Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Which We Can Be Anything But Mostly We Are Broke

Remember when you were a little kid and they told you could be anything you want when you grow up? That was so nice. "They" of course is Sesame Street, or whatever show those of you who grew up with cable were watching. No, I will not catch most of your references to "Hey Arnold." Sad, I know. But Sesame Street had Spanish lessons and I speak Spanish now, so really, who wins? (The Hey Arnold kids totally win).

Anyway. It was such a lovely idea that you could be anything. A ballerina, an astronaut, a doctor...really anything with a recognizable outfit and an explanation five year olds can grasp. They keep up this farce right through high school and even into college. Remember those motivational posters stuck on the walls of the gym? If you can dream it, you can do it! Really, the idea that you can become anything you want runs deep in American culture. All it takes to achieve the American dream is some elbow grease, bootstraps, grindstones and some other metaphors I'm sure Sarah Palin would be happy to provide. If you can dream it, you can do it.

The worst part, to my mind, is that once you go to college and declare a liberal arts major they keep going with this notion that you can be anything. A liberal arts education prepares you for a huge number of professions, they love telling you. Here, you will learn to write, research, argue, think critically, and here you will become an Educated Person. Well, great. There was a time when that was all you needed to get a job, but it's not anymore--and no one ever sits you down and says, "Okay, let's talk about how you're going to take this degree in philosophy and turn it into something that will eventually cut you a paycheck."

For the record, I believe a liberal arts education is a really valuable thing. The world needs people like us, because otherwise all we'd have is numbers and data and brushed stainless steel. (I guess my world without the liberal arts looks like "I, Robot" with Will Smith? I don't know.) I don't disavow my decision to major in English. I feel like an educated person. But, in one area, I feel like my education has already failed me in a big way. Writing is what I'm good at, but I'm staring down the barrel of the gun that is the real world and nobody's offered me even an inkling of how I'm supposed to take what I'm good at and turn it into a job.

Now, I'm figuring it out on my own, and I've got my fingers crossed that everything will look better in a year. But does UNH actually think that my courses in the Post Colonial Novel and Shakespeare and drawing and art history have actually made me a competitive candidate for a real job? (Technically I'll have a degree in journalism and be qualified to write for newspapers, but these days that's like majoring in physics and banking on becoming an astronaut.) Are the university bigwigs so out of touch that they don't realize that in today's market their students aren't qualified for anything, or do they not care?

Salon recently ran an article called "Is is time to kill the liberal arts degree?." Now, I'm resoundingly against killing the liberal arts degree, but I do wish somebody would recognize that liberal arts students need a little more of a plan than engineers, and that it might be nice if our university could throw us a little guidance. Some personal finance, some computer skills, some basic understanding of business, a little career counseling. Hell, it could be a whole class. No, it's not romantic. It's not living on coffee and cigarettes and scribbling the great American novel in your vermin-infested apartment. It's not grappling with philosophical conundrums. But it's goddamn common sense. Until academia realizes that liberal arts majors need to live and work in today's crazy-ass job market the same as everybody else, all we're going to have is a lot of Latin-speaking bag boys and dishwashers quoting Kafka.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Worst Girls

They think they're hotter than everyone else (but they like talking about how they just like wearing jeans and t-shirts) they like sports (but not as much as they like telling guys how much they like sports) and they just don't get why they don't have any female friends (although what they really love is saying that girls are bitches and they don't want to be friends with them anyway). They're not just girls who are friends with guys, they're girls who proclaim that they can't stand other girls, only want to have guy friends and simply will not shut the fuck up about it.

They are the worst girls.

The worst girls shine in their Facebook pages; where they post statuses about how glad they are that all their friends are guys because girls are awful, and tons of boozy photo albums called things like "my boys <3." Don't get me wrong, it's great that you have boys. I believe that guys and girls can be platonic friends, sometimes. But sorry, if you're a girl who hangs out solely with guys, probably about 50% of them harbor feelings for you or at least a vague sense that they might want to make out with you sometime when everyone's drunk, 45% of them want to sleep with your roommate/sister/mom, and maybe 5% of them want to actually be your friend.

A lot of actresses also suck in this regard. (Megan Fox, I'm looking at you). They're champs at saying things like "Women are just so jealous, I really just prefer guy friends" and "I'm really just a guy's girl, I love football!" (I'm sure you do, January Jones). These factoids--especially the sports (because imagine! A woman who likes to watch sports!)--are constantly trotted out in profiles of actresses like they somehow make them more interesting. So, ladies of Hollywood (because I know you're reading this) it's quite possible that the reason you don't have girlfriends isn't because they're all jealous of your hotness--it might be because you're just really annoying.

Now, I shave my legs and everything but what the hell ever happened to sisterhood? This is simply not cool. If you do this, you are not fooling anyone. We all know that "girls are so jealous" means "I think I'm hot shit, you should too," and that "I just get along better with guys" means "I think all girls except me are bitches." We all get it. But if girls don't like you, you need to a.) take a look at the girls you're hanging out with and b.) take a long, hard look at yourself. Because somebody's acting like an asshole and it might be you.

So ladies, here's the takeaway: stop trashing other girls as a way to inflate your ego, because it sucks. It does not make you remotely interesting or unique that you like football. It just makes you one of millions of other people who like football. (And dudes: I know a girl who can hold her liquor and talk intelligently about sports is hot--not that I can speak from experience--but think twice about dating a chick with no girlfriends. Just...think twice). Most people couldn't care less if you want to have friends of the opposite sex and watch sports and drink whiskey and do whatever other crap "guys girls" supposedly do, so you can stop talking about it now. Sorry, but those are just things that people
do sometimes. You're going to need a new schtick, cupcake.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Where I've Been

Sorry that it's been a long time since I've blogged, but my laptop was in London for about two weeks. You know, just chillin. Hanging out with my Kindle and the other thousand pieces of lost luggage at Heathrow. It was good. I think we both grew as people.

I left my laptop in a bin at security in Heathrow. They make you go through again because they're serious as hell about security in Britain and security in Spain is a joke--you leave your shoes on, don't take out your electronics and you can get almost any liquids you want through as long as no one actually sees them. The flight was late getting in because no one in Spain understands the concept of places to be and people to see, and I had like forty-five minutes to make my connection in London. Which if you been to Heathrow you know isn't even enough time to physically get to your gate, let alone eat a sandwich or pee. I was running to the gate, but safely got on the bus out to the plane, and then realized that my backpack was feeling kind of light.

No MacBook.

No Kindle.


I thought about trying to go back, but I wasn't prepared to miss my flight. By this point I wanted to go home way more than I wanted my stuff back. So I got on board, hyperventilated for like half an hour about all the files that I might have lost forever, then for another fifteen minutes I berated myself for never backing things up. That got boring so I had an Advil PM and two of those mini plastic bottles of Pinot Grigio, put on The King's Speech and slept like the dead for the rest of the flight. Helpful tips!

The thing is, though, it didn't ruin anything about coming home. My boyfriend was waiting for me with irises and a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee. Here's pretty much how it went:

8:00 pm I wheel my luggage through the exit, see Cam.
8:00:05 Random lady: There's a smiley girl!
8:00:07 Other random lady makes connection between me and Cam: AWW!
8:00: 10 Me: Hi.
8:00:12 Cam: Hi!
8:00:125 We're making out, random ladies are applauding, and oh em gee this is just like Love Actually you guys!
8:12 Random ladies start getting veeery uncomfortable. It had been like three months, okay?

My family was at home waiting for me, and my little brother and cousins had painted a big Welcome Home sign. And it was pretty much as awesome and warm and fuzzy as I thought it was going to be. It was totally possible that my computer was lost for good--although luckily it's not--but when I'm not blogging about random shit I occasionally write some serious pieces, a few of which I thought were starting to be kind of not terrible. There was some stuff on there that I really didn't want to lose. Thankfully it's all back now, after a lot of abusive emails and for some reason multiple faxes...I won't get into that shit though, you're welcome.

But bizarrely, there was a huge sense of calm that came over me somewhere in the middle of my second airplane bottle of Pinot Grigio. (And I might have utilized the red balloon trick a couple dozen times). Especially for someone who a.) sometimes pretends to be a real writer and b.) never backs anything up because she is really unbelievably DUMB, losing a computer is kind of a big fucking deal. But even though everything I'd ever written was quite possibly gone, I had a weird moment where I just decided it was going to be okay. I was finally on my way home, and it was all going to be okay.