Thursday, February 27, 2014

Eight Things Millennials Can Learn From The Kelly Blazek Fiasco

In case you haven't heard, Kelly Blazek runs a Job Bank in Cleveland, Ohio for people seeking jobs in the communications, PR and marketing fields. While her listserv boasts over 7,000 subscribers, it's an invite-only group, requiring you to submit a resume and/or an explanation of how you fit into one of the three fields listed above upon application.

Several people over the last few years have reached out to Kelly Blazek, asking to be added to her email list. While most people made their way onto the list without incident, there were a few people who received unkind (to put it nicely) replies from Kelly. And one apparently made the fatal mistake of attempting to connect with her via LinkedIn.

Rather than just ignoring these requests like a normal golden-rule-following American, Kelly decided that it was her responsibility to put these good-for-nothing, lazy, entitled Millennials in their place. I mean, someone needs to, right? No one in the entire history of the universe has ever spoken negatively of Millennials ever. Click here to read her responses. It'll blow your mind.

Here's the deal: we all need to be better about dealing with the word "no." If Kelly didn't want these people on her email lists, fine. But why not just send a "Sorry, you don't fit the criteria to be added to our email list. Have a nice day." letter? Why attack the recipient? I only say this because I don't want you to think that I believe the senders deserve pity, or that they deserve to be given something just because they asked for it. I don't. I DO believe that they deserve respect. Respect that Kelly Blazek didn't give them.

While I'm obviously writing this with a healthy level of snark, I actually don't care to trash Kelly Blazek any more. I'm not going to say anything about her that dozens of people haven't already said. BUT: I do feel like there are lessons that we as Millennials (and humans) can learn from this debacle.

Rejection happens. Deal with it. Sometimes, you don't get the answer (or the job, or the response) that you want. It happens. One of the things people love to criticize Millennials for is their lack of grace when dealing with rejection. Show them that you're mature enough to handle it.

Follow directions, man. Seriously. While there's absolutely no excuse for anyone to send such a scathing email to someone they don't even know, the reality is that Kelly Blazek HAS stated that she only connects with people she knows personally. If someone explicitly tells you not to do something, don't do that thing.

Don't get too caught up in social media stats. When you spend a good chunk of your time cultivating an online presence, whether it's through blogging, email groups or something else, it's easy to become obsessed with watching your numbers grow. Our girl KB obviously got too caught up in her social media bubble, touting her 7300 email subscribers and 1000 LinkedIn connections any chance she could. But at the end of the day, they're just numbers. Your friends, your family, and even your coworkers don't care how many people get your emails, or how many people respond to your tweets. They care if you're a good person. Don't get caught up in the social media bubble. It'll ruin you quicker than you realize.

LinkedIn IS for connecting with people you don't know. Contrary to what Kelly Blazek thinks, connecting with someone on LinkedIn is not the same as recommending them. There's a whole separate section for that. The entire purpose of LinkedIn is to connect with people - anyone and everyone - who could potentially help you find a job. No one ever complained of their network being too big.

If you ever end up with a "Communicator of the Year" Award, act like it. The irony of Kelly Blazek sending such a hateful email with "2013 Communicator of the Year" in her email signature is just deliciously ironic, right?

If you position yourself in a way that suggests you want to help people, don't be surprised when people, you know, ask for help. People aren't mind-readers, so be clear about your expectations. And if you hate people and their questions so much, don't create a job for yourself where your main responsibility is helping people.

Don't speak in generalities. I'm guilty of this one. I try not to be, but I still do it. We all do, because it's easy. It's easy to blame something on a group.
But here's the deal: we get frustrated (rightfully so) when we're grouped negatively as Millennials. We complain that it's not fair that we're all grouped into the same unfair category. But when we make blanket statements about the older generations, about how they're boring or anti-technology or economy-ruiners, we're doing the exact thing that we hate. And that doesn't do anything to help the us-vs-them dichotomy. It just makes it worse.

Nothing is private, and the internet is forever. Really. Forever. There have been some people who have stated that the recipients of the emails should have just kept them to themselves and moved on with their lives. I disagree. There is obviously a pattern of douchery in Kelly Blazek's interactions with people she considers beneath her, and that should be exposed. With that said, you should always assume that your communications will be forwarded, published, or otherwise distributed. Nothing is truly private anymore, and it's absolutely astonishing to me that people keep making mistakes like this and then act totally surprised when they get caught. Get it together, people!

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lessons Learned: Figure Skating Edition

If you're anything like me, you've been completely wrapped up in the Olympics for the last few weeks. I love watching it all, but I especially love watching all the figure skating. I mean, who doesn't, right? Who doesn't love beautiful people glide around in sparkly outfits?

And then I started really paying attention to these skaters and what they were doing, and I realized we could really learn a lot from them? "Alyssa, that's silly" you might be saying to yourself. Nope. Figure skating is full of life lessons. Just full of them. I'll prove it to you.

There are always going to be people judging you. Always. It's inevitable. So take a deep breath, and leave it all out there on the ice - er, whatever your "ice" is. Is it a big presentation at work? Are you meeting your significant other's family? Just do your best, and the results will follow.

Trust people. No matter what. Throughout the Olympics, I've been entranced by figure skating. I finally figured out that one of the main reasons I find it so fascinating is because during pair skating, the girls fall backwards, without looking, right into their partners arms. They have to trust that their partner is going to be there to catch them.

If your situation isn't working for you, create a new situation. In 2010, when Tatiana Volosozhar's original skating partner retired, she had trouble finding a good replacement partner in her home country. Instead of giving up and retiring, she made the move to Russia to skate with Maxim Trankov.
Of course, changing your situation is much easier said than done, but if you know something isn't working for you, for whatever reason, take the steps to make some changes.

When you fall, you gotta get back up. Did you see Jeremy Abbott's epic fall during the men's short program last week? You could tell he was in a huge amount of pain after he hit that wall. Most people would have skated off in shame, myself included. But Jeremy took a few seconds to compose himself, and then finished his program.
Sometimes, we fall. It could be a little stumble that no one even notices, or it could be a huge wipeout that a billion people see. Either way, you have to take a second, brush yourself off, and get back to it. No matter what.

Sometimes, you just need to throw on a sparkly dress, forget about everyone else, and just do your thang. Look at these beautiful women:
Do you think they care what anyone thinks? Nope. They don't. They're too busy being awesome. And that's what we should do. Be awesome, do what you love, and forget everything else.


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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lately...


Ever since my junior year of college (i.e. when I moved off campus), I've started to really hate the snow. It's kind of a shame, because I have a lot of really happy memories of sledding with my neighbors when I was younger, but now, I just kinda hate it. I think I'd like it more if I lived in a place that was better prepared for the snow, but I don't. I live in the south. And since we don't get snow that often, when we do, it wrecks everything. Eeeeeeverything. And it's usually less than an inch of snow.

But this week, we got about eight inches. Eight! As it was coming down on Wednesday, I found myself constantly looking out the window, admiring how pretty it was. Granted, I was able to relax because we had plenty of food (and beer) and Garrett was able to get home before it got really bad. If he had been one of those people who had to abandon their cars on the highway, it'd probably be a different story. But he wasn't, so I'm grateful for that.
So MAYBE the snow cracked my cold, icy, snow-hating heart... maybe. Just a little bit. It was really pretty.
There's something really pretty and wonderful about the first footprints in the snow, right?

My dad ran a half marathon in Myrtle Beach on Saturday, and I seriously think it is the coolest thing. I mean, I couldn't run 13 miles? Could you?
Spending the weekend at the beach was lovely. It was still cold, but there wasn't a single snowflake to be seen. And it was awesome.

And as far as everything else goes, I'm still doing really classy stuff like drinking milk out of wine glasses while I eat girl scout cookies, and finding new, not-boring recipes online.
Some of our favorites have been sriracha honey chicken (add a little bit more honey), tortellini soup, and chicken and bacon wraps. I also made my first meatloaf and it was actually decent, so that was exciting.

What about you guys? What's new with you?

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Galentine's Day: It's ladies celebrating ladies. It's like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus, frittatas!

If you watch Parks and Recreation, you know exactly what Galentine's Day is. If you don't, let me give you a quick rundown: Every February 13th, aka Galentine's Day, Leslie Knope takes all her best ladyfriends out for a fancy breakfast. They celebrate friendship over brunch. It is literally the perfect day.

In honor of Galentine's Day, I've compiled a list of the eight best fictional female friendships (say that five times fast), in no particular order.

Ann and Leslie from Parks and Recreation
The originals. Maybe it's because I know Amy and Rashida are friends in real life, but you can just tell these two women really do care about each other. 
(I'm still not over Ann leaving the show.)

Lucy and Ethel from I Love Lucy
Everyone needs a hilarious BFF. Even if that BFF always finds her way into trouble (and drags you with her.)

Thelma and Louise from Thelma and Louise
The original 'Ride or Die' friends. I don't know about you, but I love a pair of beautiful women who don't take any crap from ANYONE. It's my favorite.

Annie and Lillian from Bridesmaids
I guarantee that if you watched this, you saw yourself in Annie at some point. And this movie has one of my favorite lines ever: when Lillian says "Why can't you be happy for me and then go home and talk about me behind my back like a NORMAL PERSON?!" because again: we've ALL been there. We've all bitten our tongue at some point, and then word-vomited all over the place after we left.

Mary and Rhoda from The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Mary and Rhoda proved to us that you and your best friend can want the exact same things out of life without competing with each other for those things. Also, Rhoda reminds me of myself: outspoken, opinionated, and super sarcastic. I loved her.

Robin and Lily from How I Met Your Mother
I've always wished for a group of close friends like the people on How I Met Your Mother, but I've always really loved Robin and Lily's friendship. 

Everyone in A League Of Their Own
The camaraderie! The girl power! The splits! These women have it all.

Jess and Cece from New Girl
I don't have any friends that I've had since I was little, so the fact that Jess and Cece have memories together from their entire lives is just so stinkin' cool. 

Happy Galentine's Day, my beautiful friends! I love you all.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Why I'm Glad I... ignored all those other articles online about getting married at a specific age and did whatever the heck I wanted

I know you've seen the post that's floating around called "23 Things To Do Before You Get Engaged at 23." If you haven't somehow, you can read it here. Of course, there were people who agreed and people who didn't. Rebuttals started popping up. People got offended. Arguments ensued on nearly every social media platform. This article came out over a month ago, but for some reason, it's been making the rounds on my Facebook in the last week, so it's been on my mind.

Obviously, this is hardly a new topic. Kate Middleton earned the nickname "Waity Kaity" when she waited a few years before she married Prince William. People defended her, saying that she is right to wait so long. There are articles about it all: I'm glad I got married young, I'm glad I waited, I'm glad I got divorced, I'm glad I lived with my partner before marriage, You should NEVER live with someone before marriage, I'm glad I never got married at all. People have OPINIONS, y'all. And they can't wait to defend them on the internet.

My question to every single one of these people is: why? Why do you feel like you need to defend your life choices to a bunch of yoyos on the internet? Why do you feel like every article about someone doing something differently than you is a direct attack worthy of a rebuttal? Whooooo caaaaares?

There are always going to be people who do things differently than you, both on the internet and in real life. My junior year of college, my best friend Jenna and I couldn't have been in more different places in life - she was getting married and committing to one person for the rest of her life, and I was regularly rolling into our apartment on Sunday mornings with my heels in my hand. Do you know how much time we spent hashing out our differences with each other? Exactly zero minutes.

All of these pieces have some good points. If there are goals you want to accomplish in your life before you get married, you SHOULD work to accomplish those goals. But goals are goals, no matter who you may, or may not, be married to. If you're in a relationship that is over, you SHOULD take steps to end it if you want to end it. (Easier said than done, of course.) There are benefits to getting married young, and there are benefits to waiting. You can argue any side of anything.

Just because it worked for one person doesn't mean it will work for the next, and to me, that's the major flaw in most of these articles. Statistically, the divorce rate IS higher when you get married when you're young. There will always be people who aren't one of those statistics, but you can't deny that the statistics are there. As Garrett would say: math doesn't lie. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, but that's a decision you make that's yours, not someone else's.

I've gotten flack about my relationship. People have said that I'm too young, that Garrett is too old, that we should wait, that I should have never started a long distance relationship in the first place. And yeah, I probably wouldn't recommend that someone else get engaged to someone that lives four hours away because yeah, it was pretty freakin' hard, but ultimately, you make your own choices. Your choices are yours, not other people's.


The point of all this is: stop trying to justify your choices online. No one knows what's best for you except you. As long as you're confident in your own choices, everything will fall in line. And if it doesn't? You know, that's okay too.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

My Weekend, in Gifs

This weekend was actually a pretty good one, so naturally, I didn't take any pictures. I know, seriously, I'm the worst blogger in the universe.

But I still want to tell you all about my weekend, so to make up for the lack of actual pictures, I have found some pretty hilarious and accurate gifs. They're going to make you feel like you were actually there. I promise.

Friday night, we went out to dinner for Garrett's cousin's birthday. We went to Flemings Steakhouse. Have any of you ever been there? To summarize it for you: $$$$$$$$$. It's so expensive, they don't even have prices on the menu online. When we found out the party was taking place here, this is how I felt:

And then I realized that I was going to miss the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night because of $dinner$, and that made me SUPER angry.

As it turns out, I didn't miss that much anyway, because apparently all the Olympic rings didn't open. (I obviously DVRed it and watched the whole thing yesterday.)

And then I realized I was going to get to dress up, so that made it a little bit better. I love dressing up.

And then we got to the restaurant, and started eating, and everything was so goooooood. So the rest of the night went something like this:

With maybe a little bit of this:

We slept at his cousin's house on Friday night because alcohol. but there was no sleeping in on Saturday morning because they have kids. Two kids under five. Hanging out with them is something like this:

But thankfully, coffee.

Also, I forgot my face wash/moisturizer, so I woke up looking something like this:

After spending most of the day over there on Saturday, we finally trekked back to our apartment. Well. we stopped at Cookout first.

We lounged around the rest of the night, and then slept for approx. one million hours.

Sunday morning we woke up feeling super refreshed. After some morning snuggles, we got a few errands done, like grocery shopping and taking the recycling to the recycling center. (Can you believe our apartment doesn't recycle? I'm still not over it, and we've lived here for six months.) Anyway, we have meals purchased and planned for the whole week, and that is just the best feeling.

I also swung by Target to look at the new Peter Pilotto stuff, and I want it all. I think it's one of my favorite Target collaborations. I always get excited about them, and then they're just a little TOO out there for me. But this one is floral and obnoxious in the best way. Even though we all know how I feel about florals.

The rest of the day was for the Olympics. Specifically, figure skating. Although I can't watch too much ice dancing without thinking about Blades of Glory. And then I just LOL to myself.

Oh, and we ordered pizza. I mean, I had to cancel out Friday's fancy meal with kid food the rest of the weekend. What are you gonna do, right?

So there you have it! That was our moderately exciting, fancy expensive weekend. I hope these hilarious gifs and witty commentary made up for the lack of actual pictures. I'll start being a better blogger.... someday. Maybe.

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Can you lose too much weight? And also, why are people the worst?

I'm sure you've heard about the Biggest Loser finale by now, and how the winner, Rachel Fredrickson, is being slammed for losing too much weight. And after reading countless news articles, tweets, and Facebook posts about it, I had to chime in.

Before I say anything about it, I want to make it clear that I'm not trying to skinny-shame her or make light of any eating disorders. People really do come in all shapes and sizes, and each person's weight is really between themselves and their doctor.

I was seriously stunned when I saw Rachel on Tuesday night. And not in a good way.

So let's look at her. Here she is at the beginning of the season, at makeover week, and at Tuesday's finale. She started out at 260 pounds, was in the 150s at makeover week, and ended up at 105. There are conflicting reports about how tall she is - some people have said 5'8, and others have said 5'4. I think she looks like she's 5'8, but pictures can obviously be deceiving.
First, there have been several people who have said things along the lines of "a woman just can't win! People were mad when she was fat, and now they're mad that she's skinny!" Let me tell you, that isn't the issue here. Let's look at some of the female contestants from this season.
All photos courtesy of NBC.
I see six healthy, beautiful women. I see evidence that it IS possible to be a woman and lose (a lot of) weight in a healthy way. What I'm saying is: don't blame Rachel's criticism on a lack of feminism. Ignoring any unhealthy eating habits just because she's a woman and should be immune to criticism is dumb. If there's an issue, it should be addressed.

There are also people that say that people are just jealous of Rachel's success. The whole lot of you can just shut up, because you're dumb too. You know how I feel about people and "jealousy."

Some people say that we shouldn't be surprised that the Biggest Loser has instilled disordered eating habits in one of its contestants. Maybe that's true, but I feel like the majority of the damage that Rachel did to herself happened during the time that she was home, between leaving the ranch and the finale. I'm not sure if that time was monitored by doctors, but I would imagine it wasn't. I DO assume, however, that she was being bugged by producers. Either way, I wouldn't jump automatically to anorexia as a lot of people have done, but I DO think there's some kind of disordered eating going on. I mean, it makes sense, right? She had unhealthy eating patterns that led to her weight gain... it's totally within the realm of possibility that she's gone to the other side of the spectrum.

Also, I think Rachel demonstrated that she could have an unhealthy relationship with food when she packed every single meal for their trip to Colorado. I know some of you may disagree with me and say that she's just being responsible so she doesn't become tempted to overeat. Maybe that's true, but any good doctor or dietitian will tell you that the best meal plans allow for variation and the occasional indulgence. Maybe I'm over-thinking it, but that moment in the show was disconcerting for me. You can't control anything 100%, and attempting to do so is just going to make you go insane.

Of course, all of this is to say that really, it's none of our business. Well, that's not entirely true. She voluntarily joined this television show, knowing that her weight loss journey was going to be heavily documented. The fact that she ended up underweight is cause for concern, not hostility and snark. Either way, she deserves compassion. She doesn't deserve to be called ugly or anorexic or disgusting.

I'm not sure what the show should do going forward. you KNOW they weigh the contestants before they get onto the big televised scale, so maybe there should be a caveat that says that contestants become ineligible for the grand prize if they aren't within a healthy weight?

Either way, I hope Rachel gets back on the right path, and I hope people lay off with all the harsh, angry, misguided comments.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What do Donna Meagle, Sharon Norbury, and the dancing twin emojis have in common?

Me, duh.

I know you've seen all those Buzzfeed quizzes floating around. If you're anything like me, you take one as soon as you see it, get the results, and then spend ~20 minutes analyzing exactly why you got the answer you did.

Oh, that's just me? Hmmmm.

Anyway, I took a bunch of them, just for kicks. Let's break some of them down:

Which Parks and Recreation Character Are You?
Heck. Yes. From her expensive tastes to her out-of-control-in-the-best-way facial expressions to her sassy attitude, Donna Meagle has always been one of my favorite Parks and Rec characters. This totally seals the deal. Right after I finish this blog post, I'm going to go TREAT MYSELF. You know how it is.

Which Parent Trap twin are you?
Classy and British? Type A and a little bit ornery? Conniving and a hopeless romantic? I had no idea Annie James was my soul sister until right now, and I'm super into it.

Which Seinfeld character are you?
Okay, this one weirded me out a little bit. I mean, I get the description. It's actually a pretty good description of stuff I'm into. I mean, minus the Sherpa boots. Peterman was one of the funnier supporting characters on Seinfeld, so I'll take it. I think.

Which Emoji are you?
I had never used this emoji until I took this quiz, and now it's my #1 most used. No shame.

Which Mean Girls character are you?
I'm into this. At first, I was unsure, because I'm not a drug pusher and I've never sold marijuana tablets before, but it's grown on me. I AM loyal. And hilarious(ly awkward). I have questionable taste in clothing (I see you, button vest) and I've LONG been saying that women should stop calling each other sluts and whores. Also, anytime someone wants to compare me to Tina Fey, I'm into it. That woman has more funny in her pinky than I have in my whole body.

Have you taken any of these quizzes? Who did you get? Do we have anything in common?!

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Monday, February 3, 2014

The most ridiculous week of my life started with the phrase "I'm satisfied."

If you follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram, you saw what I was doing last Monday. If you don't, I'll catch you up:

I was called for jury service. I know. I know. I was thrilled, as you can imagine.

Actually, a little part of me was excited, if I'm being honest. I've always thought this stuff was interesting. Also, I love Legally Blonde, Law & Order, and reading John Grisham novels.

On jury selection day, I rolled in to the courthouse, fairly confident that I wouldn't get picked. The clerk called the first twelve people up to the jury box, and the attorneys started with the normal questions: "Do you know the defendant, the attorneys, or any of the potential witnesses?" "What do you do for a living?" "Do you have any close friends or family that are in law enforcement?"

But then the questions started getting a little more interesting. "Do you have experience working with children?" "Do you own, or have you ever driven a scooter or moped?" "Have you ever been frustrated while you were driving because you were stuck behind someone driving a scooter or moped? Would you judge the defendant unfairly if you knew he drove a scooter?" "Have you, or anyone you know, ever been a victim of sexual assault?" "Has anyone ever exposed his or her genitalia to you against your will?" Hmmmm. This could get interesting.

Periodically, a potential juror would provide a less-than-acceptable answer and be excused. After the first 20-ish people were dismissed, I was starting to get pretty confident. There's no way I'd be picked. Who would want little old me on a jury?

And then my name was called. (I'm an official believer in karma now, by the way.) I made my way to the jury box, sat down, and waited for the questions to come. I answered honestly, but again, I was pretty confident they'd excuse me. I talked about how I had extensive experience working with both children and college students who were victims of sexual assault. I'm also pretty opinionated, and I've always been under the impression that attorneys want people who don't have strong opinions, because those people are easier to influence.

The Assistant District Attorney got through all her questions, and told the judge that she was satisfied with the jurors who were currently seated. The defense attorney went through all her questions, and then looked at the judge and said "I'm satisfied as well, Your Honor."

And there it was. I had been chosen to actually sit on a jury. Me. I was going to be 1/12th responsible for deciding someone's future.

Um, holy crap. Don't call me Alyssa anymore. Just call me Juror #11.


(Also, have you ever been so confused/disappointed/overwhelmed after someone told you that they were satisfied? I mean, really. Way to ruin that phrase for me forever.)

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