Wednesday, July 25, 2007

oh bop, fashion

My eyes scanned the landscape in all my shopping glory. Rainbows of t-shirts lay folded meticulously upon the aged, wooden tables. Patterned dressed hung sandwiched on a metal bar, anchored with an assortment of ash-colored slouch boots. I mazed the room as images of season-passed wardrobes and now trendy necessities cluttered my head.

I was overwhelmed. It could be a side effect of the stuffy environment or maybe it was the daunting task of assembling my ideal fall wardrobe.

I gathered my composure. I was on a mission, and nothing was going to get in my way.

You might say it's not that serious. Guys always wonder why shopping spins girls into a tizzy.

“That shirt is SO cute.” “Oh my god. SHUT UP, this is on sale.” “Wow. This could go with this, that shirt I got last week and even those heels from 2 years ago.”

You’ve only have so much money, and you have got to spend it the best way you can.

It’s exciting to take a super cute pair of jeans to the register and have it magically ring $40 cheaper than you had anticipated. A basic tee that fits like a glove, that's versatile and brings out the blue in your eyes might equate to your favorite football team scoring a winning touchdown in the last down.

It might also make a public celebration dance okay, but let’s not get crazy.

When I finally scored my first day off from work in maybe one month (we’re talking 7-day work weeks, my friend), there was no doubt in my mind that my sister Chelsea and I were b-lining to Georgetown – shopping Mecca. Urban Outfitters, H&M, Commander Salamander, Wet Seal, boutiques. If perusing stores’ merchandise for six hours straight does not make you drop dead, seeing the damage you have done to your bank account post-spree might make you wish it had.

I swear this is not a painful or dangerous experience; I have some self-control and money management (if I didn't, there might be reason to worry). Shopping is satisfying. It makes you feel like you are making strides towards achieving a goal, similar to weight loss or sports training. Little by little you are seeing progress towards outfitting yourself how you want to be noticed, and it is rewarding.

The dilemma is keeping your sanity shopping amongst the rude and obnoxious.

There are two types of shoppers you must avoid at all costs: the rich bitch and the loud diva.

The former might think she’s heaven sent, but believe me, she’s really the devil in the flesh. The fact that she gets all her money from daddy and has never worked a job in her life disadvantages herself (no work experience, no future) and basically the surrounding environment (clean your own messes up). Not sure who I’m talking about? Take a day trip to Camp Nock-a-Mixon.

The latter is easy to spot – just listen. She’s the confused one that thinks that everyone cares about her life, the clothes she wears, her latest crush, the embarrassing drunk dial she left on her ex’s cell on homecoming night, etc. Not as much as a direct threat as Paris Hilton’s staredown/eyeroll combo, this little lady might make your ears bleed in the fitting room. Just kindly ask the fitting room attendant for the last room; she feels your pain.

Anticipate the girls’ presence and deal with them accordingly (ignore and take cheap shots – verbally and/or physically – at any possible opportunity). They should not inconvenience you too much.

About seven hours, six bags and a half tank less of gas later, Chelsea and I ended up 30 minutes north of D.C. at a lower grade mall. We chatted fashion over Towering Onion Rings as we awaited the arrival of our Red Robin cheeseburgers.

“Chelsea, What did I wear before there were skinnies?”

Pants like I’m wearing. But honestly though, I don’t even know. I can’t even imagine you without skinnies. What did you wear?”

We never came up with an answer. We finished our meal and took a pit stop at the nail salon before we ended our day-long extravaganza at Forever 21.

Take the Lead played on a mounted flat screen at the back of the shop. A Christian mother reminded her huddle of little girls since “You got your nails done, so you’ll go to Church tomorrow, right?” They were too busy fanning their freshly polished nails at each other to acknowledge her. A petite woman, who I perceived to be the owner, rushed around calling more customers in from the mall corridor and assuring my sister and me that she’ll be ready to start in five minutes.

“I’m physically exhausted,” Chelsea said, as she closed her eyes, hung her head and soaked her hands in a small bowl of warm water. “But this might have been the most amazing day ever.”

Fall wardrobe secured, body aching and money gone, I could not have agreed more.

Monday, July 23, 2007

There goes my “forgot my badge at home” excuse

Still under scrutiny for their borderline-1984 security lengths, last year pushed the envelope by implanting a small, capsule-like chip into 2 employees’ arms. The chips were injected under their skin with a large-gauge hypodermic needle and replaced the Radio-frequency identification (RFID) key chains that granted access to the video surveillance tape storage center.

The regulation implemented by the Cincinnati surveillance company reasoned that the implant would not only reduce security breaches but also help out forgetful staff members.

In 2004 Mexico’s Attorney General Rafeal Macedo took similar action. He and his eighteen member team were equipped with chips to help secure activity into a sensitive records office.

I can perhaps see the need for extreme security controls at the government level -- yes, even if it does blur the lines between human and robot. Governments are responsible for the safety and organization of a nation; some information cannot fall into the wrong hands. But the same regulation instated by a private security company seems a little unnecessary. They’re still using VHS tapes, but they’re upgrading their badges to microchip arm implants?

RFID can store all types of information from medical histories to basic identification profiles. RFID tags are used in credit cards that can be charged with a swipe, like the American Express Blue Card’s ExpressPay, Mastercard’s Pay Pass and JPMorgan Chase’s Blink.

Implanting such technology into the bodies of people can produce an endless list of possible applications, both beneficial and disturbing.

In July 2004 the FDA began their final assessment of RFID implants and approved the first USA implant that October. Patient medical records can be stored and updated via wireless to ensure that people receive appropriate care in emergences.

Nightclubs in Spain, Scotland and even the U.S. (Miami) already use RFID to identify VIP patrons as well as make paying for drinks more convenient.

Privacy concerns taint the wonderful world of RFID. Although not available yet, the ability to stalk certain people with a form of GPS is not outside the reach of technology; a person’s whereabouts could potentially be identified at any moment.

New Jersey has not taken the leap yet to implant, yet a similar tactic has been adopted with the help of municipal wireless to control beach usage.

Beach bums vacationing at the Jersey Shore traditionally had to purchase a badge to play on the beach. Projected to begin next summer, Jersey beaches are looking into an electronic wristband upgrade to limit freeloaders and ease the purchase of beachfront concessions.
Wristbands or pins would be worn, allowing digital tracking of who in fact paid to use the beach.

Text messages could even alert mothers if their children strayed too far from their area.

Add an implant to the mix and I could get an email every time you leave your house to go to the beach. I don’t think I’m alone when I think that’s pretty scary.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Will you look at that thing..

I thought it was going to end in a tie but when it came down to it, my bellybutton won.

Everyone has their quirks: the uni-dimple, the double-jointed thumbs, even the rare third nipple. They are typically embraced, either in an effort to escape their wrath of embarrassment or celebrate their uniqueness.

Lucky me, I have two unusual features.

Sample One: The Black Freckle.

Commonly mistaken for a stray pen marking or piece of dirt (am I really that filthy?), the black freckle pinpoints the center of my long, pale forehead. It is debated when it actually appeared (I say I’ve had it forever, some claim it has developed within the last few years) but since it is formation never have I received more finger-licked face rubdowns in my life. Endearing or just plain unsanitary, I hate to admit I do enjoy the concerned stranger who attempts to clean my blemishes. Ironic enough, after I tell them it is my skin they are okay that it screams skin cancer. I have yet to receive any suggestions of removal; it is just that cute I guess.

Sample Two: The Uncanny Crater-like Bellybutton

A shot of vodka held or approximately 20 jellybeans in, my bellybutton can really pull its weight. Deemed “The Crater” at Spring Break 2004 by a wonderful Ms. Keely Dobbs, the thing might be described as an extremely wide, shallow innie. I have always known my navel to be different but I had no the extent of it until word about it spread like wildfire at work. “Have you seen Paige’s bellybutton..” “Paige! Come here! Let me see your bellybutton!” “Yo Megan told me about your belly button, let me see it..” Are you serious? But okay, I’ll show you.

I love when I see people confident about their oddities. I once went to a soccer camp where a girl had webbed toes. She was not shy about it, nor was she obnoxiously advertising it as if she was a sideshow attraction. She played her cards just right; if it came up in conversation she confessed her secret, but otherwise she went about wearing sandals and suiting up for games just like all the other girls.

I’d never change my bellybutton. A piercing might not look so hot and I do have resting water when I get out of the pool and lay right down, but I’ll take it. I still wear bikinis like the best of them and I don’t know the first thing about belly button lint.

It’s a toss up between the freckle and navel to determine which should be my poster rarity. Crater wins in my books. The looming cancer scare and accompanied misconception that I might never wash my face blows the freckle's chance of getting the title.

I’m hoping that I don’t lose a few fingers or develop some crazy deformity to give the bellybutton some competition. In the meantime, yes, yes I will show you it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Challenging tradition

I’ll take them after 11 years, but until then, they’re all yours.

Nothing annoys me more than dealing with a little loud-mouth who reeks from refusing showers, finds boogers to be a satisfying snack and turns a deaf ear to any response synonymous to “no.”Children are my pet peeve, and I’ve struggled to find only a handful of exceptions amongst the 2.2 billion kids worldwide.

My roommate and I joke that we’ll one day “share” our children – her raising them from the womb to middle school, and then me taking over and doing my part. By that time they should be able to be somewhat independent (clean, cook, entertain), but still impressionable (bring on the Nancy Drew, mixtapes, EPL soccer).

Don’t be scared for me; I’m well aware molding mini-mes is not the way to go about parenting, nor should it be a motivation to have children. The more I contemplate my future, my dreams and what I want in life, the less I see myself actually having children. My family totally agrees. “I see you as that crazy aunt coming back from like India with gifts and crazy stories to share with my kids,” Chelsea told me, after she divulged that my parents also think I’ll be a jet-setting, well-cultured wife with no little-ones.

Doesn’t sound bad to me.

For whatever reason, I feel guilty. Call it even selfish. My mother did not want to have children for majority of her life and now she has two daughters. She made that sacrifice to bring me into the world, should I?

Children make the world go round. Without them, we’d be extinct. Like Carol Pateman touches upon briefly in her examine of contractualism, women provide a great civic service by bearing and raising a family. I agree, and to a degree that I feel negligent if I do decide not to have children.

The whole situation is hypocritical from my position. I was once a bratty, know-it-all youngster, so how can I even say I dislike children? I just do. Everyone dislikes screaming babies and tantrums, but they suck it up. They somehow find joy within the little rascals. Maybe I just need a stronger magnifying glass.

While I wallow in my thoughts, my boyfriend can rest assure; I’m not dating him to get pregnant and married. I can almost hear his sigh of relief all the way from Minnesota.