Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What's In A Name?

Two Fridays ago, at around 11 AM, I staggered downstairs to make myself a cup of tea. It was a decidedly dreary day; the sky looked like my father's homemade lentil soup and streams of rain sadly hung from the window like ribbons on bouquets of funeral flowers. I plopped down onto our amorphous blob of a couch, and stared at the silent noise box.


While mindlessly perusing what the channels had to offer me in the way of educational, pertinent content (will Michael Jackson ever be buried? will our economy self-destruct? will this man EVER learn how to dress himself?), I came across something that gelled with the atmosphere outside of the box: the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

As if I had just bumped into a forgotten relative, my knee-jerk reaction was to leave the scene. How could I have forgotten this person? However, out of obligation and a bit of guilt, I sat completely still and watched the entirety of the ceremony. I'd never seen anything that simultaneously resembled a funeral and a graduation, and I was intrigued. But as they read the names of the people who died, I kept wishing that they would stop. That the names would run out, but they kept coming, and soon my face was drizzling. It wasn't out of love for this country, or familiarity with anyone who perished. It was the names.

And the pictures with the names.
And the people holding signs with the names.

And I thought, these people are only names now. They started and ended with a name, and that's the only official artifact of their existence. That, and a couple of numbers. Naturally, the people who knew these names would beg to differ, but those people are only names.

I thought, what is a name worth?

I started to think about my Uncle Charles, who spent his whole life defending and fortifying the value of his name. I thought about my great-grandmother, who transformed a perfectly good name into an obscenity. And I thought about my name. What dishonors and glories have I brought to my name at this juncture in my life? What meaning does my name hold for others? What will the other names will say about my name when I leave it behind, and how long I will I have my name?

I thought about The Crucible. At the climax of the movie/play, John Proctor is coaxed by Reverend Hale to give his name to the church, to confess to a sin that he never committed in order to evade execution. As Proctor begins to scrawl the letters that comprise his name, he suddenly realizes the value of these two words. He stops. When asked why he refuses to sign the confession, Proctor exclaims:

"Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!"

It's not just letters he's giving away; it's his reputation, his self-worth, his dignity.

When something incredibly terrible happens that threatens the danger of a name, something so atrocious that the only option is to escape that life in the hope of living another, what does that name do? Change. In fact, there is a whole agency devoted to this renaming process: the Witness Protection Program. Our names are not only used to identify us, they are our identity.

What do we do when we first meet an unfamiliar peer in a social setting? We provide them with our name, not only as a label by which they can refer to us, but as the first step in what may become a future rapport. What do we do when someone undesirable asks for our name? We provide them with a false name, because what does it matter? We have no intention of establishing a bond with this other name.

That day, I came to this realization: names are everything.
Whether or not we choose to take stock in our own names is up to us entirely.
Our names can be besmirched, but if we know that these claims counter what we know about our names, no amount of fabricated evidence can prove us wrong.
Our lives can be stolen, but no one can ever take our names away.

Just ask the people holding the signs, year after year, name after name...

Saturday, June 27, 2009


There certainly will never be another Michael Jackson.


I heard this song on the radio today, and totally fell in love with it. I've heard it before, but given recent events, it seemed to emit a sadder vibe. It's simply a beautiful song.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

With Friends Like You, Who Needs Acquaintances?

This picture truly captures my foremost thought during graduation:
I've been here for four years...who the fuck are you?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

This Is Your Brain On Shawn Johnson.

I have this habit of coming up with little nuggets of ideas for creative projects either too late or too early in the day. None of these projects will actually come to fruition, but will instead remain as scattered rich text files in my laptop like dust-coated tchotckies upon a mantle of delusions.

While combing the My Documents folder on my mom's computer for files that may be of future use, I came across one of these tchotckies. I completely forgot about this incredibly cliché idea (and for good reason) that popped into my consciousness during Olympics Fever this past August. Laziness can do a number on rational thinking, apparently.

Without further ado, I give you the notes from "Liberal Arts College: The Musical"

"Liberal Arts College: The Musical

- If he doesn't score above a B on test, will get kicked out
- one kid has to come out
- I'm the protagonist

- low budget - no-name performers
- orientation

- Roommate situation on our hands - RA


It's fuckin' food time!
When your stomach is grumbling
and your patience is crumbling

Lunchtime - different tables

Jocks -
backwards lanyards around their neck

Facing the ex at dinnertime

The pain in me is dripping out
How to hide it from the HUB?

Who will save me but myself?

-fake bell chimes
For Whom the Bell Tolls

- obligatory piece of modern art
- radio station that no one listens too
- Comenius

Our president is really fucking tall

Oh, you go to Liberal Arts? What do you major in?

What do I do with my degree?

Guido business majors
Wannabe frat boys
Depression, questioning

First of all, genius lyrics I may say. Did you see what I did there? I rhymed grumbling with crumbling. I see that I have managed to maintain a second-grade rhyme scheme throughout the years. Brilliant.

Secondly, the college itself is called "Liberal Arts College." At the time, I thought it was funny, because most liberal arts colleges are essentially the same, even though they fervently and constantly profess how unique and special they are. It's not funny.

And really? "Low budget - no-name performers." Yeah, no shit! Who the fuck would want to be caught dead near this this flaming bag of dog poo?

I also like how statements like "What do I do with my degree?" (I still haven't figured that one out) and "Our president is really fucking tall" (he really is) are interspersed between the ideas. I feel that this...turdlet of a concept is really just an accurate representation of how scatterbrained I really am.

Also, I should note that it wasn't my own suicide I was contemplating. Rather, it would have likely been a frat guy who would have jumped off of a building. Although really, after legitimately believing this was a good idea for more than five minutes, maybe a dirt nap is called for. At least I didn't actually unleash this bastard brainchild out into the world.

And last but not least, my own personal favorite section:
"The pain in me is dripping out
How to hide it from the HUB?"(The Student Union Building at Moravian College)

...Sweet baby Jesus in high heels, I cannot write anything decent or remotely meaningful.

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's About Time For My Retail Therapy, Bitch.

Whoever coined the phrase, "There's no such thing as a dumb question" clearly never worked in retail. If that were the case, the saying would proceed as follows: "EVERY SINGLE question, oh Jesus god, not this lady again, is a F@#$KING STUPIDASS QUESTION. No, that's not on sale, ma'am."

I work at a buy/sell/trade clothing store. It's similar to a consignment store, but it's not. Because if it were...we'd call it a consignment store. It's not a clever ruse by any measure.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering what the hell a buy/sell/trade store is. Good - that's normal. If you came up to my sacred counter and inquired as to what would happen if you brought in clothes to sell, I would tell you that we take in used clothes from people and then give you a percentage of the value of said garments in either cash or credit. It's grand.

If you then asked a follow-up question, such as "Oh, ok, so do I get the money or credit NOW or later?," that's alright too. I'd reply with a genial, "Actually, you get the money now. See, unlike a consignment store, you don't have to wait for your clothes to sell to get something in return. We can even donate the clothes of yours that we don't take to a local charity. That's what makes us so gosh darn special: We care."

I might even ask you a question (because two can play at that game), something like "Any more questions?" in an fakely chipper and annoyingly high-pitched squeal. Usually, you, the customer, zoned out midway through my spiel, so you'd snap back into attention when I yap at you like a chihuahua. Perhaps you'd utter an "um, no" or just shuffle off in zombie fashion, bewildered by the amount of recycled verbiage I stuffed down your gullet.

Then...there are the stupid questions.

Here's a sample of some of my all-time faves:
1) "So like...do you think it's weird to wear clothes that other people have worn?" Do vegetarians work at slaughterhouses?
2) "Wait...these are used clothes? Who brings the clothes in?" A leper colony.
3) "Would you let me take this for $3.00 for this instead of $4.95?" Only if you give me your first-born child. I'd say it's a fair trade.
4) "Ok, so can I just give you this gross pair of shoes for a new pair of shoes?" Ok, so they don't explicitly say that, but this is what they mean. Oh, and no. I've heard Athlete's Foot is "da bomb," but I'm not chomping at the bit to experience it.

After dealing with questions, good or stupid, there's the actual reviewing and pricing of the clothes. If you were to bring in potential merch, I'd grab your bags, which are so full of clothes that they resemble a morbidly obese and stretch-marked forty-something couple, from you and start going to town like the retail automaton that I am. In order to illustrate what types of clothes and how much of these clothes I, and my fellow employees, look through on a daily basis, I've painstakingly created the following pie chart with estimated percentages. The results may shock you, but it's a dirty job, and someone has to do it. Oh, and I made it a pizza pie chart for the sake of professionalism and because it's lunchtime!
[Click to Enlarge]

Note: Our store sells casual clothes that a) are either currently in style or vintage and b) are generally worn by 15-35 year olds. We have absolutely nothing against Salvation Army, we love the place, but that's not exactly what the store's like (which is very simple to get just by looking around in the store).

Pepperoni = Pit-Stained Too-Short Long-Sleeved and Short-Sleeved Shirts From 1997-2003. Like pepperoni, I used to like these clothes, but I've moved on to better things. Oh, and they're both a bit greasy.
Sausage = Athletic Wear. So meaty.
Plain = Long-Dead Heels And Chunky Boots (Early 2000's). Just plain gross.
(Unroasted) Red Pepper = Free T-Shirts From School Events Or Musikfest Volunteering. Last time I checked, no one actually buys either of these.
Green Peppers With Onions = Denim Jackets and Long Denim Skirts. You'd get sick of both after awhile, too.
Olives = Old Navy Performance Fleece and Old Columbia Jackets. I can't stand either.
White Pizza With Spinach and Roasted Red Peppers = Usable, Cool, Modern or Vintage Clothes That Are In Good Condition (AKA "What We Sell")
Hawaiian = Really Weird Shit That I Love.
Broccoli = Ancient Gap Flare Jeans and Faded Khaki Pants or Jeans. Not terrible, but definitely not for everyone.
Mushrooms = Smelly Clothes. I find both offensive.
Extra Cheese = "Mom" Jeans. For obvious reasons.
Extra Sauce = "Old Lady" Dresses From Gen-Xers' Mothers. Only old people wear old people clothes and order extra sauce.
Anchovies = Belly Shirts. Who the fuck likes them?

So there you have it, the confessions of a buy/sell/trade store employee. Bottom line: we go through the shit so you don't have to. Stay tuned - a profile of the average customer of my place of employment will appear in the near future. Good night, and good luck.

A Day In The Life

You know your life is not what you expected when you find yourself simultaneously relating to The Bell Jar and Doogie Howser, M.D.

Being a twenty-something is something else, alright.

Also, I'd appreciate it if children didn't snicker at me as I jog past them in my homemade "Brown Town" booty shorts and comically un-athletic sneakers...nevermind.

On a more ordinary, less personal note, I've recently been made aware of "Fuck My Life"'s alter-ego: My Life Is Average. Enjoy and take comfort in the mediocrity. Wrap it around you like a room-temperature Walmart towel.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Doylestown Dirt

So, I was perusing the website for the Doylestown bar The Other Side, and look what I found:

That's right - it's Pink and then-hubby Carey Hart (during their engagement) with owner Earl and his wife/girlfriend/armcandy/chiropractor.

Which confirms my suspicions that I need to go outside and do something other than look at pictures of Alicia Moore.