How To Get Screwed By The System

Holy hell friends, have I got a how-to for you. Angry Ian is driving, so buckle up as tight as you possibly can. All strapped in? Good, ‘cause we’re about to get violent up in here.

But first, some soothing backstory. I’m a college student. I’m a college student who’s about to graduate. I’m a college student who’s about to graduate with a B.F.A. (Bachelor’s of Fine Arts) in Acting. This is the part where established adults ask, “So what do you want to do with that?” When I say that I want to go into film acting (or really, if I say anything at all) they follow with, “Oh, okay. So what’s your backup?” Then I tell them that backups are for chumps, punch them in the face, and ride into the sunset on my hover board, flipping the bird to all and sundry.

Or at least, that’s what happens in my head.

So to begin with, I’m looking at little to no support for my prospective career path from most adults in this world. Totally fine, I can handle that shit. I know that I’ll be making damn near no money when I get out of school, even if I do wrangle a money job or two.

But then, this college thing; it costs money, y’know? Like, an ungodly amount of money. So much money that I can’t even conceive of how some people pay for college upfront. I’ve got a hefty amount of scholarships because I put just enough work in in high school, but I’ve still got (four year total here) tens of thousands in loans both to the government (hey, Big Brother!) and to private assholes like Sallie Mae.

Let’s add that all up then: I’m planning on going into a very competitive, low-paying field (that I have a passion and training for, mind you) when I graduate, after which I’ll need to pay for housing and basic needs (food, mostly) by acquiring one (or two) money jobs, while at the same time paying off my megatons worth of student loans and trying to maintain some semblance of happiness and sanity in my life. Have I mentioned that jobs are hella-difficult to come by when all you’ve done for six years is work as a lifeguard at various pools?

I’ve gotta tell you, friends; it’s kind of a bleak outlook. Living at home is out of the question, my parents are public school teachers, and I’ve got no rich aunts or grandparents, so I’m about as on my own as it gets. Even with a paying job, I’m in the hole ‘til the loans are paid off (and stop accruing a daily interest of almost two dollars), which is unlikely to be anytime prior to my death. AND I actually plan on having a family at some point in my life; how the fuck am I gonna support that?

Guys, gals—people have told us all our lives that to do what you want, to get a good job, you HAVE to go to college. Although that’s painfully untrue, I’ve had a great four years here; I’ve been in shows, I went to New Zealand, and I met my significant other of almost two years (whom I love the most) here.

Now, money against experience, was it worth it?ecard I honestly can’t tell you, because I don’t know how I’m gonna fend out there. On darker nights like this one I find myself cursing the system that tells us we can do anything and then severs all lifelines the moment we reach for them. I find myself despairing that I’ll be homeless and broke in a couple years, unable to support myself, much less anyone else. The shackles of loans weigh heavily, friends, and I haven’t even started paying them off yet.

Older generations speak of us as being greedy; they call Millennials self-centered and the “Me” generation. But I find that, if one simply asks us what we want, the responses are remarkably simple. “I want my own apartment.” “I want to pay off my loans.” “I want a job that I can enjoy.”

On nights like this I can get lost in the fears and the woes and the worries that plague our generation more than any other in our nation’s history. Collective student debt is in the trillions, and unemployment rates and depression among young adults are higher than they’ve ever been.

But there’s something that I tend to overlook on nights like this. I forget that it’s not just me, that we’re all having these struggles to stay afloat. We know who we are. And we have to know that we’re together. So when you find yourself getting angry about all the injustices that we face when we’re literally just trying to survive in corporate capitalist America, call up a friend or two, or twelve. Get angry together.

We’ve all seen the power of people tired of being screwed over who rally to a cause. The system is big and the system is scary, but we can be scary too. And here’s the thing: we’re the ones in the right.

Don’t let the nights like this eat you up, because then they win.

Start something. Who knows what you’ll do.

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Hot Date Becomes Hot Mess

It started on Valentine’s Day.

I know. Cliché as fuck, right?

Most single girls on Valentine’s Day eat their weight in chocolate and binge watch rom-com’s like The Notebook. However, that is not my idea of a good time. So let’s flashback to Valentine’s Day 2013.

I was in London, studying abroad for the semester. At this point I’d been in the city a little over a month. I had made friends and knew my way around the city fairly well. So when Valentine’s Day rolled around, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. O’Neill’s. The only way I can describe O’Neill’s is that, at best- it is a shit show. But I had not yet experienced it such as my flat mates had. So my friend Johanna and I, and her friend Lia decided that we were going to make Valentine’s Day our bitch.

Lia had met us at our house in Kilburn Park and greeted us with chocolate and wine. Because really, what is Valentine’s Day without chocolate? We got ready and my flat mates (and Lia) all ventured out for the evening.

The night did not begin at O’Neills. We went to a place called Strawberry Moon first, which was entirely too boring for us. Essentially we were looking to get wasted and hookup with beautiful British men. At this point in the night, we decided to head to O’Neill’s.

I wish I could tell you how much fun I had or how much money my bar tab was but the truth is… I don’t remember. I went from 0 to drunk real quick. I lost Johanna and Lia at one point. I met a British man named Alex who I then started hooking up with. He also paid for all of my drinks and eventually helped me find my friends. I found Johanna upstairs in a corner attached to an Italian man’s face. Lia was dancing with everyone because she is beautiful and everyone wanted to dance with her. We had all found “our guy.” Eventually it was time to go home. Alex came back with me, but Johanna and Lia exchanged numbers with their guys.

Alex left my flat VERY early the next morning, and that next day we laughed and tried to recall drunken memories from the previous night. Now, you may think this is where this story ends. However you are very much wrong.

Not thinking anything of it, Johanna’s guy had texted her later in the week and also found her on Facebook. He wanted nothing more than to see her again. Crazy right? Who would ever expect a hookup at a club abroad to turn into another date? Then again, if you knew Johanna, she IS a beautiful, blonde, bombshell from SoCal. So if I were an Italian man, I’d want to date her too. She wanted to see him again, but also did not want to put herself in a bad situation, after all she hardly knew this guy. So, because I am such a great friend (and because Antonio- her guy- had hot friends) I agreed to go on a date with them. The only requirement was that Antonio had to bring a hot friend for me as well. We made plans to go to a local pub on a Thursday night.

I sat through my dreaded three hour marketing class that Thursday night until 10pm. I quickly got changed at school and then met up with Johanna. We texted Antonio (Johanna’s guy) to try and find them. After some miscommunication, we eventually found them in the tube station. But Antonio didn’t just bring one friend…he brought three. Now again you’re probably thinking “Four beautiful Italian men, how lucky are these girls?” Again, WRONG. Four of them, and two of us. That’s a lot of fucking testosterone. Additionally we went to greet them and quickly discovered the three friends he brought BARELY spoke English!!! All I could think was “What the fuck did I just get myself into…”

We headed to the pub and got drinks. I wish I could say it was smooth sailing from there, but that would be the understatement of the year. It was like trying to communicate with brick walls. We all barely understood each other. I used Google Translator half of the “date” (PS shout out to that pub for having free Wi-Fi so that I could even use Google Translator.) On top of the language barrier we realized we barely had anything in common with them. I also found out one of them had a girlfriend back in Italy. It was just a mess. A hot mess. Literally a hot mess, after all they were easy on the eyes. Eventually we finished our drinks and headed home. We cracked up about how weird the date wbrewskisas the whole way home. Johanna and I must have sounded like little school girls giggling on the bus ride home.

From this date though I did learn a few VERY valuable lessons.

1) You will never fall in love in a bar.
2) You CAN in fact hookup with someone in a bar and be very unaware they barely speak English.
3) When all else fails, there is nothing a good drink can’t fix.

5 Types of Shaming That Women Need to Stop Doing to Each Other

by: Kara Mendez

1. Slut Shaming

It isn’t your job to shame a fellow woman because she choses not to take the same attitude regarding sex. To some women, sex is just sex. It doesn’t matter how many people she’s had/having sex with it. It doesn’t matter if she enjoys having sex with multiple men, different men, often, casually, kinky, etc. It doesn’t matter. No one should care how many people a woman is having sex with. Women slut shaming other women on5821994449_2ee727e3b0_oly makes it okay for men to slut shame women. Let’s make one thing clear. Sex is awesome. Sex is natural. Women desire sex. Sex does not define you. Sex does not lessen your worth. Sex is fucking great. Sex is freeing. Sex is calming. Sex is therapeutic. Sex has many great benefits. What we should be worried about is the safety our fellow women. “Hello there friend, I see you enjoy having sex with multiple partners, I just want to make sure your protecting yourself against STDS and pregnancy.” We should be making sure our fellow women have birth control, access to condoms, medical coverage for birth control and other contraceptives, medical coverage for yearly gynecologist visits. We should not be worried about the number of partners our fellow women have had but if they are happy, healthy, and safe.

2. Body Shaming

This goes for all kinds of bodies. Stop calling girls fat to make sure yourself feel better. Stop calling girls “bags of bones” to make sure yourself feel better. Stop telling girls they aren’t allowed to have insecurities because they have “the perfect body”. Stop telling plus size women they aren’t beautiful. Just Stop. Tell your fellow women that EVERYONE is beautiful. EVERYONE deserves respect, love, support, and a feeling of acceptance. Educate yourself on different body types– just because someone is heavier than deemed acceptable by society does not mean they are unhealthy, just because someone is thinner than society deemed acceptable doesn’t mean they have an eating disorder. Not everyone can look like “society’s perfect body” even with proper diet and exercise. We are meant to look different. We are meant to be different. That’s what makes human beings so beautiful and complex and wonderful.

3. Food Shaming

If the words “do you know how many calories is in that?” have ever come out of your mouth then you should slap yourself once in the face. There was a pretty big difference between encouraging your fellow women to live a healthy life and shaming them because they chose to eat something with a high caloric/ fat/ carbohydrate value. Sometimes, regardless of your diet, you just really need that chocolate frappuccino with extra whipped cream and chocolate chips on top. HOWEVER, this also goes the other way. Stop shaming her healthy food to make you feel better about your own. I cannot tell you the number of times while eating a kale salad, seaweed, some vegan/gluten-free snack, I’ve heard, “OMG! How can you eat that?”, “That cannot taste good”, “That’s not real food”, “How is that even healthy, like ew”, “Don’t you want some of my pizza?”. 1) I eat junk food often, probably too often, however to combat my sweet tooth and love of pizza, I eat a very healthy diet. I like everything I eat. That doesn’t mean you have too. I think the worst one is “You don’t need to diet, you’re already thin.” Thank you, but stop.

4. Feelings Shaming

This is important and never ever discussed. Stop shaming your fellow women for having feelings. Stop. Just Stop. Stop telling them to not be so sensitive, stop telling them to not fall in love so easy, stop telling them to stop being so guarded, stop telling them they can’t feel bad, sad, angry, annoyed, happy, etc. Again, just stop. Every time you tell your fellow woman she isn’t allowed to feel, or her emotions are stupid, you are making it okay for guys to say the same thing. How many times have you had a guy negate your feelings or say you’re being stupid by feeling the way you feel? How about we support everyone and get them the help they deserve. Having a bad day? Here’s a piece of chocolate. Upset? You can cry on this lovely shoulder of mine. Happy? Let’s celebrate, where’s the tequila? Angry? Let’s go punch the shit out of my pillows. Depressed, anxious, suicidal? Let’s talk about it, let’s go see a therapist, let me hold your hand; let me tell you it’s going to be okay. If you feel the need to shame someone else’s emotions because it’s not “valid” to you, then you need to shut your mouth and walk away because you are not worthy of that persons friendship. Feelings do not need logical validations. If we only felt logically validated things, life would be boring.

 5. Childbearing Shaming

This is also important. It is never okay to tell a woman she is making the wrong decision regarding her childbearing future. It is not okay to tell a single mother that she’s “ruined her life”. It is never okay to tell a young/teen mother that she’s “wasting her life” “that she’s fucked up”. It is never okay to tell a stay at home she “doesn’t have a real job”. It is never okay to tell a childless-by-choice woman that she is “selfish for not wanting to procreate”. It is never okay to tell a childless-by-choice women that she will “regret her decision”. Unless we are talking about your uterus, your eggs, your child, your life, your decision, then your opinion is invalid. If we showed support for young/teen/single mothers, then maybe we could make their situations so much easier. If we showed support for stay at home moms, then maybe children would have so much more respect for their mothers. If we showed respect for women who chose not to have children, maybe society would understand that a woman’s purpose in life is not to grow and push out a life. If we all respected each others choices and gave each other love, support, and respect, our children would grow up in a world where they feel love, support, and respect.

If we stopped being fucking assholes to each other all the time our young women would grow up empowered, confident, and ready to take on this world we are leaving them.

To Be The Wayfayer

by Ponsius Hanz Odaga

So, a few weeks ago I was at the DMV  to get a state I.D. While standing in line, I met a couple of nice folks who were getting their driving licenses renewed. We began talking about how driving makes you incredibly lazy. Now please don’t be offended, but if you drive often, there is a high probability that you have been afflicted with this curse. And if you think you haven’t, then look back and just think of the last time you were in a parking lot and you refused to park in the back. You’d rather embark on an endless quest to find the coveted, elusive, and mysterious  “good spot”.

Don’t get me wrong though– I think cars are pretty dang cool, but our bodies are parade-worthy amazing. So why don’t we walk? Sure, driving is easier and it gets you wherever you need to go much faster. But because of this, we tend to miss out on a lot, or spend our whole time screaming at other drivers. Seriously, I believe that more than 70% of drivers in the northeastern United States have road rage.

Anyway, I have an idea for all of us to just take a walk, whenever we travel somewhere or if you live near/in a city. Or take public transit and leave the driving to someone else. (Except for taxis, which tend to cost too much and be a poor experience.) Think about it, you will save money, meet new people or have time to yourself. I propose that we all become the Wayfarer in just 5 easy steps.

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Step One: Plan to Leisurely Walk 

Advice: I know I am redundant, but take your time. And don’t expect too much, just expect to see something new.

Story Time: I am currently interning in NY and every day when I walk home, I take my time to take in all the sounds & places around me.  I love running into good musicians and dancers on the street & subway.

Step Two: Distraction 

Advice: Plan to get distracted and walk wherever you see something interesting.

Story time: When I was in Paris, I was walking with a friend in search for dinner and we stumbled upon a bar where they were playing some nice funky soul music. We were dancing as we were walking by, and a lady came out and encouraged us to go in. Actually, it was more like she pulled us in. Anyway, we went in and partied it up for a hot minute with all of the people there. Then the bartender told us it was a private party and then we begrudgingly walked out. For the record, the people wanted us there and invited us in. AND they danced with us! But then again, they were drunk….

Step Three: Join In

Advice:When you see people doing something you thinkhanz1 is cool, just hop on in. More often than not, if people are having a good time, they don’t mind other people  jumping in who just wanna have fun too.

Story time: A couple weeks ago, I went to Bubble Battle NYC 2014 which I thought was fantastic. The amount of bubbles in the air seemed never ending. I swear we were the best kind of public servants because we definitely cleaned up Union Square that day.
I was there with a couple of friends and once in a while people came up to us asking what was going on. Later on, I noticed those same people jumping in on the action with bubble-creating items they just bought.

Step Four: Talk to your neighbor

Advice: If you are on public transit and someone is doing something, wearing something or reading something you like– talk to them. Be courteous and friendly, but know your boundaries because not all people will want to talk.

Story time:  I was on the NY subway and working on a spoken word poem that I was going to perform at an open mic when I noticed the man next to me looking at what I was doing. He then said, “Hi, are you a poet? That’s a good line there” to me, and we began to talk about poetry. His wife was also on the train, and they asked to read my poem. In the end, they complimented my writing and gave me confidence in what I had written, which greatly reduced the pre-show jitters.

Step Five: Be I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T 

Advice: When you get on to public transit be prepared to spend some time to yourself. Bring a great book to read, portable  video games to play,  journal to write in or music you want to listen to. Basically, keep yourself happy.

Story time: I can’t even begin to mention all the papers, assignments, readings, books that I have completed on megabus. hanz2There was one time I was reading a book that made me laugh loud enough where I had to apologize to the people next to me. Then megabus turned off the lights and I let out a big awww! This made all those around me laugh at my plight. In fact, I edited part of this article while on public transit.

Overall, the point is to take a walk through any interesting area you see and experience as much as you can. Talk to people and do what you want. It’s the fastest way to get to know an area and enjoy your time there. Public transit isn’t as bad as some people make it out to be. Chill out, accept the instability of life,  and don’t forget to be awesome.

 

 

 

Don’t Shit Where You Eat

by Brittany Tedesco

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There are some people who can take other people’s advice and learn from their mistakes. But there are some of us who have to touch the fire and get burned to learn. I am one of those people.

From the moment I moved into my student accommodation and saw my beautiful (male) flatmates, I knew I was about to be playing with fire. All my friends told me that handy little piece of advice, “Don’t Shit Where You Eat.” And I probably should’ve listened. But when the most beautiful boy you’ve ever seen knocks on your door at three in the morning while you’re both intoxicated and says in the most beautiful British accent you’ve ever heard, “Can I kiss you?” how can you possibly say no?

After that night, I thought nothing of it. Shit happens. But I barely saw him for a while after that. Maybe he’s avoiding me, maybe things are awkward now. Until eventually we crossed each other’s paths again. And eventually he was knocking on my door again. And before I knew what was going on, he had moved into my room– toothbrush, skateboard, clothes, and all.

And still, my friends kept warning me, “You need to kick him out” and “This isn’t going to turn out well.” But I refused to listen, even though I knew they were right. He would eat all my food, use all my shampoo, hog all the blankets, and play loud music in the morning even if I was still asleep. But I was in complete denial. I enjoyed his company. And maybe it was just convenience, sure. We’d watch Netflix, hook up, and go to sleep. There was honestly nothing else that I wanted.  (I mean, have I mentioned how beautiful and British he was?)

But we were never exclusive. And we never wanted to be. Or at least he never wanted to be. And I never admitted that I wanted to be. But nothing burned worse than the night we went out to a club together, and he left with another girl instead of me. And my bed felt empty, and I couldn’t sleep. Things were always subtly awkward after that.  He still stayed over a few more times, but we both knew it had to end. His lease ended and he not only moved out of my room, but out of the apartment. And he slowly faded out of my life, so now we don’t even speak.

But I still wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. I had fun with him, and sure I got hurt and used, but I had to. I couldn’t have listened to anyone else, no matter how many times they tried to warn me. So as much as I’d like to stop you from making my mistakes and tell you not to hook up with your roommates, no matter how beautiful and British they are, I know you probably won’t listen. And I don’t blame you.  But if there’s one piece of advice you should actually take, it’s this: If you want to play with fire, expect to get burnt. But don’t let that stop you. Fire is a beautiful thing. What’s worse than getting burnt is how cold you will feel when the fire goes out. But only for a little while. Only until you realize you now have the entire blanket to yourself.

Photo credit: http://blueascookiemonster.tumblr.com/post/87232338084