Here’s to Happiness {by Reb}

One of my favorite blogs, The Rockstar Diaries, has a regular feature called “Here’s to Happiness” where readers can submit ten things that make them happy. I’m feeling elated at the moment, so I felt like sharing mine:

reb carlson, wedding, catching the bouquet
Myself at my sister's wedding this summer, having recently caught the bouquet with Matthew, age 4, who caught the garter

1. The leaves changing color.
2. Receiving praise from someone I admire and aspire to be one day.
3. That my sister Deborah just got engaged (I already started sharing ideas via Pinterest).
4. Writing something I truly believe is brilliant.
5. Having long talks with old friends.
6. That pumpkin butter is back at Trader Joe’s.
7. Reading a book and forgetting the characters are fictional.
8. The fact I’m already excited for the upcoming holidays.
9. Finally being able to wear more layers.
10. This picture of my father among my sister Theresa’s wedding photos: Continue reading “Here’s to Happiness {by Reb}”

Sundays allow a chance to catch your breath.

On Sundays I used to go to church with my family, come home at noon to eat lunch, and then spend the afternoon watching movies, reading, or walking in the woods behind my house. Family dinner was at 7pm.  Afterward my mom would do her round of “checks” for myself and my three sisters: checking that our backpacks were packed, homework was finished, school uniforms were in the wash.  Nothing too strenuous.  Sundays allowed a chance to catch your breath.  The past few years my Sundays have been anything but, with homework and regular part-time work and meetings taking up the entire day.  If there is anything I can accomplish in the next few months it would be to reclaim my Sundays and work on those “hobbies” that everyone else pushes aside and regrets twenty years down the road when they are washed up and hate their desk job.

My roommate and I have created a system of making and fixing up coffee without leaving our desks, entering a stage of life we wouldn’t wish on anyone, but everyone faces at some point.

While doing the now necessary updating of Twitter lists and reading of forgotten articles in my  Reader (how I sometimes miss the days when Google was just a search engine and “twitter” was really just a sound), I saw an update from Electric Literature (one if not the first electronic literary magazine) sharing a link to a NY Times article “The Perils of ‘Contact Me'” .  It’s worth a read, speaking about how writers are more accessible and the astounding responses from fans asking every question and calling out every mistake (welcome to the Internet Age/social media/email/the feeling of freedom “average people” have to reach out to those they idolize i.e. following the updates of celebrities on Twitter). The writer is Ben Yagoda, an English professor at the University of Delaware who blogs at Campus Comments with his family about higher education.  Maybe it is at the fault of my own snootiness, but I was a little  surprised that a professor from lil’ old Delaware where I grew up wrote an article published in MY New York Times.

During extreme moods of cynicism, I have often compared Delaware to a vapid black hole that sucks people in and keeps them stuck in a state where a state border sign reads “Delaware: Welcome to the home of tax-free shopping”.  To “outsiders” it is supposedly the only claim to fame the Diamond State offers.  As much as I am afraid to admit this, there is an unspoken opinion in my family that the fact that my sisters and I went out-of-state for college is among one of our many great accomplishments.  When I come home for a family holiday, the same routine ensues.  I will get invited to an event, see people from my high school, and hear that not much has happened in their lives. My sisters and I will return home, roll our eyes, same old same old, the bars close at 1 pm, so and so dropped out, some one else is knocked up.  But I digress.

Let’s get metaphoric. It begins where your whole life is just your bedroom, then your house, next you are off to school and it’s a big exciting adventure, then you might move on to start another life, but the previous world of your home is always in your mind.  Up until a few years ago, before going to college, Delaware was the extent of what I knew.  Going off to school exposed me to a larger world I hadn’t imagined. Going back home, or seeing the name of a university in your home town in a newspaper you revere, makes you more aware that in this  life you have (your views and impressions through your own eyes), the background you come from affects every life decision you have, therefore you will always be of the same smaller world you started from, but can learn and experience so much more –  a world that always existed but wasn’t reality to you until coming to a crossroad.  You always open doors into other worlds and make jumps into the abyss of discovering something different, whether it’s by moving overseas, taking on a new career path, or reading more Kafka.

I should give my home state more credit.  There was a time when the my entire life was late nights in diners drinking copious amounts of cheap coffee and going to friends’ basements for shows.  My “world” is considerably different from the past, but it is still being experienced through the mind of one hailing from a previous one, yet it somehow encapsulates everything that is my existence.  All in all, you can never escape your background or hide the truth of where you came from.  Having a small-town background is nothing to be ashamed of.  While appearing almost too eager and possible over zealous, it means we (the small towners) are much more enthusiastic and open for possibilities.  In case you have forgotten, the majority of the United States is “small town Americans” who love their Walmart.  Conclusion: think twice before you make another joke about my childhood in Delaware or my Mid Western-esque accent.

I couldn’t even pretend  to hide my background if I tried.  Last spring I was on the LIRR talking to a guy in a jazzy looking hat.  Within five minutes he knew I wasn’t from New York – probably because I was actually talking to him AND smiling at the same time.  When I was in Italy last winter, I would be laughed at in the face with my “terrible” American quasi Delawarean somewhat still Mid Western accent.  No matter how large my dream was to “blend in” and not look like a tourist, having blond hair, blue eyes, and a “terrible” American accent was not going to fool anyone.  When I go out on the weekends, I get in the habit of taking others aback by being overly talkative.  It has taken my four years to realize New Yorkers may not like this.

Negative but hilarious self-cynicism

I may come off as a goofy girl with Midwestern tendencies, but in my head is a constant running dialogue of negativity, often aimed at myself.  Here are the best of the best for your enjoyment:

“God, just buy the song!  Replaying that same song over and over incessantly on Pitchfork is only going to cause you to loathe its existence.”

” Enough people have confirmed it.  Stop living in self-denial.  You snore – get over it.”

“No matter how you convince yourself, Nutella and peanut butter sandwiches have no nutritional value and should not be eaten three times a day as snacks.”

“You know you really don’t feel that guilty about spending $40 on a new planner, The Cry of the Sloth by Sam Savage, and the current issues of Rolling Stone and GQ.  You get off on that new paper smell.  The more you tell people about what terrible splurges you go on only confirms the fact that money burns a hole in your pocket when you approach a Barnes & Noble.”

“No matter how well you time it, you will always get stuck in NYC traffic.  You aren’t in Delaware anymore.  Rush hour lasts 5 hours.”

“Oh my god.  That girl totally lisps just like Sally does on Mad Men.  However, Sally is a sad girl living in a drama basedin the 60’s, and you, lil lady, are twenty two years old and live in the real, dark world of the new millenium.”

“Jesus Christ, did you really just say “Aw Shux?” You need to quit that or you will never be able to show your face in a professional setting in NYC.  Ever.”

What Happened to You?

I had a dream recently of all my teeth becoming brittle and falling out one by one.  While looking this up online, I find that there are no super postive interpretations – family member dying, extreme anxiety, lack of confidence in physical appearance, fear of growing old, losing money, or my self-concious telling me I lie too much.  It’s also one of the most common dreams that people have.  I do put some faith into dream interpretations – however, is it not interesting that the most common dream highlights the most commons anxieties that people have?  Conclusion:  this dream is nothing to lose sleep over.


While engaging in social networking at my internship today (i.e. check Facebook and Twitter), I found out that some jerk face stole my friend Kelly’s bike in DE.  If that isn’t terrible enough (everyone knows that a sweet bike is a poor college student’s convertible), the bike was a present from her father, who passed away back in March.  Kelly made a Facebook Event asking friends to keep an eye out for the bike.  If you live in the Mid-Atlantic region, please keep an eye out (that phrase itself is silly sounding).

Who knows where the thief is now – they probably COULD have biked the 130 miles to NYC.  If we all truly believe in the powers of the Internet, it is very possible we can find this beautiful bike and return it to her glorious owner.


Holiday Break Woes

I find when I come home I lose all track of time – a sort of vacuum in the sales tax free state. I had no idea Christmas eve was Christmas eve the day of, but I have to pat myself on the back for spending only one hour shopping for my entire family at one store. the gifts were stellar if I do say so myself – antique jewelry for my sisters and my mom and an antique Kodak pocket camera for Dad

While in the vacuum, I feel cut off from the outside world. you never realize how dependent you are on Hofstra’s free subscription of the NYT’s until you are without it. All I do when boredom hits inside the vacuum is make lists.

– watch Will Smith’s I Am Legend at night in the dark by yourself.
– get sucked into the same chick flick on HBO all weekend (P.S. I Love You – I HATE YOU FOR MAKING ME CRY!)
– forget I do NOT watch football. I’m waiting for the right guy to come along and only then will I feel obligated to watch football for hours on Sunday afternoons.
Books to Ready Before Going to Italy :
Let’s Go Italy 2009
The Ugly American
Rick Steve’s Best of Europe 2009
1984 (it’s been 6 months since I started)

“Top Albums of the Year” (according to Pitchfork) I need to acquire:
The Walkmen – You & Me
Portishead – Third
Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna (if you have never seen them live it’s an out-of-body experience)

Top Places to See People from My High School Whilst At Home:
Borders Books & Music
Anywhere on Main Street in Newark


insomnia is lame.
apologies for the lack of entries the past few weeks – very lame on my part.
the end of the semester kind of spiraled out of control, what with finals and wrapping up last minute meetings to plan next semester. I’ll only have a few weeks and the craziness will enfold again (sigh).

I’ve been home in my sleepy small town and comfortably content for roughly 30 hours. I left behind in NY my cell phone, an unpaid parking ticket, and the strenuous but exciting life I’ve gotten used to for the past few years.

I was in the room that has been mine since I was born just now and was laying there (what else) thinking. I thought “for over the past 20 years, no matter how much I think I have evolved to be the person I think want to become, I always end up coming back here – and I’m twelve again listening to music and reading late in the night. I’m still imagining the story some stranger might have that is different from my own.”

Maybe it’s because I never officially moved before (save going to college), but now I feel in limbo of not quite having a place to call my own. My room at home isn’t mine – the closet is empty and the library incomplete. The jail cell of a dorm room on LI will never be fully mine – the walls are eggshell and the floors tiled and there is nowhere near the amount of space my turntable deserves. The place I truly want to call mine IS visible on a daily basis – the view of the NY skyline from my window.

I’m in layover. But normally I don’t mind a delayed flight.

This weekend I’m going to Baltimore to act as maid and jester for my sister who broke her foot.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas – despite the fact my family actually has our decorations up a week beforehand.

Everyone is doing end of the year “Top Albums List”s for 2008. I’m giving my list of sixteen random albums which came out this year and had some sort of impact. All I recommend for your listening pleasure:

In no order

Born Ruffians – Red, Yellow, and Blue
Foals – Antidotes
Girl Talk – Feed the Animals
Hot Chip – Made In the Dark
Thao – We Brave Bee Stings and All

Deerhoof – Offend Maggie
The Black Keys – Attack and Release
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Dr. Dog – Fate
Santagold – Santagold

Portugal, The Man – Censored Colors
Hot Lava – Lavology
Islands – Arm’s Way
Bon Iver – For Emma
Land of Talk – Some Are Lakes

everything looks different in the light

I wish everyone was as lucky as I. The drive to my house in DE is the perfect length for the perfect solo sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs road trip. The best thing anyone can do when in the need to soul search is put the Ipod in shuffle and sing along with everything. All anyone needs to know is that I sang (on key and everything) the following in full succession without skipping:

Spoon “Someone Something”,

Her Space Holiday “Sleepy Tigers”,

Less Than Jake
“The Science of Selling Yourself Short”,
Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Tick”,

Yo La Tengo “Mr. Tough”,

Hello Goodbye “Shimmy Shimmy Quarter Turn”,
Prince “Little Red Corvette”,
Jamie Lidell “You Got Me Up”.

My name is Reb and now you know all that needs to be known. (thank you for an accurate playlist)

I plan to write for Buy or Don’t Buy about my unacceptable love for Prince.

After the whirlwind of the past few months, it’s nice to finally come home for the Thanksgiving holiday and remember what is most important in life: books, music, a sweet turntable buried underneath more books, and pumpkin pie. Whenever I move back to LI for school, I have to leave what’s most precious behind: the lovely turntable/stereo/speakers I’ve acquired (for free) the past few years and my astronomical collection of books.

I also found this beauty in my closet. At the end of my senior year of high school, my friend Liz and I put together “Rock the World” a benefit show with all of our friends’ bands to raise money for environmental charities. It was a success – we raised about $1,000. It’s now an annual event at our high school and gets larger with every year. It still stands as one of my proudest accomplishments – basically because I brought my passions together with what I was good at.

I got an internship with Rubenstein to work with them on the Tribeca Film Festival. I’ve been looking forward to it for over a year and it’s a step in the right direction. I would rather do public relations work for cultural institutions and events than anything else. One of my biggest fears is as I am evolving into a professional and starting a career, I’ll lose the artistic, creative, sub-culture bohemian self. Is it a matter of being corporate 9 to 5 and then in after hours listen to records and long for “the better days” of artistic revolutions and revelations?

I’ve been watching a lot of Andy Warhol specials and documentaries. He understood marketing, branding, and public relations far more than anyone believes.

To the future

whenever i am at the arts alliance to monitor the gallery, i usually spend my time on the beautiful iMac in the office. i have never been a “web surfer”, spending hours on the internet. when i do find the time, i am often at a loss of what to look for, so i do the last thing that an undergrad does during the summer.

i start looking up graduate programs.

NYU has this great program for art administration and sounds like my cup of tea. however, it suggested a “strong background in art history”. i assume they imply a major in art history…which i will not have. i was a little heartbroken.

today at work i was talking about my dilemma with my co-workers (camp counselors) and it led to a discussion about majors in general. “the colonel” wondered what one could do with a major in art history. “jail bait school boy” answered ‘to be a snob’.

at first i was a little appalled, and then i realized the culture differences between new york and well, the rest of the country. one of the issues i have with coming home has been the attitude of the average citizen of my small town. most go to college here in order to stick around with the friends they made in high school, marry some one they meet in college. settle down, start working, have kids, and the cycle repeats itself. it seems like only in new york (and probably other metropolitan cities) the family and home and friends are last priorities compared to having a career, being success, and living up to the cultured norm. a degree in art history is interesting and respected in a metropolitan area. in small town america…or just maybe my small town, a degree an art history gets you laughed at.

but that is besides the point.

i also realized that i could finally identify a previously unnamed conflict i had when first starting school. a majority of the people i met and the friends i made in ny would be regarded as snobbish and pretentious to the people i know from home. the norm at home believe in doing what is practical. somehow i have gotten myself associated with people who insist that the luxuries of life are worth having and sacrificing that is preposterous. some at school have had more experience in seeing the world and understanding the luxury of culture than my friends from home could ever dream of. maybe that is the point, that to be cultured is a luxury.

it seems often enough to be true that an appreciation for art and culture goes along with status and wealth. i could only hope that it would not be so, that art is something that should be appreciated by all. In this modern age, above anything else, culture had become the voice of the masses. the majority of the masses are not the select and privileged view.

the united states is criticized for lacking culture compared to Europe. the best way to promote the arts is with an understanding of the average patron of our society.

therefore…..i think NYU should let me in to the visual arts administration program without needing a silly art history major.

the end

oh…pitchfork in 2 weeks!

home again

i came home for the summer in order to save money for studying abroad next year. while my fellow pr peers have big fancy schmancy internships in huge metropolitan cities, i work at a day camp talking to nine year olds about iron maiden. at least i technically have a title: “arts and crafts director”. yes parents – i am the one your 4 year old refers to as “the art lady”. i can think of at least twenty creative things to do with leaves alone. it’s an easy enough job – one week down and i’m all the rage in the parks and rec department of my hometown.

i’m also kinda interning kinda volunteering at this non-profit arts organization in my town. they have their main gallery, the shop, a million art classes and various different events throughout the summer. my boss is a little scatterbrained – sometimes i have to remind her about the full page resume i gave her in may that says, yes, i’m an art minor and yes, i do have pr experience (granted, one course and one year in PRSSA isn’t that legitimate but something is better than nothing). however, how can you not love the free spirited graphic designer turned art advocate/official muralist of my town with “Bleecker Street: Greenwich Village of the ’60’s” (contemporary covers of folk music) in her gallery who also gives great advice on how best to utilize oil pastels?

one of my best friends, anthony, is spending his summer at his school in Virginia, having a glorious old time while leaving me slightly stranded here. i gave him my “best american short stories of 2005” to remember me by (which isn’t actually mine – it was a loan from a guy i dated last year. whoops) elizabeth sold her soul to nannying for this 10 and 12 year old who could def take care of themselves and mike is galivanting throughout the area being the stud that works at Dick’s Sporting Goods and dates girls from jersey. that leaves me trying to awkwardly reconnect with friends from high school and hang out with my fellow day camp counselors outside of work trying to not talk about camp.

there are the comforts of home to consider though such as the family and sleeping in the room i’ve had since i was born (not to mention i finally have my turntable set up. my proudest purchases as of far have been neutral milk hotel’s “aeroplane over the sea” and the live recording of orson welles’ “war of the worlds” from 1938)

i can’t complain and home has been splendid – but i’m still biding my time until i get back to new york.

oh – and pitchfork in chicago will be glorious as well.