The evidence arises spontaneously: Like this past weekend, when I arrived at the public library minutes before it opened on a Saturday morning. I lingered outside with the doors with a small crowd of retirees. Or a few weeks ago at the grocery store, when I compulsively reached toward the community college course catalogue.
But Pia, you protest, aghast. You’re done! You’re free! Graduating undergrad is your first major possibility for radical self-determination – why do you do this to yourself?!
The aftermath of the 2016 election was a brutal blow for all women. Nearly a year later, it still pains me to revisit that night: The long walk to my dorm. My hopes for progress on gender equality dashed by the grim confirmation that America once again chose the side of misogyny. I was likely not the only ambitious young woman who thought, So this is the world I am graduating into. This is how that world treats women who want more for themselves.
The November 2016 election is the starting point for Anne Helen Petersen’s collection of essays, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman. Petersen holds a Ph. D. in media studies; you may recognize her as a senior culture writer at Buzzfeed. In the Introduction, Petersen describes about how she, like many of us, was crushed when she saw perhaps the most prominent woman in America, the toughest and most capable in her field, lose to a man who openly boasted about sexual assault. The election, and what it revealed about how severely society delimits the definition of “a good woman,” was the impetus for Petersen’s collection.
Enter seven unruly women. For the subjects of her essays, Petersen chose to examine a prominent woman in the public eye who has somehow been deemed “unruly,” improper, deviant. In this state of national uncertainty, Petersen argues that “unruliness,” in all fields and from all women, is more necessary than ever.
This weekend, my friend So Yun and I meandered through the crisp, perennially sweater-weather air of San Francisco. We were in Hayes Valley for the San Francisco Urban Air Market, a marketplace that features independent artists and sustainable design. Vendor tents lined several blocks of the neighborhood, with a free painting party in the center and live musicians tucked into the corners. So Yun and I weaved through wares from jewelry makers, illustrators, alpaca fleece weavers, and a surprising number of handmade baby clothes makers.
My Fall Fashion Alter Ego reads the New Yorker on cafe terraces, against a backdrop of autumn foliage. She speaks French better than me. She has clear skin, and, like a true cool-girl, her beauty secret is drinking plenty of water. (Ugh.)
Of course, I’m well aware that Fall Fashion Pia is a veneer, a fiction constructed by my irrational perceived shortcomings, etc. I’m pretty cool with my own life, flaws and all. On the other hand, I’ve always been a believer of faking it until I make it – at least in terms of charm, wit, and having-my-life-together-ness.
So while I don’t want to be my Fall Fashion Alter Ego, I do want to dress likeher. And as autumn lazily descends on the Peninsula, my mind is on big ambitions and achieving my goals… or at least the semblance of it.
Thus, I present the pieces that I’m coveting for fall, the ones that glamorous Fashion Pia would wear. Sidenote: Fashion Pia has a much bigger budget than Real Pia.
Welcome to the first installment of Friday Night In! Today, I’m talking about a TV series whose premature cancellation (15 years ago!) did little to erode its lasting cult following.
Set in a future ruled by the tyrannical interplanetary Alliance, Firefly follows the roguish crew of the space vessel Serenity. Firefly fuses genre conventions of sci-fi and classic Western – a combination that might be played off as wacky and disingenuous in the wrong writer’s hands.
Thankfully, the creative lead on Firefly is none other than Joss Whedon. (Bless that man.) His work – Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – is defined by action-packed fantasy that doesn’t lose sight of the ethical, emotional issues that drive a story.
Fireflyis, thus, gritty and multidimensional: There are deep-space fight scenes and clever cowboy retorts, moments of grief and beauty in turns.
Here’s why Firefly (and Serenity) should be your date on a Friday Night In:
My dad and I drove seven hours up the coast from LA to SF on Sunday, during which time: he gave me advice on making friends in a new city (maybe I should actually go out on Fridays?), we bought buckets of drive-through soda to stave off the 110° heat, and I found out that my dad can rap the first full three minutes the old-school funk classic, “Rapper’s Delight.”
We made the drive so that my dad could visit me, and so that we could cap off the summer by watching the LA Dodgers play the San Francisco Giants. It was more than a game — the victor of this match would settle, at least for a night, the grave and virulent debate of which is the superior half of California.
My roommate and I were watching TV when a nightclub scene came on. All of a sudden, she made this disgusted face and said, “That’s, like, my worst nightmare! It’s dark and crowded, and there’s no boba.” I love my roommate.
If you know me personally, you already know that I’m not about that club life. On a Friday after work, I would much prefer slipping on some fuzzy socks and catching up on TV. And if you do like to go hard, or if you fall somewhere in between, that’s awesome, too! This series is still for you.
You get a wealth of advice in the time after college – from family, commencement speeches, blogs written from a 20-something perspective (you know the type). And while I value everything I’ve heard, somehow, this advice has resonated most.
The scene: a sticky summer’s day in New York City. I was a rising senior in college, ambitious but unsure about what, exactly, I wanted out of life.
It’s more of a beginning-of-the-year for me than January is. School supplies, the elegant transition to fall, cinnamon and persimmons. (As Tom Hanks’s character in You’ve Got Mail marvels: “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”)
Septembers are studious and ripe with renewed possibility.
Of course, I probably feel this way because up until this point in my life, my goals have revolved around the school year: get good grades, read a gajillion books, learn a ton.
And for the first time, I don’t have a school to go back to this year. I get to read, learn, and strive for whatever I decide. How appropriate that a new blog, and a slew of new projects I hope to share with you soon, has been born in September.
So welcome to my blog! Here’s to a month of creating new things and asking daring questions.
What are your thoughts on September? If you’re a new post-grad, how do you feel about this moment?
It’s good to be back in my blog happy place writing book reviews, and even better to be writing about this book.
Angie Thomas’s debut novel has received abundant critical praise; it’s held its ground on the New York TimesYoung Adult bestseller list since it came out in February. And because this is YA and you were wondering, casting for the movie adaptation is already underway.
I’m thrilled to add my thoughts on the book that I hope will be a cultural touchstone that defines this generation of new YA and, more importantly, YA readers.