Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dropping like Flies

Dead today:

JD Salinger--“Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's a game, all right - I'll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren't any hot-shots, then what's a game about it? Nothing. No game.”

Howard Zinn--
"Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Responsible Spending of NY State Government’s Money

Well dear readers, after February 5th I’ll be back living on the dole. My full time freelance job will be turning into a possible sometimes freelance job. Yeah, it’s hard out here for a journalist. And 2010 has yet to impress me.

The prospect of prolonged unemployment is depressing to say the least, but it has spurred me to make some belated resolutions. Aside from trying to find a job and all that, here are a few things I have planned for the duration of my re-unemployment:

  • Post on this here blog three times a week. I often have lots to say about stuff, but never get around to writing or feel that adding my voice to the din of others on topics like Haiti would be futile.
  • Restart my weekly cooking as documented here.
  • Overhaul the design of my website.
  • Make my gym membership worth it. (this is vague, but I think “worth it” probably means going about 3-4 times a week)
  • Work on all the performance things I’ve thought about doing but never get around to like maybe possibly stand up comedy.
  • Actually make some of the artsy/crafty stuff I have ideas for but never do, including taking more pictures.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Top 25 Movies of the 00s

A friend of mine is putting together a best of the decade movie list and asked for my input. Here's what I came up with. Some of these I 100% stand behind as my favorite and the best movies of the last decade, others I really like, still more I could be swayed on and I'm sure there are ones I loved that I left off. But here's my top 25 movies of the 00s:

1.Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): The one and only time I've not been annoyed by Jim Carrey, and probably the most honest portrayal of the post break-up desire to forget all your pain. At the same time heartbreaking and heartwarming notion that you’ll keep making the same mistakes in love, but that it’s worth it. Perfect.

2. Amelie (2002): Even though it's painfully cute, it's just so pure, funny and enjoyable.

3.Rachel at the Wedding (2008): I never thought much of Anne Hathaway until this movie, she totally transformed and not just because they game her an “alternative” eye make-up and hair cut. Scene where she gives the toast is one of the most painful and awkward moments on film I've ever seen.

4. Best in Show (2000):
Hands down the best Christpher Guest movie, I could watch it over and over. So very funny.

5. Before Sunset (2004): To know me is to know my love of (almost) all things Ethan Hawke. This follow up to 1995's Before Sunrise probably only mattered to those who loved the 1st movie. Low on plot ( the whole movie is just two people walking Paris around talking), it's still has some of the best commentary of life and love, plus the ending couldn't be a better fit.

6. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Again, probably too cute for its own good, but it's clever and so re-watchable, plus the entire pageant part is so perfect, not to mention the song and dance number.

7. UP (2009): I laughed, I cried--really. both heart breaking and sweet and goofy all at the same time.

8. Brokeback Mountain
(2005) The movie that made it OK to be a gay cowboy

9. The Wrestler (2008) Great portrait of a has been who is given a second chance to fix his life and still makes the same mistakes of his past.

10. Station Agent (2003) I started writing a screenplay years a go, then I saw this movie and realized what I had wanted to make had already been made in a better way.

11. 500 Days of Summer(2009) Best romantic comedy in years, great soundtrack, clever approach to storytelling.

12. Slumdog millionaire(2008)
13. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
14. The Edukators (2005)
15. Half Nelson (2006)
16. Coraline (2009)

17. Adaptation (2002)
18. Royal Tenebaums (2001)
Sideways (2004)
20. Precious (2009)
21. Hot Fuzz (2007)
22. The Hottest State (2006)
23. Hard Candy(2005)
24. Into the Wild (2007)

25. Waking Life (2001)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Decade of Kate

Oh year-end recaps! Oh decade rehashes! Oh listicles! Yes it’s that time of year and as lazy and self-serving as it is, I can’t resist the urge to look back on my own little life in the ‘00s. Unlike the two other decades of my life, this one seems like a decade without definition, I can’t really point to many cultural trends that tied 2000-2009 together except maybe the Internet and Reality TV. I graduated from high school in 1999, which means my entire adult life to this point has taken place in this odd ambiguous decade. So if you care to indulge me, here’s a snapshot of a 20-something in the 00s. (also stay tuned for a look at a decade of great taste, aka. my favorites in media and pop culture in the 00s, posting soon)

I started the year and the decade off watching fireworks, police in riot gear, and the world not come to an end in Chicago’s Grant Park with my first love. It was really cold and kind of exciting. The year was all downhill from there. Chicago was thrilling to the 18 year old version of me who had barely been outside of her tiny home town, but several circumstances conspired to make me miserable there, and by March I dropped out of college and moved back home in what was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.

That spring I had an extremely difficult break up, and that fall I swallowed my pride and started classes at the local community college. By the end of the year I was settled into life back at home: working at the mall, hanging out with my old friends, and going out flirting with dudes. I was moving towards being less depressed, but still felt like I was a million miles away from everything I had wanted for my life.

The first few months of this year were an echo of the last few of 2000, I briefly dated someone a few years older, breezed though my classes, worked, and started to plan my next move. Shortly after my 20th birthday I went to work on Michigan’s Mackinac Island for the summer, even though the pay was low, and the conditions less than stellar, it was a fun escape that helped me to feel adventurous and less complacent again.

In the fall I moved to Ann Arbor and into what my family deemed a “hippie commune” (actually a co-op house of mostly privileged liberal University of Michigan students). Although I was nervous after my previous failed attempt, I dove head first into college life and quickly found a niche, joining several groups, writing for the college paper, going to parties, participating in poetry slams, and met a close friend, who eight years later I share an apartment with in Brooklyn.

Since you can’t mention the fall of 2001 without it, here’s where I was on September 11th: I was running late for my morning class, circling the parking lot looking for a spot when I heard what I first assumed was an odd morning radio show gag. I arrived to find classes cancelled and everyone gathered around TVs. It was an odd day that I felt pretty removed from.

Again much like the last few months of 2001, I found myself enjoying college life and thriving in my classes and activities. Where I was a small fish in Chicago, I felt like a big fish at Eastern Michigan University. My passion for writing was renewed and I took comfortably to the role of overachiever. I also become dedicated to traveling more and went to work at a nature preserve in Florida during Spring Break. I followed that up with my 21st birthday, my brother’s wedding, and a cross country bus trip to work in Yellowstone National Park for the summer.

I long referred to that summer as life changing and while I’ve lived though a lot since then, it’s certainly still up there. The isolation and beauty of living in the wildness magnified the dramas of life: The over-the-phone break-up with my college boyfriend, the friendships formed and lost, the attack and rape of my roommate, the death of my father.

I came back to my college life in a much different place than I had left it three months prior. Still uber-involved, I began my school year as Editor in Chief of the campus magazine and capped it off with an honor from the Michigan Press Association, while being submerged in one of the darkest moods of my life.

Thankfully this year worked the opposite of 2002; it came in on a low note and steadily improved. The first several months were spent again much like the ones before them; working hard and feeling low. But with the melting snow my mood and life started to change. I successfully completed my tenure as Editor in Chief, and decided to slightly delay my summer internship at Metro Times in Detroit to take a month-long solo road trip down south and then up the east coast.

It was just the freedom and head-clearing I needed, and the rest of the summer was among some of the best times in my life. While I interned and worked two jobs, I found my feet more as a journalist and found a powerful infatuation (that would end over a year later in another country). Reality set in that fall when that beau moved back to England, I moved into a not so collegiate apartment complex, started working full time, and in December, graduated from college. Still having never been on an airplane, let alone out of the country (except for Canada which used to not count), I got a passport, just in case.

Now officially a college graduate, and not living the glamorous life I thought a 22 year old should be, quarter-life ennui started to set in. I was working a job straight out of Office Space. I started searching for anything and blindly and unwisely sent out over 100 cover letters and resumes to newspapers all over the country. I took my first trip on an airplane and visited San Francisco. I started working part time at night as a copy editor; I applied to a year long program in London.

Then just after my 23rd birthday I found out I had an interview in New York City for the London program and flew there the same week, I was told I might not hear for a month or more, but by the time I returned to Michigan I was accepted. That summer I prepared to make the biggest move of my life. Many in my life were sure it had something to do with a boy. It did not. Just before I left I revisited Yellowstone with a good friend, it was the same and very different at the same time.

That fall I moved to London. It was lonely and difficult and exciting and I loved every second of it, even when at its most thorny. I disliked my job (training and development at a large investment bank) but my devotion to the city never wavered. I traveled to Wales, Spain, and spent my first and only Christmas away from home in Hungry. My sister in law told me over the phone that she was pregnant. The British boy from the summer before broke my heart, a boy I had met very briefly came to visit me for new years and we foolishly decided to get involved across the ocean.

I continued to hate my job and love London more and more, I traveled to France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, and Scotland. I broke up with the boy back in American, I turned 24. My mom got engaged. I had an exciting romance with a co-worker. I met and became friends with a man whom understood me more than anyone I had ever met before; I made myself keep a distance because there were parts of him that scared me. I missed a train that exploded only minutes later on the morning for the July 7th bombings. I held on to every aspect of the city even as it slipped away and my visa expired. My mom put my childhood home up for sale, sold it and moved in with her soon to be husband, my brother became a father and I became an aunt.
In the fall I moved back to the US and into the house of my mom’s fiancĂ©, a man I had met twice before. I met my awesome baby nephew, and saw all the people I had missed for a year. I started looking for jobs in New York City and ways to get back to London. I was miserable. I came to New York and slept on couches of friends for several weeks, turned down a high paying job I doing something I didn’t understand at an investment bank in Connecticut, I turned down a very low paying job as a copy editor at an Energy Trade publication, I took a job writing about things I didn’t understand for the communications department of a French Investment Bank. I found an apartment and roommate in Brooklyn and just before Christmas moved to New York.

New York put me through the ringer. My drink was drugged at a party and I woke up the next morning in the hospital with cuts and bruises (and later a $1,000 hospital bill). I hated my job and started to look for a new one. I traveled back to Michigan for my mom’s wedding. The 3rd British boy in my life (the one I felt close to but tried to keep a distance from) visited me and I realized I loved him. I was hit by a car while riding my bike.

I turned 25. New York started to grow on me, but at the end of the summer I traveled back to London and (unwisely) decided to start a relationship (across the ocean) with the British man I loved who already treated me poorly (although I couldn’t see that at the time). I continued to hate my job, and looked for a new one. The boy and I made frequent trips across the ocean, I planned to move back to London in a year to go to grad school and be with him. A week before Christmas I was laid off from the job I hated, a few days later I was offered an Assistant Editor position at Popular Photography magazine, it was the type of job I had been waiting for since graduation. The boy came to visit for Christmas and it was clear I was going to delay moving to London, our problems increased.

I started working at Popular Photography and loved it. My roommate moved out and my good friend whom I lived with in college in Michigan moved in. I continued to make frequent trips to London, the boy and I continued to have problems, we made plans for him to move to New York, but it became increasingly clear he wasn’t going to. I turned 26. The verbal and emotional abuse increased, I was miserable but in love in an intense way I never had been before. At the end of a horrible summer I traveled to London for the last time and we broke up.

I spent that fall angry, bitter, and busy. I did a 35 mile bike tour, I put myself on a strict regime to lose weight mostly to have something to do, and I signed up to become a Big Sister. I traveled to Michigan for my first Thanksgiving at home in years. My uncle was found dead in my grandparent’s basement a few days after I returned to New York. At Christmas my best friend announced that she was getting married to her long time boyfriend, I started helping her plan.

I became a Big Sister to a 13 year old girl, my bitterness towards men softened a little, and I started dating. I traveled alone to Costa Rica and had an amazing time. I turned 27, and went on a date with a man whom I figured would be a summer fling. I had a fantastic summer and by the fall realized I wanted more than a fling with the man, and thankfully he did too. I did another 35-mile bike tour. My circle of friends in New York grew and I became for the first time happy and settled in the city, which made me fear that I was becoming complacent. My sister-in-law announced she was pregnant again.

My sister in law lost the baby. My boyfriend lost a family member, my best friend lost her grandmother, and I lost my grandmother. I started having insomnia. I continued being a Big Sister. My boyfriend and I traveled to San Francisco together and I remembered how much I love everything about that city. I found out the magazine I worked for was being sold; our pay was cut 6%. I still liked my job, but felt like I was never going to advance in my career and was barely making any money. I turned 28. The man who I thought would be a fling turned out to be the most loving, caring and stable man I’d ever met. We fell in love. I traveled back to Michigan for my best friend’s wedding. My 10-year high school reunion happened and I didn’t attend.

My magazine was sold and our Editor in Chief left, lay offs began, we moved to new offices, we were told our jobs were safe. I was laid off two weeks later. I spent two months unemployed. I did a 55-mile bike tour. I started freelancing a lot, and took a full time freelance position at (back at my old publisher). I had a wisdom tooth removed. I applied for Grad School for Journalism in both New York and San Francisco. I wrote a blog post about my decade.

2010-2019: TBD