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I’m not sure if she still does it, but Oprah used to do a thing where she picked all of her favorite things for the year and then did a show about them. I was thinking of doing the same thing, except instead of things that millionaires love, it would just be things that make me happy that I spent an extra few dollars on. Mostly because every time I use these things I think “Holy shit, I’m so glad I have this and I wish I could give this stuff to everyone in the world.” I can’t though, but what I can do is tell you the stuff that I’ve been happiest about finding and you can do the same thing in the comments and then we can all find awesome cheap or free stuff that we love. Also, this post isn’t funny. Sorry if you were coming here for that. But to make it up to you I’m giving away a gift certificate with enough on it to buy pretty much everything I’m going to talk about. (As long as you live in America. If you live somewhere that doesn’t have Amazon I’ll just paypal you the amount.) Also, I’ve been given absolutely no compensation to write this and the people and products I’m writing about have no idea I’m doing this and some might actually be sad for having been linked back to such an irreverent band of misfits, but they can just suck it because I love them anyway. The bastards.
So, things I love that are worth spending money on or that are totally free anyway:
Allie Brosh. Her blog is fantastic and free and she has a book coming out in a few months which is wonderific. She sent me a copy and I literally shot juice out of the hole in my stomach from laughing so hard. I also told her she could use that as a blurb. Because I’m a giver.
J. R. Watkins Coconut Sugar and Shea Body Scrub. I have super dry skin and this exfoliates with sugar and then the shea butter stays on your skin. It’s the only thing that doesn’t disappear immediately on me. (You can usually get it way cheaper at Target.)
A bath sheet. It’s like a towel, but bigger, and when I dry off I feel like I’m at a fancy hotel drying off using the duvet (until laundry day when my two bath sheets are in the wash and I have to use a beach towel.) I’ll know that I’ve finally “made it” when I can afford a whole set.
Neuro Sleep. I have no idea what’s really in it but it makes me sleep better than rum, and that’s saying a lot. I have one every few nights and my insomnia has gotten slightly less horrific.
TARDIS Beach Towel. I know. Two towels in one list? Who needs that many towels? Me and Douglas Adams. That’s who. (You can sometimes get this cheaper on ThinkGeek.) The awesome things about this is that when you’re at the pool you can tell all the cool, slightly nerdy people who will be fun to sit by because they all go “OHMYGOD, I WANT THAT.” The other people look at you like you’re a total dork. It’s okay to pee in the pool if you’re standing near those people.
Little Snowie Shaved Ice Machine. It’s pricey at a little over $200 but we’ve used ours almost every day for years and years. We don’t buy the syrup because it’s expensive but we eat them plain, or with fruit juice, or with booze drizzled over the top. My favorite is Amaretto and Chamboard when we’re flush, or Strawberry Hill when money is tight. Also, when it’s really hot you can make a laundry basket full of shaved ice, put on your bathing suit, and have snowball fights in the yard. Our neighbors hate us.
Neil Gaiman. I’m a voracious reader and could probably write a million paragraphs on all the books you should read, but I’m most grateful for the day (a million years ago) I went into the comic shop and was disappointed to find the latest issue of Strangers in Paradise hadn’t arrived yet. The guy behind the counter looked at me as if to size up my worthiness and after a few seconds came out to introduce me to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. He had me start on book 4 (Season of Mists) and I devoured it and reread it 20 times until I could save up enough to start from the beginning and collect them all. Sandman is my Catcher in the Rye and it saved me from a dark place by showing me I wasn’t alone. I owe that guy behind the comic counter more than he’ll ever know.
The Suicide Hotline. I realize this is a weird one, but I struggle with mental illness and one day I had urges that I was really afraid of. My shrink wasn’t answering and I was afraid I was really going to hurt myself. The girl on the other end of the line listened and gave me actual pointers on how to avoid the self-harms issues I was struggling with. I still use those coping mechanisms she gave me. It saved me from myself, and it was free.
Jenny Lewis in all her incarnations. People are rediscovering her now and that’s awesome. My ideal party would be me, her, Amanda Palmer, Regina Spektor and Miranda Lambert all in my bathroom with a karaoke machine and a bartender and some illegal fireworks. Rabbit Fur Coat is one of those CD’s I buy over and over because I always lend it out to people when they’re struggling. This song as well is rather healing for me.
Stephen Parolini ~ His blog is Counting on Rain and he’s one of my favorite writers ever. He writes amazing, dark, beautiful short stories for free. He doesn’t post often, but when he does it’s always something incredible.
Levar Burton explaining how not to get shot by the police. Yeah. This one isn’t a happy one, but I used this dozens of times this week to help people explain that just because you don’t see racism doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. There were lots of other great commentaries out there this month, but there’s something about the guy who raised us on Reading Rainbow talking about his fear for his life that makes most people at least pause and think a bit about the world as it is, and as we want it to be. And that’s a good thing.
Independent book stores ~ It’s ironic that I’m linking to Amazon here for everything, because Indie book stores are my kryptonite. Not only do they have awesome, weird stuff that you won’t find in mainstream stores, but they also are amazing resources for readers who need suggestions. You can sometimes make friends with your local book-monger and ask them to compile a reading list for you based on your likes. Their books are sometimes a bit pricier, but it’s worth the extra few dollars and if it weren’t for Indie Book Sellers my book wouldn’t have nearly as loud of a voice.
What Should I Read Next. You know when you read an amazing book and you wish you could find another similar to it but you can’t? Well, now you can. Type in the book you like and “What Should I Read Next” will give you a list of books similar to that one.
Doctor Who. You either hate it, or it changes your whole life and you spend nights waiting for David Tennant to tell you that you’re the key to saving all the kittens in the universe. It’s ridiculous and silly and requires an enormous willing-suspension-of-disbelief, but some of the most beautiful moments on TV come from Doctor Who. You can watch it for free on Netflix. Start with the 2005 reboot. Watch through episode 10. If you don’t like it you can at least say that you tried and now you can spend your free time looking for the soul that you seem to have lost.
Microwave slippers. I have arthritis so my feet hurt a lot. I pop these in the microwave and slip them on in bed to sleep in when I’m having a super rough day. I feel ancient just typing this but I can’t live without them during the winter.
Okay, your turn. What have you discovered that you now can’t live without? Just leave it in the comment section and at the end of the week I’ll pick one random person to get a $350 amazon gift card so you can buy everything on this list. Except Neil Gaiman. You can’t buy a person. That’s illegal, you guys.
UPDATED: Alright, it’s the end of the week and I usually just send an email to the person who wins or announce it on twitter, but when I read the comment selected by my random number generator I really felt I needed to share it.
From Dangerous Lilly: I don’t think I have a shot at winning it, but if I did I wouldn’t keep the gift card. I’d give it to my best friend. Because she’s amazing, and life handed her a big bag of suck lately, so she’s always on the brink of poor but can’t do a thing about it til after her transplant and her kids drive her nuts half the time. So yeah. I’d like to give her something awesome but she won’t let me if it’s from my own pocket. I have things that make me happy, that I can’t live without, and most of them cost money so…. I’d rather share the love.
I seriously adore you people. DangerousLilly, check your email.
I get lots of weird/awesome/ vaguely questionable stuff in the mail, but every once in awhile something comes in that I just have to share.
This is one of those times.
This a taxidermied mouse made by my friend Heather (a fabulous funeral director) of Mortuary Report.
Victor: Wow. That dead mouse looks just like you. It’s like your friend has been spying on you.
me: Especially the tube-top with no pants.
me: We really need to get blinds up.
PS. There’s some awkward empty white space here. I am going to fill it with a video of Mister Rogers flipping everyone I don’t like off. I recommend.
That’s right. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir is going on tour. Honestly, I can’t believe it either.
But it’s happening , ya’ll:
Here are all the gory details:
New York ~ April 17th. Barnes & Noble Upper East Side
Los Angeles ~ April 19th. Writer’s Bloc and the Writer’s Guild
San Francisco ~ April 20th. Book Passage Corte Madera
San Antonio ~ April 23rd. Barnes and Noble
Houston ~ April 24th. Blue Willow
Austin ~ April 25th. Book People
Dallas ~ April 26th. A Real Bookstore
San Angelo ~ April 28th. 1pm. Hastings
Florida ~ May 4th 6:30pm – Books & Books (Coral Gables)
Dates and times are fairly set but may be subject to change. Also, check the links for details. A few signings require special tickets, etc. Just check first, ‘k?
If this is your first time here you should skip this post. Really. Go away until tomorrow. It’s one long run-on sentence and makes almost no sense and it’s filled with typos. I haven’t slept in two days.
The last 36 hours has been strange even by my personal standards. First of all, after two years of turmoil and struggle I was finally recognized for my contribution in the field of politics when I was presented with a Shorty Award. It was a big night for me and I may have screamed a bit, which was fine because I was actually watching it from home because I was too freaked out to go to New York alone and I think Victor broke his arm on purpose so that I wouldn’t walk up on stage in my panda suit to accept the award from that guy who does the Daily Show. Also, I was told to submit my acceptance speech in case I win and I specifically asked them to have Jerry Stiller read it and accept the award for me, but when he came out on the stage at the beginning he looked so frail that I wanted to just put him in an egg container to keep him safe, and I silently prayed that they wouldn’t actually let him read my acceptance speech because I gave him stage directions that when he screams “WOLVERIIIIIIIIIIINES!” he should do it with victorious fist-pumping action, (ala Red Dawn) and I’m fairly sure it would have shattered all the bones in his body. No one wants to be responsible for killing Jerry Stiller.
For those of you wondering what the fuck I’m talking about and why I even wanted a political award when I don’t actually have anything to do with politics, I will give you a short summary. Part 1: 15 months ago I was somehow shortlisted in a political category for the Shorty Awards (it’s like the Oscars of Twitter) and I spent a lot of time telling The Shorty Award people that I’m not actually in government but it didn’t work because people kept voting for me ironically so I decided to run with it and took on NASA and the Mayor of New York. Also, my personal hero (Author, Neil Gaiman) decided he’d run for the Customer Service category because the “author” category just seemed too fucking obvious, and also I think we were drawn to the idea of showing why voter-driven awards are fundamentally flawed.
Part 2. I was a top finalist until the last day of voting when I was unceremoniously stripped of all of my votes because NASA paid them off. I assume. The Shorty People said it was because I’m not really a Government official. They also stripped Neil of his Customer Service votes. It was totally shitty but the city of Martindale Texas came to the rescue and named me as their official Czar. I report to the stray cat that lives at city hall. None of this is made up and I have pictures to prove it.
Part 3. I sent a strongly-worded email to the Shorty Awards demanding my votes be reinstated as I was now a Government official. They told me I need a full year of service before it counts. I think maybe the shorty awards don’t know how the Government works.
Part 4. The Shorty Awards hate ponies.
Part 5. The Mayor of Martindale traveled to Houston to present me with my crown, scepter, and a government proclamation (signed by the cat). Then I was attacked on stage by a stray baby.
Part 6: In my duties as an official Czar of Texas I have judged and accidentally desecrated a beauty pageant (but forgot to write about it) and personally welcomed Neil Gaiman to Texas. I planned to give him the key to the city but the only key I had on me was my mailbox key and I was expecting a package that week.
Part 7 (one year from ordinal update): This is part seven. It’s been a year of service and after many dedicated followers (thank you!) voted to reverse this travesty I found myself short-listed, and the finalist list went to the Academy to make the final vote. It’s an Academy that includes MC Hammer. This is all true. Apparently MC Hammer is a fan of chaos and anarchy because I won. They flashed my acceptance speech (recognizing Martindale, TX and the cat I report to) onto the screen and it was done. It would have been more exciting except one of the other winners was a sandwich. True story. Winners include me, Conan O’Brien, and a sandwich. I’m not sure what they’re going to do with my glass trophy since I wasn’t there to accept it but if they don’t want to mail it me I’m going to ask them to give it to a homeless person because homeless people deserve trophies too.
Then yesterday I asked everyone on twitter to paypal me 11 cents in the next 24 hours because I needed $1,000 to buy something incredibly stupid. And they did. Hundreds and hundreds of 11 cent paypal donation flooded in and I emailed out 450 thank you notes until my wrists seized up and I had to quit. As of this moment people have sent in $402 in mostly 11 cent increments. Which is completely insane. And awesome.
Sadly, this morning I was informed that the taxidermied pig (who died of natural causes) dressed as Scarlett O’Hara that I desperately wanted to buy was not properly preserved and is no longer a good investment because it’s “totally stinky”. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed but I shall persevere. And instead of saving up for my the next stupidest thing on my list (Hannah the drunken squirrel pianist ~ “Cognac is her drink of choice, while silly little love songs are her song of choice. She drinks until the songs become sad, then stops“) I’ve decided to take this money and give back to the community in the most ridiculous way I can think of.
Remember a few weeks ago when Wil Wheaton sent me a picture of himself collating papers so I could use it to stop spam? Exactly. That was awesome. And that’s why I’m going to offer Nathan Fillion $402 to send me a picture of himself holding twine. Sexily, if possible.
PS. If Nathan does not respond then I’m going to use the money to buy a bunch of pigmy goats for my neighbor because then I won’t have to be responsible for the goats but I can still play with them. Best idea ever.
PPS. The very best part of the whole Shorty Award ceremony: Amanda Palmer plays tweets of random celebs…fucking awesome.
UPDATED: It’s been several days and Nathan Fillion not tweeted anything remotely regarding twine. He did, however, tweet a picture of a fake dead cat covered in ketchup and another one of him stand next to food. In other words, Nathan Fillion has lost his damn mind. Personally, I’m concerned and I think perhaps we need to leave him alone. The good news though is that I told Alyssa Milano that I seem to have inadvertantly terrified Nathan Fillion and asked if she could stand in for him and she replied “I’m confused”, which is totally a fair response. Then I explained a bit further and she said she would totally be happy to send us a picture the very next time she did something incredibly random. I suggested a picture of her thumbwrestling Sarah Silverman or or possibly having a staring contest with an animal but it’s really up to her. Personally, it doesn’t even matter if she never sends anything. The very fact that she responded at all makes her fucking classy in my book. This would have a funnier ending if I didn’t only have 9 minutes before my laptop battery gives out. Just pretend I wrote something hysterically right here.
Part two: The Stanley Hotel and the reason why Ghost Hunters should hire me as a permanent member of their team. Or Destination Truth. Which one is less likely to look for giant squid? That one.
This is part 2 of my ghost-hunting trip to The Stanley Hotel so you should really read part one first. Or just go watch tv instead. That’s probably what I would do. (As usual, this is copied directly out of my journal so there’s no real flow and the tenses change constantly but technically that matches the theme since I once read that horror directors sometimes tilt the camera slightly so that the viewer feels uncomfortable and off-balance and I basically do the same thing except with bad grammar and dangling participles. I’m like an artist here.)
Kevin took us down to the tunnels under the hotel. It was very tunnely.
I am the best writer ever.
I wanted to write “REDRUM” on my bathroom mirror with lipstick but more than that I wanted to not spend my vacation time scrubbing lipstick off a mirror later, so instead I settled for recreating the creepy twin shot from The Shining, which was made easier because the hotel plays The Shining on a loop on channel 42.
Found a giant Stanley Hotel dollhouse prop from The Shining miniseries in the basement. Crawled inside. It’s like hiding underneath the table but way better because no one accidentally kicks you. Also you have a tiny door that you can close when you don’t want visitors. I may never leave.
Victor and I met up with Callea Seck, Stanley Hotel’s resident ghost-hunter and twitterer and she invited us to go on an late-night Ghost Hunt at the Stanley Hotel concert hall with Karl Pfeiffer from Ghost Hunters International and a bunch of other people.
They let me borrow an EMF detector but it never went off. Victor said it was probably because I shook it to death. Victor needs to just drop it. And to buy me some fresh jumping beans.
Callea just explained that we’re locked into the dark concert hall until 1 am and is giving us pointers on how not to blind each other when we take photos. Callea: “When you hear the word ‘flash!’ close your eyes until the flash is over. That’s how you protect yourself”. One of my friends taught me the exact same thing in New York but I think it meant something different there.
Callea just showed us this parabolic ear thingie that you can use to listen for extremely quiet ghosts. I totally want one for watching TV at night. Or for listening into people’s thoughts. Depends on how strong it is, I guess.
We’re starting the ghost hunt in the women’s bathroom so we can check out “the haunted stall”. I am totally not shitting you. Callea notes that it’s probably pretty strange to be in the ladies room with a bunch of men. Clearly this woman does not know me well. She didn’t really explain what type of haunting occurred in the stall but my guess is ghost-gonorrhea on the toilet seat. Or maybe it flushes when you aren’t done peeing yet. Which actually happens to me all the damn time. Basically every automatic-flush toilet I’ve ever been on is haunted. Which might explain all the kidney infections.
Went into “Lucy’s room” to wait for the ghost to speak to us or to shut a heavy door (as she’s known to do on rare occasions). We all sat on the floor in total darkness and had to remain quiet and the silence was so heavy that all I could think about was how funny it would be if you farted loudly because no one would know who did it and then if no one admitted to it you could be all “It was the ghost” in a completely serious way, but I totally didn’t because I respect the work of the ghost hunters and also because I didn’t have to fart.
Callea just told us about an encounter a team of people had once had with “Lucy” when she took a liking to a male investigator who was physically touched by Lucy in an “*ahem* very friendly manner” and that it “um…made him happy, so to speak” and everyone else just sort of nodded and she kept going with her story but about 5 minutes later I was all “Hang on, I just need to clarify this…are we talking about a haunted erection?” and then Victor was all “That’s my wife, folks. Next show’s at 11” but then the temperature suddenly dropped several degrees and then the door totally shut on its own. Which actually kind of freaked me out. Then some blonde psychic chick said that Lucy was with us and she reached out her arms because she said she could feel some “hot balls” in the air. Then I just never stopped giggling again.
Went to the room of Paul (the dead handyman) and it was creepy because all the chairs were stacked up exactly like in Poltergeist but then Victor pointed out that most of the time people stack chairs like that for storage reasons and not just to let you know that you built your house over an Indian graveyard. I’m not sure which one this was though because we turned on a spirit box and it clearly said “Paul”. It also clearly said “tomatoes”. I don’t know what that means.
A bunch of mildly weird, vaguely creepy stuff happened at the ghost hunt but if you don’t believe in ghosts you don’t want to hear it so I’m skipping this part. Thanks, skeptics. You’re ruining it for everyone.
I asked Victor to call the resident psychic to ask if she’d come do a seance in our room but she said she was booked and that we should have called earlier. Victor says if she was a real psychic she would have already known we’d be contacting her for an appointment and that this is really all her fault. It’s hard to argue with that kind of logic.
2 am. Exhausted and going to bed. Leaving the jumping beans on the nightstand so they can wake me up if shit starts happening.
Morning. Nothing happened. These jumping beans are totally dead. Probably murdered by Lord Dunraven. I told Victor that they should let us have the room for free since we just added an actual murder to the history of the hotel. Victor reminded me that I probably killed them myself. I reminded Victor that I was probably possessed at the time. I also told him not to look in my bag because I may have stolen all the coasters and stationary when I was possessed last night.
Decided to check out the haunted closet again. Noticed scratch marks all over the low ceiling like someone (or something) was trying to claw their way out. Or possibly it’s from people scraping the ceiling with the iron. I’m going with the first one though because ironing stories are almost never exciting.
Just took a shower and this shampoo is not lathering. At all. I’m assuming it must be haunted. Or it’s lotion. Hang on. Yeah. It’s lotion. So less “haunted” and more just me not reading labels closely enough.
Just stepped out of the shower and noticed that the steamed-up bathroom mirror reflects into the bathroom door mirror and that someone had written “REDRUM” on the door mirror so that when it got steamy the word “MURDER” would show up in the first mirror. Awesome. I think it’s probably a sign from the premature ghost of Stephen King. Victor says it’s probably a sign that the maids don’t clean the mirrors often enough.
Checking out of the hotel. I really, really wanted to steal my room key but I didn’t because Victor wouldn’t let me but then as we were leaving the desk clerk asked if we wanted to keep our keys as souvenirs. BEST. HOTEL. EVER.
Stopped for lunch on the way to the airport. Victor ordered fish tacos. These tacos look like vagina.
Still driving to the airport. Victor was all “Looks like someone’s about to get an ass full of lead pipe” and I was all “What the fuck?” and then he pointed to a house on the side of the road.
And then we were home. All things considered? Best 24 hour vacation ever.
PS. Wanna see more pictures? I’m uploading them today.
Walked to a public party at the Volstead. Hid in the bathroom, as usual. Was invaded by a group of women putting on impromptu KISS make-up. The usual. I left with them because you know that pretty much everything that happens at a party after people randomly put on KISS makeup is going to be anticlimactic.
Then I walked to another public party for SexIs where women were encouraged to decorate dildos. Then I looked out the window and wondered to myself what must be going on at the exclusive private parties and I hoped for the sake of the attendees that it was the exact same thing as the public parties but with more swag.
My inner thighs are chaffed from walking so much. And from being fat.
Went to the panel I was speaking at 10 minutes before it started and there were like 6 people there. Tweeted “My session starts in 10 minutes and it’s fucking PACKED” along with a picture of the audience:
A number of people complimented me on a full house of bloggers who must also be ninjas but most of them just tweeted back stuff like “Of course it’s packed! You’re a rock star!” because I guess those people don’t know how to open my pictures. 15 minutes later though it was fairly full and I think it went really well but all I can really remember from the session is someone in the audience not being able to remember the name of an esoteric gay p0rn star that she didn’t want to name her son after and another woman in the audience helpfully yelling it out to her. I’ve found my tribe, y’all.
Just intentionally crossed a do-not-cross police line on purpose, so I can totally cross that off my life list now. Except that that wasn’t actually on my life list. But it is now because it makes me feel like I accomplished something if I can check something off of a list. Except that I haven’t actually written my life list yet so now I technically feel worse about myself than before. I should start a life-list in reverse order and just write down shit I already did so that I’m always done with it. Like “Button a shirt: Check“. “Don’t murder kittens: Check“. “Get gingivitis: Check.” Oh my God, I am awesome at this.
In airport security heading home. Apparently this is a problem:
Handed the chick in the airport bookstore a copy of the Twilight Bree Tanner book and a copy of True Blood and asked her which one was less awful. She was all “Well, they’re both pretty bad”. I went with True Blood because the cover had more stuff on it. Then I clarified to the clerk that I own many, many non-stupid books. She totally didn’t believe me. (Note to self: When my memoirs come out, put lots of stuff on the cover. Stuff like naked vampires. Also, meet some naked vampires so I can put them in my memoirs.)
I was mentioned in the London Times but my name was misspelled so I’m not sure if that counts as being mentioned as all. Victor says he understands because the same thing happens to him everyday when the newspapers write about him but use the wrong name and write about shit that never actually happened to him. Victor is very good at keeping me grounded. And by “grounded” I mean “stabby”.
I’ll stop now.
A few months ago I wrote about my red dress…that shockingly inappropriate or overindulgent thing that we long for all of our lives but deny ourselves because it’s not “sensible”. For me it was wearing a red silk dress barefoot through a cemetery. For you it might be learning how to canoe or owning a pair of white ice skates. That post quickly picked up steam and soon women were wearing the dress as a symbol of conquering their fears, their limitations and sometimes even themselves, and I vowed to bring the red dress to the Blogher conference so it could be worn by anyone who wanted. The comments shared on that post were extraordinary but my favorite was one so poignant that I ended up including it in the post:
I can only hope like the “Traveling Pants”, the “Traveling Red Dress” is magic enough to make it fit my size 18 self by mere magic. Honestly, being able to see it.. to touch it and be near it will be enough to prove I will be living my own Red Dress moment. I’m going to Blogher! I’m going to fly (!!!) to New York in 70 days and I’m completely and utterly terrified. But I’m doing it anyway dammit! This is a nerve-racking trip for most people, but for me? It’s so much more than that. For me, this trip will be a catalyst to take my life back from the ruthless clutches of agoraphobia. Sort of extreme exposure therapy. Today I can’t drive to the next town on my own, I can’t be alone at home, I can’t even take my daughter to the beach. I’m so much better than the housebound puddle I was 10 years ago, but I’m stuck. I’m so tired of CAN’T. In 70 days though (god help me), I CAN and I WILL.
That red dress? Home plate. The finish line. And also new beginning.
Thank you. ~ Karen
And this weekend I went to Blogher.
And I met Karen.
And we sat in my hotel room with her two friends and she slipped on the traveling red dress.
And it was amazing.
That’s what blogging is about for me. The shared journeys. The people. The hope. The little victories that aren’t really so little at all. The stories of our lives that entangle and cause strangers to suddenly become a community and a lifeline.
And as Karen stared out the window onto the teeming New York sidewalk below she took a deep, ragged breath and held her head a little higher and then she cried. Not the cry of someone crippled by fear but the cry of someone seeing the sun for the first time in far too long.
And we cried along with her. And it was good.
Thank you for inviting me into your stories. And for listening to mine.
Comment of the day: Jenny, thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful moment. And Karen, thank you so much for reminding me that we all can find the courage to confront our fears. You’ve inspired me to tackle a lingering one of my own head-on, starting now. And you should know that that red dress looked like it was designed with you in mind. You were, and are, gorgeous. For what it’s worth, a stranger half way around the world is very proud of you. ~ Alpha Wumpus
My friend (Sunny) is an artist. She writes and paints and makes beautiful, whimsical dresses out of found objects and magic. One of my favorite dresses of hers is the red poppy dress and I wanted it the first time I saw it but I knew I’d never get it. For one thing, it’s not sensible. It’s impractical. It’s bright red and vibrant and shocking and “inappropriate for a woman my age”. And I have no shoes to go with it. And I have no place to wear it.
And I want it.
I want, just once, to wear a bright red, strapless ball gown with no apologies. I want to be shocking, and vivid and wear a dress as intensely amazing as the person I so want to be. And the more I thought about it the more I realized how often we deny ourselves that red dress and all the other capricious, ridiculous, overindulgent and silly things that we desperately want but never let ourselves have because they are simply “not sensible”. Things like flying lessons, and ballet shoes, and breaking into spontaneous song, and building a train set, and crawling onto the roof just to see the stars better. Things like cartwheels and learning how to box and painting encouraging words on your body to remind yourself that you’re worth it.
And I am worth it.
And last week…?
…I got my red dress.
I didn’t have shoes, or a party to wear it to, or even a valid excuse to own it, but I had the dress.
And it was everything I thought it would be.
But here’s the thing…you are worth it too. Which is why this week the red dress will begin a journey, traveling from city to city so that other people can wear it and love it and feel as special and vivid and dynamic as they already are. Because sometimes we all need a little red dress to remind us of that. So today, think about what it is you need and were too embarrassed to ask for. And then go fucking do it. Wear a ball gown to the grocery store. Invite the neighbors to have a picnic on the front lawn. Get that novel out of your sock drawer and publish it yourself. Stand on a bus stop bench and belt out a song for the waiting strangers. Find a playground swing and remember how it felt to fly. Find your red dress. And wear the hell out of it.
The Devil-and-the-Details: This dress was custom-made by Sunny Haralson of Rubypearl and was specially made for this project. Photographs taken by the amazing Karen Walrond, a woman who knows me so well that she’s become unfazed when asked to meet me in a graveyard with her camera and bail money. (She *did* hesitate briefly when I mentioned that I’d be in my pajamas and that I’d have to get naked in the graveyard because I can’t actually put on the dress without someone cinching me up but then she just sighed and nodded and reminded herself to renew her license to practice law.) Click here for her whole set. Also, I’m bringing the traveling red dress to Blogher in August so if you’re going to be there and you want to get photographed in it then just come find me. It’s totally worth it. And so are you.
Comment of the day (although you should really read all of them because you people are fucking amazing): I can only hope like the “Traveling Pants”, the “Traveling Red Dress” is magic enough to make it fit my size 18 self by mere magic. Honestly, being able to see it.. to touch it and be near it will be enough to prove I will be living my own Red Dress moment. I’m going to Blogher! I’m going to fly (!!!) to New York in 70 days and I’m completely and utterly terrified. But I’m doing it anyway dammit! This is a nerve-racking trip for most people, but for me? It’s so much more than that. For me, this trip will be a catalyst to take my life back from the ruthless clutches of agoraphobia. Sort of extreme exposure therapy. Today I can’t drive to the next town on my own, I can’t be alone at home, I can’t even take my daughter to the beach. I’m so much better than the housebound puddle I was 10 years ago, but I’m stuck. I’m so tired of CAN’T. In 70 days though (god help me), I CAN and I WILL.
That red dress? Home plate. The finish line. And also new beginning.
Thank you. ~ Karen
Updated: The red dress has traveled to so many women celebrating miracles and overcoming struggles but this is a favorite.
There are tons of other stories…women bringing the red dress to retirement homes or to dying friends or just wearing it to celebrate life. It’s a good thing. Vivid, wonderful and amazing. Just like the women inside.
UPDATED 2012: The red dress is now years old and is a bit tattered but it’s still filled with magic and is currently on the road visiting people who need some magic in their lives. Ideally, we would have 15 red ball-gowns in various sizes all traversing the globe at the same time but I just can’t afford it. If your company is interested in donating red ball gowns, just drop me an email at advertising (at) thebloggess.com.
Last week was filled with strep throat, fever dreams, and a post that I cried while writing. Then hundreds and hundreds of people came and left their mark on it and it moved from being a post to being an movement. And it was awesome. And terrifiying. And it inspired this email from a girl named Rachel who made me feel a million times better about the state of the world:
A couple of days a friend and I developed what we considered to be a plan of pure genius. We decided that we would get rid of most of the states except for a couple of them, which would move up to Canada to live with us. Chicago could pretty much replace Alberta, and Florida would come and stay in the water near Quebec. Normally I would not consider saving Florida, but my friend is a Quebec Francophone and I am a Toronto Jew, and if we are ever to live in the same place the natural choice is Florida. Then I made a map using my great art school skills, which I have attached. (The map is attached, I mean. Not art school. If you would like such amazing skills as mine, may I direct you to MS Paint? Yes, I may). Then I filled the rest of the states with puppies and considered myself the smartest person in the world.
Then you go and write a post on Tuesday, which I just now saw because I am slow, and I decide I cannot make the states disappear. I do not actually remember why my friend and I came up with our plan, except that I really liked the idea of pulling the state of Florida on a tugboat. Also, there would be a Yiddish newscaster narrating events and he would be all “Oy vey! The alter cockers are all fercockt!” So, basically, I spend a great deal of time entertaining myself.
Anyway. I will return Florida and Chicago (though I am keeping several Mexican restaurants), and I will even let America have all the puppies, because if I take away all the states (which I can totally do, just look how I did it in the picture), then there would be no you to remind people of awesome and beauty. I am not going to read the comments on the post now because I do not feel like crying today, but I am sure there are even more reminders of what matters in there. Sometimes it is good to think you can invent a new world by moving a bunch of places and then filling other places with puppies, but other times it is good to remember that our own world is not so bad. It has bad in it, more bad than we think we can handle, but it also has so much right-on. So, basically, you articulated the human part of that with a quarter of the words that I used, and you didn’t even involve an alternate universe.
I am pretty sure I am trying to say thank you, and this would have been much too long for the comments. I cannot imagine how it feels to have so many strangers reach out to you, but I hope it maybe makes it less overwhelming if you know that many of the people that reach out to you will find their own way. The kids and the fuckups and the losers (all of which I was deemed, at one point or another) will find their own beauty, and know the value of the simple awesome beauty in others. They’ll find their place, and hopefully they’ll grow up to be people that others reach out to, and not people that do things that cause us all to stop and go “what the?” and make us type overly long things in the first place.
So, yeah, you are pretty okay. If you are ever up here, I will take you on a tour of various pies.
Thank you, Rachel. Thank you, everyone. And now…the weekly wrap-up:
This week on my sex column (which is satirical and vaguely safe for work if your boss isn’t a douche-canoe):
This week on the internets:
- I got selected to be Miss March for next years Hot Blogger Calendar but I can’t afford to fly to New York for the photo shoot so instead Karen’s agreed to shoot pictures of me in the most inappropriately themed photo-shoot I can think of. So far I’m leaning toward “mutilated by zombies”. Sexy zombies though, because it would be rude to not stay within the theme.
This week on shit-I-didn’t-come-up-with-but-wish-I-did-because-it’s-kind-of-awesome:
- “I hate fucking birds.”
- It’s like a magic show. With your vagina. During a romantic pap smear. I’m going to stop now.
- Kids are stupid.
- It’s like a Mr. Show sketch. But it’s real.
This week’s wrap-up sponsored by the Novel Doctor, who isn’t actually sponsoring this post at all and will wonder why he’s even here and if he bought a spot during a drunken blackout but he helped me finish a tough chapter out of the kindness of his heart and this is the only way I have to repay him. Thanks, Stephen.
This week on my sex column (which is satirical and relatively safe for work if your boss isn’t an asshole):
This week on the internets:
- The miracle mushroom boobie was featured on many highly respected websites, however the most traffic I think I’ve ever gotten in a single day came from this famous atheist, who I’m pretty sure I converted to Christianity using only a shroobie and biblical stories I accidentally learned on the internet. This is how you do it, bike mormons. I didn’t even have to leave the fucking house.
This week on shit-I-didn’t-write-but-wish-I-did-because-it’s-kind-of-awesome:
- Watch the translator.
- This is how I end all my phone calls now.
- Sometimes I find kick-ass stuff like this and I want to write about it but I can’t think of anything witty so instead I just email it to my friend at Geekologie and he writes something clever for me. It’s awesome. Except he gets paid for it and I don’t so I guess it’s not really that awesome. But I get the impression he doesn’t get paid much and I think he lives in someone’s basement. So I think basically we both lose. Now I’ve depressed myself.