2

Pajama Drama

So, last week, my red pajama pants split down the middle one night, so I decided I needed new ones.

I went to Target yesterday to pick up some new ones, and found…myself in a pickle.

Every single pair of pajama pants I saw had some sort of character or logo on it. Marvel, Batman, Harry Potter…all I wanted was a pair of pajama pants, soft and in a solid color. I already have a pair of Family Guy pajamas, so I’m covered on that front, but how much is it to ask for some plain pajama bottoms? And not ones that are shorts or sweatpants? Corporate branding has gotten pretty preposterous. Grown men should not wear Marvel comics on their pajama pants as much as they should wear a yellow tuxedo.

Anyway, I settled for a pair in blue plaid. Not exactly what I wanted, but hey, it’s 2018. This is the year of “I guess we can’t all have what we want.”

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2

Social Media Saturation

So this year’s been off to some kind of start, on the blogging front…anyway, greetings from Milwaukee, where I just went to an APO meeting at Marquette University and am now procrastinating before I have to drive the one and a half hours home.

My parents came into town on Sunday, and since today was my mom’s birthday, we drove 2 hours north to Stevens Point, where one of my mom’s best friends lives, for a birthday lunch. As is traditional these days, I took pictures with my phone, immediately texted them to everyone at the table and posted them on my Facebook with fun captions. And watched the likes and comments roll in. Fun.

Last week, my wonderful friend Kate was in town from Australia, and I got the chance to sit an have a coffee with her for two hours. We had an amazing conversation, about school, life, religion, friends, everything under the sun. As I was walking down the street after we hugged goodbye, I realized that we hadn’t taken a picture together. Part of me wanted to turn around and chase her down to get one, but ultimately, the part of me that was frozen solid and just wanted to get to the library before my fingers fell off won out. Once I was in the library though, I logged onto Facebook, and was going to post something on my page about it, sans photo, but then I realized…

Who am I really posting it for?

Do I care that people know that we had coffee together? Not really. Do I want to make people jealous? No. Was this a crazy, momentous, life-changing event? To me, and hopefully her, it was, but…who else needs to know? And a photo? I know what she looks like and she knows what I look like. Is it like…if it’s not on social media, did it actually happen?

The answer to that one is yes. Remember the days when we didn’t have cameras at the ready 24/7, places to share pictures with everyone in the world, and even cell phones to know if someone was going to be late/cancel or not? In those days, no one cared if every little event in your life was documented. It says so much about our society today that we need to document every little thing, and hashtag it, and link it to every single platform and profile we have. True, I have a blog here, and I have a Facebook, but I mostly use Facebook because I like its interface, I like to use it to communicate with friends who are cities, or states, or countries away, and I have to admit, the way it organizes photos is neat and clean. Even though I feel like I’m always on social media, I still don’t have Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, or even Twitter. It’s like…do I really exist?

The not-so-much-of-a-point-point (aka whatever-don’t-listen-to-me-I-don’t-know) of this story is:s sometimes, it’s OK just to have happy memories of things, without all the documentation and self-paparazzi. Do what you want, but at the end of the day it’s about your experience, and not what you document of it, that makes it worth the memories.

Anyway. I ended up sending Kate a private message, just saying thanks for meeting up with me, I had fun, and I hope you did too, and then logging off and going back to (attempting to avoid) writing.

1

Stop. Shop?

There is something that is easily the most annoying thing about this time of year. It’s not the ever-present Christmas music despite the fact that it’s not even December, and it’s not everyone posting pictures of their nearly-identical dinners on Facebook. And it’s not even the terrible American consumer clusterfuck that is Black Friday.

It’s the BLACK FRIDAY EMAILS.

Out of the hundred emails I got this weekend, I think around 95 were coupons, offers, or deals, from basically every place that has my credit card information. Amazon, Hulu, World Market, Best Buy, Kohl’s…even sites I don’t think I’ve used in years, if ever, such as my alma mater’s school store and some cruise line. At the end of the day, what do all of these emails, these complete wastes of digital design and disk space, say about our culture? It only reinforces these thoughts that we need more, more, more.

In my last post, I wrote about having stuff, and not wanting people to touch said stuff, get rid of said stuff, or coerce me into getting rid of said stuff. This isn’t undercutting that argument, but expanding it. Stop asking me to get more stuff. 

I mean, sure, I don’t have every single thing that I could ever want in the world. Few do. But I have one mattress; I don’t need two. I have one toaster; I don’t need two. Maybe it’s just me, but if I really need/want something, I try to procure it as soon as I can, rather than waiting for a specific time of year when I might be able to save ten dollars on it. Who needs to raid Target and Best Buy and Kohl’s? Who needs carts full of big-screen TVs, video-game systems, Kitchen-Aid mixers? Why are you constantly harping on me to buy things that I don’t want or need? I have the things I need, and I feel like most others probably do as well. Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe.

Well, I guess since the Pilgrims massacred the Indians, it’s the 21st century Americans’ turn to massacre what little dignity we have left.

‘Tis the season.

0

Open, Open Damned Bag

It’s been a long week so far, and I haven’t been too inspired to write…well, much of anything. I don’t really know why. But I need to be writing more, in general, so I thought I’d just let out what’s on my mind today.

I feel like I may have written about this before, so apologies if this sounds familiar.

Both yesterday and today, I bought something that came in one of those Zip-Loc pouches that you have to cut or tear before you can easily pop open. Or, I mean, “easily.” Both times, I cut/tore the plastic, only to not be able to get into the bag. One I eventually pried open with my nails, but for the other one I actually had to go in with scissors and make an incision, which meant I had to eat the whole thing because it didn’t really close all the way. Is there a more annoying sensation than wanting to get into a bag that’s designed to be easy to open, and having to resort to near violence to get at the treats inside? What did we do in a past life to deserve this? I mean, if the bag is designed to be easy to open, actually make it easy to open. Or tell us to cut it open.

Anyway. I ended up getting to enjoy the snacks eventually.

How are you doing?

0

What Fresh Hell Can This Be: International Mailing

I sent a book to Texas this week that cost me $4.

I sent a book half that size to Finland, which cost me $22.50.

What is wrong with this picture?

**another update to this post**

One of my favorite hobbies is sending and receiving books via BookCrossing or PaperBackSwap. Now that I’m moving to a new place in August, one of my goals is to get rid of unnecessary stuff, including some of my extensive book collection. In the past few weeks, I have managed to read and send out 15-20 books to people, mostly via PaperBackSwap, which is domestic only, versus BookCrossing, which can be international.

Media Mail is one of the most wonderful things ever invented for sending books around the country. It starts at about $2.63 per package, going up a few dollars if it’s a particularly heavy book, and given that I’ve gotten a lot of books for free either as gifts or from friends, it’s a very small price to pay for the cost of a good read. However, Media Mail only exists in the USA, and I learned the hard way this week that the base price for international mailing is a criminal $22.50, which I paid twice, once to Finland and once to the UK. For that kind of money, you could probably buy at least 2 copies of the same book over there and still have enough left over for a cup of tea, or whatever the Finns drink (cocoa?) to sip while you enjoyed reading. To make things worse, while Media Mail has free tracking (which used to cost extra), you have to fill out an extra customs form to send things overseas, and there’s no tracking system, so if you’re sending something to, say, Istanbul, and it doesn’t get there, it could be anywhere from under the desk of the postmaster in Madison or in the back of a truck halfway to Syria, for what it’s worth.

One other option for international mailing is FedEx, which is also criminally expensive but at least comes with tracking. I used it just once to send something to Israel, and it cost me twice what the item was worth, but at least I got to see it bounce from Madison through Memphis, London, and Paris before it eventually arrived in Israel, safely. Never doing that again unless it’s a real emergency.

So how do we solve this? I have no clue. Write to my congressman? My postmaster? I don’t remember it ever being this costly to send stuff overseas, and at this rate if I keep offering books to people in other countries, it’s eventually going to bankrupt me.

For now, at least, I’m sticking to PBS, and the occasional domestic bookcrosser. I guess the days of fun international shipping are over. Sigh.

2

Undergrads These Days

So, this weekend I’m heading up to Eau Claire for the APO Sectionals conference, where I’m teaching 2 workshops on varying topics to (hopefully) a bunch of undergrads.

What’s really getting to me, though, is just how busy these undergrads are. Or seem to be.

I know that college students are at that age where they don’t yet know the meaning of commitment, or how to balance a cost/benefit ratio in life, but I think that it’s somehow gotten worse. Initially, 33 people from the chapter signed up to go to the conference this weekend, and now I think we’ll be lucky if even 15 make it. And there are some other groups that are not going at all, somewhat due to drivers/cost but mostly because of the all-too-vague “I’m busy.”

I mean, seriously. Too busy to take a weekend to have fun, learn, get a change of scenery, and study if you have a spare moment.

I know that school comes first, but usually, the phrase is followed by “I have an exam this week.” Only, it seems like I hear this from someone every week, for one reason or another. In the course I teach, we have just 2 exams – a midterm and a final – and I don’t think that either of them would require a student to spend 48 hours studying. But it seems like all these undergrads, whether they be in APO or students I teach, are constantly having exams in all their other classes, usually math and hard sciences. I constantly get emails from students who were absent that week saying that they had an exam right before and were tired after, or had an exam right after and studied all day right up until the exam started. One student emailed us saying that he had 3 exams in one day.

What is with all these exams? Why do they need to exist?

At this point, I try to put myself in the shoes of an undergrad, thinking back to my undergrad days, which were almost a decade ago. Granted, I did not have much of a social life, but I don’t ever remember having a constant barrage of exams, or a weekend where all I did was study. In fact, to this day, in my ten years of being a student in higher education, I have never even pulled an all-nighter. I remember doing some homework on weekends, but I usually spent at least 1 weekend a semester out of town, like the time I flew down to Baltimore for a play premiere, or when I drove to New York City and back in 48 hours to go to my aunt’s wedding. I worked a lot, and I worked hard, but I managed to have down time in there, which is why I did get down on myself a lot.

But that’s beside the point.

To this end, I look back even further, to my freshman year. I was leaning towards majoring in theater, but I still took the requisite English and Math courses. At the same time, my sister was a junior, majoring in early childhood education. I still remember talking on the phone with my parents my second semester, and my dad told me that I seemed to be working harder as a freshman than my sister had in her three years thus far. Granted, she didn’t graduate with a 3.5 GPA like I did, and she had this thing where she wanted to see how long she could go without going to the library (turns out that she never even set foot in the campus library, in all four years). Still, she got a job offer in her field, right out of college, and has had it ever since. Even though I only graduated with a 3.5, and granted, I didn’t get my dream job, I still somehow managed to muddle through, get my master’s and into my Ph.D. program. Both of the above outcomes, working world and higher ed, were feasible without constant studying or an all-nighter.

So, I don’t know what today’s college students’ excuses are. Unless my sister and I had the world’s easiest majors (which we probably did not) or were complete slackers, it seems to me that undergrads are working harder, and with the way this economy is going, probably for even less satisfying results.

I’m almost at that age where I say “kids these days…” with a dubious look, but something is definitely going on with today’s college students, whether it’s a lack of study skills or just a generation of vindictive professors.

4

Call Your Doctor if Your Annoyance Lasts for More Than Four Hours

Maybe it’s a function of watching reruns on Hallmark every night, but I’m getting so tired of seeing commercial after commercial advertising medicines. All with phone numbers and “please call your doctor.”

I mean, what is this all about? These commercials have been around for so long, and yet I don’t think I’ve met a single person who got on a medication after seeing it on a TV commercial. Well, I don’t think I’d know, but I feel like the kind of person who’d have done that is also the kind of person who would tell you about it.

Plus, there’s that gentle female voice reading you a laundry list of symptoms that sounds like a graduation ceremony at a private school for diseases. The commercial I saw tonight that got me thinking about this was for some anti-diabetic medicine, whose list of symptoms was so long and rushed that it took up the majority of the airtime. And what’s with all the background stock footage? A couple walking on a beach? An old man and a little boy fishing off a pier? A girl at her first piano recital? What do any of those have to do with anything?

Also, I hope you caught SNL last week, there was a bit starring Octavia Spencer, Leslie Jones, and Sasheer Zamata on medicine names. Sasheer played a character called Seasonique with a son named Dayquil. Who comes up with these things?

Anyway, now I’ve got a headache. Please excuse me while I get something to treat it. And by something, I mean a nice cold drink.