Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Night Struggle

I think I was born in my mid-fifties. I mean, it makes sense. I enjoy wine, the BBC, farmers markets, and I balk at the idea of uncomfortable shoes. But more importantly, I have a real problem going out. I mean, I'm not a hermit, I can leave my house, I don't have a fear of people or anything, well, not much of a fear, but I don't do well going out in a social sense, as in, going out on a Friday night. It's not that I don't have friends. I have friends. A couple of them. And it's certainly not that I don't enjoy drinking. Oh, I deeply enjoy drinking. I just tend to enjoy doing it in a place where my bed is just a short stumble away. And yes, that will lead to some awesome evenings of drinking alone in front of my computer. But there are advantages to that. One, no one gets to make fun of you as you get progressively drunker and sloppier. Two, it's cheaper, and in this economy that's good news. Three, you can dance around your room and not be concerned about the other people judging. Not that I would do that. Ever. And if I did it certainly wouldn't be to MGMT's Time to Pretend. Awesome song.

Anyway, the point is that lately I have had a difficult time leaving my haven of cheap wine and terrible movies. I go out for a drink with a friend and halfway through my second vodka tonic I'm buzzed and sleepy and I want to go home and watch Bones on hulu. It's not that I don't like the person I'm with, or the vodka, but the public nature of it all makes me itchy. I think when you have been groomed and manicured your whole life to be an academic and you spend your college years at not-Yale you get a little uneasy when told you should be relaxing. It's simply not part of the training. Being actively social is a real struggle if it's something you didn't know you had to do until the age of 18.

People ask me about the dating scene here and I never quite know what to say. The truth is that while we here at not-Yale are good at a lot of things, exploring the twists and turns of a novel by Salman Rushdie, categorizing Post-Modernist art as a movement, splitting an atom (We've got a particle accelerator, don't tell not-Harvard!) we are not good at being human beings. We certainly aren't good at being human beings in the presence of other human beings. The urge to talk academia is uncontrollable, we discuss Kierkegaard and the social implications of marxism at parties while other people our age discuss- well, I have no idea what they discuss, I don't know those people. Alcohol only makes our opinions on Stravinsky and John Locke that much more adamant and enraged. I don't know that it's healthy for 18 to 21 year olds to get quite so upset about 18th century Japan, but whatever, I'm certainly not entering that battle. The east asian studies majors are FIERCE.

So I prefer to struggle on my own, in the warm glowing light of my computer sipping Yellowtail and enjoying the flickering images of my netflix. Pathetic? Perhaps. But at least I'm not the one in the bar screaming about King Lear.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Struggle With The Past

There is something very deeply troubling happening in today's youth. I'm not talking about drugs and sex, no, all that's fun and fine and healthy. No, I'm talking about something much darker and scarier and more painful. I'm talking about something pervasive and wrong. I'm talking about bringing back retro fashions that were so heinous the first time they should be struck forever from our sight. I'm talking about the giant glasses.

My mother has a distinctive way of speaking, and when she sees things that she finds amusing or absurd, such as women in their fifties who dye their hair colors never before found nature, she calls that "impossible hair". When she sees very tall people they are "impossibly tall". When small dogs have sweaters on they are "impossible dogs". I think you see the point. So I am here and now calling out against impossible glasses. I've seen a lot of strange trends from the seventies this past year. First there were the odd haircuts, with the strange bangs and layers. Fine, I said, that could work, that could be cute, I'll go with it. Then there were the wide legged pants. This article of clothing makes me look like I went for a swim in some fabric, but fine, taller thinner women then I could do this, sure. But this glasses thing, it's too much. They are just too large. This is beyond the Buddy Holly, this is the Starsky and Hutch, the Charlies' Angels, the college photos of my parents. These glasses aren't screwing around, they are here and they plan on dominating the face, taking no prisoners, they will not rest until all look bug-like and strange. It's like the cast of Animal House has made a comeback.

Now, look, I'm not an idiot. I know that there is a recession on and that it's important to cut back on spending. But does that have to mean raiding the eyewear of the cast of Star Wars? And yes, I have heard that the kids today are into vintage. But does that have to mean a dramatic increase in the face to glasses ratio? What else will we be reviving from that illustrious period in American History? Nixon? Kent State? A re-invasion of Cambodia? Will not-Yale kick me out on the eve of my graduation for being a girl? (Clearly that last one would be the most chilling.)

I'm all for personal style, and I'm even a proponent of vintage looks. Full skirts and kitten heels? I'm there. Mad Men? Excellent show, excellent style. Nor do I unequivocally support the way we dress today, remember cropped tops? But I will say that one of the benefits of the modern age is the strides we've made in our eyewear. So I beg, I implore, I demand that the revolution of the impossible glasses cease and desist. Why must we overturn thirty years of progress just so some hipster can channel a preying mantis? I'll calling it right now. Impossible glasses=a struggle.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gym-Time Struggle

So in the last week I have read something like 5 women's magazines in as many days. I'm not particularly proud of this, but it's something I've been up to. I read these in the gym, on the stair-stepping machine, and if I don't have a magazine I go a little nuts. I tried to read Ibsen's classic mythical play Peer Gynt on the elliptical and it did not go particularly well. After a particularly strange passage in this surreal Scandinavian epic when the protagonist Peer is chased through a bog by his troll girlfriend/baby mama I promptly fell off the machine. Luckily, the gym was full and lots of people saw. So I'm sticking with these women's magazines, even though I now have 5 different opinions on what is wrong with my body. I'm planning on believing them all.

But the most troubling thing about these magazines isn't their advice on men and dieting, though I now am aware just how to please my man on every possible level and improve his orgasms, because the male orgasm is just that tough to achieve. No, the worst thing coming out of these magazines is undoubtedly the fashion advice. For example, one magazine has a section called "Lust/Must" pairing similar items of different prices and having the reader guess which item is more expensive. Which, well, the difference is usually about fifty bucks, so I'm sorry to both the prada booties and the gucci booties but I wont be buying either of you this season, mostly because booties is something unacceptable to be wearing past the age of two. The strangest thing about these sections is that they try and convince me that I want either of these items when I patently do not. This month a magazine I will call not-Allure tried to order me to adore purple python as a pattern. Which frankly to me sounds like nonsense because that's not a real thing. Purple python doesn't exist, it's not real, you can't find that in nature. There's regular python, that's around, it's brownish green. I'm sure there's even white somewhere, isn't that what Britney Spears was wearing in one of her thousand come-backs from insanity? But no purple. Somewhere a python is like, "What, will nothing I do be good enough for you people? No, no, I will NOT let this make me eat".

The point is, I can deal with the other advice, ludicrous as it is, because it seems to want what is best for me. Ultimately, I do want to be happy and healthy and hey, if I can someday look like Heidi Klum, well, that's just awesome, let's be honest. I would like to "snag a man" (Thanks, not-Cosmo!) and "perfect the smoky eye" (Thanks, not-Glamour!) and I'd be lying if I said I didn't. But I don't want to look like an idiot, and that's the only way I see me in purple python going. Also, apparently glittery clothing is in, which I can't support at all either.

As I exited the gym, proud of my new-found confidence in rejecting the sage advice of the good people at not-Allure I was smacked in the head by the moving arm of a nearby elliptical machine. If that's a sign, I'm not planning on paying attention to it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Struggle Begins

My friend Andrew and I have developed something really quite special. It's not a new term per se, but rather a fresh spin on a tired favorite. Let me explain, you see, Andrew and I are in our final year at a fairly well known university, let's call it, not-Yale. And though not-Yale is known for many things, latent historical racism, classicism, elitism, and general douche-baggary through the ages, the attractiveness of it's student body is not among them. Now, this is slightly unfair to the few students who take the occasional vacation from the library to pant their way over to the gym and the still fewer who make full use of their parent's credit cards to purchase couture instead of drugs and booze like the rest of us, but in general I would say that not-Yale is not where the beautiful people live. While the competition for grades may be cut-throat the competition for best dressed is non-existent. And we are comfortable with that. The overwhelming expectations of our peers and parents is easier to take if you never have to put on real pants. Also, we don't tend to sleep much, hence the rise in sales of adderol and pajamas here in Connecticut. I appreciate all that, in fact, I've come to adore it. The expectations are so low that breaking out a skirt means constant compliments on how pretty and put-together you look.

However, there is casual and then there is homeless. It was the observation of a series of new lows in general appearances which led Andrew and I to our brilliant discovery, and, ultimately, our new approach to life. I'm sure you will have observed yourself that every once in a while you will see someone on the street, not a street person, just to be clear, but a human being who seems to be fairly adequately monied and cared for, and you just want to go up to them and say, "oh, honey, NO. No to everything happening with you and this outfit right now. Just, no". Now, sometimes it isn't about the outfit. Sometimes it's the look in their eyes, the screaming desperation which makes you just want to hand them a paper bag and say "Breathe into this for a while". This, my friend, is a struggle. This person, they are a struggle. They epitomize struggle. They are the platonic form of struggle. And the thing is, the more Andrew and I looked, the more we found. A young lady in heels, pearls, and sweatpants. A sweaty young man taking a running leap over a puddle the size of Lake Michigan. A wild eyed law student literally barricaded into their seat at the library by a fort of constitutional law books. An un-showered hipster attempting to pay for their coffee with their student id. Anyone in a scruchie. The struggle was everywhere.

Now, luckily for me the pettiness within my own vocation, Theater Studies, has prevented much exterior struggle on my part. I tend to be clean, moderately well groomed and mascara-laden here at not-Yale, mostly because theater classes are some of the only places in academia where staring at your classmates is not only encouraged, but required. So I had always thought of myself as someone who, if not totally ideal every day, at least could keep shit together on a regular basis. But as I contemplate my life beyond this university I realize, that may well be a complete and utter lie. I am in every way a struggle.

Let's look at the facts, shall we? No job prospects, as few people if any are even hiring right now, and certainly the term "Theater Major" evokes little to no respect. No interest in grad school quite yet, so there goes that tried and true escape route. As of May I will have no plan, very little money, and my old room at my parent's house. I'm single, I have no chance of a large inheritance, and I stole my bike from my mother. Additionally, I feel totally without shame when I carry my i-pod in my bra should my outfit not have pockets when I am shelving books in my current capacity as library assistant. Yep, sounds like a struggle to me.

And so I think I will be spending some time getting to know and love the struggle that is myself. To all those reading, if there are any at all, please enjoy my ramblings and ruminations on my own mildly pathetic but always entertaining adventures through my struggledom. At the very least, they should make you feel better about your own. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to shelve some books and think of something to say to my supervisor should he notice that there is an i-pod growing out of my right breast.