Dear Barack Obama: An Open Letter

Dear Barack:

Thank you for your recent email about your campaign. I’m happy to stay up-to-date on my favorite president’s business, and I’m glad we’re on a first-name basis, even if you spell my name incorrectly. As long as you have the general sounds right, who can blame you? After all, you have to email millions of people every day. Nobody expects you to get it right 100% of the time.

As a person who is slightly concerned with the environment*, I must say that I am happy that email exists. I remember during your last campaign, I received far fewer emails and instead had a chipper college woman barge into my house and demand $50 from me. I only fell for that once and now I lock my doors.

I admit that I don’t donate every time you ask. Why, sometimes I get 7 or 8 emails within a few hours! Though it is nice to know that if I don’t donate right away, I will get another URGENT email shortly after asking me for a second donation.

One thing I especially appreciate is when you send me an email from your personal inbox, and then a few minutes later, I receive the same exact message forwarded to me from one of your lower level employees. Consequently, I always delete the first email, as I know a copy will follow shortly after. This same thing happens to me at work sometimes, and I always wonder if the second person thought I was not important enough in the first place to have received the prized original email.

I really wish I could have dinner with you and your lovely wife. Do you know how many contests I have entered in? I tried to get into gambling a while back, but I wasn’t great at it, so I stopped. I was genuinely sad when I got that email a couple weeks ago about how your employee won. That seems like an unfair advantage. Also, can you please clarify whether wine will be provided with the meal if I were to win? I think a more effective contest would be one of wine and cheese. Or just wine. The details are up to you. Another idea is pizza and beer. I have a lot of good ideas, many of which you would hear if I had better luck in my gambling/contest-winning adventures. A funny contest would be if you were someone’s personal trainer for the day.

 

Affectionately yours,

 

Rachael (you might remember me as “Rachel”)

 

 

 

*Hippies have this covered already.

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An Opinionated View of Welfare Drug Testing (Facts Included)

This is an issue that has been irritating me for almost a year. It’s not your typical conservative vs. liberal tug-of-war; many of my own self-professed liberal friends agree with drug testing welfare recipients. Why? It’s probably because they are too far removed from either the recipients of welfare (they don’t know any poor people) or because they know little about the actual issue.

Perhaps college graduates were taught women’s rights in college but never taught that poor people also have these rights. This morning I was trying to put my finger on exactly what irritated me about my college friends who have no qualms with these new measures. A friend of mine posted a ridiculous article about a proposed abortion law and how she did not agree with it. With one fell swoop*, she added to her post something like “although I agree that welfare recipients should be drug tested.” Why is this? I can see they are technically different issues—one deals with a personal choice and another with tax money. But the issue of abortions has a lot to do with the government trying to control another’s body. And while there is one difference for the drug testing (these people are getting help from the government), it goes completely against every notion that the government should not have control over anyone’s body.

Many of what I like to call “idiots” claim that since their work can drug test them, welfare recipients should also have to be drug tested. Since when did we start treating the government like a private company? I work at a company that often won’t allow people to distribute offensive material to the public through them. These people like to argue that we can’t tell them what they can and cannot distribute, since it violates their first amendment right to free speech. But we are not the government (as mentioned above)—we are a company that can choose to do things that citizens would never allow the government the ability to do.

Somehow my professors were civil enough to teach me that poor people actually do have rights**. While looking at an essay I wrote, I stumbled upon this quote from Vivyan Adair, who grew up as a poor woman on welfare: “Ultimately, we come to recognize that our bodies are not our own, that they are rather public property. State-mandated blood tests, interrogation of the most private aspects of our lives, the public humiliation of having to beg officials for food and medicine, and the loss of all right to privacy, teach us that our bodies are only useful as lessons, warnings, and signs of degradation that everyone loves to hate.” For some reason, poor people’s bodies are public property. People seem to think that welfare is some sort of easy way to live; that people are on welfare because it’s better than getting a job. But this is simply wrong. People don’t want to stay on welfare forever. Like the rest of America, they probably dream of owning their own house or business.

It has been documented by many a people that our society is not actually ridden with drug-addled welfare recipients. Indeed, most drug addicts are not actually on welfare. You probably don’t know this, but drugs cost a lot of money.*** And people seem to think that poor people are more likely to do drugs—thus the perception that welfare recipients are drug addicts and misusing the system. However, as you may have heard from this over-discussed argument, and I quote from the NYTimes, “Recent federal statistics indicate that welfare recipients are no more likely than the general population to abuse drugs. Data show that about 8 percent of people use drugs illegally. Before a random drug testing program in Michigan was suspended by a court challenge, about 8 percent of its public assistance applicants tested positive.” So, as the argument goes, our insistence that we drug test the poor only further propels the belief that poor people are drug addicts.

And furthermore, other statistics show that 70% of drug users actually have a full time job (note the “drugs are expensive” statement above). You can Google this if you please.

For those college students that I may be targeting, please note that most of your loans and grants for school came from the government as aid to you. Since you clearly can’t put yourself in the position of a welfare recipient—I don’t know what you think poor people do, but I can definitely say they are not having the time of their lives living under the poverty line—giving the government this right could easily mean giving the government the right to test any person who is receiving aid. That’s you! And while I sincerely detest the slippery slope argument on any grounds, I don’t really see the difference between welfare and Medicaid and other types of aid us mildly poor people receive.

And, obviously, I wouldn’t end this without noting the fact that drug testing welfare recipients does not save the government any money, as noted in this recent Floridia article. I should also point out the the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, who pushed this bill into action, owns the majority of shares in the company that does the drug testing, giving him significant financial gain for these measures.

*Yes, that’s the correct wording.

**Check your local library for a copy of the Constitution.

***Don’t quote me on that.

WARNING: I did not proof-read this very closely, as I find it boring to do.

Featuring Snoop Dogg

As a generally tolerant woman of musical genres (excluding, of course, dubstep [let's not forget this is Bellingham]) I have a slight obsession with pop songs featuring iconic rap artists.

I was thinking of the Katy Perry song “California Gurls” the other day, and I think the real reason I’m attracted to it is Snoop Dogg. He’s barely in the song, but every moment he contributes is magical. My new winter goal has been to compile a list of every pop song featuring Snoop Dogg. I will probably give up on this goal.

I realized that practically any song featuring Snoop Dogg is high up on my repeat list, so I thought I would take a couple of minutes to list every possible “feat. Snoop Dogg” song I could find (in about 10 minutes—I’m a lazy researcher).

1. Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg:

2. Pussycat Dolls feat. Snoop Dogg:

3. Lil Mama feat Snoop Dogg: NY NY LA LA

4. Ian Carey feat. Snoop Dogg:

5. Pussycat Dolls feat. Snoop Dogg (Not an official video):

6. Akon feat. Snoop Dogg:

Lately I haven’t been listening to anything further down than #10 on the Spotify top lists (I’ve never been ashamed of my musical tastes), so I’m hoping Snoop will magically appear again. If I have to wait until summer, I’ll be real bummed.

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Reflections on a Childhood, Couches

The first time I realized my family was even crazier than I’d ever imagined was in 1997, the year my mother began renting couches. At first, this seemed to be a marvelous idea. A new couch was an exciting addition to the family of furniture that already existed, although it did not much match the “rugged individualism” of our very American decor.

As time went on, my mother paid off the new couch. But eventually the appeal of it settled and one day, out of the blue, another couch suddenly appeared. And later, another. Again and again the couches appeared, always taking place of a slightly new but not properly pristine couch. I believe this is something like people turning in cars to get newer ones, but with couches. Or perhaps it is more like buying a new bag of popsicles once frostbite sufficiently covers all the leftover purple ones. Either way, it was couches galore in the Wallace family household.

RAC Logo

$17 a month will buy you a pretty nice couch.

When I moved out of my parents house in 2006, I lived with a few roommates who had acquired a couch from a rather suspicious source. I immediately realized how my world view would be forever tainted by the couch-rental mania that engulfed my mother. I was often frustrated by the sight of the pattern and wear of the couch in my apartment, and quickly took to the nearest chair. On numerous occasions I would ponder the life of the dirty couch, questioning its validity and worth. Who had been on that couch before my roommates? Where had the couch been? And Christ Almighty! How did it get into our apartment? Was it possible that new couches weren’t the norm?

I never thought about buying a couch for myself. My tiny studio hardly fits my possessions, not to mention Zack’s (he is quite the pack rat, although he allows me to control it a bit). I think the ability to live in a small space for so long is born from a comfort of a working class childhood. Perhaps I am also secretly avoiding a general addiction to rent-to-own furniture—there’s really no way for me to know. I could go into some pretty costly therapy to figure out my aversion and attraction to this type of furniture, but that’s clearly a silly and worthless endeavor.

This whole couch debacle not only changed the way I see my mother, but more importantly changed the way I see other people. I realized that the ways people relate to one another are deeply ingrained in the environment and surrounding in which each was raised. For me, a clean couch will always offer the comfort of home, while for others it may be a special food item, a certain blanket, or a type of book that symbolizes those special (sometimes very special) people in our lives.

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Jobs & Dentists—What My Life Turned Into After Graduation

Since graduating, my life has been changing at a rather alarming rate. Some good things, some bad things.

After FINALLY graduating, I relentlessly applied to any job I was even mildly qualified for. I probably spend 20-30 hours writing cover letters and revamping my resume, which paid off when I was offered a job as an Editor. (!!!) I don’t think I’ve had a weekend off for about 5 years, so this whole “real, adult job thing” is going to be surprising and probably a bit overwhelming. This is partly due to the fact that I have always held high-stress, low-intelligence jobs where my primary duty was to suck up to people as much as possible so I could force them to give me perhaps $1 more as a tip. So, yeah, pretty important.

On a side note: I don’t think tips should be counted as part of the wage. I certainly never think of tips as such, and I find it offensive that the government taxes me on something that I only buy beer with. I mean, that stuff is already taxed like crazy. But I digress.

One thing I noticed from working at service jobs is that most everyone is incessantly bitter and incestuous. What I mean by this is that no one outside food/booze service jobs can possible understand how awful that sort of job really is, and they can only confide in other restaurant workers about how much other people suck. Not to mention the alcohol and hangovers, which are both the best and worst part of working in a restaurant. There is nothing like going to get “one” drink at the bar and then all of a sudden the bar is closing while you realize you need to look presentable in the morning. And since servers are unbelievably good at getting other people to drink more (think: bill vs tip), it can be extremely difficult to turn down a drink offer from a fellow server.

After getting a job, I decided I no longer had to be responsible with money and thus could go to Las Vegas for my 23rd birthday. Of course, as soon as I saw the price of sunscreen in Las Vegas, I immediately regretted my decision to not care about money. But, alas, it was too late.  I got a rather hilarious-looking sunburn on my legs that looks like I have giant bruises all over one side of each leg. Truly a beautiful tan. People keep asking me where my tan is at, and since Zack and I probably spent $40 on sunscreen while we were in Vegas (uh-hem, for only TWO days), I am proud to only have the disgusting tan on my legs to show. I guess that’s what I get for only reapplying the sunscreen every 40 minutes instead of every 25 minutes.

And then there’s the dentist. I have a love/hate relationship with my dentist because he’s a bit too honest and a little expressive in the eyebrow area. He is forcing me to get my wisdom teeth out tomorrow—which I am absolutely terrified about—and won’t let me come back until they are put to rest (so to speak). There is only one thing I am more disgusted by than needles, which is heights. But either way.

Last time I was at the dentist, he kept waving around a needle the size of a shotgun and when he finally started giving me the shot he suddenly stopped and asked me if I was feeling ok. WAS HE SERIOUS? No, I was at the dentist, and I hated every moment. He kindly explained that he thought I might “pass out,” and so he left the room to let me “breath.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, as I was more concerned after he left as to what he meant, and whether I really was going to pass out. It reminded me of Bill Cosby in this:

Anyway, so my dentist is forcing me to get my wisdom teeth out, and I think the biggest problem I am going to encounter is the IV they are planning to stick in my arm. The woman actually had the balls to call me today and tell me to wear a short-sleeve shirt. What the hell is wrong with this lady? It’s like she wanted to make me sick for two days before the appointment and then the required sickness afterward, too. I know I’m just going to sit in my apartment and watch junk television for the next couple of days and eat ice cream until I puke, all the while remembering that disgusting needle, which will subsequently cause me to loose my appetite. Perhaps getting my wisdom teeth out will be a great diet (of only ice cream?).

Living With Your Lover

“Lover” is a pretty repulsive noun, and I wouldn’t normally use it except in cases of extreme sarcasm. But boyfriend just doesn’t seem to cut it and manfriend is a little too lame. For a while I toyed with the term partner, which evokes memories of picturesque cowboys and political hippies (worst kind), not to mention the fact that people just assume I’m a lesbian if I call anyone a “partner.” Which is another thing. Because that’s the point right? That people shouldn’t be worried about the gender and/or sex of my partner, and I shouldn’t have to label people in these ways? And really, who am I to care if others think my boyfriend is actually a lady? Maybe he would care, but I don’t. So, on we go.

Living with your lover is not hard. Let’s face it. People suck, and that’s what’s hard. It turns out that everyone is more selfish than they’d actually lead you to believe, but once you live with another person you learn that really you both suck, and that’s that. This is not an attempt to beguile you and I am not in  any position to give out serious love advice, since my relationship sort of fell into my lap after years of dating other, okay-but-not-really-my-type-men. But since people are easily shocked, or at least feign shocked-ness whenever I tell them how long Zack and I have been together and how long we’ve lived together, I’ve finally decided to address living with your lover (and why it’s not hard).

Zack and I in San Fransisco

Having the best time, best time.

For the past two years, I have lived with Zack in a 395 square foot studio. And we just signed the lease for another year. Before this charming little—I’m serious about little—studio, Zack and I lived in a house with some of our closest friends (which was hard, but not nearly as hard as the time before that). People always ask me something along the lines of “how do you get away” or “don’t you need personal space,” or anything like that which suggests that people don’t realize how busy we both are. Continue reading

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Surviving College: Despair & Panic

Blogging is an amusing thing to pursue when I only have five more weeks until I officially become an annoying hope-filled college graduate. It will unquestionably become both my best friend and my worst enemy in the upcoming weeks as I think about all the things I should be paying for and all of the working I’m not doing.

As far as school goes, I’m behind. Not just normal behind, but unproductive in every aspect. I’ve been skipping volunteer sessions  supposedly to finish schoolwork (uh-hem, let’s talk the newest episode of 30 Rock?); I’ve been going out to eat almost every day (not daring to look at my bank statement), and have rarely been working more than two shifts a week at work. What this begins to add up to is an exceptionally poor student in many aspects moneywise, educationwise, and emotionwise.

However, there is an upside to all of this school house of procrastination, which is that I have had plenty of time to go to the dentist, clean my apartment, sell my clothes, read magazines, and look at jobs in other cities for which I am not qualified nor interested. I’ve also had plenty of time to update my personal website, print resumes, and did I mention eating? Yes, plenty of eating to pass the time. Continue reading

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Founding Fathers—Once a Liberal Drunk, Always a Liberal Drunk.

Let’s talk founding fathers. You might steer clear of conversations with such boring undertones, and frankly I don’t blame you. But let me shed some light on the most hilariously social founding father of all time: Benjamin Franklin.

Black and white photo of Benjamin Franklin

Here is Benny looking rather pudgy, and a bit colorless if I may say so.

The Benjamin Franklin I have in my mind (from a long history of shunning archaic fat men) is a reticent white man of the continual age of 80. Was Benjamin Franklin ever younger than 80? The answer is, of course, no. And actions speak louder than words in this situation, which may not mean anything to you just yet. But Franklin, whose iconic photo to the left seems rather harmless and portly—I’ll resist calling him beefy since I would never be able to unequate edible animals with Ben—was actually very mischievous and, surprisingly, farcical.

Perhaps the first man to coin the American Dream (the concept, not the term), Old Benny tended to write away his “errata” and leave behind sagacious maps for younger generations of  supposedly hearty half-witted ham heads. Continue reading

Awkward Encounters

Following the realization that my education would soon cost me a humble mound of gold, and that my (then-current) rate of education was brutally worthless, I have become less and less able to respond to awkward strangers in attempt to force my resume into a handsome and alluring work of art. In the beginning I thought clumsy clashes with strangers were my fault. Over time, though, I have realized that it’s not me, it’s them. I am not the weird one. I can function like a socialized human; I’ve only become intolerant of the inability of other people to act as our rigorous society dictates. Let me expand, and perhaps give advice on how to avoid these painful and time-consuming meetings.

Cafes

Cafes have become a notorious hot-spot of ham-handed conversations, causing me to avoid lattes and espresso altogether. There is always that certain someone who I barely know and am forced to say hello to, even if I have nothing to say or know absolutely nothing about the person and don’t care to fiend a convincing exchange of interest. The best way to avoid these conversations—a tried and true technique—is to stare intently away from this person of  alarming inconvenience at something in which you are desperately interested in. Gaze adamantly at whatever object you must, whether it’s a painting of a dead bird or a collage of faux-antique fashion cut-outs. Your awkward moment will subside.

Continue reading

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Blogging, according to the OED.

I start this blog on a foolish note. To be sure I could fully conduct the job of blogging, I began by a little research. This asinine project included me looking up the non-existent word “blogging” in Fowler’s Modern English Usage—seriously—and then feeling immediately defeated when the word following “bloc” was “blonde.” It was at this moment I that I knew I could not, in fact, handle anything more than a lame journal and a ill-functioning pencil, but as any hope-filled and rash American I continued on my way to the OED.

A note about the OED: I have been told countless times that I should not refer to the Oxford English Dictionary as the OED. Nonetheless, I continually defeat professors and editors alike in my one-woman stand against illiteracy and a general distaste for those who insist that absolutely any garbage website counts as a relevant and trustworthy source. But I digress.

In the OED I found hope; blogging is nothing more than,

“the activity of writing or maintaining a weblog.”

I was immediately thrown off by the awful word weblog, which is so disgusting that I’m surprised I am willing to allow it on my very own blog. But, alas, I must cite these things honestly.

So, this is how Contemporary Woman begins. A comical look into the life of a realistic—yet ambitious—woman about the enter a world void of employment and experience.

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