Posts by Jordan Riley

I’m an admin assistant and occasional blogger living in Washington DC. I love cooking, reading, getting annoyed at people on the Internet, and listening to music about six months after it's cool. I do a lot of talking about everything from food to feminism. (Okay, mostly *just* food and feminism.) I have only the vaguest idea what I’m doing with my life.

Why I’m Not Watching the Republican Debate Tonight

I like to consider myself a fairly politically aware person. I moved to Washington DC to study politics; I read the news daily and discuss current events with friends fairly often. I actually find politics very interesting and think they’re generally worth my time to follow. Tonight is the fourth Republic debate of the season and, as I did with the last one, I have no plans to watch it. Here’s why.

1. They’re Not Actually Informative

Quite frankly, the debates are terrible as a source of information about the candidates’ platforms. The format all but ensures that candidates have the ability to give vague, soundbite-friendly answers that don’t dig into their meat of their platforms. Great moderators do their best to keep candidates on track and press them to answer questions they seek to avoid; most moderators are not great moderators.

But of course, the early debates aren’t really about digging into the issues. For the candidates, they’re 10 minutes of guaranteed screen time and a chance at snagging some headlines the next morning, which is something many of them don’t usually have–and something that even the leading candidates could use more of. For the networks, they mean good ratings. Everyone wins, even if the public doesn’t necessarily learn anything. Continue reading →

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Stumbling Blocks

The attentive reader will notice that I haven’t exactly been very successful at NaBloPoMo thus far. Thursday’s post actually went up on Friday morning; yesterday’s post is suspiciously nonexistent.

I’m not particularly concerned. At best, I’ll treat this month as more of a “30 posts in 30 days” challenge; at worst, I’ll miss several days and still have written twenty-some more posts than I would have otherwise. And even if some of them are mediocre posts at best, they get me back into the swing of writing.

I’m finding that this year is different from last year in several ways. My schedule is more consistent, yes, but with that consistent schedule has come a certain routine. I’m no longer willing to stay up until midnight on a regular basis; lately 10:30 is more my style, and even on the weekends I find myself getting tired around 11:00 or so.

More than that, though, I think I’ve simply fallen out of the habit of thinking like a writer. My list of blog post ideas has plenty of analytical and socially relevant topics on it, but finding the will to switch on that part of my mind after I’ve come home from work, put on pajamas, and made dinner is proving difficult.

Don’t take that to mean that I’m planning on stopping, of course. This is just going to take a little more adjustment than I had realized, and I’m totally okay with that.

Blank Stare

Your words garner only a blank stare in response. You wait, expecting her to say something eventually, but she remains silent, eyes not wavering from yours.

The blank stare continues.

It stretches for so long that you begin to wonder if she really is a human woman, or if you have been dating some sort of eldritch abomination this whole time and it is only through luck and her good will that you have escaped destruction.

You lose yourself in the blank stare, and your girlfriend’s eyes begin to look unnervingly like the void, a bottomless abyss of despair framed by one disdainfully raised eyebrow.

There is nothing but the stare. You find that you have trouble remembering your own name, where you are, what you were doing. Somewhere in the back of your mind, a tiny voice suggests that you ought to say something to break the silence.

The voice falters, its frail cries meaningless compared to the echoing expanse that surrounds it and you and her. Continue reading →

‘Tis (Almost) the Season

I stopped by Paper Source last week to buy a birthday card and a few other trinkets for my sister, and while the rest of the world was still in Halloween mode, the store was already full of Christmas crafts and decorations. As I perused rolls of seasonal wrapping paper and paid for my sister’s gift, I noticed a familiar feeling creeping over me. It was only when I stepped out into the crisp fall air, full of the particular brand of happiness that comes of having found a great present for a loved one, that I realized what it was: holiday cheer.

That’s right, I’d fallen victim to “Christmas creep,” that dreaded beast that takes up residence in shop windows and store aisles earlier and earlier each year, trying to convince us that it’s never too soon to break out the Mariah Carey Christmas album. “I know you don’t put your decorations up until after Thanksgiving,” it whispers, “but surely it can’t hurt to buy them a little earlier this year. You know, so that you’re ready.”

In the past, I’ve always been an advocate of keeping each holiday in its own box, snapping at my sister when she tried to sing carols before Thanksgiving. Any earlier than that was simply too soon, and I would defend that belief with all my might.

But somehow this year is different. Maybe it’s that I’ve had a lot of fun with Christmas over the course of the past few years, hanging strings of glittering ornaments around my room and carefully curating holiday playlists. Maybe deep down I’ve always loved Christmas–after all, it has so much potential for the sort of shameless frivolity I love so much, all sparkles and cookies and twinkling lights. Whatever it is, I’m finding myself already excited for December to arrive.

My boyfriend does not share my enthusiasm, in part because he’s Jewish but mostly because he hates joy. “I can’t believe there are already Christmas things out,” he griped while we were out earlier this evening.

“I know,” I responded. “I’m so excited!”

But for his sake, and the sake of others who share his opinion, I’ll keep my enthusiasm to myself… for a few weeks more, at least.

A Non-Exhaustive List of Things I Have Done So Far This Week

  1. Bought half-price Halloween candy
  2. Successfully refrained from eating all of the half-price Halloween candy I bought
  3. Strongly considered putting away the iron that’s been sitting on my dining table since last Friday
  4. Practiced my French
  5. Wrote three blog posts
  6. Totally phoned in one blog post by making a list of semi-random things and pretending that counts as writing
  7. Got really upset about a completely stupid thing that ended up not even happening
  8. Made an amazing salad (dressing: this miso-sesame dressing with no ginger, molasses instead of honey, and more olive oil in place of the sesame oil)
  9. Planned to clean my apartment so that the maintenance guy wouldn’t judge me when he came in to change the air filter on Tuesday
  10. Shoved a bunch of papers in a mostly-empty drawer on Monday night, loaded the dishwasher, and called it good
  11. Picked all of the celery out of a bowl of leftover Vietnamese food
  12. Moved my hamper of clean laundry to the couch so that I could fold it but did not actually fold the laundry
  13. Practiced Lafayette’s rap from “Guns and Ships” an embarrassing number of times
  14. Ordered a pair of Crocs
  15. Inexplicably got to work half an hour early despite leaving no more than five minutes earlier than usual
  16. Slept, some

I <3 Frivolity: Why I Like “Likes,” Even If I’m the Only One

Today Twitter made a small but significant change: It swapped the star-shaped “favorite” button for a heart-shaped “like” in an attempt to make the platform more welcoming to newcomers. Twitter users promptly lost their minds, which was really to be expected given that Twitter users (myself included) lose their minds on a pretty regular basis.

The reactions from accounts I follow generally ranged from neutral curiosity to outrage. Most people seem to think it’s unnecessary “dude-fussing” at best, and a catastrophe at worst. Gizmodo put up a guide to replacing it, which at least one person in my feed immediately used to bring back the star. In short, no one really likes the heart.

Well, that’s not quite true. I like the heart. Continue reading →

Where I’ve Been

Nearly seven months elapsed between my last real piece (March 7, 2015) and the NaBloPoMo announcement I put up yesterday–and as I noted in that post, it’s been almost a year since I was truly active here. While I try to keep this blog from being too mundanely personal, I think it’s worth taking a moment to look at where I am now compared to where I was then.

There are three big things that have changed since last November.

  1. I graduated, but you knew that already. I’ve been happily out of school for the better part of a year now. I walked at graduation with the rest of my year in May, which was probably far less exciting for me than it was for most of my peers. Because I clearly don’t know what’s good for me, I’m now looking into grad school. (I don’t want to talk about it.)
  2. I have a proper grown-up job now. Last year I spent nine months interning with Education Week, primarily writing for their Teaching Now blog. While I loved it, my credit card statement did not love it nearly as much. At the end of May, I took a full-time job at Georgetown University as an administrative assistant in the same department where I got my very first job as a student.
  3. I moved! While I was #blessed to have a roommate I actually liked last year, there’s a lot to be said for having a space that is completely, absolutely, 100% yours. Even when that space is a 480-square-foot studio.

Continue reading →