Tuesday, August 28, 2012

More thesis papers I want to read

Giving Them a Place to Go: 
Children, especially teens, are going to gather together and socialize. They always have, they always will. And they're not going to do it at home. We need to give them somewhere to go, or they're going to find their own places...and those are usually not the most ideal ones.  

Places like skate parks, events like "Friday Night Live" (a weekly teen get together at a rec center in Texas), a Teen Club at a Beaches resort, or a Ballroom Dancing program in NYC schools offer kids a safe place to socialize, dance, be silly and dramatic...basically to be teenagers. 

How do each of these places benefit the areas they exist in, the adults who support them, and the teens who use them? How do curfews and restrictions at usual hang outs like malls hurt them? 


Friday, August 17, 2012

For all those in need of topics

Thesis papers I'd like to read:

Fifty Shades of Culture: What the sales of and sex in 50 Shades of Grey says about our culture's approach to sexuality.

Magically Thin: Actresses on Diets vs Characters Who Eat Normally
Er...this one might need a better title. Basically, when you showcase a female character who has terrible eating habits (fast food, tons of candy, etc) on the show but is played by an incredibly thin actress, the message being sent is this: be thin, but do it magically.

I have more of these somewhere...

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Words I cannot spell on the first try, ever, at all, never:


From LHA's Prompt: What do we fear most?

Amazing author and extraordinary speaker Laurie Halse Anderson has challenged her readers to write 15 minutes a day for the entirety of August. Not sure if I'll actually accomplish it, but I intend to try, and post the results here.

A lot of people have themes that repeat in their dreams and mine is always the inability to see. Whatever strange scenario is being played out as I sleep, there is almost always an issue with my sight: I’m straining to see something in the distance but it’s blurry or I’m trying to focus on one thing and it keeps evading my eyes. It’s both frustrating and frightening in that dream state, but the real scare is when I wake up into my normal world of terrible, awful, no good sight. My biggest fear is getting to a state where my sight can no longer be corrected by contact or glasses. In short, I fear blindness.

Some might stop here and ruminate on the beauty of the world and how it would be missed, or reflect on their loved ones faces and how not seeing them again would be a tragedy. Sure, sure, that’s all terrible, but that’s not why I fear what I do. It’s the complete and total loss of independence that terrifies me, the vulnerable position I’d be in that I desperately want to avoid. Without sight we are without our true free will. Were I not able to see, I could not live completely on my own or travel at will or escape other people and have any kind of isolated experience. There is an immediate dependence that comes with the loss of a sense, a knowledge that you are at the mercy of others that just terrifies me.

Women (and maybe men?) have a habit of discussing things they’d like to change about themselves, mostly to do with their physical beauty -- lose some weight, be taller, have nicer hair, etc. And that’s all well and good, but in all honesty I can lose some weight if I tried. I can dye my hair and buy some fancy shampoo. I can put on heels or break out my trusty step stool. The one thing I cannot change, that is not in my power to change, is my eyesight. So my one wish? 20/20 vision.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Nostalgia as Condemnation

Amazing author and extraordinary speaker Laurie Halse Anderson has challenged her readers to write 15 minutes a day for the entirety of August. Not sure if I'll actually accomplish it, but I intend to try, and post the results here.

I recently attended a panel discussion on children and technology, and had the unfortunate luck to sit next to an overbearing grandmother who spent most of the talk rocking violently in her seat, bursting with the need to expound on how SHE certainly didn’t grow up with technology, nor did her children, oh no no no, and they all had a perfectly lovely childhood so why do we need to RUIN childhood for children with all this confounded technology? I spent the panel being very angry with her, though I couldn’t quite pin down why. Why did it matter to me what this woman, whose name I didn’t even know, thought and felt about technology? Why did it affect me at all?

This same feeling has plagued me during any conversation where reminiscing turns into condemning the present. I’m not talking about the “Oh, remember how we used to slide down the stairs in a sleeping bag?” or “I loved that one show, Dungeons and Dragons!” conversations, but rather the “Pfft, you’re too young to remember the good old days” and “Man, cartoons today suck! They were way better when I was a kid!” conversations. (FYI: no, they weren’t better. We loved them because we were 5. Watch them now. They’re weird as hell.)

But why do these conversations make me grumpy? What is it about people talking about the past as a perfect time that drives me crazy and prompts me to defend the present like it’s my homeland or something? This is a question I’ve been grappling with for awhile now, and I think I’ve finally figured it out.  

The attitude of Then vs Now is so troubling because it assumes that everyone’s childhood is not only the same, but also wonderfully idyllic. It implies that by not doing it as people did Back Then, that my generation is Doing It All Wrong (tm Chow.com). It assumes that anything that deviates from their version of childhood isn’t valid. That anything other is also less than. And I find that disturbing for many reasons, but mostly because it narrows down what childhood can mean, and what it can encompass.  

Nostalgia as condemnation does not add to the conversation, and almost immediately negates any valid points the speaker might have. Not all things were better in that rosy past and they certainly weren’t better for everyone. Not all children grew up in a safe upper middle class suburb, and to act as though they did is to dismiss an entire population who might very well have benefited from those reviled changes. As John Green likes to say “The truth resists simplicity.” In fact, I’d argue that a fair amount of people in that past might wish they were living now, happily taking the annoying texting and bad-mannered cell phone use to also get the medical and household advances. Washing machines for everyone!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Where I Read

Amazing author and extraordinary speaker Laurie Halse Anderson has challenged her readers to write 15 minutes a day for the entirety of August. Not sure if I'll actually accomplish it, but I intend to try, and post the results here.

A series of mostly free verse poems about where I read, done for a project at work:

Most books during childhood:
Very late at night
Under covers
Just one more chapter
Hoping I don't get caught.

Wrinkle in Time:
Old plaid chair
In a corner,
In my room.
Sort of smelly,
But all mine. 
Covered in a blanket, 
While my mother vacuums
Outside my door.

Order of the Phoenix:
Reading in a bed-nest
Surrounded by down on all sides
With water and chocolate close at hand
Preferably rainy
Preferably cold
Preferably mid-morning

Half Blood Prince:
On a burning summer day
Wilting with heat
Sneaking Harry Potter
While Dan falls asleep

Deathly Hallows:
A bit out loud,
A bit on the subway,
The rest in an air-conditioned cocoon
With rainbow cookies
I read on the subway.
Wait, was that my stop? 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Oreo the Cat

Amazing author and extraordinary speaker Laurie Halse Anderson has challenged her readers to write 15 minutes a day for the entirety of August. Not sure if I'll actually accomplish it, but I intend to try, and post the results here.

My cat Oreo once licked tears off my face, about 4 years before we had to put her to sleep.

In middle school I had an intense crush on a boy named Sam. He was loud and funny and had a mop of brown hair on his head and a sprinkle of freckles across his nose. He was cute in a pretty conventional way, but it was really the confidence and humor that got me. We knew each other casually, had some classes together, and probably had all of 5 conversations throughout 8th grade. But still, when the year ended and he announced he was moving 250 miles away to Houston, I was crushed. Crushed by a crush.

Despite the fact that we clearly didn’t have a close relationship nor were we destined to be together, I woke up on the first day of summer feeling incredibly melancholy. Oreo, at that time a fully grown cat in full possession of her sight, jumped up on my bed as she did every morning, sniffing around my head. On mornings that I was not awake when she arrived, she saw fit to nip at my forehead, right below my hair line. Not real bites, just tiny alarm clock bites. On this morning, she found me fully awake, laying on my side with my face snuggled into my pillow, crying quietly. While a sad girl might deny her siblings the pleasure of seeing her teary eyes, there is no way to ignore a purring, furry cat sniffing so closely that you can feel her whiskers against your cheek.

Sliding my hand along her spine, I told Oreo my tale of woe: a boy I barely knew was moving away, and for some reason that reduced me to weeping. She didn’t judge, just listened and stared into my eyes as though she fully understood my middle school pain. Then she stood up, leaned in, sniffed some more, and whisked her scratchy velcro-y tongue against my face. One, two, three more times, little licks against the apples of my cheeks, which tickled me just enough to break me out of my sadness but not enough to make me fully laugh.

So when, four years later, I held a blind Oreo in my arms wrapped in my baby blanket, and passed her over to a vet for the last time, it’s no surprise that the tears flowed freely, nor did it escape my attention that she could no longer reach in, sniff my face, and lick them away. The realization, of course, only caused more of them to fall.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

WFMAD: Blinded by my desk

Amazing author and extraordinary speaker Laurie Halse Anderson has challenged her readers to write 15 minutes a day for the entirety of August. Not sure if I'll actually accomplish it, but I intend to try, and post the results here.

In a world where having a work space near a window is a sought after thing, a status symbol, I find it slightly ironic that I have to keep the blinds closed most of the time to be able to see my computer screen. I was assigned this seat next to the tall windows as a marker of my status in the department (window worthy, but not large cubicle worth or office worthy). Being able to look outside while I am ruminating on a particular problem or theorizing why it is that Elmo needs to find more songs to sing is certainly a nice perk. 

The downside of working in New York City, however, is that you are often surrounded by buildings made of glass. And if you are lucky enough to be free from glass towers, you are probably surrounded by apartment buildings with a multitude of windows that are just as reflective. Reflecting the sun into those tall, tall windows of which I have the privilege of being near. Reflecting the sun right onto my bright white desk which, while certainly solid, does an amazing job acting as a mirror to direct the sun back into my eyes. And that white desk, while looking clean and sleek when we first arrived in our new offices, but looking much shabbier now that it is covered in coffee rings and streaks of nail polish that has rubbed off my nails as I sort paper, still manages to have enough clean surface to reflect enough sun to effectively blind me.

So, after all the pomp and circumstance of achieving this desk position, this window-adjacent work area, this status-symbol-cubicle, I must stand on top of that nice white desk, grip the bottom of the nice white blinds, and pull them down to cover the entirety of those tall, tall windows. There goes the sun, there goes the view, here comes my ability to see my computer.

If this isn’t a first world problem (a NYC-centric problem) then I don’t know what is.