Friday, April 27, 2012

I can't be the only one who worries about this.

Me:  Do you ever feel like our world is going to be swallowed by spam and junk mail and automated phone system telemarketers?  I've been worried about that lately.  Like one day, I'm just gonna wake up and call my mom to chat or something, but her voice will be all weird and stilted and all, "Press 1 if you're calling about a recipe.  Press 2 if you're calling to vent.  Press 3 for advice," and I'll end up cracking and going off the grid.

Friend:  Uh?  No.  Can't say that I'm really worried about it.  Are you... are you on meds or something?

Me:  No... it just concerns me.  I mean, I'm not really worried about robot overlords taking over the planet or aliens or even zombies, but I feel like I'm developing an increasingly intense fear that one day, it's all gonna be commercials and junk mail and spam emails with nauseating grammar and spelling errors.

Friend:  Spam emails nauseate you?

Me:  Oh God, yes.  Don't they do that to everyone?  You know what?  That actually might be at the root of my paralyzing anxiety:  the degradation of the English language at the hands of marketers, spammers, and advertisers.

Friend:  Sometimes I worry that you have a type of psychological hypochondria and you just start diagnosing neuroses and it all feeds your anxiety like some kind of catch-22.  I mean, are you really worried about spam taking over the world?!

Me:  Of course I am.  What I can't believe is that you're not worried about it.  You're probably on the right track with "psychological hypochondria," though.  But more importantly, at least I'm on the path to mental preparedness, (should such an event ever happen) because of this psychological hypochondria.

Friend:  It is amazing how far you can go on your paranoia alone.

Me:  Probably a side effect of my disease.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tech Writing Qualifications

With the end of my internship, I've been nervously looking around for someone to hire me.  Unfortunately, most of my writing experience is in the editorial realm, and I live in an area where business and tech writing abounds.  In order to better compete with my competitive competitors in this particular competition for jobs, what follows is a very technical piece that I've been working on.  You guys are under no obligation to read it, since the technicality of the technicalness will probably be over your heads, and I don't want to be responsible for any of you having some kind of brain aneurysm from having to think too hard.  I'm a professional, after all.

Advanced Guide for Using an Internet

1.  First, locate your computer.  Double check to make sure that your computer has at least one cord coming out of it somewhere, otherwise you'll want to make sure you're not trying to log onto a cardboard box.  This is a common mistake.

2.  Is your cardboard box computer plugged in?  That means the cord should be stuck to the wall somewhere.  A good way to check is by tripping over that cord we discussed in Step 1.

3.  There is probably some kind of big button that is used for turning on your computer.  It's usually farther away from the other buttons, sort of like it's in a time out or something.  Go ahead and push it.  This is where the magic begins!

4.  You may have any number of Internet icons on your desktop.  Remember, an "icon" is a little picture that represents a computer "program" and your "desktop" is that background picture of the Cheezburger cat.

5.  Ha ha ha, yeah, that cat is pretty effing hilarious.  

6.  Okay, so back to the icons.  If your Internet icon is a little blue 'e,' that means you're using Internet Explorer, and your Internet will not actually work.  If you are in this category of computer users, you may go back to looking at the Cheezburger cat picture on your desktop and wait.

7.  If you are using Safari or perhaps Firefox, you are most likely some kind of computer wizard who understands things like string theory and how to make toast.  Well done!  Let's not get ahead of ourselves yet, though.

8.  You may now click twice on your Internet icon.  This step is called "double clicking" and it is an important skill to master. 

9.  When your Internet opens, you may start looking at websites or "surfing."  To find a particular website, find the long, blank bar near the top of the screen and type in

10.  Using Google is as important to web surfing as marijuana is to couch surfing.  With Google, you can search for everything in the universe, like "nearest Taco Bell" and "what is a tapeworm" and "cyborg pornography" and "show me more Cheezburger cats!" and "how much do new livers cost and can I remove my own?"

Thank you for taking this journey with me.  By now you should be well-versed in what computers are, how to "double click" on an "icon," and how to accurately and effectively use an Internet.  Congratulations on this accomplishment, savvy technology user!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Battle of the Sexy Sexes! (In which we all just look like chumps.)

I've been reading "Bossypants" by Tina Fey (I love her more than chili cheese fries) and there are a few sections in her book about what women go through to "be pretty" and the cycle of insecurity that it perpetuates.  I nearly peed in my pants when I read the first part because it's so funny, and so I went down to EM and EM's fiance's apartment to share in the hilarity, and what ensued was a rather unexpectedly heated discussion about who had it worse, men or women.  Since then, I've done a lot of thinking about the subject, and the conclusion that I came to is that we all lose.  Join me on this journey to discovery, won't you?

At first, I was pretty sure women had it worse than men.  As a female, I consider myself to be mostly low maintenance (don't all girls, though?) but there was a period of my life when I liked to spend my time getting dolled up.  Cleverly, much of this time was in college, so I figure when I die and get to the Pearly Gates, St. Peter is gonna be flipping through the book of my life and get to my college years and hopefully not see all of the shady, unpleasant things that I did while intoxicated because it's one big montage of hair curling and lip lining, and he'll just be all, "Yeah, you spent a LOT of time just getting ready to go out, so I guess I'll just skip forward here..." Because I did.  Hours.  Added up, probably at least 3 times more than the time that I was actually out.  But damn, I looked good doing it!  (For the time that I was sober, so after that first 15 minutes it was all drool and drunk eyes.)  Even now, as a low maintenance gal (that is my story and I'm sticking to it), I still have entire days devoted to grooming.  Seriously.  I'm going to give you a look behind the veil of what the average woman goes through.

We have days that we have to pre-groom.  These are days we need to:  dye our roots and/or hair, pluck or wax eyebrows, shave the entirety of our bodies, exfoliate, moisturize, deep condition, anti-age, buff, polish, trim, etc.  Hell, there are several steps to just WASHING your face if you're a girl.  It's never just soap. It's a cleanser, then a gentle exfoliation, then a facial mask, then toner and moisturizer.  Oh, the moisturizer.  It is most likely something freakishly expensive, like ground up baby fetuses that we slather over our skin to hide wrinkles and blemishes and everything else that shows we are human and we are imperfect and might have wrinkles or oily T-zones.  And that's just pre-grooming, you guys.  That does not include what we still have to go through on a daily basis to style hair, apply makeup, and accessorize our outfits with squish-suppressing underwear usually made of the torture devices known as Lycra and Spandex.

I'm made of Photoshop!
My point is, it is exhausting.  And even then, after everything that we go through, after all of the money that we spend, absolutely none of us thinks we look good naked.  There are industries upon industries that market to our insecurities.  I'm not even getting into plastic surgery here.  If you ask the average girl what she likes about herself, she might not know how to respond.  But, if you ask her what she dislikes about herself, she's got a list a mile long.

Now, I can hear you men yelling at me.  "But I like a natural looking woman!  I hate a woman who takes forever to get ready and wears tons of makeup!  I think that's awful!"  First of all, shut up, you dirty, dirty liar.  You cannot honestly expect us women to believe you like women to look "natural," when "natural" to you is Megan Fox rolling around all dewy and fresh-faced in sheets in some Maxim spread.  If you really believe that's what women look like in the morning, you are probably wearing a helmet and eating paste.  Trust me.  EM is a professional makeup artist, and it takes more makeup to look "natural" than if some stripper came in asking for a smokey eyeshadow application and body glitter all over.  Natural, to women, means greasy hair in a ponytail, no makeup (but somehow always smudges of yesterday's eyeliner), weird pimple cream on our zits, baggy tee-shirts, and some kind of soft, flannel, pajama pants.  We love natural, too, you see.  We just don't want you to see it.  I even know girls who, if staying with their boyfriend overnight, will get up early, run into the bathroom to brush their teeth and put a "natural" face on (powder, mascara, lip balm) and rush back into bed so that they can pretend that they're waking up looking that good when their man wakes up.

Not that I am maligning the beauty industry, because I play along just as much as everyone else.  I don't want to leave my house without makeup on.  I don't want to be seen with my hair or my clothes other than put-together, but I accept that much of it is about illusion.  Do I really believe that some dreamboat is going to look at me and think, "Yeah, I bet she rolls out of bed looking like that every day!  I BETTER PUT A RING ON IT!"?  No, because that's unrealistic.  It will not, however, stop me from wanting to at least have a face on if I have to run errands somewhere.

So yes, being a girl is tough.  But EM's fiance reminded me that there are industries that market to men's insecurities, too, and while they may not be the same things as women, it's still based on being "good enough."  Men are supposed to have abdominal muscles and pectoral muscles and biceps that people only get by drinking raw eggs and doing sit ups until you herniate something in your spine, and while you're at it, fight genetics with pills like Enzyte to make your junk bigger and longer lasting with Viagra and Cialis, and then smear some Rogaine on your head (because women hate balding men, didn't you know?) and hop into a car that you can't actually afford to make payments on, and then, ONLY THEN, will we with vaginas give you the time of day.  If we aren't PMSing, and if we want you to buy us something, that is.  All in all, I feel bad for guys.  I do.  Women might have more things to worry about in terms of body image, but I can at least pass for attractive without having to convince myself that I need a Mercedes to attract a mate.  (Which, if you think that, I would assume are the same helmet-wearing, paste-eating person that believes porn and romcoms dictate romance.  NO!  NO!  ::spray bottle:: NO!)

My conclusion is that it's all a fucking shitshow.  A circus.  "Enhancing" your appearance to look more attractive isn't a new idea, and it's not one that will go away.  It isn't even exclusively human.  The important thing is knowing where to draw the line, I guess.  To that end, no gender really comes out on top.  No one really has it harder than the other (haha, 'harder') because it's difficult in different ways.  So, don't judge a book by its cover, don't think you're any worse off than anyone else, and if you meet anyone who thinks they'll find the love of their life just as soon as they get that boob job or that fancypants car, bitch slap them once for me.