Monthly Archives: February 2010

I’m off the real world, hooray?

As I’ve mentioned only a thousand times before, I’m soon to leave the safety of the University and head off to make something of myself. While I’m full of misplaced optimism and excitement, I can’t help but reflect on this time that I’ll never have again, that of the college student. Will I miss it?

I have often asked new graduates about the inevitable transition, and for the most part I like what I hear. For one, you come home from work at the end of the day with no more work waiting at home. You have this new magical thing called “expendable income,” and you find yourself in adulthood where you have the power to make of your life what you will.

But what about this absurd life I lead now? I’ve always wondered how college prepares you for the road ahead. Unlike high school, you go to class ten hours a week tops and have freedom for the rest of the time. You are awash in vacations and responsibilities that can wait until noon. And this prepares me for the rigors of a 40-hour work week how?

Like most things in life, it’s what you make of it. When I started college, I discovered a new world of intellectual wonder and alcohol. Mostly alcohol. And that unbelievable free time was not enough for my busy schedule of trying to be the best slacker I could be, so that ten hours quickly became a few. I know many approach college this way, but that doesn’t normally end in a degree.

Well, I’ve transformed now, but it’s still an odd life I lead. My tremendous schedule, one I had to have chair approval to get, is only five classes at an hour and forty-five minutes a pop. That adds up to seventeen and a half hours, not much more than two average working days. And normally professors don’t keep you the whole time; after all, we’re very busy.

Now while I have all this time, my transformation from almost-dropout Navy material to the overachiever student has changed my concept of free time. I spend my days at the library, or more often, hunched over my ancient five-year-old laptop working days on assignments that I would probably get the same grade on if I had done it in ten minutes. While I quite so little else to do, I am constantly busy, and it’s my own doing.

And while some might think, “Gee, what about filling that time with a job?” A few hours a week I clean houses for extra cash, but I’m extremely fortunate that my wonderful, wonderful parents ease my financial burden. But of course, this creates another absurdity in my life where I find myself privileged yet poor.

What could make this more odd? I absolutely love it. I get to spend all my time studying and working on things I’m actually interested in (insert obvious nerd comment here). What’s more, all the scary, real world stuff is nothing more than a promising future I have yet to live. So while I live in this sheltered world where someone can find themselves too broke to eat yet never too broke to buy beer, and the road to adulthood is where the real excitement is, I have to say, I’m going to miss this.

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$100 says it’s hip to be square

I have this friend. In classic sit-com style, we’re quite different, opposites if you will. She’s fun, I’m serious. She’s spontaneous, while my list-making borders on neurotic. She likes a good party, I like a good round table discussion…you get the idea.

This usually works well for us. But sometimes, she does things so outside my understanding that all I can do is scratch my head. Like the other day, she went out and spent $100 for the tattoo reading, “Don’t Stop Believing.” Why? To commend a regular party night where we sometimes, repeat sometimes, sing this Journey song.

Ouch, my brain.

Why do people do this to themselves? I’m sorry to get on my old person soap box, but it suits me. As I sip my herbal tea and try to access the “cool” part of myself. Sure, it’s hilarious when girls get the Chinese symbol tramp stamp they think mean “hope” but actually means “duck,” but I have to ask, why do people pay so much money, a small fortune for the poor student, for this painful, permanent etching?

The logic of it doesn’t add up. How can you possibly know that you’re going to enjoy something the rest of your life? I know my own fickleness, and I know it’s not exceptionally larger than most 20 somethings.

And what about occasions you don’t want it shown? Courts all across America have found that on-the-job appearance is nondiscriminatory. In other words, getting fired for a tattoo is perfectly legal. And of course those events where you want to wear the fancy strappy dress, but perhaps the m-16 poking out would ruin the effect.

But I don’t do it for others, you say, I just do it for me. Well, it’s not exactly the bastion of individuality in the counterculture. Tattooing is the sixth fastest growing retail business in the U.S. 45 million Americans have tattoos, and 36 percent of people 22 to 29 have at least one tattoo (and 17 percent have regretted it).

Not to mention, it can cost several hundred to get, but it would cost several thousand to get removed. And it’s much, much more painful than the original tattoo. So my friend’s sentiment of, “It’s not a big deal, it’s just a tattoo,” seems downright crazy.

But of course, then I heard something that made me reconsider. “Personally, my friends, tattoos make me sick. I just have to be honest about it. I don’t know what you tattooed people don’t like about yourselves that you’d want to mark yourselves up. I don’t think it’s very becoming at all, but that’s just my opinion.”

That was an excerpt from Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. When I start agreeing with the guy who makes fun of Parkinson’s degree, maybe I should reconsider.

After all, the overwhelming fastest growing demographic of tattoo wearers are middle-class suburban women, right up my alley.

After all, you should someone should never tell someone what to do with their body. And many people with tattoos, my friend included, have tattoos with significant meaning that they feel is part of who they are. Who am I to judge?

No one really, but it still completely confounds me. Maybe I’m too nerdy for my own good, but if I never get to pay a hundred dollars to get a drawing by needle on my skin, maybe I’ll be okay.

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Thank God Valentine’s Day is Over

This is the first movie review I’ve ever written, and hopefully the last Ashton Kutcher movie I’ll ever see.

The box-office hit last weekend was, without a doubt, the star-studded film “Valentine’s Day.” When describing this film, one main character, played by Ashton Kutcher, puts it best when he says, “It’s Valentine’s Day; you don’t think, you just do.”

Rather than a thoughtful film, director Gary Marshall gave us an orgy of famous names hoping that we wouldn’t notice an absence of concrete plot, character development, or even passable dialogue.

This movie contains almost too much to sum up, but I’ll give it a shot. First, we have the story of newly engaged Morley Clarkson (Jessica Alba) and Reed Bennett (Kutcher). Next, Valentine’s Day cynic and sports journalist Kelvin Moore (Jamie Foxx) is sent out on assignment by his boss Susan (Kathy Bates) to do a fluff piece on the holiday.

Then we meet Dr. Harrison Copeland (Patrick Dempsey breaking out of his shell by playing a handsome doctor) and Julia Fitzpatrick (Jennifer Garner) in love. Cut to another happy couple, Liz (Anne Hathaway) and Jason (Topher Grace).

Had enough? Well, too bad, because then we have the adorable older couple Estelle (Shirley MacLaine) and Edgar (Hector Elizondo) and their love-struck grandson Edison (Bryce Robinson) whose adorable face can’t make up for his acting. Then there’s the teenage almost-comic relief Felicia (Taylor Swift) and Willy (Taylor Lautner).

And we’re not done yet. Army Captain Kate Hazeltine (Julia Roberts) and Holden (Bradley Cooper) are sat together on a plane, over-the-hill Quarterback Sean Jackson is considering retirement (Brett Favre anyone?), and finally, Grace (Emma Roberts) is a young teenager about to “do it” for the first time with her boyfriend. Oh, also Paula Thomas (Queen Latifah) and Kara Monahan (Jessica Biel) are Jackson’s agents.

Confused? Overwhelmed? Bored? You aren’t alone. In this two-hour film, we are following ten stories at once.

While this alone should dissuade anyone from buying a ticket, this doesn’t begin to describe where this movie falls short.

I enjoy a chick flick as much as the next gal, and I understand the pitfalls. No one goes to these movies wondering if the couple will end up together – they go to see how. The unoriginality of this romantic comedy is exceptional, and it fails to deliver anything to make up for that.

First, we have the characters. The overwhelming number of characters makes them unmemorable and undeveloped. You simply find yourself forgetting who’s who or just not caring.

Additionally, they’re completely unbelievable, as there’s no time to explain who they are. For example, we are supposed to believe that Jessica Biel, one of the most gorgeous women in Hollywood, is alone and won’t ever find a man. Really?

Then there’s the writing, especially the dialogue. We find out Hathaway’s character is a sex phone operator when she’s caught at work. She keenly observes, “I guess I’m not going to make employee of the month.”

And that’s nothing compared to the forced and over-the-top romantic dialogue. When Dempsey takes out a toy heart for Garner (remember, he’s a doctor), he says, “While I’m fixing his heart, I’ll leave you mine.” Ouch.

In the end, the problem of way too many characters couldn’t be salvaged. Nothing is funny or surprising. It’s confusing and predictable at the same time.

The moral of the story is this – no matter how many famous people you have in a movie, there has to be more to make it watchable.

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Column on Texting

In my specialized writing class, we were assigned to write a column to inspire or persuade. So naturally I picked an incredibly meaningless topic that really got my blood boiling for no real reason other than my general neurotic behavior. It was originally titled “Texting is as Texting does,” but I’ve chosen to spare you from that. Enjoy!

It was a typical Saturday night with some friends of mine. We had a great night of chatting, games and just enjoying each other’s company.

On this most typical of nights, I couldn’t help but notice something. Even though all of us seemed to be having fun, we were all texting. Mid-conversation, mid-sentence, mid-anything – we would stop whatever it was and text.

What is this strange new phenomena? No matter where people are, whether it’s at work, in class or a night out, people’s thumbs are constantly on their keypad.

While texting itself isn’t odd, the volume is. Pew Internet & American Life Project Survey’s found that 87 percent of 13 to 27-year-olds text and average 2,272 texts a month.

As a 22-year-old myself, I’m wedged in that demographic, and I’ll admit, I’ve fallen victim to unnecessary and incessant texting.

However, the elderly person inside me – who hates loud music and enjoys going to bed early – can’t help but notice how rude and disconnected it makes young people today.

And when you start to take notice of it, it’s everywhere. It used to be rude to have your cell phone on at dinner, but now it seems inoffensive to stop mid-conversation and text without so much as an “excuse me.”

This makes me wonder, to what point and purpose? Recently, while talking to a friend of mine, she was intermittently stopping to text her boyfriend. She was kind enough to let me see her conversation:

Person 1 – Hey wat r u up to?

Person 2 – Not much, just hangin with Colleen. You?

Person 1 – Playin mw2 [Modern Warfare 2]. Lots of homework but dont feel like doin it.

Person 2 – Lol me too.

It goes on from there. And when asking around, most college students admit they have similar conversations when texting back and forth.

My personal observation leads me to ask – what is the point of all this? We scoff when the older generation constantly criticizes us for being slaves to electronics; after all, we’re simply products of a new generation with countless new opportunities at our fingertips that the geezers just don’t understand.

However, we may have crossed a line here.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Mark Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory University, had done in-depth study on this very topic.

He found evidence that constant, dependent texting may seriously jeopardize our interpersonal skills. Things like concentrating on a conversation, reading non-verbal cues, and other abilities in face-to-face interactions are slowly deteriorating

Even so, texting shouldn’t be done away with altogether. Rather, people who text constantly should take stock of why they’re doing it and when it’s appropriate. Wireless Developer Network laid out some basic guidelines someone should follow when texting:

  1. Texting during a conversation is just as rude as checking voicemail or taking a call.
  2. Don’t text when you’re driving. You won’t know what hit you – or what you hit – if you’re thumbs are at the phone.
  3. Important messages warrant a phone call.
  4. Don’t be upset when people don’t immediately return your text; people have busy lives.
  5. There’s very, very little in this world that can’t wait; it’s okay to turn off your phone.

Preaching aside, I understand. I was one of the girls that night texting constantly. It’s easy to get addicted and just as hard to stop.

But we need to keep these things in check before all the overblown rants about our “wired generation” comes true.  Or at least before our professors are driven insane.

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My second post…just three months later

Alright, so not off to a great start with the blog. Though I had every intention of being a faithful blogger, I was doomed to fail. Whenever I sat down to write, I couldn’t think of anything to write. After a while, I pushed it off my to-do list and to the back of my mind until it was long forgotten.

But no more! It’s time to take action. In just five short months, I’ll be moving to the big apple to take on the pipe dream of being a writer for a dying medium. How can I, this Midwest rube with nothing but a wide-eyed naivete about the world, set myself apart if I can’t even keep a blog?

Here are my new proactive steps. I will now send the link to my friends when I was too embarrassed to previously. I will even sent this to my parents since they are genetically predisposed to be interested in my life, those lucky bastards. They already have my facebook page, there isn’t much I can hide anymore.

There will be a new post at least every Tuesday from now on. And now as I’m in several journalism writing classes, I will post some of my stories. Any comments or suggestions are always welcome. In the future, I hope that these entries will become more entertaining, but I make no promises.

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