Sunday, March 3, 2013

I've Moved

I finally got a domain name! I'll be posting about my experiences in Albania, among other things, at my new blog: I'll keep Ramblings around in case you want to read about wedding stupidity, Samoans, or rave names again, but I won't be posting here anymore. :'( It's been a good run, Blogger!

Monday, February 25, 2013

My Little Brother Ranks the Pac-12 Mascots

My 16-year-old brother Ethan is awesome. He has a 4.0 GPA, is so fluent in Spanish that he speaks better than his teachers, and can play just about any song on the guitar.

Ethan & I at da beach
But being awesome is about the only thing E and I have in common; I'm actually amazed that we get along as well as we do. Some regular topics of conversation with Ethan include: his goal to look and act just like Edward Cullen, complaining that they don't sell his favorite skinny jeans at H&M anymore, and asking, "Have you heard of [some screamo band]?" And while it's widely known that other members of our family (mostly me, but also my dad) care too much about sports, Ethan could not care less. Just a few examples...

[During the Super Bowl] E: "...That's LaMichael James?!"
Me: "Yes."
E: "What?! I thought he played for the Ducks!"
Me: "He got drafted a year ago."
E: "What does that mean?"
Me: *facepalm*

[Watching a commercial] E: "...Who's that guy?"
E: "...Who?"
Me: *facepalm*

Me: "Hey, you should watch the Stanford game with me tonight!"
E: "No, I'm gonna go see Twilight again with my friends."
Me: *facepalm*

You get the point.

I'm not a huge college hoops fan, but I do enjoy watching everyone foam at the mouth over their brackets every year. The other day at the gym a Syracuse game was on TV, and I caught a terrifying glimpse of the mascot, Otto the Orange. I've never really understood what the creators of college mascots were going for: are these guys supposed to be endearing or ferocious? Accurate representations of natural creatures, or cutesy cartoons? Whatever they're shooting for, most mascots just come across as either so far-off that they're in a plush fantasy world of their own, or so close to actually looking real (especially in the case of human mascots) that they're unsettling.

As March Madness gets closer, I've been thinking about how nonsensically crazy-creepy college mascots are even to people who "get" sports, so how crazy-creepy must they be to those on the outside, living in worlds where it doesn't matter who the NFC North champion is? I decided to get Ethan's reaction to the mascots of my dear Pacific-12 conference and have him rank them from best to worst.

12. The Stanford Tree

The Shrub
The Tree

E: "What the...?"
Me: "Their mascot is technically the Cardinal, but that's a color, so the band made the Tree."
E: "That's so retarded. Why don't they just get a new mascot?"
Me: "Some seasons they have a Shrub."

11. USC Trojan

Notre Dame v USC

E: "One word: GAAYYY"

10. Utah Utes, "Swoop"


E: "...Isn't the 'swoop' the Nike symbol? What is that?"
Me: "No, you're thinking of the 'swoosh.' And that's an eagle."
E: "...Why? I thought they were the Utes? [groans]"

9. UCLA Bruins, "Joe Bruin"


E: "That's just a bear. What is a bruin supposed to be?"
Me: "A baby bear, I think."
E: "Well shouldn't they be the Cubs? Baby bears are cubs. That doesn't make sense."

8. ASU Sun Devils, "Sparky"


E: "That guy just looks like a douche. Also, is he wearing a leotard?"

7. WSU Cougar


E: "He looks drunk. Like, all the time."

6. Arizona Wildcat


E: "You can tell he's a smoker, just look at his teeth. Is that a pirate hat?"

5. OSU, Benny Beaver


E: "...Is their mascot a nerd?"
Me: "No, it's a beaver."
E: "Oh! I thought it was a nerd. Because of the buck teeth."

4. Cal Bears, "Oski"


E: "[immediately bursts into laughter, says nothing]"

3. Washington Husky


E: "Awww, he's cute."
Me: "What about the human version?"
E: "It looks...real, but like in a bad way. The eyebrows are so...bushy."

2. Colorado Buffalo, "Ralphie"


E: "That doesn't even look like a buffalo. It looks like a monkey with horns."
Me: "To be fair, they have a live one too."
E: "I guess that's pretty cool."

1. Oregon Duck


E: "GOOO DUCKS!" (he said this exactly like the LTD guy)

Even though my brother doesn't care about sports, he's not guess is he chose the Ducks for first place because he assumed I would hurt him if he didn't.

Personally? I would've picked the buffalo. SO badass.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


"You've gotta stop calling each other sluts and whores. It only makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores." - Ms. Norbury (Tina Fey), Mean Girls

Recently, I've had an epiphany.

I don't understand the word "slut" and I never have. Not only do I mean that it is derogatory, judgmental, and sexist, but I'm literally saying that I do not understand what it means. I mean, I kinda know what it means, I've been to middle school before. But the longer I live and the more contexts I hear it used in, the less the concept of a "slut" makes sense to me.

If you ask Webster, he'll tell you that a slut is "a slovenly or promiscuous woman." Webster's drug-addled cousin, Urban Dictionary, describes a slut as "a woman with the morals of a man." Personally, I am not satisfied by either of these definitions, mostly because I am literate and have a properly functioning brain. "Slovenly" and "promiscuous" are pretty vague words, how do I actually use them to determine who is a slut and who is not? What types of acts qualify for "sluttiness"? Kissing? Sex? Anything in between? (I've heard people called "sluts" for doing all of the above.) How frequently must said subject engage in such acts to be a slut? With how many partners must said slut-candidate engage to qualify? Is there a benchmark figure? Five partners? Ten? Fifty? As a person who likes to know how to properly use words, I am confused.

Secondly, let's all take a deep breath and lower ourselves into the deep crevasse that is the prejudice and stupidity of whoever submitted the previously mentioned definition to Urban Dictionary: "A woman with the morals of a man." (Unfortunately, I have seen this quote made into a meme on Pinterest a lot.) I happen to know many men, and they all have completely different value systems. Just a few examples: I know a guy from Mississippi who addresses his grandmother as "ma'am." One time one of my beefcake co-workers microwaved a dead bird. My little brother doesn't like to call girls "hot" because he thinks it's disrespectful. Another dude that I know forged a letter from his boss to get into Penn State. My point? Every man is not the same, regardless of the fact that they have similar genitalia, when it comes to women or scholarship applications or animal carcasses. So, the hell does that definition hold up when I know men with "better" morals than a lot of women and vice versa?

I have heard the word "slut" thrown around by many people in my lifetime, and I have concluded that there is no universal definition. Here are the instances where I've heard people (mostly girls and women, again) called sluts:
  • That girl is really popular and I heard she did this thing with this guy in the parking lot behind the playground. She's a slut.
  • That girl is dating the guy I like. She's a slut.
  • I used to date this guy but we broke up and he's dating her now. She's a slut.
  • I heard that girl cheated on her boyfriend. She's a slut.
  • That girl is really pretty and posts revealing pictures on MySpace and has a lot of guy friends. She's a slut.
  • I like this girl, but she's way out of my league, and she's dating some other guy instead. She's a slut.
  • I used to date that girl but she broke up with me, I don't even know why, [possibly a perfectly legitimate reason] and now she's dating all these other guys. She's a slut.
You'll see a common theme in all of these scenarios. They all involve a) unconfirmed rumors, b) assumptions, or c) JEALOUSY.

Based on this information, here's what I've determined is the actual, practical definition of a slut (n): A person--most likely a girl or woman--that engages in social behavior any given individual doesn't approve of. Bottom line, a "slut" is just a girl you don't like! It has nothing to do with who she did what with or how many people she did it with or how she dresses or whatever. You just hate her and want to call her something dirty, and so we made up this word that has no real meaning and throw it around whenever we're angry or jealous or presumptuous.

Don't buy it? Think about it this way: we all have friends that might actually be considered "sluts" by some people. I know which friends of mine would fall into that category. But we would never call our own friends sluts because we like them! At most, you just roll your eyes and say, "There goes Kelsey again," when you're out one night and Kelsey is hanging all over some dude. You might express concern over her actions or intervene if she was doing something potentially dangerous, but you would never put her down over her number or frequency of partners or the way she looks. (Assuming, of course, that you are a good friend.) I've noticed that we would never speak about our friends' personal lives the way that we speak about the personal lives of those we don't know or don't bother to get to know.

There's a reason that "slut" is used mostly by teenagers. It's juvenile; why do you care what some girl does? She's going to have to face the consequences of her actions anyway, calling her a slut isn't going to do anything to help either of you. She's prettier and more popular than you? Build some self-esteem. She stole your boyfriend? Well your boyfriend wasn't worth dating. She won't date you? She's probably not right for you. Just move on, don't waste time mouthing off. This isn't The Crucible; you might as well call that girl a witch. Calling someone a slut is just an immature, outdated way to put someone down. And if you must use it, at least admit that it's just because you don't like her so you're going to use her sexuality as an excuse.


If you don't agree, I hope I've at least given you something to think about.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Obsessions, Part 1: Samoans

Be my Valentine?

I fell in love with my first Samoan man at age 14.

I was at EFY ("Especially For Youth") in Salt Lake City, a co-ed church camp for kids aged 14-18 with my friend Mallorie. To paint you a picture of what I was like at 14: I was a torrid combination of chubby, awkward, impressionable, cynical, and stubborn. (Yes, I just described every 14-year-old girl ever.) In addition, I wore the same outfit nearly every day: Chuck Taylor Converse (always my leopard hi-tops or navy low-tops), ill-fitting jeans, mens' T-shirts with cartoon characters or band names like "From Autumn to Ashes" on them, and little to no makeup because I didn't have a clue how to do it. I've never been boy crazy by any standard, but I thought constantly about having a boyfriend then because, well, I was a freshman in high school--what else was I supposed to think about? I didn't have the goals and priorities that I do now.

Unfortunately the whole "I'm better than you and I refuse to participate in your inane icebreaker activities and when you force me to do so I'll roll my eyes and complain to my friend the whole time" attitude, combined with the chubbiness and lack of a clue on how to present myself, did not help me in the getting-a-boyfriend department. There weren't too many boys at EFY that caught my eye, anyway. But there was one guy that befriended Mallorie and I that didn't have the "I expect you to act a certain way because we're at church camp" M.O. that was common at these types of functions. Chad would come and talk to us while we were off being cooler than everyone else, and I grew to be really comfortable around him. But this story isn't about Chad (or maybe it is, to some extent)...

If you've never been to a Mormon camp before, just know that--in addition to capri pants, chunky blonde highlights, and awkward side hugs--there is a lot of eating and dancing. "Dancing" meaning standing a foot apart with your arms touching and swaying back and forth to heavily censored R. Kelly songs. If anyone gets too cozy, a chaperone will step in and remind you, "Three Book of Mormons apart!" There were dances pretty much every other night at EFY, to encourage the boys and girls to get to know each other, and since we weren't 18 yet, there wasn't the obvious cloud of pressure to get married hanging over us. I suspect dances were probably fun for people who were not 14-Year-Old-Me. Mallorie, who was and always has been uniquely beautiful, was asked to dance almost every song, while I played it cool in the corner, acting like I didn't feel uncomfortable standing by myself.

It was the last night of EFY, and our last dance. It was a fancy one with balloons and cute little cakes to eat and punch to drink. I had on my best outfit: a black-and-white flower patterned A-line silk skirt, dress sandals with a slight heel, and a magenta top. While Mallorie was dancing, I hung out with Chad (who was going through a similar awkward 14-year-old stage) as we surveyed the crowd. "Are there any guys here you like?" he asked me.

I blushed. "Yeah," I admitted. "But he doesn't even know I exist."

"Who is it?!" Chad demanded.

"Randall," I whispered.

Everybody at EFY that year knew Randall. It was impossible not to notice him. He was muscular, with caramel-colored skin, warm eyes, a wide white smile, and cool bleached blonde hair. Besides standing out physically, he was nice to EVERYONE. Each time I passed him between classes and activities and parties, he was smiling or giving handshakes or hugs or entertaining a group of admirers. And he was Samoan, the first Samoan person I had ever met. For the talent show night, he taught the other 18-year-old boys the Haka, which I'm pretty sure is Maori for "the manliest, sexiest tribal war dance in existence." I was completely transfixed. The more time I spent at camp, the more I fell in love with Randall from afar. This was the first time of many in my high school career that I silently set my heart on a guy that was much older than me, not to mention out of my league, and ignored any other candidates that would have actually been attainable.

Chad was a good guy. Such a good guy that, as soon as I admitted my Randall crush obsession, he sprang away and said, "I'll be right back." The blood rushed out of my face as my heart stopped. I immediately feared the worst: he was going to find Randall and tell him about my crush obsession. Why would he do that to me?! As soon as Chad pointed to the wallflower 4 years younger than him, Randall would laugh and ask some fake-baked platinum-haired chick hiding her push-up bra under her scoop neck top to marry him. She would then strut around with a princess-cut engagement ring and serve chocolate fondue at her wedding reception in the church gymnasium.

But to my surprise, Chad strode around the crowd of smiley hands-off dancers, grinning, with Randall in tow. "This is my friend I was telling you about," he said, gesturing to me. Randall burst into a smile and hugged me immediately. I was paralyzed; I couldn't speak.

"Would you like to dance with me?" he asked. I nodded, stupefied. As Randall led me into the crowd, I mouthed to Chad:


Of course, Randall was an amazing dancer and he smelled just as amazing. He had an ice blue dress shirt on that mixed beautifully with his dark skin and eyes. I was literally shaking as we danced, and I hoped he didn't notice. Randall was the definition of a gentleman: polite, interested, confident, and respectful. I don't even remember what we talked about as we danced. It was an out-of-body experience. Those four minutes were the most exhilarating of my 14-year-old life. (Until a few months later when there was a chance I could meet Michael Phelps.)

Randall embraced me again after the song ended, said, "Nice to meet you," and we parted ways. I could say that we kept in touch after that, that we wrote each other and talked on the phone and when I came up to visit one spring after I reached the legal age of consent, he proposed and we had a big Samoan wedding and I had a bunch of half-Samoan babies who grew up to play for the Green Bay Packers. But that would be way too boring. I wouldn't be able to entertain you with all my uncomfortable antics if my life was that predictable.

Instead, that memory with Randall instilled in me a lifelong love of Samoans. When I find out that someone is Samoan I like them approximately 500% more. If a guy tells me he has Samoan heritage I abandon my usual aloofness and shyness and make it clear that I would follow him to his beautiful island home the minute he asked. I am head-over-heels for The Rock and his tribal tattoos, and I yelled "SAMOA!" every time Lavasier Tuinei scored during the Rose Bowl. Some might say that this fetish of mine is racist (I guess I need to go back to the 6-hour diversity training we all sat through when I worked for the University of Bleeding Heart Oregon), but I have yet to meet a Samoan that wasn't as wonderful as Randall. It's the culture, it's their attitude about life and treating others well, it's the cheekbones and the muscles and the great skin. When it comes right down to it, I just can't help but love Samoan men.

If only I didn't exist...then I'd be perfect for Manti Te'o.* ;-)

Too bad he plays for Notre Dame :-/

*At least seven of my friends said this exact same joke to me after that story broke.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Low-Cal Super Bowl Eatz for Ya Girl

When the holiday season rolls around, everyone's always making a big fuss over how so many people miss "the true meaning of Christmas." Well, Christmas isn't the only holiday ruined by having the wrong attitude. Maybe it's because I follow so many diet-related accounts on Twitter and Pinterest, but lately so many people seem to be missing the true meaning of the Super Bowl. This is NOT a day that we are meant to fuss over counting calories or pat the grease off of pizza with a paper towel or wear restrictive clothing of any type. This is an American tradition, arguably as much as Christmastime. So do it right!!! Lounge on the couch/recliner/barstool (except, of course, when you rise & thrust your arms in the air to yell "TOUCHDOWN!"), eat satisfying quantities of delicious foods, laugh whenever Ray Lewis starts dancing, and comment on how insane Jim Harbaugh gets after every penalty. I'm sick and tired of reading articles like the following:

The Big Game is tomorrow, but since you're a lady type, nobody expects you to actually pay attention to the football part. You'll be watching for the funny commercials, the opportunity to bask in Beyoncé's glory for 20 minutes, and, of course, to get attention from your bf and his friends even though there's a chance--like last year--you'll drive them insane because Chad went to school with the quarterback of the red team and wants "TO WATCH THE DAMN GAME SO SHUT UP, CHARLOTTE!" Most of the country will be planning their Super Bowl parties based on this philosophy: "What goes better with capitalism, pop music, and watching grown men pummel each other than saturated fat?" UH-OH! You gotta stay slim, sweetie, or else your bestie will start dropping hints about the muffin top peeking over your True Religions! (Don't want the club manager Alessondra to spread nasty rumors that you're preggers again either.) Luckily I've got a few tips on how to make healthy, low-cal/low-fat/low-carb, high-protein, high-fiber, omega 3 fatty acid-rich, organic contributions to your SuperB party menu.

First things first: some of your bf's beefcake friends are bound to bring greasy, vile contraband through your door. DO NOT GIVE IN TO TEMPTATION, AT ALL COSTS. If the smell of hot wings becomes too tantalizing, if those nachos are looking extra cheesy, just: Find. The. Cheerleaders. They should be in every shot of the game, if the producers know their target audience (i.e. men who want to look at beautiful women, and women who want to envy beautiful women). Look at her abs. Does she look like she eats anything fried?! Do you think she ever uses food for "enjoyment"? Do you think she complains about her hourly meal ration of 5.5 almonds and a quart of filtered water? No, no, no. She is your inspiration. (And don't worry about the lack of beautiful women during the commercials; Kate Upton and Bar Refaeli are sure to make appearances.)

And now for some totally yummy recipes & their healthy makeovers!!!

"Bacon" & "Cheese" Wrapped "Tater Tots"

The original recipe calls for frozen tater tots, Tabasco sauce, cheddar cheese, and bacon. If you're watching your figure (Uhhh, always!), use:

10 Tater tots Organic brussel sprouts soaked in filtered water w/ a hint of lemon
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce Sea salt
10 small cubes of Cheddar cheese Filtered, conditioned oxygen
10 strips of Bacon Smug satisfaction

Sprinkle sea salt over brussel sprouts, then layer with succulent oxygen. The smug satisfaction really gives it a kick of flavor, as the other girls at the party stare enviously at you for being so disciplined!

Frito Pie w/ Texas Chili

Can't deal with the jiggle that corn chips, beans, and hot sauce will inevitably add to your hips in the postseason? Check out the totally do-able substitutions I've provided:

2 pounds of ground beef
6 ancho chiles
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons corn meal
4 cups of Fritos
1 cup of shredded cheese

Replace all ingredients with nothing. (If the bad food isn't on your plate, you won't eat it! Genius, huh?) But if you want to indulge a little, throw in a half a banana too. ;) Try not to think about all 13.5 grams of carbs you're consuming. Treat yourself, girl!

Nutella Caramel Hazelnut Brownies

This one's a toughie. These bad boys are sooo good, you'll look like Khloe K. by the end of the night if you're not careful! (And then you'll need to marry a super-sized NBA player like Lamar to make you look smaller.) Here's a foolproof formula for taming your tastebuds:

1/2 cup All-purpose flour Sand
1/3 cup Cocoa powder Coffee grounds
1 cup Sugar Tiny shards of glass
1/2 stick of Unsalted butter Staples
2 large fresh Eggs Sea urchins
1/4 cup Nutella (nobody would dare replace Nutella with anything)
Hazelnuts Rusty nails

If the brownies are physically painful to consume, you'll eat less of them. Ta-da!

Hope you enjoyed my tasty tips for this SuperB Sunday. Have fun cooing "awww, is he okayyy?" every time a player gets hurt, asking "whaaat? what's happening?" every time a referee says anything, and loudly admiring Beyoncé's physical traits, hoping that your bf will assure you that you're prettier.


*FYI: If any of the above recipes (not the parody ones, I hope) sound amazing to you, you can find them here!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What's Your Rave Name?

The One Where I Went to A Rave:

It was June 2009, during The Worst Summer of My Life, and I was a fairly innocent freshman. I had just moved home to Vegas to work a couple jobs during the break, and that very week a friend of mine invited me to hang out one day. He, another friend of ours, and I met up at In-N-Out (naturally) where they informed me we would be going to a rave that night. I had been to college parties before, but none as large and intense as I imagined raves to be. "Where is it?" I asked.

Friend 1 shrugged. "Some warehouse downtown," he said.

"Do we know anyone that will be there?"

"Just [a friend from high school], he's the one that invited us," Friend 2 responded.

"Oh...well, am I even dressed right for something like this?" I raised my arms to reveal a black silk H&M top, whitewashed bootcut jeans, black flats, and a large turquoise tote. The boys just shrugged again, confused as to why I would think my outfit choice was relevant to the situation. I realized that, based just on my initial attitude, I was already not cool enough to go to a rave.

I went anyway. If it were my first legit rave in any other situation, I would've given it a little more thought, but the guys I was with were a) good friends of mine and b) Mormon, so it wasn't like they would get blackout drunk or OD on some purple things a guy gave them in the bathroom or go home with some girl with gauges and a glow-in-the-dark leotard or something. We got to the warehouse--large, dark, and looming with graffiti on the outsides--where a short line began forming at the door. Everyone immediately had to pee (naturally), so we ducked into a nearby Del Taco. On our way out the guys got hungry looking at the colored fluorescent menus (naturally), so they got a few burritos and we sat and ate for about a half an hour. By the time we left and went back to the warehouse, the line had exploded. We managed to find High School Friend and some of his rave buddies, so we did that thing where you're not actually "cutting," you're just hanging out in line with people you know as the line creeps along and pretty soon you realize, Oh, hey, we're at the door, we'll just go in with you!

For those of you who have never been to a rave, this is all you need to know: Every single rave stereotype is true. I was getting a few odd looks from people in tutus, knee-high socks, cornrows, painted faces, false teeth, pacifiers, whistles, bikini tops, and glo sticks for MY outfit, which looked like it belonged at a Rick Santorum campaign rally. This was not helped by the fact that Friend 1 and Friend 2 had removed their shirts, which appeared to be customary for male rave-goers. I wish I had been able to go home and change because I felt like an idiot. And yes, a lot of people were high. I wish I could go into detail about what kind of drugs they were or were not doing, but I don't know anything about drugs (which has provided my Oregonian pothead friends with endless amusement) so I won't be of much help there. By the way, is it "popping Mollys" like the girl's name or "popping Malis" like the country in western Africa? In case you haven't realized this by now, I am very, very uncool.

Inside, the warehouse was divided into several rooms. In the largest, there was a short stage with a DJ spinning out dubstep, house, techno, and other types of music I don't really care about. People were dancing everywhere; High School Friend handed me some glo sticks and we all joined.

My rave experience was a blur, and I wasn't even on anything, I was just too busy staring at everyone's outfits and taking lessons on how to spin my glo sticks and trying to look like I belonged even though I was dressed like somebody's mom. Eventually I just decided, hey, I was at a rave so I might as well make the most of it. I climbed into a cage and danced with a guy in leather shorts and biker boots, which amused Friends 1 & 2 very much. High School Friend had brought some fancy gloves with built-in LED lights and gave everyone close-up light show performances that are supposed to look beyond amazing when you're trippin'. At one point we started talking ("talking" meaning screaming at each other over the music, of course) to one of High School Friend's friends, who told us that in the rave scene everyone has a "rave name," or a code name of some sort that they use only at raves instead of their real name.

"What's your rave name?" I asked.

"Chocolate," he replied. He was black. Friend 1 & 2 and I later shook our heads over his lack of creativity.

My boyfriend at the time called me, and I answered my phone with, "I'M AT A RAVE WITH [FRIEND 1] AND [FRIEND 2]!"

He just replied with, "Don't touch anything. I'll call you later." We broke up a few weeks afterward.

Right before we were about to leave, and Friend 2 pleaded, "One more song," I noticed a girl dancing on the stage. She wasn't just dancing--she was literally throwing herself around to the music. Her hair was in long, ratty braids (a sick attempt at growing out dreads?) and she was wearing a skin-tight leopard print body suit. I was instantly shocked and impressed by how violently she was dancing. Mid-song, she stopped and jumped into the pit of people in front of the stage, right in front of us. And of course, since I stuck out like a sore thumb, she made a beeline for me.

"HI!" she said to me, grinning wildly under her crazy hair. I noticed that she was completely covered in sweat. "I'm Noodle! What's your rave name?"

"Um..." I began, "Kat?"

"CAT!" she exclaimed. "RAWR!" She made a claw with her hand and pawed at me. Then started dancing, just as violently, not exactly with me--it was more like she was dancing at me. Friend 1 and Friend 2 found this hilarious, and I was left with no choice but to dance right back at her until she got distracted and we headed for the door.


I ended up having fun that night, which is all that matters. I learned to stop worrying if I stood out because of my clothes, or if I wasn't wasted, or if I wasn't able to dance to the weird-ass music they were playing. Bizarre experiences like this have served me well when I'm in unfamiliar surroundings.

So thank you, Leopard Lady, in advance for preparing me for when I'll repeatedly find myself out of my element in Albania. I'll know to just dance back at you and try to have fun.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My New Year's Resolution is Better Than Yours

The sun rises and sets 365 and 1/4 times before the Earth reaches a complete revolution around the Sun, and a lot of stuff has happened on this little planet between those 4,540,000,000 journeys.

At midnight this Tuesday, we begin a new orbit, assuming that a meteor doesn't crash into us. (And if that were the case, the government would assemble a ragtag team of dudes led by Bruce Willis who would save everyone, so don't worry.) 2012 will become 2013. Despite all the symbolism people attribute to it as far as new beginnings and resolutions go, the new year really means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. That is, unless you own a gym (in which case you should expect to profit from impressionable fat people looking to drop $$$$ on the use of communal stationary bikes until mid-February) or a frozen yogurt bar (in which case those same impressionable fat people will resist the urge to eat their feelings until mid-February).

I don't think I need to spend a lot of time convincing you that New Year's resolutions are futile because they don't really work, because we all know it. The reason for this is that they are based on the following mentality: We assume we'll be better at [weight loss/saving money/less stress/not picking at split ends/laying off the liquor] because culturally a new year gives us a "clean slate," but despite that our brains haven't actually been conditioned to learn the skills necessary to reach these goals. In addition, when it comes to resolutions we tend to expect nothing but perfection beginning on January 1st, and once we make a mistake we feel that we've ruined it and just give up. The beginning of a new year is, in reality, just the beginning of another new day--why not live each day with a resolution? Why wait for a four-digit-number to dictate when we make a change?

Most popular New Year's resolutions are completely off the mark because people are out-of-touch with what makes them happy in life, or what makes those 365 and 1/4 day-increments "good" years or "bad" years. Losing weight, getting out of debt, curbing negative thoughts, attempting to salvage one's over-processed hair, and not drinking a bottle of white Zinfandel in bed alone every night are all good goals to have that can increase our quality of life. But if we don't ever achieve them, then what's the point?

I've been making resolutions since I was about 14, and I could never stick with them. I find that it gets depressing. So I'm making a resolution about resolutions: This year, I resolve to do good things, but specifically good things that are attainable, that don't involve box-checking or scales or measurements. I really just want to point to 2013 and say, "Yeah, that was a great year." I know myself, and I know how to make that happen, and it probably has nothing to do with a jeans size or a bank account or how shiny my hair is.

The following are some of the most common New Year's resolutions that I've turned upside down with my new mindset:

  • Get Skinny: I'm about to leave the United States for 27 months, and that means leaving cheeseburgers, burritos, curry, pizza, barbecue, sushi, subs, fried chicken, frozen yogurt, mozzarella sticks, enchiladas, wontons, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, Oreo truffles, get the picture. Why would I get on that plane without relishing all the foods I love beforehand? And why would I turn up my nose at the delicious Mediterranean cuisine my host family will serve to me in Albania? What good is it for me to stress over calories-from-fat ratios when basil, feta cheese, braised lamb, olive oil, and baklava that I've never experienced is within my reach? Bring on the Peace Corps 15, I know I can lose it later.
  • Get Rich: I already know this year will not be about making lots of money, since I'll be in a volunteer position, and that my student loans (which thankfully I can defer because of my service) will be waiting for me in 2015. But the good news is that I have PLENTY of experience in being poor. (When I say "poor," of course, I mean the upper-middle-class-white-person version of poor, not the real version with the no food and stuff.) You could probably say I'm an expert in being cheap and grumpy. Being poor means people can't ask me for money (unless you work for Greenpeace on a college campus), which is great. Not having a lot of money to spend means less distractions and less responsibilities. A good situation to be in when you're a single 23-year-old trying to soak up the world before real life starts.
  • Get Busy: I'm interested to see how I'll deal with leaving a culture that is so obsessed with work and productivity and appearing "busy." When I ask RPCVs (returned Peace Corps Volunteers) for advice about my service, the most common answer is to take it slow and soak up my experience without worrying about the grunt work. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm really bad at taking just about anything "slow." I guess this will be the part of my anti-resolution that doesn't come so naturally.
  • Get "It": More than a few people actually resolve to get a boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife in the coming year. I find this to be a little desperate, because I am a firm believer that those things occur only when you are content with yourself--as evidenced by everyone I've ever known who has participated in a healthy relationship. As I've made the decision to be a PCV, where I will be far away from anyone I've ever known, my goal is to fall in love with myself. As sad and cliché as that sounds, I want to get to know me a little better, learn how to deal with myself when I'm a cranky bitch, and figure out what I really want and need. (Naturally, I want to take myself to dinner and give myself presents, too.) But then there's this.
My life is going to change drastically this year, so I figured my approach to life could stand to change too. I'll see you in 2014 possibly a little thicker, scrappier, and hopefully happier.