Monday, December 29, 2008

yes times a million.

"There’s something valuable about liking something without really knowing who or how many other people like it."

-comment by karen, on "Music and Ownership" @ MBV

so many signals.

I'm still evaluating what to do with my life, and it seems like there are so many signs that I should be in Portland or at least out of DC. Not that I follow that god forsaken "The Secret" mumbo jumbo, but perhaps it's my brain paying attention to any and all mentions of the place. I know there's a formal term for it, when you only choose to pay attention to things that compliment your beliefs and ignore those that contradict them? Ah yes, confirmation bias!

I was with a friend's uncle the other day, a man from Baltimore who happens to love Portland. I'm not sure what he does professionally, but he sells jewelry on the side and has made his way out there on several business trips. He hesitated to give me any advice, because he correctly assumed I had heard enough, but finally just said, "It's harder to get out of an area once you've established yourself there." I know that there are always exceptions, but it rang true in my ears.

I keep noticing my favorite etsy sellers and artists and fashion designers are from the area. It's odd, really.

And I just got an e-mail from a sympathetic writer who experienced a bout of unemployment. It simply said this:
"I found that leaving the DC area was the answer to my problems. It's a tough place, in so many ways."

the good, the sad, and the ugly

I never read Fashionista, but I happened across the site today and was intrigued by a post asking everyone to reveal their fashion secrets. I expected things like "double-stick tape", but people seemed intent on disclosing more intimate information. Instead of practical fashion tips, it revealed some interesting things about people's relationships with fashion. In a tribute to Jezebel's similarly titled fashion column, I've picked a few that stuck out:

The Good

"Always size up expensive shoes. Take them to your favorite cobbler and ask him to input Dr. Scholls comfort pads, and also place traction pads on the soles. That way, you can wear them hours longer thanks to the added comfort, and for years to come (without an unfortunate slip-and-fall incident). I've done it on all of my Louboutins and YSLs... there's even a guy on 8th avenue who caters to fashion editors... he places red traction pads on Louboutins for us!"

"i'm a guy, and sometimes when i'm home alone, ill put on a robe, pretend its a massive fur and wear my moms birkin and walk around the house and pretend i'm some park ave bitch."


"In my room, I blast my runway music on, and I do the runway walk."

"I equate fashion with movies. When someone only wears expensive designers, they're a big-budget, brainless summer movie, like Transformers or The Fast and the Furious. I see you with your label bag and your red-soled shoes and I think 'Popcorn Flick.'

The clever girls in their mix and match, high and low, new and vintage? They're indie films. They work harder, are smarter and more exciting. Gimme a Pulp Fiction girl anytime. I'll tell ya: I watched Transformers once last summer, and I'm done. I've seen Pulp Fiction twenty times over the past decade, and it still feels new. Save your money."

The Sad

"I'm a designer size zero and no matter how much I tell people I just eat healthy and work out the truth is I don't eat."

"if college is a time to reinvent yourself, I've done it by not eating and dressing far better. Its made me cry myself to sleep silently almost every night ( so my roommate doesn't hear) but all the compliments I receive makes it worth it."

"I want to be thinner than i am.
im a size 2/4 and feel huge"

"I am over weight and I go shopping alone and buy designer clothes that I can't wear."

"I wish I could get my eating disorder back. I admire the determination I had 3 years ago to be a zero. Ive really let myself go."

"i'm one semester away from completing my law degree and wish i were a fashion editor instead!"

"People think all my shoes are Marc by Marc Jacobs because it's just 'so Faran' but really, those are the only heels I can walk in without falling."

"I have alot of heartbreakingly beautiful clothes and shoes I never wear too!

They sit in my closet because they seem too precious for the world. Or at least the world of subways and pavements that I inhabit. They belong to shiny towncars and marble floors...

If I wear my heels on the street to work people stare at me and I HATE it. WANT to crawl under a rock...

I wish the world would freeze and I could skip around in my alligator prada pumps and vuitton patent and mink booties....

My husband encourages me to sell them all on ebay but to me that's admitting I never had the life for them and never will...."

The Ugly

"I've thought about it, and i would definately committ many crimes and felonies just so i could own a balenciaga city bag, or a large chanel 2.55."


"I aspire to be wealthy, i mean like a billionaire, just so i can dress like the olsen twins. that would make me happy, money makes me happy im definately corrupt inside."

"I don't return things - ever. And I sort of look down on those who do."

"I am horrifically embarrassed that I have friends that use fake designer goods. I don't brag about what I have but I wonder why they aren't ashamed to carry around and use fake Chanel when I have tons or real MJ collection and sometimes use my mother's real Chanel quilted flap."


Neither good nor bad but to which I can relate

"i have more expensive dresses than i have places to wear them"

"I put a lot of effort into my 'look' (what I wear) but if ever complimented/asked, I act like like I put no effort at all"

"im obsessed with fashion, but the people i've met working in the field make me want to move to an obscure country, do charity work for the rest of my life, and never read another fashion magazine or blog again."

"As a Parsons graduate with a career in fashion, everyone's secret has revealed to me what I have been feeling all along. Fashion makes people hate who they are and try to be something they're not. Fashion teaches us to hate the very things about us that makes us unique.. We should all embrace our flaws and secrets and know that love comes from within.. no amount of money, designer clothes and jewelry can ever fill that void."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

ooh!

According to Shift, I'm fabulous. Thankyewwww.

Now I have to list five addictions and deem five other blogs also-fab.

1. Photography



I love the way good photography can make you feel other-worldly. Like there is some far-away place full of idealism and romanticism and soft colors and perennially well-dressed people. A good photograph feels timeless and impossible simple. It feels light and clean and perfect in the most ordinary way.

{photograph by nerijuskio}

2. My kitties



I know it's lame, but I love my cats to death. Animals are so innocent and well-intentioned, even when they're ripping up carpets and hopping on door frames (that's Ichi, by the way). I don't know what I would do without the unyielding adoration from my pets.

{photograph taken by me}

3. Good music



I listen to music all day, every day. Unlike more complacent people who accept anything as background noise, I'm very particular about what I like. (Whether it's good or bad is subjective.) Right now I'm obsessed with Ivana XL, who I will hopefully be seeing in New York next month!

4. Bread and butter



I'm a picky eater. I turn my nose up at margarine, I won't touch egg salad (ugh...what a terrible combination), and I generally dislike fish. But one of my favorite things to eat is fresh French bread with some cultured European butter. (How snobbish of me...even my butter has to be cultured.) My favorite butters are Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. and Kerrygold, always unsalted, and Wegman's makes a good basic French batard. Put 'em together and I'm in heaven. In my own little way, this simple combination makes me feel very European. It's stupid, I know.

{photograph by Tobias Akeblom}

5. "Frasier"





I don't think I'll win any cool points for this one, but I don't care. "Frasier" is the best American sitcom ever made, hands down. Everything about it is amazing. It's funny but it has heart (and not in a cheesy Full House way). It'll make you laugh and cry in the same episode. The humor isn't completely base, but it isn't pretentious, either. The fun is laughing at how ridiculous Niles and Frasier are, not buying into their elitism. The acting is superb. Issues like race and sexuality are handled with grace. And to top it off, it's set in my very favorite corner of America, the Pacific Northwest. If you've never seen the show, I highly recommend it. That being said, I would never get a "Frasier" tattoo.

Now, to tag others!

The Adventures of Penny Plastic

Tenacious Dee

URPLE

little thoughts

clarafier

words to live by.

"Do you swear you can't live without it? Well, then and only then can you mull over the dollars and cents. What does this have to do with my philosophy of life? Simply this: Do not be seduced by the deal. It's better to spend a lot on a getup you love than a fraction of that on something, or even five of those somethings, that you'll never bother to take out of the shopping bag. By the way, this advice also applies to discount love interests. And half-price sushi."

- Patricia Marx, from "The Price is Right"

my resolutions.

I've got a bucket load of resolutions this year, and I was inspired by Penny to post them here.

My growing list:
  • Spend less time on the internet (and my computer)
  • Eat healthier foods
  • Lay off the Diet Coke
  • Go for a walk every day
  • Wake up earlier, go to bed earlier
  • Start a budget
  • Make some decisions
What are yours?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

yes.

Merry Christmas/Solstice/Festivus/Saturnalia, everyone. My gift to you is this.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

a little suggestion.

Over the weekend, I had a lot of time to just sit and read. A friend's grandmother was kind enough to give me several issues of the New Yorker, and there were some really great pieces in them. A piece by Zadie Smith about her father and British comedy really stuck out as my favorite, maybe because I myself adore British humor (the British Office is one of the best shows ever made), but also because of the way she spoke about her father and brother. It has little to do with the story, but this paragraph is my life:
"We had been tight as thieves as children, but I’d barely seen him since Harvey died, and I sensed us settling into the attenuated relations of adult siblings, a new formal distance, always slightly abashed, for there seems no clear way, in adult life, to do justice to the intimacy of childhood. I remember being scandalized, as a child, at how rarely our parents spoke to their siblings. How was it possible? How did it happen? Then it happens to you."
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

this is what I'm talking about.



Anyone similarly concerned about the right of a pharmacist to deny birth control to women based on religious grounds needs to read this article from a recent edition of Newsweek. I had no idea that there was legislation in South Dakota that so blatantly flies in the face of the notion of "conscientious objection".

Here's the deal: In South Dakota, all doctors are legally required to read a script to a woman before performing an abortion on her. This script repeats the usual pro-life rhetoric that abortion = murder, but it also includes blatant lies about how women who seek abortions have higher rates of suicide. (This is simply not true.) So, though a doctor may value honest information, perhaps because their religion requires them to be truthful, they still have to read this script or risk getting fined. This means that religious protection under this new regulation only goes one way (that you enjoy religious freedom unless you are pro-choice, essentially). Those who feel a moral duty against abortion are enjoying an extension of their rights, while those with a moral duty to provide honest and safe medical care to women (including abortions) are seeing their rights disappear.

The last paragraph struck me the hardest:

Almost completely missing from this fascinating legislative discussion of what health workers might be forced to do and say with respect to reproductive rights are the reproductive rights themselves. Whether we like it or not, the right to birth control, emergency contraception and—under most circumstances—abortion is still constitutionally protected. But these are not services a woman can provide for herself, which leaves her with few rights at all when her doctors are empowered by law to misinform her, withhold advice or deny services altogether. Even beyond the problem of subordinating a woman's rights to her doctor, however, there looms a larger question for health-care workers themselves: if they are indeed seeing their rights and freedoms either hugely expanded or severely restricted based solely on which side they've chosen in the culture wars, they might properly wonder whether any of them are truly free at all.
The article is so good. Read it!

{image from Jezebel, originally from the Associated Press}

2008: the bastard year i never wanted*. (part five)

2008 was a pretty rough year. This is the final part of a five-part post on why it's been so bad for me personally. Please share your reasons, advice, condolences, or whatever in the comments. Also, read parts one, two, three and four.

5. Death
This is another inevitability of life, obviously, but this year it has seemed especially prominent. There were the deaths of Tim Russert and George Carlin, two men I adored for their respective talents; the passing of Bernie Mac, who seemed like great family man; and Obama's grandmother, who died the day before he was elected. ONE DAY. Awful.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some others that really hit close to home, but I was most recently affected and disturbed by the death of
Jdimytai Damour, the Wal-Mart worker who was trampled on Black Friday. What a perfect symbol for our rampant consumer greed. We want what we want and we don't care what or who it hurts. Perhaps this is just a rumor, but I heard that people knew someone had been horribly injured, and they kept shopping. They were ANGRY about the holdup, about the need to clear the scene after he died. Honestly? An HDTV is not worth it. (It'll be standard in a few months, anyway.)

Perhaps most shocking, I know three people in one family (not mine) who are dying. Two are near the end of their lives and their ailments are relatively natural, but one woman simply collapsed last week and fell into an irreversible coma. She was young, in her forties, and the sister of a friend's stepmom. They just had Thanksgiving at this woman's house and everything was perfectly fine. And then she collapsed, never to regain consciousness. They just took her off life support and she has less than a week to live. She's already in a vegetative state. They don't even know what's wrong, really. Their guess is its some kind of viral infection in her brain.

So, with this last sobering bullet point, it's not my intent to be heavy-handed or to trivialize these deaths by listing them under me not having a job as explanation for why this year has been so awful. I guess my point is that life is so precious and uncertain, and people too often show a blatant disregard for others. We all know that certain things are inevitable: death, heartache, hardship, whatever, but we don't need to make personal relations another annoyance of life by treating one another like enemies. Why do we have to look at others with such immediate disdain? I'm including myself in this. I know I dislike many Republicans and Libertarians. I admit it, I'm a partial-hypocrite. But I like to think I always give people a fair chance. I don't judge people solely based on their political labels; I let them elucidate their beliefs before forming an opinion (or I try to). I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I at least make an effort to give people the benefit of the doubt. I try to be nice to strangers, and help others, and believe in the goodness of people (even though many of their actions suggest otherwise). I don't assume people on welfare are going to use that money for drugs or whatever. I don't assume the worst. It's one thing to be cautious and realistic, but it's quite another to be a misanthropic jerk.

I think the problem is that too many individuals regard life as a movie starring them. They're the main character, the most important one. Everyone else is simply a supporting actor or a tool to get their story to progress. They're looked at as fixtures, features, not real people with real lives. And, of course, the environment is just a backdrop. Not an ecosystem, but a setting. And things only happen when you're present. I guess I'm talking about a real version of The Truman Show. But life isn't like that at all. Each person has their own little life, a family, a story. The world does not revolve around you. (It revolves around the sun, but that's a terrible joke.) I know it's cheesy, and I'm devastated that it was made into a song for High School Musical, but we are all in this together. Maybe in 2009, we can start acting like it.

(Disclaimer: I'm doubtful. It's just a pipe dream from a weak, compassionate idealist. My problem is that I want the whole world to be humane with me, when I think the key to life is to surround yourself with the ones who actively share that desire.)

2008: the bastard year i never wanted*. (part four)

2008 was a pretty rough year. This is the fourth part of a five-part post on why it's been so bad for me personally. Please share your reasons, advice, condolences, or whatever in the comments. Also, read parts one, two and three.

4. Speaking of abortion: Idiotic legislation.
I am LIVID over this regulation honoring religious objections from pharmacists and doctors who don't want to deal with abortions and birth control pills. Okay, I get it if a doctor doesn't want to perform an abortion. He or she should not have to. But now they can refuse to refer a patient to a doctor or pharmacist who will. In fact, a pharmacist/doctor can refuse to provide ANY information to a patient if it goes against their morals. But only as it pertains to women's health! The legislation specifically talks about abortion only. Which is why it makes no sense that this regulation also okays pharmacists refusing to dispense contraception. Contraception is not abortion.

There are so many things wrong with this decision, it's not even funny. First of all, don't say you're trying to protect all medical practitioners' religious beliefs if you're only focusing on abortion and contraception. If you were concerned about all religious freedom, you would realize that many other religions have prominent beliefs that interfere with other common medications and write these equally stupid provisions into this awful regulation. Is it okay for a Scientologist pharmacist to refuse to dispense anti-depressants, because it's against their religion? Is it okay for a Christian Scientist pharmacist to refuse to dispense any medication? Is it okay for a Jew to work at a butcher shop and refuse to sell pork? Is it okay for a Jehovah's Witness to refuse to give a blood transfusion (it's against their religion!) to a critically injured patient, or even refer them or take them to a doctor who will?

According to this legislation, probably not. But why is our government valuing one religion's beliefs over another's? Don't Scientologists and Christian Scientists and Jews have the same rights to religious freedom as well? Why is it only Christians that get to have their beliefs "honored" in ridiculous ways? Doesn't the First Amendment prohibit enacting a law that respects an establishment of religion? Aren't you playing favorites with Christianity?

My second, more important point is this: oral contraception is not just used as birth control. Many women, virgins even(!), use hormone therapy (read: birth control pills) to regulate conditions such as endometriosis and ovarian cysts. This isn't even an issue of pain reduction. It's about REDUCING the spread of cysts or polyps. It's the only way to treat these conditions, minus a hysterectomy. I understand that pharmacists are not required to take the Hippocratic oath like doctors are, but their job is to dispense medicine that aids people's health. They make sure medications that have dangerous interactions aren't taken together, and they give you what a doctor has deemed necessary. Preventing a person from getting vital treatment means they aren't fulfilling their job duties. I'm guessing a Jew who refused to sell pork, or a vegan who refused to touch or sell any meat, would be fired from a butcher shop pretty quickly due to the fact that they were failing to meet job requirements. Why are Christian pharmacists being singularly sheltered?

I talked to a very pro-life Catholic about oral contraception for ovarian cysts (and other conditions), and he said that most Catholics are perfectly fine with taking medication for this purpose. Okay, so, it's alright to deny Susie her birth control if it's for pregnancy prevention, but not if she's a virgin with a medical condition. How on EARTH are you going to regulate that? Doesn't that violate doctor-patient confidentiality? Are you going to call little ovarian cyst Susie each day and say, "Are you having sex? If so, you need to stop taking those birth control pills under MY watch!" Are you going to conduct some ridiculous TEST to see if she's a virgin? (There isn't one.)

A Slate article I found uses this final point as the last pin in the coffin:
"The most important distinction between [doctors and pharmacists] has to do with their differing relationship with patients. The law recognizes that doctors' special relationships with their patients warrant a legal privilege: Their discussions are kept secret. You may like and trust your pharmacist. You may even trust him with intimate details about your yeast infection. But your pharmacist has neither the tools nor the right to probe details about rape and abuse, incest and health risks. Which is why pharmacists who interpose themselves between decisions made by a doctor and her patient are overstepping moral and ethical boundaries—and undermining another professional relationship that is fundamentally different from their own."
So? How are you going to selectively administer hormone therapy without violating doctor-patient confidentiality? No one in favor of this regulation has answered me on this. Hey, here's a thought: Don't like birth control? DON'T TAKE IT. Oh, and perhaps you should reconsider gynecology if you have a problem with women. (Just a guess, but I assume, as a gynecologist, you'll be interacting with them a lot!)

Also, gay marriage. The passage of Proposition 8 was surprising and upsetting for many, and now proponents want to retroactively enforce the ban on gay marriage, rendering all previously recognized (pre-Prop 8) marriages invalid. Way to be an asshole and change your story, folks. Luckily this has thoroughly disgusted California's attorney general, who is now urging the Supreme Court to void the proposition.

2008: the bastard year i never wanted*. (part three)

2008 was a pretty rough year. This is the third part of a five-part post on why it's been so bad for me personally. Please share your reasons, advice, condolences, or whatever in the comments. Also, read parts one and two.

3. Christian hypocrisy.
I suppose this isn't 2008-specific, but election years always bring out the extra-crazies. It's fine if you want to be Christian, but at least understand your religion. I'm an agnostic who has never touched a Bible in her life and I know more about the teachings of Jesus than many of his followers. For example:

a. Saying, "Oh, well, God will punish him/her for that!" is not a Christian virtue. To say that once someone makes a mistake, they are forever doomed to hell pretty much flies in the face of that whole thing about FORGIVENESS. Wasn't that why Jesus existed in the first place? Just because someone makes a mistake does not mean they are a wholly terrible person. Many people later feel remorse for their mistakes. But, oh, I guess once you fuck up, you're destined to hell. You get one shot, and that's it!

Also, to look at people who ARE able to forgive and deem them terrorist-sympathizers or whatever term applies is not very Christian, either. An Evangelical I know was mad that John McCain hugged one of the interrogators from his POW days years later. Terrorist! He's practically a MUSLIM.

b. Saying "I think Barack Obama is a Muslim and that's BAD!" has two levels of awful in it. He had a Reverend Wright Scandal. REVEREND. How can he be a Muslim and have a scandal involving his Reverend? And if he WAS a Muslim, when did xenophobia/bigotry get back in style?! Putting "I'm a Libertarian with theocratic and xenophobic leanings" on your Facebook profile does you no favors, it just makes you look like the biggest asshole known to man. All three of those are bad individually, but put them together and you've got a recipe for disaster. Also, I didn't realize there was a passage in the Bible calling radical American nationalism the one true way and proclaiming that anyone who looks different (Latino, African American or otherwise) is a foreigner who doesn't belong here. I guess the lesson here is, it's cool to be a non-American Christian who has been converted by missionaries, just so long as you stay in your own damn country.

c. Judging others when you've got a big fucking closet full of skeletons is pretty low. This guy I know is a so-called honest-to-goodness Christian who judges people like it's his job. To his current girlfriend, who had an abortion: "I don't hate you." Regarding the homeless man he begrudgingly gave money to: "Well, if he spends it on alcohol, he'll be going to hell." Dude, you had a three-year relationship with a married woman (oh, hey, his current girlfriend is married, too!). I'm pretty sure that kind of thing (premarital sex included) is more explicitly frowned upon in the Bible than people buying things they can't afford (otherwise most Americans are in trouble).

d. Laughing about the prospect of an Obama assassination is not very Christian, either. Seriously, I'm a better Christian than the ones who not-so-secretly hope he dies or refuse to accept him as their president. Karl Rove is probably one of the most evil men alive, but I don't wish death on anyone. I guess it's because I'm such a bleeding heart compassionate tree-hugging liberal. As if that's a BAD thing!

2008: the bastard year i never wanted*. (part two)

2008 was a pretty rough year. This is the second part of a five-part post on why it's been so bad for me personally. Please share your reasons, advice, condolences, or whatever in the comments. Also, read part one.

2. The terrible economy is probably (hopefully) why I am still unemployed.
What a time to enter the professional world as a fresh-faced (read: inexperienced) aspiring ANYTHING. I knew it was going to be tough, but I didn't realize it was going to be so bad that I can't even get internships or clerical work. It kind of makes me wonder why I worked SO VERY HARD in college. Why I worked hard in high school to get into a good college, then worked even harder in college to graduate with distinction. Look at all these rewards! Pfffth. A waste of time, as far as I'm concerned. I should have majored in something useful, like civil engineering. Studying PEOPLE? Unnecessary. SOCIETY? Useless.

I don't mean to belabor the point, but I really worked my ass off in college and I'm bitter. I spent night after night pulling 12-hour study sessions at the library, drinking buckets of coffee to stay awake, forming calluses from recopying page after page of notes so that the information would be seared into my brain. I woke my clinically depressed ass up (almost) every morning to get to class on time, I forced my socially anxious self to speak in big, scary lectures so I could get participation points. I studied something I was passionate about and learned about the economy and politics and food production and poverty and globalization and the media and international relations and everything involving people. And now? I can't even find work as a secretary. The fuck? I'm qualified, damn it. What's wrong with me?

I guess, in a less selfish way, it just points to how far from a meritocracy this society is. All too often, it doesn't matter how hard you work. It depends on who you are and who you know. Whether daddy can get you a job with his company, or you interview with an employer who was in your sorority and is thus a sister 4 life. This sucks for me, who has no connections but did well in school, but it sucks even more for the poverty-stricken child who can't even get a decent education no matter HOW hard they work, simply because they don't live in the right area of town.

And I've applied for, um, I'd say thousands of jobs. It's fine if you don't want to hire me, but could you at least get an intern to write a simple email saying, "Thank you for your application, but we do not have a position we believe best suits your skills at this time." (Unless it's a receptionist job, because that's just condescending.) Oh, and if you call me in for a second interview and tell me you'll notify me by the end of the week whether I got the job or not, please stick to your word. If you don't plan on ever speaking to me again, just say "Due to the high volume of job applicants, we cannot notify those who are not selected for this position" or whatever your preferred method of polite rejection. It's pretty shitty to just leave me hanging like that. Especially when I diligently fill out each and every one of your company-specific registration forms where each one needs a unique user id and password. Where you have to submit your formal resume and then manually enter each and every exact thing you have provided on that resume once more, just for good measure. I spent an hour filling out each one of your applications, and I even tailored my cover letter precisely to the job description to boot. Could you at least take five seconds to respond? I'm kind of appalled by the rudeness of people.

2008: the bastard year i never wanted*. (part one)

This has been one of the worst years ever save for one very huge, very amazing exception. Yes, Obama winning was one of the happiest moments of my life, and I still can't believe we actually did it. But while I would love for that fact to cancel out all the many bad things that happened in these last twelve months, it just doesn't. 2008 was wretched in so many ways for so many people, and we each have our reasons. This series, of which this is the first part, illustrates mine, in no particular order.

1. The economy sucks.
This country is in the dumps, economically speaking. So many people are struggling to afford health insurance, have lost jobs they once deemed stable, and/or were fucked over by evil lenders granting misleading loans individuals could not afford. And it's supposedly only going to get worse. Oh, and we have to bail these awful institutions out, too. Also? They're using our money to finance their partying (which they did the day after asking for another $40 billion, no less). I'm not saying the bailout was a terrible idea, because last I checked, not helping didn't work so well for Japan in the face of a similar economic crisis. I'll just call it the shit sandwich that comes with bacon, standing in firm opposition to the alternative: the plain shit sandwich.

in case you missed it.

A commenter of mine made the good suggestion that I should break my "why 2008 was miserable" into five parts so it's easier to digest. I'm going to do that, but I'll keep the longer version below, since I've received some good comments on it so far. So, sorry for the repetition, but the next five posts will be stuff you may have already read.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2008: the bastard year i never wanted*.

This has been one of the worst years ever save for one very huge, very amazing exception. Yes, Obama winning was one of the happiest moments of my life, and I still can't believe we actually did it. But while I would love for that fact to cancel out all the many bad things that happened in these last twelve months, it just doesn't. 2008 was wretched in so many ways for so many people, and we each have our reasons. These are mine, in no particular order.

1. The economy sucks.
This country is in the dumps, economically speaking. So many people are struggling to afford health insurance, have lost jobs they once deemed stable, and/or were fucked over by evil lenders granting misleading loans individuals could not afford. And it's supposedly only going to get worse. Oh, and we have to bail these awful institutions out, too. Also? They're using our money to finance their partying (which they did the day after asking for another $40 billion, no less). I'm not saying the bailout was a terrible idea, because last I checked, not helping didn't work so well for Japan in the face of a similar economic crisis. I'll just call it the shit sandwich that comes with bacon, standing in firm opposition to the alternative: the plain shit sandwich.

2. The above is probably (hopefully) why I am still unemployed.

What a time to enter the professional world as a fresh-faced (read: inexperienced) aspiring ANYTHING. I knew it was going to be tough, but I didn't realize it was going to be so bad that I can't even get internships or clerical work. It kind of makes me wonder why I worked SO VERY HARD in college. Why I worked hard in high school to get into a good college, then worked even harder in college to graduate with distinction. Look at all these rewards! Pfffth. A waste of time, as far as I'm concerned. I should have majored in something useful, like civil engineering. Studying PEOPLE? Unnecessary. SOCIETY? Useless.

I don't mean to belabor the point, but I really worked my ass off in college and I'm bitter. I spent night after night pulling 12-hour study sessions at the library, drinking buckets of coffee to stay awake, forming calluses from recopying page after page of notes so that the information would be seared into my brain. I woke my clinically depressed ass up (almost) every morning to get to class on time, I forced my socially anxious self to speak in big, scary lectures so I could get participation points. I studied something I was passionate about and learned about the economy and politics and food production and poverty and globalization and the media and international relations and everything involving people. And now? I can't even find work as a secretary. The fuck? I'm qualified, damn it. What's wrong with me?

I guess, in a less selfish way, it just points to how far from a meritocracy this society is. All too often, it doesn't matter how hard you work. It depends on who you are and who you know. Whether daddy can get you a job with his company, or you interview with an employer who was in your sorority and is thus a sister 4 life. This sucks for me, who has no connections but did well in school, but it sucks even more for the poverty-stricken child who can't even get a decent education no matter HOW hard they work, simply because they don't live in the right area of town.

And I've applied for, um, I'd say thousands of jobs. It's fine if you don't want to hire me, but could you at least get an intern to write a simple email saying, "Thank you for your application, but we do not have a position we believe best suits your skills at this time." (Unless it's a receptionist job, because that's just condescending.) Oh, and if you call me in for a second interview and tell me you'll notify me by the end of the week whether I got the job or not, please stick to your word. If you don't plan on ever speaking to me again, just say "Due to the high volume of job applicants, we cannot notify those who are not selected for this position" or whatever your preferred method of polite rejection. It's pretty shitty to just leave me hanging like that. Especially when I diligently fill out each and every one of your company-specific registration forms where each one needs a unique user id and password. Where you have to submit your formal resume and then manually enter each and every exact thing you have provided on that resume once more, just for good measure. I spent an hour filling out each one of your applications, and I even tailored my cover letter precisely to the job description to boot. Could you at least take five seconds to respond? I'm kind of appalled by the rudeness of people.

3. Speaking of rude: Christian hypocrisy.
I suppose this isn't 2008-specific, but election years always bring out the extra-crazies. It's fine if you want to be Christian, but at least understand your religion. I'm an agnostic who has never touched a Bible in her life and I know more about the teachings of Jesus than many of his followers. For example:

a. Saying, "Oh, well, God will punish him/her for that!" is not a Christian virtue. To say that once someone makes a mistake, they are forever doomed to hell pretty much flies in the face of that whole thing about FORGIVENESS. Wasn't that why Jesus existed in the first place? Just because someone makes a mistake does not mean they are a wholly terrible person. Many people later feel remorse for their mistakes. But, oh, I guess once you fuck up, you're destined to hell. You get one shot, and that's it!

Also, to look at people who ARE able to forgive and deem them terrorist-sympathizers or whatever term applies is not very Christian, either. An Evangelical I know was mad that John McCain hugged one of the interrogators from his POW days years later. Terrorist! He's practically a MUSLIM.

b. Saying "I think Barack Obama is a Muslim and that's BAD!" has two levels of awful in it. He had a Reverend Wright Scandal. REVEREND. How can he be a Muslim and have a scandal involving his Reverend? And if he WAS a Muslim, when did xenophobia/bigotry get back in style?! Putting "I'm a Libertarian with theocratic and xenophobic leanings" on your Facebook profile does you no favors, it just makes you look like the biggest asshole known to man. All three of those are bad individually, but put them together and you've got a recipe for disaster. Also, I didn't realize there was a passage in the Bible calling radical American nationalism the one true way and proclaiming that anyone who looks different (Latino, African American or otherwise) is a foreigner who doesn't belong here. I guess the lesson here is, it's cool to be a non-American Christian who has been converted by missionaries, just so long as you stay in your own damn country.

c. Judging others when you've got a big fucking closet full of skeletons is pretty low. This guy I know is a so-called honest-to-goodness Christian who judges people like it's his job. To his current girlfriend, who had an abortion: "I don't hate you." Regarding the homeless man he begrudgingly gave money to: "Well, if he spends it on alcohol, he'll be going to hell." Dude, you had a three-year relationship with a married woman (oh, hey, his current girlfriend is married, too!). I'm pretty sure that kind of thing (premarital sex included) is more explicitly frowned upon in the Bible than people buying things they can't afford (otherwise most Americans are in trouble).

d. Laughing about the prospect of an Obama assassination is not very Christian, either. Seriously, I'm a better Christian than the ones who not-so-secretly hope he dies or refuse to accept him as their president. Karl Rove is probably one of the most evil men alive, but I don't wish death on anyone. I guess it's because I'm such a bleeding heart compassionate tree-hugging liberal. As if that's a BAD thing!

4. Speaking of abortion: Idiotic legislation.
I am LIVID over this regulation honoring religious objections from pharmacists and doctors who don't want to deal with abortions and birth control pills. Okay, I get it if a doctor doesn't want to perform an abortion. He or she should not have to. But now they can refuse to refer a patient to a doctor or pharmacist who will. In fact, a pharmacist/doctor can refuse to provide ANY information to a patient if it goes against their morals. But only as it pertains to women's health! The legislation specifically talks about abortion only. Which is why it makes no sense that this regulation also okays pharmacists refusing to dispense contraception. Contraception is not abortion.

There are so many things wrong with this decision, it's not even funny. First of all, don't say you're trying to protect all medical practitioners' religious beliefs if you're only focusing on abortion and contraception. If you were concerned about all religious freedom, you would realize that many other religions have prominent beliefs that interfere with other common medications and write these equally stupid provisions into this awful regulation. Is it okay for a Scientologist pharmacist to refuse to dispense anti-depressants, because it's against their religion? Is it okay for a Christian Scientist pharmacist to refuse to dispense any medication? Is it okay for a Jew to work at a butcher shop and refuse to sell pork? Is it okay for a Jehovah's Witness to refuse to give a blood transfusion (it's against their religion!) to a critically injured patient, or even refer them or take them to a doctor who will?

According to this legislation, probably not. But why is our government valuing one religion's beliefs over another's? Don't Scientologists and Christian Scientists and Jews have the same rights to religious freedom as well? Why is it only Christians that get to have their beliefs "honored" in ridiculous ways? Doesn't the First Amendment prohibit enacting a law that respects an establishment of religion? Aren't you playing favorites with Christianity?

My second, more important point is this: oral contraception is not just used as birth control. Many women, virgins even(!), use hormone therapy (read: birth control pills) to regulate conditions such as endometriosis and ovarian cysts. This isn't even an issue of pain reduction. It's about REDUCING the spread of cysts or polyps. It's the only way to treat these conditions, minus a hysterectomy. I understand that pharmacists are not required to take the Hippocratic oath like doctors are, but their job is to dispense medicine that aids people's health. They make sure medications that have dangerous interactions aren't taken together, and they give you what a doctor has deemed necessary. Preventing a person from getting vital treatment means they aren't fulfilling their job duties. I'm guessing a Jew who refused to sell pork, or a vegan who refused to touch or sell any meat, would be fired from a butcher shop pretty quickly due to the fact that they were failing to meet job requirements. Why are Christian pharmacists being singularly sheltered?

I talked to a very pro-life Catholic about oral contraception for ovarian cysts (and other conditions), and he said that most Catholics are perfectly fine with taking medication for this purpose. Okay, so, it's alright to deny Susie her birth control if it's for pregnancy prevention, but not if she's a virgin with a medical condition. How on EARTH are you going to regulate that? Doesn't that violate doctor-patient confidentiality? Are you going to call little ovarian cyst Susie each day and say, "Are you having sex? If so, you need to stop taking those birth control pills under MY watch!" Are you going to conduct some ridiculous TEST to see if she's a virgin? (There isn't one.)

A Slate article I found uses this final point as the last pin in the coffin:
"The most important distinction between [doctors and pharmacists] has to do with their differing relationship with patients. The law recognizes that doctors' special relationships with their patients warrant a legal privilege: Their discussions are kept secret. You may like and trust your pharmacist. You may even trust him with intimate details about your yeast infection. But your pharmacist has neither the tools nor the right to probe details about rape and abuse, incest and health risks. Which is why pharmacists who interpose themselves between decisions made by a doctor and her patient are overstepping moral and ethical boundaries—and undermining another professional relationship that is fundamentally different from their own."
So? How are you going to selectively administer hormone therapy without violating doctor-patient confidentiality? No one in favor of this regulation has answered me on this. Hey, here's a thought: Don't like birth control? DON'T TAKE IT. Oh, and perhaps you should reconsider gynecology if you have a problem with women. (Just a guess, but I assume, as a gynecologist, you'll be interacting with them a lot!)

Also, gay marriage. The passage of Proposition 8 was surprising and upsetting for many, and now proponents want to retroactively enforce the ban on gay marriage, rendering all previously recognized (pre-Prop 8) marriages invalid. Way to be an asshole and change your story, folks. Luckily this has thoroughly disgusted California's attorney general, who is now urging the Supreme Court to void the proposition.

5. Death

This is another inevitability of life, obviously, but this year it has seemed especially prominent. There were the deaths of Tim Russert and George Carlin, two men I adored for their respective talents; the passing of Bernie Mac, who seemed like great family man; and Obama's grandmother, who died the day before he was elected. ONE DAY. Awful.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some others that really hit close to home, but I was most recently affected and disturbed by the death of
Jdimytai Damour, the Wal-Mart worker who was trampled on Black Friday. What a perfect symbol for our rampant consumer greed. We want what we want and we don't care what or who it hurts. Perhaps this is just a rumor, but I heard that people knew someone had been horribly injured, and they kept shopping. They were ANGRY about the holdup, about the need to clear the scene after he died. Honestly? An HDTV is not worth it. (It'll be standard in a few months, anyway.)

Perhaps most shocking, I know three people in one family (not mine) who are dying. Two are near the end of their lives and their ailments are relatively natural, but one woman simply collapsed last week and fell into an irreversible coma. She was young, in her forties, and the sister of a friend's stepmom. They just had Thanksgiving at this woman's house and everything was perfectly fine. And then she collapsed, never to regain consciousness. They just took her off life support and she has less than a week to live. She's already in a vegetative state. They don't even know what's wrong, really. Their guess is its some kind of viral infection in her brain.

So, with this last sobering bullet point, it's not my intent to be heavy-handed or to trivialize these deaths by listing them under me not having a job as explanation for why this year has been so awful. I guess my point is that life is so precious and uncertain, and people too often show a blatant disregard for others. We all know that certain things are inevitable: death, heartache, hardship, whatever, but we don't need to make personal relations another annoyance of life by treating one another like enemies. Why do we have to look at others with such immediate disdain? I'm including myself in this. I know I dislike many Republicans and Libertarians. I admit it, I'm a partial-hypocrite. But I like to think I always give people a fair chance. I don't judge people solely based on their political labels; I let them elucidate their beliefs before forming an opinion (or I try to). I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I at least make an effort to give people the benefit of the doubt. I try to be nice to strangers, and help others, and believe in the goodness of people (even though many of their actions suggest otherwise). I don't assume people on welfare are going to use that money for drugs or whatever. I don't assume the worst. It's one thing to be cautious and realistic, but it's quite another to be a misanthropic jerk.

I think the problem is that too many individuals regard life as a movie starring them. They're the main character, the most important one. Everyone else is simply a supporting actor or a tool to get their story to progress. They're looked at as fixtures, features, not real people with real lives. And, of course, the environment is just a backdrop. Not an ecosystem, but a setting. And things only happen when you're present. I guess I'm talking about a real version of The Truman Show. But life isn't like that at all. Each person has their own little life, a family, a story. The world does not revolve around you. (It revolves around the sun, but that's a terrible joke.) I know it's cheesy, and I'm devastated that it was made into a song for High School Musical, but we are all in this together. Maybe in 2009, we can start acting like it.

(Disclaimer: I'm doubtful. It's just a pipe dream from a weak, compassionate idealist. My problem is that I want the whole world to be humane with me, when I think the key to life is to surround yourself with the ones who actively share that desire.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

i look damn good with a beard.



(Note: the invisible pink unicorn pictured is not actually visible.)

i can't think of a pun.











I'm too lazy to think. Just look at these pretties, from Thread Social's Spring 09 collection. (That last one should be hideous. Maybe it is.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

you're still the best, you're still the best.

Get your pretty little asses over to Ivana XL's myspace and listen to her new song, "Mud". I adore it.

oh, life.



I'm at a point in my life where I don't know what I'm doing with myself. Since this has been such for a year now, let's take that point and, sadly, make it a plateau, or even a rut if you'd like. Part of this ambiguity means I'm not sure if I should be spending any money or not.

Though I thought I had come, seen (but definitely not conquered) enough of Portland for my current taste, the itch to move West has snuck up on me again. I know I should wait until I can find a job, but I hate the idea of sticking with something that makes me miserable, and that's how my pessimistic little mind has decided to view living in DC. I've been thinking of this scenario, where I got a job in DC and set up a little life, but in my current myopic view, all I can anticipate thinking every day is, "Can I move now? Is it time? NOW can I go? Please?" How did I get into this mindset? Well, I was trying to find good independent cafes and bakeries in the area, only to realize the city's lacking in these seemingly superficial aspects that actually say a lot about a place.

Compared to most animals, humans are pretty uniquely stubborn. Last I checked, animals learn from their mistakes. If they get sick eating a certain something, they stop eating it. But look at us, at ME. I'm in a routine I hate, and yet I stick to it. It's not like I'm expecting every day to be all sunshine and kittens, but I'd hope for a few bright spots, at the very least. I know a large part of it is my outlook, that we (I) determine how to perceive any given situation, but I'm thinking another part of it is my environment.

I have this amazing ability to argue any side of any case when it comes to deciding what to do or how to feel. For example, I can convince myself to sleep in no matter what important task I have to accomplish. Similarly, depending on my mood, I can rationally and effectively argue that I should suck it up and stay in DC or, conversely, pack up and move out.

I know last time I went west, I chickened out and went home way too early. My friend tells me if I had only stayed, pushed through my anxiety, I'd probably be happily set up out there by now. But I freaked out, flew home, and convinced myself it wasn't right. Or I convinced myself NOW that it WAS right. Which one is it? I can't tell.

An acquaintance of mine finally said "Fuck it!" and is moving to San Francisco at the end of the month. People tell her she's crazy, that she's making a terrible mistake, but at least she's going to try it out and see what happens. It's better to learn from your experiences than imagine lost possibilities. And that's the thing. Fair or not, I've been born into a life of certain comfort, where I'll always have a home to come back to. My parents would never abandon me. The problem is they don't want to hear something like this, something that's half-expected to be a failure. My parents are rationalists, not idealists.

Anyway, the whole point of this post was supposed to be about whether I should spend my money or save it for any big changes. Of course, saving is always ideal, especially in the midst of a recession. But I have this curious relationship with fashion, where I don't want to be left behind, where I want to fit in, look good, stay on top of things. I went to the mall today and, out of boredom really, went into several high-end stores where I felt abysmal. I was wearing Forever 21 while the others wore Marc Jacobs, or Chanel, or whatever. (In reality, they were wearing Uggs, but that does not fit into my self-constructed vision of reality.) And it made me react with a mix of self-consciousness and scorn for them. I was in Cusp, and I saw a mother and daughter shopping for party dresses, not blinking an eye at $700 price tags or Philip Lim labels. I know that, again, I'm the one choosing how to feel, but it evoked some really strange and awful emotions. I was both disgusted that they were spending that much money so carelessly (as if I haven't?) -- especially when there is poverty and malaria and famine -- and suddenly self-conscious. I felt like everyone was staring at me, telling me to get the fuuuuck out, because I obviously could not afford anything in the store and thus must be of weak moral character. This kind of stuff is wretched. This is why I hate shopping.

On the other hand, there's no better feeling than self-confidence, and fashion can provide that too. I'm not out to rank any source of confidence as better or more genuine than any other, but it seems to me pretty sad that material goods are so often a quick fix. But then I think of things like Sofia Coppola's work and the worlds she creates and all the pretty people on Lookbook.nu and their film photography and bokeh and romanticism and it makes me want to engage.

Everything is so complicated.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

marcky marc.



I'm not usually head-over-heels in love with the work of Mr. Marc Jacobs, but I saw this bag in Nordstrom today and I will confess my heart did a little pitter-patter.

'Andy' Shopper, $1395.

my favorite new blog.

The Adventures of Penny Plastic is about a girl who lives reasonably but still has managed to accrue $22,000 in debt. She writes about why she shops, how she shops, and how she is cutting back on her expenses. It's fascinating and, as someone who definitely shops compulsively at times, good to know I'm not alone.

Step One: Keep a log of every purchase you make. It's definitely helped me. And while Penny doesn't like the website Mint.com for usability issues, I love the idea of it. Unfortunately, I just signed up and found out I've spent WAY too much money on clothes this month. Yikes.

cheep cheep!



You know how I really wanted that J.Mendicino pigeon vase from Three Potato Four? I just couldn't justify spending $60 on a vase, so I decided to buy his less expensive, much smaller Talking Sparrow vase instead. I received it today in the mail and it is so so cute. The pictures on Three Potato Four's site really don't do it justice, because the three dots next to the cut out sparrow are meant to signify its words/chirps/whatever. It retails for $35 and is 4" high.



Also, I did some investigating, and J.Mendicino has other series of vases available for sale on his website as well. Here are a few of my favorites:







Additionally, he has an etsy shop for one-of-a-kinds and samples, including these very cute squirrel vases:



So...that's pretty much all of J.Mendicino's work for you. You guys are lucky I'm so obsessive!

all quiet on the fashion front.

You may have noticed I haven't been writing much about fashion. This is because clothes are expensive and I'm trying to save money. The less I see fashion, the less I want fashion. THAT BEING SAID, here are some things I find divine and would not say no to:


Orange by Angela Chen skirt, available at Oak. Tiny fit means I don't have to get it tailored!


Church & State North Dakota blouse, available at Le Train Bleu. Right now it's on sale for the low low price of $206. (I'm kidding about that being low, youse guys!)


Lyell Star Top, available at La Garconne. How can a top be $425? Knowing this fact, how can I still want it?


Coat with Tulle skirt, available at Topshop. Probably cheap looking in person (it's only $160 and the fabric ain't looking so hot), but I love the idea of it.

Is there anything you guys and gals have been coveting, clothing or otherwise?

bullets - my only weakness! how did you know?


I COULD NOT RESIST.

{kitten zine by gemmabear}

Also? Vice's Do's and Don'ts for animals. (Not exactly, but the same inane "how could you be so fucking fat, you stupid baby?" type of commentary.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

on second thought...





Seriously, AA? I knew you were all about the ironic 80s/90s throwback but I do believe you've crossed a line.

that didn't take long.


{via i can read}

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

i want your babies, jon.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Je t'aime, Sofia Coppola



Sofia Coppola is so awesome. I love this. It's hard to make an adorable perfume commercial, but she DID! (I HATE the Lancome one with Kate Winslet...is it trying to be a deliberately over-dramatic throwback?) Anyway, she's one of my favorite directors and everything she touches oozes with her aesthetic. AND SHE'S SO ON TOP OF THINGS! Brigitte Bardot music, check. Cute french girl, check. Amazing bike, check. Amazing dress, double check check!

PERFECTION, part two.



{via garance dore}

Monday, December 8, 2008

my christmas list.



I like to think my current position (unemployed and living in my parents' houses rent-free -- thanks dudes) has been especially humbling. For awhile, I really didn't want a single thing beyond a job and peace on earth (ha!). But the internet got the best of me, and I'm sort of obsessing over these housewares:





1. melamine ladybug tray, $32 at threepotatofour
'Cause as much as I like to think of myself as an elitist east-coast librul, I love sitting in front of the teevee and noshing. At least with this tray, I'd look cute doing it.


2. get in here poster, $25 at mylittleunderground
This poster is all over tumblr/ye olde blogosphere. It's simple, but it works.


3. stackup 5x7 print, $16 at photobird's etsy shop
I love me some "it's the little things in life" photography.


4. wire eames chair print, $15 at perlaanne's etsy shop
If you've been reading my blog for more than a day, you know I love simplicity. Oh, and having a picture of an Eames chair totally gives you design cred in my book.


5. 6" ceramic pigeon vase (the big one!), $60 at threepotatofour
Do I even need to explain this one?


6. Manhattan poster by Jim Datz, $48 at threepotatofour
Just a super cute poster.



Speaking of posters, For Me, For You just blogged about this amazing poster that my grandparents used to have hanging in their summer home in the Adirondacks. I used to stare at it for hours, no joke. That little A-frame had the best kitschy 60s furniture. Too bad they sold it (with furniture) a few years ago.

{photo credit}

Sunday, December 7, 2008

winter wonderland.



The cherry blossom girl's photos of Paris at Christmastime are amazing. See them here.