The Danger of Mummification & Other Marriage Perks

d1eb1177c2b3d3a71f15d30d944b782aThis morning, I did my usual “What’s going on in the world?” perusal of the internet. CNN, Jezebel, and BlogLovin all received their due attention, before I stumbled across a story that turned my arm hair white. A woman in a Detroit suburb was found mummified in the back of her car, after having been dead for six years.

These were, in order, my reactions:

  1. Egads! (Horror.)
  2. Eww! (Think of the smell! Unless there wasn’t a smell, because she was so desiccated. Does a mummy smell like anything other than dust? I need to reread the Amelia Peabody series stat.)
  3. How!? (All of her bills were auto-drafted and she traveled a lot, so her neighbors thought she was just a globe-hopping introvert. Until, of course, some hapless roof repairman sent by the bank that eventually took over her mortgage was directed to check out the house…and he discovered her mummy.)
  4. Oh plummy tartlettes, this could happen to me! I autopay my bills, too! (Modern woes.)
  5. Wait, no. I have the Professor. Surely, he would notice if I were a corpsicle, before I started imitating Queen Hatshepsut in the back of my Volvo. He would totally miss my sparkling observations on Logan vs. Piz and all the pies I bake. There is minimal chance of me becoming a vehicular mummy.  MARRIAGE IS THE GREATEST.

Yesterday, a dear friend of mine asked how married life was. My answer was “It’s awesome. Exactly the same as living-in-sin life!”, however, that’s not quite true. Being married to Professor McGregor means rarely having to worry about becoming a forgotten desiccated corpse. It’s still possible, but the Grace train would have to really go off the rails.

There are other things that are way better, too. The man knows me so well that, each and every morning, he pries me out of bed with a perfectly made cup of coffee. If that doesn’t sound extraordinary to you, then you never did a stint slinging lattes in college. In order for me to properly enjoy home-brewed coffee, my milk (1/3 of the cup’s worth) must be microwaved for precisely thirty-eight seconds, then one Splenda and the tiniest drop of vanilla are added, before finally pouring the coffee into the damned cup. Otherwise, it will taste weird and be lukewarm and my whole day will collapse around me. For the first part of our relationship, I wisely insisted on attending to my own cup of Joe, so as not to appear like the pretentious maniac I am. Now, Professor McGregor does it for me. Happily. At his own suggestion. With organic fair trade espresso beans that I have delivered from Austin once a month, instead of the economical and perfectly fine grocery store stuff he drank before.

Also, not to give y’all too much information, but the marriage bed is awesome. Maybe it’s because we don’t have kids and neither one of us burned up the hook-up trail, but having a partner who knows what you like and sleeps right next to you every night is bitchin’. The next time someone tells me they don’t believe in marriage, because it squashes personal freedom, I’m just going to tell them about all the bedsport that comes with it. That’s right, it’s so good, I’m calling it bedsport. The only things worth raving about are worth doing so in archaic Regency slang.

My official review on marriage: two thumbs up. What’s better than perfect coffee, great sex with your beloved, and probably not becoming a car mummy? Nothing.

- Grace

A Wicked Case of the Baby Shrugs

3c27d88be8a50583bbb40cb32f9dfc52All of Facebook is having babies. I don’t know what your feed looks like, but mine is filled with tiny versions of my high school classmates. Our late twenties hit and—baby boom!—people spawned. Suddenly, everyone is having gender reveal parties and cake smashes.

Everyone, of course, except me. It’s not that I don’t want kids. We totally want to start a family, one day. I definitely want a tiny Grace to shower in feminist values and bookstore love, one day. It’s just that one day, in this case, is at least two-quite-possibly-five years away. Right now, the dear Professor and I are perfectly happy not worrying about college education funds, dirty diapers, or gendered toy aisles. Despite everyone, everywhere, wanting to know when we’re planning to start popping dem babies out, we’re decidedly not planning.

Also, let’s be honest, I’m going to be a crap mom. I’ll love our wee McGregors, sure, but the mom instinct is not strong in me. This week, I developed suspicions that it may be missing altogether. Some virtual friends of mine were all atwitter over an “incident” that happened at their daycare: someone fed the children McNuggets and store-bought cupcakes.

Are you shocked and furious? Congratulations! You are a responsible enough human to become a parent. My reaction was a grand shrug and intense craving for fried chicken slurry. Not once did I fear for Wee Isabelle and Wee Lancelot’s delicate systems or scream “THE CHEMICALS! OH, WON’T SOMEONE SAVE THE CHILDREN FROM THE CHEMICALS!?”  on my rooftop. In fact, my only contribution to the discussion was to point out that everything is made of chemicals, so let’s not demonize a perfectly good scientific term, okay?

It’s not like I think children should only eat McDonald’s, but surely a handful of chicken nuggets won’t doom them to a life of crime and obesity. No one ever says “Johnny was such a good kid, until he ate that one nugget. Now it’s all hookers and Pokemon thefts for him.” Humans are way more resilient than that, even the small ones. Why, when I was a kid, I ate mountains of chicken nuggets and my left kidney only twitches occasionally. The moms were unimpressed. Some of them may have intimated that childless people just don’t understand kids. Which is…totally true.

I was never super great at being a kid, in the first place. When I tried dangling from the monkey bars that one time, I let go, fell to the ground, and couldn’t breathe for five minutes. When other kids wanted to play in the woods, I talked nonstop about ticks and Lyme disease. So, the thought of having kids–normal, happy, not convinced there’s a dead body in every empty field kids–is a distant one. It’s like considering the moon, when you’ve never even flown on an airplane. Or a chocolate mousse, when you’re allergic to milk and chocolate. Or children, when you are totally indifferent to their existence.

I have, in other words, the baby shrugs:

“When are you having kids?”

*shrug*

“Don’t you want kids?”

*shrug*

“You’ll want them someday, surely.”

*shrug*

“You won’t feed Isabelle high fructose pork syrup, right?

*shrug*

“Tell me you heard the thing about syrup!”

*shrug*

So many shrugs. Luckily, my beloved is currently shrugging, too. When we do have children, they’re probably going to eat chicken nuggets every once in awhile. However, all cards on the table, they’re going to be so damned weird that those evil chemicals won’t make a dent. Genes are wonderful, horrible things.

- Grace

The Cult of Side Eye: Fame and Blogging

4ed52b7429991528e46b0e4881512045This morning was a waste. Instead of curing male pattern blandness or writing the Next Great American Cocker Spaniel Novel, I hunted virtual big game. There were villains, unleashing side eye on the innocent, and they must be stopped!

You see, this isn’t my only home on the internet. Away from our wonderful world of sarcastic ranting, I run a small, personal sewing blog. It’s not exactly revolutionary stuff – pretty dresses, witty commentary, and sewing pattern reviews – but I love doing it. Unlike other parts of the internet, the sewing community is almost universally supportive, which provides a lovely mental respite. In the four years I’ve been writing it, there’s been nary a death threat nor a hateful body snark in the comment section. Meanwhile, my first big post for Spinsters earned both, in less than two days.

Unfortunately, checking my stats this morning was a wake-up call. A handful of people found my little slice of paradise, thanks to a site called Get Off My Internets. Despite an hour of perusing threads, I couldn’t find the link itself, but instead discovered an entire side of blogging previously unexplored. This is a site, complete with its own blog and forum, dedicated to making fun of other bloggers. There are threads for all the most popular blogs around, in which people discuss, tear down, and debate every aspect of those bloggers’ posts. From what I could glean, before running away screaming, a lot of that involves speculation about these bloggers’ personal lives. It’s a supremely meta, worldwide burn book. 

It’s, also, fucking terrifying.

First off, blog hate is understandable. The first rule of writing is that universal adoration is a pipe dream. People will find you annoying for all sorts of reasons, no matter how inoffensive your work seems. That’s just fine. I’m a believer in feeling your feelings, as Kate and Mae can tell you. (They’ve had to listen to this motto a thousand times, at least.) If your feelings say that I’m a man-hating socialist, that’s cool. Personally, I think have some redeeming qualities, but you can’t win ‘em all. What scared me about this site wasn’t the hate itself, but the in-depth research and dissection happening in its forums.

There were threads debating whether someone had gained weight, because she was pregnant, or just because she’d eaten too many of her picture-perfect cupcakes. People discussed the financial details of bloggers, down to how much their husbands made at their jobs, and the imprudent travel habits of one D-I-Yer. The attacks were personal, detailed, and sounded like the most salacious tabloid headlines. Only…they weren’t attacking celebrities. They were attacking normal people, who happen to blog.

Is there no longer a line between blogger and celebrity? There’s no denying that the internet is a public forum, of course. We write with the knowledge, often with the hope, that other people will come along and read our work. And yet, most of us don’t blog out of a desire for fame. The statistics are just too dismal. There are millions upon millions of blogs, filling every niche from snarky twenty-something feminism to anthropomorphic basket-weaving. The number of bloggers who have earned traditional fame–TV show, movie contract, book deal sort of fame–is scant in comparison.

We started Spinsters out of a desire for community. Kate, Mae, and I would meet for dinner and rehash all of the ridiculous things that we’d experienced that week, from workplace sexism to dating disasters. Our stories were normally funny, but also touched on what being a modern, single, twenty-something meant. We decided to blog, out of a suspicion that those experiences were common to other women like us and should be shared. Since then, our lives have changed quite a bit–from promotions, to big moves, to marriages–but we still blog for the same reason. We believe that speaking out, that sharing our rants, reminds other young women that they’re not alone. Plus, it’s really fun to wax poetic about beards every now and again.

Who’s to say that other bloggers, who may now be popular through their efforts, didn’t also begin out of a sense of community? Surely, it’s one thing to dissect people who put their lives out there for actual media consumption, for traditional fame, and another entirely to denigrate normal people who are sharing things on the internet. In this modern age, when so much of what we everyone does is on the web, that harsh spotlight could fall on so many perfectly innocent people.

There is a reason we blog anonymously. Originally, I thought it was to protect us from the censure of friends and family, but maybe the world at large is more the threat. If one lifestyle blogger is open to weight comments and financial dissection from a community of haters, why couldn’t three funny harpies be next? The internet is a fish bowl. I suppose it makes sense that, somewhere out there, piranhas are lurking. We have been warned.

- Grace

Coincidentally, my dad just sent me this video of celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves on Jimmy Kimmel. It seems remarkably apropos, no?

God Save The Tights

5e4d92dbb4becb0aafd60aed8cceeddcI am, officially, an old.

There are no prunes on my plate or gray hairs sprouting, weed-like, from my chin, but the slow march toward Branson, Missouri doom has begun. Friends, I am a wizened, twenty-eight year-old crone. You see, I don’t understand kids these days

Why, for the love of Gloria Steinem, have girls stopped wearing tights? This year, the entirety of the US has been plunged into a dark, icy winter, as anyone with a working television set knows. It has snowed no less than six times on our house, despite living in the normally temperate South. My dog refuses to go outside by himself, for fear of the white flakes of death attacking from above.  It’s fucking cold. And yet, bare legs are roaming the streets and frolicking on college campuses.

This phenomenon became apparent last weekend, when Professor McGregor and I popped out for Italian food. The temperature was below freezing, the wind chill was positively Arctic, and I was bundled up in an appropriate manner: tights, wool skirt, boots, cashmere sweater, wool coat, scarf, and gloves. Like any good southerner, I’d piled on every warm thing I own at one time. We may not own puffer coats, but we do know how to layer! So, imagine my shock, when a gaggle of sorority girls breezed into the restaurant ahead of us, each more scantily clad than the last. They were, to a one, wearing baby doll dresses and heels. Sure, they had coats on, but miles and miles of unnaturally tanned, toned legs were exposed to the chill.

Lf6d2bfd0ffbb8e53625f0c738c3d4526ady friends, I am confused. You know that looking hot doesn’t literally translate to body temperature, right? Just because your feet feel like they’re on fire from those six-inch wedges, doesn’t mean they won’t get frostbitten. Yet, despite your sartorial oversight, you seem like intelligent, thoughtful people. Not a one of you is visibly smoking meth or wearing a Creed t-shirt. Surely, you know how weather works. So, I can only assume one thing: you’ve been blinded by sexy.

This happens a lot. As women, we’re taught from wee girlhood to be ever-conscious of our appearance. Out for brunch with the girls, you’re casually elegant. At the workplace, you’re buttoned-up, but still feminine. And out for a night on the town, you must always, always be sexy. However will anyone know that you’re having fun, if you’re not showing furlongs of skin? No matter that it’s fifteen degrees and sleeting. The male gaze must be appeased! We will freeze, before covering dat ass!

Or not. Dudettes, you can still be sexy in tights. There is literally nothing about donning tights that says “I am a schoolmarm,” unless they’re burgandy and made from your own hand-wound alpaca yarn. Stockings are, historically, hella sexy. Just ask the cast of Cabaret! Your cute date will still want to kiss you, if you’ve accessorized with a statement necklace and blue tights. Even better, you won’t be too numb from the cold to feel his lips on yours. Everybody (who wants to make out) wins! Why, think of all the fun he’ll have peeling those layers off of you.

When it’s springtime again, feel free to go barelegged, but you’re not fooling anybody in the Polar Vortex. We know you’re cold. We are also cold. In fact, I’m five times colder just looking at you and shaking my head in sympathy. Think of your toes, darling! Not only will you still look sexy in tights, but the danger of those piggies turning black and falling off is severely curtailed. Which is good. If you think tights aren’t sexy, try mid-date amputation.

-Grace

The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever

1282199049757270I don’t know when the epiphany came—whether during my third night of uncontrollable sobbing or the hundred year flood—but it was clear and true: Professor McGregor and I had the worst honeymoon ever. I would like to say it was all my fault, but no matter how hard I try, I’ve yet to control the weather or checked baggage or broken toilet seats. The sobbing, though, was definitely all me.

Darlings, there is a reason people fantasize about beach honeymoons. They’re easy! Hop on a plane, get picked up by a resort shuttle, then happily sip neon drinks under an umbrella for seven days. It’s a good recipe. Unless, of course, you’re the type who poo-poos this whole fancy umbrella thing in favor of exploration and the ever-present excitement of “Will there be bedbugs in this hotel room?” Spoiler alert: the professor and I are the latter type. Instead of a nice, relaxing trip to a warm beach, we went to Ireland. In the middle of winter. Without hats.

To be fair, Dublin was utterly lovely for the first week. The sun was shining. it softly rained a handful of times, and the people were doggedly friendly. Unfortunately, I spent that week 100% convinced that I would drop dead on the cobblestones at any moment. Omnipresent fear of your Untimely Doom does put a damper on romantic strolls, kittens. Our second day in Ireland, I was hit by these odd lightheaded spells, accompanied by nausea and fatigue. Then it happened again on the third day, then the fourth, and so on. Luckily, I had enough medical knowledge to know what was up: I was experiencing symptoms of DVT—thanks to use of birth control—and a blood clot was going to travel to my lungs, turn into a pulmonary embolism and kill me dead. There were no other possibilities. (She said in a fearful, crazed tone to her beloved at 3 AM.)

On one hand, my legs weren’t achy or swollen and there were zero chest pains, but on the other…THESE THINGS CAN BE ASYMPTOMATIC. I WAS DEFINITELY GOING TO DIE ON MY HONEYMOON AND LEAVE A GRIEF-STRICKEN PROFESSOR BEHIND ALL BY HIMSELF. HE WOULD THEN, HAUNTED BY MY MEMORY, TURN INTO A BITTER, ANGRY WIDOWER WHO KICKED BABY ARMADILLOS AND NEVER TRAVELED OR FELT JOY AGAIN AND IT WAS ALL MY FAULT FOR BEING AFRAID OF BABIES! *SOB* By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, and I’d been unable to sleep for three nights in a row for fear of my imminent corpsehood, Professor McG had the hotel find an open minor emergency clinic and shuttled me to a Dublin suburb to check things out. After all sorts of tests, I was pronounced completely fine, except for the prolonged lady dark times I’d also been experiencing. Exact prescription: “Rest and eat red meat. You’re probably vitamin-deficient from all the blood pouring from your uterus. Duh.”

images (1)By the time I felt better, it was our day to depart Dublin for the picturesque western coast. Galway, our destination, was famous for its seaside village shops and proximity to amazing natural wonders, like the Cliffs of Moher. We were going to experience real Ireland, by walking on bluffs and drinking tea in cutesy tea shops! It was going to be…awesome hit by a once-in-a-century winter storm! Yes, we arrived in Galway, just in time to be hit by Winter Storm Christine. Fun fact: when they name the weather system that’s about to hit you, the scenic cliffs turn into terrifying death traps. The cutesy tea shop I’d been stoked about? Flooded. The lovely seaside walk? Under water. The meandering stroll to city center from our hotel? Aided by 70 mph wind gusts and sideways hail. Adventures!

Even better, the “four star” hotel we were staying at made Motel 6 look posh. We arrived to a suspiciously stained comforter, broken-in-half toilet seat, and one of those king beds that is really just two twins, with a totally comfortable metal bar joining them together. Trip Advisor had let us down in a rather epic manner. Adventures!

Honestly, the list of travel disasters that hit us could be a mile long. Delta lost my baggage on the way back the States, Irish cashiers were utterly flummoxed by our chipless credit cards, and my umbrella was defenseless against winter storms. And yet…we had a blast.

shameless-honeymoon-movie-poster-9999-1010429406Through fear of my untimely demise and hurricane force breezes, Professor McGregor made me laugh and smile and fall in love with him all over again. He twice walked to the pharmacy to retrieve lady devices (tampons, yo), made sure I was always in reach of hot chocolate, and assured me over and over again that I had not ruined our honeymoon with my weird illness. And you know what? He was right. We had so much fun! It turns out that Irish food is really good, we both look fetching in wool hats, and getting away together was a much needed respite…even with all the crying. Plus, my beloved left with a new favorite whiskey and I with intimate knowledge of the Irish medical system.

So, perhaps I should revise: Professor McGregor and I had the best worst honeymoon ever. 

-Grace

P.S. Thank you all so much for your good wishes and congratulations on my last post! The wedding went off without a hitch – lovely weather, lovely food, and lovely conversation. Just like we wanted.

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Cleanse This: Wedding Preparations Gone Mad

il_570xN.326980696In three days, Professor McGregor and I are getting married.

MARRIED.

There are a lot of moving parts involved in such a happening. So far this week, I’ve spray painted four dozen wooden snowflakes, made our seating chart, remade our seating chart when it turns out we had the wrong kind of tables, cut out a million tiny triangles for bunting, and seriously considered showing up in pajamas for the ceremony, so that I didn’t have to get my dress steamed.

Just to make sure I’m not forgetting anything important, I took to the internet. “Google,” I asked the great god of aimless questions, “What should I be doing the week before my wedding?” It turns out, the answer is: a lot of shit. There are checklists to be checked and eighty people to contact. There are, also, a lot of widely suggested things that I think are ridiculous.

  1. Getting a Facial – Take away my womanhood card, if you must, but I am not going to have my face tortured by some sadistic stranger wielding an extractor, just to have “a bridal glow.” They make make-up precisely so I don’t have to naturally exude a glow. This isn’t Twilight, I don’t need to sparkle!
  2. Starting an Exfoliation Routine – In order to walk down the aisle, my whole body is apparently supposed to be as smooth as a baby’s bottom. And yet I currently have no plans to remove the top layer of my skin, in order to achieve that. Lotion will have to do.
  3. Scheduling a Bikini Wax – Everyone on the internet is in agreement with this one thing: In order to have a good wedding night, you can’t have any extra hair down there. It’s just not womanly! Except, oh wait, it’s the natural state of a woman’s body. Pardon me, if I don’t immediately have it all yanked out with hot wax.
  4. Avoiding Excessive Caffeine – If someone tells you she’s sleeping normally the week before her wedding, do not believe her. If coffee didn’t exist, I would have had a mental breakdown right now. I give zero fucks if it makes me retain water, there will be caffeine.
  5. Getting a Spray Tan – It’s the middle of winter, why exactly must we pretend that I’m a naturally a toasted almond color? Pale blonde girl has always been a good look for me. I shall not trade it in for skin the color of carrots! 
  6. A Juice Cleanse – Go through the hell that has been this week without real food? Ha! Someone go get me a cheeseburger.
  7. A Colon Cleanse – Nope. Just nope. Google, I think it’s time you saw a psychiatrist, in order to deal with all these delusions you’re having.

- Grace

Behold The Man-Hater: A Modern Myth

The-Suffragette-front-pageThis morning, my rage kettle boiled over. On an eons old post, we received a well-written and seemingly thoughtful comment, that intimated I didn’t deserve to question men, because they are the ones who lay down their lives for this country and who gave me the right to blog in the first place. Shockingly, this is not the first time I’ve heard this argument. It essentially consists of “Feminists are evil man-haters, who don’t understand all that menfolk have done for them!”

I just—

I can’t even…

What? 

There is so much wrong with this argument that I’m actively worried about the state of education in the West. Ignoring the obvious—which I’ve compiled a list of at the bottom of this post, because fuck all the fuckery—there is a major problem with this whole line of thinking: feminism isn’t about hating men or soldiers or any group of people, except perhaps misogynists. Feminism means believing in equality of the genders. That’s it.

Blog over! 

Y’all, that’s Kindergarten level simple. Why do we still let people—many of them young women, who are directly victimized by patriarchal structures every day—go around saying that feminists hate men? There’s not a single feminist I know who wishes to banish all men from Earth. That’s not really our thing, darling. Such a goal would be not only irrational, but severely limiting of our social lives. After all, it’s not like Dillon-who-bags-my-groceries is the reason I get paid 11,000 dollars less than my male colleagues. It’s society at fault, not men specifically. We’re all culpable.

Throughout history, people have bought into the notion that women and men are not only unequal, but not even deserving of the same the treatment. It’s reinforced in every aspect of daily life, not just our relatively recent right to vote. When you play for a girls basketball team called the “Lady Warriors,” you’re being victimized by the system. That’s your school saying that you’re not the real team—representing them with honor and talent—you’re just the girls. When the church you attend has a weight loss bible study for women, but not one for men, that’s society at work again reinforcing the notion that women are meant to please to the male gaze. Sexism is everywhere and it’s unending. It’s like that pink slime from Ghostbusters II, popping up in all social settings, seething below our streets like a glowing mass of unseen douchery.

Just the act of calling us “man-haters,” instead of feminists is patriarchy at work. Every time that is said, the cause of gender equality is devalued one more time. Rare is the teenage girl, riddled with insecurities and fear of social doom, that is willing to label herself a man-hater. If she’s less likely to call herself a feminist, because that cute Liam Patel might judge her, then she’s also less likely to speak up when she experiences gender inequality. The concept that “we shouldn’t be so sensitive, because that’s just the way things are,” is internalized in one more young woman. This hurts everyone. Young men are just as at risk from this thinking, as seen by each “locker room culture” scandal. The more we say women are one thing and men another, the more none of us are allowed to fulfill our true potential.

Feminism isn’t about hating men, it’s about hating systematic discrimination. This should be everyone’s fight, but we’ve corrupted the very language of our society with pervasive phrases like “man-haters”, “bra burners,” and “angry lesbians.” Our pool of advocates is winnowed down with each usage, obscuring the real intent of feminism. I wear a bra every day, damn it! The girls can still be high and perky, while discrimination shrivels.

Equality should be the cause of all people. We’re not here to take away rights, we’re here to ensure everyone finally gets them.

- Grace

Obvious Issues With This Argument: A List

  1. Women have, in fact, laid down their lives for this country countless times. The only difference is that we were not explicitly allowed on the front lines by the United States until this year. It wasn’t because we were lazy dilettantes who didn’t want to fight, it’s because we were again and again denied the opportunity. That’s the patriarchy, darling.
  2. Women were not just one day given the right to blog or do anything. Those nice men in Washington didn’t wake up one morning and decide women were finally ready to vote. We fought. Forever. We fought to not be property, we fought to own property, we fought to vote, we fought to work. We’re still fighting for equal pay and an end to the objectification of our bodies and all those other systematic little inequalities that are so prevalent in our society that we consider them normal.
  3. See: Lysistrata
  4. See: Women’s Air Force Service Pilots
  5. See: Harriet Tubman & co.

Nancy Drew and the Missing Abracadabra: A Halloween Rant

ea5e7f6c7b25c4e0a62f607ccea409e5There is a building down the street, white brick with cheap black window coverings, that plays host to terror. It’s not the zombies that bother me, mind you, as I believe the undead are unfairly besmirched by the living media. No, it’s something altogether more frightening. I am being haunted by the polyester impostors of Halloween present. There is evil in the Halloween Shoppe’s costume section and it must be destroyed.

Shockingly, I’m not talking about sexy costumes. While I think it’s a disgrace that Halloween has been reduced to a night when women are expected to expose our goodies to the cold, October chill, that’s well trod (hallowed) ground. We have a bigger problem. It’s not that we are overrun with sexy costumes, friends, it’s that we are deprived of interesting, well-made costumes at all. We don’t have any other options than sexy and, even those, are not truly sexy at all.

I want to stand next to a lightbulb, without fear of melting! I want to enter a costume store and have legitimate terrifying, gorgeous, or alluring costume choices! Why have we let Halloween descend into a night of cheap, ill-fitting suggestions of costume? This most wonderful of holidays, when a girl can dress up anything she delights in, has become one big avalanche of poorly made, poorly fitting, polyester swill that should never touch human flesh in the first place. We look cheap, darlings, whether or not we give into being Sexy Funshine Bear or not.

If I had any start-up capital whatsoever, I’d go into business selling one thing: well-made, fabulous costumes for women. When a woman wants to be scary for Halloween, she doesn’t want a plastic spider glued to a high school graduation robe, she wants realistic blood and an eerily deconstructed confection of gown. That Marie Laveau turban is so terrifyingly lovely, Hillary! Sure, we have our pick of supposedly “sexy” outfits from Harold’s Halloween Shoppe, but there’s nothing sexy about a polyester swimsuit covered in fake skunk fur. Just because I can see your bubbies, doesn’t mean you look hot, it means you might catch Sexy Woodland Creatures pneumonia. If you actually want to feel sexually empowered for the night, might I suggest that silk-lined burlesque costume a la Gypsy Rose Lee? Oh, wait. THAT DOESN’T EXIST.

d049df5b9fecbd8fb70a8c31f47ba1e1Halloween is meant to be a night of magic and mystery. Every October 31st, people step out of their houses clothed as something other than themselves. Why have we been driven away from that desire for whimsy and hoopla? It’s not that sexy costumes are bad, it’s that they’re barely costumes at all. No one actually thinks you look like “Sexy Rainbow Bright,” they think you look like you, wearing as little clothing as possible. That’s not sexual empowerment or fun, that’s being prey to an industry that wants to sell you cheap shit for lots of money. We can be sexy, but let’s also have some quality standards. More over, there should be options for women who want to leave our houses looking pretty, or horrifying, or breathtakingly repulsive. 

Not even the supposed “deluxe” costumes sold in Halloween shops are well-made or lovely. I refuse to believe you feel like a Clottette: Vampire Princess in that velvet faux-corset. There is no imagination in that outfit or any other sold next to it. Our magic—our fucking abracadabra— has been traded for cheap non-sex-appeal and flimsy construction. We’ve let our most spectacular holiday become just as shoddy as everything else we buy. Fast fashion has ruined Halloween and we should all be furious. We must demand quality, for Elsa’s sake!

Personally, I’m putting on a pinafore and penny loafers, tonight. Nancy Drew will be handing out candy to children, not fearing that a pumpkin might tumble over and set her aflame. Perhaps next Halloween, she will have solved the mystery of the missing abracadabra, or started her own damned costume company.

- Grace

If you’re trying to find a last minute costume, I’ve also suggested some easy, empowered costumes over at The Queen Latifah Show. Interesting uses for bananas, anyone?

The Sewist Bride Buys a Wedding Dress

Two months.

Two months! In precisely sixty days, Professor McGregor and I are going to trot down the aisle and tie the proverbial knot. Woohoo! As you know, I’ve been a rather casual bride. We’re having a simple wedding: Sunday brunch, lovely low key little venue, lots of balloons and flowers and bunting. Thanks to a close held hatred of rigmarole, I’ve officially cut out a lot of the typical American wedding shenanigans. There will be no DJ or releasing of the doves or—just kill me now—garter toss. We can all agree that the marriage is the important thing, not having a gigantic sparkly princess day of wonder. That’s never been my dream.

Except, of course, for The Dress. The very small list of important Grace concerns in planning this shindig were, in order: Professor McGregor, the dress, cake. Since the dear professor is consistently the most lovely man alive and the (three) cakes are being made—fondant free!—by my longtime favorite bakery, the dress absorbed my worries. So, so many worries.

As an advanced sewist, there was one question to be answered. Will I make the dress myself? 

It’s a completely legit consideration, especially in this day and age. Not only are modern dresses hilariously over priced but they are, as I’ve recounted here before, remarkably homogeneous. If you want a strapless A-line white dress, no problem! The shops have rows and rows of neatly hung poofy confections for strap-haters. However, when you start swaying away from the herd? Fat chance. The section with sleeves is minuscule, colors other than white are unheard of, and no one who’s anyone gets married in a short dress.

For sewists, this is enraging. One trip to the bridal shoppe—they can never just be a simple shop, kittens—is enough to start even the most sainted bride plotting the doom of Badgley, Vera, and that hawker of polyester swill, David himself. Sewists are used to taking matters in their own hands. If a pattern doesn’t have sleeves, add them. If you hate the feel of flammable, melt-prone fabrics against your skin, don’t use them. Sartorial beliefs, we have them in spades! All it took was a couple of post-engagement internet browsing sessions for me to know the usual bridal shop was not my destiny.

So, I compiled a list. What was my dream dress, exactly? If I couldn’t find it, sewing was a viable option, so I could afford to be mindbogglingly specific. Thanks to vintage fashion catalogs, a vision quickly coalesced.

Note: Professor McGregor, if you’re reading this, stop right now! Your superstitious side demands it. 

Grace’s Dream Dress: A Bulleted List

  • Bottom-of-knee length
  • Lace bodice
  • Sleeves, preferably 3/4
  • Button back. Not a zipper with buttons over it, either. Silk-covered buttons with working loops or death!
  • Color featured somehow
  • Layered circle skirt for a 1950s silhouette
  • Natural materials, preferably silks
  • Lower neckline

Surprise! This dress doesn’t exist at David’s Bridal. Initially, I considered going with one of the oft-pinned, retro dresses of Dolly Couture, but I had serious doubts about their quality. Reviews were spotty, their standard offerings are all polyester, and no design perfectly fit my vision. Sewing was looking like my best option. And yet…

Y’all, I’m going to be straight up here. I didn’t want to sew my own wedding dress. Down that path lived stress and obsessively washing my hands while sewing and time-consuming muslin fittings. People kept asking me if I had a “clean room” to store it in, while I sewed. Fuck that. I can barely keep myself clean, much less my sewing room. Someday, I would love to make a complete couture gown for myself, but that day will come when there are no dissertations to finish or moves to make. So, I started finding vintage patterns, but dreading what my autumn would be like.

Enter Pinterest. On one of my random wedding dress pictures binges, I typed in the words “short British wedding dress.” The lovely designers across the pond are much more open to retro designs and lengths other than floor. I’d stumbled across a handful of designers with gorgeous not-quite-right-but-almost gowns.

Then I found her. Joanne Fleming, an up-and-coming wedding dress designer out of Brighton. She is famous for her craftsmanship, use of luxury French fabrics, and gorgeous twists on classic designs. If I wanted a bias-cut column gown, she had twenty amazing options. If I wanted a colored lacy confections, there were samples aplenty. And if I wanted a button-back, lace and organza, knee-length fifties confection with sleeves and a low neckline? Oh, that’s called the Annie dress.

Mine, custom made to my measurements and specifications, is shipping out next week. Next week! Yes, I have been ridiculously squealing “Wedding Dress!” at odd times, since getting this news. Professor McGregor is temporarily deaf from all the high pitched squees.

The only alterations I made were to add a blush pink back-bow sash and coordinating pink silk petticoat binding. It is lovely, it is wonderful, and I’m not slaving away in my sewing room, cursing the day lace was invented. Joy! 

What do you think, friends? Would you sew your own wedding dress or go with an indie designer/seamstress? I’d love to hear about what you chose for your own. Sure, it’s just a dress, but it’s probably the only one we’ll be asked about for the rest of our lives. It’s also worth noting that one of my favorite bloggers, Mel from Poppykettle, is much braver than I and taking the plunge on making her own. It’s sure to be a gorgeous, fascinating process.

- Grace

Note: Here’s a link to my favorite real bride shoot, featuring an Annie dress. Lovely, no?

Get In The Bathtub, Dude: An Advertising Field Guide to Men

179b653565641b1dee73ecbdf6a7a69fThe time is upon us once again. People are sporting garish color combinations, insisting their friends eat chip-and-bean casserole concoctions, and complaining at every Saturday wedding they attend. It’s football season, kittens!

Usually, I’m not much of a football fan. I enjoy watching the actual game well enough, but take umbrage with so many aspects of it—hyper-masculinity, health dangers, its effect on education, and those wretched pink Lady ___insert appropriately intimidating mascot__ Fan! t-shirts—that it’s hard to give more than a rousing “Woohoo!” when that College Team I Follow wins. Thanks to living with a man whose school is doing particularly well this year, however, I’m watching a lot more football. And, as a result, football commercials.

Y’all, these commercials have totally opened my eyes. Back before Professor McGregor, I semi-longed to understand the proverbial menfolk. My mind told me they were just the same as me—regular people, with the added bonus of a penis—but friends told me they were mysterious creatures, mystifying in their ways and hairiness. It turns out, all we needed to do was watch more ESPN to discover the truth.  There are lessons to be learned, in between those brief periods of programming you actually want to watch. Sports advertising understands men and gives the rest of us handy man-dealing tips.

Truth #1: Men love to take baths, especially with wolf soap. I would never have known this from living with my teenage brother, but men really love being clean. Just when you think a man wants some sexy time with his lady love – boom! – he suggests bathing instead. And not bathing-together-in-a-sexy-way either, but side by side, each person with their own bathtub. Men cannot share tubs with you! They want to enjoy the warm water and romantic sunset in their own watery space! The only creatures a man wants to bathe with are wolves and eagles, who lend their essences to man soap. I always thought Professor McGregor’s showery scent was something with sandalwood or cedar, but these commercials are pretty insistent that he bathe alone in animal extracts.

Truth #2: Low Testosterone is an epidemic that must be solved. Everyone knows that the most important part of being a man is having a vigorous man member, which rouses quickly at the slightest hint of a womanly presence. But when men age, their testosterone levels naturally decrease, apparently making it really hard to do the one thing men are supposed to do all the time! Judging by the amount of commercials, low testosterone is reaching epidemic proportions in America. Sure, your husband tells you that he doesn’t want to canoodle, because he has the flu, but that is really the fever of low testosterone. A man who cannot canoodle is no man at all! We must save the canoodling man bits people! Who wants to plan a benefit walk/run for canoodling with me?

Truth #3: Men hate cooking, but love cheese. When men get together, they don’t want to make things. That’s crazy talk! Men don’t cook, they grunt and swear and worry about their fantasy football stats. To keep up their energy, however, they need to eat. That’s where cheese comes in. If you’re hosting a man party, it will only be a hit if you buy fast food covered in dairy product. Chicken tenders + CHEDDER! Pizza + FOUR CHEESES! Tacos + CHEESEY SAUCE CHEESE BYPRODUCT! These are man foods. Leave the expertly barbecued pork loin at home, Harold, unless you want all the other men to mock you.

72a16f1bdb1b793426a0cb0464eeeb0dTruth #4: Men are powerless, when presented with breasts.  All my adult life, I’ve had the power to rule menfolk and I didn’t even know it. When presented with breasts, men forget how to properly function as human beings. They crash cars, spill soup, and embarrass themselves in front of their friends, by following woman orders. This apparently, includes gay men, since I’ve never seen a sports commercial featuring a man distracted by great man shoulders. Surely, ESPN wouldn’t assume gay men don’t like sports and, thus, don’t need targeted advertising. Obviously, there’s just some sort of natural kryptonite reflex built into men, when it comes to breasts.

When Professor McGregor comes home tonight, I’m going to try out all these new, amazing lessons I’ve learned from sports advertising. Sure, he said he wanted to come home, make bison steaks and Brussels sprouts, then watch Much Ado About Nothing, but he’s a man! I suppose I’ll throw all those vegetables away, order a pizza loaded with four pounds of cheese, give him a blood test to diagnose his current testosterone levels, and force him into the bathtub instead. Thanks, ESPN!

- Grace