Monday, August 29, 2011

Katie Gill and Too Much Shit

If my life were a series of children's books, the above would definitely be one of the titles. Recently I've realized something: not only are my parents total hoarders, but they have trained me to be a hoarder as well. Let's start from the beginning:

As long as I can remember, my family has had a ton of shit. Unlike other families who used their garages for things like "cars" and "bicycles," ours was reserved for more important artifacts, like towering stacks of cardboard boxes. These boxes were filled with invaluable possessions like old sports equipment and Christmas decorations from the 70s. In fact, a lot of the boxes were leftover from our move to Pennsylvania. We even had boxes in the dining room for a couple of months. Apparently the contents had been precious enough to transport, but not to ever access again.

My parents hate throwing anything away. It never seemed weird to me that our hall closet belonged to four people and contained no fewer than thirty pairs of shoes. When I outgrew a pair of sneakers, I never thought to throw them away, I just tossed them in the hall closet. Finding our shoes in the morning was a constant annoyance, as each of us had to rummage through an ever growing pile for his or her current pair. Jackets were the same way - each one stuffed back to back on a weakening metal bar. Around 8th grade we stopped trying to shut the door. Our wardrobes never rotated or cycled, they simply expanded.

Kids would come over to visit and ask me what all the boxes were for. "For stuff," I'd say, like it was stupid to ask why we had an entire room that was completely inaccessible to humans. My parents used to complain that we left our toys around the house. "Why don't you just put everything where it belongs?" they'd ask, and it would have been a fine suggestion, if our closets had not been packed with things like formal wear from kindergarten. When at age 13 I decided I was too much of a mature adult to share a room with a little kid and evicted Jame, I had three dressers of clothes plus the closet. And five days out of the week I wore a uniform!

Electronics were no different from clothing. TVs were family members, and when a newer model arrived, the elders would simply be moved to their place of honor in the guest room. Stacks of cassettes lay next to stacks of CDs lay next to stacks of VHS tapes. Our house was like a museum of dead technology.

When I first moved out at age 19, it took over a month for me to pack all my shit - and I still left a ton of it behind. I was the only person in my apartment with a walk-in closet, and it was full to the brim. I even had to buy a 3 shelf organizer from WalMart to hold the surplus clothing. Two big boxes remained unpacked for the entire year, as I had no place to fit the contents. None of this seemed strange to me, even when my roommates offered inquiries such as "uh, why do you have four rain jackets?"

After another move and a decision to move to Pittsburgh, I reached a conclusion: I have too much shit. I vowed to downsize, and tried to give away as much as possible before making the three hour journey from State College. I got rid of tons of stuff, and thought I had done a great job. After all, I had made three trips to Goodwill, and countless trips to the used clothing drop-off center. Some of my dresser drawers weren't even stuffed to capacity anymore - I could open and shut them easily without catching a stray sleeve!

Turns out I underestimated how much excess I truly had before. I may have cut a lot of the fat, but I had such a gargantuan amount before that now I've simply reduced myself to a Person of Clutter as opposed to a straight up Hoarder. My room still contains the tell tale sign of hoarding - empty boxes yet to be unpacked, despite having been here for a month.

This week I'm making it my goal to finally get down to a REASONABLE amount of stuff. And hopefully learn from the past. From now on, when I find a shirt I haven't worn in two years that wasn't even flattering when I bought it, I'm laying it to rest in a Goodwill donation box. It's time to let my shit cross over. It's the least I can do.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The 2nd Douchiest College in America (Part 1)

I have been saying for years that State College is home to the biggest, douchiest, most asshole-iest dickweeds to have ever stained a college campus, and recently the men's magazine GQ has finally validated me. In their most recent issue they composed a list of the Top Douchiest Colleges in America and my dear old alma mater Penn State came in at a well deserved #2.

"Why is Penn State so douchey?" one may ask his or her self. (We must assume that this person does not live in State College, because any Townie who heard this statistic has responded unfailingly with "Wow, we weren't #1? Good for us!")

Well, inquisitive outsider, you have come to the right blog post, because I just happen to have a comprehensive list of reasons why Penn State is a total douche casserole. Here is the first reason:

1. BLATANT, CRUSHING MISOGYNY

Penn State is a place where a bro can be a bro - enjoy the game! drink the night away! prowl for hotties! But women are little more than decorative blow job machines. Women aren't allowed to walk down the street unless they are already accompanied by a Bro Herd. If a Lady Student chooses to walk somewhere alone, she has to listen to drunk bros hanging out of their balconies/frat house porches screaming LOOK AT THOSE TITTIES HAHA or DAMN BITCH COME PARTY WITH US. If she indeed decides to "come party" with them, she spends the entire night fetching drinks, getting groped and slobbered on, being forced to make out with the other girls, and finally perform blowjobs on a variety of bros. If she says no, she is immediately cussed out as a stuck up bitch and a tease. If she says yes, she becomes an easy slut who will "spread her legs" for anyone. If she chooses not to "party with them" at all and instead keep walking down the street trying to ignore them, they get angry and scream YOU JUST GONNA WALK AWAY? YOU THINK YOU'RE TOO GOOD FOR ME? GOOD I WOULD NEVER FUCK YOU ANYWAY like it's such a devastating loss for her to sacrifice the opportunity to get dry humped by some blacked out, barely attractive business major from Philly who's just going to jizz in his pants after four minutes anyway.

I once went to a frat party where one of the brothers insisted I "flash" him. I said no, which was apparently an unacceptable answer, because then he was up in my face the ENTIRE night, telling me over and over again I had to flash him. He even got his other brothers in on the haranguing. They wouldn't even let me leave the room until I agreed to do it. And when I still said no they were UTTERLY SHOCKED. How dare I reject this ultimate gift of Male Attention (TM)? How dare I bite the hand that has, in a gesture of utmost benevolence and generosity, bestowed me with this glorious title of "hot?"

And the worst part is, the worst part isn't even the guys. It's the girls. I know TONS of girls at PSU who would read this post and be envious as shit. A random stranger liked your titties? And you're complaining? Because that's how deep-seeded the misogyny is. Half of it is just self imposed. They want to be sex objects - they're afraid to be real people because it might not mesh with what Penn Staters are supposed to be. They're sucked into this whole fake sterile youth culture that the Baby Boomers handed to us. (More on this later.) No girl has to wear mini skirts, crop tops, and high heels to a bar in the middle of January to get laid. I know this based on personal field research. But they do it anyway, because they're so terrified of upsetting the bros that they'd rather get frost bite than wear something that restricts a PSU guy's innate right to cleavage.

You would think this meant that women were sexually liberated at PSU. I mean, they're expected to present themselves as sexual and promiscuous at all times, so that must mean that they're at least permitted to actually be sexual and promiscuous at all times. Oh, dear reader. You have so much to learn.

Women who wear low rise jeans with visible thongs are sexy and modern! Women who engage in actual sex with multiple partners are crazy sluts! Women who latch onto to a single boyfriend for the entire four years and have sex regularly are good old down home girls! Women who have sex infrequently and with casual friends are crazy sluts! Doesn't make sense? It doesn't have to! It's Penn State!

I realize that these issues aren't exclusive to PSU, nor were they originally created at PSU. Street harassment, slut shaming, female "frienamies/queen bees," The Purity Myth - these are all classic misogyny hits. However, the manner in which these double standards have manifested and flourished at PSU is a direct result of the environment. People act like PSU is this liberal, progressive haven where kids from all over can be themselves and grow as people in the middle of Pennsylvania, and it totally isn't. It's as shitty and stupid as every other small town in Centre County. And I applaud GQ for recognizing this.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wacky Aunt

Recently I've made a decision - that my greatest aspiration is to become not a contributing, respectable member of society, not a frazzled-yet-loving mom on the go, but a Wacky Aunt. Becoming a Wacky Aunt is a huge relief to me, because it means I don't have to submit to the same ticking pressures as those around me. I don't need a stable career path or a five year plan or a boyfriend - because the Wacky Aunt has no such need! All I need is a zany purse and three cats and I'll be set.

Part of this comes from my recent interest in getting a pixie cut. It started when my friend Christine decided she was going to get a pixie. I thought it would look cool and encouraged her to go through with it, but she ultimately decided not to - which got me thinking, if I think it's so cool, why haven't I done it?

Here's why: Because I'm afraid it will look bad. And why does that scare me? Because then men wont like me. I've been re-examining the issue for a few weeks, and I've come to realize that literally the only reason I'm afraid to get a pixie cut or a big tattoo or wear sneakers with mini skirts is because I'm worried it will be unattractive to men. This has to change. I shouldn't be selecting hairstyles based on what will maximize boner production.

This is where the Wacky Aunt steps in. Wacky Aunt doesn't need to manufacture boners. She doesn't need to be pretty or get a husband or raise children. She just has to pop in for the weekend, serve ice cream for breakfast, let everyone stay up watching PG-13 movies, and play rock music. Then she gets to go back home and get drunk and watch documentaries and eat frozen spring rolls for dinner.

Being a Wacky Aunt would be amazing. I'd never have to be "hot" again. I'd never have to pretend to care about some uneducated bullshit spewing out from a guy's mouth again. People wouldn't ask prying questions about my future plans, because they know I don't have any. I wouldn't be subject to same regulations as Adjusted Adults.

Recently I bought a documentary series called Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman. It's amazing - and it kind of exemplifies what I've determined. It's about women around the world who defy the characters society has imposed on them. I've decided to be more like them. You watch and you think - how can these girls in Bangladesh allow men to decide what they wear? Decide what they eat and where they go? And then you think about it and you realize that that's exactly what happens in America. Men tell me what to wear. How is wearing a burka different from shying away from a pixie cut? How is only leaving the house with a male escort different from being afraid to eat at a restaurant alone?

So here I am. I decided to do it in winter, just because I hate the shit out of winter and it'll be nice to have something exciting to jazz it up. And so begins another youthful anecdote from everyone's Wacky Aunt.