Odd Girl Out: On Being Weird & Sad in College

Sunday, October 28, 2012

If I ever want to have a good bout of being emo & just generally make myself feel really shitty – because, you know, sometimes you want that?* – all I have to do is reflect on my sophomore & junior years of college.

Being as helpful as it always is when it comes to comparing our lives to the lives of others while simultaneously checking in on people who’d rather we forget all about them, Facebook has upped the emo ante, making it even easier for me to click through to see the faces of the people who bring back the harshest memories.

Not Those Kind of Friends!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Life in New Jersey has been significantly better since I identified a few coffee shops that I like working from. There's a Starbucks less than a mile from my apartment, but I quickly learned that it was in no position to become a favorite of mine. It's small & cramped, & only two of the tables are near electrical outlets. Worse, it's practically next door to a high school, so come 2:30, it's swarming with chatty, squealing teenagers who do asinine things like FaceTime their absent friends into very loud public hangouts. So no, thanks.

There's a Starbucks five miles down the road that I like a lot more. Friendlier baristas, bigger space, more outlets, zero hoards of kids - now that's what I call a work space! What I like even more is the cafe I discovered just a couple of blocks from my apartment - entirely walkable with the world's friendliest staff. And they play a radio stations with American music & Danish commercials. Quirky!

The staff is equal parts hipster 20somethings & middle-aged Scandinavian men, all quite nice, & I've already identified a few regulars, people who spend multiple hours there on their laptops like me. I'm determined to befriend a couple of them, though I'm not sure how to accomplish this. "Hey, can you keep an eye on my stuff while I run to the restroom?" does not a friendship make.

Earlier this week, just hours after I tweeted my friend-making intentions, I had a run-in with a dude who, thankfully, I've not seen there before today. He sat down just as I was packing up to leave, talking very quietly & making some hand gestures that I assumed meant he was asking me whether there were outlets nearby for him to plug in his computer. I pointed him toward them as I got up to leave, which was when he got slightly too close & whisper-talked, in a smooth voice with a thick accent, "Take me out for café, you are amazing"& slipped me a tiny piece of paper with numbers on it. And then I mumbled, "I have a boyfriend, sorry" & almost literally ran away. 

What? That's not even a suave move, guy. Ain't no shame in tryin' to have a little game, but if you're gonna try to seduce a lady, give it some goddamn effort. Chat a girl up - & pantomimed requests for directions to the closest electrical outlet don't count. Also, let's not throw around words like "amazing" when we're talking to strangers, OK? I mean, what are you able to deduce is amazing about me? The fact that I'm wearing leggings as pants & successfully balancing a heavy computer bag & a half-full mug of cold tea? My post-bronchitis hacking cough? The fact that I am able to give you directions to the closest electrical outlet? Low standards, dude.

If that's what I get for wanting friends, I think I'll stick to the loner life.

Stop Being Polite & Start Being Real

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I'm sick to death of people saying that we need to respect all opinions. Look, I absolutely respect your right to have an opinion that differs from mine - but that doesn't mean I have to think it's an opinion that's necessarily worthy of respect.

I refuse to be so polite that I cease being principled.

I believe that a woman should have full & total control & the final say in all decisions pertaining to her own body. I believe that anything less than full equality for LGBT individuals is institutionalized bigotry. I respect the fact that others are allowed, under this great democracy, to disagree, & I can still show respect for individuals who have differing opinions - but I do not have to respect views that are oppressive & harmful.

Don't let anyone tell you that you're close-minded for refusing to "respect" bigotry, discrimination, or oppression. Stand for something. Speak up. Be respectful, but stand your ground. I would always rather be a principled agitator than a polite blank slate.

Nice Jug(handle)s

Friday, October 19, 2012

I'm scared of driving. Maybe I've told you this before.

I've definitely told you this before.

Last summer, I wrote about all the things that freaked me out about driving in New England. And then? I moved to New Jersey.

Guys, this place is nuts. On the road, perfectly nice citizens become crazed, angry maniacs. Let's discuss. 

The issue here is jughandles. Sounds like fat lovehandles, right? Wrong.

Basically, you can't turn left in New Jersey. The whole state appears to have been laid out by Derek Zoolander. Want to turn left? You have to turn right first, then loop around to the other side of the street, which is presumably a less busy road than the one you wanted to turn left onto, & there you can either go straight (which is, essentially, the lefthand turn you needed to make) or turn left, which is the equivalent of a U-Turn. This also means that if you miss a turn, you have to go down to the next jughandle & drive allll the way back. Here, someone drew you an example!

This guy explains them way better than I ever could. To summarize, though, jughandles were apparently created to ease the flow of traffic in New Jersey, but they mean, essentially, that you have to sometimes almost literally go the extra mile to get wherever you're going.

Furthermore, as that other dude correctly notes, GPS is wholly useless here. My British-voiced Garmin, affectionately named Daniel, has no idea what to do here. No idea. He's constantly recalculating, telling me about it in that judgy robotic UK accent, like I'm doing something wrong when he's supposed to be telling me where to go. "Turn left" doesn't help here, Daniel! And don't even get me started on this shitty new iPhone map, which the other day told me the closest post office was a four-hour drive away.

There are other things that are weird about driving in New Jersey. Like an outrageous number of concrete highway dividers, & yellow lights that last forever, & $12 highway tolls. But now I'm too worked up about jughandles to even tell you about them.

What I wouldn't give for a good, old, New England-style traffic circle right about now.

Welcome to the Garden State. Shut up & drive.

Look at This Stuff, Isn't It Neat?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nathan & I have lived in Red Bank for three & a half months now (say what???), & our apartment has finally started to feel like home. I may not love Jersey (yet?), but I've finally reached the point where, when I'm traveling, I look forward to coming back to this apartment instead of longing for our place back in New Hampshire.

OK, that's not entirely true. I spend perhaps a disproportionate amount of time missing our old place, which was cozy & familiar. The new place has high ceilings & hardwood floors & lots of sunlight, all things our old place didn't have – all things other people covet, but never me... I'm getting used to it, though, & you know what's helping? Having a ton of wall space on which to hang some of the prints & things I've been collecting for months. And by "collecting," I sort of mean "hoarding."

Quirky, colorful art makes me feel good, & it's great to have wall space for it. I posted a picture of just a corner of this collage wall on Instagram, & someone asked to see the whole thing. The subsequent pic got so many comments & likes that I thought maybe you guys would want to see it, too. And if you don't? Umm, skip this post.

  1. I got this print & the three other wood-framed pieces in the collage from a crazy artsy hippie named Avraham in Tzfat, Israel. Abraham, whose given name was actually something common & American like Michael or Robert, was originally from Detroit & quite fond of elongating the word "awesome."The description for this yin-yang-like piece is "Body and Soul become One in the place of Unconditional Love."
  1. I decoupaged this frame at Wild & Crazy Pearl's "Crafternoon" a few years back. In it is a picture of the house I grew up in. My mom says the photo is too ugly for display, but I disagree. Feels like home to me!
  1. My mom sent me this piece awhile back. It features a girl on a bike & reads, "I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world." That's probably not true, but it's a lovely sentiment.
  1. This sign naming my beloved hometown is a total mystery. It arrived on my birthday in 2011, sans note or recipe or indication as to its sender... & I still have no idea who it's from!
  1. Another print from the wonderfully crazy Avraham. Did I mention that each of these came with a printout of the story behind them? This one is described as "a mystical map of the 100 sounds of the shofar."
  1. This print from Mandipidy's Etsy shop was a Christmukkah gift last year from my friend Cara, a former coworker & fellow Ohioan, after I blogged about my desperate want for it.
  1. Crazy Abe strikes again! This is my favorite of the bunch; I even considered getting a tattoo of this one. It reads, Ain Od Mil'vado, "There is nothing but G-d."
  1. I can't remember where this print, with the Leo sign & astrology markings in the background, came from, but I think it's beautiful & sassy & regal. ROAR.
  1. My friend Miyuki presented me with this amazing piece on my 18th birthday. Miyuki, who longed to be a Disney animator, hand-drew Belle, Beast, Ariel, Alice, & other familiar animated characters, interspersing them with sweet birthday wishes to me. ten years later & you know what Miyuki does now? She's a Disney animator. That's the power of dreams, kids.
  1. I bought this print from Claude Taylor Photography in Dupont Circle a few months after I'd moved out of D.C. An ex-boyfriend had given me a gift certificate to this local gallery, but I was convinced I'd thrown it out. When I discovered it more than a year later, it was still valid, so I used it to buy something that would remind me fondly of the District - like a photo of one of my favorite neighborhoods.
  1. Weird though it may be to hang this on my wall, this is my Ohio license plate. Because I am an Ohioan through & through, no matter how East Coast I become. Because Midwest is best!
  1. I wish you could see this print better. It's a framed greeting card with drawing of Abraham Lincoln & the quote, "It's not the years in your life that count. it's the life in your years." I am fairly obsessed with it.
  1. My mom brought this print home for me from some conference she went to, presumably one for children's librarians. It includes a great poem & is signed by bestselling Mexican-American author Pam Muñoz Ryan.
  1. The final print from Crazy Abe. The description of it is over my head, though.
  1. I have no idea where this little plate came from, but it has some Hebrew & what's likely a Biblical scene on it. It's also Velcroed to the wall because I'm a little bit into jerry-rigging things.
  1. I bought this card for myself from my favorite shop in Portsmouth & framed it as a reminder to be proactive & positive. It reads, "Go into the world and do well. But most importantly, go into the world and do good.
There you have it, my little collage corner. There are other, smaller photo collages throughout the apartment, but this one is the star of the show. Makes me smile, y'know?
It's the little things, I guess.

Must Be Election Season!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

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