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Archive for February 2010

Oh, the Whismy

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Coinciding rather aptly with the release of Tim Burton’s version, I just read Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland  for school. The book is even more insane than Disney’s animated movie — the version that I grew up on — but awe-inspriring imagery aside, I found myself increasingly annoyed with Alice.  I’m sure it has much to do with my adult perspective — though I don’t remember thinking Alice was all that great when I as a child either, not in the way I related to Ariel of The Little Mermaid who actually had to make hard decisions* — but in reading, Alice struck me as pretty dim. Of course, Alice is a child, and she’s supposed to be naive and trusting and accepting and confused all at once, which is why I am so concerned that so many women seem to worship her. 

Alice is a child; if she weren’t a child, she’d be an idiot. So why oh why are grown women so enchanted by her?  The desire for fantasy, to be able to traipse, or at least dream so, through a wonderland where cats smile wildly and decks of card play croquet with flamingo mallets, I get. It’s the obsession with being the naive, whimsical, girl-woman, I can’t grasp. And I’m sick of it. I am tired of grown women being showcased and marketing themselves as lithe fairies with nothing to impart on the world but a sense of wonder and sweet giggles.

Take Garden State. In college this was one of my favorites — I actually own the DVD — but Natalie Portman’s character is just ridiculous. She’s just so darn interesting and crazy, but in a totally innocent way. Her flaws are so sickeningly sweet, she might as well be perfect. Except, you know, she’s not (if you count an unhealthy obsession with hamsters), which somehow makes her even more endearing. She never gets angry or irrational; she only gets sad and thoughtful. She collects tears in Dixie cups and perpetually lies, but for some reason, that’s cute, too. She’s just so damn adorable.

There is no grown woman that I know like this. Thank god.

Real women are complex. They live in the real world, which like Alice’s wonderland is filled with inexplicable characters and moments, yet unlike wonderland, the strangeness of real-life requires rational thought and a range of emotional responses, some of which are pretty ugly.  There are very few actual princesses. For the rest of us, it’s our imperfections that make us extraordinary, so can we stop pretending that they don’t exist now?

 Even Alice (whom Carroll based on the daughter of a neighbor with the same name) grew into an adult woman with adult problems.

*At six years old I cried my way through the end of that particular Disney movie because I was so disappointed that Ariel chose the Prince over her dad and her sea friends. Later, when I read the Hans Christian Andersen version, I felt secretly satisfied that she turned into sea foam.

Written by ditheringmiss

February 12, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Posted in Life

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Why I Loathe Phone Interviews, II

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I’ve written before about how much I detest phone interviews, and after just bombing one, I am more certain than ever that they should be banned, along with unpaid internships, dogs in strollers and spandex as pants. The phone interview is a guaranteed bust if the interviewer is on speaker phone, monotone or all business. I can’t work with these things. Can anyone?

It’s extremely difficult to insert your personality into a phone conversation with a person you’ve never met unless said person is warm and willing to actually have a conversation with you.  If this is the case, I can talk for hours, in articulate, well-formed sentences without looking at my cheat sheet. But usually, the interviewer is simply there to ask you, in a series of mundane questions, to repeat the resumé she has in front of her back to her. But you already know my work history?! Can’t you ask me what I could do to make your website more user-friendly? Or what I’ve accomplished in previous roles?

Also: The-what-makes-you-want-to-work-for-unspecified-company-question makes me want to poke wooden skewers through my eyeballs. Why do they even bother asking?

These days the answer is always the same: Frankly, I’m not sure I want to work for you, but I need a job! You may have noted the giant gap on my resume that coincided rather perfectly with ’08’s economic collapse. Do I need to spell this out for you? I’m desperate. Beggars can’t be choosers, so let’s not pretend that the reason I chose to apply to your business is even relevant.  PS: Regardless of whether I want to work for you or not, I will do a damn good job, because that’s what I do, which you would know if you took the time to a. ask me more intelligent questions, b. met me in person, or c. (and this is a wild thought, I know) asked for my references and then actually called them.

Imagine if all the capable, intelligent, hard-working unemployed were hired tomorrow based, not on phone interviews or resumes or cover letters or even an in-person interview, but actual dialogs, multiple conversations and reference checks.  Actually don’t bother; you’re brain might explode.

Written by ditheringmiss

February 10, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Caution: Unstable Moods Ahead

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Oh dear. I think the instability of my current circumstances may be rubbing off on my emotions.  

Exhibit a. Tuesday I woke up with what’ll I’ll gently call an “easily-irked disposition.” It was one of those moods when pretty much no matter what anyone says you’ll find it offensive, irritating or just down-right dull. Mike might say, “You look pretty today.” And I’ll think, “What’s that supposed to mean?” (The key is to think it, not say it. Saying things like that leads to arguments — the kind that go no where fast.)

Thankfully, I was alone in the apartment all day so most of my frustration was directed at inanimate objects. Until my mom called and asked me about my weekend. Then I was reminded of the Saturday night meal with my dad and my step-mom, in which she continuously went on about how my younger sister “is a real writer, and she reads all the time; isn’t that special?”  Gee, that is. And it reminds me of someone. Oh yea, ME. Do you even remember me as a child, Step-mom?!? And by the way, do you get that I’m actually in school for writing? DO EITHER OF YOU EVEN KNOW ME AT ALL?

My poor Mom took the brunt of the tirade, but she was a real trooper and said something nice like, “It sounds like you’re having a hard time dealing with the world today.” Too true.

Exhibit b. On Wednesday I wrote a thousand words, and I worked, and I ran errands, and I was given some very kind words from one of the people I work with, and I went for a lovely night run with a good friend, and the world was my oyster.

Exhibit c.  Today I woke up at 9:30 am and considered staying awake. Oh look, it’s raining, I thought. I can sit in the window and read. But the bed beckoned. Look how snuggly and warm I am, it said. So I climbed back into bed and slept until the embarrassingly late hour of noon, and now I’m considering a cat nap for good measure. I feel a little guilty, but not particularly sad. Maybe even content? But also still guilty, and lazy, too.

Who can say what tomorrow will bring?  Here’s hoping for a little peace of mind.

Written by ditheringmiss

February 6, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Posted in Life, Me, Thoughts

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Everybody’s a writer

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One of the strangest things about publicly admitting that you “write” is that other people who write start coming out of the woodwork, flooding underneath your doors and banging on your windows. When I first started my creative writing MFA back in fall of 2007 (yikes), I felt quite silly telling people that I had the rather grandiose idea of fancying myself a could-be, would-be writer. I do not come from an artsy parentage; math, English and hardwork were what mattered, so for me announcing my post-undergrad venture felt a lot like telling people I wanted to be a musician or an actress or any of those artistic, one-in-a-million-chance-to-actually-be-successful jobs that people scoff at. But of course, as often happens in life, my fears were (mostly) unfounded. In fact, I have induced far more jealous cries than bitter scoffs.  Because: everyone wants to be a writer.

Often I find this comforting. I am so thankful to have other people who I can talk to, who get what a painful and exhausting undertaking all of this is. But sometimes, if I’m going to be completely honest, it bothers me. Not in a competetive way; after three years taking classes with a multitude of talented people I’ve pretty much nipped that issue in the bud. No, it’s irksome in a much more personal way.  Imagine if all your life you had had this secret inside you. Not a bad secret, but a special one. And maybe one day you got brave enough to own your secret, only every time you told someone, they said they had the same secret, too. You feel silly, like a fraud or, I suppose, just like everyone else.

Still, for every time I feel bothered, there are five more times I feel hopeful and inspired by one of these writerly-types. And amused. To think that there are all these people dying to write, to publish, to be read, while the publishing world is drowning and day after day news reports come out warning us that it’s only a matter time before books are obsolete. It’s a such a strange phenomenon and seems to illuminate the fact that far more people want to be writers than actually sit down, open up a legitimate book and read, page after page, word after word.

So I’ll say this: If you think of yourself (or would like to think of yourself) as a writer or there’s a writer out there that you love, please go out and read something, many somethings, if you can. Don’t just write. READ. Like your life depends on it. Certainly your not-so-secret dream does.

Written by ditheringmiss

February 1, 2010 at 8:06 pm