Tag Archives: pop culture

How To Make Sure You Never Forget How Old You Are

Wow! I remember my WordPress password. So now that I’m here, let’s write a blog, shall we?

People often ask me if working on a college campus keeps me young or makes me feel ancient. I always tell them it’s a little of both.

I work directly with students and sometimes they actually like me. They stop by my office just to say hi, compliment my outfit, or friend me on Facebook. Now and again they might even “like” one of my status updates. And that small click is “fountain of youth” worthy! Feeling young doesn’t mean I’m their best friend. I don’t have the desire or energy to feel 19-years-old again. It’s more like the cool aunt who because I am slightly younger than their parents, I am deemed acceptable to have a conversation with devoid of eye-rolling or texting. It is on these days when I think to myself, “Caryn, you are still hip!” I give myself a little high-five, pop up my collar, blast some T-Swift, and so very quickly, any youthful vibe is erased (but that liked status update lasts FOREVER).

But lately I have just felt old. Like “maybe I should take down my diplomas so they don’t see the year I graduated” old. Thinking back over the years of my career in higher education, I have pinpointed the following reasons why this may happen:

Pop Culture Differences

Every generation has their Beatles, their New Kids on the Block, or their Justin Bieber. And I love talking about who or what was popular “in my day” with students because sometimes they have heard of Nirvana or watch The Cosby Show on Nick at Nite. But everyone now and then, there is a disconnect that will leave you deciding that since you don’t even remember the 2.5 years you spent in the seventies, you will just tell people you were born in 1980.

I’ll never forget discussing the demise of Saturday Night Live with a student a couple of years ago. Generations have been having this conversation for decades, so there is nothing new here. And I felt a commonality with her as she lamented that she missed the “classic” seasons when the show was groundbreaking and funny. I thought, wow, here is a teenager who gets it and understands the legacy of sketch comedy people like Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd created. And then she added, “like when Will Ferrell was on it.” Okay, we’re done here.

Blank Stares

The Blank Stare is an important signal that you are about to feel like your grandmother. It is not uncommon for one to say something to a college student on any given day that will be met with an expression of concern that you may have just suffered a stroke because the words coming out of your mouth made no sense.

In a few weeks, I am taking a group of students to New York City for a study trip. I couldn’t wait to tell them that I had secured tickets for us to attend a taping of the Late Show with David Letterman! And there was plenty of excitement. But all I could focus on were the couple of Blank Stares in the crowd. “Who is this David Letterman of which you speak”, their faces said to me. Geez, it’s not like I said we were going to Jay Leno. (That would be less cool, right?)

Similarly, a classic story I like to tell is when, as a career counselor, I was explaining to a student the importance of using LinkedIn. I told her it was like an online rolodex. What’s a rolodex, she asked? Enter my own Blank Stare.


Assuming it has nothing to do with an action item I may has assigned them, the memories of these kids are amazing. They can tell me in detail about their weekend, semester-long study abroad, or four years of high school (and I’m glad they do, I love hearing their stories!). Meanwhile, this morning, I spent a good five minutes in the shower trying to remember if I had already shampooed my hair or not.

Look, I am nowhere near ancient. And I think one reason I enjoy my work so much is because I am youthful and can relate to students, developing relationships with them that allow me to feel like I might actually make this transitional time in their lives just a tad bit easier, more enjoyable, or supported. And if I am being honest with myself, the times when I do feel old, I am really feeling a twinge of jealousy. For the unique friendships they are forming, the new experiences they are having, and the adventures ahead of them.

Luckily, we all have new experiences and adventures awaiting us at every stage of life, and if we can go after them with the same zest and energy that college students tackle theirs, I think we are in good shape.

But first, a nap. I’m exhausted and I think I need to wash my hair again.


Macy’s Day Parade and Me

Traditions abound this time of year. Most of these center around time spent with family and friends.

But one of my favorite holiday traditions is one that I keep for myself. Thanksgiving morning, wrapped in blankets (ignoring the high today of 70 degrees), drinking hot chocolate and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I don’t know when this tradition started in my adult life or how no one has managed to infiltrate it. I do know JB loves the guilt-free pass to play golf. (Don’t worry, I did invite him to join me in my holiday tradition of watching Love Actually, I’m not a monster!)

But back to the parade. As if Matt Lauer doesn’t have the most amazing job already (in addition to “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?”, just yesterday he had the privilege of interviewing this couple for absolutely no good newsworthy reason), he guides us through the three hours of parade coverage with Al and the current female co-hosting The Today Show.

Some people think you can just tune in at the second hour, when the parade floats have made their way to 34th Street. But for me, the first hour has some of the best action — the Broadway performances!

A great lead-in for the high school drill teams (miss you!), marching bands, and floats that will soon take over the TV screen — starting of course with Tom Turkey and ending with the much-anticipated arrival of Santa Claus.

Sure, there is a lot of NBC self-promotion and horrible lip-syncing. And it appears that the producers drink a vat of adult eggnog (which I will soon be imbibing!) and then assign the performers to their spot on the parade. Avril Lavigne on the Cooking Channel float? Um, okay!

But it is all part of the parade experience. As is crying during the St. Jude commercials and its meaningful tagline delivered every year by Marlo Thomas: “Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not.”

This solo tradition comes at a reflective time for me as I am just days away from turning over the keys to my condo — selling my home of four years that was a symbol of my independence. Combining traditions is truly wonderful and I’m so excited to do so with JB and his family, but I think having a few of your own is just as important.

One day I will, hopefully, share this tradition. I can picture myself sitting on the couch, wrapped in blankets, and sipping hot chocolate with a little baby on my lap. Sure, as Baby grows up, we’ll have to deal with questions about Santa and why he doesn’t visit our house and how that isn’t it fair and that Baby wishes he could live with Baby’s friends who have Christmas trees because they are more fun and Baby hates me for ruining his/her life.

On second thought, maybe Baby can go to the golf course with daddy. This tradition is mine.

Happy Thanksgiving! May we be thankful today and every day for the blessings in our lives.

Do you have a tradition that is all your’s? What is your favorite Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float?

Life In Bullets

You might recall I have a blog. She’s been a little silent through October and up until now, which is ironic because the month itself was anything but (not to mention that I am usually anything but). Professionally and personally, October always seems like the busiest month of the year. Am I alone in feeling that way?

But we soldier on. So, in soundbite format, here’s what’s been occupying my time in the last month:

  • One strike away. Twice. Heartbreak.
  • Siri.
  • The new television season.
  • American Horror Story on FX.
  • Reading online obsessively about American Horror Story.
  • Having nightmares because of American Horror Story.
  • Attending weddings.
  • Planning a wedding (I have a dress!).
  • Alternating between sweaters and flip-flops because Dallas is ridiculous.
  • Trying to find the right energy bar or post-workout food/beverage to stave the blurry visions and headaches off I’m getting after my personal training.
  • Drinking more water.
  • Forgetting to drink more water.
  • Turning 34. Will it be as busy as 33?
  • Trying to figure our where in the world is Matt Lauer — otherwise known as the annual reminder that no matter how great it actually is, your job totally sucks in comparison.
  • Counting the minutes until Thanksgiving.

What’s missing from this list? Books. Blogging. Google Reader. The part of me who loves to read and write has been absent lately. While I have my theories as to why (most of them surrounding horrific scenarios derived from American Horror Story), I think it’s just a simple matter of focusing on other things.

I miss reading and blogging and I think my life is fuller and more balanced with these hobbies around, but I also don’t feel the need to force them. They then move from hobbies to obligations. It’s kind of how I feel about our “passions.”

Hopefully my inner hipster-sitting-in-a-coffee-shop-with-a-composition book-and-an-e-reader will resurface soon. In the meantime, please share some book recommendations below and/or what you are enjoying this new TV season!

Thanks for reading!

Taylor Made

If you’re not familiar with the Dallas area, we have a football team called the Dallas Cowboys. They play in a 100,00-seat stadium in Arlington, Texas, halfway between Dallas and Ft. Worth. It looks like a spaceship:

Courtesy of ESPN.com

Since it opened last season, it hasn’t exactly been a place for fairy tales. The Cowboys are the Cowboys and even the Super Bowl game was not quite what the DFW area was planning for.

But last night, this oversized sports bar next door to the home of the AL West champions (and counting) Texas Rangers, transformed itself into a place where 55,000 young girls (and their moms… and me… and JB) were able to experience the dreamland theatrics of young love and heartbreak that can only be brought to life by one Taylor Swift!

I have already written about my adoration of this girl. And those who know me well have listened to my countdown to the concert since I purchased the tickets more than 7 months ago. It was only fitting that her show take place after I had spent the previous 24 hours observing the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. On this day, we atone for our sins and are forgiven for our transgressions of the past year. It is important to attend a Taylor Swift concert when you are at your most pure, because as my friend and fellow attendee keenly observed, there is something very Disney about her show and her fans.

Cowboys Stadium has a Giant Screen of Epic Proportions. If I wasn’t such a lazy blogger, I’d look up the dimensions, but trust me, it’s huge.

Portion of the crowd and the Giant Screen.

It takes an amazing set of pores to feel confident enough to have your face on this screen. There’s no make-up that can hide anything. But with her Hollywood-glam looks, including striking eyes and her signature cherry red lipstick, Taylor was always ready for her close-up. We couldn’t help but be distracted by her perfect teeth.

Perfect teeth, meet Giant Screen.

Taylor’s show was full of some of her greatest hits coupled with Broadway-like performances with a chorus of dancers and her high-energy band. If you have seen the movie Valentine’s Day, you probably already know that acting is not one of Taylor’s strengths. She’s a little awkward. But in the context of her concert, when music is the main focus, she could pull it off.

Sure, I had my jaded, I’m-too-old-to-be-here moments. Her constant looks of awe (amplified by the Giant Screen) at all the shrieking and cheering for her by her many fans got a little old for me. I have no doubt she is grateful, but I can’t buy that she is surprised. This isn’t her first rodeo. And floating over the crowd in a Juliet-esque balcony during the final number was perhaps taking the fairytale metaphor a little too far.

But then again, my friends and I did wear homemade matching t-shirts:

Thanks A!

And that’s really what this concert, and all others, are about. Sharing good (whatever that means to you) music with friends. The fiance, who doesn’t listen to any pop music, but misses a big night of college football to join three girls (in aforementioned matching t-shirts) because he knows it’s important to me.

And the moment the house music abruptly stops, the lights go out, and you know the show is about to begin. And so what if you shriek louder than the 11-year-old next to you?

What are some of your best concert memories? I’m sure this concert was the first for a majority of the crowd. What was your first concert? Mine was Lionel Ritchie. Oh yeah.

Cleaning, Confronting, Procrastinating

The pressure is on. I’m two weeks away from moving in with JB and I’m determined to start this new chapter of my life with as little clutter as possible. That requires that this packing experience be different from my last few moves. Instead of just taping the drawers and moving furniture, storage bins and cabinets filled with papers and mementos as is, I have to: Actually. Go. Through. Them.


This has been a daunting task. And it’s forced me to confront the area of my condo that makes me worry I will one day be featured on A&E’s Hoarders: The Hall Closet.

In The Hall Closet, I have kept bags, filing cabinets, and other storage contraptions that contain every document, payment confirmation, health benefits summary, etc. that I otherwise didn’t know what to do with, but figured I might need one day. It’s like the bank vault for an identity thief. I knew over the years that I should go through them and purge all of the old and unnecessary paperwork, but I kept procrastinating and then the idea of it just became too overwhelming. And the cycle continued. (Wow, I really do sound like a hoarder, though I promise it’s not that bad.)

The Hall Closet has residents like this bag bill payment organizer:

I have given myself small goals each day, which makes the project more manageable. And with the advent of bulk shredding options (including your local Office Depot where they will shred while you watch), this undertaking has fortunately been far less confounding than I was fearing.

You see, my problem is not an inability to get rid of things. It’s the paralyzing feeling of not knowing where to put something or how to discard of it properly. So I do nothing. And then, when I’m under the gun, I realize it wasn’t actually that difficult of a predicament. So I encourage all of you — confront your Hall Closet or Under The Bathroom Sink or whatever it is that you turn a blind eye to. As always with  moving, I am reminded that it’s so much better to live without the clutter.

And that means digital clutter, too. So to distract myself from going through phone bills from 2006, I have also been cleaning out my DVR.  There are now only three items left that I can’t seem to delete.

The Friends and Will and Grace listings are my favorite episodes from those shows that I captured on reruns. And of course the Lost series finale which I’m not sure I have the mental strength to re-watch, but can’t erase. If you’re curious, the Friends episode is the trivia game about each other the crew plays resulting in the girls losing their apartment to the boys. The W&G one is Grace grieving her break-up with Woody Harrelson’s Nathan character.  It’s when I really started to wonder if the writers spied on me for their Grace inspiration.  As for Lost, it turns out it was purgatory all along! (Just kidding.) ( I think.)

Well, I have a stack of cable bills from three apartments ago that aren’t going to shred themselves, so I should stop procrastinating. I’m sure you’re reading this out of procrastination for something else, so just go do it!

But first, what task do you dread? How do you just make yourself do it? Why don’t I just buy DVDs of my favorite TV shows? (I thought I would ask that question for you.)

To The Left, To The Left

Everything I own (in my office) is in a box to the left. And to the right. And some of them are still flat because this doesn’t help me:

But the point of this post is that Beyonce, infinitely wise, said it best“Don’t you ever for a second get to thinking you’re irreplaceable.” 

In her song, Beyoncé is of course referring to her no-good ex-boyfriend she is kicking out for being untrue and not appreciating the Jag she bought him. Since JB doesn’t buy me Jags (rude), I don’t relate to that part. However, leaving a job is an astute reminder about just how replaceable we all are.

Clearly, I never believe my absence anywhere is going to shut down production. I am pretty sure my bathroom floor is learning to self-clean due to months of neglect. But there is a humbling feeling when you realize the meetings, the plans for next year, the committees, and everything else will be going on just peachy without you. And colleagues are excited about these plans — even though I won’t be there!

Even while cleaning out my files, I find it so hard to throw away old documents. As if, surely, at some point, someone in the office will need my notes about the random meeting I attended two  years ago. Won’t they?? As I fill up the recycle bins, I know the answer is that they have their own notes and the paper trail proof of my existence is diminishing. (You also never know what you might find when you clean out your office.)

Obviously, the meetings, the committees and the excitement of plans to come should absolutely forge ahead. Any first-year Psych 101 student could tell you that this is about my own feelings of leaving my professional nest. Of wondering what I will be missing, of already feeling like an outsider. Luckily, I have a great new opportunity to look forward to. Soon enough, I’ll be part of new meetings, making new plans and wondering why there are so many committees.

But for these last few days, I’m just going to enjoy the familiarity and the goodbyes. I’m also going to enjoy the ocean because I’m going on vacation, in case you’re wondering why you haven’t heard from me. Remember, I’m fragile, I have to pretend you will notice my absence!

In other news, I have realized in writing this post that I can’t wait for a Beyoncé greatest hits album.

Have you ever been reminded that you are “replaceable?” Where do you feel irreplaceable?

My Thoughts… On Everything.

This last week or so has been a whirlwind and it’s left me anything but balanced. I’m not complaining, it just makes it hard to choose a blog topic. So all aboard the random train — it’s a journey through this past week.

The Good

My potluck freshman year roommate from college came to visit for a couple of days from her current residence in Dubai. Clearly, these visits don’t happen often. I had someone to sing RENT with and we spent a cold rainy day getting pampered.

Common interests such as massages and musicals aside, my friend and I are about as opposite as it gets. I peaked in my adventurous spirit by leaving Texas for Chicago for college. My friend packed her bags 3.5 years ago for a transfer to Dubai (after countless other trips abroad — by herself!). Yet, we still manage to spend hours just talking. And eating Chick-Fil-A. It was a wonderful visit.

Also, in the good category… Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Please, please read this book right now. I risk looking insane in every public place I choose to whip out my Kindle because it is just that funny. The following line got me strange glances while I read in Whole Foods. In talking about photo shoots and the controversy of re-touching, she says:

“I feel about Photoshop the way some feel about abortion. It is appalling and a tragic reflection on the moral decay of our society… unless I need it, in which case, everybody be cool. “

I love how she takes a serious and controversial topic and juxtaposes it with something trivial. It’s obviously two totally different animals, but it also makes a good analogy because it’s true! You’re my idol, Tina. The glasses are just icing on the cake.

The Bad

I can’t talk about this last week without mentioning the icon of evil that pervaded it.

Babies R Us.

Seriously, what is wrong with that place? I attend a baby shower every other day, but you can never learn to understand that building. During my visit this last week, I actually asked a sales associate if they just randomly assign aisle numbers on their gift registries. Why do they even bother? They are never correct. Never. I’m sorry to all my expecting and soon to be expecting friends, but unless you register for something I can find in the first 3 aisles, you are getting a gift card. Any further into that store and my soul gets darker.

Oh, and I guess I should mention that other evil, bin Laden. Because it took me so long to write this blog, commentary on the topic is probably a little old. So I will keep mine short.  I’m happy he’s dead. He represented the deepest of hatred in mankind and I thank our service men and women for all they do to protect us. I also don’t want to line the streets and throw a parade about it. I really liked this article. It’s pretty religious which is usually not where I go for commentary, but I like the message. It’s okay to hate bin Laden and it’s okay to be happy he’s dead.  I sure am. But you know, maybe we don’t need to see pictures of his skull blown away. Let’s just keep focusing on the very real terror threats that are still alive and strong.

I also kind of enjoyed all the misquoting that was going on as people looked to Dr. King and Mark Twain to express their feelings. Man, people will copy and paste anything!

(Did you see how I juxtaposed Babies R Us with Osama bin Laden in this section? Wouldn’t Tina totally do that?!)

The Huh?

My city is electing a new mayor and I attended a debate of the four candidates this week. I haven’t been up on my civic news and was looking for this debate to introduce me to the candidates and help me understand the main issues in this race and their corresponding views. And it did this. But I love how politicians will throw in anything to make you feel like they “get” you. This debate was at the Jewish Community Center and one of the candidates called it “the J.” Wow, you totally understand Jewish people!

But then one mentioned that he went to my high school (and it’s likely many people in that room did because the J is located nearby). I all of a sudden liked every answer he gave just a little bit more than the other guy’s response. And when he kept saying that something was done “good” instead of “well”, it was just an awesome representation of our public schooling. Go Panthers!

I promised you random, so there you go. I hope you didn’t throw yourself off the train. It helped me end the week with a little clarity to get this all out of my head, so thank you.

So, like, what’s up with all of you? Have a great weekend! If you are a mother, I hope you are spared a Babies R Us visit on your special day.