Monday, May 28, 2007

more, harder, heavier

Maybe its just the year I was born, or maybe its just dumb luck, but somehow, everywhere I've worked and everywhere I've studied, I've come in for the year that everything has gotten more intense. In school I came in for the first year that the freshman class was so vast we overflowed the housing and wound up taking over two hotels. When I studied abroad it was the biggest class of international students they'd ever encountered and there was another housing crunch. In the Hamptons it was the heaviest show load the theatre had ever encountered with the least amount of time. Berkeley also took on the most interns they'd ever had and, lo and behold, another housing crunch. Now my Opera is 17 housing units short and is putting on the most shows they've ever tried in a summer, which means I'm rooming in a pantry and better appreciate it.

My whole Life has been like this. Always the first time we've tried this, and its always more than the institution is prepared to handle. Always above and beyond capacity, both for space and stress. For some reason folks tend to forget that when you try to build upward, its a good idea to build outward too so the tower doesn't teeter.

I'm getting tired of it, frankly. I'm sick of feeling crammed in by establishments that are not capable of handling the bulk. Feeling marginalized and perpetually reduced to child-status by companies that have no room to move upward, so they just shove bigger and bigger groups through on the bottom floor, in one door, out the other. I know a lot of money has already gone toward establishing this point long before now, but its starting to strike home with me. The human lifespan has increased so the retirement age has increased. Which means older people are holding onto jobs longer. So employment turnover has slowed. What's more, social security benefits have dropped, pensions are a thing of the past, and a lot of investment plans have tanked as major corporations have dealt underhandedly, so even folks who are of age to retire can't without being put out on the street. There's not enough money to go around, so everyone is working more, longer, and harder to try and get enough, which means more people are earning more so inflation has ballooned to compensate. This sucks enough for older people who are desperately trying to hold on to the income they have to try and slowly pay for their hip replacement ten years ago with the petering assistance of Medicare, but let's think how this is affecting everyone else. Me, for example.

My university took on more students than it could dream of handling comfortably in order to make more money in 2002. The school was literally bursting at the seams. Now, most universities are comfortable in the knowledge that they're going to lose a huge chunk of their entrants by the end of their second year due to drop-outs and transfers, so freshman and sophomore-level general ed classes are designed to accommodate for thousands of students while junior and senior level classes are smaller and more specific, to accommodate for the significantly smaller number of students who actually survive long enough to get into them. This is nothing new. Unfortunately, in this day of job competition when we know that you can't even work at Starbucks without a BA, the pressure is on for each entrant to graduate, even if they're not really college material. While this has affected the per capita suicide and therapy entry rates to a degree, the biggest impact it has actually had is the ballooning of college graduation rates. I'm convinced that the university of south carolina, seeing a potential for monetary gain, has intentionally dropped the difficulty level of most of its liberal arts courses--and phased out professors who would keep the intellectual commitment high in order to preserve the integrity of education--in order to increase the number of people who pay to stay in four or more years. Which has devalued the bachelor's degree to nearly that of the high school diploma or GED. I graduated with a Pack Of Nimrods. There were some bright students dotted in there, but a large majority of my graduating class was...dumb. But I have the same degree as the rest of them, so on paper we're all worth the same.

Which means, of course, that eventually I'll have to go to grad school--an institution that is also being flooded by folks who want to increase their chances of survival. Eventually, if the trend continues, I can imagine the Ph. D will work out to have the CV value of an 8th grade graduation ceremony. As bigger and bigger packs of young educated people flood the overwhelmed job market and corporate heads squeeze each downsized department tighter and tighter, i can only foresee revolution...or collapse.

As it stands, each year I age has tended to become a year further from adulthood. My mom was a grown-up at 18. My older cousins were deemed mature at 21. Ten years later i don't imagine I'll be taken seriously as an adult until i'm 30. I can only expect my jobs to be a series of low-paid temporary gigs in pathetic, crumbling housing, herded in groups of my equally frustrated, overeducated peers like some sick travesty of a summer camp where we're made to clean toilets and sweep floors and only discuss philosophy in undertones when the boss-man looks away.

ugh. I'm gonna apply to Yale.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What the Gold Rush Left Behind

I've moved to the mountains of Colorado for my new job. I'm having a good time so far in my new environment, though it has taken some getting used to physically. In particular, its cold. I'm 8,600 feet above sea level here and it has snowed constantly for the past two days. It actually stuck last night. Its nearly summer in the northern hemisphere. unbelievable. Also as a condition of the altitude, the air is thin here. You can't walk uphill without panting, and though i'm not the least fit person in the world its taking some effort to get around. Everything is uphill somehow. Uphill both ways, in the snow in late May...Nice.

My internet access is intermittent at best so I will not be posting much for the next few months. I hope this doesn't inconvenience anyone too much.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

the price of stamps...

Would something, Anything, mind getting CHEAPER for a change? Gas goes up, stamps go up, airfares, food, rent--all this goddamn inflation has me pulling out my pockets and waving my Hoover flags in despair. What a great time to try and enter the workforce--at a time when my economy is actually preventing me from working where I might be able to build a career. Fact is, it can't keep it up too much longer. When we reach the point where young people truly can't afford to get a job, something's gotta collapse. The fiscal structure, the housing market, the minds of the frustrated--somehow something's gonna cave. I want a revolution! About what, for what, how it goes about, I don't care. I just want to feel like i'm fighting FOR something, alongside something, rather than constantly against the increasingly tepid culture which claims me as its own. I do not approve! Hear my squeak! LOOK at young people these days. Individuals may want to fight whatever the power happens to be, but for a general overview, look at the music scene. Nobody has any passion about anything. Pop music is edited to be at once erotic and meaningless--it encourages the plebs to shag and increase the lagging birth rate, but never bothers to express social unrest or political ire. We're square in the middle of Vietnam Mach II and nobody outside of Berkeley gives a rat's ass. We all just click "no" on the Gallup poll's endless "approve/disapprove" ticker, write infuriated blog entries that four people will read and two minds will take offense at, and tolerate the increasingly 1984-esque world we've built for ourselves. We have a vaguely established enemy ("freedom fighter" is the bad guys' word for "terrorist"), we have an inescapable status quo of war government that uses corporations to tap our phone calls and emails, and we all stare at the walls in our increasingly pointless jobs and slowly go postal. And the price of living keeps going up. The number of people in therapy, trying to tolerate their animal nature as it is caged in a grey cubicle for a longer number of hours each week keeps going up. We work harder and longer and the cost goes up accordingly. What has poisoned our brains? Why do we think its a good thing to work ourselves stupid? What has been added to the water to make us work more, love less, and delay adulthood until age 40? Why the hell don't we realize that the more we work, the more we EARN, the more they can CHARGE? We pay more because we've all worked harder to earn the fucking privilege of doing so.
I blame myself. I allowed myself to be convinced that empowering myself meant having the power to bash my own head into the wall. No, i don't work in a cubicle in corporate america. I work with my hands. I work with good people. So i guess this diatribe really isn't about me. But i still feel the suffocating angst of white middle class stagnation. I want to Want something. Not food or shelter--that's need. I want to have a passionate desire to change things. To look at the city or country in which i live and find something worth getting worked up about. I can vote, though as more people become educated we've come to realize what a joke that is. I can work--i can work myself into a pulp. I can think, write, bear arms, and even drink alcohol to placate myself when nobody agrees, reads, or allows me to shoot them. I can't find anything to fight for. To rally behind. To hope for. The war in iraq will not end--it was designed not to. Its just a money pit we've all resigned ourselves to tithe to. Gay marriage rights and abortion are feather toys our political leaders dangle over the wall and encourage us to bat at while they do their own thing without the knowledge or the consent of the idiots i like to call us. I'm so fucking TIRED of being told by the state that everything they're doing is "for my own good, whether or not i realize it" i'm sorry, politicians-at-large, you're really NOT any smarter or more capable of handling life than me. That's why you're called Representatives, not God-Ordained Saviors of the Helpless Masses.

My previous posting, written in a fiery haste, struck a chord at the end that rung a bell that spurned this. "the common interests of the majority are just that--common." we listen to what we're told to, watch what we're told to, fuck how we're told to, work how we're told to...i just want to formulate an independent thought. I know what i'm saying is trite. I know everyone else feels frustration with the world at large. I want to stop feeling like everything i say and think has been done before and was equally as futile. I want to rise up and force someone in a position of power to make transit and basic housing affordable without making a clusterfuck out of it and allowing the freeways to collapse and every street to be sketchy. I want jobs that are not only worth doing and interesting, but pay the bills. I want to stop the cycle which has spiraled out of control into this 24-hour workfest that only leads to more price hikes. I want the world to stop so I can catch up. I want to feel love that doesn't have a massive catch that leaves me at once crying and climbing the walls. I want men to think like women and willingly treat us like equals, on and off the dance floor. I want to sleep without having nightmares. I want to wake up without coffee. I want to feel like a grown-up. I WANT TO FEEL LIKE A GROWN-UP! The grown-up world keeps getting further and further away. My age seems to perpetually be the age of immaturity. Stop talking down at me. I'm worth more than that. I'm smarter than you. Really. Trust me. I get no pleasure out of reality tv, monkeys watching monkeys jump around in a box. I want to feel like someone is listening and not just looking for how to find fault. WHY does nobody care about me? Why can't i seem to care about anyone else either? What happens when a society becomes utterly apathetic? Does it collapse in a smoldering heap or does it continue as is, as it always has, because nothing has changed? Who's hoops am I jumping through? Who wrote the rules? The human intellect is too intelligent to be trapped in a human brain, constantly influenced by hormones and primal urges. I FUCK THEREFORE I AM-sterdam... i've lost my mind. I'm so sick of living in my brain. Nothing exists to free me from the manila painted walls that even now grow closer and closer together....Maybe tonight would be a good night for a nervous breakdown.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

RE: Lists

This entry is a response to This blog. I would have simply replied in the comments page, but it looked too cluttered.

University of South Carolina:

Top Music

1 Jack Johnson
2 Coldplay
3 Rap
4 John Mayer
5 Sublime
6 Bob Marley
7 Country
8 R&b
9 Led Zeppelin
10 Dave Matthews Band

this is actually a pretty accurate description of the crap you'll hear pumping from dormitory windows on campus at USC--when people include genres rather than bands, it generally implies that they have no idea what they like and just listen to the party mixes that other students build. when it says "rap" in particular it means they like songs that include words such as "fuck" "hos" and "playa hata". people who can actually list off particular rappers they like (my favorite is Del the Funky Homosapien) express at the very least a conscious awareness of what they're listening to. The students who list off Coldplay are, in fact, the Children of the Corn.

Top Movies

1. Wedding Crashers
2. The Notebook
3. Old School
4. Anchorman
5. Fight Club
6. Blow
7. Pulp Fiction
8. Love Actually
9. Scarface
10. Garden State

Okay, so i've never seen The Notebook and know nothing about it, so rather than do an iota of research, i'm going to ignore it. lets see, two are Will Ferrell movies...that says something about the overall maturity level of students these days, but actually only 3 total are toilet-humor comedies. Balanced with 3 violent films and 3 that typically women would enjoy (my flatmate just told me the Notebook was a sad love story), throw in some drugs and scantily-clad women, and you've got the typical moviegoer in south carolina. Interesting to see that Moulin Rouge, Romeo+Juliet, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari didn't make it up into the top 10--I guess the pretentious theatre crowd is smaller than I thought.

Top Interests
1. Music
2. Shopping
3. Reading
4. Movies
5. Sports
6. Travelling
7. Football
8. Running
9. The Beach
10. Dancing

Well, what do you expect? you send them to college to become model citizens, and what do they do but become stereotypes. I can't believe some people's interests are actually shopping. Way to do what the economy and the media demand of you. Music is moot, movies means reality TV, sports means football, i'd imagine running actually means drinking, and if there's one thing i know about USC, its that people do not dance. They grind. that's not the same. "the beach" means drinking and having sex with strangers in Myrtle Beach, a cultural life that could have been grown in a petri dish (or behind a refrigerator).

this one's hands down my favorite:

Top Books
1. the Bible
2. Harry Potter
3. To Kill A Mockingbird*
4. The Notebook
5. 1984*
6. The Great Gatsby*
7. The da Vinci Code
8. Catcher in the Rye*
(* indicates required reading for high school english/Freshman Reading Experience)

So, we've got a children's series, 2 stories people "read" by watching the recent film (ooh, look--its based on a book! i'm cultured!) 4 stories that are required in school, and yes, that pillar of western culture, the book that's killed more people than history can account for, that badly-interpreted collection of fibs, lies, guesses, and the occasional misunderstanding... THE REASON I LEFT THE SOUTH....the Bible. yep. South Carolina. home of the illiterate. land of the brainwashed.

Top TV
1. Family Guy
2. Grey's Anatomy
3. South Park
4. House
5. Friends
6. Lost
7. CSI
8. Desperate Housewives
9. The Office
10. Seinfeld

Of these i've actually watched 1, 3, 5, and 10. In the past year, i've watched 1. I'm out of the loop. not helpful.

So basically, what it looks like is people list as their favorites exactly what the mass media tell them to enjoy. I'm surprised there aren't any reality tv shows up, but many of them are short-lived. We've got for the most part entertainment that is canned, labeled, and sold to the masses like some HD version of opium. We've got listed the only books most people have actually read, because they were required to pass a test at the end, and interests so vague its no wonder nobody has anything halfway interesting to talk about. ("hey, do you like music?" "why yes i do!" "lets hook up!")

In short, i believe Facebook has told me an exact truth about the common interests of the majority--they're...common.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

parties, ponderings, and posteriors

My home played host to a fairly successful party last night, which commemorated an impressive heap of events including but not limited to birthdays, ends of internships, and 1980's music videos. As one of those internships near completion was my own, I found it a good excuse to get tap-dancingly intoxicated and give words to my doting affection for some, lip-curling disdain for others, and bubbly hospitality for those I don't know. (okay, so i'm really not much of a bubbler, but i did show several people how to find the bathroom.) It was one of those crowded-kitchen parties--the sort where the living room has been decked out to accommodate for guests but we stupidly set the beer and snacks over the linoleum instead of the carpet, so the majority of party-goers found themselves uncomfortably crammed between the stove and the refrigerator while the rooms with music and seating remained cool.

In a quieter moment of the festivities I took a moment to let my brain catch up with me and made a few realizations. The primary of which is that I completely forgot to cut two major pieces for my welding project that morning, so i must remind myself to take care of that Monday. After that, however, I began to muse on life, the universe, and several other things, and it gave rise to wondering about that whole Butterfly effect. I have to wonder if I would be here now, doing what I'm doing, if my family hadn't moved states when i was 5 and I wound up skipping Kindergarten. The teacher who evaluated me that day--to determine whether or not I was ready for the first grade--probably considered it a fairly inconsequential move, but it has influenced every aspect of my life from there on. Who i've known. What i've learned. What i was doing when such-and-such happened. Who i've dated. Where I went to college. My time abroad. My career path...i mean holy crap, if we hadn't moved, what's to say I would have gotten into theatre? I might have been that kid who put effort into learning math and studied to become an accountant. Yeeeegh. If i hadn't had an amazing French teacher in high school, i doubt i would have thought to study abroad. If i hadn't had a seriously amazing technical director in college, I wonder if i would have switched from French to pursue a theatre major. And if i hadn't majored in theatre, would I have the friends I do, all over the planet? Would i be in Berkeley? Would i be joining the ranks of the hard-working financially bereft? Where would I be if that one teacher that one day had decided i wasn't ready for first grade? Would i be happier? wealthier? Thinking about graduation? Religious? Alive?

In other news, i think my legs look a little slimmer than normal, particularly the little area under the buttock. or maybe my ass has just grown.

Monday, May 07, 2007

grapefruits, heatwaves, and giant flying things

Call out the Department of Redundancy Department. I've got dictional bone to pick with the citrus-growing industry in the shape of a big, round, yellow ball. Yes, the grapefruit. I love 'em--i peel them and eat 'em like oranges, and i noticed this afternoon that their oil has light anesthetic properties. (i carelessly licked it off my hand and discovered that my tongue went numb shortly afterward. fun!) They're tangy and sweet and ever so tasty, yet they share their name...with grapes. In case nobody else noticed...grapes are a fruit too. Yes they grow on vines and have a soft peel and are often purple or green, but that doesn't make them gourds. And if you go to a vineyard you'll occasionally hear the distinction between "fruit-grapes" and "wine-grapes" (no profitable Napa vineyard grows Concords, for instance). So a grape is a grape, a fruit-grape is a grape, but a grape-fruit is a massive, yellow citrus that grows on trees in coastal areas.

I discovered, thanks to trusty old Wikipedia, that grapefruits got their name from the formation in which they grow--apparently some dolt thought they looked like big, yellow clusters of grapes. (later that day, the same explorer looked up and said "wow, those fruits are really orange. Aha!") Other societies call them Shaddocks or Shattucks, which, interestingly, is the name of the main drag in my town. It makes me quite smug to know that i've walked down Grapefruit street. Just like I've vacationed in a town named Blackcurrant (Cassis.) What's wrong with Shattuck? or Pamplemousse? (c'mon, pamplemousse is funny.) Or Yellow? I'd be fine with calling a grapefruit a Yellow. Actually, since grapefruits can come in pink, maybe lemons should get that name. In any case. I refuse to recognize "grapefruit" as a legitimate name for a plant.

I'm really fine with pineapples, in case you were wondering--they're a pine cone-shaped fruit, and humans have an ages-old tendency to refer to apples as though they're the original fruit and name other foods as they relate to them. Whether its pommes de terre, crabapples, road apples, or that insufferable adage about doctors, we just like to put things in terms of apples.


So it got up to 93°F (33°C) in the shop today, low humidity, with a light breeze. Compared to home it was a friggin blizzard but somehow California has made me into a complete wimp when it comes to temperature. I was complainin' and dreaming of a cold beer right along with my cold-climate co-workers.


I smacked this bug today--it looked like a flying daddy long-legs except it was red with a stinger. I didn't really get to examine it before it was skeeter purée but it looked vicious.


I don't approve of the CRV--the California Redemption Value deposit added on to cans and bottles. First off, if you actually do return the bottles and cans, you don't get the full value of your deposit back. They only accept recyclables by the pound, and then the returns are trifling. Second, its not like we're going to take them to the recycling center by ourselves--the city collects them for you to try and prevent huge back-ups over there, but they do not pay you back for the deposits you've made. I've been to the recycling center in this area and its ridiculous trying to get in, get weighed, drop off the materials, and get your money. Takes hours, the lines are atrocious, you get harassed by tramps, and the people who work there look so disgruntled you want to hug them. Why charge people extra for cans when you don't want them to try to redeem their deposit? that's less like a recycling incentive and more like...theft.
MEANWHILE, the city never even gets the chance to collect your recyclables in the first place to take them to the center--the junkies do it first, in the middle of the night, making as much noise as possible in the process. Basically, we're paying a fairly sizable chunk of change on every purchase in order to be disturbed at 4 am by clinking and shouting coming from our own curbs. How perfectly preposterous.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Skanky Trash Ho!

I'm goin down the street today on the way to the grocery store when some skank, with an elegantly practiced move, casually tossed her empty Capri Sun pouch into the crosswalk. I wanted to smack her. There was a trash can not twenty feet away. Come ON you trashy trash. You're a grown-up--put it in the bin. But no, she clearly stated her respect for her town and herself in that one arrogant, juvenile overhand pitch. Thanks for upholding Oakland's negative stereotype, bitch--Skanky.


I got a haircut today. It looks...shorter.


I tried my first Mint Julep yesterday. And my second. And my third... i got a ride home from the Kentucky Derby party and had a nap. The Cinco de Mayo party later, on the other hand, offered a lovely pumpkin ale. I had a nice Saturday.


I had a good conversation with my flatmate this morning. We were discussing our transient lifestyles and the similarly fluid nature of our friendships as our internships popped us around the world like an expensive game of Whack-a-Mole, and we took a moment to wonder how ours would hold up after next week. I've lost touch with my best friends from high school and college, and never even bothered keeping tabs on anyone from my stint in the Hamptons. I find it highly unlikely that i'll hear from any of my current house-mates again, except perhaps in the occasional group e-mail or newsletter from the theatre (in which I discover that everyone i started off with is making more money than me and balancing their grown-up lives with considerably more success. ) It gives me cause to wonder if I'll ever have "old friends" and what, indeed, that would entail. If there's anyone reading this who considers me an old friend, i apologize for overlooking you. Physical and conscious isolation tend to overwhelm observation of the delicate web of individuals around the world who know and care about a person. Indeed, by pointing out this network of lines i may have just walked straight into it. Ew.


Saturday, May 05, 2007

two weeks

till i move to Colorado. That means one week to remain drunk, five days to sober up and pack, two days to hug and say good-by, and then three days of driving like a bat out of hell. if i average 70 mph, one cup of coffee an hour...that's about 17 cups of brew over the 1200 mile trek. i should buy a thermos.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


oh good grief. I happened across a bit of litter on the street today which turned out to be a cardboard box from U-Haul. On it was printed "Medium-Sized Box. Perfect for packing: small appliances, toys, kitchen wares, office supplies."

WOW. Thanks U-Haul. I Never would have figured out how to use the box without your help!
Its just another addition to the list of products "so idiot proof they're insulting." It started with "attention: hot coffee" and "this bag is not a toy and should not be given to children under the age of 3 or used as a crib lining." Base statements that anyone old enough to supervise a child under 3 should not have to be told. But this is slightly different--rather than printing how Not to use a product so as to cover one's ass against lawsuits, companies are printing suggestions for how to use their products--products such as boxes, breakfast cereal, modeling clay, zip-top bags, and shoes . (if you're lucky, you might find directions as to how to use all 5 together!)

You know how your mom used to say "if you can't find something nice to say, don't say anything?" I've got a new one for marketing departments: "If you can't find something WORTHWHILE to say in regard to your product, leave the packaging blank." Statements such as "Try our cereal with cold milk, or pack it in a zip-top baggie for a tasty snack!" and "great for punching 3 holes in lined, unlined, and construction papers!" are NOT WORTH SAYING. If your packaging looks too dull for you, maybe its an indication that your product is fairly mundane. Don't try to spice up tupperware by exclaiming about its multiple storage uses. Please refrain from suggesting that I use potting soil for growing plants. And come ON, even a toddler knows that envelopes can be used to mail business letters, greeting cards, thank-you notes and More!

I recognize that all companies feel the need to promote their products. But guess what. Bleach has always killed mildew. An armload-sized box has always held about an armload-worth of stuff, and terrycloth has always absorbed water. Stating these things directly on your products is not going to encourage people to buy them over the competitor's version. Perhaps, rather than paying a marketing department to develop catchy things to write on your packaging, you should just make sure your products do what the customer already expects them to do. That'll encourage sales much more than suggesting your customer use the product the way he was already intending to. Believe it or not, we're not all idiots bumping into one another out here in the consumer base.

Now Big cardboard boxes--those are airplanes.