The Glass Ceiling in Television Not Even Dented by Reality

anigif_enhanced-buzz-21683-1381975239-16 (1)Welcome to the Two Oh One Four. Fourteen years into the new millennium and we are still having the same conversations about politics, women and the media. Our depiction of female politicians in the media, especially as more women enter the real political sphere, lags behind the reality.  Real women entering elected positions is creating a real model of the politician “lady version,” yet fictional media representations of the political landscape not only disregards our increasing presence, the TV version of female politicians stands in stark contrast to the reality. Even in politically based TV shows with strong female characters, for example Scandal, the women in elected positions are portrayed as emotional, cheating, ambitious at all costs (until they lose because of lady parts) characters.

Let’s compare the two female candidates attempting presidential bids on Scandal to two actual female politicians, Senator Wendy Davis (D- TX) and Senator Michelle Bachmann (R- MN), who hold political office and are making considerable waves in national news this year.

Scandal:

Candidate 1: Josephine Marcus (D- Montana) (played by Lisa Kudrow)

lisa kudrow

Likely character pitch: Naive, yet ‘intelligent’ female candidate who unexpectedly makes waves for off the cuff comments becomes a serious presidential candidate. A childhood secret threatens to derail her run and Olivia saves the day. Marcus is politically unpolished and repeatedly fails to grasp the realities of running for president in the current media environment.  She constantly exclaims ‘why does the public need to know about [insert personal issue]?’ as if the thought that her private life might become interesting to the public or her opponents never crossed her mind when she decided she would run for president. Eventually the character must sacrifice herself because she loves her daughter more than she desires to be president. O,h and somewhere in there she gives an amazing feminist speech, which I’m assuming is suppose to appease us, yet she completely fails to live up to her speech.

Conclusion: AWWW… this would be cute if it didn’t involve possibly being president of the FUCKING UNITED STATES. Any one, but especially a woman, who manages to put together a reasonable bid for a presidential nomination cannot be this naive, I’ve worked on a lot of elections, and candidates can be dumb but they can not be naive; naivety is the first thing to be weeded out.

Candidate 2: VP Sally Langston (R – Texas) (played by Kate Burton)

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Likely Character Pitch: Highly moral woman who helps bring the right over but is willing to bend her defining morals to become president, by switching to a pro-choice stance. VP Langston is consumed by her ambition, and demonstrates repeatedly her willingness to sacrifice everything with cold collected calculation.  However when her husband does the nasty with another man, which she implies she understood prior to their marriage, Sally flips and stabs him to death, effectively ending her run against the president.

Conclusion: Bitches be crazy.

Reality:

Candidate 1: Wendy Davis (D- Texas)

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Character pitch: Known for her ability to filibuster unlike this country has seen since the 18th century, she knowingly positioned herself as the face of the new blue Texas.  After getting gerrymandered out of her district she decided to stage one last great state stand defending women’s right to their bodies in pink sneakers.  Almost immediately following this highly viewed senate session (over 100,000 people watched the live feed, over 150,000 tweeted, and many, such as myself, found themselves unable to access the State Senate Live Feed because of bandwidth problems), Senator Davis announced her bid for governor of Texas, and there is considerable buzz about a presidential run in the future.  In contrast to the fictional Marcus, Davis fully understands the implications of stepping onto the national stage, and further more is carefully crafting a public image useful for promoting her political goals.

Conclusion: These pink sneakers were meant for running (for president).

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Candidate 2: Michele Bachmann (R – Minnesota)

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Character Pitch: The darling of the Tea Party, Bachmann is as close as a religious libertarian can get to a true ideology. She believes what she believes, or at least knows that deviating is bad base politics.  Bachman clearly challenged the Republican establishment by incorporating the Tea Party wing better than the old white males who tried to cater their rhetoric to the new, very scary, branch.  I do not like Bachmann, but there is no way that the woman who stood in front of the country and called out the old Republicans would ever compromise her ‘values’ in a party that uses flip flopping to out their own incumbents in state primaries.  Moreover, there is no way a gun toting, Minnesotan, hunter would ever be stupid enough to stab her husband on a publicly owned rug when the presidency was within reach.

Conclusion: Bitches be crazy, but not stupid.

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The dumbing down of female candidates, on both sides, in media representations is dangerous.  What 90s kid doesn’t remember Topanga telling the class she was going to be the first female president of the United States? I believed that, and I was surprisingly disappointed when as an adult she became a ‘little wife’ to Corey (who I thought would be a great first husband).  For kids of the 90s, female television characters under the age of 15 talked about breaking the glass ceiling, yet that conversation disappeared after they started dating.  This model eerily mirrors the current statistics on women in the work place. Whether society models media or media models society is an issue too long for this post, but if we want to foster strong women in the future maybe we need to start looking at the women we are showing to young girls and women around us. In reality women in politics have made record strides this year, yet in media they are still stuck in the 1850s. Maybe its time somebody grew up.

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The real world or The Real World

This is my first semester in 18 years in which I am not taking a class. Not a single one. The next five months are dedicated to finishing my thesis (read: glorified research paper) and studying for my comprehension exams so I can graduate in the summer. And then…and then…

Several of the people in and around my life have asked me what I am going to do in the “real world” once I graduate. For a while, I went along with this question and gave some very satisfying answers about job prospects, traveling, and purchasing at least five more cats within the next two years. But I’m becoming irked by this question, not because I don’t have a solid plan, but because of its implication. Since when was being in school not a “real” thing? Will my Master’s degree be imaginary, some mathematical equivalent to non-existence, i? I certainly hope not, seeing as the time, money, and brain-space sacrificed has a definite value of 18 years—no more and no less.

Imaginary Kate posing at Imaginary undergrad graduation, posing with Real Grandma. What a headache.

Without a doubt, we’ve all talked about, dreamed about, wondered and skirted around this “Real World” concept, so I pose the question to you: what in the flying f*ck is the Real World and how do I become a Real Person in order to live within its space? If am on the cusp of entering this place, then I feel like I need some clarification in order to avoid becoming a nonentity. It is my understanding that this is a place where a body is not in school, has its own job, pays it bills, and has a few more responsibilities that make it a commendable part of a working society (Note: professional students CLEARLY do not meet these qualifications).

Barf

Do this for the Real World and you’re an automatic IN.

It’s not like this is something I can look up and research, either, seeing as MTV has a monopoly on the Real World and has occupied it since 1992. But if I take my lessons from this Real World, then there are certain themes for my new life to be on the look-out for:

  1. Prejudice
  2. Politics & religion
  3. Romance
  4. Sexuality
  5. Unrequited love
  6. Departed house-mates
  7. On-screen marriage
  8. Coping with illness

Interesting how I never experienced any of this in the last 18 years (well,  “On-screen marriage” might be tricky to argue, but my sass is on a roll). Maybe the point of school is to prepare myself for these “recurring themes.” Maybe the purpose of my Latin America seminars in 2011 and 2012 was to teach me that there are some fiercely homophobic bros out there who love to hate on AIDS-ridden gays. I’m certain that my Marine Biology class from 2008 amply provided the life-skills for when my roommate moved out and we scrambled to find a new one. And the most important lesson, one that was a tough learn in the History of Revolutions course I took in 2009, was that of unrequited love…for immediate and radical change brought on by the people for the benefit of the whole and not the few…oh, wait, that has nothing to do with MTV’s Real World, because that might have actual, long-term, and significant change as opposed to the “longest running reality TV show” claim to fame. THAT must be part of Non-Real World.

I am so not prepared for the Real World if this is what it takes. But if my hunch about “reality” is right, that finding a job, paying my bills, and interacting with a larger community that is outside of (but not necessarily separate or far from) academia, then I’m certain I will do just find and y’all can stop saying Welcome to the Real World!

Don’t Call Me Brave

Hufflepuff. That, I am sure, is the house I would be in if I attended the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And although we Hufflepuffs are the butt of every joke, I think I would be happy there. Certainly, I am not smart like those in Ravenclaw, nor cunning like those in Slytherin. And I am definitely not brave enough to find a home amongst the Hermione Grangers and Harry Potters in the Gryffindor house.

Perhaps that is why I am so suspicious when someone comments on my bravery. When they suggest that I am brave, I assume they mean stupid or, at the very nicest, foolish. Surely they don’t really think moving across the country solely because I wanted to is brave. They must think I am out of my mind. What? You moved to a city you don’t know without a job? Hardly with a plan or excuse other than that you’ve lived in one zip code your whole life and it was time for a new one. Were they all out of zip codes back home? That they express jealousy of my freedom in that sense only says to me, “We are of the higher minded houses. We Gryffindors, Slytherins, or Ravenclaws plan, scheme, or strategize before buying that one way ticket. Sure, that may be holding me back from what I want right now, but it is the better way to do it. Just because you are happy doesn’t mean you are doing it right.”

And maybe that is what some of the people think. Those who care about me, I am hopeful, really are envious and really do wish they could do what I am doing. Because who doesn’t want to be happy? Why shouldn’t you go after what you want? And because I did that, does that make me brave?

Let me answer how I experience it: no. I am not brave. I am not stupid. I am not foolish. But I have that Can-Do attitude we Americans are so known for coupled with that cowboy Get’er done mentality from growing up in the west; from growing up with parents who expected a lot. And maybe just a dash of YOLO, for good internet measure. With that, and the knowledge that it’ll probably all work out and if not I can always go back to 85719, I will always leap and wait for the net to appear.

Fast forward to now, four months into this little adventure of mine. I’m wrapping up a handful of projects from NaNoWriMo, an internship, and a teaching contract. The next few months are a little frighteningly devoid of an income. Looking forward, well, frankly, (with the exception of a new zip code) I’m in the exact same place as I was a few months ago, and am poised to jump all over again. Because if that net doesn’t appear, and if I don’t land on my feet, well, I don’t have much choice but to jump again and again, until I get it right. What is it we Hufflepuffs are? Unafraid of toil?

er...Just to really tie up any loose ends, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists bravery as:  having or showing courage (and courage as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty). Wait, by that definition…

Look, I have a younger brother. If nothing else, I am able to withstand difficulty.

I Wrote a Novel in a Month

Or Why I Haven’t Been Blogging.

“Thirty days and nights of writing abandon” so says the masthead for the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo, website. The Challenge: write a novel in a month. A novel in NaNo terms is 50,000 words, roughly 1,667 words every day. For those of you with memories of finals week still fresh in your mind, that is that final paper that you wrote at the last minute, every single night, for a month. And people choose to do this? Yeah, and I was one of them. One of something like 300,000 worldwide for a word count around 3,288,976,325 (this year).

Heck yeah I did!

Heck yeah I did!

For the math whizzes out there, that doesn’t quite add up. If three hundred thousand people are writing, we’re coming up something like 12 billion words short. Clearly not everyone completes the challenge. But, I did! My 50, 102 words were part of those three billion words. I feel pretty accomplished  To be honest, there was a fair amount of personal back patting, but shoot, I deserved it! I’ve never written that much before.

So I’ve written a novel. Or something. I’ve written 50,000 words of a novel. Except that I haven’t even gotten the whole idea out… You have no idea how tempted I was to have the last official thirteen words be: “And then they were all hit by a bus and died. The end.” and just be done with the dang thing. But I didn’t.

Maybe you noticed that we are halfway through December and I’m still not blogging (sorry long lost drafts of October… I’ll get to you some day.) November has ended and yet, here I am, writing every day, still. Queue cramped fingers, crossed eyes, and yet more crumbs in my keyboard, all in order to achieve the goal, to write the novel.

The goal is different now, more intangible.  When you are counting each word, you have something to achieve. But now I’m just trying to finish the plot, and that isn’t quite as quantifiable. How do I know I’m done? Assuming I don’t send in the bus after all, that is. And when I’m done, is that a novel?

Saturn with its largest moon Titan.

Saturn with its largest moon Titan.

Before I can answer that question (if I can answer that question), I should tell you what it is about. It is about a National Park Ranger. At the Rings of Saturn National Park. Who gets wrapped up in a revolution to free the Saturnian moon system from the United States.

In the words of my esteemed friend Carolyn, “Is it supposed to be good?”

My answer: “Well…” Because I don’t know. I don’t even know what makes a good novel. What I know is: The science is good. The story is, if nothing else, original. And the characters have dimension, although I’m still working on that last piece.

So have I written a novel in a month? Not exactly. It probably won’t go any farther than the five free bound copies Amazon gives all NaNo Winners. Probably not more than five people will ever read it. But to tell the truth, that doesn’t matter. Because I beat this monster, this looming I never have so I never will mentality that kept me from writing seriously in the past. And you know what? Even if I am the only one who is, I can’t wait to read it.

But heck, it is a love story, wrapped up in the fight for good and evil, in outer space. What isn’t there to like?

An Education on Education

 My first real teaching experience came this past year when I was hired as a subcontracted tutor for TUSD. The company I worked for advocated small group tutoring sessions right after school for all students who weren’t performing well on standardized testing. Studies have shown that just a few hours of one on one time with a student, something like five hours a year, can improve the student’s grade by one letter. And better grades lead to more confident youth. And confident youth lead to a brighter future. Plus, it was the highest paying job I’d ever had; all around it was a pretty good gig.

Until I met my kid. His name was Jordan. He was five, full of energy even at the end of the day, in a bad family situation, and far more interested in pulverizing his snack than reading. But I had to teach him reading. Three times a week. And one of those days was Friday, when his grandma, who picked him up, brought the puppy. What is that saying about a rock and a hard place? That was me.

Besides a brief summer after fifth grade when I wanted to be a zoo keeper, I have always wanted to be a teacher. But now that I was actually teaching, I wasn’t so sure. It was hard. And what’s more, I didn’t seem to be very good at it. More often than not, I cried on the drive home, having succeeded only in keeping Jordan in his seat the whole session. Sometimes I only managed to get him into the hall and away from the other kids before he exploded into a floor-rolling tantrum.

Working with him was never easy. Even when he was interested in the story, he’d psyche himself out, convince himself
that he couldn’t do it and that, actually, he didn’t want to do it and that I couldn’t make him. Even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, easily his favorite subject, the names of which he spoke with a familiarity of life-long friends, didn’t always convince him to pick up a book. Very slowly I began to, word by word through trades, deals, and a fair amount of candy, win Jordan over. And eventually he was reading more words than throwing tantrums. He’d demand all the books on his favorite subjects that I could find. And by the end of my time with him had read several books cover to cover, was writing most of his letters the right direction, and even used proper punctuation without having to be reminded.

Without question, tutoring Jordan was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

On the very last day I was with Jordan, his grandmother came over to me and explained that earlier in the week Jordan’s class had done an assignment about what they liked best about school. Jordan said his favorite thing about school was his tutor.

I was hooked. I will be a teacher when I grow up. There is absolutely nothing I can think of that, while being extremely challenging, is as extremely rewarding. Since working with Jordan, I have upped the number of students, positioning myself in front of real live classrooms on a weekly basis. Teaching is what puts food on my table right now. It isn’t all tales of adversity and triumph. Even while I am passing on new information and getting my kids to think in whole new ways, I still have to separate those girls that won’t stop giggling. I have to start all over and remind them what respect means. Hear, purposefully whispered too loud, someone calling me bitch.

But I also get to see court ordered youth fight me every step of the way and then totally connect when the roles switch and he is the teacher. I get to hear the whispered wows and ohs as little known facts reveal themselves. I get to watch faces light up as suddenly a concept is grasped.

I didn’t set out to write this article to reiterate that just because something is hard doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. I’m not going to remind you that all worthwhile things in life are difficult. (I think EasyMac illustrates that point quite completely.) I won’t even mention how much we learn from the things that scare us.

Did I just sneak a lesson in there? Apples now being accepted.

The Three-Year-Old Graduate Student

I moved to Atlanta one year ago to study for my master’s in history. I packed my dresses, crammed my cat into a kennel, and as soon as I squirreled as many books as possible into every nook and cranny of the car, my Pa and I headed east on the I-10 for 2000 miles and never looked back. We traveled across the country and saw some of the best roadkill this beautiful nation has to offer, and when we arrived in Atlanta, I found the most perfect apartment with the most affordable rent with the most glorious view of the most beautiful city.

Could have found this in my apartment search, but did I? I did not.

Well, at least this is how I wish it had went. While the roadkill was very diverse and of the utmost quality, I looked back over my shoulder where I imagined my southwestern home might be. When we arrived in Atlanta, I picked the second apartment complex that we visited because it was too hot and humid for me to care to look anywhere else. The rent was affordable, but the neuron that was meant to fire signals about getting exactly what you pay for must have died from heat stroke or dehydration. And it turns out that Atlanta is neither the most glorious or the most beautiful city. When people ask me why I chose Atlanta over the other schools that accepted me, I tell them “because I’m too poor for anything better.”

Then people ask me how I like Atlanta, and I never know how to answer. I live in the middle of Atlanta proper, which I imagine is a great place for the young, club-seeking, drinking divas that  HBO and magazines tell me that I should be loving. I’m not that diva, though. I go to sleep at 11.00 so I can get up at 6.00 in order to be ready for my day by 8.00. Initially, I told people, “I’m not here to have fun, I’m here to get my degree.” I started hating Atlanta about a month into my program for that attitude. I hated the smells and sights of the city. I hated the selfish, urban dwelling people. I started to hate my apartment and how small and lonely it was. Worst of all, I started to hate what I was studying. I just hated everything about everything and nothing could make me feel good.

I’m in Phoenix right now for my three weeks of summer break, and I’ve had an epiphany about my dislike for that ugly, nasty, wet, smelly city: I am, probably, severely over reacting. Once this thought crossed my mind, I felt very silly immediately. The image of a three-year-old with my face, sitting at the kitchen table screaming “I HATE VEGETABLES!” flashed through my mind. Of course you can’t hate every vegetable. Maybe a few are very icky,  and maybe some others taste a little better than others, but for the most part every single vegetable tastes great in a big, fat, greasy pot of stir fry. I’ve been fighting Atlanta, fiercely and with the whole of my self, determined not to find anything to love in that city. There’s absolutely no reason for it, especially when I have a lot of opportunities to take advantage of. I can volunteer at any number of the non-profits around me, or pick up a hobby at one of the hundreds of clubs at one of the hundreds of cafes, or combine the two and achieve a life-long goal of volunteering at the Humane Shelter, collect all the cats I want, and create a club called “Cat Ladies UNITE.” I’ve seen enough cat-carriages go around the block to know that there is a crazy cat interest and need.

I never want to find myself  in any one place of my life for a single reason alone, existing for one purpose, striving for one goal alone. It sounds very one dimensional and close-minded, doesn’t it? I want to make sure that I am always in motion, and not only propelling forward, but stretching out in all directions, like the noodles and vegetables in a big, greasy pot of stir fry. No one can hate a good batch of stir fry. And while I still feel anxious when people ask how I like Atlanta or why I picked the capital of the South as my new stomping grounds, I’ve decided that it’s alright not to know and it’s alright to go on an Appalachia adventure finding my answers.

Relocation, and Why It’s Not Quite as Scary as You Think

Nobody is this happy when moving.

Moving has always been a huge part of my life. Up through high school, I had lived in four different general locations, in ten different houses and apartments, and attended a fair number of different schools. And in college… let’s just say I did a fair bit of relocating. (Eight apartments in five years? Lady, you crazy.) I became remarkably adept at putting everything I own into boxes and bags, sweeping out my room, saying goodbye to the familiar corners and windows and not turning back.

But no matter how many times I moved, there was definitely that moment. Leigh characterized it well last week when she wrote, “Oh, my God. I’m moving across the country. What am I thinking?” I’m living through that now, too: Two weeks from today, I’m picking up my life and moving it back across the country from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Portland, Oregon.

I did the same thing eight months ago when I graduated from college and got this job in Philly. I was nervous and eager and excited and scared. Moving when you’re little is one thing. Your parents are coming with you, they take care of most of the logistics, and you’re just along for the ride. Moving to college, for those of us who went to school farther away from home, is a little scarier. Moving across the country for your first full time job, the real foray into being a pseudo-adult? That was horror-movie fear.

Moving back? I’m having trouble finding the words to describe it.

For all intents and purposes, Portland is my dream city. As students at the University of Oregon know, Portland is the holy grail. 107 miles up the road, we make frequent weekend trips, sometimes during the week for shows or parties with a late night drive home, our compatriots asleep in the back seat. The bike lanes are abundant, the coffee is bitterly brilliant, the farmers markets overflow with fresh produce, the bands play late into the night. The people are friendly and my new job presents an incredible opportunity to further my career. On paper, everything should be great.

But this move is more terrifying than any of the others. And that doesn’t make any sense.

As I said before, moving has never been hard for me. I love change, and adventure. But for the last six years, every time I’ve moved has come at the logical end of some task. The end of a school year, the end of a summer internship, the end of college. May 8th is special only insofar as it’s a little less than a week until I start my new job. And life in Philadelphia is going to go right on without me.

I think that’s the difference. When you graduate from college, you’re eager to get out into the real world, to start your own life free from the shackles of higher education. You and all of the people you graduated with. From then on out, though, it’s you against the world, trying to make the freeways bend and the clouds move in a certain direction so you won’t get rained on while you’re packing the moving truck and won’t hit too much traffic on your way out.

Maleable.

But that’s the excitement that I think Leigh was trying to get at. When you move as a post-grad/pseudo-adult/whatever people are calling us these days, it’s on your own terms. You get to decide when you’re moving, how much you want to pay, where you’re going to go. Yeah, jobs dictate those decisions (woo money, amirite?), but ultimately we are the masters of our own destinies. And that’s how I’m keeping myself sane through this whole process. Even though many aspects of this move are not entirely up to me, I’m doing it on my own terms (as much as I can).

That also means I’m remarkably unprepared. Two weeks out, and I’m still not entirely sure how I’m getting all my things across the country. I’m still trying to finagle rent and deposits and wrap things up at work and see all of my friends at least once before I go. And I’m starting to be sad about leaving this city that I never really got to know, that I hope to return to someday, that gave me the leg up from unemployed college graduate to working millenial.

When I brought this melancholy to the attention of my father, he pointed me to a column in the New York Times where David Brooks asked his age 70+ readers to write essays evaluating their own lives. I won’t get into the details of the sad story contained in the article (feel free to read it yourself), but I will say that it’s about how quickly our ideas about the future can change and how that has long-lasting effects on our lives. Perception, Brooks notes, can change in an instant. My dad’s email to me read (from the article):

The fact is, we are all terrible at imagining how we will feel in the future. We exaggerate how much the future will be like the present. We underestimate the power of temperament to gradually pull us up from the lowest lows. And if our capacities for imagining the future are bad in normal times, they are horrible in moments of stress and suffering.

Given these weaknesses, it seems wrong to make a decision that will foreclose future thinking. It seems wrong to imagine that you have mastery over everything you will feel and believe. It’s better to respect the future, to remain humbly open to your own unfolding.

It was this idea that gave birth to my moving philosophy. Life is an adventure, and not in the cheesy, bumper sticker and postcard way. Every single experience shapes every other experience, and our perceptions of those experiences. But we have no way of knowing what the effects of our decisions will be, and we have no way of knowing how we’re going to feel about it.

That doesn’t make this move any less scary, but it is making it easier to deal with. For me, moving on my own terms is about being open to the possibility of… well, anything. I can come back to Philly, I can stay in Portland for the rest of my life, I can move to Canada or Guam or back to Hong Kong. But Lyzi 20 years from now is a woman that I do not yet know. I don’t know her goals, her desires, her priorities, her values. I don’t know how she will perceive the world.

I do know that someday she will be sitting around the dinner table, talking about the crazy eight months she spent in Philadelphia, the anxiety she had about her move back to Oregon, and the adventures that came from it. And I’m sure she’ll look back upon this time fondly, with a soft smile, sipping her tea, and serving it to all her friends.

Oh My God, I’m Moving Across the Country! Oh My God. I’m Moving Across The Country.

You know that scene in Tangled where Rapunzel flip flops back and forth between having the best day ever and feeling awful about being the worst daughter possible? Yeah, that’s me right now. And I haven’t even done anything yet.

Last May I graduated from the University of Arizona with one goal in mind: Move to Boston. Did I have a job lined up? Not really. Did I have a place to live? Not at all. Did I even have the cash for a plane ticket? Not even sort of. Truthfully, I didn’t have much of a plan. I just really wanted it. I don’t care what The Secret says, I crashed and burned. Bad.

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently,” Henry Ford said. So far, this seems to be true. Or maybe after failing so badly I had to prove to my parents — and more importantly, myself  — that I wasn’t a total loser and that I could do this. Fast forward to last Sunday. It is a uncharacteristically wet weekend in my hometown of Tucson, Arizona. I, however, am enjoying an unseasonably warm weekend in Boston, where I just signed a lease.

Take that all you doubters, I’m doing it, I’m going to live in the city I’ve been dreaming of my whole life. I am going to up and move across the country more or less on a whim.

Oh, my God. I’m moving across the country. What am I thinking? I’ve lived in one zip code my whole life. What makes me think I’ll make it out in the big city? Actually, what makes me think I’ll survive winter. With snow?

But I’m moving to Boston. WGBH, my dream job, is just a fifteen minute walk from my new digs. The same sort of opportunities just aren’t in Tucson.

But all my friends and family are in Tucson…

See what I mean about Tangled? I’m a mess. I have complained in the past that your twenties are rough. They refuse to just give you what you need to succeed, and every day can be a bit of a struggle. There was one thing I didn’t mention then: if I can get what I want, just what is that? And what am I willing to trade for it? They don’t really prepare you for that in college. And I haven’t been in a situation where I might trade my chocolate milk for someone’s goldfish in years. Do I still know how to weigh my choices and make a decision that won’t end up sucking?

Obviously, I’ve made my decision. I will be leaving my native Tucson for Boston in August of this year. And honestly, even if this ends up not being the city for me, even if every single day I pine for the heat and the saguaros I know so well, this is the right decision. One other thing I didn’t mention about being in you twenties: this is the time to try new things. I will probably never have as much freedom as I do now, nor will I require so little. Apparently when you reach a certain age you have living standards that exclude awkward bathrooms and blow up mattresses.

As my teaching idol Ms. Frizzle says, “It’s time to take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”

Alright future failures, let’s do this thing.

I Love Change

Seriously psyched.

Unlike many of my friends, I cannot wait to graduate. I was the one who started the countdown at 50 days (there are only 42 now!). I’m the one who is already packing up my stuff, getting ready to move everything home. I am so ready.

I’ve never been one for studying, so the prospect of never having to take an undergraduate class ever again is pleasant. I cannot wait to be done. Sure, I’ll miss my friends, and I don’t really have a long-term life plan. I’ll be in D.C. interning for the Daily Caller for 10 weeks this summer. After that, I have no job prospects whatsoever. I’m torn between finding a random job and moving out to Boulder, Colorado and trying to stay in the nation’s capital doing journalism. Both places are enticing, for different reasons which I won’t go into here.

I’m going to miss a few things about college, but I cannot wait to see what the future holds. I always feel like no matter what is going on in my life, there’s always something out there that’s better and more exciting.

I seem to always be seeking something different.

I hate when things are the same. I hate going to the same classes, seeing the same people, walking the same routes, going to the same bars, and never meeting anyone new. It’s not that I don’t like college. I do (or at least I used to), I’m just ready for something else.

Last year, I needed a change so desperately that I moved out of my room and into my roommate’s (I live in a house with six other girls). I just couldn’t stand being in the same bedroom for a year and a half. There was nothing wrong with it, but I didn’t like walking upstairs to the exact same room day after day, week after week, month after month.

So far, most of the changes that I have encountered in my life have been positive. I just hope they stay that way! Everyone says I’m going to miss college as soon as I’m done, but I can’t believe that’s true.  So what do you post-grads say? Will I regret wishing my 42 days left of school fly by?

Security Questions and the Eternal “Who Am I?”

Today I forgot my password. Three failed attempts at the security question later, the Internet was far from my mind. Instead I was intent on discovering who in the world my favorite author is. It wasn’t Rainer Maria Rilke, the German poet and author of Letters to a Young Poet, the book that saw me through my roughest summer to date. Nor was it EB White, whose books when read aloud by my parents defined my childhood. I thought it might just be Neil deGrasse Tyson, even though, don’t tell anyone, I haven’t read any of his books. I still don’t know who my favorite author is.

Who am I?

My writer friends can slap down a list of favorites they, I’m assuming, keep stuffed in their bras. They know stats and facts about them like it’s some high school crush. They can recite whole passages from their books verbatim. I can’t. And I feel like that is sort of a deficiency, as a writer. I mean, who am I to call myself a writer if I can’t even call any writers to mind?

Actually, I have never called myself a writer. It is one of those “er” nouns I still don’t feel like applies to me even though, as you can see, I write. And in a world of labels, that just may mean something.

See, I’ve noticed that, although I have a very crafted visual representation of myself, I very rarely call myself anything someone else hasn’t called me before. I don’t not only not label myself, but I shy away from the process. Sure, I’ll tell you I’m a nerd. Or a hipster (which I’m not). Or, even, a writer. But that is because someone commented on my PBS tattoo, or they made an assumption based on my square framed glasses, or they invited me to write for their blog. They needed some sort of descriptive word, I guess.

I picked up on this when I was young and used it to my advantage (and sometimes as a defense). Before I relate this story I should explain how horribly awkward I was as a youth. Troll stages, they really get ya. One day in tenth grade, at the height of my poorly placed self-confidence, and at a new school, I was getting teased about my poor spelling abilities. How did I fight back? “Oh, yeah? Well, I bet you don’t know what a rough endoplasmic reticulum is!” They didn’t know. They also didn’t stop teasing me, the jeer only changed from “dummy” to “know-it-all.” The thing is, I really am kind of a know-it-all.

At this point, I am a know-it-all, a nerd, a hipster, and a writer, so I’ve been told. But really, I just want to be me. The obvious next question is: who is that?

And that brings us, full circle, back to my password problem. Who is my favorite author? If I don’t know what I like, how am I supposed to ever figure out what I’m like? Who knew logging into Neopets would lead to such a existential quandary? Chanting “Me? Me? Me?” over and over hasn’t gotten me any closer to knowing… In fact, the word “me” has even less value than anything else I’ve been called, especially if I deny them their meaning.

Is there a “me” without all that other baggage? Or is that baggage exactly what makes up who we are as individuals?

Maybe what I should take away from all this that even though all those descriptive words that get thrown around stick sometimes, you are what you make of them, even if they make you nervous to try out for yourself. So what if I don’t know how to describe myself? You’ll only get hung up on labels if you are hung up on labels. They just don’t matter. Sometimes, and this may be writer blasphemy, words just aren’t important. Do what you like, with who you like, and you’ll have a pretty good sense of who you are; leave the titles for your editor to worry about.