Letting the freak flag fly

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We have been out of Austin for a week. The first day, we were in Arkansas, the second, Tennessee, and since then, Virginia.

And people have been looking at us. Both of us had noticed, but neither of us had really thought a whole lot of it. I'd noticed being peered at a gas station in Tennessee, but figured it was the dogs, and again on my first morning here, getting coffee. When we went out to dinner the second night we were here, we were the only people there who weren't wearing polo shirts and khakis. Then, on Thursday, we went grocery shopping. Mark was wearing one of my best ever thrift scores--a red t-shirt with a picture of Chairman Mao acting as a DJ that says "The Chairman Spins." When we got to the checkout, the woman ringing us up kept looking at us strangely, especially Mark. And then, she and Mark had the following conversation:

Cashier: "Is that that guy from Korea?"

Mark: "Um, no, it's Chairman Mao."

Cashier: "Yeah, that Korean guy!"

Mark: "No, he was Chinese."

Cashier: "Oh. But he's a ruler, right?"

Mark: "Yeah, he was a dictator."

Cashier: "So why do you have him on your shirt?"

Mark: "Well, it says 'The Chairman Spins,' and Mao was a propagandist. It's...a pun?"

Cashier (looking confused): "But you have a dictator on your shirt. And it looks like that Korean guy. Is he a cross-dresser?"

Mark: "Um...I don't know. Maybe."

Then she gave us both a strange up-and-down, and we left.

And in the car, we realized it. Since leaving Austin, we'd not seen one person with unnatural colors in his/her hair. No facial piercings. Not a single tattoo. Mark and I, who, in the grant scheme of the cities in which we've lived are pretty tame, have become the freaks. We're young urban professionals, or something approximating it, but Mark has a tiny stud in his nose and two little hoops in his ears, and wears the occasional funny t-shirt. I've got a couple of visible tattoos and purple-streaked hair. And here, apparently, that's enough.

It's an odd feeling. I'd almost say I've missed it. After so many years at Reed, and then in Portland and Austin, where there were so many hipsters that I never looked anything but stodgy, it's kind of nice to feel a little bit on the edge again.

As I was writing this, a commercial for a local VW dealership came on, advertising their "Summer of Love." The commercial featured a hippie: long hair, tie-dye shirt, guitar. A fake hippie. Because here, where would you find a real one?

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Self portrait on my 30th birthday

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Someday very soon I will return to real blog posts. And all will be well in the land. Until then, though, a self-portrait on my 30th birthday.

Photo 2.jpg

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It's not a cul de sac, it's a pipestem

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We're here! Less than 24 hours in I can already seen the benefits of the big-ass house on the quiet street with lots of pretty yards and sidewalks.

Watch out, y'all. My Stepfordization has begun.

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Adios

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The truck is full. The house is empty. And my heart, I'm pretty sure, is broken.

It's been a time, Texas.

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2009 Goal Progress Report: Week 33

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Skipped last week, but I'm still on track:

1. Read one book per week.
Finished one audiobook, Leaving the Saints, and moved on to another, Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamist Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs by Elissa Wall with Liza Pulitzer. I also have three or four more books downloaded for the cross-country drive, so that ought to help this category. But I still haven't finished Edgar Sawtelle. Let's just say I'm not going to finish Edgar Sawtelle and move on, shall we?

2. See one movie per week.
Added one here in the past two weeks: Public Enemies. It was just OK.

4. Improve my eating habits.
I've actually been working on this. Mostly, I am focusing on drinking more water and replacing my bacon biscuit breakfasts with fruit, yogurt, and granola. Baby steps.

5. Exercise regularly.
I think packing and hauling boxes fills this requirement right now.

9. Journal and blog regularly.
I've been falling down on this one for sure. Haven't picked my journal up at all and am only blogging sporadically and not well. This will change after we get to Virignia. Right now there just really aren't enough hours in the day.

10. Sell our house and move.
This is the bulk of it now. We get our moving truck tomorrow and leave for Virginia on Sunday. It's really happening.

All in all, I think I'm doing as well as could possibly be expected under the circumstances. Once we get there and get settled, I definitely need to re-focus on some of these goals. For now, it's all about keeping on.

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I wanna list

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Strange, in light of my last post, but this is my annual pre-birthday stuff I want post. What can I say--I'm an enigma.

There is so much great indie stuff out there. I want to hug it all.

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Essentials

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Nothing teaches you what your essentials really are like moving.

We've spent all weekend going through the house, picking up items and asking each other "are we going to need this in the next week?" Usually, the answer is no, and into one of the countless liquor store boxes it goes. Turns out, there are really very few things we need in the next week. Some clothes, some toiletries (and I'll admit it, I kept more of those out than I strictly need), bedding, coffee making utensils, dog and cat essentials, and that's about it.

Which leads me to wonder: if I don't need it in the next week, why do I need it at all? How can it be that 95% of our stuff falls into a category of "not immediately needed"? Clearly, some of it is needed: dishes and pots and pans, for example, are not much needed right now, but are needed in general. Most of those liquor boxes, however, are full of things that could be (and in some cases, have been) out of sight for weeks now, and not really missed. Thirty or more boxes of books, for example. Six mirror boxes of art. The three Rubbermaid tubs I filled with clothes that I don't need in the next two weeks. Several hundred CDs. Countless boxes of stuff I can't even categorize, much less explain why we have.

Every time I've moved, I've moved with more stuff. For the first six or so years of living on my own, I had a room of stuff--a dorm room, a shared house. Then we moved here, and both of our rooms of stuff became a house of stuff, then a bigger house of stuff. Suddenly we really do need the 26 foot Penske truck and I am wondering when I got so weighed down.

And it's clearly only going to get worse. The house we're moving out of is about 1,200 square feet. The one we're moving into is 2,200. The next time we move, we're going to have even more stuff. But the amount of that stuff that we actually need, as evidenced by what we keep out for the last week? It's going to be exactly the same size.

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Gonna do it when I get there...

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Over the past few weeks, I have noticed a disturbing trend in myself. I have a bad case of "gonna do it when I get there" syndrome.

The problem with this malady is that there isn't much for accountability. And if there is one thing I know about me and things I need to do, it's that without accountability they aren't gonna get done.

So, for posterity, these are the things I've caught myself saying I'll do when I get to Virginia:


  1. Exercise. In particular, commit to yoga.

  2. Change my eating habits. Eat vegetables. Eat food that I can identify. Stop eating fast food and packaged crap.

  3. Take care of my nails--both a manicure and a pedicure are much needed.

  4. Walk my poor neglected dogs.

  5. Do something about Illy's mats.

  6. Respond to several dozen emails.

  7. Stop wearing such embarrassingly bad clothes.

  8. Organize (and edit) my rather ridiculous bath product collection.

I am hoping that once we get to Virginia, I am going to be so full of new-life-phase hope and positivity that I'll jump right on this list. But, if I don't, somebody remind me to come back to this post, OK?

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5 things for which I am grateful

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I am sick--something viral, I suspect--sick stomach, achy, headache. Plus we're moving in a week. Plus we have had yet another round of expensive home repair issues. So, in general, it hasn't been a good day.

However, I am trying to focus on the positive recently. Lots of folks have have been talking about that, around the blogosphere and elsewhere, and it is, I think, good advice.

So. Five Things for which I am grateful, today:


  1. English Premiere League starts tomorrow.

  2. Mark was kind enough to go out and get me some Sprite and saltines, so if I can ever keep them down, they are available.

  3. Huey's new foster came by tonight and said he's doing great.

  4. Leo and Ata played for a while today, together. This may be the first time ever that has happened.

  5. I can go sleep on a comfortable bed with high quality sheets as soon as I am done typing this.

I'll be damned. I do feel better. I definitely need to do this exercise more often.

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Love Thursday: A boy and his dog

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I couldn't not share these pictures for Love Thursday. Mark and Ata--peas in a pod.

Ata and Mark

Ata and Mark

Ata and Mark

Ata and Mark

Ata and Mark

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Polyvore: Funnest Internet toy evah.

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Am I the last person on Earth to learn about Polyvore? Just in case I'm not, I have to tell you about it. It's the best online toy I have found in forever. It is all loaded up with items of clothing, accessories, and beauty products, and you pick them and put them into sets. What you end up with is something that reminds me of the style board things on How Do I Look? (my favorite makeover show, though I prefered it when Anna Devane from General Hospital was the hostess).

The items are everything from high-end designer stuff to Old Navy and Wet Seal, and mixing and matching those is fun. You can filter things by type and color and cost, and the combinations you can put together are endless. Maybe this is to femme for most of my readers, but I have to say, it's like online paper dolls. I love it.

And of course I've been putting together looks for myself.

Grace 1

Think I could pull this one off?

It also helps to explain things. You know that sleek vintage look I was hoping to be able to wear to the wedding? In my mind, it would be something along these lines:

Grace forrmal

Is that what you were picturing?

You can also explore the collages made by other people, which is good fun. There is a forum, and there is a way to add items to the choices, although I haven't quite gotten that far yet. Since I really do think I'm a late adopter on this one, I won't bore you with any more details, but just in case you didn't already know about, now you do. Enjoy!

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Black tie for the big boned

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With the exception of my high school proms (yes, I went to more than one prom--four, actually), I've never been to a black tie event. So, when I heard that Mark's brother's wedding, coming up the first week in September, was going to be formal, I was almost as excited as I was annoyed. Mark will have to wear a tux and I can wear something fancy! Fun! Visions floated through my mind of a simple, sexy, incredibly sophisticated dress (cut on the bias, of course) and a fun throwback hair fascinator. There could possibly be pin-curls or finger waves. In my mind, I saw myself as a 1930s starlet--Myrna Loy, maybe, or Grace Kelly.

You know where this is going already, don't you?

Friends, I am not built like Myrna Loy or Grace Kelly. On a really, really good day and with a very padded bra, maybe Mae West. The simple, sleek dresses I was envisioning were never going to work on someone with a wide ass, powerful thighs, blacksmith arms, and a tummy role. So, I widened my search.

Since the main problem is my ample bottom, I thought, maybe a wider skirted dress is what I need. With that in mind, I ordered a princess pink Vera Wang dress from Bluefly, thinking maybe I could do a Gwyneth Paltrow at the 1999 Oscars kind of thing. I knew it wasn't going to work the minute I took it out of the (huge) box. Your humble narrator is not so much the pink princess type. The skirt on that thing could have double as a two-person tent. And the color...I looked not so much like a pig, which is what I was afraid of with the pink dress, as like a champagne fountain made with Tequila Rose. Or a Pepto-Bismol explosion. It was truly, frighteningly, horrible.

So it went back. And I thought some more. Maybe Gwyneth Paltrow, whom I don't even like, is not a good style role model. What about someone a bit curvier? Liv Tyler may not be my exact shape, but she's a lot closer than Gwyneth, and she rocks an empire-waisted dress like nobody's business. Empire waists are also a go-to for the pregnant and famous crowd, and while I am not pregnant, I am beginning to have a belly that could be mistaken for it. Maybe when I was thinking 1930s, I wasn't going back far enough. I needed to go back to when plump women were the norm in the classes who dressed up. I needed an Edwardian dress.

So, I made my second order. From Nordstrom, I ordered a gorgeous navy beaded Adrianna Papell gown. I'd look busy and floaty and Renaissancesque, I told myself.

When it came, I liked the look of it. Not a huge skirt, but a multi-layered and loose-fitting one. Pretty beading. And not boring--it didn't look just like what I imagined everyone else would be wearing. Plus, there was enough going on that I wasn't going to have to worry too much about a lot of jewelry. I imagined myself, fleetingly, as a Cate Blanchett figure, an absolutely classic beauty, resplendent in an empire waist when pregnant or playing Queen Elizabeth.

And then the damn thing wouldn't zip. It was, of all things, too small in the bust. I need to be pre-menstrual to fill a C cup, and the dress wouldn't zip past my lower rib cage. Who, I ask, is it supposed to fit? And of course, the too-small bust size was the largest size the dress came in.

So back to square one I went. With less than three weeks before I needed to wear it, no dress. I decided to hope that the bust issue was a brand thing and not a problem I was going to have with all dresses of that style, and gave it another go. I ordered a royal blue OC by Oleg Cassini beaded silk chiffon dress, again from Nordstrom (because they have a good return policy). I'd looked at this dress before, then rejected it because the blue seems too bright, and the only other color it seems to be available in is white (an obvious no-no). But at this point, I'm desperate. It has the empire waist I've decided is pure fat girl gold, and I like the exposed back, as my back is one of my better body parts. I'm not totally sure it's not going to come and make me look like Gigantor Smurf, but it's worth a shot. If it does work out, I can tone it down some with neutral shoes and a bag, and skip the hair fascinator I was set on and go with a French twist or something. With a bit of a cleavage boost, I think I'll still have the capacity to look ethereally Edwardian. At least I hope so.

So the issue here? Same as with most clothes. I am not built the way I'd need to be to wear the styles that appeal to most to my aesthetics. It's not rocket science--sleek styles are not good for a non-sleek body. When it comes to my day-to-day wear, I've mostly learned to adapt to that already. I don't try to wear skinny jeans, for example. Doesn't matter how much the style appeals to me if I am just not built for it. But, since formal wear is something new to me, it's taking a few tries to translate what I already know about my body plus clothing into that realm. And, as usual, the manufacturers don't help. At my current size, I am sometimes able to get into the largest available size of "regular sized" dresses. Any bigger, and I'd need plus sized wear. That would make things exponentially worse. A search of formal dresses available in size 16 and up gives me very little hope about what I am going to do if the blue dress doesn't fit. This navy silk Tadishi dress comes in size 16, so it might work. There are a few strapless styles I could try, but I'd almost definitely have to have them altered. Mostly, though, you go above size 14 and you start getting two-pieced ensembles and dresses with sleeves. Not stuff I'm going to feel comfortable in when I am, in fact, not the mother of the bride. Almost all of the plus-sized styles have lacy stuff or embellishment or gauzy stuff on them. Nothing sleek.

In the grand scheme, this is not a major catastrophe. I can find something to wear, and it's not my wedding anyway, so what I wear is, ultimately, unimportant. However, it just serves as one more example of why women my size and larger get so frustrated about clothes. I have the money to buy a nice dress, I'm willing to spend it, and the dress just doesn't exist. Given the U.S. weight statistics, and all the scare-mongering about how horribly fat we all are, there have to be quite a few women in my demographic on this one. Shouldn't someone be catering to us? And not with second-rate, style-free, dowdy clothes, but with stuff that's actually stylish and becoming and well-made? Doesn't a fat girl's cash spend as well as a skinny one's?

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Festival of Frugality

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How's this for a laugh? I have a post featured on this week's Festival of Frugality, hosted at It's Frugal Being Green. Pop over and check it out, and also check out the other helpful posts. My favorite tip is Don't Forget the Toiletries, But if You Do...by Alison at This Wasn't in the Plan. Simple, but a great idea.

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Sephora swag giveaway on WINOW Reviews

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Be sure to go over to my review blog to read about my Sephora bag from BlogHer and enter to win some products!

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New blog for reviews and giveaways

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Big exciting housekeeping annoucement on WINOW today! I'm starting a new, seperate blog for review and giveaways. There are two reasons for this. The first is that, due to the (reasonable and understandable) rules of the BlogHer Ad Network, I am not allowed to review or give away products worth more than $40 that have been given to me on the same page as my ads. This means that in order to do those reviews or give aways, I need an ad-free page. Secondly, some of the folks who read WINOW just simply aren't interested in my need to review every damn thing I come across. I love reviews--like reading them, like wriitng them. Other people feel differently, and I don't want to bog down this space with lots of reviews if folks aren't interested.

So, a new blog. The URL is http://www.noonewatching.com/reviews/. It looks just like this blog, except for no ads, Nothing new to get used to there. Please add it to your feedreader, or your bookmarks, or whatever.

To make sure I don't miss anybody, though, I am also going to post teasers to the posts I make there on this site, at least for a bit. So you can look for those as well.

I hope you'll enjoy this new venture as much as I plan to!

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Oh Tall Girl, where have you been all my life?

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I made a discovery this week that I have been dying to share with you. TallGirl. TallGirl is a clothing company specifically for tall women. From their about page:

The Tall Girl Shop Ltd ® is North America's largest chain of stores catering exclusively to taller women and to women with longer feet.
Tall Girl® provides tall, long-legged and long-waisted women with clothing that FITS!
The hallmark of our success has been our unwavering commitment to provide QUALITY and FIT for taller women in sizes 6-22.

I found them quite by accident--I was looking on Amazon for some long-length leggings (because they'd be handy in my new climate), and I happened upon an inexpensive pair from TallGirl. I ordered them, they came, and they RULE. They are long enough! The rise is in the right length! It's as if I am not a circus freak, just a woman with a taller body than most!

And they've got more. Much more. I've been browsing their site. They are having an end of season sale! Even on sale, their stuff isn't exactly cheap, but how excited am I about the idea of PJ pants with a 38" inseam? Or 37" inseam cargo pants? I'd have to roll those up! A pencil skirt that would fall perfectly just below the knee?

Possibly my favorite thing on the site, though, is the t-shirt that reads "No. I Don't Play Basketball." I don't get the question much these days, but I spent about 10 years answering it it at least once a week.

Sadly, some of the best stuff on the site is available in-store only. I'm thrilled at the idea of one piece bathing suits with torsos that are actually the right length--I love this graphic one. There store closest to me is in Dallas, which is a bummer, because I would go and check them out if they were closer. Soon, though, they will be--there is a store about 20 miles from our future home in Virginia. So give me a month or so--I'll go and report back.

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West

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This is the last cowboy song.
The end of a hundred year waltz.
The voices sound sad as they're singin' along.
Another piece of America's lost.

-"The Last Cowboy Song", The Highwaymen

Someone asked me recently what I mean when I say I'm a Western girl. Like a lot of people, I think she was picturing what I was missing as a liberal oasis full of organic food and good pot and possibly naked hot springs. And yeah, that stuff all exists in my West, but it's so much more than that. Much of it is counter-intuitive to that vision.

One of the reasons Texas has been able to feel like home to me is that, however it differs from home in the Umpqua Valley, there is some of that same Westerness. Austin is a city, but around the edges there is that little bit of cowboy. And I think I'm going to miss that on the East Coast.

Boots and jeans make a lot more sense to me than black tie. I grew up on classic country music and I love it relentlessly. I've bottle-fed a calf; I know the difference between bear shit and bobcat; I've seen a bald eagle in its natural habitat. There is this whole world that was almost lost by the time I was born and is even more lost now. I am privileged enough to have caught that last little bit of it, and to have it in my blood. And my God do I miss it.

I never thought I would. When I lived in that world, I couldn't wait to get out. In part, I didn't know the rest of the world was different. I expected everybody to know who Gus McCray was. And, in part, I thought I was too good for it--too smart, too cultured, too experimental and wild and outlandish. Even as a pretty young kid, I consciously steered myself away from anything to "country." I wanted to do more.

Now I've done more. I've lived in cities for a dozen years. I've been to New York and to Europe. I've worn formal clothes, gotten a graduate degree, and read a whole lot of really important books. I taught myself not to say "pop" or "crick" or "rig." I learned to like effeminate men and to use multiple forks to eat the same damn meal.

And some of it, I was right about. It's a big, diverse, strange world, and I love that. I love knowing people who didn't all come from the same place. I really do like Indian and Thai food more than venison and boiled potatoes. But mostly, I was completely wrong. I haven't seen everything, but nothing I have seen is nearly so impressive and summer on the river where I grew up. I've read a lot of books, and I keep coming back to Larry McMurtrey and E. Annie Prolix and Pam Houston. I've been to probably hundred concerts, and nothing has ever beat the time Willie Nelson played for three and a half hours at the county fair.

It should have been obvious all along, I guess, but I just figured it out. I'm not just homesick because I'm far away geographically and getting farther. I'm homesick because the way I grew up is fast becoming extinct. Even if I were a different person, one that could live full-time in a small town or on a rural ranch, it's unlikely my kids could grow up the way I did. I couldn't be the parent my parents were not just because of my different personality, but because the world has irreparably changed around us all. The West in which I grew up is, mostly, dead. What is left is so hard to find and so hard to maintain that I hold out very little hope it's going to stick around.

Country music illustrates exactly what I am talking about. The great country was mostly already recorded before I was born, but even when I was a kid there was some real country music being produced. ("The Devil Went Down to Georgia" was the number one song the year I was born.) People were still, at least occasionally, making music about drinking and fighting and trains and Mama. Today's country music is just like today's pop music--it's about marketing and money. (Personally, I blame Garth Brooks.) It can't go back. The greats are mostly dead, and the ones who aren't are retired to Hawaii or making reggae albums.

The whole thing is enough to make me cry into my beer. But I won't. Instead, I have to focus on how incredibly lucky I am to have caught even the end of the West. I didn't grow up in Remington painting, but I at least I recognize what is going on in one. It is important to me--more so every year, and with every mile further away I get--to preserve that little bit of the West that I inherited. How one does that, in the world in which I live, I'm not exactly sure. I think it's safe to say, though, that's it isn't about fashion or music choices, or even where you live. It's about respect for the land and for the past. It's about loyalty to your loved ones. It's about valuing hard work and not being afraid to get your hands dirty. And I can hold on to those values. After all, I am a Western girl.

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2009 Goal Progress Report: Week 31

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Getting back on track with weekly updates.

1. Read one book per week.
I finished the audiobook Look Me In The Eye this week and am on to Leaving the Saints. Still reading Edgar Sawtelle, though I hope to finish it this weekend. It's not bad, it's just not compelling me to read it quickly.

2. See one movie per week.
I continue to exceed my goals here. I've seen four movies in the past week: Gran Torino (OK); Chocolate (awesome); Shaolin Soccer (nowhere near as good as Kung Fu Hustle); and Death Race (truly terrible).

4. Improve my eating habits & 5. Exercise regularly.
Put my big ass on the scale and saw just how out of control my failure on these two goals has gotten. It's bad. I'm not going to talk about how bad right now, but bad. And honestly, I don't feel capable of focusing on it until after the move, so I'm just letting it go right now. Once we're in Virginia, though, these two goals are going to be front and center.

9. Journal and blog regularly.
I've blogged every day this past week and journaled every day but one. Good progress.

10. Sell our house and move.
We are, thank God, under contract. The option period ends at midnight tonight and we close on August 31. So we are where we need to be. Moving plans in the works--sounds like we're going to do it ourselvse with a Penske truck and a prayer, sometime around the 23rd. Three days to drive 1,500 miles (since we have all the animals, we have to stop a lot). Not exactly looking forward to that part, but it has to be done.

11. Practice cooking.
Hey, I made enchiladas and lasagna!

13. Build my freelance resume.
I was supposed to get to work on actually updating my resume with the stuff I've been doing, but I haven't gotten to it. I'm going to put it off, because things are very busy right now, but should be calmed way way down in September. So I will do that then.

All in all, not bad. I'm glad to be reading and journaling more--making time for those things was something I said that I needed to work on last week. For this coming week, I want to maintain that progress and keep moving towards being moved. Packing is up next, so there won't likely be a ton of time for anything else.

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Love Thursday: Moving towards those I love

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I wrote a bit ago about how torn I am about moving farther away from my family. As we get closer to our moving date, that isn't changing any, and I don't think it will. It just plain sucks to be moving farther from home when you want to be moving towards it.

But there is good in this, as well. I have a wonderful, close group of friends from college who mostly live on the East Coast. To make myself feel a bitter better, I did some mapping. Instead of being three days' drive or a 3 hour flight from my wonderful friends Howell and Melinda in the Boston area, I'll be a day's drive or an hour and a half in the air. From Mychy in New York, we'll be only a couple hundred miles or a quick commuter flight (or a nice train ride). And from Ron, who took the great picture in this post, we'll be less than an hour's drive. I haven't lived anywhere near these folks since they graduated from college in 2000. And I still miss them all the time. I may not be so lucky as to have the family I was born into around me, but I will, finally, be closer to my chosen one. I love these people the same now as I did nearly ten years ago, when we all lived within a few doors of one another. It will be good to live in their world again.

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Don't buy Bodum

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Observe.

From: Me
To: Bodum USA
Date: March 28

To Whom It May Concern;

Several months ago (around Christmas), I purchased a double-walled glass Bodum Centeen carafe.

We have happily used this carafe multiple days per week since we bought it. We use it to store the coffee that is getting cold in our Bodum French press. We never pour boiling liquids into it, or even anything all that hot. It has only been carefully hand washed.

bodum carafe.jpgThis morning, I poured the extra coffee into it as usual. By the time I put it in the carafe, the coffee was cooled enough that it was drinkable to me, so far from boiling. I put it in the carafe and put the carafe down on the counter. Then, a moment later, the outer layer of the carafe exploded. It wasn't struck on anything, it just flew it pieces. I am attaching a photo so that you can see the damage.

Not only is this disappointing, as I paid at least $40 for this carafe, and have always purchased and been happy with Bodum products, but it is also really dangerous. It shattered into hundreds of tiny fragments. And it did so without any impact, which leads me to believe there must have been some weakness in the product.

I feel that with the price Bodum charges for its products the quality should be higher than it was here, and would appreciate a replacement carafe.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Grace

From: Bodum
To: Me
Date: March 30

Hi. Grace

Thank you for your email. Sorry to hear what happend with your double wall carafe. Unfurtunally we sold out on this carafe we don't sell them anymore. What I can do is I can exchange it for you for something else, please visit our website and choose something from there and I will send it to you as no charge.

Thanks,

Bodum Person

From: Me
To: Bodum
Date: March 30

Thank you for your quick response!

It looks like the only thing currently available on your site that will fill the same need the carafe did is the stainless steel Bistro vacuum flask. If we could get that to replace our carafe, we would appreciate it.


Thank you,

Grace

From: Me
To: Bodum
Date: April 27

Hello,

I am forwarding an email correspondence I had with one of your representatives, Bodum Person, about a month ago. I have not since heard anything, nor have I received anything in the mail. Can you please let me know the status of my replacement item?

Thank you,

Grace

From: Bodum
To: Me
Date: April 28

Hi. Grace

Unfurtunally I can't do anything because with out a receipt we can't do anything sorry.

Thanks,

Same Bodum Person

From: Me
To: Bodum
Date: April 28

Bodum Person,

Why was I originally told I would receive a replacement item, then? It is extremely unprofessional to have told me that and then stopped responding and sent nothing. I would like this exchange to be forwarded to your manager, please. I will expect response from him or her.

Grace

There are several things wrong with this transaction. The first issue, obviously, is that Bodum's product was defective. There was no reason a double-walled glass carafe should explode with no impact and without being filled with a very hot or very cold liquid.

Secondly, Bodum isn't standing behind their product. A reputable company will go out of their way to compensate for or replace a defective product. Bodum is refusing to do so.

Thirdly, I was led on in my exchange with Bodum's customer service representative. Upon receiving her first email, I was told my carafe would be replaced--not with another carafe, since they are no longer made, but with another product.

Fourth, when replacing my carafe turned out not to be the policy, Bodum not only didn't make good on their word, they didn't even contact me to tell me they weren't going to send a replacement. I waited nearly two months, then sent them another email myself before I found out that I was not going to be compensated.

Lastly, the grammar and spelling in the emails from Bodums' representative is atrocious and her language is unprofessional.

As anybody who reads WINOW often knows, I love to tell my readers about companies and products I love. I do it all the time. But I am as willing to tell you all about bad companies as I am about good ones, and, at least in this instance, Bodum is a bad company. Bad enough that even though I generally really like their products (I'm on my third French press), I won't purchase anything from them again. Just as I respect companies who have quality products, stand behind their merchandise, and have good customer service, I disrespect companies that have poor quality, don't stand behind their products, or have this type of poor service.

It has been made clear lately, over and over, that one of the many things the advent and popularity of blogging has done is give consumers more power. Bloggers are being begged and even paid to review products every day. Word of mouth has always been important, but now, rather than just telling all my friends and family about Bodum, I can tell the few thousand people a month who visit me here as well. And if they have any sense of what that scope of word of mouth could mean to them, they ought to feel pretty stupid for not just replacing my carafe.

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Want to save $5K a year? Get married!

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I posted last week about the state of my relationship with Mark: we're partners. Since then, I've been thinking a bit more about marriage, and specifically about not being married. Why? Because it keeps coming up.

Not being married is costing me money. And if you're not married, it may well be costing you, too.

Mark's new job comes with really excellent insurance benefits. His employer not only pays 100% for employees, they pay 100% for spouses, same-sex domestic partners, and children of employees as well. So if we were married, I could get free insurance through Mark's job. If we were same-sex domestic partners, I could do the same. As opposite-sex domestic partners, though, this benefit is not available to me. It's not a huge tragedy, for us, since I have coverage through my job. However, that coverage costs me $300/month, or $3,600/year. That's what not being married is costing me.

Another area is taxes. You hear a lot about the "marriage penalty" when it comes to taxation. However, that only applies to folks who don't have a big discrepancy between their incomes. Mark and I do. Last year, our combined (single) tax burden was $8,280. Had we made the exact same money, but been married and filed jointly, it would have been $7,110. Not being married cost us $1,170.

Next, we come to the process we went through trying to find a house to rent. Applications fees on a couple of houses we looked at were $75 per individual or married couple. So, we had to pay $150. A $75 not-married penalty.

Then there's our annual co-op membership. If we were a "family," we'd pay $60. Since we're not, it's $45 each. $30 more for the unmarrieds.

I could go on, but I think I've made my point.

For me, this is an annoyance. It irritates me, and I don't think it's fair, but my life goes on. If it was a huge issue, I could give in and get married. Nobody would stand in my way. But what about people who couldn't just tie the knot? In this case, the largest part of the financial outlay (the health insurance) would be extended to same-sex domestic partners, but in many similar cases it wouldn't, and they'd have no recourse. I may not like the choices I have, but at least I have them.

And so it is a matter of deciding what to do with them. In dollars, what are my principles worth? Knowing that my not being married isn't actually helping anybody, and that the stand I am taking exists mainly in my own head, is it worth doing something I feel is wrong to save some money? How much money does it need to be to make it worth it?

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What's worth the money (and what's not)

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There is a ton of talk right now about belt-tightening and money saving and the altar of frugality. I follow quite a few blogs on those subjects. They are full of tips, from cutting out unnecessary expenses to re-using to cash-only budgeting. That's all good advice. I have nothing to add to it. And yet, I wanted to contribute something to the growing body of frugality knowledge. So, with that in mind, I give you my lists of what is worth extra money, and what is not.

Worth Extra Cash

  • Coffee: if you start your day with a cup or a pot, you depend on it. Things on which you depend to get you started should not suck. Life is too short to drink bad coffee. And yes, if it comes in a metal can already ground, it is bad coffee.

  • Eyebrow waxing: If you get your brows waxed, don't cheap out on it. I did, once, getting them done for $5 or $8 at a cheap nail salon. It HURT, and I ended up looking like someone had punched me in the face. At my beautiful, wonderful Aveda salon, they charge me $20, but it barely hurts, it looks great, and I get a cup of tea.

  • Pet food: Don't feed your pets cheap chow. Just don't do it. It's bad for them, and it will end up costing you more as they develop more health problems. Plus they'll need more quantity to eat, since it's mostly filler. Pay for the good, protein-rich, healthy stuff.

  • Direct flights: Flying is expensive. Flying is uncomfortable. Flying is a general pain in the ass. Direct flights are a much smaller pain than connections. If it's possible to get one, I will pay more (though only to a point) for a direct flight. (What I will not do, however, is pay to check a bag, upgrade to a seat with 3" more legroom, or eat nasty airplane snacks.)

  • Your own domain name: If you want to use your websites in any serious way, it's really worth it to buy your own domain name(s). It isn't expensive, and it makes you look way more professional. Plus, then nobody else can buy them and use them to host porn sites.

  • Nice soap: Anybody who reads WINOW for long knows I am a sucker for bath and body products. There is a reason for that, though. Showering is something we have to do every day (or I do, anyway). It's a forced opportunity to take just a few minutes out to relax. Having nice products that make you feel good and smell good helps a whole lot with that. So it's worth it to me to pay more for those products.

  • Cable and DVR: Cable is something that a lot of people suggest cutting out of your budget. I disagree. We use our cable, and our DVR, and I think we use it well. We watch what we enjoy, on our own time schedule. We don't spend a lot of time staring at a TV with nothing we want to watch on it.

  • Tattoos: If someone is going to put permanent ink into your flesh, you don't want a discount. Seriously, this one is a no-brainer. You want the expensive tattoo artist. And then you want to tip really, really well.

  • Laundry detergent: On a whim, I recently bought Mrs. Meyer's Clean day lavender laundry detergent. It's not cheap. However, given that the $14.99 64 oz jug will do something like 100 loads in my HE washer, it's not exactly breaking the bank. And it's SO nice--smells great, the clothes come out clean and soft, and environmentally friendly. My All Free days are over.

  • Underwear: For a long time, I've been a proponent of discount underwear. I just wore whatever was cheap at Ross. Then I happened upon a pair of Aerie panties. And now I am in love. They are made of thick, soft, cotton. They stay in place and don't ride up my prodigious behind. And they hold their shape, don't stretch out, and look cute. They aren't super expensive (5/$25), but they are more than what I was wearing. Totally worth it for an ass that is comfortable all day.

OK To Cheap Out On

  • Books, movies, and CDs: Really, wise up and learn to use the library. If you have a decent branch, you will be able to get a large portion of what you want to read, watch, or listen to for free from them. Also, learn to use the RedBox in all its free code goodness.

  • Furniture: There is no reason I can see to buy new and expensive furniture. All that leads to is having to worry about what will happen to it. Our furniture is 75% hand-me-down or thrift store and 25% Target and Ikea, and it's done just fine. You can even have a cute house with this type of furniture--just focus on "eclectic" as your decorating style, rather than anything too specific.

  • Air conditioning: People here pay out the nose to have their houses at icebox temperatures in the summer heat. It makes no sense to me. Sure, we use our AC, but we set it at 79 or 80 during the hottest part of the summer. Is our house perfectly chilled? No, but it has air movement and it's not an oven. Gives us more incentive to be naked that way.

  • Baby clothes: Thrift stores are full of barely used kids' clothes, especially in the smallest sizes. Often, they are new with tags on them. In my moral universe, those are prime gift material. I do not buy presents for friends having babies at regular stores, I buy them at the thrift store. And, should we have a kid in the near future, it's going to be Goodwill model baby. There's just no reason not to.

  • Multiple cars: Mark and I have been a one-car household the entire time we've been together. It's really not that hard to do, with a little bit of flexibility and planning. And it saves us a lot of money--not just another car payment, but insurance and gas and maintenance. Plus we have to be more efficient with our car use this way, which is both an environmental and an economic good.

  • Landlines: Why do people still have landlines for their phones? Now that everybody has a cell phone, and most of us have a lot of minutes on that cell phone, what's the purpose of a landline? We haven't had one for years, and I've missed it exactly once (when stuck at home with a dead cell phone). I've been happy not to have it countless times, though, especially since I get no telemarketing calls now.

  • Glasses: I posted a while ago about the amazing cheap glasses I got from Zenni Optical. I am now kicking myself for having spent so many years paying $200 and more for glasses. Never again.

  • Mascara: At this point, I've tried just about every expensive brand of mascara there is, as well as a good many of the cheaper ones. I see no substantial differences. Next time I buy mascara, it's going to be at Target.

  • Cleaning products: Lots of people will tell you that all you really need to clean is baking soda, vinegar, and Dr. Bronner's. Add a toilet bowl cleaner and something for pet stains on the carpet, and I'm one of those people. There is no need for expensive cleaning products. They smell bad and hurt the planet and cost a lot.

  • Bras: I've worn cheap bras, and I've worn expensive bras, and the conclusion I have come to is that bras are uncomfortable no matter how much they cost, so may as well still with Target. If I splurge, it's to buy Jockey. No Wacoal for these ta-tas.

Clearly, I know that my lists don't apply to everyone. The real point is about knowing your priorities and spending in line with them. If you are anything like me, there are things you are currently spending extra money on that you aren't getting any extra value from, and there are also things you are spending on and feeling guilty about when they really are worth it to you. So, it's worth taking the time to think about your spending, cut the areas in which you aren't seeing value, and stop feeling guilty about the things that really are worth it.

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I've mentioned before that I can't cook. Can't is probably too strong a word--it's more don't. And mostly, I don't because Mark is a very good cook, and I, even on my best day, am a very basic cook. I'm very willing to take shortcuts, and I don't make anything fancy. But, if it comes down to it, I am perfectly capable of feeding myself.

And, as it turns out, feeding others. Our neighbors are just about to have a baby. So, I wanted to take them a couple of meals for their freezer, since I know it's hard to cook during the first weeks with a newborn. I was a better person for this particular job than Mark for a couple of reasons. First, my style of cooking is much more suited to freezer meals than is Mark's. Secondly, Mr. Neighbor is quite picky and not too much into eating "weird" stuff. Finally, more than half of our kitchen is already packed, including a lot of Mark's fancy cooking equipment. And he's not so keen on cooking without it.

Given what I know about Mr. Neighbor's food preferences, and my own limited skills, I decided on two easy and easily freezable meals: lasagna and enchiladas. Keep in mind that these are the easy, lazy recipes. I know these things could be made better and cheaper without so many convenience items. However, given time constraint and the half-packed kitchen, convenience is a major factor right now. And, from the neighbors' perspective, it's got to beat McDonald's, right?

First, to the supermarket.

Ingredients for enchiladas

These are the enchilada ingredients. A package of 8 flour burrito-sized tortillas, a package of boneless skinless chicken breasts (a bit over a pound), two cans of enchilada sauce (one medium, one mild), a small can of diced green chilies, and a one pound bag of shredded Mexican blend cheese (a mix of pepper jack or even regular jack and cheddar would work too). If I were making these for myself, I'd use a can of diced olives as well, but I know Mr. Neighbor doesn't like them. The red sauce can be replaced with green sauce, and the medium and mild sauce combination is just my preference--any heat will work. I don't have any preferences regarding brands here, I just bought whatever I saw first.

Ingredients for lasagna

These are the ingredients for the lasagna. A tub of ricotta, a package of frozen chopped spinach, a box of noodles (the kind you don't pre-cook), a jar of sauce (if I am going to use jarred sauce, I really like Paul Newman's Sockarooni), a package of mild Italian sausages, and a one-pound bag of shredded mozzarella. You also need a couple of eggs, but I forgot to put them in the picture. A pound of ground Italian sausage would be better than the link stuff, but the store I went to didn't have any, so this will work. You could use turkey sausage if you prefer it. Do not, for God's sake, use cottage cheese in place of the ricotta. That's nasty.

Raw chicken breasts

The first thing you want to do is get the chicken breasts cooking. Heat the oven up to 400 degrees. Put a little bit of oil on a sheet pan, then plop the breasts down on it. Salt and pepper them liberally, then put them in the oven.

Splitting sausage

Next, get the sausage ready to cook. Because I used link sausage, I first had to cut it out of the casing and break it up into the pan.

Cooking sausage

Put it in a pan over medium heat. Keep it moving so that it doesn't stick.

Cooked sausage

After about five minutes or so, it should be broken up and cooked. Might take a little bit longer. You don't want to mess with undercooked pork, so make sure it's done.

Adding sauce to sausage

Add the jar of sauce to the sausage.

Finished sauce

Mix it up and heat it for a few more minutes until it's heated through, then take it off the burner.

Next, mix up the ricotta layer for the lasagna. You'll need the ricotta, spinach, salt, pepper, and a couple of eggs.

Ricotta mixture

Toss it all in the bowl and mix. If the spinach isn't thawed, make sure to break it up and squeeze out as much extra moisture as possible.

Cooked chicken breasts

For me, by this time the chicken will be cooked through (takes about 20-25 minutes). You know it's done when you can cut the largest breast in half and it's not pink the middle. You don't have to worry about how these look, so cutting them up to test them is no problem. Pull them out of the oven and set them aside to cool.

Lasagna ready to assemble

With the ricotta mixture and the sauce mixture finished, and the sauce cooled some, you are ready to assemble the lasagna. I am using two 8 X 8 disposable pans, since this is for our neighbors and I don't want them to have to worry about returning pans. If I were making it for us, I'd probably use two Pyrex pans of the same size, so I could freeze one for later and cook one for now. Using one larger pan (like 9 X 13) will also work.

Preparing lasagna pans

Prep the pans by spreading a thin layer of sauce over the bottom.

Lasagna noodeles first layer

Cover the sauce with a layer of noodles. I like using the noodles you don't pre-cook because the finished product ends up a bit firmer, plus it's easier. As a side benefit, they are exactly the right size for the 8 X 8 pans.

Lasanga with ricotta first layer

Next, spread about half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles.

Lasagna with cheese first layer

Follow with about a third of the mozzarella.

Lasagna with sauce first layer

Then about a third of the sauce.

From here, repeat the noodles-ricotta-mozzarella-sauce layers. This should use all the ricotta mixture.

Lasagna with cheese first layer

Then do another layer, this time just noodles-sauce-mozzarella. You don't want the ricotta mixture close to the top, so you end up with three layers of noodles, sauce, and mozzarella, but only two of the ricotta mixture.

Shredded chicken

By this time, the chicken should be cool enough to handle. Shred it up into a bowl.

Sauce into filling

Add one of the cans of enchilada sauce to the shredded chicken. I use the medium sauce in the filling and the mild sauce on top, but it really doesn't make any difference.

Peppers into filling

Next, add the chili peppers to the filling.

Cheese and filling

Finally, mix in about half of the cheese.

Readying pans for enchiladas

Prepping the pans works similarly to the lasagna, only use a bit of the other can of enchilada sauce.

Filling enchiladas

Put about an eighth of the filling into one of the tortillas.

Putting enchiladas in pan

Roll it up and stick it in the prepared pan. These big flour tortillas are actually a bit big for these pans--it would work better to use taco-sized tortillas for these pans. You can use corn tortillas too, if you prefer those.

Enchiladas before sauce

Repeat the rolling until you have two pans of four enchiladas each. Once again, you can do them all in a 9 X 13 pan if you want.

Enchiladas with sauce

Pour the remainder of the sauce over the enchiladas.

Finished enchiladas

Cover the enchiladas with the remaining cheese.

Finished and labeled meals

Now that everything is done, cover each pan with tin foil if they are going into the freezer. Be sure to crimp the edges down so they don't get freezer burn. Then I put the plastic tops that came with the pans on and labeled each one with what they were and cooking instructions. The lasagna should take about an hour at 350 degrees and the enchiladas about 45 minutes at 375. That assumes that they start out thawed, though. If they are frozen, it will take about twice as long.

There you have it. Freezer feeding for the terminally lazy. Each pan is 3-4 servings, depending on how hungry you are. Add a little salad from a bag and you're good to go.

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Traffic versus conversation

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As I suppose is true of a lot of people post BlogHer, I am thinking a lot about why I do this blogging thing, and what I want out of it. I've been at it a while--the first post at What If No One's Watching? was made on August 16, 2003, and I was playing with LiveJournal before that. At first, it was just a journal. I didn't care if people read it or not, and I didn't put a whole lot into writing it most of the time. Slowly, though, it has become something more than that. It has become, on the best days, a conversation. A way for me to communicate with people, occasionally entertain them, and get feedback. A lifeline.

What it hasn't become is popular. Though I don't look at them often, I do have statistics (Google Analytics). I peeked at them this week to see how much traffic was coming from the whole sexist t-shirts at BlogHer thing. Turns out that I average about 150-200 visitors a day. For this past few days, it's been 400-600. That, apparently, is what happens when you cause a controversy and it gets linked at a few more popular blogs.

Could I do that again? Sure. Popular people piss me off all the time. I could rant about that and link to it here and tweet it and all that, and I'd probably get increased traffic.

But I don't really want increased traffic. If what you want or need to get out of blogging is ad revenue, then increased traffic is your necessary goal. But that's not my purpose. I run ads, but as I've said before, that's more about network and accountability than about finances. That $12/month or however much it is I get isn't exactly paying any bills, and I frankly doubt my ability to generate the kind of traffic that would net me real money from the ads anyway. Besides, I have a job. So what I want isn't traffic. What I want is conversation.

A more interesting stat than the visits per day one is the one that says that folks spend an average of a minute and a half on my site. I like this number. I want this number to increase. It means people are reading something when they come here. An even better gauge, for me, and the reason I don't usually even look at the stats, is the increase in comments I've had in recent months. If you read and bother to comment, then we're well on our way to that conversation that is, to me, the point of all this.

Given the uptick, in recent years, of people blogging with the major intention of making money, and how succesful the occasional person is at it, it's hard sometimes to keep my real goals in mind. I will readily admit to being jealous of the big time bloggers, especially the ones who maintain really quality sites. But being a celebrity or making a buttload was never my goal here. I needed a place to write. I write better, and more often, with an audience. I enjoy the dialogue this format allows. The size of the audience really shouldn't matter.

I am using this opportunity, then, to re-focus on my real goals. I'm going to continue to write reviews, because I like doing them and think they may be useful to some of you. In the hopes of being able to review some products I didn't actually have to pay for (and still stay within bound of my contract with BlogHer Ad Network), I am going to move those to a new page and link to them here. Here, I'm going to continue to write whatever else comes to mind. I'm going to concentrate on my writing, and on furthering the conversation. And please, do your part--if you are here, and reading, and you have a thought, please leave a comment! They make me really happy, and they help me to be able to create what I want to see in this space--dialogue, conversation, communication. If you happen to be new here (hopefully a few of those business cards I gave out at BlogHer did the trick), welcome. I hope you'll stay.

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BlogHer sharing FAIL

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I was supposed to share with you all the great blogs I got turned on to at BlogHer! And I totally failed to do it. Sorry about that. Scattered brain.

These are the folks whose business cards I grabbed or whose names I scribbled down. The list is my no means inclusive--there were 1,400 people representing at least a jillion blogs there, y'all. But these are the ones I made it home with.

Academomia: I sat next to Becca on the flight to Chicago, with both of us wondering if the other was headed to BlogHer and neither of us having the nerve to ask. She has a really funny story about that flight and some Vagisil. You should read it.

Brimful Curiosities: Brimful Curiosities is a combo personal/children's books blog. The owner, whose name has totally eluded me and doesn't seem to be on the site, threw me a bone and came up and started talking to me when I was standing alone and awkward waiting for the doors to the People's Party to open. She is a lovely woman.

Citystreams: Cindy, the writer/photographer behind Citystreams, gave me her card when we chatted in the lobby on the first morning of BlogHer, mostly about swag and sessions and being overwhelmed, if I remember correctly. Check out her Photo Walk Through Chicago post for some cool photos--I especially like the one of the people doing aerobics.

GwenBell.com: Gwen Bell kinda has the famous, so you probably already know her/her blog. I met her briefly at lunch the first day of the conference and she was super sweet and gave me a really cute sticker.

Jen Lee: I had the pleasure of chatting with Jen Lee for quite a while at the Shutter Sisters' party on Saturday night, and she is fantastic. She takes cool photographs using a great old-fashioned style turquoise camera (actually a replica of the original, she told me) and writes in a variety of places. She also gives really great journaling advice, which I'm trying to follow.

Karen Sugarpants: Karen Sugarpants writes a funny blog. I believe I was introduced to her by Suebob. My memory is hazy.

Kitchen Gadget Girl: Gudrun, the Kitchen Gadget Girl, is another lovely woman I met while outside the session rooms, searching for a outlet to charge my dead laptop. She writes a cooking/food blog and is an urban beekeeper, which is just so freakin cool.

MamaPop: Yeah, I know, everybody else was already reading MamaPop. I wasn't. My bad. Am now.

Miss Priss: Miss Priss Becky was my BlogHer roommate. She was a perfect roommate, even though I know she missed her kid like crazy. Thanks, Becky!

No Appropriate Behavior: Laura, who writes No Appropriate Behavior, was my friend Skye's roommate at BlogHer and part of the foursome with which I hung out much of the time. I am thrilled to have met her and digging the hell out of her funny blog. Due to some incompetence on the part of a restuarant I willl not name, she didn't have the best time at BlogHer.

Perks of Being Me: The woman who writes Perks of Being Me looks remarkably like Luna Lovegood. Also, she got a fantastic Little Prince tat while in Chicago. I had lunch with her on Saturday and very much enjoyed meeting her.

Prosaic Paradise: I met Kim at one of the two sessions I went to on Friday, but I can't remember which one. She was wearing a t-shirt that said "Ask Me About Girls Rock Camp," so I, of course, asked. Turns out it is just as cool as it sounds.

Jessica Gottlieb: I met Jessica when she gave me a bag of goodies from Sephora. If that doesn't make me want to be your best friend forever, nothing will. Turns out she also writes a really interesting mostly-mommy blog.

Somebody Heal Me: I exchanged cards with Diana Lee at another one of the sessions (again, no idea which). Her blog is largely about her suffering with migraines, something I don't blog about, but can relate to. I've not really read any "patient blogs" in the past, so I am very interested in what she does there.

State of Grace: Grace Davis is a force. She brought the house down with her Community Keynote reading, and I had the pleasure of having lunch with her and chatting her up on Saturday. We talked about speculums and Reed and terriers. It was all-around excellent.

Sweet n Sassy Girls: I admit it, I have no idea where this card came from. Maybe it was in one of the bags I picked up? It's a review and giveaway blog with corporate sponsorship. You can win free stuff. I like free stuff.

The Glamorous Life Association: I saw Marcy several times throughout the weekend, and remember her well from the Shutter Sisters party, where she wore cute T.J. Maxx jammies and communed with the ceiling. However, I don't actually remember getting her card. Maybe I picked it up off a table somewhere? Anyway, glad I did, because her blog is good stuff.

Unmitigated: I sat at a table with Unmitigated's author. She's a mother, but she's not a mommy blogger. She's also a member of MidLifeBloggers, which is totally worth reading as well.

What are you lookin' at? Frema is a newish mommy blogger and an old school "yada yadaist" who writes a quality personal blog.

What's That Smell? Kim and Lori are "accidental mommies," writing a mommy blog from the perspective of women who didn't really think they were motherhood material. I like it. I wish I could remember meeting one of them, though.

Writing Travel: I am pretty sure I met Lanora in the Shutter Sisters suite. She blogs about travel and posts new photos and descriptions every Wednesday.

Deb on the Rocks: Laurie White introduced me to Deb on the first night of the conference. Deb's recap post is the funniest one I've read. Also, her blog header is a work of genius.

Inverse Candlelight: I met Miss Banshee in the van on the way to the conference from the airport. It took a long time, so everybody got to know one another. I insulted her shoes, unwittingly (I couldn't SEE that she had Crocs on!). She's a good writer and a funny woman. I hope she forgives me.

PooBou.com: PooBou was another member of our long-ass airport-to-Hotel van ride. She's got a fantastic smile. She told a funny story about teaching her kid right and left using Dora Croc charms. When I got Dora Croc charms in my swag bag, I wanted to find her and give them to her. But that would have been dorky.

The Redheaded Lefty: Ashley was introduced to me a couple of times by Skye and Laura and Becky. She smiles just as manically as I do in photos. We're both homesick for our moms, and we're both socially phobic and spent a lot of the conference talking ourselves out of holing up in our rooms. So we've got a lot in common.

Whiskey in my Sippy Cup: Mr. Lady was, I think, the last person I met at BlogHer. It was Saturday night at the party sponsored by Baskin Robbins. I listened to her talk to Skye and Becky for like 20 minutes before anybody introduced me, but that was OK, because she's entertaining to listen to. And to read.

I Am Bossy: Bossy is funneh. Bossy is hot. Bossy takes great pictures. How is it that Grace just now found out about Bossy?

Mrs. Flinger: I didn't meet her, but I heard about her via Pioneer Woman (like, I suspect, a lot of people did). I'm staying however. The Costco-hate post has me hooked.

So there you have it. The new blogs I've added to my reader post-BlogHer. Hopefully one of them will strike your fancy as well.

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