Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Help Wanted

By the time I graduated college I was sick of reading articles and posting responses. In my final semester of undergrad it seemed like all I ever did was read some scholar's opinion on a topic and then after I had spent hours reading it, understanding it and supporting it like I had been assigned, the next day in class my professor would tell us all how said scholar had been proven wrong. And the topics were always ones I found completely irrelevant, like the global economy and the dangers of deforestation. You know, nothing that actually matters in the real world, like what I was studying in my other classes, the long-term effects of surrealism in Iranian literature.

But if there's any practice more frustrating than reading and responding to 6 articles a week it's crafting 6 new cover letters every week. Writing a different cover letter for different career fields is taxing enough, I mean I only have so many skills. There are only so many synonyms for organized. And there are only so many people willing to be a reference for me. But the worst part of writing and rewriting cover letters is the manhunt it takes to find out who you need to address it to. It takes me about 3 minutes to rewrite a cover letter for a specific job, and about 3 hours to figure out the name of the HR contact.

After a couple of months of applying for jobs, I am more determined than ever to be a trophy wife. I'm just not cut out for the rat race of sitting at home alone watching TV, eating cheese in my pajamas and clicking "send resume" over and over again, it's exhausting. Today's post is about what I'm actually doing when I'm "applying for jobs online".

I think a large part of this issue is that whenever I see the word resume, instead of thinking "reh-zoo-may", my mind sees "ree-zoom video" and I head back over to where I left off on One Tree Hill. If binge-watching Saturday Night Live is wrong, I need more cowbell. It's just so easy to rationalize. "Well, I spent 15 minutes on E!.com and it appears they have no reality TV openings, so I can reward myself with 3 crappy rom-coms and a Disney movie."

Hey, this sounds productive! Until you realize that I've never actually applied for a job via LinkedIn I just constantly find people on there I can't believe I haven't already connected with and look for a different profile picture.

My internet-obsessed friends often begin a conversation with "Have you seen that Buzzfeed article on..." and I stop them right there because the answer is yes. I have. If it's been on Buzzfeed I have almost definitely seen it. I may not have read the entire article or taken the quiz, but I probably saw the icon and read the headline. It's a sickness. It takes no thought. Open laptop. Log in. Open Firefox. Open Buzzfeed. Lather, rinse, repeat. I read a few articles, take a few quizzes to find out what my second favorite ice cream topping says about me and skim a couple of definitive lists and before you know it it's time for dinner.

I could spend hours on Wikipedia. In fact, I do spend hours on Wikipedia. There are 2 main ways in which I end up inevitably sucked down the rabbit hole for the better part of a Tuesday morning. 1. Something prompts me to look up the Middle East and I hyperlink myself into oblivion. I start in Afghanistan and keep clicking on links until I end up back in America. 2. A movie or actor pops into my head and I go all 6 degrees of separation until I've discovered that Brad Pitt's cousin's nephew was once in a film with Tom Cruise's uncle's au pair. Or I just read the plots of any movie title that sounds familiar. If it's a classic or a pop culture reference, I have read the plot line according to Wikipedia. This drives my friends crazy but I just hate not knowing everything.

Paying Bills
I stopped to pay a bill while writing this blog post. It's just so rare that I think about paying bills while I'm actually online that if it happens, I'm going with it. And this always takes so long, each and every time I have to look up my password and username because they're so secure and elaborate. I mean sometimes my password is my first name, sometimes it's my last name, who can keep track?

Online Quizzes
I ain't got no type. Buzzfeed quizzes, personality quizzes, Myers-Briggs, Sporcle, geography quizzes. I can't explain it, in my day-to-day life I never ask myself what kind of flower I am, but as soon as I see an online quiz for it, I just have to know. And in my never-ending quest to memorize the globe I'm constantly searching for a European geography quiz that gives hints. South America took me all of a week to cover, capitals included, but Europe just will not got down without a fight. Was that an accidental metaphor?

More TV
The only thing that could rival my internet addiction is my television addiction. These days, if it's not on Netflix, it's likely on the channel's website. Not even 24 hours after a new episode airs you can watch it online. This is great for those with an active lifestyle, if you're like me and constantly missing your favorite shows because you're in the middle of a movie, you can catch up online. Once I watched an entire half-season of Degrassi when I should have been writing a paper on the influence of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia. I regret nothing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How To Be Single

If you read my blog regularly, first of all thank you and second of all might I recommend clicking on those ads to the right of this text and third of all, you might have noticed that a lot of my blog posts involve me giving advice on subjects that I am ridiculously underqualified to speak on. Like school and boys and gosh I think that's pretty much all I write about. How very sad. But I'm not apologizing. About 4 inches above these very words I say, quote, don't take me too seriously and anyways, several people have made a living speaking on subjects that they know nothing about. John Kerry, a particular former professor of mine and all those people writing parenting books who don't actually have children.

But this week I decided to mix things up and write about something I actually have a lot of experience with. Not restraining orders. Being single! If you say it with an exclamation point it's marginally less sad. Dying a childless spinster isn't terribly high on my current list of priorities but it seems to be yet another accomplishment I will achieve without really trying, like perfect attendance or least improved. So it's only fair that I pay it forward and share my knowledge with the less fortunate who might have trouble being single.

So if you are tired of getting hit on all the time, need to keep the boys at bay while you contemplate joining a convent, are trying to get your current flame to dump you, or just want to know what not to do, look no further. These methods are time-proven and after 22 years of experience and field tests I can assure you that the following maneuvers will in no way result in you finding yourself accidentally happy in a relationship. Angst is the new bliss.

Nothing says you better apply for permanent residency in the friend zone quite like calling a guy "dude". Why no one understands that this is a term of endearment is beyond me. I call my girl friends dude, I call my guy friends dude, I call my mom dude, I call my co-workers dude, I call 3-year-olds dude, I call my grandma dude. It obviously means I'm comfortable with you and I love you but my mother claims it's off-putting and makes males view me as one of the guys instead of the available debutante I suppose she would have me appear to be. Has this led me to stop calling guys dude? No. Has this led to a gentleman asking for my hand in marriage? No.

You all should know by now there a few things I feel very strongly about. Like T. rex equality, the state of Pluto's planethood, and ending selfie shame. As much as I believe in the right to bear arms. I'm terrified of guns. And as much as I believe in a woman's right to post a selfie, I'm almost always too afraid to do it. More often than not, if I'm taking a selfie or taking part in a group selfie, my eyes are closed and my tongue is out like the rockstar I believe myself to be. I just think I look remarkably less weird when I'm making a crazy face instead of smiling and smizing. I'm sure this is very telling about the inner workings (or lack thereof) in my brain. Must discuss with therapist. The point here is, my irrational fear of posting selfies keeps my profile pictures subpar. So online dating is out. Eliminating a solid 90% of the desperate, I mean eligible, men.

Eye Contact
Like Tupac's "death" and St. Patrick's Day, I don't believe in it. There is definitely a right and a wrong time and place for eye contact. Making eye contact with a potential employer during an interview? Totally. Go for it. Making eye contact with an eligible bachelor while you're out at night and he might actually come over and talk to you? I'm hopping on the nope train straight out of forgetthisville. Although I will say that out of all the times I have accidentally made eye contact with guys at parties, they very seldom attempt a conversation. In the roughly 4927 incidences of AEC, accidental eye contact, I have had to endure somewhere in the ballpark of 0 conversations. This also drives my mother crazy. She is constantly claiming that everyone in the vicinity is checking me out, which leads to me asking what is on my face. One of us is very wrong in this scenario.

Women's magazines are always claiming to know what types of outfits guys like, but my question is, why do we women care? Not that I'm immune to wanting to look nice, I just also happen to really, really not care. As much as I might envision a specific look for a fun night on the town (is this still an expression?), when it comes to actually getting ready, my idea for smokey eyes, a slinky dress and stilletos quickly turns into a fresh face, flexible pants and flip flops. My mother refers to all of my shirts as "tents" but if God didn't want me to wear XL shirts, why did he make them so comfy? If a guy can't love me in my Nike shorts and stained UNC Dance Marathon t-shirts, he doesn't deserve me in my yoga leggings and faded Carolina baseball tank top.

People are constantly telling me that I will find love when I stop looking for it. Um. I haven't worn eyeliner in months and I spend almost every Friday night watching Saturday Night Live reruns on VH1 alone. Who's looking? A professional really needs to clearly define what constitutes "looking". Instead of offering their ideas for immigration reform and job creation, can the presidential candidates each take a stance on what it means to be "looking"? We could do it at the first debate, moderated by relationship expert, Dr. Drew.

Making Moves
I'm old-fashioned. And of course by old-fashioned I mean terrified at the possibility of rejection. I think that it's a guy's job to make the first move. And all subsequent moves. How is this working out for me you ask? It isn't. Somehow we have gone through the looking glass into the 21st century and the roles have reversed. Now girls can ask guys out. Which was interpreted by the male species as a cease and desist. Do you know how hard it is to get a guy to ask you out these days? Let me rephrase that. Do you know how hard it is to get a guy to ask ME out these days? Guys just don't make the first move anymore. At least that's what I tell myself. And since I am also unwilling to make the first move, we appear to have reached an impasse. They'll cave eventually. 

Whenever I have a new love interest, a term I use very loosely because I can imagine a future with a guy in under 3 minutes post-introduction with literally no encouragement from them, I always ask neutral third parties if they think he might be interested. The response I normally get is "don't worry about it" which makes me feel so incredibly not better at all. Don't worry about it? Wow, why didn't I think of that. Instead of worrying about whether he likes me, I should just NOT worry. Oh, okay. No thanks "friends" and "family" I think I will stick to completely freaking out, checking all of his social media accounts, texting him 3 times in a row, repeatedly viewing his Snapchat stories and driving by his house. Thanks.

Being Yourself
Much like eating the last piece of bread, screaming every word to Total Eclipse of the Heart, and repeating verbatim my favorite YouTube videos in their entirety whenever something triggers a memory, being myself is something I just can't seem to stop doing. With the exception of course of trying to be celebrities. Any given day you can find my hair trying to be Ariana Grande, my body trying to be Beyonce, my body language trying to be Kate McKinnon, my personality trying to be Amy Schumer and my social media profiles trying to be Kardashians. No matter how hard I try to be someone else, I always end up still being myself. It's like Dr. Seuss said, "there is no one alive who is youer than me" or something. I am often told "just be the best version of yourself" but what I hear is "be a little less yourself" and dude, I so do not abide. I think what I'm trying to say is, if you want to find a boyfriend, don't be me. But if you want to be awesome, continue to be yourself. You can trust Seuss, he's a doctor.

There are several quotes that have impacted my life in a profound way. Almost all of them are from Carrie Bradshaw, Cher Horowitz and Anna Kendrick. But Charlotte York offers the best perspective for finding a man. You can never go wrong taking advice from fictional characters, that's what I (and other certifiably insane people) always say. "Maybe our girlfriends are our soul mates and guys are just people to have fun with." So on that note...I should really invest in some friends.

Stay tuned for How To Have Friends, the long awaited sequel to How To Be Single.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Only Man A Girl Can Depend On Is Her Daddy. And George W. Bush.

This isn't a political post, I just love George W. Bush. 

For those of you who have yet to purchase a Father's Day gift for your dad (which I'm willing to bet is most of you), don't feel bad. Dads are hard to shop for. People often say "I just don't know what to get him, he has everything." but that probably isn't true. More likely it's your mom who has everything but you can always get her some crappy jewelry or a picture of you and she will have to love it. Guys have all the fun, you get a snazzy Y chromosome and better gifts. Give your dad a picture of you and he is free to laugh in your face or use it as a coaster, so you have to up your game. You could just buy him a new tie but unless he's a news anchor or game show host, he probably doesn't need a 47th tie.

Luckily, I have created the ultimate Father's Day gift guide based on dad personality types. Are you positive that your little brother is your dad's favorite because he's the best at sports? Don't feel bad, he's just a sporty dad, he will appreciate your pottery projects one day. Does your dad have a newer phone than you and understand that the app store isn't a physical building? He's a tech dad! Or maybe your dad loves all the traditional dad stuff like eating steak for every meal and wearing loafers? He's a classic dad. Does your dad think camping in an RV is cheating? Outdoorsy dad. Maybe your dad tells dad jokes AND jokes that actually make people laugh? Funny dad! Or does he prefer actually reading the newspaper instead of just doing the sudoku and crossword puzzles? Retired dad. None of the above? We'll just go with cool dad because he's obviously a hipster/nonconformist/renegade. And below you can find the perfect gift for your dad, provided he fits into one of these traditional father archetypes. You're welcome.

The Sporty Dad
Sports books.
Step 1: get into a Journalism school. Step 2: infiltrate the sports communication program. Step 3: after completing several courses, save the all the books about teams, coaches and sports in general that you were required to buy. Step 4: take those same books (if you're lucky, your father already paid for them), and wrap them up for a great gift!
Or you know, a Panthers t-shirt works too. Just make sure that whatever logo-embossed item you pick up actually suits your dad. For instance, if you're like me and tend to head over to the clearance section, you don't want to accidentally get an extra small NC State jacket or a Charlotte Hornets shot glass for your dad who works out every day and doesn't drink. Being a good sport (haha see what I did there?) he will pretend to like it after the initial confusion wears off. And in the event that your father isn't a fan of any North Carolina teams, just get him a Carolina Hurricanes mug and tell him to cheer local.

The Techy Dad
Amazon Fire TV.*
I can tell you what not to get him and that's Windows 8. Other than that I'm kind of lost when it comes to technology but I did find this little gem that we in the manipulative daughters industry call a win-win. More shows for you to watch, more shows for your dad to watch so you aren't constantly watching all 486 episodes of Sports Center that air every day on ESPN. You know how dads are, they pretend that if they don't watch all 9 innings of baseball there's no way they will be able to understand the game but have no problem taking over the TV in the middle of Criminal Minds. Really dads, you can't gather from 7-2 that one team is winning by 5 but I'm supposed to be able to sleep not knowing if the UnSub was caught?
*This is kind of expensive, so maybe just pick him up a new stylus or power cord in the $5 bins at Target.

The Cool Dad
Power bank.
Because every dad that actually knows how to use his smart phone needs/deserves a portable power bank.Your cool dad might have more Twitter followers than you, and social media apps drain a battery. Or maybe he's constantly taking pictures of his tattoos/dogs/skateboard tricks. Maybe he's always on Buzzfeed or Tumblr or YouTube. Maybe he actually texts you back and keeps his phone on so he can answer your calls when you need him...that would be crazy. And it would also drain his battery. So for all the times when your car breaks down, you get lost, you can't remember who won the Super Bowl in 1996, or you just need to talk to the one man who will never find a flaw in you, help your dad keep his phone charged. Then work on making him keep it on.

The Classic Dad
Literally anything that would illicit the response "grill" in a rapid game of word association.
A new grill brush, a personalized spatula so every burger can be branded with "#1 DAD", a carnivore cookbook, a portable grill, the possibilities are endless. And if you get your dad grill gadgets, he will have to test them out. After sampling some grilled steak, burgers, shrimp, chicken, and quail you can tell him that you definitely taste a difference.
If your dad is classic, but vegetarian, you can treat him to my favorite meat-free meal. McDonald's french fries and cookie dough. Bon appetit.

The Outdoorsy Dad
Waterproof travel bag.
This will be so handy. Take it camping, take it to the beach, take it whitewater rafting. Just find a waterproof bag in a size and color you think your dad would like and fill it with travel size health products. Travel toothbrush-99 cents. Travel toothpaste-99 cents. Travel soap-99 cents. Travel shampoo-99 cents. The look on your dad's face when your gift says "maybe invest more time in personal hygiene"-priceless.
There are even fun variations of this gift. If your dad loves Naked and Afraid as much as I do (which I doubt), insert one survival tool into this bag and tell him to go live (fully clothed) in the backyard for a few days. He will really get a kick out of that.
Or use this bag to tell him he's going on a trip. He will open his gift and be all "why do I need a travel size ear & nose hair trimmer?" and you'll be all "cause you should really focus on facial hair maintenance more and you're going to Canada!" Minor issue here is you will need to provide a vacation as well as the bag, maybe go in with your mom for that.

The Funny Dad
As in it's a tie between a handmade Phil's-osophy book from Modern Family or a handmade Bro Code from How I Met Your Mother.  So please don't actually get him a tie.
The easy tiebreaker here is if your dad is happily married to your mom make him his own copy of Phil's-osophy gems like "If you love something, set it free. Unless it's a tiger." from fellow funny(ish) dad Phil Dunphy. If he's single make him a copy of Article 43 "A Bro loves his country, unless that country isn't America" and the rest of Barney's Bro Code.
If you don't like Modern Family or How I Met Your Mother, first of all what's wrong with you? And second, don't think that providing your dad with a list of his jokes that aren't funny will go over well or result in changes. You'd be wrong.

The Retired Dad
Senso golf glove.**
Because you know what they say about dads with golf gloves. Nothing because nobody cares about golf, but if your dad does you should get him this! I don't know what this thing actually does because it turns out the only thing more boring than watching golf is reading about the latest technological advances in golf gear. But based on the price I assume that it's a bionic hand that will make you the best golf player in the world.
**Also, expensive. What are the chances he would be just as happy with a jumbo word search book from Dollar Tree?

and in case you need to make up for a long history of bad Father's Day presents...
A motorized tie rack.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

First I want to apologize that my last 2 posts have been so late in the day. I know you're sitting by your smartphones, refreshing the page all day because I have a lot of page views and this seems to be the most reasonable explanation for that. But allow me to explain. It has been a crazy summer so far. Not crazy in the sense that I have been on vacation, going on dates or busy with a new job, but crazy in the sense that sometimes I accidentally watch a marathon of Married At First Sight to keep hope alive when I should be applying for jobs and writing blog posts. To further prove my point, I want to divulge to you all (Mom? Grandma? Gang's all here.) that I can't even remember the last time I got to watch Jeopardy! so clearly I have been busy. Now that the nasty business of me admitting to being flawed is over...

I almost titled this post "Things I Don't Understand" but I soon discovered that could escalate into a multi-month series. If I started writing about things I don't understand, I might never stop. And then who's going to be the sole online review for each new episode of Extreme Cougar Wives and Branson Famous? So to further focus this post I settled on questions I don't understand. When you're a well-respected citizen and authority figure (or the only person in the room) such as myself, people tend to ask you a lot of questions. "What do you think of Michael Moore?" "How many seconds should I microwave this donut?" "What's your favorite color?" I'm not talking about those questions, I obviously have great answers for those questions. Moron. 8. Yellow. This is about all those questions people ask me that they should seriously know the answer to already. It's like Taylor Swift or someone else just as quotable once said, there are no stupid questions. Only stupid people asking questions.

"Do you seriously only like him because he thinks you're funny?"
1 syllable. Duhhhhhhhhh. Since when is that an invalid reason to like someone? If you laugh at my jokes on multiple occasions I'm at the very least going to invite you to my wedding and at the most going to ask you to marry me. Honestly, you don't even have to laugh. Just follow me on social media and I will automatically start telling everyone I know "Oh, her? She is so sweet!" even if I had no idea who you were a week ago.

"What are you wearing?"
Unless you're referring to the present, chances are I have no idea. But more importantly, who cares?! I'm a firm believer in wearing whatever you want and personally I would rather be underdressed than overdressed. Also...have you seen my closet? If so, you probably wouldn't be asking this question because you would know that my response will likely be "something black" or "a Dance Marathon shirt". I'm not gonna run through all my options with you like "hmmm maybe the Calvin Klein dress or the LOFT romper?" More like "definitely something I got at Target." Maybe one day I'll show up to a wedding in norts and a tank top and learn my lesson. Maybe not. Again...who cares?

and "What are you wearing"s first cousin...
"Are you really wearing that?"
When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you. If you're at my house and we're getting ready to go somewhere and I have my purse, yeah, that's your sign that this is my outfit. And I am not going to change because you express disapproval. But maybe this is my fault. So I am sincerely sorry if I gave you the impression that I care what you think.

"Are you free tonight?"
No. I'm expensive.  Answering this question is like playing Russian roulette. If you say you're free you might get invited to something you sincerely have no interest in but if you're anything like me you're too polite to use the excuse of "oh I wish I could, I just really don't want to". If you say you're busy you might miss out on being invited to something super awesome, like dinner. So if you're about to ask someone this question, don't Trojan horse them. Just ask them if they wanna drive you to the airport so they can say they have to wash their hair and not feel guilty about it.

"Would you like more bread?"
What kind of question is this, seriously? What about me makes you think that there is a question as to whether I wish to consume more empty carbohydrates? Your tip will be proportional to the amount of bread you bring me. And by that standard if a blind date shows up an hour late again, you could put your twins through college on my tip.

"Do you think you're funny?"
No. I think I'm hilarious. Of course I think I'm funny. I get asked this question mainly by my best friends just trying to make me hate myself I guess? I don't actually know what their endgame is here. So anyways, if you're reading this (which they probably aren't) stop asking me this! I am a hoot, owlright?

"You don't drink?"
I get asked this at least once a week and then have to answer a whole other list of questions that are all asking the exact same thing. "Wait, so like, you don't drink alcohol?" "You don't drink at all?" "You never have?" "Do you want some of this?" "Will you ever drink?" and my personal favorite, "Why don't you drink?" I think the better question is why do you? But between asking that and telling people I'm pregnant so they will accept my sobriety I'm quote-alienating the public. So one last time. No. No. No. No. I don't plan to. Because.

"You have a blog?!"
This is often asked with an element of excitement. Okay more like surprise that I can both read AND write. But I really don't know how to take this question because it normally comes from semi-close acquaintances that I just assumed knew I had a blog because we're Facebook friends or they accidentally followed me on Twitter or they don't live under a stupid rock.

and finally...
"How are you single?"
 Believe me, this baffles me just as much as it does you. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Clothed & Asleep

I don't believe anyone who has ever known me for more than a day would recommend that I spend even more time watching TV, but one of my best friends has accidentally gotten me addicted to Naked and Afraid, so thank you Chelsea. Since I first watched, this show has been popping up all over my life like an ex-boyfriend I need to unfollow. But we all know I won't do that.

Just today I had to pry myself away from a Naked and Afraid marathon to attend Chelsea's birthday dinner. Ironic, right? While I was away my roommate Ginny texted me updates on the gentleman from the show with the gangrene. She's the best type of friend.

In this show, two "survivalists" are sent to a remote location to survive for 21 days. And they're naked. I say "survivalists" because the qualifications always sound more like girl scout badges than careers. Example "John is a 30-year-old CrossFit instructor who has been camping since he was 13. In his free time he hikes with his dog Molly and practices yoga." They each get a crossbody bag that provides some strategic cover and one survival item. For the most part, one contestant brings a knife and the other brings something to store and boil water, which makes me think there must be some sort of communication from the powers that be at Discovery Channel. What if both contestants showed up with a pot to boil water? At least they don't have to worry about both contestants showing up in the same outfit I guess.

I've given some thought to what my one survival item would be and I've narrowed it down to my 3 top picks. A fully functioning RV, a survival guide, or a 24 pack of toilet paper. The hard part is I feel they would all aid in my survival equally so I really couldn't choose just one.

Contestants also get a map of the land and their pickup location for day 21 where a guy in a truck will arrive to carry them away from the God-forsaken land they conquered. In every episode I've ever seen, the map is given to the woman. Take that as you will. As this show reminds me over and over, humans can only survive for 3 days without water. Personally, I think I would have trouble going 3 minutes without water, and that's not an overstatement. My mother had me tested. Anyways, the first segment of the show normally involves the contestants searching for a water source and trying to make a fire to purify said water. I would be highly motivated to secure water, and then immediately lose interest in survival after my thirst was satiated. The male contestant would announce "I'm going to go collect sticks to make a fire." to which I would reply "I'm going to go collect seashells to make a necklace."

Going into the show contestants are given a preliminary PSR, or primitive survival rating based on 3 categories: skill, experience, and mental aptitude. At the end of the show PSRs are re-evaluated based on performance. I have 2 main issues with this system. 1-what does one do with a PSR? Does it function like a wilderness GPA? Do you put it on your resume? LinkedIn profile? Tombstone? I don't know. And 2-the assignment of the PSRs, which exist on a 10-point scale seem kind of arbitrary. Is there an official governing council for PSRs? In one episode a male contestant's PSR decreased because he had a poor attitude, which I don't think is fair at all. I've never been naked outside and I pray I never am, but I can guarantee you that if I were, I would NOT be thrilled about it. Additionally, you can still go far in life without smiling every second of every day. Look at Victoria Beckham.

If the contestants prove that they can survive the elements, they still have to contend with the wildlife, poisonous flora and preying fauna. I've seen an island infested with rats, a river swamped with man-eating lizards and a cave shared with a bushmaster. And almost every episode features some species of monkey that threatens to steal food or spread disease, which is a little too close to the Hunger Games for me. I want to continue to think of monkeys as cute little tree climbers from the zoo, not murderous beasts in the jungles of South America. Is that so wrong?

After binge-watching this show for a few days, I embarked on an excursion to test my knowledge. Armed with only a bag, a towel, a good book,  ChapStick, sunscreen, clothes, sunglasses, shoes, a water bottle, bug spray, hair ties and roughly 12 SPFs if my calculations are correct, I set out for the 26 mile journey. The first 25 miles were easiest. Because they were in a car. But once we arrived at Eno River State Park, we still had to hike a mile to the rock quarry. Now there were other paths we could have taken, 5, 10, 20 yard treks across pavement to public swimming pools. But being adventurous, we headed down the hill, not to return for hours.

After a grueling mile where we faced mosquitoes, ants and worms, we reached our destination. For and hour we swam in the rock quarry, I kept lookout for the frogs and dragonflies that threatened our every move. Suddenly, thanks to innate survival skills, I sensed night falling and urged the group to head back to home base. It turns out I had confused a thunder storm for nightfall, but to be fair both were reasons to return. So we braved another mile hike and 25 mile drive to our pickup location, my house. And I've been waiting for a guy with a truck to pick me up ever since.

Needless to say, after this experience I realized that my chances of one day ending up on Naked and Afraid were minimal. But I still hold out hope for my own spin-off, where instead of naked and afraid I will be fully clothed and more or less asleep. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

iGeneration: Why 2000s Kids Can't Hang

If you know me personally, which let's face it, most of you do because you read this blog as a personal favor to me (which in no way diminishes my appreciation), then you know that I am often surrounded by an entourage of dance marathoners. But while it may come as a surprise that there are people who voluntarily spend time with me, I do have other friends at Carolina. Most of my time on campus not spent in the Carolina FTK office was spent in Carroll Hall, home of the UNC J School. So for the record, I would like it noted that I have exactly 1 friend in the J School. I have plenty of friends that I met and then later discovered that they were Journalism majors but our paths initially crossed elsewhere. And there are several classmates of mine who were forced to be my friend thanks to group projects, partner work and in-class discussions. In fact, thanks to a remarkable dedication to group projects and the many talents of my colleagues, my group message history reads like a future who's who of Ad Age. But my friend Sarah is the only person who willingly entered into a friendship with me before her GPA depended on it, and for that, we thank you.

Today's blogpost is inspired by a conversation I had with Sarah among the toy aisles in Wal-Mart, where we do some of our best work. Sarah and I have worked on many an assignment together with her doing all the technical work and contributing fantastic ideas while I tell jokes and struggle with the pen tool in Illustrator. We reminisced about how the toys of our youth were so much better than the crap kids play with today. We scoffed at the teddy bears with a pocket to charge baby's first iPhone and the robots that serve as speakers for your toddler's iPod. In the words of white girls everywhere "I literally can't". And if you've bought your small child an electronic device worth over $20 don't tell me it's so they can learn to use technology. I didn't have a smart phone until I was in college and I'm plenty tech-savvy, I can hashtag and I can filter, what more could I need? Disregarding of course the fact that I'm typing this post on my phone because I can't get my laptop to open Firefox and my only known solution (a restart) failed. Our main revelation was that the toys we had growing up, while of a much higher quality, would never work with 2000s kids for a plethora of semi-obvious reasons. You 2000s kids can look up "plethora" on your tablet's dictionary. Maybe you even have a toy that will read the definition for you.

Here are the top 5 toys of my 90s childhood and the reasons why 2000s kids just wouldn't love them like I do. 

Easy-Bake Oven
Every girl my age remembers her Easy-Bake Oven, or at least remembers her mother giving it away (thnx Missy). I used to love whipping up treats that allegedly always tasted vaguely of hand soap because from a very young age my dedication to sanitation was unyielding. But I would never want to use it for anything other than nostalgic baking today, as brought to light by a recent pretzel-nuggets-that-could-double-as-bullets incident. The problem with Easy-Baking is that it literally consists of waiting on a lightbulb to cook a brownie or a cake or a Cornish game hen or whatever mixes they make for these spoiled 2000s kids that have iPads and Uggs before they can read. But in their defense, this lack of patience isn't entirely their fault. We have made numerous scientific advancements in the past 2 decades that are making waiting a thing of the past, no one survives unaffected. In the 1990s I had no problem waiting 30 minutes for that lightbulb to heat my heart-shaped brownie to perfection. In the 2000s I can't wait the recommended 2 minutes after microwaving a Hot Pocket, I bite right in each time, scorching off another layer of tongue skin in the process.

HitClips were indisputably the coolest thing about me in my formative years. I didn't grow hair till I was 3, my own mother gave away my Easy-Bake Oven, and I did not wear "cool" clothes (unless you consider Lion King and 101 Dalmatians hand-me-downs from my cousins cool when my favorite movie was Aladdin and every outfit featuring Simba or Perdita felt like a lie, if you think that's cool then I was pretty rad). Thus, HitClips were my solitary claim to fame. But HitClips could never survive the current music market because only the top songs became HitClips, they aren’t called FlopHits, ya dig? Today’s HitClips would be Arianna Grande, Sam Smith and Taylor Swift tunes.  To better meet the audio needs of today’s tweens they would need to evolve into HipsterClips and would feature artists like Death Cab For Cutie and George Ezra. This theory of course ignores the most pressing issue facing HitClips...they did not play entire songs but rather a select 60 seconds.

Skip-Its. Now there's a toy that would serve Michelle Obama better than a turnip in a children's health video. At the peak of my adolescent fitness, a Skip-It could provide hours of entertainment, but they wouldn’t work with kids today for a few reasons. First of all, the kids would have to actually go outside. Perhaps a Skip-It Wii game could find moderate success? Additionally, if Skip-Its wanted to achieve high sales quotas today they would have to get rid of the tracker that counts the number of successful skips. That kind of quantifiable success data isn’t aligned with the “everyone’s a winner” mantra of today’s parents. But perhaps the biggest reason that the Skip-It could never make a 2000s comeback is that the very nature of skipping does not allow for quality photos, and we all know kids today are more likely to do it for the ‘gram than the game. I could see some good Skip-It vines though. Someone get too turnt tina on this.

How great were these? I wish I still had mine. My little brother got an early 2000s version for Christmas one year that projected the images onto the wall and I played with it more than he did. I had Toy Story discs, ocean life discs, Animal Planet discs, dinosaur discs, and not so many friends. I miss these so much. But today’s kids would never appreciate the View-Master because the consist of images with no captions or hashtags. If 2000s kids got ahold of the design for a new View-Master they would probably include discs that show the same image in different Instagram filters and the toy would be used to settle on one.

Rock Tumbler
This was my favorite toy for such a long time and that is due largely to the fact that the process of rock tumbling takes such a long time. As soon as my high expectations for this contraption were shattered (so sometime during my first use) I moved on to a jewelry making kit. I’m pretty sure that 8-year-old me was so obsessed with my Rock Tumbler because I loved gemstones and I thought that given time, patience, and a never-ending supply of ordinary rocks, I could soon possess the world’s largest supply of diamonds. Unfortunately, try as I might to mass produce sapphires and rubies and emeralds, after 2 weeks, the handful of rocks from my driveway had transformed into slightly smoother rocks that inevitably went back to my driveway. So to be fair, Rock Tumbler kind of sucked and that's why it will never have a 2000s revival. However I do not think that the 2000s kids accustomed to electronics and iEverything would wait 14 days to play with rocks. Which makes them at least marginally smarter than my adolescent self.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What The Actual Lail

Disclaimer #1 This post will be about a bachelorette party.
Disclaimer #2 This post will still be appropriate, so keep reading Mom.

One of the few people strong enough to stay friends with me through the freak show that was middle school is getting married this Friday! So naturally, the girls had to get together for a very mild and tasteful bachelorette party where we painted our nails and watched a G-rated movie and went to bed by 9PM. When you've been friends for as long as we have, you can reminisce for hours. For some girls this might mean tales of proms past, stories from playing sports and going to school together and memories of sleepovers a decade ago. For us, it means remembering always being late to statistics, singing Christmas carols while doing wall sits, combined birthday dance parties and of course telling the story of the time Alex almost ate a french fry.

I've decided to recap the night via 3 main areas of interest: dinner, the hotel and mystery men. It makes sense if you don't think about it.

Dinner included several orders of bacon mac & cheese and several waiters asking if I wanted a drink. After double fisting ice water for most of the meal, I finally just told the waiter that I couldn't drink because I was pregnant. "I don't drink" no one seems to understand, "I'm creating a life" they get. Dinner also spurred round 1 of embarrassing memories, like the french fry fiasco, and several nights that we had to piece together via snapchat stories the next day. Between concerts in Raleigh, parties in Greenville, frats in Chapel Hill and a dozen years of friendship, we had a lot of material to cover.

Back at the hotel, the bride opened her presents, you know, daily devotionals for newlyweds, 100 prayers for all couples, something new, something blue and the like. As the bride prepared to throw away the wrapping paper and gift bags I leapt into action to salvage the tissue paper because that stuff is expensive. We ate cupcakes, sang kumbaya, and expertly applied lipstick as we were helping the bride kiss her single life goodbye (which some of us did better than lipstick print looks beyond unfortunate and is one of my biggest regrets in life). In an interesting turn of events, the hotel room did not include a mini fridge so beverages (wine) were served out of a trashcan full of ice for the remainder of the evening. The trashcan wine cooler to actual trashcan ratio ended up being 2:1.

Mystery Men 
Yes. Men. Plural. Wearing all black, our coven of 13 ladies collecting quite the fan following throughout the night. I think this is thanks to a combination of factors: the heels we all very much regretted by the end of the night, an equal mix of awkward and amazing dance moves and of course, Chatham County charm. #NoNewFriends

Mystery Guys at the Bar
Apparently nothing says buy us drinks like a group of woo girls in a bachelorette party. Seriously, every time someone acknowledged us, we just had to woo, it's some weird science thing I think, an involuntary response. One gentleman in particular bought 3 rounds. We salute you.

Mystery Men on the Street
Oh these guys, let me tell you. The party paused to sit down on some benches and plan our next move, walking to Waffle House, when 3 guys approached us. After being delighted that we thought they seemed slightly younger than their 30 years, they guessed that we were around 25, which was terribly offensive to our group with a median age of 22. They then invited us to continue our party at their house and were genuinely surprised when we declined, somehow not understanding that given the choice of a stranger's house or Waffle House, we unanimously chose waffles.

Mystery Friend
This guy...where do I even begin? We first saw him in a bar when he came up to one of my friends like he had known her his whole life. He was 50% high fives and smiling, 50% awkward laughter and 50% barely intelligible small talk. And I realize that those numbers add up to over 100% and that is because this guy was so extra. We saw him again on the street and he asked us where his friends were. His friends that we had never seen before. But the real kicker was that as we were ending the night at the Cook-Out drive through, as one does, he appears again, stronger than ever before, as if he's had a power nap or a turbo charge or something. He was traipsing around the cars in line, spotted us and saw an open window in the sense that literally, our car windows were down, so we had another brief convo, sent him on his way, and promptly watched him open the door and enter the car in front of us, only to realize it was the wrong car. I sure hope that kid is alright.

This experience has given me some insight into what I would like my bachelorette party to consist of should the hand of God intervene and I find myself engaged.
First, there would be dinner, something to convey the class and caliber of the event. I'm thinking Golden Corral, but only one with a chocolate fountain. A lady has her standards.
Since we all know I'm getting married on July 4th, after dinner we would head to the beach, because why celebrate me for a night when you could celebrate me for an entire weekend? Heck, why stop there, take off the whole month of June and we'll just work on tan lines, cuticle care and eyebrow maintenance for 30 days.
Once we get to the beach house generously donated by a TBD individual, we will watch Saturday Night Live: Best of Justin Timberlake and play Cards Against Humanity, the party game for horrible people.
After I win Cards Against Humanity it will be time for...Globe Games! The series of games played with my globe, Richard, that only I enjoy. My ladies can take turns spinning the globe (after they wash their hands of course) and quizzing me on world capitals. Naturally, this could go on for hours.
Since I don't drink, we will take shots of brownie batter. This is not wrong.
After gossiping all night, we will frolic on the beach all the live long day, AKA I will read and swim in the ocean and everyone else will probably sleep.
My bachelorette party. A girl can dream.