Monday, April 11, 2011

Why censoring is f-ed

I work with small children, I understand why we should watch our mouths in public. They're little sponges. The other day, a four-year-old told me I was an asshole for telling him to stop talking during a movie.

I also went to school for journalism, so I can appreciate the freedom of speech and am weary of censoring information.

However, this is not a debate on the merits of censoring or not; it's a critique on how censoring has gone horribly wrong.

In case you've been living in a cave for the last six months, Rihanna has a new song called S&M. That's stands for sadomasochism, people. Here's a peek if you haven't seen it:

The song is actually quite catchy. It took me a while to realize what she was actually singing about. S&M isn't my thing, but I can at least appreciate the song. The other day I found myself singing along with the radio when I had to stop and listen again, without my voice horribly out-singing my girl Rih.

Lets be real. The lyrics such as "chains and whips excite me" should have been what shocked me, but it was what the radio station cut out instead that made my jaw drop.

Here's the chorus:

"Cause I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it. 
Sex in the air, I don't care, I love the smell of it. 
Sticks and stones may break my bones, 
But chains and whips excite me. "

What I was dumbfounded to hear was that the big, bad S word had been censored. That's SEX. The woman is talking about getting whipped in bed and the radio station censored the word SEX!

If you were going to censor the song, DON'T PLAY IT AT ALL! Do you really think taking the word SEX out of the song will make it more socially acceptable? It's a raunchy song. Period.

I'm not saying it shouldn't be played on the radio, I'm simply suggesting some intelligence in deciding what Cumulus thinks the public should hear. "Sex" is the least inappropriate part of the song.

All I know is that when I'm not surrounded by four-year-olds I'll be singing the real words as loud as I can.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Why it sucks to lose

... or as Stephanie Thrasher would say, "It sucks to suck."

I guess I got my first big dose of failing today. I'm not one to talk about feelings, but I think getting this out in the open will help.


Ok, that didn't hurt so bad. No ... it still does, but at least it feels good to say it.

I have been applying for Teach for America for well over two months now. I passed three rounds of interviews and faced hours of interrogation from yuppy-ass Yale graduates about my thoughts on "educational inequality." I'm pretty sure no one who went to Yale knows where Thorndike, Maine is or went to school in trailers, but that's besides the point. (I'm still a little bitter. Ok, a lot bitter.)

The real story here though, is the fact that I've waited a whole month to hear back about my in-person interview that took me two previous interviews to get to. Today, I got the fated, "We're so glad you applied to Teach for America BUT ..." letter.

I've been trying to not get so worked up about this program. I knew it was really competitive to begin with. I knew my chances were low and I didn't want to get upset if I didn't get it. Well, I didn't get it and I'm upset.

I guess there is a laundry list of reasons I'm sad I didn't get the job:

1. I really wanted it.
2. I don't have a back-up plan.
3. I thought I nailed my in-person interview.
4. I jumped through so many hoops to get to the final stage only to get a rejection letter.
5. I really wanted it.
6. I don't have a back-up plan.

In reality though, all those things can be wrapped up in to one big reason why it stings. This is my first bout with rejection. I've never had or applied for a "real" job where I eagerly waited a reply. I got into all the colleges I applied to. I even had a status lined-up on Facebook if I got an acceptance letter. As far as aspirations go, I've never had my little dreams tromped on until now.

I know it's not the end of the world. I know there are lots of other things I can do now. I know when I have to tell all kinds of people I failed, they'll still like me. I know I'm a big girl, and should grow up.

I know all these things, but it still sucks. At least the anticipation of hearing back is over.

I won't end this sad self-indulgent blog like that though. Life will move on. Opportunities will arise. New things can grow from here. It's not the end of the world.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why March is the worst month ever

Today may have been the first day the State of Maine whispered the tantalizing, ultimate happy-feeling word: SPRING. But lets not get too crazy. We all whispered it for a reason.

Sorry T.S. Eliot, March is the cruelest month.

(On a side note, I would like to pause and recognize that March has been much crueler to other people on the planet this month. My thoughts go out to those in need. My irritations remain in Maine.)

Most people have the image of spring in Maine that includes the following:

Syrup tapping

Legitimate icons of our great state, but we don't actually see lupines until June, when the rest of the country is well into summer.

March in Maine is the ultimate tease. It was sunny and 40 today, while we enjoyed our extra hours of sunlight, but tonight the lows are approaching a whopping 9. That's 9 degrees. We're guaranteed another snow storm, so we're enjoying the foot deep ruts in the mud right now.

While we welcome our moments in the sun and the first opportunity we've had in months to drive with our windows cracked open, most people don't consider 36 degrees a balmy day. That's the saddest part about March. You want to feel spring-happy, after months of snow and darkness, but it's still just a little too early.

At least in the deepest reaches of winter, you know what you're getting into. You can expect a foot of snow in January and not be too, too upset about it. But after you've had your first warm, sunny day in March, it's hard to see the snow fall again or the temperatures dip below zero.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Why strangers are awesome

As my dear friend Sharon can tell you, the number one rule we learn as children is; "Don't take candy from strangers." I remember my mother digging through my Halloween candy to make sure there weren't razor blades in my Snickers or evidence of my 3 Musketeers being tampered with. I mean there's a whole campaign about "Stranger Danger." Certainly, these are precautions we should all take, but to children, the world begins to seem like a scary place before they reach elementary school.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not slamming teaching children lifelong skills to keep themselves safe. At my preschool, we watch "Be Cool About Fire Safety" at least once a month and our kids sing "you gotta stop, drop and roll" on a regular basis. This is all good information.

But lets fast-forward a few years beyond pre-school and open the window into the "adult world." Once we have all these lessons instilled into our brains, it's time to open up to each other. I'm not suggesting jumping in to that sketchy van parked on the corner (especially if it's owned by Josh Ard) but I am suggesting we open our eyes to the people we pass by everyday.

I guess as a waitress, I'm used to talking to strangers. Not to mention, I'm a pretty trusting, social person. Every time I run errands, I end up chatting with the gas station attendant or the sales clerk at Hannaford. I thoroughly enjoy speaking with people - I guess why I leaned toward journalism in college.

Strangers have the ability to make your day. Some random guy might give you a glance. Some woman might comment on your new sweater at Best Buy. (Whoever you are random lady, I'm still smiling about our 5 minute talk about my sweater. I love it too.) Some table might leave you a 75 percent tip. An older lady may tell you you look like a ballerina - a common remark in my life for some reason.

I try to be that stranger in return. I love starting small-talk. I like giving out small comments.

All of these small things might not mean that much, and if someone you see everyday says it, it's probably just a passing remark in a slew of conversations you've had. But when someone takes the time to seek you out and start a repertoire, the conversation feels meaningful.

There's so much to learn about people. The old man at the gas station may have some really cool life stories. The 4-year-old in line behind you at Wal-Mart may have some awesome joke you want to tell all your friends. If we take the time to initiate these conversations, the world seems a little less scary.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why Groundhog Day is my favorite holiday

I had a hard time believing Punxsutawney Phil predicted a quick spring today while I shoveled out my car from underneath a fresh eight inches of snow. As my dad concluded, we'd been hit by "Snowtorious B.I.G."

But I really don't mind the snow ... and that's not even the point of this blog. Let's get back to Phil.

I love him.

Groundhog Day seems like such a pointless holiday, if you can even call it a holiday, but that's why I love it. It's a little silliness in the deep, dark of winter. I mean come on, a group of old men in top-hats (who call themselves "The Inner Circle") pull a fat, buck-toothed rodent out of a hole to see if he sees his shadow. Not to mention, little Phil is 125 years old and drinks a magical potion that adds  seven years to his life every year.

As you can tell, I've been doing my research about Groundhog Day. It actually stems from the German tradition of Candlemas and started with a hedgehog. The celebration even has its own website. Here are a few holiday facts:

  • There are more than a dozen groundhog celebrations across the U.S. and Canada. Phil is just the most famous. (I wonder if all their shadows concur?)
  • Nearly 40,000 people flock to Punxsutawaney to join the celebration every year.
  • Phil speaks "Groundhogese"

So why do I love all this craziness? Because it's crazy, duh! But for cereal, I love Groundhog Day because it's a nice break in the cold, dark winter. It gives us hope we'll see the sun and grass again. It's a break that everyone needs, which is why its been such a longstanding tradition. It brings us back to ties when nature was an important part of survival Not to mention groundhogs are pretty cute.

I also appreciate the "holiday" because it's not tied up in commercial garble. It's all about people coming together to watch a furry little creature. I like people. I like furry little creatures. Done deal. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Why good grammar is sexy

I recently told a friend ... "I'm always attracted to nerds." She didn't scoff. She didn't ridicule me. She laughed and said "I love a man who uses good grammar."

I couldn't agree with her more. At first I thought it was because I majored in Journalism and minored in English. Apparently, I'm not the only one who somewhat enjoyed Strunk and White's "Elements of Style" or wonders if 'e-mail' or 'email' is the correct format in AP Style.

I'm not trying to police the entire English language. I certainly make mistakes myself. All I'm asking is that people use basic correct English. We have a set of standard rules so we can communicate as a whole and understand each other.

When I'm talking to a guy, it's an automatic turn-off, if for example, he says, "I did good on my test," instead of "I did well on my test." I know not everyone loves grammar as much as I do, but let me explain the basic principle between 'good' and 'well' - it will make you sound smarter.

Good: (adjective) enjoyable, satisfactory, pleasing
Well: (adverb) in a satisfactory way, with approval/praise

Not only will using correct grammar make you sound smarter, it will make people respect your opinion more. This picture is a prime example. There are some obvious mistakes in the original text. Readers probably scoffed at the sign and thought the pump attendant had the mental capacity of a three-year-old. The writer could have been a math genius or an engineer, but when your sign reads "all pump is pre-pay," everyone thinks you're an idiot. (Aside from being a foreigner learning English, there's no excuse for this.)

Grammar can be a great weapon as well. I used it to end a middle school fight by correcting a mean note a girl wrote to me. I gave it back to her and never heard another word. Silly - I know, but it's just an example of grammar giving you the upper hand.

Let me just take this time to mention that there is a stark difference between being a bad speller and not knowing how to use grammar. I know lots of people who simply just cannot spell, no matter how hard they try. Luckily for these people, there's spell check and that relic of a book: The Dictionary! Not to mention, when you speak, no one knows if you can't spell or not. Bad spellers can still exude intelligence in a conversation by using good grammar.

There are a few basic things everyone should know about grammar. You need to know the difference between there, their, and they're. You need to know how to use good and well. You need to know the difference between your and you're. You need to know the basic structure of a sentence. (YOU MUST HAVE SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT.) Don't use ain't. Don't use was instead of were. And if you're not sure: ASK! Asking makes you seem like less of a dumbass than just giving up and using words wrong.

Good grammar is sexy because it makes a person seem reasonably intelligent. This intelligence brings respect. No one is seriously attracted to someone they can't respect, right? 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why I believe in music again

One of my random concerns about life is that my generation doesn't have anything to be remembered by. We're not WWII vets, we're not hippies fighting the system, we didn't invent disco. We're the fat generation that worries about people in turbans. We don't even have a defining musical genre. (Trust me ... I went to a 90s party once and the musical/costume planning was actually hard. I grew up in the 90s!) So I've been hopefully waiting for something to turn our generation around.

In my pensive, needless worrying, it was a shocking and pleasant surprise to fall head-over-heels for my newest girl crush. Meet Florence:

Her videos are interesting. She's different. She's immensely catchy. She's beautiful. She's my age. (So not only is she hope for my generation ... I want to be her.) She's incredibly talented. I mean i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-y talented. I can appreciate all kinds of music as long as you can tell the musicians are completely into their work, but Florence is a different story.

She's even good, uncut, raw, in the park.

I'm obviously, unhealthily obsessed with her, but she gives me hope that music for my age is not completely dead. My mom thinks she sounds like a mix of women from the generations of yore. I mean she is reminiscent of 10,000 Maniacs, The Cranberries, Fiona Apple, etc. but all music is influenced by past music. Whoever Florence is channeling, she's doing it right.

And although I sometimes worry about that fact that I'm now in my mid-20s and I'm getting older, I'm going to ride the coattails of this generation if we're associated with this kind of music.