By Jade

“You real sexy.  Need some help with those groceries?”

I didn’t see his face–the city has taught me to avoid eye contact–but it doesn’t matter.  They’re always the same.  While I’m rounding the corner of my block, or the one on the way to the subway, they talk to me.  Something about my body has given them permission.  But I don’t talk back.  Instead, I adjust my posture and my body answers for me: “Not interested.”

It’s a funny thing, talking to strangers.  It’s a universal mandate of American childhood: Don’t do it.  They want to steal you or touch you or otherwise corrupt you via the unknown.  But as you get older, you learn who the good strangers are.  Your parents’ friends, the grocery checker, attractive people.  As shy as I used to be, even with my own extended family, I became exceedingly outgoing in college.  And if there was one thing being a writer (or listening to The White Stripes) taught me then, it was that every single one’s got a story to tell–if you get him talking.  So I got people talking.  And I turned strangers into friends very easily.

But then I moved to New York, where we’re all so guarded, in the daylight, among strangers.  Doormen of our own lives, really.  I ride the subway with the same faces every morning, offer up my seat to the same pregnant woman at least once a week, and exchange coy looks with the same Irish-looking guy in biz-cas, but I’ll never know their names.  Even my voice forming an “excuse me” as my body tries to negotiate its place on the subway sounds jarring.  Because you’re just not meant to talk during the morning commute.  So I try to cover the “excuse me” with a cough, try to suck it back inside, but I can’t.

I’ve talked to strangers.

I spent the weekend before last outside the city, in one of those other places I call home.  Princeton is the kind of place where strangers don’t really exist because it’s one big country club and you’ve all done enough to get in.  So you talk to someone because he has a cute dog or a cute baby, or because you’re digging her tiger print dress, or because you’re an undergrad who wants to know what life is like two years out.  You exchange pleasantries, or maybe find your soulmate, and it feels good.

But sometimes the conversations you have with strangers aren’t the kind you just strike up–even in places like Princeton.  And I came to understand that very clearly that weekend.

Long story short, I found myself in the waiting room of the Princeton Medical Center ER (accompanying a friend who is fine now, thank Goodness).

An elderly woman–Marge, as I would soon discover–entered the room, wheeled in by her equally elderly husband.  I didn’t know her story, or why she was in the emergency room, but the sight of her there bubbled up a dull, achy compassion deep in my chest.  I avoided eye contact in my city way, and partially out of respect for whatever delicate situation she might be in, and retreated back into the safety of my iPhone.  Until I couldn’t.

A yelp of pain, a flutter of hands, a look of desperation on an 80-year-old face.  Help.

Marge’s foot had slipped from the wheelchair’s footrest, and the weight of it hanging there had her in agony.

Her husband tried to support it with his own fragile hands, but his already crooked back was straining under the dead weight.

“Get a nurse!” Marge whimpered.  But if he let go, or moved her foot even a centimeter, he’d leave her in extraordinary pain.  “Get a nurse!”

“Don’t worry, I’ll get someone.”  I spoke up.  “I’ll get someone right now.”

A wash of relief on Marge’s face, a thank you on her lips.  “People don’t normally go out of their way for strangers.  God bless you.”  I was her angel without wings.

I ran to the receptionist, who hardly acknowledged the frantic young woman in front of her, and even less the elderly woman moaning a few feet away.  “This woman needs help.  Please get a nurse out here now.”

“The nurse will be with her when it’s her turn.”

“I don’t care about her turn.  She needs help.  Right now.”

“Someone will be out here when it’s her turn.”

“Are you listening to me?  Are you listening to her?”

“I can hear what you’re saying.”

“Then why aren’t you doing anything about it?!”

At this point, I had raised my voice.  The woman, cold as a hospital room, retreated into her booth, slid closed the glass door, and sealed herself up inside.

I ran back to Marge.  Both of us were on the verge of tears.  “I’m trying.”

“Can you help me?”

So there I was, on my knees in a hospital waiting room, propping up an 80-year-old ankle with my small, nervous hands.  Her skin was ill fitting, as if it might tear at any moment, like that of an overripe plum.

“Thank you, darling.  Thank you.  Not many people would do this for a stranger.”

Marge and I had a sweet little chat while I was crouched there.  I tried to distract her from the pain by regaling her with stories of Reunions shenanigans.  Her smile fell around me like a halo.

Eventually, a nurse came (when it was Marge’s turn, I suppose).  We exchanged warm goodbyes.  I said I hoped we’d meet again under more pleasant circumstances, and I meant it.

We were no longer strangers.

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By Sophia

I know this is late, but hear me out.

As a Sci-Fi fan, I can’t help but be drawn to this concept. A day, seemingly like any other, but maybe your wife isn’t there when you call, or your children seem to have left unnaturally early for school. The news booth with the quiet old man is empty. There are suddenly no homeless people at your bus stop. What the hell is going on?

Or maybe you’re one of the chosen, and you wake up not in your bed, but surrounded by light, a feeling of eternal peace and contentment glowing in your heart.

Revelations is my favorite part of the Bible. Hands down. You’ve got mythological beasts completely covered in eyes, the Four Horsemen, angels blowing trumpets, breaking seals, wiping out one third of this and one third of that like it’s nothing. It’s the most bad ass version of end times, in my opinion. Granted I would piss myself if this ever really happened, but I can’t help but wonder.

I know that if all that stuff is true, then there’s no way we can know when. So Camping should have never even gotten started. But then my brain goes into overdrive and comes up with the craziest theories and I begin to wonder if I’m functionally insane. Which I probably am.

WHAT IF-

The Mayans and the Aztecs figured it out, completely by accident because they just woke up being bad ass. “Yeah, gonna build some pyramids that correlate with the stars and shit using only stone, basic mortar, and my own two hands. Oh, and my massive genius. BRB. ”

“Cool, man. I’m going to calculate the end of the earth today and then carve it into a giant stone wheel. See you later at the human sacrifice?”

And God, who had already planned everything and told people, No you can’t know! Cause I’m God! Rabble rabble rabble! Was mad pissed so he made the Mayans disappear, but forgot to destroy all their sculptures and stone texts, and then people started digging and got Popul Vuh-ed up on that ish. Completely insane, I know. Full of holes. The ramblings of a mad idiot.

WHAT IF-

There will be a rapture? No, you’re right that word isn’t in the Bible. Seriously, no where. However, there is a part where the faithful are marked with the name of God on their heads, taken up into heaven, given pimp new robes, and provide the holy soundtrack to the apocalypse. The left over population gets marked with the sign of the beast, can’t buy or sell without it, and live in torturous, murderous wastelands while Satan and his kin party for the last time. So I’m thinking: Social Security Numbers, Barcodes, Microchips, Credit Ratings?! How are they following me??!!! But again, speculative. Unlikely. What happens if someone refused to be marked, even on pain of death? Would rather cut their hand off than live with the mark? Do they get pimp new robes?

WHAT IF-

This whole thing is more like the Hindu and Buddhist interpretations where the end is not final, but a rebirth. And Shiva has to come do his sexy dance (Have you seen the hips on that guy?) once more to purge the world of sin and sickness. Do we get to start over? Do we remember it? Or does another, new species of beings get to start it all over? Are they as good looking as us?

Now, I will confess, so there is no speculation, that I used to be Catholic. I have even begun calling myself “Post-Catholic”, because whatever you are when you’re done being Catholic, but you’re not interested in taking anything else up, that would be me. But regardless of my upbringing and the things I’ve been brainwashed with and hard-wired to believe, my logical brain has no problem accepting that humans and all life are a glorious accident. Some stuff esploded, hydrogen, oxygen, salts, and carbon got hit by lightening and monocellular life was like, “Wha? Who? Where am I? Ok, let’s do this…” Although the original Disney’s Fantasia has a much more beautiful interpretation of this. (OMG, Disney was down with the theory of evolution? Oh snap!)

I know that as humans, while our origins are based in chance, we have a responsibility to take care of each other and protect our world so we can live on it and enjoy it for as long as possible. That we must make the most of this life before we slip into sleep forever, dream dreams we will never recall to another, and have the secret passages of our neurons lit by sparks a final time. All we can hope for is a life dedicated to those who will live after us, and a painless and peaceful death.

But the spirit in me can’t help but wonder if there really is something else. Something unseen, unheard, that whispers through our history’s shadows waiting for an appointed time to reveal itself and direct us to the utopia we cannot achieve on our own, even if it means many of us must be cast aside for the greater good. And as my left and right brains fight over this, they both agree that even with logic and our accepted scientific theories, what then persuades the human mind to conceive of, to hunger for, something more than this?

I guess it doesn’t really matter. It’s not like I’d get in anyway. I’ve totally coveted my neighbor’s wife, dishonored my mother and father, taken the lord’s name in vain on several occasions, stolen, borne false witness to escape an ass whoopin’, told the Sabbath to go fuck itself, and hoped that I’d get laid before I ever thought about meeting God. And all that before the age of fifteen. But for anyone who makes it to heaven, it better be flippin’ sweet. Otherwise, I will totally laugh at your stupid little harp and halo while I’m burning in eternal fire.

By Jade

My apologies if you don’t live in NYC or some other metropolitan area where you’ve forgone the convenience of a car in favor of letting public transportation dictate your access to livelihood and sustenance (hey, at least public transportation is environmentally friendly!), as what follows will mean nothing to you.  You could always read it anyway and pat yourself on the back for choosing not to hand your entire paycheck over to your landlord and fill your lungs with taxi dust.

So, as you know or might imagine, there are trains that go different places running along the same route.  The good people at MTA New York City Transit have implemented a system of letters, numbers, and colors to help us figure it all out (and still, senior citizens visiting from Jersey will cling to their tattered, outdated subway maps–no more W train, what?!–no matter how many times since 1971 they’ve come into the city for “that new MOMA exhibit”).

I live along the yellow line, and I depend on the N and Q trains to get to and from my home and office.  But these vessels are not alone in their fearless journey.  Rather, they share a track with the scummiest of railroad scum, the R train.  Don’t get me wrong, the R train serves a vital purpose within Manhattan, shuttling underfed NYU kids in their all-black Urban Outfitters ensembles down to Canal for cheap dim sum.  And it helps the hard-working lifeblood of the city get to the not-yet-gentrified bits of Brooklyn and Queens.

But it doesn’t do a damn thing for me.  And it’s always an older train that relies on an actual conductor to tell you where you are, rather than the pleasant recorded voice whose platitudes I memorized within a week of moving to the city (Ladies and gentlemen, if you see a suspicious package on the platform or train, do not keep it to yourself…).  My beef with the R train, however, is not its overall inferiority, or even necessarily that it doesn’t serve my transportation needs, but rather that it fails to serve my transportation needs and it ALWAYS arrives before the N or Q.

Hideous.

I’m not sure if this is some metro twist on Murphy’s Law, but I kid you not, no matter when I come scrambling down the stairs onto the platform, the R train always precedes the one I so desperately need to deliver me from my daily grind or dubious night out.  And sometimes two—even three!—of these effers will whoosh by, disheveling my hair, before the shiny, reassuring N comes plowing down the tunnel.  It never fails.  Ever.  It’s as if the guy in the little ticket booth sees me coming and radios to the control center:

“Quick!  Reroute the N that was approaching and throw an R in there.  You know, just to prolong Jade’s stay on the platform a little while.  So that guy with the pedo ‘stache can stare at her for a few more minutes, and so she can lose a bit more of her already waning hearing ability while that guy bangs on an upside-down jug and asks for tips!”

Or at least that’s how it feels.

I think the forces responsible for this phenomenon perpetrate another I’ve oft observed: whether I’m going uptown or downtown, whether I need express or local service, and no matter which line I’m taking, at least two—and often, three!—trains going the opposite direction will pass before the one I need comes my way.

I’m not certain what I did to develop such pitiful subway karma, but it sure as heck couldn’t have been as bad as what this guy did.  Just sayin’.

As misery loves company, it would make me feel better to know that I’m not the only one grappling with the wrath of the public transit gods.  Have you ever been the victim of R Train Syndrome?

By Brittney

How can I start this post without sounding completely scandalous….

…To hell with it. One of the greatest joys I have in life is sounding completely scandalous.

I have the most annoying habit of groping my boyfriend in public. I can’t even help it at this point. We’ve hit the six-month mark where the physical chemistry hasn’t worn off and yet we’re so comfortable with each other that it’s second nature to seek skin-to-skin contact. Throw in the fact that out of the past six months, four of them were comprised of that dreaded state of “Long Distance Dating,” wherein I lived in Illinois and he lived in Michigan and our only point of contact was via text, email or Skype, and the ability to touch him whenever I feel like it, to reassure myself that he is, in fact, here, is one that I cannot resist abusing.

I have been judged by so many passers-by, innocent bystanders until they witnessed my sexual assault of the poor young man who accompanies me. I apologize to you: Barnes & Noble shoppers, Target employees in the electronics section, TJMaxx customers, moviegoers at all theaters in the tri-county area, and especially to the owner of that used bookstore – we didn’t knock over any books and we did actually buy stuff, so I’m only sorry you had to listen to us kissing in the stacks for 15 minutes.

It’s a very good thing that my boyfriend doesn’t mind the constant petting, stroking, kissing, and occasional butt-squeeze, otherwise, I may actually have to find a new outlet for reassuring myself that he’s actually within arm’s length instead of nearly 300 miles away. Then again, if I weren’t as discreet about it as I try to be, he’d probably be more upset about it. He finds the occasions when I we get caught amusing, like the time that several clucking older ladies came out of absolutely nowhere to give me us the stinkeye when I, ahem, had my hands full.

Those women, and the multitudes of other older women who have caught me during the many shenanigans over the years with various young men, seem to be on the lookout for girls like me. During high school, I was at a store with my (gay, but I didn’t know it then) best guy friend (that I’d had a crush on for two years) and invited him into the dressing room with me to see if he liked a particular outfit (again, I didn’t know he was gay, but he certainly knew I wanted him). I heard a gasp followed by a disapproving scoff… and there was, again, several clucking older ladies giving me us the stinkeye.

"You should know better, young lady."

Sometimes, I get the impression that these ladies secretly seek out girls like me. Their attention is drawn to the outspoken, to the scandalous, to the mindless joy of the misbehaving young women of the world — not because they inherently disapprove (even though they probably do), but because they were once girls like me.

They see themselves in the ridiculous antics I get into. They see their old flames in the boys I maul for affection. Perhaps they feel a need to reprimand the wild youth they spy acting out in stores because they remember the situations they couldn’t talk themselves out of.

A part of me knows that I will do it when I’m their age, but a larger part of me refuses. I want to be that old lady with the severe hairstyle that kindly directs the rambunctious couple to the corner of the bookstore on the other side of the romance novels, to the right of fiction, out of view of the children’s section and the store cameras and tells them to carry on. I want to be the older mom strolling through the park, winking at the couple necking in public, as if to say “Good for you. There should be more love in the world.”

Though as much as I’d like to be the elder advocate of the freedom of youth, those same disapproving ladies probably said the same thing when they were 23. We’ll all end up as old, disapproving people if we’re fortunate enough — and a lot of us will envy young people. It’s a part of life.

…Unless.

Unless you lived your life as a young person so thoroughly that all you can do is cheer on the newbies as they discover the freedoms that come with the reckless abandonment of being young. That’s my game plan. Be so thorough in living that all I can do is look back and sigh when I see a young woman pinning her boyfriend against a wall in the back corner of Barnes & Noble for a nice, long kiss.

Of course, knowing myself, I would probably cluck loudly in disapproval just to see the fear and shock pass across their faces as they realize that they’ve been caught yet again and then laugh softly to myself….after all, growing up doesn’t mean you have to grow old.

By Jade

This is a response to ‘How To be an Ivy League Student’ by Tiffany Chen, published on Thought Catalog on May 20, 2011.

Feel like you are in no way smart enough to be there.  Feel overwhelmed.  Bring with you a pink bedspread, clothes that won’t fit by midway through the year but you’ll continue to wear anyway, all the naivete of an eighteen year old who’s never been away from home, and all the “smarts” of an English major who decided to take Astrophysics in her first semester at the number one school in the country.

Beg your mom and dad, who have flown 3,000 miles to be with you on Parents’ Weekend, to take you back with them.  Cry when your mom, with tears in her own empathetic eyes, hits you with some tough love: “Stick it out for a year.  If you’re really unhappy, then you can transfer.”  For the rest of your life, love her more than she’ll ever understand.  Not for coming up with a contingency plan, but for making you stay.

Within a few months, join some clubs, make some friends, and ace your midterms–even Astro–because you went to office hours twice a week.  (Soon realize how silly that was.)  Feel closer to people you’ve known for two weeks, a month, a year than people you’ve known since kindergarten.  Spend every waking moment with them.  Decide you never want to go home again.  Decide this is home.

Join a belly dance troupe and rehearse 12 hours a week.  Years later, quip that you went to Princeton and majored in belly dance.  Join an eating club. Years later, attempt to explain what an eating club is and struggle to find the words.

Join also the chorus of, “Ugh, I am SO stressed…[midterms/finals/senior theses] SUCK,” but make deliberate efforts not to take any of it for granted.  Walk through the Gothic-style corridors, the garden, the town square, and breathe in the beauty and opportunities with which your hard work does and will continue to reward you.  Know that plenty of your classmates skip lecture regularly, but never miss a class (except that one time you were sick and forwent an Art History lecture, which you were P[ass]/D/F[ail]ing anyway).

Take a seminar for which you read the entirety of Toni Morrison’s literary corpus.  On the last day of class, sit two feet from Morrison herself.  With a trembling hand, give her a book to inscribe with your name, which coincidentally you share with one of the characters in Tar Baby.  Share a smile over that.  Pass Cornel West on your way out of the building.

Work a campus job all four years.  Be humbled by the apron they make you wear in the dining hall, but grin and bear it.  If the Office of Financial Aid has given you so much to allow you to live your dream, this is the least you can do.  Learn after two years that a library job means getting paid to do your homework and not wearing an apron.  Make the transfer.

Wonder how different your life would be if you’d grown up in a town like Princeton, rather than one where, at eight years old, you heard a 17-year-old being shot to death across the street over a drug deal gone sour, and where, at fifteen, your brother’s car was shot up in your driveway.  Where your Princeton acceptance was so unprecedented that the local paper put your picture on the front page under the headline “Ivy League Material.”  In some way, appreciate those experiences for propelling you forward and upward.

When you fly home for the holidays, feel completely detached from your hometown and your old life.  Have difficulty believing you’re actually the same girl who lived it.  Surprise your parents when [Billy Joel/Bon Jovi/Van Morrison] comes on the radio and you squeal, “Oh my God, I love him!  This is my SONG!”  They want to believe you’re the same little girl they kept begrudgingly relinquishing to a Newark-bound airplane, all of you wiping tears on the sleeves of your Princeton T-shirts, but they know you’re not.  They’ll realize you’re emblematic of the life they could have had if times were different and they didn’t marry at 23.  They’ll start to ask you for advice, even if they don’t understand some of the fancy new words you’ve acquired and routinely employ in casual conversation, like hegemony and fraught.

Feel a twinge of primal jealousy every time a girl you knew in high school announces via Facebook that she is having a[nother] baby.  Look forward to posting that update in about a decade.

Realize that the pages of this fairytale are turning too quickly.  Wake up one day and wonder who the hell you’ve become and where the hell you’re going.  Weep with pride when you receive an email from the Phi Beta Kappa Society informing you that you’re graduating in the top 10 percent of your class.  Be mindful of when and how you drop both P-bombs in mixed company.  Wonder if maybe an Ivy League degree really boils down to three things: a country club admission, a different way of thinking about the world, and social currency.  Pick up your diploma.

Have the fellowship for which you were chosen pulled out from under you because your dream non-profit lost the funding it would have used to pay your salary.  Shake your fist at the economy, and realize that an Ivy League degree does not make one recession-proof.  Spend your first summer in the real world sending out résumés and cover letters, some 80 to 100 of them.  Only hear back from the companies that are considerate enough (you guess?) to tell you that the position has been filled internally.  Thank you for your interest.

Refuse to move back in with your parents.  Tutor kids living in Michigan for the SATs via Skype and work at a consignment store.  Swallow hard when customers condescendingly ask, “You went to Princeton and you work here?”  Feel absolutely no need to explain yourself, but crumble a little inside.

Get anxious.  Apply to grad school.  Get into your top-choice Master’s program at NYU and turn down Columbia.  Get a Facebook message from your cousin, whose roommate works at a PR agency, acknowledging your interest in PR and asking if you want to apply for an internship.  Send the roommate your résumé immediately and accept the internship just as swiftly as it is offered to you.  Intern 30 hours a week while going to grad school more than full time.  Have no social life.  Have no idea what it’s supposed to feel like to be a twenty-something in New York City.  Get straight A’s and a job offer.

Accept the position and bring home a salary that’s less than a year’s tuition at your Ivy League alma mater.  Cringe when you allow yourself to think about this, but remind yourself how you said you’d give anything to have a full-time job.  Carve out a fulfilling social life.  Work with girls who graduated from award-winning PR programs at great schools like Syracuse and UNC, and apprehend how good they are at this job.  Wonder if and how your liberal-arts-English-Italian-poetry-loving degree is really serving you.

But come to understand how acutely it is.  Realize that a world-class education, the events you’ve attended, the 96-page thesis you had to write just to graduate, and the hands you’ve shaken would be objectively invaluable to anyone’s personal and professional development.  But know it’s the moments in which you’re chatting with Jonathan Safran Foer, author of the one book that absolutely brings you to your knees, and realizing the two of you studied in the same library that imbue you with confidence, make you believe in your capabilities, and attach you to a network whose chief export is greatness.

It’s when submitting vacation requests for the same weekend every year so you can drink under a tent with 20,000 alumni and as many of their friends and family–all of you decked out in orange, black, and tiger print–that you know you’re a part of a singular culture that opens doors to places you didn’t know existed, and those yet to materialize.  It’s sitting around a living room on the Upper West Side swapping stories about all the stupid shit you’ve gotten into with the best friends who have become your family, knowing you’ve seen each other at your best and worst, and knowing they’re going to be among the most powerful people in the country within a few decades’ time.

You think, hell, perhaps none of this is attributable to the Ivy League at all (except the Reunions part…no, really), but it doesn’t matter.  Princeton made you the person you were meant to be all along, and understanding that is the key to appreciating any degree for what it’s truly worth.

By Jade

Walk around like you’re in possession of a juicy secret.  You are.

Let your hips dictate your gait, but lead with your eyes.  Be sure they’re wide open.  Feel the tension in your lower lids.  Stop.  You’re overdoing it with the hips.  Remember, you don’t want them to know you’re trying.  Let’s be honest, you don’t have to.

Wear your hair down.  Messy, carelessly tossed to one side is preferable.  Let it spill over your shoulders and back.  When you know they’re looking, use a manicured hand to toss it behind you.

If you really want to be authentic–you know, test the limits of your power–cover up.  Let them see shape, not skin.  Let them imagine.  Only you know for sure that what they’re imagining can’t come close to the real thing.

Smile out of the corner of your mouth every once in a while.  Make them think that secret you’re holding onto involves you getting pleasured in a way they’d die to see–even if it was only on videotape.  Never make that videotape.

Try not to let them see too much of your face.  Not because it isn’t the most interesting part of you, but because you don’t want to take a chance of them recognizing you anywhere down the line.  They’d feel an undue sense of entitlement, and we can’t have that.

Know that you could walk up to any one of these greaseballs eyeing you, or a similar caricature in any bar, and have him in your bed tonight–even though you live in an outer borough.

Know that’s not what you want.

Laugh coyly when the guy soliciting donations on the corner of 42nd and Lex tells you he’s not intimidated by your attractiveness even though he works for a children’s charity.  Feel obligated to merit his flattery by stopping to write a check.  Don’t.  Make a donation online when you get home.

Know you’re the kind of girl for whom Craigslist Missed Connections was invented.  Wonder if you’ve ever been the subject of one.

Feel validated by the attention, but don’t let it go to your head.  You still have trouble accepting that anyone finds you attractive and probably always will.  (Stop that.)

Never stop walking.  This is your city.

By Sophia

You may have read about the more conservative and/or ignorant populations of St. Louis getting their panties in a twist over an interracial couple smooching on a magazine cover. I learned about it by reading an article on The Root about one interracial couple and their life in the perspective of the upcoming anniversary of Loving Day. There was also mention of Strom Thurmond’s half-white daughter, and TJ ‘n’ Sally. What I liked was the historical perspective that all of these different articles lent to the situation, i.e. that people of different phenotypic outputs have been bumping multicolored uglies for a long ass time. Some of my favorite examples include:

  • Ancient Egypt Crossroads of trading nations on the east end of the Mediterranean where intermarrying was a common practice, especially to bolster and insure trade agreements. “Hey Pharaoh, my people would really like to keep eating, even in winter, so here’s my daughter. We’ll be in Gaul, come visit when you can!”
  • The Silk Road From the Middle East all the way to China, Europeans, Africans, Semitic peoples, and Asians got a chance to swap loads of DNA for a couple of centuries.
  • The Conquistadors Don’t let the slight tan and Spanish language fool you, the conquistadors were white people, and when they got to Central and South America they began banging the native women out of wed lock, while supposedly there to protect the same priests who preached that non-marital sex was sin, and since the natives weren’t married under a Christian guise, they were all living in sin, then BOOM! A whole new race, the Mestizo. Wonder what that word means..?
  • Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade As gross as this sounds, basically, if you were a white guy, and in some cases a white woman, and you wanted to know what sex was like with an African person, you could literally go buy one and take them home. How do you think we got African Americans? The likelihood of a present day Black person in America being descended just from early slaves is slim to none. Go ahead and Google some native African people, then some American Black people, you’re going to notice a lot of differences.
  • Present Day America’s melting pot has allowed for all kinds of different mixtures, we got some halfsies, we got people like my sis who’s a quarter Korean and three quarters Black, and then kids like my newest nephew who is half Vietnamese, a quarter Black and a quarter Mexican. I knew a girl back at Princeton who was half Jewish and half Indian (from India). Maybe twenty years ago this was rare, but the brown skinned curly haired masterpieces of these mixed unions are increasing every year.

It really should be just a “OK, get over yourselves” kind of moment, but after reading some of the comments regarding the cover picture, I ended up being more of the mind with the authors of the articles: Have we really not come that far? It’s one thing, and a very negligible thing, when a couple old guard racists decide to bitch about an interracial couple locking lips. It’s completely different, and an important litmus test, when so many people post a negative response that some of them are taken down and the overall number of posts gets limited.

Granted, if you wanted to be technical, neither of my parents are white, but that didn’t keep my Mexican grandfather from telling as many racist jokes as he could think of when my father brought his Black bride-to-be home to meet the family. And I don’t even want to know what my grandmother was thinking when her Black daughter said she was going to not only marry a Mexican, but convert to Catholicism… However, after I was born, and before my dad cheated, things were cool on both sides of the family and my grandparents eventually became not only respectful but invested in their offspring’s pairing. What a lot of people don’t realize, usually because they don’t want to because it would turn everything they were brought up with on its head, is that we’re actually not that different at all. Regardless of your background, ethnicity, culture, orientation, or color, we all just want to find that one person, or group of people, who make us happy and want to be with us and love each other.  Now, once you’ve found that feeling with your chosen mate(s) and you know how good and how complete that feels, how fulfilling it is, how could you then want to keep that from other people? I’ve never really understood that…

I went through what I’m sure many people go through at a young age where you believe you are too ugly, too different or too crazy for anyone to ever love you or want you. And I did believe that for a long time. Even after making out with a couple boys, and a girl, I just thought maybe ’cause I’m ugly they think I’m easy so I’ll just play along because who’s gonna ever really want me anyway? It wasn’t until I met a white boy who changed all that. For whatever reason, he decided I was attractive and asked me out on a date. And then later, when he got the chance to write for a local magazine, he wrote about me, not in a love interest kind of way, just in a “Hey, I met this really interesting person who brought up an interesting idea for me to write about” kind of way, which let me know that he was into me intellectually, not because I was brown. We all want to be loved, but not for a few parts of ourselves, but as a whole person. I was completely smitten and took the article as a compliment and keep a copy of it my closet. Unfortunately, things never panned out between the two of us because we lived further apart than a conventional high school romance could allow, even with the DC Metro to aid us. But during that brief time, and on a few other days over the course of the next six years, I couldn’t believe that there was someone who thought I was interesting and cute, and wanted to kiss me. It felt amazing. And once I realized it could happen to me I could finally start the road of self acceptance and realizing my self worth. And you don’t have to be brown or female to know that that shit is hard!

I bring this up because what I’m trying to say is that experiencing, giving and receiving love is something I believe to be not only crucial but necessary for human development. We need it and anyone who thinks otherwise I believe is kidding themselves into a long bitter life. Now, while we’re still fighting and waiting for marriage equality under the law for all couples, at least on the basis of race, on your melanin content, I just want those of you who don’t think people should date, marry, or procreate outside of their race to think about the people you love, to think about how much they mean to you. And what your life would be like without them. Think back to when you met them. Was it love at first sight? Did it grow over time? Or were you friends and then one day it just hit you like a brick? However it happened, I bet you can agree on one thing: It was completely out of your control. We don’t choose who we fall in love with anymore than we choose who we’re born to. We can limit ourselves to a certain set of people and give ourselves a better chance of falling for a certain type of person, but even that’s not a guarantee. I hope that you can take that and let that start to open your heart and your mind to the possibility that non-normative couples just want to be happy and free with the people they love. That’s really all it is. And trying to get in the way of that is really the same as saying, “You don’t deserve to have a full human experience and to become a fully mature human for reasons that are completely not your fault but that you should be punished for anyway.” And that just makes you an ass hat. Think about a hat on an ass, srsly. Makes no sense, huh?

For those whose minds cannot be massaged into a more open point of view, don’t worry. Eventually you’ll all die out in time and you won’t have to live among the sane and tolerant any more.

By Brittney

I recently came into a wee bit of internet fame (or would infamy be a better term?) as an article, as well as a slideshow gallery, was published on CNN Money about “Generation: Lost,” featuring interviews with myself and several other recent graduates who have found themselves unable to find jobs in their fields of study.

I also made the mistake of reading the comments.

I took most of them with a grain of salt because these people don’t know me and they don’t know my story. Not the whole of it, anyway.

There were a lot of aspersions on my character, however, quite a few of them that I’d like to address:

  1. While I am a minority, I made it into Princeton on the power of my own accomplishments, without the aid of any “connections” or affirmative action, and I made it out under my own power.
  2. This one is threefold: I know exactly how much money I spent at Princeton. My parents didn’t pay for my education. Princeton has a fantastic financial aid program, and while I do have student loans, they are manageable. And most of all, my finances are none of your business.
  3. I didn’t major in French and Spanish – I majored in Comparative Literature, which can be explained easiest as a double major in French and Spanish, since those are the languages I concentrated in. I also didn’t major in this because I expected to be a high school teacher. I majored in CompLit because I have every intent on teaching at the collegiate level.
  4. My decision to get a Master’s in English is not a plan to hide out in academia until the economy improves. It’s part of my 7-year plan to gain a teaching position at an institution of higher learning. I don’t care if I have to waitress until I get there because I actually do have a plan and it’s a damned good one.
  5. To those of you who stated that I should have majored in something more marketable – I agree. I completely and utterly agree with you. I actually started as a pre-medicine major – but I was completely and utterly unsuited for it. That’s not where my strengths lie. I’m terrible at math and horrible at memorization, but I’m a really good critical thinker, writer and teacher. Hence my aspiration to teach.
  6. To those that said that my generation is spoiled because we expect to be happy and wealthy from the beginning? Not entirely inaccurate. Except that I’m not happy and I won’t be until I’ve paid my dues and gotten to where I want to be. I also don’t mind slogging it out in the lower end of the salary pool (or even hourly wage pool) until I can get there. I’m more than willing to work hard to get what I want. The issue here is, the thing that I want is a job that makes me happy. Even if it doesn’t pay very well.
  7. To those of you who said that I wasted time and money on a Princeton degree when I could have majored in the same concentration at a far cheaper school? Absolute truth. I could have easily gone to a cheaper school, but I got into my dream school and it was affordable with financial aid. So I followed my dream. Sure it wasn’t practical, but at least I’m living with no regrets.

Yes, I am working at a video store as well as freelancing other jobs. Yes, I am picky about the work I choose to do. Yes, my parents have gone above and beyond the call of parental duty.

But it’s my life. And I’m not representative of all the problems that my generation faces, nor am I representative of all the problems that my generation is causing.

I’m just me. And I’m finding my way. It’s just taking a little longer than anticipated.

So, I’m not Generation: Lost. I’m more…Generation: Detour.

P.S. Thank you to everyone who had nothing but kind and helpful things to say. I appreciate it more than words can say. I made a lot of mistakes, missteps and had quite a few mishaps, but I’m getting back on track. I’ll be in graduate school in the fall, working to offset my costs, and I’ll be on my way to teaching and researching in no time!

By Sechavar

I was recently directed to a fellow blog posting entitled Carrie Bradshaw Math on The Frenemy, by my Wifey-Cakes Brittney. Besides the wonderfully written hilarity I found there throughout many of Alida’s articles, it reminded me that shortly before then a male co-worker asked me which of the Sex and the City girls I was. Now don’t get me wrong, I love watching these female characters prance through their sexual escapades thinking their issues are so incredibly important while wearing things I can’t afford or drinking things I can’t afford while living in places I can’t afford, but the last thing on my mind is “Oh, wow, I can’t believe how much this is like my actual life.” Even when I was actually living in NYC (one of the biggest mistakes I have EVER made), my life was massively unlike anything I saw in those episodes.

So, being the person I am I responded to my co-worker with a face punching “No.” I say face punching because some men, when they want to include women in conversation to show how sexist they’re not (read as “they are”), they try a conversational topic that they feel their female counter part can identify with. I can’t really blame him, to his credit he has a penis and knows enough about Sex and the City to use it in conversation, but I still feel I have a duty to correct this notion that the female population can be split into fourths based on these characters and tropes. Translation: I’m about to correct your ass and make you hate yourself for the next five minutes. Because of course, not being able to foresee the verbal ass whoopin’ in store for him, he had to ask a plaintive, “But why?”

“Because I am not a whiny white bitch.” Yeah. That may have been uncalled for. But, for the record, this guy curses more in the office than I do, and louder than me. So I doubt he was offended by my dirty mouth, but all cussing aside, he’s not white either, so I don’t think he felt I was attacking his phenotypic female kind. Some of you may be reading this thinking it’s racist. I’m not going to defend myself because I honestly don’t care. Seriously. You could be any kind of bitch, but if you’re a bitch and you’re whiny no one likes you. Pppbbbfffttt!!!!

The truth is it would be pretty sweet to have the lifestyle of one of the SATC women. Incredibly fashionable wardrobe, intelligent and funny lady friends, and a ridiculously large crop of tasty menfolk to pick from are not things I’m going to say no to (although I would personally like the option of le hawt women to choose from as well). But the other truth is that I have never had pity sex, gotten knocked up, never dated a guy for more than sex who wouldn’t introduce me to his mother, slept with a married person, stopped dating a guy because we disagreed on styles of place settings, and I would never take on a career that would mean promoting my significant other’s career. Yeah, I would not choose to do any of that stuff. When met with most of the boy problems these women face my answer is usually “No.”

You want me to wear a pearl thong? Ok. You want me to wear a pearl thong during the day while I go about my daily activities? No.

You want to get married? Ok. You want to pussy out and ditch me the day of because I wouldn’t answer your cell phone calls knowing I’m busy as shit about to get married to your ass and you’re about to see me in like ten minutes anyway? Bull.

You want to sleep with me? Ok. But you’re married? Fuck off.

A lot of things happen on this show that I would simply not agree to, participate in, or stand for. This may account for why I spend as much time being entertained by this show as I do yelling at the screen between spoonfulls of sugar free triple chocolate Jell-o pudding cups. Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte, you lead interesting and screwy lives, but to be honest,  I would never want to be any of you and it’s nice to know that my personal life is fairing much better than the expensive ones you lead in fiction land.

Because instead of smoking a cigarette pensively in my window wondering why the guy I have strong feelings for pisses me off so much, I’m going to call him and tell him it’s over unless he gets a pair that are at least as big as mine. And to my co-worker, I hope you’ve learned your lesson.

By Jade

Player-hating is pretty much as old as time.  You know, Lucifer, Pharaoh, Brutus, the whole bit.  But in recent decades, hatin’ has figured so prominently in pop culture–in our songs, in our memes–that it’s become a mainstream epidemic.  Hate is a strong word, so call them what you will–detractors, naysayers, Fox News correspondents, whatevs–but the Donald Trumps of the world get their rocks off by throwing sticks and stones.  Everyone will give you the line about words being the things that really hurt you, but honestly, a little dose of the haterade does a body good.

I’ve dealt with my share of haters.  Listen, there’s actually some scientific and psychological rigor behind what I’m about to say, so take a deep breath before you start hating on me, too.  Whenever you’re the best [or worst, to be fair] at something, you wear a target on your back.  Being beautiful or brilliant or any manner of superlative is a cross to bear.  And never one to hedge my language, I’m just going to come out and say it:  I’m smart.  Like, really, really smart.

But it’s not just that.  There are plenty of people who are super smart and use that as an excuse to be effing lazy.  If the waters aren’t choppy enough, if their brains aren’t being poked and prodded enough, they’ll fall into a general malaise of chain [and/or pot] smoking and grumbling to whomever at the gallery opening will listen.  Shut up.  Make your own challenges.  Don’t just be smart, do smart things.  Just be prepared for people to start hating on you.

Haters Gonna Hate

Just gotta shake 'em off.

So yes, being a smart, determined, and [gulp] attractive young woman (FYI, it’s taken years of external affirmation to even entertain this thought, and it’s one I shoot down on the daily) in a professional environment opens you up to all sorts of negative energy.  People would love to take you with your pretty little Ivy-trimmed degree and knock you down a peg.  I say, have at me.

The other day, someone had the cojones to tell me that I’m not special.  Ha!  Recognizing my excusemebitch glare, he was like, “Yeah, I guess everyone in your generation thinks they’re special.”  First of all, it’s “everyone thinks he or she is special,” because collective nouns are singular and take singular verbs.  Secondly: Eff.  That.  Maybe they all do.  But I defy you to tell me that’s why I shine, that I’m not an exception.  Newsflash: I am.

Look, contrary to what it says on my diploma, I don’t believe in entitlement.  I’m smart, yes, and I have an enviable rack, yes, but I get what I want because I work for it.  Self-actualization is a powerful engine.  But oftentimes, it’s fueled by haterjuice.  I need these fools to tell me I’m not the exception so I can be like, “Aw, that’s cute.  Now let me hold your mediocre hand and show you how mistaken you are.”

And truly, embracing your haters is win-win.  Telling someone she’s not all that and a bag of whole wheat pita chips makes the hater feel like a million bucks, and proving him wrong makes you feel like Oprah.

So, hate on me, hater.  I got nothin’ but love for ya.