Friday, January 11, 2013

College Reflections

I'm starting real school again! With people, and professors whose faces you can actually see! And full of students with a remarkably less parent-based demographic (although because it is community college, it still has such a demographic). Taking courses and reading from incredibly expensive textbooks that I can actually hold in my hand, instead of reading the regurgitated bullshit of seventh-grade English class on some website. 

How refreshing! To be so downgraded from the elite campus of a private, expensive, unique college to the miserable rotting bowels of adult online education, to then be transferred to the institutions which exist purely as manifestations of how the rich fucks on Wall Street have completely turned school from an educational experience into an economic enterprise with incredibly satisfying (although still not enough for them) accounts of debt and credit. Real school, which due to an unwillingness to work with its students and forcing them to comply with insanely rigid payments standards, has forced me into taking another loan. An incredibly lowly-priced school, which educates 6,000 students, most of them very young parents robbed of their free time due to the incredibly costly price of condoms. SERIOUSLY, SEX ED IS THERE FOR A REASON. 

At any rate, I am happy to take it for what it is, because I was tired of the losing game I was playing with this online university, who is now demanding that I pay them a thousand dollars for not finishing a semester's worth of their bullshit. I had such naive thoughts about what college was supposed to be while I was in high school. I thought it was meant to open our minds to things other than the regular curriculum. Anthropology!? Sociology? Cell Biology? WOW! What amazement.  I would be cultured and have some sense of what the world is like. Instead, I now realize what college truly is: for the rich to fuck up, and the not-rich to get in line for their debt-ballooning lifestyles and jobs that will not support their massive debt. It's not that anyone actually goes to college because they're interested in learning; it is merely because the alternative have much more grave and bleak prospects. Without a degree, you're fucked. With a degree, you may pass go, sign loan contracts and collect a house and car. 

What kind of bullshit is that? I'm still going to get through college. Why stop now when I've signed so many loan contracts, which endlessly brow-beat the consequences of defaulting, the fixed interest rates that will stay with you for the rest of your life, the importance of paying monthly installments. Interest has done nothing for the world. The money that sits at the top, STAYS there. The only thing that trickles down is the PISS that the most privileged among us is taking directly on us. And why? Just ask the bread seller, or the circus master. 

Back Again

It seems like I haven't posted in a while. That might be because my life has gotten better. Or not better, maybe just a little more interesting. Trips to Vermont, the added distraction (an admittedly very fun and stress-relieving distraction) of a ukulele, and experiments with what may be one of the greatest cookbooks ever written, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, add up to a lot less time spent clicking "stumble" and a lot more time doing things that make me happy.
Seriously. The thumbs-up is still in, guys.
Oh yeah. I became a vegetarian. It's interesting, because I am not a strict vegetarian, nor do I fit the exact definition of one. I'm not completely giving up meat or animal products; it's more like I'm boycotting the ones that don't come from a reliable or local source. I have no ethical qualms about killing and eating an animal for sustenance, but I would rather that animal not be injected with unnecessary hormones and antibiotics to make up for shit-ridden, crowded conditions. Local food is incredibly important to this economy, but that's not what this post is about. Or is it? I haven't decided yet. Anyway, yeah, there have been some changes in my life.
I guess this blog will continue...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Red Lips and No Friends

Well this is another post coming to you from the depths of my soul, which I recently exchanged for a bi-weekly paycheck. 
I haven't been doing much lately, except clean shit up after the pigs that shop where I work (seriously, they are all such slobs... I mean, uh ... that top looks really cute on you! :D) and sleeping, because I still haven't started school yet. And when I'm not dreaming of ways to hang myself with a fashion scarf (believe me I do), these little quotes and memories come up in my mind, most of which were from my roommate, but are all generally from my first year at college. For instance, one time two of my guy friends were talking about porn (we were all doing decriminalized things in the attic of a dorm building) and the depths and varieties of porn which they've watched. My roommate and I were taking a back seat during this time, because, I mean ... I really haven't had the life experience of a fifteen year old boy with internet access. Anyway, they were getting pretty gruesome about the details, and my roommate who I swear to God has a soul that never developed past the age of seven (in a good way), has this appalled face and says, "I think I have to leave. I have to go suck my thumb in a dark place for an hour." 
Just little things like that, things that make me laugh at the memory and smile in the middle of re-hanging four pairs of jeans I just witnessed a customer rip off and throw on the ground. 

Anyway, more increments of my crazy psych-ward experiences at my extremely weird (but real) college to come!
In other news, I TRIED RED LIPSTICK. :O I guess this means I'm an adult now. And I got my first paycheck ... and contributed $16.26 to Social Security (have fun doing the math on THAT) so I guess this means I'm REALLY an adult. Still can't legally drink though. I also got my license this week! License, paycheck, red lips ... it's official. 
I should feel on top of the world, right?
Why am I unhappy? These are supposed to be the best fucking years of my life. I have money, but no real responsibility, I'm young, vaguely attractive, and living in themostboringpartof New York. I think it may have something to do with what I was thinking about yesterday. 
If anyone out there is reading this, and hasn't read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, they should. It is NOT ONLY the cornerstone and foundation of my highly pretentious fucking hipster way of life, but a very, very good book by Stephen Chbosky. I think it was the first thing that really stayed with me after I finished it. I had read a ton of other books before that, but this one really stood out in my memory. It lingered. I bought it, and had it for a while, and then gave it to a really cool girl in my gym class in the last few weeks of my senior year. I'm thinking about buying it again. 

I am terribly excited! It looks fantastic, and Chbosky wrote the screenplay himself, so it will be as accurate as is every reader's wet dream. 
But that's not what made me sad. What made me sad was the realization that I had no one to go see it with, no friends to freak out with me on that same fangirl-level of gut giddiness, kind of like how all the half-wit Twi-Hards felt when Twilight first came out. All of my friends from college (excluding my roommate and close friend Stephen) are AT COLLEGE, and my very small handful of friends from high school are at their respective colleges. I haven't really gotten to the point of hanging out with my co-workers. It just made me really sad;I feel really isolated. I spend most of my time in my head. And my parents do NOT understand. I mean, how on earth could I possibly want to spend time with someone youthful and not related to me? 
They're both homebodies. They're brimming with joy about all of my progress; they think they've turned me around from some drugged-up mess into a distinguished, responsible adult. I've got all the credentials now. A license, a job and saving towards a car. What more could I want? I feel like all the joy has been sucked from my life. I guess that really does mean I'm growing up. 
Fuck it, I'm going stag. Nothing will keep me from satisfying this four-year long movie anticipation.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hurrah for the Endless Array of Goofy (and Zit-Free, FINALLY) Faces!

And thus sayeth the Internet: "DERP"
As I have mentioned before, I am not one to indulge in the repetitive and frivolous nature of the fashion world, SO WHY AM I ABOUT TO MAKE A POST ENTIRELY DEDICATED TO FASHION?! Shit. I'm losing it.

No, honestly, there is no way anyone will ever catch me buying tickets to a fashion show, or spending stupid amounts of money on diamond-encrusted facials (seriously, what the fuck? Third world countries are not a scary poor-people story, Mila Kunis. THEY ACTUALLY EXIST.)

Nope, I'm not that girl. But, I'm realizing that all this self-deprecation I proudly nurture is(was?) taking a toll on my face, which is something I did not work for and therefore have no right to destroy (plus it's also one of my best assets, I mean, aside from my winning personality and wit and charm and brains and talent ... PSSHHH.) I'm trying to learn to be better to myself. I know, I know, I'm pretty shocked about it too. But the realization came in an email conversation with my college roommate (email?! who uses that anymore...) who is a sweetheart and an inspiration to me. She is working as a maid/waitress at Yellowstone National Park, and she has trouble keeping her room from turning into an outright disaster:

"... I've only been here for a week and my dorm is already a shit sty. I saw a mouse yesterday. My room mate screamed, but I just said "This was bound to happen eventually. Our room is kind of a mouse's wet dream- we have an open jar of peanut butter and half eaten apples everywhere."

I admire my roommate's ability to laugh at herself and at the things she struggles with; she is aware of the disconcerting habit she has, but she's not a fretter. She just keeps cleaning tables and listening to reggae and playing her ukulele and seeing directly into someone's soul like she always does. And THAT is something to regard with high esteem. A girl that is okay with herself. WHAT A CONCEPT.

Anyway, I've always struggled with the zittier, oilier parts of my life (namely, my skin) and have hated it about myself for years ... until the fashion world educated my ignorant ass about the importance of a good skincare routine! And that is the first half of this post.

Aside from the twice-daily cleanser-toner-moisturizer thing, there are a couple amazing, skin-saving products that I must simply rave about like a die-hard Christian spreading the message of the good Lawd Jesus.

Modeled on top of my ratty, embarrassingly destroyed
copy of The Broom of the System ...
The first is this fantastic Conditioning Clay Mask by Boots Botanics. I read a whole lot on the internet about the benefits of a weekly mask, (not really, I just read a Cat Marnell article about it) and one day while meandering through Target, I discovered the Boots beauty section. Would you believe it's only $9.39?! All you need is a thin layer of this earthy, hippie-smelling gray shit, twenty minutes, and a temporary willing suspension of shame, because you will look weird. After my first try, the redness of my zitty face was disappearing, and my skin glowed like it hasn't since I was six years old. I don't know how much I buy into the whole "negative electrical charge" pseudoscience pitch, but I do know two things: Burdock is an amazing, medically relevant plant, and my face has been clear for the three weeks since I bought it. 

Photographed over one of the greatest albums
ever, Weathervanes by the Freelance Whales
The next is something that I recently adopted into my regimen (Fuck Proactiv. Seriously.) ... this lovely Burt's Bees Radiance Night Cream. Although I'm pretty sure I don't have to really worry about this for a while, night cream is important for several reasons: skin absorbs things best during sleep, skin hydration is necessary, and vitamins are never bad for you. Especially with the addition of its Royal Jelly (clearly, the bees theme cannot escape them), this night cream actually prevents my skin from getting greasy and zit-prone, and in the morning I look like a dewy angel instead of an oily woods-hag/ogre out of a fairy tale.

And that concludes my sermon on beauty products. The other half of this post is not nearly as educational (I'm trying to practice writing for a magazine and the above rant was intended to come across as a beauty article... Hire me Jane Pratt?! :D), but probably more like a self-indulgent spew of shit about my life, mixed with completely irrelevant photos of an outfit I wore today (which I will explain in a minute). 

So, recently I acquired a job, which defies all likelihood, because in all honesty I have never had a job before and this lack of experience to me seemed like a good enough reason to think that I would never acquire one that didn't mean smelling like french fries as the perfumey bonus to my minimum-wage paycheck. I am not one to complain; if it came down to McDonalds or being a penniless fool I will gladly, gladly sing the "would you like to Supersize that?" anthem. But I figured I have higher places in my future than serving cholesterol. So, I am my local trendy store's newest sales associate! I now facilitate the overspending of rabid high school girls by asking them if they need help with anything, no, we cannot take that off the mannequin, and please don't steal from us. Please. (The store literally has problems with robbery on a daily basis ... I mean, the clothes are cheap, why would you steal?! I stole a pen once ... and had to reevaluate my lifestyle choices ... but it was an overpriced pen!) I love my job, and although I haven't gotten my first paycheck yet, I'm sure that I will love it ten times more when I do (although my feet weren't loving it ... until I bought Dr. Scholl's Sixteen-Hour gel insoles, BOOYAH!). 

Anyway, part of this job requires me to look fashion-forward. (Duh... who's going to buy clothes in a store where all the employees are wearing shitty rags?) The brand's main focus is on girls from high school to about early thirties ... everyone who works there is young, wearing cute clothes and moderately to very attractive.* And I had about two and a half of those three traits. The only one I was(am?) lacking in was(is) the wardrobe, because in my high school fuck-everyone hipster days, I mostly stuck to some variety of jeans and a t-shirt, and some goofy, ill-fitting plain hoodie (seriously, my friends used to make fun of me for having a hoodie that slid off one of my shoulders). I have about five to ten gray t-shirts. Seriously. I thought it was some artistic statement, like a "fuck society and the capitalist pigs and modern middle-class consumerism" type thing. I'm sure it's not a surprise. But yeah, I really did not enjoy the sea of Abercrombie in my horrifically typical suburban public high school. Now, I still have these ideals, and I am still all for the Occupy movement and fair wages and all of that, but I am trying to make the best of my assets and that means more than charcoal, heather and ash gray. 
AND cue title phrase, GOOFY FACES!

(* it is admittedly a bit weird to work in that environment, simply because it is the essence of what it means to be a "hip" [I hate this word] girl in 2012 and between the music and the clothes and the demographics, its just a weird observation of culture. It's like living in a subgroup and never experiencing anything else but the culture of that subgroup, to which on paper I belong, but in my head I don't really belong to, so yeah, it's like sitting outside yourself and going "is that how I really act?")

Anyway, the company I work for makes their clothes in the US, which means fair wages and manufacturing is good for our economy, so that's a plus. And I get a discount, in fact I am legally REQUIRED to get my discount whenever I shop there, so I am venturing out into the world of fashion. 

Oh boy, I'm going full-blown fashion blogger...
it's time to end this post. 

And this marks the end of my probably uninteresting, but new and exciting-to-me update in my life. I hope someone is reading this by now ....

Saturday, August 25, 2012

So, Who Am I? (Expressed in Tired Metaphors and Awkward Prose ... AKA My First Creative Non-Fiction Assignment!)

"Voice Lessons"
by Christine Joy Torres

 “Come on, let’s do it,” He was insisting. I didn’t expect Zach to campaign so fervently. I really had no intentions of putting myself in the center of things, but he seemed to have highlighted the importance of how vitally crucial it was that I put it between my legs. Timorous to accept my role, especially with other people watching, but somehow the certainty in his eyes ruled out my instinctive flight response. So I just did it.

I had never played a djembe in my life.

I also didn’t know that by “hanging out” Zach meant playing music. Publicly.
I am never prepared for the consequences of social interaction. He pulled out his guitar, placed a djembe in front of my roommate and I and said, “one of you has to play,” as if the logic was completely sound, common sense, a de facto Grateful Dead jam session, and to mention otherwise would be an obscenity, if not sacrilegious to even conceive. I looked at my roommate with envy, because she had already snapped up the spectator’s balcony in the theater of this group gathering, with her gentleness and her dedication to decreasing noise pollution, monk-like graceful silence in a room, thus forcing me onto the stage. We both love the somewhat omniscient position of being the one person in a group with the license to observe and rarely, if at all, have to participate. I prefer to watch because it diminishes the anxiety that comes along with participating; I also favor the scientific curiosity of watching other people as if they were specimens: the way they present themselves, their behaviors and ideas. I never feel the compelling tug of obligation to be the driving force in any interaction. We are gluttons for shadows.
In my attempt to escape what could have been a very awkward lone-wolf jam session, I decided to fuck social anxiety and play the djembe because if there was any time to severely desecrate the beauty and elegance of an African drum, it was then. I figured it would be enough; yet it somehow did not satisfy him because he asked me to sing.
The extent of my singing career gets lost somewhere between the thousand other voices of my thoroughly Christian upbringing and the showerhead, neither of which seemed all too impressed, from what I gathered.
After a series of fumbling hands and awkward drumming patterns, we came to a song I knew well, which to my relief, meant a temporary departure from cultural massacre. We were singing and my voice was laughably drowned by the power of his chords and his own voice widening from wall to prison-cell, cinder-block wall. He continually pushed me to be louder, to increase my volume, to blacken the awareness of self and just sing, and then suddenly my heart rate spiked and I thought I was having the premature coronary anti-tobacco commercials mention with fervor, but in reality I was singing. I broke over the surface of sound and my voice was a light, airy soprano, pure white cream cascading over a bowl of peaches. I thought about the hopeless quality, the Southern riff of despair habitually found in female voices.  I had never heard this voice before. The showerhead had never heard it before. All Zach could do was keep it going. He carried it out of me; he bridged the ravine of self-consciousness that occasionally swallows up any courage I muster to express myself.

All my roommate said was, “You never told me you had a voice.”

I didn’t know I had one.
I find that I don’t speak because I am meticulously trying to determine the worth of my words. David Foster Wallace struggled with the same angst regarding his own voice’s authenticity. American culture has this marketing language; my life is plagued with the avoidant wariness of the abused avenue of rhetoric. I feel the pressure of operating like a consumer. The number of promises made in the name of a product has damaged my faith in promise. I am tuned to find the motive behind words.
A classic example of this banality is every action/adventure film that has come out in the last decade, a field I am uncomfortably familiar with because of my father’s enthusiasm for family entertainment. They’re all presented in neat little packages; a new film that glorifies the age-old territorial graze of violent impulses . . . why do we spend millions of dollars a year to watch bad dialogue and explosions in a variety that only competes with the breakfast cereal industry? The majority of the power propelling this endless frenzy of barter is sourced from an emotional  investment rather than rational investment. Any piece of information is riddled with the stench of shallow emotional currency. We can be bought by a simple word that conveys positivity but leaves a fantastically gaping hole in specificity; in 2008, the word “change” was only limited by the extent of the listener’s imagination. A market manipulates its buyer’s emotions by presenting them with the idea that their product—home workout machine, fast food chain, infinite youth—is the solution to whatever broad spectrum of issues may be plaguing them. Wallace hated anything that manipulated his emotions, and detested the blatancy with which modern culture did so.
I can identify with Wallace’s word angst. Words have power, and the abuse of this power defiles words for the rest of us. Language has been used for the purpose of acquisition—it is used as a means of convincing, as opposed to expressing. It is nongenuine. This is why I choose to be mute. I would rather have people doubt my ability to speak before I have anyone believe I am trying to convince them.
The other problem is that the response to the pyrotechnics of uncongenial sales-talk is apathy. The hypocrisy in my criticism is that I do the very same thing… make a case for concern, because—let’s be honest—there is an abundance of reason to not give a shit. Belief is founded on the authenticity of words. I am looking for the belief in my voice. I am looking for the authenticity. (I may be finished using this word now ... I like to ensure that rigor mortis is slightly delayed after the horse has gone.) I hold good music in such reverence because of its inherent honesty in the intent of its words, and in the richness of talent, the uniqueness of its style.
Not to begin any long-winded personal parenthesis, but I had a friend in high school that gave me a mixtape at the beginning of every week, complete with a scrap of his own personal scribblings of the thought processes he had regarding the music.  Each week was a concoction of auditory exploration ranging from slightly whiney piano rock to airy, womanly French pop to the bellows of passionate spoken word over soft jazz. Every mix was unique in composition, scattered in variety and usually had some form of subconscious thematic construction ... the prize in the Crackerjack box of my regularly-issued new music library. I loved that the sounds emanating from my stereo each week transcended the abrupt, incessant reminder of beginning-and-end, of the impermanent, correlated to the brevity of song. They ended quickly, but lingered in the air with the tug and pull of art that you remember after looking at it for three seconds. He didn’t just expose me to music; he made me aware of, applied the poetry of music in his communication with me. I’m in love with the idea that music combines the power of sensory stimulus and the ability to connect; language is a more intricate derivative of it. I love the strangeness of how we can simply oscillate the shape and tone of our voices to expose the internal, create a bridged linear lock between two minds … Passing the membrane of self is an art. It is fascinating, and yet holds me under the harrowing pressure to perfect my own execution.
I know that talent isn’t just suddenly born one day in the cinder-block cell room of a college dorm. But I felt like the musical experiment with Zach was some Socratic form of artistic methodology. He just had so much faith in me; I could do nothing but focus on the objective he had with the same faith. It seems that the only few times anything of admirable quality springs from me it has been in the presence of someone who has faith that it exists. My art finds its way out when I’ve had someone coax it out—the maieutic of exploratory creation.
There are too many parallels between my experience singing with Zach and my own development. There is something gratifying about the relationship between expression and social interaction. The more I spend time around other people, the more I seem to harness my vocality. I think I’m hyper aware of my voice because of its newness. Until about three years ago, I exercised something of world-class restraint. In the repository of morality that was my uncompromised childhood there exists the canon that a voice is better silenced if does not serve its main function—to exalt the Christian Superman. What my family doesn’t know is, I always thought the Superman theory was inferior to the irresistible appeal of rational thought. Yet in my dealings with a theology that holistically defines someone’s essence, I have remained unattached to the idea of trying to rationalize. My history of avoiding confrontation should be evidence enough to support the statement that I wasn’t going to challenge the keepers of the food on their supernatural beliefs. There is very little room for compromise.
Following my birth, my parents spent every moment trying to save my soul by creating the melancholy, isolated dystopia that was my princess-in-a-tower Christian living. And with good intentions, they, unbeknownst to me, stunted the growth of my creative voice. The salvation of my soul was really its imprisonment. I lived under a rock, anchored to the malaise of indoctrinated human existence. By fourteen, I had to learn how to transcend the limitations of my prison, and so began my experimentation with voice in writing and the rapacious devouring of paperback books, cloaked in the miasma of 3 am slumber.
My mind has a boundless resource of pugnacious curiosity. And in the absence of faith, I have found people with unwearied belief to be insatiably attractive. Conviction pours out of every fiber of their being and I soak it up willingly, because my own lack of belief leaves my mind to sort out the radical undulations between the weight of my swollen, oppressive tumorous ego and my self-deprecating criticism that starkly denigrates my character and looms over my essence with the guilt and shame of human ignorance. I’m trying to get them both to agree on something.
With GMC came the pivotal break above the noisy orchestra of my life. I had never been exposed to as much openness as I have here. Underneath the predisposed, homogenous neo-hippie-counter-culturalism, a small population of long beards, bare feet and African Drums, underneath the most shallow, irrelevant of observations, belief flows as freely as the matchlessness of their personalities. They each have a voice with its own accent, its own colloquialisms. They each have a medium of art that they exalt, because art is a worthwhile purpose. 
I remember the first time I heard my voice. It was in a shitty college dorm.  

Yikes, I'm starting a blog?! It's definitely this bad.

It's three AM and I'm starving and rechecking my hip bones for that ever-so-desirable sharpness. (and this is definitely not the beginning of some bulimia/anorexia teen novel.) My hair - my FUCKING HAIR - is a  frizz-drying mass of curls and I'm trying to resist the urge to obsessively twirl and smooth it like I've been doing for ... I'm not even sure how long now. It's second nature to me. It sucks because I'm pretty much constantly pulling out my hair, and yet never satisfied with the curls, always worrying about frizz and the misdirection of my life. My hair and my life share similar traits ... unruly, subject to pressure change, and NEVER SATISFACTORY IN THE EYES OF MY "LOVING" PARENTS.

This is my shitty, tug-and-pull-but-never-any-progress life. FULL of contradictions; I detest the shallowness of the beauty industry but spend hours researching different do-it-yourself hair treatments and trying to figure out how to minimize the deluded perception of my Spanish thighs ... I'm not overweight, not even close, but still I'm ashamed that I have to buy size 6 pants.  Never satisfied with myself. Constantly feeling like a second-rate, one-dimensional piece of shit writer with nothing creative or interesting to say, no future and absolutely no way out.

And since I'm stuck within the confines of an unbearably small town, under the roof of suffocating parents, and GOING TO SCHOOL ONLINE LIKE A DOUCHEBAG, I figured I have enough time to start a blog. And what a better way to start than with an "I am a sick man ... I am a spiteful man..." speech.

Yes, I am a college sophomore, a suburban prisoner of culture war and ... wait for it ... a PUERTO RICAN. Yep, that's right. I'm not white. I really hope that doesn't screw my chances of becoming a decent blogger. (just kidding, I'm really not pulling the race card. I've actually been very lucky in my life and haven't experienced any racial discrimination thus far) Not that I really care if this blog ever becomes successful, because really, who wants to hear me whine in prose? I'm pretty sure Proust had that covered, and I'm no Proust.

At any rate, I'm an English major and really tired of hearing about how unsuccessful they are, so if I'm going to write some day, why not get in shape for the big race? And what better a way to show my love for this country than by exercising my first amendment rights? (Sorry, I just discovered the ability to link in this website and now I'm going link-happy).

This blog serves no purpose, other than to confuse you. So, kind of like a Samuel Beckett play. Just think of all the possible schizoid, frenetic jumps from politics to risotto recipes to weekends in Vermont!

Hello, blogging world. I'm sorry in advance for all the silly, self-absorbed posts. But this is what happens when I've lost the ability to assign purpose to shoes.