Monday, July 31, 2006

Deep Thoughts: The Just-Got-Back-to-NY Edition

I just got back to New York and am still in the unstructured do-nothing vacation stage. We'll see how much longer it lasts before I want to kill myself. Or a sibling.

  • It's funny how conditioned we are to want things to stay exactly the same -- even stupid things like the background color behind the text on your desktop icons.
  • Whatever I choose to do with my life, all I want to do is make enough money to afford a transportation mode other than Greyhound.
  • If you throw out clothing you don't wear anymore, then what will you wear to finger paint with your siblings?
  • If I'm moving into my dorm in four weeks, there's clearly no reason to unpack my bags.
  • Never give a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old a strip of bubble wrap.
  • Making the to-do list is half the battle.
  • Computers are distractions.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Complications: A Recurring Theme

My grandmother has been warning me against "settling" lately. And by that she means settling for something less-than perfect because it's easier or whatnot. (She did not mean becoming a settler in Israel, though I'm sure she'd be against my doing that as well.) Which is sort of funny because I've never been the sort of person that settles.

Except nothing seems so clear anymore. I don't even know which one of my options would be "settling."

And maybe this could be the recurring theme of this blog. Or the recurring theme of anyone's senior year of college. Graduation is starting to look worse and worse, I tell ya. Maybe I should just fail a class or two and stay on for another year. Or two. Or forever (which is really what I'd like to do anyway...)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Writer's Block

I've been sitting at this computer for roughly two and a half hours, and I know I have about a million things to say -- deep, thoughtful thoughts, swirling bits of emotion, random nothingness, sweet whispers of sentimentality, threads of confusion, witty pieces of info... The point is, I know I'm feeling and I want this to be the forum when I express those things and yet somehow, somehow I just can't do it. Writer's block. Sigh.

I also have a million things to do and since I cannot seem to blog anything with some semblance of importance I should probably get off this computer and do something. Probably.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Women Don't Sell Their Souls to Corporate America

A really interesting article about women in the sciences, but ultimately just about women in the workforce. It's an interview of a male scientist who used to be a female. In it, he asserts that there are trained women who are not reaching the top:

"These women have worked very hard. They have fulfilled their side of the social contract. I think what we've got is just a lot more highly trained, frustrated women."

I wonder if that's true. If all these highly trained women are reaching for the top and just not getting there and are frustrated, bitter victims or if they've chosen not to try for the top. It goes back to one of my favorite questions: Are women not ruling the world because the glass ceiling is holding them down or because they don't want to rule the world?

It's a relevant question in a world where women make up more than 50 percent of college students and are increasingly going to graduate schools as well but are not reaching the top of the corporate rung. And maybe it just takes time. And maybe there is endemic discrimination. And maybe even now women don't really feel the same need or drive or responsibility to support their families the way men do.

I mean, I can tell you that many of the offices I or friends of mine have worked in are like old boy's clubs, and maybe that's it -- maybe it's just too hard or intimidating to break into that. Maybe that is the glass ceiling and it doesn't matter what your credentials are or what degrees you have hanging in your walls.

Or maybe women aren't willing to sell their souls to corporate America or a law firm or an investment bank in the same numbers that men are wiling to do so.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Life ... By the Numbers

"525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?"

I spent roughly 36 hours this weekend in NYC. So short, in fact, that I didn't tell my parents I was home because I didn't have time to go to Long Island. I have just under two weeks left in D.C. A month and a half of summer left to accomplish all those lofty goals I had when summer was an endless three and half month stretch. About a month and a half till my 22nd birthday and till my sister leaves for Israel for the year. Just under three weeks to what will be a very special day for a very special friend.

I have exactly no clean clothing or sheets or towels. About a million and a half things running through my very confused mind. Library fees that are adding up quickly as my books are in one city and the library in another. A year left till I graduate college. Not a clue what I want to do with my life or what I want from my life. Seven hundred e-mails I don't want to deal with in my inbox.

There are at least two people who I really don't want to deal with (who don't read this blog), three others who I am eternally grateful to, and two others who I need to get in touch with. Soon. Roughly 945 books I have to read before I die. Thirty newspapers I have to cut and paste onto manageable pieces of paper before I leave. Just over two weeks -- and an upcoming four and half hour bus ride -- to survive without music. Two hundred pages of a book I desperately want to finish tonight. A distinct absence of hyphens.

Chaos reigns.

Complaining Your Way Through Life

"He believes complaining is an existential act essential to democracy."

I found this article about complaining -- and the assertion that complaining is essential to democracy -- fascinating. After all, if we want to make the world better, don't we need to recognize its faults? And doesn't that, by necessity, mean some sort of complaining? Or maybe that fine line is the difference between a depressed existence and a productive existence.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Behold! The Power of Blogs

I have a nasty little habit of communicating things to my friends through my blog posts. It's probably not the best way to handle things, but it's probably a lot safer than my caffeine habit (which caused me no end of trouble yesterday during the fast).

Except when I post something about someone who doesn't read my blog and a friend reads it and takes it personally and is hurt.

Blogging is inherently a selfish pursuit. Much as I like it when I see there are a lot of people reading, I'm not doing this for the readers. But I'm also not doing this to hurt the people I care about most.

It wasn't even remotely about her. But she was hurt all the same, and in the larger picture that's what matters. I don't want to hurt my friends through this medium (or any other medium).

And yet, posting personal, emotional things on my blog is part of what I do. I sometimes post disclaimers on the top of posts which I think can be misconstrued; maybe I have to be more vigilant on that front, try a little harder to see how things could affect others. For now, this is just a reminder to myself and an apology.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Pen vs. the Sword

I work for a newspaper. I revel in creative writing classes. I collect quotations and song lyrics that I like and hang them on my walls. I read voraciously. I can spend hours in a bookstore. I spend my life, as of now, changing, manipulating, caressing other people's words to make them perfect.

I believe in words. In the power of language -- of what we say and how we say it -- to transform the world. To change what people feel and what they do. Clearly, words are no substitute for action, but I truly believe in the power of words to make a difference.

Except when they're not enough. When those words that are supposed to make it all better seem hollow and meaningless. Too little too late, perhaps. Or maybe they never could be enough. Maybe I fool myself into thinking that all you needed to do was say it, that if you said it and meant it, then it would be enough. Then we could live all live happily ever after.

And I do believe you meant it. But it's not enough. It rings hollow because it doesn't matter. Because no matter what you said or meant, it can't change the world. It can't make it all better. It can't make anything better.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Happy Free Slurpee Day

Tomorrow is July 11th and you know what that means ... free slurpees!

7-Eleven celebrates its "birthday" on 7/11 by distributing free slurpees at select stores. Yum!

No word on whether the 7-Eleven near my dorm participates in this annual celebration. Though according to its own Web site, "Today, most 7-Eleven stores around the world operate 24 hours a day," and unfortunately this one is still open the traditional 7 to 11.

Just wish me luck in getting a free slurpee tomorrow.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sleep Schedule, Shifted

Totally below the belt. I firmly believe the best and most important work gets done between at unconventional hours -- like say, between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

My sleep schedule at the moment is relatively normal (9-5 job). Last semester, my sleep schedule was completely shifted. Let's just say I regularly went to sleep at about 5 a.m. and I got caffeine headaches around midnight. So sleeping till noon (or close to it) was par for the course.

What good are mornings anyway?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Life Isn't Wrapped in a Pretty Pink Bow

"[L]ife, unlike a lot of novels, follows a plot that sometimes seems random and inexplicable."

I don't like happily-ever-after endings. (Apparently, the rest of the world does.) I like novels that are true to life --— not science fiction or fantasy, blech --— and happy endings are, well, not really true to life. But, you argue, sometimes people do live happily ever after, and I would agree that there are many people leading happy lives.

But the happily-ever-after book ending goes something like: "Though they had both been miserable and unhappy and had just escaped from a huge fire that destroyed their past lives and homes, they looked into each other's eyes and realized they were meant for each other. He took her hand, they kissed, and the sun set on a happy world."

And life doesn't work like that. They still have to pick up the pieces of their life, try to collect on their house insurance and rebuild, fight over what color the living room carpet should be, plan a
wedding, raise their kids, and, I would argue, happy moments don't always happen right before sunset.

Life may be happy, but it doesn't wrap itself up in neat little packages with pretty pink bows. Life is complicated, and serious novels should reflect that. Closure is a nice literary device so that you can close a book with a happy sigh, but real life doesn't really have closure. If you spend 299 pages looking for your long-lost mother, you may not find her on page 300. Welcome to life.

Post- July-4th-Weekend Deep Thoughts

Things I learned this weekend:

  • My eye makeup is truly waterproof. Good to know.
  • I really do hate tourists.
  • You can spend all day trying to do something but sometimes it's only the last 10 minutes that matter.
  • Even flip-flops can give you blisters. (Flip-flops, incidentally, have a hyphen. It's one thing to ignore that fact; it's quite another to ignore that fact only half the times you use that word in one article.)
  • Never, ever make assumptions. The soldier who seems illiterate while reading the Declarartion of Independence on the steps of the National Archives may have suffered a stroke.
  • Sometimes, it's OK that you can't change things so long as you care enough to want to.
  • Very rarely am I inclined to get myself a ladder and some white paint and vandalize a sign. A T-shirt shop in Georgetown called "Georgetown Tee's" so inspired me. (It should be Georgetown T's, but if you were inclined to spell T the wrong way, it would not get an apostrophe.)

Monday, July 03, 2006

If You Can't Beat the Tourists, Join 'Em

I hate tourists. I hate them in NYC where they stand in the middle of Midtown, necks craned, staring in awe at the Empire State Building and blocking your way to wherever you're going. I hate them in DC where they stand on the wrong side of the escalator on the Metro and slow your commute.

I say this because tomorrow I am going to be a tourist. I am going to do all the Fourth of July tourist-y things just because I can. Because I'm here. I'll go to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, I'll have a barbecue, I'll camp out on the National Mall and watch the fireworks. I'll end the day hot and sweaty and gross and will say that I'll never do it again. I will probably provoke scorn or pity or laughter and teasing from the real DCers.

For once, I will be a tourist. But day after that, I go back to hating them.

Friendship, Defined?

Close friends. The people you could not live without, who know you better than you know yourself. They're the ones you know will always, always be there for you even if you mess up--especially when you mess up--even if the world around you feels completely messed up. They're there. They're the people you depend on. The people you know will never walk out on you.

For the past few years, I've defined that type of friendship with the quote, "It's the friends you can call at 4 a.m. that matter." I defined those friendships at least partially based on how much time I spent with those friends (in person and on the phone), on whether I could call them whenever I needed them.

But one of those close friends recently challenged that definition. She said she doesn't think those relationships are defined by the long lengths of time you spend with your close friends or by whether you can call them at 4 a.m. She views that relationship in an entirely different way.

But then again, what are close relationships deprived of those things?
What makes a friend into the sort of friend that knows everything about you, the sort of friend who you can't imagine losing touch with? And what makes keeps them as that sort of friend?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

I Heart Flip-Flops

An entire article about flip-flops in The Times. And while I take offense at the assertion that they're a driving hazard (four-inch heels, now those are driving hazards), I bask in the prediction that work environments are getting casual enough to wear flip-flops to work.

I'm personally partial to the super-cheap 2-for-$5 Old Navy flip-flops and don't understand how anyone can spend $250 on a pair. In fact, the only thing missing from my own flip-flop collection (besides for a pair of Kerry flip-flops from the RNC in 2003) is a pair of Columbia flip-flops, which at $18 are just a little bit ridiculous to me. (Though if anyone's looking for a graduation gift for me next year...)

I always wear my flip flops in the rain, though on Columbia's stone slippery-when-wet campus, I will quote someone else as saying that -- and this is especially true when wearing flip-flops, trust me -- when it rains, you have an 80 percent chance of death on campus. Good thing I was in D.C. for the latest round of torrential rains. And you can bet that I wore my flip-flops through this hicktown we call our nation's capitol -- a city wholly unequipped to deal with rain.