I know I should be super grateful and appreciative this week, and to be honest, I am trying. But I just don’t feel it. I’m sure I could put a long list of cliched excuses here that would be completely valid, but the fact is, I’m too tired to even type it out. Thankfulness? In many ways I’m kind of at a loss.
On Saturday I replaced my 3-year old old smart phone, the poor thing was worn out and it’s IQ had dropped to somewhere in the low thirties. Not so smart anymore. My new phone has all sorts of fancy bells and whistles that I don’t need and am not entirely sure I want. The screen is bigger, it doesn’t fit in my palm very well and I’m still fighting with the alarm clock (what alarm clock doesn’t have a built in snooze function!? I ask you!). However, mostly, I’m just mad about the whole telecommunication situation.
The technology of intelligent mobile phones! A thousand apps! A successful, stable job that allows me to afford such a thing (thank you, Telecom rebates).
Not only did it take almost 90 minutes to change my cell phone plan, upgrade my phone, and get everything turned on–NINETY MINUTES! AND THEY WEREN’T EVEN BUSY!!–when I started to check my contact list it appears that the Moron who had “helped” me upload/download my contacts to my new phone somehow populated my new contact list with the name of every person I had ever talked to, emailed, or had any other online interaction with. People, I had something like 6,000 contacts in my phone book. Many were duplicate or triplicate entries with the name in one listing, phone in another, and email in the third. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
The ability to instantly connect with my loved ones via telephone conversation! Text message! Picture message!
So, three hours later J-Mo had figured out how to get me a more manageable number of contacts saved to my phone, but I still had 2,000 in my list when I really only need something like 500. So, then we put in the new SIM card only to find Telecom Moron #1 and Moron #2 had not actually activated my new SIM card and had turned off all of my data and internet capabilities. More whiskey. More tango.
A 30 second fix at another Telecom location! I can watch movies! Browse online retailers! Purchase almost anything I want with the swype of a finger!
Sigh. You get the idea.*
Add to that minor-but-surprisingly-explosive point of frustration a bunch more stuff that I won’t get in to now–it being the season of thankfulness and gratefulness and what-not and my ranting just makes it worse–and you have the recipe for one really up and down weekend, mostly down. Last night I wrote a lengthy, rant-tastic post with a few witty bits about the proverbial bad apple, and sugar and spice and apple pie. It only made me feel marginally better, but I had every intention of posting it this morning anyway and letting you all support me in my outbursts and outcries and throw some righteous indignation my direction. You know, for the holidays.
However, despite the bit about the bumbling idiots at Telecom ‘R’ Us, I decided to save that post for another day. I don’t want to have to deal with any potential fall out from the wrong people getting the wrong idea. I don’t want to keep the hurt and/or annoyance right on the surface so I can adequately (read: “in character”) respond to comments, emails, or genuine concern from the lovely people of the Interwebs. I just want to spend a couple of days in the comfort of my brother’s kitchen surrounded by appetizers, pie, nieces and nephews, and a complete lack of passive-aggression or calculated guilt trips. I don’t want to talk about anything or anyone that is on my very last nerve and causing my eye to twitch. I just want to smother it all with stuffing and my grandmother’s secret cranberry sauce and wash it down with 3 or 4 kinds of pie. (Am I an emotional eater? Why yes, I think I am. But this is the one week where being an emotional eater is both patriotic and socially correct.)
Filed under: Rant-tastic
There comes a time or twelve in most of our lives when it is time to unleash a Cracken. Buckle up.
If you’ve been around these parts for very long you have probably seen a wedding photo or two, particularly ones with enormous, smile-inducing custom balloons in green and orange. I have previously mentioned my friend Jihan, the mastermind behind Geronimo Balloons, and how she is the very epitome of Awesome. She has built this incredible business from the ground up and has cast herself as the Balloon Trooper, delivering bits of awesome all over the country. In fact, she has become so successful of late that people like Anthropologie, Martha Stewart, and Proctor and Gamble have taken notice and have either already partnered with her (you can buy Geronimo Balloons on BHLDN, Anthro’s wedding site) or are working on partnerships right now (stay tuned to see her on the pages of magazines and in commercials as herself, the Balloon Girl). In addition to all her recent success (due to YEARS of hard work, mind you), Jihan is a dear friend. Jihan, Isabel and I have spent (not nearly enough) wonderful evenings and mornings in restaurants talking and laughing and crying (me) and supporting each other through new relationships, break ups, weddings, divorces, babies, lost babies, new houses, moving, new businesses, new blogs, the works. I adore this woman and if anyone—and I mean anyone—disrespects her in any way I will liken myself to a honey badger.
Or a Cracken.
About a month ago this guy, T, ordered a Geronimo Balloon from Jihan. (Start my assumption) Then his wife and her friend deconstructed it and decided to start their own company, Copy Cat Balloons*, selling big balloons with fancy tails (End my assumption). They whipped up some fancy balloons, staged a few photo shoots, worked a few events, and slapped together a webpage, blog, Facebook page and Twitter handle. This is all fine, EXCEPT for the part where their balloons are exactly the same as Jihan’s, the copy on their website was almost word-for-word copied from Geronimo Balloons. Their photo styling was so close even I, a Geronimo Balloon aficionado, had to look twice.
There are a dozen ways to skin the proverbial cat (ewww) and there are thousands of ways to embellish a balloon…why would you copy—exactly—someone else and then pass it off as your own? Why would you try and copy—exactly—someone else’s business model, ideas and verbiage? What happened to integrity? Honesty? Independent creativity? Copy Cat Balloons then must have decided that they would sponsor a rather popular fashion blogger, R. of [Redacted].com to get their product and website “out there” on the interwebs. The [Redacted].com “sponsorship” page boasts over 1,500,000 pageviews per month, over 4,000 Pinterest followers and over 2,000 Facebook followers. Why not try and ride that pink gravy train?
Couple of problems: remember the part where your company, Copy Cat Balloons, blatantly ripped off another company? Remember the part where your website copy was plagiarized from another company? Remember how EVERYTHING about your “fun new company” was ripped off from someone else? I wish I’d taken a screen shot of their website, it really would have made your blood boil. You’ll have to make do with this Microsoft Paint assisted visual instead, my wedding day on the left, R.’s Copy Cat Balloons-sponsored post on the right. [Edited: R asked me to remove the photo of her because it is "copyrighted"...she has not, however, removed the sponsored post from her blog. This is a new photo using cached-and-downloaded photos from Copy Cat Balloon's (now defunct) website.]
THE BALLOONS ARE EXACTLY THE SAME! How can any company think it is perfectly okay to so identically copy not only product, but website verbiage and photography styling and then pass it off as their own?!? I am so ragey about the whole thing I want to throw things. Sharp things. Big things. Like sunken pirate ships (see: Cracken).
Now listen, I have no problem with you finding an idea online and trying to recreate it. I have no problem with anyone being inspired by another person’s work or art. I have a BIG problem with someone thinking “oh hey, I could make money by recreating EXACTLY that product and passing it off as my own. No one could ever possibly know, right? And I have an ever BIGGER problem when that person or company is ripping off the ideas, hard work, publicity and awesomeness of my dear friend. Big problem. Huge.
[Edited to add]
In the 24 hours since R’s sponsored post went live and this post is published Copy Cat Balloon’s blog has become invite only, their Twitter handle has become private, their Facebook page has been scrubbed, Pinterest and Instagram cancelled and their website has been disabled. I have another ranty post brewing about all of this, which I’m sure will be posted soon.
*Copy Cat Balloons is not the real name of this company, and after a phone call between Jihan and copycats to clear some things up, the always lovely Lady J asked me to remove the exact name and link, which I happily did; and then I put the Cracken on stand by.
Warning: This is a very ranty post with lots of details—all the details are from notes I took during the following fiasco, and anything else J-Mo or I can remember—and is meant to both shame United Airlines into some kind of action, and also serve as a warning to any other globe trotters to never, EVER fly with United Airlines again. Ever.
Last week J-Mo and I made a last-minute trip to eastern Montana to attend a funeral. After looking at our options, we decided to drive up with J-Mo’s Mom, who happened to be in Salt Lake at the time, and fly back. I checked around online to find some flights out of one of a handful of very small airports in the area and found a good rate on both United and Frontier, $279.79 per ticket. Believe me, this is a rock-bottom deal, especially so close to the travel dates. (I looked into bereavement fares, but the relationship did not qualify for the lower rate.) Neither United or Frontier would allow me to book the flight online, so I got on the phone. After Frontier told me their new price, $479 per ticket, I decided to try United to see if their price was still the $279.79 or lower than Frontier’s new price. After attempting to book online one more time and receiving the same weird error message, blocking me from completing my purchase (I had already chosen my flights, entered J-Mo and my travel information, and our credit card number), I decided to call the United customer service number given on the error screen.
I was on hold for 20 minutes which the computer-voiced recording had warned me of within 30 seconds of calling. Annoying, but no big deal, I put my phone on speaker and ate lunch at my desk. AMB1MB (that is how he spelled his name, I swear) finally answered my phone call; I explained that the website was not working and that I’d like to buy two one-way tickets from Dickinson, North Dakota to Salt Lake City via Denver. I gave him the flight numbers, times, and told him the rate I’d seen online. He put me on hold to check the rate. After 10 minutes he told me that in their “real time” system which is the most up to date information they have the rate was still $279.79 per ticket, but he needed to also check the website. (Wha?) He put me on hold again. Fifteen minutes later he returned saying the rate was also $279.79 per ticket on the website as well as his “real time” system, and that he could go ahead and book the ticket. AMB1MB confirmed, again, our flight date, time, airport and connection with the $279.79 rate. He asked me for my last name to get the reservation going. I told him the last name of the first traveler was Mo—– and this is where everything turned to hell. See, apparently he could not book two tickets for the $279.79 rate; there was only one ticket available. Even though I had told him two or three times I was trying to book a ticket for myself and my husband, he had neglected to check the rate for two tickets. He put me on hold again. Ages later he returned and said he could book two tickets, but the rate had gone up to $1,100 dollars each. No, that is not a typo. Eleven. Hundred. Dollars…Each. In the 45 minutes I had been on hold the rate for a one-way ticket had increased over $800 dollars. PER TICKET! I was polite, frustrated, but firm. I told him that as I had initially told him I needed TWO tickets, and he had confirmed with me THREE TIMES the price of $279.79 I would absolutely not be paying $1,100 dollars per ticket. He would give me the original quoted price for both tickets. He put me on hold again. Finally, AMB1MB returned and told me he could get me two tickets for $343.30 per ticket. Mind you, this is still over $60 dollars more than the price he had initially quoted and confirmed with his two systems, a price several friends with whom I was furiously gchatting had seen on United.com in their own internet browsers. At this point I had been on the phone, mostly on hold, for more than an hour. I was frustrated, angry, and my lunch break was long over. I agreed to the higher price just to ensure we were on the flight, I had been checking the websites of Frontier and Delta in the meantime and neither had any seats available on flights out of eastern Montana or western North Dakota. It took AMB1MB another 10 minutes to take down all the information to get J-Mo and I booked on two, one-way flights home. AMB1MB gave me a confirmation number and mentioned I would receive an email within 24 hours with my receipt and itinerary. I requested to speak to his superior because of the price difference, I assumed when I explained what had happened the superior would be able to fix the problem.
When I gave Jason Sherma, Supervisor of the United Web Support Team, my confirmation number from AMB1MB he correctly repeated back to me the flight numbers, cities, departures and arrival times, and then asked what he could do to help me. I informed him of the $279.79 price that AMB1MB had quoted me several times, explained his mistake on my needing two tickets and not one, and then told him the business about the $1,100 per ticket price and the $343.30 final price. Mr. Sherma told me that there was no evidence in his system of AMB1MB ever quoting any price less than $343.30. I was temporarily speechless and then immediately angry, but tried to remain calm. I repeated myself, unsure if there was a language barrier issue. Mr. Sherma again told me there was never a $279.79 price quoted to me and that United was doing me a huge favor with the $343.30 per ticket price instead of the $1,100 per ticket price. I told him that his information was incorrect and told him to pull the recording of the call where the $279.79 price point was discussed at length and AMB1MB’s mistake of not checking for two tickets in the first place. Mr. Sherma got very huffy and told me that they absolutely do not record calls at their call center. I call bullshit. I’ve worked at several call centers and every one of them has recorded calls for training and quality control. At this point I had been on the phone for 90 minutes and was frustrated beyond reason. I opted to end the call instead of continue to fight. We had return tickets home, and in the long run the extra $120-something dollars would not be that big of a deal.
The next day J-Mo, Momma-Mo and I left on a very long drive from Salt Lake City, 14 hours north-east through a blizzard and then a lot of very flat, very brown, very monotonous country. I had not yet received an email confirmation from United for our plane tickets, but as I was in and out of cell phone service I assumed it was waiting in my inbox.
That afternoon as we were somewhere east of Bozeman, Montana, J-Mo decided to check the United website with our confirmation number to see if the receipt and itinerary was there. He typed it in, and viola, like magic our flights appeared: Dickinson, ND to Denver, an easy hour and a half layover in Denver around lunchtime, and then Denver to Salt Lake. I figured we could check in and print our boarding passes as we got closer to our travel times.
On Saturday night, J-Mo and I tried to check in for our flights. In the hubbub of the funeral and other events I had not even noticed I hadn’t received an email confirmation yet, and our bank account had not been charged. I was suddenly very worried. J-Mo typed in our same confirmation number to the United website and, lo and behold, our flights came up…well, some of them. The screen only indicated two, one-way tickets from Denver to Salt Lake, but had nothing about a flight from North Dakota to Denver. I said a few swear words. J-Mo dialed the United customer service number and was informed of a 20+ minute wait time…and the whole debacle began again.
While he was on hold I was frantically checking flights again from all the nearby airports, there were 2 rather expensive seats available on a Delta flight from Minot, North Dakota, which was a few hours away. I should have bought them right then and told J-Mo to hang up. But, United had our credit card information, who knows what they would do with it! Finally Carol—employee number GS44—came on the line. J-Mo explained the problem, and after about 10 minutes she finally realized that we were missing a flight in our itinerary and were not simply calling to confirm the Denver-Salt Lake City leg of the flight. She put us on hold. She came back for a minute, asked a question or two, and put us on hold again. More of the same. Finally Carol said she was having trouble booking the North Dakota-Denver leg because United does not actually operate that flight, but contracts it out to Great Lakes Airlines. Finally, after an hour and fifteen minutes and a bit of haggling over the price (she seemed to think that it was perfectly okay to charge us something considerably higher than the $343.30 I had already agreed to with AMB1MB) Carol confirmed that we each had two flights, one from North Dakota to Denver, one from Denver to Salt Lake, the next day, and reconfirmed our original confirmation number and a rate of $343.30 per ticket (which I must add, is still not the original price of $279.79 that I feel United should have honored in the FIRST PLACE). J-Mo asked if she could also check us in for the flights, and she promptly told us no because they were not ticketed yet….
This is where I got really upset. I asked her what she had been doing for the last 85 minutes if not ticketing the flight, she just assured me we would have tickets. I reminded her that 4 days earlier AMB1MB had said the same thing, and I had no reason to assume she was not also feeding me false information. J-Mo and I were a three-hour drive from the airport and I wanted to be damn sure we had a place on the plane before I hung up and we drove out there the next morning. I was placed on hold again. During that wait the United website had allowed us to check in for our Denver-Salt Lake leg, and our bank account had been charged for the full price of the two tickets. A little internet sleuth work revealed that Great Lakes Airlines does not have online check-in–they are a very small regional airline–so it made sense that United could not check us in for that leg of the flight. I felt a little better, but just a little. Carol mentioned that in addition to the price of our tickets we would be charged two $25.00 fees for calling customer service. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. I wanted to know why we were being charged if the only reason I called in the FIRST PLACE was because their website would not allow me to book tickets online; and the reason I was calling in the SECOND PLACE was because the first United agent I talked to had failed to book the airline tickets he confirmed he had. I wanted to know why I was required to pay a surcharge for their webmaster’s problems and their incompetent agents. And I wanted to know why Carol suddenly had the authority to charge me for a phone call answered by AMB1MB four days earlier, which she indicated was the reason for one of the $25.00 fees. AMB1MB did not mention anything about a customer service fee. I’m afraid I was not entirely polite or calm, but after a cumulative 3 hours on hold to book two one-way tickets, and at a higher price than I should have paid, and still without a receipt or email confirmation, I had absolutely no patience left. Carol promised to remove the charges under the code of “website error.” I requested to speak to Carol’s supervisor, she pushed back on that option, but I insisted. I was put on hold. Again. After 10 minutes Carol came back on the line saying “she must still be busy…” I again asked for confirmation from Carol of both legs of our flight, the price, and another reassurance that there would be no additional fees charged.
J-Mo and I were tired, I was super cranky, and we had a long day ahead of us. We decided this would be good enough and hung up. We set our alarm clocks so we could drive three hours to the airport and still arrive 2 hours before our scheduled flight out of Dickinson, North Dakota in the off-chance that we actually did not have a place on that plane we would be able to drive all the way home. In sum, this means that rather than try to call United again the next day to sort out flights we had already agreed to endure a 14-hour drive back home.
[Insert future blog post about the disaster that consisted of flying from Dickinson, ND to Salt Lake City and how it took more than 14 hours anyway.]
Yesterday J-Mo informed me that in addition to the charge for our flights, we had two $25.00 charges from United Airlines come through our bank account.
I lost my shit. And then I started to write. Multiple tweets and Facebook rants have yet to be answered by United Airlines. I have submitted a formal complaint with the details of this post to United Customer Care. I do not have the patience to call them only to be on hold for ANOTHER 90+ minutes and then told there is no supervisor with whom I can speak or that there is nothing the agent can do, or even worse, that there is no record of any of this mess in their system. I cannot handle another AMB1MB or Carol/GS44 assuring me they will fix the problem, and then don’t/won’t, and then charge me ANOTHER $25 dollars because I called them to notify them of their error and their unauthorized charges to my bank account. I will eat the $50 dollars in customer service charges, I will eat the $127.02 in increased rate charges, but I will not be quiet about it. No, Siree. I have never asked to have my site or a particular post promoted, but in this case I hope you share this post (alas! I miss you, Google Reader and your share capabilities!). I hope you tweet about it, United’s handle is @UNITED. I hope you put this post’s link on your Facebook page, or leave it on THEIR Facebook page. I hope you email your friends and let them know that United Airlines is not the type of company one should trust with credit card information or travel plans. If you are brave I hope you send a link to this post to firstname.lastname@example.org with your own 2 cents. Tell everyone you know they should not use United Airlines, direct them to this post if they ask why.
If you happen to work for United Airlines and are interested in airing your side of the story or, heaven forbid, making amends, you can contact me directly at heidikinsblog ATT gmail DOTT com. I can’t promise I will be understanding or even sympathetic to your point of view, and I certainly will not retract this post, but I will listen to what you have to say.
When I was 15 years old I legally changed my name. When I was 21 I did it again, and at age 22 changed it for the third and final time. I would guess that most people who know me have never known me as anything other than Heidi LastName. But, the fact is that LastName is not the name on my birth certificate, or at least not my original birth certificate. LastName is actually my mother’s maiden name while Surname is my father’s last name.
Let me explain:
When I was young my parents split up, my mom changed her name back to her maiden name and over the next 6 or 7 years I spent a lot of time hating my Dad. Yep, Lurch, the man I absolutely love and adore now and can’t imagine not having in my life. It’s a long story, a story I don’t want to get into; besides, this website doesn’t have the space to hold all the drama and emotion and turmoil. Suffice it to say, when I was eight I started using my mother’s maiden name and when I was 15 Lurch gave his official, notarized permission for me to legally change my name from Surname to LastName. As a side note, my identical twin sister kept Surname and my younger sister legally changed her name to LastName-Surname. Three biological siblings, three different last names. Your protestations of “But families should all share the same last name, otherwise it’s just so confusing!” will do absolutely nothing here. It’s not confusing to have kids who have different last names than their parents or other siblings. It’s not embarrassing or shameful, nor does it somehow make you less of a family. No, if anything, having a different last name than your parent, or your child, or your sibling is the most American thing you can do. Have you seen the statistics on this lately? If you have the same last name as, and are still living with both of your biological parents you are in the minority.
When I got married the first time I had no intention of changing my name to X’s name, a fact he had a bit of a hard time reconciling. Months later X’s father purchased plane tickets for us to visit him in the Midwest, and I was too scared to call and tell my father-in-law, keeper of X’sName, that my name his name was wrong. Instead I changed my driver’s license to reflect the name on the ticket so I could get on the plane, and that led to having to change my bank accounts and my social security card and everything else; the government doesn’t like it when everything doesn’t match.
The day my divorce was final I started the process of legally changing my name back to Heidi LastName (a process that was considerably more difficult and frustrating than changing from Heidi LastName to Heidi X’sName, I might add) and I vowed never to change it again, regardless of my marriage status. Frankly, I think if I change it one more time the state department will come looking for me thinking I am some kind of terrorist or criminal on the lam.
Anyway, with that kind of lengthy introduction, you may have already guessed that my reasons for not changing my name post-wedding are perhaps a bit more involved than may be expected. This not some flippant decision I have made in the last few months, it is not me stretching my feminist wings, nor am I trying to give Patriarchy a swift kick in the shins. My decision to be Heidi LastName is entwined in the very fabric of who I am, it is something I have thought about in a very serious way for over twenty years.
I am not changing my name. I am not keeping my maiden name as a middle name and I am not hyphenating. J-Mo has a lovely, normal last name, it’s not impossible to pronounce or spell, it doesn’t have iffy undertones or a dirty double meaning or anything like that. Nor is Heidi Mo the name of some kind of convicted criminal or murderer. Frankly, this decision has very little to do with him or with us. Heidi Mo is just…it’s just not Heidi LastName. Heidi LastName is who I am and who I will always be.
Did you change your name when you got married? Do you plan to? Did you and wish you hadn’t? If you are one of the 3 male readers of this blog, do you have an opinion on a woman who doesn’t want to add your name to her driver’s license/passport/library card?
*Just to be clear, when the bank asks for your mother’s maiden name I don’t give them LastName, I have another code-word that I use in its place. (Also, when and where did this habit of using something that is PUBLIC RECORD as a “security question” for all your financial information begin!? You should ALL use a code word instead of your mother’s maiden name! “Batman” would be a more secure password, for heaven’s sake, at least it’s not something one would find through the ever-more-powerful Google!)
**I hesitate to mention this, but if you search for Heidi OneOfTheLastName’sIMayHaveHadOrAlmost HadAtOnePointOrAnotherInMyLife you may discover a true story about a woman close to my my age–A WOMAN WHO IS NOT ME!—who spent time in a Utah prison for manslaughter after being found guilty of the neglectful death/murder of her infant child. Yeah. I can’t make up that shit.
Filed under: Rant-tastic
Things I am loving right now:
My Book Club. I have a book club! Check off that New Year’s Resolution list! There are a few blog posts in the works on this, I’m sure, but even though we’re only one meeting in I am already loving the group of minds and personalities and points of view that will be regularly congregating in my living room talking about books.
Hot pink nail polish. Really really hot pink nail polish. It’s practically hot neon magenta pink nail polish. After 2 weeks of a very neutral goldy-beige color on my toes, the pink makes me ridiculously happy.
Reading. I have started reading on my lunch break which means that for at least an hour every day I am uninterrupted and completely absorbed in a story. I really don’t think I will ever give this up.
Things that I am hating right now:
Commercials. I don’t even care about the clever-slash-more clever Superbowl commercials. Advertising drives me batty. In fact, I very rarely can handle watching television with commercials. This last weekend J-Mo practically banned me from ever watching commercials with him because I have to comment on Every. Single. Thing. See, I worked in advertising for years and I still look at ads like an advertiser, trying to pick out what exactly they are trying to say, what they want the customer to do, to buy, to think, to feel. And mostly it just pisses me off. It’s blatant emotional manipulation! And then you, as a consumer, go out and spend money on whatever it is you saw on TV. So, you are happily paying money to be manipulated. Congratulations. (Yes, I understand that advertising is necessary in the world in which we live, but you can be witty and funny and have your product remembered without pandering to the lowest common denominator in the range of human emotion. Have you seen the Up2U gum commercial with the tiger? Yeah. That’s good advertising.)
Things that I just don’t understand:
Instagram. I understand the concept, and the social-media/online sharing component, and I can see how that is great. But I don’t understand capturing your life in grainy, pixellated, yellow-tinged-on-purpose photos when there are so many tiny, pocket-sized cameras with ridiculously high pixel count that won’t make your photos look like they are already 40 years old. I just don’t get it.
Mad Men. I watched the first couple of episodes this last weekend, and I know soooo many people are soooo obsessed with it, but I just don’t get it. Yes, it has wonderful costumes. I will concede that point. HOWEVER, the characters are depressing, the relationships are terrible, and–I’m told–it only gets worse. He cheats on her and she cheats on him and that one is having the other one’s baby and blah blah blah. I just don’t get it. Also, I get all sorts of ragey from all the male domination and female degradation. Yes, I know it happened, it’s historical, I get that. But even so, I have been the receiving end of such degradation, and I have seen plenty of men and plenty of relationships where that kind of inequality is “normal” and I just don’t want to watch it, or encourage other people to watch it, or promote it…and especially not in the name of fashion. So, Mad Men has been deleted from my line-up, I have enough trash in my life and, again, I’m trying to simplify.
What about you? What are you loving? Hating? What do you just not get?
Many of my friends, co-workers, and even random Facebook contacts have ranted and raved about the supremacy of Greek yogurt over lowlier, less-exotic yogurt types; about how it has revolutionized the way they eat breakfast and changed the way they think about dairy products. Up until maybe six months ago I had no idea that Greek yogurt existed. While I was growing up my mom made yogurt probably once a week, and I loved scooping it out of the white, milk-glass containers and mixing it up with all sorts of delicious toppings. But these days, for the most part, I will only eat peach-flavored yogurt (Yoplait or Activia), or vanilla yogurt mixed with homemade strawberry freezer-jam. But, after so many high recommendations I decided to give Greek yogurt a try, you know, to expand my culinary horizons and all that jazz.
I went to the grocery, I carefully selected both organic and not-organic options in several different brands–Brown Cow, Oikos, Flage, Yoplait, Chobani–and flavors (honey yogurt? Sure! (Note: honey yogurt is an atrocity, no one should mix honey and yogurt. They need to be kept totally separate, like delicate white blouses and new red socks come laundry day.)) Over the next week I dutifully had a different kind of Greek yogurt every morning for breakfast. I tried them plain. I tried them with fresh fruit. I started sprinkling them with granola. I even tried mixing in some of my very-scarce-and-therefore-coveted homemade freezer jam. I tried! But in the end, I don’t think I finished a single serving. I’m really not entirely sure of the intrinsic difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt (domestic yogurt?), but as best I could deduce across the smorgasbord of brands and flavors, the Greek stuff is faaaaar too tangy for regular breakfast consumption. As in, it more resembles sour cream than yogurt. Not that there is anything wrong with sour cream, I love me a good dollop of sour cream, but not on fruit, and not dotted with crunchy granola, and not smothered in honey. Ugh, NEVER smothered in honey! It’s just…wrong! Yes, Greek yogurt is wrong. Sure, it’s creamy. Sure, it may be lower fat. BUT IT TASTES LIKE EXTRA SOURED MILK!
Points on which I will agree when it comes to Greek Yogurt:
It is creamier!
True. But so is the “thick and creamy” brand from Yoplait. Creamy AND it doesn’t taste like a mysterious three-week-expired dairy product.
It can be lower in fat!
True. But so are a lot of other yogurt brands, and they don’t taste like soured honey-milk. (Ew! Just, ew!)
It is better for cooking!
Great, that may well be true. But I am looking for a non-cook option for breakfast to boost my dairy intake, not a secret ingredient for amazing cupcakes or breakfast bread, both of which are a) carby and b) require measuring, mixing and baking prior to eating. That just won’t happen in the morning (or in the summer due to my apartment’s lack of air conditioning).
It is delicious in dips and sauces for carbs, veggies, etc!
Also possibly true! I can see a Greek yogurt sauce as being fabulous on, say, grilled lamb or couscous or with pita chips. BUT I DON’T EAT GRILLED LAMB AND PITA CHIPS FOR BREAKFAST!
Do you love Greek yogurt? Why? How do you eat it? What brand? Are you positive that the taste does not resemble clumpy sour cream? Pinky promise?
Hrmm, perhaps this disgust with Greek yogurt has something to do with my pregnant-ish nose and not the yogurt itself? Something to consider. Although, either way, I am not going to be slurping down sour cream with strawberries for breakfast any time soon.
Several months ago I went on a weekend camping trip with a grundle of people, some friends, most strangers. I had a good time, made some new friends, blah blah blah. Anne* started to grind on my nerves after about 3 minutes, she was loud and boisterous and inserted herself into every possible conversation, every possible interaction, and I quickly lost count at how many times she manipulated a situation or a conversation to her benefit, to make her the star, or to try and impress or snag the attention of some new guy. It was pathetic. And irritating.
At one point a large-ish group of us were gathering to go on a water-related activity. Like usual, I made sure to cover my delicate bits and slather up with some more sunscreen. Someone asked if they could borrow a bit for their face, I agreed but half-jokingly warned of the astronomically high SPF. Anne immediately started laughing and said in a voice about 18 octaves higher than normal and with most statements ending, inappropriately, in a question, “Like, no wonder you have, like, blindingly white legs? With SPF like that you’ll always, like, look like the underside of a beached whale!?!” *Cue irritatingly obnoxious cacklelaugh. I politely smiled/grimmaced, made some comment about not minding my albino roots, and continued to apply sunscreen. But Anne didn’t stop there, she started in on my rash guard/surf shirt being frumpy and “like, you’re probably, like, not even a surfer? Like, I lived in Hawaii? And, like, I know how surfers dress? And that’s not it.” I looked at her, hand on her hip, giant sunglasses covering her whole face, unnaturally freckled, leathery skin under her teensy little polka-dot bikini and–with the hope of diffusing the situation–simply said “I had skin cancer a couple of years ago, so I just have to be really careful.” Her response still baffles me. She just scoffed and said–not to me, but to the group of people around us who were uncomfortably but silently shifting their weight from one foot to another–”Well, I, like, had skin cancer too? But, like, I still think blinding white legs are, like, super ugly? And, like, tan is the only way to go. Like.” She raised one overly-plucked eye brow at me–my hand still full of a pool of sunscreen–tossed her hair and flounced off towards a shirtless boy who had no idea he was about to be accosted by flippant, fake-baked stupidity. It’s too bad, too, because if she’d been within slapping distance for about one more nanosecond I would have smacked her 14 different ways with a palm full of sunscreen leaving a very satisfying hand-slap pattern of SPF 85 that would have shown up the next day as her tan deepened to a more orangey orange.
May I please point out that the time of this encounter was this past summer and not in junior high or some teenage, made-for-TV drama. This level of immaturity and girl-on-girl hating was totally inappropriate and flat out ridiculous. However, my girl-on-girl fight was quietly imagined and resolved in my head while hers was barked out with an atrocious overuse of the word “like”, appalling grammar, and punctured with an ear splitting cacklelaugh in front of a dozen peers. Different? Yes. Is my reaction more adult? Yes, don’t pretend like you don’t also do the in-your-head bitch-slap when faced with idiotic bimbos.
There is a woman I regularly interact with in a semi-professional capacity, Sabrina* and I used to be friends, in addition to actual “work stuff” we talked about shoes and clothes and chocolate, we shared jokes and emailed funny links back and forth. It all seemed very normal, even on the friendly side of normal. Then, a few months ago, something happened that changed that completely. I wish I knew what it was, I’ve wracked my brain and even queried the Office Gossip Train for information, but there is nothing. Sabrina no longer speaks to me. The friendly emails have stopped. She won’t exchange elementary niceties like “hello” or even look at me when she walks by. I have had friendlier interactions with a lamp post. The last two or three times I have had the misfortune to be stuck in her same vicinity she has ignored me, snubbed me, openly mocked me, and/or said hurtfully sarcastic and bitchy things half-way under her breath, quiet enough to not cause a scene, but loud enough for me and a handful of others to hear. I haven’t responded, I’ve mostly just ignored her bitchiness because I still have to work with this person on a professional level and to date have kept my cool at previous companies with jackass bosses, inane co-workers, and harassing jerkwads. I can keep my cool with her.
I wish the story ended there, but it goes just a touch deeper. There are several individuals who I used to consider friends, or at least non-hostile acquaintances, who have stood by listening and watching these caustic scenes unfold and don’t say a thing to stop this baffling, bullying behavior. For reasons that I absolutely cannot understand, they just think this Sabrina person is the funniest, most interesting girl on the planet and the life of any social engagement. Because tearing people down to make yourself look better is freaking hysterical. It reminds me far too much of the minions of the high school Queen Bully-Bee who stand by and allow Her Highness to torment someone else because at least it isn’t them. After months of this behavior, both from Sabrina and my other professional peers, I have lost all respect for the minions. Clearly, I need new professional friends.
I can usually write off bitchy behavior as someone who is just having a bad day or a bad decade, and I can let the stinging comments slide off without allowing the barbs to snag under my skin. I can usually re-categorize a Meanie as someone with low self-esteem who is unable to deal with normal life situations in any kind of healthy way. They probably weren’t hugged enough as a child, or their puppy preferred a chew toy instead of them, or maybe their first boyfriend was a overly pierced, unwashed sleaze ball, or perhaps they just mistakenly take Bitch pills every morning instead of vitamins. They’re just people too, right? Do bullies and bitches deserve sympathy and compassion? Yes, they do. I am (hypothetically) willing to give Anne another chance to see if at her core, this girl is a bitch or just someone who is appallingly incapable of dealing with her insecurities in any kind of normal, healthy way. But, to be honest, I don’t predict I will find an opening in my schedule to willingly put myself in close enough contact with either woman just to test this theory. When someone mocks me, publicly humiliates me, or otherwise bullies me or anyone else for no good reason my claws come out and don’t retract. When someone puts another person down to try and make themselves feel better, or bigger, or more accepted they earn a one-way ticket to the bastard/bitch/bully category (BBB) in my book; it takes a hell of a lot of voluntarily being an overly nice person to get out of that category. You’ve pretty much got to morph into the benevolent love child of Ghandi and Mother Theresa.
Recently, through the wonders of social media, I discovered that Anne has consumed an astonishing number of cupcakes and cheeseburgers since she flounced away from me in that polka-dot bikini. And apparently her teenybopper friends have no sense of edit or restraint when posting photo evidence all over the Interwebs of a beachy weekend where Anne sported that very same itsy-bitsy, teeny-weenie, bulging polka-dot bikini, now with more cupcakes! Yes, it made me feel better because I am not above pithy vindication.
The moral of this story is that, under certain circumstances, yes, I can (and probably will) hold a tremendous grudge. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Do not burn my books, or steal my shoes. Don’t lie to me and don’t hurt me on purpose and we’ll be just fine. Just to be clear, bullying me–or anyone else–falls into the “hurting people on purpose” category and you will quickly find yourself on the blacklist reserved for bastards, bitches, and bullies (BBB).
* “Anne” is a fake-out name and the above story have been scrubbed of identifying information. I’m snarky and can hold a grudge, but I’m not vying for my own listing on the BBB.
**Yes, this post has also been scrubbed of one more example of bullying and general bitchiness. I don’t want to get into the details of how or why or what-have-you.
Filed under: Rant-tastic
I had a completely different blog post planned for today; it was written, edited, spell checked, formatted and scheduled to post.
And then something happened that has left me in complete and utter disbelief and, at last internal reading, my blood near boiling.
I am subscribed to a Facebook group where a couple of hundred like-minded people in the same area post things like free concerts, art shows, parties, available rooming options, job listings, etc. I usually ignore most of the content there, but yesterday a “job posting” caught my eye. I’ll just let you read it and then we’ll continue this conversation, okay? Click to enlarge. (Note: I’ve grayed-out as much identifying information as possible to protect the guilty.)
Your reaction here: __________________________________________________________________
Let me recap, this is a job posting for single, male, domestic help to serve meals and clean up at a sorority. The hours are crap, the pay is barely minimum wage, and the employees must agree to be referred to as “house boys.” (Is their uniform a Speedo? Or perhaps a shirtless, cowboy tuxedo like Thunder from Down Under? Neither would surprise me, frankly.) To keep their manliness intact, the employer has thrown in a caveat about being able to earn some extra cash by shoveling sidewalks in the winter. What the hell!? If this advertisement was reversed, and it was a fraternity who had published a job opening for single, female, underpaid “house girls” to help make meals, clean up and “serve” the Brothers you can bet your ass people would be pitching a fit. But in the listing above Ms. A. not only doesn’t realize the ridiculous and heinous nature of her post, THEN SHE SAYS “I think the girls just like having men serve them.”
This is where my jaw hit the desk and I came thisclose to poking my left eyeball out with a bendy straw. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
Look, I’m all for equality for women, I support equal pay and equal rights and feminism and girl power and everything that goes along with those issues. But in no possible way does that mean that women are allowed to turn around and degrade men. You don’t get to punish them for their father’s and grandfather’s and great-to-the-infinity-great-grandfather’s oppression, and you don’t get “to get even.” IT’S NOT OKAY! Is this really what that job posting is about? PROBABLY NOT! Is this just some dumb, 22-year-old with access to the internet–and no discernible filter–who wants a cabana boy in her sorority house? CLEARLY, YES! Is it mind boggling anyway? HELL TO THE YES!! AM I DONE RANTING ABOUT IT?!? NO!! (I’ll stop shouting, I can rant at normal decibel levels and in lower case letters.)
Listen, I am sick to death of commercials and advertisements aimed at women that portray this bumbling, stupid, idiotic husband/father who can’t complete even the simplest tasks like washing windows or wiping up a spill without his soccer-chic wife rolling her eyes at him. This isn’t okay. I used to work in advertising and I realize I probably pay more attention to subliminal messaging in ads than the average person, but isn’t that the point? As an educated adult shouldn’t you be able to pick out the manipulation of your emotions and purchasing power, even if it’s shiny and glossy and airbrushed? The subliminal stuff is what urges you to make decisions to buy one, particular product or service, and it rarely has anything to do with the actual product or service being advertised.
You’ve head the saying “Sex Sells,” right? Of course you have, you’ve seen thousands of sexy ads for tires and lotion and shoes and hamburgers. But do you also realize that sex isn’t the only thing that sells? There are dozens of other subliminal messages carefully tucked into commercials and bill boards and magazine ads that speak to your subconscious and (usually) encourage you to spend your money on something specific and thus give the company revenue and profit. In the last several years, a lot of that subliminal advertising has been some variation of “Men are the stupidest creatures on the planet and can hardly accomplish basic tasks like changing their socks or watching the dog, or helping with homework or figuring out that Yoplait yogurt now has low-fat flavors called “Boston Cream Pie” and “Chocolate Pudding” and that he can lose weight TOO if he eats those instead of steak and beer and nacho’s. We women, we are smart and noble and homogeneously dressed, and we must deign to live with these Neanderthals and so we are allowed to manipulate them into submission.” This? This is not okay! NOT OKAY! If the message was “Women are the stupidest creatures on the planet and can hardly accomplish basic tasks…and as men we are allowed to manipulate them into submission” would you laugh? Would you giggle? Would you go out and buy the socks or the yogurt or the electronic gadget or the cleaning product? No. You wouldn’t. You would be offended. If you made no other protest to that advertisement other than not buying the offending product you would have stated your case; companies hearts are in their coffers and not buying from them hurts their feelings. So why is it somehow different when men are the ones being targeted? Do you support that kind of advertising? That kind of mentality? Do you laugh at that kind of discrimination and degradation? Where do you draw the line? DO you draw a line? Because, frankly, at the rate we are going I wouldn’t be surprised if Geico’s next slogan is “So Easy A Man Can Do It!”
The whole thing makes me all ranty inside and flabbergasted by the women (and men) who think it’s perfectly okay to further this kind of degradation. I am vehemently against the degrading of women, but I am just as against degrading men. One should not be reduced to the status of “underpaid houseboy” due to their gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation, or whatever else happens to be in question. It’s called respect. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, (thanks Aretha). You give respect to others, you get it in return; you don’t stand by when others refuse to respect, and you stand up for those who need it. Riddle me this, if you want or need something from a someone (man, woman, child, boss, employee, dog), do you get it by telling them they are stupid and sluggish and ridiculously slow-minded and absolutely incapable of evolved thought? No. You don’t. So stop telling the men in your life that they are worthless and tell them they are awesome. You want equality? Treat men–and racial minorities, and religious people, and gay people, and dogs–the way you would want to be treated. I think Confucius said that first; Westerners refer to it as The Golden Rule. (It totally wasn’t Confucius, but I’m gonna attribute it to him anyway.)
You don’t want equality? Well, I know of a place that is hiring, and you get FREE mealz!!1!!
I’m sure by now you have heard that it is Shark Week, right? The Discovery channel is airing dozens of slots of shark-related programming, and I have found myself DVR-ing episodes that go into great detail about shark sightings, shark attacks, and all other subjects in which sharks and people do not mix. I cannot NOT watch this stuff! Am I afraid of sharks? Yes, yes I am. The thought of them gives me an uncomfortable tightness in my stomach. Seeing footage of gaping mouths of teeth–even though they are safely contained in my TV–makes me shudder. I have nightmares about being chased by a shark, or having one use me as a chew toy. That Bruce character in Finding Nemo freaked me right out. I have never seen Jaws and I think it is safe to say that I never will. I have to look away when they show the “scary” or “gruesome” parts during Shark Week. On public television. Aimed at educating children. “Scary” to me basically means anything where teeth or jaws or blood is involved, which means I spend most of any given program with my face buried in my hands. Four year olds see more of Shark Week than I do. Have I ever met a shark? No. Have I even seen one in the flesh? Um, no. Not really. Baby-sized ones that are sometimes kept in an aquarium, yes, but never a “real” shark, the kind that could chew your arm off. Does this make my fear of sharks slightly irrational? Uh, yes, probably. I live in a landlocked, desert state; the chances of me coming face-to-face with a hungry Great White Shark are minimal/non-existent. I am SCUBA certified, but I have never gone diving in the ocean. In fact, when hanging out on an ocean beach I rarely get in the water at all. I don’t really care for salt water in my eyeballs/on my face, and the chance of coming into close quarters with a) clingy seaweed, b) stingy sea creatures, or c) sharks, is more of a risk than I am willing to take. I’d much rather hang out on the beach with my nose in a book, carefully tucked up under an umbrella with a sundress covering me shoulders-to-my-knees and the rest of my body completely slathered in SPF 85. Sexy, no?
Ha! No. Not really. Well, not in the way that any advertisement, fashion or beauty magazine published in the last 80 years would lead you to believe.
The thing is, do you want to know what scares me more than sharks? (And bobble-head dolls, but that is another post entirely.)
My sensitive dermis baking under sweet, sweet, sunshine.
Like many children, I had white-blonde hair as a kid. Unlike most of those children, when I grew up my natural hair color never really darkened and still hovers in the distinctly “platinum” part of the color wheel. My skin is a fair, creamy white and mostly freckle-free. My foundation color is “parchment” for heaven’s sake. I’m a pale person. And unlike many people who share my coloring, I don’t make any efforts to darken my pasty-white skin. I have never been inside a tanning bed. I have never “laid out” or gone sunbathing. I am terrified of the idea of getting “that healthy glow” or even “a little color.” I don’t know if I can properly convey the fear I associate with my own skin being a “healthy”, “sexy” bronze shade, or, frankly, a shade that can be described by any color not resembling printer-paper.
You probably think I am overreacting. I’m not. I’m not being irrational, or even overly fearsome. Allow me to explain:
About 25 years ago the University of Utah–a premier research institution, particularly in genetics–did a massive study to see if there was any genetic linking to skin cancer. (The short version: there is.) For several years they studied hundreds of families, choosing ones who had multiple cases of melanoma. My mom’s family was chosen. My dad’s family was chosen. As a result, all of us kids were tested; I was 3 but I still remember that day. My oldest brother was 13 at the time and the researchers were shocked–SHOCKED–to discover a chunk of skin cancer on his shoulder. He was the youngest person to ever be diagnosed with skin cancer; it was such a big deal that it made the cover of the Wall Street Journal, and his case was the subject of professional medical conference keynote addresses for years. THE COVER OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL!! It
was is a Big. Freaking. Deal. Yes, this was twenty-five years ago and in the years since there have been more cases of skin cancer discovered in younger children (a trend that is disturbing enough on it’s own), but please understand that this very real, tangible fear of inherited skin cancer has been ingrained in me–and for good reason–for the last two and a half decades. I am a carrier of the melanoma gene. I inherited it from both my mother and father. While I have always had regular check-ups with my dermatologist, have gone back to the University of Utah for follow-up studies, and I have been vigilant in sunscreen application; I am still scared.
Ten years ago I had two moles taken off my head in a routine check-up, one came back positive for melanoma. I was 19. I hadn’t had a sunburn or even a tan line in at least six years. But there it was. Cancer. On my face. Can you imagine your 19-year-old self? Now imagine her going to the doctor by herself to be scrutinized head to toe and everywhere in-between for questionable moles. Imagine the doctor carefully cutting off a few tiny bits of her face because they looked “a little suspicious.” Now imagine 3 days later–Dec. 23 2002 at 4:30 pm, to be exact–when the doctor calls her to tell her that the moles were malignant and cancerous and “I am having my office staff come in from holiday on Dec. 26, first thing in the morning to cut out some more of your face. We need to make sure we get it all.” Imagine that 19 year old girl sobbing into the phone, thinking she is far too young to have to deal with this kind of news. (I still get choked up when I think about that phone call. The fear was palpable then, and even now it makes me breathe faster and my chest become tight.) I am lucky, my dermatologist caught my case really early and was able to cut out the offending pieces of my face, his plastic surgery skillz left only one small scar near my hairline that is hard to see, even if I point it out. I didn’t have to go through chemo or radiation or spend months of my life in a hospital. Yes, I am lucky; or more accurately, I had been vigilant my entire life, luck really had nothing to do with it. Even so, it was still far too close a call for me to be willy-nilly with the sunbathing and beach time. Like, ever.
I wear sunscreen every single day, even if all I’m doing is walking from my house to my car to go to work. SPF 30. Every day. No matter what. (Except that one time I forgot, I am still kicking myself for that. In fact, just thinking about it gave me a knot in my stomach.) Outdoorsy activities will have me bump up the SPF to 45 or 65, with 85 on my face and shoulders. (I don’t want to hear any arguments about how “oh, anything after SPF 30 doesn’t make a bit of difference.” I. Don’t. Care.) (And who made you an expert on hereditary melanoma anyway? I’d like to see your degree and credentials.) (Also, to all former boyfriends–you know who you are–who cruelly and publicly mocked my beach wear, with full knowledge of my genetic misfortune and medical history, I hope you get testicular cancer and have to go through life as a One-Balled Wonder.) (And to the irritatingly, insipid women who make fun of my summer sleeves and long skirts–especially those claiming to have also had skin cancer but not caring about getting sunburned–you are ridiculously stupid, shallow and naive. And douchebags. Sadly for you, getting a tan won’t eliminate any of those qualities. *smirk* I hope you have gross, permanent sun spots on your face and hands by the time you’re 30.) (/rant.) (Man, it feels good to finally get all that off my chest!) (/parentheticals.)
I have been told by my doctors–ones who are experts on my skin, genetic skin cancer, and my family history–that even if I live in a cave for the rest of my life with absolutely no sun exposure whatsoever and develop those creepy, beady-white, cave-dwelling-eyes, I will still contract melanoma again by the time I’m 40. Cancer. Again. Sometime in the next 10-15 years. No matter what. On the upside, my team of dermatological experts tell me that my lack of tanning will make me have fewer wrinkles and clearer, smoother skin as I get older. So I suppose when I’m 40 and going in for Round Two (or three) of having skin cancer removed from my body the medical staff will think I’m only 29. Hey, at least I have something to look forward to! So, while you and your blessed olive skin can prance around the beach or pool in SPF 4 (now with coconut oil!) and a teensy little bikini without a care in the world, I’ll stick with the SPF>45 and a drop cloth. I am not olive, or brown, or tan, or even beige. I am pale, the color of parchment, and always will be. And my bikini has never seen the light of day. True story. It has taken itself–and me–out for some night swimming on several occasions. But obviously in a pool and not the open water, because–honestly, don’t you ever watch the Discovery channel?–night time is prime feeding time for large, carnivorous fishy creatures who are drawn to white, glowing, reflective surfaces (see: heidikins’ entire body) and WHAT ABOUT THE SHARKS!?!)
Alternate Title: If you’re gonna bare your feet this summer, please, for the love, do a little foot maintenance!!
I don’t wear socks. Ever. I used to have a drawer full of socks, I had patterned ones, stripey ones, ones with polka dots or flowers. I had a pile of white athletic socks (sadly,of the tube variety) as well. That doesn’t even get me started on tights! These days, I have a giant box of tights–patterned, striped, polka-dotted, or floral-print–three or four pairs of thin, wool running socks, and a dingy handful of formerly-white athletic socks I wear maybe once a month. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t wear socks. I wear heels every day to work, and while I know the hip and trendy thing these days is to wear thin, colored socks with high heels, but that is gonna be one trend I won’t be trying anytime soon. You’re probably asking me what the hell I’m doing writing a post about socks; I recall a Sex and the City episode where Carrie attempts to write a column about men as socks and it fails, dismally. Don’t worry, this isn’t about socks. It’s about feet (far more exciting, no?).
Due to my non-sock-wearing ways my feet are exposed most of the time and I put in a lot of work to make them acceptably naked, instead of disgustingly and frighteningly naked. Now that summer weather is FINALLY here* I feel there needs to be a public reminder about foot care.
(*Those of you residing somewhere other than the Rocky Mountain West have probably had summer weather for months. We are just barely getting into regular over-70 temperatures. The ski resorts 30 minutes from my house are open for skiing until at least the 4th of July. That’s right, snow skiing.)
Problem: Smelly, summer Sandal-Foot
Solution: Wash your feet; don’t wear plastic shoes.
Presumably you are the type of person to shower every day. If your feet are out and about all day long, they’re gonna need a good scrub as well. Don’t forget to soap them up too! I have tried a couple of different foot scrubs with those little granules to help slough off dead skin, they are fine and dandy and all, but soap and water seems to work just as well for me.
Also, let’s talk about footwear for a minute, shall we? Unnatural materials will not allow your feet to breathe. So you insist on the cheap, plastic-y footwear from [insert store of choice here]. If your feet sweat in those shoes it will either a) soak into those fibers and remain sweat-smelling forever, or b) your sweat will pool in the lowest points of the shoe, causing a big stench and forcing passers-by to hold their nose or cross to the other side of the street. I’m not saying those $2-dollar flip-flops weren’t a good purchase, everyone needs footwear for the beach. Or for a Saturday. I’m just saying that if you wear plastic-y shoes day in and day out, those shoes will smell and then your feet will smell and no amount of washing them will undo the stench because you are putting on smelly shoes again. Do you follow? You love the plastic shoes? Fine, but your feet smell.
Problem: Cracked heels and unruly callouses.
Solution: A small, cheese-grater-like device that will scrape all that dead skin off and leave your feet smooth(er) and soft(er).
I have ridiculously dry skin, and pretty significant callouses on my feet. Without keeping up with this one step, my feet become so rough and cracked that I will actually wear holes in my sheets. So, I am religious with the cheese-grater thingie, and a foot file to keep things tidy. My sister uses a hand-held electric sander, to each her own.
Problem: Dry, cracking feet.
Solution: Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
Out here in the desert we have serious lotion requirements. I have tried at least a dozen different brands of foot lotion, and hands down the best one is straight up Vaseline. Other products may have mint or lavender or sandalwood scents, they may promise to rid you of cracking feet. Believe me, I’ve fallen for every line in the book. But, time and time again I’ll slather on that magic foot cream only to find my feet more rough and cracked in the morning. I come back to my vat of Vaseline because it works overnight every. single. time. I have recently upgraded to the Cocoa Butter Vaseline, which doesn’t necessarily work any better, but I like the smell.
Problem: Cracked, chipping, or yellowed toenails
Solution: Toenail Polish!!
I am the type of girl who always–ALWAYS–has her toes painted. In the day and age of polish that dries in 50 seconds I see no reason not to have bare toenails. Also, I wear open-toed heels year round and, frankly, I feel naked without a bit of polish on my feet. I repaint every week or so because I don’t like chipped, cracked, or peeling polish. Does this make me high maintenance? Probably. Do I care? Not at all. (Ironic side note: I never have color on my finger nails, it kind of creeps me out. I know, I know, it seems incongruous, but that’s just how I roll around here.) I love a nice, bright red, or a dark pink for summer. But I am also starting to love tangerine and lavender shades as well.
What’s that? You don’t like color on your toes? That’s totally fine. There are a thousand different neutral colors, or even clear glosses that should suit your fancy just fine. A few weeks ago I tried a very muted cappuccino color that was quite lovely. The point is, toes are funky looking to start with and adding a little slick of polish will do wonders to your open-toed sandal-wearing summer. Mmmkay?
And there you have it, four easy steps for fancy feet. Now, get thee a foot scrubber, a tub of vaseline, and a new pot of polish and shine up your toes! Rinse, and repeat until it is so cold your toes are no longer seen. Please, and thank you.