Friday, April 11, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Here's a link to Jess's article on the site; she actually already posted it here, but with a little editing out of some choice curse words, it's now on a fancy university blog.
I have a piece on the site too (look in the Off-Campus Opinion section), but you're gonna have to find it yourself.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
First I stumbled, but that got boring, so I started to click "Random Wikipedia Entry" over and over again. I learned a lot about small towns in Ethiopia and a Chinese man who became a Muslim leader. After that I decided to Google things. I typed in my name + my hometown to see if there were any silly high school memories I felt like reveling in.
Instead, I was confronted with the specter of Who I Was in High School.
A friend of mine, who I had gotten close to particularly junior and senior year, penned this little gem on their Livejournal for me to unfortunately discover 3 years later. Even though it is awful and hurtful and hits me in a place where most insults don't dare to venture, I'm going to post it, because it'll help my point later:
jess roy, a supposedly intelligent person (in the opinion of adults with psychometric tests, whatever that means), explains political ideas she doesn't understand, poetry and culture she cannot fathom and ideas she can't pronounce.
This is true to some extent; I'm not going to flat out lie and claim that I was supremely cultured and intelligent in high school. I grew up in the suburbs and I was pissed off about my parents' divorce and I did a lot of drugs because I was just really sad about everything. I didn't visit Europe until after I graduated and no, my parents didn't beat me, and no, I didn't watch a family member die in a fiery car crash, but I did experience a lot of bad things most of my friends didn't. I probably thought that gave me more leverage to explore the "political ideas, poetry, and culture" that this person so joyfully pointed out.
And no, I didn't entirely understand the implications of On the Road or the nuances that allow me to now despise how Kerouac treated women; but I read the book, and most 15 year olds can't really claim that. And yes, I loved Garden State, I saw it in the theatre three times, but it had nothing to do with the word "indie," a concept I never even really thought about until I came to college.
Why do I feel like I'm defending myself? I guess I am. I am because I'm constantly at odds with Who I Was and Who I Am. Who I Was may have been a smidgen like what this person wrote in their Livejournal in 2005, but it was not all of me. I was not a grade grubber (I probably got some of the worst grades out of all of my friends) and I was interested in a world outside of our suburban bubble. Perhaps I couldn't fully understand it because I had a lot more anger than someone that age should, and admittedly, though my life wasn't hard, it definitely wasn't easy for reasons I will not explain here.
Part of me is all, "This was three years ago! Grow up! Why are you so fucking sensitive?" Well, I'm sensitive because my ability to be this Cultured New Yorker is kind of all I have. I mean, isn't this blog based on political and cultural ideas? Do I not spend hours and hours analyzing them? Obviously this would hit me where it hurts, because if I don't have that, what the fuck do I have?
I'm just trying to be honest. I will probably hit publish and completely regret it. I will probably wake up in the middle of the night and fret over this stupid thing someone who didn't even know me said about me THREE YEARS AGO. But I can't let it go because one, besides being neurotic I'm also a masochist and I keep obsessing over it in my mind, and two, I think this is important.
Sometimes who we are in high school haunts us for the rest of our lives. Sometimes it follows us home like a dog in the night, yapping at our heels. It constantly nags us like a Jewish Grandma who hasn't eaten in a few hours. I could put another metaphor in here, but I think I may have overdone it.
But the point is this: we can mature and evolve and become a better version of ourselves, but I will always be that outcast in BoHo chic clothes (lolz) who got into beat poetry because I liked the inherent escapism and the idea of being drunk on a flatbed truck, and then got written about on a high school Livejournal because I was 17 and couldn't relate to Jack Kerouac.
It's better because the Brits don't have stuffy Christian men in business suits censoring what goes on the television. Which means they can say "fuck" as many times as they want and show vaginas and buy 3 ounces of spliff (British for weed!) from a guy with a seriously glorious mustache.
1. Ew @ Heidi’s Georgia O’Keefe-meets- Lily Pullitzer dress disaster but LOL @ “I’m about to punch you in your face.” Always subtle, H.
3. Why is Kimberly from Heidi’s Bolthouse office running Lauren’s birthday? (Two minutes later) - OH to perpetuate the drama! Duh!
4. Lauren = drunk happiness, the kind of drunk I used to get in high school: all compliments and kind words for sober enemies.
4. LOL at Heidi and Stephanie pretending they can't tell if the girl at the club is Audrina. HELLO she has cameras on her. Also, those heavy-lidded eyes and blindingly white almost-buck teeth are clear indicators, girls.
Postcards from Yo Momma is a site created by ex-Gawker editor and current NY Observer writer Doree Shafrir. It compiles e-mails and IM transcripts from moms sent in by readers. It's entertaining, sure, but it also made me realize that ALL MOMS ARE THE SAME.
Whether they're slutty moms or anal-retentive moms or chronic oversharer moms who lament the awful details of their life story to the grocery store cashier (my mom!), all moms are essentially passive-aggressive and want you to call them every day. If you don't, they will send you e-mails like this one:
So maybe today shoot your mom an e-mail and tell her you love her. And then post her response email to Postcards From Yo Momma.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
I wasn't always like this. Once upon a time (high school), I was really good at writing papers. I could bang out a close reading in an hour and get glowing feedback from the teacher; science lab write-ups were simply a matter of IMing my smarter friends and rewording their answers to sound like me; and for any other subject, a couple of quick Google searches provided me with all the information I'd need to squeeze three to five pages out of the United States' containment policy during the Cold War, or the importance of the Beatles on contemporary music, or even una biografía de Frida Kahlo.
Maybe this had to do with the fact that I grew up in central New Jersey; the only other things to occupy my nighttime were parties (to which I was rarely invited, let alone welcome), television (which I usually watched during the afternoon), or smoking weed with friends (but the stuff isn't as good back home, so the effects didn't last that long.) Or maybe this had to do with all the pressure of being an AP student applying to colleges. Or that living with two constantly arguing parents meant that the safest place in my house was often my bedroom, which housed both my textbooks and my desk. (Also, no Facebook. Man, how did we ever make plans?)
Whatever the reasons, I was a great student in high school. Then came college and vodka in amounts I'd never fathomed and dorm rooms and Misshapes. Living in the city means that almost no time is too late for plans, and there have been many nights where I found something to do at 2am. So even though it's midnight right now and I should be writing this damn paper, you know, this devilish and unreasonable voice in the back of my head is telling me to wait it out because something, anything, might come along and make me want to change out of these sweatpants.
With all this shit going on, it's no wonder that my grades have started to suffer. Well, not really--I'm certainly not in danger of failing any classes, and have long since abandoned my high-school mindset that Bs are unacceptable. But I'm not a straight-A student anymore, and only in Creative Writing workshops do I stand out as a participatory, potentially sorta talented student. And paper writing has become a bitch.
I think a major reason I have trouble starting Page 1 is that every time I see that blank Word document, that little bar blinking at me in both mockery and impatience, and the pages of notes I've hastily scribbled inside a beat-up notebook overflowing onto my keyboard, I feel inadequate. The old me would have finished this paper by now, but the current me has no idea where to start (or a great desire to do so.) I feel the ghost of my past taunting me, making me feel even worse about myself. With every word I write, this feeling that I'm just not good enough anymore--even if "good enough" means being the star pupil, and even if that entails a set of entirely impossible expectations for myself--sinks deeper and deeper into me, until it's spread throughout my body and into my hands, paralyzing my fingers and making me want to just fuck it and spend the rest of my life working retail.
William Wordsworth once wrote, alluding to his past self, "I cannot paint what then I was." And even though I can clearly see myself back then, with my short boy hair and my American Eagle sweatshirt, a look of smug superiority on my face because the Shins are playing on my computer and I'm just so indie, well, I can't relate to that person anymore. The idea that he was me is unfathomable. In some ways I guess I've been trying to get rid of this totally different (and probably nicer) boy--the boy that I was then--ever since I stepped into Goddard two autumns ago. But when I'm sitting at my desk, checking Facebook for the umpteenth time, knowing full well that I should have started working hours ago, that boy reappears me and hates me for having ignored him so much. I just don't like dealing with him. After all, it's much easier to stress about impending work than it is to confront your past, wouldn't you agree?
This is Jessica of Jess and Josh Talk About Stuff.
I'd like to propose a deal.
Perhaps you can feature our blog somewhere (prominent) on NYU Local, and I will write as many opinion pieces as you need.
Not to say you are begging us to write for you, I know you're not; but it makes sense to me to combine a healthy loathing for poor journalism and a desire to have people read what you write into this cosmopolitan brand of super snark we can advertise on both NYU Local and Jess and Josh.
Lily and Cody (editor in chief and publisher, respectively) have promised me a blogroll for my section of the site, and I was planning on featuring some of the better NYU-based blogs on there anyway. I have no idea when the blogroll is going up, but in the meantime, every piece you submit to me that gets published will have a link to your blog in it. How does that sound?
So we've got a deal. Josh and I will write a few opinion pieces a week in exchange for J&J going in the byline. Either we've totally sold our souls (I really hope not), or this could end up being something really amazing. I'm a little nervous they won't let me write the way I want to, but I guess, as a writer, you have to keep audience in mind, and maybe some of the NYU brats don't like the phrase "magical vagina." :(
Monday, April 7, 2008
A nice man by the name of Matt asked for permission to use this picture in an upcoming book based on this website. In exchange, Josh and I get free autographed copies of the book and an invitation to the launch party. There might even be a little blurb in there about us! We'll keep you guys updated and scan in the page with our picture on it once it's published. Also we'll have to figure out a way to live blog from the launch party so you can know which snooty New York literary types we're bumping out of the way in order to get to the open bar.
Update (Josh's note): Nope, I hate them already.
From their home page: "when there is no Division 1 basketball, no green grass pavilion, no identifiable mascot, the college many of us dreamed about in high school can start to turn into little more than a collection of buildings scattered around a popular urban park." Seriously? If you want to go to Rutgers, train tickets to New Brunswick cost $10.50 and leave Penn Station every hour. So shut up and appreciate the fact that your parents can afford to send you to a school in Manhattan.
Also, they don't use capitalization on their home page. Because that's so totally bohemian and cool and maybe how the kids write on these "blogs" nowadays! Also: they plagiarize.
Obviously, I'm a biased source, but fuck yes! It's about time we started discussing the drinking age in this country. It's ridiculous that I am trusted to vote, but not to have a couple beers with friends after class (or, you know, before class. Shit happens.)
Also, hey, Republicans in the federal government--isn't your whole thing states' rights and a minimal federal influence on citizens' lives? Wouldn't you be happy to pass a bill that would allow for the states to decide this, so you don't have to, which is kind of what your party is all about?
According to Judaism, when you turn thirteen you become a (wo)man. So maybe that should be the legal drinking age. After all, you get to drink wine in temple.
Not that I take some sort of perverse pleasure in reading things like "I was six when I woke up next to my grandma to find that she had died in her sleep," but I do enjoy the site. I know there's no way to verify any of the stories, nor can you contact any users (you don't even have to register to submit a story of your own). But it's still nice to know that somebody else gets it, that in some lonely other corner of cyberspace, someone else also thinks that "it's easiest to fall for one you know will never like you back, simply because he doesn't know."
The fact that each story is just one sentence makes for quick, easy reading when I want to pass the time. It's also interesting to see how complex ideas can be boiled down to their basics; if nothing else, the stories make for good writing aids. No, I have yet to submit a sentence myself, but I'm sure I will eventually. In the meantime, I just read. So if you've got a free half hour at work or home or wherever, you could do much worse than check the site out--and then go back to reading this blog, of course.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Cobblestones echo the era of the Dutch, with old brownstones and parks with a ton of space. Public works projects run aplenty because it's a lovely combination of office workers and families in high rises. David and I smoked a bowl and ventured down there last night and totally fell in love with it. As I grow out of my obsession with being in the middle of everything, my desire to live in New York doesn't wane, but my desire to be in the middle of it does; I'm not saying I want to move to Brooklyn (God, no!) but I think living in the Financial District could be rather enjoyable. You don't have to skirt throngs of tourists on your way to get coffee in the morning, and you can get a 1 bedroom apartment for about $2,000/month, which would barely allow you a studio in the Village or SoHo. So, I think, when I get back from Paris next winter, I'm going to try to move down, downtown. Don't look at me like that. It's cool!
In other news, what's the one place you don't want to end up when you're stoned? Oh, right: POLICE HEADQUARTERS. And that's exactly where David and I stumbled into. We literally began to enter a security lockdown zone complete with gates when this policeman came out and was like "What are you guys DOING?" And we were like "Uhh... where's the sea port?" We had to walk UNDER the Brooklyn Bridge. We were so lost. But we finally made it to where cobblestones abound! As well as ships:I somehow got the idea in my stoned mind that eating at Pizzeria Uno would be like the best time ever. Um... it wasn't. We were there for 2 HOURS because the service was so awful, but we did get a free dessert because of it:Then on the way home, while walking down the Bowery, we saw this shop. Gee, I wonder why it's closed?
It's a little-known fact that I'm obsessed with Iran. My two best friends are Persian, so I've spent a lot of time learning about the culture and the language; this summer while living in LA, I even stayed at my best friend Ana's house and her mom frequently spoke to me in Farsi. I actually came to understand a lot of it, and I like to fancy myself an okay Farsi conversationalist, even if I can't begin to read or write the language.
I also took a course called "Politics and Society in Iran" last semester (I got an A, thank you very much), and I'm a big fan of Iranian cinema, and even corny singers like Googoosh.
The reason I'm telling this to you is because the Iranian parliament just put forth legislature that would make working in what it deems to be "pornography" illegal - and not just illegal, but punishable by death.
Iran is seen as a country shrouded in mystery; women cover their hair and faces lest the morals police harass them. They can barely leave their homes without a male escort. Religion and law are perilously intertwined into Shari'a, an Islamic based legal philosophy. The nation has a popularly elected president, but everything is controlled by the Supreme Leader - a religious figure, a power-hungry titan, and yes - a fascist.
The sad thing about Iran is that it wasn't always this way. It is a land rich in cultural and political history. Spanning back to the Persian Empire, Iran has always churned out immensely well-educated people, and has its own set of cultural values that Americans, with such a young nation, could only dream of having. It was only within the past 50 years, after the Iranian Revolution, that things in the nation started to change.
Things weren't always this strict. They weren't always this difficult. The segmentation between public and private spheres of life was not always this rigid, obvious, painful.
And it is painful for those who remember the old Iran to see what the country has come to. Ana's mom, Fereshteh, frequently goes back to visit family. I was there when she returned from such a trip and the anguish on her face was palpable; she remembers the Old Iran, and shudders when confronted with the New Iran - the one that makes it illegal for women like Zahra Amir Ebrahimi to make a sex tape with her boyfriend, and, citing Islam, denies the human body. In a country that had previously celebrated sex and the body through artwork and public dialog, this is a damn shame.
The other irony is that, under Shari'a, temporary marriage is legal. Temporary marriage allows a married man to take on another wife through a verbal contract. No one needs to officiate this marriage, and in this way, both men and women can skirt anti-prostitution laws. If a man is caught fucking someone who is not his wife, all he needs to say is that they entered into a verbal temporary marriage agreement, and they are both free to do as they please. How is this not sexual promiscuity? How is this not worse than pornography?
But the Iranian government does not see it that way. And for women like Ebrahimi, unfortunately, sexual expression could now lead to death.
Earlier: Iran and the film Persepolis
Well folks, as of this morning, that has changed.
Facebook has instituted a live chat program (NOT an application, it's now part of every Facebook account) that allows you to send IMs to people who are currently on Facebook.
It's actually quite sleekly designed, and I don't really mind it; but the trouble comes when you just want some peace and quiet and stalking time, but people keep IMing you on it.
The other thing is: Facebook continues to render other computer programs and sites completely irrelevant. (i.e. Myspace, e-mail accounts, and now-- iChat).
I don't know how I feel about this program. On the one hand, it's a really cute design and I don't so much mind being able to IM people I need to talk to who don't use iChat. But that's a two-way street. Do I really want people who were too nervous to IM me before (because then it would show they know my screen name) now taking it upon themselves to live chat with me? And putting aside misplaced arrogance for a second, do I really want to be made available for live chat the entire time I'm on Facebook? I don't have a Twitter account for a reason, and I am very much a fan of putting an away message up even when I'm online. What is this going to do to my social life? What is this going to do... to the world?