smarty pants

tell it like it is, bansky

tell it like it is, Banksy

In the never ending battle against crippling self-doubt and the ticking time bomb called “The Rest of My Life,” questions and self-criticism are everywhere. It is as if my brain has spawned a gang of misguided teens to run around in my psyche and spray negative graffiti over every good thought I’ve ever had. As if Meryl Streep from The Devil Wears Prada is following me, spewing venom all over my hard work. These terrible feelings and mental images have been accompanying me all through college while I try to figure out what career choice is right, but more importantly what I AM good at.

But this morning during my early-morning, bitter-cold, in-no-way depressing commute to work, I started listening to this story about the difference between Eastern and Western perspectives on the struggle of learning , and for the first time in a few days it turned my proverbial frown upside down. Sound a bit heady for a piece of information that is supposed to make your day a little better? Let me explain.

You know those smart kids in school who seem to get everything right away? Who can zone out of class but still get the right answer? The ones who can pull an 8 page essay out of their ear the night before it is due and three weeks later it is published in some academic magazine? Are those people “smart?” I think most people would say “yes.” School says “yes.” The culture in the United States says “yes.”And so by exclusion, people who have to work at achieving the same thing (or maybe less) are seen as of lesser intelligence. Not necessarily stupid, but below the wizards of natural ability. (Not that these “smart” kids don’t work hard too. But come on math geniuses: imaginary numbers are bullshit and I will never understand them. And I tried, believe me I tried.)

We’ve all heard this and hopefully agree that grades are not our best indicator of actual intelligence or potential. Remember when George W. Bush positioned himself as the “B-student who became President?” Well, maybe that’s not the best example…but it happened, didn’t it? I always thought myself to be pretty smart because I made good grades and I liked learning, and other people fueled the fire by telling me I was smart. But I was also afraid of asking questions that made me look like I didn’t know everything already. Once I got over the fear admitting what I didn’t know, I found out that I have a LOT of questions. I mean a LOT. Does this mean many things don’t come easily to me? Am I not smart? Enter the crippling doubts about my intelligence–or perhaps lack thereof–and where that will put me in the future.

But let’s go back to the idea that being “smart” comes naturally. The study presented in the article says focusing on natural intelligence is a very Western idea that has been presented to us and impressed upon us repeatedly. But what if we were born in another country like Japan or Thailand? Would the wealth of intelligence be redistributed if the scale was different? Would we feel different about ourselves and our abilities?

According to Professor Jin Li, the overarching Eastern perspective regarding learning puts a focus on the struggle of mastery rather than the outcome. Not that the outcome isn’t important, but the idea of innate intelligence or ability is not as significant as the amount of work and mental energy someone is willing to put into something. It is process-centered rather than a race to the finish line. Even though neither perspective is completely flawless, perhaps incorporating the two ideals would lead to a more harmonious experience for students at all learning levels. What’s more, maybe students who move at a slower pace may experience less damage to their ego and, in turn, their ambitions.

“Obviously if struggle indicates weakness — a lack of intelligence — it makes you feel bad, and so you’re less likely to put up with it. But if struggle indicates strength — an ability to face down the challenges that inevitably occur when you are trying to learn something — you’re more willing to accept it.”

This story served me like a reassuring pat on the back or a good fortune cookie. Maybe things I don’t think I am good at just make me work harder for it, which actually makes me BETTER at it? My fear of being ruled out of a certain skill or career path just because I struggle with it isn’t fact or even just my opinion. It is a cultural ideal that I was born into, and realizing that can help me change my own self-perception going forward. Ask myself, “Not what can I do, but how bad do I want to do it.”

Something like that.

Advertisements

All Systems Go!

If I’ve ever created a public perception of myself, I am surely about to change it now when I reveal to you, dear readers, a system I use daily. A system I have spent years cultivating to perfection. A system I give to you now:

Using a Public Restroom.

Using a public bathroom is probably the least enjoyable part of my day. Firstly, because going to the bathroom in general requires getting up from whatever I’m doing (eating/sleeping/watching BRAVO!) and it is always SUCH a bummer. But ultimately when you gotta take care of business, you probably have never thought to yourself, ” Boy I’m glad I’m at a TGI Friday’s instead of home!”

My constant woes of public toilet use over the years has led me to develop a method to ensure I am at maximum comfort level when the situation rises. Yes, it is true. My friends can use the bathroom, drink a Big Gulp, then go once more in the time it takes me to go once. And maybe that supersonic speed is desirable at, say, Disneyland where every moment you are in the bathroom is a moment wasted having THE MOST OVERPRICED FUN OF YOUR LIFE. But most of the time, I am 100% happy with my slower pace, so long as it ensures complete comfort and cleanliness.

Pee-Pee Department Protocol

Step 1: Gently push open the door
Don’t break the door down like you have something to prove to other bathroom goers. A nice gentle tap will suffice. This way, in the event of a faulty lock, you don’t ruin someone’s day and possibly your own. I’m sure most people have had the door sprung open on them when a little more privacy was preferable. My most traumatic experience came in kindergarten when I walked in on a girl who had not only completely disregarded to lock the door, but appeared to be forcing a large fruit from her rectum. We locked eyes. I’ve never been the same.
Moral of story: tap the door gently to be sure there is not a half dressed human on the other side.

Step 2: Scope the Surroundings
When I say surroundings, I am referring to the confines bathroom stall. Is the seat cover dry and a normal shade of color? Has anyone missed the toilet lately? Is the trash can overflowing with…womanly things? Remember, you are under no obligation to use this stall or even this restroom altogether. It is your right as a human to feel comfortable wherever you drop trou.

Step 3: Toilet Paper Check
Don’t march into battle with an empty canteen. Toilet paper is your most important weapon out on the field. It is your first line of defense against germs and potentially soggy underthings.

Step 4: Mental Notetaking

This part seems silly, but it is crucial to the picky bathroom user. As you lock yourself in the stall, decide if this is a restroom you would ever revisit. Floor length doors, coat hangers, and paper seat covers are things that will separate one stall from another. It is helpful, I find, to have these on file for future use.

Step 5: YOU MADE IT!
You can now let the magic happen. Enjoy it. You’ve earned it.

Step 6: Toilet Paper Restock
This is where I might start to sound obsessive (“Really? HERE?” you are probably thinking to yourself.) It is my personal philosophy as a human and former-Girl Scout that you should always leave a place nicer than you found it. In the case of toilet etiquette, I take tho mean–
Don’t be the bastard who uses the last of the toilet paper and doesn’t do anything about it. Turn the nob to refresh the roll; steal a roll from another stall; or at the very least warn the next person they are headed into no man’s land. Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a world where no one ran out of toilet paper EVER? I bet the North had more toilet paper than the South, and that’s probably a big reason they won. I can’t prove this, but it seems logical. A clean bum means a happy bum. A bum who will fight for his country and fellow man.

Step 7:
My final step is, once again, just a little public service announcement from yours truly.

WASH YOUR HANDS. Sure, this seems basic. But are you still not surprised if not disgusted when someone waltzes out of the bathroom without the care to wash afterwards? Who are these people? Have they merely forgotten to wash, or is it beneath them? You people disgust me. I probably look the way I do from giving so many non-hand washers mean looks until my face got stuck this way.

Well, I have reached the conclusion of another rant which I disguise has a how-to. I must leave you now because as life would have it, I am on my 4th cup of tea and need a bathroom break myself. And I better go now because I have somewhere to be in the next half hour.

Cheers from the Urination Station!

It’s not too late for you to watch all 6 seasons of The Hills (or, How to watch crappy TV the RIGHT way)

“Laguna Beach”, without a doubt, was the greatest thing to ever happen to me/MTV watchers everywhere. The on-and-off again romances of Kristen and Steven, poor good-girl Lauren always getting shafted, and my personal favorite, Lo, just bein’ sassy all over the place. There was nothing NOT to love about these young, attractive high schoolers who both represented me in my youth and inexperience but also society as a whole and its fascination with things they cannot obtain.

“Laguna Beach” became old news when in 2006 MTV introduced its most genius brainchild yet, “The Hills”. Super-Crier Lauren Conrad in the big city working at Teen Vogue and living with her best friend, Adorable Pre-Plastic Surgery Heidi!? WHAT WHAT! Of course I’m going to watch this. And watch it I did.

I am all too ready to admit that I have watched “The Hills” in its entirety about 4 times. A scripted “reality” show as vapid as this does not usually lend itself to have so much rewatchability, but that is where “The Hills” defies all convention. There is a very distinct way to watch “The Hills” so you can derive maximum pleasure, and makes for a pretty awesome evening drinking with your best friend.

Watching The Hills Rule #1: Watch the Title Theme

I can’t stress this one enough. Watching the intro to the show is crucial to the overall experience, even if you have been watching the whole series back to back. Every time you watch it you will uncover subtlties in what the producers and directers intended. The song speaks to you in a different way. In the case of “The Hills”, title song “Unwritten” has some very serious insinuations. Are they suggesting illiteracy among the girls, or are they driving home the idea that the show is, in fact, un-scripted? If you fast forward through the opening credits because you’ve “already seen/heard it a million times,” you are cheating yourself out of the first chance you get to add depth and meaning to your crappy TV watching experience.

Watching The Hills Rule #2: Love or Hate, but Nothing In Between

I am not a huge sports fan, but every so often I do love picking a team to love or hate. I root until my lungs are sore just for the hell of it. In this way, The Hills is like my sportball. I have strong feelings about every single character for reasons that are very real to me. These perceptions change as I grow and learn new things about life and love and hair. Looking through this lens reminds you that even though the girls are plastic, you are a living, breathing, changing human.

Whitney has the proper face for any occasion.

Watching The Hills Rule #3: Please Don’t State The Obvious

Recently Maddie and I were watching, well, guess. We had all the necessary equipment: snuggies, glasses of wine, homemade curry, and popcorn. We were occupying our friend’s bedroom so we ever so kindly invited him to join us while we watched with glee. Maddie and I laughed and laughed, oh how we laughed while we rooted for LC to FOR THE LOVE OF GOD put the headbands down. But he didn’t get it. He didn’t laugh once. Why? Because he was doing it wrong. He just saw a bunch of vapid girls he wanted to call stupid. Once again, I say DON’T STATE THE OBVIOUS. Of course they are stupid. WHO CARES? They are pretty and on TV. Just watch them! There is so much else to the show to pay attention to! There is Heidi’s ever molding face, Spencer’s slow decent into crazy-town, Lauren’s constant cry sessions, Whitney’s reaction shots, Audrina’s non-committal comments….the list goes on and on. So don’t be a fool and pass on this reality TV buffet of wonderful. There is a smorgesbord of awesome.

Watching The Hills Rule #4: Remember These People Think This is Their Real Life

This is where it is going to get a little tricky. Don’t for a second think I am asking you to empathize with these characters, but don’t discount their feelings and struggles either. Here, you have to take the mental high road and think a little critically about the choices that have lead these girls to be on this show that is on for YOUR entertainment. That is a critical element: real or not, remember the lives of these people are now repurposed for your entertainment. These girls either now believe everything that is happening to them REALLY IS HAPPENING, or it isn’t happening at all but they believe they are making you believe it is happening. Have I lost you? I think I am lost myself. So lemme leave it at this:
Laugh because these girls believe that what happens to them on the show is real OR
Laugh because these girls think YOU believe what happens to them on the show is real. Or maybe just laugh because MTV approached Lauren, Heidi, Audrina and Whitney and told them the idea for the show and they willingly agreed. Think about that.

Watching The Hills Rule #5: Don’t let the show end just because the show has ended.

The best part of The Hills is that this “real life drama” doesn’t end—their lives still going and the fun never stops. Have you seen what Heidi and Spencer have been doing since leaving The Hills? And WHY does Audrina Patridge think she is a real person now? BAH.

HEEERRRRRRRE’S SPENCER!

Watching The Hills while it was on not only provided me with hours of entertainment, but has introduced me to a cast of people who continue to give me the gift of laughter and self validation–this too can be  yours! All you have to do is swallow your pride, steal your neighbor’s Netflix login, and say goodbye to all your credibility as a pop culture consumer.

AND DON’T FORGET THE VINO!

“Nothing To Undo” and other metaphysical messages the iPhone sends me.

I love my iPhone, but I feel cheated out of truly loving the iPhone the way it was meant to be loved: as something I had that nobody else did. This was a rare feeling I looked forward to when my parents finally decided to let me have a piece of technology that was TOTALLYEFFINGSWEET as well as borderline unnecessary.

See, most everyone from my high school had an iPhone before graduation thanks to parents who are eager to please their children and AT&T being the most readily available wireless network around (which also happened to had the monopoly on the iPhone.) So when I finally got mine, I was not super special.

EXCEPT IN NEBRASKA WHERE NOBODY ELSE HAD ONE YET! I mean, sure there were a few people here or there. But it wasn’t like you walked into a bank and that familiar ascending text-tone goes off and everyone in line checks his or her pockets. For the first month I purposefully left that signature marimba song as my ringtone so EVERYONE IN A 20 FOOT RADIUS knew I had an iPhone.

But almost 2 months into my iPhone ownership, Verizon got their greasy paws on it, and now everyone who was alive during the the Reagan administration and younger has one of these fuckin things. So thanks a lot, Verizon. Now, instead of making me feel like I am tech savvy, hip, current, and better at locating Taco Bells than most people, my iPhone reminds me that I am not special. I am not a unique and beautiful snowflake, or whatever that Fight Club line is. And as the iPhone continues to update, I am constantly reminded of my average place in the world since I still have the iPhone 3 and everyone else has the iPhone that talks to Zooey Deschanel.

But that isn’t the only message my phone sends me. Oh no. Every so often I get this gem, and for lack of a better phrase, it freaks me the FUCK out:

Image

Just as I am trying to carry on with my telecommunicative social life, every decision I’ve ever made or regret I’ve ever had are called to mind. This list includes (but is not limited to):

1. Saying Regis Philben was my hero on national syndicated television
2. Quitting the piano
3. Eating 24 tacos in one sitting
4. Not calling a racist douchebag a racist douchebag.
5. Burning rice while I was cooking and subsequently eating it all before my mom got home.

But how would my iPhone know all these things? How could it? Aside from the fact that Apple and Google know everything about everyone already. They can probably tell my biggest fears from my self-loathing text messages and ironic love of bird photos.

I think when you are me, nothing is insignificant or doesn’t have the ability to send you into an existential spiral. Like when I was 5 and The Last Unicorn made me feel my own mortality. Even iPhone ownership is proving to be too deep to handle, despite the fact that many blame this technology and other similar forms of technology for the decline of the human mental and emotional capabilities.

What you should be watching

I have been up all night attempting to do homework, but I have little to show for it except red eyes and cups and cups of discarded sunflower seed shells.

These guys, on the other hand, get paid to stay up all night, wear Affliction T-shirts, re-apply hair gel, and prove that the correct way to solicit paranormal activity is by yelling into thin air.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ghost Bros. Formally known as Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel, this show (available on Netflix) proves that you can get your own television show with a gym membership, a handheld camera, tribal tattoos, and a gift certificate to The Buckle.

If you haven’t dedicated massive amounts of time attempting to figure out if these guys are comic geniuses or just genuinely stupid, I urge you clear your schedule because I need all the help I can get.

i’m not there. (on pinterest)

Since I am in advertising and media and such, I recognize it is not good to say I am not a fan of some social media trend that has become all the rage. I should be up to date and current and (for lack of a better term) balls-deep in all social media both present and future. BUT I HATE PINTEREST.

The Most Un-Pinteresting Pinterest to ever Pin the Internet

Hate is perhaps a strong word. I don’t mind Pinterest in a lot of respects, it is really nice to look at and it does seem to be making people in general more creative.  But I certainly have deemed it a waste of my time.

I think this is because from my beginnings as a magazine hoarding youth, I have always done what Pinterest seeks to do, which is collect things I find as memorable or inspirational. I have tomes of magazines, shoe boxes of cut outs, albums of photos and advertisements, and walls full of fashions and arts and ideas that make me feel individual and inspired every day. I never needed the computer for that, and I still don’t. There may be a huge push to put our lives online and share ourselves with each other, but I never needed to share these things with anyone other than perhaps a friend or two who came over and checked out which awkward looking tattooed boy or weird bird drawing was on my wall at the time. (My room is in a constant state of redecoration, thanks to my unceasing adult angst). In fact, these collections or “boards” are the one thing I do that I do for myself and I don’t want to share with anybody. So there. I said it. I hate Pinterest.

Perhaps I will be a pack-rat until I die, but when you see my on Hoarders, just notice how terribly adorable, artsy, unique, or delicious everything they have to carry out of my house looks.

Yet another reason for me to skip my wine tasting class tonight

Yet another reason for me to skip my wine tasting class tonight

Since I am too busy for actual pets, I consider wine to be my best friend. It keeps me company on every occasion: a constant and predictable companion. I am even taking a wine class that starts tonight. However, if this article is true and the minute I start learning things about wine I am going to need to start buying $50 bottles of Klinkerbrink instead of 3 buck chuck…..I may just have to ditch this idea and whine instead.

StarShuttle, or These Headphones Mean I’m Not Listening To You

The StarShuttle is the only bus I ride, and, as far as I am concerned, the only bus worth riding. It is the cute little StarTran bus numbered 55 that runs down to 11th street, then through the Haymarket (although I have only seen 2 people get off or on there in 3 years), then around the other side of the capital before stopping nicely in front of the City Union. The Star Shuttle route is short (24 minutes), convenient, and uncomplicated, and I enjoy it very much.

But then other people get on.

There are two distinct groups of people who ride the StarShuttle: students trying to get their shit together (people like me) and adults who never got their shit together (people who like to talk to me). There are some exceptions of course; every so often I see a businessman or woman riding back to their office on a particularly wet day, and of course I don’t mean to insult the disabled to use the bus as their primary mode of transportation. I actually don’t really want to insult anybody.

So why, StarShuttle people, do you make it so hard?

The cast of characters I see regularly aboard the StarShuttle are as follows:

Pink Lipstick Lady:  A woman who looks like a cross between muppets Janice and Miss Piggy in both appearance and makeup. She seems nice enough and never bothers anyone, but her lipstick is such a fluorescent pink I cannot help but stare at her until she exits at the library.

Blind Guy with Denim Backpack: This guy kicks ass. I don’t even mind when he accidentally bumps me with his cane. I see him at Russ’s market all the time buying beer, and then he walks home by himself. LIKE A BOSS. I just wanted to give him a shout out here. Blind Guy with Denim Backpack, you are one cool dude.

These two guys I once saw get in a fight over a can of JOOSE at 2 o’clock in the afternoon: The man with the can (clearly the victor) was jumping on and off the bus trying to hide from another man who was JOOSE-less. The JOOSE-less man was doing a lot of yelling and chasing, but the bus driver was more concerned that these gentlemen were going to make him late for the next stop rather than they were running around with an open container on a moving bus. Frankly all us passengers were too.But I see the two boys together all the time now. They get a long swell as long as JOOSE isn’t involved.

Silly Rabbit, JOOSE doesn't even have caffeine in it anymore!

The obligatory near-South-living, stocking cap wearing, Vice magazine reading English/Poly-Sci double major.

A group of Asians who eat more bread from the Mexican market than I’ve ever seen in my life.

A man who claims everyone smells like cornbread (and you can’t think this is a racist stereotype IF IT IS TRUE.)

Phil Willet: one of the ad professors. He is in the habit of telling you everything you do isn’t good enough, and I am sure that is not limited to advertising. I swear if he tells me my choice of seat on the bus is “sub par” or “un-original” I will sic Blind Guy with Denim Backpack on him.

Daryl– a man who has a slight case of down syndrome and works at davinci’s overnight. I met him while working at the mall. He is a fun person to talk to and he loves to give hugs, which I accept, even though he has sores all over his hands.

Afternoon Juggalos: Unfortunately, the time has passed for me to ask this brand of bus rider if they believe in “miracles”, which is probably for the best because if I got too close I am afraid I would get lost in their pant legs and hoodies and freedom of expression. Regardless, they exist in strong numbers on the StarShuttle, particularly between the hours of 3 and 4 pm.

I think that will be all the stereotypes I will use and assumptions I will make about strangers for today. I guess the point of this is to indulge my morning routine into a breakdown of the people I stare at uncomfortably inbetween checking the tweets.

Happy Monday!

I’m not good at many things

I didn’t watch the Oscars, partially because I was kicking ass at darts at my favorite Sunday evening taco bar, partially because I don’t own a TV, and partially because I don’t watch many movies. I am not good at it. I know the only discipline it takes is to sit still and keep your eyes open, but that is a little challenging for me. I prefer talking, moving, sleeping, or just about anything else.

I did, however, manage to see The Artist and I loved it. I thought it was perfect. It is like that middle bite of a sandwich where all the ingredients meet in one, perfect bite. It is like being able to lay on the floor and listen to Neutral Milk Hotel’s In an Aeroplane Over the Sea from start to finish uninterrupted. It was like getting the “Bank Error, Recieve $20” card in Monopoly. It was really, really good is what I’m saying.

Now that it has won these awards…these so called “Oscars”, people are freaking out because the actors are French. Come on, America. We gave Adele ALL of the Grammy’s, and she’s British. BRITISH! You know who else is British? CHRIS MARTIN! Which automatically makes all British people scary and terrible. But French people on the other hand seem delightful in color or black and white. They tap dance and look excellent while smoking. Awards all around.  

That’s all I have to say about that.

So stop complaining (if you are. If not, still-) and enjoy this clip from For Your Consideration. Christopher Guest nails it, every time.

Lent is a drag.

I am going to say something I am sure you all know by now, but I almost never say the words out loud: I am a smoker.

Saying that hurts worse than accidentally ashing into your own eye or inhaling incorrectly.  I think it is because to me, saying someone is “a smoker” conjures up a grotesque image of someone in sweatpants, hanging out on their back porch lighting up a Pall Mall Red 100s during Maury commercial breaks. Possibly missing a tooth. Probably a nice person. Probably smells bad.

Anyway, I am a smoker. I started when I was 18 because
1) My boyfriend smoked
2) I was 18 and I could
3) I thought it looked cool*

*Don’t believe anyone  who doesn’t think they started smoking because they thought it looked cool. We’ve ALL seem James Dean with a cigarette, and we ALL thought it was punk as f*ck.

What I would like to look like while smoking

Smoking has pros, not just cons, so don’t be a cynic. (And I’m not even talking about quelling appetite because God knows I was at my heaviest when I smoked the most.) There are those obvious smoke breaks from a long day or an awkward conversation; but even more importantly, you can always tell who your friends are by who is willing to bum you a cig when you are most desperate. Or who will let you smoke in their basement. I love having guys light my cigarette, and I always feel cool when I tell people it’s okay to puff away in my car (sorry mom and dad.)  And nothing feels better than that first cigarette of the day at the bus stop. Smoking in the morning is not for every smoker, but this one prefers to start her day with a cancer stick.

Okay, so enough about my smoking habits. The point of this is to say that even as a Catho-Compromise (also known as former Catholic) I still observe Lent just to sharpen the saw and keep that ol’ will power strong. This month, cigarettes were on the chopping block when the axe fell.

Picture

what I probably look like while smoking

It is just time to go all-Carrie Bradshaw on my habit and say “enough”. Smoking may be enjoyable sometimes, but there are lots of things I find enjoyable sometimes that I don’t spend $5 a day (give or take) to do. Things that, I don’t know, won’t kill me slowly.

Will I start smoking again at the end of the 40 days? Possibly. To be honest, likely. Science dictates that when you are a former smoker who hangs around smokers in places where you used to smoke, you are something like A BILLION times more likely to start smoking again. So I’m not going to try to go against science. But the point of this exercise is to cleanse my system, prove I can abstain from an indulgence, and save a little money in the process. But more importantly, to break the delusion that smoking does not make me cooler, just a little smellier.