Friday, November 13, 2009

Parrogance Strikes Again!

It’s a boy? Disappointment plagues some moms

LAS VEGAS - Katherine Asbery was so depressed that her third child was a boy, she wouldn't even say the sex. She called him "not a girl," and spent hours crying. (I'm gunna loooooove Kate Asbery, I can tell. Too bad I missed out on that 'catch')

She and her husband had even tried different techniques (sideways, from behind, on a suspension wire) that promised to yield a girl. "That dream of what you wanted is gone, and you have to learn to live with that," she said.

Good mothers are supposed to say they are happy with a boy or a girl, as long as the baby is healthy. But gender disappointment is a very real and heartbreaking issue that affects many pregnant women. (if you say so)

Christine Lich of Lindenhurst, Ill., always assumed she would have a girl. (what the fuck!?!? "Assumed" she'd have a girl?!? Jesus fucking Christ what PLANET do you live on!? It's like 'assuming' if you call 'heads' that you'll win the coin flip!) Instead, she got three boys. She wanted to appear to be the perfect mother, so she never let anyone except her husband know her disappointment. (thanks for letting me know that now, honey. nice timing.)

"And they tell you it's a boy, it's like, ahhhh. For that short moment, you're kind of bummed in the back of your mind. There's not going to be any pink dresses. There's not going to be any scrapbooking. That's not going to happen," she said. (Where. Do. I. Start? THIS is the reason you're bummed? Scrapbooking?!? Pink dresses?!? Why do terrorists hate us, again? Refresh my memory.)

Lich gets tired of people making comments such as: "Are you going to try for the girl?" or "You need to have the girl." (yes, those people are equally shoot-in-the-neck-worthy. I'll grant you that one)

Even now, four years after her third child, she can't bring herself to buy clothes for a little girl's birthday because she just can't look at the outfits. (Wow. I mean.......apoplectic is too soft of a word for me here....)

Joyce Venis, a psychiatric nurse in Princeton, N.J.p (epxert, indeed. What, an actual doctor wouldn't back this up?), who works with women suffering from gender disappointment, said it is not really discussed because other people would perceive the disappointment as being ungrateful. (uh, ya' think?!?) Venis said the problem mainly involves women who wanted a daughter.

Just because a woman has a gender preference does not mean she is a bad mother or that she doesn't want the child, Venis said. (if you say so)

"They have the right to want the certain sex," she said. (You watch, America....this will soon be considered a legit affliction by the medical community. Treatable with high-priced drugs, too. Guaranteed. Can't wait for the first lawsuit!!!)

Venis suggests women find out during the pregnancy what sex the baby is so they can deal with any disappointment before the birth. (GREAT suggestion, nurse!!! Then, they can spend nine months even MORE GODDAMNED EMOTIONALLY FUCKED UP!! BRILLIANT ADVICE ASSHAT!!) She said women should find someone to talk with, and if the woman is depressed, she should talk to a therapist. (a therapist suggesting someone talk to a therapist?!? The HELL you say!)

Asbery, the mom who tried with her husband to ensure that she'd have a girl, has a masters degree in clinical psychology, (who says an education is overrated?) and decided to write a book called "Altered Dreams: Living with Gender Disappointment" after sharing her story on mommy message boards. (log-in password: LookAtMEIAMaMOMMY)

She turned to her faith (the faith where you accept what God gives you? That one?) and drew strength from talking to others who felt the same way. She said it's important for people to understand that mothers suffering from gender disappointment want their children and are not bad moms. It's just the plan they had for their family has changed. (sorry. Not buying it. Want different kid than what you got = bad mommy. Done. Fuck you)

Her third son is 3 years old now (and, watches sports, no doubt!), and Asbery admits she still has some pangs of sadness. She sometimes looks at her son and wonders, just for a moment, what he would look like as a girl. (......................(sound of my head hitting wooden floor)....)) She and her husband are not going to have more children. Their family is complete, she said, and she doesn't feel like someone is missing anymore. (except when I PICTURE MY SON AS A CHICK!!!!!)

What she most wants mothers to know is this:

"It's normal. And they shouldn't feel like a freak," she said. "It is a normal process of when a dream has changed. You just have to relearn a different dream." (or, maybe, just maybe, change your dream in the first place?)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jessica Has Nothing In Her Future Except...Everything

I hope you remembered to bring some hot cocoa tonight.

I have my pipe, my robe, my pretentious spectacles and I'm sitting in my gorgeous, high-backed, leather armchair. A fire blazes in my darkened den, creating a beautiful chiaroscuro against the cold, wintry night. Sit back, relax and settle in for another edition of:


The Incoherent Ramblings of Jessica Wakeman

You remember Jessica? Of course you do. She last lectured us that marrying for money is not only acceptable but almost noble. We here at the SNC all secretly dreamed of ditching our wives for such a siren.

Why do we love Jessica? Aside from her wildly prodigious and piquant writing ability? Well, she can take whatever singular experience her mid 20s brain processes and turn it into an overarching cultural meme. Throw in a dash of bullshit polemics, a pinch of contradiction, five gallons of really odd narcissism and poof! You have Jessica.

It's not all her fault. It's what people in their mid 20s do. They really do believe that every thought that flows through their neurotransmitters is entirely original and should be voiced...loudly. And nobody will be able to see through their steaming piles of crap.

So, in honor of the recently deceased William Safire and his Rules For Writers, we offer Jessica Wakeman's Rules For Relationship Bloggers Looking To Justify Their Own Selfish Impulses And Vindicate Their Lot In Life:
Rule #1 - Always reference yourself and your choices in life as yardsticks of inherent human truth even if they're unbelievably stupid or, worse, obvious.

Rule #2 - Always inject thinly veiled references to things that show the world how far you've come and how truly mature and wonderful you really are.

Rule #3 - If examples don't exist to back up your point, make shit up.

Rule #4 - The whole point of being a writer is to exact revenge on perceived slights in life so make sure you come out as the tragic hero in the end. How you get there is not relevant.
Let's get started.

CNN.com via TheFrisky.com

Blame my older sister, the kindergarten teacher, but I believe in the Golden Rule (Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! That's officially the 100 billionth time in the history of man somebody referenced the Golden Rule in the first graf. Collect your prize at the front desk.). Whether you're my boss, my intern (WHOA! All her Facebook friends now know Jessica has an intern so we already have Rule #2, even if the intern is shared with the entire office. They don't know that. Bet that intern interview was a rigorous one for TheFrisky.com.), my boyfriend or my third-cousin-twice-removed, I will treat you with the same amount of respect as everyone else. (That's big of her.)

Why am I wired this way? Other kids were really cruel to me from grade school through high school -- whether putting Scotch tape in my hair during class, calling me "Cabbage Patch Kid" because of my chubby cheeks, or circulating my name on a list where girls were ranked by their hotness and I was rated 3 out of 10. (Classic triumph over tragedy. It's Horacio Alger in Schenectady. Stick Hillary Duff in it and the script writes itself!)

That stuff made me feel terrible most of the time and I don't want anyone knowing what that's like. Instead, I try to be kind to every person, regardless of how popular/attractive/smart they are, and not be a brownnoser, ever. (Who brownnoses their friends?)

It's striking to me, though, how not being a kiss-up has ruined my friendships with some very pretty women. In fact, my only friendship Titanics (Is that a metaphor?) have happened when I've stood up to extraordinarily beautiful women and lost out. "The Pretty Girl" wanted me to play by her rules; I didn't want to do it, so Pretty Girl read me the friendship riot act and ditched me. Forever. (Let's all buy Jessica a big, wooden cross so she can climb on up and nail herself to it.)

Let me be clear: I do have girlfriends (Glad that's cleared up). I'm not incapable of being friends with women. I have some really great female friends who are all regular-looking (sigh) like me. When we bicker, we get over it. But when a normal-looking woman like me (You said that! Cripes! You have an intern. Get an editor!) befriends someone who is model-pretty, there's trouble.

Let's face it (Let's!): Beauty is a privilege. It acts like a honing device (Eh...it's HOMING device. (slaps head)) for male attention, opens doors to clubs, causes compliments to rain upon the lucky ones. But if the parties aren't careful, a beautiful friend and a regular-looking friend can get locked into a power dynamic (Because "regular-looking" people like Jessica speak da truth and keeps it real while pretty people all be stick-up bitches.)

Of course, not every beautiful woman lords her privilege over her less beautiful friends. Still, some do. Beauty is a universally valued quality for a woman; it offers privileges that can always be relied on (You! Said! That!). The logic of one's arguments, or articulation of one's emotions, unfortunately, is less reliable. And because plenty of women and men want to be around attractive women (Boy, she hangs around a regular Algonquin Round Table, doesn't she?) just so those privileges can rub off of them (Who's them? And 'of'? Editor!), some beautiful women aren't used to hearing "no."

I truly think my friendship difficulties with pretty women stem from my challenging them with words or reasoning (Okay, Jessica's roommate just moved out on her last week and she was marginally pretty. She'll show her, damn it!), instead of just falling in line with the power dynamic they try to exert.

Jealous? No. I'm resentful (And jealous.). When it becomes clear to me that a beautiful friend of mine plays the "my way or the highway" card, I resent the fact that I'm being valued so little (Her roommate totally just bolted on her. Bet her boyfriend heard the story in 48 different forms over five straight nights.). Compromise and admitting you are wrong are friendship skills which date back to the sandbox days -- I don't care if you look like Megan Fox (Still don't get the Megan Fox fascination. Would somebody clue me in?).

Sasha modeled back in New York, where we went to school; she turned heads with her pretty blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes, and lovely smile (Keep in mind that Jessica's profile over at The Frisky says "straightish" under orientation. Context.). We met studying abroad in Prague ("Now my Facebook friends know about Prague!") together and lived in the same dormitory.

It became clear after a few weeks, though, that Sasha only wanted to do what she wanted to do and when she wanted to do it. She wouldn't go to a Czech restaurant or join me at a dance club just because I wanted her to -- she said "no" all the time (Maybe she didn't really like you and wanted to spare your feelings. Chalk one up for "Sasha". Or she was a roommate you occasionally drank with, not a "friend". There's a difference.). I hated that, of course, but I figured I had to suck it up because the other girls we hung out with parroted whatever Sasha did.

Then one day I was robbed; my passport and all my money was stolen. I told Sasha about it and it surprised me that she didn't offer to spot me even a little Czech currency to tide me over until an American Express wire came through from my dad (Bullshit Alert! That shit takes three hours at most. I did it in Florence ten years ago (look at me!). Couldn't wait three hours, huh?). Instead, Sasha was really quiet.

When I returned from the Czech embassy (Czech (?) embassy...in Prague? More doubts a creepin' in. When you're in a U.S. embassy, you remember the "U.S." part...because it says so in every way possible every four feet.) after replacing my passport, I saw Sasha by my bedroom. Out of left field, she confronted me and accused me of coveting her fiance because I'd once hooked up with a guy who had the same name as her fiance did (This is the part where Jessica conveys the idea that she doesn't really think she's "regular-looking". Here's a "beautiful", probably made-up person thinking that her beautiful, probably made-up fiance would sleep with Jessica. Since we know beautiful people never slum it with anyone below their own range of beauty, Jessica is slyly telling us that there's a chance, on a good day, that she's in the ballgame. See. Bullshit stories to back up an argument serves two purposes. She's so efficient.) . Lusting after a guy I'd never met back in New York? What?! No!

Minutes later, Sasha switched gears and lectured me for calling myself a vegetarian (That week. Vietnamese Buddhism was scheduled for the week after.) even though I eat fish. I defended myself against that accusation, too. After a lot of tsk-tsking and head-shaking on her part, she said she didn't want to be friends anymore and stalked out of my dorm room. OK, whatever kooky lady who kicks a friend when she's down (Feel sorry for yourself much.).

But then over the next few days, I realized the group of girls Sasha and I hung out with (Well, hung out with "Sasha" but you were always there in this version of the fantasy.) were avoiding me completely, but still hanging out with her. What bitches!

Years later, I butted heads again with a roommate (I sense a pattern and it's not the one Jessica is talking about.), Elizabeth, who worked as a professional model and actress (Jessica really can't stop attracting beautiful models. It's a curse, really.). She was tall, slim and elegant, with dark hair, dark eyes and an absolutely breathtaking face. Elizabeth, too, insisted she was right about everything, whether it was whether men should pay on dates or the best way to scour a bathtub (JHC! This crap isn't even worthy of a teenage diary!).

When I disagreed with Elizabeth (Yes. Jessica got into a fight...over cleaning a tub. Line starts at my butt, guys.), she would, without fail, say something in a condescending voice about how I didn't understand XYZ, but she did because she claimed to have had more experience with whatever it was. That kind of "logic" is hard to argue with. Eventually, we had a friendship/happy roommates blowup when I told her that her friend who insisted that he knew how to fix our broken Internet connection was actually making it worse ($20 the guy was right. Ba-Zing!).

I could go on with other examples of disagreements with attractive women (But I can't think of anymore bogus stories...) where I ended up getting ditched, but I think you get the point. It's their loss, I think, because they could have had a friend who stood up to them. That's an asset, ladies (The world IS better with Jessica in it.).

But it's my loss for being so stubborn about arguments that I lose friendships over them. I'm just unwilling to be a butt-kisser. I really, really can't do it.

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles...

See. Tragic hero. Like all great writers, she follows her own rules.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Couldn't Resist

A small little blurb from David. I'm sensing a repeat for Fuckstick of the Year:

I've also changed the pic to one that truly symbolizes his full douchbaggery...Asshead weave necklace and all.



By David Wygant

One of the funniest things about Los Angeles is that you always feel like you are on a movie set. Here is a perfect example. (That IS funny)
The other night we went out to dinner, and sitting right behind us were Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. (Here it comes….Wait for it.....) I was actually looking directly at Tom Hanks and had no clue that it was him, (There it is! David so isn’t into that—far too cool) until Sonja said to me “Did you see Tom Hanks sitting behind us?”
I am clueless when it comes to celebrities.(It Ain't just that, Asshole) I could be staring directly at a celebrity and would have no idea. That just shows you how much I don’t care about any of this! To me, people are just people. (Oh, wow. He’s so normal.)
Anyway, it’s Monday. Welcome to a new week and something with which I want to kick start it . . . (What theFUCK did the Tom Hanks shit have to do with any of this?!)
There is something that all of you need to do this week. You need to break up with some of your friends. (Oh, this is good. I have to take a moment here to confess something—when I do David’s SNC entries I don’t research in any way. I just randomly pick an entry and go with it.)
There are friends of yours who just really no longer suit your lifestyle. They could be friends with whom you just don’t have anything in common anymore. (So get rid of them. They had kids? Fuck ‘em. Crampin my style. David, most guys over 23 don’t go to Whole Foods and stalk women)
Think about why you’re still friends with some of your friends. Perhaps you shared your gum with them in the fifth grade and then got drunk together for the first time in the eighth grade, so you feel like there is a reason you should still be friends with them. (Shared gum?)
If they’re holding you back, though, you need to start breaking up with them. (We get it. Jesus.) You want to spend your time with people who don’t hold you back in life. (Yeah, man. Get out of my life. Why? You’re boring.) You want to be with people who actually share the same goals that you have. You want to be around people who want to move forward in life. (Paid by the word.)
So you need to go to take a good look at your phone, and you need to eliminate the numbers of people with whom you no longer connect. (I call my grandma about once every three weeks. She’s out.) You don’t have to physically break up with them. Don’t call them up or send them a letter. (Send them a letter? To tell them you're ending your friendship? Please tell me you’re joking. Please)
In your own head (and phone), you just need to start breaking up with the people who no longer fit your lifestyle. Life is about change. (Holy shit. WE GET IT!!!! Repeat yourself one more time, assbag and I’m flying out to Malibu or Santa Barbara or god knows whatever trendy bullshit town you live in and kicking you in the scrotum. And by scrotum I mean your face.)
Many of you out there get stuck in “stagnant world.” I have met people who will actually tell me, “I have all the friends I need.” If you have all the friends you’ll ever need, then you are not growing as a person. (Just go stalk them at Whole Foods)
I like to open my life to new friends every single day. If I can meet new friends, it means that I’m growing and learning new things. If you stick to a routine, you’ll never grow (Again, you just said this.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Money Well Spent

By Carol Mithers

(OPRAH.com) (Fasten your set belts) -- The more science learns about how men are different from us (right down to the structure of their brains), the more we find ourselves hoping it will finally explain some age-old mysteries. For instance:

Study by BMW finds men view their cars as an extension of themselves. (The three guys who write this blog could care two shits about cars. Good start.)

Why do men keep their cars spotless but live like pigs at home -- while for women it's the other way around? (Umm...what?)
According to Simon Baron-Cohen, (Loved him in Borat) Ph.D., author of "The Essential Difference: Male and Female Brains and the Truth About Autism," (Autism?) men's neurological wiring tends to make them better at systems, while women are superiorly rigged for empathy. (I still can't figure out the goddamn garage door starter--strike one)
Which could help explain why -- although the culture is changing -- guys still take such pride in their machines, while women often care more about maintaining a clean home. (Cliches 101. Thanks, Oprah!)
Another clue comes from a 2007 study (conducted for BMW by a British team that included Oxford psychologists), which found that male drivers actually view their cars as extensions of themselves. (You already said this) Women, whose self-image is tied more directly to their bodies, are likely to think of their vehicles as separate entities, the authors suggest. But because men are less tuned-in to their bodies, they easily project their identity onto an object. If only that object were a sink full of dirty dishes. (Oh, she's a bad one)
Why do men like to watch violent sports, while a good number of women would rather do almost anything else? (Heeeeeeeeeere we go)
The truth is, football has a lot of female fans (44.3 million women watched the 2009 Super Bowl, for example).(Stop quoting this stat.) But guys are drawn to football (and boxing and wrestling) in ways that women aren't. (gee, this took a study?)

Men tend to be more aggressive, says Lucy L. Brown, Ph.D., (Paid. She was paid for this insight) a professor in the departments of neurology and neuroscience at Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. The difference likely involves hormones (like testosterone) and sensitivities to those hormones in parts of the brain such as the hypothalamus -- which, in animals, is associated with aggression. (I learned this in 5th grade Biology. Seriously. Who doesn't know this?)
Fine, but does he really have to shriek "Kill him!" (No man says this at a game. Never. If they did they would be mocked.) when the other team's quarterback is about to get sacked? Yes, he does: If you're a guy, watching your team win increases testosterone levels, according to a 1998 study in Physiology & Behavior. (It also is an escape from the never ending minutia details of life that we seem to have to go over 500 fucking times a week!)
Viewing combative sports also helps men identify with traditional ideals of masculinity like domination, risk taking, and competition, explains Douglas Hartmann, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota. (I wanna party with this guy!)
"In fact," he says, "the less physically competitive his daily life is, the more sports can become a means toward achieving those ideals, at least in his mind." (I can feel the starch in his shirt)
Why can a man enthusiastically (very enthusiastically) sleep with a woman he knows he'll never see again? (Jumpin around much?)
Well, there's the old Evolution Did It theory: Men are hardwired to spread their seed; women, to find a mate who will protect the children she may bear. Physical differences may play a role, too. According to Lisa Diamond, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah, not only do female rats have more extensive brain circuits for oxytocin -- which helps mammals to bond -- than males but in humans, women show greater release of the neurochemical during sex (especially orgasm) than men. (Men like to fuck. Women like to cuddle. Wow. The sexes figured out in one story!)
Also, biological anthropologist and Rutgers University professor Helen Fisher, Ph.D., notes: "The two brain hemispheres are less well connected in men than in women. This gives men the ability to focus on one thing at a time and be very goal oriented, whereas the female brain is built to assimilate many feelings at once, and to connect sex and love much more rapidly." (Got it)
Interesting, plausible theories all, (not really) but Lucy Brown cautions that we're still really just guessing. And in the end, the fact that men forever remain a bit of a mystery may be part of what keeps us intrigued. (Go shopping while the games on. Done.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Her Name Is Jessica Wakeman And She Sounds Like A Keeper

Marriage seems to be the topic du jour lately. 

Sandra Tsing Loh of The Atlantic caused a minor internet stir with her treatise against marriage.  I implore everyone to give it a read.  It's like a baseball player who is bad at baseball things blaming the game itself for his shortcomings.  Aaron Traister's rebuttal in Salon offers something much more wonderfully nuanced and real. 

But maybe it's the recession causing people to reexamine value systems and maybe it's our culture's thorough embrace of unfettered narcissism finally coming to a head.

While I agree that way too many people get married (and get married for the wrong reasons) in the world, if you're going to make a case against marriage, the only prerequisite is you probably should write it well.

This...unfortunately...is not one of those. 

Via CNN.com (Natch)

By Jessica Wakeman

(The Frisky) -- There's a new book out called "Smart Girls Marry Money: How Women Have Been Duped Into the Romantic Dream -- And How They Are Paying For It," by Elizabeth Ford and Daniela Drake ($20 bet that, in between the lines, the real advice is for women to find a way to not have a job.  It fills a nice niche market, though:  People who realize that after every second date, they have nothing left to offer.  Boring people need tropes to conceal this fact.  Poof!  Marrying for money is the only way to go because marriage is stupid in the first place.). 

Love won't pay the bills, says author, so she plans to marry a man with money (I don't know.  Last time I checked, a jobbie-job paid the bills so unless you dream of wiping your ass with diamond-studded toilet paper, what's the real problem?) .

Forget for a moment that they annoyingly refer to grown women as "girls" in their title (Yes, that's the most annoying thing with this) and check out their thesis: because, for a variety of reasons, men earn more money than women, it's a wise move to marry someone who can provide for you and your family.

I haven't read the book (But let's write about it.  Let's.), so I have no idea if it is filled with sexist swill or not. But just reading Newsweek's article (!) about the book, it sounds like pretty sensible advice to me.

Before you get upset, I will acknowledge a bunch of things that I know to be true: yes, women earn less than men for a lot of sexist reasons and that discrimination must stop (Finally, a clarion call!  Rally around Jessica!).  Yes, mothers get "mommy-tracked" and their careers are stalled (Women have ovaries and men don't.  Read the inside of the boxtop).  And of course there are all kinds of misfires to the "marry rich" idea, such as the rich guy who is an a-hole (Being an asshole is just an example.  Not the overarching theme.  Just one...).  But that doesn't change the fact that marrying a man with money can be a better idea than marrying someone who is broke.

Take me, for instance.  I'm afraid I'm going to get tarred and feathered as a "bad feminist" for admitting this, but yeah, I do want to marry someone who can financially support both me and our kids. 

I'm not ashamed to "marry for money," if that's what would you can even call it, because I don't fundamentally believe it is the "man's role" to provide for women (Yes you do.  That's exactly what you're saying.  You just said it in the previous paragraph!!!!!).

My actual motivations, as I see them, are pure enough (Relativism is important in life.  Everyone must find a way to fit their own bullshit into a cohesive fairy tale that we can believe in).  I know of great guys out there -- journalists, teachers, non-profit dudes -- who will probably make great dads.  But I personally wouldn't pair up with them because, realistically, our two salaries together just wouldn't be enough to cut it for what I want out of life (Or "realistically", they didn't call you back after a slew of first dates).  But, but, but, "Bank accounts shouldn't matter at all!" And while I agree with that in theory, sorry, a man who can provide for me and our children is just much more attractive to me (OMG!!!  YOU JUST SAID IT'S NOT THE MAN'S ROLE TO PROVIDE FOR WOMEN!!!!!).

Bank accounts -- and debts -- do matter.  And acknowledging that doesn't make me a gold digger akin to Anna Nicole Smith -- it makes me smart (Keep telling yourself that.  As an aside, if and when some guy approaches the time when he might marry Jessica, do you think he might read some of her work?  Run away, man.  Run.  Away.) .

Right now, I rent an apartment in New York City (not cheap) and pay all my own bills myself (Jessica pays her own bills!  She's the kind of strong, independent woman we should all model ourselves after.). But I'm living at the edge of my own means as it is. I don't make a lot of money as a journalist, I owe lots of money to student loans and unless my future husband or I had a great job prospect someplace else, I don't want to live outside New York City, or very far from NYC, because that's where the media capital of the world is right now (No.  You want to marry and quit your job.  Then do some occasional freelancing like this crap to convince yourself you're still 'in it'). 

Maybe this isn't "feminist," but logically, I need to marry a guy who makes more money than I do -- preferably a lot more money than I do -- for us to be able to afford what I want and I hope he will want, too.  An apartment big enough for kids, prenatal care, doctors appointments, birthday presents, vacations, summer camp, college, their own car (um...what?), all that stuff.

I know parents can raise children well on much less.  But personally, that's not the lifestyle I grew up with.  I want to be able to give my children everything I had -- maybe a little less, maybe a little more -- because I think my parents did a great job (Because they gave you shit.  That's the essence of great parenting in Jessica's eyes.).

I also would immediately disqualify entering into a sharing-bank-accounts relationship with a man who proved to be irresponsible with his cash (At night, Jessica dreams of playing with someone else's money). College loan debt is fine (I've got it) and a reasonable balance on the credit card debt is understandable (I've got that, too) (If she's done it, it's fine.). But I couldn't wrap up my life or my children's lives around someone who spent or managed money irresponsibly.  I don't want to deal with that drama 'cause I know we'd just argue about it all the time (Take note.  The larger point is in a discussion about marriage, Jessica has yet to mention anything relating to marriage that doesn't revolve around money.  Where does the line form to marry Jessica?). 

True story: I used to babysit for a family where the mom was Latina and the dad was white; she was able to receive funding from the government to start her own business as part of some kind of "minority small business ownership program." (I seriously question the insertion of race here.  I offers no context to the story except to ickily mollify stupid people who can be swayed by white male bashing.)  

But really, her husband, who had been laid off after 9/11, ran the business and he hired my older brother to work for him.  Over the course of several months, my brother told me all about how this guy I babysat for spent money willy-nilly and eventually ran his business into the ground.  Not surprisingly, this couple separated and I think eventually divorced.  The last time I saw the mother, there was a moving truck in front of their house. 

I realize that's just one anecdotal story, but I'm sharing it to demonstrate a larger point: there is nothing feminist about assuming your partner's debt (But that's not a case for marrying money and finding a man that can provide for women.  It's a case for not marrying a fucking loser.  There's a difference).  And it goes both ways -- I wouldn't blame a man for not wanting to marry a woman who spent money irresponsibly.

Couples' finances are intertwined with one another and if he screws you up, or you screw up him, bad stuff is gonna happen to both of you.  That's why a man who makes a decent amount of money and is responsible with it will always, always be more attractive to most women (But that is not what Jessica said at least three times.  She said she is looking for a guy to "provide for her and her family" while simultaneously saying it's "not fundamentally a man's role to provide for" her and her family.  I can already see the personal ad in a few years:  SWF seeking someone else's bank account.  Love not necessary because I have little to offer as a human being.  Money fills the void quite nicely.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

This Is Gonna End Well


Just 16, prep phenom lands SI cover
Las Vegas sensation dubbed 'Baseball's Chosen One'

From Jesse Sanchez, MLB.com:

Bryce Harper is bigger than the NBA Finals this week (Is he some sort of colossus?). He's bigger than the Stanley Cup (Lord Stanley's Mug is like three feet tall. That's a mixed metaphor.).

The image of the Las Vegas High School sensation with the desert mountains of Nevada serving as his playground (So...he's a colossus. At least that's settled.) graces the June 8 cover of Sports Illustrated on newsstands today in a tribute fitting of the nation's newest and youngest baseball star.

In large bold black letters, the magazine proclaims Harper as "Baseball's Chosen One." (Well...here's a list of SI's ridiculous use of the term "Chosen One." 52 in all. Kellen Winslow, Jr....twice.) The cover features his biggest numbers: 570-foot home runs, 96 mph fastballs and his age, 16. He is hailed on the cover as the most exciting prodigy since LeBron James and his central placement on the magazine is fit for a king (Whew! Glad they didn't go overboard and proclaim him...oh...wait...they did.). In the top right corner of the cover, there's a small mention of the NBA Finals. In top left corner, the tease to the Stanley Cup Finals floats as if it has just been hit by Harper's left-handed swing (JHC, we get it. Jesse, you know the internet has pictures, right? This isn't radio.).

The next seven days in the magazine's spotlight belong to the sophomore, but those who know the teenager best say this Thursday is no different for him than last Thursday or the Thursday before that.

Yes, he's Harper the national cover boy, but he's also the same old Bryce. He always has been (Here's where you screwed up, Jesse. That should have read, "He may be the national cover boy, but like all 16 year-olds, Bryce has homework to do." See. That's the kind of stuff that gets you a job at the Paper of Record.).

"I've watched him in his freshman and sophomore years and it seems to me that everybody knows what a big deal he is but him," Las Vegas High School principal Debbie Brockett said. "He comes from an amazing grounded and humble family and we appreciate that. The kids treat him the same, like their friend, even though he's in the spotlight."

Brockett was on hand when Harper, who pitches and plays catcher, received the team's Most Valuable Offensive Player Award from Wildcats head coach Sam Thomas during the annual baseball banquet Wednesday night. The guests dined on catered Mexican food (But what kind of cars did they drive to the gathering in? I need more details!) and watched a touching slideshow of the season in the school cafeteria. Three Most Improved Player Awards were handed out and surprisingly, no awards were given for Most Valuable Player, Outstanding Player or Defensive standout for a Wildcats team that was eliminated in the Regional Championship by Valley High School (That IS surprising.).

It didn't matter. Everybody in the room was in a great mood and everybody knew who the biggest star of the evening was. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Harper stood out from the pack even if he didn't want to (He's chockablock with humble humbleness and humility. When you say it eight times in the first eight graphs, it makes it more true.).

"I saved him for last," Thomas said. "I am very proud to have him in our program. We are lucky he's around and we appreciate everything he has done." (He's no Bacon, though.)

Harper hit .626 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs in 115 at-bats for the Wildcats this season. He hit 22 doubles, nine triples and stole 36 bases. He only struck out five times. (Hey! I had 115 at-bats in my senior year. And I did not "only strike out five times." Many are still feelin' my breeze.)

In the Sports Illustrated cover story, writer Tom Verducci chronicles the story of how Harper evolved from a 3 year old that used to play T-Ball against 6 year olds into a travel team player and 16-year-old wonder that hit the longest home run in the history of Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Verducci writes about Harper's performance at the Area Code Games, a 570-ft home run, and makes reference to other young baseball phenoms like Justin Upton, Alex Rodriguez, and Ken Griffey Jr. in the piece appropriately titled, Baseball's LeBron (You said that!).

The magazine article also reveals that Harper's parents, Ron and Sheri, are looking for ways to make their son eligible for the draft next year instead of 2011 (Yep! They're humble. Not trying to cash in or anything. Mortgage be due! Cue the "Gonna Get Paid!" dance music.) and that one of the teenager's advisers is Scott Boras (Cripes. This is gonna end well.). Harper told Verducci that he hopes to play in the Major Leagues when he's 18 or 19 (Cool your jets there, Cha-Cha. Up until this point, I didn't really care about Bryce. Now I don't really like him.).

"I'm going to play against you the way Pete Rose did," Harper told Verducci. "I'm going to try to rip your head off. That's just the way I am. Old school. If I could play for a guy like Lou Piniella or Larry Bowa, I'd love it." (SHIT!!!! Now I hate him!!!)

Harper is a natural. He might play like Rose but he talks like the fictional baseball star Roy Hobbs (Was "I'm going to try to rip your head off," in the script to The Natural? I forget.). The teen's goals are what movies are made of.

"Be in the Hall of Fame, definitely. Play in Yankee Stadium. Play in the pinstripes. Be considered the greatest baseball player who ever lived. I can't wait," he told Verducci (Speaking of scripts. Write the script to the end of this one. And what's that about being humble again?).

So when Thomas says he is not ruling out any possibility for his star player, he's not kidding (I wish he'd kid more.). The Wildcats coach said the first time he saw Harper the boy was a big, fun-loving kid and was already better skilled than the other players at the baseball camp.

Harper was 6.

"I didn't see him again until he was 10 when he played against my son in club ball game and he was so far superior to everybody else on the field that it was amazing to me," Thomas said. "There is still no comparison. He has every tool that there is to play the game."

Thomas has an eye for talent. He's been a coach Las Vegas High School for 11 years and estimates he has coached 30 players that have gone on to play college baseball (So he's no fool.). Sean Kazmar, currently at Triple-A in the San Diego organization, is a 2002 graduate of Las Vegas High School.

Thomas also played catcher for University of Nevada-Reno but his claim to fame dates back to high school. Thomas graduated from Valley High School in 1983 and played on the same team as future Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux, who was one year his junior. (Relative Greatness! Hiiiii, Buuuuuddy.)

Thomas says he can see some of Maddux in Harper (Both look like your accountant?).

"Both are the consummate competitor and they want to win more than anybody else," Thomas said. "Greg had a tremendous work ethic. I say Bryce's is second to none. Looking back, Greg was always working on things. Bryce does that."

Baseball matters, but the importance of school work is not lost on the young star or his family (There we go. Cutesy, bullshit flow sentence. Jesse, your phone is ringing. You are about to be involved in a bidding war for your services between the New York Times Style Section and CNN.com.). The Harpers arranged a Friday afternoon press conference to accommodate the numerous interview requests but primarily put the press conference together so the teenager could concentrate on his final exams (So he can drop out of high school and enter the draft next year.). They also want their son to enjoy his last day of school Thursday just like every other student not on the cover of Sports Illustrated (Glurp...).

"He isn't as giddy or as excited as other people are (Yeah. Those quotes make him sound so calm and cool.) and it's kind of weird," Thomas said. "Either it hasn't sunk in or he's handling like an everyday deal. Me, I'm excited because the kid deserves it and to see your high school uniform on a national publication is fantastic." ("Coach, we're talking about me here. Stop or I'll go Old School on your ass and rip your head off.")

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Anybody Up For Some Bacon-Wrapped Bacon?

As a former fatty, I could talk about psychological battle of losing weight for months.  It's entirely complicated, loaded with nuances and an infinite amount of talking points.

Thank you, Jan Hoffman of the New York Times Style section.  She successfully writes an entire article without including one of those.

Count the number of times she mentions possible sneers from the public toward a fat person and count the number of times she fails to mention the health risks of being fat.  

Bingeing on Celebrity Weight Battles


By JAN HOFFMAN (Yes.  That Jan Hoffman.)

WHEN Kirstie Alley recently stepped onto the scale for the first time in 15 months, she screamed (If you had fat hoss in the poll, you lose.  If you had sweaty fat hoss, collect your money at the front desk).

When Oprah Winfrey realized she was the “dreaded 2-0-0,” she wrote in the January issue of her magazine: “I’m mad at myself. I’m embarrassed.” (Piffle.  Tip 265 and feel like you should shower every time you take a crap and get back to me.)

In the last year, so many celebrities have shared their body battles with us: Carnie Wilson.  Kathy Ireland.  Valerie Bertinelli.  Marie Osmond.  Melissa Joan Hart.  Up, down. Up, down (It's been a great ride).

Up.

The scale said 228 pounds, recalled Ms. Alley, who famously (?) lost 75 pounds on the Jenny Craig diet .  She had gained it all back and then some (Bullshit.  "And then some" would connote 25 pounds max.  No fucking way Kirstie Alley was ever 150.  Us Magazine would have told me).  Earlier this month she told People: “I was so much more disgusting than I thought!”

Really? (Jan's a fattty.)

That view is not shared by Gabrielle Gregg, a 22-year-old from Detroit who writes a fashion blog, “Young, Fat and Fabulous.” (Natch.)

“I’m 200 pounds and I don’t think I’m disgusting,” she said.

In addition to tracking celebrities’ tours of duty in rehab and fashion faux pas, the public has become the official weight watcher, checking the cellulite and food choices of the famous with a gotcha zeal. (No, Jan.  Your little cadre of friends and your little sphere of existence "has become the official weight watcher."  Quit projecting your stupid-ass crap on my world.)

Some celebrities, like Jennifer Love Hewitt, Tyra Banks, Kim Kardashian, Jessica Simpson and Kelly Clarkson, respond to the tabloid finger-pointing with shoulder shrugs or defiance.

But others take part eagerly.  Their weight sagas inevitably include self-abasement as a springboard to their new selves. “Hideous!” Ms. Alley commented about one of her photographs.

How do heavy (Carol word!  "She's a heavy-set woman.") women — many of whom bluntly describe themselves as fat (THE HORROR!!!) — respond to these sagas?  Judging by the Internet applause, many feel inspired and connect to the celebrities’ seeming candor (Candor?  Fat's fat, and that's that.  What?  I have to add 'fat' to the list of words I can't use now?).

But for many, these mortification-of-the-flesh narratives are not galvanizing, but toxic, undermining their hard-won self-esteem and exacerbating the derision they face (Butch up, Sally.).  These celebrity stories can even be counterproductive:  health experts say that many famous dieters flaunt weight-loss goals that are unrealistic for most obese women (Here's an idea.  DON'T TAKE WEIGHT LOSS AND BODY IMAGE ADVICE FROM FUCKING TELEVISION AND PEOPLE FUCKING MAGAZINE!!!!).

It’s not that these women are unsympathetic to Ms. Alley.  Been there, felt that. “You loathe yourself,” Ms. Alley told People. “You hate what you’ve done to yourself.”

But the yo-yo dieting and disparaging comments prompt some women to feel unmotivated and hopeless.

“I can’t believe this is still getting to me,” said Sarah Morice, 31, a doctoral candidate in theology at Notre Dame. “I see what Kirstie Alley says about herself and how easy it is for that to become my script.  It’s easy to lapse into ‘Oh, my body’s ugly,’ and ‘What’s the use?’ She triggers all those messages for me.” (Oh.  Ma  God.  We're talking about a doctoral candidate...in theology...at Notre Dame...seeing herself psychologically on par with...Kirstie Alley.  And actually taking something from it.)

For women who have made peace with their bodies, confessions by Ms. Winfrey and Ms. Alley seem puzzling, even irritating. To them, the “before” shots of these celebrities look pretty good.

(I'm a bad person and going straight to hell.)

“Kirstie looks the same as me, to the inch, height and weight,” said Emily Schaibly Greene, 29, a medical lab technician in Hattiesburg, Miss.  “It took me a long time to get there (You were bigger?  Going straight to hell times 12,000), but I’m feeling good with how I look.  But it’s difficult to keep liking the way I look when I’m reading that it’s gross.” (I'm going to write something:   Larry King is the smartest human in the recorded history of the world and you're a moron if you don't think so.  Now...Emily.  Read that 2,000 times.  

Waiting...  

Okay, Emily.  Do you think Larry King is the smartest man in the world?  If you do, I can't help you.  In fact, nobody can.  If you like yourself, like yourself.  If you don't and think you could stand to lose of few pounds, put down the lard-infused lard and do it.  I get it.  The girl world is an infinitely complex one that men can't ever fully know but it's time for women to start crying foul on the stupidity of women.  Taking advice from celebrities is step one.  Step two is liking Sarah Palin because she also sports a va-jay-jay but one step at a time.)

Of course, celebrities, especially those with diet products and books to sell, never intended to make women feel bad about themselves.  In 1988, Ms. Winfrey, emerging cocoon-like from her first major public diet, put on her skinny jeans and triumphantly lugged a wagon loaded with 67 pounds of fat, setting herself up as an inspirational role model.  She could do it; so could they.

When the surgeon general issued a call to action about obesity in 2001, celebrity weight-loss regimens took on the mantle of public service.

Since then, Americans have become increasingly intimate with how famous people transform their bodies.  Some celebrities, like Carnie Wilson and Valerie Bertinelli, invited us to scrutinize their bathroom scales, portion sizes or even gastric bypasses.

Losing weight is also TV entertainment, from “The Biggest Loser” to “Bulging Brides” (“The perfect day is still pounds away!”).

If you can judge celebrities and TV contestants, does that give you license to judge the woman on the street?  Lesley Kinzel, who writes for the blog Fatshionista and weighs about 300 pounds, says she has to brace herself when she goes out in Boston (Yes.  The extreme health problems and infinite complications involved with carrying around so much weight, something that has been studied and documented ad nauseam, is a myth.  The real problem is what Douchey McDouchebag at the corner Starbuck's might say under his breath.).

“When you have famous people turning their weight tribulations into mass-media extravaganzas,” she said, “they’re contributing to a culture where passing comments on strangers’ bodies is considered O.K.”. (Still no mention of the health risks, only what some jag-bag might think.)   

When a celebrity regains weight, it doesn’t have to register as a fall from sylph-grace (Jan really dug into the thesaurus for that one).  Rebecca Puhl, an expert on weight stigma at Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, said that when Oprah Winfrey is frank about her fluctuations, she has the potential to normalize the conversation.

“Celebrities can show us how complex this problem is, “she said. “Even if you have all the resources at your fingertips, it doesn’t make you immune. So it’s important to see that it’s a battle for everyone.” (Thank you, Captain Obvious.)

But the goals celebrities set for themselves can be problematic, Dr. Puhl added.  Ms. Alley, who is 58 years old (Really?) and 5 feet 8 inches tall, told People, “I have to be below 140 to really look good.” Many experts counsel obese patients to lose about 10 percent of their weight rather than aim for an ideal number.  For a 300-pound person, that’s 30 pounds.

Dr. Puhl worries that many celebrities cast their weight gain as a failure of character. (And celebrities have always been known as the real arbiter of truth and reason.)

Last week, for instance, People magazine featured the actress Melissa Joan Hart, in a bikini and weighing 113 pounds, saying her heavier, post-pregnancy self was “horrifying.”

“The culture rewards that self-disgust,” said Kate Harding, one of the authors of “Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body.”  “Once you acknowledge that your body is not O.K., then people love you, because that’s what expected of fat people all the time.” (Society's fault, not the block of cheese you ate at 3am last night.)

A fat person on a diet sends a social and moral message, said Charlotte Biltekoff, an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis who researches food and cultural values.  That is because Americans equate body size with Puritan values (And we get to the impetus of this entry for the SNC.  Puritan values?  Puritan values.  Somebody has a book to sell and desperately wants to make tenure.  Stupid theses usually do the trick.  Like Dr. Biltekoff's forthcoming book, The Terror Within:  Obesity In Post 9/11 U.S. Life.).  Thin means self-discipline and hard work; fat implies laziness, gluttony and lack of willpower (Well...).

A dieter signals publicly that she is “in the process of self-denial, recovery and reform,” Dr. Biltekoff said. “So the pursuit of thinness may mean as much as thinness itself.  Oprah and Kirstie are performing this for us.”

Laura Miller, 28, an unemployed saleswoman in an Atlanta suburb, has been Good Kirstie and Bad Kirstie.  Ms. Miller once lost more than 100 pounds and even worked for a diet center.  She understands well the riveting, schadenfreude appeal of celebrity confessions.  It is no small feat to have arrived at a proud weight and believe that you’ve done something Oprah herself couldn’t.

“While I was losing weight and heard about people gaining it back, I felt so morally superior to them,” Ms. Miller said (Sounds like a personality flaw to me.  Thanks for sharing that, Laura.).

But then she couldn’t stop the weight loss.  She felt physically awful, even as friends told her how lucky she was to finally be losing pounds effortlessly.

In fact, she said, she was gravely ill.  She was hospitalized with what turned out to be Type 1 diabetes. (Don't lose weight, people!  It'll give you diabetes.)

She is healthier now, but is back to 200 pounds.  At the market, shoppers glance from her to her cart (Ugh.  Still.  No.  Mention.  Of.  The.  Health.  Risks.  Just more of this crap?!)  “Kirstie and Oprah help the public to believe that we have only ourselves to blame,” Ms. Miller said. “ ‘You did this to yourself, you should feel bad.’ ” (I totally forgot.  I put the fork in her mouth because I watched E! News a few nights ago.)

That accusation can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, Dr. Puhl said.  People who internalize the stereotypes, she said, “are more likely to engage in binge eating and other unhealthy behaviors that lead to weight gain.” (So...is there anything that's our fault?  If society bought the two dozen doughnuts and society made me eat them while sitting on the couch for 600 hours straight, shouldn't I be getting reimbursed by the government or something under the American Puritan Values Exploitation Act of 1997?  Or can't we just tie it in to the GM bailout?)

About seven years ago, Dr. David A. Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (I talked to that dude for a story in 2001.  And it was about an obesity drug.  Weird.), was watching Oprah Winfrey’s show as a woman berated herself for eating even when she wasn’t hungry, calling herself “fat” and “ugly.”

It’s no wonder she ate compulsively, Dr. Kessler said.  His new book, “The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite,” looks at how the brain, beginning in childhood, is stimulated by foods loaded with fat, sugar and salt. (I'm suddenly craving a deep-fried Snickers bar with ranch dipping sauce.  You?)

“Celebrities perpetuate the idea that we have a handle on this, that we understand what is driving our behavior,” Dr. Kessler said. But resisting certain foods “is not an issue of willpower. This is not about shame and humiliation.” 

Developing new, rewarding stimuli takes time, said Dr. Kessler, a former yo-yo dieter himself.

“No one wants to be fat,” he added, “but I care most that people stop beating up on themselves.”  (We made it!!  Three mentions of society giving shameful looks and not one mention of the health risks!!!  Jan, you are my sunshine.  Now, if we can only find a way to blame society for the plague of baldness.  Where would I pick up my check?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

OK...She's Officially On My Nerves...


Suze Orman's recession rescue plan




(OPRAH.COM) -- Do you know what your family would do if you lost your job -- or worse, your home? (Yeah, shake my head in smug dissatisfaction) Financial expert Suze Orman is ready to help you devise a recession rescue plan to survive -- and possibly thrive -- during this deepening financial crisis. (Oh, thrive? Yes!)

Suze Orman says you should pay the minimum on credit cards until you have eight-month emergency fund. (And I get this emergency fund while not working how?)

Families are also losing their homes at a staggering rate. Each day, another 10,000 homes are foreclosed, forcing families to turn to shelters filled to capacity. Left with no place else to go, some people are putting makeshift roofs over their heads in tent cities. (John Steinbeck is writing a book about them)
As the crisis continues, it's easy to let fear take over -- but it doesn't have to. (It is more fun, however.) Orman's five-step plan can help you rise above and take control. "There's only one person that's going to save you right now, and that's yourself," she says. (Oh, God, that's great. Affirmations. That's all we need!) "You have got to get on what I'm calling the 'save yourself movement.' Each and every one of you has to have your own personal financial stimulus action plan." (There it is! Stimulus plan. I knew it was coming!)
Step 1: Live on half
Whether you're single or in a double-income household, Orman says you need to live on only half of what you're used to -- and put the rest in the bank. (Does that include buying a half tank of gas to get to work?) "If all of a sudden you find yourself without a job -- or your partner finds themselves without a job -- you are now going to have your income cut by 50 percent almost immediately," Orman says. (Wow. That's some incite, there, Suze.)
Unemployment also only makes up about 50 percent of your income, Orman says.
By living on half now, Orman says you'll know whether you can really afford to pay your bills if the worst happens. "When you are freaked out, that is not the time that you go through your expenses and go, 'Should I cut here?'" she says. (But it is what has to happen in many cases. But that's for a different time.)
Orman says to try living on half for six months. "Chances are, it will take you six months to eight months to one year [to find a job]," Orman says. "See what would happen if recession really hit into your lives. Would you be able to make it?" (Better yet, rent half your apartment to a squatter)
Step 2: Stash your cash
In today's economy, cash is king -- and your credit could be shrinking daily.
Before this recession, credit cards could always be used in case of emergency. Now, Orman says credit card companies are making it more difficult for people to use their cards. (By putting glue on the stripe) Afraid people won't be paying their bills, Orman says companies are closing accounts with zero balances, reducing credit limits for those paying a little at a time and hiking up interest rates. (They can't turn a profit on government bailout money alone? Have a heart!)
If your credit card is no longer available, what do you do if you lose your job and have no savings? "You will be in serious trouble," Orman says. (Gets paid millions for this sage advice, folks. Millions.)
Before the recession, Orman says she would advise anyone with a severance payment or a small lump sum to put it toward debt. But as the economy changes, so must your financial strategy, Orman says -- which is why she's changing the advice she's been giving for years. (No spine.)
"If all you currently have is a very small emergency fund and you have unpaid credit card debt, ... you are only to pay the minimum amount due on your credit cards," she says. "Stash the cash till you have at least an eight-month emergency fund." (Huh? I thought people who only paid minimum were getting their cards devoured?)
Paying only minimums doesn't give you the license to rack up a bigger balance. "No credit card usage, everybody," Orman says. "Pay for things in cash." (But only pay half. Lanlords love that.)
Step 3: Make the stimulus package work for you
Part of the intention behind the economic stimulus plan passed by Congress is to create millions of jobs for Americans -- but it's also designed to lend a helping hand to those out of work. (Unemployment insurance was around a long time before this)
Many people who have been laid off qualify for COBRA health coverage. (Oh, yeah! Anybody who has ever been on COBRA will tell you how fantastic it is!) "If you happen to get laid off, you lose your job, you have 18 months where that company has got to cover you with health insurance," Orman says.
COBRA can be very expensive (no shit), but Orman has good news -- the government is now subsidizing your premium. For nine months, you only have to pay 35 percent of the monthly premium. After the nine months, you're back to paying 100 percent. (So when that baby comes, you're on your own..)
This coverage is available to anyone who was laid off between September 1, 2008, through the end of 2009 -- as long as your company provides COBRA. You have 60 days to enroll, and you can get it even if you declined your employer's initial offer. Employers and employees can learn more at the Department of Labor's Web site
Another aim of the stimulus package is to give the economy a much-needed boost -- especially in the housing market. Part of the plan includes an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers. "This is for only homes purchased in 2009," Orman says. "If you owe $10,000 on taxes, you're going to only owe $2,000 after it's over. It comes off your actual taxes that you owe." (Thanks, Captain Obvious)
In order to take advantage of this incentive, Orman says you have to qualify. "You cannot make more than $75,000 a year of adjusted gross income if you are single; $150,000 in adjusted gross income if you are married, filing jointly," Orman says. (I think she's just reading off a government website. Seriously, punch in "New home owner 2009 taxes" in Google and you get this same info.)
But it may not be a great deal for all first-timers.
Step 4: Make your home affordable
Skyrocketing foreclosure rates and plummeting home prices have brought the country to the brink. If you're about to fall behind on your mortgage -- or even lose your home -- Orman says there's a way to keep a roof over your head.
The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan hopes to help as many as 9 million American families afford their homes. It's comprised of two parts -- the Home Affordable Modification program and the Home Affordable Refinance program.
The loan modifcation program is designed to help families dangerously close to foreclosure. The government estimates it could help 3 to 4 million homeowners keep their homes and reduce their monthly mortgage payments.
Orman says there are two things you have to do to see if you qualify:
• Go to MakingHomeAffordable.gov. The government site will ask you a series of questions and assess your eligibility. (Do you have any living heirs? Can we take some tissue from the back of the neck?)
• If the site says you are eligible, contact your bank to see if they will give you a modification. (Oh, yeah, those banks. I'll hold my breath.)
So who will benefit from the Home Affordable Refinance program? People who aren't in danger of losing their homes now but still want to lower their mortgage payments. (hmm...that sounds like that could be EVERYBODY!) The government estimates this program will help 4 to 5 million homeowners who hold mortgages through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and are current on their mortgage payments. If they qualify, these homeowners will be able to refinance at a better interest rate -- even if their homes have lost value. (sounds fool proof)
Orman says there are two things you have to do to see if you qualify:
• Make sure your mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Visit FannieMae.com or FreddieMac.com to find out.
• Go to MakingHomeAffordable.gov The government site will ask you a series of questions and assess your eligibility. (Same as before except this time they really mean it!)
Step 5: Look at what you have, not what you had
How much longer should we expect times to be tough? "Things will get better, get worse. ... [In] the next two or three years, it will start to turn around," Orman says. "But I'm so sorry to say it will be, in my opinion, 2015 until every single person feels hopeful again." (And she grabs a rabbit out of her ass! How the fuck does she know?!)
Which is why Orman says it's so important to look at what you have and be grateful, instead of looking at what you've lost and feel angry. "If you continuously look in the rearview mirror while you're going forward, you're going to get in an accident. And the victim of that accident is going to be you," she says. "Don't compare. You'll feel stronger, you'll have more energy and you'll be able to turn this around." (Tony Robbins said the same thing at the "Bullshit Affirmation and Platitude Seminar at the Oakland Civic Center last month!)
Be grateful for the savings account you do have or the family that has helped you through. Although she knows it isn't easy, Orman urges everyone to see what they've been through as a kind of blessing. "When you are grateful -- when you can see what you have -- you unlock blessings to flow in your life." (Living underneath a bridge really brought us together..)
From The Oprah Winfrey Show (Naturally)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Try Not to Hurl....

Boo Fuckin' Hoo

Boston Globe
April 21, 2009

CAMBRIDGE - They have managed to get into one of the world's most selective (most expensive) colleges. Opportunity is knocking at their door.

But at some point in their life, though perhaps later than most, Harvard students will face the stinging slap the rest of the world feels regularly: rejection. (shake it off, twit)

The dirty secret is out. Harvard students fail sometimes. They are denied jobs, fellowships, A's they think they deserve. They are passed over for publication, graduate school, and research grants. And when that finally happens, it hurts. Big time. (there's a support group for that. It's called "Everybody")

To help students cope (weep), Harvard's Office of Career Services hosted a new seminar last week on handling rejection, a fear job-seekers are feeling acutely in the plummeting economy. The advice from panelists could have come from a caring, patient (incredibly wealthy) parent. No rejection is the end of the world, they said, even though it might feel that way at the time. (I think my dad had the same fucking speech after I lost our Little League championship. Not kidding)

Participants, who wore snappy buttons with the word rejected stamped in red (scarlet?), also received a road map of sorts on handling failure, a pink booklet of rejection letters and personal stories from Harvard faculty, students, and staff members. (one story: "I got turned down for a job and I went out and tried for another one." End of story. Wasn't that helpful?)

Among the tales of woe: the 2004 alumnus and aspiring actor rejected for a barista gig at a Los Angeles Starbucks for being overqualified (um....everyone who works at Starbucks is overqualified. They pour coffee. No offense baristas....Baristas....jesus. Really? We're going to give this term to these workers as if they're a sommelier) and the medical school professor who was wait-listed at every medical school he applied to.

Senior Olga Tymejczyk (Irish?) arrived at the seminar early. With just a month and a half until graduation, Tymejczyk has applied for 10 jobs, but has no offers. (ten job applications? Fuck. You're toast. That's it. Just give up.)

"Rejection is inevitable sometimes, even if you go to Harvard," said Tymejczyk, a Latin American studies major who wants to work in higher-education administration or healthcare research. She has two more interviews this week, and she is hoping for the best but bracing for more bad news. (Expect the worst. That'll get you the gig. Employers LOVE underconfidence.)

Panelist Pat Hernandez knows a thing or two about setbacks. The 2004 Harvard graduate was rejected by all three graduate schools she applied to two years ago, after losing out on numerous consulting jobs.

"It's something many people are ashamed or reluctant to talk about," said Hernandez, who serves as a resident tutor for Harvard undergraduates. "Those who deal with rejection more frequently take it in stride and bounce back better." (Harvard-educated, indeed)

Hernandez spent the last two years conducting academic research and applied to graduate schools again. She plans to attend Harvard Business School in the fall for a doctorate in organizational behavior and management. (Jesus....here's an idea: LEAVE SCHOOL! If it's so fucking awful)

Another panelist, Harvard statistics professor Xiao-Li Meng (Jewish?), took a humorous approach on the sore subject. His two-page take on rejection (that's a good use of your time, Xiao) , printed in the pink booklet, starts with this theorem: "For any acceptance worth competing for, the probability of a randomly selected applicant being rejected is higher than the probability of being accepted." (humorous? How about downright fucking hilAAAAARIIIIOUS!!!!?!? He should write for Conan!)

Hernandez and Meng said students should learn to see rejection as an opportunity to improve themselves, so that by the time they summon the courage to try again, they will be better candidates. (This is a revolutionary idea....wait...I think I heard this on Oprah) Or they can view failure as a blessing, like the would-be barista who reconsidered his goals and launched a tutoring company called, appropriately enough, Overqualified. (read: snobby)

But how does one move forward, implored another graduate student facing rejection after rejection, when everyone else in the world thinks: "Surely, you have a Harvard degree. You'll get a job." (how does one move forward? Jesus Christ on a cracker....grow a pair, would ya'? Love to have you in a foxhole with me. Damn.)

Abigail Lipson - director of the Bureau of Study Counsel, which cosponsored last week's seminar - had some advice in the pink bulletin: "We learn to recognize our bad feelings as an indication that we care, we have high standards and high hopes, and we expect a lot of ourselves and of the world, rather than assuming that we are hopelessly untalented or unworthy." (turn that statement around and you might get closer to the truth. Recognize your bad feelings that you might actually not have the fucking cajones to pull off the job. Just a thought.)

Hard as it is for some to believe, there are candidates more worthy than Harvard students, Professor Meng quipped, in language befitting his field. "Statistically you are rejected, and probablistically it is fair." (Professor Meng needs to be slapped. Hard....often)