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Hipstercrite: May 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Crime Spree

"This is how people become alcoholics," I said to my boyfriend as he handed me a bottle of the only liquor he had in the house. The liquor I so hastily requested as we sat listening to the helicopters circling our neighborhood. Even though it tasted like cough syrup that had been sitting in someone's medicine chest for decades and had begun the fermentation process, I couldn't drink what was left of that Barcardi Razz fast enough. It was 3AM and I needed to drown out all the thoughts of whatever manhunt was currently going down on the eastside, the reports of gunshots downtown, and the fact that once again my car was broken into less than 24 hours prior.

I can't find any data that confirms this, but I feel that Memorial Day is a day particularly saved for criminal activity. It's the gateway into the summer- the time when temperatures rise and so does crime. Evil-doers are giving us just a little taste of what's to come. Sticky and sweaty lawlessness.

Some of you know, my car had already been broken into. The window was smashed and replaced with a cardboard cut-out of The Muppets. The thief didn't put in the Muppet window, though it was the least he could do, but my very sweet future boyfriend did. This happened back in March and unfortunately I have not had the money to replace cardboard with a luxury like glass. This is proving very inopportune in the looming Texas summer heat. I often have to take the cardboard down while driving out of fear that it will slowly peel away from the duct tape and fly onto someone's front window. Though I'm sure a startled driver would be pleasantly pleased to see some Muppets fly onto their car, it could impair their vision and make them lurch off the road. I don't want that sort of responsibility on my hands.

My boyfriend lives in literally the text book example of what gentrification is. From block to block in East Austin you have $300,000 house next to a shack next to a $500,000 house next to crack den. He is blocks from one of the scariest intersections in the city, but also next to some of the most unique and interesting architecture sprouting up. Because of this, crimes such as car theft and home burglary are not uncommon.  People climbing into your car in your driveway and eating pork rinds and drinking Lone Star is not that uncommon either, I found out.

You never forget the moment you realize your car has been broken into. You look down to see that things have moved around in your car. Items are thrown this way and that or just simply don't exist in your life anymore. It's a chilling feeling. A feeling of violation. At that moment when you're looking down into your car you feel that at any moment someone could run up and completely blindside you. This is a feeling that I felt only two months prior, but is still unnerving nonetheless. After my initial digestion of what happened to my car, I realized that the mo-fo's had an f'ing party in my car. Crumbs and beer caps were strewn everywhere. Once that thought digested and I scrutinized any new stains on my seats, I contemplated, "What else did they do in my car?" Then after that I thought, "Oh no! I touched my car!" Then, "Dear God! AIDs!" After that moment I ran back into the house and scrubbed my hands as hard as I could. The rest of day I used my elbows to tend to any itch near my eyes or mouth.

This ended up being a semi-kill joy for the Memorial holiday, but I hunkered on. My boyfriend being a stalwart of support for the rest of the day. Just as the day was winding down and I was beginning to feel comfortable, we spotted silent police cars racing through the neighborhood. Then the familiar rumble of the police helicopter. I jumped online to find news updates to no avail. I turned to trusty ol' Twitter where residents were reporting that sounds of gunfire near the freeway that separates downtown from East Austin were heard. Eastsiders were tweeting that road blocks had been set up around many popular streets. Tension was rising as it became apparent something bad was going down. My boyfriend and I located an online scanner for the Austin Police Department that came in garbled. Occasionally a word like, "weapon" and "shot" could be distinctly heard but we were mostly left in the dark about what was going on. I tried laying down but mostly sat there paralyzed by fear. Then began shaking and whining like a small animal. Listening to a police scanner is the worst decision anyone could ever make. It makes you believe that your city is a lawless dystopia infested with murderers, rapists, and most likely a couple of Frank Booths. While all this was going down, other local officers reported in robberies, shootings, and threats all over the city.

This morning news surfaced that two young men were breaking into cars on 8th street and I-35. When two bike cops discovered what they were doing, the perpetrators tried running them over and then fled. A shoot-out ensued and one suspect was killed while the other fled eastside on foot with a gunshot wound to the arm. Police apprehended the second suspect at UT's Disch Falk Stadium.

I've written about how recently I've been very anxious at night. Some in part because of the recent crimes occurring in my neighborhood. This week I finally overcame my anxiety. Having slept through the night in full with no 3AM panic attacks. I was a big girl! YESTERDAY UNDID EVERYTHING I WAS WORKING SO HARD TOWARDS. NOW I'LL BE A BIG PUDDLE OF GOOOO AND HAVE TO REACH FOR A BOTTLE OF POORLY FLAVORED LIQUOR JUST TO GET THROUGH THE EVENING.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Your Life in a Box Full of Smushed Candy

Moms are awesome!
Want to know why?
Because they send you an Easter day care package four weeks later with stuff like this in it:

A 2001 Engagement calendar.
Me: "Mom, why did you send me a calendar from ten years ago?"
Mom: "Because it's a very special year. The year you graduated high school."
Me: "I know, Ma. But what am I going to do with this?"
Mom: "It's pretty."

And this:

The script to the very questionable female rendition of 12 Angry Men we interpreted in high school. The play where I was offered the role of Juror #4 or as I like to call it- The Character With the Second to Least Amount of Lines Because I Can't Act My Way Out of a Paper Bag.

And this:

A CD booklet to a Stevie Nicks box set I no longer have.
Just the booklet. No CDs.
As I flipped through the pages scratching my head as to why my mother sent me liner notes, I became more and more intrigued by the lyrics and pictures and decided that this was the best thing she put in the box.

And this:

An audio tape of David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day. I'm not sure the last time I've seen a tape player. I also know that I have three copies of this book. Maybe I can make the tapes into coasters.

And this:

A novella adaptation of the movie The Jerk. I didn't even know that I had this or that something like this existed. I'm not sure why it exists.

And this:

Smushed Easter candy that's been crammed into a box full of odds and ends from my most awkward years of living because my mother no longer wants this shit sitting around her house but she knows that if she tries to sell it in a garage sale that her daughter will be super pissed and not let her live it down for a very long time.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to Come up With Fresh Crap for Your Blog


The biggest obstacle I face with blogging is coming up with fresh content.
And not swearing.
Swearing may be my largest obstacle.

Mom told me that when I moved to Los Angeles I turned into a "raging swearing jerk" that she "no longer recognized". After LA, I dropped the jerky part, but kept the swearing. It has not only become a problem with my blog and social media profiles (my 92 year-old grandmother de-friended me on Facebook because of "my language"), but also in real life where I often find myself dropping little tiny F turds every now and then at work or in meetings. But my swearing is not the point of this post. I'm not even going to "accidentally" place a "fucking" or "shit" anywhere in that past sentence to try and be humorous.

The number one problemo I have with the bane of my existence, er, blog, is coming up with shit that doesn't bore people to tears. Ideas I don't feel like I've rehashed, don't give a crap about, or know that others could give a flying rat's poop about.

I've written a post before about climbing your way kicking and screaming out of writer's block with advice I never listen to myself. In fact, reading the old post now I realize that I'm not as dumb as I think I am and I should maybe listen to myself more often. Except when I tell myself it's ok to take a nap after I eat dinner. Because then I'm secretly lying to myself. I'm not taking a nap! I'm going to wake up six hours later with a food baby and my work clothing shifted 45 degrees on my body.

Sometimes my brain spews out interesting content. Sometimes my brain acts like how John Cusack's performances are now- dull, lifeless, and robotic...and fat. Sometimes I stare at the computer screen for a very long time and hit refresh on my Facebook page all Rain Man-like and then go post on Twitter what I'm doing on Facebook. I will do this for a couple of hours until I fall asleep again in my work clothing, having most likely eaten a second dinner.

Many bloggers will tell you that they keep a journal of ideas to blog about. I do and it's proven helpful. Especially during the moments when I'm supposed to be doing something else and this GREAT AND WONDERFUL idea slowly paddles it's way into my brain. Before I let the thought boat make it's way out, I grab my journal and scribble down notes. It's important to do this. If you tell yourself, "Oh, I will remember this idea later!", you will not, and you will regret not having written it down. Just like when you come up with all those brilliant concepts right before you trickle into sleep. If you don't write them down, they're lost forever and you just missed your opportunity to become the next Steve Jobs or Joe Francis.

I keep a running list of ideas. Some of the ideas are topics that are related to me personally- what is going on in my life, what is not going on in my life, what I should be doing with my life, and what I will never do with my life. Some of the ideas are related to current events and pop culture. It's important to stay up on what is new and hot. Read what people are talking about on Twitter and Facebook, follow various news and entertainment outlets. I like to read Flavorwire, NPR, Huffingtonpost, The Daily Beast, The Frisky, Inhabitat, and WebUrbanist to get inspiration. Reading other blogs are also a great way to see what people are writing and what readers respond to.

Another good practice, and one that I told myself recently to take heed to, is recycling old material. If you have a post that readers responded well to, why not do another one? Or start a weekly or monthly theme? Just because you already wrote about it and think it's now boring, doesn't mean that people aren't still interested in the topic. For example, I wrote a post called "Indie Music According to Middle-Aged People" where I recorded my parents reactions to listening to the popular indie music of 2009 and 2010. Well, it's 2011 now so why don't I subject my parents to listening to more "depressing funeral noise" and get their opinions? In fact, I think I will do that this weekend.

And lastly, something I mention in my writer's block post and is an absolute no-brainer (but something I have to remind myself minutely), STEP AWAY FROM THE F'ING COMPUTER. Inspiration ain't gonna hit you if you sit on your duff for hours in your tiny house on your tiny couch eating tiny pieces of cheese. Go outside, get in trouble, buy a motorcycle though you can't afford to, drink a 40, drive to Waco, Texas, DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING. Believe me. Even walking two feet helps (and it will prevent you from getting F-A-T).

If you find yourself stuck trying to come up with fresh crap, here are some resources that are helpful:
7 Ways to Keep Fresh Content Flowing- Problogger
Howe to Come Up with Fresh Content Every Day- Will Work 4 Followers (a blog by Single Dad Laughing)
5 Ways to Create Fresh Content for Your Blog- American Express' Open Forum

Do you keep a journal of blog ideas? What websites help inspire you to come up with content?


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Televangelism Fashion

In honor of the shitty week that Harold Camping must be having, I thought I'd revisit a post I wrote about the awesome fashion sense of evangelists....

Sometimes I think about turning my blog into a fashion blog.
Fashion blogs always seem to be the belle of the ball.
The hit of the party.
The slut of the kegger.

They always get the most traffic and the most comments.
Which is interesting, because they're usually written by a doe-eyed thirteen year-old girl from Winnipeg who likes to stand pigeon-toed and wear her Grandma's reading glasses.

Anytime I do write about fashion, it's one of three things- vintage clothing, making fun of American Apparel, and making fun of American Apparel while forgetting that I'm wearing an entire American Apparel ensemble.

However, I thought today that I might write a fashion post for a dude named Oral.
Yes, Oral.

Oral died recently and I had no idea who the heck he was. In fact, I'm super hung-up on the fact that a couple decided to name their kid Oral and haven't read anything past that.

According to CNN, he was an extremely old Evangelist.

This is very fitting because I've always had a thing for popular, eccentric televangelists.
Not a "Mmm...I want to jump their God-fearing bones" kind of thing, but a, "Wow! Look at them sweat through that polyester suit!" kind of thing.

So in honor of a man who's name goes well with the words "hygiene" and "herpes", I'm declaring today, "Dress like an Televangelist Day".

No, wait!

Let's make it tomorrow.

Because you're probably already at work and I'm guessing you didn't wear your horn-rimmed glasses and rayon slacks today (if you did, send me a picture. I probably love you).

How do you dress like a televangelist you ask? It's simple!

1.) Every televangelist must have a pair of glasses that I only can describe as "Those ridiculous things on George Bush Sr.'s face" You can pick up a copy here, at (surprise!) American Apparel. If these are too ugly for you, and they are, then opt for the David Byrne "evangelist" glasses that he famously wore in the "Once in a Lifetime" music video.

2.) Want to physically get closer to God? Well, take Jan Crouch's sweet 'do for example! The best I could come up with is "The Disco II Clown" wig. However, you would have to wear five of these wigs on top of each other to compete with this lady.

3.) No weave is complete without some old-fashioned hair pomade!

4.) An entire bottle of mascara on your face every morning? You betcha! Make sure to get the super crumbly kind. The kind that easily creates rivers of black tears when God whispers sweet nothings into your ear.

5.) Make sure you raid your parents closet before you head to the thrift store for these wonderful polyester suits. Your parents probably don't want you to know, but they once wore things that would set the house on fire instantaneously.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Can't I Go to Both Hell AND Texas?

Yesterday my mother emailed me the above picture with the caption, "Remember this picture? I call it "Future Texan".

I'd like to call it, "Future Toddlers and Tiaras Reject", but "Future Texan" will suffice.

I'm a Northerner. A Yankee. I come from land where for six months of the year social interaction and entertainment is hunted for it's rare and delicious meat. My ass had never seen the sun nor had my virgin taste buds made love to anything spicier than vanilla bean. Vanilla bean is not spicy, you say? You're right. The word "vanilla" just seemed appropriate in this paragraph. Growing up in central New York makes you vanilla. I was vanilla. Diverse culture and cuisine are not prevalent in central New York. That's not true. Diverse culture and cuisine outside of all the white people from Old Country is not prevalent. I had never even seen a Mexican restaurant until I moved to California. Sushi? Indian? Ethiopian? These things did not exist where I was from. I once heard there was a Thai restaurant 40 miles from where I grew up, but I had no idea what a Thai was. Actually, that's not true either. That makes me sound like a raging idiot. I was just scared of the Thai.

But one day I left the Land of No Smiles for pastures that were once green but charred brown from incessant fires. After five years in California, I made my way to Texas for absolutely no reason other than that I could. I liked the idea of moving to a place where people added this many question marks- "??????????"- to their response when I told them where I was going.

"You're moving to Texas????????? Why???????????"

"I'm moving to Texas because I read about it in a magazine once!" I'd say. "Oh! And I want to make the same exact trek Pee-Wee did to find his lost bike."

So one day I packed into my car a couple of suitcases of clothing, a Kings of Leon CD that I wish didn't exist because I'd like to think a more "romantic" album was the soundtrack to my big move, and an 80's Yamaha keyboard that I envisioned playing on the side of railroad tracks when inspiration hit me and headed out for the open road.

What struck me first about Texas is how MOTHER F'ING BIG it is. Hot damn is this a large state! It took me ten hours of driving through ABSOLUTE NOTHINGNESS to get to Austin. I became convinced that my car was going to break down in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE where I had NO CELL PHONE RECEPTION and I was going to be eaten by WILD ARMADILLOS. 

What struck me second about Texas was how nice everyone is. Like almost kind of Stepford Wives-nice. Like where at first my politeness-deprived mind felt compelled to slowly back away and sprint for the closest shelter when someone held the door for me or said "hello". I remember calling my mother the first couple of months I lived in Texas often randomly crying, barely able to sputter out, "Mom...theeeese people...I-I think they'dd help me if I were sh-sh-ot on the strrreet. I-I thhink it's all g-going to be OK."

I never imagined that I would fall in love with Texas as much as I have. Three years later the honeymoon hasn't worn off and I'm continually inspired by the Texan culture. Er- Austin culture. I'm frequently reminded that the two are not the same- though it would be foolish to deny that Austin is a uniquely Texan city.

Austinites and Texans are proud of where they're from. They wear representative shirts, they wave representative flags, they wear representative flags as shirts and wave representative shirts like flags. They have misquoted bumper stickers that say things like, "You can all go to hell- I"m going to Texas- Davy Crockett" or "I'm Not From Texas, But I Got Here As Fast As I Could- Some Dude". They do cool things like ride rubber tubes on the river with beers and go to water parks with beers and ride bikes with beers and throw metal washers while drinking beer with each other.

I often feel like David Byrne in True Stories, a curious visitor wandering wide-eyed through this gargantuan state. My eyes filling with images of juxtaposed 1950's Main Street and highways to the sky. Cowboys, hipsters, belles, hippies, and entrepreneurs fill in the settings and different types of music act as the soundtrack. I never danced before I moved to Texas. Now I dance all of the time.

Texas is a winsome state filled with magical people equatable to unicorns and fairies. There is no place quite like it and I'm so happy to be here. The Future Texan found her place. Maybe one day she can drop the "Future". Or maybe she can drop the "Texan" and just become "The Future"?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Dizziness of Freedom

I recently discussed on my blog how I've developed crippling anxiety attacks at nighttime. Crippling is a strong word. More like curling up in a ball and whimpering myself into exhaustion. I've become absolutely convinced every night someone is trying to break into the house. Every single night. Like people have nothing better to do than hang outside my house and contemplate stealing the useless stuff I have to offer them every single day.

I know that these fears are irrational, though they are somewhat founded in recent violent goings-on in my neighborhood. Last week, two separate muggings occurred at popular east side bars, one where a young lady was brutally punched in the head. My boyfriend also lives in close proximity to the one intersection in all of Austin that houses every crackhead, prostitute, and pimp. Needless to say I envision a Thriller-like ragtag group parading in on the house as soon as the clock strikes 3AM.

On the surface my anxiety stems directly from these feelings. The feelings of being scared, vulnerable, unprotected. That everyone in the world is planning to kill me ("It's not all about you", my mother would say). That I and everyone I love will be violently murdered and I am helpless to stop it. I never felt this way before. Even when I lived in crime-riddled neighborhoods in Los Angeles I never felt such uneasiness. Seeing dead bodies, having police helicopters shining lights into my window, and being nearly shot by a disgruntled driver barely phased me. So why in the heck have I been so nervous lately?

Southerns will tell you it's because I'm a Yankee and I'm a Jew, but I realized that something deeper than my failed attempts at being Woody Allen have to be at work. Something recent brought on these anxieties. After some heavy conversations with myself, I realized that some of my anxiety could be directly related to the new relationship in my life.

In my adult life, I've never really been in love. I've never had a person who stood up and say, "You! I chose you!" Someone who stops in mid-conversation to tell me how lucky he feels that I'm in his life. Someone who is confident in who he is and what he wants. Until now. Being in your 20's you get used to dating people who are confused, indifferent, or downright selfish. People who jump ship or make you feel bad about yourself. You may date them in part because you are also confused, indifferent or selfish. I've come a long way from the girl I was seven years ago. A girl who had difficulty transitioning from childhood to adulthood. Who constantly had her heart broken because she propelled illusions. That girl grew up and threw her insecurities to the wind, but as I'm discovering maybe they never fully go away. Maybe they just subconsciously manifest into other fears- like ax-wielding hobos trying to chop off my toes.

This new found awareness made me wonder if the idea of not feeling comfortable when everything is going well is more common than not. Right now my life is perfect. I have zero complaints. I live in a wonderful city, I have a decent job, my creative endeavors are growing, my friends and family are healthy and not-crazy, and I chanced upon a wonderful gentleman. But for some dumb-ass reason I'm the most anxious I've ever been. Somewhere deep in my mind I feel that the other shoe is about to drop. That this is only the calm before the storm. None of these anxieties are preventing me from enjoying my life. Neither am I trying to self-sabotage the good fortunes I've acquired. I simply can not sleep. A feeling of panic swims through me in the wee hours with growing fervor. Is this a common development in twenty-somethings when they make the transition from fumbling novice to adult? Or am I not even an adult yet, but have just learned to compartmentalize my uneasiness? Or maybe that's what being an adult is? Learning to stuff your worries deep down until you wake up one day 40 pounds heavier because you've become dependent on 8AM martinis to help you get through the day.

Do you get anxious when things are going well for you?

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Rise and Fall of American Apparel

I have a secret to tell you.
I worked off and on at American Apparel for three years.

It's true.
I was one of them.

I often felt this fact was a tiny mar on my resume and should be excluded from the story of my life. For a long time I simply didn't tell anyone that I worked for the company. I was kind of embarrassed. I knew what many people thought of the company, but more importantly I knew what people thought that we, the employees, thought about ourselves. Which is that we are all stuck-up, pretentious hipsters who would rather stare at the ceiling and flash side-boob instead of smile at a customer. I mean, I think of ourselves that way sometimes. Having visited a number of American Apparels I can tell you that in some cases that statement is accurate. The company is not known for their customer service training. In fact, there is zero customer training other than looking "hip". However, if the company is lucky enough to hire employees that already understand that greeting a customer instead of acting as though they invaded their territory, then you have a pretty good store. The stores in Austin and Portland both have very good employees. The same can not be said for many of the Los Angeles and New York stores.

I also left this employment tidbit off of my narrative because it simply didn't mesh with what I thought were the more interesting stories of being a Hollywood assistant (I began working at American Apparel after I left working in the film business).  I ignorantly felt that working in retail seemed like a step backwards, an example of "not being able to cut it in the real world". Boy, was I stupid little fool! Little did I know that retail is often a very stressful and challenging job and anyone who works full-time in retail should be given lots and lots of prizes. Any person who knocks retail should try working in a retail store between Black Friday and Christmas.

I'm not here to talk about my adventures in retail though. I'm here today to talk about the rise and fall of American Apparel. I'm not going to bad mouth the company or tell you dirty little behind-the-scenes stories. My experiences with the company were mostly enjoyable. I'm going to explain why it will be a sad day once this company goes under. Yeah, you heard me right. A mo-fo'ing sad day.

It is no secret that American Apparel is having difficulty. News outlets like Gawker, Jezebel, and Huffingtonpost have gleefully chronicled the rumors of a decline since the summer of 2010. Just a few weeks ago, a string of articles from the NY Times, NY Mag, and Business Week claim that bankruptcy at this point is "inevitable". Stores are no longer getting regular shipments in or the necessary supplies to run a day-to-day business. None of this phases founder and CEO, Dov Charney, though. In fact, Charney has been quoted as saying he feels "inspired" with the looming threat of bankruptcy. This scare is nothing new to American Apparel, who has been bailed out once before, but reports this time are looking grim. A group of Canadian investors are offering a $15 million bail out, but the company reported a $86 million loss in 2010.

Many have speculated what caused this big shiny balloon to pop so fast (the company has been around for 13 years). Employees prophesied the imminent demise years ago after watching again and again business practices that were not in the company's best interest. Practices like hiring young and unskilled workers to manage stores, districts, or whole departments. Practices like not listening to advice when your trend ideas are clearly off the mark. News reports state that Charney's sudden shift of focus on preppy clothing instead of the basic and hipster clothing we were all used to is what sealed the coffin shut, but I figure it's the nihilistic, free-for-all managing practices that got themselves in a jam.

For all of you who are celebrating the death of the unitard, the lamé leggings, and the provocative ads of employees, well, let me remind you that American Apparel is the largest clothing factory of it's size that's made 100% in America. The company supplies over 8,000 jobs to people living in America. "But half of those workers are illegal immigrants!" you might say. It's true and American Apparel has never hidden the fact that they employee thousands of undocumented Mexican and Latinos workers at their factory in Los Angeles. Workers that they pay above industry average, that they offer subsidized health care, lunch, and transportation fare to, that they do not exploit nor take for granted. The company even pushed a much controversial "Legalize LA: Immigration Reform Now" campaign where they printed thousands of t-shirt with said logo and and marched in the May Day Immigration Parade in Los Angeles.

Speaking of social campaigns, American Apparel also jumped on board with the fight against Prop 8. The company printed and donated thousands of "Legalize Gay: Repeal Prop 8 Now" t-shirts and encouraged individual stores to don their windows with the logo. The company has also encouraged individual stores to get involved with local non-profits related to said causes.

With all the controversy surrounding the company, it is easy to forget the very important facts above. How many other companies can you think of that are so vocally behind gay rights and immigration rights? How many other non-boutique clothing manufacturers can you think of that make all of their clothing in America? How many other clothing lines showcase models that have a little bit of cellulite, a little bit of love handles, or a little bit of nooks, crannies, pimples, or imperfections?

Of course we can not neglect the elephant in the room, the hyper-sexual business dealings within the company. Yes, the owner likes to share his pickle. Yes, the owner likes to hire young girls he shares his pickle with and give them upper managerial positions at the company. Yes, these same young girls make big decisions for the company. Yes, all of this is kind of gross. As a young woman was it frustrating to see and hear stories of my peers getting ahead by giving head? Of course, but as I've come to realize, that's just the way it is. It's never going to change. That crap happens within companies worldwide. American Apparel was just brazen about it. And if it's any consolation to the people who objected to this behavior, this practice could be a large part of why the company has failed.

Now, American Apparel could be saved again. Charney could be ousted and the company redesigned. Or the company could shut down it's retail stores and continue to where it once became as a clothing wholesaler. Regardless, there is no denying that American Apparel has progressively sunk deeper and deeper into a tight spot. Maybe American Apparel's time on this Earth was meant to be a short one. To show people that a company can be based in America and can produce materials at low cost while still taking care of it's employees. That you can use your employees as models for your brand. That a Mom & Pop feel can exist in the international company. That you can build a successful company on principals that matter most to you and also can support other causes. Maybe it was also created to show what not to do when you have a good thing going.

What do you think of American Apparel?


Friday, May 13, 2011

Passive-Aggressive Note to Blogger

Dearest Blogger,

What the dealio, yo? That was a long ass time that your platform was down. Two days of not being able to blog feels like four days of not being able to Tweet and six days of not being able to look at Facebook.

You know, to people like me who obsessively refresh their page every 5 minutes to see if someone posted a new comment, the past two days have been sheer torture. At first I thought you shut down my blog because I talked about my pubes recently. Then I thought, "Maybe I posted a picture of a bunch of penises and totally forgot about it and someone called me in?" Every time I would type in my URL some weird Klingon-looking shit would come up on the screen. Luckily, trusty ol' Twitter told me that I was not the only one facing this problem. In fact, come to find out, you f'ed up EVERYONE's blogging day yesterday and today. Look! Now I'm forced to write this half-ass post because I couldn't write on you last night or this morning.

And now I think you spread your disease over to Twitter because she's acting all like, "I'm going to do whatever the f I want, people!" She's pretending like we're not Tweeting at her and she keeps whining, "I'm tired. I have a headache. I'm over capacity right now." Listen, you can behave however you want to, but don't you be spreading your evil seed to others!

Maybe now is a good time to tell you that I'm starting to see someone else anyways. Yeah, Wordpress has been giving me the vibes and, well, I think our time together has come to an end. We've had a lot of great moments but I need someone more mature. Someone a little more polished. Don't tell me that Wordpress is just all smoke and mirrors! Wordpress loves me! Wordpress wouldn't lock me out of my blog for two days! Wordpress makes me pepperoni rolls and tells me that I look like Deborah Harry when I ask it to and buys me iPads. Lots and lots of them! In fact, I have a room entirely filled with iPads because of Wordpress' love for me.

Blogger, I don't mean any ill will. You're still the number one blogging platform so what do you care what I think anyways? You have a million adoring fans. Or maybe used to. I'm not sure. You kind of PO'd a bunch of people this week. It will be OK though. Just try not to let it happen again, you hear? Or at least don't lose all my posts before I make the switch to Wordpress or I'll go all Hobo with a Shotgun/Straw Dogs/Falling Down on your ass. Take your pick.

Wishing you the best,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What is Postmodern Tourism?

Oh, so there is a word for it: Postmodern Tourism.

Postmodern Tourism defines a growing trend in travel where adventurers visit offbeat or unpopular locations for purposes pertaining to both "personal interest and ironic detachment". Places that hipsters giddily check into on Foursquare and breathlessly wait for their followers' confused responses. Places such as Roswell, New Mexico, Flint, Michigan, or Chernobyl, Ukraine. Places that tell a story good or bad, that might give us a little insight into who we are. According to the above The Atlantic article, "urban exploration" has become increasingly popular due to high costs of traveling to less depressing places such as Hawaii, desensitization from the Internet, and society's expanding enlightenment to how we're f'ing up the world. Postmodern Tourism has a close relationship with a topic I find very interesting: ruin porn. Ruin porn is the sort of stuff that curious or nihilistic artists get off on. It's the sort of thinking that drives young people to buy a $1000 house in Detroit or spring break in New Orleans 9th Ward instead of Miami Beach. Even though their parents please with them not to but they do anyways...and then they figure out their parents were probably right.

I'm glad I now have TWO names for the type of travel I most enjoy. When my mother and I were looking down into the great abyss known as the Grand Canyon, I shrugged my shoulders, flipped up my shirt collar and said nonchalantly, "It's cool, but it doesn't mean much to me."

My mother was incredulous. "Lauren, the Grand Canyon is considered one of the seven greatest natural wonders of the World! What the hell are you talking about? You just always go against what everyone else likes."

Maybe she's right, but the Grand Canyon didn't tell me a story about people. I didn't see any little historical tidbits of how the Grand Canyon effected someone. No skeletal remains of a mail mule with postal bag full of letters still attached or tiny footprints of a lost Anasazi child wandering towards a cave. To me, all I saw was a giant hole.

"I like the nitty gritty, Mom. I like traveling to a place where I see the daily workings of humanity. Nature is great and all but I like seeing what Mankind made and then destroyed. Or seeing examples of Mankind being ironic, irreverent, or incompetent. It gives us insight as to who we are and what we were in the past."

At that point my mother had walked off, leaving me to ravage a gift shop book about people who fell into the Grand Canyon.

I am a postmodern tourist. I've been to a number of locations that best fit this category and there are a number of places I still want to visit. Below is a guide to some of the best postmodern travel locales in the U.S. Please add your favorite places in the comments section!

Salton Sea- Salton Sea, California

Why it's a good example of Postmodern Tourism: Because the place is completely inhabitable, duh! It's full of dead fish and Botulism and empty trailers and salt-encrusted lawn chairs. It's reeks of death and the humidity is oppressing. IT'S HEAVEN. The Salton Sea has become a photographer's paradise ever since the locals jumped ship and abandoned their homes and storefronts throughout the 1980's-1990's. The largest lake in California began as a tourist hot spot at the turn of the century, much like it's neighbor Palm Springs. Then throughout the decade Botulism spread like a mo-fo and millions of fish then birds died. The beaches of Salton Sea are comprised of fish bones. Also, the lake's salinity level is so high that many species can't survive. Oh, a hurricane also blew through at some point and flipped over old people's mobile homes like hotcakes. Only the strong (in the "I'm high on CRACK!" kind of way) and the senile still live there. We stopped at Salton City, one of the more famously photographed cities lining the lake. There we saw a ruin pornographer's landmine! Abandoned homes, restaurants, hotels, and children''s playgrounds. I'm getting chills just thinking about abandoned childrens playgrounds.

Good read: The Salton Sea: A 'Dead' Sea Ready to Rise? 


Dollywood- Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Why It's a Good Example of Postmodern Tourism- Because it's a theme park in the middle of Deliverance-land created by a country singer with Double D breasts. If that doesn't say America, then I don't know what does. Truthfully, Dollywood does epitomize the American Dream. Originally opened in 1961 as something called the "Rebel Railroad", Ms. Parton came on board in 1986 as a co-owner. She is quoted as saying, "I always thought that if I made it big or got successful at what I had started out to do, that I wanted to come back to my part of the country and do something great, something that would bring a lot of jobs into this area." Awww. How sweet! Dollywood is Rocky Mountain-esque themed and boasts such rides as "Granny's Garden and Piggy Pen" and "Lil' Logger's Landing", and a chapel to pray in. My thought is that this will become a hipster's go-to place over the next couple of years. Everyone likes Dollywood. Even the strategically placed obligatory black man does.


Marfa- Marfa, Texas

Why It's a Good Example of Postmodern Tourism: Marfa is the perfect mix of Americana and Big Cityification. Marfa is a small railroad town out in the middle of Bum F Texas. A couple of decades ago one of those "blasted New York City types" moved in and set up shop. Long after minimal artist Donald Judd left, his big city grime stayed spluged over the sleepy town. New Yorkers/Angelenos/Austinites have been flocking to Marfa to add their own seed ever since. What struck me most about Marfa is the very clear divide between the locals and the visitors. Due to the town being so small, everyone pretty much congregates into the two block area that is Main Street (N. Highland Ave). Almost as if in a parade, you'll see an old timer in his cowboy hat followed by a young lady with severe haircut and designer black dress followed by an old timer in a cowboy hat followed by a hipster in American Apparel garb followed by an old timer in a cowboy hat and a verbal pickaxe ready to chase off the out-of-towners.

Good read: Wanderlust: Marfa, Texas


New Mexico- All of it

Why It's a Good Example of Postmodern Tourism: Last year, my mother and I drove through West Texas and most of New Mexico. It was a trip that two hours in we both silently wondered what the hell we were thinking. Four hours later we discovered that we were setting out on this challenging journey because we thought the other really wanted to travel through the Southwest. We were wrong. However, by the end of the trip, everything seemed A-OK. I've lived in New York, California, and Texas and have traveled through more than half of the U.S. I can honestly say there is NO PLACE like New Mexico. From the alien conspiracy theorists in Roswell to a city that renamed itself after a radio program to the setting on fire of a giant man who moans in Santa Fe, New Mexico is f'ing weird. The first thing you'll notice when you step into New Mexico is that it's vast. And it's desolate. And you wonder if you can hold that poop in for the next 90 miles because there isn't a freakin' building in sight. What you'll see in this large state with a population less than that of Chicago is extreme class divide, a rich Mexican and Catholic history, and a genuine creative and artist feel. Just remember to take a GoGirl before you set out on this journey.

Picher- Picher, Oklahoma

Why It's a Good Example of Postmodern Tourism: If it's listed as a Superfund site, then you know you're in for a good time. Picher was once the home of lead and zinc mining and over 1640 people. Now it's the home to gigantic holes to the center of the Earth and 20 people. The mines, which were an important part of the town's economy, began contaminating the local water supply and are prone to caving in towards Hell due to over-production. By 2009, the city shut down it's only school and post office. The government paid everyone to flee for the hills and a few stubborn ones stayed behind with guns and a couple of VHS copies of Mad Max. Most of the city is being or has been leveled, so I'm not sure how much you'd see here. Also, the EPA might chase you away but why not take that risk to see what humans do when they rape the land.

Good read: Welcome to Armageddon, USA: A Tour of America's Most Toxic Town

Monday, May 09, 2011

Twelve Ways to Boost Your Blog Traffic (Without Getting Naked)

I am ridic sick today.
Like, every time I read back the words I wrote they look like dkljpotughfgnjasa. 
I can't even form coherent sentences. I can't even think of words! It took me roughly 58 seconds to think of the word "coherent". There is a good chance I'm drooling on myself right now but can't feel it.
I had to abandon the post I was working on for today. In the meantime, I dug up an old post that I wanted to polish off and revisit. There are some helpful hints in here- ones I should even remind myself.

You have nine followers, and one of them is your mother.
You wonder why the hell you're even blogging.
You speculate if anyone will ever read your words.
You ponder if life is worth living.

Well look no further!
Listed below are twelve sure-fire ways to drive traffic to your blog and instantly boost your self-worth.

1.) Join Blogging Network Sites- The best blog networking website is Twenty-Something Bloggers. Hands down. Joining 20sb opened up a whole new world for me. Before then, I had no idea how to discover other blogs. 20sb is a supportive and strong community of like-minded bloggers. I can't recommend it enough. Other blogging networks include Blog Lovin', Blog Her, BlogCatalog, and My Blog Log.

2.) Write Interesting Content- As much as want to go into great detail about your recent trip to the dentist or how you wrapped your Christmas gifts, refrain from it. Truthfully, nobody cares. Unless the dentist had a boner while performing your root canal or you lobbed off your finger while cutting wrapping paper for you gifts...then we might be interested. Humor is a guaranteed way to enter the hearts of millions. Take for example Hyperbole-and-a-Half. You could learn a lot from her.

3.) Write About A Trend Topic- I don't adhere to this rule at all, but it's definitely a way to create buzz on your blog. Commenting on the cultural importance of "Jersey Shore" or how Justin Bieber looks like he should be on the "L Word" is a good way to start a convo.

4.) Befriend Other Bloggers- The blogging community is a tight-knit one. I have met people that I'm convinced sat next to me at the Algonquin Roundtable in another life. These people have encouraged me to grow as a writer and have supported and advertised my work. I wouldn't be where I am today without them and I try to do the same for them. As The Beatles once said, "The love you take is equal to the love you make".

5.) Leave Comments- Bloggers love comments like Mickey Rourke loves ghastly printed button-ups. Our self-esteem begins to slowly hinge on how many comments are left on our blog a day. If you comment on our blog, we will love you forever and most likely return the favor.

6.) Brand Yourself- The general consensus on this seems to be "yucky", but I disagree. The more polished the blog is, the greater the chance a reader will take it more seriously, no? Having a "brand" shows the world that you are legit. Does it take away from the personal aspect of blogging? Sometimes. But this is where you have to get clever in how you brand yourself. Subliminal branding.

7.) Photos!- Photos are a win-win all 'round. Photos grab attention. Photos can often work in substitute of text (Tumblr?). Photos can inspire. I try to put a picture in every single one of my posts, even if it's not necessary.
Like a picture of my ass.

8.) Lists- We seem to really like lists. They're easy to read and typically very visual. Remember, the average internet reader's attention span is like 45 seconds (I made that up). It's kind of true though. Think of some of your favorite posts on Buzzfeed or Short and sweet lists.

9.) Connect With Your Audience- One of the most talked ideas running through the marketing world these days is Lady Gaga's rise to fame due in part to her fan interaction and loyalty. DoDo like GaGa. Also, the blogs that appear to have the most comments are blogs where the writer shares a part of him/herself with the readers in the post, then interacts with them via the comment box. Personal is good, but don't forget rule #2.

10.) Self Promote, But Only 20% Of The Time- Nobody likes a showoff. However, who is going to know about your blog if you don't say anything? I know some very humble bloggers who haven't even told anyone that they have a blog! You have to walk a fine line here. Tweet or FB that you have a new post up, but don't send personal messages to strangers telling them to check out your blog. Nobody likes that. In fact, we'll purposely not go check out your blog.

11.) Believe That Your Traffic Will Go Up- I know it can get discouraging at times, but don't give up. People want to hear what you have to say. If you believe that your blog will be successful, it most likely will. Power of suggestion.

12.) Post a Picture of Your Ass

Friday, May 06, 2011


Today I was going to post a guide to Postmodern Tourism, but decided instead to talk about my Momma.

My Momma was born in 1950 in a small town in Upstate, New York. She still lives in that town. In fact, she still lives in the house she grew up in. When she was 24, her father passed away and gave her the house. It was the house she brought my Daddy into and the house I grew up in. It's a modest house, but it was always filled with screaming kids, Will Smith CDs blaring from the stereo, and love.

I grew up an only child with a single mother. My Dad left when I was a little girl. Heartbroken that her family fell apart, my mother did her best to raise me alone. She brought home poverty level earnings from my grandmother's clothing store on a dying Main Street, but working for the family afforded her time to pick me up from school and attend every band concert, soccer game, and play. If it was difficult for my mother, I did not know because she made sure I didn't see it. The few times she cried, I yelled at her. My mother was to be a stoic pillar and nothing else. Mothers are not human- they are better than everyone else- and admitting that my mother was human was not an option.

My mother grew up in the picture perfect middle class 1950's home. Her father was a handsome engineer and her mother, a beautiful owner of a thriving women's clothing store. Carl was distant. After coming home from the war we went to bed early and didn't share his thoughts. His significantly younger and outgoing wife dealt with this as long as she could until one day she left him. My mother was in her freshman year of college when the news came and her father sent her letters confused as to why my grandmother left him. Not long after he died. A stroke at 60 years of age. My mother has never told me how she felt about her parents divorcing or her father dying. Maybe her father was distant enough not to make her feel close. Maybe this bothered her more than she ever told anyone.

Coloring inside the lines has not proved exciting for my mother. Though she is happy and content, she lived the life she thought people wanted her too. She forgave an education at FIT to help her mother run the family business. She got married at 27 and had a child at 33. Her mortgage is paid off and her bills consist of groceries, utilities, and food and toys for the Jack Russell Terrier that quickly filled the empty nest. Brenda has been safe her entire life and at 60 years of age she wants a change. She's bored. She wants to be closer to her daughter and her daughter wants to be closer to her. She wants to travel the world and go to art galleries and museums and natural wonders. She wants to be stimulated and she deserves nothing less.

Mom, I wish I was there with you this Mother's Day. I wish I was there to spontaneously grab lunch with you, to help you take Grandma and Lionel to the doctor's, to take walks around the neighborhood, to go shopping, or to sit by the edge of the pool and talk about everything. I wish I could take you across the world to meet interesting people and to try unique foods- even though you probably wouldn't try half of it. I think about you every day and I want you to know that even though I'm 27 and still fight back when you tell me to do something, or snap at you when I'm in a bad mood, or tell you'll I'll call you right back and don't until the next day, you're the most important person in my life and I thank you for making me who I am. I'm proud to be your daughter.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Sellin' Out

So you know how I've been going blah blah blah about doing a blog redesign? Well, it's finally happening.
Throughout this process I've written a couple blog posts and sent out some tweets asking for your input because I need constant positive reinforcement in my life.

You guys have been great. Your feedback encouraged me to move to Wordpress and to not be such an f'ing pussy about this transition.

A few readers proposed the question, "Why change your blog at all? It's the content that matters."

I completely agree.

However, I'm changing the living shit out of this blog and here is why: I want to write more. I want to write about different topics. I want to write more than once a day. I want to write about what is going on in my life, what's going on in pop culture, social media, non-profit, AND what's going on in Austin or the World all in one day! I want to write about a cool new start-up venture I heard about in Austin or write about why I get constant charlie horses in my ass and why Nic Cage's hair haunts my dreams all at once. I want to be able to interact better with my readers. Comment on comments. Because of this, I feel I've outgrown my Blogger template and Blogger in general.

Now that I'm taking the next step, I would love your feedback on a few other items.

First, this is what the new template is going to look like What do you think? Be honest. BE HONEST, DAMMIT!

Secondly, how would you feel if there was advertising on my blog? It would be tasteful advertising and pertinent to the feel of my blog. None of this "Lose Weight Now" crap with an animated fat lady shaking up and down in weight hanging out on my sidebar. I plan on only having a few advertisements and I promise they'd be stuff that's interesting. Do I feel like a sell out for doing this? Abso-fucking-lutely, but a girl has gots to be smart. She's gots to pay the bills, you know? If you read my post on Monday, you will understand why. I'm curious as to what your thoughts are on advertising and blogs. Do you think it's selling out?

Thirdly, I hate asking people for money. I won't borrow money for anyone. The VERY few times I have, I felt like super duper tool. With all that being said, I was thinking of setting up a Kickstarter page to fund the changes I need to make to my blog. The campaign would be for $300 in total. There would be perks for anyone who donated. I'm very hesitant to do this and I would like your feedback beforehand. I don't expect any of you to donate to my blog. It would simply be something available if anyone felt so inclined to donate.

Yep, feel like a tool.

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Twenty-Something and Debt

my $1000 LA studio a closet.
There was a time when I had money.

There was a time when I thought I had money.

There was a time when I thought I had money and acted as such.

There was a time when I thought I had money and acted as such because it was my only option.

This is why I have no money.

When I moved to Los Angeles at twenty years old, I had minimal education on how to manage my finances.

Home & Careers class in high school definitely didn't teach me anything. There I mostly learned how to peel a potato and make soup from a $.55 french onion soup pack. Actually, maybe the class was preparing me for a life of processed food poverty?

My father lived every day as if it were his last, often randomly jumping on his motorcycle and scooting across the US or indulging in fly-by hobbies such a recumbent bicycling or job quitting, so he wasn't a great teacher either.

My mother was the most solid role model in that she informed me I should only put on my credit card what I could pay off each month. This is a rule she still lives by today and my mother has zero debt. The only price she has paid for this is boredom (she lives in the house she grew up in and has lived life by coloring inside the lines).

So, what if you move to a city where you know no one and you'd much rather eat out all of the time and be around people than alone in your $1000 apartment because that is the cheapest place you can find in your new city? What if you have to buy a new car because your old one kicked the bucket and you can't get around your new city without one and the only way you can pay for a down payment is via your credit card because you really don't know that you may have other options when purchasing a car? What if you need a new computer because now you're a player in the work force? What if you promise your mother you'll still take college courses even though you work 60+ hours a week as a personal assistant and you barely have time to go pee let alone study? What if you become so completely disillusioned with your career that you decide resigning is better than daily panic attacks and you take a job that pays less but makes you happier? What if the very little you learned about managing your finances doesn't apply to any of this? What if this is the way you're supposed to learn about your relationship with money?

The average twenty-something has $24,000 in college debt and $5,368 in credit card debt. I'm not the New York Times so accuracy should not be expected here, but considering these amounts are close to my own debts, I would gather this is roughly $400-500 out of pocket for college loans and credit card debt each month. Throw in moving to the big city ($600-$1000 rent) to find a job that you don't get for 3, 6, 9 months while you're working retail just to pay some of the bills though you're falling more and more behind. Right there we're already at $1000-$1500 a month with no stable job. Then throw in credit card payment plus late fees and high interest/gas/food/car maintenance/apartment or house maintenance and let's say that brings you to $2,000 a month. Say you do have a job, but you have $300-$500 taken out of your paycheck in taxes each month? You'd have to make at least $32,000 a year just to pay your bills and have a teeny weeny bit left over. Not enough for an emergency, of course. You break your leg and you have a $500 deductible or you have to fly home due to illness in the family? Good luck. 401k plan? What is that again?

This is the story of many twenty-somethings nowadays. Sadly, I have many peers who don't make anywhere close to $32,000 a year with or without college degrees. The ones that are lucky enough to make $50,000+ a year typically have astronomical college loan debt that they'll be paying for the next twenty-five years. No wonder kids are moving back in with their parents.

Me? I'm now the girl with a cardboard passenger side window. I'm the girl with a compacted wisdom tooth which is making it difficult to eat and soon will be shifting her teeth into looking like that of Steve Buscemi's. Now I'm the girl who has to pass up on dinners with friends, treating herself to a book or movie every now and then, or healthier food options. Now I'm the girl that can't fly home to see her family, to LA to see her friends, or to take a freakin' vacation once in awhile.

Though I'll take full responsibility for the choices I've made in life that have caused me debt (going to college, moving to LA, using my credit card to eat out and put a down payment on my car, leaving my career out of physical and mental health reasons, moving to a new city to start fresh), the rules and fees and high costs and lack of employment nowadays don't make it very easy for young and responsible people to breathe. Literally. At one point when I saw myself not able to make the minimum monthly payments on my credit cards due to the 29% APR they gave me after being late on a payment, I found myself nearly choking from anxiety. How could I go from being fresh out of college without a worry in the world to lying awake at night wondering how I was going to survive?

Realizing that no one was going to answer this for me, I took control of my debt and did my research. I consolidated my credit cards to one low monthly payment on a 4-year payment plan. I talked with the lenders on my car and college loans about other payment options. I worked 75 hours a week to make sure I paid my bills and then some. I realized that this is all a part of growing up and you can either make mistakes and play the victim or rise to the top. Though I'm not exactly sure when I'll be able to remove this wisdom tooth or put glass in my car window, within two years all this griping will be done and over with because I took control. This has been no walk in the park, but I view it all as a life lesson I was destined to make. I talk to peers who tell me they just stopped paying their credit card debt or haven't made a payment to the IRS in years. Their complete lack of concern in managing their debts astounds me. Turning a blind eye to your finances will not make the problem go away and will only cause further stress down the road. If you are twenty-something that has questions about managing your finances, here is some info that could help:

-If you're thinking about consolidating your credit cards, make sure you do your research first. I chose a debt consolidation company referred by the non-profit organization National Foundation for Credit Counseling. There I discovered that there are only two not-for-profit credit counseling facilities in Austin. The first facility was wonderful and helpful, but after discovering that their funding had been cut, I opted to go with the second company. I've been with the second company now for 22 months with no problems. They called my creditors, lowered my APR, consolidated my payment into one lump sum that I send to them each month for a $25 fee. After four years, my credit cards will be paid off. Even before I signed the paperwork with the company they made sure to inform me that I could do all of this consolidating myself if I wanted to. They gave me the tools and the information to handle my credit card debt. I opted to go with the company because it saved me the hassle of dealing with the creditors and now I only make one payment a month (which is easier to remember). 

-Brush up on the Federal Trade Commissions' Bureau for Consumer Protection. There are many predatory debt management companies that guarantee to lower your debt or improve your credit score (which are mostly scams). The website above is a reliable and safe resource to learn more about managing your debt.

-If you're falling behind on your car loan or college loan payments, call your creditor to work out another option. Many college loan lenders let you alter your payment plan or you may be eligible for forbearance. For my car loan, I was able to skip one month's payment and add it to the end of my loan. 

-Suze Orman and all of those snazzy people will tell you to keep tabs on your credit score, so that's what I do. I am alerted if my credit score has changed, why it has changed, and if anyone is running a credit check on me. will give you access to your credit report and score for seven days, after that you will have to pay a monthly fee. I was able to knock the fee down to $8 a month.

-If the creditors keep calling you, you can request that they stop calling. Either put the request in via phone or mail in the request to the creditor. If they keep harassing you, it could be deemed illegal.

-Don't stress and don't do anything drastic if you fall behind a bit. IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. Trust me on this one. Take a deep breath, talk to people you love and trust, and come up with a plan on how to manage your situation. It's not the end of the world.