Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This post is about backpacks.

Big in the 90s? Found on almost every adolescent in the country? Ring a bell? If you thought “backpacks” (or if you looked at the title of this post…come on people) then ding, ding, ding! You’d be correct. If you think backpacks are a mundane subject, then you sir or madam, are mistaken.  Full of nostalgia and old school charm, backpacks are making a comeback...or so claimed by
My Mom, sister, and I ALL wearing backpacks on a trip to Europe. 
Please note I'm ding the One-Shoulder Sling!!!

But, uh…did they ever really go away?  As far as I’m concerned the backpack never lost its value because it provides an unmatched purpose and practicality. I donned this awesomely functional style throughout my formidable elementary and middle school years, throughout my days at South Salem High School, and even during most of my college career at Linfield (a backpack was a must when I ventured the few miles out the Nicholson library for a cram sesh). But these soft shells you carry on your back didn’t come in handy just when you wanted to carry a few books around. Oh no, backpacks were a fashion statement.  And that’s what I’m going to tell you about. Hold on tight.
Like lots of kids in my generation, I was branded a Jansport backpack consumer at a young age. Jansport is like the Apple, Inc. of the backpack world. Circa the early 1990s Jansport was the shit—unparalleled by its competitors. However, as the years went on it became outdated and other companies outpaced it (enter North Face and the Microsoft). Although Jansport will never be the phenomenon that Apple is today or have the “cool” factor that Apple so mastered so well, Jansport will always be the original backpack creator in my mind.

Jansport packs were the basic and classic. They originals came in a few colors and only had two pouches. Everyone who was anyone had a Jansport backpack in my 4th grade class, and if you were the luckiest of kids, Mom would buy you the matching Jansport pencil organizer.
Elementary and middle school came and went, and as I entered high school I quickly realized that Jansport was out, and the North Face was in. I didn’t attend the local middle school that most of the other kids did, and therefore I knew that if I had any chance of climbing the social ladder and surviving the next four years of hormones and cliques, I would need to get me a North Face backpacks in a big, big way. North Face backpacks had multiple pouches with tons of zippers and cool hidden pockets. Some of them even had water bottle holders on the side of them and had buckles that went around your waist and across your chest….just in case those 3 books you needed were TOO heavy for all those pre-pubescent shoulders. Rest assured folks, my parents did not smite me and I did end up getting a NorthFace backpack. I don’t EVEN want to think about what would have transpired if I hadn’t have gotten my hot little hands on that thing. But I digress.

Sidebar: One backpack trend I never understood was the roller backpack. Rolling bags should be kept strictly to airport travel. Just sayin.
Not only was it the kind of backpack that one owned, but it was also the way that you wore your backpack that decided your coolness factor. There was the one-shoulder sling (this one-shoulder look was also popular at the time with overalls). Another “cool” way to wear a backpack is what I like to call the “Pack Sag.” I never really understood this (but God forbid I didn’t buy into it). The Pack Sag is when you loosen the backpack straps as far as they will go, and then let it swing in the air behind you. Why, I think to myself, would we do this? I have no idea. We looked like a bunch of assholes with our backpacks hanging below our butts. Then again—guys used to wear their pants below their butts, which is also completely idiotic. Not sure what it was about the early 2000s but apparently sagging was the word. Let me just say this: The older I get, the less I want things to sag. So boys, pull up those trousers, and ladies, buy some SPANX.
Finally remember the “Tiny Pack Trend?” Those tiny packs made fashionable and popular by cult teen hits a la like 10 Things I Hate About You: 
“See there’s a difference between ‘like’ and ‘love,’ because like my Sketchers, but I love my Prada backpack.”
“But I love my Sketchers…”
“That’s because you don’t have a Prada backpack!”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Going Postal (Service)

Let's talk about snail mail. In modern society we have this thing called email, you may be familiar with it. If you aren't familiar with it I suggest you stop reading this blog immediately. It's that communication mechanism that we check incessantly and use for everything from getting work done, to keeping in touch with old friends, to breaking up with a significant other. Most of us actually have multiple email accounts. I have two email accounts, both of which I receive on my phone. So let me clarify...on my handy-dandy iPhone I can:  Text, call people, send and receive emails, get on the the internet, update my Facebook status, view all the daily tweets on the people I follow on Twitter, play games, snap a few photos, check the weather in Hong Kong, listen to the radio (not to mention all the music I have on my iTunes), watch the latest YouTube video that has gone viral, figure out the nearest coffee shop to my current location and the directions to get there, not to mention about 10 million other things because there is an app for EVERYTHING PEOPLE. Phew! I am tired. But wait, there's more! If I ever get bored of my phone I can always just whip out my computer, which does all of that and more.

Yesterday I was at work and I had my cell phone, the land line cordless phone at my office, a laptop, and a desktop computer all in front of me. I came to the realization that I may be slightly over-stimulated by technology. I blame Bill Gates and Steve Jobs for this.

I grew up with technology. I remember what life was like without a computer in my home, but barely. I certainly remember the days before a GPS in the car--but now that we have them, I have absolutely no idea what I would do without it. I would likely be late to every meeting I have in the Portland-metro area because my sense of direction is lacking.

Either way, I think I am going to start letter-writing more. It is so exciting and rare to receive a letter in the mail! Usually when I check the mail all that is there are ads or bills. Not exciting, nor rare--and even most bills get paid online now. Getting birthday or holiday cards are nice, too, but there is nothing like getting a letter from someone just writing to say hi or update you on their life. The last time I even remember this happening is when I would go to overnight summer camp growing up. I was only there for only five days or so, but my Mom would send me a card telling me all about the things that the family was doing while I was gone. It was so memorable because it actually  made me feel like I was far away and brave for being gone sooo long. I'm sure that my Mom and Dad had to put that letter in the mail about 3 hours after she dropped me off at camp. I was a lucky kid!

It is amazing to look at how far we have come. A postal system used to be a indication of a civilized society. Now, its an antiquated way to communicate. So here is to writing more letters...send me your mailing addresses people! Emails not allowed, because even though snail mail is slower than email, it is the fastest way to my heart!

Oiled Up.

Exxon Valdez ain't got nothin' on this oil spill. So sad and depressing. BP released a statement today stating that they "were not prepared for this oil spill." OH...REALLY!?!? I think we may have figured that after 45 freaking days of failed attempts to cap it. What a bunch of arseholes.

Sum Sum Summatime

Sometimes I am too serious--and God help me if I stay too serious. The fleeting glimpses of summer weather have made me reminiscent of and yearn for the days of being a kid and spending my months out of school playing capture the flag in my neighborhood, going to summer camp at Silver Creek Falls, playing in the sprinklers with my best friends (because come on, its Oregon--we don't have pools in our backyards), and jumping on the trampoline ALL. DAY. LONG. Those were the days, man. I am definitely a person who is affected by the weather. If it is sunny and warm out, I swear my mood is immediately enhanced. I'm a summer baby, born smack-dab in the middle of July. No two ways around it.

I have compiled a short and sweet list of the things I love most about summer time:
  1. The smell of freshly cut grass
  2. Filthy feet because I never wear shoes
  3. Getting burned by the metal seat belt when you get into a hot car
  4. BBQs
  5. Firecrakers/Fourth of July in general
  6. Sundresses
  7. Going to the lake and camping
  8. Having it be light outside and warm until at least 9pm
  9. Outdoor concerts
  10. The Art Fair
  11. Getting tannnnnnn
This picture made me happy. I need to get in a flowy sundress and just do some good old twirling. Think it would help my serious face.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Exiting Gracefully

Last Sunday marked exactly one year since I graduated from Linfield College. Because this blog is dedicated to my life post-grad, I thought it only fitting to say a few words about this anniversary. Please indulge me. I went to graduation this year to watch a friend leave the "fake" world behind and enter the "real" one (whatever that means). I was sitting in the bleachers I thought about my life 365 days prior. There I was, full of ambition and hope, and ready to leave the over-watered lawns of Linfield and face the next phase of life. All that was left for me to do was A) Figure out what the hell I wanted to do, B) Find a job that allowed me to do that, or the option I am still figuring out the logistics of on my downtime C)Do neither of those two things and live on a beach in Morocco selling friendship bracelets. (I'll note for the record that I would need to learn how to make friendship bracelets before I pursued this business venture). One year out--and I think I've done pretty well with options A & B.

Graduation speeches from students really bum me out. It's hard to say what it is about them exactly, but I think they are a total let down because they never seem to elicit any desire in me to thereafter to go forth and conquer. In theory, it seems like these speeches should wrench your gut because these are your peers! They navigated the road with you for the past four years, took the same tests you did, and are now celebrating the same success you are. Unfortunately, however, it is more likely than not that they fall prey to the manufactured and shallow outlines that have plagued student speech-writiers for years. Usually there is a reference to skipping class (hello Muchas Gracias), parties (hello red keg cups), some top 40 song (hello Vitamin C's "Graduation" circa 2000), or the tried-and-true "Well, we FINALLY made it!" Though I can understand the temptation to use one of these graduation speech cliches, I just can't condone going there. Apologies to the 3 student graduation speakers I have witnessed at my commencements who shall remain nameless in the blogosphere--I'm sure you tried.

Bad/boring speeches aside, graduations are very exciting occasions. It's a day in your life where your family and friends gather to celebrate and give you gifts because you really did accomplish something great. You worked hard, you had success and failure (hopefully more of the former), and you finished. In life it seems that the times when you get gifts or people gather to celebrate, it's based in nothing. On your birthday you get gifts for your ability to continue to breathe, eat, and sleep on a consistent basis. On Christmas you get gifts for...? I'm actually not really sure why people give gifts on Christmas. I think America has something to do with this tradition based in consumerism--but I'm not complaining! Go America.

To all the 2010 graduates out there--congratulations on a job well done! It was and still is difficult to understand that I'm not a student anymore and my "job" isn't to study and fulfill a curriculum. But I think there is a trick to a graceful exit. Whether it be from a social event, a relationship, or a life phase. The ability to let things go with acceptance and appreciation is crucial to happiness. Try to believe that you are always movin' on up and what's to come will be worth the struggle. When you leave school it always important to remember why you went in the first place. For me, it was to learn. I know that if I set goals and challenge myself, my education will never stop (but my 8am classes will). I really do think that education is one of the key factors to success, and I hope that I never stop being a student, as I can learn from everyone and everything around me.

Side Note: Whatever happened to the throwing the caps in the air upon completion of the graduation ceremony?! That was, hands down, the best part of graduation from high school. I have a framed picture of all the caps in the air and I'll never get rid of it.

In summation: Don't use cliches in graduation speeches, keep the throwing-the-caps-in-the-air tradition alive and kickin', and whenever possible try to never be the first to arrive or the last to leave a party (unless of course you are throwing it--then you're just being rude!).