March 29, 2010

Not a hipster on food stamps….

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 12:26 am by chavisory

I’m a little late on a response to this, from Salon.com last week.  I did participate a bit in the comments section there, but it riled me enough that I couldn’t really articulate a full response–my feelings about it have been fairly volatile.

Basically, Salon did an article entitled “Hipsters on Food Stamps,” with the tag line “They’re young, they’re broke, and they pay for organic salmon with government subsidies.  Got a problem with that?” and what could’ve been an insightful piece on a group that we don’t normally think of as using food stamps–the young, childless, highly educated intellectual/creative class–now finding themselves turning to them, or about the fact that it’s actually possible to eat decently on a limited budget, got turned into an article practically guaranteed not to shed enlightenment but to elicit reflexive outrage at entitled young “hipsters” using government handouts to buy luxury foods.

One of the subjects of the first article wrote a response about how he was portrayed in an unnecessarily frivolous manner, and some of the real issues he’s dealing with, which is more than worth reading.

My friend Steven wrote a very personal response today, so I figured I’d better get my act together, but what really elicits the following is a commonality of anger and indignation I’m hearing from both family members and friends–some of whom may be reading, and I hope they’ll comment–at people who use public assistance and the low-income: presumed beneficiaries of things like the health care bill, benefits that were part of the stimulus package, and a more progressive tax code this year.  “The government just makes it too easy for people to not do what they’re supposed to do,” my mother said.  A fairly common refrain from a friend with whom I debate often is “At what point are people ever going to be allowed to fail without the government to step in and save them?” I’ve heard more than once that I wouldn’t be so supportive of Obama, or progressive taxes generally, if I made more money, and a whole lot of consternation over the threat of policies which “take money away from people who work and give it to those who don’t.”

The first misapprehension to get out of the way is that we do in fact take a lot of money from people who work and just give it those who don’t.  We don’t.  You can’t be an able-bodied adult and just decide you don’t want to work, and live off of public assistance.  Almost every available program has some kind of work hours or placement requirement.

Secondly, there seems to be a perception that the poor have it easy, or that we’re poor only because we don’t work hard enough, or enjoy being able to take advantage of government money.  So let me share some personal experience:

I applied for food stamps once.  I was in my stage management internship, on a stipend of something like $216 per week after taxes, if memory serves.  I.e. $864/month.  I actually tried to survive on that for a few weeks, tightly rationing 3 meals a day, no snacks…and then I was just too hungry.  My stomach hurt all the time.  I couldn’t think.  I sold a toaster on Craigslist for $10 to do my laundry one week.  So I went to apply for food stamps.  It was a horrible, degrading experience which I do not wish to repeat.

I certainly wasn’t ashamed nor did I feel undeserving of them–I was after all working for very little–even my hyper-conservative, solidly anti-social safety net Republican father said “You’ve paid taxes; it’s just YOUR money.”  Still, I felt…strange, out of place, going to the food stamps office.  Like a well-educated, ambitious person like me shouldn’t need this, or someone who’s voluntarily gone to work in the arts has made their own bed and shouldn’t have the nerve to ask for help.

But if you weren’t ashamed to begin with, they’d make you ashamed. In the waiting room of the food stamps office we were treated like criminals.  Very stupid criminals.  Appointments were running 3 hours behind schedule and we literally were not allowed to ask any questions about why, or what was going on, or if we might reschedule.  The room was windowless and I had a claustrophobia-induced panic attack.  I finally saw a social services worker, who talked to me like I was a dimwitted child who’d done something bad.  I was crying by that point.

I got denied for not providing a FULL bank statement, which was just a level of intrusiveness that I couldn’t deal with, so I never even got to the stage where you have to be fingerprinted.  I didn’t bother to appeal; the initial experience had been tiring and depressing enough.

It’s not easy being poor; it’s hard, and it’s not only those who don’t want to work hard enough, or didn’t bother to get an education, or had children too young, who wind up poor.  Sometimes, it’s people like me.  Especially now.

I don’t consider myself a hipster; I’m nowhere near cool enough, to start with.  I still qualify for food stamps based on income, though I’m sure many people, including some friends, would think that I don’t deserve them: I’m single, childless, relatively healthy and knowingly entered a low-paying artistic profession.  And while usually I say that I’d have to be much more desperate than I am to repeat the first experience I had…sometimes lately I wonder if it would actually be the more responsible thing to do to go apply again.  I’d be able to look out for my health better.  I’d be able to save more money and pay down my remaining credit card balances faster (which I ran up mainly with groceries), and food stamps are a good deal for everyone: they return, last I heard, $1.71 to the economy for every government dollar spent.  So every person on food stamps is actually helping the economy and their neighborhood, especially if they spend them on locally grown food, more than they would by struggling nobly and unnecessarily.

My point, I suppose, and the unintended lesson of the pair of Salon articles, is that it’s easy to condemn with superficial information.  But reality on an individual basis is much more complicated.

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March 21, 2010

How stupid and helpless are we?

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:19 pm by chavisory

Are we actually not only stupid and helpless enough, but self-loathing enough, to buy pre-washed, pre-sliced apples, packaged in 30 calorie single servings?

Chiquita thinks we are.


In case you can’t read the text clearly:

-Washed, sliced and ready to eat
-Only 30 calories per serving
-Individually packaged in stay fresh pouches

I could go on and on and on about the levels of stupidity here…the cost of a package of pre-washed, pre-sliced apples versus a 3-pound bag of whole apples, the unnecessary plastic packaging from an environmental standpoint, that there actually, probably are people who don’t know how to eat fruit unless it comes pre-sliced and packaged in single servings, and that Chiquita thinks that we will do this because we hate our bodies so much.

Let them know what you think here.

March 19, 2010

My generation, part 3

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 12:07 pm by chavisory

A few weeks ago, a note went out on the listserv of the Demosthenian Literary Society, the debate society of which I was a member in college at UGA, alerting members and alumni of extreme budget cuts that the state of Georgia would be asking of educational institutions, as well as cutbacks in a variety of state and local resources and services.  Potentially on the chopping block are hundreds of faculty and TA jobs, Athens’ NPR affiliate radio station WUGA, 4H programs and cooperative extension branches across the state (cooperative extensions are usually departments within a university’s agricultural program, which provide a wide range of assistance and information to local farmers, or anyone really, on agricultural issues, natural resources management, or livestock care), and the state Botanical Gardens.

It was suggested by a chancellor that the budget gap could be closed by a 77% tuition hike.

Naturally and understandably, these proposals caused fear, concern, and anger among the student population, and a lively listserv discussion ensued about the most effective methods of protest.

One alumna, on the other hand, thought that when so many people across the state are suffering the loss of crucial resources, that college kids who weren’t paying tuition to begin with just looked spoiled and entitled for complaining about the loss of a radio station.  (Most in-state students at UGA have eight semesters of tuition covered by the HOPE scholarship, which was the model for Missouri’s later A+ program.)  Called out for appearing to suggest that college students who do, after all, pay taxes, don’t have a right to protest in their own interests, the alumna replied, “Again, didn’t say you didn’t have the right to complain, only pointed out that you look spoiled and petty for doing so.”

I argued that some of the resources in danger of being lost, like the Botanical Gardens, were not the “fringe benefits” that she characterized them as, but part of the very soul of Athens, GA, critical components of our education, that the cuts would hit students who DO pay tuition as hard as those who don’t, and that a 77% tuition increase would put the price of UGA on par with private schools for out-of-state students like me, which could gravely hurt UGA’s academic future.

This is what she said:

“[W]hether or not you like it, the public perception of college students, particularly those who have a free ride care of the state, is that they are relatively spoiled. You’re in that strange stage of life where legally you’re an adult but still rely so much on others to provide for you. (As one student earlier in this debate stated, “if I need more money I just call my parents.”) While few students past freshman year receive state sponsored educations, I also gather that few students work while in college to pay their own tuition (for beer money–yes, tuition–not so much.)

So yes, complaining that you’re losing a radio station does seem incredibly petty and selfish to a parent who has just heard his/her child’s school is going to increase class size and/or eliminate extra-curricular activities. It does seem silly to a person who has found out his/her local health clinic is reducing hours and services. To those people you do look like entitled kids pouting.”

In other words, it’s not that you don’t have a right to complain, it’s just that you’re spoiled, entitled, silly, petty, and immature for actually doing so.  Shut up and take it like everyone else.
Then the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, on Tuesday, hosted a discussion of the student protests in the University of California system (several university systems witnessed student marches and walk-outs on the National Day of Action for Public Education), where students are facing a 32% tuition hike.  Not quite a 77% increase, but enough to make college unaffordable or student loan debt unbearable for many low-middle-income students and their families.  A Wall Street Journal op-ed (unfortunately you have to subscribe to access the whole article; another brilliant response here reprinted a little bit more of it, though) had charged that while the student protests co-opted the language of earlier civil rights movements, it was really about nothing more than money, “entitlement mentality and self-absorption.”  Brian’s panelists, thankfully, countered this characterization.
For my part, I’m behind these students all the way.
Just when middle- and high school students are being sold ever more aggressively, by the President no less than their teachers and parents, on the idea that every one of them MUST go to college to be competitive in the global job market, they’re being told to pay more and more for college degrees that are worth less and less.  They’re being sold more educational debt with less assurance of any kind of job security, or that they’ll be able to find any job at all at a salary that will allow them to make loan payments while still maintaining any kind of quality of life.  They work their fannies off in high school in anticipation of a world where they’ll make it by virtue of their hard work–a world that turns out to be a lie.  And when they graduate into an economy stacked against them, they’re blamed for being sheltered and unprepared.  But isn’t everyone sheltered and unprepared, until forced to face real hardship?  Isn’t a 1-year, 32% tuition increase unconscionable enough for the student body to rightfully be up in arms about it?  This is their entire future we’re talking about mortgaging here.
There was so little protest of social injustice when I was in college–there was a small group that regularly protested the racial imbalance of the UGA student body, and a Take Back the Night group, and I’m sure there were small protests of the start of the Iraq war, but nothing that I even remember as an event.  The angriest I remember the student body as a whole was over the perpetual lack of sufficient parking spaces, if you want to talk about entitlement.  So I’m actually proud and hopeful to see so many students taking a serious, unified stand on real problems.
Also, I think kids my age were raised to be uncomplaining, to be rule-followers, and to solve our own problems without making a fuss.  And I don’t want to completely discount those values, which can certainly be adaptive under certain conditions, but I think it went too far, and a lot of my peer group, the early Millennials, wound up too afraid of what any kind of disciplinary record or clash with authority would do to our “permanent record” and chances for college, scholarships, and jobs, that we were too paralyzed with anxiety to seriously challenge unfairness in an organized or visible way.  I know I was way too terrified to risk getting arrested for anything.  Then, at the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, I think we felt a sense of futility–Brian Lehrer asked where were the big student movements in protest of those issues, or world poverty, etc.–we knew that storming the dean’s office was not going to stop the war in Iraq.  It just wasn’t.  On the national level, two presidential elections in a row were quite possibly stolen, so it seemed apparent that government was not going to be responsive anymore to the voices of its citizens.  I’m glad to see the kids in California tipping the balance back to where teenagers feel some kind of confidence in their ability to get things changed.
And at the end of the day, if they can’t advocate in their own self-interest, what can they do?  What will they ever be able to accomplish, if they can’t speak up for themselves?  They’re demonstrating that they can, though, and I think it’s perfect preparation for what this country will be going through in the next few years.
{To Be Continued}

March 17, 2010

Hallelujah, it’s spring!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 12:20 pm by chavisory

We interrupt this screed on intergenerational economic injustice for some St. Patrick’s Day cheer:

A tiny yellow crocus by our pond in Central Park.

Snowdrops at Belevedere Castle.  For those who haven’t been, there’s a garden walk where they’ve attempted to collect every flowering plant mentioned in the plays of Shakespeare.

Alexander Hamilton, looking very handsome in my humble opinion.

And this.  God bless the Irish.

March 11, 2010

My generation, part 2

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 10:59 pm by chavisory

During the 2008 primary campaigns, one of the things that swayed me severely away from Hillary Clinton and towards Obama was what I perceived as a really pernicious and mean spirited anti-youth bias in her rhetoric and campaigning.  I tell this anecdote a lot, so forgive me if you’ve heard this particular complaint…In 2006, I was in Juilliard’s stage management internship, and also working opening shifts at Starbucks to make ends meet.  So here’s how my days would go: I woke up at 3:30 AM, caught the 4:00 train downtown, my shift started at 4:45 and ended at 1:00 PM.  I got a venti almond mocha on my way out and went straight to the school, caught a half hour nap at my desk and then finished up the previous day’s paperwork and e-mails before rehearsals started at 4:00 PM.  Got home around 11:00 PM if lucky.  Did it again the next day.

Anyway, on my Starbucks lunch break on one of these days (which occurred around 9:30 or 10:00 AM, when you’ve started a shift before 5:00), I read in the paper something that Clinton had said in her speech to the US Chamber of Commerce:

“We have a lot of kids who don’t know what work means.  They think work is a 4-letter word.”

I had worked a 20-hour day, on the day that she said that.

During a campaign speech at Rhode Island College, she sneered:

“Now, I could stand up here and say, ‘Let’s just get everybody together. Let’s get unified. The sky will open. The light will come down. Celestial choirs will be singing, and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect.’  Maybe I’ve just lived a little long, but I have no illusions about how hard this is going to be.”

It was a blatantly nasty attack both on Obama’s relative youth, and on the hope of his younger supporters that the political environment could ever actually be made better.  Oh, those stupid kids, they think we’ll just sprinkle some fairy dust and it’ll be all better.

It continued, and continues, through the health care debate.  In favor of the individual mandate that was the centerpiece of both Romney and Clinton’s plans, and of the current Senate health insurance bill (I refuse to call it a health care reform bill), the utterly predominant argument is that “young healthy people think they’re invincible and they just won’t buy insurance unless they’re compelled to.”

Salon.com did it here, and even Obama picked up Clinton’s rhetoric in this speech last year on health care reform.
“Now, even if we provide these affordable options, there may be those — especially the young and the healthy — who still want to take the risk and go without coverage….The problem is, such irresponsible behavior costs all the rest of us money.”

It’s one of my biggest disappointments in Obama so far, that he’s adopted this viewpoint with no apparent thought about what he’s actually saying about the young voters who fought for him.
No one in the media questions this; they just say it.  It’s gospel.  I haven’t heard anyone in Congress dare to contradict it.
But it’s false, and it’s bigotry.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, of roughly my age in my work and social circles, is perfectly, glaringly aware of the financial havoc that a medical emergency or prolonged illness could make of their lives.  If they have reasonably affordable insurance through their employer, they’re thankful, and if they don’t, then they’re jealous.   A lot of us don’t have insurance because we’re freelancers and fall into the income black hole wherein individual insurance is totally unaffordable but we make too much to qualify for the state’s low-income plan, and rely on other sources of affordable care (there are several clinics here which offer care on a sliding fee scale, a couple of the major hospitals do, and one clinic which provides basic/preventative care for professional performing artists for free).  But I have never, never, heard anyone in my age bracket say “yeah, you know, I just don’t think I need insurance.  I’m young and healthy.”
We know perfectly well that we’re playing Russian roulette.  We know what the risks are.  But we don’t have a lot of better options.  We are being blamed for being selfish, greedy, and shortsighted, for acting in the only way we can afford to because of economic circumstances that we did not create.
Nobody says that maybe young adults aren’t buying health insurance because decent plans are unaffordable or their employment is insecure.  It must just be that we don’t know what’s good for us.
So, our elected leaders and policy makers think this way about us, and they have no qualms about asserting it, with no fact-based backup, without really knowing anything about the lives we’re trying to lead.  It’s casually acceptable among politicians and the media to bash young adults for political gain–to make these kinds of insulting and baseless statements with no support and no challenge.  What other group would they find it okay to talk about this way?
What are our chances of having our interests fairly represented, when this view of us is taken for granted?
And how did it get this way, from the excitement and high expectations for the “Class of 2000” when we were kindergarteners, to the almost unchallenged assumption that we’re the careless, cheapskate, selfish dimwits depicted in the health care debate?  What happened?
{To be continued}

March 10, 2010

Talkin’ ’bout my generation

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 1:56 pm by chavisory

So until I read this column yesterday in Newsweek, I actually didn’t even know what my generation was supposed to be called.  I do remember when we were supposed to be Generation Y, but for what I think are obvious reasons, it didn’t really stick with us.  It didn’t mean anything we could connect to; all it said was that we had no better identity than whatever came after Generation X.  A couple times I saw it represented as Generation Why, which I did like a lot, but it never caught on.  Having never felt particularly connected or included or identified with people my own age anyway, I quit thinking about it eventually.  I could never look at other people of my own generation and see myself, my concerns, my joys, reflected.  (Reviving Ophelia was published when I was a teenager, and I read it but it meant nothing to me.  Those girls didn’t have anything to do with me.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have problems, but mine seemed completely lost on the supposed experts.  It was like reading a very interesting treatise on a completely alien species.)  At this point, we seem to have a spirit of nostalgia for all the same childhood TV shows, movies, toys, and school experiences, but beyond that, it’s hard to see that we have a particularly coherent value system or collective unconscious.

Or is it maybe just a retrospective illusion that any American generation has had that much cohesion?

But evidently the name that’s settled on us now is “the millennials.”  It still doesn’t have much ring for me, but I guess it’s better than Generation Y.

Samuelson explores here the ways in which the idea of a “generation gap” or that of distinct generations with beliefs and perceptions unique to their experiences is, and isn’t, useful for tracing political and cultural change, and the ways in which ours, and our relationship with our government, could be adversely affected by this economic downturn far into the future.

Here’s the thing about generations, though: they never get to name or define themselves.  Their title and the supposed dominant cultural gestalt is largely determined by the generations who write history later.  Ours, the “millennials,” seems fairly unique in that there’s been so much presumption and supposition about what our generation means, what we’re like, ever since we were small children, by our elders, rather than in retrospect.  And it feels unfair, to have the objects of so much anxiety for the entirety of the time we were growing up.

I think we might just be the most prematurely judged generation in American history, and that we may suffer uniquely, especially in the aftermath of the current recession, for the misjudgment and misperception of our elders.

{To Be Continued}

March 8, 2010

Dream Car

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 2:49 pm by chavisory

I saw this car on Columbus Avenue Saturday evening while walking to the subway from work.

Man, do I love New York.

March 3, 2010

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 6:01 pm by chavisory

I really don’t intend this to be a blog primarily about education issues…they just happen to be the news articles that are catching my attention this week, and today proves no exception.

This is something that I’m very torn about.  (In Middle School, Charting Their Course to College and Beyond, NYT 2/28/10)  Students in the North Brunswick, NJ school district will soon all have individualized education plans, or “personalized student learning plans,” as called in the article.  The idea is that every kid, starting in 6th grade, has an online profile which they can use continuously along with parents and counselors to chart their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and career goals.

I have long been ranting that kids need much more personal discretion to pursue their own interests, in school, more course choices, more freedom to do what they really want to do as the only path to true excellence in anything.  So it’s very tempting to see any step away from “one size fits all” education, away from disproportionate focus on correcting students’ weaknesses instead of supporting and encouraging their strengths (which I tend to think actually reinforces the weaknesses in the long run), toward giving kids more insight and control over their college and career fates as a good thing.

But I’m sort of skeptical of this plan.

One of my favorite frequent letter writers at Salon.com once wrote “Be careful what you wish for, when it’s going to be implemented by idiots.”  That’s sort of how I feel about this.  It looks really good, foolproof almost, but it could go really wrong in the wrong hands.

Firstly, do the schools actually have the volume of course selection in middle school that would allow students to act on their career desires?  Mine sure as hell didn’t–and we were in a relatively affluent district.

Do teachers and counselors have the time and knowledge to assist and encourage students in pursuit of off-the-beaten-academic-path interests?  Are the schools willing to give the kids the freedom of time during school hours to really pursue what they want?  Forgive me, but I doubt it.

Already, some of the school people quoted in the article are demonstrating some real wrongheadedness about what this system should mean for students:

“If you don’t know yourself and think you want to be a biologist, you may realize in your sophomore year in college you don’t like science,” said Mercedes Arias, a Linwood language arts coordinator who is helping develop the learning plans. “You should have really figured that out sooner.”

But, really?  Maybe.   I’m all for people learning to be more self-aware and honest about what they want, but demanding this kind of decision-making of 11-year-olds is a bit harsh.  Especially in the context of the way our whole culture is currently structured, they haven’t had any chance to find those things out for themselves.  Maybe going that far in science before realizing that it wasn’t for you was vital to figuring out what you DID want to do.  Maybe that kid will still maintain a lifelong interest in biology; she just realizes that doing it as a career isn’t really what she wants.  And the way that the school system currently isolates kids completely from the real world of work, you don’t really see how professionals in your field work until you get to college.  Why the blame on the kid?  Kids that young should have the freedom to explore, the freedom to make mistakes.  Even big mistakes.  Especially big mistakes.

And who really makes it to college before realizing that they really don’t like science?  In my observation, the vast majority of my classmates were openly science-phobic a long, long time before that.

Secondly, I see the potential for this to become just another constriction on students’ lives and interests, or another avenue for tracking kids into essentially permanent trajectories based on testing performance.  Under the guise, even the intent, of giving kids more control, it could actually give them less.  It could be a real trap for kids who have certain things expected of them by even the most well-meaning parents or teachers.  Imagine how this could go for kids interested in exploring something outside their main area of interest:

KID:  “I’d like to maybe try another art class this semester.”

But that’s not in your learning plan.

That’s not working towards your goal of being a doctor.

That’s not at all what the Matchmaker test identified as your ideal career.

If I can use myself as an example…I was always, from childhood, interested in theatrical and performance art.  I would beg for speaking roles in church plays.  But no one would take me seriously, because I was a such a shy kid.  Not that I thought I wanted to be an actress, but I was very interested in that realm.  Only no one around me understood anything at all about the variety of functions necessary and careers available in the arts world, or else someone might’ve been able to help me out more with getting involved in a way that fit my strengths.  I took an acting class in high school and got involved with the production of the school musicals, and everyone acted shocked, just shocked! that I would do such a thing–I was quiet and good at science.  And I was thinking but this is what I SAID I wanted all along and no one would pay attention–you’re only shocked that I actually DID something about it given the chance. I even had one of those career matcher tests come back with “visual or performing arts” listed as my top match and no one would believe it.

I was even about to go to college as an English major.  And then one day my junior year, I realized I like reading.  I’ve thoroughly hated every single English class I’ve ever been in, because they just ruin the experience of reading.

So I entered college with a biology/drama double major.  And no actual idea what I was going to do for a living.  I was a sophomore before I knew–the very first time I even ever heard of stage management, I knew, immediately and without a shred of doubt, that that was what I was supposed to do.  Was it a late discovery? Maybe, but it was the right time, for who I was and where I was.  I do still take an intense interest in biology and am glad I have the background; I don’t look at all those years as wasted.  Or the time I spent in acting, creative writing, journalism, or chemistry in high school; the broad and eclectic foundation of humanistic knowledge turned out to be a perfect foundation for what I eventually knew I wanted to do, even though I couldn’t have known it at the time.  But according to language arts coordinator Arias, I “should really have figured that out sooner.”  I’m sorry, but what does she know?

Many educators and parents say that creating learning plans for everyone can better prepare students for college, and motivate even low achievers to work harder by showing them that what they want matters, too.

I do appreciate the attempt at giving students more control and personal investment…but for heaven’s sake, what does it say that this is a fairly new idea–that what students WANT actually matters?  And it shouldn’t “matter, too.”  It should matter primarily.  I’d be interested to see whether the schools are backing this up with available course selection, flexibility, and free time to pursue individual projects.

I think the potential for students to take more control and more interest in their own futures is high, but the potential for misuse or gross oversimplification by teachers and parents, or for this to become just one more burden on kids who don’t learn and grow on the same time line as everyone else, is also high.

At best, though, perhaps this could be a tool by which students could pressure their school systems to actually give them more freedom in support of their personalized plans.

March 2, 2010

Happy accident~sparkling cider!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 3:43 pm by chavisory

So I was making pork stew a few days ago and was about to steal/borrow half a cup of apple cider from my roommate to throw in.  (It gives it a nice slightly tangy sweetness that compliments the pork.)  But when I got out the half-empty jug of cider, it was all bloated…which usually means “don’t eat it.”  I opened it and sniffed, and it smelled slightly sour.  I didn’t want to just pour it down the sink, as it wasn’t mine to begin with, and if it had turned to vinegar, it might not’ve been totally useless, so I just put it back in the very back of the fridge.

Fast forward three nights; I’m sitting at my desk when I hear the following sounds emanating from the kitchen:

CIDER JUG:  {fizzy sounds}
ROOMMATE:  Agggghhhhh!  {sniff sniff}  Hey, Emily, I think we made some hard cider!  Come try this, it’s really good!

I took the proffered wine glass of amber, slightly cloudy liquid with apprehension and sniffed skeptically.  It smelled…a little off, but not bad.  I sipped.

And it was really good.  Slightly carbonated and fizzy, very tart, but still sweet, with just a little bit of an alcoholic kick.

“I don’t get it, it’s not even past date,” my roommate said.  I can only guess that wild yeasts and a faulty round of pasteurization are to blame.

So we’ve been drinking it for a couple days, and so far no ill effects.  Still, I don’t know that I’d recommend this mode of consumption on a regular basis.  It’s probably not a reliable outcome of just leaving stuff in the back of your fridge–we just got a lucky batch of wild yeast.  It’s mellowed out and gotten a little dryer since we first tasted it.

I came home from a long day of dance workshopping yesterday and poured myself a glass, with just a little Smirnoff dashed in for oomph, to relax over an episode of This American Life, and went to bed early.

Yum.