THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH…IS DENMARK

denmark happy

Move over, Disney World. I know being the “happiest place on earth” is basically your tagline, but you’ve got no seat in the United Nations, so technically your slogan is libel. However, I do have a constant love affair with your dear movies so I won’t file anything against you.

Every year the UN published its World Happiness Report, and in honor of celebrating World Happiness Day this week (by wallowing in my Millennial mid-college crisis and day-drinking), I might as well find some happiness in the happiest country in the world– Denmark. Yes, Denmark, the home of the most miserable, suicidal teenager himself, Hamlet. There is even a word in their language that embodies the Danish culture of coziness and happiness, called hygge. In the American culture, the closest phrase equivalent to hygge is probably supersize me. The spirit of hygge is incomprehensible to the American culture being that the best way we feel happy is when we’re sitting alone on a Sunday night watching the latest episode of whatever we paused last week on Netflix. Denmark, however, is all about the happiness of being together with friends and family and the warm feeling you get when you’re drunk.

The countries in Scandinavia are all about its people. In New York City, trying to cross an intersection in Manhattan is the jungle equivalent of fighting for your own life. If it’s DON’T WALK, you can totally walk but at other people’s risk. Scandinavians are all about the social responsibility. They don’t lock their bikes. If no one locks a bike in Brooklyn for five minutes, it would already be sold on EBay in ten minutes or become an interpretive art piece at the MoMa in ten seconds. Biking is a way of life in Copenhagen, which makes it no surprise that it is the #1 Smartest City in the World, according to Fast Company. So they’re energy efficient and have a low carbon footprint. I’d like to see your SAT scores some time, Denmark. Oh, the US still ranks lower than Denmark in education.

There is no shame in conversation in Denmark which means that “small talk,” is a chance for you to finally say your age, how much you earn, and what you really think about Miley Cyrus. That’s all according to the humorous tales from the Xenophobe’s Guide to the Danes. After recently coming back from Denmark, my mindset didn’t change but I may have been a bit angry at the Danish for being just so damn happy.

Denmark’s happy. Norway’s happy. Sweden’s happy. That’s it. They’re all just happy. They love each other and find nirvana from just being around other people. They don’t have anything else to worry about. Americans are all just finding happiness, whatever that word means. It’s basically why everyone comes to America, is to find happiness. That’s the point of the American Dream, right? Only to find out that you’re on your own and you’ve got to find your own way yourself and know where you’re going, Alice. Maybe that’s too heavy a subject. I’ll save it for small talk the next time I go back to a coffee shop in Copenhagen.

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UGH, COLLEGE.

James Devaney

Over the past years of unwilling contact with other humans, I’ve learned (the hard way) of what not to talk about in a conversation, the “conversational taboo” if you will. To the universal list, we know its politics and religion, but did we ever think that Beyonce would enter that list? Unless you’re in a conversation with me, she is not.

In class learning to journalistically write about arts and culture, we were assigned to review Beyonce’s album (which I do on a regular basis anyway as my primary hobby).

In regards to Beyonce’s album, one kid claimed not being able to comfortably watch her music videos because they featured so many themes about “sex.” He then went on to criticize Beyonce for preaching feminist values, which he thought was contradicted by her revealing “too much skin.” So I said, “Who the fuck do you think you are, shithead?” Of course I didn’t say that, and I never would. But I certainly thought it.

He then claimed that women who “believe in feminism” (as if feminism was Santa Claus) should not show skin or be sexy. I then asked, “Why not?” to which he did not respond.

His completely naive and invalid argument, however, was made solely on the basis of personal judgement and stereotype. It is embarrassing that a supposedly educated student is allowed to make such asinine statements.

It turns out, that I would be the only unabashed Beyonce fan in the class and a vocal one at that, but I should not be the only who believes that women should have equal pay and wear La Perla lingerie at the same time. The exchange I had with this other student did not matter that it was about Beyonce, but rather how women are allowed to behave. Let’s just disregard the fact that he was speaking about Beyonce, but he could have had the same opinion or generalization about any woman.

People like this kid still exist.

He then asked, “Is Sasha Fierce her real name?”

Please stop.

10,000 Lessons From Haiyan

For readers of this blog, I appreciate your interest in my humorous (and sometimes ridiculous) cogitations that keep my world balanced. Then I remember that all the situations which I don’t tend to write about, due to their disinterest, make my world feel like its spinning out of orbit. But alas, this blog has helped me keep my feet on the ground.

In this crazy world in which we live, I am the Editor-In-Chief of a college newspaper and in addition to that, gruesome weather seems to happen too often. Below is an excerpt of a short piece I wrote for the newspaper with links on how you can donate to help disaster relief in the Philippines. You can participate by reading it first, then donating. Or the other way around.

By an accident of geography, Typhoon Haiyan passed through the Philippines after incubating in the largest ocean in the world and wrought havoc that was never seen before. Is this weather a foreshadowing of the future of our world? What is the future? Most importantly, is there a future for us?

Whatever the cause of the super typhoon is irrelevant, more so for the innocent victims who were living a sustainable life in the least developed part of the world. The reports and photos taken of the devastation is horrific to say the least and our hearts bleed for them. What is important, however, is what we as humans will do about it. Can we talk together about the future of climate change and these typhoons increasingly becoming the norm? We cannot have these 10,000 lessons to simply be forgotten.

Do the adults of this generation care to plan for the future, or have they accepted the fact that there is no future? Those planning to create a better world for us to inherit must learn to see beyond their lifetime.

For more information on how you can contribute to disaster response, click through the following links for lists of organizations:

How to Help Philippines Typhoon Victims | The New York Times

Typhoon Haiyan Relief | Clinton Global Initiative

Organizations Offering Relief to Typhoon Haiyan Survivors | NBC News

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MY LIFE-ALTERING PANTS (THAT NEED ALTERATIONS)

Life Altering Pants - HELP!

Last weekend, as I walked the glossy, waxed floors of Bloomingdale’s, I had no intention of purchasing anything, much like everyone else everywhere. Then my mom pointed to a colorful spread of striped sweaters in the Free People corner of the department store and exclaimed, “Oh, this is so you!” I took a quick glance at the mannequin wearing one of the displayed sweaters and my first thought was, “Yeah, it is.” Then my gut kicked in overdrive and my subconscious iconoclastic aspirations caused me to yell out, “Am I that predictable?!”

Throughout high school, I was struggling to be in fashion rather than finding my style. I subscribed to ELLE during my freshman year because I was mandated by the school magazine drive, but also to find out what I should be wearing that winter season. I, along with most girls, aspire to work in fashion the way all boys aspire to be cowboys and baseball players but settle to be a sports newscaster or something. I thought I would be the next Tavi Gevinson, but then I soon realized after reading my first issue of ELLE that all the avant garde clothes featured in editorials were not meant for 13-year-old me. Alas, I was unfulfilled with my wardrobe that was “so lacking of cool.” During that time, I had an utter contempt for fashion and its rather expensive schemes. I did, however, quickly understand fashion and trends by reading all the articles which gave me a detector for who was really keeping in style on the streets of New York.

It would only be a far-fetched dream of my 13-year-old broken-down-Converse-wearing-self to believe that my current college best friend would tell me that I should start a fashion blog. Now that I find opening my birchwood IKEA closet to select my day’s garments an actual party, I learn that I have become “predictable.” That’s not what I asked for! But maybe it is, when my first subscription to ELLE came in the mail. As my mom and I continued to the SALE racks of Bloomingdale’s, I spotted a pair of pants which I looked at for five seconds before realizing that I would never wear it. Being the supportive mother that she is, my mom tells me, “Those pants are cool.” And when a mom tells a girl that something is “cool,” sirens are supposed to be going off alarming the girl that it is in fact, “not cool.” I somehow reconsidered and took a second look at the dual-fabric pant saying, “But this is so not me,” to which my mom quickly whips a mildly teenager-ish, “So?”

Only in college did my sense of style finally arrive, much like a teenage girl having her first sip of unsupervised alcoholic drink with initial befuddlement, “So this is what it’s like.” I first walked into a J. Crew during the summer after high school when I assuredly called that store the mothership that I never knew was calling me. The only way to describe my current style would be Kennebunkport meets Williamsburg Farmer’s Market, with the occasional “villain in a John Hughes film.” From then on, my collection of button-down shirts ranging from shrunken ex-boyfriend to perfect-fit has grown beyond compare. I do daydream that if I were an unabashed risk-taker (and unbelievably wealthy) that my closet will replicate that of Beyonce’s, and maybe these pants that were paneled in linen fabric, fitted in jersey fabric on the back, and are “so not me” is a step toward that.

I bought the pants, but with a mild reluctance. It is currently hanging on my bedroom door, still with its various tags, and it is staring at me. Of course I Google the pants’ brand name to see what celebrities have worn it, as well as to validate my purchase. There in the vast wasteland of Google Images are Hilary Duff, Olivia Munn, Kristin Cavallari, among others. I think to myself, “Olivia Munn? She’s cool, I watch The Newsroom. But do I want to wear the same pants as Hilary, Olivia, and Kristin?” I examine its rustic-looking zippers and faded linen cloth, I imagine it something to be out of a 2008 issue of ELLE. I realize that they’re just pants. So I cut off the tags because that’s what Beyonce would want me to do, yet all I wanted was to escape the void of predictability.

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FASHION WEEK GUIDE FOR THE REGULAR GIRL

Fashion Week 2013

Being a Brooklyn resident and going to school in New York City are things that I can take for granted. For the past week, however, I would trade that special quality of mine for anything else. It’s the first week of September which means it’s time to head back to the bland hallways and classrooms of college, which already look exhausted to be there. What makes this process of readjustment even more difficult is seeing the sartorially dressed “weirdos” walking the cobblestoned streets of Brooklyn making their way into an Uber or 1 Train. Welcome to Fashion Week— when the morning commute looks like the title sequence to The Devil Wears Prada. All the girls dressed in Isabel Marant or carrying her grandmother’s old Louis– no one will know because together, they’re all giving you a brutal death stare ready to be photographed for your blog or whatever.

When I was a little girl, I would pass and stare with disdain at the white tents in Bryant Park, for always getting in my way when all I wanted to do was enjoy the park before school started. Now, all I want to do is get in. Years later, photographers are competing to merely get a shot of the girls who aren’t inside, but rocking a killer outfit outside. Who knows if she’s got an invite to Lincoln Center? Meanwhile if you take the G Train back to Brooklyn, yours truly is constantly refreshing Twitter and Instagram with anything containing #NYFW. I won’t say I’m obsessed, but I do have a fascination with fashion.

Maybe my current predilection for what comes down the runway has a connection with spending my entire life in private school, when I wore uniforms. Up until I graduated high school, D-Day stood for Dress Down Day. In 7th grade, I remember wearing a Beatles-yellow-submarine-type yellow coat from GAP for an entire school day because I hated the clothes I was wearing. And now all I want to do is leave my coat open to show off my graphic T. (Hello, Alexander Wang’s shirts marked Parental Advisory!)

Us (Band of) outsiders may or may not understand what goes on in keeping up with Fashion Week. It’s an enigma to some and Holy Week to others. How must we deal with this time of peril?  Here are some lessons for the regular girl when it comes to Fashion Week:

  • It’s important not to end up crying in fetal position, but do as those ladies with death stares do. Use the sidewalks and your school’s hallways as the runway. Rock that Jansport backpack like you just got on Dean’s List.
  • Pretend you’ve got Coco Rocha’s cheekbones and eat the onion bagel on your morning commute.
  • Grab your picnic blanket you used this summer, throw it on, and BOOM, you like you just walked out of Derek Lam’s collection!
  • Keep your iPhone camera on standby because you never know when another fashion blogger is going to want to take a snap of your sweatpants messy bun as you head to school in the morning.
  • Did you see David and Harper Beckham front row at Victoria Beckham’s show? O.M.G. This isn’t really a tip, but if you can find yourself a supportive hot dad, then he’ll be your ultimate accessory.

And so, I’ll wear my Ferragamo’s to school to compensate for my absence at Lincoln Center. People will stare, but isn’t that the point of fashion?

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Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com

THE GREATER FOOL: ECONOMICS OR ENGLISH?

diarySince starting this blog, I have come up with a few conclusions about the blogging world. It consists of many bathroom breaks to make up for the lack of exercise, writing, checking the fridge, writing, and avoiding the Sun. I started writing when I was in First Grade, with my first essay being about my dream to travel to “Paris and Europe to walk the campgrounds.” As I progressed in elementary school, I wrote poetry and kept journals, mostly as a way to express my joy and vent my “frustrations.”

In 4th grade, my mom bought me a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank which completely changed the way I wrote in my diary and (secret) Xanga. I realized that Anne Frank probably did not know when she was writing in her diary that people in the year 2013 would be quoting her. She is the reason why I was careful not to write in my diary about school crushes or arguments with my parents because there was a small hope within me that my diary will someday be a time capsule. Perhaps I was a fool to believe that, but it made my journal entries more well written, hilarious, and honestly naive. Although I thought myself as a 10-year-old with a thousand affectations, I was convinced that I would be a writer.

When high school arrived, I lost myself in the world of selfies and sitting at cafeteria tables exchanging banalities. Then in college I spent my first year “UNDECLARED” but eventually majoring in Economics. Many people begin studying Economics to eventually be welcomed at the gates of Wall Street, but I believed that it would be a gateway to…frankly, I’m still figuring that out.

One theory (out of a multitude) that I did learn this year from my Econ class was the “Greater Fool.” It is the theory that a person would make a risky investment with the assumption that there will be a greater fool who will be willing to buy into it at a higher price. In simpler terms as Aaron Sorkin explained it in The Newsroom, “It’s a patsy. For the rest of us to profit, we need a greater fool, someone who will buy long and sell short.” Perhaps I am the greater fool for starting a blog with the belief that I will attract readers to my site. Perhaps the readers of this blog are the greater fool for buying into something that is not even valuable in the first place…but eventually will be.

The other day, I uncovered one of my many old diaries that I wrote in when I was at the great age of 10. I read from it aloud because, like Shakespeare, my literary works are always better understood when spoken. I started to recite the first few sentences, but then I immediately stopped when I started laughing and crying out of embarrassment. Its as if I was reading something by a completely different person. When I finally finished reading, I discovered that I found more joy reading my old diary than any of my other attempts of written work at my current age, but maybe I’m being too hard on myself.

“You should have been there! OH! It was wonderful! Speaking in front of everybody– AGAIN!…While walking down the staircase I almost had a heart attack because my heart was beating fast. I skipped [two] steps and I almost tripped…Now, when I remembered this morning that I might, MIGHT!, talk on the lectern, I didn’t calm down!!!…I kept on smiling [on the lectern] and was about to laugh but I covered it with a cough in the microphone!”

I want to feel that way every time I read something written by myself, and I hope you do too.

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HOW TO (SORT OF) START A BLOG

SUBWAYI’m seated in 14A of Delta 6205 en route to Madison, Wisconsin accompanying my mom on a work trip. If you had told me at the beginning of 2013 that my great, big summer vacation was a fully accommodated trip to America’s Dairyland, I wouldn’t believe you. Now, 30,000 feet in the air, I still can’t believe it, but everything is going to be okay. I am going to start a blog. It is going to be my magnum opus– the thing that will define my 20’s and all its mistakes. It will gain the vaguest amount of popularity, which will eventually be compiled into a New York Times Bestseller. Laptop sitting on the tray in front of me, earphones blasting Beyonce, and Delta-brand cookies consumed, I have nothing to write about.

This is my chance to be “one of those writers” whose only time to write and relax is on the plane; however this is being made extremely difficult by the mother-daughter duo sitting in 13A and 13B. From what I can identify through the small gap in front of me, it is typical mother-daughter bondage. The heavily eye-lined daughter decides to skip the complementary drinks and/or pretzels, salted peanuts, or cookies, which only means she is probably in high school and there will be one more package of cookies for me when the stewardess comes back. I will never pass up the opportunity for free food, even when it is only two ounces of canned orange juice. Out of her giant canvas bag, the mother has just pulled out what looks like an information packet from…University of Wisconsin. Of course! Her daughter is attending Freshman Orientation at University of Wisconsin.

For my Freshman Orientation, I simply took a 30-minute drive from my parents’ house to the college. Proudly and fully clothed in J. Crew, Orientation was my chance to be the gregarious and seemingly intelligent woman I think I am. I participated in all the group ice-breakers. I stood in a circle with all the freshmen who I shared a birth month with. The moderator told us to walk to the other side of the circle if the following conditions he yelled into the microphone applied to us. “Your favorite color is blue!” My favorite color is yellow. I stand still. “You live in Brooklyn!” I walk to the other side of the circle and shake hands with other people who cross my path. “You pee in the shower!” Everyone nervously laughs. I admittedly walked across. Because in college, I am going to be this outwardly open person. Ten minutes later, I meet up with two girls I went to highschool with. The coolest of the three of us says, “Oh my God. You totally didn’t walk when the guy asked who pees in the shower, right? That was so gross!” I denied, “Ugh, of course not!” Thus repeating my highschool life as a liar. Thanks, guy. Was that ice breaker really supposed to make all of our college fears disappear?

I shouldn’t admit to urinating in the shower, especially in my blog. Civilized people don’t like that, particularly the New York Times Bestselling people. My parents are reading this. I need to start using big words like pedantic or esoteric. I should probably look up their definitions first before I start sounding affectatious (if that’s even a word). The passenger behind me just pulled down their tray table. I turn around and it’s a mother and son. She’s wearing skinny jeans with her legs up on her seat, while her son bops his head to his black Beats by Dre headphones. Is he younger than me? The mother gets up to use the bathroom and notices the mother sitting in front of me reading University of Wisconsin materials. Her Beats by Dre’d son is also heading to Freshman Orientation. They share a nervous laughter and a unison “Oh my God!” So he is younger than I am. Both mothers begin chatting. “This better be worth it, right?,” says Skinny Jeans Mom. “It better be. It’s $50,000 a year. And she even wants me to get her the new MacBook,” Skeptical Mom points to Eye-Liner Daughter.

I got accepted into a $60,000+ University, which has recently garnered a spot on the List of Most Expensive Universities in the United States. I ended up going to a college where I received a full scholarship and the only money I spend is on overpriced CLIF bars (White Chocolate Macadamia, of course). My parents and I did the college tour thing. Being the outrageously outspoken person he is, my Dad took full advantage of every student tour guide. Interrogating them beyond wit’s end with questions fit for a Congressional Hearing. “You’re a Senior, so you probably have a secure job now, right?” “You’re telling me that a student picks my daughter’s roommate?” “Can I speak with the Dean, please?” In retrospect, I would still be highly embarrassed. And if a high school student’s parent were to ask me the same questions my Dad did, I would have jumped ship, aborted, and declared Def Con 1 on my university.

I need to focus! Concentrating on work seems so impossible when there are adorable, nervous college freshmen sitting in front of and behind me. Three years ago, when I was a college freshman, I thought I would be cool enough so that I wouldn’t have to start a blog, publishing angry words and feelings into cyberspace. Three years later, looking at a couple of teens who think they are too cool for each other, heading to live somewhere that is a three-hour flight away from their parents. These hopeful teens may read this blog or need my help one day…

“Make sure your seat and folding trays are in the full upright position as we prepare for landing.”

Wait! I have not written anything worthy of the New York Times Bestseller List yet! Back at the beginning, with a blank page. My bets are that the girl in 13A and the boy in 15B are definitely going to hook up. Meanwhile, the pathetic one in 14A attempts to write a blog that is probably not going to happen. I could use more cookies from the stewardess.

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