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What’s FUN got to do with it?

 

Flickr Vinobby 2011

Flickr Vinobby 2011

As a mid-twentysomething I’ve come to realize the not-so-subtle shifts in our communication methods. Not only the preference to text over calling, the Insta-Snap-Book-Tweet chains we all link on to, but how we approach conversations with new people. We’ve gone from conversation starts like: How’s your Intro to Feminism class with Prof. Pitts? to What do you do?

It’s no wonder some of us half-hatched hens (*cough*) are feeling tormented by our new social settings/norms. I (as I can’t speak for the rest of you) identified with 99% of the courses I took (Algebra be-gone!). I truly felt immersed in the subject matter, spending hours talking with peers and professors about the topics and more-often, beyond the topics. Disagreeing in an educational setting is favored, it’s stimulating, it challenges the concrete notions on which academia is built (disagreeing in social settings, especially with strangers is suicide). But now what? The collection of courses, of texts, the hundreds of thousands of words I’d written—everything that defined who I was for those five years sits on my bookcase, on this computer hard drive, all stored on various USB sticks scattered around my room—it’s all translucent now. I realized all of who I thought I was had vanished (at least from conversation) when I attended a party full of people I had nothing in common with.

What do you do? (Pressure!) I am about to sum up my worth in a few words. Basically, how I survive defines who I am as a post-grad drowning in the current economic (CAREER-less, and JOB-less) climate. Oh, I walk dogs, I fold clothes, I babysit, I clean people’s homes: who can afford to have a house-cleaner. I have now diminished my intellectual worth with the odds-and-ends by which I survive (if we can even call it that). I can imagine many higher-ed graduates are out there answering: I’m a server, I’m a cashier, I’m a nanny. Not that any of the above jobs are less-than any other. One would only understand the pride in intellectual exploration, the self-loving-intrigue when you’ve learned fascinating things, shared said fascinating things with people who also enjoyed said things. But here we all are, sometimes caught in social scenarios as Waiters, Receptionists, Car Salesmen and women. Titles not ideas, this goes against everything we’ve worked so hard for.

It only gets worse as you enter that strange (and getting stranger) territory: of dating. Dating beyond your handpicked, university approved pool of friends (people you automatically have basic things in common with. [Note: Recall: disagreeing with strangers in social settings is bound to cause unflattering friction simply because Dean Vaughn didn’t hand pick this nut to sit next to you in class therefore proving you shared some common interests if not a love for Charlotte Perkins Gillman and homebrewed beer]).

Meet dating icebreaker question number one: What do you do for fun? The lighter version of What do you do? I feel a bit guilty now, but at the time I didn’t have any doubts in my answer to undisclosed potential partner. “Why do I have to do anything for fun? Everything I do is fun, aside from my menial retail work. But on a daily basis I experience fun in the form of: reading, writing (ranting, as I do here), working out, cooking, drinking local beer. These are typical answers for people of my generation (I’m guessing here). My daily life is fun. I live and it’s fun. I don’t search it out I choose to incorporate it.

What you do is not often who you are (unless you’re really fucking lucky), or anything resembling who you hope/yearn/strive to be. What you do for fun is not simply an escape from the mundane, and more often than not, I hope it is the career you have, the job you do that you feel (at least at times) is something you could call Fun.

Employment: It’s a Right. Right?

Screen Shot 2014-02-08 at 04.16.59 pmIt has been far too long but I’ve been busy. Yes, too busy to make a few jokes or some of you might call it ranting. I said goodbye to Ole’ Lady Britannia, scrapped the £100 graduation ceremony and awaited my master’s degree in the mail. It’s called MAIL, not Post, Queen E. Like so many other mid-twenty-somethings I went back to a place I knew best but hated most. Tampa, Florida. Where the convicts go to hide and the elderly go to die. And the sun hasn’t come out much since I arrived four weeks ago. Guess England came with me. I took the 19 hour travel time, airport to airport in stride with my 14 year old cat. The screaming babies made the sounds of her motion sickness a welcoming tune. The darn Canadians made me take her out of her carrier and through the metal detector and I can thank them for the pin-holes she left on my chest.

Being back in Florida is nice; things are cheaper, I’m living on my own for the first time in my life (but hopefully not the last), and I am picking up poop for a living. Yes, you heard me, poop picker-upper. In good ol’ Merica getting paid anything over minimum wage (and not have to deal with people) is a gift from the imaginary gods above. I’m so good a dog walking (I mean poop collecting) that I’m expanding my services and pet sitting companies are fighting for me. (Okay, I’m exaggerating). It’s just the old cat and I and laundry hampers full of dirty and hairy clothes after a short day of dog walkin’. I love the job; anything’s better than Hollister! But I have to be honest: I can’t pick up poop forever, not even for $800 a week. I’ve got too many years of education in this little head of mine to let it decay and dissolve completely. So, I took the dive, the leap, the cliché of clichés for all the “unemployed” too many years of education and multiple degrees later: I signed up for a recruiting site today.  You know, for various things, teacher’s aide/ assistant (not sure what the difference is, if any), test proctor, university administration, online (or, Mall Schools of America) professor. The basics. And now I wait, wait like we all have to wait, and hope for a bite (yes, cliché).

Next, I take the doomed road to applying for community college adjunct and make pennies for 10 hour days hoping to pay those student loans and eat occasionally. If you’re where I am, then you’re not alone, but I sure as hell can’t help you or give any grand advice aside from “Sell Yourself honey!” If you’re successful and think this rant is long enough already, then I agree with you, but I am sure someone you know, or your kids, are or will be in this very position. The position Generation X’s seem to get into (often unintentionally): the We Deserve It All and With Minimal Effort or Stress. Dog walking is stress-free, but it cannot be the end all be all of every Writing or English major out there. I know you’re with me.

I’ll share more once I frequent another free WiFi spot.

Cashing in on Clichés

ImageJust think about it: why do you know the lines to a song you can’t even say you like? What has kept those classic Beatles ballads fresh in your mind? Music is an outlet or is it a means of brainwashing? (Only kidding.) But as humans, very repetitive beings, we speak in phrases and inevitably in clichés. Some will cringe when your sentences never seem to veer from the overused turns-of-phrase and some will reply using another one of the thousand sentences we have as mundane arsenal. But some of the biggest celebrities are making millions using these detested and unoriginal snippets. In an effort to keep this brief I have selected the top five hits of 2013 published by Letssingit.com.

#1 Miley Cyrus Wrecking Ball

I fell under your spell…

I can’t live a lie,

running for my life

I never meant to start a war…

I will avoid sharing my personal opinions of Ms. Cyrus and instead introduce to you the #1 million dollar making string of clichés in 2013 and the most watched music video of the year. Although she used far fewer outdone phrases than I’d imagined for a number one track. These four tired lines have been used in countless hits long before Miley’s time (far too many for me to list here). I give it to herfollowing in the footsteps of the great artists before her can only earn her a top spot on the music charts. (It might also have something to do with her always-naked body which has a net worth of $150 million now. It all makes sense.)

#2 Eminem ft. Rihanna The Monster

The monster that’s under my bed

the voices inside of my head

Trying to save me

Beggars can’t be choosy

For wanting my cake and eat it too

Beginning to lose sleep

Ain’t much of a poet, seize the moment

you never know when it could all be over tomorrow

Save me from myself

don’t shoot the messenger

I have this vision

turning nothing into something

Falling $10 million bellow a much younger Ms. Cyrus here’s the body worth $140 million. He’s always managed to keep my respect even with his constantly crude lyrical style. Eminem, as any other great veteran rapper uses numerous clichés in nearly all of his songs. It gives listeners something to hold onto as we clumsily try to memorize his lines and stumbled through them at karaoke bars worldwide. I’ll give you a few bullet points to get you through:

From childhood terrors

to mental illness

self-abuse

to dead snippets of advice

and falsely quoted historical phrases (Marie Antoinette)

writerly excuses for poor craftsmanship

the biggest cliché of them all

to an excuse for spreading bad news

and Dr. King himself

the once, all American dream and motto

I’m not sure if he earned my respect through his resilience and his very own nothing into something success story or that he just terrifies me into devotion.

#3 Lorde Royals

live that fantasy

cracked the code

Lorde – (so new to the scene we have no net worth statistics, as of yet). I love the girl and at number three she uses the fewest clichés (in my opinion) compared to these other more- established artists. Maybe that’s it though – in the beginning you use your best stuff and it just happens to be more original – then you get lazy and just want to make money the fastest way you can; enters the over abundance of clichés in lyrics. Lorde dodges the cliché trap with lists full of proper nouns and by twisting turns-of-phrase. She will quickly win everyone’s heart and teach us some new songs while the rest just regurgitate drab, old clichés we’ve heard for far too long.

#4 Pitbull ft. Ke$ha Timber

it’s going down

the one you wont forget

the bigger they are the harder they fall

swing your partner round and round

it’s a bird, it’s a plane

At only $20 million net worth we can dissect number four quickly. A good bit of slang starts us off, used in songs across genres for decades (think Fall Out Boy, Linkin Park, Yung Joc, only to name a few). And my most loathed breakup line of the last 24 years of my life: the one you won’t forget. You’re right, you’re that loser using that worn out phrase to make some senseless and now moot point. Thank you. The line I hold near and dear – the one my mother told me during my dreaded years in high school – and they were always bigger than me and yes, they did fall pretty damn hard. Now Pitbull takes from dozens of classic dance moves, channeling my square-dancin’ roots too. Well played, way to reach a wider audience (while I doubt he thought that much about it; he simply needed a rhyme).  Finally, he drives it home, with a 1966 Broadway classic: Superman! Pitbull goes across the globe for his clichés this time and I am sure it won’t be his last. (And Ke$ha gets a bit Miley too – you know what I mean.)

#5 One Republic Counting Stars

Lately I been losing sleep

Counting stars

Seek it out and ye shall find

Just doing what we’re told

I feel the love

Watch it burn

The lessons I learned

You’d think after such a heavily cliché title they’d have aimed a bit higher in the lyrics department, but One Republic let’s me down, once again. Snatching the phrase as is with the first line only to go into that nonsensical notion of being able to count stars (come on!). Then plunging into Biblical times, and back to a teenager’s way of survival, to a classic Elton John ballade, and the biggest breakup line, in my opinion, and the self-forgiving idea of learning from mistakes (aka, an excuse for making a poor decision). Thank you One Republic for pulling it all together for us and making millions at number five.

Clichés are catchy. People will memorize your song, scream it at you during concerts (none of those embarrassing audience has the mic moments… silence). Just like sex sells (thanks Miley) clichés seem to sell even more. I challenge you to listen in for those now-redundant phrases that pollute nearly every song on the radio today. (Oldies don’t count [previously mentioned Beatles] because they are the originals, the trailblazers, if I can keep the clichés going). As writers we edit out the tired sentences but sometimes, especially in dialog we toss them in because what more are humans but parrots with habits that are impossible to break? Now, if only writers could make millions with clichés like the musicians can, but I guess they need to rhyme and that whole melody thing – I guess I can’t know much about that dilemma.

photo credits go to mun2

Okay with coming in second

She beat me to it. Hundreds of us have thought about it but haven’t had the gaul to do it. She did. She has a book. And we can all laugh and say, “damn right” to her practical (often) universal truths. I’m talking about the author of “Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse“. You haven’t read it? It’s every post-post graduates money making dream (thanks for making it come true for you, Alida Nugent). After spending six years in higher education and accepting my second degree I, now, (like all the others) have to find a way to “make it.” The bills I mean. Not 50 cent bills (for parties, grillz, and g-string strippers), but the electric, Verizon, TiVo (those bills). So what does one girl do? She writes a book (first a blog) about the shit life likes to serve you when you’ve got $85,000 hanging above your head like a guillotine at Madame Tussauds (it could fall, it might hurt a bit but sadly it won’t kill you!).

 

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