I remember being young and self-important and thinking my hobbies and interests were better than some other people’s hobbies and interests. In fact, I know for a fact that I’d had a handful of dismissive conversations with people about how I would just never hang out with anyone who didn’t…
A nice response to that stupid Gizmodo piece, which isn’t even that great of a story and I feel dumber for having read it. Thus, not linking it.
Check the forecast. TRIPLE DIGIT HIGHS EVERY DAY ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Formulate a plan of attack: skirts and dresses and absolutely no pants or sleeves.
Worry about the flights. Planes are always cold. They are like their own climate!
While running, envision the brilliant solution to this problem: throw a pair of leggings in your carry-on purse. YES!
Think of your most lightweight, favorite dresses and come up with two favorites: the plaid one and that other plaid one.
Picture your favorite striped tank - the red and white one! Throw in the gray and white one while you’re all it.
And a skirt to match either tank.
And, another skirt. They’re small! Also, some shorts.
Consider the possibility of having mostly bare shoulders all the time and turning into a lobster. Throw in two shoulder-covering tees in case this happens.
Sun, you say? There is an answer to this: your new sun hat! Stuff the head with your tiny shirts so it maintains its shape.
Oh what the hell, though we know a thin long-sleeved cardigan is ridiculous, we also know we get cold in A/C and there is STILL ROOM IN THIS SUITCASE.
Bring your athletic suit and cap and goggles because Barton Springs is something like three football fields long. Tell yourself you will actually maybe attempt to work out this vacation.
But let’s face it, bikinis are tiny and you can never be too prepared for any bikini-necessary emergencies. Bring the green one.
Some people might say that four pairs of sandals for a four day trip is excessive, but 1) most sandals are really about half a pair of shoes, and you’d bring two pairs of shoes, yes? 2) you still have space and 3) those people are no fun.
Don’t forget all the other stuff like underwear! Toiletries! Jewelry! And so on.
Hey careful readers, remember last summer when there was this site where you could copy and paste your writing and it would magically spit out what famous author you write like? And I kept getting David Foster Wallace, and then James Joyce, which is funny because I haven’t read a thing by either of them and so I wrote about how that was funny.
There was an article in the Times recently where the author sort of blames DFW for influencing much of the writing that can be found on the internet. I didn’t really know what she meant until I got here:
Wallace’s nonfiction abounds with qualifiers like “sort of” and “pretty much” and sincerity-infusers like “really.” An icon of porn publishing described in the essay “Big Red Son,” for example, is “hard not to sort of almost actually like.”
Eff! I write like that a lot of the time! And yet, I still have not read three words by DFW. But I have read thousands of words of blogs and other writers (Eggers, for one) which the article claims have also adopted this style. I think this is saying that I’m sort of (ha!) copying a copy of a copy, or something.
Anyway, all these things make my wonder how much of my writing is my actual voice, and how much is inspired by people, who are inspired by other people? Is this what creative writing classes do - help writers figure this out? (A sort of honest question - I have never taken one!) (Oh god, I will probably never be able to write “sort of” ever again without groaning or giggling.)
P.S. I tried the “I Write Like” site again with more current samples and got H.P. Lovecraft once (who?), Chuck Palahnuik once (haven’t read anything by him, either!) and Cory Doctorow twice (that internet guy, right?). One more time for shits and giggles: James Fenimore Cooper? Okay, I’m done.
P.P.S. It’s becoming apparent that no one writes like ANY female authors. If you can get a lady writer, let me know!
Seeing as how I majored in Sociology, my alma mater (UW-Madison) likes to track me down and send me newsletter updates from their department. It’s sort of fun, because I’m like, oooh that one professor is still studying gender politics in Europe! Keep it up, lady! And that other professor is indeed still teaching classes about racial inequality, and winning awards for it! Good work! While I’m catching up, I tried to remember other professors I had, and I thought of that one, that one who taught my first Sociology class: Contemporary American Society. (Our TA joked that the alternate title was Why We Should All Move to Sweden.) We read Nickel and Dimed, and discussed economic inequality, and at the end of the semester the professor answered a question poised by a student, something like “Don’t you have anything GOOD to say about the United States?” His answer to this anonymous student was respectful but also a bit chiding, in a “if you care about your country you can’t ignore the problems” sort of way. He had the perfect mix of cynicism and idealism, in that he knew exactly what was wrong and desperately wanted to fix it all even if he knew exactly what would stand in the way. This was the class that made me ask the question: why am I nearly failing out of all of my math classes when I could be learning about how terribly unfair America is? This was a decade ago.
In American Society: How It Really Works, Erik Olin Wright and Joel Rogers ask several crucial questions: What kind of society is American society? How does it really work? Why is it the way it is? In what ways does it need changing, and how can those changes be brought about?
They explore the implications of these questions by examining five key values that most Americans believe our society should realize: Freedom, Prosperity, Efficiency, Fairness, and Democracy. Wright and Rogers ask readers to evaluate to what degree contemporary American society realizes these values and suggest how Americans might solve some of the social problems that confront America today.
I want to know the answers to all these questions! I want to read this 475 page book and pretend I’m in college again!
In my head anyway. I’m not so sure I’d feel the same were the book actually in my hands.
I’ve read a lot about Khan Academy in the past couple of weeks, albeit with a lot of skepticism (more on that later). If you don’t know the deal and don’t like reading, the short story is that a very smart man started recording little math tutoring sessions for family members and now they’re all on youtube and there’s a whole site where you can do practice problems and it’s become a whole thing and it’s also very hard to read an article about the enterprise without any remarks of how it’s revolutionary or changing the rules. (Hey Khan, have you made any videos on avoiding run-on sentences yet?)
I’m a teacher, and it’s hard for me to read any articles about reform or new techniques without the whole yeah, but, what about x, etc. part running through my head. But here’s something nice about Khan Academy: it’s all online for all of us with internet access to experience (and judge!).
I just finished a Discrete Mathematics class. It’s a requirement for an additional license I’m working on, and let’s just say that it wasn’t the most fun experience, especially when the professor did pretty much every bad example I just learned about in Math Methods. The last section of the class was on Sets and Counting, Combinations and Probability. Wondering what that looks like? It involves questions of totally real-life situations such as: You have 11 sweaters. How many different combinations of 4 sweaters can you take on vacation? The math answer is 330, but the reality answer is well, I take the 4 I like best that will fit into a carry-on and if I have trouble picking I will go with whatever color matches my vacation color scheme so REALLY it’s only like 3-5 truly feasible combinations, come on now.
So ANYWAY. Yesterday I was studying for my test and I was like, ooh maybe that Khan guy has probability lectures because I need help! I started with this lecture and then this one. They were pretty okay, in that they confirmed and solidified my understanding with a different point of view, which is especially helpful when your professor consistently loses you. I thought, wow, what a great resource! Anyone who has trouble with homework can view these from home! But let’s slow down before we get too excited, because I am a fairly ideal student, for this set-up, anyway. I was highly motivated to get a good grade, and I also had access to a lot of resources.
I still had more studying to do, so I went to the coffee shop (sans computer) and hit the wall. I have to say, that it speaks very highly to the lectures that I was all, man I just want another one! But when I actually started the next lecture, I started to lose it. First, it just needs to be said that the lectures (the ones I watched, anyway) look like crap. Chicken scratch equal signs easily morph into less than symbols, and in a succession of written twos were incomprehensible squiggles. I kept thinking, if this is so revolutionary can’t they figure out a way to not make it look so terrible?
Second, the example being used was one of those ridiculous textbook examples: suppose you have five fair coins and ten unfair coins, where you get heads 80% of the time. Because apparently somewhere in the world there exists a two-sided coin that can achieve this. HUH? [Edit: Oh god, why did I even open this wormhole of total nerdery?] I grew increasingly frustrated by the look of the lecture and my perceived absurdity of the problem at hand and all of a sudden I wanted no part in it. So instead I packed up my things, went to the tutoring center (hooray! resources!), got the help I needed and felt relatively confident when I took the test.
To sum my personal experience: Khan Academy is a great resource that can help you see things from different perspectives, even if the actual presentation looks junky and isn’t much different than most other lectures you’ve seen.
But from a teacher’s perspective (particularly one with a lot of low income students), the big stumbling block that I can’t get over is that Khan Academy requires both a computer and internet access. And no, not everyone has this - a quick search gives many estimates at about a third of the country without access to broadband. I know in the internet world this is unheard of, and this is why publications like Wired (and most other ones writing about technology, quite frankly) ignore this fact because DUH everyone is online! Everyone who is important is online, anyway.
I’ll guess I’ll be happier when people like Bill Gates and Google start realizing that maybe the best way to fund an internet project they deem revolutionary is to make access to that project more equitable and affordable.
Jeans/pants that fit, with the exception of being too short. You can make them into shorts! Capris! Skirts, even!
The sheer top you were about to throw out, because lady, sheer is BACK, and also you have a Lady Gaga concert to attend.
(BTW, I started writing this last summer, sorry. Is sheer still sort of back? Whatever. Keeping the sheer shirt.)
That dress/skirt that you really haven’t worn all summer because it’s not a summer dress/skirt! They exist for other seasons too!
That professional pencil skirt that you never wear because your job is not really a “I need to look super professional” job, BUT someday you might have an interview and you will ROCK THEIR SOCKS in that skirt. (And you know this because it’s landed you three job offers already.)
People who don’t like clutter will probably tell you that you shouldn’t keep things for sentimental reasons, but I’m a sap who can tolerate some sentimental clutter so long as it’s not completely ugly. Keep 1-2 of those.
The still adorable French Connection skirt that you spotted in the window of Everyday People, and then purchased on the first day it was available, even though now it is far too big.
All those plaid shirts that you LOVE but have shrunk to the point of belly baring when talking with your hands.
The pants that make you sad. They probably won’t make anyone else happy, but sad pants need to GO.
Those vintage red heels that you got at a church sale many years ago. They are so precious! But you never wear them because HEELS and also they turn your feet all red but sshhhhhhh the person who buys them doesn’t have to know that.
PROBABLY those shoes you love that rip your feet to shreds but shhhhhh new owner doesn’t have to know that but ahhhhh I still love them as long as I don’t have to walk in them.
Those cotton panties that have stretched beyond to the point of saggy granny panties.
Same with all your dumb bras. Elastic completely shot? Gone. Can’t fill ‘em out anymore? Get out of town.
Pitted out t-shirts. No one wants that from you! (Unless you plan on cutting any offensive portions away and turning them sustainable recreations.)
This post was resurrected from the Draft section due to the fact that we, the Twin Cities Runoff, are having a YARD SALE! Give us your unwanted stuff! Buy our unwanted stuff! Eat muffins! We will be collecting in Northeast Minneapolis this Thursday and Friday night, and selling all the shiz on Saturday. [Info? Go here or here.]
I gave up buying new clothes for six months. I gave up buying new clothes because I have more jeans and shirts than I have hangers, more tanks and tees than I have drawer space. I gave up buying new clothes because I had piles of fabric with intentions to sew it all into amazing masterpieces. I gave up buying new clothes because the mall is soulless and boring, and almost everything within is made by people not getting paid nearly enough for their work.
It was pretty easy until summer hit - before then, I didn’t even really have time to shop - but once the weather warmed up I wanted a new dress for that wedding, and new sandals for SUMMER, duh! I held strong and grumbled as catalogs arrived. I sucked it up and actually made some clothes with my own hands (a skirt, two dresses, and a top). I bought more fabric. I bought more of anything else I deemed I could buy per my no-new-clothing rule: athletic gear? Bras? Maybe I need some new bedding!
I also started weeding things out, because when you can’t mask your closet with anything new, you start to realize that you never actually wear some of that stuff. Stuff that I love (too big) and stuff that I hate (almost every pair of pants) and stuff that I’m just bored of (you’ve had this thrifted polka dotted skirt since 2003!) all went into bags, all to be sold at the Twin Cities Runoff Yard Sale. (Which you should totally attend, by the way.)
I could go on about all the things August normally signifies, with the end of summer and the school year fast approaching, but this time it mostly meant shopping. I did try to constrain myself to a mission: new pants for work.
When I got to Rosedale Mall, I started touching racks of anything striped thinking, everything here is something I can buy! I realized quickly that very little of it were things I actually wanted to buy. The Gap was particularly confusing: though I had in the past bought many (looking back, terrible) pairs of pants here, I couldn’t seem to find anything good. Deb recommended Express, and I begrudgingly wandered in to affirm my hatred of that place, and also confirm their small selection of pants. I hit the jackpot at Banana Republic: shorts, tank, v-neck, leather sandals and pants, all of which were on sale except for the last one.
Needing to kill some time before heading to an appointment, I went to Forever 21. The Forever 21 at Rosedale is relatively new, expansive, and full of trendy disposable clothes. It’s not a new place to me, but it’s a been a long time since I’ve visited. The first thing I encountered was a table of striped tanks (weakness!) for $5.50 each.
I stared at it kind of shocked. $5.50? Why the hell was I even thinking about refashioning large t-shirts into tanks when this one exists in my hand for less than the price of most food-cart sandwiches? But I’ve know the answer for a long time - nobody in this day and age makes clothes to save money, or even break even. And still, the economics of it are somewhat baffling. Okay, sure, given the right machines and training it is not too difficult to knock out a simple tank. But where in the world is adorable striped fabric selling for..what…75 cents a yard? How many tanks does a child in Bangladesh have to make in an hour so as not to face consequences?
I walked around the entire store, eyeing the skirts that were all too short, and taking a minute to realize that the tiny clothes in one section were actually for tiny people called children. I tried on fedoras, and put my favorite back because I knew I’d never actually wear it. I put the chevron clutch back after it got a mark on it, already? But the red and white Where’s Waldo striped tank was mine. It represented about 3% of the money I spent that day, and was probably my favorite purchase.