I’ve always been a few steps ahead of myself. I’m not sure who’s to blame for that: my parents, or me. I think it all started when I skipped the second grade. I learned to read at a fairly young age, and attacked books with with a voracity uncommon among my peers. When my mother taught me the difference between abridged and unabridged books, I immediately committed to only reading unabridged books. I must have been seven years old. Reading is the only thing I’ve ever been competitive about. In high school, I ran cross country and used to laugh as girls sped past me. I didn’t bother to take an SAT prep class, or to post my college admissions to my Facebook page. In fact, the only goal I’ve ever really had was to be the most well read person in any room I entered. So, I skipped the second grade because I was reading the unabridged copy of Little Women at age eight. As simple and seemingly innocuous as this decision was, it led to my high school graduation at age seventeen. Graduating high school at age seventeen has led me here. I graduate from college in less than a month. I’ll be 20. Like most soon-to-be graduates, the unknown future terrifies me, and the speed with which my life has moved horrifies me. But unlike most other graduates, I’m two years ahead of myself.

I brought in a lot of AP credits from my high school classes. Because of this, during my second semester of college, my course advisor told me I was eligible to graduate a year early. I called my parents that afternoon and told them the news. I could save a year’s worth of tuition and living expenses! Once again, I could speed up my life by a year, and skip a grade! Like I knew they would, they jumped at the chance to save the few thousand dollars they paid each year towards my tuition. Upon their urging, I decided to take a summer class and commit to finishing college three months before my 21st birthday. I crept through the next two years, balancing my own sense of pride and achievement against the growing realization that I was competing with students with much more life and work experience.

Graduating early has made for an interesting dichotomy in my life. I am always two steps ahead of myself, but simultaneously a step behind the peers I’ve been grouped with. It reminds me of high school track and field. I’m a freshman who made the Varsity team. I’m faster than the Junior Varsity kids, but my legs aren’t as long as the Varsity runners. In an effort to keep up, I often find myself overworked and exhausted.
This fall, I worked three part-time jobs while maintaining a full class schedule. I used to crack jokes at myself in the mirror each morning, saying: “You’re going to work eighteen hours today and like it!” I didn’t know what I was working towards, only that if I wanted to stay in-pace, I had better put in the effort.

My social life also grew confusing. Friends and acquaintances seemed to get engaged every week, and I began to wonder why I wasn’t doing the same. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my career. I had no clue where I wanted to live. The thought of marriage made me nauseous. Each week, I would cycle through moments of panic and self-derision, lying face-down on my carpet on a Sunday night. The next morning I would wake up and remember that I was only twenty, and that I was living in an alternate reality.

It’s not just the early graduation date that makes me feel older than I am. Living in New York City doubles the effect. Being a college student in New York eliminates the cushion of a campus, and the safe feeling of being in between youth and the “real world.” New York is about as real as the world can get.

This semester, I’ve often found myself wondering why I started this whole process in the first place. Staying another year would allow me to save more money, gain more work experience, and build more confidence. Another year would give me the chance to raise my GPA, take more English classes, and meet the college boyfriend I always thought I’d have. Were I graduating a year from now, I think I’d feel ready. Were I were graduating a year from now, I don’t think I would be this afraid.

If I could go back to the tow-headed girl reading Little Women in the front yard Bradford Pear tree, would I tell her to slow down?

I don’t have an answer to that question. I wish I did, because then I could step across the stage in May and move the cord of my graduation cap from right to left with a sense of quietude and accomplishment. As it is, my hands will shake.

But there is a charm in fear. In his novel Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon writes, “It was nice standing out in the darkness, in the damp grass, with spring coming on and a feeling in my heart of immanent disaster.” If I’m after anything, it must be that feeling: expectancy. TC mark









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yeppp
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1. Online shopping.

Or, eBay, to be more precise. I talk about eBay a lot on here — I do realize this. But that’s only because it’s such a prominent fixture in my life. Perhaps we are the generation of “fauxsumerism” as the Cut declares because, for about every 5,000 items I look at on eBay, I bid on one of them. The feeling of unearthing a phenomenal eBay store is nothing short of a high, as is the fight to keep your eyes open and attentive when it’s 4am and you’re going on page 29 (192 items per page). And yet, if only time could stand still! Because there’s no worse feeling than looking up from your computer, seeing the sun begin to rise, and realizing the crippling hold that online retailers have over you.

2. Watching Scandal.

Or whichever TV show is currently and incessantly tugging at your heartstrings. I’m not embarrassed to admit that, come Monday, I’m already eagerly anticipating the new Scandal episode at 10pm on Thursday night. Wait — I lied. I am very embarrassed to admit that. But unfortunately that doesn’t make it any less true. My problem is the unreasonable amount with which my happiness relies on the proximity of a Scandal episode. Because as soon as that episode is done on Thursday night, I’m lost. Last week was the dreaded season finale and, as you might imagine, I have not been doing so well (haters: rejoice).

3. Eating nerd ropes.

I bet you forgot these guys existed, hmmm? I bet you’ve been up high, riding on your horse, gnawing on kale and forgetting all about the generous source of your childhood energy. Well, I thought that too, until I opened my eyes – really opened them wide — and realized that, in Brooklyn, nerd ropes abound. All you have to do is look. And I’m happy to report they taste exactly the same. Which means your digestive system rejects them in the same brutal, spicy manner it always had. Enjoy the nerd rope while it lasts; if you don’t stop to notice it, it could pass you right by.

4. Accepting that fourth whiskey drink.

It’s fun to be all loosey-goosey, isn’t it? To Irish jig your way over to the bar without feeling a freckle of shame. But how fun is it, really? Tell me that. Because when I’m awoken the next morning by a wave of vomit building up inside of me and what feels like a machete piercing through my eye, I tend to think it wasn’t that fun. But that’s just me!

5. Speaking French while drunk.

I’ve always fancied myself a fantastic French speaker, and my drunken self is never too ashamed to admit that. Unfortunately, my drunken self is never too ashamed to prove it either. And I say “unfortunately” because I recently went to Paris and discovered a slight setback: apparently I’m not the French-speaking whiz I thought I’d always been. Regrettably, drunk me DGAF — she simply doesn’t care or heed this information — and so the result is usually a shameful morning-after.

6. Skipping out on brushing your teeth.

Somehow, every night, brushing and flossing my teeth gets in the way of my preferred activity: sleeping. There’s just never a time that feels convenient or opportune for brushing my teeth; it’s always tedious, always an effort. Call me gross — call me what you will! — for it’s nothing I haven’t already called myself. I’m aware of how abhorrent this might sound, but there’s nothing that I derive such perverse pleasure from than lazily falling into bed without a single brushing. I know that I’ll wake up feeling more foul than usual, but I’m able to sleep calmly and deeply knowing how much this would irk my mother.

7. Spotify.

Perhaps this is just me, but I have a hard time remembering that all of my Spotify activity is public for all of my followers to see. Which does happen to make for a very blissful hour of listening to Sheryl Crow. But then that hour comes to a close, and all you’re left with is this:

Thanks Spotify. Thank you VERY MUCH.

Thanks Spotify. Thank you VERY MUCH.

8. Cheating.

I can’t speak from experience, but I’ve always imagined a guy feeling extra shitty about himself after he has gone ahead and cheated on me. Presumably it feels good while you’re doing it because, as you’re getting your dick wet, your mind tends to wander, but I don’t know…I just have a hunch that you’re not feeling great about yourself after the fact — when you’re bold-faced lying to your significant other. TC mark









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;)
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As an Avril Lavigne fanatic, yesterday was tough. On Monday, Lavigne released the music video for ‘Hello Kitty,’ the worst song on her latest album. It was pretty racist. Okay, it was really racist. And the predictable freight train of chastisement rolled quickly and forcibly through the interwebs on Tuesday. Now it’s Wednesday, and I have nothing to say in defense of Avril.

I mean, the video is genuinely racist. So racist that it’s not racist? I wish. But no. It’s just racist. And although they say all press is good press, it’s difficult to ascertain how this profusion of negative attention will benefit Lavigne. It’s also difficult to ascertain what Avril was going for here. Was she making some sort of political statement by frolicking among a cornucopia of Asian stereotypes? Maybe? Who knows. But with each viewing, I’ve only become increasingly dumbfounded and increasingly impressed by the horror. As a last ditch effort to justify the actions of my knight in shining glitter, I compiled a list of nine things that are less racist than her video. The results were not pretty.

1. Rush Limbaugh — the 63 year-old man who hosts a talk show and gives all conservatives a bad look by regularly likening African American sports figures to thugs and endorsing the term “Halfrican-American.” Limbaugh is decidedly racist, but he is less racist than the ‘Hello Kitty’ music video.

2. Plessy v. Ferguson — the 1896 Supreme Court Case which upheld the legality of racial segregation in public. This is literally the case of racism studied in high schools, but that may change when teachers hear about Avril Lavigne.

3. Julianne Hough’s Halloween costume — the famous actress who wore blackface to dress as a less famous actress at a party. Arguably racist; unarguably less racist than ‘Hello Kitty.’

4. The Office’s ‘Diversity Day’ episode — the collection of scenes wherein Michael Scott applies an assortment of racial stereotypes to the modern workplace. Facially (and farcically) racist, but less so than Avril Lavigne cavorting in a pink cupcake skirt before a row of Asian backup dancers.

5. My Uncle Barry — the man who hasn’t been to a movie theatre since 1997 because “them blacks are too loud in there.” He would probably appreciate Avril’s video.

6. LeBron as King Kong — the Vogue cover which featured LeBron James as a “mad brute” primate and Gisele Bündchen as a classic damsel in distress. This was a sad display of antiquated racism in modern advertising. The ‘Hello Kitty’ video, in contrast, was just sad.

7. Ethnocentrism — the term which describes the concept of judging other cultures based on your own. This is inherently racist, as it requires you to think of your race as superior to others. Of course, Avril’s video is pretty inherently racist as well.

8. Song of the South — the 1946 Disney movie which was so widely rebuked for its racism that Disney stopped selling it in the 1980s. Too racist for Disney, but perhaps not quite racist enough for Avril Lavigne.

9. 1940s propaganda — the series of war advertisements which blatantly urged Americans to view opposing races as inferior. About as racist as it gets. Though, isn’t that what Avril’s doing by mocking Asian culture for three minutes?

We’re quick to label things racist these days. We’re understandably hypersensitive, which, by the way, is a hell of a lot better than being numb to racist propaganda like we were seventy years ago. We’ve come a long way. Today, it’s acceptable to throw racial themes in an audience’s face. Sometimes it can bestow a positive message, like the satire effectuated in The Office ’s ‘Diversity Day.’ Racial satire can highlight racism without making light of stereotypes.

That is not what ‘Hello Kitty’ did. It may have been Avril’s intent, but ultimately, it doesn’t matter. We only care about her intent if we’re her friend. As audience members, our only job is to be influenced by her work of (art?) and to further influence others through the discourse surrounding her (art?). In 2014, no one is being influenced by ‘Hello Kitty.’ It’s racist and stupid and ignorant and worthless. It sucks and it’s terrible, but we don’t have to care about it. Caring about it implies that it matters, and in today’s world, the unintelligible propaganda of ignorant 29 year olds simply does not matter. Does that make it okay? Of course not. No, never. But let’s be thankful we’re not numb to the mass stereotyping intrinsic within the video. Let’s be thankful we can laugh at it. Let’s be thankful that no one’s opinions of Asians are changing, but rather only people’s opinions of Avril Lavigne.

In June, I’ll shamelessly attend an Avril concert. And I’ll shriek like a stereotypical schoolgirl when she sings ‘Complicated’ and ‘Sk8er Boi,’ because I’m not Avril’s friend. I’m merely an audience member who can sing along and enjoy the mostly meaningless lyricism she presents. If and when ‘Hello Kitty’ is performed, I’ll laugh and dance, because the song is stupid and unimportant, and sometimes it’s fun to laugh at dumb things that don’t matter. Now, if I was Avril’s friend — if I did know her on a personal level, and care about the person she is and not just her music — then I would immediately ask what the fuck is going on. TC mark









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I don't mind
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I always root for happy endings. I love them so much that when they are not provided I feel like I have been cheated. This is why I hated The Hunger Games, and why I originally hated How I Met Your Mother’s ending. I, for one, wanted the happy ending, with Robin making it work with Barney, and Ted finally having his perfect relationship with “The One.” But despite that initial anger, frustration, and disbelief, I’m starting to think that HIMYM’s finale was the much needed wake up call that we had not asked for, but required.

And yet, there’s nothing more bittersweet (or inappropriate, actually) than a forced happy ending. Like Carrie and Big from Sex and the City ending up together. Everything was wrong on so many levels with that relationship. The author, Candace Bushnell, has even admitted that she gave us this ending just to please us. Or like Harry Potter actually surviving the tearing up of his soul in that last fight with Voldemort. Harry should have died and not married Ginny (or Hermione, for that matter, which is apparently what JK Rowling now seems to wish had happened).

It is time we stop believing that happy endings are a finishing line where it all works out. I know, you’re going to say that the Disney movies you’ve been watching since you were a toddler have taught you otherwise. I know, you log on to Facebook and Instagram every day and are bombarded with picture perfects moments from all the people you know.

We all wanted for Robin and Barney to end up together. Barney is HIMYM’s best character, and the reason a lot of us continued to watch the show, season after season. Robin — being strong-willed and outspoken, with a working girl vibe — was the character I identified myself with. I desperately wanted her to have a happy ending; for her to have what Marshall and Lily, our favorite couple, have.

In my case, Robin and Barney’s divorce and, particularly, Barney’s relapse, were the most difficult things to watch. It was even harder than learning the mother was going to die. But I would have to kid myself to actually believe that Robin’s relationship with Barney could have worked, and that Barney could actually change. Adults don’t change. They improve, they worsen, but they do not change. And we’ve known for a long time that it wasn’t raining, it was pouring on Barney’s and Robin’s wedding day, and if you’ve read A Storm of Swords (i.e., the third installment of A Song of Ice and Fire) or, if you’re a TV viewer, watched the last season of Game of Thrones, you know that rainstorms on weddings, at least in fiction, are deadly premonitions. (You can hum “The Rains of Castamere” now.)

Enter Ted (God, I’ve always hated Ted). He is the most pathetic character in the history of sitcoms. He was a pest, he was childish, he was whiny, he was needy. He drove us all nuts with his constant searching of “The One”. Yet in our hearts of hearts we wanted him to meet the mother. And, yes, the mother was a spectacular woman and I adored their perfect first conversation at the Farhampton Train Station platform.

We already knew the mother was going to die; the show had dropped sufficient hints before the finale. Yes, it was cynical, because we had not watched eight seasons to be forced to cope with death in the finale of a comedy, for heaven’s sake. Yes, it was wrong that they killed her off in seconds and, yes, the show makers could have handled the whole situation differently. But, hey, maybe that’s how life is, just full of good and bad surprises.

Because even if you are fortunate enough to find “The One”, throw a spectacular wedding after a wonderful courtship and engagement, have two wonderful kids, someday, I grant you, your marriage is going to end. Maybe with an annulment, a divorce… or with death. Because unless you are Allie and Noah (in the Hollywood version of The Notebook, not the book’s), you are not going to die together, at the same time. And it’s going to be ugly. It’s going to be cruel. You will cry, you will suffer, and you will even feel like they have ripped your heart out from your body.

I know you want to see life through rose colored glasses. But please, take a moment and look back on you own life. It has not always been a joyride, where everything is fun and pretty. Life has thrown you down, but you have already picked yourself up thousands of times, probably with the support of your loved ones. Life is hard. But it is worth it, and you know it. And what makes it worthy is not the destination, like you’ve heard a million times. It’s the journey. So focus on being happy every step of the way, instead of on the “happy ending”.

But at the end, maybe we should love the plot more than the dénouement. After all, it’s the story we love — the ending is just one piece of that puzzle. TC mark

featured image – How I Met Your Mother









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Reading is dreaming with open eyes.
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You never call when you should and I never sleep when I should. Our inability to follow norms complements because when my phone vibrates at 2am, I know it’s you and you know I’m awake. 

Before I can mutter a tired hello, I am greeted by the sound of your tears. Instantly I am on edge, because when you cry, a piece of my heart dies. You sob and you sob, and I am breaking on my end, thinking of ways to fix you, heal you because that’s what friends do. I ask you the useless questions of are you okay? what’s wrong? but we both know the answers to such questions, we both know why you are crying, we both know it’s because of him.

Doesn’t this tire you, this routine of self-destruction? He does something or rather nothing, you bear and bear until you crack. You cry and cry until you’ve washed away your built up frustration. You empty yourself from momentary sadness and then lie to yourself and U-turn right back in his direction.

Love isn’t supposed to hurt, not like this anyway. He isn’t a variable of pain; no, he is a constant assembly line of sorrow.

Stephen Chbosky spoke no truer words when he said, we accept the love we think we deserve. Has your self-worth really degraded this much? You retort, you reply, you cry: but I’m being the brave girl you told me to be, I’m being the girl who went after what she wanted. By all means, be her. But your wants are misguided. Your objectives aren’t high enough, your standards aren’t at par.

Because when I said, be the brave girl, I implied be a smart, brave girl. Respect yourself enough to know the recipient of your chase should be fucking worth your time. Write your happily ever after with someone who makes you laugh more often than cry. Because everyone will make you cry and hurt you, but the key is finding someone who will give you more sunshine than rain. We get enough of the latter in this city anyway.

I couldn’t tell you this on the phone, I couldn’t catch a pause in your sobs so I’m writing it here instead. The boy you deserve will open doors, literally and figuratively. He will have the grace and charm of a mature adult and not the idiocy of a horny child. He will teach you new things, new bands to discover, new books to read. He will speak with actual words and not the lingo of a disenfranchised boy whose pants are too low. His pants will be on properly, he will wear actual clothing. He will know what common decency is. He will drive you even when you don’t ask, and if he doesn’t have a car, he’ll be your companion on a late night commute back home. He won’t text a meager few words every few weeks, his conversations will be grammatically correct and far more frequent. In fact, he will call because he isn’t a coward who hides behind the accessibility of technology. He will make the effort to call because he will want to hear your voice, a voice that is sweet and melodious like the nightingale. He will be sweet, he will be kind, but he won’t be perfect. He will be awkward at times, but in the adorable sense. He will be shy but only because he likes you that much. And he won’t just like you, he will love you, and actually mean it.

Listen to me when I say, you deserve such a boy. All you must do is believe it and have the courage to fix the status quo and throw out the trash for once. Stop settling, stop accepting and start expecting. Expect someone better, someone worthy of a girl like you. Trust me when I say, you’re worth the adoration, you’re worth it. TC mark

featured image – super awesome









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