Yer mom

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penny and graceOver at BlogHer (as well as on her own blog), Laurie takes a look at daughters blogging about their moms, as a tribute to the last day of Women's History Month. This seems like a fine idea to me, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I have an exceptional mom. She got pregnant a few months out of high school, and had and raised me alone for the first several years. Support from my dad was...limited, to put it kindly. She worked at a gas station and took care of me all by herself (with the support of her family), and I was a pretty high needs kid, prone to tantrums, not much on sleeping, talked early and often. I don't know how she kept sane. I know, looking back, that there were months in which the margin of error in her checkbook was measured in cents, but I was always taken care of, never worried, always loved.

When I was a preteen and teenager, my mom and I went through a pretty typical rocky period. It wasn't just us anymore--there was a step dad and a pesky younger brother on the scene by then--but the battle that raged at our house mostly raged between her and I. Looking back on it, I think most of the decisions she made were right, most of the things she didn't want me to do I shouldn't have done. On the other hand, I'm not sorry I did many of them anyway--I'm only sorry I gave her such a hard time about it. She did such a great job, keeping me safe but letting me figure things out on my own, forcing me to be responsible but stepping in when I needed her--it's not a balance anybody walks perfectly, but I can't think of a whole lot she could have done better.

And now that I'm an adult, and so far away, I miss my mom more than I can express. Neither one of us is a big phone talker, and even if we were, it's not the same. I'm once again amazed, though, at how strong she is. She's never given me any kind of guilt about moving so far away, or not visiting often enough, even though I know it has to be hard for her. She's never been away from someone as close to her as I am before--her own family has stayed within just a few miles of one another. But she's never tried to keep me from doing whatever it is I decide I'm going to do, including moving to Texas.

My mom is one of the things that makes me want to be a parent. If even a quarter of her natural skills for raising a child came down into my genetics, I'd be so good at it. It also scares me, though, because I know I'd never be half as patient or as constructive as she was, and I could end up with a kid as hard to handle as the one she got.

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I hate emo

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In the way of living somewhere where everything comes late, I have been noticing a ton of emo kids in Austin lately. They were around Portland before I was ever out of Reed, but I've only noticed them down here in the last year or so. The ones in Portland are probably on to something else by now.

If you don't know what emo is, you can start here, but basically it's a fashion/lifestyle "subculture" characterized by a certain style of dress and a heavy dose of misery, as well as allegiance to some specific music. Those kids with the tight jeans, stringy black hair in their faces, and constant expression of contemplation constipation? They're emo.

And there is no way for me to properly emphasize how much I hate emo.

Now this is almost inevitably due to my being too old and uncool to properly understand. I get that. But I hate it all the same. It is definitely not that I have a problem with wallowing in your own angst (I mean, c'mon, that's pretty much my favorite past time), or a particular issue with your hair being in your eyes. I'm not even bothered as much as I once was by folks who don't shower often. Emo music is all bad, as far as I can tell, but I've heard worse.

What bothers me is the way emo looks an awful lot like a really, really poor imitation of two subcultures that I do have a bit of experience being in and around: goth and grunge. These kids think they're miserable? I remember when you could be miserable AND sexy.

I was never really goth (though I've made the occasional attempt). I'm a bit young for it. Goth culture came to the U.S. in the late 80s and early 90s (from England and Germany, mostly), when I was still adolescent. However, it was still very much alive and kicking by the time I was in high school and college in the mid-late 90s. One of the annual events at Reed was a "Fetish Ball," where the goth kids got up in their finest leather and lace and did things like bit and flogged one another. I attended. I wonder, now, how much of the sexual subculture that was being celebrated so publicly was really taking place privately, but that wasn't really the point. The point was to celebrate pain, to indulge in thinking it was sexy, and for everybody to look hot. It is undeniably silly now (and was then, too, actually), and there was definitely an aspect of commercialism and commodification to it even then, but there was also something real behind it. For the most part, those indulging were freaks, even within the already freaky Reed social hierarchy. It was a way to embrace being an outcast.

I did grunge a lot better than I did goth. Partially it must have been regional, since I grew up in Oregon in the shadow the of the Seattle scene, and partially it was just better timing, with grunge hitting big right as my early teen hormonal flood kicked in. I don't have a picture to show you, but I wore my jeans-black tee shirt-flannel-Docs combo faithfully, even if my hygiene was always a little bit too good. And it wasn't just about fashion. Wikipedia describes grunge music as being "typically angst-filled, often addressing themes such as social alienation, apathy, confinement, and a desire for freedom." That's pretty much Grace, circa 1992-1997. Grunge was, to those who embraced it in my generation (and the one before mine, really), what punk was in the years before that--a reply to a mean, confusing, alienating world that was both defiant and resigned. And again, it was for outcasts--those who saw what was happening in the society around them and in their own lives and, for whatever reason, couldn't pretend it was going to be OK.

Given that I grew up with and identified with both goth and grunge, two subcultures that were built on angst (remember, I could have been a rave kid instead if I'd wanted to be happy), it seems like I'd be all over emo, right? No. Emo may look something like a goth-grunge slushy, but it strikes me as a very pale imitation of the real things. Unlike goth, there's no sexiness to emo. The emo kids want to cut themselves, but the pleasure-from-the-pain element doesn't seem to come into it. And the emo-ers may not wash, but there's none of the rebellion of grunge, none of the insistence that this outside part doesn't matter anyway.

It is almost inevitable that I am missing some important core element of emo here, just by virtue of being too old and too far outside of it to understand what it means to the people who are inside it. The commodification and fake misery I see when I look at emo kids is probably very similar to what old-school punks say when they looked at grunge kids, and it definitely resembles the Hot Topic-ization of goth. And much as it annoys me, if emo culture is providing to kids now some of what goth and especially grunge culture provided to me as a fucked-up outsider kid, them more power to it. But I still can't help but resent how fake it looks, and how it doesn't seem to recognize its roots, and how we did it better in my day.

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TV shows that are worth watching

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So inevitably, when I go on that rant about how great TV is, someone asks me what I mean about quality television. No, I'm not talking about Discovery and the History channel (though you can find quality shows on both of those networks). I mean that there is quality fiction on television. Television literature. It's even on the networks occasionally. And so, yet another list. These are only shows I have personally experienced as "television literature" at some point--I'm sure there are others.

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (duh)
2. Joan of Arcadia
3. The Wire
4. Gilmore Girls
5. M*A*S*H
6. My So-Called Life
7. Roseanne
8. The Shield
9. The Sopranos
10. The West Wing

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TV and me

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So I was just reading this entry by Emilin at Name That Mama, and of course, it got me to thinking. The tangent it sends me on to isn't really all that connected to the original issue Em was talking about, which has to do with her family's decision not to expose their daughter to television, but that's where I started thinking about it.

So I grew up more or less without TV. My parents weren't/aren't "against" TV, but we didn't have any capacity for television reception where we lived for most of my "developing" years. My folks have digital satellite now, which I think they got when I was about halfway through high school, but between three and fifteen, say, there wasn't much TV at my house, and what there was was viewed through a pretty thick static reception haze. We got "one channel and not well." I did have exposure through friends and family and stuff, and we watched videos fairly regularly.

I received a small TV as a gift before I went to college. I was one of the few (only?) people in my dorm with a television, and it was a bit looked down upon among the Reedie intellectual snobs (unless they wanted to watch The Simpsons, that is). But I watched quite a bit of television in college. I recorded General Hospital every day for years. I marathoned Roseanne reruns. I rented movies. I could make an argument (and it would probably have validity) that I numbed myself with TV in college, but mostly it was used for brainless entertainment purposes. I worked hard in college, read for hours a day, and thought so hard my brain hurt. TV was a reprieve.

Since college I haven't ever lived without a TV, and for the last several years Mark and I have willingly paid through the nose for extended cable programming. We watch a lot of TV at my house. Mark watches more than I do, for sure, and is much more likely to just "watch whatever is on," but I am, without a doubt, a TV-watching person.

There is still a fair amount of anti-TV sentiment around me. Of my close friends, I'd say probably half live in TV-free or nearly TV-free households. Many, though by no means all, of my parent friends are choosing to raise their children without TV, as discussed in Em's post. I have been privy to many, many discussions about about the evil influence of television.

And, bottom line, I don't buy it (surprise!). Television is a medium. It's an empty vessel, with it's own strengths and weaknesses as a vessel. It's morally neutral. It is not inherently better or worse than film, or radio, or (and I feel the flames at my toes already when I type this) books. It serves a difference (and, to my mind, complimentary in many ways) purpose, but to think it is somehow inherently sub-par is ludicrous.

First, there is good TV and bad TV, just like there are good and bad examples of any other form of media. Yes, I absolutely agree that most of what shows on the modern American television set is crap. However, I also think what is played on most modern American radio, shown in most most modern American movie theaters, and shelves in most modern American bookstores is crap. And the argument that it is somehow better, more involved, more active, to read a bad book than it is to watch bad TV just doesn't work for me. Which brings me to point two.

Clearly, from my posts about Buffy and other shows, I see TV as an active medium with which you can interact. You can, as is argued in this great book, "read" television the same way you do with a book, not just passively watching it, but thinking about it, analyzing it, connecting it to other stories in your mind, rewriting it in your head, imagining about it. Rhonda Wilcox (the book's author, if you didn't click on the link) makes an argument not only for the importance of her subject (Buffy) and its legitimacy as a text worthy of literary analysis, but of the legitimacy of television as literature in general. Certainly not all television, but good television, she argues (and I agree) can engage and stimulate you the same way good books can.

If this is true, if the importance is not what the vessel is (book, radio, film, TV, etc.) but what you put in it, then how can it possibly make sense to restrict the medium?

What do you think? Those out there who are pro- OR anti-TV, I wanna hear from you!

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New toy

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So, hard as it may believe for most of you to believe, there is actually at least one person out there who is interested in my music taste and endless play lists. And I totally love her for it. And I have a new toy now. Something that can show you, in more-or-less real time, what I am listening to. You'll be able to find it on the sidebar anytime you're interested.



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Self absorbed? Me?

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Look! I have an About page now!

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Stuff I am loving on Etsy

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Once again I am too addled to actually write. But here are some recent Etsy covets:

skiptomylou outfit1. Skip To My Lou Clothing has the cutest outfits for little girls. Shirt and skirt sets are in the $25-$30 (plus $5 S&H) range, which isn't bad for full handmade outfits! My current favorite, shown here, is a set with a chick motif in size 3/4.

boojiboo apron2. It took me a while to start appreciating the apron craze, but I'm on board now, and there are some fantastic vintage-inspired ones at Boojiboo. They aren't cheap (the dog print one shown here is $23.75 plus $3 S&H), but still, so adorable!

matte art owl print3. Matte Stephens' Brainiac art just kills me. In both subject and style, it's just wonderful. Limited edition prints run from $35, for an 8.5"X11" (plus $4.60 S&H) to $60 (plus $10.60 S&H) for a 13" X 14" print. Most are available in both sizes. I particularly love this owl.

hey peanut elephant4. Hey Peanut makes soft toys and shoes for babies, some with vintage fabrics, and they fantastic. For the most part, the booties are $18 plus $5 S&H and the stuffies are $25 plus $5. I really want to think of someone to gift this vintage plaid baby elephant toy.

glue and glitter lunch kit5. I really want a lunch kit from Glue and Glitter. For $40 (with free shipping!) you get a handmade, machine-washable tote, a stainless steel lunch box, five tote-coordinated cloth napkins, and a set of reusable utensils. How much does that make bringing your lunch to work?

simple song stationary6. Simple Song Designs is definitely on my list of potential gift sources in the future. The custom stationary products are classic and gorgeous, with just enough of a twist. This set of ten custom-made mod-style cards with envelopes is $12 plus $1.50 S&H, and for another $3 you can get your return address printed on the envelopes. Looks like Mother's Day to me...

courtney courtney dress7. Finally, I have to call your attention to the genius that is Courtney Courtney. Last time I did this, I featured dressme, a shop that makes one-of-a-kind tees and dresses for little ones out of recycled garments. Courtney Courtney is similar, with "entirely new, partially new, partially repurposed and recycled pieces" for kids and adults. The adult stuff doesn't really work for me, but the kids' stuff is fabulous. My favorite pieces are the embellished recycled tee shirt play dresses, like the one shown here. A 5T dress made out of a recycled Thai beer tee and custom screen printed sleeves? How could it get cuter than that? This one is $25 plus $2.15 S&H.

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Some thoughts on Obama's preacher

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I've been attempting to just skip any political posts the burble up in my tiny brain, mostly because there is plenty of that on the blogosphere already and partially because I bore myself when writing about those things. But I can't not get into this, it's just bothering me too much.

This hubbub about Barack Obama's friend/pastor Jeremiah Wright. It's ridiculous.

First, from what I have heard, the comments Wright made were right on.

Secondly, allegiances between hate-monger preachers and politicians are hardly new. Nearly every Republican since Reagan has been chummy with Faldwell and his ilk. And even Al Gore (back before he became a Nobel-winning saint) had political ties to fag-hater Fred Phelps. Why haven't we been up in arms about politicians having "spiritual leaders" who advocate for the murder of gays and lesbians? Or even the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians?

Because they were white and didn't sound big and scary on a pulpit, for one thing. All over the U.S., white people who have never been to a church that wasn't polite and austere are seeing clips of Rev. Wright and peeing themselves. Power! Authoritative speaking!? From a Black man?! Why, that could get downright dangerous!

And another thing. I just listened to an episode of On Point during which a guest likened Louis Farrakhan to David Duke. Uh, no. See, racism doesn't work the same way in reverse, much as you'd like to think it does. The blood is still on your hands, no matter where you try to smear it.

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List 21: Favorite dog breeds

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I got this meme from Sarahlynn:

What dog breed are you? I'm a Bulldog! Find out at Dogster.com

Not necessarily accurate, but funny anyway. And made me think, what are my favorite dog breeds? If I have to hold it down to say, 10, which ones do I choose? Thus, today's list.

Grace's Top 10 Dog Breeds
irish-wolfhound10. Akita
9. Rottweiler
8. Beagle
7. Otterhound
6. Great Pyrenees
5. American Staffordshire Terrier
4. Anatolian Shepherd Dog
3. Mastiiff
2. Bernese Mountain Dog
1. Irish Wolfhound

Gee, do you think I maybe have a type?

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List 20: 43 (or 20) things

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We are a cranky bunch around my house tonight. I don't think the dogs or cats are actually cranky, but the humans definitely are. Mark is having a back issue, and I'm just so tired and not quite not-sick yet.

So I am hard pressed to think of a list. Instead, I'll share with you the things that are on my "43 Things" list (broadly, my list of goals, which is always in flux).

1. Get out of debt.
2. Travel.
3. Get a Ph.D.
4. Get Lasik surgery.
5. Keep in touch with friends better.
6. Get lots of tattoos.
7. Learn to knit.
8. See Gustav Klimt's art in person.
9. Remember birthdays and send cards.
10. Blog every day (hey, I'm doing that--sorta).
11. Stop buying things I don't need.
12. Keep my house cleaner.
13. Save money.
14. Watch more movies.
15. Learn boxing.
16. Pay off my student loans.
17. Donate more to charity.
18. Stop biting my nails.
19. Publish writing.
20. Develop my own style.

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Little House

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As I mentioned, I am re-reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series. The idea to do so came to me a while ago. One of the places I hang out online is a very popular "natural parenting" board. I stumbled upon a conversation about these books there one day, and was surprised to read that many of the folks there wouldn't read these to their kids or let their kids read them, due to their "racism" and "violence." These were my absolute favorite as a small child (my mom read them to me, then I read them myself when I was old enough, and I always play-acted my favorite scenes), so I was really surprised. However, what you see as an adult and what you remember from childhood are different things.

Then along came a full, new set at the Goodwill, for just two bucks. I couldn't resist. Then came sickness, and that always makes me want to read kids books.

And now I am most of the way through The Banks of Plum Creek (though I admit I skipped Farmer Boy--who wants to read a book about a boy?). Though I am not yet finished, I would definitely let my kid read these books.

Are they racist? Yep. The phrase "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" is repeated more than once in Little House on the Prairie. However, given the context (settlers in Kansas in the 1870s), historical accuracy seems to fall on the side of racism. And in general the Indians in the book are portrayed as some good, some bad, just like people in general. They are definitely seen as a different "species," as was the common thought at the time, but the actual hatred is kept to a minimum. As for African American characters, the only one that has surfaced so far is the Black doctor who saved the Ingalls' from all dying when they had malaria.

And violent? I'm not really sure what that means in this context. Perhaps that the kids get spanked ("whipped")? Well, again, look at the norms for the time. Or that they hunt and kill animals, and do things like play kickball with an inflated pig's bladder? Frankly, if that bothers you so much, your position of privilege is such that I'm going to have a hard time taking your problems with these books very seriously. Subsistence farmers/hunters in the 19th century, folks--they're not likely to be vegetarians. And they have to take their toys where they get them, too.

I'm really enjoying reading them, and given the amount of perspective they are giving me on things like overconsumption as an adult, I'd think they must have done me good as a poor rural kid.

There are definitely things that are sticking out, though, that I hadn't noticed previously. For one thing, what is up with Pa? He always seemed like such a pleasant character when I was little (and I was getting that from the books, too--I wasn't watching Michael Landon on TV), but he kind of creeps me out now. Why can't he stay in one place for more than a year? What kind of a father takes his wife and three little girls out of their safe and comfortable house in the Big Woods (first book) and drags them across the country in a covered wagon just because Wisconsin is "getting too crowded"? Seems strange. I wonder if there is a historical account of all of this, and how it differs from Laura's idealized memories?

So, my feeling of outrage at having such a pillar of my childhood maligned remains.

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List 17b: Songs from TV

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That last list got me thinking about great songs featured on TV shows I love. Here's a list of a few. Do you know what shows they are/were from? Put guesses in the comments. Shouldn't be too hard to guess--there aren't/haven't been all that many shows I like.

1. "Way Down in the Hole" by Steve Earle (originally Tom Waits) Theme song from The Wire, last season's version (Kelly Cat)
2. "L.A. Song" by Christian Kane
3. "Goodbye to You" by Michelle Branch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tabula Rosa episode (Amanda)
4. "Keep Me in Your Heart" by Warron Zevon
5. "Woke Up This Morning" by A3 Theme song from The Sopranos (Melinda)
6. "Out Of This World" by Bush
7. "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones My So-Called Life (Kasia)
8. "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley (originally Leonard Cohen) The West Wing, the episode when Simon dies (Frog)
9. "Teardrop" by Massive Attack Theme song from House, M.D. (Melinda)
10. "Have a Little Faith in Me" by John Haitt

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List 17: Covers

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I love covers of songs. Love them. Never met one I didn't like. Here are some of my favorites:

1. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Tori Amos (originally Nirvana)
I don't like most covers of this song. I like this one.
2. "Tainted Love" by Marilyn Manson (originally Gloria Jones)
3. "Wild Horses" by The Sundays (originally The Rolling Stones)
Gah. The prom scene in Buffy. Always.
4. "Hurt" by Johnny Cash (originally Nine Inch Nails)
Still my pick for best. video. ever.
5. "Mad World" by Gary Jules (originally Tears for Fears)
And I bawl and bawl.
6. "Come On, Eileen" by Save Ferris (originally Dexys Midnight Runners)
This is just silly.
7. "Angel from Montgomery" by Bonnie Raitt (originally John Prine)
This song reminds me of "Into the Wild" now.
8. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by Cat Power (originally The Rolling Stones)
9. "Hazy Shade of Winter" by The Bangles (originally Simon & Garfunkel)
10. "Helpless" by k.d. lang (originally Neil Young)
I actually like Patti Smith's version of this song as well if not better, but I can't find it online.
11. "It Ain't Me, Babe" by Lucy Kaplansky (originally Bob Dylan)
I like her cover of Lyle Lovett's "God Will" even more, but I can't find it anywhere.
12. "He Was a Friend of Mine" by Cat Power (originally Bob Dylan)
13 "King of the Road" by Rufus Wainwright (originally Roger Miller)
From Brokeback Mountain. All the best covers are from movies or TV, seems like.

There are so, so many more...some of which I have told you about before (Patti's Smith's covers from Twelve, all the great Dylan and Leonard Cohen covers...). What are your favorites?

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Update on the Oscar film project

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I just watched Titanic. And I didn't think it was all that bad.

I may still be running a fever.

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Bored

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You'd think, with as often as I am sick and as much of my life as I've spent sick, I'd have it down. But I don't. I'm so bored. My head is killing me, such that very much TV or reading is a problem. I hate crosswords and Suduko and all that. I simply cannot sleep any more right now. I'm too tired to do anything that requires standing up. I paid some bills today, and though that felt like a huge victory, it was exhausting.

Perhaps I really should take up embroidery.

A couple of weeks ago, on a whim, I bought a set of Little House books at the GW for $2. I just read Little House in the Big Woods while taking a bath. What do you bet I'll be all the way up through The First Four Years before I ever start being able to breathe out of my nose or taste food again?

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No list, only misery

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So I have the flu. Today is Day 4. 4.5, really. And I am good and miserable. I was better yesterday, but now I am worse again. I woke up at 9:30, went back to bed at 11:30, and slept until 4. And I could easily go back to bed again now. I have juice and tea and Day-Quil and Tamiflu, and yet I remain miserable and cranky. This is NOT how I like to spend my weekends

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List 14: Song lyric meme

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Same meme as Wednesday, only with song lyrics. These aren't my favorite, though, just the first lyrics from each of the first 10 songs to pop up in my iTunes. Guesses?

1. "I pulled out of Shaky Town, goin' up-country, sinking down."
2. "I walked into a honky tonk, just the other day." "Juke Box Blues" by Reese Witherspoon (originally June Carter Cash) (Delia)
3. "If I have to go, will you remember me?"
4. "Because I love you I get tongue-tied around you." "One Dance" by Dan Bern (Jenny)
5. "Life in the circus ain't easy." "Freakshow" by Ani DiFranco (Chips)
6. "Mamma Svetlana, I know you wanna, shriek at what your daughter done done."
7. "Well my friends are gone and my hair is gray." "Tower of Song" by Leonard Cohen (Chips, Nella)
8. "What is that you're saying, you roulette girl?" "Roulette Girl" by Mary Prankster (Melinda)
9. "Well it's early in the A.M. and I'm feeling kind of blind."
10. "Last night I stood at your doorstep, trying to figure out what went wrong." "Long Walk Home" by Bruce Springsteen (Amanda--close enough!)

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List 12: Movie meme

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I am home sick today and not really up for thinking of a new list. So I'm stealing this meme from Bomboniera.

The rules


1. Pick 10 of your favorite movies.
2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie.
3. Post them here for everyone to guess.
4. Strike it out when someone guesses correctly, and put who guessed it and the movie.
5. Looking them up is cheating, please don’t.

My movie lines:

1. "Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel's life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted." Fight Club (Noble Savage)
2. "...never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!" The Princess Bride (Marta)
3. "Sand is overrated. It's just tiny, little rocks." Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Jess)
4. "And then there were the crypto-homo rockers: Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, David Bowie--who was actually an idiom working in America and Canada." Hedwig & the Angry Inch (Jenny, Bomboneria)
5. "I'm the most dangerous man in this prison. You know why? 'Cause I control the underwear." American History X (Howell)
6. "Anybody not wearing 2 million sunblock is gonna have a real bad day." Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Skylanda)
7. "If love be rough with you, be rough with love. Prick love for pricking and you beat love down." Romeo & Juliet (Melinda, Noble Savage)
8. "Speak for yourself. You may be a sinner, but I ain't yet had the opportunity." Brokeback Mountain (Ganymede)
9. "I'm just trying to be honest about being a misanthrope." Dazed and Confused (jaysee)
10. "I've always known I was meant to dominate your sex and avenge my own." Dangerous Liasons (Bomboniera)

OK. Guesses?

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List 11: Six words

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Have you heard of Six Word Memoirs? The concept is pretty simple--tell your life story in only and exactly six words. Some of my favorites:

1. I slept through most of it.
2. I asked God. He said nothing.
3. Hoping for just one extra day.
4. I'm beginning to think it's me.
5. Dotted i's, crossed t's, now what?
6. Inspired hired fired tired retired expired.
7. Suddenly, something happened... No, false alarm
8. Suggestions wanted for new interesting vices.
9. 78. 45. 33. 8-track. MP3. Next.
10. THIS IS JUST MY DAY JOB.
11. God Called, you have 1 message.
12. Being a grown-up is more fun.
13. Zoloft daily, beer often, fuck yoga.

I am trying desperately to think of a clever one of my own, but coming up totally blank.

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List 10: Rain Songs

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1. It is raining.
2. I haven't done a list yet today.
3. I haven't done a play list in a bit.

So, of course, a rain songs list. Now, rain is a pretty damn common trope in music (so emo, you know?), so I limited this list to songs about rain I actually like. Hence no Gene Kelly (I'm sure he's very upset). Please note my (judicious?) use of hair bands.

1. "I Remember You" by Skid Row
"Woke up to the sound of pouring rain..."
This was my oh-my-God-very-favorite song for quite some time in my teeny bopper years. Sebastian Bach was just. so hot. in the video! I'm happy, actually, to see that Sebastian Bach is at least kind of still around, and not so skinny anymore. And I still like the song. Sometimes, only a power ballad will do.

2. "It Can't Rain All the Time" by Jane Siberry
"It won't rain all the time/the sky won't fall forever."
From The Crow soundtrack! And at this point, I become a goth. For you kiddies, that's what we used to call emo. ;)

3. "Purple Rain" by Prince & The Revolution
"I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain"
The best line in the song, though, is "I don't want to be your weekend lover." I am not actually old enough to truly appreciate Prince for when he was hot, but I still love him. As a side note, Ani used to cover this song every now and again, which was fantastic.

4. "I Can't Stand the Rain" by Tina Turner
"I can't stand the rain against my window/bringing back sweet memories"
This song rules just for the way Tina sings "rain."

5. "Have You Ever Seen the Rain? by Credence Clearwater Revival
"Someone told me long ago theres a calm before the storm,/I know; its been comin' for some time."
CCR is probably one of those bands that proves my dorkiness. Oh well.

6. "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain" by Hank Williams Sr.
"Love is like a dying ember/Only memories remain/And through the ages I'll remember/Blue eyes cryin' in the rain."
Doesn't get much cooler than Hank Sr. Usually, though, I think of Willie Nelson when I think of this song.

7. "November Rain" by Guns N Roses
"Nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain."
Another one from the power ballad period. I can't help it.

8. "I Wish I Never Saw the Sun" by Beth Orton
"I wish I never saw the sun shine, then maybe I wouldn't mind the rain."
This song makes me bawl. Seriously.

9. "Rush Hour" by Ani DiFranco
"Rush hour/at the day's dawning/the rain came/and pushed me under the awning."
I love the sound of this song, it's intensity. And the very basic guitar line.

10. "Raining in Baltimore" by The Counting Crows
"It's raining in Baltimore, 15 miles east, but everything else is the same."
Another sad one. Surely I've mentioned before how much I LOVE this album?

11. "You Never Even Call Me By My Name" by Merle Haggard (and others)
"I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison/and I went to pick her up in the rain/But before I could get there in my pick-up truck/She got runned over by a damned old train."
This is a favorite of my mom's. She sings it. Often. Not this version, but the live Steve Goodman one. But I couldn't find that one online. And this one is pretty amazing. The perfect country western song.

12. "I Think It's Gonna Rain Today" by Nina Simone
"Human kindness is overflowing/and I think it's gonna rain today."
This song reminds me of Beaches, when Bette Midler sings it. This is Nina Simone's version, though. The whispered "lonely" just kills me.

13. "It's a Hard Rain Gonna Fall" by Bob Dylan
"And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard/And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall."
Another uplifting one. This is Dylan-as-poet though, and it's so lucid and beautiful. ("Saw a room full of men with their hammers bleeding.")

14. "Done Wrong" by Ani DiFranco
"It's a hard rain, it's a cold rain, the kind that you find in songs/Guess that makes me the jerk with the heartache, here to sing for you about how I've been done wrong."
I love the sound of this song, but it's the self-awareness and meta-ness of it that really kills me.

15. "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor
"I've seen fire and I've seen rain/I've seen sunny days I thought would never end/But I always thought that I'd see you again."
This song is cheesy and reminds me of Running on Empty and I love it.

16. "No Rain" by Blind Melon
"All I can say is that my life is pretty plain/I like watching the puddles gather rain."
I know, 16 is a weird number. But there wasn't one I wanted to leave out. So there you go.
Incidentally, I used to have a flannel with "Blind Melon" stitched into the back. Rad.

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I'm in business!

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I sold my first bunch of bath melts today, and I am just on Cloud 9 about it. True, the person who is buying them is a friend, so it's still all in the family, but I'm still excited. The first step of my plan for world domination and the overthrow of Lush is complete!

In case you missed it before, my Etsy shop, Crushworthy, is here. It's under construction, more things will be added in the future, but you can definitely buy what is there now. Please tell anybody bath-obsessed that you know--my stuff is cheaper than most, more natural than most, and fully customizable!

Also, my tie-dying friend Frog has opened an Etsy shop, Dye Tyke, and you should check it out as all. She does beautiful work, and her baby/toddler stuff is so so great. What's cuter than a baby in tie-dye? My favorite piece she has up now is this orange romper.

Here's to women turning their creativity into small business, and supporting one another while doing it!

Oh, one more shout out: my friend The Princess is blogging at a site you should all check out, Crafting a Green World. It's a wonderful read and a good resource, and I'll be adding it to be feed reader right now. You should too.

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More Goodwill reviews

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Yesterday, the intrepid Princess and I hit some new thrift stores. In specific, we went on a troll of suburban Goodwills.

First, we hit the northern Blue Hanger store, which I've visited many times (and mentioned here) before, but the Princess had never visited. We both did well there for tiny amounts of cash. I got a heart-shaped box to turn into a princess box, some cute striped envelopes to use for packaging some bath products, a star-shaped silicone mold to make bath products, a bunch of Disney princess books (again, for collaging), and a beautiful small bamboo cutting board which will be perfect for antipasta. There may have been something else as well...and I spent like $6. The Princess stocked up on thank-you notes and some great wooden toys and a few books for her Small Man.

Next, we had had lunch (and made a much-needed hand washing stop--I really need to start carrying sanitizer in my car to use after Goodwill trips). Then we we continued up the highway to Cedar Park. Where we got lost, paid unnecessary tolls, and then finally found the Parmer Lane Goodwill.

This is a very, very nice Goodwill. It would be a great starter store for someone who isn't experienced in thrifting or is yucked out by it. It is extremely clean and well-organized (the books are alphabetized by author, which neither The Princess or I had ever seen at a thrift store before). We didn't spend much time in the clothes, but they look to be of pretty high quality and very nicely arranged (though not by size, which is so annoying). The children's clothing section looked particularly well-stocked, and I saw several racks of plus-sized clothes as well. I'd say housewares were the most lacking section in the store--only a few short aisles.

I snatched up a few more Princess books, but didn't see much else that would work for me. The Princess got a couple more books for the Small Man. Neither of us found as much as I'd have expected, given how nice the store is, but it was likely because we were looking for housewares and linens and not clothes.

Last, we hit the Cedar Park Goodwill. Another very nice store, this one with a few more housewares fewer books. Again very clean and pretty well organized. I didn't look at the clothes at all, so I can't attest to anything there. The housewares section was pretty extensive, and had some nice stuff. The Princess picked up some plastic glasses to use in her yard, some more thank you notes, and...something else? I got another box for collaging.

No major expenditures today, or really great finds (except maybe the bamboo board), but these are both stores I'll visit again. There is another store, the New Hope one, that is only a couple of miles directly down the road, so the next trip will definitely need to include a pass at that store as well.

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List 8: Jobs

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Stealing a page from Eden's book today and listing my previous jobs.

Age 14-15: Arlene's Cafe. Started as busser/dishwasher and moved to waitress on slower shifts, or second waitress on busier ones. I worked only once in a while during the school year (my freshman year in high school) and I think four days a week over the summer. The job ended explosively in August when the boss man screamed at me and called me a very, very bad name for spilling some salad dressing, a story I've told here before.

Age 15-17: Tomaselli's Cafe & Pastry Mill I started just a couple of months after quitting my previous gig. Better food, better atmosphere. I had a lot of fun at this job (and sometimes it was a total drag too, obviously). Again I started as a dishwasher/prep cook/pastry maker and ended up waiting tables. This cafe still says family to me, and I am warmly greeted by the owner whenever I make my way back into it. Here I worked 2-3 days a week during school and full-time over the summer all through the last three years of high school, until I left for college.

Age 18: Reed Residence Life. My first year at Reed my work study job was in the office of Residence Life, which oversees all the dorms. I mostly filed and made copies, answered the phone when the full-time admin was taking a break, that kind of thing. It was part-time, but I can't remember exactly how much I worked there. I recall very clearly that I didn't like it--it was boring.

Age 18: North Douglas Parks Community Pool.
The summer after my first year at Reed, I lived at home and worked at a public pool in the next little town over. I don't know what my title was, but I did a little bit of a lot of things. I worked the early shift, getting there to open the doors at 5:30. I took money and scheduled swimming lessons at the front desk, cleaned the locker rooms (ew), and was done every day in the early afternoon, which left ample time for sunbathing and moping, which were the other two activities I engaged in that summer. Towards the end of the summer, I took a class and became a certified lifeguard, and then I worked a lifeguard/swim lessons shifts before returning to Reed.

Age 19: Reed College Pool. I spent what seemed like the majority of my second year at Reed sitting at the Reed College Pool, sniffing chlorine, watching people swim laps. It couldn't have been that much time, but it certainly seemed like it. I had a radio, I remember, and listened to the bulk of Clinton's impeachment proceedings on NPR. Still, it paid better than other campus jobs, and you could read if there was nobody swimming (which happened sometimes), so it wasn't too bad.

Age 19: Multnomah County District Attorney's Office. The summer after my second year in college, I interned at the DA's office. At the beginning of the summer, I got very, very sick with what turned out to be a pelvic/ovarian infection, and I missed three weeks of work, so it got off to kind of a bad start. It was a cool job, though in retrospect it was clearly more charity than work. I got paid well (for that time in my life, anyway), had to dress up, and had my own office. I helped misdemeanor trial lawyers with prep work and wrote briefs on new research in minority relations in DA's offices. I also created a promotional booklet about the history of the DA's office in the county. It was the first job I had where it became clear that this whole getting a degree thing was a really, really good idea. And I also learned that I definitely did not want to become a lawyer.

Age 20: Reed College Pool. Repeat age 19, only with $.25/hr more for my "experience."

Age 20: Reed College Annual Fund. I did a brief stint my third year at Reed of calling former students and their parents and asking them for money. I have seriously never done anything I hated as much as phone solicitation. And I SUCKED at it, too. I think it was politely suggested that I quit.

Age 20: Reed College Conference and Events Planning:
The summer after my junior year, I stayed on campus and worked as the "summer conference coordinator" for Reed. It wasn't a bad job, though being on-call sucked. I basically coordinated between outside groups who wanted to rent Reed facilities for their conferences or meetings and the Reed offices that they'd need to deal with (janitorial, food, AV, etc.). It was the most responsibility I'd had to date, which I enjoyed, but event planning was and is clearly not my calling.

Age 21: Reed College Prospective Host.
Not wanting to lifeguard again my senior year, and also not wanting to co-habitate with my boyfriend again, I wrangled my way into a job as a prospective host and got a free dorm room. Basically, I babysat prospective students, picking them up, taking them to dinner, showing them around, and having them spend the night in the other half of my split freshman-style dorm room. I averaged less than one student per week, so it really wasn't bad. I was pretty terrible at it, though--by that time I was so down on Reed and becoming so anti-social that I can't possibly have been any fun, or much information.

Age 21: Adjunct instructor I graduated into a really bad economy (2001 in Oregon), so the first job I could find was a two nights/week gig teaching business English at a technical/business college. It was a job for which I was way too young and completely unprepared, and I was worse at it than almost anything else I've ever done. To say I am not proud of that performance would be a vast understatement.

At this point we start jobs that are actually on my resume, and so I get a bit less specific...

Age 22: Art Museum. My first real post-college job. For the princely sum of $17,000/year, I scheduled school tours of the museum's collections, assisting in managing the docent program and the teen program, assisted in creating and distributing educational materials, etc. I worked with great people, with whom I am still in contact, and learned a huge, huge amount. I also learned that $17,000/year is not enough to live on.

Age 23: Medical School. My first and last true administrative assistant job. A huge pay bump (up to almost $30k, if I remember correctly) led me to take the job, and that was the right decision, as I really needed the money. The job itself, however, sucked in such a huge way I can barely articulate it. I spent a lot of time entering procedures performed by residents into a huge tracking database. I also typed dictation notes, made copies...the real admin stuff. Once I was there for a bit longer, I got to do a little more interesting stuff, including research for a breast health education project, but it was mostly pretty brain-numbing, and I was happy when we were leaving for Austin so I could quit.

Age 24: Non-profit. I started at the non-profit at about the same time I started graduate school. I was a "Research and Policy Intern." The work itself was fabulous, really interested and I learned a ton. And I met one of my best friends, The Princess, there (she was my supervisor!). There are downsides to working for a small non-profit, though, and some of them definitely came to my attention during my year there. Suffice it to say that I think I am finished with non-profit work.

Age 25-26: Contract company. This is the job I temporarily left graduate school for. It was a very well-paid (the most I've ever made) gig as a technical writer, working on a contract basis with a technical team at a state agency. One of the easiest jobs I've ever had. Never asked much of me and didn't give me much to think about, but it wasn't a totally unpleasant experience. The most frustrating thing about it, I think, was just the going-nowhere feeling it gave me. I just couldn't see what would be next from there.

Age 26-28: University.
This brings us to the present. I work at a University, managing grants. For the most part, I like my job. I've learned a lot and gained what I think is a very useful skill set. It's not my passion, but it doesn't bore me too much. I'm earning a very decent living, and next month I will have worked in the same position for two years, which (as you can see) is something of a record.

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More on the damn princesses (for Simon)

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OK, in the comments to that last post, Simon wrote:

I demand a more abstract reason for you hating Disney princesses, because: A survey listing reasons each movie princess is regressive, reactionary, racist (or other R-word) doesn't break down the specific overall reason for hating them. Not that I'm all super stoked on princesses. If we're going to barrage young girls with very specific gender programming, we should pick one that will have positive results in the long run - like porn stars (not their real lives, just their on-camera personas) or politicians (ditto). I personally prefer the porn star route, but that's because I'm an awful, awful person. Also, more hormones in the milk, please. But seriously - gimme an intro and conclusion to your post, even if it's a seperate post entirely.

Because I would rather stab myself repeatedly in the liver than ever discuss porn with Simon again, I'm going to ignore that part of the comment and address the point. That last post was intellectually lazy. I can do better.

I have multiple problems with the Disney princesses, both individually and collectively. I touched on my individual problems with them in the last post, but didn't say much about the collective. My biggest problem with them collectively is their very sameness. From Snow White in 1939 all the way through Disney's most recent "princess," Mulan, not a whole lot has changed. Disney pays lip-service to diversity (first through princesses with differing hair colors, and more recently with the non-white princesses), and to increasing "spunk" among the princesses, but really, the story remains the same (as do the big-eyed tiny-waisted princesses themselves). It nearly every narrative, the princess gets in some kind of trouble, generally due either to some mistake she herself makes or to the meddling or stupidity of another woman in the plot, and is rescued by a prince, always "handsome" and usually someone she barely knows. The details differ, but the princesses are never shown with human female friends (woodland creatures and talking dishes are fine, though), and are often in competition with other women. The message that sends is pretty clear--women are against you, but if you're pretty enough and suffer enough, some handsome man will come and sweep you away.

Aside from the old, tired, regressive handsome prince story, I also hate the class overtones many of the princess stories take. The handsome princes in their lives don't just "rescue" them from endless sleep (Sleeping Beauty, Snow White) and entrapment/marriage to icky men (Belle, Jasmine) but from poverty and/or being "ordinary" (Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Mulan). The message is not only that normal lives aren't good enough, but that you need to be rescued from being mundane from some dude.

Honestly, I could go on and on. I get so irritated when trying to write about this that I have trouble making a logical argument. Which I recognize, again, is intellectually lazy. But here's a start, anyway.

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List 6: To hell with Disney princesses

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As I've mentioned, I've been spending some time lately with Disney princesses. And wow, they piss me off. I mean, them pissing me off is why I started the subversive boxes in the first place, clearly, but now that I am looking for them I see them EVERYWHERE, and I really, really hate them.

Here is a list, chronologically, of the Disney princesses and why they suck.

snow white1. Snow White (1937). Disney's first princess. Stock story--wicked stepmother, Garden of Eden-style poison apple, handsome prince. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Then there's Snow White's turn as a subservient house maid for the dwarves, the racism implicit in the good character being "white" and the evil character "black"...What bothers me the most about Snow White, I think, is the sick emphasis on her "purity." It makes me want to retch.

Cinderella2. Cinderella (1950). My guess is that Cindyrella is Disney's most popular princess. You know the story: another wicked stepmother, this time with sisters to boot, another beautiful maid, another handsome prince. With freaky 50s class implications! The thing that pisses me off the most about it, though, I gotta tell you, is the conflation of big feet=ugly horrible woman and small feet=lovely perfect princess. Gah.

aurora3. Aurora (1959). Princess Aurora, also known as Sleeping Beauty, has the distinction of being the Disney princess who takes the longest nap. The wicked stepmother becomes an evil witch, but once again we get a wake-up kissing prince, this time one to whom Aurora was betrothed at birth! And requisite sexless protector women (the good fairies), whose vanity over whose signature color will reign ends up getting Aurora caught--they are the most irritating part, I think. There's also a weird class aspect here--Aurora has to give up her class/crown in order to be safe, and there's a feeling of "noble poverty" that bothers the shit out of me.

ariel4. Ariel (1989). Ariel is the Little Mermaid. I have no idea why Disney decided to pick the princesses back up after a 30 year hiatus, but when they did, they put her underwater. Possibly just so the princess could wear a bikini. Again we have a handsome prince and a stepmother/witch, and talking animals (they're a must in the previous stories too). Ariel is a bit different from the previous princesses in that she's more headstrong and has a bit more agency, but the script is really still the same. And still annoying. The man who saves Ariel is her dad and not her prince, but the stupid trope of falling in love with a handsome prince reigns supreme.

belle5. Belle (1991). Ariel was so successful Disney had to follow her up, so they kicked it old school with Beauty and the Beast, which is possibly the single most irritating and horrifiying Disney movie ever made. Belle isn't actually a princess, she's just a girl, and she is trades herself for her imprisoned father and is held hostage by the Beast. With whom she, of course, falls in love. Falls in love with her captor--yay. Then of course she "breaks his curse" and he becomes handsome and lovely. Because there ain't nothing worse than being ugly. Gag.

jasmine6. Jasmine (1992). Not only did Aladdin give Disney the chance to feature another navel-revealing princess, this time she got to live out basically the same story while being non-white. Yeehaw! Like Ariel, Jasmine is a bit spunkier than the early princesses, and she gets herself in all sorts of trouble. Jasmine's rescuer, Aladdin, is a commoner not a prince, and she never takes a big nap. The film also continues a trend away from female villains (the stepmother role), with Jafar. Which is all well and good, but it's still a racist piece of shit.

Pocahontas7. Pocahontas (1995). How excited were Disney execs when they realized how profitable non-white princesses could be? So excited that they followed Jasmine up with Native American princess Pocahontas! The story line does change up some here, with no evil older man/ugly dude/stepmother and a princess who doesn't get married and live happily ever after in the end. However, Pocahontas still bugs me, because it's racist and reactionary and historically inaccurate. It's almost progress, though.

mulan8. Mulan (1998). Disney continues its run of non-white princesses (and inaccurate co-opting of other people's legends) with Mulan, about whom I have lots to say over at Heroine Content. Again, there is almost-progress here, but not quite.

tiannaApparently, the next Disney princess will be Tiana, from The Princess and the Frog, upcoming in 2009. Unsurprisingly, Tiana will be the first Black Disney princess. My hopes were low to begin with, and only got lower when I saw Tiana's picture. I'm sure Disney will pat itself on the back for its cultural sensitivity (that's four non-white princesses in a row!), but will she possibly be anything other than another horrible stereotype (now with gender AND race!)?

tinkerbellFor the purpose of the boxes, I am also making a honorary Princess of Peter Pan's Tinkerbell, just because I hate her so much. Disney released their version of Peter Pan in 1953, and in it Tinkerbell was jealous, mute, and possibly stupid. Gah. To go along with the revenue-generating Princesses, Disney has built a Fairies franchise around Tinkerbell. Interestingly, the other fairies are new characters, young hot fairies from Neverland. The company didn't chose to incorporate its old fairy godmothers from Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Can't think of why that would be...

You can take a quiz to find out which princess you are here. I honestly wasn't sure which one to hope for when I took it. I got Pocahontas, which I guess is about as well as I could hope to do.

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List 5: Clothes clothes clothes

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So even though I've stopped taking and posting pictures of my clothes every day, I am still thinking a lot about style, about dressing in a more put-together way, and about reducing my wardrobe to fewer pieces that I feel better about. I'm still reading Allie every day, and taking her advice. One of the best posts she's written, to my mind, was not on her daily style diary, but on Wardrobe Oxygen, where she wrote a couple of years ago about staples for every woman's wardrobe. After reading the post, along with her updates "Wardrobe hints for warmer climates" and "Updating your wardrobe for spring 2008," I made a list (word of the month!) of things I wanted in my wardrobe, especially with spring/summer approaching.

I wanted to be able to get everything thrifted. But it's just not going to happen, so back to cheapie retailers I went, tail between my legs. I hope it's not always like this, but for now, I'm doing what I can.

Clothes for spring:

1. Wide leg jeans
2. Denim skirt
3. Two or three colored non-tee tops
4. Wrap dress
5. Light sweater
6. Two or three easy to wear skirts
7. Yoga apparel
8. Colored summer style flats
9. Long necklaces

Not a huge list, but a pretty daunting one if you are me. So I I've started shopping, mostly online, and here's what I have ordered so far:

1. Wide leg jeans. This one is still outstanding. These are both expensive and impossible to find in the correct fit. Might wait until after summer.
2. Denim skirt. Here again still outstanding. I know the shape I want, I think--something fluted, like this one from NY & Company, but I haven't tried that one on yet or found any similar ones.
3. Two or three colored non-tee tops. Here's where I've started buying. I ordered this purple cotton/silk belted top from Target, this blue faux wrap top from Target, and this wrap top, in rose, from Jessica London.
4. Wrap dress. Went with Jessica London here, too, since it was the only wrap dress I could find with short sleeves. I was inspired by Allie's post about color, too, and chose to get it in blue instead of black.
5. Light sweater. I was happy to find an ecologically friendly option for this purchase, and ordered the 100% organic cotton Cherub Sweater from Of the Earth in black.
6. Two or three easy to wear skirts. I went a bit wild here. My Libby Dibby skirt is probably going to be too heavy for summer in Texas, and I'm loving all the faux hippy runway looks right now, so I went that direction and ordered two fairly made wrap skirts from Butterfly Mama. The first is a long neutral one, the second a shorter, brighter one (sadly no longer on her site). They have arrived already, fit beautifully, and came with incense and a burner in their package. I'll order from her again for sure. Inspired by some of the funkier skirts on Butterfly Mama's site, which don't come in my size, I also ordered this shorter and swingier skirt from Jessica London, in kiwi.
7. Yoga apparel. You'd think this would be the easy part, but it's so not. I tried and didn't fit into short yoga pants from American Apparel and yoga tankinis from Danskin before going back to my standard Champion-from-Target yoga wear. Don't fix it if it's not broken, I guess.
8. Colored summer style flats. Still on the lookout for these, and might skip them and make due with what I have.
9. Long necklaces. I tried to thrift for these and failed, so I hit Ebay, where I bought this mid-length vintage glass bead necklace in earth tones, this extra long blue and white glass bead necklace, and this long silver necklace.

And that's where I am at with that. If everything I ordered fits, I should be set, but realistically I know that won't happen. So we'll see...

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March giving/List 4: Local charities

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In November, I posted about I Live Here, I Give Here, which is an Austin campaign to make people aware of local charitable organization and non-profits and increase giving. As one of my giving goals for 2008 was to increase local-level giving, it's a great resource for me. In honor of NaBloPoMo: The List Edition, here is a list of some places I'd like to give to this year, many of which I discovered through I Live Here, I Give Here:

1. Femme Film Texas
"Femme Film Texas teaches filmmaking and internet publishing to young women and girls through hands-on educational programs that promote media literacy and encourage self-expression."

2. Health Alliance for Austin Musicians
"The mission of the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians is to provide access to affordable health care for Austin's low income, uninsured musicians, focusing on prevention and wellness."

3. Rude Mechanicals Grrl Action
"Grrl Action helps teenage girls find voice and vision through the power of performance."

4. Seedling Foundation
"The Seedling Foundation supports public schools by encouraging and facilitating community involvement. Major program areas include a school-based mentoring program, which matches children of incarcerated parents with caring adults in the Austin area community and public school campus beautification projects at low-income public schools."

5. PeopleFund
"PeopleFund is a nonprofit financial institution that promotes financial opportunity and stability for low income people by assisting them to: build successful small businesses, purchase safe and affordable homes, achieve financial security and independence and, form prosperous communities through providing fair and just loan products, training in business management, financial literacy and homebuyer preparedness."

6. Breakthrough Austin
"Breakthrough provides a path to college, starting in middle school, for low-income students who will be first-generation college graduates. The program admits students as 6th graders and makes a six-year commitment to helping them graduate from high school and enter college."

7. Coalition for Emotional Literacy
"We believe there is a direct correlation between animal abuse, family violence, and criminal behaviors. We strive to increase positive behaviors and diminish destructive behaviors towards humans and non-humans through education programs. We also establish temporary shelters for pets of families fleeing abusive conditions and seniors that go in for extended care."

8. Girlstart
"Girlstart is a non-profit organization created to empower girls to excel in math, science, and technology. Founded in 1997 in Austin, Texas, Girlstart has quickly established itself as a best-case practices leader in empowering, educating, and motivating girls to enjoy and become more proficient in math, science and technology."

9. Truth be Told
"Truth Be Told is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing transformational tools for women behind and beyond bars."

10. People's Community Clinic
"People's Community Clinic works to improve the health of medically underserved and uninsured Central Texans by providing high quality, affordable healthcare. 1 in 4 Central Texas has no health insurance. We deliver a full range of primary care and wellness services to the 11,000 patients who call the Clinic their medical home."

There are, of course, dozens of other worthy organizations listed. However, I'm keeping it to 10 to highlight this month. For my own personal giving dollars, I am choosing Truth be Told for March.

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I voted

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i-votedI spent about an hour this morning waiting in line with other people starting their work day a bit late, at a junior high only a few minutes from my house. We were all participating in the democratic process.

The school, and my neighborhood, is mixed race. Across from where we were lined up to vote was a classroom of what I'd bet were fifth or sixth graders, about 3/4 of whom were African American. As they filed in and saw what we were lined up to do, many of them let loose with shouts of things like "Obama '08!" "Vote for the brother!" and "First Black president!" Technically, of course, this was illegal--electioneering too close to the polling place--and it was stopped by their teacher pretty quickly, but they got their point across. These kids were excited. And why I'd have loved to see similar excitement about the a possible first female president, I couldn't help but find their excitement a little bit contagious. Marking that ballot today felt like being a tiny part of history, and I'm glad I was there.

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Bloom table

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Wanna see what else I've been working on?

Of course you do--that's the joy of a captive audience!

bloom table

This is what I am calling the bloom table. It's my second attempt at a collaged table top (the first was years ago and it's really too bad I don't have a picture of it, because it was very cool). The materials are basically all re-used: thrifted table, pictures from old magazines and calendars that I either thrifted or had around. The only thing I bought was the varnish with which I am now coating it in the hopes it will be somewhat durable. Even the Mod Podge I attached the pictures with originally and the paint brush I am using for the varnish are leftovers. So that part is good. And doing a completely apolitical collage like this, which focuses on pretty colors and shapes rather than any greater meaning, has been good for my psyche. I haven't decided yet whether to just varnish the wooden legs or spray paint them a bright color. And then I think it's going to become my nightstand.

I really love collage as an art form because it is so free-form. There are no wrong answers, and it can be as sloppy or as precise as you want it to be. I rarely plan a collage out--I just keep adding and moving things until it feels right to me. This isn't a great method in terms of making things come out perfect or neat, but it is what has felt best to me so far. As always, when I look at this finished product I see how I should have done it differently (for example, started at the outside and worked in to avoid bare edges), but all in all I am pretty happy with it.

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Goodwill: South Lamar

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goodwill south lamar2800 South Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78704
512-442-8802

Store Hours
Mon-Sat: 9:00am - 9:00pm
Sun: 11:00am - 7:00pm

The Goodwill on South Lamar is one I have been to several times before, and it's always been pretty good to me. It's cleaner and better organized than your average Goodwill, which is always a plus, and it uses the same basic pricing structure for most items. However, this store also has a separate section of "better" clothing (lots of gently used and new Banana Republic) that are priced slightly higher (around $10 an item). For someone who doesn't mind going through and looking for these things herself, that's a bit of a drag, but for a less dedicated thrifter it might actually be a plus.

On my most recent trip, I didn't look much at the clothes--I've previously been discouraged by a lack of plus-sized selections. I spent most of my time in the housewares section, which was great. It's a good mix of used and some vintage pieces and quite a few Target seconds or clearance items. Things are reasonably well-organized and priced pretty consistently.

The book section in this store is only average sized and hasn't ever begotten much for me. The furniture is in a separate building, away from the rest of the store, and is very hit or miss.

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List 3: What's going on with me

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So I have all this stuff to tell you! And, in honor of NaBloPoMo's March list theme, I'll try to do it in list form.

blue cinderella box1. Remember those odd princess things I said I'd justify purchasing? Well, they are fodder for my new crafty project, Subversive Princess Boxes. My favorite one so far, the blue Cinderella box, is at left. It's actually part of a set, with the green Cinderella box, that I made for a swap. I've also made a purple Tinkerbell box and a larger pink Cinderella box. They get nicer with each incarnation. Making them is labor intensive, but fun. They may at some point be available for sale, but for right now they are for swapping/gifting only.

2. Speaking of sale, that brings me to my second new project, Crushworthy (huge nod to Turtle for the name!). Crushworthy is the Etsy shop I've opened to sell the homemade bath products I am churning out like a mad woman lately. I have no idea if this venture will ever be profitable, but it's fun and I think worth a try. Right now, all I have up is oatmeal bath. As soon as I get pictures taken, I'll add bath melts. Those are the only two recipes I have right now that I feel confident enough in to sell. I'm experimenting with making other things as well, though, including bath bombs and bubble bars. We'll see.

3. Last night, I made amazing curried chicken salad. We had it for dinner on toasted pita and will be having it for lunch today (and tomorrow).

I think that's all I've got. For now.

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List 2: Sunday morning

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Top 5 things I love about Sunday morning:

1. Not having to get out of bed on a schedule.
2. Extended pajama time.
3. Really good coffee, consumed at my leisure, out of an actual clay mug.
4. Watching soccer on the couch with Mark.
5. Knowing that I have the whole day in front of me.

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List 1: Thrifing finds

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Okay, it's March 1, and that means it's time for my first list, as per this month's NaBloPoMo theme. Since I spent the better part of the day today hitting a string of thrift stores with my good friend The Princess, seems natural that my list should tell you where we went and what I thrifted!

tin recipe boxes1. Goodwill South Lamar was our first stop. This isn't a store I frequent often, since it's way out of my neighborhood, but it's a nice store and usually has something to offer. Today wasn't any different--our first stop was the most worthwhile, at least for me. My best find was the two tin recipe boxes you see here, for $.99 each. No idea what I am going to do with them, but aren't they great? I also came home with a brand new Bodum French press for $1.99 (and we don't really need another one right now, but given my propensity to break them, it doesn't hurt to have a spare), a shirt for Mark for I think $4.99, two of these great calendars for $.99 each (and again I am not totally sure what I am going to do with them), and a princess book for a project I'll tell you about later for $2.99.

cat tower2. Our second stop was Savers South Lamar. I am not a huge Savers fan, but it was very much worth my time to stop there today. I found the cat condo you see here being enjoyed by Atticus and Illy, which is brand new, for $25. I thought maybe I'd overpaid until I looked for something similar online and found prices around $90 for something not so cute. At the cats love it so far. I also got a couple more princess books and an Easter Seals calendar (I needed flower pictures for a project I'm working on), for $.99 each.

3. Stop #3 was at Thrift Town. I've reviewed this store before. Nothing there for me today, though I considered buying a big bag of cat toys for $4.99.

4. Next, we hit another Goodwill, the Cherry Creek one. I've reviewed this store before as well. Today it was better than last time, though still lacking in the organizational department. I picked up a bunch of princess valentine's for $.49/box (again, I will explain why at some point in the future), some chi-chi bath sets from Target for $2.99 each, and the world's cutest salt and pepper shakers, new in the package, for $.99.

Then The Princess had to go home and tend to her wee one. Boo hoo!

5. On the way home, I hit the Norwood Goodwill, a store I haven't visited in some time (though I did review it a while back). Like last time, the store was very nice, but didn't actually have anything I wanted. The only thing I even considered buying was a plastic ladle for $1.99.

6. Finally, I went by my weekly stop gold-standard store, the Goodwill at MacFarlane. There wasn't anything there for me today either, but that's not surprising as it's been less than a week since I last visited.

All in all, a very good day. Had a wonderful time, got good stuff, and didn't spend an exorbitant amount. I really like visiting the stores that are off my usual beaten path. Looking at the GW website, I remember my plan to visit every GW in the area. I still haven't been to the Balcones location or the one on Brodie, or any of the ones in the burbs. Maybe next weekend...Princess, are you up for an adventure?

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