1. I do not take my Lollapalooza attendance lightly, and in the weeks leading up to the festival, spend a significant amount of time researching the artists playing during gaps in my schedule for the day to make sure I go see a person or group I would particularly like to hear live. This research last year introduced me for the first time to twenty one pilots. If you’re over the age of 18 and haven’t heard of twenty one pilots, I’ll forgive you, because they seem to appeal particularly to the angsty tween set (leading me to wonder if, between my appreciation for twenty one pilots and Halsey, if I’m having some sort of age crisis, because these are both artists whose primary fan base still has a vertical driver’s license, if they have a license at all, while I’m just over three months away from turning 26). Anyway, due to last year’s thunderstorms during Lolla, I ended up not seeing nearly as much of twenty one pilots’s set as I had hoped I would, so when one of my friends had an extra ticket to their show at the Allstate Arena on Sunday, I jumped on it.
I didn’t take any sort of actual demographic surveys, but if I had to guess, I’d say that my age group was one of the most underrepresented age groups in the entire arena, along with perhaps those over 65. Everyone else seemed to either be a middle schooler or high schooler, or their chaperoning parents. Regardless, I enjoyed the show a lot.
One thing that I thought was really cool: a third of the way through the show or so, twenty one pilots left the main stage and came out to play on a smaller stage on the floor (right across from my seat!). One of the songs they played while on that smaller stage was the sort of song that, 30 years ago, would’ve prompted people to take out their lighters and wave them back and forth, but since this is 2016, and probably well over half of the audience can’t legally buy cigarettes anyway, people nowadays use the flashlight function on their cell phones to substitute for lighters. This made for a pretty visual effect in and of itself, as you can see:
HOWEVER. What I thought was really cool (and also kind of crazy) was when even more people turned on their flashlights:
Do you see how much brighter it is?! I didn’t edit the lighting on either of those photos. When nearly everyone had their flashlights on, it was SO much brighter in there – almost like the overhead lights hadn’t been turned down all the way. I’ve never seen anything like it! Who knew that the collective power of several thousand cell phone flashlights could light up an arena?
2. My new job requires that all employees undergo a health screening to keep the “wellness” level premium on their health insurance. The wellness premium is substantially lower than the non-wellness premium, which is a pretty good incentive to do the screening (though if you’re like me, the non-wellness premium is literally one-fifth the price of what I was paying through the Marketplace, which drives home the insanity of Marketplace premiums, if you ask me.)
(As a side note, I think this health screening this is kind of ridiculous. I understand why they do it. It analyzes a bunch of your biometrics, giving you an idea of where you stand healthwise. The healthier a person is, the more they can come to work, which is good for the company, and the less likely they are to have major medical bills, which is good for the company AND the insurance company. But the health screening focuses strictly on your physical health: glucose, cholesterol, whether or not you have nicotine in your blood, BMI, waist circumference. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t account for your mental health (and associated costs) at all, and on years I don’t spend six months in physical therapy, my weekly therapy bills amount for the VAST majority of my healthcare costs. We have a high deductible plan, and even so, I’ll still hit my deductible with less than half a year’s worth of therapy appointments. Insurance companies don’t want you to hit your deductible, because then they have to pay money, and they don’t like doing that, because it makes it harder to wallpaper their offices in gold. By my biometrics, I should pose a low risk to both my insurer and my company in terms of insurance payouts – but I don’t, because my biometrics don’t reveal that I have anxiety, and with the prevalence of mental health issues in our world, that seems like something that should be included on a health screening.)
Anyway, this whole getting blood work thing done was a total trip. The girl who went before me fainted, which of course threw me into a panicked mess, and I was pretty confident I was either going to pass out, throw up, or both in the waiting area. Fortunately, I did neither of those things, but it still wasn’t particularly pleasant.
I got my blood work results back yesterday, and was quite distressed to discover that I am, according to those results, officially prediabetic (just barely – my glucose was 100, which is the lowest it can be to call you prediabetic). Diabetes has been an ongoing, low-level concern of mine, as my dad developed Type 2 diabetes pretty much out of absolutely nowhere when I was 11 or 12 (he had no previous family history of diabetes), and my mom is also clinically prediabetic (though she’s just as prediabetic as I am), and her grandmother had diabetes, too. My “lifestyle changes” suggested that I start exercising and stop smoking to lower my risk of getting diabetes. Right, okay. That’ll probably put a cramp in my plan to train for the marathon by sitting on the couch chainsmoking, though *rolls eyes* I’m pretty sure the only “lifestyle change” that would actually help me out would be a “replacement of my genome to recode me so I’m not disposed to developing diabetes,” but I think it’s a bit over 25 years too late to make that happen. But man, let me tell you, it is SUPER frustrating and disempowering to be told you’re on the road to developing a chronic condition typically seen as preventable when you already are going above and beyond the call of duty in terms of chronic-condition-associated-with-poor-diet-and-no-exericse prevention.
3. At long last, I finally got my hands on a copy of Modern Romance a couple of weeks ago, and promptly blew through the whole thing.
I’ve wanted to read Modern Romance for a really long time and was so interested to see what the book would hold. Unlike Love in the Time of Algorithms (which I cannot recommend enough for anyone interested in online dating), Modern Romance is more focused on the overall state of love and romance in the modern world. This probably should not have surprised me as much as it did, given the, you know, title of the book. Rather than diving deep into any one aspect of finding, keeping, maintaining, and losing love in the 21st century, Aziz Ansari provides more of a mid-to-high level overview of what all of those things are like in our world today, both in the U.S. and, to an extent, elsewhere in the world. He also has citation after citation after citation throughout the text, so if you did want a deep dive into any one aspect of modern romance, you have a huge resource in the form of a bibliography in the back of the book to help you with that.
The main takeaways I got from the book: technology has increased our awareness of and access to available singles, putting us in a better position to meet potential partners with whom we feel compatible, and, possibly, someone with whom we feel so deeply connected that we would consider him or her to be our “soulmate.” This has all but done away with the idea of marrying because someone was “good enough,” and most single people in the U.S. today would not even consider marrying someone they didn’t love, which was not the case as recently as two generations ago. Two paradoxes arise as a result of these changed attitudes:
A. Having more options often makes it more difficult to choose, as knowing you have more available options raises the question, “This is good, but what if there’s something better?” (Consider this in terms of dining. In a small town where you have one restaurant available, you’ll go to that restaurant and like that restaurant, because it’s your only option. In Chicago, you have literally hundreds of restaurants to choose from. Deciding where to go to eat in Chicago can easily become substantially harder due to the number of options. What if that place in another neighborhood made better burgers, had better pasta, served food faster?)
B. The idea that you must love someone in order to marry them can make marriage more difficult, as most people in a relationship will first experience passionate love. This typically lasts for a year or two at best and then fades, because that kind of intense emotion is unable to last forever. Companionate love, often found in long term relationships, replaces passionate love, but takes a substantial amount of time to develop. Losing passionate love can cause a person to question their entire relationship (“I just don’t feel the same about you anymore!”), leading to the end of a relationship before companionate love, which continues to grow over time, had an opportunity to take hold.
I have so many more things to say about the state of modern romance that will have to wait for another blog post, because this is already long enough. BUT. I think Modern Romance is great, and would recommend it perhaps as a precursor to Love in the Time of Algorithms.
Have you heard of twenty one pilots? So far literally no one my age that I’ve talked to has, other than the friend who gave me the ticket in the first place.
Have you read Modern Romance? Let’s get philosophical about love in the 21st century together! I’m so interested in these sorts of things!