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Hipstercrite: June 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tap Into the Rockies

I am traveling to the Canadian Rockies AS WE SPEAK!!!!
I'm not sure if they have the internet up there. I know that they have moose. I really wish they were called meese.
I have no idea if I will be able to blog. Maybe the moose can help me with this. I'm not sure.
Also in this time, a wonderful graphic designer will be transforming my blog into a magical land.

I hope you all have an excellent week.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How To Stay Stylish in Clothing Melting Heat

While cataclysm of Waterworld-esque proportions keeps happening in other parts of the country, here in Austin, Texas we've been as bone dry as two teenagers humping after marching band practice. It's also been a cool 104 degrees with a steady 90% humidity AT ALL TIMES. These two facts combined together make day-to-day living extremely difficult. Being from New York, my body can't handle such zenith. Our bodies are predestined to be weak, capable of only handling such weather-related hardship as translucent skin and Eddie Bauer fashion. When my native New Yorker father visited me in Austin this weekend and ran across the molten blacktop barefooted, I saw his feet explode into an awesome ray of light while native Texans idly strolled by. I'm convinced that Texans are part of their own tribe, capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and skinning squirrels with their eyesight.

I am three years into living in Texas and I'm still sufficiently stunned when the summer approaches. I cry each year that the weather is as horrifying as last and I'm convinced that we are turning into the Twilight Zone episode where the Earth is moving closer to the Sun. I'm also pretty sure that we're turning into that Twilight Zone episode where most of our neighbors are being controlled by aliens, but that is a discussion for a future post...

What I dislike most about Texas summers is the inability to dress fashionably. Summer dresses and floral patterns aren't my bag. I grew up in the land where you layered yourself into an indistinguishable ball of wool; a Cousin It hobbling from house to work back to the house without ever showing more than your glazed over eyes and hot pink nose. Scarves, cardigans, and hats are what I feel most comfortable with, along with clothing colors named after root vegetables. We Northeasterners love to dress like French foreign exchange students.

My style typically looks like this photo below. Do you know what would happen if I wore this outfit in Austin, Texas in July? Do you? DO YOU? I would most likely turn into a star and shoot out into the universe, that is how hot I would be. 

Though thin, I've never been a skinny girl, so common Austin summer wardrobe such as florescent hot shorts, jumpers, and mini skirts are not preferred. I partook in a lot of sports as a child so my legs have more muscle-cum-loose-muscle than I care for. In fact, I'm having a sale on Lauren muscle, so if anyone needs some, I'm selling it for $5 a bundle. Feeling fashionable in Austin has been difficult and after trying on a bunch of 90's flower dresses last night at a thrift store and becoming discouraged, I was very close to throwing in the towel and proclaiming my summer fashion as over-sized t-shirts and no pants.

But instead I decided to take this on as a challenge. To make sure I have summer fashion that is "a symbol of my individuality and belief in personal freedom."  I will find my Texas summer fashion and own it. Here are some tips I'm telling myself to keep on track...

1.) Incorporate a bathing suit into your dailywear- This is what they do at American Apparel and I understand why. I have the Nylon Tricot Hooded Swimsuit below and I'm thinking of just wearing it with jeans. Of course there is an excessive amount of side boob, but isn't there a rule that in the summer that the side o' boob can peak out? Also, people will think you're a sassy Darth Maul when wearing this.

Also, I think one can get away with the American Apparel halter one-piece. I'm a favorite of this bathing suit. It has a Marilyn Monroe feel to it. Didn't you know that Marilyn was a fan of the Amer Appy?

2.) Maxi dresses- I've decided that the only dresses I'm going to wear this summer are maxi dresses. They're flattering for all body types, are typically nice and breezy, and can be very elegant. They're sexy around the neckline and give the illusion that you're much taller than you actually are. Yesterday I went and bought this dress made from the sweat of tiny hands at Forever 21.

3.) T-shirt dresses- Ok, I lied. I'm going to wear maxi dresses AND t-shirt dresses this summer. T-shirt dresses don't sound sexy, but does THIS look sexy?

Huh? HUH?
Oh, it isn't, you say?
Well, that's embarrassing...
I'm a big fan of the Slummy T-Dress from Alternative Apparel- whose clothing is not made from the sweat of tiny hands.

4.) Wear sunglasses that are more interesting than your face or anything that you're wearing- I have a pair of sunglasses that I love. Strangers dig them, but my family and friends secretly want to sit on them and fart them into oblivion. If they did, I would beat them senseless. They are a little ridiculous, but they have a retro quality I like. Someone once said that my glasses make me look like a cross between Woody Allen and Grace Kelly. I'll f'ing take that.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Last Minute Father's Day Gift Ideas for the Lazy Child

I'm not really sure what men like.

According to every Father's Day gift guide out there they only like five things: tools, meat, TV remotes, wine, and iPhones. This sounds like the makings of a really big asshole right there. A Dad who enjoys spending more time a.) watching TV, b.) drinking c.) playing on his phone than spending time with you.

I didn't grow up with a man in the house so when I date someone or visit a male friend's house, I'm utterly fascinated by the things they own. After using the restroom, I'll sometimes linger just to look at all the man oddities in their bathroom cupboards. Things like aftershave and nose hair trimmers are foreign objects to me. Sometimes I'll play around with these things. Sometimes I'll get caught and asked what the hell I'm doing. I then explain that my father abandoned me as a child and that they should leave me alone. The ol' "abandoned by the father card" works every time.

Speaking of Dad is visiting me tomorrow and I'm not sure what to buy him for Father's Day.

I know my Dad likes Lonesome Dove. A lot. He also likes Somewhere in Time, which my mother and I always thought was comical. I guess this is the same part of my Dad that cried while watching Drop Dead Fred. Another thing my Mom and I thought was comical about my Dad is when he "lost" a piano he was hired to play on a private boat party. My Dad went to get a drink and came back to discover that the piano had jumped ship and sunk to the bottom of the ocean with all the other rogue pianos. My father did not find this funny, but his ex-wife and child certainly shot some milk out the nose with this one.

I know my Dad gets these "whims" and gets really into something like recumbent biking or weed growing for the state of California, but he's over those whims just as quickly as he's into them. Sometimes he never even starts them, which I hope is the case regarding weed growing.  We both have a great love for the Marx Brothers, George Gerswhin, Gene Wilder, and Mel Brooks. In other words, if you're a Jew and you're funny or make music, my father and I really really like you. 

If you're having difficulty finding a gift for your Dad, like me, then take a look at these AMAZING suggestions below:

The Meat Lover

BBQ-scented man perfume $24.95
Because every man on the planet loves meat, duh. They love cooking it, they love eating it, they love rubbing it all over their bodies. If you're tired of picking charred gristle out of your bed, then look no further than the Que Barbeque Cologne. Women will not be able to resist the "intoxicating bouquet of spices, smoke, meat, and sweet summer sweat." Animals certainly won't either. In fact, if you're planning a trip to Yellowstone or Big Bend soon I'd tell Dad not douse himself in pork-flesh scent.

The New Dad

Let's Panic About Babies $9.04
Or: "How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain, and Finally Turn You into a Worthwhile Human Being." This book is the perfect gift for any new and absolutely terrified dad. This book is written by a couple of bloggers so you know it must be quality. If it isn't, at least he'll have a cool coffee table book where a baby shoots lasers out of it's eyes.

The Dad Stuck in the Past
Short shorts  $15
 Does your Dad not want to let go of the care-free early 80's where men could wear junk-strangling shorts and fanny packs? Is your Dad that Dad that is secretly gay and everyone knows it but him? Then why not help your Dad liberate himself from the confines of societal norms with American Apparel's Thick-Knit Jersey P.E. Short.? He'll thank you and you'll thank him for the photo op you send to Dad in Short Shorts.

The Alcoholic 

Remember when you were a little kid and you asked Mommy why Daddy would stare at his high school football trophies crying? Remember when you used to lie awake at night praying to God that your Daddy no longer danced to Whitney Houston in his underwear when friends came over to visit? Remember the day you finally gave into the fact that your Dad is a raging alcoholic and no amount of intervening or rehab will change that? Then why not tell your Dad that you've thrown in the towel with a flask/cigarette case duo? He'll certainly love you for it, but Mom might disown you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Girls Are Crazy Until They Reach The Age of 26

"Girls are crazy until they reach 26," I heard uttered from the office adjacent to mine last week.

This was coming from a conversation a cluster of female co-workers were having about relationships. The statement above was something a man said to one of them in regards to dating.

None of them disagreed with the statement. I thought about it for a second and shook my head, "Yep, whoever this wise man is, he's right. We're all bat shit-crazy when it comes to relationships until we turn 26."

This sentence stuck with me long enough to write a post Monday declaring the end of my quarter-life crisis. It would be negligent to not admit that the quarter-life crisis and the bat-shit cray-cray are synonymous with one another. Men have their own challenges to deal with at this age, but instead of lunacy they usually have to deal with being selfish and confused dickwads. Or rather, we women have to deal with it.

Selfishness & Confusion mixed with Craziness & Insecurity does not usually bode well, so dating in your early 20's typically creates drama fit for a telenovela.

I sort of went through this as an early twenty-something in a morally-questionable city (Los Angeles) and I've seen younger friends and acquaintances go through the same thing: you meet a dude, he seems into you, you kind of dig him so you give in to his advances, he plays it cool, so you play it cool in return, you guys hook up for a month, he tells you that he's not looking for anything serious, you think you're cool with that, he's clueless to the fact that you're not cool with it, after awhile you start to call him for emotional support, he starts pulling away, you ask him what's up, he doesn't return your calls, you drunk text him, he responds that he's too busy to date, you drunk call him, he doesn't pick up, you try calling 43 more times, he doesn't pick up, you pass out from drinking a half a bottle of cheap vodka underneath your bed, he goes on with life, you don't, he is already eying another gal, you are proud of yourself for letting 4 days go by without contacting him, he has forgotten about you, you text him after day 5 to see if he wants to meet up for coffee, he responds an hour later, that hour seemed like an eternity to you, he agrees, you start devising a plan to win him back, he wonders why the hell he's getting coffee with you, you show up to coffee drunk and in your best American Apparel side-boob dress, he's more interested in the barista working behind your right shoulder, you ask him how he's doing, he says "great!", you start crying because you are not doing great, you're doing terrible, and you miss him and his semi-indifferent embrace even though he only called you at 2AM on Saturdays when you happened to both be drunk.

During moments similar to this in my life, I wondered what the hell was going on with me. I came from a sweet and supportive family, I was confident, I was smart, I was not ugly, but yet I was acting kind of desperate. The more a guy didn't want me, the more interested I was in him. It was like the teenager that was so sure of herself was replaced by a drooling insecure young woman who had no idea what she was doing. I felt very alone with my dilemma for I did not hang out with enough girls to realize that this was somewhat common behavior in your early 20's. It wasn't until I came across a Rolling Stone article about the hook-up culture at Duke University (which has since been deleted from Rolling Stone archives) that I realized young women had some seriously f'ed up views on relationships, casual sex, and how women should be treated and behave. Smart, beautiful, and intelligent women were deluding themselves into lowering their standards and it still comes as no surprise to me today when I hear of a woman that fits that bill who has difficultly with men. My male friends tell me all the time, "She's wonderful, but she texts me 20 times a day/thinks I'm seeing other girls/reads my emails/gets drunk and yells at me/wants to move in after sleeping together once/held me hostage at her house."

So why is it that we girls are "crazy until we reach the age of 26?" (I'd like to add that though I say "we", I've never done any of that Courtney Love shit listed above).

If you weren't one of the "lucky" ones who has known exactly what they wanted out of a career and relationships since birth (and by "lucky" I mean, just wait until the day comes that you wake up at 40 and realize that you hate your job, hate your spouse, and have an aching desire to become a bartender at a gay resort in Bermuda), you mostly likely spent your late teens and early 20's trying to desperately figure out your path in life and who you wanted to take along for the journey. But the truth is, you really have no idea, so you make poorly devised decisions based off a hodge podge of what you think you maybe want, what you think your family wants, what you think yours peers or partners want, and what you think society expects. This combination creates a constant internal pull that makes you unsteady with your actions- i.e certifiably looney tunes. Chances are yo momma didn't go through this because she was married in her 20's, dudes were more respectful, people didn't sex it up as casually, boobies didn't exist on TV, and people grew up in more religious households.

Gosh, I sound like an old lady.

Maybe it's because now that I'm past 26, I cringe when I think of the young lady who had zero understanding of modern youthful courting. If you know a female in her early 20's, do her a favor, slap her upside the head when she starts getting all weird about a dude she's casually hooking up with and tell her that she's better than all that. Let's hope we can change the idea that "girls are crazy until they reach the age of 26" to "damn, girls are so not crazy!"

Do you think I'm crazy for saying that many girls under 26 are crazy, or do you agree?

Monday, June 13, 2011

The End of the Quarter-Life Crisis

your standard moody twenty two year-old self-portrait
Yesterday I turned 28.

Because of this, I've been finding myself hurling unwanted advice at young people lately.

When you've almost made it through your 20's in one piece, you feel that you're obligated to let younger people know that it will all be ok. That all the questioning and confusion and bad decision-making will get better.

That is assuming that everyone was an early twenty-something messbag like I was.

That they spent the better part of their 21st and 22nd year drinking alone in their West Hollywood apartment taking pictures of themselves drunk in the mirror and typing horribly structured journal entries that started with phrases like, "Why won't someone hold me?!" or "The right side of my face feels numb, but I'm ok with that."

That they would randomly break out into a cascade of tears at dinner with friends for no reason. Then excuse themselves from the table and disappear for three days.

That they would call their parents at 2AM while pacing the house going, "I think I'm losing it. I think I'm losing it. Am I losing it? I think I am. TELL ME! TELL ME IF I'M LOSING IT! I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ANYMORE!!!"

That they decided to go see a therapist at 21 just to deal with all the bewilderment, but not tell the therapist that they were taking Zoloft that their mother had given them, and would routinely go and purge themselves at Soup Plantation after every visit.

That they would have Rain Man-esque jiggles when an anxiety attack was imminent that startled their co-workers and small animals.

I used to write about my early to mid twenties a lot. In fact, my blog was birthed from that time in my life (aren't all blogs centered around quarter-life crises?) Granted I'm only five years older than I was then, but I already feel like I've lived 100 lifetimes. That I've shed many skins to get closer to the person I'm supposed to be. My 20's have felt like a whirlwind of trial and error and self-discovery...and they're not even over yet.

I've never been a person to plan my future, but when I was younger, I used to think, "Ok, by 25 everything will start falling into place and by 28 I'll have my first success." This was all in relation to being in Los Angeles and in the film business. By 25 I would be working at some production company on my way to becoming a producer or writer and by 28 I will have made my first project. None of it worked out that way. When I look back, I realize that I did not fail at my plan at all, but instead reinvented it. Instead of staying in show business, I left it completely at 25. I packed up and drove to Austin with no plan and started fresh. Now at 28 I feel confident in my journey to becoming a writer, I've met a wonderful gentleman who makes me smile, and I have less public freak out moments (instead they happen quietly at night in the form of cold sweats and rocking).

At 23 I never imagined that there would be a day things made sense. At that age you think you're stuck that way forever, in a perpetual state of drooling, shivering, and staring off into space. You don't think the day you would find your way is even possible.

I've in no way completed the challenge that is your 20's, but I feel that I've finally sailed on past the quarter-life crisis era. Everything is falling into place and instead of being terrified about the home stretch to 30, I'm enjoying it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Is Infidelity the New Black?

When news broke in 2008 that John Edwards had been having extramartial fun times and subsequent child with Rielle Hunter, I was working for the anti-war organization CodePink in Venice Beach, California. I worked directly under one of the co-founders of the group, a hard-working and passionate activist who acted as Jerry Brown's right-hand woman during his first term as governor of California. Like many Americans, having had the pants charmed off of me by Edwards's Kennedy-esque looks, humble beginnings, adorable family, and ambitious political goals, I was crestfallen when word got out about his infidelity. After all that he and his wife Elizabeth had been through- losing a son, her cancer, his political career- how could he boink some Jay McInerney character and cheat on his sweet and supportive spouse of 30 years?

Due to her time in California politics, I assumed that my boss was privy to the inner thoughts of politicians. As we sat there watching the news of Edwards unfold on the television, I came up with what I thought was one of the most profound questions never asked: "Are politicians born bad or do they become bad once they're politicians?" I was secretly hoping that she was going to say that all politicians were born from the fire-encrusted vaginas of Satan's whores, but instead she said she felt that most politicians started out wanting to do good things- they wanted to make the world a better place- but that power and fame eventually went to their heads.

When news came out this week about Weinergate (Media! Quit putting "-gate" at the end of every scandal! Aren't you more clever than that?!) I don't think anyone was surprised. "Oh my God! A successful politician who is married to a beautiful and supportive wife who likes to poke his pickle in any orifice he can find?
That's unheard of!"
Completely unheard of!
Politicians are truthful and moral servants to society!
They don't cheat on their wives!
What are you talking about it?!

Sadly, what now comes as a surprise is when a politician doesn't cheat on his partner.

Before my time at CodePink, I worked in Hollywood- the only other industry outside of politics that turns a blind eye to cheating. Being from a small town and naive to the ways of the world, I was surprised time after time when married or committed men in the business would hit on me or my friends. And I'm not saying I'm some hot piece of ass here. They liked me because I was young and I was naive. The more virginal the better. Politicians and Hollywood people love preying on the interns, the assistants, or the help. If I were Freud, I would guess it has something to do with these men getting pinned down and farted on when they were children and now that they're big bad powerful adults, they try to dominate everything that comes in their path. But what do I know?

Having not grown up in a family where infidelity was prevalent (only abandonment), I couldn't understand why men were acting this way. "Because every man cheats", my cheating Hollywood friend said to me. I took offense to his statement. "My Dad never cheated!" I said to him. He just looked at me and rolled his eyes. It's true. My Dad never cheated. And I have never been cheated on -as far as I know. However, I will never forget that statement my friend said to me. He said it with such assurance and with each media story that comes to light about a married man cheating on his wife, I've begun to think, maybe he's sort of right?

I still believe that there are many men who do not cheat for a plethora of reasons- they only have eyes for their partner, they don't want to hurt the kids, their religion, insecurity, they're too lazy to pursue or continue an affair, their parents raised them better than that. But with religion becoming less of a foundation in American families, the media's attention to infidelity that makes it almost seem the norm, and the anonymity that the Internet can create, I think people who would have been less likely to cheat may feel more comfortable doing it now.

We should not forget that cheating runs more rampant in industries where men and women are in positions of power, where constant adulation goes to their head, and they feel as thought they're invincible to being held accountable to their actions. Pure and unadulterated narcissism. I'm sure Anthony Weiner loves his wife. I'm sure he loves himself a lot too. Enough not to think about how his actions could hurt his pregnant wife if word got out. The Internet and social media makes it easier to cheat- it takes minimal effort to shoot a raunchy text or Twitter message in between meetings- but it's also opening up the cheater to a greater risk of exposure. Especially when they don't know how to use the friggin' platform that they're cheating on.

In Hollywood, I recall hearing of affairs that almost solely took place via text or instant messaging. The anticipation of sending a message to another and waiting for the response is what keeps these guys and gals bustling through the day. Signing deals, meeting with big players, and winning awards is not enough. They've become fixed on keeping the excitement in their lives at full throttle. I wonder what would happen if they actually had a minute with themselves. And the same can be said for politicians.

Maybe I'm jaded. Maybe my experiences and the stories I've heard has made me into a disenchanted old boob. It's easy to become indifferent when our leaders, our heroes, or our friends and family let us down and break the example. In a way, the media has made us desensitized to these reports of infidelity. Maybe it is the norm? I'd like to think that infidelity is not the reality we're going to have to learn to deal with, but I can't help but feel that it is. That every relationship runs the risk of one or both partner cheating and unless the lines of communication stay open, heartache and big ol' ugly media attention is the inevitable.

Do you think infidelity is epidemic? Have you been cheated on?


Thursday, June 09, 2011


I'm currently reading David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries- a 30 year hodge-podge of his observations, diary entries, and blog posts about urbanization, gentrification and transportation taken from the perspective of a bicycle. Byrne often has a child-like approach to observing the world. Everything about us fascinates him. One can see this curiosity in his songs, "Once in a Lifetime", "The Big Country", "Neighborhood", and "Strange Overtones", or his 1986 cinematic love letter to Texas, True Stories. Though he's by no means an expert on anything other than dancing like a mentally challenged person, I've always valued Byrne's commentary. He looks for the deeper meaning behind the obvious and makes us think differently about how we view the mundane and the taken for granted.

In Bicycle Diaries, Byrne takes us on his adventures through major international cities such as Istanbul, Manila, Buenos Aires and American cities like San Francisco, New Orleans, and his current homestead New York City. He describes what works and doesn't work about the city in relation to it's inhabitants- Are citizens able to walk around their city? Are they able to bike around their city? Does the layout of the city create community or destroy it? He also broaches ideas of urban renewal, adaptive reuse, and green technology- What cities are doing it right? (New Orleans) And what cities are still stuck in the Stone Age? (Baltimore)

A particular passage struck me in my reading yesterday. In a section called "Gentrification" in the Buenos Aires chapter, Byrne compares the city with New York. Extreme gentrification has pushed the artists and creative types away from the epicenter of the city, creating a harder challenge for "any kind of scene or movement to gain traction" (Brooklyn?) However, he then goes on to explain how he does not like the rundown neighborhoods that artists then flock to:

"I have no romantic feelings for rundown neighborhoods where crack vials litter the pavement and the plumbing barely works. Granted, those neighborhoods typically offer cheap housing and a tolerance for noise and eccentricity, but to confuse the availability of space with the unfortunate circumstances that often make those spaces cheap is, well they don't need to go hand in hand."

This statement seem very anti-David Byrne to me considering Talking Heads got their start in 1970's East Village, but the man is 59 now and I'm sure he's mellowed with age. Becoming an adult, a parent, and a millionaire often dictates the want to live in a safer community.

Reading that above statement made me think of my own penchant for choosing to live in the semi-gentrified, the semi-crime riddled, or the semi-rundown parts of cities. How I always thought that the areas with the abandoned warehouses, the raw loft spaces, the graffiti, and the concrete paradises were the only place to be. That the only people I could get along with were smattered throughout this mosaic. I've sadly realized that now that I'm getting older, I'm not quite sure I have the stomach for it anymore.

my loft in downtown Los Angeles
When I lived in Los Angeles, I wanted to live in the sketchiest part of town. My family and friends thought I was crazy, but I felt that the only place I could find culture, history, and art was in these places. I rented a unconverted loft in the industrial district of Downtown Los Angeles where the window wouldn't shut and mutant mosquitoes from the neighboring waste plant would gift me with giant welts all over my body. Where I'd listen to rats run alongside my bed. Where I had no hot water, no working kitchen, and cockroaches that liked to skydive onto my face while sleeping. This situation eventually took it's toll on me and I moved to the slightly better Koreatown area. There I had a real apartment in a 1930's brick building. Here I would listen to homeless people violently threaten one another outside my window. Shootings were not unheard and being one of the few young single ladies in the building, I was often harassed. Thinking back, none of my time in Downtown LA or Koreatown made me uncomfortable or scared. It was exciting and I was invincible. I felt that it gave me street cred, that I was one tough cookie, and maybe I thought deep down living in this sort of landscape would uncover some hidden secrets about the city and me.

I currently live in the socioeconomically diverse East Austin. Austin falls in the #203 spot of city crime rankings in America. The Eastside, along with Downtown and Campus area, experience the heaviest crime- though it's typically petty crime such as bicycle theft, property theft, and car break-ins. Violence and murder are very atypical and happen once in a blue moon. Living on the Eastside is generally safe if you don't mind putting up with the occasional panhandler or car break-in. I've experienced two car break-ins, one house break-in while no one was there, and one potential house break-in. All were crimes done out of convenience. It may be because I'm turning 28 this weekend, but much like David Byrne, I no longer have a romanticism for this sort of ambiance. Stepping over used condoms, syringes, and trash ceases to tickle my fancy. Do I want to trade in the diversity and character of an area like East Austin for the comfort and safety of Suburbia? It doesn't seem to be in my nature, but I do wonder if there can ever be marriage of the two?

Gentrification is an interesting subject. A paradoxical dilemma that many are not sure what side of the coin they fall on. You can tell me that I've made my bed and have to lie in it if I chose to live in a neighborhood that wasn't mine to begin with, but should the long-term inhabitants have to experience such danger as well? Graffiti and poster art screaming "Gentrification Hurts" and "Go Home Hipsters!" can be found sprinkled through the Eastside. I tend to agree that when gentrification begins, it spreads fast. Old homes and businesses are bulldozed down to accommodate new condos and storefronts. The developers come in with seeming disregard for the families who have made the area their home. They try to whitewash whole neighborhoods looking for a quick buck. The Eastside went from a handful of bars, restaurants, and stores to a new business popping up at every turn. Luckily most of the spaces snapped up my proprietors have been abandoned buildings or lots reconverted. 

Gentrification is inevitable. Relocating from places to place to place is what we have been doing since the beginning of Mankind. What I am against is alienating neighbors and creating resentment and unease. Am I idealistic in thinking that you can take a more impoverished part of a city and make it livable for all walks of life? That we don't have to push others out by raising the cost of rent, property tax, and goods? Could we build more mixed-income housing, community centers, and transportation systems to connect everyone? Could we clean up streets, add beautification, and outreach services? And though East Austin is attempting all of these things, how do we know if we're trying hard enough? Or is it out of our hands?

What do you think of gentrification?

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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

My G-ma the G-Dawg

Hey Everyone!
Just want to send a quick message and THANK YOU because....MY GRANDMA WON THE GOOD MAGAZINE PEOPLE TO ADMIRE CONTEST! I am so f'ing excited. So is my grandma. When I called her she squealed like a little girl! Then she proceeded to tell me that she's been mailing with a psychic and the psychic told her she was going to become a millionaire. Then I was like "What the fuck...?"

Anyways, she's super stoked and I'm so tickled that she's going to be featured in a national magazine! That woman deserves it. She's such a classy and beautiful lady who has worked hard her entire life. I used to dream of making it big in Hollywood solely because I wanted to treat her (and my mom) to all the finer things in the world.

Thank you so so so much again for all who supported. You seriously have no idea how much this means to me.

You can read more about the post HERE.
If you don't read Good Magazine, you should. It's one of the best magazines out there.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Absoluteness of Alzheimer's

Grandma and Lionel ate Burger King kids meals tonight. They bought Lucy the Jack Russell Terrier one too.

"I don't cook anymore because Lionel can't chew!" Grandma explains to me.

"I thought he just got new teeth, Grandma?"

"Yeahhh, but they hurt. They don't fit him right."

She had already changed the subject three times. Grandma didn't want to talk about the elephant in the room.

I don't even particularly want to write about it.

"What did Lionel's son say, Grandma?"

A pause, then my grandmother's familiar shielded acknowledgement and dismissal of my question due to Lionel's close proximity to her.

"Mom said he wants to put Lionel in a home?" I ask quietly.

I hear Lionel's booming voice in the background, asking for mock help as Lucy tongue whips his face.

"Hold on a second," my grandma says as I hear her small footsteps walk towards the bedroom.

She gets really quiet. "They want to put him in Walden Oaks. We went over there today to take a look, " her voice quavers a bit, "but I don't think he's ready. It's not time yet!"

My grandmother rarely cries. She comes from a generation where you don't "burden" others with your emotions. You stay strong. Always. Maybe it is the pain she is experiencing with a recent bout of Shingles that is making her break down? Or maybe it's her fear that once Lionel leaves the house she will be all alone? Or maybe, despite all the yelling and screaming at him, despite all the years of frustration, she simply will miss Lionel the person once he is gone.

"Grandma, but you yell at him all of the time because he's not able to help you. He's sick. It's not a good situation. Won't this be better?"

She has already regained her composure and changed the subject.

"Let's talk about you. Why are you feeling so anxious?"

Why am I feeling so anxious? This is a question that I've be asking myself a lot lately. Though my anxiety has manifested into a concern for my safety due to living in the more "rugged" part of Austin, I can't help but feel that it's been compounded by my family's new found realities that I'm having difficulty accepting- Lionel is sick. His Alzheimer's will only get worst. Lionel will be put into assisted living. Grandma will have to adjust to this. Grandma is 84. Though she is in good health for the most part, Mom fears she can't live alone. Maybe she will move into my Mom's house across the street. Maybe the time has come when the child parents the parent. My Mom is 60. She is bored. She is tired of the small town she was raised and stay in. My mom and grandmother should leave and come here, but I'm not sure they ever will. I am 1,721 miles away and I'm physically unable to help with any of this. All I can be is emotional support over the phone and sometimes that is difficult for me.We expect our parents to be the rock- but my mom is scared of what the future holds and my grandma is scared of what the future holds and I guess I should be too?

But when I was talking to Grandma, I didn't want to talk about my anxiety- though it had consumed a part of me yesterday. I wanted to change the subject.

"Grandma, I want you to know that you can talk to me about this at any time. I don't want you to keep it bottled up. I want you to feel free to share how you feel, ok?"

I worry about her. Because of her idea that you must keep things in, because of her idea that if you are feeling sad or are in pain and shouldn't talk about it, she has been miserable. She's frustrated. She hates herself, she says.

"I can't move like I used to and Lionel is of no help! If I wasn't in pain it would be ok, but I don't think the pain is ever going away!"

She yells at Lionel when he forgets to take out the trash. She yells at Lionel when he falls asleep again and again on the couch. She yells at Lionel when he hits the wrong buttons on the coffeemaker.

"Grandma, you have to stop doing this. He's sick. He forgets. He can't help it. Yelling at him will do both of you no good."

And it won't. Alzheimer's support groups will tell you that trying to combat with a person afflicted with the disease will not work. It will make them angry and sad and more confused. It will only make the opposer more and more frustrated.  It is not like Grandma to yell at someone but like anyone in pain- emotional or physical- you are not always yourself.

Neither Lionel or Grandma are the selves they were 50 years ago or 25 years ago or even 2 years ago. Last year there was no diagnosis to the evident memory loss that Lionel was experiencing. Now, now things are changing so quickly and none of us can hold on.


Friday, June 03, 2011

A Dwarf, a Lonely Boy, and a Schizophrenic Walk Into My Apartment...

Of all the roommates I've ever had, only three sucked ass.

The first one had characteristics of a dwarf. This is not what made her suck. What made her suck is that she enrolled in our college simply because someone who was on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (David Boreanaz) went there and separately she was horribly inconvenienced by 9/11 because it interrupted her "phone time". The second one sucked because he had a tendency to display behavior I commonly saw portrayed on Law and Order SVU. The third roommate was deemed "schizophrenic" by police and taken out of the house. Other than that, I've been pretty lucky. All my other former roommates I consider friends. In fact, on a few occasions I cried when separating from some particular roommates. However, with the three that sucked ass, I'm only glad I experienced them for future roommate topic fodder.

The first roommate that sucked ass was my first roommate of all time. My freshman year I opted to live in the "drug and alcohol free" dorm. Why I thought that was a good idea was beyond me. My floor mostly consisted of high strung Long Island girls with IBS and society rejects who watched a lot of CW. Like my roommate. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that everything about my new roommate freaked me out. Her greasy hair, her penchant for wearing over-sized Hanes t-shirts with images of various characters from Veggie Tales on it, her love for contemporary Christian pop, and her 6'5" 350-pound boyfriend who had a scar running down the back of his head which, I believe, related to a story about him being dropped on his head as a baby. I'd like to also point out that she was from West Virginia but out of fear of alienating any of my West Virginian followers, I will leave this out. Hey, don't worry. Where I'm from in Central New York, we celebrate being the incest capital of the state so I can't really make fun of anyplace.

"Ms. Bodily Abbreviated", let's call her, was very opinionated and easily annoyed. Nobody stood up to her Dawson Creek standards and she bitched about everyone. I tried to stay clear of her, but when you live in a 7 X 12 foot hamster pen, it's kind of difficult. That year I mostly drove home on the weekends just so I didn't have to deal with her. Unfortunately she was the first person to break the news of 9/11 to me after I returned from class, but it came in the form of, "Ummm....your Mom just called and said something about a plane hitting a building, I don't know, I'm on the phone." I tried asking her more questions but she just silently shooed me away from her. I quickly called my mother on my cell who informed me that a second plane had just hit the World Trade Center. I tried relaying this news to my roommate who was talking to her Baby Huey of a boyfriend but she could care less. I ran off to the dorm television room where I sat glued watching the events unfold. It wasn't until a good hour later that my roommate became concerned about what was happened because she thought it would somehow effect her boyfriend who lived in Pennsylvania. Then she became frantic that he was going to die.

Abbrevy went on to transfer to a school back in West Virginia and I have no idea what ever happened to her. Aaaaaand I certainly don't care.

The second roommate that sucked ass was 35-year-old wannabe director who got confused about our living arrangements. I had a beautiful two bedroom apartment in West Hollywood and needed a roommate. My boss mentioned that his old NYU roommate was moving to LA to take his shot at directing- 15 years later- and I thought, "Hey, this guy has gotta be cool!" If cool is totally hanging out in the doorway of the bathroom while you pluck your eyebrows asking if he can kiss you while drunk on one glass of champagne. Or if cool is shutting off the TV while you're eating dinner explaining that he's concerned about your entertainment viewing choices, that you should really take the time to watch Kurosawa's Ran while you eat dinner and you should probably stop drinking Diet Coke too. Or if cool is going to Ikea with you two weeks into living together and saying things like, "Our house will now be a home, Lauren!" or "This is what it's like to be married!"

Shortly into our living together, I realized that second roommate, or "Future Bring a Gun Into A Public Area Guy" as I liked to call him, had a few screws loose. Once I finally yelled at him about his leach-like behavior, and made him cry, he finally backed off. And by backing off he holed himself up into his room, surrounded himself with used tissues, and obsessed over a conspiracy theorist script that was going to be his "GREAT MASTERPIECE!" I moved out after a year and Crazy Pants decided to stay in the apartment. Occasionally our paths would cross but to this day he won't talk to me due to a misunderstanding where he thought I was going to jump in the sack with him simply because he was being nice to me.

The third roommate that sucked ass was schizophrenic, so I probably don't have to go into much detail on why she sucked ass. I go into greater detail about the story here, but in short this woman frightened the living shit out of me. I was new to Austin and decided to rent a room in a large house in the fancier part of town. The owner rented out his five rooms to various people which obviously include mentally rabid individuals. The woman, a wild-eyed, gray-haired lady who had her child taken away from her, began believing that the owner of the house was taking her things and hiding them. She became so convinced that she tried to enlist my partnership in teaming up against him. I'd avoid her calls for allegiance, but it became progressively difficult to avoid her when she would sit at the kitchen table in the dark, waiting up all night for me to come home. She also enjoyed standing on the staircase staring down at me while I ate dinner. The worst scenario occured when she barged into my room at 3AM while I was sleeping, screaming, "He stole my figs! And my spoon!".

It came as no surprise the next day when the owner of the house called me to say that, Gary Busey, as I liked to call her, was being escorted out of the house by police. She had called them because she believed the owner of the house was going to shoot her. The police later told me that she had been coming down to the police station for the past two weeks and telling the police chief that she was "in love with him". Busey tried calling me a few times after that, leaving messages where she apologized for her behavior but that she had to act that way for safety reasons.

As much as I enjoy relaying these stories, I HOPE TO GOD I NEVER HAVE A CRAZY ROOMMATE EVER AGAIN!

Do you have any crazy roommate stories that you would like to share? 

*title suggested by awesome friend Chris!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A Woman to be Admired

I found out yesterday that my wonderful grandmother was selected as one of Good Magazine's People to Admire. If you're not familiar with Good Magazine, it's quite possibly the best magazine ever created. It's a magazine about people and businesses who do good things in the world. Simple as that. The magazine is inspiring, encouraging, and innovative. They print on recycled paper and 100% of the subscription fee goes to a charity of your choice. You can get a feel for the magazine here. The website has an amazing interactive community which is where I discovered their "People to Admire" contest. I submitted my grandmother and she was one of sixteen chosen over hundreds. The contest is user-driven and if she wins, she will be featured in the magazine. I can't imagine a more wonderful honor my grandmother could receive in her later years. To be featured in a magazine! Wow! Though every person nominated is inspiring, I wish more than anything that she could have something this exciting happen for her.

For the contest I submitted a picture of my 84 year-old grandmother working out at the gym. Even through all her aches and pains- broken back, painful Sciatic, Shingles, boyfriend with Alzheimer's- she still manages to go to the gym. Underneath I wrote, "My grandmother is a woman to be admired. At 84 years of age with various aches and pains, she can still outdo me at the gym. She can teach me a thing or two about determination."
Please help me vote for her by going HERE. Her entry is under my name "Lauren Modery". Voting ends June 3rd. I really appreciate you taking the time to help me with this. I love my grandmother more than anything and would love for her to have this opportunity. Please let me know if you voted so I can thank you.

For those of you not familiar with my grandmother, I've written about her a few times. Here is a story about when she called my blog a "blah". And here is a story about the business she owned and operated for 35 years. The business she gave her all to and watched disintegrate in the shadow of Walmart. And here is a brief story about her goals and dreams and how I fear she never fulfilled them. My favorite is this video I created below with her and her boyfriend, Lionel. The original can be found here. She's a little crabby in the video because she broken her back in two different places but didn't know yet! She just kept milling around dealing with the pain. Those silly Depressioners!