October 29, 2011

As for tumblr

Yeah, I fully acknowledge it has a stereotypical hipster reputation. But I don't follow that bs...I've definitely found an appreciation for very classy and quality images through some very selective following.  Especially an appreciation for breakfasts and men's shirts... check it out at wheniopenmyeyesisee.tumblr.com !

October 27, 2011

As for another step

Last night I turned in my first college application. I have applied to college.
I, Jess, 17 year old high school senior, have applied to college.
I am in my last year of high school.
I have seven months left living at home.
I love my friends.
I actually feel like myself.
I've come so far in the past two, four, six, years.
I've been looking forward to this since I learned what "college" meant.
I've strayed.
I've thought twice.

Four years ago I saw myself as I completely different person - and I never saw that changing. I still felt lost in the sauce and overwhelmingly self conscious. I didn't always want to be known as "the smart one."
The people I wanted to be friends with four years ago I would never want to be friends with now. Four years ago I didn't want to be who I was. Now I can't imagine going back to that place. It's eery to think my time here is almost over. I've been so focused on looking forward, especially with applications, that it keeps on striking me how close we really are to the end (or the beginning, whatever). This is it.

In other news, good happy music (aka what I listened to all day in celebration of first submission): Anything by The Guggenheim Grotto. I first saw them open for Ingrid Michaelson two years ago and they were not only adorable, but very good too. Two acoustic-instrument playing young Irish men - what more could you ask for? My personal favorite album of theirs is "Happy the Man" and my favorite songs are "Her Beautiful Ideas" and "Sunshine Makes Me High." Go listen! Actually....listen right here!

Her Beautiful Ideas - The Guggenheim Grotto

October 25, 2011

As for risky sin

We've all had those times. Times when we've thrown dogmatism and morals to the wayside and entertained our curiosities (and if you haven't yet, you should). Let's not go to extremes here, but there is something to be said for doing the unexpected and really learning from it and growing as a person (you might discover that you're someone who would never riskily sin again, or that maybe that risky sin isn't all it's cracked up to be). Cross your own expectations. Never blame yourself for curiosity.

Here it is - the Risky Sin Playlist.

Cover This - Dispatch
Mardy Bum - Arctic Monkeys
Gimme Sympathy (Acoustic) - Metric
I Don't Know What I'm Doing Anymore - Lissie
Sinful Wishing Well - Caitlin Rose
Syrup & Honey - Duffy
The Mistress - Amelia Curran
Babylon - The Elusive
Bad Blood - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
My Little Demon - Fleetwood Mac

October 23, 2011

As for some twangy loveliness

Mmmm, Sunday morning has come again. I really truly love this. Yesterday was kind of blechy in the sense that I stayed home all day. By the end of it I was definitely coming down with a bad case of cabin fever. All I had to do was reading for school and kind of work on some essays; needless, to say, it did not prove to be the most inspiring. But what was lovely was for dinner we made boeuf bourguignon, buttermilk bread, and a pear tart. Such a country supper! This morning I've churned out one short essay and started a really productive essay of a full one. It's really shocking that this month has gone by so fast. I'm practically ready to submit my first college application. How crazy is that? I am pretty proud of how I have been doing everything in a very measured and spread out way; true, I'm not going to be done "super early" or anything like that, but giving myself time to grow into my writing style and to develop the ideas and content of my essays has proved invaluable. And nothing will be last minute - win! I've already mapped out my essay plan for all of the rest of my colleges for November through December, and have given myself two solid weeks of revision time in mid-December, and will have everything submitted by December 23rd so when I go off to KlezKamp (so excited) everything will be out of my hands and I can just celebrate and relax.

Also, I'm so ridiculously excited for KlezKamp. Every year (for the past six winter breaks!) I go to this weeklong intensive and it is really the only place where I feel in touch with my background. Synagogue frustrates me, b'nai mitzvot tend to be tedious, but this is a revelation. Every year I've gone it's been at this same hotel and I am lucky enough to have a clan of people my own age to hang around with. This was the place I had my first boyfriend, my first kiss, and my first "starring" role (I was 12). It really brought me out of my shell; the first year I went, all I did was go to my instrumental classes and hang around with my dad, and now I get back to our room around 1 or 2 in the morning and dance the night away. 'tis lovely. Two more months to go!

Here's my "Old Twangy"-esque playlist for y'all (sorry for some of the overlap with the last playlist, but thus is life)!

Carolina In My Mind - James Taylor
Wagon Wheel (Cover) - Mumford & Sons
These Days - Jackson Browne
Trouble - Cat Stevens
Piano Man - Billy Joel
The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. One - Neutral Milk Hotel
Don't Think Twice - Juliana Daily
Take It Easy - Eagles

October 21, 2011

As for a fuzzy week

This whole week I've almost been in a daze. I keep on getting super exhausted and napping. Right now I can barely keep my eyes open and it's 6pm and I'm going out to a show tonight. And I'm caffeinated! I don't understand!

There's an incredibly attractive college student in the cafe I'm in right now. I don't think I can bear sitting 30 ft. away from him; it's nearly killing me. He's got Jordan Catalano hair.
Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto)

I'm actually not feeling stressed about college apps at all. I feel really on top of it and it's so comforting to know that the material I'm writing is really of a very high quality and communicating what I want to communicate. I don't feel like any aspect of myself that I need to express to the admissions committee is slipping through the cracks and my essay progress has been good. Also - with help from writing here - I've become so much more comfortable with writing narrative essays. I'm really proud of the supplements I've been writing and that's a first for me - I have never been a writer or really dedicated myself to expressing something real and true about myself, like I do in my essays. It's also really nice to have the quality and content of them vindicated by adults in my life who know what they're talking about.

Tonight I'm actually going to let myself sleep without an alarm. I really wanted to wake up early and do lots of work tomorrow morning, but I know at this rate of exhaustion, I won't be able to function in the slightest if I don't let myself rest. I went to sleep at eleven last night! That's obscene! Unheard of! I haven't gone to sleep before 12:15 all year! Ah! Needless to say, it didn't help considering I got fourish hours of sleep the night before...win some, lose some. Alright. I guess I'll go be productive now...

October 20, 2011

As for days

It will never cease to befuddle me that most days are simply leading to the next. They're mundane, repetitious, and slide by without nary a second glance. And then some days change and define your life. Still 24 hours. And they still pass. How odd.

October 16, 2011

As for refreshingness

(Yes, refreshingness is now a word).

Favorite times of the week: Friday afternoons, Saturday mornings, and Sunday mornings. Of course they're weekends - that's a given. But for each of these, there's a sense of newness and balance. Especially when it is crisp, sunny, and automnal outside. I woke up in an empty house at 8am, did some homework, listened to Rilo Kiley very loudly, and in general felt super...balanced. And ok. And refreshed. Which just goes against all of my experiences with stress and what I anticipated for this fall. I am supposed to be more stressed than I was last year. I'm supposed to be constantly walking around like a zombie. Sure, I'm feeling cynical and restless - but only in the sense that I'm sick of wasting my mind's time in high school. I fully accept I just need to play the game for seven and a half more months, but it's just aggravating. Even so - I just feel so damn fine! Not free and easy like this summer, but productive. As if this year is mapped out and things are within my reach. It's not all so 'far away in the future' right now and that's just happy. It's all going to be ok. 

I got the grades I need to for my progress reports. I did it. One class I needed to pull up my grade by five points, the other by one. I had a week to do it. I didn't give up - I mapped out the things I needed to accomplish for each (one of the tasks was "grade grubbing") and by God it worked. I got the one point, and for the other class I got seven more. This was one of the last in-school grade reports I had to get under my belt and it looked like it wasn't going to happen. Well it did. Fuck yeah. It just felt that much more awful that I might not succeed at the very last minute, when I've done everything I needed to do for the past four years. It seemed so unfair. But now I'm proud :)

I have to write some short supplement essays today and read some of Les Liaisons Dangereuses (ooh, how suggestif!). Thank god I'm not taking last year's coarse load right now; I mentally couldn't handle it. 

I'm also really glad this year I've kind of become more comfortable with myself and the little things that make me happy. Like breakfast (at noon).

"Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it" 
- Andy Rooney

October 15, 2011

As for early mornings

It was beautiful watching the town wake up this morning. I had a chai and an apple cinnamon scone and it was lovely. Very calm. Mm.

October 13, 2011

As for the process

I think I'm pretty much finished with my personal statement. I will be in a crapbucket of stress until Monday for other reasons, but it's a slight comfort that a big step is done. The amount of supplement work I still have to do is more than daunting, so I can't mentally be truly happy for myself about this - but a little bit.

So far it has been a really frazzled journey towards this final draft. I started (and as of a couple days ago) didn't have a defined topic. Contrary to popular advice, this lack of direction is what ended up leading me towards a topic that is the most personally defining. I was writing drafts of all sorts of different topics - I think six or seven total. They were all decent. Then I wrote one that I had a "good melon" feeling about. I read it over a week later and discovered that it was awful. Totally flustered (and with absolutely no faith in myself as a creative writer - I haven't written a narrative essay for years) I floundered and started a couple other drafts that were more occasion-specific until I came back to that disappointing essay and over a couple of days, redrew a completely different path for it. My process was unguided and divided. But it ended up leading me, stumbling, towards the perfect topic and (finally) the perfect expression of my point. I truly feel so proud of it, so much so that I keep on coming up with conspiracy theories that prove that I somehow didn't write it, because I just don't feel like I'm capable of writing a good creative piece.

It just SO embodies the roots of who I am.

"You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room." 
- Dr. Seuss

Exactly so. It was a process. And to think without this insanely stressful method of applying for college, I never would have discovered things I actually knew about myself, but just hadn't unearthed. Even essays that weren't on the same topic as my final...writing so many of them all over the place was like outlining an oeuvre of what's important to me and what has been integral to crafting who I am today. We think we know it in our heads, but to actually take the weeks and months to get that all out - that's priceless. And to think, in 80 days my applications will be sent away and these essays will be buried in one of many folders titled "Personal Statements." I can't wait to discover them (and this blog) in the future, especially because I feel like they really are snapshots of where I am now and what I feel has been important to my development. 

Here's a short selection of what I've been listening to for the past couple of days (reminder: playlists are always better when you listen to them in order!). This is a conglomeration of really disparate musical styles, but they all somehow blend together. 

These Days - Jackson Browne
The Bad In Each Other - Feist
Easy - Deer Tick
Blow Away - A Fine Frenzy
Far Away - Washed Out
Trouble - Cat Stevens

Also - this cover is epic.

One and Only - Elizabeth Gillies

October 12, 2011

As for my feminist rant

1. The idea that being a feminist is something to be embarrassed about. That any diatribe a woman may go on to prove her point is stamped "a feminist rant" and intellectually dismissed as beating a dead horse. That any woman who wants equal treatment is too 'caught up' in 'new fangled areas' such as gender/sexuality research. Every woman every day experiences some fashion of gender discrimination, whether they realize it or are so used to it, they can't anymore.
2. That anyone with curves must dress excessively modestly to be taken seriously. As someone with "pre-Raphaelite curves", if you will, I see this every day. It is automatically assumed a woman is of a lower intellectuality if she has curves or looks pretty. If she's blonde and wears an argyle sweater, she gets the stamp of sexy librarian. If she's brunette and dresses modestly, she gets the ever-alluring girl next door. If she has curves - slut. The very idea of modesty. That defeminizing oneself is a "smart move" for those who want to be taken seriously (we can see this from Queen Elizabeth I to Rachel Maddow, to the baggily-dressed journalist in The Ides of March).

Courtesy of IMdB.com
3. That if a woman staunchly portrays herself as asexual or as very sexual, she is thought of in sexual terms. We see women who dress as "tomboys" or "butch" and automatically think "lesbian" or "desperate." We see women who wear clothing that doesn't hide their figure as easily accessible sex objects. Adamant virgins become "virtuous" and therefore of a higher quality (and now qualify for fetishistic male fantasies). Women who embrace their sexuality and decide to sleep with whoever they damn well please are seen as therefore willing to have sex with anyone as well as easy and devalued. There is also the assumption that they are implicitly open to propositioning and would welcome such advances.
4. In general, women are there for the taking. Sure, our day would be made if you honked your horn at us. If you grabbed us on the street. If you yelled out anything containing the phrase "pretty lady."

I was in a high school class today. A girl was reading out her short essay on another member of the class (male). It was jokey, but contained compliments. Immediately one of the guys started miming a blow job (you know, that old 'if I move my fist forward and backward outside my mouth and press my tongue against my cheek it looks like I'm giving head' witty move that has been around for decades): dude, she totally just s'ed his d. Yeah. Two days ago I left the coffee shop and two guys, obviously 5-10 years older than I, flirtily yell out to me Smile for us, sweetheart! Give us a smile! Now there's another one. If a woman gets mad, the reaction is often either don't mind her, she's PMSing, and her point is dismissed or cheer up, huh? Why so serious? Give us a smile! No, I am not your little dolly. I will not look cute for you on command. I am not flattered that you think that I have a nice smile or should be obligated to be perpetually cheery and on display for the male sex to amuse themselves with. When I was in fourteen years old I was walking by myself. Straight forward, eyes in front of me, determined. Wearing sweatpants and a workout t-shirt, having just come from a dance class. Three boys, about 18ish, walking down the street towards me start with the "Hey there's!" and "In'nt she cute!s" due to my 4'11" frame. They grab my chest, pretty unremarkable at the time, and continue on down the street laughing. I rush away.

Yeah, sexism is still around. It's sad that people don't see it, but understandable. We're bombarded with it nearly 24/7 and have been for decades. It's easy to become numb to it and dismiss it.


October 10, 2011

As for small things

I took unplanned naps today and yesterday. It was this persistent pressure on my eyelids...not the normal type of epic sleep deprived exhaustion that I'm used to...but the kind of urge that you just physically can't say no to. Strange. I never nap.

Last night I revised my second draft of one of my potential college essays (I think this is the one). I have to add a couple more sentences and it's pretty set. I feel so good about it. I just know that there's still so much writing to get done, but it feels nice to be taking steps in the right direction.

Guys I had the best breakfast sandwich the morning. It was truly a thing of beauty. The entire time I was fasting on Saturday, this is what I was thinking about. On a pillowy ciabatta roll....unfgh so good. That's all.

October 9, 2011

As for frustration

Today was an odd one. Fasted for yom kippur (I don't know why I did). Feeling a little bit old. It's weird to think of things that happened in your life that were so integral and really changed your life experience and yourself, and know that they happened years ago. Seeing remnants from those occasions is almost haunting.

I was definitely not feeling intellectually motivated at all today. Pretty blech. So, in that vein, here's a Frustration playlist. For relationships and for life.

Our Battles - Maria Mena
Mama Who Bore Me (Reprise) - Spring Awakening
Heartstrings - Breagh MacKinnon
Heavy In Your Arms - Florence & The Machine
A Better Son/Daughter - Rilo Kiley
Skip the Charades - Cold War Kids
Hope for Now - City and Colour
Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac
Blood On the Frets - Speechwriters LLC
F*ck Was I - Jenny Owen Youngs

October 7, 2011

As for le weekend

It's one of those crisp fall afternoons. Even better, it's a crisp Friday before a long weekend fall afternoon. Things seem fresh and I've got infinite amounts of free time. Hopefully it will be conducive to really digging into some writing. If not, I'll at least get to finish the immense amount of reading I have to do for Tuesday - finish Pamela for my college lit course and Faust for high school among other insignificant brainless tasks.

I'm sitting in the cafe and all these middle schoolers came in. I didn't have such a bad middle school experience, at least while I was there, but looking back I can see just how much of an identity crisis I went through. Well, not crisis so much, seeing as how I hadn't really solidified one in the first place. By tenth grade I actually started to condense. But, they have so much time ahead of them (as I guess I do too) and haven't even figured out where they stand yet. That's exciting. And daunting.

I'm feeling alright. I'm not dying from stress. It's just...going through the process. And I'm going. I just have to get there.

Happy long weekend everyone, I hope we all have a good one :)

October 6, 2011

As for atonement

I'm not atoning tomorrow. I'm not atoning ever. I have nothing to be sorry for and I regret not. I don't need someone to validate or pardon my sins; I'm perfectly adept at the process of acceptance and learning from experience myself. I'll just continue on in my humanist way, don't mind me.

One thing I am for, is forgiving others and asking for forgiveness from others of your own accord and once having fully understood the situation and whatever wrongdoings you may have committed. May apologies be made on any and every day, but never feel obligated. We all know, even from the days of elementary school scoldings, when someone is asked to apologize, it is hardly ever sincere. Reflect, to be sure. Take another step in the process of forgiving yourself. But obligation falsifies truths.

Solomon Burke - Don't Give Up On Me

I do, however, obligate you to listen to this classic. Keep loved ones close, screw the rest.

Note to my readers: I never mean to offend, nor do I often go on religion-inspired rants. These are simply my views. As always, thanks for reading. 

October 5, 2011

As for blur

This week feels like a blur. I can't articulate anything that happened, how I've been feeling, anything. I feel like a drought. I don't know...everything's been alright. Things are weird and new and I don't feel stressed all the time but then I just keep myself up late as self-inflicted punishment. For what, I don't know. Here's a song that sounds how I feel. Not so much the lyrics, but whatever.

Sorry - Maria Mena

I don't even know. Self-reflecting for my college essay is weird. I don't want to write something superficial or normal. I'm writing really about myself and who  I am stemming from the beginning, so it's an emotional struggle and an issue of willpower. I don't know if I can do it. I just need to get through these next few months and no one can help me. It's a personal process and I understand and accept that. So, I'll just keep going. 

October 3, 2011

As for break ups

Because this playlist is just necessary. Some of it will make you more sad, more angry, more lost, and more ok.

The Break Up Playlist.

Theme Song - Aster
Farewell to the Fairground - White Lies
Gravedigger - Dave Matthews Band
The Next Time You Say "Forever" - Neko Case
Are We There Yet - Ingrid Michaelson
Where Are You Going - Dave Matthews Band
The Only Exception - Paramore
I Don't Know What I'm Doing Anymore - Lissie
Heavenly Day - Patty Griffin
Colors (Ft. Norah Jones) - Amos Lee
I Never - Rilo Kiley
Dirty and Left Out - The Almost
World Spins Madly On - The Weepies
Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want - The Smiths
Tell Me What It's Worth - Lightspeed Chanpion
Fly One Time - Ben Harper and Relentless7
Breakin' Up - Rilo Kiley
When They Fight, They Fight - The Generationals
Melody - Kate Earl
Mad World, Outlive Me - Amelia Curran
Die Motherf*cker Die - Get Set Go

October 2, 2011

As for quiet days

What a cozy weekend it has been. I woke up bright and early (and by bright I mean cold and rainy and by early I mean 8am) Saturday morning to work on my take home essays for the 18th Century European literature college course I'm taking - due at 1pm! A couple of years ago I would've balked at writing a 6 page essay in one or two days, whereas now my reaction is...psh, bring it on. The rest of my day was crazy relaxed. This has probably been the only school weekend in 2 years that I haven't had to hardcore do schoolwork the entire time. I only wrote a 6 page essay, read half of Pamela, and did a physics problem set! Huzzah! I also took a languorous bath in the middle of afternoon and started reading Jack Kerouac's On the Road because I feel ridiculous not having read it yet.

I also saw "The Guard" at our local arts cinema - go. see it. It's dry sense of humor was beautiful, as were its philosophical and principled drug traffickers. Ended up finally getting to sleep late late late and then decided to actually give myself the luxury of sleeping in. Again, beatiful.

I always have just started listening to Beirut. I know, I know, I'm totally late on the uptake, but please listen to this thing of beauty for me.

Sundays are truly my favorite day of the week. Sure, sometimes you have to do a procrastinated homework crunch, but come on. There's a new issue of the New York Times! What could be better?!

I also got my senior pictures done this weekend by a close friend (who has lovely camera skills) - here's one of my favorites. I don't know which I'll choose yet though.

(c) Leah Parker-Bernstein

(c) Leah Parker-Bernstein