Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Out of Order" indeed

It's a good thing they posted that sign. Otherwise, who knows how long I would have stood there trying to make the right-hand dryer work.

And yes, I was taking photos in a public bathroom. No, I don't see anything wrong with that.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today's Word of The Day: WRATH!

My grandfather (who hails from Great Britain) has survived at least three car accidents in his seventies. I think that my English accent here might be what finally does him in.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I don't want to be your weekend lover...

Generally, I try to avoid dating or any type of sexually charged mingling of the sexes. Lingering glances and touches make me feel claustrophobic; I can’t function in a conversation that lacks boner jokes; and, to me, “sexy” means putting on a clean bra and possibly deodorant. Despite my better efforts, I occasionally find myself in situations where people somehow manage to test my unreasonable and unmoving boundaries and see past my unwelcoming attitude (usually through vast consumption of alcohol). So was last night when I went to see a friend’s band play at a local club. Just so you don’t assume that I constantly wallow in a pool of self-pity and deprecation, I’ll admit that I was feeling pretty good. My hair was doing nice things for me, my skin was all aglow, and for once I managed to look not like a complete A-hole (A=ass) in skinny jeans. Not unrelated, I drank a gimlet after work AND am trying this new thing where I don’t send out unwelcoming vibes. Anyway, sitting at a table with my friend, a bunch of dudes suddenly saddled up like we invited them or something. Naturally, I started trying to play wingman for my girl, saying stuff like “She’s real smart at college” and “I hear she gives a sweet beege,” but more and more this one guy kept turning to me and asking me what I studied, where I’m from, etc. More than that, he kept touching my arm. WHO DOES THAT? Not I, that’s for sure. Ignoring my natural instinct to run home and watch old episodes of Perfect Strangers on the computer, I decided to be brave and try and do what comes naturally to others.

Things were going… okay. The guy had an ironic mustache, which never bodes well, but he also went to Berkley, which means that he’s probably pretty smart. So, for a while, I hung in there and I can’t stress enough how unusual that is for me. But then he said this:

“Yeah, I’m sort of a connoisseur of cities.”

What. The. Fuck. Before you think that I’m being too hard on the guy, let me tell you how unbelievably pretentious this sounded: SO UNBELIEVABLY PRETENTIOUS. That’s when I got up and left the table for a “closer look at the band.” Later in the night, a couple of friends approached me to plead his case.

“PQK,” one said. “You were just the other day saying that you don’t get touched enough.” (note: I was joking when I said that)

“He’s a really nice guy,” the other said.

“I’m not really the ‘in town for the weekend’ type of girl,” I said, diplomatically.

A little bit later, I felt someone’s hand on my messenger bag. Turning around, I saw The Guy. Naturally, I said the first thing that came to mind:

“Are you trying to mug me?”

Apparently, he wasn’t (though I’m still suspicious). Turns out, he was just checking out the buttons on my bag.

“Oh,” I said. “That one’s from Lula Café in Chicago. Have you ever been there?”

“No,” he replied. “Which is weird because I’m sort of a connoisseur of cafes.”

I am not kidding. He dropped the C-bomb TWICE. And yes, this post merits lots of caps locks. But the fun doesn’t stop there. No, he followed it up with something equally uncomfortable and self-conscious:

“PQK, how do you feel about candidness?”

Candidly, I think questions like that are reserved for bullshit, whimsical hipster rom-coms, but I think I actually answered with something along the lines of “if you don’t have anything nice to say…”

“Well, candidly,” he continued. “I think [insert comment about my looks that I'm to embarrassed to type here].” (at least the guy has good tastes. har har)

“Candidly,” I said, almost puking with nervousness. “That girl is dancing crazy.” And then I pointed to some crazy dancing girl. And side shuffled away, muttering “thanks.”

I’m asking you, Internets, is this sort of thing normal? Is this how men and women usually strive to interact with each other? Maybe I just grew up with too many male friends, which means that I openly scoff at lame comments like a sister rather than say “connoisseur of cities and cafes, eh? That is sexually appealing to me somehow” like a flirt. All I know is that, for once, it was so satisfying to go home to my own bed and sleep alone, clutching my laptop. Call it sad, but it cannot be anymore depressing than bragging to random girls in bars (as nice as their hair may look). Besides, how can I fit into that world? What can I say back? I guess I’m a connoisseur of Buffy episodes. I’m a connoisseur of bagels. I kick ass at Trivial Pursuit: Pop Culture Edition. Jaded as I may come off, I’m convinced that one day I’ll meet someone who will be impressed by these things, but I highly doubt that he is the type of person who continually takes pictures of himself (this guy did) and has facial hair that is intentionally stupid.

I know this post is about a mile long, but I'd like to give the gents out there some advice that I'm completely unqualified to give:

-Beards can be good if kept neat. Mustaches are just awful no matter how great your fixed-gear is.
-Be sincere. If you love to ride that fixed-gear, by all means, ride that fixed gear. Just don't do it if you don't actually give a shit about bikes. The same can be said for conversations. Rehearsed sentences like "how do you feel about candidness" come off as just that: rehearsed. It's not quirky. It's awkward. Just talk.
-If you want my attention, be funny, be smart, be humble. That's really all there is to it (is that so hard?). Oh, and be wicked good looking.

And now a note to my friends:

It's become clear that you have no idea what my type is. I know that I'm into fashion, but, in the end, it comes down to the fact that I would date a guy in cargo shorts over a guy wearing raw denim as long as Mr. Cargo Shorts would repeatedly watch Wet Hot American Summer with me and make me laugh. Also, I kind of like socially integrated nerds (meaning a nerd that can handle drinking a beer at a bar with a small group of people, not nerds who solely date through online gaming). I've crushed on many a T.A. even though there are more stylish people in class. It's way cooler to know about Shakespeare than it is to complain about how Animal Collective have sold out with their newest album. I guess what I'm saying is that I appreciate the effort. You're just trying to help cure the social awkwardness and loneliness that I wear way too obviously. But please, stop pushing me towards boring people who are later randomly described to me as an "arrogant asshole" and a "pretentious prick."

Oh, and P.S., the night wasn't a total waste. I definitely danced the "Tootsie Roll" along side one of Kanye West's stylists. Ah, brushes with fame...ish.




delicious smoothies

my dog refusing to sit still so that I can take his picture...

...but insisting on being in others.

new shoes

short sleeves

and nothing productive.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

go go gadget flow

Thank the Lord for it is finally SPRING BREAK! And we all know how much He (and the chancellor) has to do with that. And how have I been using my free time? No, not sitting around while I stupidly laugh at YouTube videos and eat bagels. No, not crying either. Instead, I spent the weekend hanging out in Chicago with two of my dear friends. We all threw in for a hotel room off of Michigan Ave. and just took our sweet time riding the L, eating food, and shopping.

-Sitting in the sun, drinking viogner, and eating a crab cake sandwich at bin
-Bruschetta and duck breast at my favorite Chicago restaurant lula
-A gin, cucumber, mint, and rose water cocktail
-Browsing Crossroad Trading Co.
-Finding these:

-Not being surrounded by the same old boring white people (not that I'm anything but)

-Sleeping at The Red Roof Inn
-Dirty carpets at The Red Roof Inn
-Bugs in the bathroom at The Red Roof Inn
-Boring breakfast at The Bongo Room
-Telling my friends that they could go ahead while I was browsing Crossroad Trading Co., them going ahead, me feeling my natural inclination toward jealousy, then me throwing internal tantrum as I walked to find them.
-Trying on awesome glasses. Awesome glasses costing $375.00. Not buying glasses.

Overall, great weekend.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Looking Forward to... Sunshine Cleaning

So, I've decided that I'm excited for this new movie Sunshine Cleaning. For those who don't know, it's a movie about two sisters who start a crime scene clean-up business. Crime scene clean-up is a job that's fascinated me since a middle school friend (I was in middle school, too, so nothing creepy here) was reading a book on the world's weirdest jobs. One of the people they talked to was a man who loved cleaning up crime scenes so much that his marriage broke-up over it and he didn't even care (lots of creepy there). Believe me, this is a job that I'd never want to pursue (I can barely look at roadkill), but it seems, just like with Six Feet Under, a great backdrop for family drama and humor to ensue.

Here's the preview:

Other reasons I'm excited to see this movie:

1. I love Any Adams for inexplicable reasons. I saw her in Central Park once while I was visiting New York. She was there filming Enchanted and I obnoxiously bring up the encounter whenever I see anything related to the movie. I also think that she has perfect skin and hair. This isn't exactly a deep basis to love some one, but, then again, I'm a remarkably shallow person.

2. Begrudgingly, I have gotten over the fact that John Krasinski is dating Emily Blunt instead of dating me. I've even gotten to the point where, after seeing Emily Blunt in interviews, I think that she is funny, smart, and charming. I kinda want to go out for drinks with her and Mandy Moore (my other celebrity best friend). I'm pretty sure that the three of us could have a pretty good time and they'd probably be up for ordering wings or something.

3. They use a Decemberists song (The Crane Wife 3) in the preview. As much as people call The Decemberists too precious or nerdy, I continue to love them more than almost any other band. Their concert was probably one of the most fun that I've ever attended. If you aren't familiar, check them out here and be prepared to think, "wow, they ARE nerdy."

See ya at the flickers!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

There's a pedophile in the school

Alright, one midterm paper down and another to go by Friday. Totally doable. Maybe I'll even try to finish it tomorrow so when Thursday night rolls around and I'm all "OH MY GOD, I HAVE A PAPER DUE TOMORROW!" I can tell myself to take a deep breath and relax cause that shit is done, son!

In other news, I've faced two vigorous academic critiques in the last two days and I am burned out on criticism. Last night, my short story was workshopped for the first time this semester. The instructor for this class is kind of a big deal in the literary world (not to give it away, but she's been published in The New Yorker, is frequently mentioned in the New York Times, has published several successful books, and will casually mention hanging out with John Updike (RIP) like it ain't no thang). Needless to say, I was pretty nervous, especially because I didn't think that my short story was all that great. Thankfully, she loved it. The rest of my class? Not so much. I really like receiving constructive criticism, but struggle when it's coming from a group of college-aged boys who possess the emotional intelligence of the lamp that's currently lighting my keyboard. These are people who can't understand that marriages and families can fall or drift apart without someone cheating or a bomb exploding. Bleh, maybe I'm not open to constructive criticism as much as I thought. When reviewing my classmates' work, I try to be very honest and put social niceties aside. My inner narcissist tells me that this is why a lot of them said the things that they did about my story. You know, to get back at me. In truth, they were probably doing me the same favor that I try and do them. Even the positive response from the professor is getting me all agitated. This class is now mine to lose and my next story needs to be even better...

Moving on. Today in theater class, we worked my scene in front of everyone. My character carries the majority of the lines for the part that we were working, so I got to experience my drama teacher in her full-on crazinesss, with hardly anyone else to distract her. Have any of you taken drama classes? If you have, you'll have found that the instructors for these classes are some of the most intense and wacked-out people in the world. Take Mr. G for example. This is what I deal with twice a week:

(she actually has made us participate in improve exercises similar to Mr. G's evacuation procedures).

This afternoon, she kept saying, "What is your motivation here?" "Um," I'd say. "Power?" "Simplify!" she'd yell. So, I'd say "being right?" "No, more complex!" And that's when my head exploded and I had to leave the class to go to the hospital and have it slowly and painfully put back together. Even now, in recovery, I can hear her shouting "Consistency is the death of acting!" right in my purple and bleeding ear. She's right, but jeez, it's not worth a girl's head exploding and all.

Needless to say, I'm having an intense need for coddling and self-assurance, so I guess I'll go spoon my pillow and stroke my own hair. Admit it. You want my life.

Monday, March 9, 2009

We don't read too good

Yesterday, Washington Post writer Ron Charles posted an article on the the sorry states of college students' bookshelves.
In 1969, when Alice Echols went to college, everybody she knew was reading "Soul on Ice," Eldridge Cleaver's new collection of essays. For Echols, who now teaches a course on the '60s at the University of Southern California, that psychedelic time was filled with "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," "The Golden Notebook," the poetry of Sylvia Plath and the erotic diaries of Anaïs Nin.

Forty years later, on today's college campuses, you're more likely to hear a werewolf howl than Allen Ginsberg, and Nin's transgressive sexuality has been replaced by the fervent chastity of Bella Swan, the teenage heroine of Stephenie Meyer's modern gothic "Twilight" series. It's as though somebody stole Abbie Hoffman's book -- and a whole generation of radical lit along with it.

I'm not out to prove Charles wrong. In fact, when I see former classmates' facebook statuses that read "So and so is... in love with Edward Cullen," it makes me puke a little bit. And then there's the whole mess of cleaning off my keyboard and changing shirts which is just a pain. You know, it even makes me a little nauseous just knowing that I know who Edward Cullen is (an abstinent vampire? Come on!).

I guess what I want to know is why people like me and my friends are never polled for these articles. I'm their demographic, aren't I? I'm a 22 year old college student and I own three bookshelves worth of books and they range from graphic novels to Milton to Bronte to "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" to, yes, Harry Potter. And most of the people I spend time with have bigger and more eclectic bookshelves than I do.

Charles makes a point that our generation is lacking a voice like that of Kerouac (honestly, the Beats can keep him). Maybe, but what about popular and smart writers like David Sedaris or Jonathan Safran Foer? What about Jhumpa Lahiri? Chuck Klosterman? Chuck Palahniuk? Certainly all of these authors say something about the current generation, but what they're saying is different from what Ginsberg and Kerouac had to say. The authors of the 60's were rebelling against the rigidity and social expectations of the time. Now we're put in a position to rebel against our parents' generation, a generation that expects and, to some extent, respects rebellion.

He also writes:
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the best-selling titles on college campuses are mostly about hunky vampires or Barack Obama. Recently, Meyer and the president held six of the 10 top spots. In January, the most subversive book on the college bestseller list was "Our Dumb World," a collection of gags from the Onion. The top title that month was "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" by J.K. Rowling.

First, if you don't think The Onion offers commentary on who we are as a generation you're drinking stupid sauce. Secondly, who is to say that reading Barack Obama now is any less valuable than reading Malcolm X then? Are they not comparable in literary worth? Sure, Malcolm X's life is more intense and filled with sordid details, but either represents important movements in history. And you know what? The Harry Potter series was great and encouraged millions of kids to turn off their TVs and read. Twilight? Beyond being a vampire enthusiast (note: not fetishist), I obviously have problems with it, but more for it's deeply rooted sexism than for its popularity.

We should also note how many more forms of media are effecting us now. We have blogs, viral videos, and the ability to download movies straight on to our personal computers. We have TV shows like The Wire, Mad Men, 30 Rock, etc. We have podcasts. I'm not going to get on a high horse and say that all of this technology is bad. If anything, we should accept that new forms of media are influencing us and look for movements and voices within these forms.

Lastly, and I'm not sure if things were any different then, academics have crushed my ability to read for pleasure, at least while the semester is going. In the last two months, I've probably read 15 authors and none of these were simply because I wanted to. After hours of reading for curriculum, who can blame me for wanting to curl up in front of The Office rather than with a copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance or read blogs over The Sun Also Rises?

I just realized that I have no idea what this entry is about. Sorry for the ranty-ness, internet.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Why Miss March, you're beautiful.

Dear March,

I've just gotta say that I really like what you're doing these days. To be honest, I've always thought that you were just a lackey of February. I mean for so long you've dressed alike (meaning in buckets of dirty ice and snow) and acted alike (bitchy), so how can you can you blame me. But now? You're really coming into yourself and, dare I say it? I find you quite attractive. Who would have thought that under all that slush was shapely sidewalks and sweet smelling mud. Yesterday, I even went for a run with you outside and we didn't lack for conversation or good humor. I didn't have to curse you as I pulled on my stupid boots and dirty coat. Oh no, all I had to wear was a hoody and, as you remember, it was too much clothing.

I hope this isn't just a faze. According to the weather website, you're looking like this nice new you is here to stay. Sure, there's one day next week where you dip down to 32-degrees, but, hey, I have days that I'm feeling a little cold, too. In fact, I have many days like that so I won't be throwing any stones your way, my friend. Still, let's be straight-forward, shall we? I hate game playing. You've been a tease in the past. First it's all "Hey PQK, I love you. Here's some spring" and then the next day it's suddenly "I'm gonna throw some snow and cold in your face, so suck it." Of course, I'll respond "no, you suck it" and then we'll get into some weird wrestling match of the most unsexy variety.

I'm sorry. You're right. Let's not dwell on what could be and focus on what is. Yes, it's a 55-degree day out and I will probably bike to work for the first time since November. This is the nicest present that you could give a girl.



Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The gramps are alright...

I have an exam on Friday and two papers due next week. I need to fill out a lease application and write a cover letter and resume for a couple of internships I’m planning on applying for. Naturally, I’m spending my time blogging the following incoherent post.

First, I don’t hate Jimmy Fallon like everybody else seems to. I found his interview with Tina Fey last night to be incredibly endearing. Just want to get that off my chest.

Second and more importantly, I’ve come into a new discovery. It turns out that my pops decided to share my blog URL with my grandparents. I learned this through a series of birthday cards in which relatives mentioned this very website. Needless to say… yikes. It’s not that I write anything offensive about my grandparents here, it’s that I write many offensive things about everything else. Even my grammar is occasionally offensive, sometimes intentionally. What can I say? You can’t tame the beast. I was also embarrassed because I may every-so-often have a blog breakdown. A blogdown, if you will. Or is that what you call a party where everyone blogs and dances? Not that I believe in emotional dishonesty, but I’m not quite sure how I feel about my grandparents knowing about my pre-birthday freak-out. My dad was shocked when I confronted him about this, saying, “what? Strangers can know about these things, but you don’t want your family to know?” Well, yes. You see, there’s a nice boundary between me and all of you and I don’t really care if you judge me because, chances are, I’ll never hear about it. Speaking of boundaries, there are things that grandparents might not want to know or need to know about a girl. For example, I just coughed and my ovary hurt. I probably have cancer. This is something my sweet grandma needn’t hear about.

When I first heard about the leak (yes, I’m that important), I was pretty angry with my father. What does this mean for the Pop Quiz Kid? Do I censor myself a bit more? Start a new blog and give up the five readers that I’ve built up over the past year? Or do I say to hell with it? After sleeping on it for a week, I decided on the last option. Maybe I need to give my grandparents more credit and accept that they can handle the occasional anal sex joke.

What it comes down to is that I’m looking to form a career out of comedy and writing and how do you do that without ruffling a few feathers along the way? If my GPs don’t like what they read, I’ll take this moment to assure them that no matter how many times I talk about wanting to put my mouth on someone else’s mouth or accidentally write “their” instead of “there” (I know, totally embarrassing), I’ll still be the accommodating and grateful 4.0 student that comes to visit over the holidays. Read on, Dottie and Julian. I welcome you!