Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Root of My Sassiness

Too many times a guy has called me sassy. A year ago, any guy using that word to describe me would be automatically scratched off my potential dating list. Maybe that sounds rash, but I was so sick of guys trying to patronize me when they couldn't come up with a witty response and sassy was the word of choice. But maybe I mislead them.

Of late, I’ve been reminded of my lack of intimidation. The most recent reminder being two male colleagues likening me to a puppy—A PUPPY! Before you roll your eyes at what you think is another feminist rant, I will concede that it was kind of funny. They claimed that puppies are cute and people like them, but they aren't intimidating. I’m generally amiable and if I put my hair in pigtails, I think I could slightly resemble a cocker spaniel; however, if I thought these guys were serious, I would have chewed them out for trying to place me on a dog version of the Eve/Mary dichotomy.Still, they had a point. Not that I'm a puppy(I want to be taken more seriously than a puppy and I certainly don’t want to be patted on the head), but I'm not intimidating and for the most part, I don't try to be.

Being aggressive doesn't come naturally to me. Seriously, there’s a video of me chasing butterflies during a soccer game. Growing up in a sports family, the constant comment after my games were "You need to be more aggressive." I tried, but I'd hold back if I thought there was a risk of hurting someone. I have this tremendous feeling of guilt whenever I hurt someone, intentional or not. This holds true in social settings too. I observe the situation and get a feel of what is acceptable before I contribute to the conversation. I don't want to embarrass a guy I don't even know by calling him out on some ridiculous line he's trying to use to impress a girl, even if that girl is me. That's just not cool. I realize that this is problematic. There are certainly times in my life that I wish I’d spoken up or asserted myself more, but for the most part, I like this attitude. I get along with most people and live a fairly drama-free life.

I love to joke around and be sassy with people I know can take it. As some people get to know this side of me, they are surprised and I honestly like surprising them, especially when someone realizes that I'm semi-athletic. The only problem with keeping my sassy side kind of secret is that some people never realize that I'm more than a sweet, English nerd. Or in the case of the guys I won't date, they find out the cute, quiet girl actually talks back.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Romanticized Literary Life

There are some days that I all I want is to read and travel the world. I see glimpses of this imagined life.

A cozy flat in Hampstead. Walks in the heath with my Welsh springer spaniel named after a famous author like Tennyson. Breakfast every morning at my favorite café while I watch people walk by. On especially beautiful days, lunch in the churchyard. Trips to see the Taj Mahal, Alhambra, or any place that intrigues me. Hikes along coasts or up mountains just to take in the view. A journal and a book in my bag wherever I go.

That is my dream life. That's what keeps me going as a literary studies person--not really the details of my imagined life, but the idea that I can absorb and appreciate life in moments.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Always a Valley Girl: Colorado vs. California

The Valley is like a vacuum--you can leave, but you'll always get sucked back.

I don’t know how many times I heard some form of that joke growing up, but my fear in high school was that I'd never leave The Valley. Just like in the movies, I was a small-town girl who wanted something more than the small-town life. I had to escape.

I can safely say that I feel differently now. Besides just growing out of my teenage angst and moving to a different valley, I’ve come to appreciate the landscape and culture that has influenced me even when I thought I was fighting everything it valued—i.e. wrestling and football heroes. I’m not saying this to be nostalgic (though nostalgia certainly plays a part) or because I want to move back (I DON’T!) but I have realized that I can’t and don’t want to escape the perspectives I have from growing up in The Valley. So the joke is true; I’ll never truly escape, but that’s okay. To celebrate my valleyness, I’m going to start a series in which I share my valley perspective.

To kick it off, I’d like to address the California controversy.

This summer, a few of my co-workers and friends were under the impression that I hate California because of the song “California Gurls” by Katy Perry. Let me make this clear: I don’t like that song, but I’m not totally against California. My mom was born there, my dad served his mission there, I have family still living there, and there’s a chance I will end up living there. So I don’t hate California…I just think Colorado is better.

I could argue over the climate, the landscape, or the people, but I’d rather argue over the songs. On California’s side, we have doll-like Katy Perry and “California Gurls” (the Beach Boys just weren’t specific enough):
California gurls, we’re unforgettable
Daisy dukes, bikinis on top
Sun-kissed skin, so hot, will melt your popsicle
California gurls, we’re undeniable
Fine, fresh, fierce, we got it on lock
West Coast represent, now put your hands up

I can appreciate feeling fine, fresh, and fierce, but the rest is a little shallow, no? I mean, I feel sorry for California girls if they are only described as being able to melt a popsicle.

On Colorado’s side, we have the folksy (and okay, not very well-known) Townes Van Zandt and “Colorado Girl”:
The promise in her smile
Shames the mountains tall
The promise in her smile
Shames the mountains tall
She bring the sun to shining
Tell the rain to fall

I don’t mind being represented by this at all. Having a smile that puts the Rockies to shame? That’s a pretty amazing smile. And he’s not even talking about brilliant, white teeth, but the promise, that something special, in a smile. It just makes me happy to be a Colorado girl.

So to me, the clear winner is Colorado, but don’t be sad California, I still think you’re okay.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

In-the-Zone Music

You know how athletes have a pre-game playlist to get pumped up? I'm creating on a playlist for homework and grading papers. I'm the kind of person who can't concentrate with complete silence, but if a movie's playing, I want to watch it, and if people are talking, I want to join in. So to get work done, I pretty much have to slip on my noise-reducing headphones and lock myself in my bedroom.

Then there is the dilemma of what to play. Wait. I'm getting ahead of myself. The music dilemma comes after I've cleaned my room and made myself a snack because those are my go-to procrastination excuses.

Okay. Now, what to play? Some hip-hop and rock might get me pumped up, but it's hard to focus on my reading when I want to dance to Kanye's "Gold Digger" and most of my pump-up music is just too strong to allow me to focus on a mental task. You might think that I must resign myself to easy listening or bluegrass, but that's being too extreme. Besides, I still haven't forgotten that bluegrass killed my first ipod-- that's a blog for another time. My compromise are bands like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (suprise), the Kooks, and my newest find, Mumford & Sons.With these bands combined, I'm building my best playlist ever! Well, until next year at least.

Here's a sample:

So you might have noticed a folk vibe which is pretty close to bluegrass, but they're British so it doesn't count.

I'm also adding Bruno Mars because his song is an apartment favorite and well, I'm still a sucker for a cute love song.

Hopefully, this awesome new playlist will keep me from procrastinating or at least entertain me once I finally get to work.