26 January, 2010

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of

In Jay-Z's new song An Empire State of Mind featured artist Alicia Keys sings:

"In New York
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There's nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
The lights will inspire you."

Aside from ending a sentence in a preposition, Alicia Keys has some good points. New York does make one feel brand new, or at least like they're looking around them for the very first time. There are so many people and things to look at, to see, to do- the possibilities are endless. Everyone is interesting, busy, and stylish. But there's a lot that I couldn't do this weekend, even being in an empire state of mind.  While I have a lot of dreams and hopes, people apparently don't take a zest for life as a form of credit. (Lame.) So on Saturday, while visiting my twin in the new place she calls home, we ended up just walking around for a couple hours feeling equal parts inspired and poor. They seem to go hand-in-hand. Every time I started to sing the song Chel would stop me and call me a tourist. Scathingly. Only she was allowed to sing it, as she was a real New Yorker now. She paid rent. She rode the subways. She couldn't afford the produce. I was just a visitor. But I still felt inspired and sung it in my head. I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

On Saturday afternoon we stopped to listen to the buskers in Washington square: an a capella group singing mo-town, a piano player tinkling out Chopin, and a sand artist drawing mandala-inspired designs on the sidewalk. We took pictures of kids playing in empty fountains, walked to the river to see the skyline of Jersey (Jersey- beautiful at this time of year), but mostly we just walked.

A speaker came to my college during my freshman year as part of our orientation program. The whole lecture consisted of her passionately instructing us, the new students, to "stop doing" and to "just be." Ironic logic, if you think about the fact that my professors might not have looked too kindly on that reasoning as an excuse for having not done my research paper. "Sorry I didn't do my paper, Professor Halse. I was just being."

But on Saturday that's just what Chel and I did. We just be'd. (Saying "we just were" loses a little bit of the philosophical charm of the phrase.) However, to fulfill our youthful wild sides we did watch a few episodes of MTV's the Jersey Shore. Because you can't search the depths of the soul without spending time in the shallows, too. Yes, you can write that down.

The pictures are taken from my cell phone during our adventuring around town: the sunset over an apartment building, Buddhist inspired graffitti on a mailbox, and a painting on the side of a garage. Note: this last picture is most likely not the actual City of New York Bomb Squad logo. I doubt they'd endorse "Dr. Strange Love." (But maybe they should.)

21 January, 2010

Your Cold Weather Fashion Apparel Forecast

Why do people inhabit Massachusetts? Or any part of the northeastern seaboard, for that matter. It. Is. COLD. For the past two hundred days (give or take a few) the temperature has barely risen a tenth of a degree above something like negative fourteen point one. The only good thing about living in the cold of the northeast is the small period of winter before Christmastime. Magical, harmonious, snowy white and fresh. But after Christmastime... meh. The fact that the cold weather also eliminates the live-ability for cartoonishly large and formidable creatures is another thing for which I am thankful. (I'm looking at you, scorpions and spiders.)

Since it is cold in Massachusetts nearly 8 months of the year, cold weather "fashion" apparel is a necessity. You know you live in a cold climate when hearty outer wear can be considered fashionable.

Of these, ear-flapped "fur" hats are the funniest cool items of the moment. It's probably not real fur, as we are in the commonwealth of Massachusetts and thusly- progressive. Were fur hats ever cool before this? I thought only dorks from 90s movies wore them and were promptly ridiculed. But if you look carefully around the frozen avenues of Boston, fur hats, especially the ear-flapped ones, are oh so in vogue. Petite women and older men alike can't get enough of the fur flapped hat. Yes, it keeps you warm, but at what cost? You can't hear anything on the periphery, which is a rather large obstacle in a pedestrian's successful avoidance of oncoming traffic. And it also makes you look approximately 5 years old. But do I have one? Yes. Does it keep me warm? Immensely so. Can I hear anything? Usually, no. But it's okay, we "only" have three months of winter left. (Optimistically speaking.)

Also in vogue are "indie" patterned winter hats, the kind a mountain sherpa might wear on his llama trek into town. These are the kind of hats that say "I care about warmth and function over form" at the same time they quietly whisper"...but this hat cost me sixty dollars." Which seems like a departure in the "I don't care as long as I'm warm" category. 

I can't wait for spring to come to remind me of all the good things that come with being in the Northeast and will subsequently reaffirm my decision to remain living here. Only three more months...

Uh, hon... there's a little Freud on our fridge

My roommate works in the psych research department at a local hospital. She is very into psychology. So much so that her mother gave her a small psychology gift for Christmas: a magnetic likeness of Dr. Sigmund Freud. Freud, the psychologist best known for his theories on dream interpretation, the development of the field of psychoanalysis, and his"research" on how the different stages of sexual desire affect one's life.

Freud likes to keep it real on our fridge.

The magnetic Freud includes all sorts of modern day outfits and potential cross-dressing apparel. Freud has a mohawk, for when he's feeling unconventional and misunderstood. He has a bustier and a ruffly skirt for when he's feeling frisky. And more. The facial expression that Freud is given is one of critical disapproval, which seems quite fitting for the man behind the magnet. This look of mild disdain suits all sorts of his potential outfits. Today I thought it looked best while wearing his brain-mapping tee shirt (oh. Meta!) and his jean shorts ("jorts") hung low over his white boxers. I even gave him a mom tattoo. (Clever.) He is holding a ginormous lollipop and cigar, and all this coupled with his youthful baseball hat gives him the impression of being a man stuck between childhood and adulthood, with an infatuation with his mother.

I'm sure the real Freud would be having a field day with the implications.

17 January, 2010

Where the air is sweeter

As I had the good fortune to fall in love with an amazing guy who happened to be a year behind me in college, I am able to tread between the "real world" and alma mater when I am able. There are legitimate (and not just sketchy alum) reasons to go back and visit, besides seeing Dan. The air there doesn't smell like trash, there are more trees than people, life is less laden with responsibility, and, though hours from a real sea, it has the best sushi in Massachusetts.

College is unique for many reasons. One is expected to further their own learning through 4 classes a semester. That is all. Sure, people take on more responsibilities, but when else in your life can you schedule in a 3 day weekend every week and be given the opportunity for consistent daily naps? Additionally, when again will you be primarily  surrounded by peers within 3 years of your age? And two-thousand of them (in my case) at that? The free time and massive amounts of peer-to-peer interaction can create interesting and unforeseen circumstances. Though life after college is empowering and responsibil-ifying, there is something incredibly nice about going back to a land with small personal responsibility and massive amounts of free time. Well, more free time than you'll get after college, anyway.

Dan and I did many important things that weekend. We dined at the student center snack bar on hummus and frosts (just like I was a real student!) We went sledding on a nearby mountain area quaintly called Sheeps Hill (though devoid of any ewe-like creatures. Maybe they hibernate). I visited (the only) my favorite coffee shop and walked down the streets where people stopped what they were doing just to say hi. It is how I picture my life to be if it were a musical. (Except less choreographed dances. Notice I said less.) But maybe that's what small-town life is like. We even had a fire in his houses's library to combat the freezing zero degree chill outside (why, Massachusetts, why?!) and hung out with some of his friends like Isaac the Mika lover and a kid who went by the name Fast Eddie. Sweet.

Some say that life is a highway. I think it's more like Sheep's Hill. Riding down sure is fun, but maybe you shouldn't have worn your running shoes. Hypothetically. Think about it.

11 January, 2010

A Ke$ha "Tik Tok" Lyrical Analysis

Kesha- oh excuse me, Ke$ha- is a Los Angeles raised "singer"-"songwriter" who is exactly 9 days older than me. Her hit "Tik Tok" was released August 2009 and has since reached number 1 in five countries, as well as rocked the Itunes top 10 countdown for nearly the last seventy thousand years (or so it would appear to me.)

I am a lyrics kind of girl. I like songs that have interesting turns of phrases, cool word flow, unusual and unexpected lyrics. But I can enjoy most pop music (which typically lacks these three qualities.) I can enjoy pop music especially when that enjoyment comes on a dance floor with a drink in one hand. If a pop song has a good beat I can respect it enough to dance it out. However, Ke$ha of the dollar sign has lyrics that are so astounding (not bad or good, just astounding) one drink is usually not enough.

Let's do a little breakdown of #1 viral iTunes "song," Ke$ha's "Tick Tock":
Intro Verse:
Wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy 
Grab my glasses, I'm out the door  I'm gonna hit this city (Lets go)
Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack
Cause when I leave for the night, I ain't coming back
I'm talking - pedicure on our toes, toes/ Trying on all our clothes, clothes
Boys blowing up our phones, phones
Drop-topping, playing our favorite cd's
Pulling up to the parties/ Trying to get a little bit tipsy 

Firstly, P. Diddy's name always makes me laugh. Ha- P. Diddy. But anyway, what DOES P. Diddy feel like in the morning? (Ke$ha makes me ask myself). Well, since the first thing she does is grab her glasses, maybe P.Diddy is feeling a little far-sighted? Hey, I don't judge, but that doesn't seem so rock star to me. It's funny because the line" wake up in the morning feeling like P.Diddy" sounds she's commanding me to do so, but how can I if I don't know how he feels beside his apparent need for glasses? Honestly, Ke$ha. Smoke and mirrors.

Let's talk proper dental hygiene: brushing your teeth with a bottle of Jack? Maybe not the smartest.  Even if it were okay to brush your teeth with alcohol (alcohol is a cleaner, after all), a whole bottle just seems like an excessive amount of liquid. And then there's the whole backwash situation- Ew. But maybe, JUST MAYBE, Ke$ha is using the whole brushing her teeth with Jack as an analogy. Ke$ha, at least in the intro verse, appears to be working on the metaphorical level. She feels like P. Diddy, brushes her teeth with a bottle of Jack (analogy), has a pedicure, gets tipsy. Wait, that doesn't seem like a metaphor. Be consistent, Ke$ha! Lastly, what on earth is drop-topping? I'm 22, I party, I'm hip. Should I be identifying here?

Don't stop, make it pop , DJ, blow my speakers up
Tonight, Imma fight Till we see the sunlight
Tick tock, on the clock  But the party don't stop, no
Woah-oh oh oh Woah-oh oh oh (x2)

Wow, that sucks. Moving on.

Verse 2:
Ain't got a care in world, but got plenty of beer
Ain't got no money in my pocket, but I'm already here
And now the dudes are lining up cause they hear we got swagger
But we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger
I'm talking about - everybody getting crunk, crunk/ Boys trying to touch my junk, junk
Gonna smack him if he getting too drunk, drunk
Now, now - we goin till they kick us out, out/ Or the police shut us down, down
Police shut us down, down/ Po-po shut us-

Ke$ha kicks boys to the curb if they don't look like Mick Jagger. Has Ke$ha ever SEEN Mick Jagger? Don't get me wrong- he's a great rock star. But he looks like a piece of fruit that's been left out in the sun for too long and is also wearing leather pants. Major points lost for total lack of ability to rate attractiveness. But maybe the "plenty of beer" line is the cause. For Ke$ha, it seems, beer goggles are a very real thing. You've got to admit though- getting into the bar with all that beer AND without any money is pretty clever. But she would have even more beer if she didn't just kick boys to the curb because she didn't think they were Mick Jagger-y enough. Foresight Ke$ha- those boys could buy you drinks! Then after the "po-po" line (a super humorous and dorky name for the fuzz) the song goes back into the "chorus."
And that's the whole song. Really- that's it. The intro, verse and chorus repeat themselves in some capacity forty-nine thousand times throughout the rest of it. This is the type of pop I like to think of as "special" pop, as in it's for the special people who won't get the message the first time 'round. It's cool don't worry, you have 12 more opportunities to sing along.

On a parting note, I would like to draw attention to the artist name itself. Ke$ha has cunningly included a dollar sign in her name, thereby changing the "s" in her lawfully given (but still made up-sounding) name of "Kesha" to include a dollar sign. With this action, Kesha is demonstrating that she is literally "money," or pimping, or cool. Another metaphor; perhaps you are operating on a deeper level after all, Ke$ha. But there is only one person in the world that has the right to include symbols in his name. And he had thirty top 40 singles, produced ten platinum albums, loved jump suits, and sang a song about purple rain. You've got to earn it, Kesha. You've got to earn it.

07 January, 2010

Phobias Are Phun

Phobias are rather hilarious, if you are fortunate enough to not have them. Not the normal phobias, like achluophobia- the fear of darkness, which every normal person experiences at least once in their life and the obvious ephebiphobia- the fear of teenagers. I'm talking things like pteronophobia- the fear of being tickled by feathers and geniophobia- the fearing of chins. Phobialist has a astonishingly full list of potential fears and their oftentimes amusing names.

Here are my favorites:
Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia- the fear of long words. Methinks this one to be quite cruel.

Lutraphobia- the fear of otters. (But they're so fuzzzzzy.)

Psellismophobia- the fear of stuttering. Because it is hilarious to add in s's in for people with disrupted speech patterns. Hilarious. Oh, you. 

Stasibasiphobia or Stasiphobia- the fear of standing or walking. How does these people live their lives?

Walloonphobia- Fear of the Walloons. What is a walloon? Why should I fear it?!
According to Wikipedia, the Walloons were a romance-speaking people from German and Celtic origin that typically live in Walloonia, Belgium and speak the language, Walloon. Seriously. But the Wikipedia entry has nothing to say about them being scary. This phobia clearly is for people who fear the Germans, or germanophobia.

Zemmiphobia- Fear of the great mole rat. Hairless, midly adorable, buck-toothed. DOESN'T LOOK SO GREAT TO ME. More like dorkily adorable, but I suppose that that doesn't lend itself as well to a name. Though Wikipedia doesn't have a reference for "Great Mole Rat," they do cite the "Greater Mole Rat" (his older cooler brother) that lives in Russia and Ukraine. So we have nothing to fear, people. 

Dan, my boyfriend, and I had a long discussion on these more humorous phobias. He was so inspired by the talk that he found a site where he could post his own story about phobias, more specifically his fear of ferris wheels. 
This is the start of a beautiful career.

In Dan's Words: My Fear Of Ferris Wheels

02 January, 2010

Happy Mewo Year

According to my brief yet wondrous life, my New Years Eve was the best one in the history of the world. We had a potluck dinner with new and old friends, where people made ginormous portions of addicting homemade meals. We ran to see the fireworks in the park. We had a glorious amount of champagne gifted oh so generously by my friend Jon. And then we went to my friend Alex's apartment for the midnight festivities. Sadly, there was no television to gauge an official countdown, so the "ten-nine-eight" seemed (to me) a bit arbitrary, but we didn't let that ruin our nights. We danced, we chatted, I lost at beirut (again. But it was close this time) and I ended the night rehydrating and regrouping with some friends at not only a hole-in-the wall falafel place, but also the International House of Pancakes. You know a restaurant is good when it's international (and open at 3am!) Welcome, 2010: you're going to be grand. I can tell.

From a car on Cambridge street, early morning New Years Day. Not sure what mewo is, but it will great this year. Happy 2010!

Useless Knowledge

As a direct result of how much television, internet, and trashy magazines I have read over the course of my life, I now have the intellect of a goldfish. A very smart goldfish, but still a short attention-spanned aquatic creature of some sort. Perhaps I could have been the next great American novelist or a rocket scientist, if only I had never been introduced to media and commercials.

Relatedly, I know all the words to the actual Goldfish brand cracker jingle. Even the less known Goldfish breakdown, "I could eat them everyday, and my mom says that's ok!" I can even play it on piano. When will this come up appropriately into natural conversation? Never?

The same goes for pop culture trivia. I don't want to retain this stuff, I just do. I can write you out a detailed list of Britney Spear's love life from the Disney Channel and Justin to K.Fed on, but I still have difficulty remembering the states west of the Mississippi.

I am not proud. I wish that you could selectively remember all the important things one should know, and forget all the other crap. For example, I would happily trade my ability to sing along with Taylor Swift's pop hits (which I don't even ENJOY) for being able to remember any of the 90,000 years of spanish I took. I'd even settle for the ability to remember the last time I brushed my teeth. This random knowledge robs me of the ability to go about my day-to-day functionally, but boy can I rock a bar night trivia contest.

Trivia night: "Who was Jennifer Lopez's fiancée before her current husband?"
Me: "Ben Afleck, before she married Marc Antony and had her twins."
TN: "Who is the Secretary of State?"
Me: "..."

I'm just hoping for a gameshow that will somehow tap into my random and useless tidbits that are most definitely the reason why I can't remember when I ate last but I can sing the entire Mohegan Sun Casino song. With harmony.

Correction: It has been brought to my attention that the Secretary of State is Hillary Rodham Clinton, and that I should know she held that position because she is a woman in office. Because I, too, am a woman. And that's that.