Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The wild rumpus continues into year 23.

Every so often, I suppose it's reasonable to provide photographic evidence that my friends are as amazing as I describe. I couldn't have asked for a better birthday or better company to spend it with.

Birthday, Observed (Sunday):

Nomi, Liza, and I made brunch and played Settlers. Cliff joined us & we went into Manhattan to get rainbow-sprinkled birthday cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery and eat them by a fountain.

It was about a million degrees out, so we discreetly lounged in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, since we deemed its air conditioning adequate for rejuvenation (though its surprisingly-tacky carnation floral arrangements made me think somewhat of going to the dentist).

Cliff & Liza were kind enough to indulge my long-held wish to take a touristy carriage ride through Central Park:

I think I am getting more touristy the longer I live here.

Our pony's name was Alfred. I picked him out because he was really friendly and looked happy & healthy.

His owner let me give him a carrot.

Birthday, Actual (Monday):

After a few hours at my new job, I took the N-train to Coney Island and grabbed a couple of corn dogs for sustenance.

I walked down the beach past the Aquarium toward the Brighton Beach side until I found a spot with almost no other people around. Then Nomi & I placed our figurative flags. (Not pictured, because I forgot to take more pictures: big brother Michael.)

Nomi with our book of communist children's stories, which features an author from Sarah Lawrence (naturally).

Still sticking to my plan to jump in the ocean at least once a week.

So, anyway, I made it to 23. Now I guess I'll try for 24!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Gallery-Hopping in Chelsea / Video Links

The art opening at the Mary Ryan Gallery turned out to have more in the way of free beer than free wine and cheese, but one of the other galleries we found had wine and cheese puffs, so it more than evened out. The theme of the exhibit is Heads or Tails, which basically means that all of the pieces involve heads and/or butts. There were a lot of dressed-up people walking around the block, so we investigated further and found two other art openings, as well as an exhibit of giraffe paintings by an artist named Tommy Tone.

This is the only picture of his that I can find online, but I really liked his paintings and all of the bright colors that he used. He also had an adorable print of a pig that read "I love you like a pig loves corn". I commented that if I were ever an eccentric millionaire (this is one of my career goals), I would designate a room of my house the Giraffe Room and decorate it with giraffe paintings. Liza noted that it would be awesome to be able to tell guests, "Ah, yes! And you can sleep in the Giraffe Room."

One art opening we stumbled upon was a true hipster haven, with both the Stella Artois and the facial hair flowing. The best/worst piece was a giant beige upside-down letter T. We pretentiously hypothesized that it represented how you must turn society on its head to make real art, man.

Videos you should watch STAT if you somehow haven't already:

Hanson's new single, "Thinking 'Bout Something"

Janelle Monae, "Tightrope"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jersey Shore Cast Reenacts Twilight

So, I started a new part-time job this week, as an assistant literary publicist. I'm keeping my old coffee-making job, too, but the combination of the two should mean that I'm able to start saving some money for the possibility of grad school, which is exciting. It's also nice to have something in an industry I've been wanting to work in, and I think I should be able to learn a lot, plus glean some free books out of the deal. (EDIT: And while I was writing this, my new boss just emailed me to see if I wanted a free lunch tomorrow! I know they say there's no such thing as a free lunch, but...)

Since some of the company's authors have Twitter accounts, I finally caved and made one for myself, just in case I'm ever asked to update them (so I know how it works). Despite earlier commiseration with Nomi over how Twitter represents the demise of the English language, I'm going to give it a chance. My name on there is watermelonshirt.

I've recently realized how easy and convenient it is for me to get to the beach (Coney Island), which is a good sign for summer. I can get there in less than 45 minutes on the subway. My new resolution is to dip my toes in the ocean at least once a week. On Sunday, Liza, Nomi, and I spent the whole day at the beach, and then I went back on Tuesday to go for a run. Glorious.

I'm trying to show myself some compassion, give myself a break when I feel like I need one. With both jobs, I'll be working six days a week, with shifts at both jobs on one day so I can have Sundays off. I have a whole list of things I should get done today (especially since it'll be my last non-Sunday day off for awhile), but I decided it was important to sleep in, revel in the window A/C unit that I inherited from a former roommate, and get some writing in. (I'm worried about the A/C driving up our utility bills, though, so I have a rule for myself that I can only use it when I am in my room and awake with the door closed.) In a bit, I'll have some cookies for breakfast, take a shower, and get on with being an adult. I just needed a few hours off from that.

Tonight we're going to the opening for an art exhibit to which I have indirect social connections. I have no desire to say no to the possibility of wine and cheese.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Americana Room

I recently took a weekend away from NYC to go to Kansas for Watermelon Brother's grad school graduation. Zach is great!

Clearly, we celebrated by eating delicious burgers and blowing bubbles. (The restaurant in which we ate also featured a dish called the Cowboy Burger, involving a burger so multi-layered and gigantic that anyone who finishes gets a free t-shirt. Zach tells me, however, that the restaurant will not cover any expenses of the subsequent food coma.)

Mostly, though, I wanted to post some photos from the bed & breakfast where we stayed. My parents had to sign a form that we would not bring alcohol, even unopened, anywhere on the premises. That may have been my first clue. But I really knew something was a bit fishy when I spotted a bit of light reading on a table in the game room:

Hmm. Glenn Beck?! What was this strange universe I seemed to have stumbled upon?

Further into the tour, I spotted a sign in one of the guest rooms that read, "Shopping with your husband is like hunting with the game warden."

And then, above the dining room table, this gem:

I guess I'm accustomed to sexist messages being insidious -- perhaps packaged up with pretty ribbon* under the guise of empowerment, for example (see: Cosmo, Sex and the City, and their ilk). Sneaky messages, like the multibillion beauty, fashion, and weight loss industries that use advertising as a means to make women feel like they're not measuring up and not even quite knowing why. It's really shocking and almost refreshing to see offensive messages stated so clearly -- like having the creeper following you around stop and introduce himself. And then we can have a real conversation.

* (Let me be clear here that I'm pro-pretty ribbon in almost every existing scenario.)

My point is, it's no good being told what you can or cannot do, or who you can or cannot be. And it's really no good when it's based on something you can't control, or maybe something that doesn't even exist, depending on your views of gender as a social construct. I really like people in general, and I'm lucky to have lots of good ones in my life, both men and women. In Feminist Theory from Margin to Center, bell hooks writes about the importance of valuing parenting as a whole, rather than necessarily privileging motherhood or fatherhood. She raises the point that when young girls take care of a baby doll, adults say things like, "She's practicing being a good mother." When a young boy does the same, the same adults might discourage it, thinking that he's exhibiting behavior that could be an indicator of homosexuality. Instead, a more appropriate response might be, "He's practicing being a good father."

Science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein said, "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

I really like this. And I like being a weirdo non-insect human being. And I'm tired of reading about how feminism is ruining men, because somehow I have a feeling that men probably don't like being insects, either. And a lot of stuff that's offensive to women is offensive to men, too -- in purely conforming to societal gender expectations, we miss out on the full experience of being human.

Getting back to the bed & breakfast -- the room that we stayed in was called the Americana room. It featured fake Revolutionary War memorabilia, framed nautical knots, and a bust of Abraham Lincoln in the bathroom.

Also, a beautiful dog.

I mean, goodness. A miniature husky? Who'd ever heard of such a glorious thing?

I like this photo for the proof it gives that very small animals are the best at taking up tons of room.

Before we checked out, my parents and I noticed a guestbook on the table in our room. We debated for a few minutes what, if anything, we should write.

"How about: 'My name is Tony, and I'm a man that can make a really excellent breakfast,'" I suggested to my dad.

He crunched a handful of corn-nuts as he contemplated. "But maybe I'll add on, 'However, you may have a point about the husband as the game warden.'"