Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Great Interview Experiment

I don't know if you've yet seen this (I linked to it a long time ago), but Neil over at Citizen of the Month came up with this fabulous interview idea. It's still going on, so please check it out.

My interviewer, Sassy, has asked me several thoughtful questions that I am more than happy to answer. The reason I have not done so up to now is mostly because I fear my answers will render this post:

A) Super long, and

B) Even more self-indulgent than usual

Not that this has ever actually stopped me from posting long, indulgent stuff in the past. It's just that I have a hard time thinking this personal info would actually be interesting to anyone aside from me.

But here goes!

(You can either just skip around and read the questions you're interested in and leave the rest for the annals cyberspace, or pour yourself a big ole' cup of coffee...)

* * * * * *

You talk a bit on your blog about your Imaginary Internet Friends (IIF). How do you feel that they are actually that different from your Real Life Friends (RLF)? What do you feel when an IIF crosses over into being a RLF? Have you ever regretted 'taking the leap' from IIF to RLF?

This is really hard to gauge. Probably if you are a "regular" reader here, we could totally be friends in real life.

That said, I should point out that I don't think I've ever made a "real life" (flesh and blood) friend from my blog. I don't know why that is. Lack of interest? Or maybe I'm just way less interesting in person. Or smelly.

Can you tell us how you make those cute little pencil drawings with text boxes that we find peppered all around She Walks?

I use Word.

Seriously. I use the drawing tools in MS Word. I have no Photoshopping skills to speak of, and have kind of given up on ever getting them. Whereas I have spent more days and hours formatting Word docs than any human ever should.

I use the free-form drawing tools in Word, then I just do screen-grabs of the images. That's it!

Why did you get into internet dating? What did it bring you?
I went on my first internet date back in freshman year of college. (That would be the fall of 1993 for those of you keeping score.)

When I got to college, I discovered the internet, and email, and IM and chat rooms. I was thrilled and thought it was the coolest thing in the known universe. Immediately I started using it to meet boys.

The reason I liked using the internet to meet guys in 1993 is the same reason I like it now (hold on, let me use italics, I'm about to get all wise): in real life, you meet someone's exterior first; online, you meet the interior.

Not only is the latter more important in forming real connections with people, the online medium makes it SO much more efficient to weed out those who aren't worth your time.

When I'm in good physical shape, meeting guys isn't that hard. Meeting guys who are smart, interesting, well read, and who have something to talk about? That's hard. The internet provides all kinds of pre-screening.

But let me be honest. When I'm chubby, meeting guys offline is hard if not damn near impossible. Being over 30 and chubby makes it even worse. In singles scenes, I come across as desperate simply for existing.

Online, it's totally different. The guys see my personality first. They don't see my dress size, they see my mad written medium skills, yo.

And so while real-life chemistry matters a lot, and while some guys will simply never date an overweight woman, I have found that men are more willing to consider my whole package when they meet me online.

What did it bring me, you ask? Confidence that I've got a damn sexy "interior," regardless of my exterior (which is far more subjectively considered "damn sexy" by those with excellent taste).

It also brought me El_Gallo. And, if a little indirectly, The Boy/T.

And Ish.

What is the craziest internet date you ever had?
Oh my good lord.

Given that I've been doing it off and on for 15 years, I've had some doozies.

Sometimes they've been good crazy, like when the chemistry is right and the sex is unexpected and hot.

Sometimes they've been bad crazy, like when the chemistry isn't right but I think maybe that will change and it doesn't and there's a lot of resultant forehead slapping and "let us not speak of this ever." [See bad kissing story, except like, worse by a million.]

And then there are just the bad dates. There was the one where we had so little chemistry that I think we were both repulsed and then I blogged about it and then he READ the blog. And the one where the guy told me -- to my face that -- WOW, he didn't expect me to be THAT overweight. There was the guy who decided to wait until we were in something of a compromising position to tell me, by the way, that his roommate was his mother. There was the guy who lied about being married. The guy who humiliated and insulted me in a public online forum the morning after our date. The guy with food OCD. The guy who showed up in sweatpants to take me to dinner. The guy who started off okay and then became crazy allergic to my cats, after which point we got into a contentious storytelling game of one-upmanship that left us both bitter.

And of course, the guy who liked to try to convince people that he is from the future.

But the happy-best-crazy internet date award would have to go to the one I went on with Ish. Because it started August 6, 2005, and hasn't ended yet.

Please share what it is about knitting that draws you.
I hardly ever knit anymore because I have learned (the hard way) that on any given day, I can only balance my job and one creative outlet. I can't seem to keep up with blogging and knitting and singing and comedy and one-off personal projects. Especially because I want to write a book and have started about five of them but haven't made any headway. So any time I knit, I feel guilty that I'm not doing something else more career-related or bloggy or both.

I am still infinitely glad that I learned how to knit at all. I love having it as a skill, like knowing how to drive a stick-shift. (Because you never know when an emergency may happen where you'll have to drive standard. Or, um, knit a scarf.)

So it's fun, and creative, and in the end you get the satisfaction of having made something. I love all of that.

Do you ever knit while drinking? If so, what was the result?
Ha! Yes. And the result is that counting -- which is hard enough when sober -- is even harder with wine.

Lemme find it in the archives...

Here's a post that includes me being all James Bond like with the knitting and the wine.

And here's its result:

You're so candid over the internet! (Ex. posting tooshie pics...) Did that ever come back to haunt you in real life?
The naked butt picture has not come back to haunt me as yet, no. Still, there have been times when this blog has made me blush for one reason or another.

On a serious note, when Ish and I first started dating and he was separated-but-not-divorced, his relationship with his family was strained. To be respectful of his privacy, I basically didn't post about him or us. The one time I put up a relationship-y post about us, we'd been dating for four months. His family found the post and everything kind of blew up. It was an awful mess.

The most embarrassing moment ever, though, was when I mentioned my blog during a job interview. Because I am an idiot.

After reading your divorce story, you seem to have come a long way from the girl at the top of the stairs drowning in her grief. How has the She Walks contributed to that?
Wow, in so many ways.

I joke that blogging is like therapy, but it's absolutely true. It helps me get my thoughts out, and challenges me to do so in an organized way. This really helps put things (whereby I mean "my life") into perspective.

More importantly, the feedback is/has been life-altering. It's life-affirming to hear "I felt that way, too!" I honestly had no idea I would be "relatable." But it's also nice to be kept in check. (Even when they're trollish, I think the negative comments help keep things real in a "get over yourself" kind of way.)

Lastly, I have dreamed of being an author for pretty much my whole life. To blog, and to have an audience, is incredibly inspiring. It helps me believe that I could really be a "writer" someday (and that in some ways, I already am).

If you could take revenge on your Ex in some way, without him knowing who did it, would you? What would you do, if so?
Absolutely not.

Well, let me rephrase.

He has to live with what he did, just as I have to live with what I did. We were both at fault, he was simply more of a jackass. The only thing I want from him -- or did, anyway -- is for him to feel remorse. If he doesn't, or never did, he's then bound to repeat his mistakes. To which I say, "Eh, he's someone else's problem now."

Besides, I really have moved on. Blogging the experience was unexpectedly cathartic. And if living well is the best revenge, then Dave? If you're reading this? Neener, neener.

How did you meet Ish?
I met Ish when he replied to a Craigslist ad of mine. On paper (erm, or email, you know) he seemed great, and I was convinced we'd hit it off even if the chemistry wasn't there. Like, even if we didn't have a romantic spark, I thought we could find a way to be friends.

He wrote me at about 4 p.m. on a Friday, and we met at 8:30 p.m. the next night. Just like that.

Funny enough, our first date didn't start out very well at all. The first date story is here.

Can you describe to us the precise nature of your relationship with him?
Oh, sure. How much time do you have left?

echo, echo

This question deserves its own entry and I've been thinking about it for a long time now. The problem is (and has always been): what do you write about your relationship when your partner reads your blog?

But here we are. It's been over two-and-a-half years now and our relationship is awesome. We're serious about each other. We've moved in together. We discuss the possibilities of a future together. But there's no timetable and no exact commitment.

He's not ready. And I? If I say I don't think I'm ready, either, I am lying. And if I say I think I am, then I am the girl that no one wants to be. You know, the one whose options are to "wait" or "leave."

So yeah. More on this later.

You write that you started the blog as somewhat of a weight loss diary. What do you see the main purpose of it as today?
I started this blog as a weight-loss diary when I thought that blogs had to have a theme. And while I've learned that "themed" blogs are easier to find, tag, index, and reference, I still don't wanna. Because I am a "life" blogger, and want to write about my life as it's happening. I don't want to lose readers or credibility because I only write about weight-loss once in a blue moon.

Maybe we can start a theme for those of us who are life bloggers, whose category would be None Of The Above.

Oh me? I'm a NOTA blogger.

How do you deal with the fact that some three years later the issue of losing weight hasn't been resolved?
I guess I feel the same way about the fact that it's actually been like, ten years (give or take several years in my adolescence and teen years) and my weight loss hasn't been resolved: crappy.

I am constantly failing at my attempts, and constantly trying to figure out why. I do believe it's a matter of motivation -- I'm pretty good at doing things I want to do. Except I can't figure out how to make it matter enough, realistically.

It's a bit over-simplistic, but to find the right motivation kind of requires un-learning a lifetime of beliefs. I honestly thought that I would achieve less, was in fact worth less, if I was overweight. And, when I was pushed far enough down this road and hit rock bottom, I was able -- finally -- to lose weight. Fear of never being successful, of never being with an attractive man, of never being treated like a respect-worthy citizen by "society" eventually spooked me. My switch was flipped on, and I went from being fitness-averse to being obsessed about weightloss.

In case you missed it the first time around, I chronicled (rather succinctly, I should add) my fat-thin-fat-present escapades here:

Escape From Stepford: A Weighty History (part 1 of 3)
Escape From Stepford: A Weighty History (part 2 of 3)
Escape From Stepford: A Weighty History (part 3 of 3)

I'm in a funny place now, though. I don't feel like my life has been hindered by not being thin. Somewhere along the way -- perhaps because of my ex-husband, perhaps because of my moving to San Francisco, perhaps because I've simply grown up -- my sense of self-worth has stopped equating to my body size.

Which is a wonderful thing, right?

Yes and no.

Yes, because la la la rainbows and unicorns and hurrah for loving ourselves and just walking around with it.

No, because I do not like being this weight, I don't want to stay this weight, and man -- being "spooked" is SUCH a good motivator. I just can't seem to grab that one thing, to tap into that one motivational kicker that will jump-start me and keep me on track.

But I think I will yet.

Do you feel that the blog has changed the course of your real life? If so, how?
Sure, in lots of ways.

Feeling like I really could be a writer, for one.

Validation that I'm funny is also really important.

But probably the biggest impact my blog has had on my day-to-day life is in my career.

I attended BlogHer '06 with Whinger and (indirectly) Jenny, just because we all had blogs and were like, I guess we should go to this thing, huh? I had NO idea before I attended how big blogging was, how many women were doing it, or that there were any "rockstars" other than Dooce. I had never heard the term "mommyblogger." My head practically exploded.

While I was there, I was also overcome with the desire to be a part of it. Not just the blogosphere, but of BlogHer. It was clear that they were on to something potentially huge, yes, but also my event planner beacon was screeching at me: HELP THEM! DO SOMETHING! GET IN THERE!

I contacted Elisa after the event, basically saying I want to be part of you! If you're looking to hire someone with my background, pick me! We met for lunch a few weeks later, and a few weeks after that, I joined the organization.

If you could spend one day with your mother today, how would you spend it?
I could get super verbose here, but I won't.

I would not want a single day with her. The very notion makes me feel like I've been punched in the gut, and just typing this requires me to hold back tears.

I miss her every day. I have regrets -- things I said to her, things I didn't say to her, things we should have done, things we didn't do -- that run so deep I am not sure I will ever outlive them. I carry around grief the way anyone who has experienced this kind of loss does. It never goes away, it just comes and goes, like an unpredictable emotional tide.

But I have learned to live with it. I have healed, somewhat. I have gotten used to the fact that this is my reality (as much as I can).

I could not bear to have the wound re-opened. To have her here and then gone again, to start the grieving process all over again...? No, it would simply be too painful.

What would you say to her?
Well, and this is the other problem. I would probably spend the whole time apologizing. For not being a better daughter or person, for not understanding more, for not being more patient with her, for ever being angry with her -- for still being angry with her -- for not listening more, for not asking more questions, for not giving her the benefit of the doubt all the time, for not helping her, for growing up, for going away.

I would like her to know that I get it now. And I am sorry.

What do you miss most about her?
The first answer that comes to mind is, not surprisingly, her laugh. She was funny and she had a smile that'd knock your socks off. I don't think I've ever seen a picture of her where she's smiling the way she did in "real life."

Her smile was an experience.

But if I'm going to be raw, the answer is having a mommy.

I miss having her around to be my mom, for all the reasons that are unique to any mother-daughter.

I have so many wonderful maternal influences (I even call Hakuna "M2" for "Mom 2" or "Second Mom"), and I am lucky for them. It's not something I really talk about, but I relish getting to spend the night in homes where there's a mom who's about my mom's age, like when visiting Hakuna or Jane. I love visiting Ish's parents' house. I sleep better, warmer, safer.

I miss being someone's daughter. I miss being my mom and dad's daughter especially.

What do you think she would say about the woman you have become?
I can't handle the emotional side of this question, so I will answer it more pragmatically.

My mom was a complete free-spirit before having kids, and I never got a chance to meet that side of her (except when it leaked out). I think she'd see my life in San Francisco, and be pleased that I have found a balance between the "must-get-married-get-high-powered-job" alien version of me that I tried on when I was 20ish, and the re-interpretation I'm currently living.

She'd be happy with my being happy, of course.

She would wish that I was thinner, even if she'd never say so. She'd want my a cappella group to have a CD.

She would love my blog, she would LOVE the name of it, and she would read every day. She would write me emails telling me what I forgot and what I should write about (I would listen to her some of the time). And eventually -- it would take some coaxing -- she would start her own. And then she'd be obsessed with it.

She'd be thrilled about my relationship with my sisters.

She probably wouldn't say it in so many words, but she'd love how much my sisters and I are like our father, too.

I have no doubt that she would adore my selection of Ish and his of me. (She would be perhaps a little vocal on the subject of grandchildren.)

I try every day to be the kind of person who she'd be proud of. Even when I don't do so consciously, I make all of my decisions with my parents in mind. They wanted nothing more than for us to be loving, and loved, and happy, and to have as much fun as possible.

What more could I possibly aspire to?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

That One Job I Had Selling Miniature Donkeys

Not only do I have a rich and colorful Dating History (ahem), I also have a rather rich and colorful past when it comes to Previous Employment.

Thinking back to the various places I've worked is very nearly as embarrassing as thinking back to the various dates I've been on, like with that guy who was very into The Lion King soundtrack or that whole, "My roommate is my mother" thing. What can you do but shake you head and think, "Wow. So that's ANOTHER story I won't be telling my grandkids."

Job-wise, I've been so all over the place it's kind of hard to know where to begin.

I worked one day at a bagel shop.

I mean, literally. One day. Not only that, but in one of my least-proud-moments-ever, my boyfriend actually did my quitting for me. Sheesh.

I also worked one day at a big huge corporation where my job was to be "marketing trafficker." I had illusions that it would be a great first-job-out-of-college, the kind that would teach me a lot about how "marketing" works. And um, is "trafficked." In actuality, my job was to make a LOT of copies and distribute them to lots of people in different departments, and then later? I got to go pick UP the copies I'd distributed. And somewhere about 45 minutes into my orientation I realized that the copy/distribute/pick-up routine was the whole entire job.

That first day I spent at least two hours making copies on the machine my colleague told me was "the one we always use." While I was standing there in front of the copy machine, absorbing fumes and cancer rays and wondering why I'd bothered going to college, a brusque woman came rushing up to me and started yelling at me for using her department's machine. Because marketing is not supposed to use legal's machines and boy, did I have a lot of nerve. I wished I had told her off right back. Instead, I held back tears and simply didn't go back for Day Two.

I spent a semester of college temping at a company that owned, among other things, The Danbury Mint. (Remember them? The folks that sold things like the Civil War collection statues and gold-leafed books?) I worked in the customer service department doing odd jobs and being bored and learning first-hand how suck-tastic being a temp is. Seriously, wow.

As I was writing that paragraph, I remembered that I was actually sent home from that temp job one day for wearing inappropriate clothes. I had decided to wear jean shorts (folded at the bottom, hot) with black tights. Seventeen magazine would have approved. The Danbury Mint did not.

When I was very young, I used to collect apples that fell from our apple tree and try to sell them door-to-door on our street for $0.10 a piece. I don't think I ever earned even a dollar, but I enjoyed meeting the neighbors.

I also spent a few months after I graduated college working for the Carol Wright Catalog company. And oh, it was every bit as glamorous as you might think. I swear, if when I write a book someday, I will definitely draw from that experience. Every moment I spent there I wanted to turn to my colleagues and say, "You know what we DO here, right? You DO realize we are discussing the finer points of a vrooooming NASCAR clock, right? And house coats? And magnetic bracelets? WHY IS NO ONE ELSE LAUGHING?"

I spent four weeks at a job with a marketing agency putting together a book on (horse) racetracks. It was cool but weird and ultimately not the right fit for me either. The experience stands out in particular because the microwave was so disgusting there that one morning, when I was using it to re-heat my beloved Dunkin' Donuts coffee, the inside of the microwave caught on fire and started spitting flames. That is one nasty microwave.

I spent nearly a year working part-time for an Italian bakery. The authentic kind that had been in the family for generations -- from its roots Italy to its American beginnings in Brooklyn, to its expansion to Norwalk, CT. The kind with a lot of cash changing hands under the table, and occasional visits from men with slick hair in nicer-than-average suits with wandering hands. I mostly enjoyed my time there, especially when Dino from the Italian deli two doors down would come in and flirt with me. Sure, I was repeatedly sexually accosted by the oldest Italian baker there, anytime he happened to notice I had stepped alone into the freezer to fetch a cake or more cannoli cream. But Roberto was a caricature of himself -- he had white curly hair jutting out from the sides of his head in two tufts like Krusty the Clown. And really, what are you going to do? My stint finally ended, however, when I had to man the tent at the Italian Fest downtown on the hottest day of the summer. You have not know humiliating labor until you have spent six hours in wet heat serving sticky, melting gelato to people you hated in high school.

I spent a summer as a copyeditor, working on manuscripts of books that the authors were self-publishing (because they were too horrendous to even be considered by real publishing houses). One such book involved vines taking over the world, and only the hero and his lady friend could save it, as they drove across the country in their Winnebago (written by a retiree who was driving across the country with his wife in their Winnebago). That would have been the worst book ever on record, were it not for the book I edited after that. The one that chronicled the fictional trials and tribulations of a Mexican farm girl. In the first chapter, her father's best friend rapes her and then shoots her dog. (The story gets progressively worse for its remaining 378 pages.)

But. From my first stint babysitting through all the many odd-jobs -- barista, retailer, temp, intern, party planner, piano teacher, clarinet teacher (yeah), math tutor -- to my maaaaaany false starts at corporate experiences out of college, I still never quite foresaw the miniature donkeys coming.

I don't think you ever expect miniature donkeys.

* * * * *

Lots of companies trade media, as in ad space for ad space. The finer details are unnecessary here, but let's just say that this is something that's gone on for ages and I interviewed at a company that helped broker these trade deals.

My interviewer, the Marketing Director, was clearly whip-smart and from New York. I loved her immediately. She explained a bit about the company.

And then she explained about the company' use a phrase from my consulting days (a job not featured above) the company's red-headed step-child.

It, too, was a company that brokered trade deals. Except not normal, media trade. Funky, old-school, mom-and-pop barter deals. Any company could join. Any company could trade their goods or services for other goods and services.

As my whip-smart, New York interviewer continued to explain about this sub-company, I noticed that her eyes sorta lost their lustre.

Did she say "barter?" Like with the Sumerians? Didn't I learn about this in sixth grade? What on earth...?

She was almost apologetic. She explained that they needed someone with actual marketing skills to help manage the day-to-day marketing operations of this barter company. For which they were paying almost nothing.

And I, liking her and having no other prospects on the table and thinking, trust me lady, I have been in weirder places than this (though maybe I should check out your microwave first...?), accepted the job offer.

It did not disappoint.

While almost everyone around me at work was busy doing like, normal things, I was overseeing the monthly newsletter of items being bartered in our network.

Now, keep in mind that many of the people in that network had joined about 45 years prior, and weren't so much into all those new-fangled business concepts. Like "conference calls." And "email."

Can't you just send me a fax?

Yeah. There, in 2005, I was overseeing the -- printed -- newsletter that included such hot-to-barter items as:


* Portraits of your pets. You send your photo to them, they paint the portrait. "On canvas or velvet."

* BAG OF SOCKS! Every month this item was featured. I do not know if it was a wholesaler or an eBayer or what on earth.

* Miniature donkeys. Somewhere in the world, miniature donkeys are being bred. According to their ad, they also make great housepets. They are cute and learn their names and come when called. And you can get them BY BARTER.

* * * * * *

My stint in that role lasted several months, and I was with the larger organization for a good year and a half. It was the single most quirky, wonderful, and weird place I have ever worked. The cast of characters I met will never be equaled.

And that is saying something.

[I started She Walks while there, in fact. Stacy was my interviewer and boss, and it's also where I met PinkJaime (and Liz and ShoeHo, among others) AND where I first started knitting.]

The point is, I guess, assuming I have one, you never know where your career path may lead. I did not expect to go from college graduate to "marketing trafficker" to Facilitator of Miniature Donkey Trading.

But I did. And if I did it, so can you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Boob Love

I originally wrote this post for BlogHer's "Good Health-a-thon."

First of all, if you don't love BlogHer for having me -- ME -- write about good health, then you are outta your head. I mean, haven't we all had enough of "good health" equaling some gorgeous, flat-chested, way-too-high-spirited super-blond woman cheering about stairmasters and "balanced diets"? Seriously. There is more to good health than aerobics and celery.

La la la.

So my post is about bras. And you better believe there are illustrations. Read it here! (Or below.)

* * * * *

This is the third monthly update in a series, following the launch of BlogHer's 2008 Good Health-a-thon. Sign up (and get your blog badge) here.

BlogHer's Good Health-a-thon is not just about being healthy (duh), it's also about feeling good. Feeling good on the inside and feeling good on the outside. I've made all kinds of points about setting goals and doing things in the short- and long-term to help our bodies get healthier. But I think it's high time I launch into something a little more tangible and outwardly faced. As it were.

Yes, I am speaking of boobs. (With illustrations, too!)

Love 'em or hate 'em, you've probably got 'em. And that means you've got to do something with 'em. I suppose that "something" could be just letting them hang free, true. But while I like to think that I am supportive of my sistas who reject -- or burn -- the notion of bras, I long ago gave up on the idea that I could/would go anywhere in public without wearing one. So with all deference to those who choose a freer path, this post is about Finding Bras That Fit.

Finding a bra that fits is even better than finding the perfect pair of jeans. A good bra is like a good friend: it'll support you, lift you up when you're feeling down (ahem), know your darkest secrets but love you anyway, and make you look great in front of even your worst critics. The right bra can improve your posture, make your torso look longer, and help all your clothes fit better.

Plainly put, the right bra can change your life.

Except, from what I keep reading, most women have NO idea what size bra they should be wearing. It's practically epidemic. Women refuse to get fitted -- they don't like the idea, it's uncomfortable, they're too modest, they have been wearing the same bra size since high school -- and so now we're facing a national crisis where approximately 149% of US women are wearing the wrong size bra.

Hey, I was the worst offender. As a woman who is basically carrying around a pair of bowling balls, I have tried every kind of bra out there, and have been the picture-perfect "DON'T" many times over. In fact, I still offend every now and then when I let my guard down, and think "Oh, I can still fit into THAT bra" and then the pictures from the wedding come back and I notice that I looked less "lifted and separated" than I did "saggy and separated so far it kind of looks like my boobs are sprouting from my armpits."

So if you fall into any of the categories illustrated below, get thee to a fitting room! Every department store that has a lingerie section will also have a salesperson there willing (nay, champing at the bit) to help you figure out what size bra you should be trying. Maybe this seems uncomfortable or unnecessary, but I assure you, the results are worth it.

You Need To Be Fitted Immediately If Not Sooner If Any of the Following Apply To You

(And uh, about the drawings: I am not an artist. I draw for effect but not precision, as you will note in about .03 seconds. I also do not have a steady hand, and sometimes leave things out of drawings entirely unintentionally and don't even notice it until later. Try and roll with it.)

Example #1: Your Bra Creates Cleavage Where There Should Not Be Any

Sometimes, bra straps dig into your shoulder far enough that you get little lumps on either side of the strap.

Shoulder Cleavage

(I do not know why she has no eyebrows or chin or left side of body. Oops! Artistic license!)

What is interesting about this phenomenon is that, in addition to it looking a little...shall we say...less-than-chic, it's also painful for the wearer. Your bra strap should not be a device of torture (well, any more than it has to be). Taking it off should not cause your shoulder muscles to pop back into place. If your straps are doing this to you, they are not the right size.

The next grade of offense is when your bra is too tight around your back, and you create anywhere from one to three extra fat rolls. This happens when the bra number size is a little too small. I still personally do this all the time because my subconscious really believes that if the bra is cutting into my skin all the way around, cutting off circulation, burdening my breathing, and creating all kinds of ripples under my shirt, then surely it must be working!
normal back

Normal shirt fits normally.

Back Fat

It is not.

FAR WORSE than either of these, though, is the bra that is too small for you cup-wise. I have done this. You have done this. But the look? It is really not good. I'm talking about when the bra starts creeping down, and the top of the boob starts spilling over, and then you end up with a pair of boobs above the pair you already have. uplifted boob



Problematic! (Also, let us not discuss the number of issues with THIS scary drawing!)

Four breasts on one woman is simply two too many.

Example #2: The Uni-Boob (aka, The Sports Bra)

I do not know why sports bras are made the way they are, but I will resign myself to the idea that some physics was involved and there's a reason the "athletic" industry created this contraption. For those ladies who are a bit smaller up top, the sports bras seem to do everything they can to mash your goods into non-existence. Which is cruel.

For those of us with a little more top-cushion, the sports bras serve one purpose and one purpose only: to smoosh two perfectly normal breasts into becoming one, uncomfortable loaf. Sexy!

workout tshirt normal


I don't pretend to understand this phenomenon, but it's no matter. The point is, your everyday bra should not do what a sports bra does. And frankly, I do not know that the sports bra as such is even necessary. It is my belief that a good, supportive bra should serve your workout purposes as well. If you're super worried about out-of-control bounciness, try wearing a normal bra under the sports bra -- that should help your breasts resist spandex unification.

Example #3: The Bra That Is Super Comfortable (Because It Is Not Working)

The right bra should definitely be comfortable -- not digging in to your shoulders or back or unifying your goods. But it should not be so comfortable that it isn't actually doing...well...anything.

Here's a very scientific test:

  1. Take off your shirt.
  2. Look down.
  3. Note where your boobs are.
  4. Take your bra off.
  5. Note where your boobs are.

If there is no difference between step 3 and step 5, your bra is not the right size.

Thus concludes my overview of when you should consider revisiting your bra "settings." When I'm properly fitted and properly supported, I know I feel like I've had a total body makeover. So until next month's Good Health update, here's wishing the same to you and uh, yours!

Friday, April 18, 2008

And The Winner Is...!

Hi All.

My GOODNESS. (My goodness had nothing to do with it.) Who knew free booze was so enticing? I mean, other than to me?

Thanks to all who entered. I had lots of fun with this! We'll have to do it again soon.

As for picking the winners, I had this bright idea that I would cut and paste all the comments into Word, and then print them out and then cut them into strips and put them in a jar and pick them that way. Fun, huh?

But that was when I assumed that, at most, 50 of you would enter. Instead (yowza!) I realized that my scheme would result in approximately 75 pages of wasted paper and who-knows-how-many hours of cutting and frankly, that is a lot of unnecessary work. Even for gin.

Instead, I cut and pasted all of the comments into a text file. Then I deleted all the content of the comments except for the timestamps.

Like so:

Then, I cut and pasted the list of timestamps (with empty lines, which didn't really affect the outcome) into, which totally randomized the list (thanks for the suggestion, Jenny!).

I have determined that whoever has their comment's timestamp come up first will win First Prize, and the second comment's timestamp will win Runner-Up.

And the winners are...

Congratulations, commenter 9:35 a.m. April 16 and 6:43 a.m. April 16th! Please email me and we'll figure out how to get your winnings to you!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Win Gin! It's Reader Appreciation Day!


In case you hadn't noticed, I have been spending a LOT of time on Twitter, which I finally understand (sorta). I could not explain it to you if I tried, and I definitely could not explain why I spend SO much time there, but at least I get it now (kinda), and this makes me feel less stunted in the SocialMediaWeb2.0 world in which I theoretically work.

The point is, I heard through CityMama (see post below where she has opened my eyes to the magnificence of the cupcake caddy thingamajig) that HER friend, the OTHER mother, has declared April 16th to be Reader Appreciation Day.

And dearest, dearest Invisible Internet Friends, where on earth would I be without you?

(I shudder to think. Like, it's entirely possible that without blogs I would have been reduced to writing single-cat-lady poetry and I am not even kidding. Really, I'm not. Good grief. Thank you.)

So to really thank you for somehow finding time to stop by She Walks, I have decided to host a little contest! Woo!

I mean, I never do this kind of thing because it seems so weirdly pretentious, but I totally want give you something for real. For Real. So I'm trying to think of this as! And boozy! And exciting! (But mostly boozy!)

Here's how it'll work--
  • Step One: Cut a hole in the box Leave a comment. You don't have to be registered or anything, but please at least create some name that I can ID you with in the content of your comment along with your city and state. (This is just to try and preempt anonymous folks from posting too many times -- your city and state have to match the city and state I'd be shipping to if you won.)
  • Step Two: Specify which of the boozy goodness options you'd prefer.
  • Step Three: I will stop collecting names/comments on Friday, April 18 [corrected, and happy birthday Sizzle!] at 1:59 p.m. Pacific time. Any comment left after that time won't qualify. (Oooh, I'm getting technical!)
  • Step Four: I will put all the names on little pieces of paper and put them in a jar. I will then VIDEO the RANDOM name drawings. (I may or may not be the person pulling these names. Who's to say? But again, ::randomly:: because I could never choose.)
  • Step Five: I will post the winners' names and the video sometime next week. I'd love to pick a specific day, but hi. La la la laaaaaa....

And that is all there is to it. I ask that you please not submit your name more than once. I will only enter each name once. (See rules for anonymous commenters above.)

More importantly -- What do you win!?!? Well, that is a good question. And one I had to think about. A la, "What would make ME enter the contest?"

I came up with the following:

First Prize
  • $50 gift certificate to!
  • Either: A bottle of my favorite gin, bourbon, tequila, wine or champagne! Choice is yours! And if for some reason you do not like booze (??????), I will think of some other fabulous, gourmet drink substitute!
  • A guest blog post on here (but this is not required if you'd rather not -- by all means)!

  • Choice of bottle, same as above!
  • A guest blog post on here (still totally not required -- I'll send you booze regardless)!

Not exactly prize-rich, but hopefully enticing enough. Or at least, worth winning. Yeah? Sorta? Maybe?

In any case, my "favorites" are outlined below. Potential winners, take heed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

For starters, I love gin. There are a lot of gin haters in the world, and that's okay. I don't judge you for being wrong.

Personally, I think martinis should ONLY be served with gin. (Note: I hate olives. I only order martinis with a twist. This lowers my credibility substantially.)

I get that gin has a very distinct taste and I get that it might not appeal to everyone. If you've only ever tried Bombay Sapphire, for example, you're not tasting all of the wonderful possibilities the gin world has to offer. Probably the best gin on the market is Plymouth. Try it before you write off gin forever.

Regardless, Hendricks Gin is my most favoritest of all. It is so fresh, and has a hint of cucumber, and if you drink it with a slice of cucumber or with a twist, it's positively deeeeelightful. (I also prefer adding soda instead of tonic to my carbonated gin drinks. I find it less sweet and more sparkling.)

Mmmmmmm! Tastes like a winner!

My second favorite (hard liquor) would have to be bourbon, though this is a very close second, and a clear winner in the colder months.

My parents' drink of choice was bourbon, so what can you do?

I have had a lot of fantastic bourbons in recent years, but for whatever reason I keep coming back to the Maker's Mark staple. I rather enjoy it, and I love it in a Manhattan.

Warm, smoky, lovely.

As for the tequilas, well. If your only experience with tequila is Jose Cuervo, or any tequila at all that isn't 100% agave, I'm sorry. Most people I know shudder when they hear the word "tequila" because they recall that one time in college (Cuervo) and that's all they'll ever think of. Sadly, if you have this instant-body-recall, even the good stuff won't NOT remind you of that fitful, fateful night and resultant morning.

That said, good tequila is a whole different story. When it's not fortified with sugar (which is what makes you sick, and what happens when it's not 100% agave), it's pretty darn good.

So, if you select the bottle of tequila, I'll pick Patron. You're welcome.

If you'd like wine...well. That is a LOT more challenging -- my favorite changes all the time. If it's wine you seek, not-yet-winner, we'll have to discuss your preferences.

Finally, champagne.

I. Love. Champagne. I drink champagne all the time, not just for special occasions. Or rather, because I think any day that didn't involve tragedy is a day worth celebrating.

Right now, my favorite FAVORITE champagne is a little bit sweet, a little complex, and frankly comes in gorgeous packaging that charms me. It's Sofia Coppola blanc de blanc.

You can get it in the bottle ~

the outer wrapping (yes, it comes like this)

the label, which i love (you can see the same design elements in my blog template, even)

AND, you can also get it in minis! MINIS!!!

That can? Not higher than a juice box. And yes, that's a STRAW it comes with. How can you not love this?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Those are my offerings to you, fine IIFs and real-life friends alike. I hope you like them. Good luck to all who wish to enter!

And thank you, so, so much for reading.


Cool Stuff For Potlucks

One of my favorite things to do is to buy gifts. I love buying stuff for people, and I take doing so very seriously.

The problem with this, of course, is that I work myself into gift-buying frenzies, entering a scary, IT MUST BE PERFECT state of mind, and then get so stressed about it that I use all my gift-buying money on martinis.

(In fact, if you're reading this now, I probably owe you a gift and I'm sorry. I am selfish. The martinis were delightful.)

Drunk shopping aside, I love finding things that will make excellent gifts for people. The kinds of things that you're the first to learn about. Cool stuff that make the receiver go, "I didn't even know this existed! Where ever did you find it?"

And lo, such a thing appeared moments ago on Twitter, via the rockin' CityMama. It's called The Baker's Sto & Go and look how cool!

(wait, hold on, stealing images...)

(...okay, back)


and um

Don't those look pretty?

And see how neatly the whole thing closes up:

See? It's the size of a phone book.

Anyway, I just thought it was cool and wanted to share. More of your regularly scheduled blogging coming soon. HOWEVER, in the meantime, I'd love to hear your favorite gift finds.

(People who are my sisters, do not read the comments.)


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Eat, Pray, Hurl
"Why I Hated The Book Eat, Pray, Love"

I don't often write entire posts on something I dislike, because when I venture into snark-dom, I inevitably get mean-spirited comments. Negativity begets negativity, I guess. (Uh, although to be fair, I hardly think I can be considered evil, or likened to a vampire, both of which I've been.) (Yes, vampire.) (I do not know.)

So then let's begin this with Caveat #1:
Hi! This is my personal opinion! I do not wish to change your personal opinion should it differ from mine!

Also, I realize 100% that my opinion in this particular matter is super-personal, and reflects my own Issues with a captial "I". Fun! La la la.

Caveat #2:
If you liked this book, even a little bit, I am probably going to offend you. I'm sorry. I love you.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I tried to pinpoint the exact reason Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" annoyed the shit out of me from the very first page, but I have had a hard time picking just one reason.

The most obvious one is that most anything dubbed "spiritual journey" is going to be hard for me to swallow. Such a notion puts me on squinty-eyed, folded-arm HIGH ALERT. My immediate response is: Why should I be listening to you?

And Elizabeth Gilbert just does not have a good enough answer. By a mile.

If her book were framed as a travelogue, I'd have at least been able to tolerate it. But the "my life was so hard and then I found the way" angle makes me all shivery with...well, as Em of Bemily calls it "douche chills." I was hesitant to even begin it.

BUT, I thought, Elizabeth Gilbert is supposed to be funny and likeable, so why not try? I mean, the premise of the book from like, thirty trillion feet away isn't awful: Woman goes on a year-long expedition to figure herself out following a personal crisis, plus eats food.

Okay, okay. Maybe not SO douche-chilly. I can dig it, right?

Here is the actual premise, though:
Cute, tall, blond woman who is moderately talented but hugely successful marries the seemingly perfect man and is juggling life as a travel writer who has an apartment in Manhattan AND huge home in the New York suburbs, woe is her.

One day, she realizes she is totally bored and filled to the brim with White Guilt, and wants to divorce her husband though she doesn't have the balls to even admit this to herself, so she spends a lot of time crying and then starts asking the universe for help.

Then she spends all these pages explaining why her divorce was so, so horrible.

She is infinitely passive-aggressive in speaking of her husband, blaming him without blaming him but blaming him, and trying to convince us (her) that he was absolutely horrible in the divorce proceedings, but won't tell us why because, she says, to do so is petty. But she works up the her-as-victim with all her that when she then mentions how she moved in with her lover the second the separation started, we don't blink an eye. She's awfully obtuse about how and when she met this lover, because certainly that would only muddle the story.

Ahem. Back to the premise.

Divorce for her is very, very hard, very very very hard, and her lover isn't the answer, which makes everything even more hard. Eventually she asks the universe to end her divorce and it says yes, and then she decides to go on a year-long trip to Italy, India, and Indonesia. Except OH NO! All her money's gone from her trying to keep up the bills on the Manhattan apartment and house and divorce and so how will she do it?


And I can actually afford to do this because of a staggering personal miracle: in advance, my publisher has purchased the book I shall write about my travels.

So it is really just her premise that I hate.

Let me be as wise as I can be, understanding that I say this while wearing pink Crocs and a giant salsa stain on my shirt (mmm, wise): Every human being probably believes that they have experienced tragedy, because every human being HAS experienced tragedy. If the worst thing that has ever happened to you is that your pet iguana died when you were a kid, then that is the worst tragedy you know.

I'm saying for individuals, it's relative.

On the continuum of Human Tragedy, however, some things are just more tragic than others. And we all of us know this, inherently: What's divorce compared to Darfur? But -- sure -- we still have our everyday lives to lead, too. We need to think about and discuss our beliefs and religion and work and relationships and how we get through each day. Absolutely we do.

What I cannot abide by is not knowing the difference.

Not knowing the difference between tragedy and Tragedy; not knowing the difference between suffering and Suffering; and mostly, not knowing the difference between being a "soldier" and being unbelievably blessed and fortunate in the first place.

Bottom line for me: she had nowhere near the modesty or humility or perspective needed to make her spiritual "journey" interesting to me.

Don't try to convince me how hard your life is, when by objective standards it's anything but. Be honest with me: You were bored, dissatisfied, unclear, and guilty and embarrassed about feeling that way. Don't overplay your drama to win sympathy -- the harder you work to convince me how horrible your life was, the more you sound defensive about it. Nothing
could undermine your Spirituality Credibility more than being disingenuous. I can't take spiritual suggestions from someone who doesn't even seem to know herself.

So that's my real, big issue with the book. Ms. Gilbert has seemingly no idea how lucky she is, or how self-centered and right, self-indulgent, her entire perspective remains. (I'll quote some of her more irksome passages below.)

It should not go without noting that I also found the book to be sloppily written. Rather than work her learnings into the story, so that the format of the book would become self-evident, she spends the preface explaining it to you. Her tenses shift throughout the first 50 pages, jumping forward and backward without rhyme or reason. And every time she goes to make a bold statement, she backtracks through heavy-handed use of self-deprecation.

Plus (and what's much worse), I don't think she commits to what she's writing. Is Eat, Pray, Love a spiritual guidebook? I'm sure she'd say no. Does she hope that people will glean lessons from her writing? I'm sure she'd say yes. So um, what was the point? I'd love to hear Ms. Gilbert answer that very question without a passive response. The idea that it's "just one woman's journey" seems very wishy-washy to me. Either you have a point of view and a purpose, or you don't.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I know, I know. Pot, kettle much?

I went through the same divorce at the same time (literally), for maybe similar reasons. I wrote about it on my personal blog. (Helllllooooooo self-indulgence therapy!) I have been that puddle on the bathroom floor. I even used the term "puddle" and detailed my bathroom-floor wailing.

Except I don't have any advice at all.

Okay, that's not true. Here. Here is the entirety of My Book On Divorce: "Divorce sucks big donkey doodoo and but life goes on anyway, damn it, and then so do you, eventually. In the meantime, here's a cocktail and a pair of sweatpants -- you'll be needing both."

And I should totally get a bazillion dollars for that.

I'm getting side-tracked.

I love blogging and I love reading blogs and the point (or one of my points, whatever) is that I read more genuine, more inspirational, and more well-written tales from normal, non-funded everyday people on my Google Reader than this "#1 New York Times Bestseller" and I just have to wonder if publishers will ever get it.

Why was this book so noteworthy?

Why was this author paid to go find herself and write about it? About a hundredteen billion people would KILL for that opportunity -- OF COURSE ME TOO -- and would at LEAST have the good sense and graciousness to recognize it as something to be a thousand percent humble and thankful about.

Rather than recognize that she was fantastically lucky for getting an opportunity like she did, she took what I consider to be a fairly low road. She treated the funding/publishing aspect as an after-thought, and then expended all kinds of energy trying to convince us just how deserving and in need of this journey she was.

Yes, well. It's really easy to be Spiritual when someone else is footing the bill and you've already got the book deal.

Woe, indeed.

* * * * * * * * * *

Where I quote some parts of the book without permission.

I don't actually think that I would dislike Elizabeth Gilbert in person at all. I just -- man, oh, man. Blogging has opened my eyes to what naked/brave/real/genuine writing is like, and this book isn't it.

Maybe I'm just being bitchy. one mighty travel talent is that I can make friends with anybody. I can make friends with the dead. I once made friends with a war criminal in Serbia, and he invited me to go on a mountain holiday with his family. Not that I'm proud to list Serbian mass murderers amongst my nearest and dearest (I had to befriend him for a story, and also so he wouldn't punch me), but I'm just saying -- I can do it. If there isn't anyone else around to talk to, I could probably make friends with a four-foot-tall pile of Sheetrock. This is why I'm not afraid to travel to the most remote places in the world, not if there are human beings there to meet. People asked me before I left for Italy, "Do you have friends in Rome?" and I would just shake my head no, thinking to myself, But I will.

Okay, now that I've quoted it I can see how it's not so bad. But if you're all into reading this and you're trying to understand why you're supposed to feel sorry for the author and you then come across this paragraph about how she makes friends with EVERYONE, can you see how I might be all, "YOU POOR THING YOU."

Lastly, let me reprint what appears on page 32. I think it shows quite well the kind of spirituality that Ms. Gilbert is about. It is cute and accessible, and I get it. Except for where I don't at all.

Here is her "petition to God" that her friend insisted she write -- because she would NEVER have done it on her own. Only because her friend made her. Because of her humility.

She wanted her husband to sign the divorce papers. Clearly, there was nothing more she, personally, could do to end the conflict, so she asked God.

Dear God,
Please intervene and help end this divorce. My husband and I have failed at our marriage and now we are failing at our divorce. This poisonous process is bringing suffering to us and to everyone who cares about us.

I recognize that you are busy with wars and tragedies and much larger conflicts than the ongoing dispute of one dysfunctional couple. But it is my understanding that the health of the planet is affected by the health of every individual on it. As long as even two souls are locked in conflict, the whole of the world is contaminated by it. Similarly, if even one or two souls can be free from discord, this will increase the general health of the whole world, the way a few healthy cells in a body can increase the general health of that body.

It is my most humble request, then, that you help us end this conflict, so that two more people can have the chance to become free and healthy, and so that there will be just a little bit less animosity and bitterness in a world that is already far too troubled by suffering.

I thank you for your kind attention.

Elizabeth M. Gilbert

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Ping! Ping! pa-Ping!

Hi! This post (below) was the first I'd written in several days because of work craziness. (Thanks, BlogHer Ad network for linking to me.)

So, if you're new around here -- please check out some of the funnier stuff on the sidebar or read the one about my unfortunate experience finding a personal trainer. It is called BALLS OF DEATH and involves drawings like these:


Thanks for stopping by!

----original post-----

I have a zillion ideas for blog posts, and they're all bouncing around my head like ping-pong balls. I don't know where to start or where to go with them, and I don't yet have the mental acuity to write them. I will soon, though! I'm on the rebound. Anyway, here are random snippets, hopefully prefaces of things to come.

- The conference was fantastic, but it is SO draining. Like any big event, even a wedding, afterwards you just have to look around and go, "Did that really just happen?" Now that I'm back, my sleep patterns are still really off, and I am terribly broken out. Obviously more important things happened at the conference than my losing sleep and developing heinous zits, but I haven't quite put them into coherent thoughts yet.

- One thing that did occur to me -- prior to the conference but made more evident by some of the things I heard there -- is that I have an "issue" with blogging! (And probably you're wondering why that last sentence involved quotation marks and an exclamation point, which is good of you to notice.) It's that I don't know what kind of blogger I am, other than a "life" blogger. Apparently, everyone wants to know what "topic" you blog about, and the answer, You know, my life and stuff, isn't very easily categorize-able. Especially because I'm not married, I don't have kids, I don't write about Tech, or Finance, or Law, or Career Advice (although wouldn't you love to read THAT blog? Hooo-wee!) or even San Francisco. I want to write about this more, because I do think it impacts all of us in the non-category category.

- I finally saw Enchanted!

- The day after the conference, my sister picked me up and we drove to my home town, where I stayed for a couple nights. It was weird. Really weird. Sort of like stepping into a photograph taken ten years ago. Completely uncomfortable even though everything was familiar. I don't really understand why I was uncomfortable, or why it seemed so sad, but I was and it did.

- While I was at the hotel in New York, I accidentally paid $4.99 to order an episode of Top Chef I'd already seen twice.

- I am really, really enjoying living with Ish. Coming home to him after being gone a week was fantastic. (And off-topic, but since I have been a poor blogger, I wanted to at least ask if you'd seen his post on Things That Are Comcastic?)

- I feel like I should apologize for what I'm about to write, but if I were genuinely sorry, I probably wouldn't be writing it. As you may recall, I prefer reading "easy" or "fun" books to books that have Real Literary Merit. I love the mystery/thriller collection and all the stand-bys that go with them (particularly Harlan Coben, who I do think is an excellent writer). But I have recently semi-joined a book club, and the book we're supposed to be reading this time around is Eat, Pray, Love.

Now. More than one of you IIFs (and one of my actual real friends, darling MakeOutKate) has recommended this to me and so I figured it was probably time I try it. And so this probably makes me evil-souled and horrible, but I cannot stand this book. It rubs me the wrong way, in every possible way. I don't know if any of you reading this care to hear my particular reasons for why I hate this book, so I'll leave it at "rubs me the wrong way" for now.

Also, I should say that I realize my opinion is particular to me, and I absolutely do not begrudge anyone who does like this book.

- Lastly, I think that it says a lot about me that when reading Eat, Pray, Love I wanted to throw the book across the room. Comparatively, I think Beauty and the Geek is a fabulous show, and will be writing another recap in the next day or so.

Clearly, my standards are well defined.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

How It's Going

"Oh, well that's only going to be a problem for people who are using Macs."