So what are we doing about homelessness?

Today I fed a homeless man and tomorrow he’ll be hungry again.

More likely, he’s already hungry. I’ve eaten three times since I fed him and between feeding him and eating my own breakfast, I walked past three other homeless people. I saw countless more populating the street while I rode through on my company shuttle and I felt the presence of all 400,000 Philadelphians living below the poverty line who are now, or may be at any second, homeless.

Common sign plea

Common sign plea

 

400,000. That’s an impossible number. I finally understand why I can’t walk three feet without tripping over a man who deserves a bed that isn’t made of concrete and a source of heat that isn’t the steam rising from the subway grate.

Why are there so many homeless in my city? A better question: Why don’t they have any place to go? Are the shelters full? Are these individuals too proud to go? Are they giving up a spot for a woman or a child?

More importantly, why are we conditioned to walk by, eyes forward, pretending they don’t exist? Why do we shoo them away from our storefronts and chase them away from their makeshift beds like they’re vermin? What’s our plan, here? Walk until you die. There is no space for you anywhere.

I saw a man with his hair still buzzed and his clothes still clean. His sign held a disclaimer.

Exact replica

Exact replica

He promised not to use my money for drugs because he knows that’s why no one wanted to help. He knows because he was on the other side of the beggar cup not that long ago.

This person was walking around inconspicuously only days ago. Weeks ago, his life was that of a person who is not homeless. Now, he’s sitting on the street mourning his life, letting tears fall off his cheeks because dignity is a luxury he can’t afford. That’s how it happens, one day a person has a home, a family, a job and a life. Then, either without warning or perhaps with all the alarm bells in the world, this person is out on the street.

What’s frightening is the perceived worth of a homeless person. Rats, cockroaches, pigeons, impoverished men– all vermin. They’re in the way, they’re dirty, they’re scary. Why? These were once functioning members of society. Some even with college degrees and military medals. Most who once finger-painted and ate Cheerios dreaming of how they would become Batman when they grew up.

The whole situation is bizarre. The lengths to which we go to convince ourselves that these people aren’t worthy of our time, attention, patience, and compassion are devastating. We justify our withholding of help by declaring the man eating out of the garbage a drug addict. 34.7% of homeless people have a substance abuse problem, and many times the problem developed post-homelessness. 26.2% have a mental illness. Have you experienced the pain involved with strolling past a person who is in an active argument with himself while he digs through the dumpster for food? It freezes your insides.

So my question is, why is this still a problem? We have 3d printed houses, mass produced shelters, floating shelters on the Parisian Seine away from all the “normals” who can’t be bothered. Where is our big solution? Why are millions of people still living on the ground, eating trash and dying of treatable disease? Why is homelessness so glaringly invisible and boldly ignored? Why am I constantly being told I’ll “get used to it”? I won’t ever get used to it, so let’s maybe fix it. Permanently.

Donate, invest, and vote. And don’t ever forget that that could be you.

Unpopular Opinion: “Transcendence” Review

“Transcendence” is receiving overall horrible reviews and I find this to be a TRAVESTY. “Transcendence” takes its place in my heart as one of the most well-made, beautiful, emotion-wrecking films I’ve ever seen and here’s why, plebes. 

The Glorious Irony

Johnny Depp’s character comments on the irony of the luddite organization RIFT (Revolutionary Independence From Technology) early on when he says their willingness to take a life in pursuit of their protection of the human race is ironic. This really isn’t ironic because the sacrifice of one for the good of the many is age-old, Machiavellian, and more than accepted in modern practice (‘sup, war).

The true irony of RIFT is their dependence on technology to achieve their goals. They kill with guns/radiation, they globally position their targets, they use flashlights for Pete’s sake… essentially they fight fire with fire even though their stance is “No Fire!”.

Transcendence-4

Flashlights don’t exist in nature…

This isht is awesome social commentary, and if you don’t think so you can just gtfo. Despite our unquestioned respect for our man Gandhi we indulge in violence and beget violence willingly and preach against it after the fact. We commit acts of war in our intent to condemn those who do the same. Religious zealots verbally and physically assault thy neighbor in defense of personal beliefs that demand restraint from assault, and then call First Amendment rights while simultaneously trying desperately to restrict those rights to others as it fits them. Similarly, Luddites of each generation depend on the technology of the previous and hail the products as a necessary convenience (lol at the oxymoron) of life while calling the advancement of the next a danger to humanity. Did you know people thought pencils with erasers would cause laziness, and the telephone would be the end of social life? And hey, don’t forget the Sumerians feared written language despite the fact that they developed it. People are silly.

The Magic and Irrationality of Perspective

transcendenceThe most magnificent component to this film is the fact that there is no bad guy. This is a story built on good intentions and bad ideas. RIFT wants to rescue humanity from the inherent evil of A.I. and its ability to both crave and achieve total control; Will and Evelyn want to heal the Earth and its inhabitants with the help of nano technology and a greater consciousness; Max wants to do both; Brightwood citizens see in the good in A.I. Will through the scope of their desire for a better life; computer Will wants to help everyone and everything; Evelyn wants to help everyone and everything and then has kind of a Max moment… Nobody wantto execute anything evil. Everybody wants to do the right things. It all depends on their perceptions of the technology and which direction each thinks it will go. The ENTIRE balance of the film hinges on the tipping point of Evelyn’s perception of PINN Will.

Like… That is AMAZING.

The Emotional Encompassment of That Which is Removed from Human Emotion

AP_transcendence_jtm_140418_16x9_608Technology, the way we understand it, is the only part of us which is entirely removed from the encumbrance of human emotion. Thus the concept of A.I. is so frighteningly exciting and excitingly frightening. Despite technology’s removal from the entire spectrum of human emotion, the plot of this film is 100% driven by that with which it does not tango. The climax of the film rests completely on the emotions of the characters and not strategy, intelligence, or really anything else. The pivotal actions are emotion-driven, which is unusual for any film, but especially one embedded in technology. The inherent dependence on human emotional function for technology to progress to unnecessary or inadvisable areas is… fascinating. Because of A.I.’s questionable nature and our reluctance to embrace it, it stands to reason that the motivation to achieve such a terrifying end must be human desperation. No person in his or her right mind would do what Evelyn did without irrational thought.

 

The irony of these irrationalities is that the human brain’s capacity for conflicting functions from multiple areas of the brain is what creates them and, consequently, us. In full-circle awesomeness, this is where the concept of true A.I. falls apart and where we address the final and most super fun facet of this kickass film:

Is It Really Will?

transcendence-trailer-johnny-deppThe question of the film is ultimately: Is this computer actually Will?

Max’s fear is that the likelihood of PINN uploading Will’s consciousness without so much as a missed megabyte of data is valid and just as terrifying as he thinks it is. However, we see throughout the film that the computer didn’t miss even the tiniest cognitive memory.

The real issue of inexactness is not the contents of the consciousness but the processes: the inescapable irrationality of the human brain. Can a computer duplicate the unpredictability of a human brain affected by external influences? Of fricking course not. Thus, the computer is NOT Will.

But it is Will. PINN didn’t miss a bit, so the consciousness is Will’s. It’s only that the Will that PINN becomes two years later is not the Will that Will would have been if Will hadn’t been uploaded. Say that five times fast.

The development of his personality and his reactions to external events are entirely different than those that would have been if Will were still capable of human mental function, which he is decidedly not.

The true fear, though, is Will’s capacity to be corrupted by the power he holds in the form of PINN and his inherent evil that came prepackaged with his human nature, as it does us all. In the end we see that he was, in fact, uncorrupted and that the entirety of RIFT’s argument was based on the negative perception of the possibility of corruption rather than the facts as they were presented, which is another one of those lovely social commentaries.

So, yes… and no. Will was Will but he wasn’t Will as Will would have been if he weren’t PINN Will. But in Will’s case, that didn’t mean he wasn’t inherently good.

My Verdict

This story is one of the strongest commentaries on the human existence and all its nature, intentions, and susceptibility to impressions I have EVER SEEN. It’s riddled with irony, good intentions, bad ideas, and overall emotional destruction. If you don’t like this movie, you don’t know ART, MOTHER CLUCKER.

Happy Easter.

 

Debunking the myth that big cities are the greatest places ever

City life is fantastic… if you’re into that. I thought I was, but it turns out I was after something entirely different, shaded under media representation of what female success looks like.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

I grew up on pretty heavy doses of Sex and the CityGossip Girl,  and ABC Family movies about small-town girls who move to the big city and proceed to kill it professionally. Consuming this much media devoted to convincing me that NYC was the place to be ensured that I spent the entirety of my teen years hating my hometown and wishing I were in le grande ville having whirlwind adventures with handsome boys who wear pea coats and have “a car”. “A car” meaning a Lincoln with a driver, not a shitty 1985 Mustang (that by all reasoning shouldn’t even function) and an inappropriately inflated ego to go with it.

Every suburban-bred girl reading this right now is going, “Ok, where are you going with this? Because yes. Duh, Devon. I’m going to NYC and getting the heck out of this crappy town with its crappy people and its crappy shopping options.”

Hear me out.

NYC and its equally overpopulated city friends such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, etc…  are super duper awesome. They have these areas that literally sparkle, its patrons are dressed to the nines at all hours of the day, there’s always a Starbucks within a stones throw (aw yes!). But guess what, Carrie, you might not be able to afford to live there. You probably can’t even afford to go there because you’re working 90 hours a week in retail just to pay the rent, and on your rare days off you’re sending resumes and cover letters at a rate of 1 email/minute to companies who don’t even open those emails because the boss already knows 18 people she’s going to consider for the job, first.

Your New York, at least in the beginning, will be a part that doesn’t even look like the city. The buildings only reach three stories high and are surrounded by graffitied rock walls. Your New York is full of homeless people that hit you up for loose change at least five times a day, filling you with a lethal mixture of sadness, helplessness, guilt and judgement. Your New York is full of visible mental illness that will inevitably remind you of the lack of cure for schizophrenia. Your New York is so dirty you won’t even pick up your umbrella when you drop it on the street because it’s not even worth the infection you know you’ll get from it. Your New York is an eternal “Someday” while today is miserable.

Every time I’ve ever been in the city I really haven’t had that much fun unless I was there for fun. I commute to the city every day for a job that I love and I still hit a boiling point every morning in the hour between getting on the train and getting into my sacred Starbucks for that golden elixir that keeps me from committing a felony. Of course this is an exaggeration, but I still think some pretty nasty thoughts about the very important business men who think they deserve their train seat and half of mine in the morning. Seriously, if I could kill someone with my mind… I digress.

To my extreme surprise, my favorite time of the day is my drive between the train station and my front door. There are trees, lots of them, and it’s lovely. The air smells nice, I can see the sky, birds are always chirping, and in the winter the snow sparkles prettier than any glass building ever could. What I’ve learned in the past year of working in NYC and Philadelphia is that the suburbs and small towns are way underrated and big cities are so overrated I wish I could talk to the manager and demand my money back. City life isn’t what I wanted; I wanted success, which I misguidedly associated with city living.

The Pinterest pictures are lovely, though.

Ah, that beauty of a factory stack. Gorgeous.

Ah, the beauty of a factory stack. Gorgeous.

This traffic-less photo is a lie. A lie, I tell you.

This traffic-less photo is a lie. A lie, I tell you.

I should have been careful what I wished for because I am inescapably one with the landscape of the city, now. If my high school self could see me now she’d be so proud and excited to grow up.

There are parts of Philadelphia that I find lovely! But I find Alabama lovelier. I prefer to be surrounded by trees and flowers and gazebos, and frankly this is a surprise to me. I love going to the city for particular reasons, but I don’t find fulfillment in being in the hustle and bustle. After a day, I can’t wait to escape. You know where I find fulfillment?

Say hello to Tennessee, bitches.

Say hello to Tennessee, bitches.

And Alabama.

And Alabama.

And wherever the heck this place is.

And wherever the heck this place is. It’s like a little slice of all the great parts of NYC.

The south is SO UNDERRATED.

Fun Fact: Foliage and nature help humans achieve happiness. Not everyone likes to trudge through the mud or get their hands dirty, but being surrounded by the beauty of nature subconsciously disengages our minds from the stress of our daily routines and responsibilities. It’s freaking transcendent. After a few hours in the concrete jungle I’m usually ready to jump out of a window. I’ve read nearly every issue of National Geographic since 2005, cover to cover, and it never occurred to me that maybe I just like nature. And geography. I seriously could not have been less emotionally intelligent. Heeeeere’s your sign, Dev.

Before I got a job in Philadelphia I spent a lot of time patrolling job sites for a perfect job in the south. Circumstances don’t always work according to what we want, as you can tell by the fact that I still live and work in the north (WARDEN OF THE NORTH!), but I’m happy with it because my lame suburban town has a fudge-ton of foliage and pretty things to look at. So, there’s always that.

The south has space, fresh air, greenness everywhere, friendly people who call each other by their first names, and wildlife that doesn’t get wayyyyy too comfortable with humans, like our freakish squirrels and pigeons. Seriously, I had a pigeon take a nap next to my feet inside the Javits Convention Center in NYC the other day. Like, it just landed there and took a nap. I named him Ben.

So, cities… They’re cool, but in a Tootsie Pop kind of way. The good part is surrounded by the tangy part and this is a terrible analogy because Tootsie Pops are delicious, but you get my point. The good doesn’t outweigh the bad unless you’re chasing the fashion industry, in which case yeah, that doesn’t really happen anywhere else so I see your point.

I’m just going to go plan my escape to New Orleans and pretend like I don’t see the homeless man using his shoe as a pillow while he takes a nap on the grate outside my Starbucks every morning.

Guest Blog: Everything you need to know about the Russia Conflict, quick and painless by Josh B.

It appears not even Global Warming could stop the Cold War from re-emerging. In a bold move by President Vladmir Putin, Russia has instantly reignited the age old conflict thought to have ended on the first Sunday in December 1989. Initially, many thought the Crimean Annexation made last week by Russia was an economic move to keep valuable Black Sea ports on the peninsula open for Russian use; however, Russia’s demeanor and actions since have given significant evidence that the Eastern giant is ready to make a bigger come back than Arnold Schwarzenagger in Terminator 5.

He'd say he's back.

He said he’d be back.

A brief history lesson will remind you that the USSR was second only to the United States for the title of biggest and most dominant force of the second half of the 1900s as well as being the only true rival to the United States both politically, militarily, and in nuclear armaments. The Soviet Union left such a mark on history that almost any action movie you watch from the 80s ended up dating itself by having some reference to a Russian adversary who was as dangerous as they were robotically emotionless. Hell, it’s still going on. Cue plug for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Also still dating itself; the use of heavy mascara and domino masks as viable ways to protect your secret identity.

Also still dating itself; the use of heavy mascara and domino masks as viable ways to protect your secret identity.

But once the Cold War ended, and the Soviet Union went bankrupt, many countries formerly joined in the Russian Domain broke away and regained their identities as independent nations. In relationship terms, they were finally able to go out and drink with the boys at the local strip clubs and keep that favorite pair of sweatpants that fits just right.
Fast forward to present time. Ukraine, while now a sovereign nation, had a president, Viktor Yanukovich, who was friendly with Russia and let them get access to their ports in the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea. With the freedom of having your own country also comes the possibility of civil unrest and domestic turmoil. In case you hadn’t heard, Ukraine had a revolution in late February where Viktor was ousted and 80 people were killed during the riots within hours when police snipers opened fire on the crowd.[1] Heavy stuff. What’s even heavier is that the riots are pretty much attributed to a treaty Yanukovich signed with Russia, which exchanged a discount on natural gas prices to Russia in return for Russian control of Ukraine’s naval ports on the Kerch Peninsula.[2] Once the chaos in Ukraine began, Yakunovich was impeached and and Oleksandr Turchynov was appointed as interim leader.
But with the former Russian leaning president impeached and a new more European/NATO/Western welcoming interim President put in place, suddenly Russian access to Crimean ports became uncertain. In the best interest of his country, President Putin couldn’t stand for that. (Probably because he was still sore from riding bare back on that horse).


The first week of March literally began like the season opener to your favorite television show. March 1st Russia’s parliament approves the use of force in Crimea and suspicious unmarked soldiers appear within the borders. March 2nd Ukraine’s Prime Minister declares war. March 4th Putin says the soldiers aren’t Russian but are self-defense forces.[3] The conflict goes on like this on a day by day basis for nearly two weeks as tactical locations are seized by these suspicious unmarked Russian speaking soldiers. Political leaders also hold frequent meetings and talks with officials from Ukraine and Russia as sides are chosen and lines drawn. That is, until March 16th, when Crimea voted to become its own nation and asks to join the Russian federation.[4] Within days Crimea gained its sovereignty, became recognized by world powers, and was annexed by Russia, ensuring Russia’s presence in the Black Sea.


“The real question is was all this legal? Absolutely fucking not.”

“The real question is was all this legal? Absolutely fucking not.”

Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen of NATO said, “Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine is in blatant breach of its international commitments and it is a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” [5] In the days that followed, former Iron Curtain countries held under Soviet Control during the Cold War began making declarations and warning to Russia; paranoid that what happened in Ukraine could happen to them next. Now every country in the immediate area is in panic and on guard, watching their backs for a possible visit from soldiers bearing no insignia or identifiable markings. Members of the G8 have called for Russia’s banishment from the group. Others have demanded action and punishment, unwilling to let the Crimean Crisis go without consequence.
But why is all of this relevant? Russia was worried about their access to the ports Crimea has in the Black Sea. Now they have secured them, right? What’s the big deal?
The problem is that Ukraine had begun talks to join NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, for some time. NATO was one of the primary sources of conflict in the Cold War between Western powers and the Soviets. In recent years, Russia has still refused to join the organization and has shown considerable contempt for any nations formerly a part of the USSR joining as well.
Russian President Vladmir Putin served in the KGB for 16 years during the Cold War and remained involved in Russia’s government afterward for most of his life. Putin is a Russian Patriot, and a man who remembers a powerful Soviet Empire rivaled only by the United States. 
Russia has been arming troops on the borders of Ukraine. Their air force has flown helicopters and jets over Georgia, a country Russia invaded back in 2008. Moldova, Canada, Romania, and Ukraine are all expressing serious concern that they will be the next target of Russia’s conquest.[6][7][8]

This is a map of the Black Sea and all the countries that border it. Once one can actually see the geography of the area, suddenly everything makes sense. The area at the base of Ukraine in the Black Sea is Crimea. So is Crimea really just a necessary location for exports and imports or is it a strategic military location for future use?
Either way, Russia has shown they do not plan on stopping nor compromising their interests, whatever they may be. Sanctions and threats have proven ineffective, and even if the United States or the United Nations actually get involved, there’s no way for consequences to be effectively dealt without the use of force.
For the sake of global peace, let’s hope Crimea isn’t the Sudentenland of the 21st Century, or the Winter Soldier won’t be the only Russian coming to a theater near you this summer.

References
[1] http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21597974-can-ukraine-find-any-leaders-who-will-live-up-aspirations-its-battered-victorious
[2] http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/putins-meddling-in-ukraine-sinister-245490261.html?device=mobile
[3] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26248275
[4] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/17/ukraine-crimea-russia-referendum-complain-result
[5] http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/brookings-now/posts/2014/03/nato-secretary-general-russia-annexation-crimea-illegal-illegitimate
[6] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/23/russia-ukraine-annex-moldova-trans-dniester-nato
[7] http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/transnistria-the-breakaway-region-of-moldova-could-be-russias-next-target/2014/03/24/c68c50a4-be46-4042-a192-6813e93380bc_story.html
[8] http://globalnews.ca/news/1230531/canada-worried-about-serious-possibility-of-russian-invasion-in-ukraine-within-week/

The Republicans Failed Us: A Love Letter

Dear Republicans,

Politics are really big and crazy and confusing and people constantly get into arguments and debates and pistol duels over them. The formula goes

1. Political peoples talk about things.

2. Media peoples tell plebes and elites what the government is talking about.

3. The public reacts either like, “BuuuuuuuhWHAT?” or “Finally! Someone is doing something about this!”

4. The government adjusts to the demands and approval of its people.

5. Things happen.

The major factor here is the media. Politicians depend on the media so much in a democracy because they’re sales people and sales people need to communicate their sales pitch to the customer, or else the customer is going to bail and hit the food court.

What do major entities have that mediates their relationship with the public? Public relations people. The answer was in the question. Heh :D

You know who has really great public relations people? This guy.

There’s been a lot of discussion about whether or not this video had the effect it was meant to. The answer is YES, IT DID.

You know who definitely does NOT have good PR people?

For Christ's sake...

For Christ’s sake…

The past presidential term and a half has been a spectacular train wreck; we have bullcrap “socialized” healthcare, impending WWIII, a part-time job market, and dictator-esque demands for compliance (I’m looking at you, healthcare fines). But does anybody connect the dots? No. Because our president has an in-house agency full of GENIUSES.

Obama’s administration did one very important thing correctly: it REACHED THE MILLENNIALS. You know, that HUGE and apathetic generation! Every time the president-to-be had a message, he shared it with the immediate media, i.e. televised conference, interview, etc… and then someone translated the message into millennial language and injected it into the internet via memes, videos, tweets, ice-breaker comments on articles, etc…

The Republicans didn’t do that. This boy’s club of very important business men is like your stubborn uncle who refuses to get a cell phone. They refuse to upgrade their campaigns and practices to the modern way of the world because their snobbish assumptions about respectability and reaching the people are rooted in private school culture circa half a century ago and so the only people listening to their message are our grandparents and the guy sitting on his porch holding a shot gun in Alabama. Also, they kind of overestimate our interest and intelligence.

No one was translating Mitt Romney’s message. I was so pro Obama four years ago because the political information I was consuming came from Tumblr and blogs. Obama had a lot to say on the subject of social issues and my progressive feminist mind and utopia-craving soul was elated by the fact that this guy didn’t want to treat our personal rights like a commodity. Plus, he was cool. Not old-guy-trying-too-hard cool, but actual cool-dad-that-buys-us-beer cool. I now know that these memes were no happy accident.

I spent two years hearing Obama’s “wonderful ideas” through the one form of media that I was hooked on like crack or McDonald’s french fries, but the issues I was hearing about were not really the issues that mattered. I was Probama because my entire graduating class spent my senior year talking about gay rights. Gay rights shouldn’t even be an issue. They should be a given, just like white male rights. And they aren’t an issue, they’re a selling point. Democrats get us kids on board by preaching one way and the republicans do the same with the Bible Belt folks and the old folks by preaching another. Did you know that Mitt Romney was pro-choice and and pro-women’s rights in 2002 before he ran for president? But pro-life in 1994? Observe:

Yeah, he changes his platform per voting demographic. Oh, look. Our president does it, too.

They do this because, again, politicians adjust to the public’s reactions. That’s fine. That’s politics. Deep down, we all already knew that. I’m not complaining about it. What I am complaining about is the fact that I didn’t hear about anything that really mattered, or anything at all outside of commercial social issues, because I was high on the opiate of the viral media, which worked out very well for the campaign, as you can see by the twice-terming president we have, now.

The Republicans have very valid platforms. The Republicans have very solid ideas that would inject adrenaline into this country’s financial heart. The republicans are not as stupid as Stephen Colbert says they are. He’s just part of the genius media machine.

Obama has great ideas, but so do Republicans. In fact, there a lot of things about running a country that Republicans would do better, because they tend to come from a business background. Running a business and running a country are kind of the same thing, sometimes. Except sometimes it’s more like being a House Mom in a sorority than a business leader because you have to clean up after people and lock the doors at night.

I became aware of the republican message because someone who loves me took a lot of time out of her life to help make me aware of it. It was quite the chore, and I know there’s no way that most people receive this treatment. The Republicans themselves should have taken the time out to reach me. They didn’t. They let me down.

The majority of information millennials receive today comes from the highlighted stories on their social media. If something is interesting enough to go viral, we will hear about it.

So my message to the republicans is this: There are those who love you who want to see you succeed, but until you play the game, you will not succeed. You will fade into obscurity faster than disco with the attitude you have now. Adapt and change or you’ll die. The world needs your input, so hire some fresh young PR interns and get your head in the game (Wildcats!). For the love of all that is holy, just friggin’ do it.

On short-term and long-term goals and getting everything you darn well want out of life

I’ve been gone for an unacceptable amount of time and for that I am duly ashamed and 300% apologetic. Everyday I’ve been staring at my computer and whispering promises, hoping my baby would wait for me until I came home from war. And by war, I mean getting acclimated to my new job. It’s not comparable to war, but the time-frame it takes me to get used to things is. Despite my absence, my blog has been receiving outrageously fabulous traffic and for that I owe you, because posting regularly, no excuses, is like cardinal rule No. 1 when providing online media content. I suck, and I don’t deserve you.

As for my job, it rocks. I know I did a lot of pissing and moaning about expecting to have regrets but it turns out my unpredictable life knows better what’s good for me than I do. Kudos to my general existence, it knows what’s up.

What I’ve found since denying my dream of living in paradise and working at a place that exists for the sole purpose of making people smile is that I don’t need to live in paradise and work at a place that exists for the sole purpose of making people smile. This is going to sound revolutionary and thus inherently erroneous to the unexpectedly gigantic population of college students desperately vying for a coveted spot in Disney’s Professional Internships and other opportunities–as it would have to me less that half a year ago; I mean, I cried for every NLIC (rejection letter); It wasn’t pretty, Boyfriend even bought me flowers for my first one because I was that desolate–but here I am living the dream and it’s not that dream.

My "Sorry you suck, baby" flowers.

My “Sorry you suck, baby” flowers.

I’m happy. Like, Pharrell Williams happy. I’ve got everything I’ve ever wanted plus things that I didn’t even know I wanted. I’m exactly where I want to be in life. At least, thus far. I mean, I’m not trying to stay the same for the next 50 or 60 years, but things are on track exactly as I’d wish for them to be if a genie popped out of a lamp or…wherever.

With the help of my super wise and omniscient mother (seriously, she could predict your future–not in a psychic way, but in a I’ve-been-around-the-block-and-already-knew-that-person-thirty-years-ago kind of way) I learned the art of setting goals. She’s a big believer in staving off instant gratification in favor of more responsible and sustainable appeasement, and she beat that belief system into me like my life depended on it, probably because it does.

If it weren’t for her, I’d most likely be living under a bridge. Well, not really, but I’d at least smell like it. My point is I’m a real-life functioning adult because of this lady. (I think it’s called good parenting.) It’s not that I’ve achieved everything I’ve ever wanted to in life, not even close. I mean come on, no one’s that unambitious… But I’ve achieved everything I wanted to by this general time of my life, and I’m well positioned to do more.

I’m absolutely content, and I’ve never had this feeling before. College was mediocre, high school was total bollocks, and I thought my life would only be enjoyable if I blew off conventional society and lived like an unrestrained vagabond sans dreadlocks and open-minded taste in recreational drugs (read: doing them at all–they scare the spit out of me). I’m not a very emotionally intelligent person, so I didn’t realize that all I was after was freedom from being under anyone’s thumb, i.e. teachers, psychotic administrators (I’m looking at you, Mr. Fields), demanding part-time bosses, and friends who couldn’t imagine a weekend activity that didn’t involve a keg stand and rolling paper.

I’m a lame-o and it’s awesome. I marathon Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars on weekends like Queen of the Fandom and drink bitch beer (read: MGD 64) at the bar if and when I actually put on pants to go. I drag Boyfriend to grocery stores on Friday nights after 9 o’clock and a wild time for me is day drinking while watching low-budge films on Netflix.

I used to feel ashamed of these tendencies because I thought there was something wrong with me. Not no more!

Having freed up some mental space thanks to my stable life, I have new goals. Wanna know what they are? I’m going to tell you anyway.

1. I still live with my parents and my goal is to… keep living with them for as long as I can until they kick me out. My parents are the bomb and their house is beautiful and way more fabulous than any cityscape apartment I can hope to find. I will probably move to the city eventually, but I’m going to wait until I save a ton of money with my rent-free living situation so I can upgrade from post-grad space to mid-level adult space. I’m so spoiled, it’s ridiculous. At least I know it.

2. I’m going organic, holla! I made the official switch this week, which crescendoed just yesterday when I bought my first bulk bin-sold bags of grains, organic GMO-free produce and organic hormone-free fish, amongst other little things. And yeah, that was my Friday night and I was happy as an organic clam.

Here I am pouring my first bottle of 100% extra-virgin olive oil. Aren't I adorable in my transcendent happiness?

Here I am pouring my first bottle of 100% extra-virgin olive oil. Aren’t I adorable in my transcendent happiness?

3. Living an Honest Life. My new unadulterated obsession is Jessica Alba’s book The Honest Life. It’s fabulous. And I swear I get high from reading it (but then again I’m the best bench-marker for what high feels like). My goal is to live as honestly (read: non-toxic) as I can. That means no GMO’s, no parabens, no unapproved chemicals, and no late-night trips to Denny’s. Keep your grind right, keep your mind right, right? Right.

I’m hoping these short-term goals will lead to long-term success, health, and a beautiful life. Maybe one day I’ll get to travel blog and make documentaries. Maybe I’ll get to make a difference in the world. Maybe I’ll take over the world. I have big dreams, and I hope short-term goals will help me achieve them. Thanks mom!

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy Starbucks (not THAT much has changed) and Alba’s incredible book.

The Red Queen is the Best Role Model for Girls, Ever

I recently and belatedly concluded the latest episode of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland and something struck me hard in the heart (ha): The Red Queen (a.k.a. Anastasia) makes the best role model for young women that I have ever seen.

Some of you might be outraged by this because she takes evil to a bitterly cold level, but do me a favor and try to see past that, because you will thank me when you have a new role model at the end of this.

Reason 1:

This woman does what she wants, when she wants, and doesn’t take any shit from Jafar. 

The Red Queen doesn’t take no for an answer from anyone, ever, including her own mother. She focuses in on something and looks through the obstacles like some kind of badass x-ray machine, dentist office edition. When someone tells her that she can’t do something, she scoffs and says, “Watch me.”

Jafar literally holds her life in his hands multiple times and he seems to obviously outmatch the Queen, but she rocks his world more than a few times, practically making the arrogant villain weep in her presence, which is really all that women want from men. (No? Just me?)  Lest we forget, she is supposed to be barely out of her teen years and relatively new to magic, so.

Aside from his bullshit, this girl goes to Wonderland and becomes poor, a nobody foreigner, and eventually, a crook. Despite this, she manages to

A) Become Queen.

B) Convince her subjects to ADORE her.

C) Learn magic (which I understand is pretty hard in the OUAT Multiverse).

D) Capture a genie.

E) Outwit Jafar, which is still my favorite plot point.

Reason 2:

As the king says: She has the desire to be more than she is.

In a flashback to the Red Queen’s past, we learn that she made an attempt to steal the Crown Jewels and was conveniently caught by the King, rather than his guards. Aside from this obvious oversight of realism (then again, we are in Wonderland) the scene is great, and the greatest part about this scene is when the future Queen basically tells the King that he’s shit outta luck and continues to rob the cabinet of the jewels while he watches. Lol.

At this point, the King looks upon Anastasia and says, “There’s something about you, girl.” That something, it turns out, was “the desire to be more than you are”. This is so important. A quality that every girl should grow up being taught is the desire to be more than she is. That could mean more generous, loving, high-achieving, smart, or literally in terms of social status. In Anastasia’s case, it meant being more accomplished, and probably badass, which I dig the hell out of. And look at the girl an unaccounted-for amount of time later: she’s the muh fuggin Red Queen, plebeians!

Reason 3:

“Everything I have, I had to take.”

Now, I’m not condoning kidnaping the protagonist’s boyfriend, abandoning your own, or making a devil’s bargain with a questionable dude like Jafar, but nothing in life will ever be handed to you so, if you want something, you damn well better take it.

This is an important lesson for young girls in particular because in this society, girls are taught to be quiet, make themselves smaller so men can be bigger (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever had to ride the New York subway), and to be unobtrusive. Not to mention, we’re taught to put our own needs after everyone else’s; something about “women as nurturers” or some bullshit like that.

I can tell you right now that I’m not a nurturer, never will be, and have no qualms about that. There are things in this world that I want, and I’m probably going to take them, if I can. Anastasia was offered something in life and that was to be made a duchess if she’s a good girl and could catch a duke to marry like her mother told her to. This option was her only option, other than running away with her boyfriend, which obviously turned out way cooler.

And that’s the thing. Most of us are offered a general outline of a path by our parents or guardians and it usually comes with three meals a day and a place to sleep (if we’re lucky). No one came up and offered this girl a crown. Again, I know she did some shady things to get it, and I strongly suspect the list includes murder of a monarch, but the principle stands. If you want to be more than you are, no one is going to give you the opportunity, you have to take it.

Seriously though, don’t kill any kings.

Reason 4:

She’s fabulous.

wonder11

This is really the only argument I need.

Reason 5:

She’s brilliant. 

This lady is more than a pretty face, mmkay? In the ball flashback, when Anastasia and Will (boyfriend) sneak into the palace to attend the ball, she adapts immediately. She’s in the room for less than thirty seconds when she hears a noble say something to the effect of, “I was just admiring the Crown Jewels. They’re fabulous, darling.”

We then see Anastasia practice this statement, tasting it, trying it out, seeing how it fits. Suddenly in enters the king and instead of regurgitating the statement, she totally adapts to the persona and convinces the king that she belongs there. Boy, I don’t know about you, but this scene made my finger tips tingle… amongst other things.

Everyone tells you “fake it ’til you make it”, and that’s some of the most practical advice you will ever get. No one is born into the persona of an accountant, a CEO, a news anchor, or A BLOODY QUEENYou have to adapt to the persona the public expects from someone in your position, or the position you aspire to be in, and if you can do that in under a minute, you just might have the stuff, kid.

What I like about this show is that they did the whole “writing strong women” thing with its characters, which currently seems to be in vogue thanks to Joss Whedon, but they took it a step further. They wrote complicated women. Alice is awesome with the whole beating-the-ever-living-shit-out-of-every-bad-man-she-encounters thing, but the Red Queen is walking power. She commands respect everywhere she goes and doesn’t back down from ANYTHING. OK? ANYTHING. SHE STARES DEATH IN THE FACE AND LITERALLY LAUGHS.

I aspire to be like the Red Queen when I grow up (I still haven’t done that, remember?) and every little girl should do the same.  Friendly reminder not to kill any monarchs or abandon the only person in the world who loves you, but take everything you want (re: NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS, K?) instead of waiting for it to be handed to you; Don’t be afraid to use your brain, be fabulous because you’re worth it, and don’t compromise for any man.

And most importantly, always, always, always, make your entrances like this:

I have chills.