Friday, October 28, 2011

We broke up. Now I guess when Beyonce gives the command, I'll put my hands up.

We all hate people who present a perfect online personoa. You know, "I'm naturally a size 2! I live on cupcakes and cocktails and gee I wish I could gain some weight! I'm married to a Ryan Gosling clone (feminism included), and look at the flowers he sent me at work today! My house is perfect! It's full of Heywood Wakefield furniture I found for, like, $2 at Goodwill!" GO DIE. But it's a balancing act: How do I write honestly without violating other people's privacy? Maybe my newly minted ex boyfriend doesn't want our breakup posted all over the internet.

xkcd nails it again.
also, the camera was his. hence the lack of recent entries.

Yeah, breakup. I said it. 

It happened a few weeks ago, and I've been struggling with how to talk about it. Pretending it didn't happen feels disingenuous, but I don't want to say much about it in this forum. Not because I want to pretend I'm perfect, but because I respect his privacy. I'm okay, just weathering the usual ups and downs that follow a breakup. I probably need to get out of the house more, but I'm shy about reaching out and making plans with other people. *cough* *cough* call me *cough* Painting, reading A Feast for Crows, and repeatedly watching Annie Hall isn't so bad, though.

Someday this will probably all be hilarious.
So. Let's talk about my top five most hilarious OTHER breakups:

5.Three days after our breakup, he was trying to replace me with DUDES. Um, yeah. I might have done some online snooping. It was a creepy thing to do. But his new online profile was MUCH creepier. Promise.

4. He was still in love with his ex wife. We started dating a year after he separated from his wife and moved to another state. But he broke up with me so he could have a super-fun paper-signing party. For two. With the ex wife. Who he was SO SO SO over. Riiiiiiiiight.

3. His church made him do it. We'd only been dating for a few weeks when he told me his church elders said I was an evil temptation, and he couldn't see me anymore. Umm... thanks? YAY BIBLE BELT!

2. He stood me up on Valentines' Day. And that was the only signal he gave that we were breaking up. Seventh grade boyfriend, wherever you are... don't worry. I'm totally over it. Totally.

1. He rolled around on the floor in garbage to prove how much he DIDN'T need therapy. I can't make this up: He kicked over a garbage can, flopped to the floor, and had a temper tantrum. He flailed and yelled, "I don't need therapy!" while he rolled around in trash. Um. Yeah. CUE BREAKUP.

(Fun fact: two of these are THE SAME GUY. Guess which two and win a prize!)

This reveals way too much about my bad taste in men. Let's ignore that, shall we?
Time and perspective make everything funny, right?
I seriously need to get out of the house this weekend.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Straight-faced thoughts on sex and violence in Game of Thrones. With, like, citations. YAWN.

George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series has consumed me. I spend evenings reading and nights dreaming of banners depicting Lannister lions and Stark direwolves. Last Friday, I asked some friends what they think of the series. One of the guys wrinkled his nose and said, "It's too rapey." A lady friend smirked. "Men always say that!" she laughed. Really? Really?! I'd never had that conversation before, but her comment made me think.

Waste your entire lunch break.
I like the series for the shiny armor, rising and falling empires, magical ladies clad in scarlet robes, family secrets, hidden identities, direwolves, and baby dragons. Especially the baby dragons. Not for the violence. But each 1,000-or-so-page novel does have a handful of pages that refer to rape. The books aren't about rape, though, and it's usually mentioned to identify the bad guys and separate them from the good guys. Bad guys rape and pillage. Because RAPE IS BAD. THANK YOU CAPTAIN OBVIOUS.

Early this year, censored versions of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn were published and widely derided. Remember that? The n-word had been removed from the text and replaced with the word "slave," even though Twain had used the offending language to criticize racism, not to endorse it. Many thought it was wrong to publish the book in a historically inaccurate way.

Likewise, most people who defend the poor treatment of women in Game of Thrones argue that rape scenes are okay because the characters' behavior is historically accurate. But I think that arguing about historical accuracy in a book with witches and dragons is silly. Instead, I say if that stuff is historically accurate, and if those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, then let's not forget. Here are some icky old cultural norms and laws to consider, ganked from Wikipedia due to time-crunch. I wanna finish writing this AND have time to do my hair, y'all:

"In some cultures, rape was seen less as a crime against a particular girl or woman than as a crime against the head of the household or against chastity. As a consequence, the rape of a virgin was often a more serious crime than of a non-virgin, even a wife or widow, and the rape of a prostitute or other unchaste woman was, in some laws, not a crime because her chastity could not be harmed (Source)."

"Until the late twentieth century, spousal rape was not considered a true rape case because the woman was traditionally viewed as the property of her husband (Source)."

Sucked to be a lady, huh? And these concepts are clearly seen in the Game of Thrones books: Brienne of Tarth isn't raped by her captors because it would reduce her value when her father pays her ransom. And Daenarys Targaryen's wedding night isn't exactly consensual, but no one in the books calls it rape. Even though I don't especially enjoy reading those pages, I'm all for including them so that we can all cringe, and feel uncomfortable, and make sure that stuff doesn't ever become normal again.

What do you think? Should violence and rape and the n-word and all kinds of other bad stuff be kept out of literature because it makes us feel weird? Or should it be kept in because it's so obviously bad, and that keeps it from being normalized?

Friday, October 14, 2011

I live here: Living Room Makeover

New paint and a new sofa can change everything! I've been reluctant to share photos of  my living room because it's still in progress, but I've got to show you my dreamy new sofa and cool gray walls. When I first moved into my place, I chose red walls for the open living room/dining room space because I thought I wanted to live in Amelie's apartment. Perhaps I just want my own personal soundtrack written by Yann Tiersen, because I got more than I could handle with those red walls. I used Merlot by Benjamin Moore. It's pretty, but it's intense. It would be a better choice for a smaller space.
Amelie collage credit
To make matters worse, I hadn't honed my taste. My furniture was--and still is--a mix of lucky thrift store finds and hand-me-downs from the family. But at that point, I didn't know how to mix different styles without making a mess. The huge Flexsteel sofa just didn't work with my other things. When I found a long, low, supser-sleek Pfister by Knoll sofa with goose-down stuffing at Pre to Post Modern for LESS THAN $400, it was love at first sight. Buh-bye, Flexsteel and red walls. Hello, Knoll and gray walls!

The walls are painted with Dark Ash by Behr, and I love this color. It makes the room feel so much cooler and fresher. If you're interested in seeing the rest of the room, check out the Desk portion of the house tour. When you first enter the room, the desk corner is to the right. I'm not showing the rest of the room, because those pieces of furniture are on their way out. I'm looking for a matching pair of low Danish Modern end tables, because the end tables I had before aren't proportional to the new sofa. I'll stain them to match the coffee table. And the HUGE armchair and ottoman are going to go, too. I set up my easel in that corner, and it's too crowded. I may look for a slimmer chair or pair of chairs, but I haven't decided yet. What do you think?

In a perfect world, I'd go out and buy these tomorrow:

Pair of Danish Modern End Tables by Finn Juhl
Danish Modern Teak Lounge Chair by Dux

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Record Collecting for Girls: Unleashing Your Inner Music Nerd, One Album at a Time by Courtney E. Smith

First things first: This is a GIRL'S guide to record collecting, not a "women's guide" or even simply a "guide." That means this is the paperback equivalent of painting our toenails and prank calling boys while singing into our hairbrushes. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with that. Music is fun, and talking about music should be fun, too. But this isn't a serious collection development guide, or even a comprehensive n00b guide. Record Collecting for Girls is a breathless memoir of who-I-dated-and-the-soundtrack-to-each-relationship, peppered with genuinely interesting band backstories and info about the music industry. And a lot of Elvis Costello worship. I'm totally down with that. There are also some obnoxiously self-important statements like, "In the interest of full disclosure, I kind of accidentally made Fallout Boy happen." I'm not at all down with that.

I want to make one thing very clear: I didn't choose this book myself. When I came to work last week, I found that Cara had placed it on my keyboard because, as she said, "This is a Jen book." I was sort of amused that she'd pegged me as a record collector, because I don't think of myself that way. But when I glanced at the cover, inwardly shuddered, and thought I don't want to read some other chick's Top 5 lists... I realized it was aimed directly at women like me.

I was thisclose to Elvis Costello.
No zoom was used in the
snapping of this photo, ohno.
Top 5 lists? Yeah, of course she goes there. Under the guise of "let me tell you about me and this boy," Smith covers top 5 lists, High Fidelity, the thorny Beatles vs. Stones question (STONES, y'all), the importance of the perfect playlist (though I still prefer Tedd's guide to mixtapes), groupies vs. band wives, the trouble with boys who like the Smiths a little too much, and every other music nerd cliche. I enjoy it because it's familiar, and she makes me reminisce and laugh. But I'm not sure that readers who haven't experienced the cliches firsthand would enjoy it as much as I do. There are just too many in-jokes, and Smith is so deeply immersed in music culture, I'm not sure she realizes they're in-jokes. She's preaching to the acolytes, not to the choir.

Yes, I STILL want to be
Susanna Hoffs when I grow up.
The "guide" portion of the book consists of 3 - 6 page interludes between chapters, chock full of useful information about music blogs, lastfm, AllRovi, the music community in SecondLife, and advice for developing one's musical taste. But those looking for such guidance on every page will be disappointed. Still, it's fun. And the chapters are divided in such a way that they don't have to be read in sequence. So if you're looking for Pop Culture 101, not a memoir, skip around and read the chapters about girl bands and Madonna. Smith interviewed Susanna Hoffs for this book. I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Shopping sucks. These clothes don't.

I hate to shop for clothing. There, I said it. Kick me out of the Girl Club. Whatever, I don't care. Shopping for books, jewelry, or furniture is fun. But clothes shopping is miserable.
  • a) Prices are insanely high, and I worry about my finances after buying clothes...
  • b) Unless I shop at Forever 21, which is cheap. But most of their clothes look like crap after being worn twice. And really, I'm thirty. Wearing Forever 21 head-to-toe makes me feel silly.
  • c) I don't know what size I wear. Depending on where I shop, I'm a size 4, 6, or 9.
  • d) I despise dressing rooms, mostly because the lighting reveals previously invisible stretch marks. 
  • e) When the clerk pounds on the door and chirps, "How are we doing?" I want to punch her. Who is this "we" to which she refers?!
To avoid high prices, intimidating stacks of the same pant in four different sizes, and saccharine salesfolks, I mostly shop at Goodwill and weird vintage boutiques. They don't scare me, but they make my closet a little scary: I end up with 10 statement piece skirts and a lot of black shirts that ended up at the thrift store cuz they're a little... off. My closet is the Island of Misfit Toys, but for clothes.

So once or twice a year, I make a list of required basics, venture to the mall, and shop with grim military precision. Last week was Shopping Week. And for the first time, it was fun. Is it just me, or are clothes prettier than they were in years past? The shapeless Mary Kate & Ashley neon hobo rags are finally gone, pants are not cut low enough to show off the wearer's bikini wax, and flatteringly nipped waists are everywhere. HOORAY! THANK YOU, MAD MEN!!!!!

Everyone thinks their figure is hard to shop for. And everyone is right. But I SWEAR it's hardest for those of us who are simultaneously small and curvy, and not-quite-petite but definitely not tall. A large chest makes me look fatter than I am, and a small waist and large hips make it difficult to find pants that fit. BUT! These things fit like a dream and make my someone-else's-trash thrift store stuff look like treasure.
The Limited Grosgrain Waist Pleated Skirt
This high-waisted skirt is endlessly flattering. I love it so much, I bought it in teal AND black.

G by Guess Tara Trouser Jeans
The neat cuff, dark wash, and smart buttons on the back pockets make these jeans ideal for work.

The Limited Side-Stripe Cardigan Sweater
See the black stripe on the side of this sweater? It whittles your waist down to nothing and gives the illusion that you've been on the French Model Diet for a year. It looks good with sweater guards, too!