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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

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Who Should We Listen To?

This summer during the Transom Traveling Workshop on Catalina workshop, I produced my first public radio piece. While writing my script, I was suddenly gripped with a deep fear about my ability to narrate my piece. As I read the script back to myself while editing, I realized that as I was speaking aloud I was also imagining someone else’s voice saying my piece. The voice I was hearing and gradually beginning to imitate was something in between the voice of Roman Mars and Sarah Koenig. Those two very different voices have many complex and wonderful qualities. They also sound like white people. My natural voice — the voice that I most use when I am most comfortable — doesn’t sound like that. Thinking about this, I suddenly became self-conscious about the way that I instinctively alter my voice and way of speaking in certain conversational contexts, and I realized that I didn’t want to do that for my first public radio style piece.

Of course, I’m not alone in facing this challenge. Journalists of various ethnicities, genders and other identity categories intentionally or unintentionally internalize and “code-switch” to be consistent with culturally dominant “white” styles of speech and narration.

Chenjerai Kumanyika, a public radio host, has written a telling essay about the proliferation of code-switching in the radio and podcast industry, and the impression that one has to "sound white" in order to sound professional; couple that with this week's This American Life (arguably, the whitest podcast in all the land, but I generally fall asleep before finishing a complete episode so what do I know) on disrespect for female hosts with vocal fry, and this is what we we learn to be true: people just want to listen to white men. READ MORE

How I Got My Pre-Baby Body Back

Like Beyonce, by the time I gave birth, I weighed nearly two hundred pounds because, like Kim Kardashian, I suffered from a condition called preeclampsia. This causes, often later in pregnancy, high blood pressure and fast gains in weight from fluid retention. It’s miserable, but by the end, I was a little too preoccupied—new baby, slash in the abdomen—to really marvel at the state of affairs on the scale. I noted it, in passing, without remarking on it to anyone. I didn’t panic or feel like a failure for having gained more than the recommended twenty-five to thirty-five pounds for one baby; it was the most minor fact in a week full of overwhelming and sometimes alarming data.

The day that I found out I was pregnant, when I stepped on the scale, it said that I weighed 134.5 pounds. That number had been my regular weight for about five years, slowly rising a bit or falling with my state of mind, my moods, the seasons of the year.

I’d never dieted or exercised very regularly as an adult, and I didn’t worry very much about what I ate or drank. But pregnancy changed all of that. As I moved through the months, I began to watch what I ingested, not for myself or the fear of a rising number on the scale—I knew that couldn’t be avoided—but for the health of the baby. I noticed what a poor diet I had, sometimes going almost a full day without eating anything at all. I now tried to eat a "balanced" one. I became more active and conscientious about my lifestyle. Though I’ve always loved walking, I started to make a real chore of it; I’d walk an extra few miles a day. It was invigorating, and I noticed, more than the physical change, that I felt better emotionally.

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A User's Guide to Raising Your New Puppy While Remaining Sort Of Sane

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1. First of all, your puppy is an idiot.

2. Give the puppy a name that reminds it every day what an idiot it is. We recommend: Grandpa Pajamas, Mrs. Boob, Waffles.

3. Your puppy is a coldhearted idiot. You will know this to be true the next time it looks you straight in the eye and pees on your carpet.

4. Don't get lured in by expensive puppy swag. Deodorizers and "Thundershirts" are bullshit. Wrap the puppy in sheets like a mummy if you need it swaddled and use white vinegar when it shits on the floor.

5. It will shit all over the floor. READ MORE

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"The smoke from this plant causes a brief state of euphoria, immediately followed by permanent insanity."

This anti-pot propoganda video "from the 1970s" promises to tell you The Blunt Truth about marijuana, and, guys, I think it's something you really need to hear.

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Jessica Pratt, "On Your Own Love Again"


Jessica Pratt's second album was released yesterday and I like it very much—I think you would like it too!

I also liked her interview with Stereogum yesterday, particularly this part:

STEREOGUM: It sounds like there’s a lot of room on the record for people who are off on their own or difficult to be in relationships with. Even on “Strange Melody” the phrase I kept coming back to was ’You can’t see me/ The better half of a strange melody.’ How do you relate to that personally?

PRATT: Lyrical content is great when it’s abstract enough for people to have the space to project their own psychic things onto. That’s how you bond with songs. Relationships can be a lot more complex than you ever imagined as a younger person. From ages twenty to thirty five when you’re really going through your first batch of serious relationships, you have a lot of these fairly elementary realizations about human interaction: how everybody is kind of fucked up and there’s no real getting around that. And you’ve got to find people who are fucked up in the right ways to complement you for a while. It was a heavy period of discovery for me in that way that resulted in those songs.

Download the album here.

(h/t my friend Will, he doesn't have Twitter because he's a perfect human being but he has excellent taste in music so even if I can't link to him in the traditional way I want to acknowledge that he sent this to me. I guess he has an Instagram so follow him there, maybe if you're lucky he'll post more music recommendations. Thanks Will!!)

(Sugar) Baby's First Date

whiskeysourOn a recent Wednesday, my friend Annie1 went on her first date with a man she met through SeekingArrangement.com, the self-proclaimed “leading Sugar Daddy dating site.” Annie, a "Sugar Baby," has been looking for what the site calls a "mutually beneficial relationship.” In exchange for companionship, the perks for Sugar Babies can include “financial stability,” “experienced men,” and being “pampered.” A day after her date with a Sugar Daddy, she told me about her experience.

James2 was one of the first people I talked to on SeekingArrangement. There are a lot of guys who just trawl the site for the second there's a new profile to instantly favorite and message; that makes you feel adored, because you’ve literally just made an account, and then you feel like, "Oh my god! I'm so popular already!" But James just looked at my profile and didn’t do anything. I checked his profile and thought it was funny, so I was offended that he hadn’t said anything to me. So, I messaged him; I very much pursued him because I was pissed that he wasn’t paying attention to me. His original messages were pretty removed and not the most authentic seeming, so I just kept chatting him and trying to tease it out. Then it became this thing where he was clearly being much more authentic than I was, or, at least, appearing to be.

We talked for a solid month, at least, maybe a tiny bit longer. The original plan was to meet for drinks on Monday, go shopping, eat a nice dinner, and then probably get drinks at the bar of the hotel where he was staying. He messaged me to try to meet at an exceedingly fancy restaurant on Tuesday night, which I wish I could have done, except he ended up having a meeting with a celebrity. So, we just got drinks at around eleven on Wednesday, at the hotel bar, which was very chill and swanky. I walked into the lobby, where we had agreed to meet. I didn’t see him, and I was definitely the youngest person there. All of a sudden he appeared and was just like, “So, you’re here!” He was dressed really nicely, in a button-down shirt underneath a blazer, slacks and horn-rimmed glasses. He was very, very metrosexual, which surprised me because I’d imagined him as this pretty manly, kind of goofy dude. He was gentlemanly and pulled out my chair when we sat down at the bar.

I tried very hard to make sure we sat close, but also to make sure that ours knees wouldn’t touch—I didn’t want to do anything even remotely intimate, because at that point I had no idea how I felt about the entire situation. James kept complimenting me and telling me how glad he is that we could meet up because I’m always out doing something or meeting someone and how charming he thinks it is that I’m so social. The weirdest thing about it was how it was just like, pretty normal in terms of what we talked about. We talked about movies, art museums, the housing market, and his job. It came up that his real name wasn’t James, it’s Alan3. (I found out his last name as well, because he said it when he set up the tab at the bar, and it turns out that he’s totally Googleable: He’s really what he says he is on his profile and teaches at an Ivy League university.) READ MORE

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Things I Would Like To Own, Please and Thank You

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I will gratefully accept this gift should anyone be looking for a material way to prove their love for me. Suggested occasions: my birthday, Valentine's Day, a particularly shitty Tuesday, Favorite Blog Editor Day (which is not yet a thing because Barack Obama won't answer my letters but I am optimistic about our chances), bribes, etc.

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A Place Like Home: On Being Black and Punk

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 6.19.57 PM-2The first year I went to Fest was on a whim, with a ticket bought while drunk. I drove down to the annual punk music festival in Gainesville, Florida, and crashed in a double hotel room with seven white dudes. Fest is a lost weekend of sloppy music and sloppier crowds, a beer-soaked vacation. I didn’t regret it.

On the second night—a particularly long one in which I found myself falling asleep in a dive bar as a loud band played—I wandered to the back bathroom to splash water on my face and wake up. Someone walked in while I was at the sink and suddenly a girl wrapped me up in a drunk, sloppy hug. When we were untangled from each other, she exclaimed, “I’m sorry, I’m just so happy to see another brown person at Fest!”

I had, as always, been aware of the sea of whiteness in the crowds and on the stage, but I hadn’t thought about it much until that moment when I realized that I was so goddamn happy to see her, too. READ MORE

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7 Things A Man Only Does If He’s Serious About You

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1. He just wants to cuddle.
“No, I think that catching up on Parks and Recreation and finishing a three-year-old scarf is a great way to spend the night!! Jazmine, I'm serious. :)”

2. He plans ahead.
“So if we eat a large breakfast at 10 and a sizable lunch at 12 and I bring some granola bars in the car, you promise you won't pretend to eat my boss' arm again? That cost me my biggest account. Stop smirking... wait, are you drooling? Jazmine, I'm serious.”

3. He watches A Serious Man with you.
“Just wait like 30 minutes and it turns into a really good movie. Just wait. Jazmine, I'm serious!”

4. He introduces you to his loved ones.
“Now, we've gone over this, but you cannot try to pull my father's toupee off of his head and use it as a napkin again. Jazmine, I’m serious.”

5. He helps you around the house.
“I don’t think you’re supposed to hold knives that way!! Jazmine, I’m serious!!!!!!!”

6. He wants to get to know you.
“Why do you have a tattoo of my face on your butt?? We've been dating for two months. Answer me! Jazmine, I'm serious!”

7. He tells you he’s being serious.
“Jazmine— hey, hey, I’m sorry for criticizing Masterchef Junior. You are 100% correct that it is a “charming and masterful show where not a single thing is faked” now will you please remove these handcuffs and stop lighting all my possessions on fire??? What??? No, I'm not saying that nons— OK, OK. Yes, Masterchef Junior IS better than The Wire!!!!!!!! Now can you please put my signed copy of The Social Network back in its glass case before you singe the exterior?!?!??? Jazmine, please!!! I'm serious!!!!!!!!!!”

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Welcome to Fourth Wave Coffee

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Hello! Welcome to Fourth Wave Coffee. My name is Sternum and I’ll be your barista, but you can call me big poppa, Dr. Freud, Mrs. Robinson, or any other nickname that makes you feel warm inside. Warm like our coffee.

Here at Fourth Wave, our mission is to provide a beverage experience that transcends the merely average service provided by ordinary third-wave coffee shops. Fellow millennial, I’m here to make you feel good about yourself. Here’s a trophy, just for coming in. READ MORE

How a Legal Secretary Who Paid Off $38,000 in Debt Does Money

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Alison (not her real name) is a 27-year-old legal secretary who lives outside of Philadelphia.

ND: So, Alison, tell us a bit about your finances.

Alison: Well, I'm 27 years old and I'm a legal secretary, which is both a fancy name for "secretary" and shorthand for "I do everything in a law firm except sign the actual legal documents." I've been at my job for 4 1/2 years and I made about $45K last year. I live in a smaller city outside of Philadelphia and am completely debt-free, after managing to pay off both my undergrad loans, brief graduate school loans (I dropped out shortly after enrolling, which is another story), and my car last year.

That's fantastic! I briefly considered living in Philly once—it has a reasonably low cost of living compared to other large cities, correct?

Yes, it's definitely a lower cost of living than in New York or San Francisco, though it's getting a bit pricier now and it's not as cheap as the Midwest. I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia (about 35 minutes outside of Center City) and the cost of living is moderately low, though I live near the Main Line (one of the ritziest parts of suburbia) which makes things a bit pricier. I'm around a lot of rich people by proxy.

About how much debt did you have? Did you have to drastically adjust your style of living, or were you earning enough that you automatically had extra money every month to pay the debt?

I had roughly $20,000 (plus interest) in undergrad loans, which seems like a small amount in comparison to some horror stories I've read, but I had a sizable scholarship to my university and my parents contributed a portion (about $10,000/year) as well. I had less than $1,000 in grad school loans (I legitimately dropped out after one class!). The final bit of debt was my 2008 Volkswagen, which I bought in 2011 for $17,000 and got hosed on the interest rate (7%) because I had no credit at that point. READ MORE

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Win a Free Copy of Melissa Pimentel's Love By The Book

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Ladies! Looking for your next great read? Here at The Hairpin, we're giving away 25 copies of Melissa Pimentel's debut novel, Love by the Book.

So, what's it about? Love by the Book charts a year in the life of Lauren Cunningham, a beautiful, smart, and unlucky-in-love twenty-eight-year-old American. Feeling old before her time, Lauren moves to London in search of the single life (replete with sexy Englishmen). But why can’t she convince the men she’s seeing that she really isn’t after anything more serious than seriously good sex?

Sounds pretty good, right?? Entering is VERY easy! Simply fav this tweet or "like" this facebook post and you could be among the winners.

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"Hm Yes Good Point, Scientists, But Have You Considered: It's Really Cute?"


Oh yeesh. Remember last week when I was in a good mood? I was so young and innocent and pre-Mercury-retrograde back then! That was before the great Kim Kardashian Betrayal of January 2015, as scientists will no doubt call it in their studies; like, it is just not ok to tweet this and then follow it up with this because that infers a very different understanding of the words "exciting news," particularly in this parched new-Kanye-album-less landscape we've found ourselves in.

Ok I'm just going to self-soothe with this article on animal friendships. READ MORE

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Would You Rather...

...read my 6000 word hot take on the latest episode of a certain cable television show, or see pictures taken by an underwater photographer caught in an all-encompassing majestic swirl of a shit storm streaming out of a bus-sized sperm whale?

Same.

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The Hottest Fashion Looks for 2015

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1. Ghost of a Victorian governess who demands that you solve the mystery of her murder. READ MORE