5 Childhood Fears That Remain Scary Today

October 2, 2014

5. Eighth graders:

When I was a child, eighth graders were scary because they were bigger than I and they used swear words. Now, eighth graders are scary because they are the single most belligerent age group. Eighth graders fundamentally do not give a shit about anything. Anything! Those little fucks will dare their friends to drink mixtures of Tabasco, mayonnaise and piss. They’ll passive-aggressively put down each other’s outfits to the point of total social annihilation. They have no morals. They have no sense of reason. You are right to fear them.

4. Librarians:

When you were a kid they were always shushing you out of nowhere and asking if you really wanted all those Judy Blume books. One time, I lost a book. Totally lost it. I haven’t used my public library card since 5th grade because I’m sure I must have $10,000 of late fees racked up. I recently found the Meg Cabot book that I essentially stole – it wasn’t worth the ensuing life of crime. Now, library books have much higher stakes. If I so much as breathe the wrong way on one of my history class texts, the librarians might actually kill me. I mean, I’ve heard some of those books are bound in human skin…and I’m not saying that the librarians at the John Hay are responsible for that, but I’m also not not saying that.

3. Strangers in Vans:*

*or any vehicle. Or just strangers in general. The concept of stranger danger was a very prevalent part of my childhood. I was warned countless times never to even approach a strange car, let alone call one to my location and give the owner my credit card number through the Internet. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Uber). Though this common-sense fear has obviously been cast aside for the sake of cheaper cab fare, there are obviously some remaining qualms. (See: Uber Worst Case Scenarios.)

2. Mistaking Someone for Your Mom:

At some point in every child’s life, they grab the pant leg of a female stranger. This grab is usually accompanied by some tugging and shouts of “MOMCANWEGETOROES!” The moment of realization that the pant leg does not belong to your mother is the worst mixture of humiliation and terror available to small children. In adult life, the experience of mistaking a stranger for your mother is quite different. Instead of running away screaming and trailing Oreos, you experience an urge to run towards this motherly figure while simultaneously begging for home-made food and unconditional support. And that’s a whole different breed of terror and humiliation.

1. Scooby Doo on Zombie Island:

Remember this one? The one where ALL THE MONSTERS WERE REAL? Because I sure do. I almost pissed my pants. I didn’t sleep for days. Scooby Doo on Zombie Island remains the scariest movie of our time. You cannot convince me otherwise. Seriously, watch that shit again. It’s terrifying.

It's a Girl Thing

What Women Want: More Accurate Jeopardy! Answers

October 2, 2014

This past Monday, beloved dinnertime game show Jeopardy! included a category entitled “What Women Want.” Rather than address legitimate necessities, however, it emphasized our fragile female needs for vacuum cleaners, the New York Times crossword puzzle, and Sleepytime tea. I’ll take “Not So Subtle Sexism” for $200, Alex.

Instead of angrily writing about the many problems with airing something like this, I decided to come up with some alternative answers for the category. Jeopardy! producers reading this, I am available this weekend for consultation. Let’s start the show!


What are “realistic standards of beauty?”


What is “entertainment featuring complex and diverse female characters?”


What is “equal pay?”


What is “birth control covered by my insurer?”


What is “not catcall women?”


The Myth of the “Basic White Bitch”

October 1, 2014

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If you’ve spent any time on the internet lately, you have probably noticed the proliferation of articles mocking the behaviors of the “basic white bitch” (interchangeable with the “basic white girl“). If this concept is unfamiliar to you (as it was for me right before I blacked out from my rage-sweats) than I urge you to educate yourself here, here, here and especially here. Obviously the name intrigued me. I expected to find a detailed anthropological investigation of this new type of woman. Who is the typical “basic white bitch?” Apparently, it describes most females.

The token “basic white bitch” stereotypes seem to mostly be centered around their love of all things “pumpkin-spiced” and an appreciation for a cheeky Instagram filter. Although, I’m not sure this really qualifies as a type of woman so much as a description of things middle class people like. I’ve witnessed multiple grey-haired whiskery professors order pumpkin-spice lattes with glee, and it is a fact that women aren’t the only ones glorifying their goji-berried oatmeal on Instagram. However, out of respect for the article entitled “16 Questions All Basic White Girls Never Knew They Needed To Answer,” I will answer some of them as an ambassador for the world of leggings, spiced coffee, and worshippers of the great Dalai Lana Del Ray.

  1. “Why am I seeing so many basic white girls in sunflower fields?” The answer to this is actually quite obvious. You, sir, are standing in a sunflower field.
  2. “I don’t know why basic white girls feel the need to put a monogram on everything.” Firstly, I am unconvinced that monogramming is not just something that people do in general. Please refer to the LL Bean backpack you carried around for most of your current prepubescent years. Also, monograms are a handy way to tell which LL Bean backpack is mine and which is yours. Capitalist efficiency at its finest.
  3. “Why are all the basic white girls wrapping themselves in American flags and posting it on Instagram?” This is not a thing. You were obviously checking your Instagram feed on July 4th.
  4. “Why do all basic white girls feel the need to start a sentence with lower case letters?” Why did I just receive a text from you that says “hey hmu l8ter if u wanna”? Perhaps basic white girls are not the only ones using grammatical shortcuts?
  5. And finally, the most controversial: “Why do all these basic white girls want pumpkin spice lattes?” They taste amazing. You know it, I know it, the very tall fifty year old man standing in front of me at Starbucks knows it.

The “basic white bitch” is a myth. The idea that things that are universally liked – by girls AND boys – are “basic”, gendered, and by default idiotic, makes no sense. We all like dumb shit. Let us wear our oversized sweaters in peace. Or maybe I’m just cranky because I’m on my period.

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Listicles, The Tabloids

A Ranking of This Year’s Booty Anthems

October 1, 2014

Let’s face it, it’s been a tough year. While it still has a few months to go, 2014 has already had its share of drama. America is fighting yet another war overseas, global warming is running unchecked, and the Gaza Strip is once again inflamed with violence. What will this year – in all its eventfulness – be remembered for? War? Environmental crises? Ariana Grande’s shrill voice? How 2014 will go down in the annals of history, I cannot say, but as far as I’m concerned, 2014 has been the year of Booty (with a capital B). There has been a tremendous swell of cultural support for the fat-bottomed girls of the world and – luckily for us – this social movement has been clearly echoed in the music of this year. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, when the people of the future look back on this tremendous year, I know there is one thing that they will universally recall – the ballads of booty, the hymns about lady humps, the songs that our generation will twerk to for years to come. In the midst of 2014’s calamities, what better to focus our attention on than butts (and that, my friends, is called escapism). In honor of this remarkable societal trend, I have organized a list of this year’s butt songs, ranked from just okay to awesome.

  1. All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor

This song isn’t explicitly about booty, but it does offer tribute to today’s curvy girls, and for that it makes the list. However, it is not an appropriate song to really get down to, nor does it do booty the lyrical justice it deserves. Trainor includes a line or two – “I’m bringing booty back, go ahead and tell them skinny bitches” – but it is not the satisfactory tribute to ass that we are all looking for in a song nowadays. Due to the lack of a real beat you can twerk to, and lyrics that feel a little bland, Trainor finds herself at the bottom of this list. But thanks for the empowering message anyway!

  1. Booty – Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea

The only reason this song is above the previous on our list is because it is very explicitly about Jennifer Lopez’s rump. However, this song just doesn’t do it for me. There was a shot for redemption in the music video, but even that disappointed. Ass against white background, with lighting from above? Meh. I’m underwhelmed. Simultaneously, I’m a little overwhelmed. The sheer amount of ass close-ups in a 5 second clip makes Anaconda’s video look like an episode of Sesame Street. [Ed.: Are we thinking of the same Sesame Street?JLo isn’t even singing the majority of the song. All the “big big booty, what you got a big booty” is definitely someone else. The lyrics are tremendously disappointing as well. She makes the whole song about how her butt is appealing to some guy in a club. So what? My ass is appealing to me and I would just love to hear a song about how much a woman enjoys her own butt. That has merit too. Overall, thumbs down for this tune, and two thumbs down for the video.

  1. Wiggle – Jason Derulo and Snoop Dogg

Finally, an excellent song to get down to. Honestly, the number one spot was a tossup, just because I am so married to the lyrics in this song. “Your booty like two planets,” Jason croons. What raw emotion. “You know what to do with that big fat butt – wiggle wiggle wiggle,” he tells us. What poetry. The beat of this song is great, the video is fun, and the lyrics speak straight to my soul. The biggest reason this song isn’t number one on my list is because the top spot was well deserved by another jam (and also Snoop Dogg is incredibly creepy in the video).

  1. Anaconda – Nicki Minaj

Okay. This is a great song. Sampling Baby Got Back, the pioneer of butt songs? Genius. The song was made to dance to. Put it on at any party and the room will go wild. Not to mention the video. Nicki gives a very confused, very overwhelmed-looking Drake a lap dance at the end. It’s priceless. The song’s fun, great to dance to, and ends with these lines:

“Yeah, he love this fat ass

Yeah, this one is for my bitches with a fat ass in the fucking club

I said, where my fat ass big bitches in the club?

Fuck those skinny bitches, fuck those skinny bitches in the club

I wanna see all the big fat ass bitches in the motherfucking club

Fuck you if you skinny bitches WHAT?

I got a big fat ass.”

I’ll just leave you with that.

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Life & Other Drugs, On "The Hill"

A Bad Case of Ivyitis

September 30, 2014


The doctor strode into the room, a clipboard in his hand and a grim look on his face.

“Tell it to me straight, Doctor. What–what is it?” I stammered, coughing dramatically into a handkerchief.

“I don’t know how to tell you this, dear. You–you exhibit all of the symptoms. Increased lethargy, decreased mood, nausea, vomiting, feelings of crippling inadequacy…”

“No. Doctor. Don’t say it–”

“I’m afraid I have to. It’s… it’s Ivyitis.”

Now, let me make myself perfectly clear. If you chose to go to Brown entirely because it is an Ivy League university, I hate you. All other reasons are perfectly valid. It was the best school you got into? Understandable. Your friends already went here? That’s good too. You have an irrational infatuation with bears? More power to you. But don’t tell me that for you, it was Ivy or nothing.

However, it isn’t fair to ignore the fact that Ivy League schools have a reputation–one of privilege, of legacy, and of quality. American culture has made “Ivy League” synonymous with “excellent college,” and although there are some outside the league that are better and some inside that are worse, for the sake of brevity (and of catchy names), we’re going to stick with “Ivyitis” to describe a disease that actually covers a much broader scope.

Now, what is this fictional ailment, the one the fantasy doctor in my head described in such grim detail? Well, scientifically speaking, it’s a complication of the confidence, brought on by the attendance of a high-quality university. Personally, my first symptoms appeared during an orientation-week conversation with a random assortment of other first-years. The innocent question was posed: “What did you do this summer?”

“Oh, I was actually in Milan on a study scholarship doing research on Celtic history.”

“I didn’t do anything, much. Worked on a tech start-up with my friend. Google just bought it for 500k.”

“I spent most of it on the moon.”

Are you kidding me? I’d been so prepared to tell my new acquaintances about the time I flipped a pepper shaker off a table and it landed right side up. That was my big summer accomplishment. And I, Captain Coordinated, was supposed to attend the same university as a bunch of freaking Zuckerberglets?!

My first two weeks of class only exacerbated the Ivyitis. I was rejected from not one, not two, but seven different acting roles, not to mention two other writing opportunities. I know, I sound really cool right now. But it actually really hurt–and still does, sometimes. In high school, I was used to being one of the best at those things. Here, I’m not even a blip on the radar yet.

I really thought that the stress of constant evaluation was going to go away after I got my acceptance letter. I mean, I got in, right? Shouldn’t that indicate that I belong? But scenarios ran through my head of a nudged application file falling from the heaping rejection pile into the paltry admissions pack. I saw a mix-up in Common App where my application was switched with the other Ali MacLeod’s, the one who built an orphanage with her own two hands. I looked around at all the amazingly bright people I was meeting every day and knew I could never, ever belong with them.

My recovery from Ivyitis finally began in my Intro to Acting and Directing class. We were seated in a circle, trying to draw inspiration from our own lives to create a theatrical piece about “issues,” no matter how personal or broad. When my teacher asked me for a suggestion, I shakily began:

“Well, I don’t know if any of you feel this way, but I kind of think that I’m… you know, not good enough for this school.”

A chorus of snaps met my suggestion.

As it turned out, every single freshman in that class had felt the same way, at some point. Including one who had literally been on a TV show, and the one who had had roles in 25 plays in the last five years alone. The winner of an international computer science competition admitted the same feeling when I talked to him about it a few days later. Even a grad-school-headed senior I met at the football game nodded along in solidarity when I explained my condition to him.

The stress that came with Ivyitis affected me so much because I felt I had to make every moment here count. No lazy Netflix Sunday afternoons. I had to prove and improve myself, try to fit in, because I was so lucky to be able to go here. And I am so lucky, but I thought so because of the wrong reasons. There are hundreds of others who aren’t able to attend this incredible school, who are equally or more worthy of being here. But I earned my place, so I should make every moment count. However, that doesn’t mean constantly comparing myself to others and not allowing myself a break. It means growing with my Brown education, and allowing it to become something personal and precious and perfect for no one else but me. And the more I start to believe this, the less nervous I feel.

Yes, the cure for Ivyitis ended up being inside me all along.

(Awwww, that’s so cute.)

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It's a Girl Thing, Life & Other Drugs

Tampon Shaming is the New Black

September 29, 2014

Over the summer I was hustling to CVS on a mission for tampons. I proudly strutted to the “feminine care” aisle and chose the cutest, pinkest box I could find. You know the one with the commercials showing the girls playing sports, or rock-climbing, or surfing while wearing all white? Yeah, those super realistic ones? I was ready to engage with their product.

My neighborhood charges 10 cents per plastic bag as an incentive for people to use reusable ones, instead. Being a stereotypical LA yoga/kombucha/Whole Foods enthusiast, I am always more than happy to support the green lifestyle and tote around this season’s hottest granola-y accessory. However, blinded by my dire need for tampons, I forgot mine in the car. So saving my precious dime for a future parking meter, I chose to carry out my tampons by hand.

By the look on the cashier’s face you would have thought I was offering to leave the store carrying a dead body. She squealed, “Oh NO, honey! Please just take this bag, you can have it for free!” I reluctantly took the free bag from her shaking hand, but it made me feel uncomfortable that she so adamantly wanted me to hide my tampons, and that she was doing me a favor in the process. Was she protecting me from the judgment of the guy toting anti-balding cream and a family sized bag of Cheetos? As if.

Tampon-shaming is the new black.

When I was younger, Mother Nature delivered fear and embarrassment every month.  I remember panicking when I needed to change a tampon in the middle of class. How was I supposed to sneak a tampon out of my backpack in the secret compartment in the subtle black zippered pouch with the combination lock and say the secret, voice-activated password without drawing attention to myself?

As I have grown older, I have shed my embarrassment, self-consciousness, and the lining of my uterus (too gross?) enough times to give a damn about tampons. Maybe it’s because I am the product of an all-girls high school where tampons were currency comparable to cigarettes in prison. Or maybe it’s because monthly bleeding has lost its novelty to me as a grizzled veteran. Regardless, I am over it and unashamed.

I’m especially curious as to why some guys feel uncomfortable when they see tampons. It’s not like periods are some big secret. Anyone who has taken a sex ed class in middle school has learned about the in’s and out’s of the uterus and has heard enough about the menstrual cycle to make his head spin. Moreover, if you’re uncomfortable just looking at a tampon, try thinking about how it feels to bleed for a week.

I’m not trying to portray myself as a female vigilante equipped with tampons as her weapon of choice. I just don’t think anyone should feel ashamed of experiencing a natural and healthy bodily function. Check your period privilege and stop tampon-shaming.

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Life & Other Drugs, Listicles

Interpreting Font Names

September 29, 2014


In every student’s life, there comes a time when she realizes Arial or Times New Roman just won’t cut it. This moment is a marker on the long road to growing up, not unlike the moment when you realize a used plastic water bottle is not always the most appropriate vessel for vodka, or that leggings and a flannel are not appropriate clothes for every occasion.

The first time I needed to use a more professional font, I scrolled through the list of fonts in Microsoft word and formed a question that haunts me to this day: who signed off on these names? To be fair, some font names have a clear relation to how the font actually looks. Most, however, have no apparent relation to typography at all:

1. Goudy Old Style
This one brings images of a high-end 19th century brothel to mind.

2. Apple
Steve Jobs is trying to send us a message from beyond the grave. He can only communicate using this font, or a series of generic iPhone ringtones.

3. Birch Std and Blackoak Std
I’m picturing dark squiggles that look like something between bits of tree bark and herpes sores.
(Yes, I realize “std” actually means “standard” in this context. But still.)

4. Haettenschweiler
Oktoberfest, anyone?

5. Mistral
At first I thought this was a misspelling of “minstrel.” Turns out, it’s a “cold and northwesterly wind that blows from southern France into the Gulf of Lion.” Also, a helicopter carrier ship. Either way, no relation to the alphabet.

6. Minion Pro
I don’t think I need to make the Despicable Me joke here.

Absurd as these font names are, they can’t compete with the names of free fonts. For those of you who have never ventured outside of Microsoft Word, these are available for download all over the internet. A trip to the land of free fonts will invariably lead to disturbing revelations about the nerdiness of our fellow man. Be warned: there are hundreds, literally hundreds, of Elvish fonts out there. Would Tolkien be proud? I’m not sure, but I digress. Below are some choice examples of bizarre – and 100% real – font epithets:

Many describe very specific activities that have nothing to do with letters or writing:

1. Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon
2. Chaos in Wisconsin
3. Vampire Raves
4. Margarita in August (there’s no way a font could live up to this name)
5. Jack and the Beanstalk
6. Frosting for Breakfast
7. Bleeding Cowboys

(Any one of the above would make an excellent band name.)

Some.. I can’t:

1. Parkinsonism
2. Crack Whore
3. Times New Romance
4. Chicken Butt (really?)

And my personal favorite of the day: Zephyr Jubilee

Some fonts, like “Papyrus” and “Palace Script” describe themselves so well they make me wonder if I’m just missing something about the majority of font names. Am I the only one who doesn’t know what “Spinwerad” means? Other times, I do see a meaning in a font moniker and wonder if it’s real or a symptom of my tendency to find Monty Python references in everything (see: “Flesh Wound”). Somehow, font names have become yet another source of is-there-something-I’m-missing anxiety. So, here’s hoping they confuse you as much as they confuse me.

Life & Other Drugs, The Tabloids

Why We Can’t “Let It Go”

September 29, 2014

Thank god for my mom. Maybe it’s because she spent copious hours in labor to birth me, or because of the fact we spend all our time together since I am her daughter – but really, it’s because she can read my mind.

One day, the two of us were watching the Food Network, sprawled out on the couch in front of the fireplace. Ina Garten was talking about the chicken pesto pasta she was making for her dearest Jeffrey (her husband, for any of you food haters), when my mom suddenly had the WORLD’S GREATEST IDEA.

“Let’s go see Frozen.”

If only my 5th grade PE teacher could see me then: I sprinted so fast up the stairs to change out of my pajamas that I gave Usain Bolt a run for his money (see what I did there with “run”?).

At the theater, we got our usual medium bag of popcorn, capable of feeding a family of 12, and a bag of Swedish Fish. I did most of the consuming. It wasn’t until we were sitting in our seats that I got a strange feeling. It was more like a nightmare, actually… I was drowning in a sea of five-to-seven year olds. The worst part of it all was that onlookers could easily tell my mom and I were the most excited ones there.

But we didn’t care. The movie was everything we expected… and more. Our laughter could be heard from miles away. I mean, come on! How does Olaf not realize cuddle rhymes with puddle! Such a snowman move.

I proceeded to see the movie three more times.

Why at the age of 19 am I still in love with Disney princesses? Correction: why are ALL girls in their late teens still obsessed?

Is it our underlying fear of growing up and joining the real world as adults? Abandoning our dependence on our parents? The fear we’ll end up alone? No husband? No children? Just cats? For me, only the ones without hair since I puff up like a tomato if I come within 30 feet of a feline. I’ll be the hairless cat woman. And I’ll waste all my nonexistent money on trying to maintain these hairless cats. Then I’ll end up getting evicted from my shitty apartment. So I’ll be the hairless cat homeless spinster. Oh, HELL NO!

Or maybe we still like Disney Princesses because they’re fucking awesome. And here is why:

1. Elsa – first off, she is a queen! So get that right. She is okay with riding solo to rule her kingdom. Look how progressive and accepting Arrandale is!
2. Rapunzel – she isn’t afraid of strangers. She’ll run away with them, but she will beat the shit out of you with a frying pan if you cross her.
3. Belle – even if you do lock her up in complete solitude, she will love you for who you are. No matter how badly you need to shave.
4. Mulan – she will make a man out of you. Guaranteed.

I could go on. But just because we don’t spontaneously break out in song and dance doesn’t mean we can’t still relate to these princesses. I mean, after all, aren’t we all looking for a Prince Charming? I’ve got dibs on Prince Eric, ladies. Yes, part of me wants to latch on to my childhood; to the days when I could dress up as Tinkerbell publicly and not get concerning looks.

So go binge-watch all your VHS’s of every Disney Princess movie ever. The cold never bothered Elsa anyway, so why should anyone bother you for your love for quality entertainment?!