Sunday, January 12, 2014

NEW BLOG: Generation grannY

As much as I've had a blast keeping up with Shannon's NYC over the last 2 1/2 years, I've been inspired to start a new blog that is a little more universally appealing (as sad as it is to accept that my day-to-day life isn't universally appealing...).  Please stay up to date with my newest posts at Generation grannY!

Monday, December 30, 2013

My Response to "23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You're 23"

I just read a blog post by a girl who is 22, living overseas, and proudly single…so proud, in fact, that she wrote a post about why you shouldn’t get married young. Now, she didn’t give an exact age that one should reach before she approves of marriage, but she basically took the stance that your life is over once you’re married, plus you’ll probably get divorced. Essentially, being young and carefree means not having a ring on it. I can’t pretend that I’ve never thought that getting married in your early 20s would have its challenges, but after reading this young lady’s blog, I feel the need to stand up for my friends who are already married/engaged.
Four down, two more by 2015! Thrilled to stand by my best friends.

Statistically, my fellow single blogger is correct: many marriages in America fail. And, yes, the age bracket with the highest rate of divorce is 20-24. That being said, why do so many single women cling to these depressing statistics and use them as a way to make themselves feel better about being single? Worse, why do they use them as a way to pass judgment on their married peers? Call me crazy, but I hope with all of my heart that my girlfriends who have said “yes” will all live long, dedicated, happy lives with their husbands. I am not in their homes, do not witness their daily interactions, hear their goofy jokes on the couch, or know their whispered words of love in the bedroom (ew, thank God). I can’t feel what they feel or comprehend their mutual trust. You’ve heard it before, but here’s a friendly reminder: You can’t understand a relationship unless you’re in it.

I’m not talking about blatantly terrible relationships where the guy is cheating and the girl is crying and they get married anyway because of the baby on the way. No, I’m talking about the average friend who gets engaged to a guy she met in a bar or on or through her roommate, who seems genuinely in love and excited to hang out with her man for the rest of her life. In that case- give the girl’s ring a “like” on Facebook and maybe try not comparing your life to hers. Just because you’re having an awesome time in your singlehood doesn’t mean that someone else your age can't be ready to kick back with a husband and a yard project. I should also point out that some married people still travel, work out, make out, and enjoy bro-time or girls nights out. Shocker- I know. Especially since we’ve been taught that being married means being tied down, letting yourself go, only being physical to procreate, and losing contact with all of your friends.

Let me touch on where I’m personally coming from. I’m 25, single, and really can’t imagine being married right now. I live in a run-down apartment, eat brie cheese every other night for dinner, and really loathe giving back rubs. The idea of having enough money or patience to pick out pretty home d├ęcor is more than I can grasp. Plus the thought of sharing counter space in the bathroom is super stressful. On the significant other front, I have dated some terrible guys and some fantastic guys. Some too nice, some too rude. Some too loud, some too quiet. Some too old, some too young. I’m kind of like Goldilocks, waiting for one that’s jusssst right.

Marriage might be a foreign concept to me right now, but I hope that someday I’ll understand why all of my friends are tying the knot (congrats to the 87 new engagements among my Facebook friends that happened while I was on vacation last week). I’m sure it’s a very exciting moment when you realize that the person you’re with could satisfy you for the rest of your days. When I think of it that way, who knows if I would’ve taken the plunge at age 23 had I met the right man? But I didn’t. Not even close. At that point in my life, I was seeing an Irishman in NYC who disappeared one night and resurfaced six months later, after I had already held for him a mental funeral and prayed that the police would find his body. It didn’t work out.

…But back to my take on being single. I love traveling and eating copious amounts of Nutella and writing a blog (all things that this blogger claimed were important things to do before you get married), but I also feel no need to make strangers uncomfortable in public places, cut my hair, or get a tattoo because “they’re more permanent than marriage” (also on her list of things I’m apparently supposed to do pre-ring). Getting married has nothing to do with missing out on a full life. In fact, many would argue that marriage makes your life even fuller. If you don't agree, keep in mind that a full life can mean something completely different to every person- hence why blogger girl thinks you need to “hang out naked in front of a window” and I do not. To say it simply, being single can be great. And so can being married. Being single can be painful…and so can being married. No need to pass judgment on those who check a different marital status box than you on their W-4 forms. We’re all just people, living life, and enjoying the cards we’ve been dealt (hopefully).

Twenty-two-year-old single blogger girl has every right to be thrilled with the choices she’s made in life, but in my humble opinion, maybe she should add one more thing to her list of “23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23”: Overcome the immaturity of thinking that your way is the best way to live. Lord knows you’re not ready to be married if you still think your life choices are superior to others.

So go ahead, my young single ladies (and gents)- be happy for your friends who are engaged/married. Have faith that they’ve made the best decisions they could regarding the bling on their left hands. You can always unfollow certain newsfeeds or drink Pinot Noir while watching He’s Just Not That Into You if you need to get away from all of the wedding fuss. And you married people- remember that those of us who aren’t even close to creating bridal pages on Pinterest (I don’t have Pinterest, so I apologize if “pages” is the wrong lingo…Shanny the Granny strikes again!) are not to be pitied. Life would be really lame if we were all on the same track.

Friday, November 22, 2013

"Cool Girls": The New Definition

What does it mean when someone says “she’s a cool girl”? I mean, I want to be a “cool” girl. Don’t you?

During church summer camp at the age of 12, I was not allowed to use the word “cool.” I got rebuked by my counselors for calling someone cool because that meant I cared only about appearance and popularity. So they said. I’m not sure if they had their contacts in because I was chubby, awkward, and desperate for a friend…the last person who cared only about appearance and popularity. And if I did, I was failing miserably at both.

That being said, I somewhat understand why my counselor disapproved of the word “cool” as it relates to adolescents. You’re a cool [female] tween or cool [female] high schooler if you have the following:

1. Big breasts
2. Trendy clothes 
3. Ugg boots (class of their own outside of trendy clothes)
4. Good hair
5. Intelligence but not too much
6. Individual birthday invitations like you’re on “My Super Sweet 16” and they forgot to air your episode
7. A boyfriend- or at least a few prospects

Of that list, I had number 5 going for me. I could have had number 4 but I decided to go with bangs in 8th grade and, well, that was bad move.

Now that I’m 25 and still hear this word “cool” being thrown around, I’ve noticed that the definition has changed. Big breasts are a dime a dozen, plus most guys have realized by now that they really just get in the way (it's the harsh truth). I’m kind of glad I don’t have them. Trendy clothes- eh, no one cares that much anymore. People don’t think someone is cool because she/he has expensive clothes (sidenote: why does everyone seem to think they’re fashion bloggers these days?), rather “cool girls” are always the ones who have- gasp- good personalities. Too much intelligence doesn’t exist, and everyone starts wishing they’d been that smart girl in class who now has her life together while the rest of us still can’t afford much more than rent and Trader Joe's wine. And the whole boyfriend thing? Well certainly if you’re 25 and single, a little voice in the back of your head whispers that you might die alone, but no one else judges you. Everyone just assumes it’s because you’re an independent chick who has more important things to focus on (Yeah! That’s it!).

Let's take a deeper look at the good personality I just mentioned. What is a good personality? I feel like it’s this weird phrase used to describe gene-pool-challenged individuals. Which is so wrong. Just wrong. I won’t get into that misuse, though. From what I gather about “cool girls,” their good personalities follow this general guideline:

1. Witty: Your clothes don’t matter if you have awesome one-liners.
2. Humble: You don’t take 800 selfies per day. Or even one.
3. Independent: You have a job and are passionate about something. Anything.
4. Emotionally stable: What does this even mean??? I still don’t know. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not.
5. Awkward: This is a compliment these days. It makes you relatable. This is the primary reason I have friends.
6. Nonjudgmental: If you talk behind people’s backs, people have learned that you’re probably talking behind theirs, as well.
7. Confident: Not the fake kind. The kind where a smart, gorgeous woman can walk in the room and you don't automatically feel threatened.

I’m actually pretty thrilled with what it means to be a “cool girl” in your twenties. How refreshing to know that being cool isn’t about money, genetics, or gossiping. If you are still living in the high school mindset that being cool is about what you wear and how many juicy stories you can spill, you might want to re-think your approach. Hint: Don't have an approach. Accept the fact that being cool is nothing more than being comfortable in your own skin.

To sum things up, I shall present a few of my favorite celebs who have shaped this idea of coolness:

Jennifer Lawrence- Below is a real quote on the red carpet on the night she won the Oscar for Best Actress. Girlfriend was hungry, and we can all respect that.

Emma Stone- I know this was her “character” in Easy A, but she’s kind of like this in real life, too:

Zooey Deschanel- Same thing as Emma Stone…I’m positive her New Girl character reflects her in real life.

Mindy Kaling- If you haven’t read her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? then your life is way sadder than those of us who have read it.

Adele- Just. Yes. I've never heard an artist laugh at herself more on stage and off.

Which leads me to…

Beyonce- Okay, okay, I know she hasn’t exactly reinvented “cool” since being perfect has always been cool, but come ON. It’s Queen Bey. What she lacks in witty awkwardness, she makes up in being really nice and really fierce. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

7 Tips for Surviving Your Mid-Twenties

Listen. Everyone's been there, will be there, or is currently there. The empathetic there to which I'm referring is that scary, depressing place called Your Mid-Twenties. You know, that time in your life when you survive on homemade sandwiches, self-harm by way of Facebook stalking your friends who are "already successful," and begin to question this whole idea that you should be passionate about your job. How about a gig that allows me to afford name brand shampoo? That'd really do it for me at this point.

Here are a few suggestions for getting through these dysfunctional years that we'll one day look back upon with wonder as to how we ever took for granted our wrinkle-free faces, children-free schedules, and money-free jobs (<--- see what I did there?).

1. Wine

I know I talk about wine a lot. If ever I drink enough that I'm regularly irresponsible or embarrassing, I'll stop raving about it so unabashedly. Until then, I'm giving wine every bit of praise it deserves. Wine can get you through a lot. I'm not saying to drink until you forget (that bullet point would be called "tequila"), rather have a glass or four until you are good and relaxed. Your heart rate low, your emotions high, and leaning on your old friend named Cabernet Sauvignon. He will listen to you, I promise.

2. Less-trashy reality television

Please don't watch Jersey Shore spin-offs or anything that revolves around partying, fighting, or babies getting spray tans. Rather, find a show that inspires you to get off your butt and stop thinking that your capabilities peak at figuring out how to alphabetize a column on Excel. A few recommendations: Dancing with the Stars, The Biggest Loser, and MasterChef Junior. I know, I know- I shouldn't be promoting TV-watching, but it beats scrolling through Facebook to see who did something more exciting than you this weekend. Especially if you're watching obese people run five miles, a woman with cancer dance the Rhumba, or an 8-year-old cook a ridiculously complicated Beef Wellington.

3. Find a gay best friend

This is the least offensive, most practical, and best advice I will ever give you. For the two or three men out there that read my blog, just skip this paragraph. I know you're skimming anyway. Gay guys are the best of both worlds. They're guys- so they are excellent cuddlers with insight to the male psyche. At the same time, they are boldly loyal, tirelessly sympathetic, and undoubtedly aware of the best brunch deals around. Also, I've never had someone pump me up quite as successfully as a gay man. You're down on yourself? Prepare yourself for a catalog of why you're the hottest, fiercest, most wanted girl in town. Not only are they great cheerleaders, they're awesome at making you feel needed. Gay men tend to be open- probably because they've learned to be very comfortable with themselves during the coming out process, so they'll ask for your opinion, voice how much they miss you, and let you in on their deepest, saltiest thoughts. For once, your voice is heard over the loud mid-twenties grind!

4. Walk more

I'm way less depressed about my looming car insurance bill when I am breathing in fresh air, safe from white walls and computer screens. I, like every normal person on earth, hate running, so I won't tell you that it will make you happier. I'm sure it would, but walking seems like a much less aggressive piece of advice. Even if it's just to Harris Teeter to pick up your Lean Cuisines- stop getting in your car to drive a quarter mile. Or if you're in a city, stop making the Chinese man come to your door. At least go out to get your General Tso. Get off the train a stop earlier, take a phone call get the idea.

5. Stop believing that spirituality is awkward

Trust me, I'm fully aware that we're mostly exposed to three types of spiritual people: a) The overzealous, completely unrelatable Christian on Facebook who openly condemns you for your love of wine, gay men, and most of the things mentioned above, b) The quote-loving yogi-type whose flexibility allows them a sense of enlightenment that your corpse-like limbs will never let you reach, and c) angry atheists who are really, really mad at said Christians and yogis. Now, pretend none of those people exist. What do you believe? If it's the Bible or the Quran- great, now what does it say? Will you do what it says? Do you want to read a history book about its validity? Maybe research something you weren't taught growing up? Try praying. Try meditating. Try going to church. Try going to a temple. Seek. You will find.

6. Don't text or drink and drive

Especially at the same time. This is how you survive your mid-twenties. Literally.

7. Don't take Facebook seriously

I don't know about you, but I'm fairly certain that every person I know is engaged or pregnant. If they're not, they have glamorous jobs as a fashion designer or news anchor, so who cares if they're single. Also, everyone seems to have a lot of friends, nice clothes, and an awesome sense of humor. But that's why I wrote this blog. I know for a fact that my Facebook friends with expensive new boots, stunning engagement rings, statuses that read "I'm so grateful to love what I do every day!", and pageant crowns on their heads (sound familiar?) are not, in fact, exempt from feeling like their worlds are sometimes falling apart. How do I know? Because they're in their mid-twenties. 

Oh, also this:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Blood Brother

Sometimes our little minds don't even know when we're out of practice. Let's take singing, for example (I bet you can't imagine why I chose this topic). To put it simply, I know how to sing. I know the correct breathing techniques, warm ups, minor adjustments to the hard and soft palates, and other jingles that make for a healthy sound. When I haven't taken a voice lesson in a few months, I can walk myself through all of these nuances and sound the same as I did during my last lesson 120 days earlier. Or so I think. As soon as I go to another voice lesson, however, I find out just how much my sound has suffered while being out of practice. Here I am thinking it's like riding a bike, when in reality, my training wheels have been reattached without my knowledge.

This goes for most things in life. We think we will never lose a part of ourselves that has been "forever" etched into our brains:

The Healthy Part: Remember that time you gained 30 lbs and felt terrible about yourself? Never eat that much peanut butter again.
The Open Part: Remember that girl who seemed so mean, but ended up being such a great friend? Always give someone a second chance.
The Spiritual Part: Remember when you prayed on top of a mountain and never felt happier? Never lose that kind of faith.
The Driven Part: Remember when you almost couldn't pay rent and about had a heart attack? Always be grateful to have work.

The list could go on and on. I, for one, think I'll never lose these mantras that make me me, but often watch each one float away as though it was never part of my core being. Or- as related to the voice lesson- don't realize they're slipping away until I get a jolt back to reality. Last night, I got one of those jolts.

As I've mentioned before on this blog, I went to Chennai, India in 2004 and again in 2006. I volunteered in an AIDS home for women and children affected by HIV/AIDS, a leper colony, and elementary schools in the slums. I still think about my experiences over there at least weekly, if not daily. The way I perceive buildings, paved streets, cars, clothes, and other dignified things that Americans take for granted will always be in comparison to the humble luxuries- like shoes- in India. Strangely enough, I've let those daily comparisons fool me into believing that I have not forgotten what I learned in India. Watching Blood Brother- Sundance Film Festival winner of the U.S Grand Jury Prize for a Documentary and the Audience Award for a U.S. Documentary- reminded me just how much of India has slipped from my mind.

Rocky and his kids
Blood Brother follows an old friend of mine, Rocky Braat, through his journey working in an AIDS home outside of Chennai (a different home than the one in which I worked). Perhaps more appropriately worded, this documentary follows the start of his life in India, where he has now decided to spend his life serving children affected by HIV/AIDS. His journey will not end in this lifetime, which makes this documentary all the more inspirational and thought-provoking. Painfully graphic, yet somehow light-hearted, Blood Brother depicts the raw reality of Rocky's dedication, from his nursing a child through a seemingly fatal outbreak to his marriage to an Indian woman. Through it all, Rocky maintains an impossible amount of energy, humor, strength, vulnerability, and faith.

My 2006 trip to Chennai
Behind the camera (and occasionally in front) was Director Steve Hoover, Rocky's best friend, who happens to be married to one of my best friends, Kira Hoover. His beautifully artistic shots of India's landscape, each child's demeanor, and the emotion behind Rocky's experiences brought me back to my time in Chennai. I had forgotten that yearning for purpose that India left me craving- the idea of life with grander appeal than wealth and popularity. I am not particularly materialistic, but Blood Brother reintroduced to me a taste for life that I have rarely felt, certainly not acutely, since my departure from Chennai in 2006.

The Purpose Part of me is once again burning brightly. Chris (the boyf) and I are planning to sit down and discuss where this light is actionably leading us, but one thing is definite: Everyone needs to watch Blood Brother. Click here for showings near you (lots near all my New Yorkers!) or here to donate to Rocky's mission.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Unemployment: Saved in the Nick of Time

Two blog posts in one:

Life gets really strange when you’re unemployed. Oh, how I hate that word. Unemployed. Using it makes me sound like one of those twenty-somethings draining the government’s money because I think a college degree earns the me the right to be CEO of a company and nothing less. For the record, I’m not even collecting unemployment. I’m one of the stubborn cases who would rather watch her savings slowly and painfully deteriorate than ask the United States government- or even my dad- for money. That being said, unemployed life can get weird.

My view while writing this.
Example: I don’t have a car, but I live in Arlington, Virginia. A car, while not entirely necessary, would mean that I could drive myself home right now instead of sitting at a rotted picnic table overlooking a busy, not-so-scenic multi-lane road. My boyfriend picked me up and took me to the gym on his lunch break, but the plan to sit in Starbucks when I finished backfired due to the large group of men who hold daily gossip sessions in all the available seats. I’ve arrived before them a few times and had the pleasure of eavesdropping while their chairs surrounded me (I pretended not to notice due to my headphones). Still, I never captured any of the gossip because, unfortunately, I don’t speak Swahili. You heard it right, folks. A nice group of old men from Tanzania meet in Starbucks (the location will remain undisclosed) every afternoon at 2 p.m. If you feel like this club would benefit you, please email me for further information. Anyway, now I’m sitting here. On moldy wood. In front of a busy street. Hidden by 12 trees. Writing a blog post until my boyfriend is ready to go home. Anyone who comes out of the nearby office building is probably shooting me nervous/judgmental glances, but that’s why I’ve chosen to sit with my back to the door.

Nearly a week has passed since I was sitting with my back to the door, so here's part two of this blog post. The forest-writing saga ended because Chris swooped in a saved me from my wooded blogging nightmare.  A few days later, accepting a job offer saved me, as well. I must say that as thrilled as I was to receive multiple offers, few things can trigger anxiety quite as debilitating as the process of
waiting for, deciding on, negotiating, and accepting a job. Last week, I thought a few excited toucans were throwing a fiesta in my upper stomach and rib cage. It seriously felt like their rainbow-colored beaks were scratching up my insides, leading to a deep, unresolvable ache. Similar to the feeling I get after eating a full bag of Dove chocolates. If you can’t quite wrap your head around having the Fruit Loops bird inside your tummy or what it’s like to eat 35 Dove chocolates in one sitting, imagine a giant air bubble hanging out right below your sternum. Luckily, as with most things, champagne was the answer. After three days of sometimes searing, sometimes annoyingly dull and persistent pain, I decided to drink some bubbly. Hallelujah. Needing an excuse to drink champagne is always welcome, but I never want to go through that kind of decision/waiting process ever again.

Not these. Definitely not these.
On the bright side, it’s over and I have a truly spectacular job! The company I’ll be working for is small, full of the brightest minds I’ve ever met, will help me grow a legitimate career, and keeps its wine coolers (not to be confused with Seagram’s wine coolers) full at all times. Actually, they’re mostly a red wine group, so I guess they were wine racks I saw, not refrigerators. I can’t remember. All I know is that I liked it.

Back in the post about job hunting from a few weeks ago, I said that I didn’t have any great advice after snagging an initial interview. Now I do- and it is cheesier than Plaza’s queso dip. Be yourself. But only if the yourself you’re willing to accept is that really quirky side of you. Everyone has one waiting to be set free, so everyone can relate to it- even your interviewers. I went into each interview professionally, but also as the Shannon who can’t control her weird faces or habit of bringing up wine and/or teacup toy poodles in every conversation. In response, I had incredibly enjoyable interactions that not only highlighted my ability to do the job well, but also left me wanting to hang out with each person more (and seemingly vice versa). Even the really quiet people who interviewed me ended up laughing by the end of the session because we were just having a fun conversation that happened to be an assessment of my capabilities. I’m no Kathy Griffin, but I definitely found that everyone appreciates a little non-PC honesty. We’re all human, and no one wants to work with a robot (unless it's as cute and witty as R2-D2).

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The American Dream

White picket fences, golden retrievers, manicured lawns, whispy curtains, and two sedans in the driveway. This is the American Dream right? Comfortable. Familial. Endearing.

Maybe if you live in the 1940s.

Gated communities, pure bread water poodles, private greenhouses, plantation shutters, and a Mercedes/Range Rover duo in the driveway.

That sounds more like it.

As the rest of this post unfolds, keep in mind the following:
1. I know some people are still passionate about their careers
2. I am very good at Wii bowling
3. The Occupy Wall Streeters to whom I refer are the youngsters who didn't really understand the true issues at hand, rather have entitlement issues
4. Please read the entire thing before assuming I know enough about politics to actually write a politically-driven post (Newsflash: I don't)

The idea of the American Dream seems to have drastically shifted in the last few decades. A happy, employed, nuclear family just doesn't cut it these days. We want more. More cars. More space. More gadgets. Essentially, more money. Seemingly no one is happy starting a small business unless it will provide a luxurious lifestyle. Who cares about passion? No smell of flour on your hands from opening your dream restaurant, no excitement surrounding the best idea you've ever had for your ad agency, no pride in your heart about seeing improvement in your students (see #1 above). Hard work means rarely coming home to the family and most likely getting stress hives from your job, but it's okay because there's a Nintendo Wii to distract the kids (#2), along with a pool, grand piano, and The Yacht.  Wasn't there a time when the American Dream implied the possibilities of succeeding freely, able to provide for a family and live in a home or your own? Not doggedly, without ever attaining complete satisfaction.

I mostly want to be her because of my girl crush
As Keeping-Up-With-The-Joneses-Syndrome becomes a greater epidemic by the second, a new, profound rage against the "1%" is also hitting an all-time high. Or, the way I see it, low. Demonizing the richest of the rich is the middle class' favorite pastime. Ironically, the middle class (generalization- deep breaths) is openly upset that the exorbitantly wealthy have so much more than "the rest of us." Meaning they want more, too (which would make them equals with those they supposedly disapprove of), or at least want the 1% to have less. Sounds like the age-old case of the green monster to me. What you're saying, dear Occupiers of Wall Street, is that you should get a share of that opulence. That it's not fair. I get it, because I often think that it's not fair that I wasn't born Kate Middleton, Carrie Underwood, or Heidi Klum. [Before you huff and puff, I'm aware that none of those women fall into the 1%. Maybe Kate Middleton, but she's not even American, so none of you really care.] All of this disdain for the rich makes me roll my eyes, because most of the blind indignation (#3) comes from believing that opportunities aren't equal, the "inhumanity" of the wealth gap, and- essentially- people wanting to be richer themselves. You hate the rich because you aren't.

I will say that the one argument against the 1% that I can tolerate is regarding their alleged control over the government. I most certainly do not have the inside scoop on that can of worms, but I'm with you- corruption is no bueno.

The American Dream has shifted from living a secure suburban lifestyle to having your own plane to fly to Paris for the weekend. But then everyone's mad at the people who do fly to Paris for the weekend. It's very fickle. Life would be super awesome if we were all born into homes with two employed, educated parents. But that's not life. Therefore, yes, the rich should help the poor. What would be even more amazing is if they did it on their own accord- which many do, tax write-offs aside. They're not bad people just because they're rich. The world hasn't gone to shi...itaki mushrooms...because Henry Ford invented the automobile and his ancestors now get to enjoy the ride (no pun intended). Good for them. No, the world's- rather America's- real problem is lacking the ideal to work hard until reaching a level of comfortability, then finding contentment in that level, no matter how much the paycheck continues to increase (or not). Again, I recognize the extreme cases and outlying variables that don't allow this basic progress in certain demographics, but I am speaking to middle class America: Work hard, be content (not the same as shunning growth/motivation), and stop looking at those with more than you as villains.

I hope you all kept in mind the four disclaimers at the top of the page. As the proclaimed "Switzerland of Pageantry" by our current Miss America herself, Lord knows I understand both sides of nearly every argument- almost to a fault. All I am saying here is find a way to be happy and don't dislike other people just because of differing lifestyles (#4). If you've read my blog over the years, you know my life mantra comes into play here: You are in control of your own happiness. Also, may I add, you are only allowed to dislike the rich if they're nasty, bad tippers, or hate Harry Potter. I don't like anyone who hates Harry Potter.