Friday, November 6, 2009

Working Harder, Not Smarter


I don't own a home to lose, I don't have a family to feed, my story isn't that sob worthy by any means. I realize this. But what it is, is demoralizing.

I lost my job, and so I started working exceedingly hard to find a new one. I've said yes to every journalistic freelance opportunity (even going so far as to try to write a press release in exchange for a haircut). And unlike many, I've been lucky to end up with assignments that will ultimately help my portfolio and perhaps someday advance my career. But as many will attest, the road of a freelancer isn't smooth, and often not well paid. Freelancing involves A LOT of hustling, and things I've never been that comfortable with like networking, being relentless in keeping yourself in someone's mind, and endless pitching ideas, most of the time with no results.

If you are lucky enough to get an assignment there's still the chance that you'll do all the work and then it will be "not exactly what they were looking for" in which case you have to go through sometimes so much editing and re-writing that it will be like doing a second article. Other times they won't use it. If you're lucky you signed a contract with a kill fee that makes all that work still somewhat worth your time.

The other piece to freelancing is the "free" aspect. As in working for. When you write a piece either for print or the web, you typically either sign a contract (with varying degrees of giving up your rights to the work you are producing for them), send an invoice for the agreed amount, or both. Sometimes there are tax forms involved. It's all very official seeming. What never seems to be official is the when you will paid. Which is why making a living as a freelancer can sometimes be next to impossible unless you have a million different gigs going at once, or a job on the side.

I've personally never been completely stiffed (yet), but I have waited over two months for a check from an assignment, and have dealt with freelancers who have waited six months or more. Gawker did a list twice of Print's Worst Late Payment Offenders (find that here and here). Some freelancers they talked to haven't been paid in 2 YEARS!

This in two words is fucked up. A freelancer can't afford to take a publication to court over a few hundred dollars, and many don't want to burn bridges in such a competitive everyone-knows-everyone industry. The publications know this, or more likely don't care. Freelancers are of course a dime a dozen.

So here's how it's been for me: I'm currently working as a freelancer for various publications in what amounts to well over 40 hours a week, in addition, I'm still looking and applying for full time work, and I'm in the middle of applying to Grad School.

I am currently making $40 a week more than I did when I was collecting unemployment. I have no benefits. When work stops for the holidays I won’t be able to collect either. When I have my wisdom tooth removed in a month, not only will I lose money by not working (the result of no sick time) but since the health insurance that I pay out of pocket for every month doesn't cover the full procedure, I will owe more than I make in two weeks of work. And I'm lucky. I'm working. I'm single, I can afford life’s necessities, I don’t have chronic or serious medical problems, and I am not unskilled. Things are a lot worse for a lot of people in America right now.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not horribly horribly flawed. Work should be rewarded with a living wage, and medical issues like an exposed sinus from an extracted wisdom tooth should be considered an essential and covered expense.

Just saying.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Maybe I should work in advertising

Because I just came up with the best slogan. I offer it up to the Internets for free:

Rogaine: What do you have to lose?

pretty clever, huh?

watch out Peggy Olsen!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hard Living


I started a new full time freelance gig at WomansDay.com this week. So I've been knee deep in craft and recipe tips.*Which means I'm a little less than up to date on my full of wit-blog-worthy topics. However, I did come across this tonight and felt the need to share. Mark and I have been watching a lot of Mad Men the last month or so (I have lots of opinions on it, just see my post from last week). Regardless of all the other aspects, it is amazing how much they smoke and drink on that show, and it has crossed my mind that they'd look like hell 20-30 years later. Well, leave it to Jezebel to take the guess work out of it for me. Here's their version of Betty and Don Draper in 1983 (the Photoshop skillz could use a little improvement, but still, it's probably not that far off).

* For those of you paying attention, yes WomansDay.com is back at my old publisher, which means I'm freelancing in the same offices where I worked for almost three years. It's strange to say the least. But I guess it's a sign o' the times...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Looking back.


I'm currently applying to two masters programs in journalism for Fall 2010.

A girl has to keep her options open afterall.

While starting work on my "Personal History" essays, I came across an essay I wrote several years ago when I first moved to New York from London. I usually have mixed feelings when I read things I wrote years ago. The edit
or in me is embarassed for my old self and wants to rip my former final drafts apart and totally re-write them. Once in a while however, they serve as a perfect time capusle for the feelings or views of that moment.

There's some things I would change about this, but f
or the most part, it's a rare piece I'm still happy with some four years later. It's served in part as insperation for me, so I thought I'd share this little never before published bit of my past.
You're Welcome.

The grass is greener where it rains

“How soon country people forget. When they fall in love with a city it is forever, and it is like forever. As though there never was a time when they didn’t love it. The minute they arrive at the train station or get off the ferry and glimpse the wide streets and the wasteful lamps lighting them, they know they are born for it. There, in a city, they are not so much new as themselves: their stronger, riskier selves.” - Toni Morrison

When I moved to London at 23-years-old it was my first time out of the country. I did my best to hide it, but for the first month or so I felt like a country bumpkin. I was sure something I did or said would give away my small town roots. The truth was that I was no different than the people that I met who had traveled all over the world; I just thought that I was. Although I treated moving like an art form, up until that point I had always defined myself by the town I had spent my life trying to leave behind.

I never felt like I belonged in my hometown; Plainwell, Michigan. It was one those small towns that seem to exist only for the purpose of leaving, a place that you can’t imagine people actually living, a place met just for passing through. Like a lot of people I was convinced that I was destined for more. As an adolescent I felt like my home was a prison and I dreamed of escape daily. Life, it seemed, was happening somewhere else, everywhere else, anywhere else.

So when I turned 18, I left. And I have been leaving ever since. I transferred colleges three times, took summer road trips and jobs in other states, and when I was done with college I jumped at the opportunity to move to London. For the past seven years and counting I have distanced myself further and further from the place I grew up.

Of all of my adventures, my time in London ended up changing my life the most. There are the obvious reasons why, while I was there I traveled and saw places that I had always dreamed of, I met amazing people and explored one of the most diverse cities in the world. But it was more than that, living in London, I felt like I had finally found the place that suited me- the city that I was met to live in. The world though, seemed to have other plans for me. My visa expired and after a little more than a year after I first stepped foot on foreign soil, I was back in the states. The only problem was in the time since I had left, home had disappeared too.

While I was gone, life wasn’t just changing for me. The people that I left behind went on living their lives; relationships formed, babies were born and a distance of more than just miles grew between me and some of the people I had know for years.

My mother, who had lived alone since I left home at 18, sold the house and moved to a different city with her boyfriend, whom I had only met twice. She told me one summer afternoon on the phone from across the ocean, a few weeks before the move. I was devastated; it felt like I had lost a member of my family.

The thing about leaving is that you assume there is always the option of coming back, after all that’s why it’s called “going home.” What happens though when life decides not to play by your rules, when you move and the life you left moves on?

I would have never imagined that I could miss that home that I once hated so much. That I would find myself mourning it and having dreams about it. I didn’t think I needed to say goodbye until I didn’t get the chance.

I got the wish that had as a teenager- I got out- what I didn’t count on was that once I left I couldn’t go back again. I assumed that life in that town never changed- for the 18 years I lived in that house, it seemed as if it never would. Even though I didn’t want the place anymore I wanted it to exist just in case I ever needed it again. It is an arrogance that only the selfishness of youth can afford.

Which is exactly what I was, exactly what I am: selfish. Which isn’t always a bad thing. Traveling all over the world, moving to London, these are very selfish things. Things that changed my life, things that I will never regret, but they are selfish. And wanting things to stay unchanged for my benefit was perhaps to most selfish of all of them.

My mother has always been the strongest, bravest, most independent woman I have known. Hers was the strength of sacrifice, the strength to sacrifice every part of her life to give her two children a home, a life, love and the courage to be their own people. She gave the majority of her life to us, working and going to college for second degree to provide us with enough to get by. Sacrificing nearly two decades of a social life so we would have as much consistency and stability as she could provide. She taught me pride, she taught me hard work, and she taught me courage to do the things that the other women in my family never got the chance to do.

Ours are different kinds of strength however, mine has always been more selfish. My strength has been the strength to build and endure change, as much as I have feared change my whole life I have embraced it and built my life around it.

My mother made me strong enough to leave the home that she built for us and once I had moved on she finally took her chance to leave it too. Something I didn’t consider was that all those years that I dreamed of getting out, she was too. That home held my childhood; it held memories from most of the years of my life. But it also held a lot of pain and struggle, things that I was all too eager to escape when I first left at 18. The same things that several years later my mother finally got the chance to leave, when her son had a home and family of his own and her daughter was in London figuring out who she was.

I have been afraid that I wouldn’t be able to forgive my mother for selling my childhood home, for getting married, for thinking of herself first. But when I look at it objectively the things that I am mad at her for are the exact things that she gave me the courage to do myself.

I have spent most of my life dreaming of other horizons and most of my adulthood chasing those horizons trying to make myself happy. I shouldn’t begrudge my mother because she got there before me. After all, she had a head start.

Some people believe that who you are is constantly changing- that the person you are at 12 is not the person you are at 24 or 48. It is the one undeniable law of nature- change- everything, everyone all the time is constantly in flux. I, however, have always been a firm believer that some things last- no matter what you do. Beyond mere stubbornness, I think that some things get defined by the change that they endure and that after it- the new them that emerges, is the one that persists. If for no other reason than that the change was so great that no other change in life can alter it.

Growing up in Plainwell may have defined how I thought of myself and given me the eyes that I looked at the world with. But leaving it, and years later losing it, has made me into the person that I am, the person that I will always be, no matter where I go.

Sometimes though you have to travel a very long way to see where you come from, and sometimes you realize that the journey “back home” isn’t as simple as you thought.

Plainwell, Michigan is still on the map, still an easily overlooked speck. The simple two-story house on Florence Street where I spent the first 18 years of my life is still there too. The siding has changed and I think they might have carpet, but I have feeling the name of my grade school crush is still carved in the banister, and there are still water stains on the ceiling from my squirt gun. However small or however meaningful my family, that build most of that house, and spent almost 30 years in it, has left it’s mark. Now, its home to a new family now, and will be home to many new memories; crying, fighting, longing and hopefully, laughter, hope, love and courage.

It seems strange that I felt so completely at home in a place so foreign, yet at the same time could feel such a gaping whole for a place that I spent so long trying to leave. I had fallen head over heels in love with London, and for a location commitment-phobe that was a new feeling. Although I couldn’t stay there as long as I would have wanted, I now realize that just because you leave a place, that doesn’t mean it leaves you.

Wherever I go, there I am. Me, the little girl from the small Midwestern town, but at the same time the brave, well traveled woman that she grew into. I may never fully know who I am, but perhaps we aren’t met to.

Leaving home, losing home and forging to make a new home, I have learned that I am don’t have to be defined by the place I grew up. Maybe you can never go home again, but maybe that’s for the best. Perhaps life is met to be about finding a place that you can make into a home. When that day comes for me- when I master the art of staying in one place- be it London or somewhere else, I know just the type of home I will build for my daughter. The type of home that I grew up in, the type of home built to give her enough courage to leave.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

No results

Conde Nast the holy grail of glossy enviable magazine jobs, folded four of it's magazines this week, after closing two others earlier this year. For many in publishing trouble at Conde is a sign that things are really truly awful and don't look like they'll get better anytime soon. Another sign? This result in my job hunt today:

Job Search Results
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Rape Myth

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that it’s 2009, not because I don’t feel old enough to yet be this old, or because we are still living in a future woefully devoid of hover crafts, but because of the appalling discussions that take place by so-called intelligent forward thinking people whenever there’s a public case of rape or domestic abuse.

From the common cry of faking or “asking for it” or trying to make money whenever someone notable is accused of rape or assault, to the disgusting initial defense of Chris Brown, to most recently the concept of rape the doesn’t “count” as rape.

In the last week alone there have been two more cases of not calling a spade a spade, or in the case of John Phillips and Roman Polanski, calling a rapist a rapist.

An adult having sex with a 13-year-old is rape. An adult having sex with a drugged and drunk 13-year-old is rape. Period. End of Story. There should be no discussion over who was in the house, what was said by whom, and certainly none over what a great director they are. Even Whoopi (say it ain’t so!) is using made up terms like “rape-rape”, and Debra Tate saying “it was rape, but it wasn’t rape.” The fact that Polanski has still been able to make movies and live in relative freedom for the past 30 plus years, is upsurd, the fact that so many people agreed to work with him, defend him.

The judicial system already puts the burden of proof on the victim too many times and lets the rapists and abusers get off with small or often nonexistent sentences. What’s rarely considered is how damaging something like rape and abuse is to a person, how it’s something that can ruin a life, even after years, even after you “get over it.” Adding on a chorus of voices saying “oh, well it wasn’t really rape” is damaging not only to those who have lived through it, but those in the future who will question themselves if they are so unfortunate as to have something like this happen to them.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Open Book

I had written an exhaustive post the other week about my six-plus weeks (and counting) of unemployment. I wanted it to be a kind of an inside look at what being unemployed is like (i.e. it’s a lot of work) but it didn’t make for a very interesting read, and was probably more than anyone would really care to know. So instead I’ve decided to re-visit another post I started and abandoned:

My Top Five Books (in no particular order)*


1) 1) 1984 by George Orwell: To know me is to know my obsession with all things Orwell. I’ve read all of his books, several essays, and a biography or two. He is the kind of writer I want to be, both in style and content. 1984 is of course his most famous work, but it wasn’t one of the first I read by him, and it’s one of the classics that’s a classic for a reason. It’s a book that stays with you forever. I’ve seen the (US-banned!) film version and a stage production, and both were mostly well done, but nothing has ever compared to the way the book draws you in and changes the way you look at the world.

2) 2) Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg: Sure, she’s an Oprah Book Club alumni (but sometimes Oprah has really good taste) and maybe her books aren’t high literature and the target audience may be middle-aged ladies, but Elizabeth Berg knows how to write characters and dialog like few authors. She writes honestly and without pretension, and creates people that you actually care about living in a world that seems familiar even if it’s one you don’t live in. Her main characters are always women and in this book it’s a woman in her 60s alone on the road trying to find herself writing journals and letters to her confused husband she abandoned at home. I read it as a 19-year-old and knew just how she felt. That’s good writing. Plus I met Elizabeth Berg in Chicago once; she’s a wonderfully nice lady.

3) 3)The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath: This one goes out to my angsty 14-year-old self. I’m sure I’d feel differently about it now, but at the time it just all seemed so…deep. I remember sitting on the porch and in my bedroom reading Silvia Plath and all J.D. Salinger that spring and feeling so misunderstood.

4) 4) Without a Net edited by Michelle Tea: The only non-fiction book on my list. While some parts are more well-written than others, the message in this collection of essays by women who grew up Working Class articulates parts of my own experience growing up as well as issues such as racism, sexual identity and feminism, and the co-opting of downtrodden cultures in a straightforward and honest way that few books I’ve read have.

5) 5) Caucasia by Danzy Senna: Reading this book was the best thing to come out of my short lived time in a Book Club, and one of the most interesting multi-layered discussions about a book I’ve ever had with a group of people. On the surface it’s a book about race (in fact Borders seems to think it’s only for Black People http://fullofwit.blogspot.com/2008/12/is-borders-racist.html), but aside from racial identity, it was a beautiful and artfully woven story of a girl’s relationship with her father, politics, growing up.

Honorable Mentions:

· Down and Out in London and Paris by George Orwell : His best book about class and that’s saying a lot), I read it while I was living in London and it gave me a new perspective on the city’s history, plus this is actually the first Orwell book I ever read and your first is always special.

· A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: I was reading this book when I was in the process of moving to New York and several random people approached me while I was reading it to tell me how much they loved it. It was a memorable story and an interesting history lesson about the city I was moving to.

· Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: An epic story that covers the gamut from sexual and national identity, and a lot of history of my home state.

· Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss: Along with the Lorax, the best Seuss books, plus this one makes a perfect graduation speech.

· Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach: The best travel book I’ve read, it was particularly meaningful because I was reading it as I was moving abroad.

*Anyone who loves books or music or movies always has a hard time picking their favorites, and so there are tons of books I love that I didn’t think to include.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Forget to Remember

While they say tragedy +time= comedy, there appears to be no such formula to figure out exactly how long is appropriate before it’s OK to joke about things. If there was it might be something like this:

Cultural impact of tragedy - amount of time that has passed = risk of “too soon” reaction.

Some examples:

Michael Jackson’s Death: Gave the World Thriller, but maybe molested young boys, happened 3 months ago= too late, most of the MJ jokes happened within the first week of his death and weren’t funny.

AIDS kills millions of people, but is no longer as big of a scare for middle and upper class people, and has been around for nearly 30 years. So an AIDS joke, while maybe not always in good taste, if done well is probably safe.

But what about 9/11? Less than 3,000 people died, eight years ago…. While people might not be ready to laugh about it, I do think it’s time we move on at least somewhat. After all, is suspending all other news coverage for a memorial service once a year a healthy thing as a nation? Is repeatedly wrapping ourselves up in mourning and tragedy productive? Is the constant coverage every year out of a sense of obligation, or just lazy journalism? A National Day of Service? A useful and noble idea. Not being able to get any other news once a year? The terrorists have won.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Halloween Ideas

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. And while I have a bit of an artsy/crafty streak, I've never been one of those people who can make a really cool costume. My best work was probably when I was a box of popcorn in Middle School, of course I had to take the box off if I wanted to sit down.

Last year I kind of copped out a bit as was a flapper:

Here are a few of my ideas for this year. (if blogger had a poll feature that I could find/figure out I'd let you vote, instead leave your opinions in the comments)

Easy to do:

Rosie the Riveter



cotton candy: (my idea for this costume is not exactly the same, but along these lines)

Mark has already decided on his costume but before he did we thought about a few couples costumes including my favorite, Kermit and Ms. Piggy (again I'm not sure I'd do it this way exactly, but it's not bad)


And finally, we talked about being a monkey and a banana, inspired by this baby costume:

Friday, September 4, 2009

What I learned during my time as a magazine editor

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of July 2009, the unemployment rate in the U.S. is 9.4%. (14.5 million people) Of that, almost tens of thousands of print journalists have found themselves out of work in 2009; well…add one more to that number.

In light of all this, it is of course it’s spectacular thing that I was laid off on last month. To me however, it is. I’m now competing for work with more talented and experienced journalists than the population of the town I grew up in, in what is probably the absolute worst time to be an unemployed print journalist.

Losing a job you love is like a bad break up. Except I was at this job longer than I’ve ever managed to hold onto any boyfriend I’ve had, and unlike after a break-up I can’t just swear off working for awhile.

Much like a relationship gone sour however, I’m looking for a lesson to be learned from all this. Is it, as so many are prone to say, a blessing in disguise? Should I serve as a cautionary tale for hopeful young journalism students? I worked extremely hard to get where I was, and worked extremely hard while I was there, to the praise of my bosses and co-workers. So what is this other than another unremarkable sob story? What did I learn during my nearly three years as a magazine editor?

1) I 1)It’s at all not as glamorous as TV and movies make it out to be, and that’s a good thing. And newsflash, living in NYC is nothing like Sex in the City or Friends. Maybe it is for some people, and it can have glamorous moments, sure. The swag is nice, press conferences and events can range from fun to unbearable. There’s a lot of smoozing and contact/relationship building, but really it’s not that much different from a million other offices. And really at the end of the day, I wouldn't want to work in an enviorment of impossible standards, lies, and snobery.

2) 2)Despite it all I refuse to believe that print dead or dying. Just like a tween, it’s in an awkward in-between phase. It’s not news that print media has been woefully behind on getting online, and still very few are doing it well. But they will, they have to, and even though a lot of magazines are folding their print publications and going online only, I don’t think people are ever going to stop reading things on paper.

3) 3)I don’t want to work in PR. Not that I ever thought I did, but man does the job suck. It’s like asking someone on a date and they keep saying no, but you have to keep asking. And the person you are asking out keeps wanting free stuff. That and I've never been able to just bestow the virutes of a product while overlooking its fallacies.

4) 4)Freelancing is harder than working full time. Now that trying my hand at freelancing more seriously than I ever had before I’m realizing how much effort it takes, writing, pitching, and still getting turned down (and most of the time it doesn't pay as well as having a full time job). As with almost everything it seems a lot more who you know rather what you know. As a magazine editor I know how many random pitches publications receive and how many they reject, sometimes with any acknowledgement. That and you never know when you’ll see the check once you do get work.

So I’ve been out of a job for a month now (for the first time in my life) and I’ve learned that it’s a bigger blow than I would have expected. And I’ve learned that I have to do all the things I’ve always hated: networking, asking for help and favors, shameless self promotion. I’ve yet to sleep in on a weekday, I’ve been working harder than I was when I had a full time job, but I’ve been also been taking one day a week to enjoy life, go to museums, parks, not be in my apartment in front of my laptop all the time. I’m not doing as poorly as I thought I would.

So what’s next? I’m really not sure, I know I’m not ready to give up on this print journalism thing. I know, at least I should start blogging more and maybe make this thing more cohesive. So there’s that upswing….

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hypocrisy Now!

I became a vegetarian over 16 years ago, and it remains a decision I’m proud of and that I’ll stand by for the rest of my life. And while in recent years I’ve become more concerned with human rights, I will always think that animal rights are an important issue; far to often over looked.

However I think I officially hate PETA. I don’t want to, but they really make it difficult for anyone at all to take them seriously. Their ridiculous “Sea Kitten” campaign is just the tip of the wasted money and effort-iceberg that gives vegetarians and animal right supports a bad name. Last week was doubly embarrassing: first the most ridiculous non-story (the president kills a fly) becomes the most pointless offense PETA has ever railed behind.

Then the announcement that Che Guevara's granddaughter Lydia has decided to start a "vegetarian revolution" by posing for PETA with "the torso naked, covered only by a sling loaded with carrots as bullets."



Because nothing says a respect for the life of all creatures like a half naked lady co-opting the image of a man who led a very bloody revolution. (A man who said: “I don't care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my gun and keeps on shooting.” And “In fact, if Christ himself stood in my way, I, like Nietzsche, would not hesitate to squish him like a worm”)

It all just so woefully misses the point, especially when you add on the reports that since 1998 PETA has killed more than 17,000 animals, nearly 85 percent of all those it has rescued.

I’d like to see an animal rights organization that can maintain a profile as high as PETA and put their resources to good use: finding homes for stray animals, aiding with controlling the pet population in humane ways, improving the conditions and treatment of animals used for food (as well as the industry’s impact on the environment) and encouraging people to choose vegetarianism in a more realistic way.

Just saying.

PS. Best thing I’ve read about the whole trend of hipsters (and their babies!!) wearing shit with Che’s face on it without knowing what they are saying:

“If you believe in the freedom of the press, the right to belong to a political party of your choice, the due process of law, and/or private property, then Che Guevara was a monster, plain and simple. These T-shirts send a message, which effectively boils down to this: I have vague left-wing sympathies but don't read history. I am educated enough to want nonconformity but not intelligent enough to avoid conformity. I believe in supporting the wretched of the earth but happily purchase products from multinational corporations.”

And dressing a child who can't even go to the bathroom on his or her own to align with your vague uninformed political leanings is even more offensive forcing them to wear your favorite band's shirt.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wedded Bliss

I just returned from a trip to Michigan for Hilary's wedding. Hilary has been my best friend for over a decade and she's been with her husband since they were 14. Their wedding was the 1st time I've ever been a bridesmaid, and while it was a lot of work, I honestly couldn't have been happier to be a part of it. I've never been to a more beautiful wedding so perfectly filled with love and happiness from everyone. I may in the next few days post my toast to Hilary and Kelly. But for now I just wanted to share how happy I am for them, and what a beautiful couple they are.


OK...here's my toast. I used to be such a good public speaker, but it was hard for me to hold it together to deliver this:

Hilary and I have been close since we were 16—just a couple of years after Hilary and Kelly met, so I’ve known them though almost all of their relationship and I’ve been lucky enough to watch their relationship grow.

At weddings there’s always a lot of talk of growing old together, and they surely will—we’ve all know for a long time now that they’ll be together forever.

But what I think makes their love story so amazing is that they’ve already grown together—think of how much you change from 14 to 27—not much stands the test of time, but they’ve managed to grown up with each other—their love matured with them.

Movies and music always talk about “The One” and for many of us it’s a lofty idea that sits somewhere in the future or forever remains fiction. Finding “The One” is always told as a perilous journey with obsciticals to overcome all culminating with a happy ending.

Which might make for entertaining romantic comedies, but a far more inspiring story for me is a love story like Hilary and Kelly’s—a story that isn’t about the pursuit of some perfect ending but rather about a life lived together in love.

It’s a truer love—more real, more honest. You can’t hide any part of yourself. They know it all—they’ve been there for most of your life. And still she loves him and he loves her because although they’ve changed throughout the years—Hilary is still Hilary and Kelly is still Kelly, and they are still each other’s partner.

So please join me in wishing them a future as inspiring as their past.

To Hilary and Kelly!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Let it Fall

Went to the Lykke Li concert last night. It was totally awesome, especially from my dinner table perch above the hipster crowd. This is officially the most upbeat and danceable song about crying ever.



meanwhile, speaking of things falling, my magazine has been sold, my boss is leaving, things are stressful to say the least.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ooh, swish!

"compartments for phone, coins and candies for cuties"? You mean, pockets?
A flash light in your hair and a glass wedding dress are totally dumb, but some of these outfits (like the convertible sleeve one) I would wear for sure.

It’s OK, I didn’t mean it

So here’s an interesting discussion on “Ironic Racism.” And it’s a bit of a can of worms, because making a subject taboo to joke about gives it a special kind of power..yet there’s often a bit of truth in feelings behind even the tongue in cheekiest of jokes.

I’m a feminist, but I make “get in the kitchen” “math is hard” jokes. And I don’t believe that I can make them solely because I’m a woman. And while it’s true some of the “black people are like this” jokes that Chris Rock makes are jokes that maybe wouldn’t be AS funny coming from a white dude, what makes them funny is that they are not so much mocking the race in a hateful way as they are making a commentary on the absurdity of racism itself.

There’s a reason The Man Show was mostly not funny—they were supposed to be mocking sexism, but the ironic veil was too thin-it’s doubtful that any their audience was really only pretending to agree.

Satire is a tricky thing to pull off, and you do have to wonder if “pretending” to be the type of person who effects stereotypical accents and uses racial slurs is really a mask for saying what you really feel. Nobody thinks Stephen Colbert is actually an overzealous right wing nut job (except for maybe whoever booked him to speak at the 2006 white house correspondents dinner), partly because he’s so absurd that he has to be kidding and partly because he’s actually funny.


Which is part of the problem with comedians using so-called ironic rasism/sexism/homophoiba. Not only does the use of such biting words like nigger, chink, whore, etc instantly take the joke from funny to uncomfortable, they also take the relatability away. You aren’t laughing with people, you are asserting your superiority over them and laughing at them. And that just makes you an asshole.

The main problem with this brand of “ironic hipster racism” is the problem with doing anything ironically; it’s a cover for something you don’t want to admit you actually like/feel.

Take, for example, one of my personal pet peeves: “white trash” themed parties. The people throwing them are mocking a stereotype “ironically” but the place the joke comes from isn’t one of understanding or self deprecation, it’s an “I’m better than this, these aren’t real people.” But because they are liberal they would feel guilty saying such things so blatantly.


The bottom line is jokes about race can be funny, as can jokes about women, gays, class, and yes even rape. If told in the right way by someone who is actually funny. Take Wanda Sykes jokes about rape, a subject that most would be loath to find anything funny about.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

There's Something Irresistible-ish about 'em!

Got-damn the Muppets are fantastic! I was just reminded today how awesome this song is.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Taming of the Shrewd

So, Obama is trying to hold back the release of photos of U.S. service members abusing Iraqi and Afghan detainees. Which, according to the “media” is either: A) a brave fuck-you to the left or B) another shrewd Obama rope-a-dope. Well I say it’s C) An attempt to not remind anyone of Bush.

Photos of the US torturing people are scary and awful and regardless of if the events took place before he was in office, it won’t exactly give people warm fuzzy feelings, something the administration thrives on (seriously? Did you see the press correspondent’s dinner? That shit was flat out charming!)

Calling this move shrewd and calculated is a clever spin, isn't really accurate. No matter what he does the Right isn’t going to think of him as “a judicious, troop-protecting president,” so if it’s true that with the Freedom of Information Act the ACLU will have the photos released anyways, than this is in fact not a cunning political move after all.

I do believe that the photos will be released, because the argument that they can be withheld because they "could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual," has way too many holes in it.

Bad policy and bad move, especially for a presidency that claims to be all about transparency.

What's in a Name?

As my BFF's wedding approaches next month. I have found myself increasingly engrossed in all things matrimonial. With the dress, shoes, plane ticket, etc. all out of the way. I've been focusing lately on the Bridal Shower and Best Lady toast/speech.

The first is pretty well planned:
Hil's shower won't include any cheesy games and they'll be no blinking-penis-shaped-necklace filled bachelorette party. Just a morning at the spa followed by an afternoon picnic in the park. I ended up making the invites myself with my mad crafting skillz, and good thing I did, because it turns out Bridal Shower invitations are inherently sexist.

Exhibit A:



Every example of custom shower invites I found included some form of “soon to be Mrs. SOME DUDE.” Sure, you can leave that part out when you customize it, but really? Not a single nod to women who aren’t so keen on morphing into their future husband’s shadow? Or to same sex couples?

Far worse of course is this trend:


Ugh.

As for the speech, I’m currently working on putting together something that will be wonderful, moving, profound, and hilarious, that will inspire both a river of tears as well as uproarious laughter from every guest. But if that doesn’t work I’ll just start dancing, no one can resist my sweet moves.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Belated Birthday Cake

Life has been a little crazy the past month, and looks like it may continue to be for the next month or so. So Full of Wit, may be a little less, well...full.

But, to know me is to know how much I love my own birthday (which was awesome this year) and so, I'd be remiss not to point out what should have been my birthday cake:


(via Cake Wrecks)

Maybe next year....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why Dora Stopped Exploring


She decided to go shopping instead. I guess we are supposed to be relieved that she’s not all totally tarted up Bratz style. But seriously? You can’t do any exploring in an outfit like that. Listening to the things my 14-year-old Little Sister faces between friends getting shot and boyfriends going to jail I realize that what a doll like Dora or my childhood favorite Strawberry Shortcake look like is of little to no consequence.

But I’d like to make the argument that it’s all the more reason to just leave them alone. These dolls aren’t for tweens, or even 8-year-olds, these are little girls these are marketed for, as in the 3-6 set. They are hopefully in the ever-shrinking period of innocence; a chubby tomboy with a backpack suits them just fine unless you tell them otherwise.

Girls have the rest of their lives to worry about their weight and talk about boys, give them a few years to make up adventure stories and appreciate the simple joy of a chubby strawberry scented head.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Best of Today




Today is kinda blah.

But the internets did have two cool things for me. These are my favorite bits of today:

1) Judge Judy Prank Calls! Ah, the prank call....a lost art.

2) Lego recreations of iconic photos. (The one above is my new wallpaper)Link

Friday, March 6, 2009

Pretty Pictures

I recently took an online portrait photography class. Click here if care. I have some focusing issues, but I'm still happy with how some of the photos came out. (It doesn't hurt that I'm friends with such pretty ladies)


Dying to see more? I'm now on flickr too.

Why I don’t care about your Anniversary*

My mom’s birthday was Monday, and her wedding anniversary was Tuesday. I remembered one of them, while my brother and grandparents remembered both, leading me to the following conclusion: You only care about/remember occasions that you celebrate. I have a birthday (ahem, April 22nd) and therefore remember other people’s birthdays.

I have no anniversary so therefore see no reason why I should celebrate other people’s. I’m convinced only married people care about other people’s anniversaries. Maybe it’s like some sort of club, or a competition, I’m not sure, but the small sampling of single peeps I surveyed agree.


*It’s not that I don’t care, per se, I am totally happy for you, really. It’s just not really about me, and I can only get so excited about things that aren’t about me.

My Stalker Grunted on my Twitter

Yes, I blog. Yes, I gchat. Yes, I check facebook more times a day than a person should. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t get irrationally annoyed by the pointless technological obsessions in which I don’t engage. Twitter chief among them.



“They are struggling because they have confused new with good.” EXACTLY.

Friday, February 20, 2009

But Does Your Hat Match Your Shoes?

In most people’s lives comes a moment (or several) when they question what the point of their work is. Are they wasting their lives? What does it all mean?



You have to wonder if Isaac Mizahi hasn’t maybe thought it’s all just a little silly. The joke of course is on the women who drop $1000+ to wear a purse on their head, but whatever live your life.

WWPD

What Would Penis Do?Link



This seems a little apropos...plus I just discovered Tales of A Mere Existence and it's my new favorite thing.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

In good company

Part of what made me decide to be a writer was winning a $50 savings bond for an essay on Children's rights when I was 6-years-old. It was also about this time it became clear just how awful I am at spelling.

Over the following 20+ years I’ve struggled almost daily-- try as I might, I still have the spelling ability of a slightly dim-witted child. Ironically, I make a living as a writer and editor, and even for a time as a copy editor. Practice and study has made my grammar and vocabulary skills passable and maybe even a little above average.

But nothing has made more than incremental improvements in my spelling. My childhood friend Jessie taught me mnemonic devices to for words I couldn’t spell (it says something about my brain that I still recite “Silly Cats in Egypt Never Catch Elephants” every time I write the word “science”). After a substitute teacher sent my mom a spelling test in which I’d missed every single word, my mom and I tired everything we could think of to drill the correct sequence of letters for my weekly list of words into my brain (I finally settled on conditioning myself by listening to tape recordings of the spellings over and over before the test). As an adult I’ve managed to mostly cover my affliction at work, but not at all from my friends. Between IM conversations, the spelling bee I subject my roommate to whenever she’s nearby when I’m writing, or my un-natural anxiety when someone suggests a game of scrabble, my lack of spelling ability is a kind of running joke.

But, like some of the other things about myself that I’ve spent years being self-conscious of, I’ve come to accept it as just part of who I am. The best part? I’m not alone. Today I found this fantastic list of six wordsmiths who couldn’t spell. The list is comprised of mostly famous writers...and the inventor of Scrabble. Proving that a love a words and the ability to spell don’t have to go hand in hand.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happily Ever After?

I’m extremely conflicted about weddings and marriage.

Sure the concept of finding someone with whom you want to spend the rest of your life (and who feels the same way) is something I’d ultimately like in my life, which isn’t to say of course that I’m not without my mountain of reservations on the whole “happily ever after” thing (or even the "I’ll actually stick with you even when it sucks" thing).

But feelings on the actual institution of marriage aside, I do love weddings; I love throwing and planning parties (and a reception is really just a big party), I love the idea of declaring love and commitment in front of everyone you know, I like to get dressed up, I like flowers, and food, and dancing, and the idea that you can go around a store scanning all the stuff you want people to buy you. I don’t think liking all these things makes me less of a feminist, and I resent the notion that you are either one or the other.

On the other hand of course, I hate the wedding industrial complex, the way people go in to debt over really trivial shit, the social hierarchy of inviting people you don’t really want to, or the hurt feelings of people not included in ways they think they should, not to mention all of the awful misogynistic traditions (the veiled property exchange and vows of obedience).

And I hate the emerging genre of “all women want to get married and when they finally trap a man they turn into crazy bitches” entertainment. We TV (one of the 3 or 4 “lady” channels) has long had this market cornered with at least one whole night a week committed to wedding shows. And yes, I’ll admit that I’ve watched a few, but shows like Bridezillas are entertaining insofar as watching crazy people (like Tyra Banks) is amusing.

The most offensive of this genre is the new movie Bride Wars.

As Jezebel said, “it's pretty offensive to anyone with a soul or a comedic sensibility. The movie is about two women who are OMG BFFS forevs, until it turns out that they have to compromise about who gets to have her dream wedding at the Plaza. Instead of compromising (because deep down, women are just catty bitches who will take any excuse to sabotage their so-called friends, particularly when it comes to a pretty princess wedding.) they duke it out for the single, perfect wedding that apparently only one of them is able to have. It's like a perfect storm of Cosmo approved clich├ęs.”


My question is, how does a movie that so very obviously calls women insane self-centered harpies, get marketed as a “chick flick” why would we want to entertain ourselves with such a representations of ourselves?




Also, it’s really disappointing to see Anne Hathaway in this movie after how amazing she was in Rachel Getting Married.

I think it might catch on

28-years ago some newspapers were discovering a new way to reach readers…the Internet. There were a lot of kinks to work out, they weren’t making money from it, in fact they were losing it…but something told these editors that this new medium might someday be how people got the news.




Some things never change.

Stimulating the Economy

You may or may not have noticed that the economy and the environment are both kinda in the shiter at the moment. But that doesn’t mean that you have to stop shopping, afterall it's the 'merican way!
LinkThis holiday season I decided that I wanted to get some more unique gifts, as well as not contribute to the whole corporate machine thing quite as much, so I bought a lot of handmade gifts. An alternative would be making your own gifts, but most things I make end up looking like a small child’s art project, and the charm of that wears off quickly when the receiver realizes that is in fact the “real gift.” Most of the things I got came from Esty (www.etsy.com):

It all started last December when I needed a new wallet, and ended up buying this handmade one
Link


Then in the height of my George Orwell obsession, I bought these 1984 themed bottle cap magnets


I think I found some good gifts there in that last few months:

For my good friend Joan’s birthday



Joan, btw, is a super-talented art and crafter herself, for x-mas, she gave me this beyond awesome bag and shirt that she made. And whipped up this totally rad scarf for a certain fellow I know.*



Speaking of the fellow, I got him this cool light box and shirt




While the famous food blogger that I live with got, (what else?) this “housewife” apron




My mom usually gives me only the parameters of “something with dragonflies or hummingbirds on it.” I’ve exhausted the supply of dragonfly things in Chinatown, and the embroidered pillow I started a year and a half ago will likely remain under by bed forever, so I found this for her





And most recently, I found the perfect gift for a certain BFF/fellow Michigander/bride-to-be.




*Actually Joan’s made beyond amazing gifts for several people I know, but alas I don’t have pictures of them all. Her whole family is creative and talented in fact-- check out the awesome things her sister makes I know three ladies in NYC who are sporting these bags: