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Swimwear Must Die '09

Here it is the end of June and I hadn't done my yearly round up of swimwear yet!  This is the segment of the show where I laugh at swimsuits, sometimes just the pictures!  I was afraid this year would be some slim pickins what with the economy and all. I thought all I'd see was rehashed triangle pieces from last year.  But no, gotta give those designers credit... still pulling it out of their asses even now.

For more years of swimsuit mockery, check out Juicy Must Die, Swimwear Must Die I & II, and the 2008 edition.  Enjoy!            - wg

"The ruffle distracts from my problem areas."

Swim4_ruffle   

This is a popular design at Victoria's Secret this year.  I call it the band-aid.  (P.S. Victoria's Secret models are too skinny. TOO SKINNY!  Someone feed that girl a hot dog.)  ((P.P.S. See that little wisp of fabric?  Budget crunch!))

Swim4_bandaids  

I don't know what is so disturbing to me about this one.  By itself, I'd say it was cute.  Maybe it's the pierced belly button.  And the small dog.  AND the tattoo-printed scrunchy around that dog's neck.  (Is that a scrunchy?  Who would do that?)  Maybe it's the fact that Ed Hardy (and his knock-off competitors) do not need to branch out into areas they have no business being.  I swear I saw Ed Hardy snack cakes the other day. No one needs Ed Hardy snacks.

Swim4_tattoo  

"I sprained my boob gardening and now I have to wear this sling!"

Swim4_boob sling

"OMG. So my best friend in math class drew this really cool picture just for me on my notebook with stars and hearts, because stars are like my special symbol, and it was in all my favorite colors and I loved it so much that I haven't even thrown away the notebook even though it's summer and then I found a swimsuit that looked just like it!!  It's like destiny."

Swim4_notebook art

It's overalls.  On a swimsuit.  Extra shiny, too, in case you want to use your headlights... as headlights.  Yeah.

Swim4_overall

Just plain ugly.  By the way, making her extra tan does not mean she'll pass as ethnic.

Swim4_just ugly


My Ugly Betty Pic

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me of this picture, evidence of my "awkward period". My friend's daughter is the same age as I was when I took this picture.  She thinks she is "goofy looking".  She of the beautiful, model-esque features and gazelle body, WHO ALSO plays some kick-ass baseball... in the boys league.  Yeah.

Not that I would ever initiate this conversation, because I remember, oh how do I remember, what it was like at that age, but if this young lady ever brings up looking "goofy" in my presence, man! I will be whipping this photo out so fast.  

Because really.

Ugly Betty photo

This picture was taken at my dentist's office right before I was told I needed braces.  So add braces to the same picture for the next year and a half.  (The general awkwardness lasted until I was... like... 28.)  If you shoved my hair in a cap I looked like my brothers.  Just so you know, I wore that green hoodie everywhere.

I thought I had burned all of these photos - no, I mean, I literally burned these pictures, my mom even helped, if that says anything - but this one was STILL IN MY DENTIST'S OFFICE!  For 25 years this is the photo the entire office staff saw every time they opened my file. 

I have this photo on my desk because it makes me laugh now.  I mean, after getting over the general trauma that an extended gawky period causes anyone.  And then, after I got over the new and improved mortification of learning this visage had been viewed every six months for 25 years by dental professionals. 

Don't laugh too hard.       

Oh OK, go ahead.            - wg


Wheezy, breezy birthday

One fine Saturday morning…

Chance & Keen:  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Me:  Wheeze, croak, wheeze! (Meant to say “thank you!”)


Me:  Voice?! Hey, voice? What gives, man?
Voice:  Yeah, I been thinking. It’s my birthday today, too.
Me:  Yeah?
Voice:  And I’m sick of being hauled around in that ailing body of yours. I’m taking some time off.
Me:  Excuse me?
Voice:  You heard me. Oh, wait… you can’t hear me! Bwaaa ha!
Me:  I don’t understand… Didn’t we have a great dinner last night? Nice wine, nice people. We have a fun day planned today…
Voice:  Whatever. You go off and have tea with your little girlfriends. Walk around the gardens with your pinkies in the air. I got things to do.
Me:  Things? Besides BE MY VOICE?
Voice:  Yeah, life is short and I got a bucket list.
Me (snorting):  A bucket list?! Like what?!
Voice:  Oh you scoff, prissy? First: get into voice-over work. I’ve got my sites on Robot Chicken. Second: sing for a rock band.
Me:  You can’t sing.
Voice:  Shut up. You don’t know. Third: become the confidante of rock bands.
Me:  *cough groupie cough*!
Voice:  Fourth: scream from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Fifth: scare the shit out of Bush. Sixth: book on tape of my memoirs… well, everything except your bits.
Me:  OK, where are you going with this?
Voice:  Isn’t it obvious? I’ve got the chance to be the voice of a generation and you’ve been holding me back.
Me:  Oh my god…
Voice:  So I’m getting on this before we’re 40.
Me:  You know, we’ve had a pretty good life…
Voice:  Whatever. You have fun today, goody goody; let’s see how far you get chatting it up without me. I’m out.
Silence
Me:  Man, my voice is a bitch!

P.S. Today I am 38, and it will be enjoyed with or without any abandoning cast members.  Besides, my memory bailed on me ages ago and I'm doing just fine!            
                  – the weirdgirl


that which motivates us

I swear, as soon as I wrote last week's post I came down with a nasty little cold that just would not, WILL NOT, let up.  Feel good, get sick.  It reminds me of when I was in writing classes in college... reminisce with me now... one of my writing professors would call me in for office hours, give me pep talks, talk about technique - she actually instilled quite a bit of confidence in this fledgling writer - and then at the end of every session she'd bark, "NOW DON'T GET COCKY!"

Slap slap. Just like that.

She was a great kick in the ass, though, I gotta tell you.  (Miss you, Virginia!)

So.  I've mentioned a couple of times, all vague and mysterious, (which if you knew me in real life you would know that statement is a total joke because I can't do mysterious at all. Neither can I do sexy faces. I just look like a dork) that I had a project I was all excited about.  Well... 

I've started an online writing group. 

I've got a site up and everything is ready to go.  I'm using the software from the company I'm working for, which gives us a completely secure site, a community forum, and it's free!  Plus, I know when the latest and greatest releases are coming down the pike (because one important thing I've learned in the workforce is to always get product!  It's like a perk.  Also, if you're contracting, never go in before 10:00 am.  What?)

(OK, I have to amend that... the software is free anyway.  At least the version we're using.)  

I was in an online writing group before and a few of the writers from that group have already joined this one, plus some other bloggers and writers I know. I really find that being in writing groups keeps me more motivated and productive, but at the same time I want this group to be very low pressure and casual; so that people who are new writers, or are getting back into it, or those who want to experiment a bit don't feel this overwhelming need to perform at such and such level at such and such genre.  Because I've definitely seen that intimidate writers before, you know?

So... if there is anyone out there who is interested in joining, email me, weirdgirl@mindspring.com.

I promise no one will tell you you're cocky.

                     - the weirdgirl


Got some breathing room

A funny thing has happened lately.  I finally feel like I'm able to breathe again.  Except I didn't know that I hadn't been breathing... until I started again, you know?  Like something in my chest relaxed, unfurled, took a nice stretch and yawn, and until that happened I never realized I had gotten used to being tight. 

It's not like things were bad, because they weren't.  (I'm big on perspective, you know.  Maybe it's sanity, maybe it's a cop out, but it certainly is a convenient way to bitch slap yourself down and repress when you just need to keep moving.)  But there has been an underlying anxiety snaking it's way through my life since about... oh, let's see... started trying to get pregnant, had red flags come up with Chance, started a new job... so it's been building up since about October of 2007. 

It was trying to get pregnant and Chance's issues that were big ones.  And there were a lot of little ones. The education system and Chance's place in it was continuously freaking me out.  You can't try to get pregnant without feeling like a giant FAIL when it doesn't happen.  The job was just another item on top of the pile of time over-commitments that I seem to specialize in. 

But without me noticing the tension has begun to ease up.  I see a huge difference in Chance since he's been in OT (ten months, now, can you believe it?) - enough so that I feel like he's doing fine... regardless of the occasional teacher who doesn't want to be bothered.  We're still trying to get pregnant but I don't feel so heartbroken about the process anymore.  I dropped out of a bunch of activities that were causing me anxiety *cough playgroup cough*.  I started finding and hanging out more with people I felt connected to.  (Last week I went swing dancing and saw The Offspring in concert.  Must do more!)  I've got plans for the near future that I'm really excited about.

I am feeling comfortable in my life again.

It's funny how much you can miss something without realizing that it's missing in the first place.

         - wg



the holes in it

Chance has gotten to the age where he wants to know how everything works.  I hear more "but why's" out of his mouth than anything else over the course of the day.  He seems genuinely interested in those "why's" and I love seeing his curiosity at play. This part of being a parent is really exciting.  This is the part that I so intensely looked forward to when Chance was a tiny infant... watching him learn.  Introducing the world to him.  Hoping against hope that he would be one of those kids who wanted to learn, even if that made him the wee bit nerdy. (But also hoping, if he did love learning, that he wouldn't be quite as painfully nerdy as I was.)

However, there are A LOT of questions - more than an idealistic new parent can imagine - and there are some moments where I completely give up explaining things "at his level".  I don't know if this makes me a bad mom, or simply one without the correct amount of patience + creativity.  (Because, at this point, I think that explaining things in simple terms is a rare and specified skillset that some people just have and it probably should go on their resume. It's hard!)  Sometimes, especially at the end of a long day, I just can't seem to get out enough single syllable words and easy examples to satisfy either of us and I... revert.

Chance: "Mom, why did the balloons sink?"
Me: "You mean, the balloons from your party?"  (three months ago) 
Chance:  "Yeah. Why did they sink?"
Me:  "Well, the air leaks out of them."
Chance:  "Why?"
Me: "It just does, honey, balloons don't last forever.  The air slowly leaks out of the balloon and that's why they sink... or... deflate..."
Chance: "But why?"
Me: "They just... um..."
Chance:  "But why?"
Me:  "Because some gasses are more permeable than others."
Chance:  "What?"
Me:  "You know the balloons that float?  Those are filled with a gas called helium.  And the ones that don't float are filled with the regular air that we breathe, which is a compound gas.  Well, helium can sneak through the material of the balloon and escape faster than the regular air can."  (I wasn't sure if that was technically correct, but I knew it was close.  Anyway, I was winging it.)
Chance: "Huh. Why?"
Me:  "Because you know how things look solid, like our arms and this table?  Well, they actually aren't. Everything is made up out of these tiny bits called molecules.  And the molecules, they have gaps in them and that's how gasses sneak out of balloons."
Chance: "Oh... OK."

And it was quiet.  Briefly, but blessedly, quiet.

I can't decide if my hackneyed explanation was better than just saying "because I said so!", but I fear if I don't brush up on my science I might quickly turn into Bobby Boucher's mother.  
            - wg


More power than we think

In the name of disclosure… I’ve been blogging for almost four years and I’ve been in marketing for over ten. When I say “we” in this post I’m referring to bloggers, myself included.

I’ve been following the blogging / branding / marketing debates going on in (primarily) the momosphere for awhile but I haven’t really chimed in. For those who aren’t familiar with these debates, in a nutshell (or two or three)…

  • Some bloggers feel product reviews or endorsements done by bloggers (especially unstated reviews by bloggers who do nothing but reviews) devalue the community as a whole.
  • Some bloggers who are just trying to make a little money feel guilty, and victimized by other bloggers for just trying to make a little money.
  • A lot of bloggers feel their community isn’t truly understood and their voices are under-valued (as evidenced, in part, by the lack of compensation for reviews).
  • Some bloggers just want to know how to get in on this whole branding thing.
  • Traditional media can be just plain snarky to bloggers (as we’re all just a bunch of unprofessional sell-outs who are threatening their industry).
  • And marketers – as it is well known – are a bunch of slimy hacks who are making us buy things we don’t need and are either pushy with bloggers, taking advantage of us, or ignoring us (depending on your point of view).
  • Many marketers are also long time bloggers and accepted members of the community.


That’s not even the whole story but you get my point; it’s complicated and there are a lot of sides. So my brain being what it is (because even I admit it makes unusual jumps sometimes) I skip over all the nuanced arguments to take sides and I start thinking about the big picture of this debate.

What I came up with, at the end, was, “What conversations do we need to have to change the structure of this dialogue?”

Because, frankly, I think we’re missing a huge opportunity.

The truth of the matter is most of the companies out there are afraid of bloggers, they are afraid of the consumer’s voice. Really afraid. They’re afraid of not being able to control us or spin the influence we have.

In turn, we don’t trust companies. Big business doesn’t care about people. We feel that they don’t get community and what we’re about. That they’re trying to gyp us and devalue our voices.

And nobody trusts marketers because they are the face of the companies. Hell, marketers are often not even trusted within their own companies. (I speak from personal experience.)

That’s a lot of distrust, and it’s been going on a lot longer than the blogging world. It’s been here since The Jungle was published and probably before. This isn’t anything new, just the latest incarnation of the art vs. sell-out debate, big business versus the little guy.

Except this time around, because of blogging… we have a viable, accessible medium for our voices. Which is what makes us extra scary. And also gives us potential power.

Now I must segue into my personal life, which is one of the reasons I’ve thought so much about this lately, feeling like I’m in the heart of some segment of this debate all the time.

My latest job is working for a company who has (I think) this really cool software. Software that I haven’t talked about because I thought, “Well, everyone is going to think I’m shilling.” I’m not immune to this either. Every time I’ve gushed about a product that I really, truly liked (I’m so a marketer’s dream) I’ve been accused of shilling. But I’m going to talk about it now because I think it’s relevant to this conversation.

The company I work for is called Helpstream and their software merges a traditional support ticket system (think help desk software) with community and social networking. Basically, you can go to a company’s support site who’s using this software and get help from a help desk agent online, just like many companies. But there is also this whole community aspect where you can ask the community a question, you can search for answers, you can submit an idea, or discussion, and of course reply and comment on everything. The difference with this software is that most companies out there have either help desk agents OR a community providing answers; if they have both the systems are completely separate. This software is truly integrating the two sides - a case (help ticket) can get submitted to an agent who can ask the community for help, and a community question or discussion can get sent to agents. Ideas can go back and forth. Content can be created from wherever it’s viable, be that a community member or from a company person.

I’ve got to give a lot of props to Helpstream for trying to open up the conversation between consumers and companies. For providing a system where trust can take place. I mean, sure, it isn’t completely altruistic, Helpstream needs to make money like any other company… but they understand the value that a community provides, and they especially see the potential of what open communication could bring to business and consumers. It’s a process that values both sides and actually stimulates a lot of collaboration. In theory…

… because it has to be implemented to work, yet you still hear companies say things like, “We understand communities are important, we want to build our community, but we’re afraid of what they’ll say.”

Companies want our goodwill and endorsement, they want to trust us but they don’t know how.  And I think that we want to trust companies… or at least we want them to take our opinions seriously and not feel like we’re getting screwed. We both want to be valued by the other, but the distrust blocks communication.

Here’s where I think bloggers could have a lot of power if they choose to take it… I think it’s in OUR hands to open up that communication. I don’t think the companies will be making the first steps toward dispelling the distrust because they have more fear on their side. I think if things are going to change we have to make companies engage with us in an open conversation. I don’t mean getting everyone pissed off on Twitter until a company concedes to something either; that just feeds their fear. I mean, showing these companies that an open communication with bloggers is valuable, that we are worthy of respect and trust. That a fan base is not just a fan base but a source of ideas. That criticism is not meant to harm but be an implement of improvement.

I honestly don’t know if we can make things change or how they would change. It might mean, in the end, we aren’t cashing in on free products, or that no one has ads. Or maybe everyone has interactive ads and our revenue sharing is a lot higher. Or there is NO revenue, but there’s great content and absolute transparency about products. I’m not even sure how we would accomplish opening up the conversation, but I think that if we’re not happy with the way things work then we should use our impressive debating skills to brainstorm some ideas.

Because, us bloggers, we are damn good at communicating. That is our power.  And we've got the whole Internet as our think tank.

Maybe if we dispel some of the mistrust between ourselves and companies we can get the blogger on blogger hating to stop as well.

       - the weirdgirl



Not too strangely, one of the most open, respectful, and warm review requests that I’ve received from having this blog was from a sex toy company. I think that’s entirely due to the fact that they are quite used to having difficult conversations, and building trust is key.

In defense of marketers… there are a lot of marketers who DO get that bloggers feel devalued because marketing itself is often devalued. If you work in marketing you will have been called a hack at some point or other. Trust me, you’ve got to love it a lot to put up with some of the crap you get.