A MinD in MoTown

413 Harris Street, MoTown.

I sorted through the clothes that no longer fit or were too tattered to save. I packed the boxes of belongings I’ve had for years and those I recently purchased. I tossed food that lingered in my cabinets past expiration dates. I dusted, swept, polished and mopped an entire house just to bid it farewell.

But none of it felt the same as the other dozen times I moved in my life. Hell, it didn’t even feel the same as the last instance where I decided to share my residence with a boyfriend. This moment was much different, and I could pinpoint exactly why.

I was closing a chapter of my life — a two-year period based on independence — that held more importance than any other chapter before it. Sure, I have two diplomas to signify my college experience and albums filled with photos of those nearest and dearest to my heart. But that house and those walls, they were my security blanket, one that sheltered me as I changed and matured and developed from a confused post-grad with an uncertain path to a confident, organized, career-oriented person whose future had finally found clarity among the shades of grey.

Four hours into the move, with only a few boxes remaining but much cleaning to do, I stood in the center of my newly-bare living room talking to my mom and I completely broke down. I hadn’t wanted to move, but it wasn’t because of the situation at hand; it was because the house meant more to me than a place to live and leaving it behind carried more weight than the thousands of pounds of luggage I carried to my new home.

I moved into that humble abode on Harris Street in March 2008 following a breakup with my boyfriend of three years. He returned to Pennsylvania and I was suddenly left in MoTown, 600 miles away from everyone I knew only one year beforehand. I was living on my own, with the exception of a small and furry black roommate who only became a member of my tiny family days beforehand. I owned little more than a TV, futon, desk and kitchenware at the time, and had dealt with nothing but my credit card bills up to that point. At the age of 22, I was forced to learn how to budget my finances to ensure survival from day to day without seeing gas, electric or water services cease. I juggled being a new “mom” to my Sophie, teaching her not to pee in the house and not to eat my shoes, with two jobs. I cooked for one, cleaned for one, grocery-shopped for one… I learned who I was simply by taking care of myself, my household, my dog. The independence came easily, though the transformation within was masked.

And as I stood there in the empty room, my belongings en route to another town and a new residence, the swift realization of how much growth those walls saw in me and my life was overwhelming. The tears were inevitable so I let them flow for a few minutes before wiping them away and picking up the mop to clean another floor.

I’d lived in apartments before, lived with a boyfriend before, lived in a new town before, but this move was different because I was different. I wasn’t that same girl who was nearly homeless in a barely-known state two years ago, or the carefree new post-grad who moved to NC, or even the frightened yet eager college junior moving into her first apartment with friends in State College, PA; I was a real adult with life under her belt, ready to take on the next experience knowing that if it failed, I could make it on my own because I had done it before.

To everyone else, I was moving onto better things, leaving a small house in a mediocre part of town for a lakeside apartment in an upscale neighborhood. To me, I was turning the page onto a new adventure, looking back on the last one and seeing how those years and those four walls of my former home shaped every day henceforth.

It was more than a two-year residence. That house, humble little 413 Harris Street, was where I became me and although I’m not leaving that girl behind, it’s still a bit tough to bid adieu to the place that allowed her to emerge.

Why I hate the Girl Scouts.
February 24, 2010, 12:52 pm
Filed under: Foodage, Way too much thought went into this, Yummy

It was nearly two weeks ago, but I still remember that evening vividly.

I was curled up on the couch, empty bowl in hand that once contained some delicious chicken and rice. I set the bowl on my coffee table and took another swig of my Coca-Cola. Just then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw it — the green box, taunting me as it scarcely peeked out of my purse. I tried to look away, attempting to forget the momentary vision and the saliva that was already forming in my mouth. But it was too late.

Half an hour later, all that remained was the empty foil, the remnants of a formerly filled sleeve of Thin Mint cookies. My shame was heavy, my stomach full. What began as a meager hope to help a coworker’s daughter ended with nearly 700 calories I simply did not need. And another sleeve awaited…

While other organizations are out there, regularly discussing the hazards of both adult and childhood obesity, Girl Scouts of America send demure, innocent young girls to our doorsteps, peddling cookie-deliciousness containing more calories than one should likely consume in a typical day. And at $3.50 per box, we fall for their schemes, thinking of little more than the mouth-watering goodness that awaits. Sure, we may pretend that we’re merely making a purchase to aid some child attain a merit badge that will undoubtedly end up in a drawer seven years from now, collecting dust. But we’re all in it for one thing: The delectable Caramel deLites (aka Samoas), the scrumptious Peanut Butter Patties (aka Tagalongs) and the chocolatey goodness known as Thin Mints, my true weakness.

Despite any hopes we carried into the new year of fitting into our jeans that became a bit-too-tight over the holiday season, the Girl Scouts strip us of our desires, reminding us that their season of choice – Cookie Season – lies just around the corner. And as February arrives and we finally pull those size 4 jeans out of the closet, watching them glide easily over our thighs, butt and waist, those girls in brown and green appear to remind us that our bodies are meant for a size 6 forevermore.

I entered that evening with a skewed thought process – “If I just eat them all now, they won’t taunt me any longer. I must make the entire sleeve of cookies disappear.” – but I carry it no more. Those little ladies won’t fool me. I know the damage their cookies can cause and damn it, I refuse to be a victim ever again!

“Love is blind”? I’m not so sure about that.

From an early age, we are told by our mothers, grandmothers, teachers and countless others that “it’s what’s inside that counts” and “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, one new dating reality show on ABC is pushing those idealistic concepts one step further by proving that looks truly do matter regardless of what people may want to believe.

dating-in-the-dark-show-logo“Dating in the Dark” premiered two weeks ago on Monday nights and, if you’ve yet to see it, I suggest tuning in for at least one episode* if you have an hour of your life to spare for non-thought-provoking television.

So what’s the general gist** here? Three male and three female contestants move into opposite wings of a house for several days, never having a single opportunity to see each other until the very last moments of the dating scenario. Rather, they meet in “the dark room” on one group date then single dates to decide if chemistry exists sans appearance.

Through the use of infrared/night-vision cameras, viewers are able to watch each awkward moment the contestants experience in the darkness. Yep, we see everything from the sad attempts to eat food in the pitch black room to the ass grabbing and haphazard kissing they engage in. Personally, I find this both amusing and somewhat intrusive, all which keep my eyes glued to the television.

Outwardly, one might think the reality show proves that you can fall for someone without having a clue what he or she looks like. Whether the contestants discover that through fun activities – eating an assortment of fruits or dancing, for example – conversation or simply making out, they are able to judge each other based on personality alone.

This is what we see, thanks to the infrared cameras. They, however, see complete blackness. Creeeeeeeepy.

This is what we see, thanks to the infrared cameras. They, however, see complete blackness. Creeeeeeeepy.

… That is, until the big moment where each individual’s appearance is revealed to their “match” and both persons have to decide whether or not to continuing dating now that physical attraction is a factor.

The final ten minutes of each episode I’ve watched – three total, in case you were curious – have been more superficial than anything I’ve yet to see in my life***.

The majority of these men and women seriously grapple with the decision to “stay with the person they fell for in the dark, or leave them behind,” as the ABC Web site states. The viewer actually witnesses people experiencing a strange yet real struggle to decide how important the other individual’s appearance is. Some daters choose to depart while others stick around because the connection formed in the blackness prevailed. But did it?

I haven’t exactly watched enough episodes to completely judge, but, thus far, it seems as though the men and women who claim not to be entirely attracted to their date (yet choose to “meet them on the balcony” and continue dating) have this self-righteous attitude that they, unlike others, were able to put personality above appearance. As if they are doing their dates this huge favor by sticking around, and that part certainly disgusts me a bit****.

Either way, I find it all quite intriguing because the show, to some extent, does ask the “is love blind?” question, forcing us all to somewhat think about how important appearance is to a relationship. If in their shoes, would we be able to continue seeing someone we aren’t exactly lusting for just because of an emotional connection? Or would we, too, depart the house, never to see that person again? It’s something viewers likely cannot help but consider while watching.

If you’ve seen “Dating in the Dark,” I’d love to hear your thoughts about it, good or bad. And if you haven’t watched yet, do you think it’s something worth checking out? Lastly, what do you guys think about a reality show trying to answer relatively deep questions about the role of physical attraction?

* Unless you hate reality TV and/or dating shows. Then go watch CSI.
** Until this very moment, I thought “gist” was spelled with a J. Oops.
*** That’s likely a bit hyperbolic, but it fit well into my sentence.
**** Although, perhaps I’m simply reading into this television program a bit more than necessary, which is always a possibility.

“If you seek Amy.”
July 10, 2009, 10:07 am
Filed under: Way too much thought went into this

I’m often behind the curve, unfortunately, but I was shocked yesterday* when I realized how truly far away I was when it came to the context of this particular Britney Spears song. Truth be told, I didn’t understand the song’s meaning so I didn’t entirely care for it, until I was informed last night what “if you seek Amy” actually means.

“If you seek Amy” = F-U-C-K me. Say it once or twice and you’ll catch on, too.
Love me, hate me
Say what you want about me
But all of the boys and all of the girls are begging to

If you seek Amy.
Love me, hate me
But can’t you see what I see?
All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to
If you seek Amy

Needless to say, the pop tune’s connotations were obvious once that brief tidbit was discovered. And as I further thought about this earlier today** I realized how knowing just a bit more about a song, a book, an author, etc. can vastly change not only one’s perspective on the piece, but its framework, subtext and even general meaning.

When I was in high school, an English teacher of mine frequently asked us students to disregard the author and his/her life as we read a book. He wanted each of us to look at the words as they were on the page without any prior knowledge of how the author’s life might have played in a role in the text’s creation. An excellent example of this from my senior year AP English course is James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. You can either take the text at face value, or you can delve into Joyce’s life and an entirely new novel is seemingly born. Honestly, I think knowing about Joyce’s relationship with his homeland is crucial to understanding that particular book whatsoever.

And that seems to be the case with Britney Spears’ tune. “If you seek Amy” was one of the songs I’d easily change the radio station to avoid or I’d skip over on my iPod. Now, however, knowing the subtle message she’s actually attempting to convey, I strangely have a greater appreciation for the song and I can better understand it as a whole.

So what are some other songs or books that require some “outside” knowledge to comprehend? I can’t seem to think of any at this moment, but if you can, feel free to share.

* “Yesterday” is actually Sunday. I started this post on Monday and simply haven’t had the time to finish it ’til days later.
* Why it was still on my mind, I have no idea…

NOTE: If you’re extremely bored – and I’m talking boredom bordering suicide – you can explore this topic much more in depth. English professors often refer to it as “authority,” such as “who truly has authority over the text?” I studied this briefly as a junior at Penn State*** and it’s honestly a quite interesting discussion (unless you don’t really care, and then it’s just a bunch of useless college crap being tossed your direction). The crux of “authority” asks if the reader has the right to interpret the text in front of them however he or she chooses, or if the author’s initial meaning is the only true interpretation of the words.

Okay, okay, I’m a huge nerd and I find this a valid and thought-provoking argument, and in reality, it’s that “authority” that changes the meaning of Britney’s words. Plus, for once in my lifetime, I actually applied a somewhat trivial concept that I learned in college to something a bit more mainstream and “real life,” if you will. It may never happen again, so I’m taking this moment to make a note of it.****

*** Truth be told, it’s the ONLY thing from my horrible rhetoric class I remember.
**** It may have literally taken me five days to finish this post, but WOOHOO, I did! And just as I was about to give up on it…