why I “wasted” my vote on Gary Johnson

It was no surprise that President Barack Obama won yesterday’s election. It’s disheartening, but most voters believed they only had two choices – incumbent Barack Obama or Republican candidate Mitt Romney. The popular consenus among many voters was that the choice was between the “lesser of two evils” and voting for someone other than the Republican or Democratic candidate was a “waste” of a vote, but here’s why that simply isn’t the case.

Gary Johnson, the two-term former Republican Governor of New Mexico, was the 2012 Libertarian candidate for president. He has a proven track record of vetoing wasteful spending over 750 times, and was cited “best job creator” by National Review. His campaign was hardly covered by the mainstream media. I found out about Johnson through my “smart” friends, and I’m so glad I did. Upon researching Johnson’s stance on the issues and using interactive tools such as isidewith.com – I discovered that he was the candidate I felt most aligned with my own views. Johnson is socially liberal and fiscally conservative – which in my opinion, is exactly what our country needs right now. The damage done by the Obama administration is simply not sustainable: The federal deficit has tripled, the American dollar is hardly worth anything, and the unemployment rate is sky-high.

Johnson’s plan was to stop the spending immediately, audit the federal reserve and abolish the IRS. Johnson rallied to bring troops home and limit U.S. involvement in foreign affairs. He believes in keeping the internet safe and censorship-free. He also has been on a long-running campaign to legalize marijuana and to regulate it in similar fashion to alcohol and cigarettes. Johnson supports civil liberties such as gay marriage and abortion, issues on which the government shouldn’t impose, as well as the repeal of the Patriot Act. Gary Johnson stood to defend freedom, peace and well – liberty. He encouraged us to “Be Libertarian with me this one time.”

The more I followed Gary – on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook – the more his message resonated with me. I know that I wasn’t alone in feeling fed up with the venomous campaign messages being tossed back and forth between Obama and Romney, the endless flyers, the ridiculous debates. The two-party system is corrupt. Both of the main candidates were essentially endorsing the same things. Plenty of folks voted for Obama simply because of Romney’s pro-life and pro-marriage stance, neither of which have much weight if he actually were to be elected. Campaigns know which issues to press to sway voters. Gary Johnson spoke the truth, unlike either of the other candidates. Oh, and by the way: Johnson is an avid skier, marathoner and climbed Mount Everest.

If Gary Johnson had achieved his goal of 5% of the popular vote, it would have ended the two-party abuse, and granted the Libertarian party equal funding and ballot access. Johnson received a total of 1,139,562 votes, more than any other Libertarian candidate to run for presidential office. That is historic and amazing. He was America’s best hope. I couldn’t be more proud to have “wasted” my vote on him. I know I share that pride with the rest of the 1% who voted for Gary Johnson. I know this isn’t the last we’ll see of him. I can only hope that in time, more Americans will take notice of other candidates on the ballot, and have the courage to vote for who they truly believe in, rather than who has a “chance” of winning. I know I did.

“I am not a champion of lost causes, but a champion of causes not yet won.”
-Norman M. Thomas


chivalry: WTF happened?

I’m a lady. I happen to enjoy being treated like one. And I just love gentleman. I’m no stranger to dating; I’ve spent much of my twenties single. It seems like though, especially in more recent times, that the notion of “chivalry” has fallen by the wayside. I’m not exactly expecting a guy to take off his jacket and throw it across a puddle, but come on. It’s been quite awhile since I had a car door opened for me, my chair pulled out at a restaurant. Yes, I know I’m perfectly able-bodied, and can do all of those things myself. Totally not the point. Acts of chivalry are symbolic. They represent who you are as a man, and what matters to you. Plus they are very nice, and in my case, never go unnoticed.

Let’s discuss for a moment who pays for the bill. This is my number one chivalry gripe, and makes or breaks whether I will pursue a long-term relationship with a man or not. I’ve had plenty of men who wined me and dined me endlessly. No matter my insistence (and often willingness) to pay for my own meals and drinks, they shoo’d me away. “Please!/Get out of here/Don’t be silly!/It’s my treat!” It’s politeness. Especially in the stages of early courtship…or I guess these days, what we call “dating.” More often than not, my favorite men courted me. Even ones who lacked in other areas or with whom things didn’t work out, they seemed to understand the significance of paying for dinner. I’m a smart, capable woman, and I do believe in women’s rights. But, I’ve always been on the more old-fashioned side. I was raised that way. If you’re dating a man, you want to feel taken care of. And lately, I don’t. I say, “Let’s split this?” or “Do you want some cash/my card?” and with no hesitation, he snatches my money and we go dutch. Quite frankly, few things make me want to put out less.

I realize we don’t live in the nineteenth century anymore, and I suppose it would be wise for me to slightly modify my expectations. I guess I’ve had a taste of what it can be like to be treated extremely well, and I won’t lie, I enjoy it. I like hand kisses, getting flowers and random presents, and being courted — and by the way, you should want to do all of this. Men who take a girl out for a certain number of dinners or try to buy their way in and then have some sort of expectation of a reward, or are trying to satisfy some waiting period — no. I’m pretty good at sensing intention, and if it doesn’t feel genuine, that isn’t going to work out for me, either. My thought is: If the man isn’t willing to pay for your first meal, he isn’t going to want to pay for any subsequent meals, either. He will expect you to float your own way, which is totally fine, if you just want to be friends. It’s about knowing and feeling that your man can take care of you — even if I can (and do!) take care of myself just fine.

Not that long ago, I met up with a fellow I’d met through match.com (sigh). He was mid thirties (almost ten years older than me), and seemingly successful. He looked better online, but that’s beside the point. He had selected the restaurant and he had initiated the date. (This seems to be an important “point.”) We had an unremarkable yet not completely unpleasant meal; he selected to sit on the patio even though it was freezing. The check came and he ignored it for awhile as it lingered on his side of the table out of my reach (sometimes the waitresses try to help us ladies out). Finally he picked up the $50 dinner/drink tab and said “how about you grab this, and I’ll grab drinks afterwards?” Pardon?! Needless to say, we went splitsies and he made a big point of asking the waitress to “please make sure she pays for hers, and I pay for mine.” I wound up needing an “out” from my friends on this one, which entailed an awkward phoned in pseudo-emergency. I felt a little bad, but. If the guy had been gentlemanly I wouldn’t have bailed so soon and maybe would have spent a little time getting to know him — I usually give the guys I date ample “chances” if things seem to not be going well right out of the gate.

And this works both ways. If a man courts me the way I expect, I would not only reward him handsomely in the bedroom (once the time arrives), but also eventually work my way up to cooking him meals and otherwise pampering him. Not because I feel that’s my gender role necessarily, but that’s what I like to do. I’m more traditional. Things have a way of balancing out. There has to be a happy medium, even in these mixed up modern times, of getting exactly what we want and expect from the opposite sex. Until then, I’ll be watching old movies and pining away for the men who wear gloves and will help a fair maiden down from her carriage without even blinking an eye.

Jersey Shore is ruining my life!

My apartment was burglarized recently (stole my MacBook and iPod…bastards…living, learning and hopefully moving soon). Anyway, my mom let me borrow her laptop, and in the wake of my trauma I discovered that you can stream Jersey Shore on Netflix Instant Watch, one of my favorite things ever. I get addicted to shows easily, particularly ones that are so bad in such a good way. I haven’t had cable in years, but my friends and colleagues with DVRs will frequently compare notes on what happened on Jersey Shore that week. I can only nod and say that I’ll probably get around to watching it in a year or two… and when I do, the experience is intense. So far, it’s been anesthetizing my open emotional wounds of losing years worth of photos and writings, and is consequently knocking points off my IQ with each episode, and impacting my ability to do anything else. Even as I write this blog, Netflix is taunting me in the other tab with a partially-viewed episode of salacious, dare I say–Jerseylicious(!) drama.

I catch myself speaking in a Long Island Italian accent at work, even though I’m from New England and don’t have a trace of Italian in my blood. A customer today asked me where I’m from and I had to just come clean. It’s really hard to control. Snooki’s “wah!” is infectious, as is “t-shirt time” and of course…GTL. It’s been many moons since my ivory skin has seen a tanning bed, but every now and then the bronzed “goddesses” of JH make me go a little thick with the bronzer and crave acrylic nails (also a phase I’m proud to have outgrown).

I have never, ever been the type to go for hard-bodies guido dudes. The fellas on the show are only after one thing of course, but if you happen to not be a “grenade,” you could get some pretty special treatment. The Situation is obviously a sleazeball, but I have a pretty deep soft spot for Vinny and an on going crush on Pauly D and his hair. Why? Only God really knows the answer to that question. Normally I prefer pale skinny rocker boys, softspoken poets or nerdy savants. Maybe Jersey Shore appeals to all our base desires to eat loads of pasta, strap some leopard print over my lady parts, do body shots till 5 in the morning and find an anonymous hard body to “smush.”

artist spotlight: Angelique Houtkamp

I adore Angelique Houtkamp’s work. She’s a tattoer and artist from Amsterdam, whose works are heavily inspired by old school sailor-style tattoo flash. Her inspirations include 1920s and 30s illustrations, circus “freaks,” gypsies, fortunetellers and nautical imagery. Angelique’s works are known for bold lines and heavy shadows. I have a tiny 5×7 “pistol” print I purchased from Mode Merr (local designer & friend Angela Zampbell!) which is one of my personal favorite artworks in my small but growing collection. I’ve also been reading her second book, Tattoo Mystique, and really have enjoyed learning more about her process, inspirations and lifestyle.

All artwork by A. Houtkamp.

whatever happened to____? stuff that should make a comeback

Every now and then I get a case of style nostalgia. It happened to me today going through my old Glamour Junkie folder. Some of the articles made me cringe…but then again, I still kind of like a lot of the same stuff. And, proof that I’m getting old and that the fashion world is constantly changing, you can’t find a lot of this stuff anymore.

C. Ronson’s “Tooshies” line – tees/tanks/boy-style briefs emblazoned with cute prints like guitars, cupcakes and pineapples, I loved these so!

Crimped hair. On Christina Aguilera in 2000, above (I used to have pictures of her plastered all over my wall when I was in high school, one from this very event) and…

…flash forward to 2011, Christina rocking a crimped ‘do again and still looking awesome. Why did we leave our crimping irons in the early ’90’s? I think it adds rad-looking texture, and not everyone is doing it. I say bring it back!

The original Lip Smackers. (Like above…some of those are old!) You can still buy them, but most of the original flavors and “limited editions” are already gone, and it’s just not the same. They were all I carried in my purse all through 1997 (which was faux patent with blue and lime green leopard faux fur, by the way). They remind me of a time when I was so carefree, and the new flavors that are out now are just copies of other foods (assorted soda, candy, etc). Remember the ones with special tops you could wear on a necklace? I would buy them with my allowance. Sigh…I can almost smell the Cotton Candy…

Primp splatter sweats. This brand was popular circa 2004; I happen to own a pair of the ice cream cone splatter capris. They were to loungewear what Wildfox Couture is today, only they never quite took off. They were super expensive and Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson were fans.

Primp thermals. Cute designs like hearts, anchors and bunnies. (Above: Rachel Bilson & Paris Hilton.) So hard to find these days.

Mandy Moore’s “Mblem” clothing line. I own a “spearmint open front tunic” from this line I purchased years ago; it’s the perfect burnout fabric that works over leggings/jeans or as a beach coverup. Sadly, Mandy shut down her clothing line in 2009, which is really a shame. Thankfully, there are loads more celebs peddling overpriced tees, so not to worry.

Other things I miss but have a hard time finding – awesome jelly shoes that don’t cost $100+, Teen’s “Great Looks” magazine, Taryn Manning’s Born Uniqorn line, Clueless the TV show, scented nail polish…sigh!

are we OVERsocial?

O, Technology! You silly banana.

So my recent (albeit trepidatious) forays into Twitter have led me to wonder about some things. Now, it’s totally obvious that this day and age, a large volume of our connectedness comes via the Internet. It’s been this way for awhile. Everyone has Facebook (preceded by Friendster and Myspace, which in 2009 laid off more than 30% of its workforce), most people have smartphones, everyone who’s cool Tweets, you have WordPress, Tumblr and Blogspot to choose from for blogging, the business minded connect with LinkedIn, social media is a rapidly growing marketing method, the lonely meet on Match.com, the photographers have Flickr…the list goes on. We “check in” when we visit a hip bar or venue (or even at mundane places, too), and we update our status and Tweet from every imaginable place, even the bathroom, often last thing at night and first thing in the morning. There are seemingly countless portals by which one can enter and connect with friends and like-minded people, and to photos, music, video and information. Or at least that’s the idea.

I’m all for the age of communication and instant gratification. I admit that find it gratifying when someone “likes” my Facebook status right away, follows me on Twitter or best of all, comments on my blog. It’s validating, and it feels like you’re really…well, connecting, hopefully in a positive way, sending your message into the world. But something happens on the days I know I spend too much time scanning my Facebook/Twitter feed, or keep my email open all day long (only to receive special offers from my favorite retailers..alas!). I feel a bit antsy. If I don’t get a reply right away, it’s like I’m just waiting for the next incoming thing. Before I know it, hours have passed and I’ve been just idly scanning the doings of other people, rather than focusing on my own. I know I’m not the only one who does this. As an example, who can forget the episode of The IT Crowd (Series 3, Episode, 5, Netflix it asap!) in which the gang gets addicted to the fictionalized “Friendface.” It pretty much sums it up.

Perhaps I just need to learn better time management skills or obtain some self-discipline, but what I’m getting at is this: The more “social networked” I get, the more disconnected I feel. I can’t decide if I should post a picture to Instagram or on Facebook, or text it to a specific person – or should I Tweet at them? Email attachments are so last year. I’m kind of an old-fashioned girl, and I’m comparatively new to the smartphone realm. It is my personal belief and observation that if you’re not careful, the Internet can rot your brain and shorten your attention span. And we all know the perils of multitasking. (Worst case? Nothing gets done. At all. Which is why it’s no surprise that many workplaces ban social networking websites altogether.)

The whole thing kind of got to boggling my brain, the more I thought about it. As someone who is striving for inner balance, how does one achieve this in a technology driven society? How can we stay connected and still feel human? I have observed the effects of my own attention span dwindling as I scan through tweets and posts. This 2009 New York Times article affirms my suspicions. (I second Lady Greenfield.) And that, friends, was in 2009, the year I showed up late to the Facebook party. How things have changed since even then. And this article on bNet confirms that our online interactions do in fact lead to a chemical reaction in our brains that make us addicted to the responses we get.

So what are we to do? In the day and age of almost everyone being online in some presence or another, how do we decide what social networking sites get our time, and how do we best manage that time? What are your thoughts on social networking? What outlets do you use, and why? How do you choose from the cornucopia of choices available? Would you say you are “addicted” to social media? And what impact does social media have on your actual life?

I’m curious! Please share. 🙂

vegetarian recipe: Chickpea Curry

Indian spices I love going out for Indian food and have been craving it, but it’s so expensive here so I’m attempting some simpler dishes on my own. My love affair with curry flavor began at a young age when my mom used it as her “secret ingredient” in the housewife favorite tuna casserole. I made this chickpea curry dish tonight and it was delicious; I should have photographed but at the end of a workday I’m starving so I ate it in a hurry. I looked at other recipes for inspiration, but this is what I came up with. You can play with it and add or subtract ingredients based on what you have on hand at home. (Many chickpea curry recipes include onion and cooked potatoes, which would go nicely.)

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1/2 cup water
1 bouillon cube*
pat of butter
extra virgin olive oil (organic)
1 ripe tomato, diced
curry powder
ground cumin
red pepper flakes
tiny spoonful minced garlic (I use jarred)
pinch cornstarch
2 heaping tbsp sour cream

In a small saucepan add water, olive oil, chickpeas, bouillon and butter (I suppose butter is optional, but I wanted the flavor; Indian cooking requires ghee, which is similar to butter except it doesn’t burn at a high heat). Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to blend the bouillon flavor. Then I added the red pepper flakes and garlic, followed by the diced tomato. Keep stirring. I waited for the “stock” to boil down a bit (you don’t want it watery). I added cornstarch as a thickening agent and stirred thoroughly. I added a dash of cumin and a generous pinch of curry powder. By this point the tomatoes should be soft and lovely and you should have a rather thick sauce. Lastly I added the sour cream to make the sauce nice and creamy, just like what you would be served at an Indian restaurant. (The smell cooking this was divine, by the way.) Stir, stir, stir and serve hot over a bed of rice (I used Near East rice pilaf, which was tasty but too salty, next time I’ll try jasmine or plain white rice).

*Next time I plan on using chicken or vegetable stock because bouillon is much too high in salt.