Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What I Learned in College

So that's all, folks. I'm done. Over. No more staying up until three in the morning alternating between writing papers and watching a montage of romantic airport scenes. Now I can stay up until three in the morning watching a montage of romantic airport scenes and calling it "research" for my pending TV-writing career, when I should be applying for "real" jobs" whilst going to comedy clubs to "network" with strangers.

In the meantime, I don't think there's anything wrong with looking back at my (admittedly weird) college experience and figuring out what the heck I learned in the past three-and-a-half years, at two different schools.

1) If you want the "full college experience," why not go to both a small private Lutheran school and a large public university?
It's the best of both worlds! I got to frolic around CLU's precious little campus and experience dorm life in Thousand Oaks AND enjoy the modern beauty that is the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and experience downtown Phoenix. I also have two very different sets of friends from both schools. It's like having divorced parents! In all seriousness, I don't regret going from CLU to ASU and back to CLU, because I met such fabulous people along the way and I finally accepted what I wanted to do with my life. I must warn you, though, that this one might be slightly annoying to your parents.

2) If you want to make friends, scope out the bitches.
You know those obnoxious girls who spend half the class snickering and making sarcastic comments? I am those girls. All of them. I quickly assess the sense of humor of those around me and decide with whom I will exchange (what we believe to be) witty banter with for the semester and will help me draw beautiful portraits of the professor. Sadly, these friends can't be found in every class, meaning the snarky comments often need to be kept where they actually belong - in your head.

3) Sometimes the best classes have nothing to do with your major.
I always found it a bit disconcerting that some of my favorite classes were gen eds. Even more pleasantly surprising is that, despite my evil atheism, two of my favorite classes at CLU happened to be their required religion courses. (It helps being taught by a heavily caffeinated gay Catholic). I also enjoyed my close-knit summer biology class and my Political Science class at ASU, proving that no, gen eds aren't just useless fillers; sometimes they're even better than the crap they require for your major.

4) And sometimes they do.
I complained like crazy about the suicide-inducing lit classes I had to take as an English major, but I also got to take Creative Writing classes, including one in which all we did was stand up in front of the class and read the stories we'd written. For someone as attention-starved as I am, this was obviously my dream come true. What better way to earn an 'A' than to spend every class period making your peers laugh with/at something you've written? (And listening to their stories, too, of course). Those were the days, I tell you.

5) In college, you can cuss like a f*eaking pirate!
In my screenwriting class last semester, my lovely professor talked about how "back in the day," he would never use the word "fuck" in front of the class, but now it is accepted as the norm. This may reveal how secretly un-classy I am, but I love this new development. My professors' dropping of F- bombs and use of words like "bullshit" makes me feel like they're more genuine people. It also makes me feel more comfortable when I feel the need to yell, "You asshole!" across the classroom. Which sometimes just happens.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Label Maker

We were always told in elementary school that "labeling" people and putting them into categories is bad and wrong and will get you sent to detention. "Labeling" people reflects the tendency for human beings to put things into categories in order to make the scary, chaotic world easier to understand.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's label people! But in a fun way! Here is a list of friends everybody should have, based on a fictional character:

The Drama Queen

These people are useful because if you're having any "personal problems," check them at the door because these folks will engulf you in their own melodramatic issues. Rachel Berry is the perfect example of this the drama queen, as her own obsession with achieving her goals outweighs all other problems persisting in the world, including global warming and flip flops. The best part about the dramatic types? Because they think they're the protagonists in their own MTV reality shows, they provide writer types (like myself) with ample material for their sitcom!
Requirements: self-absorbed, but endearingly determined

The Comic Relief

"Oh, I get it. I'm just here for the comic relief." - Seth Cohen
Chandler Bing and Seth Cohen are the perfect examples of people who are perhaps not the best sources of wisdom, but certainly the best sources of comic relief. They're self-deprecating, self-aware and always capable of providing the voice of reason in a way that's funny but not the least bit preachy or annoying. They can often be found mumbling indiscernible comments under their breath, so ask them to speak up if you want to hear the funny. In the words of Chandler Bing, "I'm not great with the advice. Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?... Cheese?"
Requirements: quick-witted, not afraid to be honest, able to poke fun at oneself

The Scapegoat

Need to blame something on someone? Need to tell somebody bad news but don't want to do it yourself? Need to vent without fear of judgment? Then break out your handy dandy scapegoat! This person is entertaining because he/she/it is a bit slow, but also quite useful! Patrick Star is the perfect example of a scapegoat, because even though Spongebob's not a genius, he has Patrick by his side to make him appear smarter in comparison. Plus, when Spongebob is having a problem, he can tell Patrick without feeling self-conscious.
Requirements: mental capacity of a four-year-old, obedience , a chronic deer-in-the-headlights expression

The Pretentious Hipster

Everybody needs one of these in their circle to make errbody else feel shallow and inferior. This person typically likes Arcade Fire, hates Twilight and can often be confused for a homeless person. Judy Funnie of Doug is the perfect example of such a specimen. She like poetry, interpretive dance and wearing sunglasses/berets at all times. So why would you want to surround yourself with chumps like Judy Funnie? The pretentious hipsters always know where to eat (despite their typically scrawny frames), where to get a good latte and which books to read/movies to see. Real-life examples include every Journalism student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and my boyfriend.
Requirements: has a blog, shops at thrift stores, says things like, "Goodwill never has anything."

The Awkward Weirdo

Feeling a little lame there, sunshine? Spend a few minutes with that awkward weirdo friend of yours. His/her general lack of social skills and failure to adhere to a basic hygiene regimen will be sure to make you feel cooler than ever in comparison. The ultimate awkward weirdo, Samuel "Screech" Powers may be more intelligent than Zack and Slater, but his obnoxious personality and creepy obsession with Lisa ultimately determined his lower-than-low social status. Because losers like Screech are usually smart, they're great advice-givers, and always entertaining to watch when they're attempting to interact with other humans.
Requirements: awkward demeanor, inability to form coherent sentences, unkempt appearance

Collect all five!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Art of Being Lame

There are people out there who go out of their way every day to appear cool. They, not unlike the honey badger, don't give a shit. They don't text other people back, they use words like "chill," and they generally go out of their way (without looking like they're going out of their way) to look like they don't care about absolutely anything.

I'm pretty sure I do the opposite.

I, not unlike nerd king Cory Matthews, try to make everyone happy, I use the word "chill" when I'm quoting cool people and I go out of my way to care about absolutely everything, to an unhealthy extent. I realize whining about being such a caring person sounds like fake humility, but it is positively shocking how many people value their own images over everything else. Seriously, I think there's an epidemic among my friends. They must be saved!

Now don't get me wrong. I like these people. I'm even in a publicly-known relationship with one of them. I just don't understand the point of being cool when being lame is so much more fun. Why? Well, if you ever do anything awkward or embarrassing (i.e. everything I've ever done in my entire life), you have an excuse: YOU'RE A LAME-O. There's no need to worry about salvaging any reputation because that IS your reputation. The "others" expect nothing less.

How does one even go about being lame? I have some suggestions that have been fully tested to ensure maximum lameness:

1) Make jokes nobody understands.

This is my specialty. What's great about making jokes that nobody understands is that when nobody laughs, you can justify it by claiming that the joke was "way over his/her head" because obviously it was HILARIOUS. When I took dance in high school, I was under the impression that this girl thought I was hysterical, but I was later told that she didn't understand a single thing I had ever said to her. Lesson learned? Save the jokes for the AP kids, ya numbskull. Another thing people don't always understand? Sarcasm. It's the refuge for losers, and it's a great way to make other people think you're lame but still give yourself a false sense of superiority.

2) Be really bad at "networking."

I put "networking" in quotations because that's how much I hate the word. Apparently when you aspire to be a screenwriter, you have to spend a lot of time mingling with Hollywood People. Despite the fact that I'm a snobby leftist vegetarian, I don't do well with these people. I recently went to an improv show alone because I'm an indefreakinpendent woman (also, my boyfriend was working that night), had to switch seats twice because I was all by myself, and had no idea how to say anything to anyone that didn't make me sound like a total nerdasaurus. So, abominable social skills = essential in the quest to become lame.

3) Dress like you don't smoke pot. (Also, don't smoke pot.)

On two separate occasions, I have been told that I don't "look like" I use recreational drugs. Both of these people said this in a weirdly condescending manner, but there really is no higher compliment. Yes, I did indeed look in the mirror before I left my hut today, thank you. What does one wear to dress like a lame-o? Lots of cardigans, dresses, Peter Pan collars and animal sweaters. Just think: What would a five-year-old wear? Or: What would Rachel Berry wear? The answer is not a boring flannel or a tank top and shorts. IT'S JUST NOT.

Now here are some things you should not do in order to be lame and maintain your cool image:

Get embarrassed really easily, don't carry around stuffed animals, get invited to parties. Also, ensure your image remains untarnished by references to anyone uncool because members of the Cool Police are watching you.

But they're not! They don't even exist! I would be in jail for life by now! It's going to be okay!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Are Holidays Supposed to be Ironic?


Ruh-roh. Time for another petulant post reeking of cynicism and liberal bias. Drivers of big trucks, there is still time to hit that 'back' button, because I am about to list some reasons as to why I am not particularly jazzed about the Fourth of July.

1) Obligatory Ironic Patriotism

I've rung up several imported patriotic T-shirts over the last few weeks, and while I always appreciate a good oxymoron, it kills me to know that Americans are willing to buy clothing from countries that treat their sweatshop workers like slaves in order to show pride for their own country. Would it kill these people to throw in a few extra dollars to support the domestic economy and not be decked out in unintentional irony on the Fourth?

2) I hate barbecues.

This isn't entirely shocking considering the whole vegetarian lifestyle thingy, but it's not just the prominence of meat (and the smell of meat, and the fact that it touches everything else on the grill) that makes me shudder. Barbecues involve cooking/eating outside (mmm, flies), the consumption of beer, the possibility of children drowning, and that daunting task of maintaining an appetite in the omnipresence of various animals being consumed and mandals being worn. I'll just summarize with my semi-sarcastic motto for this one: I'm too classy for that shit.

3) Fireworks aren't thrilling except at Disneyland.

Without the epic-sounding music and castle in the background, fireworks shows can be difficult to get through. I watch them out of obligation, in the same way I'd watch Larry King because one never knew when it'd be his last interview. But I'm always waiting for that grand finale. And it's never that grand.

4) Weird Social Pressures

Frequently asked question this weekend: "What are you doing for the Fourth?" Frequent answer: "Why does everyone keep asking me that?! #facepalm" There's a reason people tend to get depressed around the holidays. There are expectations involved. Everything is supposed to be awesome. And if you're not living with family, holidays (as in "long weekend" holidays) become awkward and kind of irrelevant. Example: My boyfriend suggested I find a "Fourth of July-themed episode of a show to watch." P.S. THERE AREN'T ANY.*

5) It's supposed to be Independence Day, dagnabbit!

I should really be all over this secular unholiday, but it can be difficult to celebrate a country that maintains prehistoric values. It's 2011 and we still have capital punishment and there's no federal marriage equality? That's ridonkulous. And that's why I'll be wearing black today.

*Except Magnum, P.I., apparently.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

An Ode to Coffee

Don't worry. I'm not really going to write an ode. I did receive a 'B+' in Poetry, after all. I'm here to defend coffee against those people. You know whom I'm talking about. The haterz (yes, with a 'z') who insist, "Coffee stains your teeth," "Coffee stunts your growth," "Coffee makes you anxious," blah blah blah. Sometimes these Debbie Downers come in the form of a parent, a friend, or an outrageously pretentious boyfriend. But I certainly believe that the benefits of the most wonderful thing in existence outweigh the negative effects.

The magical substance known as coffee prevents all kinds of diseases AND improves short-term memory and reaction time. Long-term AND short-term benefits? What poison! According to this CNN article, coffee is also the beverage of choice for people of higher incomes. Why? Because coffee helps them get stuff done!

Okay, that may be my own bias showing, but speaking from my own experience, I would be way less productive as a human being if it weren't for coffee. I got started on these lovely canned iced coffees to help me write about 1984 my senior year of high school, and I never looked back. Now I don't even take credit for any work I complete. I didn't write my final paper for Shakespeare; that giant-sized vanilla iced coffee from It's a Grind did.

A waste of money, you say? I consider my coffee habit an investment. One day, I hope to be on the writing staff of a totally awesome TV series. To accomplish this, I need to write a crapload of spec scripts that I have to be awake in order to write. That's where Coffee comes in. (My mother is reading this and shaking her head.) I may be losing money (and sleep) now, but the amount of work I produce while "under the influence" makes it a worthy bargain.

Coffee may cause anxiety, but when you have a paper due the next day, perhaps a little anxiety is needed to get it done. There's a reason people procrastinate: they need the pressure as a motivation! As long as the anxiety is being directed towards a good cause, such as completing homework or exercising more efficiently, I say bring it on.

Some haterz claim that coffee sucks because it's addictive. Sure, they may cause withdrawal headaches and one can become dependent on its magical powers, but there are a lot worse addictive habits. I'd rather be a fast-talking caffeine addict than a grown-up Stephanie Tanner. A caffeine addiction is kid stuff in comparison!

So fellow coffee enthusiasts, feel better knowing that I, Random Girl Who Figured Out How to Make a Blog, approve of your lifestyle. (What a relief, right?) So what are you waiting for? There's an overpriced coffee beverage out there with your name on it. Really! Your name is actually ON it.
Too-late disclaimer: This post was written under the influence of coffee.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Appealing to a New Demographic

I am not a style blogger. I don't even know what a blog is. However, betwixt my obnoxious rants, I would like to include some visual elements to make this "blog" more aesthetically pleasing to the hipster assholes who "stumble upon" it. That means pictures of me, looking all cool and whimsical and fancy and whatever.

The first post in the series, which I'll title I Make My Boyfriend Take Pictures of Me in a Scenic Environment, features photos of my recent excursion at a local nameless park near my school.


I've worn my beloved grey cardigan for four days without washing it. I probably smell like wet panda bears.

They're Ray Bans. They're teal. #stuffwhitepeoplelike


That's my body. Pink shorts. Gloomy day. Probably cheered a lot of folks up wearin' these babies.


How very '80s of me. How hip am I?


"See, duckies are good, 'cause not only do they give you that non-threatening sense of security, but you can feed 'em crackers and you can ride 'em."


All of my clothing and accessories were retrieved from a dumpster.


Check out those dogs! They're swimming! Splish splash!


Gossip Girl

Monday, June 6, 2011

Girls Just Wanna...Settle Down? (WTF!)

Who knew that (quasi-)profound thinking could arise out of a viewing of Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion? (I did, actually. This may explain why I am not well-liked among my English professors…)

Romy and Michele should be required viewing for anyone who is witnessing their former high school classmates marry off and procreate and wonders why the hell they’re throwing away their lives so quickly. For reaffirmation of the fact that these people are nuts, watch this film.

For any (totally uninformed) people out there who are not familiar with the plot, the film follows two fun-loving, fashionable 28-year-olds who escaped Arizona after high school to live in Los Angeles. Despite the fact that Romy is a cashier at a car dealership and Michele is unemployed, they are perfectly happy living the carefree single life. That is until they run into (the spectacular) Heather Mooney, a former classmate and discover that their high school reunion is two weeks away. Feeling insecure about their lack of impressive jobs or significant others, Michele tries to find a job while Romy searches for potential boyfriends. They both fail in these endeavors and eventually turn on each other. When they get to the reunion and find that the ladies of their school’s A-group are all married, pregnant and miserable, they realize that their lives were not so bad after all.

What does all of this have to do with anything that is culturally relevant at the moment? My Facebook feed, mostly inhibited by the class of 2008, is currently vomiting up wedding plan discussions, engagement announcements and creepy photos of couples in trees, documenting a disturbing trend of college-aged, barely-old-enough-to-drink adults getting hitched before they even have legitimate jobs. And it gets worse. Sometimes they even reproduce. CHILDREN. Maybe it’s because I’m sitting here watching Spongebob Squarepants and drinking apple juice, but I cannot fathom how anyone would want to be responsible for raising (“like we’re chickens or something” /lizziemcguirequote) children at this point in our lives.

If one can learn anything from ‘90s Lisa Kudrow flicks, it’s the importance of realizing that impressing people is useless because all that matters is that you’re having fun and enjoying life, so there is nothing wrong with living in LA with your best friend in your twenties and working on finding your niche rather than settling down with a not-very-interesting guy and never leaving a town full of big trucks and small minds.

This future?

Or this?

You know how I roll.

Of course, to each his (or her) own. As Romy asserts, you don't have to give a flying fuck what I think, because as demonstrated in the following clip, Romy and Michele certainly don't.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Operation Ethical Fashion

Summertime is supposed to be a time to experiment, right? Well, even if it isn't, that's what I'm doing. With clothes, I mean. For this entire summer (at least), I will not purchase any item of clothing that was not made in good ol' US of A. No label will go unchecked before I even consider a purchase.

Why take on such a difficult task? ABC News says that 98% of clothing purchased in America is imported from other countries. I'm not exactly a flag-waving, "God bless America" type myself, but I'm all for supporting local designers and manufacturers. Plus, I'm not a big fan of the sexual harassment, verbal abuse, ridiculous hours and extremely low wages the sweatshop workers who make most of our clothing (in countries like China, Vietnam, Bangladesh) are often faced with. Unless labor laws are suddenly adhered to and workers are being treated better, I am going to steer away from any clothing made from outside of the U.S.

This is no easy feat, as everything I am currently wearing was probably made by "tiny brown hands" (30 Rock reference). If you investigate a little more thoroughly, however, there are plenty of totally cute either locally-made or at least domestically-made options out there. When it comes to online shopping, I simply type in "made in USA" in the search bar (at ModCloth, for example) so I know my only options are all safe buys. An even better idea is purchasing more handmade items because I know that the designer actually cares about the product, plus I'm supporting people who truly love what they do and rely on loyal customers for their income. Fabulous handmade items can be found on Etsy, like this pretty dress from Crumpet Clothing, and this awesome hand-sewn, hand-printed tee from Leroy McGregor. And why buy mass-produced jewelry when handmade, locally-designed pieces, like those designed by A. Marie Jewelry are far more unique? (I'm not being paid to say any of this.)

One designer whose clothing I adore (and will someday be able to afford to buy) is Nanette Lepore. All of her pieces, such as the one Leighton Meester is donning on the left, are manufactured in the garment district in New York City. By keeping it local, she is supporting U.S. workers and maintaining full quality control. (Thanks, PBS.) If more designers (come on, Marc Jacobs!) did the same, more jobs will become available for my fellow Americans. Not too shabby.

So by buying exclusively U.S.-made clothing, I am refusing to support sweatshops AND buying unique items that are not going to make me tear up every time I put them on. And since I'm not going to cry as much, I will be using less tissues. The benefits are endless!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Inspiration: Film Edition

It's not particularly difficult to find an article or blog post about fashion in movies and find ways to put together Clueless or Heathers-esque outfits. That is not stopping me from writing this. In addition to those movies, I want to point out a few more films that can be considered sources of outfit inspiration. However, instead of just focusing on emulating the actual outfits worn by the characters, I want to use the feeling you get from watching a particular film to create an outfit. Yeah, we're about to get really touchy-feely in here.

Nancy Drew

There is something about this movie that has made me watch it over and over again since it was released in 2007. It boasts some sort of lesson about being yourself, which is apparent when you compare Nancy's (Emma Roberts) outfit with the other furry boot-wearing popular girls in the film. The salesgirl in the above photo recognizes Nancy's originality, saying that she "loves the sincerity." That makes my inartistic self want to go gather a bunch of random fabrics and sew them together to create an outfit that's only awesome to me and about two other people. This film is a great one to watch if you want inspiration for an ultra sincere/preppy detective vibe. Let's just say I went out and bought penny loafers after my first viewing.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, the classic 1988 film Heathers portrays the preppy look (and lifestyle) in a very dark and ironic manner. The plaids and colorful tights are worn by girls who make the Mean Girls look like misunderstood sweethearts. The brightness of their clothing make the morbid occurrences of murder and suicide look positively stylish. I'm not saying you should dress like the Heathers in preparation for some deadly activities, but there's nothing wrong with being influenced by their bitchtastic style. Also, remember the higher the shoulder pads, the more power you will hold.


Nothing says "childish whimsy" quite like Matilda, which I find to be a sorely underrated film. I mean, the kid develops psychokinesis because she isn't using her brain enough! There's a message there about the consequences of not valuing education. Whatever. Miss Honey's overalls may appear childish in 2011, but I think they speak volumes of her sweetly optimistic personality. The green world setting of her humble abode make such an outfit possible, and inspires one to throw on a pair of denim overalls and hang out in the grass with a good book. (Okay, perhaps not everyone would ever be inspired to put on overalls. To each his/her own.)

Uptown Girls

Speaking of childish whimsy (and overalls), I love the role reversal (that is especially evident in the above photo) of the two main characters in Uptown Girls. In this movie, which critics hated but I've always adored, Molly (Brittany Murphy) is the free-spirited adult who refuses to grow up and Ray (Dakota Fanning) is the uptight ballerina who won't let loose. Since Molly lives a fairy tale life, she dons a wide assortment of pretty dresses and flowy skirts (did I mention the overalls?), which contrasts well with Ray's structured school uniform. Anyone looking for inspiration for a princess-like outfit should watch this movie.


We end with an epic movie that supports this theory: If you put effort into how you look, you will end up looking better than everyone else. In a bonus feature on the Clueless DVD, writer/director Amy Heckerling talks about how the tendency of 1995 high school kids to dress like dirty supporters of the grunge movement ultimately provoked Cher to dress the way she did. This means lots of plaid (jackets and skirts, not flannel), knee-high socks, headbands, and of course, that notorious Calvin Klein dress. She taught us that it is worth the effort it takes to look good. Putting an outfit together carefully reflects a creative mindset that understands and respects the fact that other people are going to be subjected to look at him or her.

Friday, April 15, 2011

One Step Closer

The California Senate passed a bill Thursday requiring public schools to teach kids about the history of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people. If the bill makes it through the State Assembly and is signed by Governor Jerry Brown, that would mean California would be the first state that requires kids to learn about gay history. Possible consequences of the passing of this bill would include a decrease in the amount of gay kids killing themselves due to the bullying they're forced to endure and learn about important figures (i.e. Harvey Milk) and events that shape gay history.

The implementation of this bill is essential if society is ever going to overcome the frightening amount of homophobia that is STILL running rampant. Perhaps other less liberal states are a little more in need of the history lesson, but California is notorious for being the first to make drastic steps to become more progressive. Other states would be wise to follow suit. And the fact that there is opposition to this bill is exactly why it should be made law in the first place.

One easy way to see the negative, generally homophobic reactions to this bill is to check Yahoo! News comments. The same people who only get their news via the headlines they see when they check their email are the ones who leave comments such as these:

"Instead of teaching our kids sciences and math so they can compete in the global economy, we are gonna waste our time teaching them that it is OK to be gay." - SDJ

Because teaching kids that there's nothing wrong with being gay is somehow going to prevent them from competing in the global economy. Open-mindedness certainly wouldn't get them anywhere, right?

Or there's this little gem:

"California: Trying to indoctrinate your kids into homosexuality since 2011" - Jason

Indoctrinate? So since kids are also learning about African American history and Mexican American history, they may actually become African American or Mexican American? Does that mean when men learn about women's history...they may... TURN INTO WOMEN?!

"This is the begining of the end. Gays say they want tollerance for their sick and twisted lifestyle, but they demand100% acceptance, and they don't care if it's a forced acceptance brought upon by our morally corrupt politicians. Look, I don't care what two people do behind closed doors, but don't force me and my family to accept your disgusting sexual desires as normal." - Michael

How selfish and demanding for them gays to want to be accepted and not called "disgusting" or "sick and twisted!" This comment is evidence of the dire need for this bill to be passed. Unfortunately, anything this Michael fella ever learned in school clearly went in one ear and out the other, anyway. Looks like somebody didn't do too well on their third-grade spellings tests.

Read the comments on New York Magazine's version of the article and you'll see a greater number of positive, pro-equality responses to the bill. I think "ADRIAN_IN_DALLAS" says it best:

"All I can say is it's about damn time!"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Downside of (Alleged) Cultural Literacy

The purpose of being an English major, I have recently discovered, is to make me "culturally literate." The novels, short stories and poems that have been selected to assist in this process are ones that have been deemed the greatest. They will change the lives of those who read them and make them more empathetic to the human condition.

If anything, since being forced to endure these "literary greats," I have become less empathetic to the human condition. Most of the authors whose works I have been reading have killed themselves, created characters who have killed themselves, or are clearly quite tempted to kill themselves.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not opposed to making my boyfriend read me Sylvia Plath poems aloud while I fall asleep. The summer before my senior year of high school, I read Flowers for Algernon for fun. And I love me some inky-cloaked Hamlet every so often. But would it be such a crime to assign literature that isn't meant to torment and depress the reader in order to get a message across? Almost every story I've read in my Bible-like Norton Anthology for American Lit this semester involves some old dude who is depressed because he's on the brink of death and he's filled with regret, blah blah blah. It's not surprise that I would rather hang out with Becky Bloomwood than one of those schmucks.

I propose that in addition to the soul-killing literature that is shoved down our throats faster than we can swallow, we should be reading some Chuck Klosterman essays that provoke thinking about life in a way that is funny and relevant without being sad and pseudo-meaningful. Or we can read a novel that addresses tough questions but gives at least a hint of hope at the end, such as the ending to The Perks of Being a Wallflower:

"So, if this does end up being my last letter, please believe that things are good with me, and even when they’re not, they will be soon enough.
And I will believe the same about you."

Doesn't that sound a little less depressing than sitting through an hour and five minutes listening to people discuss the meaninglessness of life as it relates to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead?

It is. There can still be educational value in optimism, and that's coming from a self-proclaimed pessimist. So until the literature proves to be less suicide-inducing, I will spend my class time immersing myself in happier thoughts i.e. by scanning the classroom and deciding what I would do if I were Stacy London and my classmates were actually contestants on What Not To Wear.

Now that gives me hope.