Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bridging the Generation Gap-- Clueless and the Golden Girls

Clueless is probably my favorite teen movie ever. My birthday was Clueless themed.

Also, I grew up on the Golden Girls and would watch it with my mother. Everyone in my family loved that show, including my grandpa, which was sort of strange. Lately, Betty White has been huge on the teen/young adult circuit, and the newest development has been this:

Honestly, this was kind of a pointless post, but I feel like I need to pass this link around through as many avenues as possible.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Something About Being 20

One of the things I've noticed about living in a new place is how amused I get by stupid errands. I think I feel like I'm playing house, and although I lived in the exact same apartment during the school year, I suddenly feel more inclined to do apartment-y things. I just color coordinated my closet for no real reason, and today I found walking to the grocery store super fulfilling. I'm not really all that domestic of a person, and I feel like I'm sort of just playing house. During the school year I was too busy to really focus on taking care of myself--like trying to eat really healthy and going for walks to get exercise. And now that I can it's new and exciting. Maybe I'm just a little kid who likes living in a kind of fantasy land where I'm playing adult--going to work and cooking good meals.

That's the thing about being 20, you're just kind of floating in this place where you're not financially independent, really, or not old enough to go to bars but you're out of high school and conceivably "more mature."

Yesterday, my roommate, our friend and I went to see Sex and the City 2 to see for ourselves how much of a shit show it was going to be (plot was better than I was expecting, but it was sort of racist which really pissed me off). There were these girls sitting in front of us (they came in a pack of like 10-12) and the three of us started to take bets on whether or not they were seniors in high school or college students. They ended up having just graduated from college, and I could've sworn they were all 17.

One of them let out a high-pitched excited scream during a Twilight trailer. When my friends and I started laughing hysterically at the overly-dramatic trailer a few of them turned around and gave us pissed off looks and one actually said, "I don't understand why it's so funny that I turned around." We told her that we were laughing at Twilight and I felt like I was in the tenth grade during the whole awkward exchange.

But the thing is, they were older than all of us and on their way to having actual Adult Lives and living in The Real World and not just playing house but one step closer to owning a house.

I feel like I spend my time feeling totally split between the younger-young adult world and the older-young adult world. I can hang out with people who are 24-26 and feel totally comfortable, but couldn't go out for them with a drink if I wanted to and I don't work full time and I'm still a student, and suddenly the differences seem more extreme.

And I'm not even really complaining. I don't find anything unappealing about playing house and being twenty, but I can't help but wonder: When I was 11, I felt in between a teen and a kid; when I was 14, I felt in between a middle schooler and a high schooler; when I was 17, I felt in between a senior in high school and a freshman in college. And now I feel in between again. When I'm 30, will I just feel in between my 20s and my 40s? They say the awkward, growing years are supposed to end once you're out of your teens, but I'm not really sure if I believe them. Most of the adults I know seem to be in between different milestones, and just go on living their lives neither here nor there.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A New Cast of Characters

I've decided to start reading one non-poetry book and one poetry book per week. So far, with starting a new job, I've only really gotten through the one poetry book. It was Walking the Black Cat by Charles Simic. I liked it but didn't love it, although his poems are about eerie and strange characters and wandering the streets and insomnia, which are all pretty interesting.

I guess they're also themes I know a lot about, in some way or another. I'm in a place that's relatively new to me (I've experienced the college side of where I live, not so much the town side) and now that I'm working in a local business and heading downtown everyday, I start to recognize the same strange cast of characters. People missing teeth, people who talk loudly about their sex lives, people who sit stone-faced on benches with only their eyes moving on the other passerbys-- people that I might have known for years had a grown up here; people that might not be so intriguing if I was from the area. Some of them talk to me about past jobs or overdoses or their various ailments while I work, and they're just these adult wanderers heading through a little city, and they're young in their unsettledness and old in their age all at the same time. And they're fascinating.

There is something about the odd cast of characters that come with every town, and I feel like that's what Simic captures in Black Cat. It's like a journey through a strange place, and I'm beginning my journey in a strange place, wandering through the streets to and from work and the grocery store, as one of the new girls in the town's ever-developing story.

Dark Corners
By Charles Simic

So, how'd you find me?
Ordinarily, I act deaf and dumb, but with you
It's different. Darting in and out
Of doorways, prowling after me
Like a black cat.

Just look at the suckers, I kept
Shouting at the world. It was no use.
They just stepped over me holding on to their hats,
Or lifting their skirts a little
On the way to hell.

He must be crazy, sprawled there
On the sidewalk, his fly unzipped.
His eyes closing. Only you came back
To see how I'm doing,
Only you peeked into every dark corner.

I'm a bird fluttering in flight.
Find me a nice, large cage with the door open.
Back me out of here with your kisses.
My shoes and laces.
My pants need your fingers to hold them up.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Oil Spill

I haven't blogged about this yet, and I feel like I'm way behind. Things are continuing to get worse. Anderson Cooper has been following it a lot, keepin' them honest, you know, and since I'm in love with him, I've been using him as a way to keep up on the oil spill.

BP is being sketchy about releasing figures and videos about how much oil is still spilling. But, they're BP. They're a major oil company. This is what they do.

They say they're not being sketchy, everyone else says they are. So it goes.

The oil has started to hit the Louisiana coast. Oil dispersing chemicals, human hair, domes... no one can come up with a functional idea of how to stop it, and it's pretty scary.

Here are some links:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Deal With New Beginnings

I started my new job yesterday. I really think I'm going to like working with the people at the job. Everyone was super friendly and they seem organized and all-in-all on top of their shit.

Starting a new job is always a little awkward. I feel like I repeat the same phrases over and over, "right", "that makes sense", "of course", "yeah", and obviously: "Sorry!" or when directed to someone who doesn't work at the business: "Sorry! I'm new!" Plus you're in this place where you're meeting a bunch of people you don't know and learning a whole bunch. But new beginnings are always as exciting and interesting as they are nerve-wrecking and awkward.

And this summer is all about new things, particularly being in a new location during the summer and living a new type of summer. Sometimes, I find myself feeling completely separated from Jersey summers: from my friends there, my family, and my boyfriend. And in those moments, a cool feeling creeps up on me and I just want to be back in Jersey with them, driving around with my friends or my boyfriend or having dinners on the porch with my parents.

But in most of my time, I get excited even when I go outside of my apartment to see the beautiful upstate New York summer that I've never experienced before. I get excited hanging out with my friends here and exploring everything. I could walk to a poetry reading this weekend; there are no walkable poetry readings by me in Jersey. Being able to have excitement and culture and things I love a few blocks away is totally new. Not the awkward and nerve-wrecking kind of new, the AMAZING kind of new.

In Jersey, sometimes I feel like I've met everyone in my town. Which is sounds like a stuck-up kind of thing to think, but it's more just like I've lived in a small town forever, and even though it's home, it's not always satisfying. I guess home can't always be satisfying.

And just because a new place is satisfying doesn't mean it feels like a home. Which I guess is where I am right now. I love living here, but it's not quite a homey-Jersey-summer.

I think the way it goes with new things though, is that you have hope that once you get past the awkwardness and the nervousness, that once the new becomes the old, your life will at least little better than it was before.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Two Dinners and Born to Run

My friend took me to Wegman's today; my roommates and I hadn't been shopping in way too long and I basically bought the entire store. I'm still in my time of High Summer Expectations, and bought all this stuff to make different chicken meals, even though I'm a bit challenged in the kitchen.

When I got home, I made a salad with feta cheese, onions, and apple cider vinegar and then tried to make sesame chicken, only to realize I forgot to buy sesame seeds. But I made it anyway and, fun fact, sesame chicken without sesame seeds is just chicken with honey on it. Delicious, but not the same.

Then I went over to a friend's house and we made another dinner-- Jambalaya with chop meat, cornbread, and then rice pilaf mixed with diced tomatoes and chicken. It was pretty good, considering it was a makeshift meal of all the shit left in my friend's apartment since his lease ends tomorrow.

After dinner we sat around and listened to Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run and for a second I felt a pang of homesickness. If anyone read my post about summer albums, that was my number one. The summer album to end all summer albums. I always thought that album was great because it was an album that people from my parents' generation and my generation, and the generations in between, could drive around and listen to when it was hot outside. It's a trans-generational album.

And I guess it's a trans-state album too. Part of me will always associate Bruce with Jersey and my parents and family and friends there, it was great to have the album make that jump: to have it go from being a Jersey album to an upstate NY album. To the summer album no matter where I am.

Even though I missed home a little tonight, it was nice to be living a life of making dinners with friends in our apartments and not in our parents' kitchens (although I acknowledge that all of our parents help us pay rent on some level at least, if not paying for it flat out... so financially our kitchens in our apartments belong more to our parents than they do to us). There are things about Jersey that I miss, but things about upstate NY that I can't have there. It's a give and take.

At one point tonight we looked up what a "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" means. Turns out Bruce doesn't even know. But if I had to take a guess, I think a Tenth Avenue Freeze Out takes place during the summertime.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Let the Different Summer begin...

Yesterday was my last final, thank God. And I'm officially done. This summer I'll be living in upstate NY, interning for the Committee on US-Latin American Relations (where I interned this spring) and then working at a coffee place (finally got a job!). I'm pretty excited, albeit a little homesick.

This is the first summer that I haven't spent in New Jersey. Summer number 20, and finally I'm spending the season somewhere else. I miss Jersey, and I think it's a missable place (even though people continually insult it). But sometimes, especially when you're in college, you need to do things a little differently than you used to. So here I am--not in Jersey.

Today I walked around town a little bit and started doing the thing I do at the beginning of every summer, when I have really high expectations for myself. "I'm going to write poetry everyday... in fact, I'll write a chapbook!" I told myself as I walked to the library. Then: "I'll read one book of poetry every week and one non-poetry book. And I'll watch movies. Particularly The Graduate... I need to see that again. And I'm gonna listen to Paul Simon's 'Graceland' on repeat. And maybe I can convince someone to start driving me in the direction of Graceland while the album's playing since I don't have enough money to actually go to Graceland... That way I'll get to pretend for 45 minutes.

And exercise. I'll do that more. Or, well, let's be honest here, I'll start exercising.

And clean my room, and the rest of my apartment. All the time. I'll be neat for once. And I'll start eating organic and learn how to ride a bike again."

These are the things I told myself all throughout today and the chances of any of them happening are kind of slim. But it's nice to think about them anyway. That's the way the beginning of summer is--expectations are always high and that's the way it should be. No one should ever start a summer without saying: "This is going to be the best summer of my life."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Living Without Money

I stumbled across an article that discussed how Mark Boyle, a man in the UK, decided to live without money for an entire year. He lived off the grid and created his own energy, grew his own food, and foraged through the wilderness or got leftovers from restaurants for the rest. He took some advice and assistance from the Freeconomy Community--another UK group that's been living without money in an alternate community. My main question about Boyle, is that he's been writing articles for The Guardian; so is he getting paid to write these articles? I couldn't really find any info. If you're aware, let me know!

However, the more I looked into living without money, the more I realized that Boyle was far from alone in the quest, and that others had been doing it long before he had. They all had different reasons for trying to go moneyless. Boyle did it because he was disaffected with consumer culture and money, and also to live a more sustainable lifestyle consuming others' waste.

There is Suelo, from the US, who lives without money in a similar manner by consuming others' waste. This involves dumpster diving and asking for leftovers from restaurants. Suelo focuses on faith and philosophy as a backdrop to surviving life without money. He's been moneyless for 12 years, with the exception of one month. His life seems more nomadic than Boyle's, who set up camp in one place.

Heidemarie Schwerner, from Germany, was a psychotherapist who after years of seeing people's lives destroyed by money decided to go moneyless. She began exchange circles where people could exchange services and objects. She then gave away or donated all of her possessions and "cancelled her flat" (that's what the article says, not totally sure how that works) and moved in with friends, working for them in exchange for living space and food. Heidemarie's philosophy is very different from Suelo and Boyle who often live off other's excess. Heidemarie is moneyless, but basically works for friends, simply cutting out the exchange of cash. However, she has been living without money for 12 years, just as Suelo has and the idea of exchange circles has expanded all over Germany.

Obviously, most of us don't have the skills or knowledge or, let's be honest, the drive to simply quit money cold turkey, but perhaps in hard economic times (or for us broke college kids) and dire environmental circumstances, we could all learn a few things. Take leftovers: furniture and appliances that other people don't want anymore--pick them up off the side of the road (I have definitely done this before), check Craig's list, dumpster dive if you're brave enough and not germ-phobic; you could try asking restaurants for leftover food like Suelo and Boyle do. You can exchange favors with friends. It's simple advice, and a lot of it is common sense unless you want to build an apparatus to live off the grid like Boyle. However, I think we've all forgotten that there are other ways to get food, objects, and services when we utter the phrase, "I'm broke as shit."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Real Housewives of New Jersey Returns

The show is back! For some reason last summer I watched more reality TV than I'd like to admit to. It rained a lot and I had nothing else to do, which is my excuse and I'm sticking to it. Real Housewives was discussed A LOT back in my home state. I discussed it with other people who don't really watch reality TV; I discussed it with my neighbors; I discussed it with my family.

So I'm really glad it's back. I've seriously started to doubt that the show reflects any type of reality of the New Jersey suburbanites on the show. They all say that the drama of the last season really hurt them and was hard on their lives, yet they decided to come back for a round two.

For example, Jacqueline's husband wanted her to stop talking to Danielle. Why the change? What happened in the time between the seasons that made him want to do that? Was it scripted or legitimate?

But, I mean, I don't really think that reality shows are ever that reflective of reality. The goal is to get viewers, and sometimes reality is pretty dull. So it's better to just look at reality TV as entertainment.

My fingers are crossed that new situations will crop up and that it won't necessarily just be the book drama drawn out for another season. 'Cause as entertaining as that was, I'm not sure if it can carry another whole season.

All in all though, the first episode was funny and entertaining and drama-filled.

A hilarious highlight for me was when Teresa's family was making tomatoes and they asked a woman with them if she was on her period. It's an old Italian tradition that my Italian family has joked about that you're not supposed to make bread sauce on your period.

Some other happenings include a fancy dinner at Caroline's place, Jacqueline having her baby, and Danielle still being conflicted about her feelings concerning the book drama.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day

All across the world today, people have come together to protest for worker's rights. In countries other than America, May Day is International Worker's Day or Labor Day.

In an age of ever more unemployment, I feel like May Day this year is particularly necessary. I took place in one of the demonstrations in my area and found that this May Day has come right in time for everyone across the nation to show solidarity with immigrant workers in Arizona. CIR or Comprehensive Immigration Reform (reform that urges law makers to handle the illegal immigration situation in American with a focus on Human Rights) floated around a lot today, and I think that with this new bill in Arizona, CIR is ever more important.

Not every protest today was peaceful, however. In Greece's protests turned violent because of the current and very serious economic crisis happening in the country. The protests were to fighting against wage decreases and pension reductions as Greek tries to deal with it $400 billion dollar debt. In addition, the protests were trying to keep Greece from accepting loans from the IMF and the EU. This article reports that protestors were yelling, "No to the IMF's junta!"

Other protests happened all over Europe and the New York Times has some neat pictures in their slide show including this one below.

More emphasis on worker's rights is always necessary throughout the world, and strong May Day demonstrations are one small, but important, step in that direction.

Summer Music

It's a beautiful day today; 85 degrees where I am. Hopefully summer's coming soon. I can't want to spend time outside once the semester is over and I can relax a bit.

There are certain albums that just remind me of summer. Of lying out on the porch or driving around or vacations. I figured in celebration of the nice weather I'd post my favorites:

10. The Problemaddicts-Dark Side of Oz: Really interesting rap album; it samples Dark Side of the Moon and concepts from The Wizard of Oz. I really have no idea why I associate this album with summer, but somehow I do so it's on the list.

9. Janis Joplin-Pearl: I always feel like Joni is for winter and Janis is for summer.

8. The Max Levine Ensemble-OK Smartypants: A good driving summer album, since it's relatively fast tempo pop-punk.

7. Gaslight Anthem-Sink or Swim: I've heard people make fun of this band before, but I really like them and this album is another one of those driving-around-for-ages albums. They borrow from Bruce Springteen and from Meatloaf (who are also on my list), and I think that's why people make fun of them. But, I dunno, it works for me.

6. Meatloaf-Bat out of Hell: This album and Born to Run are really similar in my mind, but a lot of people don't really see the connection. But this is one of those other albums about driving and young love and hot summer nights. And it's awesome

5. River City Rebels-Hate to Be Loved: I ususally skip the slower tracks when I listen to this album by this punk rock band during the summer. But the faster ones ("Glitter and Gold", "Cloudy Times", and "Her New Man" in particular) have such a great summer feel to them. They remind me of working in the dry cleaners that I worked at in high school. During the summer months, I played this album on repeat and wished I was outside while I took care of other people's dirty laundry.

4. Ray Charles-Ray Charles: This album is perfect for summer nights on a porch. Nothing like some Jazz and the night air to relax you. The only bummer is that this album doesn't have "(Night Time) is the Right Time" so I'd recommend putting that song on after this album is over.

3. Neutral Milk Hotel-In the Aeroplane Over the Sea: I've heard this described as the best concept album of our generation. And it is pretty damn good. Try this: Put this album on if it's sunny and you're driving somewhere rural. I swear it'll make your day.

2. Paul Simon-Graceland: This album. Oh god. Simon's album has African influences and it's absolutely amazing. It makes me want to go on a road trip to Graceland. It's an album about love and redemption and traveling. It should be the soundtrack of any vacation, even if you're not "going to Graceland, Graceland, Memphis Tennessee... "

1. Bruce Springsteen-Born to Run: I don't even feel like this needs an explanation. If there was ever a summer album, it's gotta be Born to Run. What's more summery than
songs about driving and escaping and young love and wasting your "summer praying in vain for a savior to rise from these streets"?