1910 Dating Advice: 2016 Edition

Remember when newspapers offered dating advice? Me neither. But sometimes those old-timey “This is what dating is like in the olden days! Weren’t they silly?” things pop up on Pinterest, Facebook, or other various social media platforms usually populated by older people wishing it was like the olden days (Quick question: is “olden” even a word? Seriously?)

But they weren’t the only people who were silly.

For example: hipsters. Everyone thought it was just a phase, but it looks like 1880s chic and something-press coffee is here to stay. I guess none of us should be surprised. There’s a counter-culture to every culture, and a counter-counter-culture to every culture, and millennial hipsters are an odd mixture of both.

I go to a small, private Christian university where hipsterism is alive and well. Before college, I considered myself a hipster, but now, based on the people I’ve met, I’m seriously reassessing. There are some people out there who have read every chapter of the Hipster Playbook. Just because you wear a sweater in 70-degree weather doesn’t mean you’re a hipster. Nope. It’s basically a religion.

How was I supposed to survive in a world of such seasoned hipsters, mid-grade yuppie that I was? I had to learn, and learn quick. Especially at a Christian college where “ring before spring” is not just a fun saying, but a lifestyle. I had to do a little bit of anthropological studying to figure out the mating rituals of these exquisite creatures, but here I am to offer you comprehensive dating advice, old-timey magazine style, of how to flirt like a 2016 millennial hipster.

1. Location. Before you initiate communication with anyone you desire to date, you have to choose the right environment. Your apartment by yourself is not an option, which already puts me at a disadvantage. Find an obscure local band (preferably that has several uses of the word “grassroots” in its Facebook description and a lead singer that blogs) and figure out when they play next. Arrive at venue, dressed in concert chic (not festival chic; there’s a difference). Don’t make contact with anyone at first; just stare down at your phone with furrowed brow until the opening act. Nod appreciatively along to the music of opening act, but don’t seem too invested – you don’t want to make it seem like it’s your first rodeo. After the opening act, say something vague about “their sound” to no one in particular. Someone is bound to hear you and possibly say something in return.

Alternative: If it’s early afternoon and you need to study, find a coffee shop. I cannot stress independently-owned enough. You know who goes to Starbucks? Dirty venture capitalists who are just trying to steal money and Wi-Fi from the little guys. Also, there will inevitably be cute baristas at any given independently-owned coffee shop. Walk up to the counter, give the barista a smile (but not a big one, just a small grin acknowledging their existence – you’re not clingy, you just want a drink) and take a second to look at the menu, even if you know what you want. Those baristas spent a long time writing out that menu on that chalkboard in perfect Times New Roman font. Appreciate the menu as its own work of art. Don’t say anything about the prices – only angry old men and suburban moms do that. Order something pretentious, like a cortado, even if you don’t know what it means, just so you can say the word. Don’t ask what it is; you’re looking to make friends, not enemies. Tip the barista (they spent a long time writing that poem on the tip jar too, so appreciate it). Watch the cute barista make your cortado as if he is making an absolute work of art (because in his mind, he is) and then ask for the Wi-Fi password. Then talk about how you are going to camp out there for the rest of the day and work on your novel (whether this is true or not). Proceed to do so, even if you’re merely scrolling through Pinterest the entire eight hours you remain in the coffee shop.

2. Dress. Dress is almost as important as location. It’s extremely important that before you dress, you know exactly what environment you’ll be entering into. “I-dress-homeless-but-my-parents-pay-for-college” dress is vastly different from “photoshoot in an open field during optimal sunlight” attire. I would recommend the more homeless route for everyday ventures like coffee shop hopping or wandering around the city taking artsy Instagram pictures, and a more “photoshoot” esque wardrobe for events like barista competitions and 16mm film festivals. Don’t be afraid to be picky. Choosing the right wardrobe is like choosing the right band to be your favorite – it has to be so incredibly calculating that it looks authentic. And that’s the baseline for your wardrobe choices as a Hipster. At all costs, it must be authentic. And even if it’s not you have to tell people it is. Remember: At all costs.

Make sure that, if you have a tattoo, your clothes reveal it, but only slightly. You don’t want the full-on tattoo showing like you’re some loose sorority girl on spring break – so tacky, right? No, you simply want a subtle hint at a possible tattoo. It’ll make people look twice, which is exactly what you want in the game of attraction. Make sure you only reveal your minimalist tattoos with vague meanings, not the portrait of your dog you had done on your shoulder after he died (it was very sad and we all understand). Then an attractive hipster will intevitably ask you about what it means. Have a scripted response available.

In general, you want to follow the basic rules of hipster dress: don’t wear socks unless you’re wearing Chacos, two types of denim is okay, either wear no makeup or a ridiculous amount, etc. My next blog post will be a 1300-word summary of what your eyebrows should look like. If you’re wearing long pants, roll them up to an inch above the ankle, no matter what the weather is like. This isn’t Edwardian England, ladies. We can show our ankles now. If you have time to dye your hair a color that is opposite your own on the color spectrum, add that as a finishing touch.

3. Conversation topics. Remember that hipster conversations occur either on or about social media. If you’re not on social media, you’re talking about it (“Did you see Daveed Diggs’ newest Instagram post?” “Did you see what The Atlantic retweeted?”) However, you might be of that breed of hipsters that goes on Facebook every three months and only follow your aunt and Barack Obama on Instagram because you’re “above that culture.” Whether you are of the first or the second breed, you will eventually have to use hipster buzzwords and phrases, like “doing life” or “Buzzfeed” or “paleo.” You will inevitably also talk about popular fiction, coffee, and architecture, even if you know nothing about any of the above.

Bonus tip: Say “authentic” as often as you can. It’s the icing on the cake, and a buzzword that eligible young men are always listening for. Everyone wants to date the girl whose Twitter bio says “authentic.”

Another bonus tip: People assume that all hipsters like things that “aren’t cool.” However, this is not the case. Hipsters like things that are slightly less cool than other things. They can’t stand Beyonce, but they love Saint Motel. They are all caught up on Game of Thrones, just like everyone else. The only things they read are on the New York Times’ bestseller list, but never the first one. Usually the tenth, because then they sound interesting. Keep this in mind when you go on a search for obscure things to develop an interest in. And speaking of developing interest, stay cool about it. Don’t be extremely passionate about one thing; rather, say that you “dabble” in a lot of things, but you’re still trying to “find yourself” (more buzzwords to add to your hipster dictionary.)

4. Make your move. You’ve found yourself a good environment, you are dressed appropriately, and you’ve struck up a conversation with someone who seems decent and misses the 90s as much as you do. What’s your first move? Do you ask for their number? Of course not. You go home and friend them on Facebook. If they accept you by that evening, they’re interested. If they do the next morning, they thought they had a good conversation with you but aren’t too invested. If it’s a few days, they’re either one of those every-three-months Facebook-checkers I talked about earlier or they’re simply not interested. They might not even remember you, but friend you anyway for “networking” purposes (another buzzword for you). If they friend you, you now have access to all their past information – including high school photos. Proceed with caution.

At this point, I should probably tell you that most hipsters aren’t interested in a relationship. They won’t tell you straight-out, but they’re afraid of commitment. They really just need some time, you know? They can’t settle down just yet. They haven’t quite found themselves. They don’t know what they want. Be prepared; all of the previous statements are things you will hear if you sit down for a good old-fashioned DTR. “I’m just really focusing on my art right now” is another one that might come up. So, you might as well disregard all the advice I just gave you and go back to your apartment and your Netflix original that’s not Narcos or Making A Murderer.

There you have it. A comprehensive, old-timey-style guide to flirting like a 2016 hipster and on your way to inevitably finding yourself in an ambiguous 21st-Century relationship. In fact, in a hipster sense, this entire post is ironic, considering that hipsters rarely read literature longer than a Facebook status.

And on that cheap shot, I’ll leave you to it. Go out there, and find that fish in the sea that belongs to you. Hopefully that fish is wearing a cardigan, even in the middle of August.

 

Trying to Make a Difference

Hello, blog family. I can call you family, right? I feel like if you’ve come this far on this very strange, very new journey with me, I have the right to call you family. You can call me Mom. (Just kidding. Don’t. That’s awkward.)

Anyway, as I have promised before, this is where I spew out ideas about nothing in particular. Or something extremely particular. (Like socks. I’ve talked about socks before and that’s pretty particular.) I’ve been wracking my brain for something pithy to write here, since I’m taking a digital media class right now and it’s making my blogging skills feel inadequate. I don’t post enough media (like podcasts, pictures, etc.) I just post the same, boring longform every time. Which I guess is okay for all fourteen of you who follow this blog.

(Speaking of that class, I have started a new blog about redemptive art. Check it out if you’d like. That’s the first and the last time I’ll shamelessly plug myself. That’s a lie.)

Anyhow, back to spilling my brains. (Gross.) I have noticed something brewing in society at large lately. *Sits back pensively and takes a sip of tea* That sounds a lot more sophisticated than it is. It’s literally just something I’m noticing on Facebook primarily.

What I mean is, people are Avoiding. I could give you a comprehensive list of things going on in the world right now that people aren’t talking about. Things that need to be addressed.

It’s kind of like we’re all in a house, and that house is on fire, but we’re all in the living room pretending everything is okay, showing each other funny cat pictures on our phones.

I think most people agree that 2016 has been a rough year – just look at the memes it’s generated. People have come to a point in this year where they think it’s simpler to lay down and die.

But that’s not what we should do. We need to step up now more than ever.

“But Audrey,” you say, “Have you seen the way people act on the Internet?”

Yes, I have. People are incredibly rude on the Internet. They say things that they would never say in public (or at least I hope not.) They insult people’s intelligence when they disagree with them. That dreaded Comments Section.

“So Audrey,” you say, “It would just be better not to spout off on the Internet, right?”

Well, yes. I would not advise you to go trolling a comments section, unless you enjoy casual strolls through the outer circles of Hell (and bad grammar…and Caps Lock). But at the same time, don’t Avoid.

Engage.

Believe me, I’ve been struggling with this the past few weeks, especially with all of the drama surrounding the presidential race in the US. Everyone has an opinion, but somehow everyone manages to disagree with everyone else. If you vote for one of them, you’re labeled as unintelligent, anti-feminist, anti-gay, and anti-pretty much everything else. If you vote for the other, you’re labeled as a traitor, a liar, a baby-killer, and so on.

Both of them are telling you, “This is the right answer! If you vote for the other one, you’re an (insert colorful insult).” Still others are telling you that both candidates are stupid (which, at this point, I’m rather inclined to agree with) and you should vote for a third party candidate. “This is the right answer! Just look at all of this biased information I found about the Other Guy!”

You probably feel like giving up at this point, right? I certainly do. I cringe whenever I see a political post on Facebook – “here we go again. I’m just going to get criticized for my beliefs or see someone else’s beliefs get criticized.”

A lot of people are content to simply disappear into their Netflix accounts, checking social media only to see the latest memes or engagement announcements.

I’m not going to stand on a pedestal and preach at you, because I do this too. I get so fed up with the mudslinging that I just want to hide. I don’t want to tell anyone what my opinions are because I feel like it won’t matter, it’ll just be more Noise. The other day I was talking to my mom about how I wanted to stand on a soapbox high enough for everyone to see me and shout “Calm down!

To which she replied, “You are the new media, darling…step up.”

Think about that. You are the new media. Small though you may feel, you can make a difference just by stepping up. I’ve been thinking about that ever since my mom texted that to me.

You do know you can take control of your life, right? There is not one single person on this earth who can tell you what to do if you don’t want them to. If someone tells you one way is right and you disagree, that’s okay. They might call you stupid, especially if they’re in a comments section. They might insult your intelligence. But they are not in control of your life. 

No news syndicate, celebrity, presidential candidate, or grizzly bear has the right to tell you who to believe, why to believe it, and, in this case, who to vote for. Remember that the next time a blaring headline comes across your computer screen.

You’ve got a great brain that discerns millions of things every day. Discern for yourself. Don’t let someone else do it for you.

I’ll put it this way: If you say something, it will change something. If you don’t, nothing ever will.

 

 

How to Be A Frugal College Student: A Sort-Of Practical Guide

We’ve all been there. That boring 11am class and you’re struggling to keep your eyes open. You resort to internet shopping. And there it is – that one perfect, beautiful thing that will make your life complete…that you absolutely don’t need at all. But it’s right there! And it’s on sale! And you just got paid!

A week later, you have $5 in your bank account. How did that happen?! All you did was buy that one thing on Amazon…and then a subscription to a magazine you won’t read…and then groceries, which also involved buying a pair of shoes (and jewelry was buy one, get one!) and then grabbing appetizers with friends at 11:30pm, because that’s college.

TL;DR version: little things like that add up.

How do you stop the madness? Do a total spending freeze and not buy anything? Well, that’s a little extreme, but if you think you need that, go for it. Other than good old-fashioned resisting temptation, there are a couple other things you could do to curb your spending. I’ll walk you through each one, based on category.

1. Internet Shopping. Just don’t. That’s really all the advice I have for you. HOWEVER. I know that sometimes you find a deal that you just can’t pass up. So if you do fall into the online shopping rabbit hole, WRITE DOWN HOW MUCH YOU SPENT. Whether you’re able to log it onto a banking app on your phone or actually have a paper transaction record, write it down so you physically see how much you spent and where that money you thought you had went.

2. Grocery Shopping. Two words: Store. Brand. Buy store brand everything. I worked in a grocery store for a summer, and they let me in on a little secret – most store-brand products are the exact same as name brands – they are made in the same factory but labeled differently. So seriously. When you get store-brand stuff, you’re not getting lesser quality. You’re just not paying for the name. However, some products (like Coke and Oreo – c’mon, we all know that the store brands for those are crap) have trademarked recipes so they’re not the same. I still buy name-brand Coke because I don’t want the sTRAIGHT SUGAR EXPLOSION taste of the store brand. (“We don’t have the recipe…let’s just throw MORE SUGAR in there.”)

3. Coffee. This is very important to me. (In case you were wondering whether or not coffee was important to me, look at the header on top of this page.) I do not go cheap on coffee. People often judge me for my coffee budget, but I glare at them over the rim of my iced red-eye extra ice with mocha (yes this is something I order – I GET POINTS ON MY LOYALTY CARD, OKAY?!). Let’s face it – coffee is expensive. Unless you get Maxwell House. And I am NOT TELLING you to get Maxwell House. Or the f-word (Folger’s). Here’s what I would recommend though: store brand coffee is actually pretty good. Plus, they often has a wholebean station where you can grind it up fresh (fresh is always good). A bag of (good) coffee at the store will usually cost you about 8-12 dollars. You could buy in bulk, which will save you a little bit of money.

I DO NOT recommend this: A Keurig. If you drink a lot of coffee (I average three cups a day), then do not get a Keurig. A box of K-cups will cost you 8-12 dollars as well, but you go through them a lot faster than a bag of coffee. One of those boxes would usually last me a week…that’s $8 a week. A decent-sized bag of coffee lasts me two or more…and makes multiple cups, which is helpful if you have roommates. So don’t get a Keurig. Get yourself a nice coffeemaker (you can get single-serve ones that aren’t Keurigs which you can fill with coffee of your choice!) that doesn’t use plastic cups. Your coffee will be cheaper and taste fresher.

If you’re craving a fancy latte, I also have some cheap recommendations in the form of DINING HALL HACKS. If you’re a veteran college student, this is not news to you. When I want more than just black coffee, I stop in for lunch at the dining hall, fill my cup up with coffee (I know, dining hall coffee isn’t always great, but bear with me) and then go over to the ice cream station (because every college worth going to has self-serve soft-serve ice cream) and put some flavored syrup in your cup. It masks the grossness of cafeteria coffee and makes you feel frou-frou because it kind of tastes like a latte. And it tastes waaaay better than whatever they put in the cappucino machine. (Sand and water. That’s what they put in there. Sand and water.)

4. Budgeting. You should probably have a budget. Even if you don’t have a steady income yet (ESPECIALLY if you don’t have a steady income). I am a student worker and I usually work about eight hours a week, so I get a small check every two weeks. That doesn’t give me a lot of spending wiggle room, unless I dip into my savings (which you DO NOT WANT TO DO). Speaking of, the first thing you want to do in order to budget is have savings of some sort that you do not touch unless you absolutely need it (and by absolutely need, I don’t mean shopping spree at Target. I mean broken leg or student loans.) I’m not going to go full-blown Dave Ramsey on you, but you should have some sort of savings. Even if it’s just $20 in your mattress. But I would recommend a little more than that.

There’s also some budgeting apps for your phone (gasp! An app?) I use Mint, mostly because it’s free and it syncs with my bank account. It shows me where my money is going using this cute little colorful pie chart and sends me alerts when something’s up (Example: “You spent $500 in candy this week. This is $400 more than you usually spend.” Stuff like that. I cannot confirm or deny that this happened.)

So, there you go. There’s my budgeting crash course. Frugality 101. Not even 101, it’s like pre-101. Just Frugality. So go forth and be frugal. Save those dollas and change the world.