Publicly Aloof

Public transportation may be one of life’s biggest oddities; the riders, not the buses and trains. A group of strangers becomes effortlessly unified by the shared need to ride public transit. But this unity of the public, a community if you will, is unwelcome with silence. It’s like an awkward middle school dance: You walk into the room and everyone is standing alone (well, sitting in this case) against the wall. Accidental eye contact is strange, let alone verbal conversations with another person. The bold public transit riders are easy to spot as they are the ones sitting on the outer seat, their belongings keeping the inside seat warm, attempting to avoid possible contact at all costs.There are usually as many headphones in as there are heads down staring into a cell phone or tablet screen, and good luck getting a random smile from anyone. Have we become so withdrawn that we deem connecting with strangers unnecessary? We would rather sit alone in silence than reach out to someone standing right next to us. Oscar Wilde once said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” Stop existing and start living.

Austin Man Offers $1,500 for Girlfriend

    The infamous 39-year-old man from Austin who is shamelessly searching for the woman of his dreams via his online blog, Sleepless in Austin, is offering $1,500 to whomever can successfully play matchmaker.
    Though he is taking a non-traditional approach to online dating, Larry Busby is a lot like most people you probably know personally: He is extremely picky when it comes to his dream girl, he only uploads pictures that portray the best version of himself he can be and he is willing to pay his monetary dues when they’re, well, due.
    However, I am willing to bet the same amount of money our modern-day Romeo is offering for his future girlfriend that this whole thing is a scam. I’m sure a week from now, Jimmy Kimmel will
    release a video laughing at all of us for making yet another ridiculous person’s online-submission viral.
    If, however, it is real, the saddest part will be the binder full of women this guy will likely have at the end of it all from fellow desperate singles whom actually find this guy appealing. Personally, I can see a beautiful bond forming between this guy and the girl making sandwiches for her boyfriend to prove she’s wife material…but she’s not his type.
    Whether Busby is sincere when he lists his strict criteria for his future victim girlfriend, or he is simply using this as a publicity stunt for his wedding photography business, here is this weirdo’s search for love in NUMBERS:

Whatever comes of this, I can’t help but think he can be summed up in the following lyrics from Kanye West’s track, Hell of a Life, “Said her price go down, she ever f*** a black guy/Or do anal, or do a gangbang/It’s kinda crazy that’s all considered the same thing.”

photo credit: iChaz & timlewisnm

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Opportunities Are Made for You

“Hell, there are no rules here — we’re trying to accomplish something.” -Thomas Edison

For me, life has always been about striving for greatness in the form of what others would find most impressive and what I deemed to be superior. Looking back at high school, that was most likely the driving force behind my desire to pursue medicine as my college concentration, despite having a clear love of writing and journalism.

The academic year at UChicago is starting next Monday and as I’m entering my third year I will be taking mainly classes for my two majors, Sociology and Spanish. Though it took until the spring of my first year to be completely honest with myself about wanting to seriously pursue journalism, I genuinely feel that I have become a better, more well-rounded person since then.

UChicago is home to students who typically think the only ‘valuable’ opportunities are those with a well-known company name attached to it or spending 100+ hours a week as an investment banking intern because you’re making a significant amount of money. The pressure of college is hard enough; combine that with the stress of meeting high academic expectations, overcoming awkward social interactions and figuring out who you really are and you’ve got yourself booked for the next four years.

That being said, the most important thing you can do is focus on what you enjoy most and WHY you enjoy it.
If you’re anything like me, you might find that what you’ve always thought you wanted to do (pre-med) and what you actually enjoy doing are two completely different things. College is about taking risks and never looking back to second-guess them. If you find that your passion lies in a concentration or profession that is not popular among the disturbingly ubiquitous Economics majors at UChicago (or nay-sayers of the world outside of UChicago); do not worry. You will graduate a better you for going after what makes you happy and pushing yourself to transcend the norms.

Since focusing on ME and what makes me happiest, I have:
1. Started two blogs, one of which was a pretty awesome news blog for UChicago students.
2. Gone VEGAN! Like three times now. AKA proving that I can last up to 11 weeks without my best friend: cheese.
3. Taken risks in the form of scuba diving (with sharks!!), cold-emailing a Chicago magazine asking for intern opportunities and meeting over coffee with an editor and reporter of the Chicago Tribune.
4. Dropped the stress. Seriously my stress level at any given time before focusing on writing was at a 12 on a scale from 1 to every UChicago student during midterms and finals weeks.

5. Embraced my creativity that three years ago I was 100% convinced I lacked completely. Now I find myself going to plays, thinking of the world in less narrow terms, getting lost in works of art and even just using this newfound creativity in every day things like cooking!

*Even if you don’t take my word for it, think of my good friend Thomas Edison, and recognize that accomplishments and opportunities come to those willing to forage their own path and ignore the societal norms.

{Do better and you’ll be better.}

Good Vibes Only

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Good morning from Turks and Caicos!

Today is my last full day on the island and I wanted to share one of the many beautiful views I have been waking up to this week. It sure beats the sounds of public busses and sirens back home in Chicago.

Wishing you a wonderful day filled with good vibes only!

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Life is Sweet like an Ice Cream Cone

“Technically, just like with the rings of a tree or Carbon-14, it had to be possible to measure the passage of time with the melting of vanilla ice cream.” -Herman Koch, The Dinner.

Earlier in the summer, I made a list of all the books I wanted to read before school starts on the notes application in my iPhone . With titles from The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort to Karen Mack’s Freud’s Mistress, the list was similar to that of the ice cream shop we went to last night: not overwhelmingly extensive in options, but satisfyingly diverse in content.

I just finished Herman Koch’s The Dinner yesterday morning.
A spontaneous buy at the Chicago O’Hare airport, I perused two bookstores before finding the perfect novel to follow my recent wrap-up with Sienna Brooks and Robert Langdon in a tireless search for an unknown plague in Dan Brown’s inferno.

Brief Thoughts on novel: In short, Koch’s writing was incredible throughout the book, but I wasn’t in love with the ending as it lacked the meticulous creativity that was so present in the numerous preceding pages. However, Koch reaches a vast audience in that his diction is genuine and the breakdown of the plot (which takes place over the course of a single dinner) is presented in the chronological constituents of the characters’ four-course meal, starting with the aperitif.

Last night, we made a post-dinner trip to a local ice cream shop on the island. We unanimously ordered single-scoops of various flavored ice cream on sugar cones that we took outside the shop to enjoy in the evening’s warmth. The outdoor temperature got to our ice cream faster than we could, so we tried to finish our cones quickly before the heat melted our delectable desserts into a gooey mess.

With the story still fresh in mind, I was reminded of the above quote last night while eating my ice cream cone.  I often find myself rushing through life and focusing more on the destination rather than the journey to said destination. I over-analyze the steps it takes to reach a goal and although I find accomplishing my goals extremely rewarding, I can’t help but feel disappointed that I couldn’t find the same enjoyment in the steps it took to get there.

So to keep this post short and sweet like last night’s Moose Tracks ice cream, here’s what I’m trying to say:
Just as one enjoys the process of eating ice cream despite the heat that is causing it to melt quickly, so should one enjoy life’s various situations no matter the speed. Even if you are rushing through your journeys and things are moving at a faster pace than you are comfortable with, remember to enjoy every second of it as if you are enjoying an ice cream cone on the Turks and Caicos islands.

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An Open Letter to People with a Staring Problem

Dear Creepy Strangers,

I hope you are not offended by my blunt use of the word ‘creepy’ to describe you, though I often get the impression my comfort isn’t one of your concerns.

I used to believe that the bold strangers were those whom were most vocal; you know, who candidly yelled out “compliments” in the form of statements like “Damn girl, you’re pretty as hell” followed by some obscene sexual gesture, or “Hey…hey…HEY! You got a boyfriend?” However my response that was often simply ignoring them or sometimes inevitably laughing at their audacity proved that these strangers were not the creeps, but rather their silent counterparts.

All too often when out in a large group I notice an alarming number of strangers with a staring problem. Now, I will be the first to admit that I am nothing special to look at and cannot figure out the reason for the ridiculous amount of stares I receive. Nonetheless, men and women alike are often guilty of staring for far too long to the point of making me and my company uncomfortable.

Just last night at the local fish fry in Turks and Caicos, I experienced an unsettling number of silent onlookers seemingly observing my mundane habits of eating and talking with friends. There was a man in a red polo shirt who I found staring at me every time I looked up from eating dinner. He didn’t stop staring when we made eye contact, and that only increased my discomfort.

Similarly, a woman donning a bright green shirt, likely a fellow tourist, maintained her gaze for so long that the friend I was with pointed it out to me before I noticed it myself. Though her incessant staring appeared to be harmless, it only added to the numerous others I encountered doing the same thing.

The man with the red polo shirt often walked inexplicably close to me at various times throughout the evening, and although these gestures were not nearly as abrasive as the aforementioned cat callers, I  found myself more uncomfortable around this silent, staring stranger.

I become more conscious of my actions and often feel discouraged from innocently dancing and enjoying myself because I assume it will only attract more unwanted eyes.

Perhaps I’m naive in believing that most of us were taught at a young age the impolite nature of staring at others. I’ve seen numerous tips for women on how to deal with crass outspoken men, but I’ve yet to discover a realistic solution to ridding the psychical and corporeal discomfort experienced from these creepy strangers who stare at me for far too long.

Unless I am doing something explicitly embarrassing or have food on my face, the unwanted looks will remain just that. A true example of actions speaking louder than words, the prolonged stares undoubtedly creep me out and make me feel more unfairly objectified than most cat calls have ever made me feel. The silent onlooker’s intentions  and motives remain a mystery and that mysterious nature causes a lasting discomfort that cannot be resolved with pitying laughter or a turn of the head.

From me to you, creepy people, please reconsider your mysterious and uncomfortable actions and remember the wise words of author Bryant McGill, “Good manners are appreciated as much as bad manners are abhorred.”

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From Twerking at the VMAs to Twerking With Words: My Take on Racism

Whether it is middle-aged mothers verbalizing their utter shock at Miley Cyrus’ coming-of-age transformation, or Black 20-somethings jotting down every emotion perfectly describing the disgust they feel about displays of racism during Cyrus’ performance, many journalists have been blogging about the 2013 VMAs. I think it is absurd that Miley Cyrus’ name was the top hit on Google News while Syria is undergoing societal chaos and our President has been struggling to make a sound decision regarding assisting their country to find safety. But as we all know, sex (and racism) sells and apparently Miley displayed a lot of both.

Though I do question whether the infamous displays of twerking and butt-grabbing would receive this much negative attention if Miley Cyrus were a black female (I strongly believe it would not), I am not here to dissect Cyrus’ performance at the VMAs, as there are numerous articles you can find regarding that topic. I have, however, been tirelessly battling with the concept of modern-day racism in the U.S.

I am a biracial female, so I typically feel some sort of a personal conflict whenever the topic of racism comes up. Do I believe racism across all ethnic groups still exists today? Yes. Is it clear that Blacks struggle with feeling equal to other races, particularly Whites? Of course. But while reading the many articles dissing Miley for being “racist” and how Blacks often feel various forms of negative attention from Whites, I cannot seem to find personal solace with the lack of attention given to black-on-black racism.

I say this because ever since I was a young elementary school kid, I have personally experienced racism from all races. I would say that is the strangest funniest part about being biracial: the wide range of racial comments you receive and how others feel it is their job to decide for you which of your two races dominates the other.

My mother is White and my father is only half Black, so that leaves me at a whopping 25% non-White. However, my skin is significantly darker than my siblings and dark enough that, to the naked eye, most tend to categorize me as either half or full-Black.

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Turning 20 Takes Courage

While I’m always ecstatic whenever a loved one’s birthday rolls around (or mine…especially mine), this one feels significantly different than the others. I was talking to a friend the other day about my upcoming 20th birthday and the disturbing number of online articles I’ve seen listing all the things people wish they knew at 20.

It’s like for whatever reason, 30+ year-olds everywhere are picking up their special edition hindsight glasses, dusting them off and looking back to their 20s. Then simultaneously, or within a week of each other, they all submit their posts online—conveniently in time for me to start my one-week countdown to packing up my teenage years in my large, purple Rubbermaid memory box and throwing it in the storage room.

Although these insightful posts are, well, insightful, I can’t help but feel pressured from them. I know the secrets; I’m privy to all these things that people regret being blissfully unaware of at 20 and now feel obligated to share them with the newly-20-year-olds of the world. But because of the inability to evade these ubiquitous posts, I feel as though I hold the key to unlock up the trunk specifically made for 20 somethings to ensure the best decade of their lives.

So at this point I have two options: Run as fast as I can within the next two weeks to said secret-holding-trunk to ensure my 20’s end up “better” than the authors of these posts, or kindly thank them for the key, but toss it in the nearest lake next time I’m walking my dog.

I think I’ll take the latter and try it out for myself. Just as life, in its entirety, takes us on a convoluted path and often leads us down roads that seem like the farthest thing from what we actually want, lately I’ve been enjoying life’s confusing ride and where I’m ending up. Turning 20 takes courage to go on a new path without looking at where others have gone, but rather making it your own and being creative.

So here’s to turning 20 in 6 days and worrying not about what I can do to ensure a flawless couple of years, but rather focusing on how much fun I will be having and the path I will create for myself. Click read more to see a list of things I do and don’t want to continue when I turn super old in a week!

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#TwitterRevolution

I’m currently watching the documentary #TwitterRevolution on CNBC and Jack Dorsey’s story is so inspiring.

I always find the undeniable power that Twitter possesses over the masses mind blowing no matter how long I spend trying to mentally dissect it. Whether it’s aiding in the discovery of the Boston bombers or journalists taking to the social media site to gain insight on breaking information, the #TwitterRevolution is here to stay. 

It always shocks me when I meet someone who doesn’t have a Twitter account. My boyfriend actually just made an account a few months ago, and I feel almost ashamed that he has sent out 0 tweets since creating it. As the documentary said, “Twitter is now home-base for the ‘who’s who’,” so if you don’t have an account yet, I highly suggest creating one.

Information is power, and Twitter users are given an unparalleled platform to dole out information to the masses. However, Twitter also enables internet trolls to freely express all negative thoughts they have on any given situation, which is clearly a deterrent for some. 

“When you share your opinions with your followers, they will share theirs with you.” Twitter users are (initially) unknowingly signing up for an open discussion of sorts wherein all of their fellow Twitter users can respond to whatever they post. Some people undoubtedly feel more courageous behind a keyboard, which of course contributes to the idea of digitized hate, but there are times when these internet haters don’t expect hateful responses back. 

The increased popularity Twitter has received in the past few years has created an idea that transcends the world living behind our computer and cell phone screens. Often Twitter users will rank social popularity based on their online followers. Now, I’m not above spitting out my number of followers when someone tries to use theirs against me, but this newfound way of valuing your self-worth (and how worthy others are of your time) seems a bit superficial at times. 

Nonetheless, everyone from employers to NBA players take to Twitter to check out what’s going on in the world and value it as a primary source for up-to-date information. It is a fascinating primary source unlike anything our world has experienced before.

Twitter’s seemingly organic integration into the world is slowly but surely changing young America and the way we live our lives. The 21st century youth think, act and handle situations differently than any other previous generation that has preceded us. It is changing the way the world receives the news and it is a primary focus of my own journalistic interests and future endeavors. Personally, I have loved Twitter since the minute I created my first account back in 2009. Sure, I felt as though I “had nothing to tweet about”, but once you get over that fear of lacking creativity, you learn that you possess all the originality in the world as your Twitter timeline is (usually) just that: your original thoughts, stream of consciousness, opinions and aspirations all in one convenient location. 

So go forth, young Twitter users, and start using Twitter to its utmost influential potential. Also, follow me @JeanOveralls to get more updates of what I’m thinking! 

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My Next BIG Goal

Friday: Arguably the best day of the week.
I always make plans to do something adventurous on the weekends because I don’t work at all on Saturday and Sunday, but somehow I usually end up on my dining room floor in front of the TV  being everything but adventurous…

That is why this weekend I have decided to start on my book. Although the premise for my fiction novel is not yet concrete, the uncertainties of actually writing a book are what instill the most fear in me. Of course it is a huge challenge, and just thinking of the painstakingly long week I spent writing my first 15-page sociology paper takes my mind into an unknown land of worry and stress. However, I am most excited to take on the challenge of working on something I deem somewhat of a far-reach.

Who says you can’t write a book at 20? Well, technically I’m still 19, but I’ll be 20 in three weeks! 20 year-old author sounds a hell of a lot better than 20 year-old crazy cat lady…which I was convinced I was slowly becoming just a few months ago. I’ll just be sure to stock up on my tried-and-true Starbucks DoubleShot Energy drinks from Walgreens to get me through the late night fatigue.

I know that I am capable of writing a great fiction novel. Will my adorable puppy whom I can’t help but pick up and kiss every two seconds get in the way of my productivity? Sure, but at least I’ll have him to keep me company while I’m saying my crazy train of story ideas aloud to myself.

After reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and now Inferno by Dan Brown, I feel compelled to rise up to a similar level as these authors whom I admire so much. Just as Brown quotes in his book from Dante Alighieri, “There’s a special place in Hell reserved for those who maintain neutrality in times of moral crisis,” I feel I’m reserving myself a special spot in personal life discontentment if I choose not to embark on this exciting journey of writing a book.

Who knows: Maybe I can even hit up my guy Matthew Berry for advice on writing a book…and to prepare for my upcoming fantasy football league; another thing to distract me from this book!

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