SmartAssy

Archive for April, 2013|Monthly archive page

With Love from John, Paul, George and Ringo

In Love & Relationships on April 29, 2013 at 1:12 pm

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I’m not a huge fan of the list-style blog post, but I was inspired to temporarily jump on the bandwagon today while listening to the Beatles. As a devoted fan of the foursome, I appreciate their entire body of work (God, this sounds pretentious), but I usually prefer their social message themed stuff, à la “Come Together” or “Revolution.” However, I hate to neglect the romantic side of John, Paul, George and Ringo because those Brits really knew how to make a girl swoon. In that spirit, here are my top five favorite Beatles love songs, hyperlinked for your listening pleasure:

1. Here, There and Everywhere

“Knowing that love is to share, each one believing that love never dies.”

In the episode of “Friends” where Phoebe marries Paul Rudd, she walks down the aisle to the melody of this song performed on steel drums. I was never one to dream much about my future nuptials, but if I ever do get married, I’d love to rip off this idea (preferably with a string quartet in place of the steel drums since I’m not a quirky sitcom character). “Here, There and Everywhere” is such a tender, beautiful song that speaks to the enduring love celebrated by marriage.

2. In My Life

“But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compares with you.”

“In My Life” actually makes me think of my love for one of my very best friends and not any romantic feelings. During college, we used to text lyrics to one another when we were particularly missing each other, and this song was in heavy circulation. She and I have been through more than a decade of friendship together, and “In My Life” is a reminder of her importance, well… in my life.

3. Two of Us

“You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.”

The ideal type of love, in my opinion at least, is the kind where the two people are best friends, having adventures and enjoying each other’s presence in any capacity. Listening to “Two of Us” reminds me of this version of romance and always puts a smile on my face.

4. I Will 

“Will I wait a lonely lifetime? If you want me to, I will.” 

I think everyone hopes that their “true love” would sacrifice a lot to be with them, even if they hope it never comes to that. “I Will” is a short little ditty that tells of a love that just won’t quit. 

5. I Want to Hold Your Hand

“It’s such a feeling that my love, I can’t hide.” 

I felt it fitting to end my top five with a song that talks about the beginnings of love. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” is a simple, but powerful piece of music. Dating and romance can feel so complicated at times, and they often make people jaded. To counter these feelings, I like to turn this on and be enveloped in the adoring innocence of that first touch.

Here’s hoping that our relationships, both romantic and platonic, will be as deep and meaningful as these sweet tracks.

<3

LM

 

[Image Source: Beatles1.jpg]

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*Remember: It’s Their Loss

In Encouraging Thoughts on April 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm

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I have this vivid memory of a heart-to-heart I had with my friend Brooke during an island-themed frat party our sophomore year of college. At the time, it was widely known (or so it seemed to me) that I had a crush on one of my close friends, and it just so happened that he had made out with another girl the previous weekend.

[I’d like to take a moment to thank my FB newsfeed and the partygoer who digitally captured them sucking face for bringing this to my attention. Social media really makes it hard for the lovelorn.]

Brooke knew that I was distraught by the whole situation. Over the loud reggae music, she vehemently assured me that make-out girl was rather unfortunate looking, especially beside my incomparable natural beauty. This obvious exaggeration heartened me a bit, and I proceeded to push the whole matter out of my mind for the remainder of the night, encircled by paper leis and overcome by the strong aroma of ganja. “Don’t worry, be happy,” right?

When I think back to that conversation, I know that Brooke was only trying to make me feel better. She was essentially using the old “it’s his loss, you’re too good for him” line on me. It worked because I wanted to believe it, and while I wasn’t actually any prettier than his tonsil-hockey partner or superior to him, I do think he was missing out on something with me. (Apparently, he felt the same way, as we started dating a few months later.)

Regardless of whether other people offer up the “it’s their loss” cliche in an empty, but well meaning sort of way to comfort loved ones, I think it’s important to hold fast to this sentiment when we face rejection in our own lives. Maybe you lost out on a job to someone smarter or more qualified, but deep down, you should know that you would have brought something unique to the table. Now that employer will never benefit from whatever it is that makes you great to work with. Same goes for that girl or guy who didn’t returned your affections – they will never know what makes you an awesome SO. I’m not saying that everyone is a model employee or a perfect romantic partner. But we all have to know that, when we are at our best, there is something special inside of us and anyone who gets to experience it is lucky.

It’s all too easy to attach our self-worth to what we consider our body of success – that long-term relationship, that killer job, that close knit group of friends. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be proud of your accomplishments. Congratulate yourself on your stellar grades or your hard-won promotion. But don’t hinge your happiness on these bright spots because when things take a downturn, as they are apt to do from time to time, you will be left with a chipped sense of self-worth. At this crossroads in my life, I am continually reminding myself of this message. We all need to be our own Brooke, minus the exaggeration. Because perhaps we are not “too good” in all rejection situations, but I think we can safely say that it is, indeed, “their loss,” and we will find our way, so long as we truly believe this.

Optimistically,

Leah Morris

 

[Image Source: rejectionmedium.jpg]

If You’re Not a Leader, You Must Be a Follower (And Other Lies)

In (un)Professionalism on April 17, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I harbor a bit of resentment toward the word “leadership.” In my 23 years, every application I’ve filled out, every interview I’ve sat through, every evaluation of my character has considered whether I embody the qualities of this pesky term. And I don’t. I’m not charismatic, I don’t enjoy public speaking, and I have no aspirations to command any number of people. It’s not like I don’t have other strengths. I’m good at analytical and persuasive writing, I’m personable, I work well in a team, and I have a strong work ethic.  Leadership just isn’t my thing.

Unfortunately for me, admitting this is tantamount to career suicide. To many, declaring that you’re not a leader is to suggest that you are a follower, that you are not ambitious, forward-thinking, or independent. That all you want from life is to be a cog in some machine.

This is all patently untrue.

I understand why the notion of leadership is held in such high esteem, I really do. The work that “natural born leaders” can accomplish is the stuff of dreams (or nightmares). They are our CEOs, our civil rights leaders, our politicians. I have several friends who fit into this category, and I know that they are going to do big things. Leadership is trailblazing. Leadership is innovation. Leadership is progress.

But enough with the motivational posters. Let’s talk about me some more. I refuse to believe that the world is broken up into these natural born leaders and their less worthy followers. Furthermore, it irks me that I must play into this dichotomy to get ahead in the world. I’ll never understand why an entry-level desk job requires me to enumerate my experiences as a leader to secure the position.

If you’re vetting me for the possibility of a managerial promotion in the future, I can assure you I’m all for that and perfectly capable of learning the ropes just as well as these Barack Obamas and Hil-Dogs with their “president of whatever club” credentials. Truthfully, telling people what to do will never be my favorite part of the job, but I’m certainly up to the task if it should present itself. If you’re not vetting me for anything, then I fail to see how my leadership experience will affect how I write, perform administrative duties, or talk to my coworkers by the water cooler.

I may be a lot of things, but I’m certainly not a follower. I have my own ideas, I have drive, and I can still be a trailblazer and innovator, if I so choose. Or I can be a normal human being who doesn’t overhaul social justice or own a Fortune 500 company. Leadership skills are a plus, but those of us who are more introverted are not missing a vital component of success without them. Judging by the insane emphasis placed on leadership skills from grade school onward, you’d think they rank right after food and before shelter in terms of resources necessary for human survival. Yes, everyone should “reach for the stars,” but everyone will not be reaching for the same star, and that’s okay. In the end, I think we non-leaders will do all right, despite what our fourth grade teachers told us.

With hope,

LM

Am I Still Growing Up or Is This Just Me?

In Just for Fun on April 16, 2013 at 11:42 am

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Last December, I watched the movie Superbad for the first time in years. This Judd Apatow flick was pretty much the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off of my generation; it even came out when I was a senior in high school. Though I wasn’t a teenage boy fixated on losing my virginity before college, I could really relate to the movie’s “fuck it, let’s have some fun” attitude. I found Superbad to be so hilarious that watching it was somewhat of an ab work out for me.

Although I no longer have to resort to fake IDs and shenanigans to obtain alcohol, I hoped that the main characters’ quest would be just as funny and endearing to me as it had been five years ago. And you know what? It was. During the scene where Jonah Hill confesses to Michael Cera that he was obsessed with drawing dicks as a child (“It’s not even that big of a deal, something like 8% of kids do it.”), it was unclear whether I was laughing or having a seizure. Apparently, my appreciation of crude humor did not diminish as I moved from adolescence to adulthood.

When I was younger, I saw the process of growing up as a checklist of skills to be acquired and behaviors that must be discontinued. Learning how to properly iron a button-down shirt, obeying the expiration date on dairy products, refraining from polishing off more than three beers in one sitting, and so forth. I assumed that my tastes in clothing, books, and movies would change as I matured in years, trading chucks for pumps, The Catcher in the Rye for War and Peace, and Superbad for any movie not featuring the doodle of a penis-as-astronaut planting an American flag on the moon. I looked at the grown ups around me and assumed I would be like them someday.

Now that I’m in my twenties, I find the notion of adulthood to be a little more complex. While I no longer feel that Holden Caulfield and I are kindred spirits, I do confess to only ironing the portion of button-downs visible with a blazer on. I’ve realized that the aforementioned checklist was only an arbitrary measure of adulthood based on the characteristics of authority figures in my life. Behaviors and predilections that I once considered age-dependent I now see are “individual-dependent.” The fact that I still like my comedies vulgar doesn’t indicate that I have yet to grow up. Rather, it speaks to a facet of my personality. This is me.

I now see maturity in terms of self-sufficiency: a person’s ability to take care of herself and independently manage the commitments of her day-to-day life. Sure, there’s more to it than that, but the clothes you wear and the books you read are only superficial measurements, no matter how you calculate it. And quite frankly, I will be sorely disappointed if one day I do not find the line “You know how many foods are shaped like dicks? The best kinds.” to be hilarious. Adulthood, be damned.

Indecently,

Leah Morris

 

[Image Source: superbad.jpeg]

Why My Parents’ Relationship Makes Me Scared of Marriage

In Love & Relationships on April 11, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Blogging about this topic makes me feel slightly guilty. I want to start off by saying that I love my parents. They are good people who did their very best to raise me right, and I don’t take that for granted (anymore).

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With that being said, I can’t deny that the dynamics of their relationship have really done a number on me. My parents’ marriage is unorthodox, in my eyes, in that it is so traditional for this day and age. Father as breadwinner and head of household; mother as the caring, deferential homemaker. Although this set up makes for an excellent Norman Rockwell painting, it is the antithesis of everything I want out of holy matrimony.

While this is nowhere near a new revelation for me, it is only recently that I’ve realized just how deeply I’ve been affected by the (un)balance of power and division of labor I witnessed in my childhood home. Being in a serious relationship and considering what the future could bring have made my resulting marriage reservations more relevant and concrete. Particularly, I’ve been thinking a lot about whether I would take my husband’s last name were I ever to tie the knot, and picturing myself doing so certainly forms a knot – in my stomach, that is.

I completely understand why this gesture of unity is benign to many women, but for me, it represents the first step in sacrificing my autonomy and my identity in order to enhance someone else’s. I have been a Morris for 23 years, and I don’t see how giving up a crucial part of myself could be the start of some “equal” bond. My boyfriend, Jared, and I had a frank discussion about this recently, and he was rather incredulous after hearing my view and subsequent explanations. As we talked further, I realized that this dedication to my birth certificate is less burn-my-bra and more a strong fear of becoming my mother and marrying my father. (No need to point out that that last sentence screams “Greek tragedy”; I am well aware. Welcome to my own special version of familial dysfunction.)

Later on, I relayed these complicated emotions to my co-blogger, Jane Black. As the child of a less than ideal divorce, Jane told me she couldn’t wait to leave Black behind in favor of a new beginning. We may have been in disagreement over the value of our last names, but, judging by our equally vehement opinions on the subject, we both agreed that “our parents had fucked us up good.”

After talking to Jared and Jane, I curled up on my couch and took a long, hard look at my childhood, my parents, and marriage itself. In my 18 years at home, I can’t remember a single time that my mother stood up for herself when my father took out his frustrations on her in the form of snide remarks and unwarranted chidings. I always vowed to myself that I would never let a man talk to me that way, that I would rather die alone than be in an unequal relationship. I was mad at my dad for yelling at my mom, but somehow, I was also mad at her for not yelling back, for setting a bad example for my sister and me. Their marriage is largely a happy one, but this unsightly aspect has left an indelible mark on me.

Maybe my father’s verbal abuse and my apprehension to change my last name seem unrelated, but to me, they could not be more intimately intertwined. For better or worse, I am a product of my parents’ relationship. By that, I certainly don’t mean that we are all bound to repeat the mistakes of our mothers and fathers, only that my thoughts and opinions on marriage have been profoundly shaped by what I saw growing up.

I guess all we can do is work to avoid the missteps of our parents, replicate their triumphs, and pray that we don’t do too much psychological damage to our children with our own unique mistakes.

‘Til death,

Leah Morris

 

[Image Source: runaway_bride_doubts.jpg]

A Few Words on Flattery

In Just for Fun on April 9, 2013 at 3:59 pm

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Flattery is a funny thing. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but compliments and praise are a hell of a lot more complicated than that. I started thinking about all of this a few weeks ago after an awkward text exchange with Adam, an old co-worker of mine.

To follow this saga, you’ll need a bit of background on Adam and the nature of our relationship. During college, I worked part-time at an office, propaganda-writing, answering phones, and doing work of the general bitch variety. Adam was a full-time employee there. Despite my cubicle’s proximity to his office, I was never really sure what it was they were paying him for. I guess my bosses were impressed with his dedication to YouTube and willingness to share his questionable taste in music with the entire floor. He routinely expressed surprise at the constant chatter coming from my keyboard, which perplexed me, as this was the main activity earning me $1.50 above minimum wage.

Adam would often come over and talk to me, offering snarky observations, which in turn elicited sarcastic responses from me. That was pretty much the extent of our relationship.

At this point, you might be wondering where the relevant flattery part of my story comes in. Well, here you go: Last month, in the “People You May Know” section on my LinkedIn page, Adam’s deceptively professional-looking picture popped up, and I clicked to “connect” with him. He immediately sent me a message, saying how happy he was to hear from me and wondering if I’d like to catch up sometime. I responded with a “that would be nice” and my phone number.

Within minutes, I began receiving the beginnings of an extended text message barrage. What started as polite pleasantries on his end quickly morphed into weird confessions (direct quote: “I literally blushed when I saw your request.”) and desperate attempts by me to abort the conversation. He finally admitted that, although he knew I had a boyfriend, he had always thought I was “really pretty and classy.” I awkwardly reminded him of my relationship status, but told him it was nice to get a compliment.

That was a lie. I was not flattered in the least, and any inkling of such a feeling was surely extinguished over the next two weeks by Adam’s needling requests to hang out.

Now, I don’t want to speak for other cultures, but I’m fairly certain that no woman residing in the United States or its outlying territories would find this borderline stalkerish behavior appealing. That’s kind of a no brainer. But why hadn’t I felt flattered by his initial suggestion that I was pretty and classy?

After an excessive amount of thought, I came to a two-pronged conclusion. It seems to me that flattery is based on how much you A) respect the person who is complimenting you and B) agree with the content of the compliment. Adam’s intentions didn’t seem to matter as much as my perception of him and of myself. While I always found Adam to be a likeable person, recent textual harassment excluded, I can’t say I ever respected him or his lackluster work ethic.

Likewise, although I appreciate being called pretty, I have always perceived my smarts to be more prominent than my looks. (You would understand that I’m not being conceited about my intelligence if you had witnessed the frizzy, triangle-shaped hair of my childhood.) As far as my level of class is concerned, I certainly don’t think of myself as trashy, but come on, I’m a recent college grad. I’ll say Adam doesn’t know me well enough to evaluate my classiness and leave it at that.

In sum: Beauty is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder, but what passes as flattery depends on the behold-ed.

…Or something like that.

Tentatively,

Leah Morris

In Defense of Rich White Men

In Let's Get Political on April 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm

This week, I came across a blog post criticizing everyone who changed their Facebook profile pictures to the Human Rights Campaign logo. The blogger took issue with the fact that the HRC is run by “rich white men” who aim to keep the privileged privileged and do nothing to advocate for those oppressed groups who are truly in need of representation. The post was, on the whole, well written and compelling. I am not well acquainted with the organizational structure or activities of the HRC, but I definitely want to research them after reading this article.

So kudos on that point, blogger. Whether you wanted to inspire with this post or just vent your frustrations, you made me question a powerful organization I never gave a lot of thought to before. But that’s where my compliments run dry. The moment you used the phrase “rich white men” in a pejorative sense, you lost my respect and undermined your own argument. You implied that a group’s class, race, and gender should count as evidence that they are out of touch and oppressive.

To be sure, I don’t think that rich white men need me advocating on their behalf. As far as I know, their rights have not been stripped in the United States, there is no systemic prejudice against them lurking in our laws, and they are not targeted by law enforcement on a daily basis. Accordingly, I usually wouldn’t waste my breath defending them when there are, as this blogger indicated, so many genuinely marginalized groups here in America and all over the world. But I believe that demonizing any subset of people solely based on the aforementioned factors of gender, race, and class is, at best, counterproductive and polarizing, at worst, outright dangerous, and most certainly a disservice to society as a whole.

I understand that the phrase “rich white men” conjures up images of greed, institutionalized oppression, and most recently, the ills of Wall Street. It is also my understanding that the word “Jew” has, throughout much of history, been associated with similar imagery: that of undeserved wealth, usury, and God knows what other unflattering portrayals. Is it unfair and absurd for me to lump this blogger in with the likes of the Nazis and the Spanish Inquisition? Absolutely. Is that what I’m doing? No.

My point is that us-versus-them complexes have never been healthy, have never advanced civilization, but yet, in so many forms, have been embraced by an insanely diverse collection of people throughout human existence. And I think it’d be great if this could stop, not for the sake of rich white men, but for the sake of those groups truly affected by stereotyping and discrimination.

Simply,

LM

Liebster Award: A Heart-to-Heart with the Blogosphere

In Just for Fun on April 1, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Kelly from Are your twenties a joke…? nominated us yesterday for the Liebster Award. Thanks! Her blog is great, and I recommend checking it out.

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(Flexible) Rules of the Liebster Award:

– Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you.

– Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself, nominate 11 blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed, and create 11 questions for your nominees. (Blogs must have 200 followers or less. Let the blogger know you have nominated them.)

– Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.

Responses to Are your twenties a joke…? from Leah, one half of SmartAssy:

1. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Nutella. I didn’t even have to think about that; I blinked and my fingers had typed it.

2.What celebrity did you have a crush on as a child?

I can’t remember any burning celeb crushes from my early childhood, but in my tween/teen years, I was all about Zach Braff and John Mayer because:

A. Garden State.

B. “Your Body is a Wonderland.”

3. What is your strangest habit?

When I eat an apple, the only part I don’t eat are the seeds. I’m weirdly self-conscious about this habit, so I throw away the core when I’m in public, but really, why doesn’t everyone do this? It’s basically the same as using every part of the buffalo.

4. What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Before I started dating my boyfriend, Jared, I didn’t know how to tell him that I liked him, so, naturally, I discussed this problem ad nauseam with my friends. One of them suggested, quite seriously, that I should tell him when we were both drunk.

I did not end up following this gem of advice. Common sense and the lessons of human history supported my decision.

5. What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Kind of generic, but bad T.V. My current obsession is “The Lying Game” on ABC Family. It’s so unrealistic, melodramatic, and just absurd, and if it’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

6. Are you a dog person or a cat person? (Or a fish person…?)

Dog person. They are such affection whores, and I love it.

7. What is the first thing you do when you walk in the door at the end of the day?

When I get home, I immediately take off whatever I’m wearing and change into lounging clothes. Comfort above all else.

8. What is the one task that you irrationally hate doing?

Grocery shopping. I know, feel sorry for me; I have to drive all the way to a store five minutes from my apartment in my reliable car and use money that I have enough of to buy a variety of delicious foods. It’s a hard life.

9. What has been your favorite age of your life so far?

In terms of fun alone, I would have to say age 20. That was a unique time in my life when I could play the part of studious co-ed by day and drunken idiot by night. Responsibility was measured in the number of classes I attended and weekends I avoided blacking out. I want to enjoy every stage of my life, but I don’t think it will ever get more carefree than that.

10. Which celebrity do people say you look like?

People rarely tell me I look like anyone famous. I don’t know whether that means I’m unique-looking or just homely, but I like to think it’s the former.

11. What do you love about writing?

I love how versatile writing is. I’ve used it in so many contexts throughout my life – school, work, “journaling” as a teen, and now on this blog. You can make whatever you want out of words, and that’s beautiful to me.

5 Random Facts About Me:

1. I love anything by Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Kerouac, and J.D. Salinger.

2. I’m obsessed with neutral tones. 90% of my wardrobe is gray, brown or “oatmeal.”

3. Whenever I hear/read a word I don’t know, I have to stop and look it up.

4. I love Long Islands, but they hate me.

5. If I ever have a daughter, I will name her Cecelia, after the Simon and Garfunkel song.

My Nominees:

– http://timesnewromannostalgia.com/

http://findingtiffanys.com/

http://lifeorsomethingaftercollege.com/

http://clairistotle.com/

http://montana05.wordpress.com/

Questions for My Nominees:

1. What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?

2. Would you take the position of president/prime minister of your country if it were offered to you?

3. What’s your favorite thing about yourself?

4. What (if any) movie always makes you cry?

5. Why did you start your blog?

<3

Leah Morris  (representing the SmartAssy duo)