In which I get all dressed up for a review & a giveaway

So sometimes I miss the days when you guys would leave blog comments, and I know some of you miss the days when I would talk about being a Plus Sized Lady. (Or, to borrow from my one of my favorite plus- size-store-names, a Forgotten Woman. Who wouldn’t want to shop at a place that sounded like a 70s Jill Clayburgh divorce film?)

Anyway, earlier this month I went to Weetacon and took part in what can only be called a FASHION EXTRAVAGANZA sponsored by Igigi, because what else can you call it when you and a dozen of your friends agree to pick a dress to review, only to find out that you actually got three dresses? I already own a few things by Igigi (whose name sounds like a sultry art house film), so I was happy that I got to try these. [Read more…]

Too much (AWESOME) information

Window of the Loftus Store

Hey, remember when I used to write about other things besides sunbonnets?  This week Nerve is running an excerpt from my Love Is A Four-Letter Word essay and you can read it here. 100% Laura-free content hot and fresh.

Also, if you must know, the other day I went to the lady-doctor (yes, I’m being euphemistic; I strongly support euphemasia under certain circumstances, particularly anything involving the old whatchamahoo), and I was sitting and waiting in a little room right across from the Pill Closet. You know, the place where they keep all the free samples of birth control, so your doctor can give you three or four packs to help offset the stupidly extravagant cost of your prescription. (Sometimes it almost makes me want to birth something huge and expensive just to spite my health insurance. Hey, Blue Cross, I’m all pregnant with conjoined octuplet baby pandas! Cover this, jackasses! )

Anyway, I was eyeing the Pill Closet and staring sort of longingly at the boxes of my pills, my brand, and wondering if there was a security camera anywhere. And then, as if on cue, this woman comes down the hall carrying a giant tote bag. A bag printed with the logo of my pills, and it was filled with even more boxes of pills. She was one of those perky cute twenty-something pharmaceutical reps, and as I watched, she went up to the Pill Closet and started stocking the shelf. With my pills! She was Birth Control Santa! I started talking to her.

“Do your friends always try to hit you up for pills?” I asked her. I was trying to sound sympathetic but was also secretly hoping that she was perhaps a spontanenous, free-spirited kind of pharmaceutical rep, the kind who tosses boxes of Loestrin to strangers like candy in a parade.

“Oh my God, it’s like my friends think I’m an OB-GYN,” she said. “They’re always telling me this stuff that’s wrong with them. And I’m like, ‘uh, I do not know what to do, okay?'”

“But then you just give them the pills, right?” I asked.

Actually I didn’t ask her that. I just nodded and tried to be an understanding listener, for all the good it did me.

The reason I was at the doctor in the first place was to get my annual ultrasound, which is one of the things I have to do now that my family history includes ovarian cancer.  Plus it seems my insides are an exciting treasure trove of small fibroids and benign cysts and pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, all of which are harmless as long as you keep an eye on them. Usually the doctors just look at the ovaries, but this time they wanted to see some of my other stuff on ultrasound, which apparently is a more complicated affair.

So as they were trying to explain what they had to do, the ultrasound tech said, “Basically, the uterus is like a cheese sandwich.”  Did you know that?!  Most of the time it just lies there in flat layers! It’s only round when there’s a baby inside it, like ham in a calzone, or else when your doctor does something goofy that allows it to be seen on ultrasound. It turns out I had to have the goofy thing done, and it wasn’t fun at all, but it didn’t take long and I didn’t even really mind all that much because I was still amazed and stuck on the uterus is like a cheese sandwich. Anyway, the whole upshot is that now I have a clean bill of lady-health, and we all know what kind of sandwich the uterus is like.

In other news, Chris and I are going a date to see this movie tomorrow at the Siskel. Because he and I have a deal in which he’ll go with me to see Laura Ingalls Wilder pageants, and I’ll go with him to see terrifying documentaries about Norwegian black metal. And if that’s not a Love Is… cartoon right there, I don’t know what is.

No news is good news


Here it is nearly the end of January and I still haven’t talked about the Oprah article. You know, Oprah’s article in her magazine O: The Oprah Magazine, where the cover showed Oprah alongside her past Oprah self, who had appeared on a previous cover of O: The Oprah Magazine back when that Oprah was a skinnier Oprah? Yes, that Oprah article. And already I’ve gotten the Feburary copy of O: The Oprah Magazine, with another Oprah, meaning the Oprah of the future is now the Oprah of today, so I figured I really ought get around to discussing her whole weight gain thing, right?

Except then I realized I really don’t want to talk about the Oprah article. I mean I stared at the cover photo and at Oprah’s tidy purple sweatsuit of remorse and just felt tired. And you know, I like Oprah. I like her magazine because it has some very good books coverage, and I guess I’m at that age where I’ll read the Suze Orman column and nod yes, yes, and feel almost kind of tingly about having a Roth IRA. But you know what? I think Oprah should stop making her body news. That’s all.

As for me, you’ll noticed I haven’t been saying anything about my Progress or My Journey or This Thing I’m Doing at all, not for the past year, really, and maybe some people who’ve read I’m Not the New Me have been wondering what’s up. I don’t know: nothing. Or rather, the “problem” of being at this totally uninspiring and conventionally unacceptable purple-sweatsuit weight has become less and less of a preoccupation over the past few years as most of the crappy habits and shitty sorrows that used to be lumped in with The Problem have been taken on and managed.  My instincts to go to the gym on a regular basis, eat vegetables, and not stifle my tears with fistfuls of cheese are in pretty good working order. Doing these things has not made me thin, and maybe that’s a mystery, but one that seems more trouble than it’s worth to solve right now. These days, The Problem is mostly about how sometimes I wince at photos of myself and don’t much like that number on the scale. And who else has that problem? Oh, everyone everywhere? Okay, then.

I’m not going to pretend I have it all figured out. I can read something on body acceptance and nod wisely and be completely convinced. Then two days later I’ll read about how all I need to do is to just write down everything I eat and track all my calories every day and simply say “no thank you” to slices of cake at parties, and I’ll nod yes, yes to all that, because that, too, seems perfectly reasonable. It all depends.  But I don’t see why I should concern you guys with any of that, you know? Because it’s not news. In fact, it’s nothing new at all. But stick around, I’ll be here.


I was in awe of all the lady-funniness going on around me at the Hideout last week, so thanks to everyone who came to see us! In addition to girl comedy, the night’s fun included being held hostage by the Ting-Tings, who apparently decided to shoot five seconds of their music video right outside the Hideout, which meant that for nearly an hour or so nobody could really leave or even go sit out on the breezy little brokedown patio and instead we were all forced to stay inside and sweat and drink our compensatory drinks, and oh, it was a nightmare. Well, except not really.

One of the things I read was based on my Bad Times entry a few years ago, but of course I had to revise and update it in order to cite new developments in the world of chain-store shopping discomfort, such as the Extreme Value Item Transaction at Jewel supermarkets. The Extreme Value Item Transaction doesn’t quite count as Bad Times, but it always confounds me just the same, because I inevitably fail to come up with a satisfactory response to the Extreme Value Item. The Extreme Value Item, for those of you who do not shop at Jewel, is a daily designated grocery item that has been deployed to a special location right there at the cash register, where the cashier can point out the fabulous savings opportunity it presents.

Is the value of the Extreme Value Item truly extreme? I have no idea because it’s never an item I’d buy. It’s always a can of nuts, or fruit roll-ups, or one of the more dubious flavors of Doritos. And the cashier has to point to it and say something like, “Have you seen our Extreme Value of the day?” Even when there isn’t a distinct subtext of I’d rather I didn’t have to ask you this the whole thing is extremely awkward. One time I tried just going, hmm! while pretending to deliberate about buying the Extreme Value, but that felt really pathetic and on some level unfair to the cashier. I’ve tried to say just, “no thanks,” but even that seems too much somehow, because when it comes down to it, I suppose I deeply resent having to take a position regarding the Extreme Value appeal of Blue Gatorade. Unsubscribe please! Now I find that most of the time I just avert my eyes and mumble uhnuhnuhnuhthanks, which is also my standard response for panhandlers and people handing out flyers and Hair Question Men. It’s still not the best response to the Extreme Value Item Transaction, but it’s all I’ve got, other than using the self-checkout or shopping somewhere where the bargains do not actually accost me.

I meant to tell you about the 5K but there isn’t much to say, other than: I ran it! Very slowly! I did the Couch to 5K program, in which you drive yourself apeshit for 7 weeks trying to measure and keep track of the myriad running/walking intervals until suddenly you really do find yourself sprinting along gazelle-like for miles, plural miles! Of course then at the 5K you see that you are are not at all a gazelle and that other slow runners are faster than you, as are some powerwalkers, people on crutches, and glaciers. But never mind! I’m probably going to do at least one more later this summer or in the fall.

There’s more to catch up on, but I really want to just be in bed now, continuing my Little House series reading kick. I’m on These Happy Golden Years now and can’t get enough of all the euphemistic horse-lust, cute little schoolhouses, and endless confounding descriptions of dress-sewing. Oh, behold the cambric basque with the darted polonaise and the lace jabot! Whatever the hell that is! Good night!

Freaky fragment friday

I continue to hear gnashing of teeth over this whole Sweet Valley Size business, but a week later I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s nothing more than a bullshit Size 4 sack of stupid provocation, a crazy flack stunt to rid the Wakefield twins of their misty nostalgic associations and try to get them on the same bitchtastic bandwagon as the Gossip Girl and Clique books. And we all took the bait by blogging about it, hooray! Now let’s never buy these books again, and keep our fat fingers crossed that the reissues don’t sell, and subsequently the books get pulped to make recycled paper wrappers for delicious, delicious hamburgers enjoyed by future generations of pre-teen girls who will hopefully not run off and purge them in order to fit into a Size- Whatever-Is-Perfect- at-the- Moment. Agreed? Okay, then!

I’m doing one of those photo-a-day things at Flickr, wherein I try to take one half-decent photo a day, or at the very least POST one half-decent photo taken on another day when half-decent photo opportunities were more plentiful than they are on the particular day of posting. Yeah, hope that’s clear. Anyway, I’m trying to stay honest.

Oh, if you were wondering why you couldn’t get to Candyboots the last couple of days, I accidentally let the domain registration lapse. Oops, sorry. It’s back up! Sorry! Renewed all the way up to the End Times now, I swear.

The new BUST is on newsstands now, and if you buy it you can read my Pop Tart column on Britney Spears as well as a short interview I did with Ira Glass. I cannot quite bring myself to erase the recording of the original interview phone call, in which I laugh very loudly and horsily over every other thing Mr. Glass says. The gulf between the droll NPR radio career persona I often imagine for myself and the sad, sputtering reality is vast indeed, but oh well. As for the Britney piece, I wrote it when she was a bit more spinny-eyed than she is now, back when her future lifespan was looking as scanty as those shirt-dress-thingies she’d wear to the liquor store, and I figured I’d better write the column and gather her crazy roses while ye may, you know? But in a way I’m kind of glad that my article is a tad less relevant than it used to be. Perhaps you understand, too.

Sweet Valley, Fresh Hell

3/26/08: Plot 307

I did not mean this to be a hiatus. I just got through the first weekend of Kurosawa Fest, which is the latest installment of this thing my boyfriend does wherein he collects a director’s complete works and then watches them all according to a rigid schedule in a multi-weekend endurance event. So far it’s been exhausting and life-altering at the same time. I really do not recommend watching Kurosawa’s earliest works on bootleg Chinese DVDs that have subtitles translated from Japanese to Chinese to English by way of Babelfish, because all the philosophical dialogue about Judo mastery is at best hilarious (“Doing this stupid could make the karate down“) and at worst incomprehensible. But even those movies were great to watch in their own way, and we made it to the seriously awesome stuff like Ikiru and Seven Samurai. Six-word-summaries of all the films so far can be found here. We also have a Twitter for even more vicarious real-time action in case you care (and, I know, you probably don’t).

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Speaking of translations (sort of!) I heard yesterday that Random House is reissuing the Sweet Valley High books with a few strategic updates from their 80s incarnation. The Wakefield Twins are a “perfect size 4″ now, instead of the “perfect size 6″ that they were in 1983. It’s not clear whether they’re actually skinnier or whether vanity sizing is in effect, because of course medical science has yet to invent a reliable scale for fictional characters, but still, it’s kind of a big deal.

I definitely see Mo’s point about how the change attempts to remain faithful to the books. The fact that the girls are “perfect” remains the same; the only real difference is in the number that denotes perfection. Of course, it’s a stunningly barfy notion that perfection should be a size at all, and that’s a whole other can of worms that I’ll let someone else open, but at any rate, one can argue that really, the girls’ sizes were changed so that the girls could remain the same—perfectly perfect according to whatever standard currently applies.

And actually, that’s what I find even more insulting than the standards themselves—this blind stubborn quest to make the books feel precisely the same to a 12-year-old girl in 2008 as they did to a 12 year-old-girl in the 80s. What, exactly, is wrong with having some 2008 preteen figure out, by way of reading Sweet Valley High, that the idea of perfection was two sizes bigger twenty-five years ago than it is now? Is Random House afraid that if she’s allowed to think—just for a moment—about what that means, that she won’t be able to enjoy the book on its own terms? Or do they assume she can’t think at all? Does the current blatant non-perfection of “Size 6″ totally preclude this kid from understanding how Jessica and Elizabeth are envied, just because Size 6 may not be particularly enviable to her? Did she also read Little House on the Prairie and just have no freaking idea why someone would be jealous of Mary Ingalls, who only had “golden curls” and not a sweet rack or awesome clavicles? Just how many middle-grade and YA books published before 2005 are presumably now utterly confusing and unreadable to her because they’re about these so-called pretty pudgy girls who lumber around wearing culottes and listening to “Walkmans” and using pay phones?

I know how codgery this makes me sound, but, ahem, back in my day I found my way around all manner of inexplicable details in Judy Blume books (who “sets” their hair? why does everyone wear hats and live in New Jersey?) while still managing to relate to the characters and the stories. As an editor, I try to have a pretty good sense of what kids can figure out for themselves, and I suspect the people behind SVH ’08 do, too. I bet they know better, in other words.

Of course, they also know how to get people to give a shit about Sweet Valley High 25 years later, which is to update the books just enough to push a few buttons about body image issues, send out some press releases to fan the flames, and then watch the fun and indignation that ensues. But what do you expect? It’s so Jessica of them! Ugh.

For extra credit, feel free to speculate about the standards by which the Wakefield Twins will be “perfect” in the 2033 reissue of Sweet Valley High. “As Elizabeth twirled her size 2 figure, the sun gleamed off her flawless Brazilian.” Because isn’t that where they’re headed at this rate? Sweet Valley indeed!