Rant

I am SO TIRED of seeing memes and comments on Facebook trying to link a lack of religious faith to the shootings.

First, everyone needs to stop pushing their own religious agendas in the wake of a tragedy.  Religion or lack of one had NOTHING TO DO with this crime.  We need to blame the shooter for what happened, not the fact that “religion isn’t allowed in school.”  Guess what?  Students ARE allowed to pray in schools, and they ARE allowed to join religious-themed extracurricular clubs. I remember Bible Clubs in the schools I attended.  What isn’t allowed are government-sanctioned religious activities or prayers.  So don’t tell me that this horrible tragedy happened because of “God wasn’t allowed in schools.”

I was going to keep quiet about how I felt about this issue, but I don’t think I can take another meme saying that if I don’t believe in God, I sure will when there’s a gun pointed at my face.  Please.  These memes are ridiculous and disrespectful to the victims.  Let’s try to put our religious and political differences aside and just focus on actually achieving some positive change, shall we?

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The Problem With “Virgin Diaries”

Have you ever watched Virgin Diaries on TLC?  Even if you haven’t, you may recognize this clip:

This is the kind of kiss that you want to laugh about in private later, not have it live on Youtube in infamy so others can squirm with second-hand embarrassment while watching it.

I watched the first episode of this show back in November, and not all of the virgins featured in the episode were as awkward as the poor couple in the first clip.  But it certainly reeked of reality television posturing.  One of the plots revolved around a group of women who were all virgins (well, one was a “reclaimed” virgin).  They all went on a group date with an equal number of attractive men who were – surprise! virgins too.  Wow, what are the odds?

The major problem I have with this show is they find the most socially-awkward people as a representation of “older virgins” and use these people in their marketing campaigns to attract attention for the show.  It’s exploitative and ridiculous, and perpetuates the stereotype that older virgins are losers, outcasts, or social freaks.

That’s far from the truth.  There are plenty of normal, well-adjusted, accomplished adults out there who happen to be virgins for many reasons, and they aren’t as uncommon as popular culture leads you to believe.  I have plenty of friends who lost their virginity in their twenties, or who are still virgins for various reasons.  I’m not about to delve into my private life in a public forum, but it’s safe to say that I lost my virginity well after 17, which is the average for American women.

Apparently, this show is returning next month with a new batch of older virgins to exploit.  I know I won’t be watching.

Why Doesn’t Anyone Care About Privacy Anymore?

I am getting sick of Facebook.

I know, I’ve already been sick of it for awhile and have ranted about it more than once on this blog, but I mean…I’m getting really, really, REALLY sick of it.  I’m only on Facebook now to keep up with a small set of well-loved, adored people.  Let me reiterate that this number is very small.  The rest of my friends list is comprised of acquaintances who are incredibly annoying.

I feel like when I peruse my news feed, I can expect to see one of the following items:

1.  “WOW! Great morning today! MY LIFE IS SO AWESOME! (insert example of how awesome said life is).  In case you all haven’t seen my last five status updates, I’m a REALLY, REALLY, REALLY HAPPY PERSON! My life is PERFECT. YAYYYYYY!”

2.  “Just got back from the gym/track/running trails!  It was a hard day today, so I was only able to get in 500 reps/fifteen 1600 meter repeats/14 miles.  Let me give you the details of how many laps I ran and the times I did them in and act like I’m out of shape, even though I’m obviously in amazing shape and just want validation from my friends list that I’m in better shape than you’ll ever be.”

3.  “It’s been a hard day.  Let me post a picture of the alcoholic beverage I’m having.  I post a picture of the alcoholic beverage I drink at least 3 or 4 times a week.  I like to give the impression that I’m chill and down-to-earth, though I may actually be an alcoholic.”

4.  “So here’s the hobby I’m really into right now, and since I’m so excited about this activity in my life, I feel the need to share every goddamn detail about it with you guys!  You guys care, right? OF COURSE YOU DO!!!”

5.  “Hey significant other, I LOVE YOUUUUUUUUU. YOU COMPLETE ME! I don’t care if our whole friends list is reading this!  My love for you is PUBLIC and I want my entire friends list to know every single tender moment we experience AS THEY HAPPEN. I LOVE YOU WUMPYKINS!!!!!!”

MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS HOLY.

I DON’T CARE.

PLEASE. STOP.

Whatever happened to privacy? You know, that thing that keeps us from SHARING every mundane detail in our lives?

You know what? I used to be that person, several years ago. I used to overshare on Twitter and Facebook. Do you know why? Because I was a miserable person and wanted validation from other people that I was living a fun and interesting life, when I really was living the opposite.

It was after I stopped worrying about projecting a fun life on Facebook and actually started living that my need to update the world on what I was doing lessened.  This is why I can’t help feeling skeptical every time I see so many frantic status updates from my friends list convincing me that they feel happy and awesome all the time.

We are completely in control of the projection of our lives on social networking.  We will not update about our sadder moments if it will conflict with the projection of a happy, accomplished person.

“You’re such a hypocrite, Jenny,” you may say.  “You have this blog after all. You talk about your happy moments and your hobbies.  How is this any different?”  My blog is a tangible collection of ephemeral moments in my life. I write mainly for myself. At the same time, no one will be reading my blog if they don’t want to. It’s not like my blogs are part of a stream of updates that you are scrolling through; it’s your choice to read this (and I’m incredibly grateful that anyone finds this readable in the first place, so thank you.)

I may talk about my more meaningful moments (like my marathon, which I purposely did not discuss on Facebook), but I also try to be as self-deprecating as possible.  You all know I’m not perfect. I’m often stupid and clumsy, and I think I project that pretty well on this blog.

I’m a much happier person now than I used to be, and I don’t hide that.  But my life is also far from perfect. This year has already presented some frustrations that really bothered me.  But I just don’t think that public forums are the place to air your problems, you know? You wouldn’t believe the dirty laundry I’ve seen aired over Facebook – baby daddy drama, family arguments, trashing of exes.  As the world finds a lack of privacy more acceptable, I clutch tightly to mine more and more.

I will never discuss certain experiences, because I feel like talking about them publicly will cheapen the beauty and simplicity of the experiences.  I want to keep the loveliest moments in my life right in my mind, where only I can access them and not anyone else.  I’m a greedy woman.  I want to cherish my most private moments and keep them to myself.  They will feel less special if I broadcast them for the entire world to see.

I just don’t understand why more people aren’t like that.

What Are We Really Celebrating?

When I was a little girl, I would go over a friend’s house and see an inordinate amount of presents under their tree while on Christmas Day, Pat and I would get one or two presents.  As a child, I couldn’t help wondering why some children had a lot of gifts under their tree, and we didn’t.  I didn’t understand at the time that we didn’t have a whole lot of money, and that my parents wanted us to celebrate the spirit of the season instead of focusing on material wealth.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become very appreciative of the way I was raised.  My parents never defined life by how much material wealth we did or didn’t have.  Instead,  they emphasized that family always comes first, followed by education.  This attitude has really affected my life.  I really love the holidays because it’s all about spending time with my family and friends.  I don’t get stressed out buying gifts for a bunch of people I don’t care about. I only buy gifts for my family.  Not even my closest friends and I exchange gifts.  We all know that we love each other; we don’t have to buy each other gifts to prove it.  Spending time together during the holidays is all we need.

I am writing this post because I’m completely disgusted by the rampant materialism and commercialism that has consumed this country.  What an embarrassment it is to log into Youtube and see ridiculous videos of people acting like monsters at a Walmart, tearing up displays because something is on sale.  Pepper-spraying everyone because you want something?  Seriously?  Black Friday-type sales really bring out the worst in humanity, and I completely dissociate myself from these people.

Yesterday, my friends, brother, and I Skyped with Tap’s sister, a writer who travels the globe.  She is currently in Turkey, and she said that while the news was reporting serious issues from other countries, it focused on Black Friday for the United States.  Is that really what we want to be?

I had an amazing day yesterday.  Tap’s mom hosts a belated Thanksgiving every year – yesterday was our third with them.  Tap’s mom, like my mom, is European and an amazing cook.  We then had our second-annual Songwriting Showcase, where we split into teams, compose a song in two hours, and then perform it for Tap’s parents. Afterwards, we jammed while Tap’s parents watched.  It was such a beautiful evening.

After we left Tap’s house, Pat and I went to jam with some musician friends of his.  These guys are ridiculously talented, and I include my brother in that category. You guys don’t know how intimidating it was to walk into that room and listening to them all play – just two years ago, Pat and I would go out to their shows.  And now I was expected to jam with them?  They are on a whole other level than I am (more like 20 levels above mine), but they were really encouraging with my contributions.  It was such a fun night, and several hours of jamming just flew by.

As I watch people get stressed out over the holidays, camping out in tents so they can be the first in line for some ridiculous deal, I can’t help feel like they are missing out on what makes life really great.  They are celebrating commercialism and materialism – what empty causes to be celebrating.

The holidays are really about celebrating life, love, and happiness with your family, closest friends, amazing food, and good music. That’s what life is all about. I’m sad that people see these holidays as a way to spend money or to get gifts from people because, damn, they are really missing out.

First World Problems

It’s very easy to get absorbed into your life and your “problems.” I’m human, so I am guilty of this.  However, I try very hard to be grateful every single day (not just during Thanksgiving), because I realize that I’m lucky in so many ways.  So many of our problems are “first world problems” – “problems” that only we fortunate people encounter.  Since we generally don’t have to worry about things like shelter, water, and food, we find other things to bitch about.

Last week, while out in the field, a coworker and I stumbled upon a transient camp.  There was a dog collar, tattered books, a mattress, remains of a tent.  A shard of a sign asking for money or food.  Blankets, a shirt, a warped bowling ball, playing cards.  A chair standing erect, creepily, as if its owner was going to return any second.

What hit me the hardest was stumbling upon a blank book.  My coworker and I, curious, opened it.  The first page was full of song lyrics with corresponding guitar chords; someone had been writing music.  The lyrics, “I’ve got a fucking plan” leapt at me.

That happened a week ago and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.  I have known for years that there are many homeless people in this city.  Unlike other cities I have been to, there’s a substantial homeless population outside of the downtown region.  Even in the suburban, “nicer” parts of town, you still see homeless people.  Seeing the camp really made me sad, though.  This is what they return to.  While we are warm, well-fed, with a roof over our heads, people are out in the cold, living with the elements, trying the best they can.

I ask you to think about this during this week – we have to deal with the hassle of traveling, difficult family members, and the stress of preparing a huge meal to the satisfaction of all those in attendance.  These things can be annoying – yes.  But if you find yourself getting stressed about any of these things, just be grateful that you have family and friends who love you, and that you can actually complain about having too much food on Thanksgiving.  Having too much to eat? Definitely a first world problem.

I know that I usually steer clear of these self-righteous, corny posts, but I am absolutely sincere in everything I am writing.

I will close this post with a little levity.  Yesterday, I was stuck in traffic.  It sucked.  (I told you that I am human and get whiny about my stupid problems just like anyone else).  It took an hour to get from the city limits sign to downtown (which is only a ten or fifteen mile stretch).  I was very close to pulling a Michael Douglas and abandoning my car in the middle of traffic.

I had a Ryan Adams CD playing, and right during my absolute favorite song on that album (“Touch Feel and Lose”), the song started skipping.  My brain, already stressed out from the traffic, wailed, “WHYYYY UNIVERSE? WHY? THIS IS MY FAVORITE SONG, DAMN IT.”

Then I started laughing and thought, “This would be a perfect addition to the ‘First World Problems’ meme.”  (If y’all haven’t read the First World Problems meme, it is hilarious).  When I got home, that’s exactly what I did.

I’m Starting to Hate Celebrity Gossip

I was initially hesitant to discuss this, because why should I give this bitch more attention? But I’m in a ranting mood, so here we go. Apparently Snooki, a best-selling “author,” does not know who J.K. Rowling and Maya Angelou are.  Am I surprised?  No.  Do I think it’s an act? Hell no.  I read a NY Times interview that basically said conversing with her is like talking down to a child.

Why do we love watching these people again?  And it’s not just Americans – even my Italian cousins, who still live in Italy, post favorable things about Jersey Shore on Facebook. WHY, COUSINS, WHY? YOU’RE BETTER THAN THAT.  Do my cousins not realize that these people are an insult to our very culture? Apparently not.

You all already know of my intense dislike for Jersey Shore, and reading this article encapsulates everything I detest about that show and our celebrity-obsessed culture in general.

And I say this as a regular reader of People.com, of someone who used to troll celebrity gossip sites in college, when I didn’t have much of a life.  You’re talking about someone who can still list the names of Angelina Jolie’s children, middle names included (WHY DO I KNOW THIS?)

I’m not trying to put myself on a lofty perch, because I can understand the interest in these people’s lives.  As much as I like my celebrity gossip, I have my limits, and I find that the older I get, the less tolerant I am of it.  Someone was trying to discuss with me the disintegration of Ashton Kutcher’s marriage recently and I couldn’t help thinking, “Why are we talking about this? Who cares? We don’t know these people.” I absolutely cannot handle any news about a Kardashian or Real Housewife or the Jersey Shore imbeciles.  At least Angelina Jolie has done incredible things with her life.  She’s not a waste of oxygen like these idiots are.

And you have to ask yourself – why do we care so much?  It’s not like we can relate with these people.  Sure, they’re people “just like us!” but not really.  They will make more money than we will likely ever experience in our lives.  And they have a unique perspective of living in a fishbowl that we will never know.

Why do we put so much of our energy into learning these useless facts about celebrities (as I admittedly have done) when there’s so many more important issues at stake? The economy, the potential recession, the upcoming election, the Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street movements.

No, America just wants to hear about stupid-ass Snooki and how she apparently doesn’t know what a book is.

I can’t wait until the day when America gets bored with these trashy people and moves on to another person of interest…but I’m sure it will just be another reality TV idiot undeserving of the adulation and attention.