Friday, January 25, 2008

a weird week

I'm a fairly awkward and random person and my life tends to be fairly awkward and random as well, but this past week seemed particularly awkrandom (yes i just created that word, pass it along). It all started with a move so graceful, so balletic, so purely poetic, that it will probably be discussed and analyzed by those who saw it for months to come. As I was leaving trivia at Mellow Mushroom, I found myself suddenly plunged into the air. I have gone up and down those stairs many a time, but this was the first time I had flown down them. I honestly cannot even recreate it with any justice, because I really only remember losing my balance and then coming down hard when I landed. The few fractions of a second I was in the air were probably beautiful, legs and arms splayed in every direction, so I'll just let you assume as much. I think there was a slight freeze frame effect, but when I looked up the patrons on the first floor were, understandably, startled. One kind old man, bless his heart, jumped up from his booth and came over to see if I was okay. I remember doing a lot of nodding, and repeatedly saying that it hurt my dignity more than anything else. Yet once I had recovered one of my shoes (and they were flats mind you, even on even ground I am that spectacularly uncoordinated), I shuffled myself off to the ladies room, wincing all the way. Because while my dignity was hurt, I think my left leg took the brunt of the injuries. I've never really gotten over that little kid fascination with
bruises and scrapes, like how even after you've fallen off your bike and are crying to your mom, you're still a little impressed by the yellow and blue colors blooming beneath your skin or the deep red gash on your knee. And my current leg situation is impressive indeed. I basically no longer have a leg. I have a bruise that is capable of bending and walking and doing all of the things that legs do. It stretches from the very top of my knee to the very tip of my foot, with several gorgeous, large cuts to make things even more interesting. I have been neosporing myself every few hours because I have been told that will prevent a scar. We shall see. At this point it doesn't even seem to matter because of how many other scars I have sustained while out and about in college. There's the cigarette burn scar on my wrist from the time I stood in line at Gilroy's freshman year and suddenly decided, out of the blue, that I was a smoker. On the plus side, it only took one cigarette for me to realize that I was the worst smoker in history, because I somehow managed to put my own cigarette out on myself. Needless to say the habit did not continue. There's the big scar on my knee from when I scaled a large fence at an apartment complex, in a dress, to get to the pool on the other side. I also sprained my ankle in that dignified incident. And there are the handful of callused scars all over my feet from too small shoes, too big shoes, too high shoes, too everything shoes. I guess in a way all of these are war wounds. I would be shocked to find any girl, especially one who wears heels, who makes it out of their 20s without at least one of these physical reminders of youth and stupidity. As for myself, I have clearly been both very young and very stupid on far too many occasions.

So on a completely unrelated note, I have really felt like I'm living in some kind of political carnival/clusterf*ck these last few weeks, or really months. Charleston is by no means an unknown city, but it's also not really the center of attention in the US. We do our own thing and entertain the tourists and basically just go about our business. But these politicians have been positively stalking Charleston and her inhabitants lately. If I see one more John Edwards commercial I'm getting a restraining order (and by the way, we get it, your dad worked in the mills, yay middle class, but why don't you go ahead and remind everyone for the 5 billionth time). But the stalking isn't limited to our televisions. I drive down Coleman and there's John McCain's posse hanging out in some parking lot. Barack Obama took over the Cistern. Giuliani held the Stern Ctr. hostage way back in May and I am still getting e-mail from Team Rudy (if any of you are reading this, for the last time, I will not be holding any Rudy parties, now or ever). But they don't just stop there. They put their children to work on the stalking front. Edward's daughter was at the college. And in the most bizarre moment of my week, so was Chelsea Clinton. There I was, innocently walking through campus between classes. I saw a news crew at the study abroad fair, and was like, okay, that's weird, maybe it's a really slow news day in Charleston, maybe there's an increase in students going abroad, who knows. But then an hour later when I was walking through again, I turn my head to the side and there's Chelsea, a couple of feet away, chatting to some student. CofC does not get a lot of big names. And we're okay with our anonymity I think, but if this were to go on much longer we might just start getting a little full of ourselves. And it doesn't end with Chelsea. John Edwards gave his poor daughter a break and came himself to the college today. Obama was back in town the other night to woo some more support. I swear, these politicians are positively everywhere. I half expect to open my blinds and see Mike Huckabee peering up at me with binoculars. Or maybe Romney will be hiding in the back seat of my car. I'm a little frightened. What does one do when one's town is overrun with politicians? Is there some kind of pest control service for zealous, over exhausted politicians desperate for votes? I guess I'll just wait it out. Tomorrow night it'll all be over, and they'll all run away to a new state and forgot all about poor, little South Carolina. We'll be a distant memory, but at least we'll have some peace and quiet.

So that's only the tip of the iceberg for my awkward and random week. But for now it will have to suffice.

One last completely unrelated thing. I've heard a couple of people say that it's wrong that Heath Ledger's death has merited so much news coverage. But I think people are attacking the right idea but the wrong particular. There's a large chunk of our news that is unhealthily obsessed with celebrity lives. It's CNN running a story on Paris Hilton or MSNBC talking about Britney Spears. It's this sick and mean spirited obsession with celebrity warts and meltdowns. That I completely agree with. But I think Heath Ledger's death was news because like any good actor, he was an artist. Now when that coverage starts talking about phone calls to an Olsen twin or the details surrounding his death, then it gets morbid and wrong. But there's nothing wrong with documenting the tragic passing of an immensely talented actor. Movies are a part of our culture, and so are actors by extension. And some actors are famous not because of their club exploits or their personal lives but because of their work. I think Heath Ledger was one of those actors, and I think his body of work, while strong and lasting, was cut all too short. I've been a fan since he was singing to Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You and I think it's a really sad thing that he's gone.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

epics and disasters

And so ends the epic internet drought of 2008. Yes, I faced seven whole days without internet at my home, seven long dreary days with nary a visit. It is a sad, sad reality, but without internet my world sort of sputters. I would like to be a journalist so this is a little embarrassing to admit, but I rely on the internet for my news. In my defense I do try and click on the link that shows the exact print version of the New York Times, but I also like to be able to check at 5pm and see different stories than were there in the morning. Plus I don't like getting my hands all inky before I've even had my morning coffee. I'm sorry. I am an internet junkie. Without working wireless, I stare blankly out my window in the mornings, a sweater in one hand and a tank top in the other, wondering, guessing, what the temperature is since I can't check (never mind that I could go out on my side porch two feet from my room). I find myself calling old friends I haven't spoken to in years, asking them what their "status" is. Basically I stop functioning and am forced to spend hours reading or organizing my sock drawer instead of perusing youtube or So me and my roommates decided that instead of waiting for our downstairs neighbor's internet to miraculously start working again (he knew we were stealing it by the way, he even encouraged it), we should probably call Comcast and set up our own connection. So voila. I'm back. Much has happened in the last week and a half, including the beginning of classes, a Barack Obama rally, a new kitten in the house, etc. but I'll just touch on a couple of things for now.
So it's right in the thick of the Australian Open right now, and the first few days were kind of eh. Lot's of one sided matches and unsurprising results. But good Lord almighty, the last 24 hours have been un-freaking-believable. I stayed up until 5:30am last night watching Roger Federer get taken to five sets by Janko Tipsarevic, an unseeded, Serbian who had never even gotten to the third round of the Australian Open before. The match lasted four and a half hours, went to two tie breaks and ended at 10-8 in the fifth set. Which in and of itself makes for a classic. But this was Roger Federer, probably the greatest tennis player of all time, a legend, someone who in the last couple of years has only had trouble at one grand slam event of the year (and that's the French against Rafa). This is the Roger Federer who has been number 1 in the world for 210 some consecutive weeks, the Roger Federer who has rarely been pushed to tie-breaks in his grand slam matches, never mind fifth sets. And he wasn't being challenged by Rafa Nadal or Novak Djokovic, not even Andy Roddick. He was being pushed to his limits by some guy a lot of people had never even heard of, a 23 year old Serbian, long overshadowed by the three other top Serbian players, a Dostoevsky reading, dorky sports glasses wearing kid. And what was incredible, what made it such an epic match, is that Tipsarevic wasn't just hanging on or having a lucky night. This guy had the audacity and courage and heart to believe for every point of this match that he not only could win, but that he would win. Roger Federer's dominion over the last few years has been great in a lot of ways for tennis, but it has also resulted in a lot of lackluster matches, because not even some of the best players play him with any kind of conviction. And it's hard to blame them. Because they're not really playing a man or an athlete, but a walking, living legend. He's become bigger than the sport. So what a shock and surprise it was, for Tipsarevic of all people to walk out onto Rod Laver arena without a sliver of self doubt. From the first point of the match he played to win. Even when he was down break points or being blasted away by Federer's serve, he never for a moment looked like a guy in awe of Roger Federer the great. He looked like a guy who didn't care about history or record books, a guy who went out onto that court simply to play his game. Tipsarevic never had a chance at match point, and I'm sure for him it sucked to lose after playing so beautifully for so long. But for me as a fan it was an unbelievable match to witness. I think the Australian Open really separates true tennis fans from just fair weather ones, because the time difference means matches starting past 3am here and lasting well into the morning. I was exhausted before the Federer/Tipsarevic match even started, but once it got going I couldn't take my eyes off of it. And I didn't even think about turning off the television until past 5am when it ended. It was one of those matches that tennis fans live for, dramatic and tense and thrilling. Call me sentimental, call me obsessed, but watching these two athletes out on the court after more than four hours, pushing themselves beyond physical and mental limits, somehow managing to bring out their best shots at the very end, well it was nothing short of transcendent. And that's not even going into the Hewitt/Bahgdatis match that also went to a fifth, or James Blake coming back from two sets down for the first time in his career, or so many other amazing matches that have happened in the last couple of days Down Under. So don't take my word for it. Watch it yourself :)
So I finally saw Cloverfield today. I don't know why but I have been dying to see this movie since I first saw the preview. And I hate scary movies, like really hate them. I physically cannot keep my eyes open during any scene where there is the possibility of something scary jumping out. So scary movies which basically consist of only scenes like this are really pointless for me to go to normally. Plus I have way too big of an imagination to see scary movies regularly. Normal people can go see, oh I don't know, Freddie vs. Jason and be like "oh that was silly and stupid, so what do you want to do for dinner?" But I see such a movie and find myself checking under my bed at night and sleeping with a light on for a week. Yet I wanted to see Cloverfield. And I think it's because in some ways I'm a disaster movie junkie. I have seen Deep Impact far too many times to name (although the majority of those times were on tv). I watch movies about tornadoes (again really stupid on my part since I am terrified of tornadoes in real life). I guiltily love Dante's Peak and Armageddon. And I don't think I'm alone. These (usually) awful movies do so consistently well for a reason. Watching Cloverfield, it's impossible not to think about real life events. Early on in the movie a famous NYC building collapses and the street clogs with smoke and debris. People hide in stores until it passes and then come out to see other people milling around, dazed and coated in white ash. I can't imagine how this wasn't intentional on the filmmakers part (Side note: This is the only thing that annoyed me about an otherwise silly, harmless monster movie. There's a difference between respectfully referencing a tragedy and exploiting people's memory of one. I think this scene was exploitation in its most glaring light. I don't understand how more than six years later, the entertainment industry is so often clueless about how to deal with one of the most important events of our time. It's either the towers being digitally erased from the skyline in a pitiful effort at tact that ends up simply being insulting. Or it's this heavy handed imagery, like in the Transformers movie when a plane flies directly into an office building and paper and people go everywhere, or the aforementioned Cloverfield scene. Entertainment is not real life and I don't believe in obsessive political correctness, nor do I believe in pretending that 9/11 never happened when it comes to entertainment. But I also don't believe that it's okay to use this tragedy as a place holder for authentic movie emotion. A monster attacking a city or a robot attacking a city should do what movies are supposed to do, affect the audience because we care about the characters, dazzle us with its cinemetography. It shouldn't rely on real life tragedy to manipulate us into feeling a certain way. It's easy and it's cheap and it's offensive. Stepping down now from my soap box). Otherwise Cloverfield was fun, and very true to the whole disaster movie formula, lots of destruction. Speaking of the whole real life vs. entertainment conundrum, I think that disaster movies are so popular because there's something at once cathartic and reassuring about them. Disaster movies show us are worst nightmares, cities destroyed, death and destruction. All of these terrifying things that are sometimes in the back of even the most optimistic minded person's mind are thrust onto a screen, plain for all to see. That's the catharsis. But the reassuring part is the sheer inauthenticity of the medium. It's plastic and fake. The projector can be turned off. The upside down world of a disaster movie, with all of it's scary echoes and reflections of real life, is always, in the end, only a work of imagination. Maybe it's reading too much into it, (as I often do), but people do go to see disaster movies for the thrill of seeing the world fall apart, but I think more than that they go for the moment when the lights go up, and the world is back together again.
So it's late, and despite the fact that I have much more to discuss, I'll have to postpone it for another time. As for me it's around 2am, so it looks like another beautiful day of tennis :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

TLC addiction

It's official. I am obsessed with the show John and Kate Plus Eight. I don't know if it's the whole maternal instinct thing (all of those babies) or the fact that I love any reality show about a normal family full of decent, kind people (Little People, Big World, I heart you too), but it's my new favorite thing on television. And with the whole writers strike, it might be the only new thing on television I have for a while. The new season started last night, and I swear I find this family to be so incredibly fascinating. From the early episodes when the sextuplets were little babies who stumbled around, babbled and stared blankly (as little babies often do), to the current episodes when the sextuplets are 3 and can talk and walk and do all of those human things, it's so interesting to me to watch how little personalities are created. I do love babies, so maybe I'm biased, but how cool is it that six little people who were born at the same time and raised side by side can be so vastly different. There are all of these reality shows about people who live famous and so called fabulous lives or about people who do incredible or weird things, but I end up being a lot more interested in the simple, human miracle that is the emergence of a person from what was once a tiny infant literally unable to do a thing for itself. You think of an adult and it's just a given that they're going to have a complex and multi-layered personality full of quirks and habits and contradictions. But it's sometimes hard to connect that with an infant who can't even burp without assistance. So I love John and Kate Plus Eight because the whole personality development process is right there and multiplied by six. I don't need Tila Tequila or Bret Michaels or the real housewives of Orange County. The Goslings fascinate me far more than any of them ever could.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

my pink room

I don't know how it's possible, but winter break is almost over. Tomorrow I will leave Richmond and head back to my beloved Charleston. It's the fourth Christmas I've had since college started, but this break feels different. Next Christmas I won't be a college student. I'm still trying to figure out what I will be, but right now it's a little unclear. Whatever or wherever I am though, I know I probably won't have a pre-packaged month long break. Hopefully I'll have a life, a real bona-fide, me controlled and (at least partially) me financed life. All of which has got me thinking.
In college it's kind of like you have a split personality, the you that's at school and the you that's at home. And you get to indulge both sides, play both roles, be these two different people. Even my different rooms reflect the different versions of myself. In Charleston my room is painted a tasteful taupe. The walls are covered in photographs from my time in Europe, each of them bordered with a simple black frame. I have a huge grown-up desk and a grown up desk chair to match it. And I have a queen sized grown up bed. All in all, it's a tasteful, mature (except for my Andy Roddick and The Format posters - but I can't have a room that's more mature than me) adultish bedroom. And then I come home to Richmond and I'm freeze framed back into my middle school days. We moved into our current house when I was fourteen and I made it my personal mission to decorate my bedroom. So even though I'm 22, when I come home I'm surrounded by the fourteen year old me's version of a dream room. My walls are a shockingly bright pink (my brother often jokes that from outside it looks like my room is glowing). I have a zebra print rug and a leopard print stool. The curtains are made up of a pink and green plaid pattern. I still have a James Dean poster and a Breakfast Club poster on my walls. My shelves are lined with old swim team, softball and basketball trophies leftover from elementary school. Worn, beloved stuffed animals that my mom could never convince me to get rid of sit idly on top of bookshelves. Even more beloved stuffed animals retain their places on furniture or in chairs. My twin bed is the same bed I slept in as soon as I moved on from a crib. In every sense, my bedroom at home is my childhood personified. And it's always weird when I first get home for break. I think as college students, we get really good at pretending to be grown up when we're away from home. We do our own grocery shopping and stay up as late as we want and go out on school nights. We pay electric bills and squash bugs and fix things (or call our landlords to do it). But then we come home, and suddenly all of that's gone. Mom is in the kitchen making dinner. Dad will run out to the store to buy soft drinks. And for me I end up in a room that makes it very hard to feel grown up. I get used to it as the break goes on, but it seems there's always a moment when I first arrive and when I'm about to leave that simultaneously comforts me and breaks my heart. Growing up is inevitable. Everyone knows that. But the physical remnants of childhood can stay on for a long time, maybe even forever. And you can touch these remnants and hold them, but all it really accomplishes is making you ache for the person who these things really belonged to, a person that doesn't really exist anymore, at least not in the same way. And so when I come into my room for the first time after being gone for a while, and flick on the lights and see all of the things that fourteen year old me loved or even seventeen year old me loved, all of the silly trinkets and old pictures in dusty frames, it's like the two versions of myself (college version and childhood version) collide so forcefully that I end up in some lost place in between the two. Yes, you can come home again, but it's not easy, or at least it never has been for me. It always takes me a while to get my bearings whenever I travel between the two worlds that make up my life right now, the world of pink and the world of taupe. Maybe until I really start my own life, one that's secure and at least semi-permanent, I'm always going to be weaving back and forth, jumping from one me to the next. I guess for right now I'm just half taupe, half bright pink, half mature and independent, half still content to curl up in my childhood bed surrounded by all of the things that remind me of being a kid.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


See, I knew 2008 was going to be a surprising kind of year. Shortly after my last little post, I was kidnapped/rescued by my best-friend MK, forced to actually put on real clothes and make-up for the first time since Friday, and taken to join some of my other friends at Richmond's newest New Years tradition, the big shindig in Carytown. I stayed kind to my stomach and did not force feed it any booze, but even if I had wanted to I wouldn't have been able to push my way through the masses to the booze stands or carts or whatever they were. We arrived shortly after 11:40pm, and were able to push our way in to just beyond the periphery of Cary street. I didn't go to this thing last year, but from what I've heard it's grown in size a lot in just one year. I've never seen anything like it in Richmond. Just a giant people sandwich as far as the eye can see, paramedics perched on top of their trucks keeping an eye out for drunken shenanigans or trampling induced injuries, tons of horse police standing in wait, people on the tops of roofs (i was just waiting for one of these drunkards to take a tumble) and a dancing, singing drag queen in the VIP area (what goes by an average boutique by day) to our right. There was a tiny little ball at the top of the Byrd, and at times a little section of the crowd parted enough for me to see it, but mainly I was trying to keep both feet planted on the ground and not start involuntarily crowd surfing. Apparently Richmond can get rowdy. And I for one am glad I got to see it and glad I got to be with friends at midnight. So an unexpected start to 2008. Here's hoping for more unexpectedness to come :)
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