Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Cat Homecoming.

I’m picking up the cats today.

I’m thrilled because I’m creepily obsessed with those little monsters, but I’m also sort of moved because they are the last part of my life to come back together. The last time I walked through my front door to be warmly greeted by Shakespeare and Eliot I was working at my old job, living in my old apartment, leading my old life. The two little cats were an unfortunate casualty to the vertigo that swept me up over the last several months; but I’ve regained my balance and perhaps have a solid enough foundation to put the books back on the shelves, restand the picture frames and carefully pick up the pieces of shattered coffee mugs from the kitchen floor.

The cats coming home just means that its really home, that I’m really here, that its real. I think they’ll like the new place as much as I do – the big, busy-street-facing windows that throw light (both real and manufactured) all over, radiator-warm places to sleep, and plenty of stuff to mess with. In these short months I’ve learned what its like to be a non-cat owner and my house has become un-cat proofed. A tube of chap stick sits harmlessly on the coffee table, plastic bags gather quietly near the kitchen trashcan, my scarves hang unsuspectingly from my coat rack.

Things will change when the cats come home, but mostly they’ll just go back to the way they should be.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

On Living the Solo Life

The last time I lived in a space that was not shared was a time so distant that it feels unreal in my mind, like the memory of a hilarious misunderstanding that may have been a part of my post-college experience, or, perhaps, just a really vivid episode of Friends.

The basic motions of day to day living are hard to remember on my own, I find. How much coffee to make, how many times to hit the snooze button, remembering to drop off my Netflix on my way to the train, checking to see that I don’t have last nights makeup remaining on my face.

A person normally certain at home, I find I have lost that aspect of myself living alone. Without a companion, I ruminate daily on the possibility of a break-in, a forgotten coffee-pot on-switch, a cat caught dangerously among boxes. In the past, the reassurance of a roommate or a live-in partner somehow has made me feel more sure of myself, more confident. It also provides that convenience “just in case” back up system for all my errors – if forget to close the window or blow out a candle, there is a good chance the other resident of my home will remember. I just seem to feel stronger when someone is there telling me it is true.

Living alone has plenty of benefits—which are also hard to cope with in their own way. I like listening to whatever music I want at whatever volume with no need for consensus. I like watching all the slow and sad biopics that no one else finds interesting. I like drinking a glass of white wine before bed. I like the quiet within my walls, especially compared to the cacophony of the intersection outside my window. (I like that when I am making no noise, there is none.)

Having your own space is a privilege that is not enjoyed in all places or by all cultures. Even here, in the US, in Chicago, some people don’t support a woman living alone in a city, but I am lucky that it isn’t forbidden and that I have the financial ability to do so. It is a way to change the way you see yourself.

It is hard to imagine, from where I contemplate, the commitment of two people to share a space for the rest of time. Not just a bed, but a kitchen, a bathroom, a sofa. To share a day, a year, the life of a possible child. To divide ones life into two for sharing. Committed people who share a space may enjoy the added benefit of space-sharing – a confidence that the home won’t burn to the ground while they work – but the decision is expensive.

We often think of selflessness in terms of service, giving, anonymous donations, but the literal use of the word – to be selfless, to not be concerned with matters of self – marriage/commitment is just that. An agreement to think of another person as often as you think of yourself – to share your life, to choose a shared existence over one dedicated to personal priorities. To give up a place where the noise you make is the only noise in the room. This seems generous to me.

I think I am learning to be selfish, learning to not share, and learning how many scoops of coffee are enough for just one person. It is as long of a process as the road to selflessness, breaking all those sharing habits, but it is necessary when you find yourself living the solo life.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

About The Things You Want

Although I have officially secured employment, I am still waiting on an apartment situation to come through, so I am still "staying" at my moms house. After a few suggestions about what this blog should become (thanks pals), I am still at a bit of a loss to discover the over all goal of what I type here. Perhaps, as with many good things, its purpose will be uncovered over time. As for now, I fantacize about what my new place will be like, what my new life will be like - how i'll do all the things I should be doing now, then. This is pretty classic me, sitting around, watching television or playing on the internet thinking about all the jogging/writig/guitar playing i will do when I have some free time.

My BFF Nick, over at the Grammar -Diarthrosis, recently wrote a little about this phenomenon as well. She asks herself, and us, as her readers, " if we know what makes us happy, why don't we do it more often?"

Although I have always acklowledged myself to be the sort of person who enjoys a little suffering, I was surpised to realize my response - because sometimes I'm happier with my cravings unsatisfied. I haven't always been a "do what I want" type of person, but I have been inviting a little more of that attitude in over the last several months. But even "doing what I want" leaves me still not doing some things that I know make me feel better - specifically writing and jogging. Some of this is laziness, as both of this activities require some sort of motivation, but that isn't the only reason why I hesitate. I hesitate because I know that if I have everything I want, and if I do everything I desire I won't know what to do with myself. What will be left? When you reach all your goals, don't you just have to set new ones anyway? Will I ever actually be satisfied?

You know how people always ask that question about winning the lottery? The "If you had all the money in the world, what would you do?" question? I've never had a good answer to that. I mean, I would travel, I guess, but I wouldn't want to travel alone, and everyone else probably has to work and pay a mortgage, so they can't come with me. Would I spend all my time running and writing? You'd think since I've been test driving this hypothesis since August (clearly without "all the money in the world" but with "a sufficient credit card limit that I'm not afraid to use") that I would have found the answer. But I haven't. If I decided to "write all day" I would be instantly frustrated and probably feel bad about myself for not writing a masterpiece. The running? Just because I have a million dollars and tons of free time doesn't mean five miles will be any easier for me...and its still cold out...and either way, it will still only take up an hour of my day.

The be all end all point really is this: Do what you can when you can. I think its ok to not accomplish everything you want to, or to not do all the things that make you happy -- just dont stull wanting those things or forget what makes you happy.
Photo: Nervous Blogger joyfully running a St. Pats 8k in DC.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How Swiftly Times Have Changed

As some of you may have heard, vacation Nervous Blogger is officially retired and prompt and professional NB is here to stay.

That is correct, I am jobfull.

Now, I still have a couple weeks left to find an apartment, move all my stuff, and generally get my act together, but the big question is this: Where does the blog go now? I honestly thought, by the way things were progressing (or not progressing), that I would be an out-of-work blogger for quite a bit more time, but the tides have shifted.

What do you think I should post about?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

On Waking Up...

Growing up, my mother had a rule about weekend sleeping in – She let us. When we came rolling out of our bedrooms at 11, 12 or 1 pm she always said. “If your body didn’t need to sleep, it wouldn’t sleep.” From this late-sleeping-on-the-weekends habit, I grew into an adult who felt at a loss for free time. An adult who tried to get up early and state up late on weekends – to try to cram as much into those days as possible. I have become a person who is bothered by laziness and who would rather talk a walk around the block than watch one more episode of Project Runway.

When I was working in DC, I rose for woke at about 6:55am. Sometimes a little sleepy or whiney, I was always in generally good spirits about starting the day. My live-in girlfriend at the time woke for work even earlier than I did, so I often had an hour or so of half-awakeness during which to acclimate myself to morning.

When I first arrived in Austin, my two roommates and I often cruised, pajamaed out of our respective sleeping quarters around 9am to have tea together in the kitchen. Now THAT was sleeping in for us. Nearing the end of the Austin adventure, we all started sleeping later. I don’t know if we were partying longer or harder, if our days were more busy or stressful, or if our bodies were simply getting used to the idea of a life without a schedule.

Now, back in my mother’s house, under my mother’s rules, I fight to get myself out of bed each day. Even when I sleep from 11pm to 11am – I’m still tired. Because she is retired, my mom also sleeps when she feels like it, so I’m under no pressure to be extremely productive.

I know that it will be easy for me to fall back into a work-day routine. I know this primarily, because I will be so happy to be working. It’s just so odd that during a time of my life when I have so much free time, I sleep so late. The weather in Chicago has been an absolute miracle, but I wrestle to get myself up to enjoy the day. I’m not depressed, I don’t feel sad when I wake up – just tired. Just reeeeeealllly lazy.

This morning, I got out of bed at 9:30 and I’m temporarily alone in the house. I feel like the only person in the world. It’s nice. I’ll try to remember this feeling next time I’m tossing and turning alarmless well into the late morning…

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Can You Sell Yourself Without Selling Out?

It had been a long damn time since I last tried to sell myself; to push all my awesomeness to the forefront just hoping that I don't look desperate. I mean, I don't spend much/any time on the singles scene and I already have a great group of friends to whom I never need to "prove" myself. I just am me. Unfortunately, this sliding, gliding be who I am and don't give a crap what anybody thinks about it attitude has had to be wiped off my snug little face for the ultimate selling of oneself - the job interview.

Oh yes, when interviewing for a job my pomp-a-hawk becomes more of a mom-do, and my nose ring gets slipped into my front breast pocket. My Chucks are replaced with sensible slip-ons and my ego gets kicked right out the door.

Some people appear better on paper than they do in an interview, and others have the opposite problem. I don’t really know where I fit into the spectrum. I know that I have a lot to offer an employer, but my resume doesn’t really speak to all of my unique abilities. Conversely, the resume communicates a lot of experience in a field that I never really meant to get into. So in that one particular field, I’m doing ok – It just may not be the field I dreamed of. Isn’t that true of most jobs?

Is it selling out to "put on your best behavior" for an interview? To try to appear non-controversial? To quiet down your politics? I sometimes worry that I am doing a disservice to myself by calmly and coolly describing each detail of my past employment without revealing my real interests, causes about which I am passionate, and the blue-donkey blood that runs deep under my skin.

There is a common retort to this sort of argument: “If they don’t like me for who I am than I don’t want to work there.”

Sure, this is true in the big picture. I don’t want to work at a place where no one is concerned about equality, the environment or human rights. I don’t want to work at a place where I feel uncomfortable or unaccepted for my style (or my lifestyle), but this big picture becomes a little blurrier each day.

It becomes blurry because unemployment is not a good look on anyone. Because working, even if it is with an organization that doesn’t match my needs or my personality, is still working. I think as each day goes by I’m more willing to compromise. Does that make me a sell out, or just a realistic adult?

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Benefits of Stopping an Object in Motion

In August, when I made the decision to leave my job, I did so knowing that I had a really strong support system (and a solid savings) to lean on while I got my act together. I think a lot about how this knowledge, this security makes my experience so much different from many other people's.

I also know that because of this break in my continuity I have time to evaluate my life in a way most people don't get the chance to. It was easy after I had decided to major in English during undergrad to just get a degree in English, like it was easy to stay in DC once I had moved there, and to stay at my job because I had been there for so long. An object in motion tends to stay in motion just as an object at rest tends to stay at rest.

What happens when you stop an object's motion? When you suddenly insert that huge piece of movie studio glass always being carried around by two glove-wearing handy men and the object slams into it with all the force of a lifetime of sacrifice and commitment? What happens to a bruised object, startled and stopped; surrounded by shock and all that glass?

I guess it suddenly has choices it never saw before.

I'm not saying I have a whole lot of "choice" out there in the working world. This is not a candy store job market will wall to wall choices for anybody with a nickle. This is a job market where choice/interest/preference might be completely dissolved into experience/persistence/luck. But that lack of actual choice means that the unemployed can spend some time thinking about where they would be IF they did have all the choice in the world. To think about what steps might be needed to change careers, to start new endeavors, to relocate or re-educate.

No one wants to be unemployed (not even writers and artists no matter how much they claim to thrive off of Ramen and distress), but at least taking a moment to start picking up pieces of that glass, and maybe blinking your eyes two or three times to get your environment in focus can help you figure out if your original trajectory was really on target to begin with.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Staying Vs. Living

“Are you living back home, now?”

“No, I’m just staying there for the moment.”

I can not stop myself from distinguishing between “staying” and “living” in casual conversation. The words project from my mouth defensively erasing all confusion about my situation. Until some inquisitive fool asks the ultimate question, “Oh, how long are you staying?”

Damn it, friends and family, I have no idea.

I have no idea how long the job hunt will go on, how long it will be until I can get my ass in gear and get my own place. Is there a possibility I could be here for 6 months? Absolutely. Would I ever, I that time, unpack my suitcases and say that I’m “living” at my mother’s house? Not a chance.

The problem here is not a matter of embarrassment to live at home, nor do I have something against the suburbs in general or specifically the Golf Center of the World (as my hometown’s water towers proudly proclaim. Really.). Its not any of that. It is simply a matter of taking steps backwards. Of working hard to craft a life independent, a life without owing money or favors, a life in which you can do and be anything you choose – and then having to give it all back.

People “live” at home while they go to grad school, save for a condo, after a layoff, or divorce, because their perfect job doesn't provide enough support financially to make the move – because one part of their plan involves saving money for their next step. People also “live” at home because they have no interest in leaving, because they don’t have the experience or education to get a job that would afford them rent money, or because they are afraid. I don’t fit into either of these categories – I’m not an intelligent person who is utilizing the availability of a rent-free home space to get ahead. But I’m also not an almost-thirty who isn’t able/doesn’t want to have a life outside of the childhood home. I’m a person who quit her job in the midst of recession and now has to pay some pound-of-flesh price.

I am incredibly thankful of my mother’s generosity. I’m not just crashing in my own bedroom, and have full use of her car, but I also have a meal plan. I think she feels bad for me a little, knowing how happy it has always made me to pay for things on my own, to live in other cities, to know that no one is worrying about me screwing up. And, to be honest, the whole situation is my fault. I chose this path of unemployment and homelessness, but I guess I never imagined I would feel so helpless.

I can’t get over myself enough to “live” at my mom’s house for a while. I’ll just be “staying” here for the time being, an independent girl independently deciding to hang out at home for a spell.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sun Bright November Days

Today, the sun is shining in a way that recalls the first day of Spring, rather than the last day of Fall. On a day like today, the ultra green grass and SUV dotted driveways of the highly populated township retain a sort of appeal that I don't often attribute to the suburbs. Its open quietness is sort of pleasing and affects a part of me that I have long assumed dead. I guess an appreciation of slow and quiet was just dormant beneath my everlasting and unquenchable love for the "hustle and bustle" of city life.

Jogging outside - in this weather, in the suburbs - is different, too. With a Cubs cap pulled down over my eyes I can run, without turning, for more than 2 miles. I cross a few quiet streets and wait at one or two red lights, but it is nothing like the constant stopandgorightturnleftturn of city running. Out here, you can envision yourself on a rubber-soft track. You can maybe run forever. Your legs feel strong and heart stronger. In the bright sunlight of Chicago's early November, the race is just beginning.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Same Blogger, New Game

Like Michael Jordan or Brett Favre, every time you think I'm gone I reboot (maybe with a different jersey). Yes, the nervous blogger is back again and this time more nervous than ever. In fact, more nervous in an entirely new way: I'm not only out of school, but I am also out of work and out of DC. Im back in Chicago seeking out a new path in life and, recently inspired by a friend who is starting a cooking blog, I've decided to get back on the blogger bandwagon.

I'm working on some writing pieces right now, and I think I'm going to use this blog as a place to air some ideas and to talk a little bit about life unemployed and in a weird life transition. Transitions have always made me nervous, but I always like to think about the "positive" side of wiping clear the slate. I need to remind myself that I can be whoever I want to be, even though a truly clean slate is something that we maybe can never really actualize, because our past (in one form or the other) will always follow us. We can change our careers, our hair style and even our names, but we end up with years of experience that color our opinions/decisions/actions. I wrote an article sort of about this recently for TNG, a lovely site you should visit where I am a weekly columnist -- about starting over in your home town.

I believe that you are created by your experiences, and are thus a constantly evolving being, but I also recognize in the simple world where we meet each other with our eyes and shared conversation, your new you will not always be visible. It's hard to tell an new friend about all the events that sculpted you without becoming a blathering idiot and probably still not getting your point across. It takes months and years for someone to start to know you - and when you move to a new place, try to start a new life, you best be ready to go through that trial.

So that's where I am. Back in Chicagoland, unemployed, single and still trying to learn to play the guitar. However, I'm always nervous, so while somethings have changed, others forever remain the same.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Who wants to learn this with me?

The guitar chords and lyrics for House of the Rising Sun:

Am C D F
There is a house in New Orleans

Am C E
They call the Rising Sun

Am C D F
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy

Am E Am C D F Am E Am E
And God I know I'm one

Am C D F
My mother was a tailor

Am C E
She sewed my new blue jeans

Am C D F
My father was a gamblin' man

Am E Am C D F Am E Am E
Down in New Orleans

Friday, June 26, 2009

My New Favorite Band. Seriously.

Please check out Natalie Portman's Shaved Head.

These songs go with my Wayfarers and commute-ipod-swagger, and ALSO Brookes-Nike-Jogger-bobbing.

Love it.

Check out the rest of the music on youtube or myspace.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Re-Cykle Water Bottles

I do my best to avoid buying plastic - water bottles, excessive plastic packaging, etc. - but it seems almost impossible. I also try to recycle and reuse all the plastic I do buy, but again, there's just not always a way to do that. Plastic is the biggest threat the environment has.

Some statistics on plastic waste from the EPA:

  • In 2006, the United States generated 14 million tons of plastic through containers and packaging.
  • The amount of plastic consumed as a percentage of total waste has increased from less than 1 percent in 1960 to 11.7 percent in 2006.
Soda Stats:
  • Americans drank approximately 14.7 billion cases of non-alcoholic beverages in 2004 (this includes both plastic and aluminum containers; note that aluminum cans are lined with plastic).
More Statistics:

Its just horrifying, isn't it?

I love hearing about breakthroughs in ridding the earth of waste and this is a great example:

An 18 year old high school student created a prototype of a water bottle that is 70% cardboard and only 30% plastic (which is needed to keep the water in). He calls his bottle "Cykle" and is looking for investors! Read more here.

Visit the Cykle website to read more and donate to the project.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Adopt a Pet in the Recession!

A lot of us are hurting in these tough economic times, but the little spoken-about victims are really family pets that are forced out when folks can't afford to feed themselves AND Fluffy or Princess. There are plenty of places out there that are accepting these Recession Pets, but those places are running out of room.

For instance, down in Florida, the 10th Life Sanctuary is caring for 600 cats. They have a no-kill policy (which means they don't euthanize animals when they are not adopted) but they are running out of space and funding.

If you are currently financially secure enough to have a pet, perhaps adopting a loving animal who has lost its home due to financial hardship is an option for you. If you can't adopt a pet at this time, maybe you can make a donation to the 10th Life Sanctuary, or another No-Kill shelter to help these animals have a good life their families were unable to afford.

Photo Credit: Lara Koch Photography

1 Millionth Word Update!

"Austin, Texas June 10, 2009 – The Global Language Monitor today announced that Web 2.0 has bested Jai Ho, N00b and Slumdog as the 1,000,000th English word or phrase. added to the codex of fourteen hundred-year-old language. Web 2.0 is a technical term meaning the next generation of World Wide Web products and services." -- from the Global Language Monitor

Web 2.o? Ok. I'll take it.

Its hard to know exactly what word is 1 millionth, obviously. This whole deal is a little bit flimsy -- many scientists and linguistics specialists think the whole formula is questionable.
Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguistics professor at the University of California at Berkeley says, "I think it's pure fraud ... It's not bad science. It's nonsense." And I hear what he's saying.

Our language is really incalculable, but I think it's really fun to think about how language is created, how it regenerates ( At its current rate, English generates about 14.7 words a day or one every 98 minutes.), and how it builds on other languages. We are lucky to have such an evolving language without the restrictions many languages have. A lot of other countries don't accept popularization of a certain word or phrase as a reason to affect its acceptance into the canon, but I think America understands itself to be a growing, changing place. We started seeing this when words like Homer's infamous admission of mistake, "Do'H!" was added a few years back (2001), alongside "Bling Bling" (2003) and Will Smith's "Jiggy."

Who knows, maybe one of us will coin a term that will end up in the dictionary, and stay forever like the Bard's many contributions. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In Less Than 12 Hours!

The English language is constantly evolving (who ever heard of the word Twitter before 12 months ago??) and there is actually a formula for counting how many words are added each day. According to the site, the Global Language Monitor, the language should hit its one millionth word at about 5:22AM Wednesday morning. Maybe I should wake up early and celebrate with a mimosa.

A million words is just an amazing amount, considering we are born without language at all and learn (primarily through experience and observation) words one at a time. I wonder if there are people who try to learn every word in the English Language, although I don't even really know how you would test that --because every time a dictionary is printed it becomes irrelevant.

A recent CNN article explains which words are considered:

"Words must make sense in at least 60 percent of the world to be official, he said. And they must make sense to different communities of people. A new technology term that's only understood in Silicon Valley wouldn't count as a mainstream word, he said.

His computer models check a total of 5,000 Web sites, dictionaries, scholarly publications and news articles to see how frequently words are used, he said. A word must make 25,000 appearances to be deemed legitimate."

I love that American's have an interest in words--jugding by the popularity of books and movies about Scrabble, Spelling Bees (1,2,3) and Crossword Puzzles.

Here's to the one-millionth word in the English Language. Maybe learning them all can be my next project...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Women Rock!

Just a quick post today for all the gals out there. Todays heroes? Women.

Clearly women go through a lot of stuff unique to their gender from facing gender stereotypes that imply weakness and incompetence, getting paid less than men, and having to deal with some uncomfortable physical situations men really can't understand.

Although I did just find one guy who might have a little bit of an idea. New York Times columnist Dana Jennings wrote a piece yesterday about the 6 months he was on hormone therapy as a treatment for an aggressive case of prostate cancer. His eye-opening journey into the emotional world of a menopausal woman is funny and honest:

"Hand in hand with the hot flashes came the food cravings. I lusted after Cheetos and Peanut Butter M&M’s, maple-walnut milkshakes, and spaghetti and meatballs buried in a blizzard of Parmesan. Isn’t it funny how cravings very rarely involve tofu, bean curd or omega-3 oils?"

It wasn't JUST dealing with hot flashes and food cravings, he learned. There was more.

"Then there was the weight issue. During the six months I was on Lupron I gained about 25 pounds. That was partly a byproduct of the cravings, but it also stemmed from the hormonal changes triggered in my body. And I hated it, hated it, hated it. I had never had to worry about my weight, and I began to understand why media aimed at women and girls obsess over weight so much."

Although this experience was an unfortunate side effect of his treatment, Mr. Jennings chose to acknowledge the strength of all women by writing this article about how challenging it was.

So, to all the gals out there who just take whatever our bodies dish out: Woot to us!

Check out the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Today's hero is a combination of Early Hominid Ancestors and Modern Chimps.

Homo Habilis, meaning "handy man" or "skilled person" is an early ancestor of modern man who lived in the general range of 2 million years ago. This hominid was named as such because although he had many ape-like features (such as long arms and a short stature) his bones have been found accompanied by primitive tools. Earlier hominids (like most animals) didn't use tools, so this guy is a big step in human evolution, although it is still debated if Habilis was indeed the very first. He also had a more human-like face and smaller teeth.

Overall, we give a lot of credit to tool usage when we consider the approximate intelligence of an animal. A new study which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Human Evolution compares tool usage by chimps and that of early man.

"Josephine Head and Martha Robbins observed chimpanzees at Loango National Park on the coast of Gabon, Africa. They identified at least five different types of chimp-made honey extraction tools used in sequence. The tools consist of pounders, enlargers, collectors, perforators and swabbers. Chimps, suspended in acrobatic positions on branches, might first pull out a thick stick pounder to break open beehive entrances. They then reach for another stick, the enlarger, to perforate and widen different honeybee hive compartments. Next comes the collector, used to dip or scoop out honey."

Way to go Chimps and Homo Habilis! I have seen animals (like cats!) learn strategies and use them repeatedly--which boggles my mind, but if i ever saw my cat use a knife to open its food bag I think I'd pass out. Luckily, even if they had a million years, cats would never learn to use tools -- because humans will always be there to treat them like tiny royalty. Isn't evolution grand?

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.com -- Reconstruction of Homo habilis

Monday, June 1, 2009

Octo-Not A Hero

On this day, June 1st, 2009, I make an attempt to participate in NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. The theme for this month is Heroes. I often stumble upon people in life or in the news who I deem to be heroic in one way or another, but today I start this game with the opposite. Unfortunately, this morning I have already encountered someone who I think is NOT HEROIC. Who should not be considered a hero?

The Octomom.

I read this morning on cnn.com that she signed a deal with some network for a reality TV show surrounded herself and her 14 kids, like none of us were expecting this crazy turn of events. It did surprise me how my immediate reaction was so angry -- what the heck is this woman doing? Should we really make people like her into celebrities/heroes? This story tags on to all the recent trials and tribulations surrounding TLCs Jon and Kate Plus 8, another show about raising kids (8, in this case) that spotlights people who aren't really being great parents.

When you put someone on TV you immortalize them, and you create fans. You make role models of average people who often are not exemplifying positive character traits. Do we really want to make a person who has had 14 children without any means to support them into a hero? Should she become some sort of scene for voyeuristic American's to look in on and converse about how "wacky her life is with all those kids!" when the kids are suffering?

Does reality TV create heroes by televising/paying these people to make bad decisions on camera?

Photo Courtesy of RealityBS.com

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Comic Books and Prop 8

I didn't even know that MTV had a real website, or that it would be like this, but I found this neato article today on MTV.com.

Out and Proud: Five Comic Book Characters Who'd Oppose Prop 8
"California’s Supreme Court upheld the state’s “Proposition 8″ ban on same-sex marriage yesterday, fanning the flames of what’s sure to be an ongoing debate in the state and the nation as a whole. In light of this event, we’ve decided to look at some of superheroes who are out, proud and feel no shame in how they live their lives — and who’d be most affected by legislation like Proposition 8."

I think that everyone should appose Prop 8, but I love it when comic book characters get in the mix. Its nice to see and hear celebrities like Drew Barrymore get out there and support equal rights, even though I don't necessarily believe celebrity support will change peoples minds. I do like what Drew told Free Speech Radio News, though, that:
"[Prop 8] literally is illogical and cruel and is absolutely unnecessary."
I think equality is the fight of the little guy, the average American, and you know, the superhero. The MTV article lists Northstar (who had an AIDS related storyline) and Batwoman (my best girl) among others. If those comic book characters stand up for LGBT rights, I certainly can stand up for Superhero rights!

Photo courtesy of DC Comics

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Hidden Conservative Agenda?

I heart history, culture, animals, space, technology and the environment. Where can I learn about all of these things at once on the interweb? My new favorite site LiveScience.com. It’s kind of like mentalfloss for the even geekier reader. Aside from articles about dinosaurs and immortality, the think that interests me most about the site is that a majority of the comments on each post are a debate about science and religion. Weird, right? At first I was really weirded out about how many people were talking about whether Jesus should have been on the "Top Ten Immortals" list alongside Peter Pan and Dracula. I was a little worried that maybe I was being faked out and that the site which appears to me to be a fun science site was maybe actually full of coded subliminal religious messages and I didn't notice! Maybe I was tricked! Scientists are liberal, right? Scientists are usually atheists, right? I wanted to do a little hunting for clues about LiveScience religious affiliation, but I just came across readers who are pissed that the web site clearly falls on the side of the atheists. I'm always afraid that I'm being swayed secretly by a conservative agenda (and I don't mean Fox News, I mean secretly conservative, not blatantly). Does anyone read this site? Does it appear to be tricking me?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Are There Housewives in DC?

Although I typically speak out against reality TV, there are a few shows that I take a little pleasure in watching. I like Project Runway and Top Chef because they are about talents and artistry on some level. I also like a couple reality shows that are not about talent or artistry. Ok. I'll admit it--I like the Real Housewives Series. My favorite is NYC, but the newest one in New Jersey has been pretty awesome thus far.

And now, aren't I lucky, there are doing a season in DC. From the DCist:
"The producers were looking for a "range of women in DC, from young up-and-comers (determined staffers, aspiring politicians, fearless journalists, and fledgling socialites) to the real powerbrokers on the Hill (commanding congresswomen, sassy socialites and dymanic divas in charge)."
I don't really know what it is about the housewives that I like. Maybe that the shows are about women and although some of them are bitchy and backstabbing and embarrassing, some of them are successful and tough and kind of real. I can't even imagine the DC Housewives, especially because women here work, so the show will be a little different than the others. Either way, I can't wait!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Organ Donation Fail

Thanks to Feministing for posting this incredible image from an Organ Donation Campaign:

If you cant read the text, it says "Becoming a donor is probably your only chance to get inside her."

Are you kidding me? I can't help but be offended. Why on earth would an organ donation campaign resort to this kind of disgusting angle? Full article here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This Animal is Not a Toy

Whats next, people hitting each other in the head with frying pans?

"PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh police say a high school student is facing charges for using a biology class snake as a jump rope.

Police say the incident happened Monday at Taylor Allderdice High School, according to KDKA-TV.

Police aren't identifying the 17-year-old suspect because he's being charged in juvenile court. The boy will be charged with theft and cruelty to animals.

The animal survived the ordeal and was being examined by a veterinarian.

Pittsburgh Public School officials on Tuesday were not immediately able to say what kind of snake it was." via Fox News

People should be charged more often with cruelty to animals -- you know its going on all the time. As a side note, that Neanderthal Michael Vick just got out of prison. And no, he shouldn't be allowed to play football.

A Magical Breakfasty World

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who love breakfast food and those who don't. I have an undying love for breakfast food, which I've mentioned once before, but I have never tried a McGriddle. Something about it makes me feel a little uncomfortable -- the combination of egg and meat and pancake belongs together, yet somehow feels wrong when smashed into a genetically altered sammich.

Recently, a friend of mine told me about some folks who love a McGriddle even more than i love a McMuffin. People who love it so much they write about it. That's right, there is a McGriddle Fan Fiction site out there.

Some folks not in the writing/creepy obsession with movies or celebrities communities might not be totally aware of what Fan Fiction is. For a real definition we turn to Wikipedia: "Fan fiction (alternately referred to as fanfiction, fanfic, FF, or fic) is a broadly-defined term used to describe stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator." A FanFic story might include a love affair between Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, or maybe the characters from Lord of The Rings transported into the future to save the world from evil republican warlords. I don't know if either of those story lines have actually been written, but clearly I have a previously undiscovered talent here.

So, read (or write) some McGriddle Fanfic, or some Lord of the Rings Fan Fiction, some Major League Baseball FacFic, or some Twilight FanFic, and get lost in a magical world!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nervous Blogger Update!

I know. I'm a huge disappointment to all my fan(s). I haven't been blogging lately and for this I have a variety of excuses (none of them particularly good). I am officially out of school now, so having much more free time is supposed to make me a better blogger and a better gym-goer. At this point, nothing. The now-healing herniated disc in my back has kept me away from running and the senioritis/post thesis crash has kept me from everything else. But, I'm back. I'm making my move.

Here's some new stuff:

I'm back into dinosaurs again--sorely wishing I had chosen a different career path and that I was currently on my hands and knees in a dusty region of Argentina digging for a tooth or a claw of some prehistoric beast. All I can really do about this sadness is learn more. Sunday I spent the day at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. It was just awesome. This photo here is of the MegaShark mouth -hes the ancestor of the modern Great White Shark and the star of the upcoming film MegaShark Vs. Giant Octopus. So rad.

I also picked up a book called The Bone Museum: Travels in the Lost Worlds of Dinosaurs and Birds by the fabulous Wayne Grady. Its more a book about history, literature and travel than it is about dinosaurs--but those happen to be my three favorite things. I also wrote a great profile about a local DC dinosaur expert. If you are interested in publishing it in your critically acclaimed magazine please let me know. On a fossil note, this is really cool.

I'm also back into Bob Dylan. Greatest Website Ever. Something about the combination of my affection for Bob Dylan and Dinosaurs makes me feel like I'm actually reverting to 7th grade. Thats Ok--I liked 7th Grade, and Bob Dylan is forever cool.

As for writing, I'm going to try to get back into this here bloggy. I've also just started Twitttering. (Can that word even be made a gerund?) You can find me on there, in really short form, as JScribe, which is apparently also the name of a software development kit. Oh well. I'm way wittier than a software development kit. I've also recently joined up with Examiner.com to be the new LGBT Issues Examiner. I'll be writing about LGBT and related issues as they connect to DC. I'll be linking those pieces (as they come) to Twitter, mostly, but they'll be out there on the interweb for all to read.

As for running? No plan yet. Anyone know a good 5k/8k in DC I can get my rear in gear for?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Three Window Cats

What we do on a sunday afternoon in the spring.

(sorry its not properly rotated!)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Almost home.

There is nothing worse than waiting forever at the airport for baggage after a long trip.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I heart the internets.

Every time I hear people wax on about how social networking, online dating sites, online learning, etc has replaced people's "personal" relationships I wish I had a story like this handy.

Three sisters in New York state found a kidney for their dad on Craigslist. Thats right. They posted an ad seeking a kidney for their ailing father and a California woman responded.

"The Craigslist ad was short and to the point: “Please Help Us, My Dad Needs a Kidney!” Jennifer Flood, 30, and her sisters (her twin Cynthia and older sibling Heather, 32) posted the message on Craigslist in a desperate attempt to find a someone willing to make the ultimate sacrifice: donate a kidney to a complete stranger without asking anything in return.

That ad launched a chain of events that eventually led the Pleasantville, N.Y.-based family to find such a person—a 48-year-old California woman named Dawn Verdick—who was willing to donate a kidney to their father, Daniel Flood, 68. The kidney transplant took place December 12, and the family is beyond grateful."

Its not totally unheard of for positive things, like reunited families, to occur through facebook and other online tools. We should be excited about all these resources! Although, I do remember reading a short story in a science fiction collection when I was a kid about a society that became so reliant on robots and technology that no one knew how to operate the robots. No one could turn them off because they had been going about their own business for generations. Then, I think, there was a guy who could do simple math by hand, and that was so impressive and unusual that he was either made king or stoned to death. I can't remember. I hope he was made king, because getting stoned to death for being good at math is really bogus.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Airplane Food Is Notoriously Bad, But Complain On, My Friend!

I am full of commentary when I am flying. I never cease to have a critique of the temperature, the space, my obnoxious fellow passengers, or, all too often, a permeating odor. The difference between me and the author of a letter to Richard Branson of Virgin Airways is that I keep my thoughts to myself (or maybe between myself and my traveling companion of the moment.). Have you ever had a flying experience so bad you would write a detailed email complete with digital photographs to the owner of the airline?

The letter begins like this:

"Dear Mr Branson

REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008

I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit.

Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at the hands of your corporation.

Look at this Richard. Just look at it: [see image 1, above].

I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?"

I highly suggest you check out the full letter. And, pleasantly, Mr. Branson was concerned (or amused) enough to respond.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Abandoned But Not Forgotten

Just found this creepy/cool site. Abandoned But Not Forgotten is a site dedicated to photographs of sites that have been abandoned. I first checked IL, and found some great shots of the Toboggon Slides near where I grew up--I can remember running up these stairs, but I don't actually remember ever using the slides. I wonder how long they've been unused...

Some pretty creepy pics, definitely some question-raising places.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

All The Single Ladies...

I know it can be hard to find that special someone...times are tough for the economy and also for romance. Don't fret though, because you can now hook up with that one person who truly shares your passions! Especially your passion for Nascar!

"Welcome to Nascar Match Dating and Free Personals!

This is the only online Nascar and racing fan dating site exclusively for Nascar singles to meet and date other Nascar fans for love and dating. Find your Nascar Girlfriend or boyfriend and your next Nascar Date now! It is completely free to place, browse, respond to personal ads, post images, start a blog and more."

For some reason I imagine this site is more popular in the South...