Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lock It Down

Going home for the holidays when you've gotten used to being a college kid can be kind of a culture shock. You're back in town, back in your old bedroom, back in the old rules. I thought coming home for Christmas would get easier--I thought freshman year would be the pinnacle of butting heads with parents about "my roof, my rules" and having awkward run-ins with high school classmates in supermarkets. But yeah, no. It's still weird. Here's some things--and people--you're likely to run into when you're back in the old stomping grounds. Good luck.

The Annual Holiday Booty Lockdown

My friends and I, as juniors, feel qualified to note this sociological phenomenon. A few weeks before winter break, old boyfriends, former hookups and people who just wished they hooked up with you start texting and messaging wondering if you'd be down to "hang out" over break. Girls do this too, but you can set your watch by all the dudes locking down some female company for the long winter. Seriously ladies, watch out for next December 10. Mark my words.

So Good to See You...

You'll definitely see: the kid who disappeared after graduation, the girl(s) who had babies before graduation and the teacher who hated you. If you're a girl, you'll probably run into that girl who was your frenemy all through high school and have to pretend like you give a fuck what's going on in her life (I don't think guys generally buy into that bullshit). You will most definitely run into this girl while you're buying anti-fungal cream, or carrying a bag of dog poop. This is due to the the same rule that guarantees you will see your ex at the video store while you're wearing ragged sweatpants with elastic around the ankles and just trying to goddamn rent Chocolat. Also if you're me you're likely to see your priest while you're out running in a sports bra. That happened.


There's always some friction when you've gotten used to staying out until one or two in the morning and your parents are in bed by ten-thirty. You're not a high schooler anymore, but the fact is it's still your parents house. And it's weird. It's still home, but you don't exactly live there anymore. So let it be weird. Try not to be a jerk about coming in late, and occasionally get up before noon. Eat some meals at home. Don't be a dick. And seriously assess whether a movie you saw with your friends is something you want to watch with your parents. The Kids Are All Right is not a family movie. Julianne Moore is seriously naked the entire time.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tacky Crap for People You Hate

My father may have the right idea about Christmas. This year for the office Yankee Swap, he brought a gift he'd already bought for my sister, did a shitty job wrapping it so no one picked it up, then when his number came up he picked it up, unwrapped it and brought it home again. Sometimes I can't decide if my dad is an asshole or a genius.

I love buying gifts for people I actually like, but nothing sucks more than those gifts you're obligated to buy. But what about when you just really hate someone? What do you get for someone who's been a total dick to you this year? Here's some truly awful gift ideas to inspire you.

Shop on Etsy If you're not familiar with Etsy, it's basically a marketplace for crafters and artists. Some of them make really cool stuff, and some of them make stuff like this: Yes, those are earmuffs made from doll heads. via Regretsy

Chia Pets
For the ultimate "I don't especially like you" Christmas gift, pick up a Chia Pet. It requires work, looks ugly once it grows, and eventually it gets slimy and nasty and you have to chuck it. Perfect. I like this Obama one: Shown here is the "determined" look, although it comes in "happy" too (really). Get 'em while they're hot, because something tells me after the first of the year those "happy" ones are going to be even harder to find.

Coupon books

These are lame, guys. And I say that as someone who usually loves homemade gifts. They're only acceptable if you're five, or extremely broke. And if your boyfriend refuses to give you a hug without a coupon, you should maybe think about giving that dude the gift of singledom for Christmas. I think I'm a fairly low maintenance girl, but I'm sorry, I don't want a fucking coupon for a back rub. Come on.

The classic "You suck, now fix it" gift

Nose hair trimmers, exercise videos, acne cream, deodorant, unsolicited makeup, "Pilates for Dummies"....really the list is endless. Older female relatives usually excel at this kind of passive aggressive gifting, but take a page out of their book and use it for people you hate. (Although my grandmother gave me a gas card last Christmas, to go with the ski pass my parents got me. She knows what's up.)


I could write an entire post about the hilarity contained in this fifteen minute infomercial for something called the "Tajazzle" system. Basically this product is a three step system that's going to make you look good, feel good and *hair flip/lip pout* taste good. Yeah, I couldn't figure it out for the first couple of minutes either. Apparently it's basically talcum powder, some corn syrup and of course, a crystal tattoo for your most "intimate areas" where "only your lover will see it." (Am I the only one who thinks the word "lover" is creepy in any context? Like really, who the hell are you, Emma Bovary?) And it's
definitely not designed for hookers freshening up between clients, it's a "comprehensive personal confidence system." It's totally going to make you confident to have "Swarovski elements" glued to your skin. This whole endeavor just looks itchy, and mostly reminds me of magazines that suggest you wear sexy underwear "just for you." Now, maybe some people do this. But personally if I want to do something nice for myself, it's not going to involve walking around with polyester lace in my ass crack, or dripping raspberry
goo on my toes.

Please note that this is only part 1.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Am Jack's Stream of Consciousness

I sat on the couch and watched TV with my brother Jack tonight. He's in sixth grade. Here's some of his deep thoughts.

Twilight commercial: Jacob is so much better. I'm on Team Jacob. Jacob is like...ok, would you rather go out with a bat or a dog? Personally I'd rather go out with a dog. Imagine this--a mugger comes up, Jacob turns into a dog and eats the guy!

Sitcom intro: Aww, he's single. Poor David Spade.

During a Christmas-y car commercial: ...silence...TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY FA LA LA LA...silence

Movie trailer: This has Nicholas Cage in it, so you know it's going to be good...yeah right.

Putting his dinner plate in the dishwasher: Ellen, you're really pushy. You're lucky I'm so generous.

Doing homework involving something called the "five themes of geography" and I told him that's not something anyone needs to know in real life: Yeah, I suspected that. What the hell.

Drinking orange juice mixed with vanilla ice cream out of my Irish Drinking Team beer stein: You know that feeling when you drink orange juice and you get a lot of phlegm in the back of your throat? It's like that but a lot more.

Grabbing my foot and the moccasin on it: I'M GONNA EAT THE BEADS OFF!

And that's Jack.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bah Humbug.

Me: I hate Christmas music I think. That's not true. I like some of it.
Cam: Like what?
Me: ...

So yeah, I guess I hate Christmas music. If I could find a store that didn't play Christmas music this time of year I would do all my Christmas shopping there. (Actually there is such a place--Urban Outfitters. It's Vampire Weekend all day everyday over there. But I don't think most members of my family would appreciate a thirty dollar tiny hat headband.)

There's a certain kind of girl who starts blasting Rudolph the Reindeer in the dorm the day after Thanksgiving. These are the kind of girls I think about smacking in the face with my shower caddy when I see them in the hall tweaking out because the Santa Clause 2 is on TV. I don't mean to trash anyone's inner child, but there comes an age where you're just not supposed to get pee-your-pants excited about Christmas. I mean, really? You're that excited about a big family dinner, TV specials and some new sweaters? Long story short, thanks to girls like these, this winter I've heard far more of the Chipmunks' Christmas and Glee Christmas album than I would like. I'm also starting to think that Alvin and the Chipmunks and the cast of Glee are the same musical entity.

Then of course, you've got the "War on Christmas" people. They think that cards that say "happy holidays" rather than Merry Christmas are persecution on the level of the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials combined. Except even worse, because it specifically targets Christians. Maybe I don't get it, but I'm not actually sure how a faith-neutral greeting further desecrates a holiday that's already celebrated with seven foot Spongebob Squarepants inflatables.

And Christmas music. I mean, holy God. It's okay when you're a kid. But then you get a little older and "Baby, It's Cold Outside" starts sounding kind of date-rapey and "Santa Baby" sounds like it's directed at Japanese schoolgirl fetishists and "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" just makes you want to shoot yourself in the face.

And really, does anyone actually
like all the uber-treacly Christmas music that's out there? Or is it just pumped into department stores to drive people so crazy they start thinking that faux-fur trimmed cardigans and fuchsia chenille hat/scarf/glove sets and soap on a rope are good presents? I don't mean to be hyperbolic (well actually I totally do) but this is a perfect example of why the rest of the world hates us. All of our strained international relations can be distilled down to the fact that we as a nation allow Singin' Big Mouth Billy Bass to exist.

I mean, I like Christmas. I really do. It's nice. It's pleasant and everything. But sometimes a reasonable person just wants to tell everyone to chill the fuck out.

...Yeah, I know I'm a cranky jerk. Whatever. I also hate people who use the word "literally" when they obviously mean "figuratively" and people who say "expresso," so what are you going to do.

I found one!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On Wednesdays We Wear Pink: Actual Advice from Cosmo


December's Cosmo has all kinds of brilliant advice for making your holiday season the sparkliest, sexiest, most boob-filled season ever. You've got to get your game on, ladies. You've got to get your holiday shit together. Luckily, Cosmo has everything you need.

Your guy
Cosmo has nabbed some great recipes for cupcakes from Butch Bakery (which is unfortunately a non-ironic establishment that actually sells baked goods and not a lesbian porno that takes place in a patisserie). These are MAN cupcakes, none of that pussy chocolate and vanilla shit. These have beer in them, and bacon, because real men are never seen eating cupcakes. But really, if your man refuses to eat a cupcake in front of his girlfriend unless its been "butched" up, there might be a larger issue at play here. All I'm saying is that Mrs. Ted Haggard probably makes some bitchin rib-flavored macaroons.

Of course, Cosmo doesn't forget some tips to help you meet a dude if you are--God forbid--single at Christmas. (Because really, then who will you kiss under the mistletoe? And who, for the love of God, will go to Jared?) Here's some geographically specific tips for finding a holiday cuddle buddy:

The supermarket: Find a weirdly named product, like quinoa, on a nearby shelf, and ask him how to pronounce it. He'll love being able to help. If he has no clue, you can laugh about it. Either way the ice is broken."

Okay, first of all, good luck finding any dude outside of Berkeley who knows how to pronounce quinoa. (It's keen-wah. Now you know.) Second of all, stop pretending to be a total fucking moron to meet guys.

The library: Glance at whatever book he's holding. Tell him you've heard the one he grabbed is a great read and he's lucky he got it first. Teasingly say you'll let him have it but only if he promises to text you once he's done so you can check it out next.

Okay, yeah, no. This really doesn't work if he's holding Mein Kampf, or The Fountainhead. And trust me, I know how to pick up a dude in a library.

Your look

Cosmo has all kinds of advice for your holiday party outfits! Like...

Make a skin statement: Hit up an art store for some small rhinestones, the stick them to your bod in the shape of your (or your guy's) initials using easy-to-remove eyelash glue

This one is word-for-word taken from "Mean Girls," furthering my theory that Cosmo is fucking with us all.

Feather your hair: Do as rocker chicks like Ke$ha: clip or tie a feather (find them at accessory or craft stores) to the ends of your strands.

We want to look like Ke$ha now?

Your tits

Cosmo has no fewer than 25 fun things to do with your boobs this month. (Now, I don't speak for all women, but I don't often look down at my chest and think, "Jesus Christ, these damn things are so boring. Why can't you be more FUN?" But that's just me.) Here's some ways to have fun with your funbags:

"Trace your nipples with minty lip balm, and have him blow on them. This creates a cooling sensation that's sure to give you erotic shivers"
Cosmo's sex advice section is obsessed with blowing on things, cooling things and, of course, with minty tits. This one's a triple whammy.

"With you on top, lean over his face and have him stick out his tongue. Then dangle your boobs above his mouth and shake them."
That's the whole tip. Let him sort of damply flap his tongue on your dangling, shaking boobs. People get paid to think this shit up.

"Request that he slip on a pair of your superluxe cashmere gloves before running his hands over your bare breasts."
1. Dude, you're stretching out my $50 cashmere gloves. 2. Dude, you're naked except for "superluxe cashmere gloves." Would you by chance like a bacon-flavored cupcake?

Monday, November 22, 2010

I've Seen the Future and All I Can Say Is Go Back

I was never one of those kids who didn't want to grow up. I couldn't wait to grow up. The first specific age I wanted to reach was eleven. That was how old you had to be to hang out in the library by yourself. I was really cool. Then I started counting down to freshman year of high school, because really, middle school is just the Pit of Despair with more magazine subscription fundraisers and discussion of body odor. Then, obviously, the countdown to 16 began. 16 is when you get your driver's license in New pretty much show up and show them you know how to turn on a car and move it forward and backwards and they give you a license. Where we're going, we don't need parallel parking, Marty!

Next up was eighteen, which meant I could vote. Which, yeah, I'll admit, I thought was freaking awesome. Pretty much I was Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club. (If you have a problem with me describing my youth in terms of eighties movies you can just gtfo, this is my blog.) Then I just wanted to go to college and ditch my small town high school. I was your typical Diane Court. And now here I am waiting around for the next big birthday--twenty-one. The age when apparently our brains become mature overnight and we magically all start drinking 1.5 glasses of Chardonnay and nibbling on cheese and crackers and all develop a distaste for infernal shit like Four Loko and Jaegermeister. Okay.

Now, I've matured. I've learned some stuff. Like always date a Wesley over a Jake Ryan, but definitely go with a Ferris Bueller over a Bender and a Lloyd Dobler over pretty much anyone. Except a Cameron Frye. That guy was basically the stealth hottie of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. He wins.

But man, junior year is getting me down. I'm living in a dorm, which makes me feel like a kid--an angry, sleep deprived kid-- and I'm also trying to figure out what the hell I'm doing with my life, which is making me feel really old. I'm going to Spain for the semester in less than two months. That's freaking me out, in all honesty. I can't even decide if I want time to speed up or slow down. And I fucking hate it. I hate wallowing. Nobody puts me in a goddamn corner.

And yeah, I know I should chill out and be Zen about this situation called my life. I'm looking for a dare to be great situation when I all I need to do is relax and be the ball. And I am trying--I swear--to be the ball. After all, life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around, you might miss it. I'm working on that one.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Do the Timewarp

The media's working really hard to make everyone care about Prince William and Kate Middleton getting engaged. I don't really know how many people actual care, but I get it. Yeah, they're the biggest welfare case in the world, but they're young, attractive and everybody loves a wedding. Will and Kate also seem sort of endearingly normal, so I can't hate on that. But it's more than that...Kate's going to be a princess, you guys. Who gets to be a princess anymore?

I don't even think this is about some kind of collective Disney princess complex; I think it's just because it's such a throwback, and that's kind of romantic. I'm not
one of those people like Sarah Palin or Paula Deen who pines for a past that never actually existed. I think vaccines are awesome and I like voting and I'm pretty attached to modern oral hygiene. I indoor plumbing and hot showers and that I'm allowed to go to college. But I get it. Sometimes, I'm working on a paper on my Macbook and texting and watching Hulu when I'm taking a study break I just wish for something a little...sexier. Cooler. Badass-er. For instance:

1960s Madison Avenue

Pros: Drinking at work! Smoking at work! Sex at work! Men in suits! Casual racism! Oh, wait.

Cons: Ladies get jack-squat on the career front unless they're Peggy Olson. The Cuban missile crisis. Things really only get less glamorous from here on out. Girdles.

Hanging with the Impressionists

Pros: Those guys knew how to party, were total romantics and would take you on naked picnics.

Cons: They also might take you to the Moulin Rouge...which might have been okay in real life but that movie is seriously just Glee on a lot of absinthe. Also, syphilis.

The Roaring 20s

Pros: Everyone knew how to dance, the clothes were awesome, nobody realized the next twenty years were going to be terrible. Girls with no boobs were en vogue.
I could learn to make gin in the bathtub.

Cons: Shellshock, jazz. And by the way, Boardwalk Empire sucks. Stop telling me to watch it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On Wednesdays We Wear Pink: Actual Advice from Cosmo


November's Cosmo is all about hating yourself. Because you suck. Your skin is bad and you are giving all the wrong signals to men and screwing up at work and your boobs will never look like Katy Perry's boobs. Here's just a sampling all the things you suck at:

1. Giving handjobs. Because apparently men are all "craving" that weird-smelly-couch-in-your-parents'-basement feel, you need a full two page, three step system to learn how to give a handy. Truth.

2. Having a sex code. Cosmo spends a page suggesting that you and your man come up with a code word for sex. One couple uses "margaritas," which, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, is code for sex. If you have one, that's good--it means you're connecting, or something. But it's also bad, because "if you rely too heavily on it, it will make sex feel predictable" says some expertish author lady. So, wait...should I asking my boyfriend if he wants some couscous tonight or not? I'm not even sure anymore!

3. Talking about anything. The typical Cosmo girl spends about 50% of her time trying to get her man to do things without actually verbalizing anything. I mean, ew. Words. (The rest of her time is broken up about like this: sexting 10%, vajazzling 10%, practicing come-hither looks in the mirror 10% and giving handjobs 20%) Here's a good one:"Recently, I stocked up on a ton of sexy lingerie, thinking my man would love it. He has yet to comment on my new purchases. Does that mean he's not into it and I wasted money?" Seems to me this could be solved really easily by asking him. But of course, in Cosmo's world, men are really just penises attached to wallets and hopefully good abs. They need to be manipulated veryyy carefully and with a minimum of chit chat.

4. Figuring out what to do on a Saturday night. Once again, you're at the same old bar, same old crowd. Why not bust out your Cosmo and suggest that everyone head to a bar with a name that starts with your best friend's middle initial! It will be so funny and spontaneous and you can drink pink drinks and talk about periods and shoes! Or you know, you could just go to a different bar! But whatever!

5. Sucking. Yes, you even suck at sucking. You are too much of a
yourself! Well, you might not be. But you can take Cosmo's helpful quiz which will establish that you're either a narcissist or a frigid, self-denying ball of suckage. Unless of course, you "totally heart you." Which believe me, you don't. Because we all suck.

But guess what--it's okay! Because we've got chocolate and shoes, ladies! And that's what women want.
Duh. That and a good man who makes slightly more money than us who we can pleasure with our amazing skills with handjobs and ice cubes and scrunchies forever and ever. And chocolate, because that solves everything. Unless you really suck.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm Not Bitter.

There's a lot of jaded assholishness going on my blog lately, so here's a picture of a baby hedgehog. Keeping things balanced.

Screw You, Mom and Dad.

So unless you've been living under a rock you know that the Dems got their asses handed to them last Tuesday, nowhere more than here in New Hampshire. And I'm pissed--not so much with the outcome, because in a way I was expecting that, but I'm really pissed that my generation is going to have to clean up this almighty shitstorm that our parents left for us.

Our parents' generation was way too busy snorting coke and making money off Reaganomics and yelling about derivatives on their giant-ass cellphones to realize that they were screwing stuff up for the rest of us. Basically, way too much Charlie Sheen in "Money Never Sleeps" and not nearly enough Martin Sheen from "The West Wing." I know, I just blew your mind.

After our parents were done laying waste to the eighties, they occupied themselves analyzing the jizz stains on Monica Lewinsky's dress. And then they were busy worrying about weapons of mass destruction, and then they were busy screaming about socialism. And nobody noticed that actual, important shit was getting really fucked up.

I love voting. I've worked on political campaigns and always turn out to meet candidates, and I still think there's something pretty awesome about the way our system is supposed to work. But here's the thing. It's broken. All anyone cares about is getting reelected, and so no one does anything daring or interesting or remotely ballsy. There was a time when government did things like build the Hoover Dam, and establish Yellowstone National Park, or, I don't know, GO TO THE MOON. There was a time when government did cool stuff just because it was good for humanity. That, unfortunately, is not the time we live in.

Change is not going to come from the government. Not anymore. Don't stop voting--we've got to keep trying, anyway--but realize that nothing's going to change with a new batch of old guys in the Senate, or even one seemingly pretty cool guy in the Oval Office. Our generation has got to throw our weight elsewhere. If we want to affect change, we've got to do it without these clowns in Washington. Write some letters for Amnesty International. Volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club. Get involved at your local soup kitchen, or homeless shelter, or animal shelter, or battered women's shelter. Find something you care about. Take care of your community, take care of each other, and do something special, heroic or ballsy--the government sure as hell isn't going to.

P.S. My parents are kind of awesome, as parents go. So don't take the title personally. I know you creep my blog.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ten Commandments for Facebook, According to Me.

1. Thou shalt not air your dirty laundry on Facebook
You are not Taylor Swift. You should not be naming names. There are two couples having giant, ugly, nasty-ass breakups on my Facebook feed right now, and it's gross. Stop it. Have some class. Or at least get more creative about your revenge.

2. Thou shalt not post incessant pictures of what you ate all the time.
a.) no one cares, b.) now I'm hungry, c.) when I realize I'm actually spending time looking at the half-eaten fish and chips you ate this summer I feel bad about my life.

3. Thou shalt not make your default a picture of your kids without you in it.
Come on, people. Think about this one for a second.

4. Thou shalt not invite me to get free stuff.
Uggs, iPads, laptops...if you think you're seeing any of it I have this friend who's a Nigerian prince who would LOVE to chat with you. Aaand by now some Slovakian teenager has your credit card number, so that's good.

5. Thou shalt not post pictures of thy friends in compromising positions.
Solo cups and shot glasses are one thing, your friend puking while she still has forties taped to her hands and a guy in a flatbrim and two polo shirts is licking her face is another. Come on. Be nice. Actually, all I have to say on this subject is: New Year's Eve 2009. Thanks a heap, bitch.

6. Thou shalt edit.
"breakfast, chemistry from 9-12, then homework." Fascinating. "watching the office and having a sandwich" Scintillating. A picture of your leg after you had a cast on it for three months, or of a boil you got lanced on your back. Delightful. A lot of people don't understand that the Internet is this magical place where you can be whoever you want--you can project exactly the image you want. I'm not saying lie, but before you hit "share," ask yourself: Does anyone care? Does this have to do with my bodily functions? Should I perhaps reevaluate my life if I'm telling Facebook how gassy I am?

7. Thou shalt not confuse Facebook for Twitter.
If you must live-blog a sporting event/television finale/your trip to the dentist, get a Twitter account. That's where that kind of thing belongs. If you blow up my feed with fifteen updates about the One Tree Hill finale, you're probably getting defriended. (Isn't it fun to think about how ten years ago no one would have any idea what that sentence means?)

8. Thou shalt not confuse Facebook for Livejournal.
If you must tell the Internet about your feelings, get a Livejournal. Or if possible some friends/a therapist/a goldfish. "Joe Schmoe is bummed" is ok, "I'm such a terrible person but i have so much love to give, why doesn't anyone love meeee" is just awkward. Come on.

9. Thou shalt remember that it's just software.
Some things don't belong on Facebook. If you're offering your sympathy, send a card. If you're dumping somebody, do it in person. If you're Facebook chatting with someone down the hall, walk down the hall and talk to her. If you're still playing Farmville...maybe go outside and see some real plants. Get a little vitamin D. You're looking kind of peaked.

10. Thou shalt not be that dude who never checks Facebook.
If you're going to have one, use it at least once in awhile. People actually do a fair amount of their social planning/scheduling on Facebook now, and it's just obnoxious if people think they can reach you but you don't go on for weeks. It's Zuckerberg's world, we just live in it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Strongly Worded Letter About Jesus and Stuff.

This is a letter to the editor that I wrote tonight, regarding a column that The New Hampshire ran this week. I don't know if I'm allowed to really write letters to the editor since I'm actually on the editorial staff, but anyway. I'm pissed. That's 80% of why I have a blog.

In his Oct. 19 column, Nick Mignanelli writes “I think it’s kind of charming how liberals are so quick to drag religious institutions that they inherently despise into the death penalty debate.” (emphasis mine.) I am a liberal and a Catholic, and Mignanelli does not speak for me.

Christians are to be imitators of Christ. That means working for tolerance, love, charity and peace--and those interests are best served by liberals. Jesus said love the poor. Jesus said “sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven…It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:17:21-25). Sounds practically—gasp!—socialist.

If Jesus were here today, he’d be pro-welfare, pro-healthcare, and most certainly anti-execution. (Mignanelli seems to have forgotten that Jesus was a victim of the death penalty.) And if he were around today, Jesus would not be hanging out with Pat Robertson and crowing about how public schools aren’t allowed to display the Ten Commandments—he’d be in the roughest part of the projects, serving lunch at a soup kitchen. That’s why I’m a Christian. And although Mignanelli doubtless considers me a “cafeteria Catholic,” he should not make sweeping assertions like “liberals inherently despise religion.” That’s a remarkably ignorant statement, plain and simple.

Mignanelli says “In addition to their nominal stance against the death penalty, doesn’t the magesterium of the Catholic Church also have some strong feelings about abortion, family planning, and stem cell research? It’s interesting how liberals would never cite the Catholic Church’s expertise on those issues.” This is true—because the Catholic Church’s “expertise” on those issues is null. Here’s a secret—most Catholics don’t listen to the Church for family planning advice, either. The Catholic Church is run by celibate men. Men who have neither sex nor families cannot dispense sound advice on family planning. The Church still insists you’re going to hell if you use condoms, take hormonal birth control or use any other form of artificial contraception—even within marriage. A few diehards in Rome and elsewhere would still tell you that if a thirteen-year-old girl with Down syndrome gets raped and becomes pregnant, she’s going to hell if she gets an abortion. Is that the “expertise” Mignanelli is referring to?

I care deeply about my faith, and I’m a liberal--but people like Mignanelli are the reason I don't always tell my sane, liberal friends that I'm a Catholic right away. I'm conflicted about it enough without wannabe teenage pundits like this giving the church of Mother Teresa, Oscar Romero and Dorothy Day a bad name. If you are going to be a conservative---marginalizing the poor, giving advantages to the rich, oppressing immigrants and gays and promoting the death penalty--don’t do it in the name of Christ. And stop calling me and the thousands like me “cafeteria Catholics.” I’m a soup kitchen Catholic.

Some of the pissier stuff got left out of the letter, because I'm classy like that. Now watch this, because it's awesome:

I'm totally going to hell, guys.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Thanks for the Tip.

Sometimes, I just really hate being a journalism student. Journalism is one of those jobs that everyone thinks they're an expert on, whether they have any actual experience in it or not. In that way it's not unlike being mom, or the President of the United States. Everyone has opinions about The Future of Media, everyone remarks that "the newspaper business is really tough right now" (Thanks, Uncle Harry...WE KNOW) and everyone has ethical tips, story tips, tips on how to pretty much act like Dustin Hoffman in All the President's Men. I know I'm just a kid, but I actually go to school for this. All this stuff that you're imparting to me like life's great secrets? I talk about it, think about it and write about it every day. I was, in fact, fully aware that most people read the news online. But thanks.

Another thing people like to tell journalism students: there's no money in it. (Gosh, I don't know why they haven't given you your own show on MSNBC!) I've basically resigned myself to this, although there are days when I think that owning a new car at some point in my adult life might be nice. Realistically, I should bag a rich guy and call it a day, but my boyfriend is also a journalist and I have to say I'm pretty attached to him just the way he is, so I guess we're really up a fiduciary creek. (But you know, together. Aw.) By the way, I saw the Facebook movie last weekend--Mark Zuckerberg was a billionaire by the time he was 23. I'm going to be lucky if I have health insurance by the time I'm 23. (I know I should under Obama's new healthcare program, but as long as millions of people with guns and an eighth grade education are listening to Glenn Beck I'm not counting on that puppy just yet.)

I should lay off old people--they're just making conversation. My real favorite is when people comment (anonymously, of course) about how an editorial is bad "journalism." Excuse me, but are you fucking kidding me?

But you know what? We keep on plugging, we future journalists of America, even though some of us are inevitably the future service industry workers of America. Sometimes I think I might want to get into something else before it's too late, but really, it's never too late. Maybe I'll go to grad school and be a teacher. Maybe I'll get into nonprofits. Neither of which are much more profitable than journalism, so maybe I'll really sell my soul and go into advertising. (Granted, most of my ideas about advertising come from Mad Men, but if there's even half as much drinking and midday sex as there is on that show you can sign me up.) For now, though, it's journalism for me. The thing is, I just really love to write and I really love hearing people's stories. And I'm really bad at math.

I would appreciate it Pete Seeger could just be my grandpa. Well, him and Joe Biden.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is That Your Most Serious Skirt?

You want to be taken seriously? Stop dressing like a little girl.

-Joan Holloway

Suit up!

-Barney Stintson

I love clothes. I love to shop. If I’m honest, it’s actually very important to me to look put together and nice whether I’m in class, at work or in a social setting. Blog posts about smart girls who also happen to care about the way they look seem to be popping up all over the place right now (especially on Jezebel, a site I like but have a wary relationship with) and truthfully I don't get what the fuss is about. Yeah, it's sexist that women are more harshly judged on their appearance--but it's also sexist to say we're stupid for caring about the way we look. Plenty of women care about their appearance and still manage to be intellectuals, feminists and generally very interesting human beings. And yeah, others are obnoxious biddies who like to yap about spray tanning and acrylics in the middle of Anthropology lecture. But that's not what I'm talking about here.

I know that for me looking good is not about getting people to look at me, it’s about presenting myself in way that’s neat, pretty and pulled together. That's why I like what Joan tells Peggy in that Mad Men quote. People take you more seriously when you look like you thought about what you put on this morning and like you're carefully considering the way you present yourself to the world. It's is not about attracting attention or wearing my boob shirt to Sociology—well, I don’t have a boob shirt, mainly because I don’t have boobs, but you get the idea. (Don't get me wrong-- there's a time and place for boob shirts too.) It simply makes me feel confident and even kind of powerful to know that I look like I have my shit together, even when I don’t.

For instance: The next time you get a shitty cold, take a long hot shower and some Dayquil, then put on some blush, mascara and your favorite outfit. (Maybe skip the mascara if you're a dude...) But come on—you feel just a teeny bit better, right? Right. Go carpe the fucking diem.

I’m not defending the fashion industry by any means, but I am defending the right (of everyone, not just women) to have a sense of style without being written off as vapid. (Some people really just don't care what they wear, and that's totally cool too.) Fashion, in the commercial sense at least, I could care less about. My Calvin Klein jeans were four bucks at the Goodwill. Logo-slathered handbags don't interest me, and labels for the sake of labels leave me cold. But I love beautiful things, good design, putting together outfits and yeah, scoring a bargain. (Blame my grandmother.)

There are college girls who are studying astrophyics while rocking skinny jeans and leather boots, and there are women who run Fortune 500 companies in Louboutins. First Lady Michelle Obama is a lawyer who happens to be buds with Isabel Toledo and Narciso Rodriguez. I can write you a kickass paper about Henry V or juggle five newspaper articles a week, but I also watch a lot of What Not to Wear. Smart and stylish are not mutually exclusive. Joan Holloway knows what's up.

Monday, September 27, 2010

In Praise of Slobs

"I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’ve got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis."
-Truman Capote, my kind of guy.

Let's take a moment to praise the sloppy, the slovenly, and the scatter-brained. We are the wrinkled ones, and the spaghetti-sauce stained ones. The ones who leave sandwiches in hard to reach places only to discover them later when the smell of rotting ham begins to become unbearable. We're the people who have hundreds of dollars worth of bins and baskets from Ikea, which we buy in the blind hope that these sleek umlaut-sprinkled Swedish imports will organize our lives but they never do.

I grew up in a family of slobs. Actually, I'm possibly the neatest person in the family, but I am, irredeemably, a slob. My boyfriend very kindly doesn't express his horror when he comes over to my house, which I imagine to be something akin to that of a nineteenth century anthropologist stumbling into a camp of headshrinking Indians in South America. Except they probably manage to put the cap back on the toothpaste.

Now, I've never been the kind of person who would let anyone think I'm a slob. It's very important to me to have my shit together--school, work, my own personal appearance. I don't lose stuff, or do tasks shoddily, or flake out on people. But when it comes to chores I'm a hopeless corner-cutter. Dishes get left lying around until I have to chisel crusted milk and cereal paste off them with a spoon, which in turn tends to get bent in half. I sometimes forget to put a liner in the trash can and inevitably there ends up being a glob of gum, hair and yogurt dribbles at the bottom that pretty much looks like Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Fucking gross, I know.

But guess what, neat freaks. Your anal-retentive personality is statistically speaking going to kill you. Yeah, I still can't color right or cut construction paper in a straight line. My microwave is a Ramen noodle encrusted disgrace. My brothers still can't put up the toilet seat, let alone put it down when they're done. My sister is incapable of taking off a garment and putting it anywhere but the floor. But if you're one of those people with color coded hangers that organize your wardrobe by season and then by type of event, I have news for you: my slovenly siblings and I are going to live longer than you.

The thing is, I'm busy: working, reporting, studying, reading, writing, and yeah, occasionally watching Gossip Girl or something equally enriching. I think a majority of messy people just have other things on their mind, which is why I hate it when slobby people get equated with lazy people. (You know who was a disaster? Einstein.) Sometimes I have to slog through a tape-recorded interview and turn it into a story. Sometimes I sit down and write for three hours because I have to. Sometimes I start daydreaming--which my fiction professor claims is legitimate "work" if you're a writer, although I have a hard time with that concept. Sometimes I call or visit a friend and end up talking for two hours. And sometimes I wind up writing a blog post, which is what I'm doing right now instead of taking out my recycling. I have a lot to say. And sometimes, I just don't get around to the other stuff. I can live with that.

Now, you'll have to excuse me but it's four o'clock. Time to switch to martinis.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Maybe Don't.

Maybe don't air your relationship issues in your Facebook statuses. It was one thing when we were fifteen, but now I have peers who are married. Give it a break.

Maybe don't dress like a prostitute in church. I understand having issues with organized religion, but very few spiritual dilemmas are solved by dressing like you're on your way to chill with Eliot Spitzer. Just saying.

Maybe don't have a full on conversation in the movies, you douche. I know I sound like I'm seventy years old, but I really like going to the movies and you're ruining it, okay? It costs eleven bucks to see a movie. You could stand in the lobby and yap about your best friend's cousin's drug addict ex-boyfriend for free. Simple math.

Maybe don't come up to me and say "Wow, you sound awful!" when you hear me coughing...I know I have one of those coughs that would foreshadow my imminent and tragic death if I were in a movie set in Victorian England, but I don't actually know you. And now it's all awkward. Look what you did.

Maybe don't get to a point in your life where you have nothing to talk about except the last time you were so totally wasted, brah. If you're going to be a lush, at least be a lush with something entertaining to say.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Je t'aime Montreal, Or Reasons I'm Moving to Canada.

1. There are lots of little dogs, and also lots of adorable children speaking French. You know who doesn't like cute kids speaking foreign languages and dogs riding in bike baskets? Dicks.

2. The food is out of control. Also, expensive. I would be broke within a month, but I would have spent that single orgasmic month eating croissants and gorgeous little salads and the kind of steaks that make you want to cry, so whatever.

3. No one wears sweatpants in public in Montreal. It's amazing.

4. They put truffles on your breakfast. As in, exquisitely beautiful handpainted little chocolates AT BREAKFAST.

5. Better coffee, wine, beer, and candy bars.

6. Rue St. Catherine, Boulevard St. Laurent and Rue St. Denis.

7. Arcade Fire is from there. Which is not really a reason, but makes a point about the kind of city Montreal is.

8. Everyone is bilingual and proud of it. Bizarrely enough, nobody puts those "I Shouldn't Have to Press 1 For English!" bumper stickers on their Smartcars and Priuses.

9. Canada in general has a strange dearth of Koran-burning preachers and Senate candidates running on a "No Wanking" platform. It's a nice place.

yeah, yeah, I realize they have a new album out and Pitchfork is getting a boner over it. I like the old stuff better. and this is my blog.

Monday, September 13, 2010

An Open Letter to Taylor Swift

Girl. Really. You are not a fairy princess. You are not a precious little lamb. You are not a special snowflake. Stop it. Sure, the blonde curly hair and the country songs about sparkly pickup trucks and sparkly ponies and sparkly apple pie was all well and good when you were fifteen, but how old are you?

Wikipedia says you're twenty, which is my age. Now, I had princess phase like anyone else but I grew out of it and started having conversations about things other than prom dresses and boys and how awesome my daddy is.

I suspect, Taylor, that you would get eaten alive in the world of most twenty-year-olds. I suspect you've never thrown up last night's tequila at a baby shower. So props for that, because it's not fun. But I also bet you've never gone illicitly night swimming in the university pool at two in the morning, or spent seven hours on a Greyhound talking to a woman you're pretty sure is a crack dealer, or come close to beating my kegstand time, or done quite a few other things that I could list here but won't because it's come to my attention that my mom reads my blog. Point is, Tay Tay, non-princesses have more fun.

I'm not suggesting you make a sex tape, or start flashing your vag at the paparazzi everytime you get out of car. I understand that the sweet little country princess thing is your schtick. You gotta get a gimmick, and I'm sure you thank God every day that you did because otherwise you'd just be an awkward, frizzy haired girl who's a music theater major at a community college. Last night, though, your gimmick took another step away from "naive but cute" and towards "bewildering and smug". Whoever runs the celebrity self-congratulation fest called the VMAs decided that it would be dramatic to let you sing your song "I Forgive You Kanye Because You're Sad and Immature and I'm a Fairy Princess". It was bad. Like, really bad. (Lyrics aside, the girl can't sing. Don't get me wrong, I love to drunkenly yell-sing "You Belong With Me" as much as the next female college student, but I want that shit produced within an inch of its life.) It's officially time to consider a new gimmick, Taylor. Also, give Kanye a break. All he wants is a simple Persian rug with cherub imagery. Is that really too much to ask?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You Meddling Kids

I think I'm officially way too old to live in a dorm. I have a prime room by UNH standards--an air-conditioned single in Congreve, newly renovated, perfectly located etc. But aside from a few upperclassmen, the floor is almost entirely made up of freshmen. (And since when do freshmen get to live in Congreve? I earned this, goddamnit. I lived in a built up triple on Stoke 8 freshman year. Big, bad, vomity, pissy, smelly, Keystone-soaked Stoke: that's where freshmen belong. It builds character. )

But freshmen. Oh, freshmen. They slam the doors. They still think it's awesome that there are no parents around to tell them to turn down the music. (They have two songs: "Fire Burning" by Sean Kingston and"Airplanes" by B.o.B.) They think they're the shit because they got into a frat. They puke in the bathrooms and wear their IDs around their necks and rather adorably ask you for directions to the MUB. And it wasn't even that long ago that I was one of them.

I feel like I'm caught at a weird age. Going to the same party over and over (beer, Beirut, Axe) has gotten kind of boring at this point, but I can't go to the bars and...well, let's be honest, Durham does not offer that much of a chem-free nightlife unless you're really into comedian Bob Marley. I'm old enough to be cranky about asshole freshmen waking me up with slamming doors at 6 a.m.. but obviously, I'm still a 20-year-old. I like to go out and have fun... it's just that lately "fun" doesn't necessarily mean pregaming in somebody's dorm room and then going to some dumpy apartment in the Greens and drinking warm beer. That was awesome when we were freshmen, because we were freshmen. So I don't begrudge the class of 2014 a proper freshman experience--the globe would probably tilt off its axis if freshman girls were mature, sensible creatures.

For me, though, there's something new this year; and I think that it's the very fact that it's
not new. I know where everything is. I don't (often) get locked out of my room. I'm not scared of my professors, and I don't get surprised when one of them says "fuck". The dining hall food has long since lost its novelty. Don't get me wrong, I love it here. And I know how fortunate I am to be here and not yet in the working world. But as junior year began yesterday morning, it struck me that this college business is feeling less like an Asher Roth video, and more like...well, I don't know what. Maybe it's only that mysterious "real world" starting to seep in at the edges, just a bit.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On Wednesdays We Wear Pink: Actual Advice from Cosmo

I impulsively bought a copy of Cosmo before a long car ride with a bunch of girlfriends a few weeks ago. I hadn't actually bought one in a long time, although I'd read a few because my roommate subscribes. I had fond memories of giggling over it at slumber parties and sharing copies at the beach, but I didn't remember it being quite this...stupid. I don't know if the magazine has gotten worse since we were reading it at eighth grade slumber parties, or if once you're old enough to actually be Cosmo's target audience you've already outgrown it, but this was some staggeringly dumb shit. The tips below are from Cosmo's August edition. I'll let them speak for themselves.

....Alternatively, order a Sex on the Beach or talk loudly about how you sleep naked

....Because standing in line at the DMV quietly humming and rocking back forth whilst stroking a picture of yourself in a bikini isn't strange at all.

...And make sure you moan so your fellow cubicle-dwellers know just how much you're enjoying that soft, comforting material.

...Because everyone loves minty tits!

He'll be totally seduced by the way you're too dumb to tell the difference between employees and customers. Also, men love it when you shove shoes in their faces.

This is kind of hard to read but I wanted to scan it to prove it's real. Cosmo suggests that you print out online coupons and offer them to strangers as a means to meet men. Because no man can resist a woman who spends her workday scouring the internet for coupons to McDonald's. Along the same lines as the "do you work here" ploy is the second tip, which suggests that you doggedly insist that a man goes to the same gym as you do, even when you know he doesn't. This just sounds annoying, and once again, you look retarded. Sexy! My favorite part of the article is the beginning, though: "Since it's not a typical pick-up scene, men let their guard down." Ladies, pay attention: you have to be ready so swoop in when a man is vulnerable, or hungry. And as soon as he lets his guard down and you seduce him with an internet coupon for a free McFlurry dig those claws in deep, because finding a man is the means to the only important things in life: diamond rings and babies!

I mean, give me a fucking break.

Monday, August 23, 2010

These Allegories Are Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

Norah: There's this part of Judaism I like. Tikun Olam. It said that the world is broken into pieces and everyone has to find them and put them back together.
: Maybe we don't have to find it. Maybe we are the pieces.
-Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

I've avoided writing about the so-called Ground Zero Mosque so far, firstly because Tim King dealt with it elegantly over on his blog, and secondly because it makes me so spewing mad that I wasn't sure I could write anything coherent about it. (My opinion, just so we're clear: Awesome idea? No. Is it right for the United States government to sanction religious intolerance? Absolutely not.) I'm not going to write about it now, either, because while I am pissed about this, what's worse is that every time I calm down from being angry at somebody (BP, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the woman with a sticker that said "Guts, Guns and God Made America Free" on the back of her truck) the despair in my gut gapes a little wider. And despair is a dangerous, dangerous thing.

Despair is worse than fear. Fear gets people moving, fear accomplishes things--for good or bad. If you still have the energy to be afraid for your country (or planet, for that matter) it means you haven't given up on it. Fear yells in your ear; but Despair comes creeping in quietly, a little bit at a time--hand in hand with its old pal Apathy--and whispers "It's out of your hands. You think what you do matters? Lie down. Forget it. Watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Just go to the mall. Forget about all this mess." Despair is one sneaky son of a bitch.

I hate most of these mainstream flavor of the month metaphysical bullshit artists that are popular with the Oprah's book club set lately, and I probably sound like one of them now, but the best thing you can do to fight despair is make your own small corner of the world a little bit more okay. (That doesn't quite fit on a bumper sticker, but I'm working on it.) Personally I like feeding people--whether it's cooking a big meal for my friends, a weeknight dinner for my family, or pancakes for my boyfriend, it makes me feel just a tiny bit better about pretty much everything. I can't fix the oil spill. I can't stop homophobes or racists from yapping their hateful nonsense all over cable news. I can't feed everybody in the world (I warned you this was going to get a little Oprah) but sometimes, I feed this one handful of people that are most important to me and for a little while everything doesn't suck.

There are still things in the world that are just plain old beautiful. For instance, yesterday I was standing on a beach on the Cape thinking about corn. Ethanol, high fructose corn syrup, the corn lobby, the Midwest vote. How these things that are bad for us are going to continually going to get passed into law if Congress is just concerned with getting votes. How government subsidized high fructose corn syrup is one of the major contributors to the obesity epidemic, which the government says it's trying to combat, but if that were true wouldn't they stop paying farmers to grow more of the thing that's making us sick? Then a baby smiled at me and I smiled back and for a minute things just weren't so bad. I remembered I was on a beach, and that there was a baby over there who was just learning to walk, and I told Despair to go get eaten by a Great White.

I hate the notion that we're powerless against the bad stuff in the world; because we're not. But most of us don't have a lot of control over the wider world, either. The best thing we can do is to do our damndest with whatever it is we do have control over. Do what you can, where you are, with what you have, as Teddy Roosevelt said. Take care of the people around you. Take care of yourself. Be the best at something. Grow the best tomatoes or make the most delicious pancakes ever, or be that one person who always remembers to send birthday cards, or the person who makes spectacular cocktails or can always entertain kids or gracefully diffuse an awkward situation. Lie in the sun. Eat a really good peach. Over-tip your waitress. Be nice to the checkout girl, especially if you're having a terrible no good very bad day. Because for now, all that stuff is still firmly in our hands. And that's the kind of thing that throws Despair to the sharks.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

We Are a Fortune 500 Company, Not a Lemonade Stand

Sue: What are you majoring in?
Joel: Russian literature and Slavic languages.
Sue: Oh wow, that's pretty interesting. What career track is that?
Joel: Cabby, hot dog vendor, marijuana delivery guy. The world is my oyster.

English majors have the ability to be real jerks. We snicker about other people's terrible grammar. We yell at the TV about journalistic integrity when CNN launches into their 15th hour of coverage of Lindsay Lohan's jail sentence. We raise our eyebrows if you declare that your favorite book is The DaVinci Code, quietly putting you under the the "nice but dim" tab in our mental Rolodex.

The more militant among us carry Sharpies and bottles of White-Out (See: Lynne Truss, The Great Typo Hunt), ready to correct any public apostrophe mistakes or dangling modifiers, free of charge. These people are dicks.

But we're all members of what Garrison Keillor calls P.O.E.M--the professional organization of English majors-- and I'm here to say that you ought to cut us little slack. See, snarkily correcting other people's grammar is really all we've got. This is what we're good at: reading, writing, talking, forming arguments and yes, grammar. Once upon a time, people who could read and write were valued, because literacy was a specialized skill. (I like to fantasize about this a lot, because that was also a time when blindingly pale skin was considered attractive. They would have made me the fricking queen.) Now, obviously it's a good thing that most modern people can read and write...except that they can't. Or they can, but not well. That's where we come in.

It honestly mystifies me why all businesses don't have an English major on retainer the way they have a lawyer. If your website or correspondence has "its/it's" confusion, or, worse "they're/their/there" confusion, you and your company look sloppy and unprofessional. Hire an English major and have her proofread that shit. I'm not sure if the problem is that people just don't give a shit about the way the present themselves in writing, or if they think they're doing it correctly, or if they just think that the rules of grammar are really just fluid suggestions.

Whatever the problem is, no one listens to us. Which brings me to my big idea: a company that contracts out members of P.O.E.M. to make business owners and their employees seem intelligent in writing. It's not a PR company, because PR people have to be diplomatic. We will be a company of nasty, mean sons of bitches. (And we're not going to be just a bunch of grubby Starbucks-and-Macbook-toting English majors. Women will have to wear skirt suits and heels, and guys will have to dress like Joseph Gordon Levitt in Inception.We will carry briefcases.) Hire us, and we'll make sure that every semi-colon is used correctly, fix subject-pronoun agreement problems and comma splices, and make sure that every last godforsaken apostrophe is used properly. As a free service, we will also correct use of Clip Art or Comic Sans.

Suggestions for a company name and tagline are welcome. Come on, you know you want to work for me.