4.15.2014

Now I'm An Adult.

My friends and I frequently have conversations about how we don't feel like adults. We pay bills, we go to bed early, we drink in moderation, we have achy joints, but we just don't feel like adults. Adults are supposed to know what they're doing, right? And we have no idea what we're doing.

However, now I feel like an adult. A bona fide, middle-aged adult.

Here's how it happened: After returning from my trip to San Francisco, I spent a day with my parents, as one does when they love their parents. My mother (hi, Mom) asked me to check into insurance so she and my father could, she said, "Give me a nice burial" if I were to die before them. (This coming after I had just almost had a mental breakdown on my flight back to Denver, which didn't make me feel great about flying.)

As if that question wasn't odd enough, I had an answer and a burial request prepped and ready to go: I want to be turned into a tree. I'd like to be cremated and have my ashes used as fertilizer and become a tree.

So now, when little kids talk about what they're going to be when they're grown up, I'm going to ask them how they want to be buried. Because that's what they should be thinking about.

PS Bios Urn makes biodegradable urns that contain tree seeds so you turn into a tree (and it's also available for your pets). Don't you feel grown up now?

4.08.2014

Catching Up

I took a bit of a blogging break, kind of sort of on purpose. Life, you know?

So basically, just so we're on the same page, this is what's been going on (for the most part):

1. I'm watching a lot of Dawson's Creek. I wasn't allowed to watch it when it was originally on (and I was the only one in my grade not watching it, Mom) so I'm starting from the beginning. While watching, I've realized the "You Should Read!" posters haven't changed in 20 years (side note: It's been almost twenty years since Dawson Creek started), the 90s soundtrack is enough to make me keep watching and James Van Der Beek is the best.

Exhibit A:

This is James Van Der Beek trying to seriously cry, seriously.
Exhibit B:

This is James Van Der Beek making fun of himself. Which is really endearing.
2. I read this article on NPR about how great Parenthood is, and now I'm going to need to start binge watching that as well. Between D.C. and P, I'll probably need to quit my job.

3. I went to San Francisco. I took these pictures:







I also took some more. I might post them.

4. After spring break, I had to go back to work. To be honest, it is really draining right now. Mostly I just want the year to be over and summer break to be here and the students do, too. Except for my class because my class is their favorite ever.

5. My half-marathon training has become a sort-of crap shoot. Basically my goal is to hit my long runs and not have my body hurt all the time.

6. These baby elephants, and a baby giraffe, and a grown-ish elephant. (Thanks, Buzzfeed.)





The end! We are officially caught up.

3.23.2014

27 Things I've Figured Out As A 27 Year Old

I turned twenty-seven four days ago, and I don't know why, but somehow the combination of being twenty-seven (plus four days) and having a blog gives me enough expertise to dole out life advice. And actually, this list is less life advice and more what's worked for me, because 1. I'm not qualified to give anyone advice on anything and 2. everyone's life is very different and my life advice would probably not work very well for my friends who are married and having kids, so there's really no point to giving advice anyway. We all just have to figure it out for ourselves, really, and do the best we can.

So without further ado: 27 Things I've Figured Out As A 27 Year Old

1. We all have to figure life out for ourselves, and do the best we can.

So maybe I cheated a little on this one, since I just said this. But it's true. Advice books, lists, columns, shows are all helpful (sometimes), but really - it's up to us to figure things out.

2. Life has patterns. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it's easy. It's always beautiful.

Sometimes we're sick and sometimes we're healthy and sometimes we're in love and sometimes we're heartbroken, but there are always constants. I can count my friends and family as my constants. Figure out what will always be true for you and be thankful for it no matter what phase you're in.

3. How to parallel park.


Every time I parallel park I think of this Austin Powers scene. Every. Single. Time. (Source)

Living in the city has taught me a few things: say thank you when the harmless yet slightly off man tells you you're pretty (he's human, too), feral cats are really horribly obnoxious, don't move your car on Sundays, and don't waste valuable street parking space. Because I've been forced to parallel park at least once a day, I've gotten really good at, and I've learned how to use my mirrors - especially the one on the right side of the car, which I've otherwise forgotten about.

4. How to break into my own apartment.

This only works if you don't have the deadbolt locked. Take a card, or some sort of scrap of plastic, and jimmy it between the door and the wall, sliding the plastic between the knob (ha ha) and the wall. Boom. Open. Then when you're inside, lock the deadbolt, because you just proved to yourself how easy it is to break into your apartment.

5. How to listen to my body.

This has happened, and I continued to date said person. That was dumb and I don't do it anymore. (Source)

If my knee hurts, I don't run. If my head hurts, I turn off my computer (for a few minutes - who are we kidding?) If I see a guy I'm dating and I want to vomit, I don't see that guy anymore.

6. How to enjoy running.

The first 2-3 miles suck. Like really suck. At 3.1 miles, I finally feel like I could do it forever. This is not great comfort in the first few miles, but it helps. The cute guys and dogs who run also help.

7. You can't make someone love you.

Duh, but we all seem to need to learn this. Trying to be the person they want only makes me feel horrible about myself, when really it's just a matter of us not being right for each other and that's okay.

8. When you wake up with someone and you want to get out as fast as possible, get out as fast as possible.


He's a guy who makes me want to vomit. (Source)

Andi did it with Juan Pablo. If she can do it on national television, we can do it in private. Call your friend, get out, and never see that person again. But if you do see that person at a bar, ignore them. Don't stir up that drama again.

9. How to break up with someone.


Sometimes it needs to be said. (Source)
After one date, it's really easy. After 2.5 years, it's rough, but easier when you realize the guy who's been stringing you along has a live-in girlfriend. Either way, rip the band-aid off and be honest. 

10. How to live alone.


This happens sometimes. It's okay, but clean it up. (Source)

Do you know how great it is to live alone? I mean, without roommates or anything? It's really really really really really awesome. Except that you have to do all the dishes and cleaning yourself. So do the dishes and clean your bathroom once a week.

11. Take a shower immediately after exercising.

Bacne = back + acne, as a result of not showering right after working out.

12. How to speak up at a doctor's appointment.


The worst doctor ever, and no one ever said anything. (Source)

So there's this one Golden Girl's episode where Dorothy is really sick but her doctor's keep insisting she's healthy, until she finally finds a doctor who can accurately diagnose her and she gets the treatment she needs. Be like Dorothy and speak up when there's a problem, and don't shut up until someone listens. I've seen friends get screwed over because they've been too nice and I've been screwed over because I've been too nice. Make sure you're not a hypochondriac, but be honest.

13. No one has it figured out and no one has it together.

It's okay, Andy. You're not alone. (Source)

The panic I feel at midnight about whether or not I'm wasting my life is not unique to only me. A friend told me the other day that I always look like I have my life together, which only underscores the idea that everything looks great from the outside, and that no one has it figured out. Probably not even Jennifer Lawrence.

14. Comparing myself to others doesn't make me smarter, funnier, more beautiful or more worthy.

Conversely, seeing someone who is smart, funny and beautiful doesn't make me less smart, funny or beautiful.

15. I'm going to read what I want to read and I don't care if you think it's dumb.

I like YA. I like YA. I like YA. I like YA.

16. How to speak up at meetings.


Meetings are like a cesspool of stupidity. Except for me and my friends. (Source

Don't just talk whenever. Don't ask questions that have to do only with yourself. But when I have something worthy to add, don't be afraid of just saying it. And ask the question you need to ask.

17. How to teach the way I want to teach.

I had to figure out who I am as a teacher, much like I've had to figure out who I am as a person. I can't stand listening to myself talk, so I don't lecture very much. I don't like doing all the work, so I like making my students do everything. It turns out I'm a lazy teacher.

18. Sleep is important.

No really. Sleep. Is. Important. I need at least seven hours of sleep, and I'm usually tucked in by 9:30 pm. And that's okay. I've got a tough job, I've got an active life; going to bed before 10 does not make me boring. It makes me responsible.

19. Hair grows back.

So just cut it already.

20. My body is fine just the way it is at this moment.


There's a line between taking care of yourself and being a narcissist, but I'm probably not even close to crossing it. (Source
Stop being so mean to yourself.

21. Spending a night wrapped up in a Snuggie and watching Golden Girls is fine.


The Snuggie makes me feel like I'm in the middle of this hug. (Source)

Just make sure it's not every night. (Maybe five nights a week, tops.)

22. How to end a friendship.

If you have a friend who is causing more distress than joy, it's time to end the friendship. If you spend the majority of the time arguing with your friend, it's probably time to end the friendship. If you tried to talk out your problems with your friend and it's just not working, it's time to end the friendship. If you leave a meeting with a friend feeling horrible about yourself, and spend time sitting in your car sobbing, it's definitely time to end the friendship.

Sometimes you can end it through the phase-out method, but really, I think honesty is the best policy. And then leave it be.

23. Saving money is more important than dressing fashionably or giving in to a craving for Chicken Tikka Masala or traveling the world. 

I'd rather live like a pauper now than still struggling with my finances in ten years.

Also, and I'm just going to say this as simply as possible: don't believe all those Pinterest quotes that tell you to travel when you're young no matter the cost. Don't get yourself into massive debt just because you feel like you have to travel. You have a long life ahead of you that doesn't end when you get to thirty/have kids/get married/get a job/etc. You're in control of your life, not the other way around.

24. Inappropriate jokes are hilarious.


Truth. (Source)

Especially when someone is sick.

And find your audience.

25. I don't understand religion.


I'm trying to ignore logic. But logically, that doesn't make sense. (Source)

There. I said it. This is not the time to discuss this, but really, I want to be religious, I want to believe in Jesus, I want to feel that kind of comfort that comes from being able to say to someone "I'm praying for you" but I'm just not there. It's one of those things I'm still trying to figure out.

26. Love comes in many forms.

This needs to be a thing. (Source)

Friendship love, family love, pet love, self-love, romantic love. And all of it is important and necessary.

And by the way, being love with someone does not necessarily mean you want to marry that person. It may be that you respect someone and hold them in high esteem. That still counts as love and you are as entitled to those feelings as anyone. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for being in love.

27. Finding romantic love is not the ending to a story, but just part of life.


It happens. But if you're nice and you do good things and you don't constantly sing a capella, you probably have a better chance at finding it. (Source

To be cliche, life is a journey, and romantic love is just part of those life phases. Sometimes it lasts, sometimes it doesn't, but don't let it be your only mission in life. Be your own person.

Other thoughts:


  • Don't be a jerk. (In other words, be the nicest person you can.)
  • This too shall pass.
  • Don't let a guy be a jerk by letting him justify it as "just being honest."
  • Read. Read a lot. Non-readers tend to be boring.
  • Facebook is not real. 

3.15.2014

What's Making Me Happy

Source: Nieman Journalism Lab

It's a long standing complaint of many people that the news is too depressing, and thus many people - myself included - avoid the evening news, the newspaper and internet news sites. I especially dislike local news sites, where currently every other news story is about St. Patrick's Day related information (including pot, because marijuana is green, and so is now automatically part of St. Patrick's Day) or is about a dead body, a suffering animal, a beating or some other kind of crime/violence/barf. I firmly believe that most news - local news, network news, cable news - is not about the actual news but is about freaking you out because on a superficial level we love crazy, gory stuff. So the news becomes more like Law and Order instead of actually informing the public about what's happening in the world.

To sum up: I don't like news. I avoid the news. When I have dinner with my parents and they're watching the news I always whine and complain until they finally give me the remote (because sometimes I still act like a five year old).

Note: This does not include television news shows such as The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart because even though these are so-called "fake news shows" they're a hell of a lot more informative and less sensationalized than "real" news shows.


Real news, brought to you by the Comedy Central Tumblr.

But I listen to NPR all. the. time.

I grew up listening to NPR all the time, because when you're a kid you don't really have a say in the car radio. So on the Sunday trip from mass to post-mass lunch, my family listened to Prairie Home Companion. On the way to Saturday morning riding lessons, we listened to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. On the way to school, we listened to Fresh Air. And any time the TV wasn't on, which was often because we didn't have cable for most of my childhood, we had NPR playing instead.

And oh my God, I hated it.

It was boring. It was all news, and news is depressing (we've covered this already). It played weird music. And no one else I knew listened to it (they were all listening to the country station, or the pop music station or the typical mind-numbing disc jockeys who use sound effects because they really have nothing of substance to say). I was young, so basically my perspective was, "Entertain me, world!"

Source: UPROXX

This is turning into a much longer post than I anticipated, so let me shorten it up by saying: I grew up, I grew out of my entertainment phase, and I listen to NPR constantly now. I listen to the podcasts (Pop Culture Happy Hour and Wait Wait being my two favorite right now), I listen in my car on the way to work and home from work, I listen on my runs, I listen while cleaning dishes. I'm basically my parents. Which is fine, except that I'm a young, single lady and I'm pretty sure society frowns upon young, single ladies acting like people who receive Social Security.

But I really don't care. NPR has a way of presenting news in the most factually useful way. They don't sensationalize their news items, so I don't feel violated or pandered to, their voices are all calming (is this a training they have to go through?) and their variety of websites and media outlets cover a huge amount of topics, from how to pronounce "gif" (I, too, get annoyed by the hard g sound people make) to SXSW to the economy. As I'm teaching economics next year (to seniors! The Holy Grail of high school!) I'm thrilled with the economics blog produced by NPR. I'm devouring it this weekend.

I know NPR has a certain reputation, such as being liberally-biased, boring and that people who listen to it are pretentious hipsters. But really, NPR is very straightforward in its reporting, not giving so much opinion as much as just presenting the facts, which, by the way, is what the news is supposed to do. And the idea that NPR is boring and pretentious is promoted by people who are themselves boring and uninformed (which is a nice way of saying dumb) but at the same time are trying to seem smarter than they really are, which is the actual definition of pretentious.

In other words:

Source

So, thanks, NPR, for informing me without the scare tactics, for helping me stay informed about the world, and at least helping me feel and sound smart.

PS This is a gif of the US population. Ain't it cool?

Source: UN Population Division Credit: Quoctrung Bui/NPR

And then here is the gif of Japan's population. Fascinating!

Source: UN Population Division Credit: Quoctrung Bui/NPR

3.11.2014

Here's What Netflix Thinks I Should Be Teaching.

I found out today that I'll be teaching a couple Economics classes next year, which I'm surprisingly really excited about seeing as I remember nothing from my econ classes in college. Tonight I went onto Netflix to find movies to watch over the next few weekends in order to start building up my fortress of knowledge.

According to Netflix, here's what I should be teaching my students about economics:

Daddy Day Care

Source

Economic Key Ideas: The dot-com bubble, entrepreneurship, supply and demand, whiny children, Eddie Murphy, Saint Bernards are still popular in kid's movies

Gold Rush

Source
Economic Key Ideas: Great Recession, not learning from the past, poverty line, dumb ideas

Grand Canyon

Source
Economic Key Ideas: Economic and social class stratification, income gap, "serendipity", Steve Martin and Danny Glover in a non-comedy


Eternal Enemies: Lions and Hyenas

Source
Economic Key Ideas: Lions eat thing, Hyenas eat things, Lions and Hyenas are apparently enemies

Intimate Enemies

Source
Economic Key Ideas: Lions and Hyenas aren't the only things that are enemies, enemies can be intimate, war sucks, don't go into the Forbidden Zone

It's a good start. These students are about to be educated.

(PS I haven't actually seen any of these. Don't be pissed at me if you are a really big fan of bad Eddie Murphy movies or something.)

3.04.2014

Barbie: Swimsuit Model (Not That That's New...)

When I was a kid, I had Barbies. I had Little Mermaid Barbie, and I had Belle Barbie and I had a few other Barbies. Barbie and Ken got married. Skipper was the obnoxious middle school kid who wouldn't leave Barbie alone. Barbie's feet never flattened, no matter how much I tried to force them. Sometimes Barbie's feet had weird "gems" in her feet, because apparently she needed them for her shoes or something.

I know many, many people have enlightened the public about how unrealistic Barbie's measurements are. About how she creates unrealistic body images in young girls. About how she indoctrinates girls to believe that the perfect body is thin, with large breasts and a teeny-tiny little waist, and super skinny legs. It's all true, for sure. But that's not what I wanted to write about here. Instead, let's discuss Barbie's appearance on the cover of the Swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated.

Via Washington Post, source AP Photo/Sports Illustrated

So, this magazine, known for its supermodels who are in really really tiny bathing suits (if wearing anything at all, because sometimes "swimsuit" means "naked"), who have famously photoshopped supermodels into almost completely different people, is now using toys to help ramp up the libido of grown men. Supposedly it just works out so well because Barbie is 55 years old and the Sports Illustrated is 50 years old and duh?

This. Is. Creepy.

I know this version of the magazine has a limited distribution (the normal edition has the "normal" cover of topless, body hairless, long-haired, photoshopped models - which let's maybe talk about how not normal that is), but the limited distribution almost makes it even more creepy. Who is actually going to be buying this magazine, then? Only the perviest of pervs, is my guess. 

But actually, what bothers me about this whole topic is not the fact that a child's toy is being used in a magazine which, let's face it, is being kept in the bathroom. It's not that models are basically being told: You are plastic and objects. Period. What bothers me most is this whole campaign by Mattel:

Via AdWeek

How many ways can I vomit while reading this ad? Let me count the ways...

1. Barbie: A Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Legend. - Barbie has a lot of jobs. She can be a veterinarian, a pediatrician, a dog groomer, or any other jobs which are appropriate for women. I don't remember coloring in Barbie as she posed for Sports Illustrated. Although I think that might be a good idea: Here's Barbie in a one-piece hanging out on the beach. Now here she is in a two-piece while having a pillow fight with another scantily clad woman. Now here she is with a lot of necklaces covering her breasts because she somehow lost her top. Now here she is wearing body paint. Oh, the possibilities, girls!

2. Barbie was launched in 1959. - AKA The Golden Age of Gender Roles. Women were supposed to be sexual bombshells who could cook and.....that was it. Um. Oh, and have babies. But then have sex right after. And cook. Sigh. The Good Ol' Days. Isn't it nice that times haven't changed? Or....

3. Barbie broke boundaries. - She wins the title of First Doll To Make Girls Think They Have To Look A Certain Way To Succeed In Life And/Or Be Attractive. Congratulations.

4. Barbie built empires. - That is, actually, true. Barbie is a gigantic money-guzzling, superficial empire. Congratulations.

5. Barbie shaped cultures. - By promoting unhealthy body images for generations of girls and women. Congratulations some more.

6. This magazine helps Barbie and her fellow legends celebrate who they are and what they have done. - Ok first of all - who are these "fellow legends"? The models? Look, I'm not going to bash the models. I don't know them, I know their job is deceptively difficult, and I know their careers are most likely short lived. But then - who are they? Swimsuit models? They're actually being defined by their job, not by who they are as people. And we're supposed to celebrate that.

Not to mention: Barbie is a plastic toy. She's not a person. Stop talking about her like she walked on her tip toes to this job and got it based on her talent and charm.

7. This campaign is supposed to help girls of all ages realize anything is possible. - What else is Barbie doing besides standing in high heels and a bathing suit? Well apparently she's throwing a beach party. Look, girls and grown-ass women! You really can have it all! If you don't aspire to anything more than looking good in a bathing suit and drinking.

8. #Unapologetic - And this is what bothers me most. Mattel knows what they're doing is offensive and wrong, but Hell, they don't care. They don't care that Barbie emits a one-size-only body image. They don't care that Barbie doesn't actually do anything besides smile inanely while doing some "woman-approved" job. They don't care that they're now encouraging little girls to aspire to satisfy men and not much else.

And they really don't care that the original Barbie was based on a German sex toy. To make that even more creepy, the creator named Barbie after her teenage daughter, and to make that even more creepy, Barbie was designed to be a sixteen year old girl. Yes. Let that sit for a little while. Yes.

But Mattel doesn't care. They toss back Barbie's long, blonde hair (because real women have long hair) and say, "#unapologetic." And in a way, I guess they are returning to Barbie's roots. In this situation, she is much closer to a sex toy than she is a child's toy. And I'm sure everyone will understand that.

2.25.2014

Don't worry, here are some cute animals.

Today my APUSH class was discussing the causes of the Great Depression. We tried to make a timeline, but in all honesty, it's really hard to pinpoint a time when America started having an uneven distribution of wealth, because it's always existed.

So we got to part where Europe took out a ton of loans from American banks to pay back their reparations to the US government since the US government wouldn't forgive the loans (because dammit, we were in that war from June until November and we want your blood)(also, this is basically how I feel about my student loans), and the students asked this:

Them: "Isn't this what the US is doing now, with China?"

Me: "I mean, yeah. Basically, yeah."

Them: "But aren't we getting money from China just to pay the interest on our loans, not even the loans themselves?"

Me: "Yeah...yeah."

Them: "I don't get it. I just can't wrap my head around how dumb that is."

Me: "I know. I actually don't think about. I look at pictures of cute puppies."

This became our rallying cry for the rest of the class. When they were talking about paying for college I told them A) choosing what you love and ignoring the price is bullshit (I didn't really say bullshit), B) they should go to a school where they can take out the smallest amount of student loans possible and C) look at pictures of cute puppies.

And that is the lesson I would like to share with you today.

Are you upset about the future of our economy? Here's a corgi jumping into a lake.



Are you upset about the amount of student loans you have to pay? Here are some bunnies at a carnival.



Are you upset about the stupidity that is the Arizona state government? (And the fact that what some people are upset about the most is not the human rights issue...but that it might cost Arizona the Super Bowl.) Here is a cat who has had enough.


Are you upset about the Ukraine? About Venezuela? Here is an adorable pet rat cuddling a teddy bear while he/she sleeps.


Are you upset because the Netherlands speed skating coach was a jerk to Americans, destroying your preconceived notions that people from the Netherlands were pretty nice? Here are baby elephants, taking a bath.


Don't you feel better?

Here are two links to keep you going, if you need them (and you probably will): Source 1 (Corgi) and Source 2 (bunnies, cat, rat and elephants)

PS I have a suspicion these animals will be back...