Author Archives: Helena
“And when I look upon the slightly chubby, shapeless, ruddy face of British Prime Minister David Cameron, I can see Orwell’s prescience once again.” [emphasis added]
Let’s not even get into the fact that “David Cameron is fat” is total news to me. What do the words “slightly chubby,” “shapeless,” and “ruddy” add to this sentence (besides perhaps indirectly calling George Orwell’s looks into question as well)? What is the message here? Clearly, fat begets ugly begets political incompetence.
“The political right remains frustrated because Cameron simply doesn’t have the fire in his flab for demonizing asylum seekers or welfare cheats.” [emphasis added]
I love alliteration as well (also consonance – see what I did with the l’s at the start of this sentence?) but changing the phrase “fire in his belly” – which, being well-known, reads as “chutzpah” or “will” – to “fire in his flab” only serves to remind us that the author thinks David Cameron is fat.
To be absolutely clear: my response to this article has nothing to do with the politics of David Cameron – just like the repeated mentions of his perceived physical imperfections have nothing to do with the politics of David Cameron.
Apparently chubby, shapeless, ruddy flab (ew!) rather than knowledge and experience are the real measure of a leader.
In addition to a tufted headboard, I’d like my redecorated bedroom to feature a bench at the end of the bed. Our bedroom is quite large and there is plenty of space. Plus, I always thought they looked like the perfect cozy spot to sit and put on shoes (or, they can travel into other rooms for additional seating!)
The question is which:
As you can likely see, I’m into the idea of fun accent fabric on this bench. Given the relative size and positioning in the room, I think this is the perfect place to go a little crazy. Plus, crazy hides stains, right?
There’s one thing I notice when reading the news that jars me more than dropping the Oxford comma or using non-words like “irregardless” – superfluous mentions of body size. The first flaw can be chalked up to lazy copyediting. The latter is more insidious. I find myself saving pieces to read aloud to my friends and family; holding up pieces of journalism and making sure I’m not the only ones who sees these jabs for cheap filler or non-news. It’s become an obsession.
With that, I bring you a new series:
Each week, I will bring you a new needless, fat-phobic comment from the news. Get excited!
For starters, Newsweek. Now, this is old news by now, but Wills and Kate got married. I know you care/don’t care/have moved on to Kim Kardashian’s epic nuptials, but comments from the Newsweek coverage of said wedding still irk me. Let’s examine:
Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, … is now on his about-to-be third wife and looked almost as relaxed and cheerfully overweight as Elton John. [emphasis added]
Mmkay, so we start off ragging on Earl Spencer for being almost-trice married. Perhaps matrimony’s not his bag. Don’t know, don’t care. What makes my teeth hurt is the end of that sentence where his weight is – rather needlessly – thrown in and we manage to rope in an insult to the Crocodile Rock-er. Well played, Newsweek.
“Cheerfully overweight” tells me nothing about Earl Spencer. Granted, I don’t care to know much about him, but his body size has absolutely zero relevance in the story – especially given that any space given to describing the Earl Spencer’s physical being is space not devoted to our new pretty, pretty Princess.
To the extent I care to read about something like the Royal Wedding in a news magazine (read: very little), I’d prefer to learn the facts and related sociopolitical ramifications. Reporting on the body size tells me more about the reporter than the reported.
I have a new obsession for the bedroom.
No, not like that.
It looks like a new bed is in the upcoming plans chez moi. While I love Will with all my heart, sharing a full-size bed is starting to make me very aware of how little space I have to stretch out. Upgrade time.
I love the idea of lounging against the headboard and reading on a lazy weekend.
Luckily, Will and I share a certain aesthetic and I think I’ve sold him on the tufted headboard idea. Granted, we are very likely to have a more rectangular one than a scalloped, embellished model.
Fabric is still to-be-determined. Our current bedroom color scheme is mostly grey, but I’m leaning towards a bright teal color for the new headboard. This will likely come as news to Will as he reads this – I think I mentioned brown or a houndstooth last time we talked…
Anyone have a tufted headboard? Thoughts on mattress size when it’s double occupancy?
I’ve actually Googled “styling a bookcase” because I’d like mine to look a little less like I’ve crammed every book I could find in there sideways. Unfortunately, most tips for beautifying bookcases involve getting rid of your books and replacing them with faux souvenirs or woven baskets. One decorator advised getting rid of “unsightly paperbacks.” If I did this, I’d lose most of my collection.
I am culling. I get rid of books (via swap or donation) as soon as I finish them. I just seem to acquire them at a phenomenal rate. Input is far exceeding output.
My life is not a magazine. I need my bookcases to hold actual books. Actual paperback books. I know. I dream of wall-to-wall shelving (especially with a sliding library ladder), but until that day, I need to figure out creative storage. My bookcases are full to the brim and books are currently residing there both horizontally and vertically – however they best fit.
In addition to two busting bookcases, I have one of these:
Thus, a stack of five or six hardbacks becomes wall art. I’ve considered getting several more (they’re cheap!) and making a floor-to-ceiling “stack.” I also love this herringbone bookcase, but I was indecisive and West Elm sold out.
Do you have a home full of books? How do you display them? Suggestions, please.
You may have noticed a new badge to the right side of the blog here; this upcoming weekend, August 19 – 21, I will be attending the 20Something Blogger Summit here in Chicago.
This is not only my first 20Something Blogger adventure, this is my first blog summit of any stripe. Via connections on the Twitterverse, I’ve been aware of various summits and conferences in the past, but this is the first time I’ve been brave enough to pluck myself from the fringes and dive in.
Honestly, I’m beyond excited. I feel like a kid on the eve of the first day of kindergarten. My pencils are sharpened, my outfits are planned, my blog business cards have been ordered, and I’m ready to make new friends.
Signing up for this conference was a measured act of self-confidence. First, as we know, I’m on the very tail end of being 20Something. Second, signing up for this conference means that I’m publicly declaring myself to be a “Real Blogger.”
While the conference’s location made signing up an easy decision (no need for airfare or hotel), I stumbled a bit in seeing myself as the ideal attendee. Do I have the readership to call myself a blogger? Have I been at it long enough? I mean, I ordered blog business cards – who do I think I am?
I’m just a girl with a blog. I’ve always loved to write and having a blog gives me a reason to do so often and a platform by which to share it. I’m not looking to change the world, sell a product, or get a book deal.
(Yet, at least.)
I’m just a girl with a blog. This weekend, I’m going to a summit where I’ll be learning new tools, trying out new ideas, and meeting new people. I’ll be handing out cards with my blog address (“Hi. I have a blog. I think you should read it – you might like it.”) and hopefully receiving cards in return.
I’m a girl with a blog. I’m no longer a girl afraid to blog. After this weekend, I hope to be a girl unafraid to call herself a blogger.
I got a fancy new camera a few months ago. I took a class to learn the new, advanced functions of this camera, but was underwhelmed by the level of instruction. I learn best by doing, anyway.
The result: photowalks. A photowalk is what it sounds – I walk around a predetermined area taking pictures. There’s only one rule: I’m not allowed to review or edit photos while I’m out. I’ve found that’s the only way to keep from deleting pictures out of self-doubt.
Lately, I’m into textures. I took this camera with me to Seattle and was amazed at the detail it captures. I took several pictures of the Gum Wall and was impressed/repulsed with how I was able to document every last blob of gum. Since then, I look at walls anew. Could I capture every crevice, every crack?
Ravenswood is a nearby street split down the middle by the elevated train tracks of the Metra. Each side features retaining walls of wood, metal, and stone. I set out to document. Below are the (resized) results:
Pre-Will, I had a history of poor decision-making skills when it came to suitors.
Like the chick-lit character you love to hate, I was always drawn to the guys who didn’t want girlfriends. These guys weren’t shy or subtle in expressing this disinterest in relationships, but I was unable to hear or absorb it. Besides, I was the exception. I was going to make the unloving love.
Men (or anyone, for that matter) don’t regularly dissuade others from idolizing them, so I was rarely turned away. I mistook this acceptance for emotional closeness and convinced myself that I was loved.
I put up with all manner of poor behavior largely because I was scared that I couldn’t do any better. We all have dating war stories, I know. Saying I was cheated on, called fat, ignored, and belittled shouldn’t really inspire pity, however, as I accepted such treatment without question.
Case Study: Grad School Boyfriend [name redacted].
How it started: I wore flip-flops to a local bar in the town where I went to college. Grad School Boyfriend approached to tell me that he hated flip-flops. I immediately began a campaign to garner his attention and secure his affections.
How it ended: At a close friend’s wedding where I was too busy bridesmaiding to absorb what was going on. I made him leave to avoid causing a scene and we ended up hashing out our feelings (or lack thereof) in the car much later that night. Yes, I was dumped at a wedding. Nothing short of a housecoat and a herd of cats tops that on the “you will probably die alone”-scale.
When I first saw him clearly: When he made fun of my sister’s shoes. We ran into Grad School Boyfriend at the mall several months post-breakup. Kerry was wearing leg warmers and flip-flops as was the trend that winter. In fact, I think she’d just gotten the leg warmers for Christmas (and Kerry, if you are reading this, I’m sorry! You know that guy was a jerk!). My own flip-flops were fair game, but I’m the only one allowed to mock my sister.
Why the double standard? Shouldn’t the guy I love treat me in a way I’d expect people to treat my sister? While the no-teasing-my-sister rule holds fast, I am, in a sense, glad that the leg warmer incident happened. Something clicked.
I’d love to say that I immediately put this knowledge into action and held out until Will came into my life, but then my memoirs would be devoid of delicious heartbreak and drama. Awareness was, apparently, only part of the key to breaking patterns. Will came along years later – after I’d gathered enough experience to really appreciate him.
My love affair with Paris began almost a decade ago when I was a college Junior spending a year in the City of Light. I’d been studying French since I was twelve and was now knee-deep in international finance classes taught only in my second language. Time in class was intense (and mildly terrifying at first), but I was able to schedule my classes so I had long weekends off in which to explore Paris and travel as far as the trains could take me.
Once I returned, I completed my French minor, briefly (and disastrously) dated a Frenchman, and joined the Alliance Française here in Chicago to keep up my language.
Sometimes, I still dream in French.
I talk about my time abroad almost constantly. I used to feel bad for being such a one-trick pony, but honestly, no other decision in college has had such a lasting impact. You just can’t know me without knowing the French me.
Paris was the site of so many adult firsts. The first lease I signed was in French. The first bank account I opened was in France. My first encounter with petty theft and subsequent trip to the police office to report said theft: Paris. I dealt with utilities (including three trips to France Telecom), visa requirements (with a trip to a less-than-glamorous neighborhood to get a chest x-ray to prove that I wasn’t harboring tuberculosis), and multiple government agencies (monthly student stipend; socialism, for the win!). I was a mini-adult with unbelievable, sudden freedom and the resultant self-confidence to get things done.
I am a Francophile to my core and never hesitate to defend my adopted homeland. Don’t even get me started on “Freedom Fries” because you know that was completely ridiculous. I grind my teeth whenever someone tells me that the French are rude (and then, after politely letting them finish their misguided diatribe, I jump in to gently correct). I’m a mini-ambassador and fount of information. French Gruyère is better than Swiss Gruyère. French Fries are Belgian.
Paris, perhaps glorified through the rosy lens of nostalgia, is a place of magic for me. I constantly dream of moving back.
Perhaps someday I will.
The past few days, I’ve been feeling like this.
Not one to wallow in self-pity – for more than 24 hours, at least – I was determined to do something. Enter, Jenny Blake and her lovely blog. While Jenny doesn’t write specifically about getting over your pity-parties, one post in particular has been quite useful (so, of course, I wanted to share). In this post, Jenny shares various resources on Google Docs. Take a gander.
Two of the eight Google Docs have been just what I needed to clear the mind-fog. The Wheel of Life is a tool that forces you to evaluate how you are feeling in various areas of your life and plot out action steps to correct or modify any pieces that need special attention. I don’t know about y’all, but personally, there’s great therapy to be had in writing things out. Abstract thoughts are scary. Concrete plans are reassuring.
For fun, I’m also working on the Life Checklist. It’s great to document your goals – they are far more likely to happen that way, no? Also, thanks to the loveliness that is Google Docs, you can share any of these documents with friends. Will now has access to my life goals (and is now aware that we will someday be travelling to New Zealand).
I hope you find these resources useful! Let me know if you use them!