The Boston Aftermath

I read a quote online somewhere in the midst of the chaos surrounding the Boston bombers which, paraphrased, basically said Twitter is useful as a tragedy is happening or just after but by 12 hours later, it’s a mess.

I found out the bombing happened on Facebook. I got home from Facebook and there it was. In the moment, it was full of nice, thoughtful posts about praying for Boston. If anyone was suspicious or scared, they didn’t really say, but naturally, whether we acknowledge it or not, a bomb going off anywhere puts us all on edge. 9/11 gave violence a different context–a bigger one.

The anti-Muslim sentiment fortunately wasn’t too common, but it was still there. It’s always there. I think I beat some to the punch on Facebook and just reacted to it on Twitter, but here’s something that should surprise no one–racists don’t like being called out on it, especially when they obviously can’t justify it and resort almost immediately to personal attacks, laying blame, and what at least look like (failed) attempts at public humiliation. Really, what’s humiliating is to publicly blame an entire religion for the acts of a few people. You know how they tell college kids not to do things like post pictures of themselves underage with beer or tweet about being high or get naked on the internet anywhere ever because it could ruin careers? I’m pretty sure potential employers–or even potential friends are lovers–are really put off by someone calling an entire religion trash. You’re basically saying, “Things might get really awkward if someone who’s not a white Christian interacts with me.” We won’t get into the fact, too, that saying things on the internet opens you up to criticism. It may be your Twitter feed or Facebook page and people can certainly choose not to look, but if you’re making it public, you’re inviting people in, and you may not like what you present to them. We also won’t get into the fact that calling someone on this isn’t forcing beliefs on them.

All anyone is doing is continuing a cycle of hate. By the way, people don’t like it if you point that out, too.

Hate is taught. Hate happens for all sorts of different reasons. It will always exist, often without good reason. Certain groups of people hate each other, some hating America. And because they hate us, some people in this country decide to hate them, too. Sometimes you have people like me saying, “What’s the point of all this, and what good is it really doing?” but most of the time, those people seem to be hard to find.

That has to be a miserable, isolating, and scary existence.

It certainly ignores a lot. For starters, no one has met every single member of a religion. It’s not possible. And every single one has violent extremists, but that doesn’t mean their actions have widespread support. To act like every single one of them is the enemy is to deny that. Even with the Boston bombers, the attacks have been denounced by their family, their friends are confused, and Muslim religious leaders and even Iran denounced it and separated themselves from it. To fear and hate Muslims because of two bombers in the midst of other Muslims denouncing them is to deny them entirely, which either makes you very stubborn or very ignorant. We won’t get into the quote on my Facebook feed today discussing a correlation between intelligence and conservative values, though I have noticed there’s a lot of denying facts going around that viewpoint.

What I find especially frightening is that in every person I’ve seen displaying this animosity, their language and behavior suggests they truly believe they’re taking some sort of moral high ground but generalizing and villainizing–or even worse, they see this as a twisted form of patriotism. They cry self-defense, but this goes back to ignorance. It ignores the good people–the many good people–out there and denies that this is bigotry, no matter how you spin it. It simultaneously denies the bad, too. You can kick out every single Muslim in this country if you want, but you’ll still be left with tons of equally violent, fanatical Christians killing in the name of their god or their version of morality. A problem isn’t solved–one is just ignored instead.

The reaction to violence has, in some cases, been more violence. Some who blame Muslims have sought some out and physically harmed them. How is this going to solve anything? It contributes to a cycle. You hate them because they hate us because you hate them. Dialogue and understanding in this case are certainly too idealistic to realistically expect, but this hostility isn’t helping anything. Even by speaking up in defense, you open yourself to almost equal amounts of hatred and misunderstanding. A man on Twitter told me to move to Iraq or Afghanistan and insisted I was clueless and knew nothing about how the real world works. Nevermind the fact that 26 people died in an elementary school a few months ago at the hands of a white Christian and his religion wasn’t discussed, and nevermind the fact that my dad was almost literally blown up by Muslims and yet I don’t blame the entire religion for that.

Fortunately, we do have a silver lining. For those paying attention and listening, they didn’t see Islam as the enemy anymore when relatives spoke out–they realized you can’t generalize and reconsidered their beliefs. Many others would do well to follow suit. Otherwise, we have no hope of making progress as a nation.

Top 5 on Friday: So Bad It’s Good

Top 5 songs that are so bad that they’re good

 1. “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen Honestly, the only reason this song is bad is the lyrics, but it’s catchy as hell and no one can deny that. So it’s actually a pretty good song, perhaps even great by pop standards. Which, as we all know, are low.
2. “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money This song isn’t actually bad–it’s just really cheesy. So cheesy that I didn’t fully appreciate it until I was in a bar and a band played a pretty badass live rock version of it and everyone sang along. Those are the moments that make life awesome. Then yesterday I watched an old episode of Saturday Night Live with Eddie Money that sent me downloading some more over-the-top but fun and kind of awesome songs.
3. “Looking Hot” by No Doubt Again, catchy as hell and even a great dance song, but the ’90s and frankly most of the rest of No Doubt’s career showed us all they can do better–way better. Because everyone knows Gwen Stefani is hot, and even if this song was supposed to be ironic or making some bigger point, the lyrics are still terrible.
4. “Hummingbird Heartbeat” by Katy Perry Frankly, almost every single Katy Perry song could be on this list except maybe “Teenage Dream,” which is just 100% terrible in every way no matter what. “Hummingbird Heartbeat” follows the typical Katy Perry song problem and the same problem with every other song on this list so far except for my man Eddie Money–the lyrics are just atrocious. Completely. But it’s a song that’s catchy, fun, and has a great chorus. Really, if the lyrics were different, I wouldn’t be complaining.

 5. “Judas” by Lady Gaga Like Katy Perry, almost all Gaga could be on here, with the exception of “You and I” and probably “Speechless,” which are actually both excellent (I’ve noticed I like Gaga the most when she’s being sincere and not ridiculous). Also like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga’s songs tend to be super catchy with terrible lyrics. Sometimes they’re terrible because they feel intentionally controversial–as in forced and awkward–and other times they’re terrible because Gaga just isn’t doing as well as she can, frankly. “Judas” is almost entirely good, though–the music is fun, not cheesy, catchy, danceable. Even considering the premise, I can deal with most of the lyrics. Then she says “ear condom.” Then there’s the fact that I feel like “Judas” only exists to be her controversial religious Madonna rip-off song.

Friday Five: Frosting

From the Friday Five.

  1. How much frosting do you like on a slice of cake (or on a cupcake)? Enough for flavor and to make it exciting but not so much that it’s overpowering, super sweet, or not as enjoyable to eat. Like, if I can’t stick a cupcake in my mouth without getting frosting all over my face or looking like an ass, there’s too much.
  2. What’s something else (besides cake or cupcakes) that’s excellent with frosting? Cookies.
  3. How close are you (or how many years removed) from your hair turning grey? I imagine a long way off since I’m only 23. If my mom is any indication, I’ve got about another 20 years before I start spotting greys, although I think she wouldn’t have found any were it not for her job and my dad.
  4. With whom would you say you have a frosty relationship? My dad in some ways, since we don’t get along well, although once I was in college or working and now moved out so that I interacted with him infrequently, it’s been better. I don’t think I like him any more as a person, but we certainly clash far less. Except when it comes to politics. My relationship with Paul’s mom is also frosty due to her craziness, no matter how nice she tends to be to my face. And finally, frosty might be an almost decent way to describe things with at least some Craigs. It’s still a little more harsh than what I actually think it is, but that and “guarded” are the closest I can get to accurate descriptions, I guess. Things are fine, but I still need distance.
  5. What item in your freezer is most likely to be consumed next? Either a vegetarian hot dog or that orange cream cake. Maybe some of the bread that’s up there to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

Oh, Yeah, I Didn’t Have Hot Water Last Weekend

When I first moved here, everything was pretty good. Well, my dad hated the place and thought I was living in a crime-infested slum because he saw someone look at him while he was carrying my furniture in because, you know, everyone just sees furniture being hauled across a lawn and pretends it isn’t happening. Oh, and some guy told him there’s drug dealers and prostitutes all along the back streets. Now, if they’re there, I haven’t seen them, and if they’re there, they’re doing business frighteningly close to a Catholic church, a Catholic school, the public high school, and another apartment complex with “drug free” sign on it.

In reality, I haven’t had a problem here. Most of the people in this building are senior citizens or colleges students. I had a more legit close call on Mt. Washington last year when a neighbor was all pissed off and hustling down the sidewalk after he saw some kids trying to get into unlocked cars.

A lot of people on the internet hate this apartment, too, and say that maintenance is terrible and they have all these problems that have taken months to fix. Now, maintenance hasn’t been quite as fast as I would like sometimes, but I also haven’t had a serious problem. Still, they’re not bad enough to warrant one-star reviews. They took a little while to get me my stove, but I moved in the same week I found the listing, which is probably when the listing went up, but furnace trouble I had was fixed almost immediately.

At some point, I noticed having enough hot water for a bubble bath was rare, and some mornings, someone apparently on the same schedule as me used all the hot water before I could take a shower at all. It got worse and worse. Hot water on weekends was nearly nonexistent. I never considered that our hot water heater was slowly going to shit, but apparently, it was because from Saturday night to sometime Monday, not hot water. Not even warm water. Straight-up cold water–too cold to even rinse my hair out because it was fucking freezing and actually hurt my head.

Saturday night, Brandon and Kelly showered (separately because I’m a straight-up bitch when it comes to other people having sexytimes in my apartment) and reported that the water was starting to get kinda cold. Sunday morning, there was none, and this being pretty common, I thought nothing of it. When my hair-rinsing attempt failed, I heated water up on the stove. I’d already managed to shampoo, so since Paul was out buying donuts, I made Brandon pour it over my head. He thought I was joking, but I take my hot water very seriously. I heated water a few more times, even managing to use some to wash and rinse my body. I did the same for Paul.

But the water never got warmer Sunday. And it was still ice-cold Monday. By this point, I figured it wasn’t some dick doing weeks worth of laundry on the hottest setting possible on the washers, but since it wasn’t even 7 a.m., it’s not like I could do anything. So I heated water again for myself.

When I came home and it was fixed, I rejoiced. I continued rejoicing when I discovered it’s hotter than before and lasts longer, too.

More on Boston, Or How to Be a Dick in the Midst of Tragedy

I heard rumblings on social media about people making jokes about the Boston Marathon bombing, but I fortunately didn’t see any for myself. I’m not totally surprised it happened, though, and I certainly don’t understand why people think that’s funny, for one thing, but also appropriate and okay to do. Or why when someone says it isn’t okay they’re told they’re too sensitive, can’t take a joke, are a pussy, etc. Obviously, this isn’t limited to just tragedy and it happens enough even small-scale, in our daily lives, that it’s a subject probably worth revisiting later, but that’s not important right now. Offering support to a city that is hurting and a country feeling the ache, too, is what’s important.

At some point, a page one of my cousins follows must’ve made such a joke and received criticism for it. I did go looking for it after all of this and found nothing, so I don’t know what was said, but I know the response.

I’m paraphrasing because I don’t want to hunt it down and I certainly don’t want them to get more views, but the basic idea was liberals suck, of course, and are pansy peace weenies who don’t care about death when it’s our troops overseas who are the victims as they fight for our freedoms.

This is the second time in a few weeks I’ve seen death hijacked, if you will, and turned to be a criticism of people who are perceived to not care about the troops. The first time was when that kid from MTV’s Buckwild was found dead. Both times are problematic on many levels for more or less the same reasons.

For one thing, death is death. It is always terrible, not just that someone’s life has ended but for their loved ones–because now matter how terrible the person, there are always loved ones. There are always people mourning, and just because some deaths receive more media attention than others doesn’t mean they’re going ignored or that the masses do not care. Though attempts to draw attention to these deaths could almost be considered well-meaning, they’re actually incredibly disrespectful and are guilty of the same thing they’re criticizing others for–they’re saying, “This death is more important than this one.” A loss is a loss, no matter where it happens or how. Some are more tragic than others, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to say, “You should be mourning this one instead of that one.”

But in the case of the military–and this can be applied to any high-risk, dangerous occupation–is people voluntarily join, and they know the risks. Now, I often argue that some don’t consider the risks, mostly in the cases of young kids going in who admit they need or want tuition assistance, but they know they’re there. Deployments may not be voluntary, but the service itself is, and for the past nearly 12 years, it’s been understood that service will likely mean deployment and deployment means a chance for injury, including mentally, or death.

Innocent civilians running in or watching a marathon in their home country during difficult but relatively safe times didn’t sign up to be victims of a bombing. No one signs up for a marathon thinking an explosion might kill them at the finish line. These people were supposed to be safe, but they weren’t. Beyond that, the current lack of answers and explanations means this may be an attack on more than just Boston, that maybe the goal was to scare all of us as Americans.

To disrespect these people by suggesting the real tragedy here is too much attention being paid to their deaths isn’t to support the troops or even display patriotism–in fact, by disregarding the value of the lives of someone who is still your fellow American, you’re doing just the opposite.

If you really do think one life is worth more than another, do us a favor and don’t say it on social media. Remember Craig Ferguson’s rules: Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said by me? Does this need to be said by me now?


At some point, I think in my teens, I went through this phase where I hated watching the news because it was always depressing. I guess your teen years are as good a time as any to totally denounce depressing stimuli.

I mostly read my news now, but social media means reading news practically as it happens. It means we’re bombarded with it and I think seeing constant tweets, status updates, and photos kind of puts us all on overload, even hundreds of miles away, and we feel a sense of panic and chaos that’s certainly removed and downplayed from that of the people in the heart of it, but we’re still part of that.

It seems like lately I’ve been coming home to more and more bad news. It would be nice to come home and see a nice article. The negativity makes it easy to forget there is good in the world, which is probably why I denounced the news all those years ago.

I’m not anywhere near Boston, and the only people I know who are are IYS staff and Amanda Palmer. But my heart still aches for them, and I wish I could do more. I made a personal decision not to publish any articles on IYS this afternoon because talking about new albums and tour dates and song review just doesn’t feel right, especially when the site itself is based out of Amherst. But even my Fayette County blog was going to remain quiet until word go out that a local reporter was there, so I left the daily post over there at that. It feels weird to be retweeting funny things in the midst of the chaos still happening online.

After the Newton shooting, a beautiful Mr. Rogers quote started spreading, and it’s going back around now:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

The thing is, as much as social media makes the tragedies find the rest of us faster and seemingly more frequently, the helpers are in there, too–people wanting to know how to help, where to go, what they can do, and people who know exactly what they want to do and do it. Websites are dedicated to people finding out if their loved ones are okay. Hotlines were set up for help, information, and even people who were emotionally triggered by today. People opened their homes for anyone who needed a place to stay. So many people donated blood that they had to announce they didn’t need anymore. As horrific as some of the pictures are, there are also plenty of emergency personnel taking care of people. One showed a fleet of ambulances.

At the moment, the best some of us can do is retweet the shit out of accurate information and those helpers, but sometimes, that’s all it takes.

Stay strong, Boston, and know everyone is supporting you.

The Weekend

I don’t prioritize cleaning. Most of the time, my apartment is a mess. I have other things to do. So if someone other than Paul or Brandon is coming over, I do designate a night, usually the one before they come over, to do so. If I can at least get the living room clean and make tiny progress in the kitchen and dining room, I’m happy.

Basically, I spent last Friday night cleaning for Kelly to come over, mostly, since I obviously don’t give a shit what Brandon and Paul think.

They came over Saturday afternoon, and since Paul had a rare work night Friday night, he slept while the rest of us went to see Book of Mormon at the Benedum, which I enjoyed but though was kind of overrated. Brandon loved it, though.

Since Paul locked us out of my apartment with my chain lock, we struggled to wake him up and get in when we got back, but after we succeeded, we had dinner at the Union Grill in Washington, where my mom took me for dinner when we first looked at the apartment last summer. Everyone but Kelly, who is underage, got a little tipsy, then we got some snacks at Shop ‘N’ Save and headed back to my place, where we hung out for a little bit before bed.

Sunday brought Steel City Con in Monroeville, which was also a slight but rare disappointment, mostly because I had my heart set on buying all the Lost shirts from Tee Minus 24 and they weren’t there. I did buy a nice Pennsylvania zombie shirt, though. Remember, kids, all the classic George A. Romero zombie movies are set and filmed here. I also bought fudge. Steel City Con has a bizarre large number of fudge vendors.

I was also kind of cranky but strangely fine after I guzzled two cherry Pepsis.

We did a little shopping at Barnes & Noble. By “a little,” I mean I spent 80 bucks in cash that would’ve been Tee Minus 24’s otherwise.

Then we had lunch at the Green Mango in Monroeville, which Brandon and Kelly had heard of and wanted to try. It was amazing. They replaced Nguyen’s in Uniontown as my favorite pad thai. The portion size was perfect, too. I even still had room for frozen yogurt at Frogurt after. I have a weakness for self-serve frozen yogurt. And I had the heaviest, and therefore most expensive, cup of yogurt.

We hung out for a little bit before they all headed home.

Top 5 on Friday: Coffee

Top 5 songs best listened to with a cup of coffee

 Since I don’t drink coffee, I’ll just apply this to tea or lattes.
1. “Us” by Regina Spektor It’s just the perfect little ditty that’s pretty and upbeat but relaxed and sweet enough to be enjoyed with beverage of choice. Also, Regina Spektor is considered by some outsiders to be ultimate hipster music. Jacob caught Paul listened to her once–maybe this very song–and made some joke about it sounding like the kind of music kids listen to at small liberal-arts colleges or something. I say it’s music for people who just appreciate good songwriting, singing, and general musical artistry.
2. “A Stutter” by Olafur Arnalds Really, any song off of For Now I Am Winter would work because they’re all hauntingly beautiful, often ambient and cinematic. Like, “cup of coffee while gazing out the window on a rainy day and looking melancholy” beautiful, ambient, and cinematic.
3. “Possibility” by Lykke Li Just like our friend Olafur, hauntingly beautiful but with bonus melancholy. We’ll just have to pretend it wasn’t part of a melodramatic scene in Twilight that led Terra and I to promise each other in college that if one of us was ever screaming into a pillow at night over a man, the other would smother her with said pillow because seriously, that shit is ridiculous. You don’t need a man that bad.
4. “The Bed Song”  by Amanda Palmer This song is probably prettier than I originally gave it credit for. Levels of pretty and sad (maybe even bittersweet sometimes?) that make you want to curl up and get cozy.
5. “Love and Some Verses” by Iron and Wine Pretty and relaxing, perfect for a lazy but possibly pensive day. Like Olafur up there, almost any Iron and Wine would fit into this.

Friday Five: Social

  1. Where were you the last time you took an awkward tumble? I can’t think of the most recent one, but maybe that means I haven’t had a notable one in a while. But I had a good one where I just kind of lost my footing in college when I was wearing high-heeled boots, which was kind of rare in college for me, and I fell as soon as I walked into the classroom. There was a good awkward, silent moment of stares. The best, though, was later that same semester, I think, where it was finals week and I was rushing to get my manuscript to my professor. It was a rainy day, and I took the shortcut across the campus lawn, which was a little bit downhill and can get a little, uh, marshy in the rain. I fell right in the mud and completely covered my jeans in it. But I was already dangerously close to deadline–to close to truck it back to my dorm, clean myself up, and go back–so I just delivered the manuscript when I was all muddy and just walked in & was like, “Hey, I fell in mud, here’s my manuscript.”
  2. When did you last dine by the pleasant flicker of candlelight? Real candlelight, probably June when I went to Vallozzi’s with my family for my birthday. But a few weeks ago, Paul and I dined on my beloved Nguyen’s by fake candlelight. It looked real. I checked to see and was disappointed.
  3. Who was the last person to cause you to yelp in surprise? I can’t remember, but the most likely time was at Lynn’s for Marion’s birthday because anytime we’re drinking and telling stories, there’s bound to be some reaction like that.
  4. What were your last good reads, and who recommended them to you? Paul and I have had sort of a book-swap thing going on probably almost the entire time we’ve been dating, which is just as impressive as the time we’ve been dating, so I’ve got American Gods by Neil Gaiman from him right now. The last one I borrowed from him before that was Neverending Story.
  5. When were your friends last in a twitter about something you just couldn’t get excited about? Right after we saw Book of Mormon last weekend. Brandon loved it, and even though I enjoyed it and thought it was funny, I just couldn’t praise it as highly as he did. I think I was let down because of all the hype around it–I’d expected so much from it, and it just didn’t quite deliver.

Random Things

So, what have I been doing with my life these past few months?

It feels like nothing and tons of things all at once. I’m always doing something on a weekend–drinking with Sarah once, out for Marion’s birthday, theaters, ballets, conventions, downtime, parties, whatever. They all blur together, and none are really major enough to talk about at length, methinks.

I’ve been working and writing, too, obviously. Those two never really end, except for days off.

Work has become increasingly more fun with Chelsea on my shift every Tuesday and Thursday. We e-mail each other hilarious things all day and gab all through break. We went to the outlets one Friday evening to find her boyfriend’s sister a birthday present, and Paul seemed especially thrilled that I was doing something fun with someone new. (There was a hitch where her battery died, we waited for AAA, I ended up running late for a mass I told my mom I’d go to for my great-grandma, and it was such a short mass that she was like, “Don’t bother, you already missed most of it” five minutes in, and we all ended up at Olive Garden after and I got a little drunk and learned I’m the only one who loves Long Island iced teas because everyone else thinks they’re too strong or taste like cough syrup).

I received an apology from Nolan, which I have to admit surprised me, but we’ve agreed to move on and be cool. Paul just happened to be over at the time and we agonized for so long over word choice in my response that it got downright ridiculous and we made ourselves laugh. Anyway, he even sent me Easter candy. In fact, between him, my mother, and the stash of candy I amassed all on my own just by virtue of being me, I’ve been eating candy daily for a long-ass time. If I could physically eat leftover pad thai at the same rate and if leftover pad thai reheated well, I’d be golden.

In some ways, then, things are back to normal, though I suppose I’ll remain a little guarded, for lack of a better word. Because “guarded” isn’t quite what I am and it’s not quite what I mean, but I can’t quite figure out what I do mean. It’s one of those things where it makes total sense in my head and I understand it and all is well, but to explain it is a whole other ordeal and ends up being inadequate.

Or maybe not. Maybe I can finally say, for the first time maybe in my entire life, I’m exactly where I want to be (or pretty damn near close to that).

So, what’s next? IYS is keeping me busy. Work is keeping me busy. Writing is keeping me busy, even though we’re currently so slow that they basically told us to go on vacation and I just so happened to already have one planned next month. I have Geibel’s auction to go to Saturday with Paul where I hope to leave with some treasuries but still with monies intact. I bought Muse tickets tonight. I’m buying fucking Adam Ant tickets tomorrow. I’ll try to remember to talk about last weekend’s adventures in fine dining, Steel City Con, and The Book of Mormon at some point.