Lady Hero: Lena Dunham

New York Magazine

Let’s just get straight down to real talk – I love Lena Dunham.  I have loved her since my first of multiple viewings of Tiny Furniture and I have been breathlessly anticipating her HBO-debut with Girls.  Dunham, despite being two years my junior  (insert depressing parenthetical thought about how my life is disappearing before my eyes), has an innate ability to translate the actual reality of life for many twenty-something women and project in a way that’s affecting, hilarious, and poignant.

The best thing about Girls’ impending debut (Sunday, April 15th, mark your calendars!) is that there has been a wealth of great features on the fascinating Ms. Dunham.  In a full-length profile at New York Magazine, Emily Nussbaum perfectly encapsulates how many Millennial females may feel about Dunhams – “an unstable blend of worship, envy, and disdain, particularly from her peers, some of whom resented her ‘voice of a generation’ press. ”  For many of us, Dunham is the voice of a generation – or at least “a voice, of a generation” as her Girls character, Hannah, reasons in the show’s trailer.

Nussbaum also uses Dunham’s comfort with her body on-screen, her ability to parade around half-dressed or in painfully-real sex scenes that negate the Hollywood ideal of a pencil-thin twig with fake breasts showing strategic side-boob as perfectly natural sexual representations.  As the article points out,

“[She] films herself nude, with her skin breaking out, her belly in folds, chin doubled, or flat on her back with her feet in a gynecologist’s stirrups. These scenes shouldn’t shock, but they do, if only because in a culture soaked in Photoshop and Botox, few powerful women open themselves up so aggressively to the judgment of voyeurs.”

Amen, sister friend!

From Tiny Furniture (2010)

Over at The New Yorker, Lorrie Moore features our favorite multi-hyphenate on the Culture Desk, highlighting Dunham’s ability to find comedy in life’s depressing moments.  The piece includes a great conversation lifted from the pilot that so eerily echoes conversations I’ve had with my own parents, I almost wonder if Dunham was accidentally copied on a mass email to friends.

In a recent piece in the Village Voice, where she is described as a “humble narcissist, chronic oversharer, and compulsive exhibitionist”, Dunham shares some of her favorite girls on film, further convincing me that she and I were destined to be spiritual soul mates.  For a film series she’s curating at BAM, Dunham chose such smart and clever representations of young women, ranging from The Craft to The Last Days of Disco to Clueless to This Is My Life. If you haven’t seen all four of these, get thee to your Netflix queue!

New York Magazine

Sure, maybe there’s a little bit of Dunham media saturation going on and maybe the hype of Girls will inevitably invite some backlash from the Interweb denizens who can’t bring themselves to enjoy a good thing, but just as Gawker snarks, “As a 20-something female narcissist currently making a ton of mistakes in [life], am going to watch the shit out of it.”

Music Monday: Of Monsters and Men

I’m sure I say this every Monday but I can’t believe it’s the start of another week.  This weekend absolutely flew by, between housewarming parties (I’m sure there’s a post about real estate envy that will come from that one…), March Madness (I only watch basketball when forced but it can be pretty entertaining), some exceptionally fine dining, and the return of Mad Men, leaving me feeling a little lagged this morning.

Luckily, I’ve hit upon the perfect musical concoction to soothe my slightly-battered body and soul – My Head is An Animal, from Of Monsters and Men.  I’ve been a fan of OMAM since Little Talks hit the Interwebs last year but now the good folks at NPR have the Icelandic group’s debut album.  To borrow from NPR’s apt description of the band’s sound, I’m finding their “wide-eyed, openhearted exuberance” the perfect antidote to a hectic, trying weekend.

First Listen – Of Monsters and Men, “My Heart is An Animal”

Do you have a favorite track?  Finding the band overhyped or underappreciated?  Depressed to learn their DC concert is already sold out (that might just be me…)  Share your thoughts in the comments!

Friday Frivolity: Nerd Nostalgia, Schoolhouse Rock Edition

Alternately titled:  How I Spent Thursday Night Drunk With My Schoolteacher-To-Be Best Friend Watching Schoolhouse Rock YouTube Videos

I’m a simple creature.  It doesn’t take much to make me happy.  A roof over my head, clean clothes on my back, and warm food on my table.  Throw in a case of Miller High Life and wireless Internet access and I will become downright gleeful.  Last night started innocently enough – a few girls gathered together for dinner, catching up, and gossip.  But then…everything changed.

Remember D.A.R.E.?  Of course you do!  D.A.R.E. is famous for keeping almost no middle class suburban white kids off of drugs but giving us all really cool retro shirts to wear ironically when we were smoking up behind the tennis courts during our off period (Mom, I swear, it was only the other kids, I was there to study!)   Apparently, D.A.R.E. is still alive and kicking (because in all seriousness, they do good work, especially the drug dogs they bring to school when you graduate), so my STBBF was kind enough to share this jaunty tune that her students are currently learning to perform for their D.A.R.E. graduation.  Warning:  Listening will cause major earworm.  NOT A JOKE.

Once we listened to this song like five times – and warned each other to “check our attitudes at the door” – it was a YouTube nostalgia fest.  After brief detours with Rappin’ Rabbit and The Hippo Song (one of us grew up with a weirdly musical religious aunt), it was time to bring out the big guns – SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK!  My passion for Schoolhouse Rock cannot be overstated.  We own the VHS set at home and I still love to pull them out and watch them en masse when I’m visiting the PCParentals.  I have very fond memories of catching the clips during Saturday morning cartoons, implementing them into my stash of babysitting tricks, and playing tracks off the dope cover album when I was a college DJ.

The genius of Schoolhouse Rock is that it exists perfectly at the intersection of sincerity and camp.  The content is legitimately educational, unlike so many contemporary offerings, and there’s an earnest enthusiasm that never quite feels hokey, because each song’s story is sublimely silly in its own right.  While I always had a personal preference for the grammar and history series, even the math and science songs had a way of making me want to laugh at it and with it, all at the same time.

So, in honor of this most frivolous Friday, please enjoy my top ten favorite Schoolhouse Rock videos (in no particular order).

Sufferin’ ’til Suffrage

I like to think that my feminism really grew out of watching this over and over again.  Also, how fantastic is that girl’s ponytail?  SUPER FANTASTIC.

Three Is A Magic Number

I am not ashamed to admit that I still use this to do multiplication in my head!

The Tale of Mr. Morton

Not only is this story incredibly sweet (Mr. Morton was lonely…Mr. Morton was), but another great feminist-inspiring song – spoiler alert, the woman proposes!

Interplanet Janet

“A solar system Ms. from a future world” is just the catchiest damned lyric.  This has a 89% chance of being my Halloween costume this year.

Elbow Room

It was a toss-up between this and The Shot Heard Round the World, but is there a better song that illustrates Manifest Destiny?  It’s also a PostCollegiate Family Favorite – we often sing it when we’re cramped in small spaces together.

Lolly, Lolly, Lolly (Get Your Adverbs Here)

Everyone is always raving about Conjunction Junction but honestly, this is the Grammar Song that just gets stuck in my head whenever I think about adverbs – which is probably more than any reasonable person should.

Electricity, Electricity!

A little dare – go switch your lights off and then on again.  Did you just sing the chorus to yourself?  Of course you did.  Don’t be ashamed.

Dollars and Sense

Okay, so I clearly did not learn Becky Sue’s money lessons very well (as evidenced by my inability to stick to a budget) but this is like the most charming song about currency that has ever existed.

Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla

Thanks to STBBF for reminding me how awesome this song is – saying all those nouns over and over CAN wear you down!

Mother Necessity

This song comes in hand whenever I’m watching Jeopardy and there’s a category on inventors. 

Okay and one more bonus video, because, come on, it’s the golden standard of Schoolhouse Rock videos:

I’m Just A Bill

It’s a classic for a reason, folks.  And it’s adorably old-fashioned as it features a Congress that used to actually DO things like enact laws!

The Price of Privacy: Are Facebook Passwords Fair Game?


First, I just want to say a big THANK YOU to my new followers – it’s so great to be connecting with other bloggers and I love all of your tweets, emails, comments, etc.  Y’all are truly the best.

Also, I’m looking for new faces to feature in the Fearless Post-Collegiate interview series.  Drop me an email at postcollegiateblog [at] gmail [dot] com and tell me a little about yourself and we’ll go from there.  I’m looking for anyone of any age and any background whose willing to share a little bit about their life, their triumphs and challenges in post-collegiate living, and their future ambitions, whatever they may be.

On to the topic of the week – and it’s a doozy:  how much privacy is a job seeker afforded these days?  As the Internet has been buzzing about the practice of requesting Facebook passwords from job seekers, it’s been interesting to see the reactions ranging from “HELL NO, HANDS OFF MY PRIVATE INFORMATION” to “If you really need a job, you’ll do anything.”

It’s a tricky issue – I tend to believe that you have to stand behind what you say, which includes what you say on the Internet.  If you have information that is shared publicly, you have to accept the reality that people (including potential employers – and your mother!) will see it.  This is why private accounts were invented – to allow you to share information that you choose with the people that you choose.  It’s also why many college career centers are encouraging young graduates to be smart about their Internet presence – Google yourself to see if anything unsavory can be found, keep personal information private, and develop a professional persona that will satisfy a future employer.

But are there legal grounds to request your password?  It’s legally within your right as a job seeker to refuse but are you jeopardizing your chance at a job?  That seems to be the concern most heavily raised on Twitter and blogs in the last day or two – if you’re desperate to find the right job, are you willing to sacrifice a little personal freedom, even temporarily?  This has never happened to me in a job interview ever but if the request ever came up, I would politely refuse and insist that I would not want to compromise my personal information.  As it’s been oft-quoted, giving up a password to a social site like Facebook is akin to turning over the keys to your house – you just shouldn’t do it.

It’s hard to be unemployed and/or job hunting right now.  The economy is still slow-growing in many areas and the market feels saturated with over-educated, under-employed, talented candidates.  But this doesn’t give employers the right to force potential employees to give up any semblance of a private life.  Just as the Internet generation is learning the repercussions of sharing information on-line and how to do so effectively and professionally, employers and head-hunters have to realize that with a global shift to virtual living that the traditional bounds of the employer/employee relationship still exist in a digital world.  And as one great commenter says on The Takeaway, unless they’re willing to give up their passwords, why should you?

You Can Always Go Home Again

Helloooooooo everyone!  It feels like years since my last post, even though it’s only been six days.  But I always feel like vacation time is some sort of strange black hole that warps days into feeling like minutes or hours into feeling like years.  Or something like that.  I have no idea, I’m still completely exhausted and think that today is Monday.

Going home is always such a mix of emotions for me.  On one hand, it’s nice to get away from the problems and stresses of my every day life and go back to a simpler times, when meals and basic necessities were provided to me without question and where I rarely have to make any decisions.  On the other hand, because I tend to suffer from a bit of revertigo when I go home, I also find myself acting in a manner which Normal Me would find appalling but Visiting-Home-Again Me thinks is totally acceptable, such as throwing a temper tantrum when the PostCollegiate Parentals do not provide warm fresh kolaches at my first breakfast back.

Being back home is always this weird, schizophrenic mix of feeling unconditionally loved and accepted for the special little snowflake that I am while also feeling like the world’s biggest disappointment for my lack of career achievement/advanced degrees/impressive salary/numbers of lives changed through my actions.  I vacillate between basking in superiority to Baby Sister for eschewing the option of ever moving back home and seething in jealousy when I realize what a smart decision it was.  I love watching the PCPs discover the wonderful world of the Internet through their iPads, especially as PCD realizes that he can stream the Rachel Maddow show “just like on a real television” or PCM finally gets through the first three levels of Angry Birds.  But then I worry if those little “senior moments” are just that or indicators of something more or if that nagging cough is a harbinger of another bout of medical disasters and it’s hard to enjoy the funny moments.

On top of my own parental-related crisis, this trip home was intensified by the inclusion of attending a conference for an organization that I’ve been involved with my whole life.  The conference was fun – I love seeing little dudes dressed in tiny suits and catching up with old friends – but I hate, hate, hate having to do the “life recap” every five minutes.  It goes something like this:

Yes, it’s hard to believe I’m almost 28.
Yes, I hope I always look this young – not that 28 is young but you know what I mean…*awkward laugh*
Yes, I’m still living in DC.
No, I’m not working for the museum anymore.
No, I wasn’t fired.  It’s sort of complic–never mind.
Yes, I have a new job.  It’s sort of complicated.  I like my boss but I’m a little bored but I’m applying to grad school but it’s a tough economy but I have no idea why I keep rambling about this job.
No, I’m not married.
No, I’m not close to being married.
No, I’m not too worried about not being close to being married.
No, I’m not defensive about the idea of marriage.  It’s kind of ridiculous when you think about it.  Oh, you just got married?  That’s great.  For you.  I mean, I think it’s a human right that should be afforded to everyone regardle-  why are you walking away?

This is not an exaggeration.  I’m truly this awkward in real life.  And whenever I am forced to interact with people whose life choices are so different from my own (married at 24, brood of kids by 27, stay at home mom/supporting their family via etsy crafts), I find myself completely unable to articulate why I’m generally happy with my child-less, husband-less, craft-less lifestyle and why it’s actually pretty good to be me, despite all the confusion and worry and feelings of inadequacy.

After a weekend of giving of feeling like that, it was actually very therapeutic to spend my last night in town curled up on the couch with my fam, watching old episodes of Combat!on an actual old-fashioned television.


Not-Quite-Friday Frivolity: Quitting Via The Front Page

I know, I know…it isn’t technically Friday yet.  But it’s my Friday, so as soon as the ol’ quitting bell rings, I am dashing out of here to catch a flight home for a three-day weekend.  I’m looking forward to it – a little family time (but not too much), a lot of good eatin’ (tamales and kolaches and brisket, here I come!), and a little bit of do-goodery with an organization that I’ve been involved with since childhood.  All in all, I believe I’m in for a pretty stellar weekend.

Of course, the guy whose probably going to have an even BETTER weekend is Greg Smith, whose op-ed in the New York Times yesterday made quite a stir.  Smith, who was an executive director over at Goldman Sachs, quit in the most spectacular fashion – by penning a harshly-worded screed on all the ways his soon-to-be-former employer was terrible.  The diabtribe is a bit ridiculous – he doesn’t really say anything about Goldman Sachs that hasn’t been said before and he totally humblebrags his Rhodes Scholar status and a bronze medal at the Maccabiah Games but it does make an impact.  Many of us have said terrible things about past jobs but most of us do it over drinks, on a blog, or in an email – not in the largest local metropolitan paper in the country!

What’s truly great about Smith’s missive is that he gave me some great Internet finds for me to with you today.  The first is a brilliant spoof of the editorial, written from the perspective of Darth Vader.  With lines like “the Empire today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about remote strangulation. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore”, any self-respecting Star Wars nerd will be rolling.  And, over at NPR, they’ve pulled together a list of four great “I Quit!” moments that may just inspire you to pull a Greg Smith.  Naturally, Stephen Colbert had a few quips for Smith as well, reminding him that there’s a “sacred trust” on the Street.

[Update]:  Slate posted a series of “Why I Quit…” parody quotes that are just too funny not to share.  This definitely wins for concluding with a pretty hilarious Stringer Bell quote:

I sat in meetings that were all about taking over corners. How many corners do we need?
—Stringer Bell, “Why I Am Leaving the Baltimore Drug Trade,”

[FURTHER UPDATE]  I know, I know – two updates to one silly little post is a bit much, but a dear friend who wishes to remain anonymous as they do not have the kind of job where one should be reading Vanity Fair online pointed me to VF’s own parody – Why I’m Quitting Pinkberry.  Worth reading simple for the line that reminds us that Pinkberry is “world’s largest and most important remaining vehicles for Cap’n Crunch

Whether you’re inspired to quit your job, writing your own (never to be published) version of all the ways your employer is the worst, or just enjoy giggling at someone else’s public display of disaffection, let’s all thank Greg Smith for giving us a little frivolity for the weekend!