Do I Want to Be a Hipster?

“I wanna be a hipster,” she says simply, pointing to her biblical tattoo and short-cropped hair in the middle of a conversation about her favorite folk music lyrics. “I’ve decided. I wanna be a hipster!” She is one of my best friends, and I generally respect her taste a great deal. But I don’t know how to react.

Maybe you can relate with her.

Maybe you most certainly cannot.

Maybe you’ve been enthusiastically jabbering on about your favorite band, independent film, art collection, or philosopher, when suddenly your conversation partner shakes their head and says, “Oh, you’re such a hipster.” You stand there in your plaid shirt, lace cardigan, maroon skinny corduroys, and vintage oxfords unsure of how to take this–and even less sure of how to respond. “Do I say ‘thank you?’ Do I shrug shamefully? Do I adamantly deny it?” This last course of action is the most dangerous, because many people believe that the strongest mark of a hipster is the inability to admit that one is, in fact, a hipster.

I felt that a lot of this trouble could be cleared up by settling on a concrete definition of what it means to be a hipster. Of course, no such definition exists. Even less-than-scholarly Urban Dictionary offers about seven encyclopedia-entry-sized explanations of this cultural phenomenon. Even so, this one seemed like a safe place to start:

“Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.”

That doesn’t sound too repulsive, does it? Especially for an Urban Dictionary definition. Those can get grody.

Honestly, I want to be a lot of those qualities described in the above definition. I am a lot of those qualities. I love me some intelligent, witty banter and independent thinking. I’m a huge fan of art and indie music. I keep close tabs on progressive politics. I’m creative. I’m in my twenties.

Am I a hipster? And more importantly, is that a bad thing?

What People See as Desirable About Hipster Culture:

Creativity and experimental fashion

So the style in the hipster world is pretty fly. It’s incredibly diverse and usually an eclectic mix of a variety of other styles–bohemian, punk, preppy, scuzzy lumberjack, etc. I know labels are the worst, but words are what we use to make sense of the world, so deal with it, hipster readers. My point is, their fashion and beauty creations tend to be interesting and refreshing.

Also, this gallery of celebrities re-imagined as hipsters is my favorite thing since Benedict Cumberbatch photobombed U2 at the Oscars.

Refusing to get caught up in fads

I dislike sweeping fads as much as the next person, although a job in marketing basically means I have to make a career out of studying them. So when a chunk of the population says, “No, thanks,” and continues to do their own thing despite social pressure, I enjoy that. I appreciate the courage to be oneself without needing the approval of the masses. I knew a girl in college who got engaged to her boyfriend without a ring because they didn’t see the point. I think that kind of freedom has to feel so good.

A genuine appreciation for the arts

Yes, some hipsters only listen to the music they listen to or watch the movies they watch because no one else does. Others, however, really look for a higher standard of quality when it comes to the media they consume. While the masses are content to watch Transformers, hipsters call BS and curl up with The Iron Giant instead. I also notice that hipsters are more likely to be interested in theatre and visual art. Sure, it can feel like snobbery at times, but I really admire it.

A genuine appreciation for vintage culture and nostalgia

I am all about nostalgia lately. I cry thinking about bygone days when people didn’t take a miniature telephone/computer with them every time they left the house. I like it when hipsters value the past and the simple life. They upcycle grandma’s old jewelry and dad’s old trousers. They ride bikes and tune up old record players. This kind of respect for the things of the past is heart-warming to me.

Enjoying knowledge for the sake of knowledge

This might not be an “official” hipster trait, but it’s something that I’ve noticed. Hipsters generally like to know things about the things they like. They make a hobby of gaining knowledge about their hobby. These are the people who read Bukowksi for fun and study coffee growing and roasting techniques. Fine by me. If you care about something, invest some time and effort into it, I say.

P.S. But remember no one likes a know-it-all.

Frugality and resourcefulness

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with appreciating vintage goodies, but hipsters really are responsible for thrifting being as popular as it is now. No, it wasn’t Macklemore. We were doing it before it was cool.

A desire to discuss important topics

Again, maybe not a hallmark of all hipsters, but it’s a trend I’ve seen. Those I’ve encountered who fit the hipster mold are eager to engage with others about social justice issues like feminism, marriage equality, and human trafficking as well as political and economic topics. I personally find it delightfully refreshing to encounter people who are not only educated about what’s happening in the world around them but who also think and feel passionately about those happenings.

What People See as Repellant About Hipster Culture: 

Refusing to acknowledge genuine talent and quality just because it is popular or “mainstream”

This drives me freaking nuts. Yes, Lady Gaga is an overrated mainstream fame-monger. That does nothing to change the fact that she is a stellar vocalist and an out-of-this-world performer. Just admit it! Millions of people love her for a reason! Why does that deter you from admitting she is good?! I can’t even . . .

Seriously, I have never been able to wrap my head around the “They’re famous now, so I can’t like them anymore” thing. They’re famous because they’re good, for crying out loud!

Condescension or snobbiness

You’ve all felt it–judgment from a holier-than-though hipster who felt the need to inform you that your fedora is actually a trilby or that your Chai tea isn’t fair trade. Nuff said.

Excessively expensive or excessively abnegating lifestyles

These are two sides of the same coin. (Abnegation is a 50-cent word for denying yourself things you want). Both extremes are bad as far as I am concerned. Some hipsters are the style who will blow their money on organic everything and memorabilia signed by the Smiths. Others are the kind who won’t wear shoes or eat chocolate in order to make a statement. I’m not a fan of either.

WORST EVER: Caring about being different more than they care about interpersonal connection

This takes the cake in terms of bad hipster qualities. It’s unfortunately come to be the signature of hipsters everywhere. These people find their sense of self in participating in only aspects of culture that are unknown or “underground.” Often the minute these bands, or anime series, or clothing brands, or whatever begin to become popular, their hipster followers will abandon ship and move on the the next heretofore undiscovered thing. It’s as if the only way they can be truly unique is to like things that hardly anyone else likes.

They form their identity based on the things they enjoy rather than the people they enjoy them with.

The irony? Now hipsterism itself has become popular, so the hipsters have nowhere to go. They’re having a massive identity crisis.

So Who Do I Want to Be?

In light of acknowledging the positive and negative aspects of hipsterism, what can those of us who are “on the fence,” if you will, conclude about who we want to be going forward? I can only speak for myself, but I think I’ve learned some important lessons in studying hipsters.

I want to be myself first of all. And I want to be with people second.

Being myself means that if I do or do not like or care about something, I will be honest about it–to myself and to the world.

Being with people means that I will never let these passions alienate me from those I encounter. I will embrace connection.

hipYes, I occasionally enjoy some obscure and/or unpopular things. That just means I’m all the more delighted when I meet someone who shares that interest. If we have that obscure thing in common, odds are we have other things in common and we’ll probably hit it off! Yes, my style of dress is a little unorthodox sometimes (not so much anymore,) but I do it to feel happy and free about my appearance, not to scare people away. Yes, I value academic intelligence and being politically and socially aware, but why would I want to keep those things to myself by avoiding people who are not “up to my standard?”

I want to love and be loved, and if I can love on someone while we both love on existentialist philosophy, Chvrches, Attack on Titan, matcha green tea, blackbox theatre, pad thai, and Modcloth, that does not threaten my sense of self at all.

Why can’t we all embrace intelligence, activism, resourcefulness, creativity, critical consumption of media, multiculturalism, and other admirable qualities without trying to label such things as being counter-cultural and “hipster?”

Alienating ourselves from others through our cultural identity is unhealthy, but so is mindlessly consuming the pop culture fed to us on a large scale. That’s why I love the fact that hipsterism is not a subculture anymore. Hipsterism is becoming mainstream because people are realizing that they can explore the culture beyond what is readily accessible to them and in so doing encounter others who are also happy to challenge the status quo.

Yes, we are all forming our own identities, but our identities are tangled up in the people we let into our worlds. Let’s fill those worlds with the things we love and trust that they will attract people who we might come to love as well.

How to Live Like a Tourist Everyday – Part 2

This post and its predecessor were written for ROC U’s blog about being a college student in the Rochester, NY area.

In case you missed Part 1, it’s here.

Now that we’ve gotten the terminology down, here are three tips to help you start your illustrious career as a citizen tourist right now.

1. Eat out.
I know what you’re probably thinking: “You acknowledge we’re broke college students, and now you want us to eat out more?”

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The truth is, to know a community is to know how its people live. To know how people live is to know how they eat. Restaurants, cafes, pubs, farmers markets, and locally specialized grocery stores (hello, Wegmans?) can give you this insight.

Stop some people on the street. Ask them where they like to eat. It’s so simple it even rhymes.

Also, if you haven’t already, it’s time to fall in love with Urbanspoon. This amazing website (and now app) sorts restaurants by customer rating, geographic location, price range, and more.

This is the “Cheap Eats” page for Urbanspoon Rochester. Go wild!

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Click here to read on at ROC U’s tumblr.

How to Live Like a Tourist Everyday – Part 1

Today I am blogging over at ROC U blog, a tumblr populated by a group of journalism students at Roberts Wesleyan College. My post is about the best lesson I learned while studying abroad in Europe.

We hear the word “tourist” and immediately think of money-sucking “tourist traps.” We do our best to master prior to our vacations the walk and talk that will make us “not look like tourists.” We brag upon our return that the quaint places we frequented in our travels weren’t the least bit “touristy.”

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But if we turn to our good friends Merriam and Webster, tourism is simply defined as :

noun \ˈtu̇r-ˌi-zəm\ 1. the activity of traveling to a place for pleasure

How nice. Who wouldn’t want to do that? So why should pleasurable travel have such a bad rap?

Well, probably because the very next (and increasingly more common) definition is :

2. the business of providing hotels, restaurants, entertainment, etc., for people who are traveling

The problem with tourism, as with many modern art forms, is that it has been turned into an industry.

Click here to read on at ROC U’s tumblr.

What I Wore: This Is Snow Awkward

Okay, so the reason that I didn’t list where I bought all of my outfit elements in the caption like we bloggers are supposed to do is not because its been months since I have posted a What I Wore and I forgot the protocol.

It’s actually because I was pretty embarrassed about all of the awkwardness of this outfit.

  • So everything on my body in this pic was purchased at either Target or Walmart. Budgetista at her finest up in here.
  • Except my coat which is from Spain. I guess that’s kind of cool.
  • My husband and both of my parents all said independently of each other that this beanie makes me look like a homeless person.
  • My friend Ben said, “Nice orphan hat,” when he saw me at church. I guess orphan is better than homeless person . . .
  • Those white things around mt ankles are huge insulated hunting socks. It’s 13 degrees here.
  • I’m actually wearing huge earrings that go perfectly with my dress, but they’re kind of invisible in all of ma hurr.

If you live in my neck of the US, happy snow day! I hope it’s an awkward and awesome one.

The Art of Dating: 100 Cheap/Free Dates

This is an update/repost from a piece that I wrote almost a year ago when Nine to Phive was just a baby blog. It has then grown exponentially since Josh and I have found ourselves living in a small Spanish city with little to do and even less money to do it with. Let’s just say we’ve had to get creative . . .

And we have! The wheels in my head haven’t stopped a-turnin’ since arriving in Avila with my sweetheart whom I hope to never stop dating as long as I live

I now present as our gift to you a true treasure, our list of 100 Cheap and Free Dates. Please note that those date ideas marked with an asterisk (*)  are dates Josh and I have tried. Ones marked with two are the dates that we absolutely loved and continue to do every now and then. 

We will still have so many great dates to try when we get back the the States!

Cheap:  

  1. See who can come up with the best dinner out for under ten dollars**
  2. Make a craft project. Try a collage, mobile, or holiday decoration*
  3. Attend an auction* 
  4. Rent a video, pop some popcorn, grab a blanket . . .** Like going to the movies only you can talk and cuddle!
  5. Prepare a formal dinner at home, candles and everything** 
  6. Make and fly a kite. Bringing out the inner child can show a lot about a person. 
  7. Plant a tree or garden*
  8. If (and only if ) you are both of age, mix up creative cocktails at home instead of springing to go out for drinks
  9. Attend a local school sporting event.*  
  10. Cook a fancy foreign dessert together**
  11. Go horseback riding 
  12. Make chalk drawings on the sidewalk. Maybe play hopscotch.**
  13. Pick strawberries or other fruits and eat them with cream**
  14. Roller-skate, ice-skate, or bowl*
  15. Create a mini golf course in the backyard and play through it
  16. Go tubing, sailing, or canoeing**
  17. Organize a treasure hunt
  18. Interested in photography, salsa dancing, Italian cuisine, or something else? Take a class together.
  19. Do a long overdue  project around the house.* Repaint, install a new shelf, use your imagination.
  20. Make a bonfire and roast marshmallows*
  21. Order Chinese takeout (or sushi) complete with chopsticks* 
  22. See a high school or community play**
  23. Eat a picnic outside or even at home on your bedroom floor*
  24. Have a traditional teatime with a unique flavor of tea and scones or cookies**
  25. Visit an outdoor market or festival with street performers and food carts**


Free:

  1. Dance. At a party. At a club. At home with the radio turned up. Whatever.**
  2. Go to a park and bird-watch, play tag, dodge sprinklers, play in the grass . . .**  
  3. Visit a cemetery to look for funny epitaphs or do rubbings of old headstones
  4. Do photo shoots of each other**
  5. Fish using borrowed equipment
  6. Go window shopping in a classy neighborhood*
  7. Take a moonlit walk** 
  8. Many museums and art galleries have free admission after hours.** Check it out.
  9. Watch the sunrise and eat breakfast together on a weekday.** I recommend smoothies. 
  10. Go to a pet store and hold a puppy 
  11. Play computer or video games at his house** 
  12. Raid your attic or basement for long-lost memories*
  13. Take a drive to a place with a great view**
  14. Visit an old bookstore or library and see who can find the strangest book* 
  15. Tour a historic site in your area** 
  16. Learn the rules to an obscure card game**
  17. Visit a relative or friend you haven’t seen in awhile*
  18. Have your own ping pong or air hockey tournament** 
  19. Write a poem, short story, or musical piece either together or for each other**
  20. Get a blanket and some bugspray and gaze at the stars**
  21. Watch a parade or look at Christmas lights depending on the season**
  22. Challenge his or her parents to a board game** 
  23. Play charades**
  24. Sneak into a hotel pool or hot tub
  25. Give each other massages**
  26. Go for a jog**
  27. Make a scrapbook with pictures of the two of you*
  28. Play “Name That Movie” or “Name That Song” 
  29. Read and discuss a book, article, or the comics*
  30. Brainstorm for solutions to a world problem** 
  31. Watch TV. Game shows, mysteries, and comedies are always fun.* 
  32. Wash a car on a hot day* 
  33. Play the dictionary game with friends or family** 
  34. Go swimming at a pond, lake, or public pool** 
  35. Make up ‘Mad Libs’*
  36. Volunteer at a church, soup kitchen, or homeless shelter**
  37. Hunt for rocks, toadstools, arrowheads, etc. 
  38. Hike or backpack on a nature trail
  39. Get out your camcorder and tape a homemade short film to post on YouTube** 
  40. Play the Price is Right in a supermarket
  41. Go shopping for new threads for him*
  42. Talk about your favorite boy and girl names.** Probably only for pretty serious couples 😉
  43. Visit a local farm 
  44. If you are both in school, study together at a cafe**
  45. Go for a bike ride.** Super romantic if you can get your hands on a two-seater!
  46. Practice sports skills*
  47. Learn tricks on a trampoline*
  48. Attend an outdoor movie.** Especially if you are in college, these are often free.
  49. Play ultimate frisbee*
  50. Visit a lake and throw bread to the ducks and geese**
  51. Have a grass, pillow, water, or snow fight*
  52. Put a jigsaw puzzle together
  53. Teach each other something new.** Can you play the ukelele or sink a slam dunk? Share!
  54. Tell ghost stories in the dark* 
  55. Write public confessions of love in sidewalk chalk
  56. Go to an open house in a fancy community
  57. Play hide-and-seek*
  58. Play at a playground and ignore the stares.** But don’t ignore the kids. You might trip on them.
  59. See who can make the best design for a paper airplane* 
  60. Climb a tree and read together 
  61. Interview each other with silly questions and videotape it to watch later
  62. Test-drive a sports car
  63. Visit shut-ins or hospital patients*
  64. Spend a day at the beach
  65. Hitchhike or couchsurf**
  66. Cuddle by a fireplace and tell stories about favorite memories
  67. Practice saying romantic phrases in a foreign language**
  68. Babysit your friends’ kids for an evening.* Surprisingly fun to do as a couple.
  69. Draw portraits of each other
  70. Walk a dog and maybe teach it some tricks. Borrow a friend’s if you don’t have one!
  71. Volunteer together as models at a beauty, hair, or art school for a free pampering*
  72. Play Truth or Dare*
  73. Visit a costume store and try on their wares for major laughs
  74. Have a YouTube party.** “You have to see this one!” “No, you have to see this one!”
  75. Write a bucket list together**

Style Steals: Cambridge Bags

I’m not sure where my followers stand on the current trend of Cambridge handbags since this British label seems to be much more popular in Europe than back in the States. I am sure, however, that more people need to start wearing them.

A Cambridge-style satchel in a bright color is the perfect bridge between edgy and preppy style. The sleek, boxy style with matching buckles looks very professional and academic, but the many colors (including fluorescent options) add a wild and retro element.

Shopaholic Blonde, Chictopia, Vanessa Jackman, and Pop Champagne

Of course, since these gems are priced at a minimum of about $100 (75 euros), nearly everyone interested in owning this look is shopping around for more cost-effective look-alikes. Unfortunately for us thrifters, Cambridge boasts very unique satchel designs, which is why they do so well as a company.

Lucky for you that I don’t give up easily. Here are some bags that (in my opinion) look similar but are a less than half the price of a “real” Cambridge.

Closest Match:

The above Kendall Messenger Satchel is the satchel most similar in style to a Cambridge bag that I have been able to find (*SEE UPDATE*). It captures well the boxy shape and buckles and comes in several bright colors like the Cambridge handbags.

UPDATE: Since originally writing this post, I just happened to be walking through downtown Avila and passed the Spanish boutique Misako. What should I see displayed in the window besides a dead-ringer for the original Cambridge-style satchel. The only downside is that anyone from the States looking to purchase one of these bags will be hit with a heavy shipping & handling fee.

Cheapest Find:

This Carly Retro Satchel from iFashion Handbags is even cheaper, but it also sort of looks it, unfortunately; however, it has the boxy look and is available in a variety of colors as well.

Other Looks to Try:

Oryany by Celeste