Saturday, December 13, 2014

I Despise Colons

As you may have noticed from previous posts, I have a lot of strong feelings about punctuation. I do a little happy dance every time someone uses an em dash or semicolon. Knowing when to use a comma is like finally being in a stable relationship. A good question mark never hurt anyone (unless it follows the phrase, "will you give me that $100 you owe me?"). But there is one piece of punctuation that I can never get behind. And that, my friends, is the colon.

I mean, just look at it. Is that not the ugliest piece of grammar you've ever seen? It's atrocious. It's like someone had a basket of extra periods and just flung them around the page willy-nilly. If grammar had celebrity counterparts, Jillian Michaels would be the colon. And she's just plain scary.
Up until this point, I could kind of ignore the colon and pretend it never existed. However, my English professor loves colons. It got to the point where he would look at an em dash on my paper, raise his eyebrow, and go "why isn't this a colon?" And I'd be all "because my reader is not an idiot, and I don't feel the need to announce every time I'm about to present idea." Except I didn't, because, y'know, grades.

When I begrudgingly revised and slapped a few colons onto my essay, my professor actually drew a heart next to each colon. A grown man loves this punctuation so much, it's made him transform into a teenage girl.

Seriously though! Can someone please explain to me what is so likeable about the colon? Perhaps it's organized and is all "hey guys, here's a list of important things, please stop playing Angry Birds and listen up," but the Nazis were organized too, and they went ahead and slaughtered 6 million Jews.

So what we should take away from this is that every colon is a Nazi. Glad you're coming with me on this one.

Think back to when you were in third grade and had to present a report on dogs. You'd be all "I like dogs. This is why I like dogs: they're cute. They're cuddly. They're nice to me." That is what the colon does. It makes you look like you're a third grader who cannot combine ideas. 

Colons make it impossible to make an essay flow. It's alarming. And honestly, you're just gonna let your reader down. Your essay is going "hey, reader, hey. A really great idea is coming up. Hold onto your hats, you're going to be blown away by this idea!" And then they read the idea and they're all "that was a mediocre idea." They'd probably be thinking it was a good idea if that stupid colon didn't get their hopes up!

The colon is the grammatical equivalent of getting a really ugly sweater from your Aunt Tina. You cringe a little and say "oh that's nice," while secretly wishing to slash every ugly sweater in the universe.

So for the love of all things grammatical, please stop using colons. It's hurting our future as writers. It's hurting our reputations. The colon is killing our souls.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

True Life: I'm Addicted to Perfume

Once upon a time, there was a 19-year-old college freshman who had like, two bottles of perfume. She decided it probably wasn't logical to go on $50 spending sprees at Bath and Body Works, and that the whole investing in the future thing was a better way to spend her money. Everyone was all "hey, look how mature you are, saving up for your future and realizing material goods aren't the path to happiness!"

How cute, 19-year-old self. Now fast forward two years.

Somehow, in the course of two years, I've managed to go from having two perfumes to acquiring thirty. I am not even exaggerating. I could literally go a month wearing a different perfume every day. I mean, my skin has gotten to the points where it's so confused--it doesn't know why it smells like lavender one day and "noir tease" (what does a noir tease even smell like??) the next. The top of my dresser is sprawling with vanillas and coconut, and it's slowly encroaching on my earring tree, which as anyone knows, is a very sacred space! I mean, it's a problem, which involves getting into my earring addiction, but we'll save that for a later time.

The thing about my perfume addiction is that it started from a mere desire to have a collection. When I was little, I had a stuffed cat collection, and everyone congratulated me on my dedication to beanie babies. My fourth grade class was just so impressed by my 75 cats, and always wanted to come over to my house to use me for my material possessions play with them.

So I figured that I would start a new collection, and my friends would be equally impressed by my dedication, and my roommates would be racing into my room, dying to try my new vanilla bean perfume, and they'd go "Kira, you are the queen of the fragrance-universe, let me bow down to you and shower you with admiration!"

Okay, so perhaps I've embellished on my expectations a little bit. But you get the idea.

As it turns out, people are a lot less impressed by collections when you have to go forth and be an adult. Because *gasp* having a collection requires no skill whatsoever. You just go into a store and buy a lot of shit, and then you have a room full of too much of the same thing and a pile of regrets. Like, congratulations, you have too much stuff and no money! How impressive!

So some things that worked when you were ten don't work when you're twenty-one. Noted.

But why perfume? Why not collect elephant figurines, or something even slightly more unique?

A wise question, dear reader. I commend you on your curiosity. As my roommate Maria observed in her blog, my feet have this tendency to smell. Instead of smelling of roses or vanilla, or something equally appealing, they just smell bad. According to Maria, "they smell like a moose that vomited." The whole foot odor problem has improved since last year, but in a mad dash to not scare humans away from me, I bought every perfume ever to make the rest of my body smell like Christmas cookies and love. So as soon as people catch a whiff of my sneakers and start to hate my very being, the smell my arms and instantly forgive me. Or, at the very least, aren't utterly revolted by my foot hygiene (yes, I do wash my feet, the world just hates me).

Now that the foot odor problem has ceased, I just feel obligated to buy more perfume. I feel it's a personal attack on Bath and Body Works if they come out with a new fragrance and I'm just like "lalala don't care." And that's just rude.

Obviously if you're not impulsive with financial spending, you're a rude person. That's a perfectly logical conclusion to come to.

So, until further notice, I will continue to acquire perfume until my collection falls of my dresser and I start drowning in vanilla.
The latest victim


Friday, December 5, 2014

How to Holiday, the Cynic's Edition

With Christmas approaching, there is the inevitable stress of oh my God I have to get into the holiday spirit right now! Since we've all had 11 months of being normal cynical, miserable humans, it's time to hop back on that holiday bicycle and frosting-coat our misery with too many cookies and eggnog. Of course, it may take a little time and effort to get back into the holiday cheer, so I've compiled a list of tips on how to holiday:

1) Resolve to lost ten pounds over the holiday season. Sob every time you see a platter of cookies, and when you cave and eat one, eat twenty more because hell, you already broke your diet. Become so depressed that you can't commit to your diet that you end up gaining fifteen pounds, only to resolve to lose thirty pounds come New Year's Eve.

2) If you're in a relationship/married, fight over whose family gets you guys this year. When you try to convince your SO that you'll go to his house next year, become bitter and resentful when he says "but you said that last year," and refuse to talk to each other for a week. Eat Christmas turkey in bitter silence as you each go to your respective family's homes and try to convince your SO that you had so much fun with your cousin Carl, even though you both know you were miserable without each other.

3) Take an angry stance against holiday shopping, then panic when you don't have gifts for anyone a week before Christmas. End up fighting other holiday shoppers to the death until you get that Xbox your brother so desperately wanted, only to discover that two other people got him the exact same thing.

4) If you're single, cry every time you see a happy couple holding hands and wearing Santa hats. Convince yourself that couples are 1000% happier during any given holiday, making you 1000% more miserable in your singleness. Watch corny Netflix movies and cry yourself to sleep every night. Note: This step usually goes hand in hand with step 1.

5) Drink too much wine during Christmas dinner and start dancing on the table. Extra points if your grandmother is there.

6) As a result of said wine, challenge your family to a dart game and try to convince everyone that you're a champion dart player. Then do this: (true story)
7) Write cryptic Facebook statuses, either about how alone and depressed you are, or about how great life is and you are so #blessed. Really you should do this all year, but really try to outdo yourself during the holiday season. Remember, the more hashtags, the better.

8) Convince yourself and others that gifts are soooo overrated and that you don't need material goods to be happy. Then silently hate others for getting more gifts than you.

9) If your parents are divorced and they both want you to spend Christmas with them, instead of spending time with either of them, curl up in a corner in your room, plug your ears, and go "lalala I can't hearrrrrr you!" That way, everybody loses.

10) And if none of that puts you in the holiday spirit, repeat step five for the rest of eternity.


An Open Letter to Helicopter Parents

Like with any generation, millennials get a multitude of labels: we are the "selfie generation," the "me, me, me" generation, the generation that's forgotten the art of face-to-face conversation. While this is all true to a degree, I wanted to cover a generational phenomenon that isn't primarily our fault, and one that needs to go away, like, now. That, friends, is the helicopter parent. Obviously you need to hover around your kid and make sure they learn how to be, y'know, people when they're young. You're not helicoptering your five year old, so don't freak out and accuse me of making good parents seem like royal asshats. In this particular instance, I'm talking about parents of kids in their late teens/early 20's.

Glad we got that straightened out.

The tricky thing about helicopter parents is that no one believes that they are one. I may not be a parent, but I have (too) closely observed the helicopter parent/kid relationship. I understand that this constant hovering around your kid is well-intentioned--you just want him to succeed and you feel that he lacks the maturity to make good life choices, and without your incessant nagging gentle guidance, he will fall flat on his face.

Your instincts are probably right on this one. He will, inevitably, fall on his face. He may flunk out of a class, or drink too much vodka one night, and, being a teenager and all, he will probably be more enthused by the immediate rewards of video games, rather than the long-term rewards of college. It's hard to see those you love most fail--especially when it's been pushed down your throat that you are Superparent; it's your duty to stop this failure, to make your child the next president! I've had the strong urge to motivate past boyfriends to go forth and be upstanding citizens, so I can only imagine how much stronger the instinct is with your child.

 While I understand that parents are looking out for their kids because there's much more competition for college and employment, there's a fine line between encouraging support and helicoptering. And when you cross that line, the incessant checking-in is actually going to deter your kid from being motivated to do well. Under the assumption that you've raised an intelligent, capable kid, I'm going to suggest that your child knows he has an English paper due in a week. He knows that his teeth will rot if he goes through all of college without seeing a dentist. The hard part of parenting should be over; you've given your kid the tools to succeed, and ultimately, you just have to step back and see what he does with said tools. This advice may contradict every single instinct you have, but do you really think that following every chemistry assignment your kid has is going to ensure his success? Is it really worth it when your kid gets into Harvard, but you're the one that lead the whole college search?

This not only adds a lot unnecessary stress to your life, but it's bound to make your kid feel like you're living his life for him. Sure, he's achieved a whole lot, but are they actually his achievements when you're scuttling behind him, sweeping up every little mistake?

I may be far from a "normal" real-life example, but just bear with me here. Having been raised by non-helicopter parents, from the time I was 16, my parents and I had a pact that the basic rules were "don't fuck with hard drugs, stay in school, and don't get pregnant." I made other mistakes, and my parents were less than enthused when I showed up with ink all over my body and a chain-wearing boyfriend, but I'm living to tell the tale, so something must have worked out. Somehow in the midst of my immature life choices and overly hormonal boy obsessions mistakes, I took charge of my own assignments, woke myself up for school, and even made myself dinner on occasion. Obviously I'm proud of my accomplishments because I chose the direction that I wanted to go, but I'm also extremely grateful that my parents let me fail. If I hadn't had those experiences, I would feel like an academic machine, or simply an extension of my parents.

After receiving a not-so-hot grade on an exam, I met with my professor. Instead of giving the usual "study harder" spiel, my professor noted that this generation is so afraid of failure because we know it will destroy our parents. Unlike last generation, we see failure as the end of everything, rather than as an opportunity to learn and grow. Part of this stems from the societal pressure to be superhumans, but it's also due to the fact that well-meaning helicopter parents are so invested in their kids lives, that they see this failure as their own. So you're not only pushing your kids too hard, you're pushing yourself as well. And that adds the kind of stress that no one can live with comfortably.

It's normal to want your kid to do well. But at some point, you have to shift from hovering-parent to the one in the sidelines who is cheering on your kid. Your child will probably fall harder if you step back, but he will feel more pride in his successes when they come from his own motivation to do well, rather than out of fear of disappointing you, or from getting fed up with your nagging. And I promise, just because you step back a little bit does not mean he will end up homeless, in a ditch, so just relax. You got through the hard part. Now you get to enjoy watching your kid turn into a super cool human who accomplishes shit and then you can resent him for being smarter than you, and all will be right with the world.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

If Shakespeare characters had Facebook

So after spending a semester reading various Shakespeare plays, I get that Shakespeare is timeless and relevant to modern day society--I understand that my high school English teachers have been right all along, that classics never die, blah, blah, blah. I've even enjoyed relating certain Shakespeare plays to my own life. But what really got to me was Much Ado About Nothing. For those of you who haven't read the play, basically this guy really fancies this one girl, and his friend is all "hey, I'll get the girl for you, since you're too scared to go up to her and be a person." And the guy with the crush goes "thanks man, that would be swell." Then the other couple just shoots insults at each other, basically making Shakespearean "your face" jokes until they realize that oh wait, that means they love each other, who would have thunk it.

Basically, everything that happens in this play also happens in high school, minus the constant texts and Facebook updates. But it made me wonder what would happen if Romeo and Juliet were able to tag each other in posts, what would happen if Falstaff could post Buzzfeed quizzes on his wall. If Shakespeare characters lived in the 21st century, what would their social media look like?



November 20th: "Baking pumpkin pie with the most beautiful girl in the world, Juliet Capulet! Babe, I'm sooo lucky I met you last week, and can't wait to bake you pies for the rest of my life!"

November 21st: Romeo Montague>Juliet Capulet: "I love you, Julsie! <3 #whereforartthousobeautiful"

November 22nd: "Ugh, why are parents such asses? Can't a guy just marry a girl already?"

November 23rd: *posts One Direction song on Juliet's wall*

November 25th: "Btw guys, I'm not dead, just pretending to be for love and all that. Juliet Capulet <3" 

November 20th: "Sometimes I wish I could just slip away from the universe..."
*concerned friend posts comment*
 "God, why can't people just leave me alone??"

*emo Green Day song lyrics*
*more emo song lyrics*

November 20th: *posts Thought Catalog article 10 signs she's cheating on you* "maybe someeeebody should look at this."

*when nobody comments on said Thought Catalog article* "F*** this, I'm done. I need somebody new to talk to. Iago hmu for poker nightttt."

"What is love? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more." 

"So over girls! I need a woman in my life."
"Awful day...don't ask me about it. I just need to be alone." 
*wonders why no one responded to previous status.*

November 20th: "Just got done with my shift at McDonald's! Who wants to hit the bars tonight?"

November 25th: "Everyone's getting married and becoming kings and I'm just like LOL who wants to drink tequila shots tonight?"
December 1st: "Who needs to rule a kingdom when you can have 500 calories worth of eggnog instead?"

Somehow, the characters seem a lot less mature and sophisticated when they start speaking in text speak. All I can say is it would've saved Romeo and Juliet a lot of grief.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

On Higher Education: Just Do It (But Not Right Now)

As a college student, I've noticed a lot of things that irritate me: early morning classes, slow buses, and bad coffee, to name a few. But the one thing that drives me into a frenzy of rage every time is the fact that there are so many students who refuse to put the work into their classes, who see college as four years of binge drinking, who don't want to be there. It baffles me that so many people would spend thousands of dollars on something that they could easily do for $20 at a bar.

Putting yourself in massive debt just to get any old degree slapped onto your name may seem cool now, but it's not gonna be so cool when you can't buy that sweet new car because oh wait, you have to pay off your college loans. 

Why are you here? Why? I mean, it's great that you're making it easier to get an A in classes and everything (honestly in some classes you just have to show up and you impress the pants off your professor), but you're also decreasing the value of a college degree. Plus you're making that whole hope for humanity thing a little more difficult.

The thing is, however, that thousands of people didn't just suddenly get the idea to hop out of high school and throw themselves into college life without considering what college even meant. There's this new expectation that going to college is simply the next step, a branch of high school. And the percentage of people who actually want to be in high school is VERY VERY LOW, thus making the percentage of people who want to be in college the same. Classes turn into a competition of who can not do the reading more, and who can sit in silence and make awkward eye contact the longest.

During my first semester of freshman year, the one girl in my class who raised her hand to answer questions and seemed, y'know, enthusiastic about school, literally got mocked and picked on by at least half the class. That doesn't just make class miserable; it's straight up cruel. The fact that we have to tell adults not to bully the Hermiones of the world is really depressing.

So to the people who don't want to be in college, guess what? You don't have to be. Go party every night for a year until you get sick of throwing up jager shots. Go get a part time job at a restaurant and suffer through bad tips and obnoxious customers. Go on Breaking Bad marathons until your eyes bleed. You're an adult. You have the freedom to choose how you want to live your life--even if your parents strongly encourage you to do the whole college thing, they can't force you to.

However, while my original thought was that some people just aren't meant for college, I've had somewhat of an attitude shift in the past year. The biggest difference in college that I've noticed is that you don't just learn a bunch of facts and spit them back out on an exam (well, sometimes you do, *cough science cough*); you learn to think critically, to think outside yourself, to have a different worldview.

In my Women's Studies class, I had already established that I was well versed in feminism. It made sense, seeing as a was a woman who had experienced varying degrees of sexism in the past. But when we looked at institutionalized racism and how race affects our experiences as people, I realized that up until that point, I was a "yeah girl" of racism: I knew it was bad, I was all "yeah, that really sucks," but I hadn't stopped to think about how it feels to be a racial minority, to experience racial injustice every single day.

And really, I wouldn't have thought this way until somebody pointed it out to me. It didn't make me a bad person before; it just made me a little more uneducated.

My point is, if you can financially swing it, you should go to college. Just not immediately. We're a generation of right nows, but in the end, that does more harm than good. Are you really going to remember what that one professor said about literary theory when you were blacked out the night before? It's amazing how much more the brain can remember when you actually want to be there and are eager to learn. Sure, it sounds cheesey, but I think we can all afford some cheese when we're shelling out $20,000. At some point, you will be ready to go to college. Maybe it won't happen until you're 60 years old, in which case, go when you're 60.

Every single returning adult student I've met has been excited to do the reading, to go to class, to just be there. Honestly, it's refreshing. And I give them mad props for setting a livelier tone to the class.

If you have the opportunity, go to college. But don't fall into the expectation that everyone's ready for college straight out of high school. That's kind of like saying you're ready for a 27 mile marathon right after a jog around the block.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Don't Knock it 'Till You Try it: Pessimism

So, for the most part, I'd consider myself an optimist. I have an annoying habit of seeing the best in people and try to correct cynicism by telling people to do yoga and drink water (as those closest to me know, when they come to me with a problem, the first thing I will tell them to do is drink water). But the LAST thing I'd be able to do is pretend that life is beautiful, la la la, I never have a bad day ever. While yoga and this whole growing up thing has taught me to be able to breathe through negative thoughts and realize that this too shall pass, I am adamant in the belief that being able to ignore your negativity 24/7 does not make you a better person. Sometimes, you just have to indulge yourself in your hatred of that annoying person who chews gum too loudly or the fact that Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off" plays literally everywhere.

Let's pretend I don't secretly love that song, okay?

I've had this belief for quite some time, but I thought it was perfectly portrayed in Passenger's "I Hate":
My first thought when listening to this song was "this is hilarious; it's pure gold. Why isn't this as popular as Let Her Go?" I mean, I think everyone can relate far more to the disdain of public bathrooms than being all dramatic about love and loss and blah, blah, yadda, yadda.

Not that love and loss aren't important, but that's been done to death. It's nice to relate to a popular singer about hating annoying Facebook statuses like "hanging with my #mcm!"

Like with everything in life, pessimism is best done in moderation. I'm not saying the world would be a better place if we constantly complained about how terrible our lives are, but on the flip side, it's equally annoying to be surrounded by people who are just. so. happy. and refuse to acknowledge that on occasion, it's fun to indulge in life's suckery.

Just as Passenger says, "Yeah I laugh, and I live, and I have love to give/but sometimes all you can do is hate."

When I got back from Shoshoni, I was convinced that if I exuded any sort of pessimism, that meant I'd failed as a spiritual person. I'd claim that spiritual people don't stay in bed too long and moan that work sucks, that they feel fat that day, that if one more person asks them where they're going to school, they'll scream!

Bad days exist for a reason. If I can't give myself a day to cry and watch too much Grey's Anatomy, my "optimism" will soon turn into "biting sarcasm towards anyone who exhibits any sort of happiness."

Sometimes, in order to give and love properly, you just have to hate. It doesn't mean you fail as a person. It just means you're a person.