Donald Trump’s Blame Game

As I’ve said before, I rarely get political on my blog. However, I just read Donald Trump’s statement that mass shootings will happen no matter what, and cannot be stopped by more gun control, because: “You have people who are mentally ill, and they’re going to slip through the cracks”. As someone who has dealt with mental illness, and someone who loathes Donald Trump, I am about to vent:

The mentally ill are the last group of people in America that it is still politically correct to stereotype and scapegoat. If Donald Trump had said: “You have black people, and they’re going to slip through the cracks”, or: “You have Jews, and they’re going to slip through the cracks”, he would get reamed by the press. You know what most mentally ill people are busy doing? Trying to feel better. You know what most evil sociopaths are busy doing? Trying to buy guns. Not to mention, every country in the world has mentally ill citizens, and our country has the highest caliber of mental healthcare in the world. And yet, from 2000-2014 there were 23 mass shootings in 13 European nations plus Russia. During that same period, the United States saw 133 shootings.

Here’s another statistic: nearly all of our mass shootings are committed by men. In the last thirty years only one of at least 70 mass shootings in our country has been committed by a woman. So maybe the demographic really slipping through the cracks are angry, aggressive, evil men. Kind of like you, Donald Trump.

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According to a Quinnipiac University poll, 90% of U.S voters are calling for stronger gun laws. If Republicans are pro-life, shouldn’t calling for stronger gun control that would save lives fit their agenda? If Republicans in government are delegates, not trustees, elected to act in our interest, shouldn’t calling for stronger gun control be in their job description?

Phew, that felt good. Time to watch Homeland and see how a bipolar woman in the CIA can get the job done.

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Why Not Me?

When I read Mindy Kaling’s first book, Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns), it was the first time since reading The Catcher in the Rye that I felt profoundly understood and connected to a book’s protagonist. Except, in the case of the former, the narrator was a real person and a woman I could look up to. Given that Kaling’s memoir was so flawless, I was apprehensive that her latest collection of essays, Why Not Me?, couldn’t possibly be as phenomenal and would ultimately disappoint me.

Well, I would like to personally apologize to Mindy Kaling for ever doubting her, because Why Not Me? blew me away.

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The personal essays tackle everything from Kaling’s body image, her relationship with B.J. Novak, her career, and just the inherent complications of being a woman. While Kaling’s first book reads more like a fluid, chronological story of Kaling’s childhood and subsequent rise to fame, the second strictly focuses on her adulthood and even features a surprising amount of advice. Most of the advice is tongue-in-cheek, as Kaling does so perfectly, but it comes from an honest and authentic place and really resonated with me. Below are some of my favorite tidbits of advice/ revelations from the book:

“The first thing you need to know is that the hair on your head is worthless. The color, the length, the thickness, everything. You will never see anyone on TV sporting their own God-given hair, unless it’s on, like, a sad miniseries about factory workers in East Germany.”

“Asking your friend to be a bridesmaid is one of the modern paradoxes: no one actually wants to do it, but everyone would be offended if you didn’t ask.”

“The problem with joining a sorority was that I was a person who wanted to make friends based on common interests. And our common interests had to be more than simply wanting to make friends.”

“My deep dark secret is that I absolutely do try to conform to normal standards of beauty. I am just not remotely successful at it.”

“Now even my coolest friends are online dating. But not me. I live in fear of my public profile being published online for everyone to see. Especially since I am such a liar. On a dating profile page, I would pretend to be a completely different person. You would see me loving live music and hiking. You basically leave the date thinking I’m an outdoorsy Stevie Nicks.”

“No matter how good you have it, it’s cool to want more.”

“Young women often approach me and excitedly tell me how much they appreciate the way I look. They like that I am not a skinny twig, because it shows that I refuse to change who I am and makes them feel like they don’t have to either. I really love that. But what they don’t know is that I’m a big fat fraud. I’m completely not at peace with how I look. I don’t wake up in the morning, look at my naked body in the mirror, and say, ‘Good morning, body. Once again, you’ve nailed it, you gorgeous imperfect thing. That wobbly patch of cellulite? A miracle. Every stretch mark? A Picasso. Holy crap, I look good! Who can I sext? Somebody else has got to see this.’”

“Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled. Listen to no one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know, and that doesn’t always mean your parents. If you do that, you will be fine.”

If any of the above quotes spoke to you, made you laugh, or made you feel slightly more normal, go buy Why Not Me?! It’s a super quick read that you won’t be able to put down.

But first… let me take a selfie.

I had to read this article for my feminist philosophy class, and it unleashed a contentious debate among the professor and my classmates as to whether “the female selfie” is a visible reflection of patriarchal social norms, or a pushback against the harsh beauty standards set forth by those norms. Here are my thoughts on the matter…

There are a lot of generalizations made about “the female selfie” both positive and negative. I think it would be impossible to make a definitive statement about why all women post selfies because every woman is different. Moreover, I think the desire to dualistically label “the female selfie” as good or bad simply highlights the fundamental misconception about feminism in general which is that all women want the same things or are motivated by the same things. Feminism is about giving women equal opportunity, and then supporting whatever they decide to do with those opportunities. I am sure some women post selfies solely to attract men, some post selfies out of self-love, some are rebelling against harsh beauty standards set forth by gender norms, etc.

I know girls that have posted sexy, albeit filtered selfies on Instagram after a harsh breakup to make an ex-boyfriend jealous. I also have friends that post selfies with no makeup on to show that that is how they feel most beautiful. I also know women that feel most confident with their makeup done, and if they love how their winged eyeliner turns out one day they might post a selfie to show it off to their followers. I have never personally posted a selfie on social media- but I have definitely taken many a selfie (my biggest source of anxiety is someone scrolling through my camera roll). And, who knows- maybe one day I’ll change my mind and decide to post one. I would never judge another woman for posting a selfie, but more importantly I would never form an opinion on “the female selfie” as if it is an ontologically distinct entity rather than an umbrella that describes just one way women can express themselves through social media.

So, I decided to post my first selfie right here. I’m not trying to impress a man, or rebel against the patriarchy. I’m not trying to love myself more, or to seek anyone’s approval. It’s just a picture I took of myself.

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JUDGE AWAY! Or don’t. Doesn’t matter to me!

Exercise Epiphany

The concept of willingly deciding to exercise used to be utterly foreign to me. My friends would go to Flywheel or some sort of boot-camp-torture-chamber every morning and I would lie in bed wondering why they would choose to be in physical pain rather than getting that extra hour of sleep.

Over a month ago I had to start yoga (as a mandatory class to graduate from Emory) and was completely dreading it. How would I muster the motivation to do yoga at 8:30 am every day for six weeks? It didn’t seem possible.

As the weeks went by, something clicked in my mind.

I used to associate exercise with negativity because I didn’t realize that there is no “right” way to fit fitness into your life- you have to do what works for you.

I suffer from chronic panic attacks and anxiety, so the thought of a fast-paced cycling class or trainers yelling at me in boot-camp sounded like my worst nightmare. Yoga centered me, it cleared my mind, and most of all it made me believe in the power of meditation.

When my yoga class ended, I wanted to try another type of exercise that would be accommodating to my lifestyle, but slightly more intensive.

A little over two weeks ago I started Pure Barre and it has changed my life in ways I didn’t think possible. I could not recommend this class more to people who suffer from any type of anxiety or panic disorder. The instructors push you to work your hardest and perfect your form, but they are upbeat, gentle and create a relaxing and non-intimidating environment. The class works every part of your body, but you aren’t focusing on physical pain because you are able to shut your eyes, listen to the music and really feel the mind/ body connection.

So, to those suffering from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, etc.: I know this post sounds obnoxious and you are all probably rolling your eyes. It definitely took me a while to come around to the idea of incorporating fitness into my lifestyle, and if it takes you a while too then that’s cool.

Just know that it’s not about achieving the toned Lululemon thigh gap… it’s about achieving peace of mind.

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A “Personal Essay Collection” Kind of Summer

This summer I have been on a streak of reading collections of personal essays by female writers. While Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham will always be my favorite, the two brilliant books I just finished likewise stole my heart.

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan

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Keegan’s collection differs from the others I read as it contains both personal essays and fictional stories. It is also unique in that Keegan’s collection is posthumous, as she passed away in a tragic car accident just a few days after she graduated from Yale. Keegan’s family and mentor compiled nine stories and nine essays by Keegan that subsequently became an incredibly insightful body of work.

The book’s title refers to the final essay Keegan wrote for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness”, which ruminates on life after graduation. She writes, “We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time”. She urges her peers to pursue their artistic passions in lieu of being sucked in by the corporate world. All of Keegan’s pieces eloquently touch upon relationships, death, conflict, love, and loss with a youthful, yet discerning perspective.

Every girl in her 20’s should be required to read this breathtaking collection. The Opposite of Loneliness is a tribute to Keegan’s extraordinary talent, as well as to her rare quality of being both realistic and optimistic at such a young age.

And the Heart Says Whatever by Emily Gould

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This essay collection, written by a 28-year-old Emily Gould in 2010, was both a melancholy and inspirational read. Gould writes about everything from sleeping with a 14-year-old boy her senior year in high school, her abusive relationship with a frat boy in college, transferring to The New School in New York City and experimenting with women in her writing program, working at a dilapidated jazz club in the city, selling her soul to Gawker, her grandfather’s death, brooding over a failed relationship, furnishing her apartment with the help of a high-end furniture thief, and consistently smoking a lot of weed.

Reading this book was almost existential as I truly felt I was diving into Gould’s soul. Her writing is fluid and understated; a no frills outlook on the confusing and complicated lives of modern women.

My favorite essay is “A Concentration in Writing”, in which Gould describes having to write a memoir for her fiction workshop at The New School about someone being a victim. Gould really wrote a story based on her own experience of cheating on her boyfriend in college. Her boyfriend found out she was cheating because she wrote about it in a diary that she left next to her bed. When he confronted her about it, he violently pushed her to the ground and was about to slam her head into the concrete until a friend luckily intervened.

When Gould presented the story to her class for critique, another student raised her hand and asked why the narrator character had written about her infidelity in a diary, and why the diary was in a place where her boyfriend could find it.

The essay concludes with Gould responding: “That’s just the kind of thing she does”.

Legalize Ted

I didn’t have high expectations walking into Ted 2. First of all, sequels are usually disappointing- and they are painfully disappointing when the original film is so incredible. However, within the first ten minutes of Ted 2 I scolded myself for having ever doubted Seth Macfarlane. I was already laughing out loud (which I rarely do).

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Whoever put together the commercials for Ted 2 needs to be fired immediately because they DO NOT offer an accurate preview of the film. Yes, the core premise of the movie is Ted suing for his civil rights to be considered a “person”, but the laid-back, yet highly intelligent humor that made the original Ted such a classic is what really weaves this movie together.

Macfarlane knows what his audience wants to see, so there is no shortage of scenes showing John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted just hanging out and smoking weed on the couch. I was worried that Amanda Seyfried, who plays Ted’s lawyer, would be wide-eyed and annoying but she was surprisingly self-deprecating and funny.

I saw the movie the same day that the marriage equality Supreme Court decision was announced, so listening to Morgan Freeman (who plays Ted’s lawyer for his appeal) discuss marriage equality (as well as gender and racial equality) with the jury was particularly potent.

Go see Ted 2 with your thunder-buddy.

The Laughing Skull Open Mic Night: My Experience

Recently I ventured to The Laughing Skull in midtown Atlanta for their open mic night. Not only was the experience humorous and entertaining, but it also made me realize how vital it is to support new creative talent.

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I saw well over 10 amateur stand-up comedians- some funny, some not so funny. However, I still have the upmost admiration for anyone brave enough to bare their soul to an audience of strangers.

Below is my evaluation of the performer I found most intriguing. Hopefully this gives you an idea of what to expect if you choose to check out an open mic night at a comedy club near you…

You wonder if Brian Edmond stumbled onto the stage by accident. Perhaps he awoke from a nap, threw on a black t-shirt and jeans from his pile of dirty laundry, took a wrong turn on the way to his dealer’s house and somehow found himself holding a microphone in front of an audience. Edmond is waiflike, unshaven, and emblematic of every stereotypical hipster you see smoking a cigarette outside of a coffee shop. His vacant eyes scan the now uneasy audience. When Edmond finally speaks, his voice is unsurprisingly monotone.

Edmond kills the tattooed elephant in the room by addressing his appearance. He acknowledges how strange it is that he is so skinny even though he smokes a lot of weed. You quickly realize that Edmond isn’t here to tell jokes; he is here to have a conversation. Edmond mostly speaks with his head down and his mouth pressed closely against the microphone. When he looks up, his glossy eyes aren’t searching for laughter. He’s just making sure we’re listening. The irony of a stand-up comic who doesn’t care what anyone thinks is what starts to make this set funny.

The first few minutes of Edmond’s hazy thoughts and observations are about his drug use. He fidgets with the microphone and tells us a story about his friend who smoked too much and thought he had a collapsed lung. He explains that he couldn’t take his friend to the hospital, because that would be absurd. Would the doctor give him “magic” skittles and tell him they are “collapsed lung pills”? He lets out a flimsy laugh and we laugh too, if not at the story then at his dry delivery.

As Edmond starts telling us he is an Uber driver, his body language becomes more casual and relaxed. He recalls a young man who got into his car and gleefully remarked that he’s never had a white driver before. In fact, most of his passengers are racist, and one man even asked him to run over a black guy in a parking lot. Edmond surmises that the concept of Uber is actually just inherently racist, and we all laugh because he is probably right. However, Edmond doesn’t mind working for a company designed to put minority cab drivers out of work, because being an Uber driver means driving around hot, drunk girls. One time a girl begged him to take her to get food, and he said sure, but only if she would have sex with him first. It is only because Edmond appears so physically fragile and nonthreatening that we don’t feel guilty for laughing.

Edmond looks vaguely relieved when he is cued to wrap up his set. He just started getting the hang of things, but still isn’t completely comfortable. He mumbles a “thank you” to the audience, turns around and waves without making eye contact, and then saunters offstage. You feel as though you just went on a date with someone who didn’t appear to have prepared at all and was wholly uninterested in you. Logically, you shouldn’t want to go on a second date. But, then again, there was just something about him that piqued your curiosity.

“UnREAL” is Unreal

If you engage in the guilty pleasure that is The Bachelor/ Bachelorette franchise, you will be mesmerized by Lifetime’s new show UnREAL.

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Shiri Appleby (you might remember her as Adam’s girlfriend Natalia on Girls) stars as Rachel, a producer on a faux-Bachelor show called Everlasting. She had an alcohol-induced meltdown on the last series of Everlasting, and returns to the show determined to prove to Quinn, her no-nonsense boss (Constance Zimmer AKA Dana Gordon on Entourage) that she has recovered and is ready to get back to work.

The one-hour drama conveys the manipulative and almost villainous tactics the producers use to manufacture the drama and insanity the audience craves. Rachel struggles with eagerness to be the best at her job, and reluctance to exploit the female contestants for the sake of good television. She is constantly grappling with where to draw the line. The show also explores the strained relationships between producers and the complex personal lives of Quinn, Rachel, and the “suitor”, Adam, a British hotel heir attempting to reinvent his image.

This psychological drama conveniently airs on Mondays at 10 PM (right after The Bachelorette), and will make you rethink the social phenomenon that is reality television.

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“Entourage” Movie Review

I definitely had some reservations before seeing the “Entourage” movie. I was a devoted fan of the show (even though it was douchey and ridiculous at times), and feared that the movie would succumb to the “Sex and the City” curse of going against the original model of the show to make it more ostentatious and pretentious. Surprisingly, the movie did exactly the opposite.

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The movie was essentially a 1 hour and 44 minute version of what a season of “Entourage” could have been. Even the opening credits were modeled after the original beginning and used the song “Superhero”. The plot of the movie was simple: Vince decides to direct and star in his own movie, and the Texas mogul investor’s son (the investor is played by Billy Bob Thorton, and his son is played by Haley Joel Osment (does he still see dead people?)) isn’t a fan of the film. I won’t give any more away, but will say that the plot has an endearing, albeit conspicuous twist.

The interactions between Vince, Eric, Turtle, Johnny, and Ari are as clever and charming as ever. The celebrity cameos were frequent (Liam Neeson, Jessica Alba, Kelsey Grammar, etc.), but much more restrained than I thought they would be. My favorite meta-moment was Ari passing Liam Neeson in his car, Liam Neeson telling Ari to “fuck off”, and Ari screaming, “Come on Schindler! Don’t leave a Jew behind!”

I was slightly baffled at the negative reviews and backlash the movie is receiving, but have to assume that the critics who disliked the film were not fans of the show. There were countless subtle references to the series that only a fan could appreciate. My sister (who is also a fan) and I almost cried at the end.

Grab your personal entourage and go see this movie. Appreciate the fun and entertaining film for what it is!

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My “Mad Men” Pitch

This morning I sat in my first ever yoga class thinking about Mad Men. It still hasn’t quite hit me that there will never be another new episode of this beautiful and perfect show, and that I have seen all I ever will of these characters lives. I was prepared to write a nostalgic and wistful post about the brilliant finale and how the series personally affected me as a whole. But, and this is not even a joke, I sat in yoga this morning just as Don did in the last moments of the show, and I thought of a better idea. madmen_don_meditating I felt complete closure with each character’s story line (except maybe Betty’s, because it makes me too sad), and I loved that Don’s Coca-Cola pitch was left to the imagination. That being said, below is a list of possible television show/ movie spinoffs that I would deeply enjoy to watch:

Le Mariage

Written and directed by Nancy Meyers, this romantic-comedy is set in France, and follows the nuptials of Roger Sterling and Marie Calvet. A whole slew of characters come together to witness that it is never too late to find true love. Megan brings a young, actor boyfriend as her date; Margaret Sterling leaves her cult to make a surprise appearance; Don brings Sally to make a fun trip of the weekend, but she is shocked when she remembers the LAST time she saw Roger and Marie together!

“A Thing Like That”

What happens when two wealthy New Yorkers decide to pick up and move to Wichita, Kansas? This hilarious sitcom starring Pete and Trudy Campbell! They make new friends, choreograph more dances, and finally buy a new chip-n-dip.

“The Peggy Project”

Similar to “The Mindy Project”, this witty half-hour comedy stars Peggy Olsen as she navigates New York City, her thirties, a new career, and a blossoming office romance. In episode one, Stan finally meets Peggy’s mother and sister! Let’s hope Mrs. Olsen doesn’t find Stan’s stash of weed…

All I Wanna Do 2

This is a sequel to the 1998 film about a 1960’s all girls’ boarding school that starred Kirsten Dunst. This movie is set in 1970’s Miss Porter’s School, and stars Sally Draper who returns from Betty’s funeral determined to honor her mother’s wishes and return to normal life. Things get complicated when a distraught Glenn Bishop hears about Betty and decides to pay Sally a visit…

Ginsberg, Interrupted

He may have lost his nipple, but he hasn’t lost hope.

Genehood

Exactly like the film Boyhood, but following Gene Draper for the next twelve years of his life.

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