The Problem with Being a Writer

The problem with being a writer…

The problem with being a writer is that you have to give yourself that title long before you feel you deserve it.

The problem with being a writer is that it makes you twitchy and self-conscious.

The problem with being a writer is that it makes you conceited and vain.

The problem with being a writer is that being self-conscious and conceited at the same time is hard on the brain.

The problem with being a writer is that people who have less talent than you will be more successful than you.

The problem with being a writer is that people who have more talent than you won’t be successful at all. And if they can’t do it, how can you?

The problem with being a writer is the comment section.

The problem with being a writer is that blog stats exist.

The problem with being a writer is that you keep checking your blog stats.

The problem with being a writer is that any modicum of success gets you addicted to a drug you can’t buy, so you live mostly in withdrawal.

The problem with being a writer is that you never take compliments seriously.

The problem with being a writer is that you checked your blog stats again.

The problem with being a writer is that there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever get paid a dime.

The problem with being a writer is that you can’t stop wanting to be a writer.

 

Photo credit Donovan Beeson at Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Here, Let Me Help: Mascara Edition

If you’ve never noticed, the subtitle of my blog is, “A Guide to Life and Other Quandaries.” As you can tell from previous posts, I am full of all kinds of knowledge. And you should definitely listen to me because, as I’ve mentioned before, I have a website. On the internet. That’s basically like a Ph.D.. So, perk those ears up people, ’cause you’re about to get a dose of the ol’ Crutchfield learning magic.

I’ve decided to start a new series called “Here, Let Me Help,” wherein I give you all kinds of advice you didn’t ask for. You’re welcome, kittens. I know there aren’t enough people with opinions this days. I’m here to fix that.

First up in the “Here, Let Me Help” catalog: mascara.

Now, now, not everyone uses mascara, but if you do, you’ve likely run in to a host of problems. The mascara must be scrubbed from your face like barnacles from a ship’s hull. The mascara flakes and leaves black streaks like you’re a member of KISS. It gets all clumpy and looks like you put fake spider legs on your eyes. “Bahhhh!” you say as you shake your fist at the sky.

KISS members in full make up on stage.

The KISS look may not be the one you’re aiming for.

Well, fist-shake no more, readers. Instead, let me help. This mascara here, L’oréal Paris Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara, to-ta-lly works.

 

L'oréal Paris Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara

This business is legit.

This will not flake. At all. Like, not even after you leave it on for three days because you’re too lazy to wash your face. (Not that I’ve done that.) It also won’t run, not even a little!, if you cry in your kid’s pediatrician’s office. (Not that I’ve done that either, I just think maybe you’ll  do that some day.) You don’t have to break out crazy chemicals to get it off either. Just put some warm water on your closed eyes and pull it off gently.

I don’t know what’s in the stuff—probably fairy blood and magic spells from Michelle Obama—but it’s so great that I don’t even care. (Sorry innocent fairies.)

So there you go. You’re all squared away with your mascara needs, ladies and gents. Need advice on something else? Ask away. I’m here to help.

I didn’t get paid to write any of this because that’s not a thing around these parts. (That doesn’t mean you *can’t* pay me, L’oréal. Especially if you use chocolate as currency. Preferably this.) These are my honest little opinions straight from my heart/brain area. If you could gaze into my perky little perfectly-mascaraed eyes you’d see nothing but sincerity. 

Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say To Your Kids

I just read this blog post over at Abandoning Pretense in which Kristen Mae gives the thumbs down to all those “Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids” lists floating about, and I was like, “Whew! Thank God someone is letting me off the hook.” I’m all for people pursuing positive parenting with patience and aplomb (sorry, got a little carried away with the alliteration there), but never? NEVER?

“Never” reinforces this sort of oops-you-did-this-BUZZ!-now-you’re-a-terrible-parent vibe that I’m basically totally sick of. Like, I’m barfing guilt already, people. Let’s take it easy. Kristen sums up my feelings at the end:

Most of us are working really hard at being the best parents we can be, and we’re doing a pretty bang-up job of it, too. We are good parents.

Yeah. So take that, internet jerks.

That said, there really ARE some things you probably shouldn’t say to your kids. I’ll list them out, in case you’re just about to say any of this. It takes a village, after all.

Word Graphic - Things You Really Shouldn't Say to Your Kids

Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say to Your Kids

1. Finish your cocaine or I’ll feed you to my shark.

2. I regret letting the aliens drink your blood every night. Tuesdays? Yes. Every night? Too much.

3. Sometimes I watch you sleeping at night and just cry. Oh, no…not in the good way.

4. Heads up: I’m gonna be real drunk at this parent/teacher conference.

5. Wanna take the cinnamon challenge?

6. Take the cinnamon challenge or I’ll feed you to my shark.

7. Hold this land mine real quick.

8. I wish you were more like your sister, if your sister was like someone else’s kid.

9. Hey! That stove is hot! Ehhh…go ahead. We have insurance.

10. Feed my shark or I’ll feed you to my shark.

If you’re saying any of those things, you probably are a terrible parent. Take your internet shame, you! Take it and like it!

p.s. you’re subscribed to Abandoning Pretense, right? Because you should NEVER tell your kid not to subscribe to Abandoning Pretense.

I’m Getting Over a Brold

sad

Image by Kristina Alexanderson via Flickr. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Depression is stupid.

And it has a weird rep that makes already crap-feeling people feel more isolated and alienated. Which is dumb.

So, I have an idea. Depression needs to be a thing that you can say you have without any sort of weirdness attached to it. Like when you have a cold, no body gives you that weird I-hope-I-don’t-send-you-over-the-edge-with-my-response-to-you vibe when you mention that you need to stay in that night. Because a cold is a cold. It’s a thing that a lot of people deal with, and it sucks, and you work through it. And depression is not entirely unlike that. It’s a cold for your brain.

Thus, periodic bouts of depression will henceforth be known as brolds.

Next time you’re feeling crappy and you had a dinner date planned but really you can’t do anything other than cry and watch old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy—no big deal. Text your pals that you came down with a nasty brold and you’ll catch up with them next time. Or if you have a mound of work to do, but depression is sucking the gumption straight out of your head, send an email to HR explaining you’ll need a sick day or two as you deal with your brold.

Once the idea catches on, we’ll see over-the-counter brold treatments popping up all over the place. They’ll mostly contain caffeine pills and pictures of baby animals. It’s not meant to be a cure, just a little something to help you weather it.

The truth is sometimes brolds just come; there’s nothing you did to get in it, and not much you can do to get out of it other than wait with a cup of coffee and an internet full of baby ducks. But sometimes you need go see a doctor and get some more serious meds. But either way, it’s just a brold. Don’t freak out, people. It’s just a brold.

So there’s my idea, you all. I’m full of them. Got another problem that needs to be solved? Send it my way. Though it might take me a bit to get to it—I’m getting over a brold.

Oh, also…go watch this TED talk by Kevin Breel for some more awesome thoughts about normalizing depression.

The Loser’s Guide to Screenwriting

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Become Impregnated by The Idea

The Idea comes to you like a mythical creature. It creeps through your window at 2 AM. It rushes straight into your bosom, carried by a warm, southeasterly wind. When it comes to you, it’s fully formed, for it has been made by the hands of tiny green gods from another realm; they know more about storytelling than we ever will.

Yes, they’ve crafted The Idea, the green gods have, and now they’ve sent it to you. It’s so good it’s sexy. And you’re sexy too, now that you have The Idea. You cuddle it, coddle it, coo at it in your mind. You’d kiss it straight on the mouth if you could. Heck, you’d kiss yourself on the mouth.

Obsession. Development.

You write a few things down—not too many, just the broad strokes, really—afraid that delving straight into details will scare The Idea away. And it really is a fantastic idea. So good you can’t believe no one has come up with it before. How is it that a story like this has never been told? Not in this way. Not with this twist. You can’t believe your luck. You speak of The Idea to no one as you flesh it out in your mind, and even in your mind you speak in hushed tones.

The Idea is to be revered. Respected. Protected. You caress its head like it’s the prettiest kitty of all time.

Share Just a Little

Aflame with the exhilaration of having an actual writing project in the coffer, you find yourself unable to resist sharing a little with your writer friends—juuuuust a little.

But lo, when you open your mouth some kind of sentence fragment sputters out, and falls directly in your coffee. You have made a mockery of The Idea. You must stop speaking immediately.

Immediately.

Backtrack Paired with—What’s That? Oh, Yes—Panic

Back in your apartment, you pull out your notes, searching for The Idea. It must be here somewhere; intact, gorgeous, purring.

You read through one page. Then the next. And the third. The last? Wait…wasn’t there more than this? What about the opening images that gave you chills? Or the B story that brought just the right blend of levity and intrigue? This is not The Idea! This is something else, something lesser, something—God help you—pedestrian.

Excavate. Hyperventilate. Repeat.

Okay, just calm down. The golden Idea crafted by the tiny green gods could not have disappeared this quickly. (Unless you angered the tiny green gods. What did you do!?) You just need to think a moment. Just think. THINK.

So you need more than a moment. That’s okay. What’s that 99% perspiration thing? That’s fine. You can do that. Stop worrying. Go to the shelf. Pull out a few screenwriting books as reference, and you’ll have the bones all nice and laid out before you in no time. Sexy bones. The bones of The Idea. It will be fine.

Reinvent All Wheels

Whatever crap they’re selling in screenwriting books isn’t going to help you now. What were you thinking? What, were you hoping to write formulaic drivel that will make a bunch of money for some studio fat cats out there but will leave you dry and listless in your soul? Starved to the core of your creative being? (Wait, what was that about money? Creative famine might be fine with money…)

No! No formulas will work for you. No “structure” or “journey” or “beat sheet” will do The Idea justice. Instead, you must cull the collective knowledge and craft your own system. A system, a structure, a theory worthy of The Idea. The Idea needs a warm, fresh, bohemian yet ruthlessly genius home in which to appear once again. Yes. Yessssss. This will work. Just give it time. Tease out the structure with your hybrid, game-changing ideas and all will be well. The Idea will be well. And you will kiss it on the mouth.

Beer

And a little whiskey.

Vomit

In the alley. Defeated, you deposit both your stomach contents and your hopes for The Idea neatly between a dumpster and a family of rats. Even the rats pity you. A baby rat averts her eyes. You don’t disagree with her choice.

Interlude

Hello, Old Friend

Months later, you find a folder on your computer holding a vaguely named file. You open it out of curiosity. “Now that was a good Idea,” you think. “Just a little work and…”

Another ride around the carousel, please.

Five and a Half Tips for Surviving Your New Baby

So you’re having a baby! Huzzah! Soon you will have the minor task of being solely responsible for the health and well-being of an entirely helpless, dependent human. Don’t freak! I’ve got five and a half top-shelf tips to get you on your way. Like so:

Clean That Thing Off

If you’ve grown your baby in your very own uterus, have someone clean it off before they thrust it on you for the first time. Newly minted babies are gross (truth), and your affection for them is what keeps you from abandoning them in the forest like a spooked mama fox. Don’t let your first remark about your little rascal be, “Ick.” Give yourself the upper hand and have someone give that kid a good once-over with a towel.

The Puke Luge™

Baby Puke on the Couch

The night before this happened we were like, “Hey, should we scotch guard the couch?” and then we were like, “Nah, that’s a lot of work and the can says we’ll probably blow up our house.” Then I didn’t use the Puke Luge™.

Babies like to puke up a lot of the food you so carefully funnel into their little gullets. Prime targets for said puke are the third shirt you’ve put on that day, and your newly cleaned couch.

To avoid both scenarios, use my patented 2-step Puke Luge™ solution. First, don’t burp the baby over your shoulder rather, hold the baby upright on your lap, holding a burp cloth beneath her little chinny-chin-chin (fig. A). Then, place the other end of the burp cloth on a pillow next to you (fig. B). This creates the luge track on which your baby’s puke will be safely corralled, shirts and furniture left unsoiled.Puke Luge

The Baby Straightjacket

Babies like to claw the crap out of their faces, making you look like the Freddy Kruger of parents. Not great. Your options for resolving this are: those baby mittens that stay on for roughly the amount of time it takes a mouse to sneeze; cutting your baby’s nails, which will definitely result in lopping off some of your baby’s finger; or the baby straightjacket (also known as swaddling).

The baby straightjacket is the clear winner, in my opinion. If you can get a nurse to teach you, that’s best (those people do not mess), if not, the Mayo Clinic has some pretty pictures to show you.

Hold on to Those Maternity Clothes

Again, if your baby is grown in your very own body, immediately following birth you’ll be like, “Ohmigosh I’m so skinny!” Then you’ll see a mirror and you’ll be like, “Sixth month of pregnancy redux? What the heck?”

Yes, that’s the dill, Pickle. You’re just gonna have to be okay with it.

If It Seems Weird, Maybe it IS Weird

Babies do all kinds of weird crap, but some of it is normal weird, and some is weird weird. As a new parent, you totally won’t know the difference. (Awesome!)

If something seems weird, check it out. Don’t worry about seeming like an ignorant, overprotective wacko of a parent. You probably are, but don’t worry about it. Most doctor’s offices have a nurse that you can talk to on the phone before racing to the emergency room. Also, Google is pretty good at giving you a little pre-info.

Embracing the I-don’t-know-but-it-seems-weird mantra probably saved my kid’s life, so I’m a fan. (All the credit for that goes to my husband. He’s a better person than I am. (Why am I left alone with the kids again?))

Sub-point: Watch out for Internet Weirdos

Google is great for doing a quick WTF check on lots of stuff. The Mayo Clinic and WebMD are pretty solid resources. However, the internet is chock-full of weirdos because there’s no test you have to pass to spew opinions all over our shared info web. So when you search for “gassy baby,” you’ll inevitably find the person that says, “I gave my baby an enema with a straw and a diet coke.” No thanks, moonbeamdaddy43. We’re gonna pass on that.

Have I left something unaddressed? Well ask away! I’m an internet weirdo with an entire website all to myself, so clearly I’m qualified.

Why You Should Always Give a Pregnant Lady Five Bucks

Next time you see a pregnant lady, you really need to stop and give her five bucks. Why? Well, the short answer is that pregnancy is the freaking worst. THE WORST.

Okay, having your leg chewed off by a bengal tiger is probably pretty bad, too. But pregnancy is freaking awful, and no one comes right out and says that because, well, I think it makes you look like a bad parent or something. But I totally don’t care about that. Let me endure the judgement and describe the terrible catastrophe that is pregnancy. You’re welcome.

Why You Should Always Give A Pregnant Lady Five Bucks

Morning Sickness is a Lie

The term “morning sickness” is about as accurate as “occasional breathing” or “optional heartbeat.” For many, the nausea that comes with your precious bundle of joy happens whenever the crap it wants to, and—blissfully for some—all the live long day. I’ll let you guess which of those things happened to me.

It’s also not some adorable, dainty little queasiness. It’s as if food is now the enemy, and your body will do anything to keep it out of your mouth/stomach/necessary locations for life. I’ve read of women puking 20 times a day. Twenty. Times. Uh, give that lady five bucks.

My nausea was so bad that my doctors gave me a drug that they also give to chemo patients. Because apparently being on chemo and being pregnant have certain similarities. I don’t know why they don’t put that on Hallmark cards. Even that prescription-strength solution didn’t keep this pleasant little conversation from happening in my head several times a day:

I’m going to die. I can’t believe this is how it’s going to end for me. A shriveled, starved mess that can’t get out of bed. Wait, no, you live in California, Melanie. CALIFORNIA. I’m pretty sure there are a few steps between this and death. Right? Of course! They’ll hook you up to IVs and give you nutrients that way! All you need is hospitalization! No. big. deal.

Thankfully it didn’t come to that, though I did ask my husband several times to check into a medically induced coma. I’m still a little mad that he didn’t at least Google it. Right? Right.

“Cravings”? Not Exactly

You always hear those adorable stories of women wanting to eat pickles and ice cream, like that’s the cutest thing ever. The reality? Pickles and ice cream—and other equally absurd food choices—may be the only thing your body will accept. So, if the choice is between the aforementioned hospitalization and, say, shrimp-flavored Cup O’ Noodle and instant mashed potatoes, you kinda choose the Cup O’ Noodle. Turns out, the desire to not die in your bed is pretty strong.

There once was a time when I favored braised beef cheek and chilled grape soup with basil foam—pregnancy reduced my palate to that of a still-drunk frat boy. Thanks for that. Give me five bucks, please. I have no self respect.

I told my doctor about this terrible starvation/inability to eat anything that can reasonably be called food and her was response was, “Luckily, the baby doesn’t need nutrition right now.” Yeah, luckily. And it’s not like need it, right? And where is the baby getting her nutrients? She’s stealing them from your body. Like a parasite. Where’s the greeting card for that?
someecards.com - Congratulations on your acquisition of a small parasite that will steal your essential nutrients.
(Sadly, that analogy doesn’t quite end at birth. Not that I hate my kid. I don’t. I promise. Look, I can prove it.)

“Luckily,” Lots of Terrible Stuff is Normal

If you’ve never been pregnant before, all this crazy stuff will start happening to you and you’ll be like, “Holy shitballs, this can’t be right. This is how humans are made?” and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll say as much to your doctor. And she will say, “Yeaaaaaaaah. I’m sorry.” Because it totally IS right. It’s normal. For your entertainment/education/horrification, here’s a bunch of bizarro stuff that’s just par for the course with pregnancy.

  • Days long headaches that you can’t do anything about, because you can’t take any pain killers when you’re pregnant. A wet cloth on your head in a dark room may be recommended.
  • Bleeding gums. Like you’re a pirate with scurvy. Sweet.
  • Not pooping ever. Someone I know might have thought she was going to die of not pooping. It wasn’t me, because why would I share that? But no one wants pooping to be mentioned in their obit.
  • Nosebleeds. Wha…? Or a constant stuffy nose. Also wha…?
  • The persistent feeling of being kicked in the crotch. This happens because of a chemical that makes your joints loosen. Sometimes your pelvic joint kinda, you know, comes apart. And that process might make you Google “pregnancy kicked in the crotch.”
  • Extra moles. To make you feel awesome about yourself.
  • Chest pain due to: a baby being where your organs are supposed to go; or heartburn; or maybe a blood clot or heart attack. Hard to know. Not that that’ll freak you out or anything.
  • Dark spots all over your skin. To help with camouflage in the wild?
  • Hot flashes. Because why the heck not at this point, right?

There’s totally more than this but…why? (Oh, wait…diabetes! You can get di-a-be-tes just while you’re pregnant. And middle-of-the-night leg cramps! And anemia!!) I mean, does it need to get any worse for you to spot a lady a fiver? If so, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU HORRID FIEND?

I will take one second to address something that might come up in the comments: some people have lovely pregnancies. They say they’ve never felt better, and that it’s such a blessing and they glow and all that crap. Ladies, you owe other pregnant women fifty bucks. Somehow they caught your share of the crappy part while you rubbed your belly and made cooing noises. Not okay.

So there it is. Go forth and procreate you poor bastards. I’ll give you five bucks if I see you.

Make This and Put it in Your Face

Of course you want to eat this Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast Waffle. Why wouldn't you?

Of course you want to eat this Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast Waffle. Why wouldn’t you?

Look everyone! I’m a food blogger!

Well, not really, but what am I anyway? I’m a lazy person in the throes of an existential blogging crisis of some kind, wherein I immediately convince myself not to write whatever I’m thinking of writing. It’s a jolly good time, I tell you.

So what should one do in this case? One should make this Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast Waffle and put it promptly in her face. And then one should tell you, dear reader, how to do the same thing because, in the words of Jean-Ralphio, “that shiz is straight up del-oy-cious.”

Also, one of my faves (Eden Kennedy) isn’t a food blogger either, but she managed to whip up this post/recipe thing so, you know, permission granted.

Okee dokey. So, a fab friend of mine was coming over for breakfast & I wanted to make something awesome. Naturally, french toast came to mind because it’s great. If you don’t like french toast, you should really see the doctor, because the awesome part of your tongue is broken. For shame.

My second thought was that I should make said french toast in the waffle maker for two reasons: a) I’m lazy, and it sounded easier and b) waffles have a distinct advantage over other breakfast foods, because they have neatly arranged nooks in which to store pools of butter and syrup. I bet the other breakfast foods feel a little self conscious when they think about it. (It’s okay, foods. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses.) (Except for this recipe which is all strengths, and may be my brightest moment ever.)

So, we’ve got french toast with magical waffle nooks. Sounds pretty good. But as I was perusing the internets for other little ideas, I came across a stuffed french toast recipe. And that’s when things got interesting. Because…um…well, if it’s not obvious—again—go see Ms. Doctor Lady, because you have lots of problems.

Enough Talking—Get to the Making

Step 1: Mix up the French Toast Stuff

Almost any recipe will work here. Just a couple eggs and a milk-like product of your choice…I throw in some cinnamon and vanilla because I fancy myself exotic. The only requirement is that you don’t use crusty, thick bread. Just use plain ol’ wheat or white sandwich bread slices. I think if you use anything thicker/harder you won’t be able to jam it into the waffle maker. And that would be disappointing.

Step 2: Cream Cheese Goo

Now take some cream cheese and powdered sugar and stick it in a bowl. Then mash those things together. I suppose you could use a mixer, but an enthusiastic arm with fork will do just fine. (My friend did this part, so maybe it’s INSANELY difficult, but I just didn’t notice. You all will have to let me know if that’s the case.) I don’t really have any measurements here because, let’s face it, if you can screw up cream cheese and powdered sugar you shouldn’t be in the kitchen. Like, ever. Just mix and taste and go with what feels good in your blessed heart.

Step 3: Slam the Sammie in the Waffle Maker

Spray/oil/butter your waffle maker. Just a little. Dip 1 piece of your plain Jane bread in your french toast egg/milk mix, and put it in the waffle maker. Then put a dollop of cream cheese on it. Next, dip another piece of bread and place it on top of the whole shenanigans. My waffle maker can fit four stuffed french toasts at a time because it’s the boss. Fill yours up with the desired/allowed amounts of french toast sammies, then slam that thing shut.

Step 4: Wait. Do Not Put Mouth on Waffle Maker

I tried using the auto timer thing on the waffle maker, but that didn’t totally pan out. So I just checked on it and yanked those bad boys out when they looked good and done. The cream cheese gooed out a little bit, but don’t worry about that. In a few short minutes you’ll be like, “Even if the cream cheese had sprayed on my face and burned me pretty bad, this would still be worth it.”

Step 5: Nom.

Slather it with butter and real maple syrup then try to maintain some decorum. Good luck with that part. If you have friend that will bring you tasty strawberries and a pretty tangerine, that might help you keep your business together because it feels like you should be fancy with such beautiful fruits on your plate.

That’s it! Go give it a whirl, friendsies.

Thank You For Your Valuable Feedback: The Art of Interpersonal Customer Service

photo by Thad Zajdowicz

photo by Thad Zajdowicz

A very kind, smart, caring, professional, and good-looking friend (that last part is irrelevant, but what the hey—it’s true) just received her very first piece of hate mail. The criticisms aren’t about widgets not being springy enough, or jeans shrinking in the wash. The criticisms are more personal, more pointed, more…lively.

These kinds of things basically make you want to retreat to an igloo, living out your days in the company of dead fish and wandering arctic wolves. Or, at least, that’s my first response. So, being the kind, smart, professional person that *I* am, I thought I would save her the trouble of writing a reply. Feel free to use it yourself, should the occasion arise.

Dear Concerned Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your valuable feedback!

There are so many items and facets to address (wonders, really!), but I will do my best to give you the attentiveness that you so kindly gave me.

First, I must commend you on the tremendous effort you have displayed. Your thoughts were carefully constructed, and neatly typed out. There was not even a trace of food from the anger-snacking I assume you participated in before, during, and after writing this. I mean, there was not even a small amount of Cheeto powder or Ding Dong filling…color me impressed. And then, you folded the letter, put it in an envelope, addressed it properly, and took it to the post office! Were you going there already? Or did you make a special stop just for me? Either way, just look at that follow through.

Secondly, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your thoughts about my sexual orientation. Did you know that I didn’t even know I’m a lesbian? It’s true! Here I’ve been dating and enjoying men my entire life. A feel a little foolish for being so blatantly out of touch with myself, but grateful for your brave counsel. Someone else suggested that you may not be more in touch with my feelings than I am, but rather are using sexual orientation as an insult…but that seems below both of us, doesn’t it? I’m glad you agree.

I also really enjoyed the sweeping generalizations you used for entire groups of people. Some people call that prejudice, or just being an unbearable troll, but I can see how you were just trying to be efficient. Equally impressive was the way you disparaged both my employer and the people we serve—that way no one has to feel left out!

It got a little ramble-y toward the end, but you did bring it to a swift and succinct close when you stripped me of my value both as a “woman” and as a “human being.” The feedback from my peers suggested that perhaps this was an ugly overstatement, and inappropriate for civil dialog, but you know what I see? A fresh start! There’s no where to go from here but up! In fact, any future criticisms you might have are essentially unnecessary at this point: what could you possibly expect from someone who has failed both as an expression of the female gender, and as a human being of any kind? If you find yourself disappointed in me in the future, I think it’s safe to say you have yourself to blame; appropriate expectations are key.

Again, thank you for your valuable feedback—I regret that I need to wrap this letter up to attend to my many personal and professional shortcomings that you’ve painstakingly outlined. I can only hope to attain the kind of human perfection that you’ve clearly attained, removing my need for self-reflection, and freeing me to mercilessly judge members of my community with impunity.

Warm regards,

[Your Name Here]

p.s. Just for future reference, is anonymity required when sending merciless judge letters? Or was that just for an air of mystery? Be patient with me, please (see above re: failed human being).

How to Be Beautiful

It’s hard to be beautiful. There are so many ointments to apply, so many devices to wield, so many techniques to employ…yeesh! It’s surprising that more women don’t have flasks in their brassieres—who wouldn’t need a morning drink after all of that?

And it’s not really optional. Sure, there are some rad young women out there daring to step in the daylight without makeup on their faces, but for most women, we get shooed back into our bathrooms by societal pressure or self-doubt if we walk down that road. Shooed, I say!

I mean, when Candy Crowley (the moderator for the second 2012 presidential debate) gets pre-emptively bashed for her weight and looks (not her qualifications or skill), I think that underscores the demand for women to—above all—be pretty. Even Martha Stewart had a recent article with instructions on how to—I shit you not—”avoid the pull of gravity” on your neck. (Love you, Martha, but damn…really?!) I mean, putting on a little lip gloss is one thing, but somehow skirting the laws of the universe seems like a little too lofty a goal.

But Hey, If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Shellac the Crap Right out of Your Face

The other day I was in a fake pageant for my friend Melissa‘s birthday. It was kind of fabulous and insane, and Stephen and I performed the oddest combination of talents and abilities in the history of talents and abilities. If you and your milieu find yourselves wanting for entertainment, please throw a pretend adult pageant. You won’t regret it! Anyway, as part of the pageant planning process, I looked up how to do super fancy pageant make-up ala Miss America, via the source of all knowledge: YouTube.

I forgot to take pictures of the process, so I decided to recreate it through Photoshop with my hard-earned, under-used Photoshop wizardry. It’s both instructive and entertaining, so sit down and enjoy yourself, okay? Alright. Here we go:

Here’s me starting out. Look at that face. It’s like Cinderella’s been using it to clean the windows. Yikes. Gotta fix that business, and fast!

Step 1: Cover that freaking skin up!

Okay, now this part isn’t actually in the video, but you can tell that she has foundation ALL OVER that business. So, you should do something kinda like this:

Except that’s mildly terrifying, so you need to blend it. Blend it. Like so:

Oops—lost the eyebrows in the process, but that’s no big deal. Just draw those bad boys back in there.

Sweet. Lookin’ good.

Now We Work on Dramatic Eyes! With Drama!

Okay, so you start smudging white stuff under your “brow bone” and on the inner corner of your eyes. Kinda like a zombie! And then blend, of course, then you do some other darker shades on your eye lids, and then draw some even darker triangles on the corner of your eyes. It’s kind of like coloring in preschool, except on your face.

And then you do more white stuff under your eyes. I’m not sure why we couldn’t do that earlier, but whatever. I’m the student, not the teacher.

And blend…

And now black where you just put white…

And now you look like a kitty! Which is the best time to start gluing things on your face. Your eyelids, specifically. Glue some fake eyelashes right about where your real ones are, since your real ones are now engulfed by dramatic, colored powders.

Okay, the eyes are done! Now we need to add “natural glow” back where we covered it with paste at the beginning. And add some highlights to give dimension. (I know we had dimension before we started this whole charade. I get it. But just go with it. I mean…I’m lookin’ pretty dang good, so…you know. Don’t rock the makeup bag.)

So natural! Add a little lipstick…

Tada!

Now, that’s about all I can do with makeup. BUT, since we’re already working with Photoshop, lets use a few of the tricks that people frequently employ to “enhance” a woman’s face in print and on the web.

Eyes Like a Baby Dolphin! Teeth Made of Ivory!

It’s proven that larger eyes are more attractive, so let’s get that done. And, hey, the whiter the teeth, the better, right? And might as well fix that little chip in my tooth…and make my eyes “pop” a little more…

*tinker tinker tinker* …

PERFECT!

What the Hell…Let’s Stick Something Else on Your Head

We all know that curly blonde hair is preferred over dark, witch hair, so we’ll just swap that out and we’ll be done!

…drum roll please…

…drum drum drum…

And…I’m done! Sure, I look like something the devil dreamt about after watching too many episodes of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo while listening to a Dolly Parton station on Pandora, but—whew!—isn’t that so much better than my, you know, skin? And real face and teeth? You go enjoy that, friends. I’m here to help.

What’s your relationship with makeup like? Love it? Hate it? Please do share.

(And don’t forget! You can get a weekly dose of my A-game—like this—by subscribing via WordPress, email or RSS)

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