#MotivationMonday – Spring Cleaning

It’s hard to believe with some people walking through snow today, but yesterday was the first day of spring! And what better way to welcome the vernal equinox than by getting rid of all the clutter in your life for some spring cleaning? Here’s a guide I wrote a couple of years ago, but it still rings true until today. Start your spring off right and make your life more simple and stress free!

Spring Cleaning Your Life

Happy first day of spring, y’all! The sun shows its face a little longer (12 hours to be exact), the weather (usually) gets warmer and we can finally put the nasty winter behind us. The coming of spring is also a time for rebirth and regrowth, a marker for us to start anew. And that includes getting rid of anything in our lives that feels old or unused – aka it’s spring cleaning time.

I’m not talking about doing a thorough sweep of your house/apartment and getting rid of old items in your pantry or clothes that you haven’t worn in a year (although you should probs do that too). No, I’m talking about cleaning up your life. Things that effect you every day that you keep putting off but know you should do something about. Here are a few suggestions for making your life a little less messy and a little more bearable than ever before.

DVR

I am probably not the best example for this, but I’m hoping this will help some of you out there. The problem with television today is that there are too many good shows on right now. That means there are probably a lot of shows on your list that you have to go through every week. I’m not even going to tell you how many shows I actively watch, because it’s stupidly embarrassing. But there are also shows that are on my list that I just watch out of habit, that I should probably just delete from my DVR because it’s not adding anything to my life. Example: Heart of Dixie. Why did I start watching it? Jason Street and Summer Roberts (Scott Porter and Rachel Bilson). Why am I still watching it? No idea. I put it on and I only half pay attention to what is happening. If you asked me what’s going on this season, I could tell you that Zoe is still dating that Jewish boyfriend from NY and not with Wade, and Jamie King’s character is MIA because she had a baby IRL. Case in point: it’s time to clean out my series recordings.

Hard Drive

ben wyatt comp trash photo benwyatttrashcan_zps369c7a79.gif
Is your computer running slow? Maybe it’s because you have too many extemporaneous files and pictures and songs your never listen to stored in the nooks and crannies of your hard drive. It’s time to clean up those cookies and get rid of those songs you downloaded in college just to create some kind of party mix, because honestly, are you listening to SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS on the daily while relaxing or browsing the internet?

E-mail Subscriptions

I admit it: I’m the worst at e-mails. Replying, sending, deleting from my inbox. I also sign up for things and forget how I signed up in the first place. Like all those Groupon/LivingSocial/OneSaleADay shit is too much. Literally ‘Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That’. I went to the Tribeca Film Festival once in 2005 and I am still on their mailing list. Unless they’re going to personally fly me out to New York, I’m probably never going again. So why am I still receiving their e-mails?? BECAUSE I’M LAZY AND DELETE THEM INSTEAD OF JUST UNSUBSCRIBING.

Facebook Friends

thumbs_fyi-spring-cleaning-facebook-friends-friendship-ecards-someecards

You know when you’re going through your Facebook feed and you say “UGH” outloud when you see someone’s status of “going to the gym” or 500 pictures of the same baby just in different angles or those people who make politically incorrect and/or slightly racist comments  on your wall? Yeah, time to go through your list and unfriend those folks. You’re not in college anymore where the whole goal of Facebook was to be friends with every single person you had a class with. Use Facebook to stay connected with the people you actually care about. Maybe you’ll even find yourself complaining less about Facebook in general.

Actual Friends

girl bye nene

Let’s be real. There are people in your life that you should just cut off. If there’s anything I’ve learned being in my “late 20s” it’s that I don’t have patience or time to deal with people that don’t add to my life in any way. They might be the type of friends that add more drama to your life than is necessary as an adult or perhaps they are the type that are just… there, but either way, why are you wasting your time on people who aren’t a positive influence in your life when you could be hanging out with those who enrich your entire being? It may seem harsh, but you gonna do what you gotta do.

Advertisements

Best of C+S 2015: The Day The Internet Had No Chill

One of the top cultural phenomena that we’ll remember when we think of 2015: this time we all weren’t sure what color a dress was, AND two llamas got out of a zoo, AND it happened on the same day. And we, the grown adults of the internet, all but lost any chill we ever had.

_____

Thursday was a DAY, y’all. So, as you’re reading this blog, I think it’s pretty clear that we are fans of the Internet. The Internet has been good to us. It’s connected us with you fine people. It brings us GIFs. It tells us facts in seconds that would’ve taken forever to look up in Encyclopedia Britannica. But yesterday was a day for the record books (Google books?)

It all started in the afternoon when two llamas went on the run in Sun City, Arizona. On the real, according to AzCentral, and I quote, “The llamas were participating in animal therapy at an assisted living facility when they escaped. Authorities believe the llamas got spooked when the door to the trailer they had arrived in opened. They said there was a third llama in the trailer, but it did not escape.”

Thanks to a local news affiliate’s live video feed (#bless), the whole world was able to watch these two run freely in the world for about a 20-minute chase as handlers tried their best to wrangle them.

TBH, I showed up to the party late and couldn’t stay long, as my job doesn’t really allow me to enjoy nice things, so I had to quickly catch up and figure out what was happening. But by the time I entered the #LlamaDrama, there were already a ton of memes floating around. It’s stuff like this that the Internet was made for. We are at are best when we all have to make comments on a ridiculous thing. Here are some of what the Internet folks came up with.

My personal favorite:

When they incorporated the llamas with Balloon Boy. REMEMBER BALLOON BOY??

When someone had to speak the damn truth:

When I will laugh at a pun joke even if it’s not that funny (this one’s funny):

When they brought in Bri Willy:
When they incorporated a meme from the Super Bowl:

https://twitter.com/Comingstorm/status/571053036727988224

When CNN LIT’RALLY INTERVIEWED A CELEBRITY LLAMA NAMED PIERRE:

Was that enough excitement for one day? NOPE. Just a few hours later, a girl took to the Internet for advice on a dress someone was considering to buy, and they sent a pic of it asking if it was black and blue or white and gold. Tumblr first went crazy, as they are wont to do, and it then spread to the rest of social media. It soon became a war. Bloodshed. Lives ruined. People actually breaking up. Friendships torn apart. It was a gruesome scene. Even the local news here covered it. Literally the LA news station showed a picture of the dress and asked what color it was. LA NEWS IS NOT REAL NEWS. But I digress.

On Tumblr, GIFs and stills from TV shows were obviously used.

peggy-carter:

i went to work for six hours and come back to tumblr and my ENTIRE DASH is this dress thing and finally i understand that community gif on a spiritual level

goopypaltrow:

it’s not black/blue, nor is it white/gold.  It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.

 

halpertjames:

I have never felt more like Jim Halpert in my life.

But the best responses came from Twitter.

Of course there’s already a Twitter account for The Dress

And celebrities, who obviously got in on the action. Even Taylor Swift chimed in. Honestly, if Oprah and/or Beyonce tweeted or Instagramed about it it would have been game over.

By FAR, Mindy Kaling had the best response to #TheDress. She was up in arms about it, staying strong in her #BlackandBlue stance, as only Mindy could. It’s exactly the type of response I expected from her, but I am obsessed with just how far she went. Her annoyance got increasingly more dramatic and I feel like she should probably just put this in her show now.

^^same^^

If you missed our tweet last night, we gave our two cents too:

 But what we really need is some perspective, courtesy of the rainbow infused space unicorn:

For the record, the folks at Buzzfeed (who started this who viral mess) tracked down the girl who first posted about the dress, and she says it’s black and blue. It’s all about lighting, y’all. Either way, whatever team you’re on – #WhiteandGold, #BlackandBlue, #LlamasOnTheRun, #LeftShark, it’s good to know we can all collectively #BreakTheInternet without actually baring our butts.

What a time to be alive.

Point-Counterpoint: Better Best Friend – Mudasir or Salman?

It’s no secret – I love flash-in-the-pan social media obsessions. I thought “The Dress” was a lot of fun, and Azeem’s Flute Recital was the event of Spring 2015. To be clear: I like these memes for the 1-3 days that they are happening. When people try to make jokes about them after that I’m like “no, we already did that.” I like them because, first of all, except for a few trolls in Reddit’s sub-dungeons, people tend to keep their jokes really positive. These brief obsessions are usually refreshingly free of cynicism and mocking. The worst people said about “the dress” was that it was ugly, and as for Azeem, well, he seems to be a promising young man with some real musical chops.

The primary reason I love these social media gab-fests, though: I like when everyone is talking about the same thing. During The Dress, I said that it was like being in fifth grade and the substitute teacher farted. And what could be more fifth grade than the never-ending drama of Best Friend Breakups?

In case you missed it, this week a viral Facebook post by Asif, a 20-something man from Pakistan, announced that he was no longer best friends with Mudasir. Salman was his BFF, now. And not just that: he announced it with Word Art. Be still my lighthearted internet drama-loving heart!

Suck it, Mudasir. You’ve received the Microsoft Paint neon green X of defriending. And there’s more! Read Asif’s description in the Sidebar:

Point: Mudasir only has that one red polo.

Counterpoint: We don’t know which one Salman is. Better one crisp red polo than a closet full of rumpled white collarless shirts, I always say. Besides, it looks like a work polo.

Point: Mudasir has a masculine yet casual stance, suggesting that he is not just the superior friend but the superior person.

Counterpoint: Maybe … too superior? Maybe proudy?

Point: Salman is a Johnny-come-lately. Mudasir has proven himself with years of best friendship. Surely one little mistake didn’t merit the Microsoft Paint neon green X of defriending!

Counterpoint: Salman has a firm, trustworthy handshake. You can tell a lot about a man’s character by his handshake.

Point: According to a late-breaking Twitter report by Asif, Mudasir caused the break-up by reporting one of Asif’s Facebook photos.

Counterpoint: Do you know how many Facebook and Instagram posts I have almost accidentally reported?

Point: There’s something mighty shady about a person who superimposes their photo in front of a brick wall. Right? The one on the right looks like a green screen. What are you hiding, Mudasir?

Counterpoint: Mudasir and his former friend Asif obviously enjoy tinkering with the kinds of photo and text editing programs that come pre-installed on Dell laptops. This is common ground and evidence that their friendship should stand firm.

Point: I will let Asif’s Facebook comment speak for me: Mudasir, you don’t know how to be a friend. If you think friendship is a toy then you will get a toy in return, now go away.

Counterpoint: “To have a friend, you have to be a friend, starting with yourself.” “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” These are both signs that hung in my elementary school classrooms, and they were right. Asif — ASIF HIMSELF — is the one who doesn’t know how to be a friend. A friend forgives!  Good luck, Salman. One mistake, and Asif is going to Word Art you out of his life.

The Day The Internet Had No Chill

Thursday was a DAY, y’all. So, as you’re reading this blog, I think it’s pretty clear that we are fans of the Internet. The Internet has been good to us. It’s connected us with you fine people. It brings us GIFs. It tells us facts in seconds that would’ve taken forever to look up in Encyclopedia Britannica. But yesterday was a day for the record books (Google books?)

It all started in the afternoon when two llamas went on the run in Sun City, Arizona. On the real, according to AzCentral, and I quote, “The llamas were participating in animal therapy at an assisted living facility when they escaped. Authorities believe the llamas got spooked when the door to the trailer they had arrived in opened. They said there was a third llama in the trailer, but it did not escape.”

Thanks to a local news affiliate’s live video feed (#bless), the whole world was able to watch these two run freely in the world for about a 20-minute chase as handlers tried their best to wrangle them.

TBH, I showed up to the party late and couldn’t stay long, as my job doesn’t really allow me to enjoy nice things, so I had to quickly catch up and figure out what was happening. But by the time I entered the #LlamaDrama, there were already a ton of memes floating around. It’s stuff like this that the Internet was made for. We are at are best when we all have to make comments on a ridiculous thing. Here are some of what the Internet folks came up with.

My personal favorite:

When they incorporated the llamas with Balloon Boy. REMEMBER BALLOON BOY??

When someone had to speak the damn truth:

When I will laugh at a pun joke even if it’s not that funny (this one’s funny):

When they brought in Bri Willy:
When they incorporated a meme from the Super Bowl:

When CNN LIT’RALLY INTERVIEWED A CELEBRITY LLAMA NAMED PIERRE:

Was that enough excitement for one day? NOPE. Just a few hours later, a girl took to the Internet for advice on a dress someone was considering to buy, and they sent a pic of it asking if it was black and blue or white and gold. Tumblr first went crazy, as they are wont to do, and it then spread to the rest of social media. It soon became a war. Bloodshed. Lives ruined. People actually breaking up. Friendships torn apart. It was a gruesome scene. Even the local news here covered it. Literally the LA news station showed a picture of the dress and asked what color it was. LA NEWS IS NOT REAL NEWS. But I digress.

On Tumblr, GIFs and stills from TV shows were obviously used.

peggy-carter:

i went to work for six hours and come back to tumblr and my ENTIRE DASH is this dress thing and finally i understand that community gif on a spiritual level

goopypaltrow:

it’s not black/blue, nor is it white/gold.  It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.

 

halpertjames:

I have never felt more like Jim Halpert in my life.

But the best responses came from Twitter.

Of course there’s already a Twitter account for The Dress

And celebrities, who obviously got in on the action. Even Taylor Swift chimed in. Honestly, if Oprah and/or Beyonce tweeted or Instagramed about it it would have been game over.

By FAR, Mindy Kaling had the best response to #TheDress. She was up in arms about it, staying strong in her #BlackandBlue stance, as only Mindy could. It’s exactly the type of response I expected from her, but I am obsessed with just how far she went. Her annoyance got increasingly more dramatic and I feel like she should probably just put this in her show now.

^^same^^

If you missed our tweet last night, we gave our two cents too:

 But what we really need is some perspective, courtesy of the rainbow infused space unicorn:

For the record, the folks at Buzzfeed (who started this who viral mess) tracked down the girl who first posted about the dress, and she says it’s black and blue. It’s all about lighting, y’all. Either way, whatever team you’re on – #WhiteandGold, #BlackandBlue, #LlamasOnTheRun, #LeftShark, it’s good to know we can all collectively #BreakTheInternet without actually baring our butts.

What a time to be alive.

Ello, Goodbye: Remembering Social Media Networks of the Past

You guys have heard of this new social media network called Ello, right? Over the past week or so, I kept seeing it on Facebook (ironically) and around the internetz, and still didn’t really understand what its deal was. For those of you who need the DL on Ello, it’s an invite-only social network that is kind of like Facebook, but without ads. My friend described the look of it as a “hipster Facebook”, with clean lines and simple design.

 

Now, I don’t know about you, but if you already hate Facebook, I’m guessing you don’t want to be on another social media site. Most of the people I know who quit FB or barely log on or don’t have an account at all hate that FB inundates you with all the details about your “friends” lives, so if Ello is supposed to be an alternative to FB, why would anyone sign up? Plus, it’s just another website to forget the correct user name/password combo. I get the whole curiosity of it all, so if you’re on Ello, let me know how it goes for you.

But also remember that since we live in a world where there are more social media networks than people in China (not an actual statistic), new startups have to be one-of-a-kind and standout in the crowd. Moreover, our generation of Millennials, while we aren’t exactly close-minded when it comes to new networks (we did have to figure out how the internet worked as tweens, after all), we are also selective as to what we decide to spend our time on. While time will only tell for Ello, let’s take a look at some other social media sites that have gone to the internet graveyard in the past few years.

MySpace

In Tom’s defense, MySpace was a big networking site for a long time. I admit, even I spent a little too long deciding what the theme to my profile page should be and who my top 8 were. But to me, MySpace always had a skeezy quality to it – like a prime breeding ground for Catfish. Not to mention the whole getting bombarded by singers and bands you didn’t know. Unfortunately for Tom, Mark Zuckerberg came along and stole all his thunder. Now MySpace is owned partly by Justin Timberlake and mostly used for what it always has been popular for – music.

Friendster

The only reason I ever had a Friendster account was because my cousins in the Philippines all had one. It was like their Facebook before Facebook, except more boring. The concept was the same – post pictures of yourself, write about your interests and hobbies, interact with friends, etc. etc. But when I talked to my friends back home in the U.S. about Friendster, no one knew what I was talking about. And there’s your problem right there. Friendster was shut down in 2011, but relaunched as a gaming site. It’s mainly popular in – you guessed it – Southeast Asia.

Xanga

Speaking of Asians, I first heard about Xanga from other Asians, except ones who were living in America. Xanga was not only a site that had a similar debate like the GIF/JIF debacle, but provided a social network with a blogging component. I remember using a lot of emoticons and tYpiNg OuT mY WorDz LykE This lolLLLzzzZ. Last year, Xanga rebooted itself and came out with Xanga 2.0, which is still a blogging webspace, but now you have to pay a fee to use it. You know homie don’t play that game.

Eons

Have you guys ever heard of Eons? Didn’t think so. It’s probably because it was a social network geared towards the elderly. That’s right, the same grandparents that can’t figure out texting let alone their remote control, were the primary demographic for the site. The site was launched in 2007, which in the grand scheme of things, was at the height of Facebook’s *ooh look it’s new and shiny* phase, so my guess is that a lot of people over 50 still didn’t get what all the hype over social media was about. If there’s anything we can learn from Eons, it’s know your demographic. Also, maybe pick a better name.

Orkut

Orkut was the social media site made by Google, and named after one of its employees, Orkut Büyükkökten (The guy who made Eons would’ve probs called this site Büyükkökten instead). Google built the site over a decade ago, but it never really took off – except in random countries like India and Brazil. Incidentally, Google officially shut down Orkut just two days ago on September 30th, but luckily for the site’s users, you have until 2016 to get your personal information and files back. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for AOL Hometown page (RIP my first website).

Google +

Yes, I know Google + still exists, but honestly, stop trying to make it happen. Does anyone really use it for real? Like in a serious manner? It seems too convoluted and obnoxious. I love my Gmail and Google Docs and Cal, etc, but this thing is just too much.

Spring Cleaning Your Life

Happy first day of spring, y’all! The sun shows its face a little longer (12 hours to be exact), the weather (usually) gets warmer and we can finally put the nasty winter behind us. The coming of spring is also a time for rebirth and regrowth, a marker for us to start anew. And that includes getting rid of anything in our lives that feels old or unused – aka it’s spring cleaning time.

I’m not talking about doing a thorough sweep of your house/apartment and getting rid of old items in your pantry or clothes that you haven’t worn in a year (although you should probs do that too). No, I’m talking about cleaning up your life. Things that effect you every day that you keep putting off but know you should do something about. Here are a few suggestions for making your life a little less messy and a little more bearable than ever before.

DVR

I am probably not the best example for this, but I’m hoping this will help some of you out there. The problem with television today is that there are too many good shows on right now. That means there are probably a lot of shows on your list that you have to go through every week. I’m not even going to tell you how many shows I actively watch, because it’s stupidly embarrassing. But there are also shows that are on my list that I just watch out of habit, that I should probably just delete from my DVR because it’s not adding anything to my life. Example: Heart of Dixie. Why did I start watching it? Jason Street and Summer Roberts (Scott Porter and Rachel Bilson). Why am I still watching it? No idea. I put it on and I only half pay attention to what is happening. If you asked me what’s going on this season, I could tell you that Zoe is still dating that Jewish boyfriend from NY and not with Wade, and Jamie King’s character is MIA because she had a baby IRL. Case in point: it’s time to clean out my series recordings.

Hard Drive

ben wyatt comp trash photo benwyatttrashcan_zps369c7a79.gif
Is your computer running slow? Maybe it’s because you have too many extemporaneous files and pictures and songs your never listen to stored in the nooks and crannies of your hard drive. It’s time to clean up those cookies and get rid of those songs you downloaded in college just to create some kind of party mix, because honestly, are you listening to SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS on the daily while relaxing or browsing the internet?

E-mail Subscriptions

I admit it: I’m the worst at e-mails. Replying, sending, deleting from my inbox. I also sign up for things and forget how I signed up in the first place. Like all those Groupon/LivingSocial/OneSaleADay shit is too much. Literally ‘Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That’. I went to the Tribeca Film Festival once in 2005 and I am still on their mailing list. Unless they’re going to personally fly me out to New York, I’m probably never going again. So why am I still receiving their e-mails?? BECAUSE I’M LAZY AND DELETE THEM INSTEAD OF JUST UNSUBSCRIBING.

Facebook Friends

thumbs_fyi-spring-cleaning-facebook-friends-friendship-ecards-someecards

You know when you’re going through your Facebook feed and you say “UGH” outloud when you see someone’s status of “going to the gym” or 500 pictures of the same baby just in different angles or those people who make politically incorrect and/or slightly racist comments  on your wall? Yeah, time to go through your list and unfriend those folks. You’re not in college anymore where the whole goal of Facebook was to be friends with every single person you had a class with. Use Facebook to stay connected with the people you actually care about. Maybe you’ll even find yourself complaining less about Facebook in general.

Actual Friends

girl bye nene

Let’s be real. There are people in your life that you should just cut off. If there’s anything I’ve learned being in my “late 20s” it’s that I don’t have patience or time to deal with people that don’t add to my life in any way. They might be the type of friends that add more drama to your life than is necessary as an adult or perhaps they are the type that are just… there, but either way, why are you wasting your time on people who aren’t a positive influence in your life when you could be hanging out with those who enrich your entire being? It may seem harsh, but you gonna do what you gotta do.

What To Give Up For Lent (And How Much It Will Suck)

Growing up in Catholic school, it was always a given that we’d give something up during Lent, the 40 days preceding Easter. We even had these construction paper “rocks” (which totally looked like potatoes) , and we had to write what we were giving up on the back of it and tape it up on a “road to the cross” in the upstairs hallway.

When I was older I started adding something to do during Lent instead of giving something up, but there are some good reasons to go the traditional route and sacrifice something. Doing without something may give you extra money you can use for a good cause. Sacrificing a thing that takes up a lot of your time can free you up to be more present for others. When you give something up, every time you think of it you turn inward a little bit. Just like a kid in a toy store, sometimes even adults need to be reminded that you can’t get everything you want.

Every year around this time, I go through a mental list of things I can give up (or start doing), and take inventory of how much they will suck. Things that are too easy get the axe, but some things just seem impossible. Now that it’s Ash Wednesday (or, as most people I run into today call it, “Hey, did you know you have something on your forehead?”), here are my assessments:

Candy

Without fail, every year my teacher would suggest that we give up candy for Lent, saying that we could bring in our candy money to donate to charity instead. And without fail, every year I thought “who the heck are these children whose parents give them candy money?” I didn’t get an allowance and I sure didn’t get a special allowance just to rot my teeth. I don’t think most adults eat enough candy to make this a sacrifice, but maybe this would work if you have a real sweet tooth. It won’t alter the course of your whole life or anything, but this will do as a small sacrifice.

Coffee

I think what giving up candy is to a child, giving up coffee would be to an adult. You could even give your coffee money to a good cause. But the downside is, if you give up coffee you CANNOT DRINK COFFEE. I suppose you could sub in tea or soda if you are just giving up coffee, not caffeine. If you’re looking for some serious self-denial, this would be it.

Another thought: add up how much you’d spend on coffee, and get a few gift cards to a nearby chain coffee place to hand out the next time someone on the street asks you for money for food.

Soda

Ah, here we go. One year I gave up The Devil’s Water, and I was so glad I did. By now we all know that soda is bad for you and diet soda (my poison of choice)  is really, really bad for you. As with coffee, every time you think of going to that soda machine you can stash away the $1.25 or whatever and give it to someone who needs it.

Alcohol

One year my grandfather gave up beer. He took up whiskey. So, make sure you’re specific about this! Now that I’m a real-live adult this wouldn’t make a difference to me, but during college? Now THAT’s a sacrifice.

Fast Food

Giving up fast food, if it’s something you eat regularly, will really force you to be more intentional. You have to plan, shop, and cook – and you just may find that you like it! You’ll probably save a few bucks, as well. If you’re a regular fast-foodie, you can take a cue from the coffee-quitters and buy some small gift cards for the fast food place you would be going to, and give them to people or organizations that can use them.

Dessert

So, here’s the thing about dessert. If you eat it regularly, this is a great thing to give up because it will be a real sacrifice. But if you’re using giving up dessert as a way to get a jump-start on some sort of weight loss goal, that sort of feels like cheating. But I suppose you could just look at it as a two-for-one deal.

Makeup

My plan this year was to give up makeup – honestly,I only wear it maybe half the time anyway. The plan started because I absolutely loathe those Dove Real Beauty ads, especially the one featuring a heavily freckled woman posing in front of two checkboxes reading, “flawed?” and “flawless?” or – in a “sassier” version, “”ugly spots?” and “beauty spots?” As the freckliest person I’ve seen, I cringed every time l saw it. Other ads slyly tell you what you have to fix, but this one blatantly said “hey, your freckles are considered ugly by the world! (but not by your friends at Dove ® !)” The whole point of that Dove crud is that “everybody is beautiful!” which frankly I don’t agree with. Beauty is just one of many inborn advantages – like being a good writer, athletic, or musical – but it’s treated differently. It’s treated like something everybody has to have, and to me, a better message than “everyone is beautiful! (shame about those freckles)”  is “it’s nice to be pretty, but if you’re not, that’s fine too!” And what better way to walk the walk than to give up cosmetics for 40 days?

And then…last week  I asked for a haircut between chin and shoulder length, and it ended up being roughly ear length. I’m still a LITTLE shallow, and suddenly, I wanted the option to feel a little less ugly on the days where I look like a boy or a middle-aged lady. It was a nice idea, and I’ll still only probably wear makeup about half of the time, but I think this one will have to wait until next year for me.

TV

Oh, you brave souls. For me, it wouldn’t be the 40 days without TV that’s hard. I don’t think I’d miss it. It’s how darn stressed out I would be about catching up on my shows afterwards! Before you say “well, why don’t you just skip those 5 weeks of episodes altogether?”, I’m going to stop you and suggest that you probably don’t really love TV or you wouldn’t be asking that question.

Another problem is avoiding TV on the internet – not even full episodes, but the constant clips from Jimmy Fallon and the like that are posted all over Facebook and Twitter. Does that count as TV? Possibly the most important consideration: how will you stay spoiler free? Lots to think about here, but always a good choice.

Facebook

This was THE thing to give up several years ago, but it’s lost a bit of its punch. If you’re a very regular Facebooker, this will force you to connect with people in real life more. I use Facebook but I’m not particularly into it. I don’t even really like it. I think giving up Facebook is a great option for people like that, too — to quit doing something that takes up your time and attention that you’re only doing out of habit, anyway.

Meat

I don’t eat meat and haven’t for over 10 years. Frankly I couldn’t care less what other people do, and I don’t need to know anyone’s reasons for eating meat — I just assume that whatever the reason is, it’s probably valid. [Oddly enough, the only times it comes up is when someone finds out I don’t eat meat, and tries to start an argument with me – when I’d NEVER confront them about their personal habits and choices. Don’t do that. End rant.] But for Lent, I will suggest that it’s worth a try. Catholics are already doing it 1/7 of the time anyway, right?  It’s not even hard to eat a completely vegetarian diet if you don’t have other dietary restrictions. Still, it will come up often enough that you’ll probably feel like it’s a bit of a sacrifice. If you feel like looking up the moral and ethical concerns of eating meat, you can be happy to know that taking a 40-day break could make a little dent in things – you don’t have to give it up altogether.

Internet

Back in the days when the internet was just, you know, chatrooms and Geocities fan pages, this was a viable option. This would be so hard though, because how would you find anything out? Or get directions to places? Not to mention, most of us need to use email and the internet for work. I guess you could give up what people used to(?) call “surfing the internet,” and just use it for business and practical purposes. Clearly, we won’t be doing that.

Gossip Sites

I did this during the winter of Britney Spears’ discontent. Remember the shaved head? It was hard going, but worth it.

The Weirdest Things You Can Give Up

I “surfed the Internet” (bringing it back, y’all) to see what other people were giving up, and there were some exceptionally WTF answers. To wit: Using the dishwasher (FYI:  hand-washing uses significantly more water, so save the earth and use the damn dishwasher, Christians); shoes (for the Lent observer who doesn’t go out in public and wants to celebrate Easter Sunday with fewer than 10 toes); electricity (I mean are you MOVING TO A HUT IN THE WILDERNESS?? because otherwise that’s not going to work great); Catholicism (that joke was only funny the first time); chips (like candy, I wonder who eats chips that often. I think I only eat them when I forget to upgrade to fries with my sandwich. Look, I never said I was healthy); your car (viable in some locations, but even as person who takes the bus to work, this morning I’d have had to walk 2 miles in 5-degree temperatures with no sidewalks to get to the nearest stop. So, NO); carbs (that’s called Atkins, not Lent, weirdo); and Buzzfeed quizzes (actually, for all of our sakes, how about you at least give up posting your Buzzfeed quiz results on social media.)

So Your Mom’s On Facebook

Here’s a generational marker I never thought would make me feel old: I remember when Facebook first started. In the 2004-2005 school year, I was a Freshman in college and my school was one of the early adopters* of Facebook (or “the Facebook” as we called it at the time). When you met someone at a party, they’d ask if you were “on the Facebook.” After working with a kid on a group project, you’d go back to your dorm and discover that you’d been “poked.” Facebook was like a whole world populated solely by college kids.** It was like Lord of The Flies that way. You couldn’t get on there without an .edu address, and it was a parent-free zone.

Unless you’ve been Rip van Winkle-ing*** since 2005, you know what’s happened since. Like all things that have lost their youth culture cache, Facebook has been taken over by moms. If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s coming soon — the friend request from your mother. It’s bad. My mom is on Facebook, and she is the worst because she takes everything she reads very seriously and literally. A few months ago, she said to me “I didn’t know your cousin ‘Derek’ was gay!”.

“He’s not gay, mom. He has a girlfriend.” I know having a girlfriend isn’t the sine qua non of straightness, but I also have really solid gaydar.

“No. He’s gay. His status is “I am a homosexual.”

Oh, brother. Here we go. My cousin is that particular kind of dude-bro who has friends who sneak into his Facebook account and write homophobic stuff because they think it’s hilarious. By the by, his mom and sister are both lesbians.

“Mom. Nobody says “homosexual” except for Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. That was Derek’s friends.”

Cut to two weeks later. “Derek is DEFINTELY gay. Look at his status now!”

I looked. His status was now “I like dick.” I considered explaining to her that nobody, gay or straight, would write that, but figured it was a losing battle.

There are a few ways to prevent scenarios like this:

Ignore Friend Request
This is the cleanest option, and works best with tech-clueless moms. You can tell her that the request didn’t go through, or assume that she’ll never know how to figure out if you’ve confirmed. If your mom is the type to nag a lot, is okay with computers, or will read a large-scale rejection into this, then I’d skip the ignore option.

Heightened Privacy Settings
Make a list of people you want to restrict, then make a “custom” post setting so that nothing is seen by people on those lists. If you have a bunch of gossip-mongers in your family, this might have to go beyond your mom. There are some things that I wouldn’t mind, say, my aunt seeing, but I know she’d bring it up to my mom, so I play it safe and hide it from all of them. That includes posts from this blog. One of my favorite gems of writing advice comes from Anne Lamott, who suggested you “write as if your parents are dead.” I find that “write as if your parents don’t use social networking” works almost as well.

Cleansing Your Past
A lot of us have stopped using Facebook in earnest. With full-time jobs and professional degrees on the line, we aren’t posting photos of us “totally wasted!” at 2am on a Saturday. We’re in bed by then anyway. However, if your mom is nosy enough, then she might reach into the way-back years. A while ago I took a trip down Facebook memory lane, and apparently I was kind of trashy and skanky in college. You might want to clean up your past a little. Just think of it as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Internet Record.

Sanitizing the Future
If you really don’t want to block your mom, then every time you write something you have to realize that your mom is going to see it – and, as I discussed above, is probably going to read a whole lot into it. It’s okay to write “Sooo tired!”. It’s not okay to write “I haven’t been this tired since I took a 24-hour bus ride to Florida, went to a sketchy karaoke bar, then stayed at the apartment of these iffy Southern frat boys who just said they were taking us out for grits then wouldn’t take us to our hotel.” This is a new life, and in this new life, your mom is on Facebook and that never happened.****

Continuing as you Were
Maybe you aren’t one of those people who has stopped really using Facebook. Maybe you’re also not one of those people whose life has turned staid and orderly after college. Maybe in that case, you’ll just say screw it, accept your mom’s friend request, and carry on posting as you were. You’re probably smarter than all of us, actually. While the rest of us are covertly restricting our photo albums or writing vague, cheerful statuses, you can just let it all hang out. Actually, if you do this right, you might repulse your mom so much that she will disavow of Facebook altogether.

I suggest you start with posting “I like dick.”

* My college got Facebook early because it was “the Harvard of the SUNY system,” which I guess is almost a compliment. Or almost an insult. Not sure which.
** Another thing that’s like a whole world populated solely by college kids: College.
*** Rip van Winklevossing?
****Only thing worse than spending 24 hours on a bus: spending 24 hours on a bus, then ending up in Florida.

A Sea of Red

Last week, you probably saw your Facebook, Twitter, and essentially the internet pop up with an overwhemling sea of red. At least mine did. If you’re not aware, as a sign of support for the Supreme Court’s two big hearings about same-sex marriage laws which began on Monday, people changed their profile pictures, cover photos, etc. to this:

For the record, I am a huge supporter of gay marriage (or, marriage) and gay rights ( or, human rights). But I didn’t feel the need to change my profile picture to this because A) Everyone was doing it, and I didn’t want to conform, B) How long is this supposed to last? C) I don’t feel like I need to change my profile picture to a red equal sign just to prove to most of the people I’m friends with that I’m for gay marriage D) I hate that we live in a world where we have to do this kind of thing in the first place.

Ok, off my soapbox. That being said, it got a little annoying that I couldn’t deliniate people’s FB pic from everyone else, but lo and behold, a few quality red equality signs had redesigns, and they’re awesome. Here are a few of my favorites. (most of these are from Buzzfeed!)

Rothko!

Sleeping Tilda Swinton

Dumbledore puppet

bacon

bert and ernie

grumpy cat

paula deen

les mis! slash i can’t stop singing this song with all the red i’m seeing

nannnnsegonyahhhh

Facebook Rules 101

Since I joined Facebook in 2004, the site has become a defining entity in worldwide culture. But when I first started, it was an entirely different site. First of all, your college had to be one of the select few on the network. You could only sign up with your college e-mail address, and you also went on a friending spree, requesting to be friends with every single person in your classes. Since then, Mark Zuckerberg has invited the entire world to join and made multiple changes to the site itself.

Now that I’m approaching my 9th (HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, 9TH?!) anniversary on FB, I feel like I have enough experience to be able to set some ground rules for all users of the social media site.

Don’t complain about new layouts. 

This has annoyed me over the past year or so in particular, because people’s complaints about new FB layouts bug the shit out of me. First of all, complainers take the time to WRITE ON FACEBOOK that they hate Facebook. HELLO? Secondly, technology is constantly changing – that’s kind of the point. So don’t get all in a huff because the your photos aren’t where they used to be. First world problems. Like everything, you’ll get used to it and then forget that it was even a problem in the first place. If you don’t like it, quit FB. But we all know 90% of people are like those folks who say they’re moving to Canada if so and so is elected president. How many people do you know actually moved to Canada after 2004?

The most recent profile change was rolled out by FB technicians for a few months, and even let you preview it before they completely changed it over. And you probably don’t even remember what the late 2012 profile looked like.

And guess what, people? Get ready for another change – the news feed is going to feature bigger photos. So don’t get your panties in a twist when the redesign rolls out.

Don’t post your relationship status on Facebook

Let me clarify: Don’t consistently write about how much your love your boyfriend and post unfocused pix of your romantic date night dinner at Olive Garden. I’m saying, if you’re in a relationship and then you break up, you’re just welcoming people to ask you about it. Unless you want to draw attention to yourself. But that’s obnoxious, and I should be questioning why we’re even friends in the first place. I’ve seen people even add “end of relationship” as a life event on their timeline, so like, that’s awkward.

Don’t treat Facebook like Twitter.

I don’t care if you’re hungry, I don’t care about what time you’re working, I don’t care about what time you’re getting out of work, I don’t care how tired you are. Also, don’t put that shit on twitter either. nobody needs to know that.

Don’t send game requests

I think this is pretty self-explanatory. I don’t use FB because there’s a lack of internet farming in my life. So just, don’t ask me to visit your Farmville.

Don’t post an entire album of your baby’s sonogram

Listen, I like babies. I just don’t think people of FB should be subjected to seeing 50 photo album of the unborn baby in your uterus come up on the news feed. I just don’t. Baby photos are fine. Especially if I want to stalk you and judge whether your baby is cute or not.

Don’t complain about privacy settings and then post stuff of Facebook

In case you didn’t know, there are privacy settings that you can change yourself. Like, you don’t HAVE to let everyone you’re friends with see your latest FB album that may have semi-incriminating pictures in them. You can restrict people from viewing certain things, and all you have to do is stop bitching and go to your privacy settings and change it. Also, another tip is that if you don’t want certain people seeing things you post on Facebook, how about just… not posting it on Facebook?