Thought Catalog


To Every Woman Who Has Ever Felt ‘Disgusting’

Posted: 10 Sep 2015 02:59 PM PDT

BETA_FIXER
BETA_FIXER

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by how many incredible women surround me in every area of my life: my family, my best friends, my coworkers, friends of my close friends, the list goes on for miles. And it’s only intensified by the fact that I’m involved in the comedy community in Chicago, where there are talented, inspiring, smart, admirable women everywhere I look.

But lately, more so than usual, too many women I know, and plenty that I don’t, have been struggling with their own self-worth – particularly, how they feel about the outside of their body.

And it hurts to hear that, so badly. I think it hurts any woman in existence to hear another woman say that – even one she doesn’t know.

We internalize one another’s pain, because almost all of us have felt that way before – that crushing sense of embarrassment, self-hatred, inadequacy, unworthiness.

That awful feeling that we’re not physically beautiful enough to deserve our own respect. Sometimes we’ve felt it in our pasts, sometimes every once in a while – in phases, sometimes every day.

It hurts because we can’t help but see our own fragility in one another. When I hear words like “disgusting,” which is such an awful word but an unrelenting fan favorite, my stomach drops. I hate that word. Because I’ve felt disgusting before. I hate when my friends use it, I hate when family members use it, I hate when women I don’t even know use it. Because I know exactly what they mean when they use it on themselves.

It’s the harshest word you can think of to punish yourself for daring to look the way you do. We use “disgusting” like a weapon. For eating too much or too little, overexercising or not exercising at all. Having the wrong breast size or wearing unflattering clothes. Not looking the same as our sisters or mothers or best friends or the endlessly flawless women on Instagram.

It doesn’t help when videos like “Dear Fat People” are still showing up, regardless of how hard we’re fighting back against people who do and say and believe those kinds of things. It doesn’t help that our economy thrives on a culture of telling people they aren’t good enough – that they need to keep spending money on their physical appearance if they’re ever going to stand a fighting chance.

And so I want to tell you that you’re beautiful. That you deserve respect. That your appearance has nothing to do with what kind of person you are. Because those things are all true. But that’s not going to work.

Because in spite of all the sweet, lovely, inspirational videos and Instagram accounts and books and songs and movements that continue happening, the word “disgusting” continues to be used.

Why? Because although we hear these kind things being said to us, although we read the essays and watch the videos and admire the inspirational photos – believing that we are beautiful and worthy is so much easier said than done.

So here’s what I’ll say: keep bringing goodness into your life through books and videos and uplifting websites and people. But do not sit back and act entitled, believing that you deserve everything you want just because people are saying you’re good enough. Instead, go the hell after what you want. On the day that you’re feeling your very worst, work that much harder at your job, on your relationships, on getting to a healthy place with your body, on achieving your goals and following your gut. That is where you will snatch your power back from the ads and magazines and occasional people who make you feel like you don’t deserve to be happy with yourself.

And remember that you’re not alone.

Remember that on that “disgusting” day when you’re practically crying in the dressing room and hating, hating, those fluorescent lights – that the beautiful woman in the room next to you is probably doing the same thing.

And if she isn’t crying in that moment, she’s probably cried in a dressing room at some point in her life. That woman, who you want to hug and reassure and remind that she is beautiful, feels the same way about you. TC mark

15 Struggles Only People Who Are In Relationships But Love Spending Time Alone Understand

Posted: 10 Sep 2015 07:05 PM PDT

oh_snap_its_summer
oh_snap_its_summer

1. You don't always like to share things. Whether it's a car, an apartment, a cat, or the remote. You're used to having things your way and while you're happy to accommodate someone else, it's, admittedly, not your default mode. Being particular isn't a crime.

2. You try not to melt down and when something in your apartment is out of place, because your significant other misplaced something. On the one hand, you are fair, and don't hold them to an unreasonable standard. And on the other hand, can't they just respect the order around here?

3. You have trouble explaining to your significant other that your need to be alone doesn't stem from not wanting to be around them, it is simply because you need to recharge. Not all couples like to spend every waking hour together, and that's not a bad thing. Some people savor time with a significant other even more after taking some "me" time.

4. You like your music, more than you like anyone else's music. It's not that your significant other has bad music taste, it's that your music taste really doesn't need to be improved.

5. You appreciate cooking for one, on occasion. Of course, it's amazing to have a partner to cook dinner with, spend time with, or go out to eat with. But, occasionally, you like to cook whatever specific food you like, that the other person can't stand, and not have to worry about what the other person is going to eat.

6. If your significant other thinks working out together would be a good time, LOL THEY'RE WRONG. You don't want to sweat together— not in workout clothes at least. Running, heading to the gym or doing sit-ups in your living room is something you like to do for yourself, by yourself.

7. Your friends discredit your need to be alone when you've been in a couple for so long. It's hard to explain that sometimes the best surprises for the other person come when you've had some alone time and decided to do something special for the other person.

8. You aren't amazing about planning around someone else, despite your best efforts.

9. You are known for not responding to texts/calls for hours on end. If you've been in a relationship for a long time, you have some sort of work around for this, like giving their phone calls a separate ring tone. It sounds cutesy, but actually, it's just necessary.

10. You aren't one of those ~share the shower~ couples. You just want to get clean. There's other time for other things.

11. You resent people who assume you come in a pair. Having a significant other doesn't mean you only show up to places as a duo. Some couples think of themselves as a "we," but you'd prefer other people think of you as two separate people, not one coupled off blob.

12. You aren't in a rush to make it to the milestones. Even if you have been together for a long time, you have enough faith in your relationship to know that you don't need to rush toward moving in together, engagement, or even co-owning an animal. You're open to these things down the road, and have talked about it, but aren't keen to tell the world that quite yet.

13. You're learning to balance your relationship with your commitment to your friends and family, and find it slightly more challenging than you thought it would be. Of course, each one of these groups is integrated, but you still want to devote alone time to your S.O., your friends, your family, and, let's be real, yourself. And it's hard to find the hours in the day to do all that and, ya know, have a job and pay bills and such.

14. You genuinely worry about what the hell you're going to do if you ever get married and have kids because having that many people around you at all hours of the day and no privacy sounds like actual hell. But, despite all of that, you might still want children, or a life partner.

15. You know your relationship is working when your partner gives you the alone time you need, without even being asked. They see when you're getting antsy, they know all the signs, and understand when you just need to retreat, and take time to yourself. It never makes them question the relationship, because your quirks are one of the reasons they were attracted to you in the first place. TC mark

BREAKING NEWS: Fat People Already Know That They’re Fat

Posted: 10 Sep 2015 07:03 PM PDT

amyjhumphries
amyjhumphries

WHAT??? Say it ain't so, Johanna!

It's true. Most people who are overweight or obese are aware that they could bear to lose a few pounds. Or a lot of pounds. Either way, they know it.

But how do they know???

1. They have mirrors.
2. Strangers and The Media make sure they're told this at least once a day.

So to all the people that think they're "helping" others by spewing vitriolic speech and demeaning other people as a way of “motivating” them to change: get the fuck out of here. You're a part of the problem, not the solution.

I do believe it's important that we encourage people to be active, eat well, and overall live a healthy lifestyle. I also believe it's important that we accept that we're all flawed individuals that deserve respect.

Everyone deserves to be able to see themselves as a human being with thoughts and feelings, rather than as a number on a scale.

Just like some people use alcohol as a social lubricant or their smart phone as a crutch while alone in a public place, individuals who are overweight or obese know that their weight is something they need to work on. And sure, some people are going to be more proactive about taking matters into their own hands and turning their life around. They're going to get active and eat better. Others won't. They'll need that kick in the pants and the tough love to get them motivated.

You know which people are allowed to give tough love? Close family and friends of the people in need. The people who have an intimate knowledge of the person and their history, and who genuinely love and care for the person they're confronting. Not strangers who have no idea what that person is going through.

If you're someone who just truly wants to help other people lead healthy lives, it is possible to promote a better way of life without putting down those that don't appear to be following suit.

Why is it so difficult to apply this logic to health? Is it because fat people have constantly been stereotyped as the bumbling idiot in popular media? That you're seeing these human beings as walking jokes rather than individuals trying to get a grip on this whole "Life" thing, just as you are?

Body positivity and the promotion of healthy lifestyles aren't mutually exclusive.

Everyone deserves the right to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with what they see. They should be able to walk down the street and feel confident that they look damn good that day. Everyone deserves to be able to see themselves as a human being with thoughts and feelings, rather than as a number on a scale.

For those of you who are going to read this and say, "But it's not healthy! We shouldn't be glorifying a lifestyle that promotes bad habits!" To you, I say: You're not wrong. However, please don't act like you're the first person to ever say this. People that are fat have heard it all. They know.

Body positivity doesn't glorify a lifestyle, it tells people—of all shapes and sizes—that they're allowed to feel happy looking exactly as they do. That they're beautiful, not because they can or cannot conform to Hollywood's beauty standards, but because they are a human being with a beautiful smile and a warm heart.

Now, before some people jump straight to the comments to tell me that this idea still supports unhealthy living and is basically the crux of all that is horrible in the world, let me finish. People are allowed to love themselves while still accepting that they have flaws and should always be striving for self-improvement.

The most important step in changing your life for the better is loving who you are and wanting to do better because you value yourself. While I cannot speak for all people, I know from my personal experiences that self-hate does not motivate, but drives me even further towards my unhealthy habits.

So when I hear "tough love" from people that have no idea what my life is like, I'm not slapping on my running shoes and sprinting to the nearest kale store. More than likely, I'm slapping on my sweatpants and sprinting to my couch, where the only people I have to listen to are Chandler, Joey, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, and Monica. And maybe that's just me. Maybe every other person in the world turns their life around while I hang out with Netflix, but I highly doubt it.

I just don't understand why we think it's okay to live in a world where people claim they're "helping" others by making them feel shitty about themselves.

I don't want to live in that world.

I want to live in a world where instead of tearing people down, we lead by example and offer positive encouragement whenever possible. Where positive change is brought on by positive thought.

Because it's possible. At least, I want to think so. TC mark

10 Popular TV Shows And The Best Comfort Foods To Eat While Watching Them

Posted: 10 Sep 2015 12:07 PM PDT

Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation

When I’m sad or generally not wanting to deal with life I turn to my favorite TV shows and comfort foods to pick me up from a bad mood. It’s even better to combine the two for one evening of personal comfort and bliss while ignoring the real world. Here are 10 TV shows and the perfect comfort foods to eat while watching them.

1. Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls
Gilmore Girls

Comfort food: Cheeseburger + Fries

The girls from Stars Hollow have inspired some of my most guiltiest take out orders. Luke’s might not be a real place but you can still order up a burger and fries from your favorite diner before binge watching the show. If a cheeseburger isn’t satiating your junk food cravings, make a classic Gilmore plate of pop tarts, tator tots, taquitos, and marshmallows.

2. Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation

Comfort food: Any and all breakfast foods

Ron Swanson is a man of many passions – one of them being his love for breakfast. Channel your inner Ron Swanson and eat all the breakfast foods. Yes, all of them.

3. Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars: Season 1
Pretty Little Liars: Season 1

Comfort food: Nutella

Just like the show, Nutella is sweet and sinful. Spread it on a piece of toast, use it as a dip for pretzels, or, let’s be totally honest, eat spoonfuls of it while nervously trying to figure out what the hell is going on in the show.

4. American Horror Story

American Horror Story Season 1
American Horror Story Season 1

Comfort food: Spiked apple cider, waves of regret

Spiked apple cider is a perfect autumn concoction to make while watching the latest season of AHS. Drink responsibly while watching, mostly because the gruesome scenes might have you regretting your intake later.

5. Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks

Comfort food: Coffee + cherry pie

If you really want to get into the Twin Peaks mood, eating a classic combination of pie and coffee while watching the show will have you feeling like caffeine addicted David Lynch himself.

6. Sons of Anarchy

Sons of Anarchy: Season 7
Sons of Anarchy: Season 7

Comfort food: A pack of cigarettes and a bottle of whiskey

Ahh yes, just like the comfort foods of your favorite biker crew.

7. Friends

Friends
Friends

Comfort food: Sandwiches

No one loved sandwiches like Joey loved sandwiches. Honor Joey’s love of all things that can be placed between 2 slices of bread and make your favorite kind of sandwich (or a variety of sandwiches) while watching the show.

8. The Biggest Loser

The Biggest Loser
The Biggest Loser

Comfort food: Chipotle, ice-cream

Literally nothing better than eating burritos and ice-cream while watching other people work really hard at losing weight.

9. Inside Amy Schumer

Inside Amy Schumer
Inside Amy Schumer

Comfort food: Male tears

These two just really go together.

10. Broad City

Broad City
Broad City

Comfort food: Cereal

One of the greatest food scenes in Broad City isn’t technically on the show but in a web extra. The girls get high together on Skype while concocting a cereal think tank. Recreate your own breakfast of champions while watching the show with your best friend. TC mark

9 Struggles You Experience When You Love To Be Fit, But Dread Working Out

Posted: 11 Sep 2015 07:38 AM PDT

Twenty20 / spooner
Twenty20 / spooner

1. You buy cute workout clothes.

You stumble across a hot pink sports bra with matching shorts that you just can’t resist, and you’re desperately hoping this will motivate you to choose the gym over Netflix. You’ll definitely go to the gym if you have cute clothes to go there in. Right?

2. You tell yourself, ‘That was my workout for the day.’

When you sprint three blocks to catch your train home from work, you’re convinced you’ve burned just as many calories as you would if you were to actually work out. Carrying those groceries up three flights of stairs eliminates your need for bicep curls.

3. You go to the gym religiously only immediately after you sign up.

You signed up March 1st, and you went to the gym five days a week…until March 20th rolled around and you were like, “Okay I can take a little gym break for one week.” It’s now September and the amount of times you made an appearance over the summer you can count on one hand.

4. You worry that the person at the front desk of your gym will say, ‘I haven’t seen you in a while.’

In reality, they might not even remember you because you don’t go all that often, but your mind is still set on using that as a legitimate excuse.

5. You have workout equipment in your own home, but rarely use it.

That exercise ball you invested in, that takes up about a quarter of your living room rarely gets used, and when it does it’s mostly for fun. It’s meant to sculpt abs, but you love using it as a bouncy chair, or as a harmless giant object to throw at your roommate.

6. You buy workout DVDs.

You know you struggle with the physical act of getting to the gym, so you buy workout DVDs hoping you’ll bypass that obstacle. You tell yourself you’re going to workout from home, but then you worry what the people in your building will think you’re doing with all of that stomping around. When you see your cute, downstairs neighbor by the mailboxes you feel the need to offer an explanation, meanwhile he has no idea what you’re talking about, and you just embarrassed yourself even more than him hearing your three minutes of jogging in place the night before.

7. You don’t over exert yourself in your workout.

You like to keep your workouts simple and un-exhausting. You love the machines that tell you you’re burning 300 calories in 30 minutes because you don’t feel all that tired. You look over at the people doing pushups and burpees and other exercises you don’t even think have names, and you become envious of their flexing muscles, but you see their sweat covered tank tops and think to yourself, I’ll try that another day.

8. You like being active in ways that don’t make you feel like you’re working out.

In your eyes, Zumba is the best thing that has happened since sliced bread. If you’re going to workout you don’t want to be thinking, “Good god, when is this going to end?!” You love to have fun with your workouts, and you’ll choose dancing around with middle aged women over the phenomenon of cross fit any day of the week.

9. You incorporate mini-exercises into your daily routine.

You feel like a lazy bum because you haven’t been to the gym in ages, but with your busy schedule it’s hard to find time, or that’s at least what you tell yourself. Since you’re too exhausted by the end of your work day, you do lunges in the office kitchen while you wait for your lunch in the microwave. You figure little exercises throughout your day will add up to something. At least you are trying! TC mark

This Guy Messaged A Girl For Almost A Year Asking To Get His Sunglasses Back, And You Won’t Believe Her Response

Posted: 11 Sep 2015 06:54 AM PDT

Imgur user phillyalex went to a bar, met a girl, went home with her, made arrangements to see her again. The next time he sees her, it’s late, and he asks if she could hold on to his sunglasses…. Well, don’t let me tell you the story. Here’s what he said:

Okay, so. Last summer, I met this girl at a bar. We hit it off, I end up going back to her place, whatever. She gives me her number before I leave and I hit her up to hang out again about a week later. I had gone to a football game earlier that day and then later met up with her at a friend’s house before walking to a bar to see a band play. It was a sunny Saturday day game and I was wearing sunglasses, but by the time I met up with her, it’s about 7pm and the sun was going down. So on the way to the bar, I asked her to hold my sunglasses in her purse for me. When we get to the bar, I see a few of my friends and I start introducing her while we order drinks. She turns to me and says she’s going to go outside real quick to make a phone call and she’ll be right back. She never comes back. Which is fine, I wasn’t that into her anyway. But what was not fine was that she left with my sunglasses. So over the past year, I’ve been desperately trying to get my sunglasses back from her with very little success. That was until last week when I finally made a breakthrough… Here it is from the beginning.

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At least he gets to see her again? TC mark

Everyone Remembers: Reflections From A Child Of 9/11

Posted: 11 Sep 2015 07:57 AM PDT

Roxanne Earley
Roxanne Earley

Everyone old enough remembers where they were. They have discussed it and relived it time and again. The topic has come up on dates where, painfully aware that the way I experienced the event reveals my age, I have shyly declined to comment. Nevertheless, it serves as a moment in each of our personal histories that is larger than our individual selves- a blip when people everywhere were connected. Even then I understood the gravity of it enough to document it in newspaper clippings and hours of taped radio shows.

In our seventh grade middle school science class, slowly learning that something was gravely wrong and fearing for our D.C. based parents, who could have known the way this day would color how we transitioned into adulthood? The attacks, corresponding wars, and national fervor radicalized many of my classmates and rallied them into service. For others it was the first politically and socially polarizing event in our lives.

Everyone had a new bar set for the fear and paranoia we would learn to live with, the suspicion of otherness that we would internalize: I was never afraid of bomb threats, or gunmen, or senseless violence against me before.

It made our mothers fear for us to fly. It made TSA arguably one of the more miserable parts of the modern condition.

I try to imagine how I would have processed 9/11 had I been an adult, had I been in the place I am now. This is in part because it is impossible to live in this New York, in this America, and not wonder somewhere in the back of your mind if you will be here if it happens again (for we are conditioned to fear that it could, that evil people want it to), and because you cannot move through the anniversary without reliving the event like an even worse version of Groundhog Day.

Today I am traveling from New York to Washington D.C., and the air is so thick with memory that it is palpable. The ghosts of the dead, of leadership who promised swift justice, of communal rage and pain are thick throughout these two cities, and I suspect in fields afar. You cannot move through New York without touching them. The sun rises behind the skyline of my home and I watch golden clouds wrap themselves around lower Manhattan in an embrace. You cannot live in this New York and deny the powerful symbolism it embodies.

Every year footage of the events is replayed, an assault on our senses and our hearts so that those of us who were alive may ‘never forget’ and so that the young among us may come to understand.

What is it that echoes in our public memory? We don’t forget, can’t forget, the incredible gutting of our public responders, the visceral reaction of bearing witness to the destruction of our physical fortresses. Each year I witness a kind of renewed anger, a froth of cultural viscousness that suggests we have not done enough.

Instead, we forget the way a city feels when it comes to an unexpected grinding halt. We grow numb to the numbers lost: the victims of the day, the hearts still broken, the living gradually being consumed by disease and slipping silently from us. We forget who has won this war: it isn’t Americans or Democracy, and it isn’t Terrorism or Radical Islamic militant groups. It surely isn't justice, despite what many who still ascribe to the idea of American Exceptionalism might suggest.

A slender, twisting spire rises from the Earth at One World Trade Center. We did not let that “field lie fallow”, as Lewis Mumford called for. Neither, some say, did we do much with it symbolically or physically. Bells will ring near pools of reflection, names will be read, and silence will be had. But what of justice? Did we find it in millions of civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, or in the thousands of veterans with debilitating PTSD and no medical care? Where was justice the night that Osama BinLaden was murdered for his crimes without being brought to trial? Many celebrated this murder, for some this was what justice looked like and you could see it in their faces as they reveled near Ground Zero.

I cannot see how the murder of this man, the continued inhumane torture and detention of humans in our most internationally reviled prison, the brutal hate crimes against Muslim-Americans and immigrants, and people who just 'look' suspicious is justifiable, much less just. Do we find Our Justice in Congressionally approved drone strikes, censoring of the press, or increasing surveillance of our citizens? Is your justice here, America?

The thing about justice is that you can say you want it, and you can even go abroad looking for it but when your definition of the word is corrupt at home, what hope can you have of realizing it anywhere?

On a recent trip to Norway the city I visited held a “Meet the Military” day. As we walked past the parade ground with its tanks, helicopter flights, and service people my companion informed me that some of the largest private American corporations in Military & Defense had opened offices in the country, and that Norway was designing and creating some of the most state of the art missile systems in the world.

“Cool” was my response. My friends' face darkened, and he said simply “I do not think it is cool. I wish my country did not help produce war.” I felt hot shame rise to my cheeks, realizing that I simply accepted the war machine. As an American I am learning that we are a violent group, and if not outrightly so, we are a people complicit with and numb to the violence in our world. Our country produces a staggering volume of war. So much war comes from America that our cities are militarizing. We have the largest, most powerful military in the world but politicians continue to sell us the idea that we need more. We spend more money, more human effort on this machine than we spend on education, on infrastructure, on our climate, on helping people. As a country, the message this sends is that we prioritize the need to be prepared to kill than the need to be prepared to help. Do not try to convince me that the military helps people worldwide: we spend our money on the tools for killing, not on our service people.

This is not a pacifist's reflection: I did a lot of talking about peace and pacifism when I was young and before I understood that violence in some forms is often part of social transformation. Our paranoia and faith in the war machine blurs our ability to reconcile the morals we claim as our national foundation with the ways in which we are numb to violence and destruction.

If justice is a web weaving together our diverse peoples, holding them up in strength before the law, before hate, before the monstrosity of evil that exists out there, then our primary tools for seeking it out and creating it cannot be mortars and gunpowder.

On the corner of West Side Highway and Murray Street I stood and watched the building I used to live in be disassembled and the rubble sorted. Two blocks south I craned my neck to follow the shrinking needlepoint of 1WTC, and imagined “what if…”. Not what if it happens again, but what if we move forward? The cities have returned to normal, their fabric repaired in one way or another: steel and concrete do not remember. What if we did allow ourselves to forget the rage, the blind pain, or the political posturing it took to rebuild? What if, instead of holding onto these memories, we stopped fueling the war machine? What if it slowed down and we found, in that stillness, that we were safe: safe without new missile defense, safe without more semi-automatics, safe without wire taps and black lists?

I had the chance to take a tour of Ground Zero before the memorial and museum officially opened to the public, and before 1WTC was completed. We rode the construction elevator up from the 90th to the 110th floor and let the fall wind whip our hair around our helmets. We fell silent, our city a vast and humbling thing. Remember, you cannot uncouple the building here from symbolism. It felt like we were at the edge of a new precipice. At the top of that tower, before they finished the interior with sleek marble, a lucky few signed the poured concrete. Their messages were of love, and hope for America and humanity. This one is, too. TC mark

Millennials, 9/11, And Why Jay Z’s “Renegade” Is The Song Of A Generation​

Posted: 11 Sep 2015 12:11 PM PDT

Flickr / Laura Bittner
Flickr / Laura Bittner

At 30 years old, I allow myself to think that I've got a long and happy life ahead of me. And as a child of first-world privilege, I'm probably right in that assessment. But anything could happen. I could get married. I could start a family. I could leave my hometown of Seattle and decide that Mexico is a safer bet as far has holding on to a semblance of mental health is concerned. Or I could watch in stunned disbelief for the second time in my short life as an event as cataclysmic as 9/11 shakes my faith in the American social contract to its core. This event could very well be the election of Donald Trump to the office of President. We don't know.

It's still pretty early. Nonetheless, I have a prediction to make: Jay Z's "Renegade" will be remembered as the single most significant cultural moment in the making of the Millennial generation. Maybe you have your own nominations. The internet release of Radiohead's In Rainbows is right up there, and so is Barack Obama's candidacy in 2008. You might even point out that it's irrational to draw a character portrait of anything as impossibly broad as a "generation" in the first place. These are all valid points. But I stand my ground in saying that, when the cultural history of the Millennial generation is finally written, it will be hard to find a work of art that better represents the Millennial condition than "Renegade."

To understand exactly where I'm coming from, we need a bit of context:

If you're a member of the generation that theorists Neil Howe and William Strauss named the "Millennials," you were born in the early-to-mid 1980s. Your arrival on the world stage coincided with a new era in American life defined by levels of wealth stratification that haven't been seen since the days of the robber barons in the 1890s. Some thinkers, like cultural critic Frederic Jameson, have called this new era "late capitalism." Others say the defining socioeconomic philosophy of this period is "neoliberalism," an ideology known for reduced government expenditure on public welfare ("austerity"), and reduced legal encroachment on the affairs of American business ("deregulation"). Whichever label you choose, the historical record is pretty clear on a few facts: increasingly de-unionized American workers found themselves working longer and longer hours for lower and lower wages in the 1980s. The term "latchkey children" came into vogue to describe the kids—the young Millennials and members of Generation X—that they left behind while they were struggling to make ends meet. Because politicians told everyday citizens that it was shameful to be on government assistance of any kind, families were expected to tough it out despite being given fewer resources to do so.

Rap was Public Enemy No. 1: the single cultural mode that most clearly embodied the cultural and socioeconomic contradictions of late capitalism.

This new status quo was born on the back of residual Republican resentment of The Welfare State of the mid-20th century. Angry White Males who lost their jobs when American corporations relocated abroad in the 1970s projected their frustration onto blacks who enjoyed recent political gains, women who were dissatisfied with restrictive gender norms, and immigrants who "stole jobs." Frequently, these groups were framed as socially deviant starting the 1980s—"criminal" in the case of minorities, "illegal" in the case of immigrants, or "non-traditional," in the case of women and sexual minorities. So in the last few decades of the 20th century, American society became the arena of contentious "Culture Wars" that simulated underlying political tensions between purveyors of public "morality," and those who the aggressive rhetoric of American neoliberalism deemed immoral.

Internet porn. Drugs. Violence in video games and movies. And obscene rap lyrics. All become the subjects of a series of "moral panics" in the 1980s and 1990s. And the key to these panics were public concerns over the "corruption" of American youths who, in these years, were none other than Millennials and Generation X.

On the one hand, cultural representations in the 1980s and 1990s showed a preoccupation with gifted children who required minimal adult supervision, and therefore reflected the "latchkey" condition of young Millennials whose parents were away at work. Think Lisa Simpson, Dexter, and Macaulay Culkin's character in Home Alone. Those representations and others displayed kids with incredible resourcefulness and ingenuity that would serve them well in the precarious socioeconomic climate of late capitalism. The well-behaved, subservient models of childhood they exemplified was a form of propaganda that showed Millennials 1) how to succeed under neoliberalism, and 2) how to validate the decisions of their Baby Boomer parents who instituted it.

On the other hand, the conservative social norms that American neoliberalism rode to power on were repeatedly tested by cultural cranks and radicals who refused the straightjacketed mores of the previous generation. In this context, rap was Public Enemy No. 1: the single cultural mode that most clearly embodied the cultural and socioeconomic contradictions of late capitalism. It's no mistake that American corporations were so busy finding ways to commodify and appropriate Hip-Hop in the 1990s. Because beneath the profanity and rage and the ribald materialism was a searing critique of the American way. For 30 years, the generations before us attempted to appropriate cultural revolt before it could ever become revolution. Moral panics tended to be enflamed around precisely those cultural forms that had the potential to challenge the norms and politics on which American neoliberalism constructed itself in the 1980s.

So have you listened to "Renegade" recently? It may be a good idea to queue it up now. Don't worry; I'll wait.

Shock culture is more or less a permanent part of the American cultural landscape today, so it's a little difficult to remember just how iconoclastic the rapper really was at the turn of the millennium.

When you put it on, what strikes you first? The rumbling, low-end downer funk of the instrumental? Jay-Z's authoritative tone? Eminem's facility with the English language? Upon listening to it for the first time in years recently, what actually hit me was how teenage and angsty it seemed. I mean, this record was released on September 11th, 2001: at this point, Jay Z was 31, and Eminem was right behind him at 29. What were they still so mad about? They were both millionaires. Yet they still felt the need to use their lyrics on this particular record to address the facts of childhood abandonment.

Let's start with the chorus. Sound familiar? It's a play on the tune "Anything," from the theatric adaptation of Oliver Twist—an enduring Charles Dickens novel about the sordid conditions of orphans who were abandoned by society and forced to raise themselves in 19th century England. Since this is the hook, it's meant to be the icon of an iconic performance: and Jay and Em spend those bars on a subtle but loaded historical parallel between Victorian England and late capitalism. It's impossible to separate the song from the facts of socioeconomic abandonment and the creation of a generation of latchkey kids.

Flickr / Daniele Dalledonne
Flickr / Daniele Dalledonne

Now, about the actual verses. For starters, this is an unimpeachable performance. That's one of the reasons the record is so important: if it sucked, it would be forgotten. What impresses me is how Jay Z and Eminem managed to convey broad generational themes in only two 16-bar verses apiece. Stanzas stacked thickly with wordplay, internal rhymes, and double-entendres also contain hints about the emotional situation the authors channeled—the situation of the abandoned child. Jay laments an American status quo that left his generation few options, but then turns around and tries to police their way of negotiating them. Eminem, meanwhile, continues to delight in his role as cultural provocateur, a schtick that ought to remind any grade school teacher of the gifted but unreachable class clown. Shock culture is more or less a permanent part of the American cultural landscape today, so it's a little difficult to remember just how iconoclastic the rapper really was at the turn of the millennium. But there's a reason he spends his verses on "Renegade" doing battle with Mormons and Catholics, channeling NWA, and criticizing Baby Boomer do-gooders: the Detroit-native was well aware of how public morality was used to deflect attention from underlying insecurities in American life.

The United States at the turn of the millennium was home to an incredibly hypocritical state of affairs that we're just now finding our way out from under.

"Renegade" was a track from Jay Z's album The Blueprint. Released the morning of the single bloodiest day in American history since the Civil War, the album is widely recognized as one of the best in any genre of the new millennium. But 9/11 has always cast a shadow over its release—which it should. It's hard to explain the full meaning of the record's coincidental release on 9/11. But I've always thought that the secret lied in the track "Renegade." The United States at the turn of the millennium was home to an incredibly hypocritical state of affairs that we're just now finding our way out from under.

As it turned out, the sources of panic in late capitalism should have had nothing to do with the alleged corruption of Gen-X and Millennial youths through rap records and video games. Beneath the surface, what our parents were really afraid of were the internal dynamics of late capitalism itself—namely: 1) the creation of geopolitical instability through the Reagan-era military projects of the 1980s, which eventually played a major part in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, and 2) the giving-over of the American social contract to private interests that eventually shipwrecked the American economy in the dot-com bubble busts of the early 2000s.

In the last analysis of the 20th century, it wasn't Millennials or Generation X or the video games or movies or rap records they liked that threatened to end civilization—if that distinction belonged to anybody, it belonged to the belligerent, privatized, profit-hungry ethos of neoliberalism that Baby Boomers allowed to be born when the golden age of capitalism (1945-1973) collapsed on their watch. The attendant moral panics and fear of Millennials and Gen-X culture therefore served a diversionary purpose, allowing adult Americans to misapply their anxiousness about the increasing precarity of socioeconomic life, and instead fixate on the supposed degradation of youth and the alleged decadence of the cultural products they consumed.

This was a ruse that Jay Z and Eminem attempted to expose on "Renegade." Looking back on it, the points they made on 9/11/2001 were punctuated by the sound of the falling twin towers. Fourteen years later, their verses were some of the best commentary we could hope for on a day we should've seen coming. TC mark

10 Things People Don’t Tell You About Breaking Up

Posted: 10 Sep 2015 01:14 PM PDT

Twenty20.com ryanmoreno
Twenty20.com ryanmoreno

1. Things will feel normal—until they don't.

The pain comes in waves. You'll go about your day and have moments of joy and laughter. You'll make tea and still enjoy cheese. You'll dance and sing. Then you'll remember or want to text them. The waves get weaker with time, but they will still knock you down.

2. You'll feel like you're made of tissue paper.

You'll feel incredibly soft and transparent. The grocery store feels like an extremely vulnerable place akin to walking through an auditorium in the nude. Your sadness feels palpable, a sign on the dirty wrinkled pajama top you haven't changed in 2 days. If the 1% milk is gone or the cashier is rude, there is an 87% chance you will cry.

3. Music is the worst (and the best).

Those albums and singles about breakups you once sang along to now seem to be written about you. A single line will destroy you, even in an upbeat song or track you know and love. There are more love/hate singles than you could imagine and the radio is an unsafe place for weeks. Some playlists will remain sacred on your iPod, and eventually you'll find a 'breakup song' that distracts you or speaks perfectly to your situation. This song will carry you through.

4. You’ll dread running into mutual acquaintances.

The prospect of having to talk about it with anyone sucks. Having to tell Mark from your first post-grad job at the frozen yogurt shop is crippling. Bring Kleenex everywhere. Lie if you have to. "He's fine" and "I'm good" work just as well as the truth. You don't owe them anything, and they'll figure it out on Facebook eventually.

5. Social media is kryptonite.

OK, to be fair, I was prepared for this one. You'll cycle between avoiding it like the plague and obsessively stalking. Signs of life are appreciated but tormenting. You'll find a way to fabricate suspect activity out of a 'like.’

6. Desires evaporate (or explode).

Talking, sex, eating, and drinking all lose their appeal. Eating seems like an unnecessary action and that bottle of wine suddenly looks like it's branded 'Tear Jerker'. Until you eat a bag of chips. Like, the entire bag of chips.

7. The waves of pain will turn into a droning tone.

After being knocked down, you'll stand up. You'll carry on, but with a slow, deep, droning pain that seems to take up residence in different parts of you. The neck, stomach, and throat seem to be best suited to it. You'll feel normal in so many ways but it will be present. Sometimes it will get louder and be hard to ignore.

8. You will connect with people in new ways.

It becomes easy to tell people you meet about the breakup. They don't know you or your ex. They will sympathize and even share their own stories. Their experiences will give you hope and make you feel like less of a leper. You will feel connected through your vulnerability and grateful for their words.

9. There are no rules.

You'll realize that all the numbers, timelines, and guidelines for moving on, dating, and relationships are fabricated. Your situation is unique. Your needs are your own. The only true guide is your intuition and feeling. If it feels right and you feel ready and safe, don't hesitate. Do what you need to in order to heal, grow, and move forward.

10. You will feel incredibly loved.

In addition to feeling broken, sad, and lonely you will feel loved, supported, and special. Your friends and family will understand. They will check up on you and assure you that you have a lot to offer. They will say things that make you smile and make you realize that other people know you well, too. It will feel like your birthday, only sad and horrible and genuine. TC mark

9 Women Who Popped The Question Explain What It’s Like To Propose (And Why They Did It)

Posted: 10 Sep 2015 08:11 AM PDT

Twenty20.com trangxng92
Twenty20.com trangxng92

1. GENDER EQUALITY BEGINS AT HOME

"I proposed to my husband almost exactly four years ago! I believe that if women want equality, we need to subscribe to it in our relationships—gender equality begins at home. And, since we had already discussed the date of our potential wedding, I figured we should seal the deal since we’d only have 10 months to plan as it was! I didn’t get down on a knee, just simply brought it up in conversation and told him that we should go buy rings and get engaged so we could get this party started. He agreed, and off we went! I wish women would stop waiting around like it’s 1866 and take control in every aspect of their lives."

—Jenny S.

beetlejuice

2. I EVEN GOT DOWN ON ONE KNEE

"I just knew the moment I met him that I wanted to be with him….I used to wear a simple silver band as a thumb ring. Three weeks after we met I took a notion and proposed to Lee with that ring—I even got down on one knee. It was a spur of the moment thing but we were both so happy about it. Lee went to tell his mum—who I hadn’t even met at that point—and he was so happy he was in tears. Our friends were always so happy for us so no one ever minded that I proposed to Lee. My parents, however, were a little concerned that things were moving so fast. They did understand, though, as they became engaged only three months after they met and are still together 31 years later."

—Sera

beetlejuice

3. Didn’t go down on one knee, but just said something sappy

"I proposed to my guy about 4 weeks ago. Bought a ring, went on a hike down by some waterfalls in Ottawa. Didn’t go down on one knee, but just said something sappy. He said yes. We met online almost 5 years ago and we’ve been living together for 4 1/2 years. He almost ruined the proposal, too. We had a small disagreement. He didn’t wanna go on the hike *argh* Just go…after about 15 minutes, he finally relented."

—Anonymous

beetlejuice

4. IT WAS THE MOST BADASS THING I’VE EVER DONE!

"I proposed and it was the most badass thing I've ever done! A few years into my relationship with my then-boyfriend, I started to think I wanted him to be my husband. We were talking about the future and it felt to me that we were in this life thing together for forever.…And honestly I started to resent that I "had" to wait to do something that I just really wanted to do….Then, early last year I had a seizure and ended up in the hospital. This led to brain surgery, which, nothing like an imposing life-threatening ordeal to put things in perspective. Life is just too damn short, you know? After I was home from the hospital post-seizure with my surgery scheduled, we woke up on his birthday on February 23rd. I…asked him simply and nervously if he would be my husband and do this hanging out thing forever, while presenting him with his engagement wing. Thankfully he said YES and we got married six months later."

—Lordess

beetlejuice

5. One of our friends was hiding nearby and got pictures of the whole thing

"I took my fiancé to his favorite place in town, the local gardens at sunset, overlooking the city. I gave him a View-Master I had made up with pictures of us. The last slide said "(Fiancé's full name), will you marry me?". He looked up from the View-Master and said "Of course I'll marry you!" I then took out a Companion Cube (Portal reference) ring box and gave him a ring. The best part? One of our friends was hiding nearby and got pictures of the whole thing. :3"

—Janey

beetlejuice

6. I proposed outside while we were looking at the stars

"My guy and I have been together since just after high school, and had talked about marriage in the past. We decided we'd make it official when we felt ready. I felt ready. So ordered a cute wooden ring online and suggested that in lieu of Christmas presents take a trip up to the mountains for snowmobiling, ice-skating, and a romantic getaway (I hate skiing). Our first night there I suggested we ice skate in the pond behind the hotel and proposed outside while we were looking at the stars….I was surprised by how nervous and emotional I got, so my pitch wasn't exactly eloquent or anything, but I told him that I'm happy with him and I want to spend the rest of my life with him, and would he marry me. He said of course and we kissed. After cuddles and kisses we went back to the hotel room to call our families."

—MarbHatter

beetlejuice

7. I made a dress with "Will you marry me" written on the front

"I proposed to my husband. It was great! We were planning on going to a Halloween party. For my costume, I made a dress with "Will you marry me" written on the front. I made a T-shirt for him that said "yes." I bought his favorite flowers and put on "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" (I later walked down the aisle to the instrumental of this song) and put on my dress and called him into the room. I proposed, and offered him the yes shirt. He accepted, put on the shirt, and we went to the Halloween party in our costume —Newly Engaged Couple.

—RLT LA

beetlejuice

8. Actually he jumped up and was like "HELL YES"

"I proposed to my husband publicly-ish. It was amazing—but I was SO full of nerves! Him and I had made little jokes here and there about marriage and babies but we hadn't had "the talk." One weekend, a group of us went camping for his birthday. I had planned to present him with this really cool old knife I bought him and had engraved. But the entire drive up there I had this sense that I wanted to see him with it—forever. Like I knew I wanted to marry him. So on the last night, before the last campfire of the trip, I asked him to meet me by the fire pit (naturally a group gathered, wasn't really part of my plan but what I do ask them to leave?) We sat down on a log and I started to tell him about how I wanted him to be the guy who took me camping. For always. I gave him the knife and I asked him if he would marry me and he said yes! Well actually he jumped up and was like "HELL YES." And of course everyone heard so they broke out the booze and we had a great time celebrating my very random proposal. Knife was in his pocket at the wedding :)

—gloriaestefanwasright

beetlejuice

9. "Will you spend the rest of your life with me?"

"My dude is a huge fan of Disneyland and California Adventure, so the obvious choice would be to pop the question there. But instead, I decided we were going to spend the weekend in Temecula wine country, where they conveniently offer hot air balloon rides.…So I make the reservation, tell them it's an unusual proposal, book a room at a local winery and tell him we're going to celebrate our 5-year anniversary a little early. He asks no questions.…So we get up at the crack of dawn on Sunday and head to the wine fields, where our balloon is being blown up. In a stroke of luck, my dude has brought along his new video camera and is too engrossed in playing with it to really pay attention to my subtle plan making with the balloon operators. We shared the ride with 2 or 3 other couples, and they were also in on the plan.…Everyone else is trying like hell to give us space and privacy, and my dude is still filming. So I get down on one knee, pull out the watchcase, open it, and get his attention. And I very hurriedly ask "Will you spend the rest of your life with me?" It took him one second (still filming, now filming his own proposal) to realize what was happening and give me an enthused though surprised yes. He even got a little teary :)”

—Lexie TC mark