Neither An Oversharer Nor An Undersharer Be

21st century life is a strange beast.  We’re a generation so accustomed to living life online that it’s practically second nature.  When we meet someone cool, we Facebook friend them the next day.  If we want to get the latest on a news story, we check on Twitter.  Job seeking, apartment hunting, shopping, dating, food ordering, and just about everything else is done online or through an app or in some sort of virtual world that doesn’t involve actually going anywhere.  Everyone blogs or Tumbles or shares personal playlists on Spotify or contributes to crowd sourced Flickr streams – doing any or all of these things doesn’t make you stand out, it makes you part of the crowd.

With all of this said, it can make blogging both a very rewarding and a very challenging task.  I love to blog – I’m not particularly good at talking about my feelings or concerns or fears in person but for some reason, I’m happy to expose my insecurities and anxieties and small moments of triumphs with my wonderful world of Internet friends (and people who find me with really strange Google searches).  The sense of community and connection that can build out of something so small as putting a few words on the Internet about how life in your 20s can be terrible and awesome all at once is pretty incredible.

But it’s not always as easy as it seems.  I find myself culling not just my personal experiences but the experiences of others for blog fodder.  Whenever I’m having a conversation with a friend whose struggling with a job hunt or freaking out over a cross country move or drowning in financial uncertainty, my mind often starts drafting blog posts in my head.  Conversely, when I write a really personal, honest post about my own failings, I hesitate to put it out there too much, worried what my friends will think about me when they see me in the flesh.  Am I tapping into a vein of shared misgivings and misadventures or am I truly the one screw-up in the bunch?

I’m coming off of a couple of pretty good weeks – I’m hitting a stride at my job despite still having way to much free time, I have a great group of friends, and I’ve even had the chance to do some guest-blogging.  But all those fears and anxieties and uncertainties don’t go away and whenever someone I know confesses they share that fear, it takes everything in my power not to rush to the nearest laptop and start transcribing our conversations.  So, consider this blog post an apology of sorts – for my friends, I’m sorry if things we discuss occasionally end up on this blog and I promise to never purposefully share your stories without your permission.

For my readers, I’m sorry if sometimes I hold back on the really juicy real life examples until I can ply my friends with booze and promises of low readership into granting me permission to help illustrate that we’re just hot messes pretending to have our lives together online.

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Music Monday: Alabama Shakes

Happy Monday!  I’m sure there are those of you who have today off but for those, like me, who are stuck back in the office despite the beautiful weather, I feel your pain.  Quite literally, actually, as I spent some significant time in the sun this weekend and my poor ivory skin, despite SPF 175, just cannot hold up against the rays of global warming.

Although I am wishing that today was a holiday and I could spend it laying in the grass day-drinking somewhere, I’m pretty psyched this morning as my guest post for Post-Grad Learning is live!  PGL is a great blog and it’s such a great feeling to be able to be a part of their world.  Be sure to head over RIGHT NOW to check out my five reasons why everyone should be fired from a job at least once:

Why Everyone Should Be Fired Once

Oh, hey, welcome back!  Hope you enjoyed that.  It was fun to write and I believe it to be true.

Back to the important task of Music Monday – the music!  I wanted to do a blog post on Alabama Shakes a couple weeks ago but was distracted by some other music that was dominating my iPod and now the band has completely blown up!  Following a strong showing at SXSW, Alabama Shakes has been everywhere, selling out shows at hip venues and popping up on every music blog that matters.  Hell, they’ve booked Letterman for this week, so expect your parents to start asking if you’ve heard about them.

I love their Southern blues rock sound and I love the grit and power that comes across on every track.  This is a big week for me – I’m wrapping up my grad school applications and getting ready for two huge weekends coming up and I need to stay amped and motivated.  Alabama Shakes’ first full-length album, Boys and Girls, is perfect for getting excited and feeling like I can foot-stomp my way to kicking ass and handling my business.  Enjoy the video of their first single, Hold On, below and be sure to check out the stream of their album.

Full Stream of Boys & Girls at NPR

Friday Frivolity: My Last $100

It’s Friiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiidaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!  (Hey, sometimes I like to pretend I’m Oprah.)  Very excited for the weekend to be here especially because the butter on our Easter table spread this Sunday will be in the shapes of little lambs and the moment someone cuts into it, I’m going to make jokes about sacrificial lambs for the rest of the day.

For a little bit of frivolity on this fine almost-holiday Friday, I was inspired by a great new website, The Billfold.  Brought to you by the good people behind The Awl, Splitsider, and Hairpin (all worthy reads in their own right), Billfold is an irreverently fun and actually useful site about money and finance.  They didn’t even pay me to say that!  I actually think that thought on my own!  One cool feature on The Billfold is the series “My Last $100” where the author details the last one hundred dollars they’ve spent.  So, I thought I’d give you all a little peek into my finances – prepare to be…underwhelmed (spoiler alert:  it’s mostly food and/or beer-related!)

Note:  For the sake of ease and sparing you from reading about every $0.75 Diet Coke and $2.00 cup of oatmeal I bought this week, this only lists purchases over $5.00 and doesn’t include last night’s Girls Night, because that is off-limits for blog talk (as I foreswore on shoes and you cannot welch on that business).

$10 – DC Beer Week button – put your hands in the air for supporting local beer, what what!

$22 – Pitcher of beer, nachos, and french fries for a pre-21 Jump Street best friend movie matinee.  Mom(s), please don’t judge us.

$18 – Grocery trip to Wegmans – all off the cold/hot bar to stock my lunches for the last few days.  A conscious effort was made to include vegetables, to counter the effects of purchases made the day before this

$25 – H Street Country Club – Shrimp fajitas, a single margarita, and a couple of Dos Equis Ambers – weird DC-themed mini-golf on second floor of the bar was free with entree purchase!

$18Little Miss Whiskey’s – Several beers selected from the beloved Beer Book.

$7 – Au Pon Bain – I attempted to order myself a “healthy” lunch sandwich (veggies!  no cheese!  no aioli!  lots of veggies!) but *true story alert*, there were apparently two Rebeccas ordering lunch that day because when I returned to my desk, there was a turkey, brie, and cranberry chutney sandwich in the bag.  I could have gone back and swapped out for my 400-calorie-veggie-delight but instead, I ate that brie-swaddled goodness and did not look back.  It was a beautiful moment.

Have a great weekend and remember to spend responsibly!

Post-Collegiate Life Lessons: Chevy Chase Edition

When I was kid, my mom would take Baby Sister and I to Blockbuster every Friday and let us rent five videos for family viewing over the weekend.  The break down of the rentals usually went something like this – 1.  New Release, generally action or family-friendly comedy, 2.  Children’s Movie, selected by Baby Sister and automatically disdained by me on the mere virtue of being the selection of a younger child, 3.  1930s-1960s Movie Musical, because I was that kind of a kid, and 4/5. Classic Comedies, culled from Blockbuster’s back shelves.  I would spend a significant amount of time going back up and down the aisles, trying to curate the perfect viewing experience.  My mom (or occasionally my dad, when he had the odd Friday off) would casually suggest that Animal House or Blazing Saddles might be a good pick and then I would be instantly hooked, spending the following weekends trying to watch the rest of the Brooks oeuvre or researching in my Maltin guide what other films the original SNL cast had produced.

A Friday in 1998 that stands out to me, even amongst so many nights of picking up movies that would find their way on my best-of lists for years to come, was the night that Post Collegiate Dad suggested we try a Chevy Chase double feature – Fletch and Spies Like Us.  I knew Chevy from the Griswold flicks and had recently seen Caddyshack for the first time, although I was more taken with Bill Murray’s Carl, dropping “it’s in the hole, it’s in the hole!” into most of my casual conversations.  But up to this point in my life, Chevy Chase was Clark Griswold and nothing more.

That Chase double-feature night changed everything.  I’m not sure if anything I had encountered in my life up to that point.  Whether it was Fletch insisting his name was Babar and that he didn’t have any elephant books or the entire “Doctor” exchange that I still reference in my daily interactions with the doctors here, that night made me a Chase devotee.  I was too young and too uninformed to know about the problems with employers, drugs, ego, and on-set difficulties – all I knew was that he was Chevy Chase and we were not and it was hilarious.

Harboring plenty of good will left from his 80’s classics, I was excited when I learned that Chase was going to be part of Community.  Throughout the past three seasons, the character of Pierce Hawthorne has been sometimes difficult to take but the show has provided a seemingly ideal outlet for Chase’s talent – physical comedy, a blissful lack of self-awareness paired with an overstuffed ego, and misguided bantering.  Watching Pierce try to slip in an Eartha Kitt sex story reference into each of the timelines of the episode “Remedial Chaos Theory” (it came up organically!), I really felt a glimmer of the old magic that made me want to dust off my Three Amigos VHS.

It saddens me to see the recent rumblings of discord between Chase and creator/executive producer Dan Harmon.  I am not as unaware as I use to be and I know that this is just one in a long line of professional disputes that Chase has been involved in that will likely result in his leaving the show, but I am still just as disappointed.  While I often try to ignore the behind-the-scenes antics and personalities when evaluating my pop culture intake, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to do so as the creative process is shared in real time over social media and spread so quickly over the Internet.

With that said, I also can’t help but feel that hopefully a few lessons can be learned from Chevy Chase’s most recent professional troubles, one that may well-serve those fresh out of college and diving into their first few jobs:

  • Be careful who you say things to.  Part of Chase’s job is promotion – Community has never been a ratings powerhouse, so each cast member has been deployed generously to talk to reporters and journalists ranging from major publications to tiny entertainment blogs to help drive buzz.  This means that even the most casual quip or jibe made about his time on the set has been repeated, circulated, and quoted ad nauseum.  What may have been a careless remark about a gag or joke he didn’t like has now become gospel just by sheer repetition.  This just as true for office gossip, whether or not your office is on-set.
  • Don’t take things at the work place too seriously.  Maybe you and your boss don’t get along great or perhaps one of your coworkers tends to exclude you from lunch outings.  Sometimes it’s best not to let life at work upset your actual life outside of work.  While Chase could take the mature route and ignore what he perceives as slights and attacks from Harmon, he is only adding fuel to the fire by taking things personally.  It’s a paycheck and sometimes, that’s all it has to be, especially if you’re good at what you’re doing.
  • It’s prudent not to bad mouth your boss, especially in public.  And at the end of the day, it’s your boss who makes sure that paycheck keeps coming.  When you do have a problem, it’s always best to go straight to the source and try to have a measured, calm conversation.  Airing your grievances publicly, even after you’ve left your job, only makes you look bad and burns bridges behind you.
  • Try not to make the same mistakes twice.  The most aggravating aspect of this debacle is that Chase has done all of the above multiple times in the past.  This most current conflict, likely exacerbated by Harmon’s own prickly personality, could have been avoided if Chase had tried to learn from his previous mistakes.

What do you think?  Is my affection for the comedy genius clouding my judgement on this one?  Have you ever had some Chase-like moments of unprofessional behavior?  Still not sure what Community is?  Leave it in the comments!

 

The Reports Of My Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

I am good at a lot of things in life, including, but certainly not limited to, pouring a perfect beer, being the ideal Jeopardy couch-contestant, remembering the lyrics to 60’s one hit wonder songs, juggling the various storylines of Game of Thrones by describing different characters as “Hot Dude, Stark Division” and “Hot Dude, Bastard Division”, etc, and remembering to refill the candy bowl so that when guests come over, it looks like we never eat candy (when it fact it makes up 37% of my daily television watching fuel).

However, I am not good at one thing – being sick.

I am terrible at being sick.  I eschew Western medicine, mostly because I’m lazy and complacent but also a little bit because I think the pharmaceutical companies will some day be our evil overlords.  I do not understand the concept of “resting” and “relaxing” unless I am purposefully procrastinating on something important.  Any type of illness that limits my daily food intake also comes with a dose of whiny petulance that is a direct result of upsetting my eatin’ schedule.  All in all, it’s usually not very pretty.

Sadly, I have been sick.  It started Wednesday with what I thought was just a light case of the chills, brought on by too much air conditioning and my insistence on rocking sundresses to work that are probably still a little unseasonably appropriate but by late Wednesday night, in the midst of a fever dream underscored by the tune of Zou Bisou Bisou, I was convinced that I was Patient Zero and it was the end.  I stayed burrowed on my couch for three days, rejecting sunlight, conversation, and pills, convinced that the copious amounts of alcohol that have passed through my bloodstream would easily flush out whatever toxins remained.

Alas, it seems that I have survived.  I felt chipper enough yesterday to eat steak, drink beers, and soak up a little Vitamin D while deck-sitting and listening to Bob Dylan – that’s basically my preferred modus operandi.  I waltzed into the office today, wearing a seasonally-appropriate shift and feeling healthy enough to even change the water jug.  It seems that all is well.

I apologize for the lack of posting during my unannounced sabbatical but I am feeling full of vim and vigor and am confident that you are in for a great week of bloggery!

Thanks for your patience, and stay safe out there!

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.”