Friday, March 14, 2014

I've Been Drinking My Coffee Wrong: A Scientifically Sound Study on Caffeine

Bizarre discovery:

Today, for the first time in my life, I started taking my coffee black.

And after years and years (since 15 years old, actually) of drinking my coffee with a hefty dose of cream and sugar and never once feeling a caffeine buzz from coffee - I shot through the roof with energy. It was instant, it was intense, it was nothing I've ever felt - including from energy drinks, which just make me shaky.

I've never heard or read anywhere that drinking coffee loaded with sugar and fatty creamer could alter the way it affects a person, but according to my research of one morning drinking 3 cups of straight black coffee versus 12 years of drinking six cups of cream & sugar coffee per work day, I conclude that black coffee efficiently delivers unadulterated caffeine to the body, while loading it down with sugar and fat can negate its effects.

And if I'm the last person to realize this... well the phooey.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Have Writer's Block

... and you're the victim!


In college, my understanding of what Writer's Block meant wasn't that you are incapable of writing in this condition. It's that you are incapable of writing anything worth a damn.

When I'd sit down to write a paper, or to journal, or to add to my "novel" (hahah... hahahaha...) I would find myself just spewing out page upon page of just absolute dredge. Sometimes, I could commit as many as 20-30 pages of totally incoherent and pointless bull malarky to paper before I'd accidentally stumble upon a pertinent thesis worth expounding upon.

I anticipate that my first 20-30 blog posts will be just like this: Just the insufferable issuance from the sewers of my out-of-practice mind in the endeavor to find something decent to write about as I re-hone my writing skills.

I have about six drafts in my dashboard of just the most awful blabberings about things like marriage, and Carnaval Austin, and drinking wine, and fancy dinners, and how much I dislike people in general... And they're all way worse than yesterday's published entry.

So... look forward to that.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Generation Whatevs: A Catastrophe

On this lovely Presidents' Day, I find myself free to roam the city. The weather is amazing. The breeze is mild, the sun is shining, perspiration is a distant memory. The bars are open. The yuppies and hippies and hipsters and hobos and suits and skanks and Gamine ladies descend upon Rainey Street.

I found a seat at Bar 96 and here I plan to write and smoke and indulge in the lull of people-watching until it's time to rejoin the world. All around me, couples, friends gather to do exactly what I'm doing: Enjoy each other through a window.

Everyone sees the world through a different lens. But I'm suddenly aware that that lens has now become literal. (No, I don't mean glasses, dork. I mean the lens of personal, portable technology.)

Since I'm out alone, and since my goal today was to publish another blog post, I will largely exempt myself from my own judgment right now. As I look around, I see smiling faces, I hear lots of chatter and excitement. But one thing I don't see is eye contact.

A woman directly in front of me reclines in the sun, stretching her pasty white legs out to soak in some much needed vitamin D. She has cast aside her Michael Kors slides and tilted her UT baseball cap up to allow a sliver of sun to hit her chin beneath enormous Chanel sunglasses. Aaaaah, that's living, no? Across from her, her obvious significant other, in nearly matching fraternity alum duds of khaki shorts and a pinstriped blue button down, sleeves rolled up to the elbow, stares intently at his iPhone typing with both thumbs. They seem completely content and happy with their time together. She chews her cheek and stares around dully. Every once in a while he looks up and mumbles "Mmmhmm" to assure her he gives a damn that she exists and that he, too, is enjoying their time out on this gorgeous day.

Behind this couple, a table of three women primp their hair and reapply heavy layers of lip gloss while checking Facebook and intimating to each other what each of them can clearly read for themselves on the phones they are each holding. In fact, they're communicating via commenting on the same status on Facebook and the cackling in unison at what no one said aloud. Some poor sap named Sheila wore an atrocious dress to a party she wasn't wanted at over the weekend and someone's boyfriend made the mistake of admiring. Oh. Em. Gee. They now each have their cell phones to their ears enjoying jovial conversations with anyone but the people in front of them.

Two sorority girls enter the bar now. They are wearing matching skirts in different colors. So individual. So confident. So...what.

To my left a hippy absentmindedly pets his Great Dane's head while at least 2 feet of bleach blond hair blow in the wind. He's the only person here not plugged into technology.

This is my people. Generation Whatevs. So disconnected to the people around us that we don't even know how to relate anymore. We can get dressed up, get our gear, get out on a beautiful day in the company of "friends" and never once have an actual conversation with them - because when you're not actually communicating via technology, but all you can talk about is the communication going on via technology, you're not actually communicating in any valuable way. We all know we're plugged in. But we think that admitting it is enough to overcome it. It doesn't seem to be important enough to us to actually do the work to switch it off and become real people again.

I'm largely guilty of being addicted to social media and to my personal technology. I will check Facebook every few minutes if I'm not actively engaged in some project. I receive push notifications from Yelp and know where all of my 500+ connections on the site are checking in. If I want to laugh, I check out Buzzfeed or or xkcd. And as a consequence, I find that when I turn everything off and sit face to face with someone, it always starts off with an awkward, rusty "So... what's new?" followed by painful silences and forced observations (yes, the weather is quite mild. Just as mild as it was five minutes ago when we shook hands.). It takes a lot of digging to get to anything tangible or reach a plane on which we can relate anymore.

I find it sad. I wonder how to protect my daughter from it. If my generation - one which didn't actually have cell phones as a general rule in high school - one which saw the creation and demise of MySpace and the creation and world domination of Facebook - if my generation is already so far gone, how can the next even have a glimmer of hope? I can put it off as long as possible by being an overbearing controlling parent and not giving her a cell phone until she's at least 14 and by monitoring and limiting her social media access. And I fully plan to do this for a gazillion reasons from predators to privacy to reputation to preserving her ability to actually make human connections. But I grew up completely without having instant global social interaction at the tip of my fingers and now I feel crippled without it. It's going to be even more defining in her childhood and life.

I hear the conversations now flowing freely all around me. And clearly even when the phones are put down, the laptops closed, there is a deafening clamor of vapid nothingness in the content of what I'm hearing. I hear language and vocabulary diminished. I hear crass humor. What I hear is trite, impersonal and largely related to pop culture. Is this all we are? Have we simply become an army of young adults who preface everything with "Well, so this is what I just tweeted..." or "So my status update this morning was..." - we just walk around regurgitating information, hitting "like" and repeating ourselves, and doing so with very poor grammar.

I'm reminded of a time in high school where my very Puritan mother disliked the assigned reading material (Bless Me, Ultima) and I was given an alternative reading assignment: The Sword of Honor. Hahahahahhahahaha. Thanks, Mom. Evelyn Waugh can construct a sentence, that's what I learned from this assignment. And he can write many many many pages of sentences. Around 700 or so pages. I had always been a reader. Soon after this assignment we read Hawthorne's A Scarlet Letter. I'm sure everyone with a public school education can say "Yes, I read that." and then tell you virtually nothing about it besides some girl was slutty and everyone was mean to her for it. But what I took away from these two books, and from my love of reading in my youth, specifically, was an ability to create complex sentence structures.

And the more I use social media as my primary form of communication with my friends, family and the world, the more I see that once well-honed talent diminish.

See... ^ that's not a proper paragraph. A paragraph has to be at least two sentences. 

My observation today is that due to a general lack of interest in reading literature, we are less capable of formulating intelligent sentences, having complex thoughts, analyzing the information that actually is put in front of it and applying it in any way besides basic regurgitation. Add to that a general Narcissism inborn in all Americans and a middle-class apathy towards others, compounded by the fact that MTV raised us and Reality TV, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have all convinced us that we are our own celebrity, and voila. The present catastrophe. An entire generation of self centered, shallow people who don't talk good and who talk at each other instead of to each other.

A social media "friend" of mine recently stated that he refuses to touch his phone or answer a call when he's in the company of friends or at dinner. Simply enough, I think that's exactly the place to start undoing the damage we've done to ourselves, and soften the blow on at least our contribution to the next generation, our offspring.

There. I said it.

I don't have time to proof read or edit this - I just got a notification of a Yelp compliment and need to go see how awesome people think I am while I enjoy this gorgeous holiday weather. Excuse me.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blah, Blag, Blog

Are you there, Internet? It's me, Bethany.

We haven't spoken directly in a while, so this feels pretty awkward now. Should we shake hands? How are you? Never mind.

I'm here because apparently blogs are back "in". Or they never went "out". Or something. And I keep reading online magazine articles about marriage and kids and politics, and I keep seeing people's blogs pop up on my Facebook newsfeed, and my eyes hurt from rolling so much, and I keep thinking, "Wow, I'm so much more interesting and totally know SO many more things about stuff than all these people!" Naturally, I decided I should be sharing my treasure trove of experience and wit and wisdom and screw-ups and lessons with the world, if only to combat the banal blathering of the general Interwebs population. You can thank me later.

I had a blog back in college. I saved a number of the posts in an email folder - Man, I was so proud of them. I went back some years later to reread them. Cringe. I wanted to puke, and cry, and bury my head in the sand, and light my computer on fire and hurl it out the window.

Older Me, reading what it was like to be - and think like - Younger Me.

It was just so sad. I was just so stupid.

In a few hours I'll probably look back at feel the exact same way about this blog. But, screw it. I already spent 3 1/2 minutes choosing the Awesome, Inc. design layout and uploaded this awesome Kristen Wiig reaction face. Too late to turn back now.

While getting this started, I've been considering things like "Why am I doing this again?" and "Who in the hell is going to read this?" and "Isn't it just an exercise in Narcissism that we now publish our diaries online for the world to read, thinking that our opinions on organic versus processed food, on the state of the union, on which celebrity looks better in that dress, carry more weight than anyone else's and people's lives aren't complete and their daily decision-making process is fully hindered until they get our spin on things?" The answer to all three questions is simply: Shrug.

I can't tell you what to expect from me now that I'm here - other than that you will possibly be entertained, and at my highest hope is that at times you find reasons to pause and reflect on whatever awesomeness I just threw down, whenever I do throw it down. I'd like to share a bit of myself with those who would value my experiences and opinions, and at least a blog offers a buffet-style take it or leave it platform where what I think isn't being shoved in your face, unless that's what you want. And in the very least, writing helps me get the crazy out. So, thank you in advance for this free therapy. And, enjoy.