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I wrote this a year or so ago, still so very prevalent

First I have to climb out of bed, that’s the hardest part. On a good day it’s only five flights down and out the door. On laundry day its six flights down, six flights up (both with way too many clothes) and then the five flights down and out. Across the quad, (which is kind of a round-about route since they have blocked the closest exit due to construction) down the stone steps into the Muddy River Greenway, up the stone steps out of the Muddy River Greenway and to the Longwood D Green Line T Station.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

Up the T-steps to pay, down the T steps to find a seat, sometimes that seat being on the T steps. Down the T steps at Park, down the steps to the Red Line.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

Out at South, up the escalator, up the steps, down the street, over the bridge (no Grandma’s house), up the elevator to the ninth floor, up the naval-themed steps  and then and only then into my office chair that costs me twelve dollars a week in T rides to reside in. Literally, they aren’t paying me; I pay them twelve dollars each week to get there.

I am a child of our times.  That may seem obvious; I cannot help but be alive in the time in which I was born. Otherwise I would not be me. But I mean it in a deeper sense. Not so much a child of our times, but a product. We are all products to some extent in this technological world; we mold our actions to conform and to be useful. I’m offering my services for gratis, hoping for a return on my investment.

I am a child of the computer age, a middle schooler of 9/11 and a college graduate of the 2008 financial crisis. The last one made me an adult. I write this looking across to the Boston skyline, not from my penthouse, but from the rooftop garden of my grad school. In another year’s time I will have added two master’s degrees to my two bachelor’s’, my two associate’s and my two-plus years of unemployment.

I’m not quite sure how this happened. Yes, there was a recession but I was in the top 10% of my high school class, I had a full college scholarship, I graduated with honors and awards. If anyone could land a job in this economy, I, in my pride, knew it would be me. I had no doubts. But pride comes before a fall and there are many, many stairs to fall down here.

I am a child of the digital age. I have the whole world at my fingertips, a whole web of knowledge in my pocket. I remember my father circling newspaper ads in blue pen for jobs within 50 miles but I can search the whole world, nothing can stop me. Nothing has stopped me, just slowed me down. Two cross-country moves in two years.  A product of my age. I am used to instant gratification, free information and beliefs of American superiority. How long do I wait to be free?

Overqualified and under-qualified.  I start to scream in my head at them, “I am not too educated for this job! I am too smart to be poor. Well then let me drop the degrees, I am too poor to be smart.” What can I do then but become smarter?

Even with no loans to defer I return to school, my safe haven. But a Master’s is no longer knowledge for knowledge’s sake. It is for the mastery of employment options. What courses should I take to obtain an internship? What internship should I take to obtain a job? How many loans do I accrue in order to get paid? How many subway rides do I pay for in order to volunteer? How many days do I waste to one day be prosperous?

Do I take the internship that’s closest and save on my fares? Do I take the one that’s more closely aligned with my field? Do I take the one that has the biggest, most prestigious name that can be placed on my resume, that paper that is proof of my human worth?

Shell out, shell out, shell out and some day you will be given something in return. A social security system where society wants my work and gives me no security. But although I pay 12 dollars a week to gain a word on that paper, I work less and pay less than the law students, staring into the void of the internet to bring justice to others because they can find none for themselves, working 40 hours for free and paying law school prices on top of it.

Internships and volunteering. I’ve tried my hand at both. I spent a weekend at a conference, registering all the out of town guests next to a girl in my field of study but not from my school, a point she made sure to make. After ten minutes of knowing each other (if you can call it that because I cannot recall her name) she informed me that she went to summer camp with Mark Zuckerberg who still had a pair of her sweatpants. Social climbing. Those are steps I haven’t taken yet.

Waiting at Longwood, waiting at Park, waiting at South.

Standing, swaying, sweating, waiting.

“Front door exit only”

Pushing, pushing, cursing, pushing.

Up the anarchist bullet-pocked steps of the John Adams Courthouse, up the metal steps of the Old Harvard Divinity Library, up the grand steps of Countway, down the sweeping steps of the JFK, up the back stairs of the Boston Athenaeum (the elevator is being repaired), up the navel-themed steps of Carmen Ortiz’s office again, back up the five flights to my tiny dorm room, out of breath.  Down the five flights again to flee the mess, one flight to find the entrance of the library, one flight once inside to find quiet in the library, up the stairs to the second floor therapist office once a week to find not only quiet but also peace. I swear Boston is made of stairs.

 

Climbing, climbing, climbing from one interview to the next each one a landing to catch my breath on before I realize I’m not there yet and have to keep on climbing.  Climbing, climbing, climbing, waiting to rise above.

Sitting in this roof-top garden I can see the Pru. I had an interview there once. 28th floor, no stairs, thank God. I can see it from here just as I could see this garden from the gorgeous boardroom there. I laugh and I think of two different Mes, one at the Pru, one here sitting on the rooftop, waving at each other.

I guess one day it may just be so. The future me may be able to look down from the 28th floor and survey all that I’ve been able to overcome. However the present me can only continue looking up.

I never climbed trees as a child. I’m not scared of heights; I just wasn’t one for athletic activity. I was the bookworm and choose a book-related field in order to keep it that way. I wanted to shut myself away in a corner, alone with the stories, mine and those of others but it’s not something that can be done. There is still a physical and social component to the most introverted of lives. We all must climb. Climb out of bed, climb out of our shells, climb to new heights, and climb to new opportunities.

I guess it’s a good thing there are so many stairs in Boston, someday I might just reach the top.

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Campus Creeps

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I haven’t been writing a lot. There are a lot of changes going on in my life, including I’m no longer on the anti-depressent I was on for ten years so that makes all the changes even hard to handle. But I did want to try to muster up some energy and present this project to you.

Campus Creeps

We’ve seen the disgusting “trend” of rapes and sexual assaults going viral. The survivors of such incidents, mostly minors, do not deserve what happened to them. Not just from the assault, but then to have it blasted over the internet. 

We’ve seen the “trend” of campus rapes. Something that isn’t new but thankfully is finally getting some attention. But yet again, sadly, a lot of the attention is because the administration and law enforcement are not providing the survivors with the closure, support and courses of action they should.

If anyone should be publicly shamed, it is those who commit the horrible crimes of sexual assault and rape. But most importantly, once they have committed such acts, instead of spreading the name of the survivor via online humiliation or because they have to leave the school to fee safe, etc, the name of the perpetrator is the name that should be spread so that other people do not fall into the same trap. So the perpetrator cannot claim another unknowing victim.

Since so many of these crimes on campuses go unreported because of stigma, fear of personal safety, and the model of how college administrations have dealt with reported assault in the pass, these perpetrators can continue on to their next unknowing victim. 

Campus Creeps hopes to be a safe place where people can anonymously  let others on their campus know which individuals to be wary of. Yes, there are a lot of questions involved in whether this is the right course of action but something must be done and I feel the risks do not overshadow the end goal. For more in-depth discussion, read the About page on the website.

 

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sweetstuff

 

1. This Toilet Seat Cover

From ebay seller derbycovers

2. This Emergency Cellphone Antenna

Not that I ever stray that far out of urbanity, city-girl that I am but this cellphone antenna (Called Gotenna) is for emergencies when the towers go down and for places far beyond their reach.

 

3. This Work Accessory

Omg, this please, this. I always need my feet up! This under-desk hammock is so cute (and functional!) It’s called Fuut.

4. This Shirt

Last week I shared a great David Bowie shirt that caught my eye. That was one was out of my price range and this one is currently sold out but I think I see the beginnings of a strange collection of colorful printed button-ups….I’m sure my bf will love this.

5. A Job

Yeah, severance is done at the end of the month. This isn’t fun anymore.

Book of the Week – When Everything Changed by Gail Collins

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Bookreview

 

 

This week I had someone on Tumblr ask me what my recommendations for documentaries about women/feminism were. I have a few. I really love Makers: Women Who Made America for instance, but I am primarily a reader, not a watcher.

And When Everything Changed by Gail Collins is one of the best books I’ve read in a while on recent Women’s History in America. My boyfriend picked this book up for my birthday. (You have to love a computer nerd who will go into a book store…into the women’s studies section…to try to find me a gift). Now I just completed my Master’s in History so I’m used to reading some really dull and heavy tomes about women and feminism but this one is far from that.

One of things that makes this book so great is its readability. It is not a textbook. It is the story of American women from the late 1950s on and is told in such a way that it reads like a diary at some parts. It is chock full of personal anecdotes from women which just make it come alive. For instance…

In her memoirs, the publisher Katharine Graham recounted how [JFK] had once demanded to know why Adlai Stevenson, the balding, chubby United Nations ambassador, was regarded as so attractive by his many female friends. Told that it was because Stevenson actually listened with interest to what women had to say, the president responded, according to Graham, “Well, I don’t say you’re wrong, but I’m not sure I can go to those lengths.”

 

And quotes from women

The history we learned, the political sophistication we discovered, the insights into our own lives that dawned on us!” wrote Robin Morgan. “I couldn’t believe – still can’t – how angry I could become from deep down and way back, something like a five-thousand-year buried anger. It makes you very sensitive- raw even- this consciousness. Everything from verbal assault on the street, to a ‘well-meant’ sexist joke your husband tells, to the lower pay you get at work (for doing the same job a man would be paid more for), to television commercials, to rock song lyrics, to pink or blue blanket they put on you infant in the hospital nursery…everything seems to barrage your aching brain, which has fewer and fewer protective defenses to screen such things out

 

Little stories that make you think. There’s a difference between reading that in the 1960s most women were still expected to wear dresses/skirts in public and reading a story about a woman who tried to pay her boss’s parking ticket for him in her work pant suit and was told she was inappropriately dressed for the courthouse and could not proceed. She had her husband go back in and pay.

Many of the women in the narrative are mothers and daughters, allowing the reader to clearly see the changes between generations.

My one complaint about the book, and its only a semi-complaint, is that there is so much focus on the 1960s and very little on more recent history but in a way that is to be expected. I just wish to have heard more about say the impact of Monica Lewinsky but history is sometimes best left to simmer for a few decades.

I highly suggest picking up this book!

 

Freak of the Week – A.M.W. Stirling

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freakoftheweek

 

From the De Morgan Foundation via Wikipedia

Name Anna Maria Diana Wilhelmina Pickering Stirling Dates 26 August 1865  – 11 August 1965 (She died a few days short of her 100th birthday) Why She Rocked

  • As the sister and niece of prominent Pre-Raphelite painters, she had a great interest in art. She wrote several books including a biography of her sister and her brother-in-law, William De Morgan and His Wife
  • She sometimes wrote books under her father’s name Percival Pickering
  • She founded the De Morgan Centre for the Study of 19th Century Art and Society (Now part of the Wadsworth Museum)
  • Was involved in the Suffragette movement and corresponded with Emmeline Pankhurst

Links To Further Info

Birth Control and Sex Ed

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via Buzzfeed

My bf and I were walking down the street this weekend when he randomly turned to me and said, “When do you start your new B.C.?” 

B.C.? My first fleeting thought was “Before Christ”, because that is what B.C. always stood for growing up, my second thought, since I live in Boston was “Boston College”. Luckily it wasn’t even long enough to be a noticeable hesitation before my brain kicked in with the right answer…birth control, he was talking about birth control.

But between that and Hobby Lobby I started thinking,  What did I learn about B.C. growing up? 

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Two of the more popular posts are our Tumblr deal with sex education and birth control (See here and here) and people all the time com back with comments about how it is impossible for a female entering her teen years or older to know so little about birth control and sex ed in general. No, no it’s not. It happens, a lot.

I only went to Christian school up to 8th grade but in those years we definitely did not have any type of education about ourselves and our maturing bodies. We didn’t have a health class. Science class (at least in 7th and 8th) was a lot of reading the text book in class, doing some fun projects, and staging a debate to refute evolutionists. Gym glass was twice a week. And for 7th and 8th grade it was no longer co-ed. This wasn’t so they could address gender-specific issues. It was so the boys didn’t have to worry about hurting the girls while being super athletic and competitive. (And probably so they didn’t stare at our legs in our gym shorts since we couldn’t wear shorts otherwise) I don’t really think that worked because as a non-athletic girl myself I found the athletic girls lost half of their friendly rivals and started just beating the pulp out of the book nerds like me.  

Moving on to a public high school in NJ, I had sex ed and a comprehensive one compared to some. I know we mentioned birth control at least, I remember the condom on the banana, the diagrams where you named all the parts of both male and female genitalia. I’m not quite sure what my friends that went on to the Christian high school learned though I remember one friend telling me of a horrendously embarrassing group devotional where the teacher talked about the evils of masturbation and went into detail about how she used to do it herself and how wrong it was….

But since the children you are raising in Christian middle school are not supposed to be having sex until they are married I understand why you wouldn’t be addressing birth control, you probably wouldn’t be addressing it in a public school at that age either, but not to even let kids know what is going on in their own developing bodies? I guess it was supposed to be left to the parents. 

But what if the parents don’t want that responsibility? Isn’t that why we have schools? To teach our children the things that we don’t know or don’t have the time to explain to them in detail? I don’t recall having any conversation with my mom about menstruation. It might have happened. I can’t recall. Someone had given me the American Girl Care and Keeping of You book which was extremely helpful. 

And I definitely didn’t have any knowledge of sex or birth control from my parents. I never had “the talk”. I never asked, I’ve always been one to try to find the answers out for myself. That’s why I became a librarian I guess but in the pre-internet age, at a school where you needed parental permission to talk out the adult Christian novels…I resorted to the dictionary.

A friend from church, who went to public school, asked me one day in 5th or 6th grade if I knew what an orgasm was. I could tell from the tone of her voice she was ready to ridicule me for saying I didn’t. So I said yes, and went home that evening, got out the dictionary and tried to look it up. But the words in the definition made no sense to me. I had to then look up the words “genitalia” and “ejaculation”. Then I had to look up “semen”. Finally I gave up. I was going around in circles.

I never asked my parents though, for some reason I knew that it was a topic that probably shouldn’t be spoken about. How did I know? Maybe it was the whispery tone my friend used when she asked me about orgasms or I had understood enough of the definition to realize it had something to do with a penis. But why? Why was it so shameful?

Many Christian parents believe they should shield their children from any or most talk about sex because initiating it will lead to sexual curiosity. Yet I feel that a lot of my peers did the exact opposite. Being told something is wrong and shameful and then not explaining it further led so many to try to find out for themselves. And the minute they realized it was something their parents abhorred, it became cool. 

I was the good girl. i never had interest in middle school and high school relationships, probably because no one was ever interested in me. (Except that dating game the teacher made us play in 8th grade, but that’s another story). So I never pursued it. Once the computer came around I knew there were certain words I shouldn’t search for, things I shouldn’t look up. I learned it very quickly actually because one of the first websites a friend told me to go to was gurlz.com but didn’t explain the spelling….(girls.com is or at least was a porn site)

I could wait to know, because I was going to wait for marriage anyway. I knew the basics (I thought), I knew the shame piled on the unmarried women in church who became pregnant. I was so naive that I didn’t learn the basic mechanics of sex until I being raped. Even though I had sat through the high school health classes that explained the vas deferens and the scrotum. The high school assumed most freshman had a precursory knowledge of sex and needed only to be taught the adult way of referring to genitalia and how to prevent pregnancy. I needed sex ed 101, beginning with, “Class, men have penises, they can grow in size when excited.”

I may have gotten a little off track here but my major point is we can’t assume that everyone knows about sexual things, even in the day and age of the internet. Our school computers had filters on them so strong that you couldn’t even pull up information about the state of Virginia because it blocked sites with “virgin”. 

So often we place the onus on young girls, or even young women, who are raped or become pregnant (through sex or rape). We call them out for being sluts, whores, etc. but really how much is our own fault for not teaching both girls and boys about sex?

I was tempted to ask my bf, right there on the street why he was ashamed to just say “birth control” and not b.c. but I realized he was probably doing it more for my privacy than anything else. Though, any person walking by with a smarter brain than mine would have known what he was asking anyway. But really? Why do we continue to be so ashamed? Sex is natural. We talk to our kids about poop all the time. Potty training is a separate industry with books like “Everybody Poops”, Both defecation and sex are normal human functions and the latter is much more fun to talk about. 🙂

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sweetstuff

 

 

1. This Painting

 

“Portrait of Ms Ruby May, Standing” by Leena McCall was recently from the Society of Women Artists Gallery for being too “pornographic” and “disgusting” because you can see a little bit of pube hair I guess…anyone care to count how many naked women male artists have created?More Here

2. This Shirt

This shirt is part of an unofficial Planned Parenthood fundraiser
 Buy Here

3.These Espresso Mugs

I don’t drink espresso plain, actually I haven’t had coffee for a few months now. But these cups from Pier One are enough to make me start. They are so cute! Hard to see the size in this pic but those are coffee mugs behind them…
Buy Here

4. This Clock

How gorgeous is that? I move in a little over a month and I’m all over this… Its from the Etsy seller justlikedream.

Buy Here

5. This David Bowie Shirt

 

From C.Kero, titled “Spaceman”

Buy Here

Project of the Week – The Dallas Project, a documentary about the Strip Club World

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project

 

Summary: A documentary project about all sides of the Strip Club business including strippers, producers, and owners in Dallas, Texas. This project aims to give these people the human face they deserve, not just the caricature. Current Progress: $26,385 of $49,250 with 12 days left Link to More Info and Contributions Options

On Women – Arthur Schopenhauer

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So I wandered in Brattle Bookshop a few weeks ago, one of the oldest antiquarian book stores in America (and a few blocks from my work), and picked up  three or four books. This book caught my eye because of the title and age. I hate to admit that despite my History and English degrees, I’m useless on philosophy and although the name “Arthur Schopenhauer” sounded familiar I couldn’t place it.

Well, Arthur Schopenhauer is one of the great philosophers of “modern” times, an influence on  Nietzsche and many other thinkers. He died in 1860, so this little book published in 1931 was a little beyond the time of his prime. Which made me think, why was this published at all? But I get a head of myself.

Now of course I am no expert on Schopenhauer and this overall theories and philosophies but scholars have argued that On Women”  (its in the public domain now, read away) his forty-page essay that starts with “One need only look at a woman’s shape to discover that she is not intended for either too much mental or too much physical work” doesn’t really fit with the rest of his work, so it isn’t really covered by most serious scholars of his philosophy. Thomas Grinwood, a Schopenhauer scholar wrote that there are “seemingly limitless range of approaches to the “problem of woman”in Nietzsche’s writing, it is somewhat surprising that his oft-cited philosophical mentor, Arthur Schopenhauer, has largely escaped the same scrupulous attention. 

That does seem strange. Let’s just ignore a supposedly brilliant man’s blatant misogyny because it does not fit in with what we do want to talk about. In fact, if you just do a simple Google search most of the times this essay comes up is not in any scholarly sense but on the websites of MRAs and anti-feminists. Perhaps the scholarly world sees it as too ridiculous to bother with but I think we must since it being cited on places like the MRA subreddit The Red Pill as proof of women’s failings. People see that this is written by a smart, globally praised historical figure and finding nothing to dispute this part of his writings latch on to it to enforce their own prejudices.

How ridiculous are the claims in this book? This essay was written over a hundred years ago, no one was particularly kind to women at the time but for a highly-esteemed philosopher some of Schopenhauer’s claims seem pretty idiotic. I guess we can never know how much environment stifles really great minds.

Schopenhauer’s main argument seems to be that the Romantic view of women is folly. Schopenhauer was very against the Romantic movement in all areas so some apologists see this essay as just another variation on that theme and not pointedly misogynistic. But IMHO, the text speaks for itself. The very first page sets out the premise that women are not equipped for any physical labor. Their only duty is to be a mother. (Kind of ironic, since becoming a mother is literally labor). He places his proof that they are not equipped for labor by their physical appearance alone. Did 18th/19th century Germany have no skinny males or hefty females?

Women are directly adapted to act as the nurses and educators of our early childhood, for the simple reason that they themselves are childish, foolish, and short-sighted” If this were true, how is that they managed to raise male children that supposedly surpassed them? Yes, male tutors taught young boys the scholastic fundamentals but why would you place your trust in a child to raise a child? Obviously they didn’t really believe that fully. Schopenhauer’s own mother, Johanna ran a successful salon, but he seems to forget that since he was at odds with his mother over his father’s death by suicide.

His personal experience with his mother and other women may have tainted his views. He once proposed in middle age to a 17 year old who turned him down. Schopenhauer calls all women liars, whether they do so consciously or not, and says that is why they cannot testify in court. “Women exist solely for the propogations of the species and are not destined for anything else.” Yet somehow, since this is all they have to worry about, he believes they go through life with “levity”. Nevermind the dangers of childbirth at the time.

But yet, the next page or so he seems to change his mind and say that men on the whole are much more satisfied with life because they are much more disinterested in competing with other men. Since Schopenhauer has left women only one purpose, he seems them constantly in competition with each other causing them to hate every other member of their sex, whereas men only compete with those that are in the same line of business as themselves.

Yet if this is truth, then it’s men like Schopenhauer that are causing this dissatisfaction and competition because they have barred all other professions from women. Four pages later he proclaims that women should not be let into the theater. Why? Because ” the most eminent of the whole sex have never accomplished anything in the fine arts that is really great, genuine, and original, or given to the world any kind of work of permanent value”. Well that’s kind of hard to do if you haven’t been let in the door….

Another interesting point is that Nature who made man and woman the way that they are, is consistently referred to as a female. It is a macrocosm of humanity really. Nature seems to have created men to be higher than herself, just a woman give birth to men. If Nature has the capacity to endow men with all this greatness as Schopenhauer says, shouldn’t it follow that she posses it herself as a female? If it is only so because she is a deity, then why are the deity of all powerful men, female? Schopenhauer says that the romanticized ideal of women who should be worshiped is folly because he believes they are not equal to men so certainly cannot be put on a pedestal yet his romantic ideas of Nature are feminine.

Schopenhauer had interesting ideas on polygamy for his time period. He believed it was a good thing. But only because “every man needs many women”. Even though that would create more children and women cannot love their children, they do not have enough reason and logic to do so. They can only care for them by instinct and once the child is grown it is only the  father than can really love them. So that’s a lot of work for one guy.

The last line of essay sums up Schopenhauer’s outdated views, ” That woman is by nature intended to obey is shown by the fact that every woman who is placed in the unnatural position of absolute independence at once attaches herself to some kind of man, by whom she is controlled and governed; this is because she requires a master. If she, is young, the man is a lover; if she is old, a priest.”

Yet despite being outdated, just as Schopenhauer grabs onto “evidence” from a Spanish psychologist that was written 300 years before and claims it is only still known now because it is right, so say the MRAs of Schopenhauer. Being a great man, does not make everything one says great.

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In fact, I was wondering why, this essay, so rarely published alone (if at all) was published in New York in 1931. The answer? I don’t know. The publisher, Felshin Publishing Co. does not really turn up any other books except a Prohibition era cocktail recipe book…

Freaky Films for Fundamentalists

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A discussion I find I get into a lot with people is how my childhood was supposedly robbed by the fact that my father never really was big on letting us see films/tv shows. I watched a lot Veggie Tales, Tales of Odyssey, McGee and Me (look them up, all 90’s Christian films…OMG don’t forget Bible Man!) Current films (or current films then, 80s-90s) were too full of sex and violence for my funadmentalist father. And sometimes he was right. Sometimes the church got a little crazy, it took me a while to start reading Harry Potter because of the wizardry (read satanism) and Darkwing Duck was too scary. My mother and I cheated every once in a while, we both read The DaVinci Code because of all the fuss about it. My father refused to however.

But the outcome is that at the age of 25 though I only just last The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus (Halloween is evil), films that my peers quote and get nostalgic over and there are tons more I have yet to see. Although watching them now won’t give me those fuzzy feelings of childhood memories, at least I will understand the jokes!
So my boyfriend and I started to write a list of all the movies I need to watch. Currently the list includes such things as The Goonies, Ghostbusters, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles among others. But I need your help? What other movies should I have seen as a kid that I must watch now? (Perhaps even while drinking since I can do that now too 😉 ) I don’t know how often I’ll be able to watch them at the moment since I am finishing up my thesis but soon I will be free of that! I’m planning to write a review of each movie. What it’s like to be watching this movie for the first time as an adult? What would my fundamentalist father or little innocent me would have thought about it at the time? And lots of other fun things I’m sure.
So please! Fill out this three question Google form and let me know your favorite childhood/teenage year movie and if I haven’t seen I’ll put it on my list!