv, two-ply toilet paper, and a clean and packed fridge. Things could be worse.