Bad Decision-Making Skills + Commitment Issues = Impossible Future Planning

I know, haven’t written in forever. But let’s look past that because it’s almost one in the morning, I’m on summer vacation, and neither of those facts have anything to do with the rant I’m about to go on and or why you should forgive me for not writing in forever. It’ll be months before my next post, probably, so if you’re mad at me for not writing I probably won’t read your comments until October anyway and by then I’ll regret this post and agree with you.

Right. Topic. So this is officially my last summer before I graduate. That’s right. I have a total of one year left before I’m sucked into the black hole known as The Rest of My Life, aka The Real World, sometimes referred to Officially Having To Be An Adult. This means that come May when I walk across that stage in a cap and gown and a diploma holder (just in case you failed a class and didn’t really graduate, they mail the actual diplomas later), I have to do, or more likely will already have had to do, two of the things I hate most:

1) Make a decision

2) Commit to something

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If I was a squirrel, I'd be dead.

If I was a squirrel, I’d be dead.

I am the queen of leaving my options open. I loathe plans. Plans are life ruiners. They’re the things that finagle me into doing things like having coffee with a person I only vaguely like instead of finishing that book like I actually want to that day or force me to commit to registering for a class I’m not 100% sure I’ll actually want to take in the fall. Ask any of my friends. I do not plan. I do not decide. I do not commit.

Except I need to figure out what I’m doing when I graduate because things like graduate school and jobs require a bit of foreknowledge.

Except I just decided that my original post-grad goal isn’t actually even remotely what I want to do.

(side rant: So I told my two best friends that when I left out all the awesomeness of living in another country and getting to drill the English language into people’s heads, being an English teacher abroad is basically me standing in front of a room of people and having to talk to them, and then later grading stuff. Which is simultaneously an introvert’s hell and extreme boredom. And both of my friends were like, yeah, I could never really see you doing that, honestly. And I’m like, uh, couldn’t you have said something four years ago when this really stupid, shiny idea originally popped into my head? And they’re like, well I wanted to be supportive and stuff. And I was like, I hate you. Not really, but next time be more honest than supportive, ‘kay?)

So now the swirling vortex of terror (yes, I just quoted Finding Nemo) is about to swallow me whole and leave me drifting in an endless sea of possibilities that are just out of reach because I have no decision-making skills. WHAT IS MY LIFE AND WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH IT???

This tumblr user knows the appropriate application of this quote.

This tumblr user knows the appropriate application of this quote.

Also, why is my only marketable skill blogging? And I’m not even consistent with that. Why, Lord, whyyyyyyyyyy.

Anyway, I’m now considering grad school, though I originally scoffed at the thought of immediately returning to school after, you know, sixteen or so years of it. But let’s be real, school is the only thing I’m really good at, because this is my brain:

Book smarts/Academic smarts: 65%

Common sense/Street smarts: 5%

People smarts/social intelligence: 5%

Wasted Space, Basically: 25%

This is not the brain of a person well-prepared for the real world. This is the brain of an academic recluse. An academic recluse that doesn’t even like school half the time.

I’m currently trying to find a grad program that actually sounds interesting to me. That way I can put my only real talent to use while not hating every moment of it. So far the only programs that both look interesting to me and have an actual, like, real world use (meaning I can actually get a job. Sorry, Creative Writing degree, but I like food too much for you) are programs in International Affairs/International Relations/International Studies (don’t ask me what the difference is between those, I’m still trying to figure that out). There’s also a degree at one university in Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs. No idea what I would do with that, but it sounds cool.

But…now I have to study all summer. I have to review Spanish since I’m taking intermediate Spanish in the fall and it’s been a whole year since my elementary level classes, I now have to take the GRE and study for that, and my honors program final oral exam is next semester.

What is my life and why is it all school even when it’s summer?

Okay, rant over. Wow, I sound whiny in this post. Sorry. But, hey, I actually wrote something. Consider yourself privileged.

The Danger in “Dangerous” Heroes

Whenever people get angry about the misogynistic tendencies of certain genres of literature (e.g. chick lit, YA, fantasy, and well, just about every genre really), they always seem to focus on the lack or presence of certain traits in the heroines. Is she a strong heroine or a weak heroine? Is she only strong because she exhibits masculine characteristics? Is she too emotional or too logical? Does she depend too much on a male character or is she independent? These are great questions, and when considering whether a book is misogynistic, particularly books for teenage and adolescent girls, it is worthwhile to consider what kind of female protagonist is being promoted, as she will often become a role model of sorts for the readers.

I think the time we spend analyzing and nick-picking at all the Bella Swans, Katniss Everdeens, and Hermoine Grangers of the world might actually be slightly damaging. It sends the message to girls that they need to be “strong,” but not too “masculine,” not too “emotional,” and be “independent,” “determined,” and hopefully decently attractive as well, because the world will judge them in the same way they judge female heroines. But this is a whole other rant.

What about the non-protagonist “heroes” of these novels? Obviously, people think it’s pretty fun to bash Edward Cullen and sometimes Christian Grey. Characters like Tobias “Four” Eaton and Gale Hawthorne escape a lot of popular notice–they are masculine, strong, and yet the female protagonists aren’t dependent on them, so they’re fine, right?

In other words, we tend to judge male characters of popular novels by turning it around to their female characters. In other words, as long as the main character isn’t as stupid and annoying as Bella Swan and that chick in 50 Shades of Grey (I haven’t read the book, so I can’t really comment, but I do know it was originally written as fanfic for Twilight, and that’s enough for me), then the male characters are fine.

But I have a little problem with most male characters in novels, especially YA novels, with female protagonists.

I probably don’t need to rant too much about Edward Cullen and Christian Grey; the rest of the internet has managed that for me. But they are extreme examples of what I want to point out: they’re “dangerous.” That’s what makes them attractive.

Danger.

It’s been noted by plenty of other people that the two aforementioned “heroes” are abusive to the female protagonists. Yet, Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey are insanely popular. Insanely. If the relationship in them are considered abusive, why do people still read them? I think the abuse in Twilight is subtle enough to go over most people’s heads–it certainly went over mine when I read it (and loved it) when I was fourteen (hey, I was fourteen, okay?). From what I’ve heard of 50 Shades, the abuse is much more obvious in that series, but again, haven’t read it myself so I can’t say that with any authority.

There’s something irresistibly romantic about the idea of a “bad boy,” particularly when he’s rich, good-looking, with a dangerous, dangerous secret. There’s something attractive about a rough guy with a dark past, a guy with a sharp wit, and a protective instinct. Something sexy about the idea that a guy with a short fuse and extraordinary capabilities. Even more romantic is the idea that love will change him. That the rough edges and the temper and the dark past will be negated by the ordinary-ish woman who he’s inexplicably fallen in love with.

It’s a super appealing image, right? A sweet, naive young woman changing the dangerous guy.

Appealing. And completely unrealistic. Not even unrealistic–a complete lie.

I’m not saying that people can’t change, that people with rough pasts can’t come back from that.

I’m saying that the idea that a dangerous guy, a guy who is cruel to everyone in his life, angry, or abusive, will suddenly be able to turn that off the second he falls in love with a “good” girl is complete and utter bullsh*t.

And this idea is everywhere, even in innocent classic movies and books like Grease, West Side Story, Jane Eyre (much as I love this book), even kid’s movies like Tangled. Some of these might be showing actual change in the male characters–but the change is caused by love for a woman, and the woman often falls for the guy because he has appealingly dangerous qualities (although Tangled is probably exempt from that last part)

Maybe it’s fantasy. It’s something to indulge in and the readers and watchers are aware that it’s unrealistic. But I don’t think that we completely do. I think teenagers and women who read novels with this type or storyline have a secret desire that a sexy and dangerous guy will fall in love with them and magically change for the better as a result.

It’s this desire that concerns me. Because that bad boy over there who has those same qualities you admire in Tobias Eaton and Christian Grey? He’s not going to change because you date him.

He’s just going be domineering, jealous, and probably abusive.

Yeah, he is dangerous. Dangerous to those close to him more than anyone. And that most definitely includes you.

Instead, look at how a guy treats those closest to him. His family, his close friends. Is he a jerk to them? Then he’ll be a jerk to you. A romantic relationship is only as healthy as the people in them are healthy–mentally, spiritual, and emotionally. A romantic relationship is not cure for instabilities, issues, or dangerous secrets. He may be charming and sweet at first, but his real character is not who he is when he’s on a date with you.

His real character is who he is when he’s angry. When something didn’t go his way. When he is dealing with stress.

These stories are lying to women. That doesn’t mean that I can’t or don’t enjoy reading or watching them, but it does mean that I have to be aware of what the stories are saying about what romance is.

And, hopefully, so will you.

.

I Impressed A Cute Brit with My Intelligence Today

…and I didn’t even ask him what his name was. Sigh. Oh, well.

In my head, the conversation with this guy flowed around my brilliantly witty remarks, leaving him stunned by my brains and my beautiful American accent.

In reality, it was awkward. Mostly because it happened in the context of me trying to push my bike up a really, really steep hill, and I was, uh, breathing hard (Okay, I was panting. I’m out of shape, okay? And that hill is like, really steep.) So I’m (slowly) working my way up this hill, until this British guy with rather nice blue eyes asks me if he could help me push my bike, since it looked heavy.

No, it wasn’t heavy. I just haven’t regularly ridden a bike since I was ten, and there aren’t hills where I’m from. I just thanked him, and said no, I’ve got it. ‘Cause I’m a strong, independent woman. (Okay, that wasn’t the reason. I was just embarrassed that I was breathing so loud and didn’t want him to know how light my bike really was.) He actually struck up a conversation with me, which is weird for British guys. People aren’t much of a fan of casual stranger-conversation here, which in general is great for us introverted types.

Anyway, in the short walk up the hill, he was extremely impressed that:

a) I’m a student at Oxford Uni (he was a student at Oxford Brookes, another less prestigious university in Oxford).

b) I’m from Florida (less points from me for the cliche “Oh, I went to Disney once! You’ve probably been a lot, haven’t you?” There is, contrary to popular opinion, a lot more to Florida than Disney.)

c) I’m an English major (he actually thought that English was a really hard major, and that I must be smart to be studying it. And he didn’t say the dreaded, “So you want to teach?” 10 points to Gryffindor!)

d) I want to pursue sociolinguistics. (Maybe the impressed part more came from the fact that I had to explain to him what that was. But he thought it was cool once I explained it.)

So three observations about this conversation:

1) Even though it’s been almost four weeks since I arrived here, this is probably my first random conversation with a British stranger. Like I said, it’s an introvert’s heaven here. People just don’t randomly talk to you. Even the salespeople leave you alone, which is just fantastic. I hate it when salespeople ask if you need help. (No, if I needed help, I would ask for it. Leave me alone!)

2) No wonder I’m still single. I didn’t even ask the guy what his name was. I guess I can just give up on my dream of marrying a Brit and becoming a UK citizen, thereby making grad school here much less expensive (my current roommie and I had a plan. I think I’m the liability in the plan.)

3) Hills suck. This conversation could have been soooo much less awkward. But no, there had to be a hill, and I had to be practically wheezing.

Okay, rant/bragging over. Cheers!

I Fail at Blogging. But I’m Living in Oxford, England, So I Still Win

Oxford 2015 022

So I created that new blog. It’s beautiful–lovely background, nice font, catchy title…still haven’t posted anything. And I probably won’t because I just don’t have time. Oxford is, shall we say, a bit time-consuming. Lots of essay-writing. And cycling, a.k.a. bike riding. And sleeping, because for some reason I have been doing that a lot lately. But enough of excuses.

Oxford. Like…I have no words to describe how much I love it here, and how much it’s changed me already. In a good way. As in, I’m learning so much about how much I don’t know, but that’s a good thing, right? And, I mean, just look at that scenery. Who wouldn’t want to hang out in this incredible and historical city? Oxford is just beautiful. Especially the libraries and parks. .And tea, all the time tea. It’s wonderful.

But there’s two main things I’ve learned in the three and half weeks that have passed since my plane touched the tarmac in London.

1. It’s okay to be wrong…as long as you admit it.                   Oxford 2015 028

In my very first tutorial and essay, my main pride in life, my main talent, got ripped to shreds. I’m a self-describing grammar nazi. I’ve written several posts about it. I work at my school’s writing center. I was proud of how well I did in my Modern English Grammar class last semester. Grammar is my thing.

My new opinions on what constitutes “correct” grammar deserves an entire post in itself–I did write a 2,500 word essay on it–but concisely, “correct” grammar is an imposed standard of language given by “authorities” that…well…don’t actually have authority because no one is a god of the language that people speak. Language is descriptive, not prescriptive; no one way of speaking is right or wrong. Anyway, suffice it to say my grammar nazi tendencies are going to be reined in from now on. Maybe I can read stuff on the internet now and not cringe–that’s a plus.

Oddly enough, I’m okay with my main “talent” being shot down like this because it’s led me to discover a new passion: sociolinguistics (which my extensive knowledge of grammatical terms will actually be really helpful with. Yay!). If you don’t know what that is, google it. It’s so fascinating. To me, at least.

So yeah, I was kinda wrong about the grammar. But it’s okay, because I now realize it and can put my annoying skills to a better use.

Oxford 2015 009

2. It’s okay to change.

We’re all still learning and growing, and I’m not afraid to admit that I’m wrong sometimes, or that my position isn’t well founded. It’s okay to change. That, more than anything, is what I’ve learned here. It’s okay to reverse your opinions on things sometimes. It’s okay to be inconsistent. Because we’re never complete. The important thing is to keep an open mind.

I guess I’ve always been holding back from making certain changes in my life because I was afraid to break away from the life I’ve grown up with. I felt like a rebel every time I did or thought something I knew my parents or my pastor’s wife back home wouldn’t agree with. I joked about it, I did it anyway–but a little sip of alcohol, even after I turned twenty-one, still felt like I was breaking rules, even though those rules didn’t exist for me theoretically.

But I don’t want to be afraid to change, to be who I am, to live the way I believe. I don’t have to try to fit other people’s expectations of me. A lot of people that have known me for a long time would disagree on a lot of my opinions now. But that doesn’t me that I shouldn’t talk about them. And it doesn’t mean they aren’t valid. Most of these changes I’ve been working through for a couple of years now, especially my stance on feminism and the role of women in the church, home, and the wider world (took me longer than it should have, considering how obvious it was, but I’m slow). (Okay, maybe it’s not so obvious since everyone else is confused, too.) (Oh, yeah, I am a feminist, in case you were wondering. This whole post is a little vague. Sorry.)

It’s time that I stopped hiding the changes like they’re something to be ashamed of.

Look at Me, Being a Jerk and Not Posting for Like Six Months

Yeah. So. Blogging.

Hasn’t happened lately. Not sure why, except that I’ve been taking a creative writing class and I guess my creative energy all got channeled into that. On the upside, though, I did awesome in that class, got onto the staff of my school’s literary magazine and am getting a few poems and a short story published in the magazine. And my prof told me that I “have a book in me.” Whatever that means, but hey, I’ll take it. Anyway, all this to say that, sorry for so grossly neglecting ya’ll.

Okay, so I don’t remember if I said anything about this back in May, but I got accepted to study abroad next semester at Oxford University (!!!). In January right before I go, I’m starting a new blog for my friends and family to follow while I’m there, and I’ll connect that blog’s posts to this one so you guys can read about something exciting going on my life for a change. I promise the sarcasm and frequent parenthetical commentary will continue (the sarcasm will be probably have to be turned down a notch, though. My mother and grandmother will probably be reading that blog.)

All right, so I just wanted to check in and assure you that I am still in fact alive. It’s finals week, so I should probably be studying or writing a paper or something, but, eh. Whatever.

And now in honor of my C.S. Lewis/J.R.R. Tolkien lit final tomorrow:

tumblr_mlmqsiQVm41snjoxto1_500

I Am So Bad At Understanding Accents. And People.

It’s just so awkward when I have to ask the nice Scottish man to repeat his question four times, only to realize that he’s asking about “key rings,”–sounded like “keedling” to my ears–which are apparently what Scottish people call key chains. Maybe I’m just not an auditory learner (too much reading as a child), but I literally have the hardest time understanding people, which sucks because 90% of my job is answering people’s questions, and 75% of those people do not come from ‘Merica. Even the ones that do can be hard to understand depending on where in the States they’re from. And I get spoken to in Spanish probably twenty times a day, since I look Hispanic. Thanks, Dad, for not speaking Spanish to me when I was a kid. Now I have to deal with upset Latinas every day because I don’t know what they’re saying.

So lots of awkward situations. Which become even more awkward when people are constantly asking me for directions in a city where I’ve lived for exactly two weeks and a theme park that I’ve been in, say, once in the last four years. So I have no more clue than you do where anything is. And no, extraordinarily drunk man, I do not know where you parked your car, because I am not physic.

Also, why are you people angry that I don’t know where the disabled parking is? Since I’m not disabled, I have never had occasion to use disabled parking, and unfortunately I was not given a map of the parking garage here (I wish they had, the number of times I’ve lost my own car!). But you should have done what I failed to do my first day and remembered where you parked instead of yelling at me because you didn’t pay attention. Like me, you should have realized the consequences of your unobservance and wandered around the parking garage for half an hour until you found it. (In case you were wondering, no, unobservance is not actually a word.) Yelling at me for not knowing something you should have known yourself was pointless.

And thank you, lady, for yelling at me for walking past your loud and obnoxious group standing on the moving walkway. It’s a walkway, not an escalator. The point of those things is so you get places faster, not so you can stand there and block the people who just finished an 8-hour shift and want to go home (of which I was not the only one). It’s not like my threading my way through your group after four people had already done so really messed up the chi of your standing on a moving walkway.

I just don’t get people. Why are you yelling at other people? I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve actually yelled at another human being. Maybe it’s because I rant on this blog instead of taking my anger out on people, but seriously… Now I get yelled at for things that are not my fault on a daily basis, and I just don’t understand it. Why is everyone so angry all the time? Chill, drink some tea, read a book, relax. It won’t kill you to not freak out about having to stand there and wait because your key chain doesn’t have a barcode so I have to look it up. Oh, you’re sweating there why you wait? I have been standing out here sweating for six hours, so suck it up and stop being mad at me.

Of course, all of this is in my head. I’m never sarcastic to customers, promise. I’d get fired so quick. I’m also a firm believer that being rude in return to rude people just makes the situation worse. But being sarcastic in my head makes me feel better, so I figure it’s okay.

Customers are, however, very sarcastic to me. Like today a British guy walks up to my kiosk thing and asks me where he can “go out.” I thought he meant the exit, so I pointed him toward the parking garage. Then he was like, no, go out to party, and I thought he said “the party,” and so was referring to the strip of restaurants and music clubs and whatever that are near the park entrance so I pointed him there. Then he was like, “No, we want to go to a night club. Where are the good ones? You look like you would know.”

Really? I do? Because: 1. I don’t “party.” I’ve been to exactly one club in my life and it was a line-dancing club during a bachelorette party and it was honestly a super tame club. I don’t drink ever because I’m not quite 21 and I’m a law-follower. And 2. I’ve lived here two weeks. I don’t know where the Wal-mart is, much less any clubs. I also don’t know any street names except the ones I take to work, so I wouldn’t even be able to point you in a direction.

Needless to say, the man was very disappointed and surprised that I couldn’t answer his question. My eye makeup was a bit heavier today than usual. Maybe I looked like a party girl, I don’t know. I told him I was new to the area, and he said to me as he left, “Well, you were helpful.” I’m sorry? I guess I am totally to blame for not being a partier or knowing where things are in a city I just moved to?

I’m sorry I’m the most un-helpful sales person ever? You should ask me about the price of that stuffed animal sometime, that I know. Actually just kidding, I don’t know, but did you know it has a tag with a price listed on it?

retailrobin

I don’t know when this post about me being bad at understanding accents turned into a rant about angry customers, but I’m just gonna go with it. And now I’m gonna go to bed, and tomorrow enjoy my first day off in a full week. Yay!

Retail Etiquette

In honor of my summer retail job, I’d like to give you all some nice reminders on how to not make all the sales people in the store want to kill you. It’s nice, ya know, when you can get through a day without making another human being want to commit a homicide. Some people haven’t figured out quite how to do that yet. In case you are one of those, here’s a few basic rules to help you get by when you’re shopping.

1. Contrary to your extraordinarily obtuse belief, the people who work in the store are NOT responsible for the prices of ANYTHING in the store. That all comes from much higher up than the people who make nine bucks an hour to ring up your items and ask if you’d like your receipt in the bag. So there is absolutely no point in complaining about the prices to the nice broke college student who was innocently restocking candy, just trying to earn a little dough so she can go to Europe next year, when you stormed up to her. There is definitely no point in rudely demanding to know why the store doesn’t sell any sweatshirts for less than $50.

It’s a theme park gift shop. No, there aren’t any sweatshirts under $50. And it is not that poor college student (aka me)’s fault. It’s not like I could afford them either, even with my employee discount.

2. It is possible, when you decide you don’t want to buy an item after all, to walk the 20 feet back to the other side of the store to put it back where it came from. Because, strangely enough, when you leave something in a random place, someone with a nametag on her shirt has to put it back where it came from. Which isn’t a huge deal until she literally has to do it fifty times a day. When she’s having to stand eight hours a day for five days straight and her feet are killing her. And when I say killing her, I mean feeling like they are about to fall off and she has to hobble all the way to her car at the end of her shift. So thanks, for stuffing that cute stuffed animal you told your kid she can’t have on top of a t-shirt rack and making the saleslady take it back for you.

3. It is similarly possible to not destroy a pile of shirts when rifling through for your size. I confess, I’ve done it too. I’ve accidentally ruined the nice, orderly pile of t-shirts to find the medium at the bottom of the stack. And I, too, decided that I didn’t have time to put it aright. Which was a lie, because I did have time. You know who doesn’t have time? The person who has to re-fold the same stack of shirts five times an hour. The same exact stack. Five. Times. An. Hour.

4. It’s also possible not to screw up the displays. Did you know that there are people whose sole job is to decide how items should be displayed in a store? Well, there are. And it’s the people who work in the store’s job to try to keep the displays the way the powers-to-be said that they should be, from the number of t-shirts there ought to be on a rack to the way the mugs are arranged on a shelf. Even if it looks disheveled, like a messy bun there’s an art to perfecting the careless look (unless it’s disheveled because the customers before you screwed it up). So when you pick up an item, put it back in the exact same way that you found it.

5. If you don’t see it in the store, it’s probably not there. Obviously, this does not apply to sizes of t-shirts–although if you don’t see your size, it might be because the store is out. But when you’re staring at a wall of t-shirts and trying to find a onesie in that same t-shirt design and don’t see one, it’s probably because the store doesn’t carry onesies in that design. Some people are under the delusion that there’s a gigantic backroom somewhere that, like a museum, has all of these wonderful items that you can only get if you’re creative enough to ask if they’re there. Well, there is a gigantic backroom…holding exact replicas of everything in the store. I know, shocking. And if the store is anything like the one I work on, the stockers are excellent at making sure that the store shelves never run out of items. So if you don’t see it, it’s probably not there. Unless you’re just really horrible at finding things in stores for yourself, in which case, ask away.

6. Finally, be nice. Just because you are The Customer, you do not the right to be a jerk to the people who work there. They are people, too. We have lives and bad days as well. One of my coworker’s mother-in-law died this week, and she was really torn up about it…and I just watched several customers be extremely rude to her and I felt so bad because she was already having such a rough day. Yes, it’s our job to do everything we can to please you. But that doesn’t mean you get to be difficult to please.

 

Actually, if people did half these things, like taking stuff back and not messing up displays, I probably wouldn’t have a job. But it’s a shame, though, you know, that I have a job because people are too lazy to practice common courtesy. Eh, human nature, I guess. Anyway, be nice to the salespeople. Their feet hurt.