I’m back! But not with a vengeance, or even a tan, despite my long weekend in Palm Springs. I’ve been a lazy blogger again, what with a big work event I’ve been working on for a year finally coming to fruition last week, along with my pilgrimage to California for a sun- and fun-filled bachelorette party weekend. I’ve also been busy with school (biology is hard) and other life-related things. It also might have something to do with almost being done with A Dance With Dragons and reeeaaalllllllyyyy wanting to finish it. But here I am! Back for my latest installment of Fictional Ladies I Admire. So let’s get to it.
Sybil Branson nee Crawley of Downtown Abbey - Sybil is awesome. She’s the youngest of the Crawley daughters and is a bit of a rebel (she wears pants!). She takes up worthy causes and fights for the little guy – even getting knocked unconscious during a riot. Plus she also doesn’t let her family’s wealth and occasional small-mindedness stop her from being with the person she loves most.
Liz Lemon of 30 Rock - I can super relate to Liz Lemon. She and I have done a lot of similar things, like sucking pie out of sweatshirt fibers. I can proudly say, however, that I have not made out with a dog. Anyway, Liz is on the list not only because she’s hilarious, but because throughout the entire series she stays focused on her goal of “having it all,” despite some major road blocks like crummy boyfriends and a demanding job. And, like the photo says above, the lady isn’t afraid of making mistakes.
Daria Morgendorffer of Daria - Daria is such a cool lady that when she first appeared on Beavis and Butt-head, MTV gave her her own show! Like Liz Lemon, I see a lot of myself in Daria. She’s can be pretty cynical and somewhat anti-social, and has a general disdain for others (“I don’t have have low self esteem. I have low esteem for everyone else.”) She’s not afraid to be herself or speak her mind, though, even when it comes to wacky (but well-intentioned!) parents and teachers. She’s also a fantastic role model for teen-aged ladies who may not be having such a great time milling around in high school social minutia.
Peggy Olson of Mad Men - When Peggy wants something, she goes after it. When she first arrives at Sterling Cooper in the series premier, she’s an unassuming secretary with terrible bangs. With some major copy-writing chops (and a new hair cut), she is promoted to a copy writer, and then poached by the competition for a buttload of money. Way to go, Peggy! She is also strong and able to hold her own with the likes of Don Draper and Roger Sterling – she calls them on their bullshit and even extorts money from one of them. You get it, girl.
Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation - Leslie Knope is also a strong lady who knows what she wants – to work in the government! This last season we saw her ascend to city councilwoman, meet her lifelong crush Joe Biden, and marry the man of her dreams! Busy lady! Leslie is passionate about the people and causes that matter most to her and isn’t afraid to work hard to defend her beliefs. She also loves breakfast foods at any time of day, which I can certainly get behind.
Joan Harris nee Holloway of Mad Men - Joan is on the list for obvious reasons (she’s awesome!), but mostly because she is just so damn confident. She has a bangin’ bod and takes no guff from any of the lecherous dudes around the office. She’s comfortable in her own skin and isn’t afraid to stick up for herself, even when it comes to her super sleazy husband. Plus, she’s the only woman on the show so far that hasn’t succumbed to Don’s charms – talk about strength of will.
Aeryn Sun of Farscape - When Aeryn first shows up, she seems like your everyday, mindless soldier that’s been brainwashed to ignore her humanity and personality. But after some humanizing and whatnot, we discover there’s some gooey, amazing, bad ass creamy nougat underneath the hard militant shell. Aeryn is strong, smart, and knows her stuff. She’s not shy with her opinions and never belittles herself for the benefit of someone else. She’s also a true friend and very loyal, even to weasly little guys like Rygel.
Maggie Greene of The Walking Dead - I love The Walking Dead, but one thing I hate about it is the lack of strong female characters. Laurie was a stupid harlot, Andrea was always making horrible decisions, and the rest don’t really do much else. Maggie, on the other hand, is amazing. She is amazing at killing zombies, talking sense into idiots, taking care of her dad and sister, and getting what she wants (like Glen!). She’s strong and capable, but also sweet and kind. And she totally deserves to kick The Governor’s ass to high heaven (everyone does, technically, but she does the most!).
Zoe Washburne of Firefly - I’m a big Joss Whedon fan, and I like that he creates strong female leads, but I think the strongest, without a doubt (even more than Buffy!) would have to be Zoe. Whedon’s heroines have a tendency to either be emotionally iffy or to run around nearly naked. Sometimes both. Zoe is always fully clothed and has her emotional shit together. Despite her toughness, she still has a soft spot for her friends and especially for her husband Wash. When forced to choose between her captain/BFF Mal and Wash, she totally chooses Wash and it’s heart-warming as hell!
Donna Noble of Doctor Who - I love Doctor Who, but one issue I have with it is that all the female companions develop crushes on the Doctor and are just in complete awe of him. Not Donna Noble! From the start she regards the Doctor as her equal – while impressed with his TARDIS and time-traveling capabilities, she doesn’t think she’s better than her because of them. Basically, Donna doesn’t take any shit from anyone and she gets stuff DONE. But in a really nice, funny way that makes me love her!
Oh retail. While some people really seem to enjoy selling and working with people, I am not one of them, and most people I’ve come across thank their lucky stars that they aren’t working in retail anymore.
I worked at a few different stores in college. The first was a middle-tier woman’s fashion store that catered to party girls with fake boobs/tans/lips/hair who carried dogs in their purses whose rich Iranian boyfriends/husbands/pimps paid for everything. And trannies. Lots and lots of glamorous trannies. This job was commission-based and I made a good deal of money for a college student, but there were downsides…
- Helping the random overweight octogenarian who stumbled into the store into some ill-fitting, plunging neckline thing that she didn’t even buy.
- Having to deal with the fake boobed/tanned/lipped/haired, dog purse-carrying, Iranian man person-accompanying mean girls.
- Having to deal with the mean girls I worked with who would try to steal my sales.
- Having to wear the items sold in the store. Not really my taste, and too expensive for a poor college student even with the employee discount.
- Working in an uptight culture of general bitchiness.
I then quit and went on to work at a store whose demographic includes all types of “disaffected” teens: goths, geeks, nerds, stoners, juggalos (they were the worst), “street kids,” trance/house music lovers, ska enthusiasts, lovers of all things Tim Burton, emo kids – I think you get the idea. This was a fairly fun place to work as I got to choose what I wore, the prices of the things I actually wanted to buy were reasonable – cheap, even, when factoring in the employee discount, my manager was awesome, and I was eventually promoted to Assistant Manager. There were downsides to this job, though, too…
- People love to steal from this particular store, and part of my job was to catch them. That’s all well and good until you have to ask a morbidly obese homeless man to lift up his sweater to reveal the stolen CDs he just stuffed under there.
- Being that my store was in downtown Seattle, we got our fair share of crazies. Some of these crazies would just mumble incoherently, some would pee in the dressing room. Diversity!
- Sometimes I’d have to listen to shitty emo or screamo bands I hated and pretend that they were the absolutely coolest when a poor, misguided fan would come into the store.
- Juggalos. They are the worst when it comes to stealing and generally causing problems. In case you’re not familiar, “juggalo” is the self-appointed name of an Insane Clown Posse fan. Trust me when I say they are the worst. If you ever see one, run.
- Sometimes members of semi-famous bands I’d never heard of/wasn’t into/wasn’t impressed by would come in and want special treatment. Homie don’t play that.
But! While I am so glad I’m not working retail anymore, I learned a lot from my various experiences:
1. Customer service skills. These are important to have in literally any job ever. Every business or service comes down to helping out another person in some way. Being friendly, polite, and patient, even when dealing with a horrible booger of a person, is a great skill to have in your back pocket. You’re not going to like everyone you meet, and visa versa, so it’s important to keep calm, put on a happy face, and deal with it (in the quickest, get-your-ass-out-of-there-as-fast-as-you-can way possible, obviously).
2. Shirt folding. This doesn’t sound as important and career-focused as customer service skills, but learning how to properly fold a shirt is one of the MOST IMPORTANT THINGS EVER when working retail. And it seems like each store has their own way of doing it, making things more complicated. In any case, having to rearrange and refold shirts for hours at a time taught me to be more considerate to others – there is no way now that when I’m shopping I’ll unfold a shirt to look at it without at least attempting to fold it back to the store’s standards before moving on.
3. Learning to look at the bright side. Whenever you think you’re having a hard time at work, think this thought: I could be doing inventory at a store. Inventory day was and is the most dreaded day of all retail workers ever, even more than Black Friday.
4. Awareness of other people’s time. I typically would work the first shift and open the store, but on the rare occasion that I’d close, there would always be at least one person who didn’t leave after closing time. Without fail. Every. Single. Time. One thing I will never, ever do is go into a store (especially a restaurant or bar) 5 minutes before closing and expect to be served. By the end of my shift, I wanted to get the hell out of there as fast as humanly possible and there’s no real nice way to tell a customer that no, I don’t want your money, I want you to leave this place and never come back.
5. Humility. You would not believe the lengths corporate made employees go to to help people at my commission-based retail job. We had to ask and ask and ask shoppers if they needed help and point out different clothes and accessories to them until they literally said “STOP.” No “Just looking, thanks!” or “I don’t need any help.” A customer had to get irritated enough to tell us “STOP” before we were allowed to back off. Needless to say, this lead to some extremely embarrassing, awkward moments. Learning to roll with those embarrassing moments can help smooth out a situation with an irate customer or pissed off manager.
6. How to deal with pressure. When the line is a billion miles long on Black Friday and people are cutting in line to ask dumb questions and people start complaining and you’re hungry and you should have clocked out 30 minutes ago and blah blah blah, pressure mounts. In a customer-facing position, it’s important to keep your cool and stay calm. Then once everything had died down, you can go to the bathroom and scream/rip your hair out/cry/etc. This works for your personal life, too.
7. Responsibility. Having to deal with large amounts of money, schedules, and regimented open and close times requires a fair amount of responsibility. I was allotted an hour to get the store ready before it opened. Given that I was most definitely not a morning person in college, when I was opening it was awfully tempting to sleep in and then either half-ass my opening duties, do them while customers were in the store, or rush through them. But I didn’t! Because I liked having a job and I wanted to keep it. Being responsible for yourself (i.e., being on time, getting stuff done, and constantly going above and beyond) and your immediate surroundings (making sure your workspace is as clean as it was when you found it, if not cleaner, etc.) helps in all aspects of life.
8. Overcoming shyness. Working on commission will negate any feelings of shyness you might have pronto. The same cannot be said for a general disdain for people, though. But working on commission also provides you ample opportunity to pretend you like everyone and are a regular social butterfly.
9. Being a considerate consumer. This can go along with #4, as it has to do with being considerate of other people. Just because someone works in retail and is there to help you doesn’t make them your slave. Treat them and the establishment they work in with respect. When trying on clothes, put them back on the hangers or fold them back up. I really doubt at home you rip all your clothes out of your closet and spread them in multiple layers on the floor – so why do that in the dressing room?
10. When to silence your phone. This is just so that when at 8 AM on your day off your manager calls, you can be truthful about saying you didn’t hear your phone ring and that’s why you didn’t come in.
In my second installment of Fictional Ladies I Admire, I will be discussing strong female characters in various movies I enjoy.
While compiling my list, I noticed that four of them are from horror movies and some aren’t necessarily the protagonist in their movies. I’m a big horror movie fan, so that’s not entirely surprising, but I think it’s telling that some of the ladies are, while not necessarily “the bad guy,” aren’t exactly good guys, either. Being slightly villainous takes strength, too, people!
Miranda Priestly of The Devil Wears Prada - While she’s not necessarily the warmest person ever, Miranda Priestly is strong, confident, and has no problem asking for what she wants. I like to channel my inner Miranda Priestly whenever I’m feeling a little lackluster.
Lisbeth Salander of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Lisbeth has more demons than most, sure. She killed her father when she was a child, and her guardian is raping her in exchange for money in order to eat and pay her living expenses. She takes those demons, though, and uses them to her advantage when she solves a murder case that has been cold for decades with the help of her super-hot friend Mikhail. She also totally gets the rapist/guardian back for his bullshit. Adding to the fact that she’s an amazing computer hacker, a genius, and refuses to be a victim when certainly no one would fault her for it, and you’ve got yourself a bonafide heroine.
Tiffany of Silver Linings Playbook - I really, really enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook and Jennifer Lawrence’s character Tiffany. Tiffany is a sex addict, recent widow, and, like Bradley Cooper’s character, chock full of neuroses. Despite her problems, though, she is at peace with who she is and likes herself, flaws and all. She also is a pretty good dancer and is cute as a button.
Sarah Williams of Labyrinth - So Sarah starts out as kind of a bitch. After her parents divorce, she is resentful of her father’s “new” family: stepmother Irene and half-brother Toby. She is running late to babysit Toby, a task she isn’t really into. In a moment of jealousy, she wishes for Toby to be taken by a bunch of goblins and poof! He is! Realizing she’s in big trouble, she makes her way through an elaborate labyrinth to find Toby and his kidnapper (the Goblin King Jareth played by mega-babe David Bowie). Along the way she makes friends and realizes she really does love Toby and develops a stronger sense of responsibility. At the end, though thoroughly intrigued by Jareth (who wouldn’t be?), she refuses his attempts at seduction and an offer to stay with him forever in order to get her brother back. Yay!
Carrie White of Carrie - Carrie is another leading lady who has it rough. She’s tormented at school, her mom is a psycho fundy, and things keep breaking around her! Weird! Things start to look up, though, when Tommy invites her to the prom – they are even named prom king and queen! Prom goes bad, though, when mean girl Chris and her hoodlum boyfriend play a cruel joke on Carrie and dump a bucket of pig’s blood on her head as she’s being crowned. Her rage (and telekinesis) takes over and shit really hits the fan. Like Miranda Priestly, she’s not a total protagonist, but what I like about her is that she’s totally not a victim. I also like seeing mean high school kids get their come uppances. Take that!
Nancy Thompson of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) - Nancy is one tough cookie. It’s not just anyone who can kill Freddy Krueger, and she did it almost all by herself! She’s also kind of nerd and likes her books – I can relate. She shows up again in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors to help out some kids, too. She’s just an all-around nice, nerdy, bad ass chick.
Jennifer Hills of I Spit On Your Grave (1978) - Okay, so, I Spit On Your Grave isn’t exactly… wholesome. And the first half of it doesn’t really espouse feminist praise. It’s the second half, though, where I am super impressed by Jennifer Hills and root for her wildly. While spending some time in a lake cabin by herself, Jennifer is brutally raped and left for dead by a gang of icky boys. She gets her revenge is super gross, highly imaginative ways and it’s AWESOME.
Laurie Strode of Halloween (1978) - By day Laurie is a mild-mannered high school student who spends her time studying and babysitting. By night (and as quite a surprise to her), she’s a knife/knitting needle/metal hanger-wielding heroine who protects herself and her babysittee from the evil and hard-to-kill Michael Myers.
The Bride in Kill Bill I & 2 - This one is fairly obvious, but for good reason! Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and The Bride was super-scorned in Kill Bill. After being left for dead by her “friends,” she is on a mission to get revenge and her kid back from The Man. She also can escape being buried alive, walk to a safe place, and order some coffee like it’s no big whoop.
Lydia Deetz in Beetlejuice - I looooooove Lydia. I also loooooooove Beetlejuice. It and The Last Unicorn were my favorite movies as a cherubic young girl. Maybe that’s because as a little girl, despite my sweet nature, I knew deep down I was more like Lydia than say… Jane Butterfield. In any case, Lydia is one cool chick. She sticks up for herself in the face of her (well-intentioned) moronic parents, and can see GHOSTS! She also sacrifices herself in order to save the Maitlands by marrying Betelgeuse. And that dude is gross.
This month’s lust object is all things Ikat! Maybe it’s the sunshine that’s finally showing its face in my area, or maybe it’s that summer is just around the corner and for some reason, tribal-inspired and Ikat patterns say “summer” to me, but I’m feeling this pattern lately.
To be more precise, Ikat is not actually a pattern, but a technique for dyeing fabrics that are otherwise hard to dye. It’s a bit similar to tie-dyeing because bindings are applied to the threads in the pattern the dyer wants, and then it is dyed. Moving around the bindings and using more than one color make for beautiful and elaborate patterns. When the dying is finished, the bindings are removed and the threads are then ready to be woven into cloth.
“Ikat” is an Indonesian word that literally means “to tie.” Ikat is also mysterious! Since woven fabrics tend to have short lifespans, it is darn near impossible to figure out where Ikat originally came from. General consensus says that is was probably developed in a few different locations, but word on the street is that it was produced in pre-Columbian Central and South American countries.
Nowadays Ikat patterns are easy to replicate, so most of the stuff out there that you see with the pattern isn’t actually Ikat, but printed in that style. It’s still super cute, though.
Also, if anyone wants to gift me that ridiculously expensive dress, feel free!
Let’s be real – I consume a lot of culture, whether it’s from movies, TV, or books. Most recently I have been reading the latest installment from George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance With Dragons. Not only is it totally awesome, but there is no shortage of strong female characters. That, combined with the latest PR campaign I’m working on in the office (a charitable event focusing on sisterhood, supporting fellow women, and general lady postive-ness), led to my latest series of blogs: Fictional Ladies I Admire.
This is a series because, when I started my list, it was just way, way too big. So I’ll be breaking it down into three groups: Literature Ladies, TV Ladies, and Movie Ladies. I might even cap off the series with a list of actual, real life ladies.But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
As a general disclaimer, this list is in no particular order and yes, I realize many of the photos are from the movie or TV adaptations of the books. Also, there are spoilers for various books ahead – you’ve been warned!
Daenerys Targaryen - Hoo boy, Daenerys has had it rough. As a baby her entire family (save her nasty older brother, Viserys) is killed, so she and the nasty brother are exiled to a strange land, where she grows up being manipulated by Viserys, who sells her into marriage so he can amass an army and retake his family’s crown. But then it’s okay because her warlord husband ends up being a good guy and she even gets pregnant! And she evens decides to retake the family’s crown for herself and be Queen. But then her husband dies, she loses the baby, and is very sad. But then she hatches dragons! And decides to amass her own army and get her shit together in order to sit on the Iron Throne. In doing all this, she outsmarts warlocks, slave masters, and other bad dudes and frees slaves and saves down-on-their-luck people. She has a big heart and an inner strength and DRAGONS.
Arya Stark - Arya has also had it pretty rough. She’s ragged on by her older sister and septa for not being lady-like enough, she has to send away her direwolf Nymeria, she’s sent off to King’s Landing and hates it there, then her dad dies in front of her. And then she’s carted off into the woods and her protector also dies in front of her. Sheesh! With a little luck, stubbornness, and moxie, Arya makes it through (so far, I haven’t finished A Dance With Dragons) and is stronger and wiser because of it. Plus, she saves some dudes who she thinks are just criminals (because she has such a good heart) and one ends up totally killing some dudes for her (because despite having such a good heart, the girl deserves to exact some revenge).
Jo March - Ms. March is based on author Louisa May Alcott, so you know from the start she’s going to be pretty awesome. Jo is the family’s tomboy and is even referred to as “my son Jo” a few times by her father. My admiration to her might stem from our shared love of literature – she writes poems, short stories, and plays that she and her sisters act out. She even goes on to be a writer. She is also super sweet, cutting off her long, beloved hair and selling it so her sister can purchase a train ticket. What I like most, though, is that she chooses a partner that respects her and is her equal, which in her (fictional) time, was somewhat unheard of. Plus, she got cozy with Laurie, and he’s a total fox.
Scout Finch - Scout is another bookworm. She’s sassy, very intelligent, and stands up for what she believes in. Plus she is able to stop an angry mob. What’s not to like?
Bridget Jones - Bridget Jones has man problems, and at the beginning of the book she lets those problems and her loneliness gobble her up, so much so that she does things she normally wouldn’t to attract a very bad (but very good-looking) man. Throughout the book, though, she comes to find the confidence to be herself and do what she loves and she ends up attracting a very good (and also very good-looking) man. Happy ending!
Karana/Won-A-Pei-Lei - Despite some serious bad luck (inspired by true events, no less) Karana makes it on her own without every complaining or feeling bad for herself. She lives alone for almost 20 years creating shelter, hunting and foraging for her own food, and generally just making sure she lives. Talk about fortitude.
Esther Greenwood - She might not be at the top of many young ladies’ lists of role models, but I find Esther’s strength in The Bell Jar quite remarkable. She goes through a very emotional journey of serious depression, even trying to kill herself, and manages to come out on the other side stronger, more stable, and with a newfound sense of freedom.
Flora Poste – Flora’s a bit of a toss-up… On the one hand, she ends up on the farm because she doesn’t feel like getting a job. And then she mettles in other peoples’ lives. On the other hand, she helps out her extremely weird, backwater extended family with a dash of city-girl smarts and ends up softening herself in the end, too. So I guess instead of calling her a busybody, I prefer the term problem solver.
Galadriel - Galadriel is described as having beautiful long, silver hair – much like Daenerys’. It’s so enchanting that it inspired Fëanor to create three beautiful jewels called the Silmarilli, or “radiance of pure light.” She is compassionate to a fault, and goes against her husband to help out Gimli. She’s also super-powerful and can determine your moral character just by looking at you.
Eowyn - Eowyn is described as being a stone-cold fox as well as possessing a warm, caring heart. Despite it making her lonely, she dutifully takes care of her sick uncle. She’s also a shieldmaiden, which in and of itself is amazingly bad ass, and she ends up being the one to kill the witch king Angmar. While Angmar is bitching about how no living man can kill him, my girl Eowyn utters, “But no living man am I! You look upon a woman.” BAM! THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT, LADIES!
It should really come as no surprise that I like words. I like saying them, typing them, hearing them, and reading them. And I like the idea of them tearing away from the confines of books, blogs, and mouths and being part of the fashion world.
And in creating words, you get letters.
I don’t necessarily like tops that say things (like those hideous verbiage tees with phrases like “90% Angel.” We get it, the other 10% is devil, or likelier still, bad taste) or food containers that say things (like wine glasses that say ‘vino’ – I will put soy milk in that wine glass if I feel like it!), but I do like the simplicity of numbers, symbols, and letters.
My mother is a graphic designer, so I knew from a young age what a font is, and why it is so important to kern your shit (my words, not her’s). I also know my serifs (Jealous?). Anyway, that early installation of graphic design minutia and my love of books and strange words may have led to this month’s lust object… just a little.
The products above are just my type… Get it?
Earlier this month our good friend Adam came for a visit. We spent the majority of our time at Emerald City Comic-Con and ate way too much food, but we also experimented with some unique red velvet recipes: Red Velvet Creme Brûlée and Red Velvet Milkshakes.
The milkshakes were only okay. They involve chocolate ice cream and red velvet cake mix, and that’s really all it tasted like. I did enjoy having an excuse to use my Vitamix, though, and show Adam how amazing it is in person.
The creme brûlée, however, was amazing. Since Adam was leaving for the airport in a few hours, I couldn’t do the proper thing and let it chill in the refrigerator for a few hours and then let it sit before serving. I instead put it in the freezer for 20 minutes and then we ate it right away. It was cold, but it was super tasty. When I have more time I shall make it properly. And eat it all myself instead of sharing because that’s how I do things when it comes to red velvet.
Red Velvet Creme Brûlée
Recipe via Sweet Peony
Makes 2 servings
Red Velvet Milkshakes
Recipe via The Little Kitchen
Makes 2 servings
2. Pulse or use milkshake setting on your blender. Serve immediately.
Not worth the waste of delicious chocolate ice cream, if you ask me.