Tuesday, April 29, 2014

23 Unknown Facts About Me

Hi everyone, Dana here. Last week, I did a hookah bar review! If you didn't know, I am twenty-three years old today. Since it's my birthday, I figured I'd do something fun and different! Now that I've been on this planet for twenty-three years now, I'm gonna tell you twenty three things you probably don't know about me! Hope you like it!

1) I have never been to Disney World.

That's right. Almost everyone I ever met in my life has gone to Disney at least once in his or her lifetime. Whether it was with their family, a school trip, when they were really little, or just recently, they've been there. Well ladies and gentleman, I have never gone. I don't know a damn thing about it. I don't know about the rides, I don't know about the scenery, I don't know about what's new or old, or anything. I always get looked at as if I have three heads when I say "I've never been to Disney." I had the opportunity to go there when I was in 10th grade, but I got sick and didn't feel comfortable sharing a hotel room with a bunch of girls I wasn't friends with. Whatever, I'll go there eventually.

2) I'm a light sleeper.

For many years, I was able to sleep through ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, and I wouldn't wake up. I used to be able to sleep through thunderstorms, alarm clocks, people snoring, falling objects, people talking, anything, you name it. Now, if I hear the littlest sound in my room, outside my room, or anywhere I'm sleeping, I wake up instantly and I cannot fall back asleep no matter how many hours I was asleep for. I don't understand what changed, but I wish I was a heavier sleeper.

3) I don't like Finding Nemo.

Everyone I ever met, no matter how old they are, absolutely adored the movie Finding Nemo.  They quote it, shared memes made out of it, and can watch it over and over and not get sick of it. I guess I'm the only person on this planet who never cared for it. I felt that the beginning was depressing as hell. A barracuda attacks the happy fishy couple, knocks Marlin unconscious, murders his wife, destroys all but one of their eggs, and Marlin finds only one egg slightly damaged, but calls it "Nemo," because it was a name his now-deceased wife adored. That's so sad! I nearly cried when that happened. So after Marlin pisses Nemo off at a field trip, Nemo sneaks off and gets captured by a scuba diver. After that, it's an hour and a half of finding him. I essentially fell asleep a half hour in because I was so bored. I'm probably gonna get angry comments about this fact about me.

4) I passed my road test the first time taking it.

It's been over five years since I've had my driver's licence, but a lot of people I met after graduating high school never really knew that I passed my road test the first time taking it. The topic was never really brought up, but yeah, I passed it the first time. Not many people can do it, so I guess that's cool or something.

5) I've had a concussion.

Concussions suck. Your head hurts, you're confused, you don't remember a lot of things, and you spend the day in the hospital. I was ten years old, fell out of a tree in my backyard, and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in the hospital. I had X-rays, an MRI and a cat scan taken, and I don't remember a lot of things that happened before the concussion and in between the tests taken at the hospital. All I know is that I was in the tree, and then the next thing I knew, I was on the ground, on my back, in pain, and not knowing a damn thing what just happened. To this day, I have no idea how I fell out of that tree. Please be careful, and don't get a concussion.

6) I have never seen the movie Frozen.

Essentially everyone I know saw the movie Frozen, and raved about it. Apparently the songs are good, the storyline is good, there are memorable quotes, blah blah blah. Personally, I have no interest in it. Just because everyone in the country says it's good, and commercials tell me it's good, doesn't mean I think it will be good. "Oh, but Dana, how do you know you won't like it if you've never seen it?" How about I'll see it on my own time, when I feel like it, and after the hype dies down? Sue me.

7) I have an 8 gig iPod from 2007.

If you've been in my car, you've probably noticed the tiny little iPod attached to the mp3 radio transmitter or have seen me at school or on the train listening to my iPod. But did you know that it's the first and only iPod I ever had? Everyone else I know got rid of their first iPod after a few months because the new one came out, broke their iPods, or even got an iPhone and dumped the iPod completely. Not me. I love that iPod. That iPod has gotten me through the worst times of my life, gotten me through all the times I was scared, and even left the country with me. I am never getting rid of this iPod as long as it's alive.

8) I can cook.

Most of the time, I'm seen eating food that my parents made, or me and a friend or two go out for lunch or dinner. But very rarely do they know that I can actually make a full meal and can feed multiple people. Yes, people have had my guacamole that I make at parties, but don't know that I can make more than that. Let me make you something awesome sometime.

9) I prefer books over movies and TV shows.

Despite the numerous movie and television reviews I made, I actually prefer reading a book than watching a new TV show or going to the movies. I can snuggle up on the couch or in my bed and allow myself to be absorbed into the book. I don't have anyone talking to me or interrupting me while reading. I can also stop at any chapter I want. With movies, you have to watch it from beginning to end, non-stop. I also prefer imagining what the characters look like, what their voices sound like, and what the imagery looks like as well. It's much more fun that way.

10) I have motherly qualities, but I'm afraid of having kids.

I can cook, sew, do laundry, wash dishes, everything "a mom" does. I'm also extremely nurturing. I hug people, allow people to cry on my shoulder, soothe that person who is crying on my shoulder, and can take care of someone who's at an all-time low point. I love being someone's rock. But the thought of being pregnant for 9 months and taking care of a baby absolutely terrifies me. I don't even know why. Perhaps it's because I'm 23 and way too young to be thinking about settling down and having kids. But everyone likes to have fun to talk about what their potential kids will be like. Me? I don't want to think about it.

11) I can play chess.

With the exception of my friends who went to high school with me, not a lot of people know that I play chess and used to compete in chess tournaments in high school. I have a few trophies for winning 1st place, or close to 1st place multiple times. It's been a long time since I played, but it's something that I can do.

12) I have never been to Yankee Stadium.

You'd think that a Yankee fan would go to Yankee Stadium to root for their team. Hell, even non-Yankee fans have been there! Not me! Well, let's just say I never had the money to go, nor did I ever have anyone to go with. I always wanted to go there before the old stadium got knocked down, and I have yet to go to the one they built in 2009. Hopefully I'll go there...like Disney.

13)Fast food doesn't agree with my stomach.

I don't know if it's because it's been out for a long time, the person preparing it didn't wash his/her hands, or I'm allergic to the oils it's cooked in, but every time I eat something from McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell or any other fast food joint, my stomach wants to explode. I either feel nauseous, or it goes right through me and I feel like death for the rest of the day. I'd rather starve for the rest of the evening than have an upset stomach.

14) I prefer Pepsi over Coca Cola.

Yes, there's a difference between Pepsi and Coca Cola. Yes, they taste different. And a good portion of my friends prefer Coke over Pepsi. I'm the opposite. If I feel like splurging, and the place I'm at has Coke products, I'll take the Coke. I won't get annoyed over the fact that they don't have Pepsi, but I honestly prefer the taste of Pepsi over Coca Cola. 

15) My very first concert was Ringo Starr.

That's right. Ten year old me saw an ex-Beatle live in concert, and it was the very first concert I ever went to. With everyone else in my general age group, their first concerts were some of the popular artists and bands in the late 90's and early 2000's like Britney Spears, *Nsync, Blink-182, Christina Aguilera, Green Day, etc. When Ringo Starr performed at Jones Beach Theater, I was probably the only preteen in the audience that night; aside from my brother.

16) I am a human GPS.

I have an excellent sense of direction. I pay attention to street signs, exits on the highway, and other landmarks that are close to my destination. If I go somewhere once, I know exactly how to get there again in the future. I can get from point A to point B and not get lost. Sure, I might accidentally make a wrong turn or miss an exit, but I know that I have to head in a certain direction to get to my destination without panicking. You're lost? You need directions? I'm your girl.

17) I have never smoked a cigarette in my life.

I'm pretty sure a lot of people I know have tried at least ONE cigarette in his or her lifetime. They either tried it once and HATED it, tried and and continued to smoke, or tried it, smoked, and then later quit. I was never asked to try it, and I cannot stand the smell or cigarettes. If it smells bad, then it most likely tastes bad. I have no interest in smoking a cigarette, and I never will.

18) I use proper spelling and grammar in my text messages.

With the exception of "lol," "lmao," or "idk," I don't really use 
"text message language" while texting my friends, or anyone else. I don't use "wht" "u" "ppl" "cmn" "2nite" "thnx" or any other abbreviations in my messages. I feel proper spelling and grammar is much more effective than abbreviations. But then again, I get annoyed when I see poor spelling and grammar on social media websites, so I would never do anything that I find annoying.

19) I used to play softball in middle school and high school.

Baseball is my favorite sport. But because Massapequa's baseball team was dominantly men, the girls who wanted to play baseball had to play softball.  I loved playing softball. But unfortunately, I never made the cut for the junior varsity or varsity team in middle school and high school. So, when the varsity girls would play on the Massapequa International team, they played in the in-field EVERY SINGLE INNING WE PLAYED. I was ALWAYS in the outfield, and played second base ONCE, despite how well I played that inning. They played favorites, and I was never one of them. I quit after I turned 16; when the season ended. I was tired of always being put off to the side and they never allowed me to prove how well I played.

20) I haven't thrown up since 2003.

I have this irrational fear of throwing up, or people throwing up. I physically cannot have it happen to me or anyone around me. I'm not kidding. The sight, the smell, the feel, the sound, everything about it literally causes me to have an anxiety attack. I run, I cuff my ears, close my eyes, hum really loudly, and my heart literally gallops out of my chest. Because of this fear, I refuse to allow myself to get sick. The last time I did, was from food poisoning from some pizza place after a field trip in 7th grade. I've come close to it after drinking a little too much alcohol, but it never happened. So, when the topic of being sick comes up, I say that I'm "vomit free since 2003!" My stomach is a champ, I guess.

21) I don't drink beer.

Oh, look at that. The alcohol fact is number 21. I'm serious, I didn't plan that. But all jokes aside, I've tried every beer out there. From the garbage beers like Coors Light and Bud Light to Guinness and Heineken, they all taste the same to me, and I don't like it one bit. If my mouth doesn't like it, I won't drink it. I don't drink to get drunk. However, I do enjoy a glass of Pinot Gritio with dinner or a nice fruity mixed drink. And of course, throw in a splash of rum or vodka in there too. I'm not much of a drinker to begin with. But if I do, it's not beer.

22) I keep my phone on 24/7.

You know when people say "If you need someone to talk to, call me?" I actually mean it and keep my word for it. There used to be a time where I'd turn my phone off before falling asleep at night. But when I just so happened to accidentally leave my phone on, a friend called me and I talked to that friend until everything was okay again. From that moment on, I realized that things can get really bad. If you know my number and you desperately need to talk to someone because you're having a crisis, you can call me. I don't care what time it is, I don't care if I'm asleep, I don't care if I have work the next day. You think the unthinkable and need someone, don't hesitate to talk to me.

23) Being twenty-three keeps me awake at night.

I graduated college. I got my Associate's Degree from Nassau Community College, and a Bachelor's Degree from Queens College. I am a college graduate. But...now what? Really, now what? That's the question that literally keeps me up at night. I'm twenty-three years old and I have no idea what I'm going to do for the rest of my life. I have an 
idea of what I want in my life, but I'm just a number now. I'm one out of a million college graduates scrambling for an entry-level job from my field of study. My dream job would being able to write for a living. To blog for whatever company I'm working for. To utilize my skills and make money off of it; what a dream come true. But everyone wants to do that. So...what makes me special? What makes me stand out? I'll never know until I'm the lucky one who is chosen out of the thousands of applicants they meet. Until then...I'm here. The aspiring writer. The hopeless dreamer.

Well everyone, I'm twenty three, and you got twenty-three facts you most likely didn't know about me. I hope you liked this personal, intimate blog post from yours truly. Stay tuned for next week for a special blog post that I've never done before: a memoir. Until then, enjoy the rest of your week.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mystique: A hookah bar in Westbury, NY

Hi everyone, Dana here. If you didn't catch my last blog post, I put my two cents on why Joan Jett should have been an inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tonight's blog post is a review, but not a music/film/TV review! It's a hookah bar review! I decided that I'll start adding restaurants, bars, venues and other places to my reviews list! If you live on Long Island and smoke hookah, I suggest you try out Mystique in Westbury, NY! If you live far out in Suffolk County and you're willing to drive to Westbury, I'll be really impressed!

Mystique is located on Old Country Road in Westbury, in the corner of this tiny little shopping center. If you weren't looking carefully, you would pass by it and not even realize it was there! So, the location might be a little tough to find, but once we got there, things started to look up.

So last night, I went on a double date with my boyfriend and two of our friends who suggested that we go to Mystique. As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by the host and were seated immediately since it was a quiet night. The staff seemed to be very friendly and welcoming, so I already started to like it. I've worked customer service for many years, so I know how to treat customers and I certainly know how staff is supposed to treat customers.

The atmosphere was really great as well. Comfortable couches, authentic Middle Eastern paintings on the walls, pleasant lighting, and GOOD music that was played at a normal volume so you can actually have a conversation with the person next to you without shouting. Yes, I didn't have to yell "what?!?!" or yell to the person next to me if I had something to say. Music such as The Beatles, Sum 41, Jimmy Eat World, The Doors, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and other rock/alternative music was played instead of the typical hip hop/dub step music played at other hookah bars I've visited. 

I have nothing against hip hop, rap, or dub step music, but clearly, I prefer listening to rock music when I want to relax and have a good time with my friends while smoking hookah. Literally, as soon as we walked in, "Come Together" by The Beatles greeted us. I was expecting Skrillex or other music that is played at bars, hookah lounges, or any other place that would be considered a "party scene." If I come to a place of business and you greet me with good music, I'll be a very happy patron.

The service itself was a little slow, despite that it was as slow night. However, I feel that taking their time to get the hookah to us means that they want us to have the best experience possible. We're able to relax, catch up, have a drink or two, etc. If the hookah was given to us minutes after we ordered the flavors, I would have been under the impression that it was rushed and they want us out as fast as possible.

They have a really great variety of flavors to choose from, and they all were decently priced as well. We got two flavors: "Mexican Odyssey" and "The Godfather." Mexican Odyssey had a very fruity flavor, while the Godfather tasted like cappuccino! I also loved that after an hour and a half of smoking, the flavors never died off or got harsh. Other places I've been do, they had to change the coals or purge the stale smoke from the base of the hookah multiple times. They only had to change the coals once because it was a while since they came back to us.

The only criticism I have about this place is that they don't sell any food, so going on an empty stomach is a bad idea. I also found it weird that there's a maximum of three people to one hookah, so if you have a fourth person, you have to get a second hookah; even if the fourth person won't smoke. Other than the lack of food and forced pay, it was one of the best hookah bar experiences I ever went to. I would definitely love to come back here again in the near future.

Thank you so much for reading my review, and enjoy the rest of the week!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Joan Jett and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Hey everyone, Dana here. Last week, I discussed unemployment and food stamps and how some people take advantage of those benefits. Tonight's blog will be another music related blog post, but it's not a review. In light of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony tomorrow night, I decided to dedicate this blog post to Joan Jett because she was nominated in 2012 and 2013, but was passed over both times. This year, she wasn't nominated at all. Fair? I don't think so. Without further ado, let's dive into Joan Jett's reasons for why she should be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame.

According to the Induction process on Rockhall.com, "artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll." 

After her first band, The Runaways, disbanded, she released her first album, Bad Reputation on January 23rd, 1981. At the end of that year, she and her band, The Blackhearts, released their debut album, I Love Rock n Roll, on November 18th, 1981. Last time I checked, 1981 was OVER 25 YEARS AGO. It's been 33 years since Joan released her debut album, so that's clearly an unacceptable reason to why she isn't eligible to be an inductee. But that barely scratches the surface. Let's look at the contributions she made to the development of rock and roll, shall we?

Lita Ford, Cherie Currie, Joan Jett, Jackie Fox, Sandy West
First off, she was one of the founding members of The Runaways, one of the first female rock bands in the 1970's. Before that, women were either du-wop or Motown artists like  Martha and the Vandellas, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Carol King. They certainly didn't play rock n' roll, that's for sure. A woman playing rock music like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Little Richard was completely unheard of!  Aside from Suzi Quatro, there was no other artist like Joan Jett. She was one of the few female musicians who actually gave women the chance to play rock and roll music, and started the "Riot Grrrl" act along with Blondie, Siouxsie Sioux, Bikini Kill, Poly Styrene, The Slits, The Raincoats, Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde, etc. So right there, she lead a subgenre of rock to the music scene. She influenced so many bands and artists since her rise of fame in the 80's. If it weren't for her and the Runaways, women wouldn't even be playing rock music. So...it's been over 25 years since her debut album and she inspired and influenced a giant handful of musicians (like myself, but that doesn't matter) The Donnas, Kittie, (I hate to say it, but Avril Lavigne,) Social Distortion, Kelly Osbourne, Nine Inch Nails, and many other underground artists as well. So...really, how was she not eligible for being a part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame again?

I'm not sure if you know this, but she's one of the first women who actually made and established HER OWN RECORD LABEL after 25 other record labels rejected her. That's right, almost every single record company rejected her and refused to sign her because they didn't feel she was good enough for them. So instead of giving up on her dreams to play music, she decided to start her own record company from the ground up, "Blackheart  Records" with Kenny Laguna. Very rarely do bands establish their own record labels, that certainly didn't happen since the rise of rock music in the 1950's. Oh, look at that, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there's development and perpetuation of rock and roll. Please, explain to me why she wasn't even considered to be nominated this year again? Enlighten me.

Mia Zapata, lead vocalist of The Gits

Aside from clearly being eligible to be an inductee, let's talk about what else she's done. Oh, look at this. She even contributed to activism to bring justice to a murder/rape victim! In 1993, Joan Jett and other rock artists such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Heart and Presidents of the United States of America worked with the investigation of the rape and murder of Mia Zapata, the lead singer of a Seattle punk band, The Gits. Since the Seattle police department gave up on the murder case, a series of benefit concerts were held to fund the investigation of Mia Zapata's murder. She was only twenty-seven years old. To preserve her memory, Joan collaborated with the remaining members of The Gits and re-recorded their songs with Joan's vocals and even co-wrote new songs with them under a new name: Evil Stig. It's "Gits Live" in reverse. What a beautiful tribute to an aspiring musician like Mia Zapata, who also is a musical influence of mine. If that's not noble, I don't know what noble is.

And if there's another thing that's wrong with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it's the fact ttat there are are non-rock artists who were inducted or will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Artists such as Laura Nyro(Pop), Donna Summer(Pop/Disco) ABBA(Pop), Aretha Franklin(Soul), Darlene Love(Jazz/Pop) Public Enemy(Hip Hop) and other non-rock artists have been inducted into the ROCK AND ROLL Hall of Fame yet don't even perform Rock and Roll music. Maybe if this was called the Music Hall of Fame, that would be fine. I'm sure they are very talented musicians. They have their fanbase, and I do not hold that against them what so ever. But last time I checked, Pop, Hip Hop, Jazz and Soul ≠ Rock music. I'm sorry, but that is a load of bull crap. This shouldn't be called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame if this wasn't dedicated to Rock and Roll music.

2014 should have been Joan Jett's year to be inducted. Why she wasn't even considered this year is beyond my wildest imaginations. Why she was nominated for two years in a row but not at all this year is completely absurd. She is beyond eligible, yet she wasn't even looked at. It's really sad that there are some artists who don't get the recognition they clearly deserve. It's sad to know that there are many people my age who don't even know who Joan Jett is. Maybe they've heard "Bad Reputation" because it was the theme song to "Freaks and Geeks," or they heard "I Love Rock n' Roll" and "I Hate Myself For Loving You" on the radio, but they don't know about the achievements she's done.

Well everyone, I think that covers everything about Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and how she's beyond eligible to get the recognition she deserves. I hope one day the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame finally opens their eyes and ears to her music and joins the ranks of the most well known contributors to rock and roll history. Thank you for reading, and enjoy the rest of your week.

Friday, April 4, 2014

My two cents on unemployment and food stamps

Hey everyone, Dana here. If you didn't catch my last blog post, it was my thoughts and musings about Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame and how it was so incredibly different from other Disney films in that franchise. This one is going to be a little different from other topics I discussed for the past six months. It's not quite current events, but it's something that has been on my mind for a while. This topic was brought up last night before going to bed and suddenly struck my inspiration to write. I'm talking about unemployment and food stamps.

So last night before falling asleep, I was talking to my boyfriend and suddenly the topic of unemployment came up since we both work at jobs that don't have major benefits and don't quite pay enough to live in an apartment or a house. But the thing is, working at a crummy job is better than unemployment. At least it shows that you're working and trying to make a difference in this "live to work" society instead of a "work to live" society like everyone else on this planet. But what about the people who are collecting unemployment, but aren't trying to find employment? What about the people who are just making claims every month but not sending their resumes and striving for job interviews? Does that sound fair to you? Is it fair that there are people who are working so many hours to make ends meet, but some people just sit around all day doing nothing and getting paid to do so by the government?

According to the New York State Department of Labor website, 
Unemployment Insurance (UI) is temporary income:

  • For eligible workers
  • Who lose their jobs
  • Through no fault of their own
To collect benefits, you must be ready, willing, and able to work.
Did I read that correctly? It stated that the applicant must be ready, willing, and able to work. But what about the people that are cheating the system and are able to work, but not willing to? Is that fair? Do they deserve benefits for not trying? Should they really be collecting unemployment? I'm sorry, but something needs to seriously be done. There needs to be some other way to prove that you're truly trying to get employment instead of just cheating the system every month. 
Here's my idea: you make note and log every time you get called for an interview, forward the job application to the Department of Labor and then leave the name and phone number for the Department of Labor to check that you went on that interview. That, is a real way to show that you really do deserve the benefits. Which brings me to my next point...food stamps.

I used to work at CVS Pharmacy. I used to be the lonely cashier in the front of the store that worked crummy hours and holidays I couldn't take off for. But during those crummy hours, I would get a decent handful of customers that would whip out their food stamps card and be on their merry way. But there were many dishonest actions they would do with their EBT card. They would purchase more than just what they really need.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for helping the poor. I'm a firm supporter of the working class and lower class. I donate my old clothes that no longer fit me to the poor. I've thrown a few dollars to the homeless guy at Penn Station so he can get something off the dollar menu at Taco Bell. I even donated food to charity during my last semester at Nassau Community College in the spring of 2011. There are some people out there who are having some really serious financial problems. They're working several crummy minimum wage jobs so they can feed their kids or whatever, but need a little more help. I'm serious, I'd love to help them if I could. But there are some people that take advantage of that problem and use their problem as a crutch.

During my time at CVS, I would get some customers that got their Campbell's soup, milk, coffee, Easy Mac, ramen noodles, water, and instant microwave dinners. That's fine. They barely have enough food stamps to get those cheap things so they can have dinner on the table. But what about the people who get food stamps, but aren't trying to make enough money so they don't need the food stamps anymore? You know, the people that have food stamps, but have enough money for an iPhone, beer, and a ton of junk food. That is completely unacceptable. It is completely unfair to the hard working citizens who work over forty hours a week just to get dinner on the table for their families, but people who are literally taking advantage of the food stamps and using the "I'm poor, feel bad for me" line to get what they want. Prove that you're trying hard to not have to use food stamps anymore, and you can keep them. Otherwise, you're a disgusting human being and I no longer have sympathy for you.

I think I've said what I needed to say. Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for next week's blog post. 'Til then, have a great weekend.