Sunday, May 31, 2009

Put on your thinking caps!

Is it weird that I read Huff Post everyday, but at the same time, hate it? Every comment drives me up the wall; I like to do it though because I think it's good as a journalist, and a citizen of this country, to be able to identify and separate what is true, false, plausible, or absurd. Honestly, it mostly consists of people talking out of their asses.

Now, since my friends are never a help to me politically, (Have disagreed with most of them since day one of life on the eastern seaboard..) I haven't been introduced to many other websites from across the political party spectrum. Sitting down to my father's laptop at 6am this morning with a giant cup of coffee, I started typing in an html and a recently visited link to 'NewsBusters' was discovered.

My curiosity was instantly ignited by the slogan "Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias" (something that's increasingly perturbing me daily) and I was transfixed on each and every posting - and found myself AGREEING with most of the comments, unlike HuffPo! It really is sad to see how intelligent people are getting shut down because they're not drinking up the crazy juice that the media is inflicting upon everyone.

I'm finishing this three years later... because both sides are wiggety-whack, and even NewsBusters went sour. Pah-tooie.

Au revoir, Zuckerberg.

"Turn off your computer. You're actually going to have to turn off your phone and discover all that is human around us," Schmidt said. "Nothing beats holding the hand of your grandchild as he walks his first steps." - Google's CEO

As of Monday, I'm deactivating my Facebook for the summer. I've tried countless times before, but I really want to succeed this time. I've talked myself out of most of the reasons people see it as a good thing. It's my firm belief that it has made people care less about others around them, because they're so easily accessible (stalk-able.) Who knows. I'll probably chronicle my thoughts, reactions, and feelings towards this as time goes on. If all goes well, I'm going to beat the addiction. And if people want to know about me, well by golly, they'll have to go to the source. (Or they'll just read this blog... just maybe.)

By the way, who has dreams about being in archaic libraries in desolate locations? Apparently me.

Friday, May 29, 2009

2 Kewl 4 Skool

"When I was in college, I went to the bookstore and bought "Franny and Zooie" by J.D Salinger. I was so happy that I read it all weekend; it was short but good. I read outside in the nice weather on campus, and all these guys walked by and were completely confused why I was reading a book for fun." Peter Smith, Boston College Class of '08

Obviously, Peter is not the one with the problem. Is that even appropriate to say? People do not have to enjoy reading, it is, or what has always been defined as a hobby. If someone doesn't like reading, they may be heavily offended by the first sentence.

But then, what lies beneath that thin veneer of theirs? The unspoken but commonly known fact that reading goes hand in hand with writing is put to test: most cases (and a personal observation of trying to rope in writers at my college's newspaper for three years) have proven that writing suffers.

So what do these individuals hold on pedestals? Oh, right, sex and companionship, with an ego on the side. There are healthy egos, but there are vapid ones that only ask for more: the Gimmie Gimmies.

Guys have been 'trained' to see women as trophies and just want to score, while women like being regarded as medallions and are only concerned with 'finding that guy.' Oh yes, Hannah Montana, you have instilled in our youth the need for boyfriends. Oh no God, how could we ever live without them?

So what, are all social movements collapsing on themselves, are we reverting back to the Stone Age where primal urges, symbols, and pictures replace beautiful, articulate stories, vocal or written?


[TBC...]

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It was the Summer of '99...

I've officially inhabited New England for a decade. Is that something to celebrate, the 10th anniversary of my survival? Well then, it seemed just like yesterday...

Not really. My childhood moments in the Midwest came to an anti-climatic ending, as if a rug was pulled out from under me, or like an atomic wedgie. Remembering as I stood in the doorway of my room one summer after sixth grade in Terre Haute, Indiana, I argued with my father.

"I found a job in Connecticut. We're moving there in a year."

"NO! That's like, halfway across the country! I don't even know how to spell it!"

"Well, we might be able to get a horse where we live."

"Really?"

(That was the highly condensed version.)

Now, even though he came at me with a left hook, I still fumed. After all, it was going to be the second time I'd moved in my short life: I spent the first 11 years in West Carrollton, Ohio, and said teary goodbyes to my childhood friends in the middle of fifth grade to go to Terre Haute. My dad is a computer software programmer, and was always on the search for better paychecks.

So there you had it: I had an entire year to envision Connecticut. Land of opportunity? I didn't really know. My main concerns still centered around Terre Haute: drawing, choir, forcing parents to drive a full van of friends an hour to the Indianapolis Circle Centre Mall so allowances could be emptied on Abercrombie and Doc Martens, and running around outside in the cul-de-sac (in the fields with a cow farm behind the house) where four of my closest friends lived.

We were father-less: my dad began work in Glastonbury, CT and lived there the entire school year while my mother, brother and I held down the fort back midwest.

Our house was already in boxes as the last day of school came a'comin'round the corner, and I got to end it with a large 'moving out' celebration, which ended up being twenty of us running around outside of the house, squirting each other with the hose, playing a 'scandalous' game of hide and seek with the lights off indoors, and flashlight tag. (The best hiding spot was in the cornfield.)

Hopping into the packed green minivan a couple days later, we made a brief pit-stop in Fort Wayne, IN to see relatives, and then set off on the expedition to the New World--I mean, the East Coast! This trip was actually nothing new: we had driven up several times prior to Upstate New York.

I'll never forget driving through Hartford for the first time in the warm night: with the scattering of lights on and off in every skyscraper. To me, it was the classiest city I had ever witnessed.

Glastonbury compared to Terre Haute was an upper echelon: the pristine white columned plazas, the fountain in the middle of town, juxtaposed with Indiana's rural flat-lands; the tar emissions in the air once every so often, and the overabundance of truck stops.

Fitting in was not an easy task. Starting eighth grade at Gideon Wells Middle School, everything seemed more difficult: from the grading system to my fellow classmates. After nitpicking apart my regional dialect and ignoring me in the hallways, I had but a few close friends who were in drama and chorus, and my favorite teacher on this planet, Mr. Somberg.

Discussing stereotypes one day, Mr. Somberg asked the rest of the class, "How do you think Karyn used to live in Indiana?"

"She lived on a farm with cows."

"She wore overalls and had her hair in pigtails."

"She wore flanel."



I began learning how difficult New Englanders were. Fast paced, driven, and focused, they sped particularly fast down highways, aspired to be lawyers, and celebrated Jewish holidays. (There were no bar/bat mitzvahs in the Midwest!) While they didn't seem to be as easily outgoing and friendly as I was used to, I chameleoned my way into this seemingly hectic (at times) lifestyle.

10 years later, I still find myself doing the same thing and have a bit of a half & half thing going on, a 50/50 mixture of the two areas. I still feel quite different, that I haven't lost my roots, and I try to calm and entertain my stressed out born and raised New England compadres with something quite different than what they're used to.

I used to be a shy sap; I've got the hard hittin' East to thank for my tougher 'tude. Cheers.


[Edit: I never got a horse.]

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Exemplary usage of the calm facade

Today was the cherry on top of the worst year of my young adult life, with all but very few days left at my apartment complex, I manage to lose my debit card. Having used all of my pocket change, at this moment I have absolutely no money on hand. I've been short on money many times before during this past year, but I discovered this in a public place I had walked up New Britain Ave to eat at, and felt completely exposed; might as well hang a "Broke and Directionless" sign around my neck.

Since I have been a pedestrian/public transportation goer for the last six months, I've grown quite fond of slowing down and taking every little aspect of life in with these walks and bus rides. I suggest to people to at least try it, but can't even finish a sentence without getting a triumphant "Why do it when I can afford a car?" Well, that's just magnificent for the unconcerned and ignorant. I see fellow pedestrians in a different perspective as these haughty individuals, who will even follow up their brash remark with another, "I have a phobia of buses" or the ever more appalling "With those kind of people? I would never." To merely be associated with these 'common folk' is just too much to consider.

No, I don't want to explain for the millionth time my bad luck with cars; that I'm a good driver who attracts money grubbing 45 year olds who total cars and use Trantolo-Trantolo, crack dealers who steal cars from apartment parking lots, and troublemaker 17-year-olds who clearly shouldn't drive mommy and daddy's vehicle, because then they total cars who were just trying to drive to class to get an education. I was not at fault, yes I did get insurance checks, but those got used up quickly on food and necessities.

The people in my life in the last year I've attracted have been just as bad as the drivers: individuals who have the audacity to go under the radar as 'friends' that just take advantage. Take, take, take. And I'd let them: loyalty in friendships has always been something I excel at. No matter how frustrated I get with people, I can never seem to let them go, but the problem is I don't let them go soon enough. Occasionally, I even let these soul suckers eat at me even after they've gone and turned it on me as my fault, because I simply can't understand what I did wrong.

But when does it stop? Getting bit in the face by a dog, surgical abortion after being one month pregnant, severe sicknesses, writers block (every so often)... when all these things are thrown in your face at once, it is so hard to keep on going when you're a lonely miserable 23-year-old girl who is constantly remarked as looking "too young to be in college." No boyfriend, no one to vent to, family an hour away, roommates whose lives are too busy and hectic to even be at home, and I attract evil men who just want to take off my pants. Yes, I have a phobia of sexual contact now.

And no, I'm not whining, and I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I've carried this backpack of burdens as best as I possibly could without bothering other people for a long, long time. While I listen to a person crumbling apart from someone merely stealing something out of their car, I still give an answer of remorse, but really? I try my hardest not to cry and get bogged down and no one reaches a helping hand, but then they expect it? They need it?

I put on this facade of always being okay, and people take it face value. I definitely believe there are a lot of others in the same situations, but what's the use in sounding out about it? Then people just think they're looking for sympathy. Either way, I just can't seem to get any messages out to people.

To those who've been dealt the shitty hands, I've learned in a painful way that you can't always depend on others, sometimes there is no one, and while pulling yourself up is a difficult, constant struggle, it is worth it. The self satisfaction of being stronger than most can definitely be a rewarding feeling, but then it's all too easy for others to be intimidated by you. Comes with the territory!

No matter what, one most continue to channel their energy into helping others, because if I watched someone falling apart, I'd want to do anything I could to help. Humanitarians are amazing people.

To everyone else I give them the first step in understanding lifes little mysteries: the cliche 'stop and smell the roses.'


“The only questions worth asking today are whether humans are going to have any emotions tomorrow, and what the quality of life will be if the answer is no.” -Lester Bangs

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

“I’m proud that I’ve been able to live frugally and make work.” - Alexander Conner, Philly artist

The lifeline of a semester of four Journalism classes and one Creative Writing class: insomnia with intermittent sinus infections. One more exam, and it's onto summer free-lancing! (And a crappy mindless side job!)

Now, in-between all the reading/typing/writing I do (and my poor, beaten keyboard is wearing out on me fast) I love scouring around for random things of interest. Here's a few today:



Grizzly Bear's "Two Weeks" is extremely addictive: singer Ed Droste's vocals are as flowing and calming as Zach Condon's of Beirut, while the "Oohs" and "Aahs" remind me a bit of Dr. Dog. Comes as no surprise, seeing they're all similar and have worked with each other before. (Well, unsure about the latter.) This isn't the official music video, but I find the segments from Albert Lamorisse's "La Ballon Rouge" quite fitting.



Extra, extra! When many artists can't find jobs, what should they do? Just keep creating. NYT had an article today, speaking to artists from all over the country who have little-to-no income, yet are still determined to focus on what they do best under limited means. Because of the bad economy, one artist believes the public is craving art in a new way, that “they really have more time to see and feel things," according to NYT. Alas, artists must continue, no matter the circumstances. Luckily, art helps sooth anxiety! (Sometimes...)



To Twitter, or not to Twitter? That is the question. Whether it tis nobler to keep your inane thoughts to yourself, or to attempt to attract attention? Unless you're someone as funny as Michael Ian Black, I'd suggest not to. A recent post by Moistworks.com fits some songs into the twitter equation. In one song, the singer professes how they "think of" someone and "follow them" everywhere. Put into Twitter context, that's reading and "following" someone's tweets obsessively. Creepy much?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Commuter Scene: Not Your Typical Banter


Photo Cred: Karyn Danforth

“I went to an abandoned highway the other day,” said a student sitting on the bench of a table, as she leaned back onto the brick wall of the Student Center. “Oh I've been there!” piped up another sitting next to her. Conversing about spray painting words and objects, more commonly known as tagging, every person within a fifteen foot radius listened, fitting in their two cents when deemed necessary. “My brother would tag Optimus Prime's head on a tank everywhere,” said the jokester of the group, and an upheaval of laughter echoed against the building.

This is how friendships transpire; it begins with a mere question, statement, or just a hello. Underneath the columnized man-made shade resides three tables, and during the course of a class ridden day students come and go, seeking shelter as they study, smoke a cigarette, or start a conversation. Those who sit outside of the Student Center are not always acquainted with one another, but are open to sharing stories.

The cement patio has come alive with the forthcoming of pleasant weather, and as the white petals of the nearby trees flutter onto the pavement, sociability emerges.
While many commuters decide to drive home during breaks, others would rather be frugal travelers and save money by staying, finding time in between the constant bustling back and forth to class to take a rest and rehabilitate themselves in or outside of the epicenter of campus activities. It's a laid back atmosphere, an easy going culture.

Sitting at the middle table with an orange locker key, a copy of Tuesdays With Morrie, and his computer, Ross Martowski is a sophomore from Westbrook, Connecticut. For him, sitting outside gives him time to smoke his tobacco pipe and work on assignments. From pipes, coffee, cigarettes, newspapers, laptops, and even hookahs, these are all items generally found at the tables.

“I get more compliments from smoking rather than dirty looks,” says Martowski about his pipe. “I do get the occasional old lady staring me down.” Explaining how hookahs look sinister in the eyes of passerbys, he said, “They immediately think weed, but it's hashish.”



Don't let your ears nor eyes be fooled by the simple, fun conversations, or by the eclectic way many of the students dress who frequent the area. These students get serious. Martowski unleashed what has been grinding his gears.

“The attitude at Central is very business-like,” he said, in between puffs from his pipe. “The majority are taking care of business, doing their work, and clocking out at the end of the day.”

Martowski was one of several students on this specific Thursday afternoon that had a general distaste of the environment that Central currently encapsulates. “I don't like society today, so caught up in the issues. Everything is too strict,” senior Steve St. John said. Pointing towards the library, Martowski added, “There's a state trooper over there, and it gives me the feeling of being harassed, that it's no fun to be on campus.”

While both students referenced the situation to George Orwell's 'Big Brother', and spoke of how it takes only a few complaints to make a law, but to question or tear down a law takes thousands. “It's so unbalanced,” said Martowski.

The cop car comes rolling past the grassy middle mall between the Student Center and the dining commons, Memorial Hall. “I mean, look at that,” said Martowski. “Is that not intimidating?”

Everyone at the table agreed this is why Central is all business. If it weren't for all of the absurd regulations on campus (for example, the 'no skateboarding' rule stereotypes skaters as delinquents) and student organizations mishandling the way they spend their money, Martowski believes we'd receive more than 'middle school fair-like' events.

Instilled with the knowledge of how Central's campus was in the 1970's, Martowski mentioned the fact that inside the Student Center, the game room Breakers used to be a bar. “A bar is a more sociable scene, I would have rather went to school back then. It should still be a wet campus,” he stated firmly.

As St. John and Martowski bounced thoughts off of one another, a fantastic idea began to emerge. Both students agreed that CCSU needs to promote safe drinking in order to combat the sketchy practices that many students pursue secretively.

“They should have a monitored event on campus,” said Martowski. For most students, having embarrassing drunken photos with alcohol products held tightly in their hands on Facebook are a no-no, and are generally buried to uphold their self image. “I think it'd be the same on campus, it's not like you'd see students walking around with it.” he said.

“Just as it gets nice, I have to go to work soon,” sighed St. John, who must leave shortly for Elihu Burritt Library, where he has been working for over a year. “It means there'll be less people there, so there won't be as much to do.”

No matter, Martowski is still on a tangent. As he constantly puts his hoodie on and takes it off again (“I get cold, then I get warm”) he justifies his words, saying, “You know, I'm not just sitting here spacing out when I'm smoking my pipe.”

“The campus put itself in a position for students not to get involved,” he said. “At the end of the day, it's a business, catering to the parents, not the students.”

Explaining that the rules need to be cracked at the state level in order for things to change at Central, Martowski gave an anecdote about participating in Connecticut's very first global marijuana march on May 2nd. “People in this state are getting tired of regulations,” he said while checking his e-mail.

Something Martowski reads stops the current discussion and thus begins another: Professor Ragavan, an International Films teacher, had sent an e-mail regarding Martowski's constant effort to create a Film Club. After having a difficult time all semester due to strict enforced rules involving the creation of clubs, Ragavan was going to see to it that Martowski begins it, no matter what.

Going under the radar, Martowski acquired the use of the Africana Center to view movies. Told to begin with controversial films, Ragavan advised him to make posters (with 'not recognized as a club' at the bottom, as to not get in trouble) and with that, a table discussion erupted on what film Martowski should choose first. “Requiem for a Dream,” said one. “American History X,” said another. “The curb-stomp is terrifying.” Another table behind us overhears this and begins a discussion on curb-stomping.

Students aren't the only ones to be found here; sometimes professors kick back for a little bit before going about their business. “An older math professor comes around and smokes cigarettes while talking to us every so often,” said Martowski. “He talks about drugs he did in the 1960's and fits math into every conversation. He's a fun guy to talk to.” Thinking about how the guy is an accomplished, intelligent professor brings Martowski back to the problems with rules.

“I have a friend in the Education Department, and if they're even suspected of drugs, they are reprimanded or kicked out,” he said. “That doesn't solve problems, it doesn't seem right. Shows how times have changed over the course of 30 years.”

It doesn't seem as if Martowski knows this for sure, but all thoughts are considered sitting shoulder to shoulder to one another on a bench.

St. John, rather silent during the majority of Martowski's statements, wrapped up the discussion in a lyric by Jimmy Buffett. “If we weren't all crazy, we'd just all go insane,” he said.

This is Central's Greek chorus.

As two students from a class walked over to measure the columns of the Student Center's awning, the group at the middle table began to laugh at Martowski's ideas of getting reactions out of police; it was back to 'business' as usual: silly, fun conversations.

“What would a cop think of pulling someone over who had a handlebar mustache and a pipe, blaring classical music out of their car?” he laughed. “That would be great.”



Sunday, May 10, 2009

Archiving...

This may take me forever, but I'm in the process of cataloging 3-4 years worth of articles onto this blog. Updates will be frequent, so feel free to stick your nose in and browse around!

-K

 
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