- When one of your coworkers at the newspaper emails you at 7am asking if you’re free to cover a review for him that night in Massachusetts, even though the show starts at 8:30pm and it’s over an hour away and you have to write the review when you get home in order to make the deadline and then get up for work the next morning at 7:30am at latest, you say yes. Because you’ve never been to Massachusetts, you’ve never been to this theater and you hear it’s one of the best in the area, and you really like the playwright and haven’t seen this particular play of his yet.
- Sometimes, you just need an adventure all on your own, even if it’s a little scary, because it’s something you have to prove to yourself you can do.
- The drive to Lenox, Massachusetts from Albany is very pretty. First it’s all city city city, then it’s all highway highway boring blah, then it starts to be very green and rural and the air smells nice and clean.
- There’s a huge “Massachusetts Welcomes You” sign once you cross the border on I-90. You’re totally allowed to cheer and say “THANK YOU I FEEL VERY WELCOMED, MASSACHUSETTS!” and bop around in your seat a little.
- When you cross the border into Massachusetts, it looks very much like New York. You might think there would be unicorns or something along those lines, but you would be wrong. It’s the same. Which is a little disappointing.
- Having a billion songs (give or take a billion) on your phone is the best thing ever. It totally beats having to bring a bunch of CDs and change the CDs and almost drive off the road every time you do it. You just put the phone on shuffle and you’re good to go. Added bonus: you know all the songs so you can sing along loudly and off-key. Especially since you’re alone in the car so you’re not bothering your passenger.
- There are a lot of tollbooths between Albany and Lenox. Another awesome bit of technology: the EZ Pass. Which even works in other states. You may not be aware of this and think you’re in trouble because you don’t have any cash on you. Nope! EZ Pass is accepted all over the land. (“Of course it is, Amy, SIGH,” said Dad. Sorry, Dad, I’m not much of a world traveler.)
- Once you get off the highway, Lenox is a lovely little town. It looks old-fashionedy and pretty and there are a lot of trees and old stores and houses. It was utterly charming.
- Your GPS will sometimes take you down roads that look like no one’s driven on them in a billion years. “Why are you trying to kill me, GPS?” you might say to it. I mean, if you were the type to talk to inanimate objects. Which of course I am. “This is where killers live in the trees, GPS. I don’t know what I’ve done to you to deserve this kind of Texas Chainsaw Massacre death, really.”
- Suddenly, you will come upon a little road with a sign for the theater and you will apologize profusely to your GPS for doubting it.
- Shakespeare & Company is not just a theater. It is a THEATER COMPLEX. It is a NUMBER of theaters all on what seems to be an old farm. There are signs pointing to each of the theaters telling you what’s playing at each one. It’s all landscaped and there are trees and water and little fairy lights in the trees and it might well be one of the most beautiful, magical places for theater to happen you’ve ever seen in your life. You might drive around with your mouth open like a gigantic country rube. Hypothetically.
- The theater was beautiful, the show was amazing, the employees were very nice without being weird about it (sometimes theater employees are overly solicitous to reviewers, and it’s a little off-putting) and there were a LOT of rich people there. Apparently, Lenox is rich-people land. Whoa. You may be a little underdressed amongst all the snazzy people since it was dress-down day at work and you are wearing jeans and a shirt that started the day nice enough, but ended the day a little wilted.
- On the drive home, the night was as clear as could be, and without all the ambient light from the city, the stars were so bright they were the stars from every poem ever. They were FIRMAMENT stars. And the moon started out as a light orangey-red and slowly morphed to an almost coppery-amber, and it was a perfect crescent moon. It is completely allowed to marvel in the night.
- You can make it to Massachusetts and back and see a very fancy play all by yourself even if you are completely directionally challenged. You will feel very good about this. Very proud of yourself. And very happy you have such a job that allows you to do such things.
- You will not, however, feel so proud of yourself the next morning since you stayed up until 2am finishing the review and it is a very long day of work and a LOT of crazy people will call needing your attention and you don’t have a lot of it to give. You will yawn a lot. A WHOLE lot. You also have to grocery shop after work because you are out of milk and cheese, and dairy is really kind of a staple food group. I mean, it’s on the food pyramid and everything.
- You may have plans to stay up late and talk to Andreas with your face between 11pm and 12am Saturday night but when he emails you right after 11pm you will sadly beg off because you are falling asleep over your laptop. You are sad about this because Andreas is one of your most favorite humans. He does, however, understand, and tells you to get a good night’s sleep because he is, without a doubt, one of the most caring people you know. You are very tired, and someone caring about your sleep this much makes you cry a little, which is a thing you do when you are very tired. You make plans to talk to him tomorrow when you wake up. This seems like a very good plan.
- You collapse into bed and sleep for EIGHT STRAIGHT HOURS. You would have slept longer, but for some reason, your beloved but mentally deficient cat decides to leap on your face after you’ve slept for 8 hours. Apparently, he thought that was enough. He didn’t need food or water. Just attention. That was what precipitated the early-morning face-leap.
- You realize you cannot talk to Andreas until you put yourself together, because not only did you sleep for 8 hours, you slept HARD. You look like you’ve been hit by a truck. A truck full of cast-iron pans. And in just a few hours you have to go BACK to Massachusetts to see ANOTHER play and also meet friend C. for lunch.
- You put yourself together so you look less like a highway accident victim and more like a human being. (Note: Andreas probably wouldn’t have cared. Sometimes you talk to Andreas in your pajamas. Andreas is very understanding and doesn’t care if you look like a weirdo. Or, if he does, he’s too nice to mention it.)
- You talk to Andreas for an hour. His family all make an appearance, including the dog, and you cannot stop smiling. Andreas is a balm that cures many ills.
- You attempt to get some things done but fail miserably because the internets keep distracting you from your goal. It’s a thing that happens more often than you’re willing to admit.
- You take off for Pittsfield. Pittsfield is not an easy of a drive as Lenox, because you can’t take the highway all the way. You have to take a lot of little tiny roads where the speed limit is 30 and, randomly, there are a lot of cops. You sigh a lot.
- You make it to Pittsfield and your GPS hates one-way streets and refuses to help you find the theater. You instead find the restaurant and go in and almost cry all over the bartender telling her you can’t find the theater where you’re supposed to meet friend C. She is more scared of you than understanding, to be honest. She gives you directions to the theater, which is randomly a couple blocks away. When you leave to go to your car, Friend C. is outside. She is also unable to find the theater. Her GPS has also refused to bring her there. However, since you are at the restaurant, you decide to eat.
- The food is kind of meh, but the company couldn’t be better, so it all balances out. When you have known someone for almost twenty years, you are never really at a loss for conversation.
- You take off for the theater and are kind of embarrassed at how easy it is to find when you know where it is. You mentally apologize for almost crying on the bartender.
- The show is good. Quite good. It’s just not your thing. However, some people like pretty, brainless musicals, so if that’s their thing, they will like this show very much. There are a couple people in the show that are very good, so you watch them with the most joy. And randomly, one of the songs makes you think of something that it wasn’t even supposed to make you think of, and it wasn’t even especially sad, and you might start leaking at the eyes a little bit. Then you have a moment where you think about how memories sometimes ninja sneak-attack you and make a completely benign song suddenly the most tear-inducing thing you’ve ever listened to.
- You say goodbye to friend C. and make plans to do it all over again at the end of the month which will be the most fun because you weren’t sure when you would see her again and drive home through all the teeny-tiny streets past all the cops.
- You make it home in time for True Blood and half-watch while writing your review. Even half-watching True Blood is enough to know it is still quite terrible. However, Eric is still the prettiness.
- You quickly write sj an email recapping True Blood which is the best part of True Blood and collapse in bed because it is now almost Monday and time for the week ahead which has even MORE things to do in it.
- You have weird dreams for no apparently reason other than your brain runs like a hamster on a wheel sometimes and you wake up enough times that the cat gets fed up with you and goes to sleep elsewhere.
- Suddenly, bam, it is Monday, and your weekend is over. And look at all the things you have done! You are a ROCK STAR. You went to a new state! You went to two new theaters! You saw two shows you’ve never seen! You got to hang out with friend C.! You got to talk to Andreas with your face!
- You can now rest. Until the next adventure. Which, knowing you, will be any minute now.
- You are most definitely queen of all the adventures.
- MOST definitely.
and nothing quite so least as truth
–i say though hate were why men breathe–
because my Father lived his soul
love is the whole and more than all
–E.E. Cummings, “my father moved through dooms of love”
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
You had your first kid when you were only 25. You had no idea what to do with this kid. She was born early and jaundiced and she cried a lot and wouldn’t sleep. You were expecting a boy. You wanted a boy because boys were easier and you could play catch with a boy and do things like play in the dirt and go hunting. A girl was perplexing. What would you do with a girl?
You learned quickly that you could do all the same things with her as you could do with the boy. Well, except the hunting. She didn’t like hunting. Killing animals was not a thing she was into. The one and only time you took her hunting she ended up weeping over how pretty the dead quail was and how horrifying it was that one minute it was THERE and the next minute it was NOT. But you could still teach her how to shoot a gun. And you did. And she played in the dirt, and she played catch (poorly, because she had no hand-eye coordination) and you always made time to teach her things like what kind of trees those were, and how a car worked, and where the fish would bite. She ended up loving books more than anything, which perplexed you, and falling in love with the theater, which perplexed you more, and becoming a damn dirty liberal, which just infuriated you.
But she inherited your eyes and your quick sense of humor and your steadfast loyalty and your complete intolerance for stupidity, and she ended up being pretty ok, after all. Imagine that. And whenever you talk to her you tell her how much you love her. Because you do. And how much you’ll always worry about her, even though she’s well onto her way into middle age. Because you will.
You ended up doing a pretty good job raising her, even though you didn’t have an instruction manual.
Happy Father’s Day, Grandpa Jim.
You got married really young and had three amazing handsome boys and a beautiful girl, and the entire town loved you. There wasn’t anyone who didn’t grin and wave when they saw you coming. You were intelligent and funny and caring and wise, and everyone who ever met you has stories about you, and those stories make them glow with the memory of them.
You loved your family ferociously. You’d have done anything for them. You worked hard every day of your life making sure they had everything they needed. You were tough, but you were fair. They always knew how much you loved them. They loved you with a fierce unparalleled love; no family has ever loved a father more.
You loved your grandchildren. They loved to visit you because you played with them. You were overjoyed to see the children your own children produced. You wore your heart on your sleeve with them.
I would have liked to know you. Dad tells me all the time how much you and I would have liked one another; how I would have gotten your jokes, even the ones that it took other people days to put together in their minds because they were so complex and erudite. Dad says you would have been so proud of me, that you and I were so much alike. I take that compliment and wear it like a locket, like a precious gift. I carry the stories of you around safe with me in my heart. I hang on the hope that someday, somehow, in whatever passes for an afterlife, if there’s someone waiting for me on the other side, it’ll be you, and you’ll be waiting with your laugh that filled a room, with the other half of the stories that it chokes your children up to tell me.
I’ve loved you my whole life without us even ever having been on the planet at the same time. Sometimes people miss each other by mere months, yet spend the rest of their lives missing each other. I miss you, even though, for me, you were never there.
Happy Father’s Day, Grandfather.
You were one of the hardest-working men I’ve ever known. You ran a farm, you were the sheriff (of the town? the county? I was little, I don’t remember, just remember you in your uniform with a pistol on your hip, looking very wild-western and strong), you had a wife and four young children, you drove a huge truck, and you were no one to be messed with, with your steely blue eyes and your serious white crewcut.
Yet you always made me laugh. You were shameless about it; you would save things that you knew would make me laugh until I visited, then you’d trot them out like jewels for me. You’d make up little poems and say them to me in a very serious tone, but with twinkling eyes. “The mouse ran up the tree,” you told me once, very seriously. “Turned around and peed on me.” Then you very seriously walked out of the room. I was about 6, and this was the height of humor. I laughed until I was sore.
You would put on old records and dance around your parlor with me. You’d make me complicated puzzles from wood and wire and twine and laugh as I tried to solve them.
You were a World War II vet; you brought home photographs of yourself on boats in the waters off Japan, looking young and like you were going to save the world. As a child, I was quite sure you had.
You died when I was in college. It was not a quick death; it was long, and painful, and not the death you want to watch someone you love suffer. At the end, when you were on doses of morphine so high the nurses were loath to give them to you, you said you saw an angel in your room. The angel was your beloved younger sister, the wild child I’d always admired, who’d passed away not long before. “She’s waiting for me,” you told my mother. You looked so happy. So at peace. I’d like to say I know it was the drugs talking. The practical side of me knows it was. But the side of me that believes in magic and wonder and that something should be out there on the other side waiting for us believes that yes, your sister was there in your hospital room, and right before you went, she let you see her so you wouldn’t be so afraid to let go.
Happy Father’s Day to you, these three men whose blood runs in my veins. We may make ourselves into the people we want to become, but before we can do that, we grow up surrounded by people who help us shape our lives. I was lucky enough to have some of the strongest role models to look up to. Men that treated women with respect; men that knew women could be and do whatever they wanted; men that looked at me and said, “You are amazing” and meant it; men that made me strong and wise and funny and brave.
Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers reading. Fatherhood comes in many forms. It’s not just genetic. Taking a child’s hand in yours and being their person, letting them know how amazing and wonderful and worthwhile and strong they are? That’s fatherhood. Protecting them, but also giving them wings and letting them use them? That’s fatherhood. Laughing with them and also crying with them? That’s fatherhood.
Happy Father’s Day, fathers and dads and stepdads, in all your forms, in all your roles.
And thank you. For everything.
Dear Ms. Heasley:
(I have no idea if you’re a Ms. or a Mrs. The internet isn’t being helpful and also it seems creepy to search “is Linda Heasley, the CEO of Lane Bryant, married?” because I don’t want to marry you or stalk you, even. So I’m giving you a Ms. Hope you don’t mind.)
I have been a customer of your store since college. I actually worked, briefly, at your store, while I was a graduate student. (“Briefly” because I was not much of a fan of telling customers they looked good in clothes they clearly did NOT look good in for commissions. Lying for money seemed a little too close to being a whore for me, so I got a job at a pet store instead, where they let me play with animals for a living. Sorry.)
See, I’m a plus-sized woman. That phrase should give you a thrill, ma’am. I’m your bread and butter. If it weren’t for women like me (and I suppose men who purchase plus-sized women’s clothing; I worked at one of your competitors through college, and we had a number of transgender and crossdressing clients who shopped with us; I don’t want to be discriminatory) you wouldn’t have a client base. There actually wouldn’t be any need for your store. And then you’d be out of a job! And you have a lovely smile. I wouldn’t want you to be out of a job. I bear you no ill will.
However, we need to have a talk.
As you are no-doubt aware, there are a number of plus-sized women here in the States. (And possibly overseas. Do you do much business overseas? I’m sure I could research this, but it, again, seems like an odd thing to type into Google.) Lane Bryant is often our closest store for professional plus-sized clothing. Now, not to hurt your feelings, but I do most of my clothes shopping at Peter Harris Plus, because they have your clothes but half to seventy-five percent off, along with a lot of other brand-names. Also, very few people shop there, and they never care if I bring a gajillion clothes into the dressing room even though there’s a sign that says I’m not allowed to. I like when I’m allowed to be rule-flaunty. HOWEVER! Peter Harris Plus doesn’t carry lingerie. Well, it carries long t-shirts you can sleep in. I mean undergarment-lingerie. Bras, in particular.
So, whenever I need bras, I am forced to make the trek to (shudder) the mall, and enter Lane Bryant.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. I have many options for bra shopping! Well, no. Because I’m…um…well-endowed, ma’am. I need to try them on before I purchase them, because it’s not often I find one that not only fits, but supports. It’s a gift that was passed down to me from both sides of my family. We’re all boobilicious. Aren’t I just a lucky woman?
Now. You used to carry a very basic t-shirt material bra with a tough as nails underwire. They lasted forever, they fit and supported beautifully, and they were smooth-fitting underneath clothing. In other words, they were perfect. Well, they could have come in a few different colors or patterns, but otherwise, fantastic. And it’s not like anyone saw them but me, Ms. Heasley. The parade of suitors into the Lucy’s Football bedroom is…well, less a “parade” and more a “ghost town.” With scary noises and also maybe tumbleweeds.
So what did you do? Well! Of course, you discontinued them.
I can only assume this is because they lasted forever, so people didn’t come back and purchase them as often as you’d like.
So now the only style that works and fits for me is this lacy/satiny thing. Which could be worse, I suppose. But they don’t last. Because of the frou-frou lacy shit which is flimsy as hell. And did I mention no one sees the damn things? So I don’t need lace. Who the hell’s seeing the lace, the cat? He doesn’t care about lace, unless the lace has cat treats all over it or something. Also, they only come in the boring blah colors. Black, cream, tan. Because why the hell would we want to have FUN COLORS OR PATTERNS.
So this past weekend, ma’am, I went to Lane Bryant. And you had a whole rack of sale bras. A WHOLE RACK! No pun intended with the boob/rack comparison. So I took one of each style of each in my size and thought, dammit, I WILL GET SOMETHING OTHER THAN THE FROU-FROU LACY THING.
Ms. Heasley, who designs your undergarments? No, sincerely. I have to assume it’s not you. You’re the President and CEO, per the internet. You must have a team of designers or something.
What size, exactly, are these designers? And, followup question, do they wear their own product?
I am not a clothing designer. I am artistically challenged. I’ll admit that. I watch Project Runway and I never pick the winners. I actually pick the losers AS the winners, to be honest. I am, however, as I mentioned, a plus-sized woman, who has lived in this body for her entire life. And as such, I know what works on a plus-sized body and what doesn’t.
Here’s what doesn’t work:
- Skinny straps on your bras. I’m talking skinny. Shoestring skinny. Listen, this is not going to hold me in position for the entire day. Not only that, it’s going to cut into my shoulders. HARDCORE cut into my shoulders. Nothing sexier than straps cut so deeply into my shoulders that I have deep red welts, right?
- Padding. Now, maybe for smaller cup sizes, padding would work. And maybe even be welcome. However, how about once you get into the larger bra sizes, you discontinue the padding? See, here’s the thing – I come with my own padding. I know, right? Hard to wrap your mind around. I do not need an extra quarter-to-half-inch of padding in my cups, ma’am. I’m going to start looking like a caricature. Something painted on the side of a plane, perhaps.
- “Balconettes”. If you have smaller breasts, you probably want to push ‘em up and out. Mine are already there. I don’t want to push ‘em anywhere. I just want to keep them in place and not have a sore back at the end of the day. Balconettes are a demi-cup. They only cover half the breast. THIS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU NEED IF YOU ARE BUSTY. You might as well not be wearing a bra, sincerely. You look like you’re spilling out all over the place, and not in a sexy way. In an ill-fitting bra way.
- Underwire made of twist-ties. Again, much like the skinny straps, this is not going to work. You need underwire that could double as bulletproofing, that you could use to break into armored cars, that you could put someone’s eye out with. Not underwire that bends when you’re trying the bra ON. How is that supposed to last if it can’t even withstand being TRIED ON?
- Patterns that wouldn’t be out of place on a lawnchair. You are aware, right, that even though we’re plus-sized, we’d also like to be sexy? OK, just checking. Sexy doesn’t equal patterns like BRIGHT FLUORESCENT PAINT SPLASHES or HOT PINK HOUNDSTOOTH. Especially on the aforementioned bras that are ill-fitting and terrible.
- Whatever the hell this is. I don’t even know. Even the model looks confused and/or pissed.
Guess what I ended up with after trying on all these terrible, ill-fitting bras, Ms. Heasley?
THE SAME SILLY LACEY SATINY BORING-COLORED BRAS I ALWAYS HAVE TO GET BECAUSE THEY ARE THE ONLY PRACTICAL THINGS IN YOUR STORE.
Also, I should probably apologize for being snippy to your overly-cheerful salesperson. However, when she asked, “Any luck?” in a voice as chipper as can be with a HUGE-ASS GRIN while I lumbered out of the changing room all crabby with your poorly-made bras, I couldn’t think of any response other than “No, much like Vegas, the odds are always on the house here at Lane Bryant.” This confused her and allowed me to make my escape.
I also tried on a top that LOOKED cute, but randomly had a large band of elastic that cut across the waistband, and puffed out above the elastic, making me look like a weird mushroom person. WHY WOULD A PLUS-SIZED PERSON WANT THIS?
AND, the last time I went to buy jeans at your store, you no longer had sizes. You had colors and numbers and shapes. As if we were in pre-school. A size 2 red square! A size 3 yellow triangle!
“Which of these is a size 18?” I asked the salesperson. She looked like I had taken a shit on the floor of the store.
“We don’t have size 18. We have sizes 1-6.”
“Yes. I see that you’ve changed your sizing in a confusing way. Which of these new strange sizes is comparable to a size 18?”
“We have sizes 1-6. Also we have colored shapes that coordinate to the fit. Isn’t that innovative? No other store is doing this.”
“Yes. I would imagine no other store is doing this, as it makes it utterly impossible to shop and I’m sure is losing you business. So…in order to find out what size I am, I would have to…”
“Try on some of our new jeans!”
“Do you have a hint as to which size MIGHT be a size 18? I see you’re not allowed to tell me. You’ve had a long swallow of the new-size Koolaid. Maybe you could kind of nod when I get close to the right pair? Or wink? Blink, maybe? No? Great. Thank you. You’ve been very helpful.”
(I was a red triangle. I don’t remember what number. 2, maybe? I’ve never again purchased jeans from Lane Bryant. I think they broke my brain.)
So, to sum up:
- Your bras are terrible, ill-fitting, and impractical.
- Your clothes are strangely cut and unflattering.
- Your sizing for your jeans was created by someone on acid.
- You make your salespeople be crazy up-with-people all the time and one day, one of them will snap and start hurling hangers at the clientele.
- Your clothes are psychotically overpriced for what you’re getting.
These are all fixable things.
- Make bras that fit, support, and if you could, make them ADORABLE, dammit.
- Talk to actual plus-sized women before making your clothes. We will tell you what’s flattering on us and what’s not.
- Put your normal jean-sizing back. I know you think it’ll make us feel smaller if we’re in a size 2, but we’re also not stupid. We know it’s really 2×9. We’re not Math is Hard Barbies.
- Let your salespeople drop the psychosmiles. They’re offputting and make us want to buy LESS, not MORE.
- Make your prices commensurate with what we’re getting. It’s a tough economy. If I can buy three times as much at Peter Harris Plus, you can be sure I’m going to Peter Harris Plus. Again, I am not Math is Hard Barbie.
In conclusion, Ms. Heasley, I’m sorry to say, after this trip to Lane Bryant, I will be looking for alternate venues for my underwear needs. I’m sure there are places online that would be happy for my business, that have a good return policy in case they don’t fit, and actually understand how a plus-sized person’s body works.
However, if you decide to actually design clothes FOR plus-sized women (and/or men, again, not to be exclusionary), you let me know. I might be back.
However, I cannot guarantee I will not snark at your chipper salespeople. Sorry. I try very hard to be nice, but they’re just showing SO MANY TEETH. It terrifies me. I react poorly.
Most sincerely, yours in plus-sized shopping disappointment,
(And bring on the perv-searchers looking for busty women and bra-shots right…about…NOW. It’s the risk you run, talking about the risqué topics in life, I suppose. Sigh, pervs. Just, sigh.)
I’ve been supremely lazy the past couple of days, to the point of seriously not wanting to do anything but sleep. But! Important things need to be discussed, dammit! So I am DISCUSSING them! THEN I will sleep like the DEAD! Well, except of course I will wake up. Dead people don’t often do that. Except maybe zombie-people.
First, thank you all for making the royal rumpusness of my second bloggiversary week a rousing success. Two years! Huh. That’s impressive, right? And kind of scary.
I wanted to do SOMETHING for my readers for my bloggiversary but I am out of oomph. My oomph up and left. My oomph hit the road, Jack. Left me a Dear
John Amy letter on the counter and hiked it on outta here. One could, I suppose, keep waiting for one’s oomph to return, but that doesn’t seem likely. So I suppose the only fix is to go around oomphless. Or do things DESPITE the lack of oomph. Kind of as a big eff-you to that dastardly leaving-me-high-and-dry oomph.
SO, I conducted an unbeknownst-to-you top-secret giveaway over the past week. I KNOW! How tricky was THAT? I didn’t even tell sj. And I tell sj almost EVERYTHING. (Not everything, though, because sometimes I want her to be surprised, and sometimes I do embarrassing things that I don’t think she needs to know.)
Everyone that commented on any of the posts over bloggiversary week got entered into a top-secret drawing. Well, no. FIRST, you all got put on a LIST. Then I wrote everyone’s name on that list into that randomizer website that people use when they want to do giveaways like a grownup.
(I realized after I did this I probably should have taken screenshots because I always get at least one person who’s all “YOU CHEATED! Ha ha just kidding” but I don’t think they really are. I believe the technical term for a comment like this is “passive-aggressive.” The technical term for what a comment like this makes me is “stabbilicious.” But I didn’t, because I was very tired and not feeling the best and did I mention I HAVE NO OOMPH? OK, great, just in case you missed that paragraph, awesome.)
So, the randomizer (which apparently randomizes based on the earth’s atmosphere or something, I don’t know what the hell) did its work and TA-DAH! We had a WINNER! Out of the 21 people who commented all week, A WINNER!
(Now don’t you lurkers feel bad about not commenting? You should. You could be entered in secret giveaways and NOT EVEN KNOW IT!)
Our winner is…drumroll please…
HEATHER FROM BECOMING CLICHE!
Now, before I totally embarrassed myself and Heather by writing this whole post, I of course had to contact her, congratulate her on winning a contest she didn’t even know she’d entered (that makes me sound like one of those spammers that sends you an email that you’ve won the U.K. Lottery, doesn’t it?) and see if she was down with giving me her address so I could send her a prize.
WHEW! She totally was. She loves secret giveaways. I’m so glad Heather didn’t think this was all a scam so I could either stalk her or get her bank account in order to drain it of all the cash moneys and go to Aruba.
I have a secret prize all picked out for Heather. It’s not going to be as oomphy as last year, because as stated, NO OOMPH. However, it is going to be awesome, and I know she will love it (and I ran the idea past sj, and SHE knows Heather will love it, as well.) I cannot tell you all what it is because what it will ruin her surprise-factor, but once it arrives, either she will tell us, or I will. YOU WILL BE KEPT IN THE LOOP!
Thank you for accepting the winnership of the secret prize, Heather! I’m so glad you were excited! I hope (KNOW!) you will love it when it arrives!
OK, next, who wants to see art-time? Oh, you all know you do. Art time was ALWAYS the best part of elementary school.
So sj and Susie are having a contest. It is a zombiecorn contest. If you write a short piece of zombiecorn fiction, you can win any one of a plethora of prizes. A PLETHORA I TELL YOU!
(I think sj spells it zombicorn. I randomly throw that extra e in there. That’s the way I roll.)
A zombiecorn, by the way, can either be a zombie that is a unicorn or a unicorn that is a zombie. It’s totally up to you.
Anyway, I was in charge of the third-place prize. Originally, I was going to draw a zombiecorn, but I realized about a week into that plan I can’t draw worth a shit. I can draw trees. That is all I can draw. Obviously, a zombiecorn is not a tree.
However, once upon a time, I was playing with collage work. Once upon a LONG time ago. And I wasn’t terrible at it. So if I couldn’t draw a zombiecorn, I could maybe collage one.
So I went to the weird Christian craft store and I got a plethora of paper.
Oh, you know you want a closeup.
Then I had to sketch out a unicorn. As mentioned: I can’t draw. So I hit the interwebs and found this site where they teach you how to draw a unicorn.
Read that text at the top. “You must get it PERFECT in order to get a unicorn!” Well, that’s scary as shit.
I did my level best.
(My unicorn was fatter. He’s a chubbicorn. But I was super-impressed with his most prestigious mane, and I think it’s the best part of the sketch. Maybe I could get a job sketching manes for a living.)
Then I started to put paper on the unicorn in various combinations based on the outline.
At first, I wanted to do a lot of different colors. But I didn’t like how this looked once I did it. (But I DID like the shiny rainbowy horn.) Luckily, I hadn’t glued anything down yet.
My second attempt was MUCH more pleasing.
All I kept, as you can see, is the horn, mouth, and eyebrow. I had this pretty pearly paper. It seemed more unicorny. Also I decided to use all the different colors in his mane. He’s kind of a punk unicorn. He’ll be a zombie later. (That sparkly paper is the bomb, yo. I got a whole lot of that stuff.)
This is him done, without any flair. He has skulls for hooves. And he’s pretty badass, no? But wait til he gets his FLAIR. (He doesn’t like to talk about his flair.)
DONE! He has ALL the flair now. Bloody flayed places. Blood coming out of his mouth. A skull tattoo on his…um…I don’t know, what’s a horse’s hip. His flank? Rhinestones all up in his business. And he’s FLYING THROUGH THE AIR, YO! I know that’s a pegasus thing but you don’t know what zombiecorns can do.
And here it is framed and hanging on my wall that looks like a barn wall. No, I don’t know why I have a wall that looks like a barn wall, either.
You totally know you want to win this and have it in your very own house, right? RIGHT. It looks scary, but it would totally protect you from all sorts of bad juju. It wants to belong to you. Also, I signed it so it’ll be worth a billion dollars when I’m murdered by the clown in my closet.
And, in news of sometimes my life surprises me with the awesomeness, I might have the opportunity to do one of these things for someone for a larger audience for…gulp…money. Yes. This is a thing that randomly happened to me the other day. I KNOW. I’m not going to talk much about that until it’s done, because a., it’s not my thing, as much as it is the person who’s paying me’s thing, and b., that reeks of chicken-counting to me, you know? But I’m fairly sure if I got paid for doing art, it would make me an artist. And when I told Dad tha, he laughed and said “YOU WILL HAVE A GALLERY SHOW OF YOUR VERY OWN!” Hee! Yep. Of zombiecorns and ghost dogs and possibly robot wildebeests.
OK, I could ramble more, but I’m sleepy, yo, and I should get some sleepy-time in. I have a long post in draft-mode that I’m hoping like hell to have up for you tomorrow if all goes well. Have happy Thursdays, all. Write some zombiecorn fiction, and who knows, you could be the proud owner of your own protective badass zombiecorn. I think you could even name him Larry if you wanted, but I’d ask him what he thinks about that first. He might be more of a Raoul. And if you DON’T win, well, I might be well on my way to being a fancy artist now, maybe I could make you one. You never know what might happen. My life is filled with utter adventure at every turn, really.
Last week, Stephen King released his most recent book: Joyland. It’s one of his Hard Case Crime books – the first he released under the Hard Case Crime label was The Colorado Kid in 2005 (which has since been turned into the television show Haven on Syfy, and that has branched out in its own direction and is actually surprisingly quite enjoyable.)
A couple of months ago, I went online to pre-order my copy of Joyland. I’ve been doing that lately with books I really want; it reminds me to read them (I’ve got a lot on my plate, what can I say) and I like knowing the book will be waiting for me on the day it drops. I don’t do this with many authors or for many books – Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Stephen King, John Irving, Owen Hill earlier in the year because I wanted to have the book read before I met him for him to sign it. Most things can wait for a bit. I’m patient, and I have a lot of things to read.
I was surprised when I got online to see there was no Kindle edition of Joyland offered. I’ve run out of room for paper books; there are very few books lately that I’m not getting electronically or from the library. It’s a common-sense thing at this point. If I had more room, maybe Belle’s library from Beauty and the Beast? I’d buy more paper books. But I don’t have that, so I don’t. I also love reading on my Kindle. It’s easy, it’s eminently portable, the text is crisp and clear, it’s better for bed-reading…I could go on. I won’t, but I could.
I bought the paperback (less than $10, could be worse) and it was delivered on Tuesday. I read it. I reviewed it at Insatiable Booksluts if you’re interested in that sort of thing. I liked it very much. It was a good summer read, a quick one. I was done in a few days.
But there was a lot more going on with this paper book vs. ebook controversy than I was aware of.
sj pointed it out to me, originally. See, sj has problems with her hands, so reading paper books is an issue. Therefore, all that reading she does (and you guys, seriously, I don’t know if I know too many people that read more than sj, she’s amazing) is mainly on her Nook. She’s a huge King fan. We talk King all the time. She therefore can’t read Joyland. “But Amy!” you’re saying. “Don’t worry! She could listen to it! There’s an audiobook option!” Yes. Yes, there is. But should she have to? In 2013, should she really only have the option of either listening to the book or not reading it at all, a book from one of the most popular authors of all time?
But here’s the thing. Apparently, you can’t SAY King should have released an e-book as well. Why? Why can’t you say that?
Because of the treebook snobs.
The treebook snobs, in case you haven’t met them in the wild (and you’re a lucky person, if you haven’t, I wish you luck in never meeting them at all) say the following things:
- E-reading is killing paper books.
- E-reading isn’t REAL reading. The only real reading can be done with paper books.
- I would never buy an e-reader. Buying an e-reader is the modern equivalent of burning a library.
- No one is buying paper books anymore. Do you really want to be the death of paper books? DO YOU?
When people started complaining about Joyland not being available as an e-book, the treebook snobs came out of the woodwork. “Ugh, SUCK IT UP,” said the treebook snobs. “You’re meant to experience this novel in PAPER. If you can’t read a simple PAPERBACK, what is WRONG with you.” And on and on and “we are so haughty” and “blah blah WE KNOW BEST” and the sort of things that snobby people say that make you want to tenderize their cerebellums with a mallet.
Then Hard Case Crime got in on the action. They apparently felt the need to justify why they hadn’t offered an e-reader version of the book. Click for the full article, but here are the things that stood out to me:
…But one thing our books are is a shrine to a particular way of consuming stories and the particular object that for decades delivered that experience to millions of people. An object that has dimensions and heft and feels a certain way when you handle it, that looks a certain way when you thumb its pages back, creases a certain way when you jam it in a jacket pocket or a lunch bucket. Shape and form and texture matter. The past matters. Preserving things we love matters. And insofar as we want people to remember something we love, putting an example of it in their hands is a powerful way to do so.
So: Joyland. A book. A paperback book, by and large, and one I cherish and that I hope other readers will cherish as well. Not those who angrily proclaim on Internet message boards, “I’ll never read a paper book again!” – there isn’t any hope for those, their souls are too tattered for repair – but those who see our little bit of yesterday and feel their hearts beat faster, scent a bit of their own younger days on the backward-blowing breeze.
…For just one day, unkindle your Kindle and nook your Nook, lie back in the bath or on your sofa or beach chair or with your head on the grass, and read the way we used to.
Tomorrow will still be there when you’re done.
You’re telling me how best to enjoy your work. How I need to enjoy this book. As if I have never read a book before. As if I am new to your planet. “This is a BOOK! Here on THIS planet, the best way to experience literature is in PAPER books! Not (ugh) e-books!”
I am a grownup. I can decide for myself how to “experience” literature. And let me tell you how I want to experience it: with my eyes, you supercilious bag of dicks.
Some people might like to experience it with their ears. I am not an auditory person; I miss things in audiobooks. I like to read. With my eyes.
And here, let me tell you something that you apparently have missed: all reading is reading.
Oh, did you miss that? I’ll say it again.
Whether I’m reading from a screen, a paper book, a cereal box, a newspaper, a magazine, a billboard, a pamphlet, ot the back of a DVD box, I AM STILL INPUTTING INFORMATION VIA WORDS INTO MY BRAIN. What is confusing about this to people? Reading is reading.
There’s no “best way” to experience a book. Well, I mean, I’d like to experience a book on a beach in like 70 degree weather while someone refills my fruity drink. That seems to be a very good way to experience a book. But I don’t notice that being on the table, Hard Case Crime.
And as for the “ebooks will end paper books” people – well, listen. I don’t know if we’ll ever see the end of paper books. We might. We might not. I don’t know; I can’t see the future. I’m not a fortuneteller. But I do know that I used to be a paper-only proponent, until I got a Kindle. And now that I have the Kindle, I see why everyone loves them so much. And I don’t even have any handicaps that make reading paper books uncomfortable for me. I’m pissed enough at the holier-than-thou tone of voice these people are taking; if I had an infirmity and someone started telling me I wasn’t a “real” reader because I used an e-reader to get my word fix? I WOULD KICK ASS SO HARD. Isn’t that like telling someone in a wheelchair they’re not really experiencing a walk in the park because they’re using their wheelchair? Or like telling someone with a hearing aid they’re not really experiencing a concert the way it’s supposed to be heard? Would you treebook snobs do that, too? No. Of course you wouldn’t. Don’t be ridiculous.
Listen. I’m kind of infuriated about this. No one is taking away your books. No one is coming to your house to burn them, all Fahrenheit 451-style. If paper books are your thing, great. If e-books are your thing, great. WE DON’T HAVE TO FIGHT ABOUT THIS. There is no reason to fight. And you know what? It doesn’t go both ways, usually. I don’t see a lot of e-reader users attacking paper-book readers as Luddites. We don’t care. I read just as many paper books as e-books. I think I single-handedly keep my library alive. I have more library books currently checked out than will fit on my library shelf.
It is ALL READING. It is not the death of paper books. It is TECHNOLOGY. Life goes ON. It is what life DOES. Move with it, don’t, I don’t care, but STOP JUDGING OTHERS WHO ARE.
Listen, you all know the story of the Star-Belly Sneetches, right? I believe we’ve talked about this before. How the Star-Belly Sneetches thought they were SO MUCH BETTER than the Plain-Belly Sneetches, and went around with “their snoots in the air” until Sylvester McMonkey McBean showed up with a machine to put stars on the Plain-Belly Sneetches’ bellies. Well, that didn’t sit well with the Star-Belly Sneetches! So he charged THEM money to take the stars OFF their bellies! And back and forth it went until, laughing, he left town – and half of the Sneetches had stars, and half didn’t, and no one knew which Sneetches were the original snooty Sneetches. Old Sylvester McMonkey McBean says “you can’t teach a Sneetch!” but he’s wrong, because “The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches/And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches./That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars/And whether they had one, or not, upon thars.”
Listen, treebook snobs. We’re all Sneetches. Every last one of us is a Sneetch. Whether we’re a Paper-Book Sneetch or we’re an E-Book Sneetch. (Some 0f us can actually be BOTH SNEETCHES AT ONCE! Yes, it’s totally true.) You need to look up from your words on paper and realize we’re each and every one of us Sneetches, with a common goal: putting beautiful words in our eyeholes (or earholes, not to discriminate against vision-impaired people…or maybe their finger-spaces, for those readers of Braille.) Stop attacking your fellow Sneetches and just be happy your fellow Sneetches are reading. Because do you know what’s more terrifying to me than a world without paper books? Any ideas?
A world where no one reads at all. A world where we’re not having this fight because there’s no need for it; a world where no one cares about e-readers or paper books because books and words and authors and thoughts themselves are obsolete. The world that Fahrenheit 451 predicts, where people live in houses surrounded by inane entertainment and books are not only something people find uninteresting, but something they find dangerous enough to burn.
Books are books and words are words and Sneetches are Sneetches.
And if you tell me (or my beloved friends) one more time how I have to enjoy literature, I’m going to smash you over the head with my very pretty orange-cased Kindle. I don’t deal well with bullies. I’m one ornery Sneetch.
(For further reading on this topic, please read Heather’s post, Dear Haters. She is most truly the best kind of Sneetch.)