UGH.

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I like this image from photog Michael Lee better than the original.

Even though I find it hard for me to believe, some would consider this blog a legitimate media outlet.  As a participating member of “the media” I have to add my voice, as meek as it may be, to cacophonous roar building in Boston over the heinous Rolling Stone cover I’m sure you have already heard about.  Nothing I can say will be earth shattering, or even original, but I feel so strongly about this disgusting display of bad taste that I can’t NOT post something.

When I first saw the cover I thought it had to be a joke.  And then when I realized it wasn’t my emotions went from disbelief to horror to pure, unadulterated anger.  After all this city has been through- all this NATION has been through regarding horrific violence and the glamorization of death, murder, terrorism, horror and hatred- the choice to put this evil individual in the same ranks as musical geniuses like Springsteen, Dylan and the BEATLES is the biggest lapse in judgement ever made in the publishing world.  Yes, let’s make this murderer look like a fucking JONAS BROTHER so that the troubled youth of our country have more of a reason to think that killing people brings stardom and fame.  Let’s show them that blowing up a crowd of people is akin to bringing a crowd to their knees with a beautiful song from a brightly lit stage. Yes, this will be good for the country. Let’s use our power to do that.

JESUS.

Now, on a much, much, MUCH smaller scale I have posted images or words before that offended others but threw up no red flags to me personally before clicking “publish”.  Upon later review, I typically can see that perhaps it wasn’t the smartest thing to share and admit when I’m wrong (or let it slide when I feel others are being a bit too sensitive).  But there is NO way that the art department mocked this up and thought “Yeah, this isn’t offensive- this looks great!” and then sent it to the publishers,  a whole other group of editorial veterans, who then reviewed it and said ” Let’s go to print!”  I mean, seriously??? Are the people running these huge magazines THAT heartless? And have you heard their “explanation” that because this image has been used before many times by the New York Times and other big media outlets that they feel their use of it is no different??? Yes, yes it has been seen a million times over, but they, above all others, should know that it’s about the CONTEXT in which the photo is used, not the quantity in which it has been seen.  I am no Mensa member and even I know that!

The front page of the Times is for news, the front page of Rolling Stone is for STARS.

End. Of. Story.

I absolutely love the response that various stores have given of choosing NOT to sell this issue. And the letter that our own mayor sent to Jan Wenner made me even more proud to call this city home.  No, we are not “hiding our heads in the sand” (thanks for that genius comment TMZ- but really, I can’t expect more from you), we are attempting to protect our own- those hurt and maimed by this horrific act- from seeing their torturer’s face when they go into CVS to fill a prescription, likely for their injuries sustained in the blast.  We are better than you, stronger than you and smarter than you, Rolling Stone.  And because of that, I predict your magazine will implode from it’s own inflated sense of self-righteousness.

Blogs are where it’s at anyways. :)

 

 



James Gandolfini and My Marriage

When I heard of James Gandolfini’s passing last night, I felt a very true, real sadness envelop me.  To be honest, I wasn’t a huge Sopranos fan- all the violence, swearing and raunchiness was a bit TOO much for even me and my trucker mouth.  But there was another reason I loved James Gandolfini.  The original title I typed in for this entry was “James Gandolfini Helped Save My Marriage” but I felt like that was a bit much, even though it’s kind of true. See, I have thing for movies no one else seems to love or has ever seen.  One of them happens to be The Mexican with Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt from 2001. For some reason I have seen that film like 50 times and love it.  I was so into Julia’s bohemian wardrobe and Brad’s tan and adorably disheveled look and the storyline of this mismatched pair on a wildly ridiculous romp through Mexico.  But the most important and touching role was played by James Gandolfini- as a gay hitman with a tough exterior but a heart of gold.  Something about the way he played that character really moved me…. even in a dorky comedy like this.

The most poignant scene to me though, is this one (watch it):

Many years ago I recall watching this over and over on cable during a very tough time in my marriage.  Andrew and I are a little like Julia and Brad’s characters in that we are opposites– I am kind of uptight, and a raging perfectionist who likes stability.  Andrew is a carefree risk-taker with an unfading entrepreneurial streak.  What this means is that Andrew’s career has been one of high-high’s and low-low’s, as any spouse of an entrepreneur probably understands.  As his wife, however, I craved the safety and security of a steady job that didn’t leave me wondering if I was going to see him walk through the door with a box of his office stuff at the end of the day… on any given day of the week.  One year, my fear came true not once, but TWICE. He felt that I should understand that with start up ventures comes great risk but sometimes great reward.  And I felt he should understand that the stress of this constant up and down was destroying me emotionally.  He needed the ability to take risks and I needed a solid 401(k) and dental. We hit a roadblock that I wasn’t sure we’d be able to navigate around.

We talked about getting divorced very seriously. I had had enough. So had he.

And late one night during this time I was watching this movie (again) and this scene hit me HARD.  Even though I was sick of crying, fighting and thought that maybe there was someone who would better suit my needs as a partner- I could not bring myself to leave. I simply COULD NOT DO IT.  And it dawned on me that this is why- because when you love someone, truly love them, you never get to the point that enough is enough. Of course there are exceptions: violence, rampant infidelity and drug-abuse, for example, but when it’s simple things like a mismatched view on finances and bad communication- never. You never, ever get there. You don’t take that step out the door, you stay and fight.

This became my mantra.  I looked at this man who was thoughtful, smart, supportive and funny and thought “we will just have to figure this out because this is it for us- we are in this for life”. It’s been a struggle, but it’s been amazing too. Andrew has pushed me to take more risks, like this business, and guess what- it DID pay off. He has taught me to loosen my white-knuckled grasp on my strict view of what happiness is or should be.  In turn, I have reigned him in a bit, helped him focus and gotten him to appreciate the peace that can come with taking your time and not always going after the next best thing. We have brought a greater sense of balance to each other and have become better people for it- and I am so grateful that we never ever said “enough is enough”- it would have been the biggest mistake of my life.

So thanks, James, for that life-changing scene and may you rest in peace.

 

 

On Being in Your Thirties.

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I was asked the other day how old I was and it took a couple beats for me to do the math before answering “I’ll be 34 in August”.  It shocked me to think that I am that age, as I certainly don’t feel it at all.  There are days I feel 28 and others barely 18. Acknowledging that number kinda hit me like a ton of bricks, and then the inevitable follow up question came…

“Do you have kids?”

I get asked that question more often than not these days, especially after admitting to people  that I’ve been married going on eight years. Hardly a child bride, but young by the standards set by my peers, I was one of the first to walk down the aisle and now one of the last to be pushed into the delivery room.  This unnerves people, the bewilderment spreading across their face as they try to comprehend why I don’t have a bundle of joy yet.  In the past few weeks I have had a hard time with this and the realization that being in your early thirties is really hard as a woman.  It’s the decade of SO much change in our lives- where in one set of friends you can have one person with three kids, some pregnant, a handful childless, others not even engaged yet and some even ending their marriages.  This diversity in lifestyles and milestones causes a tough dynamic between women that seems to get swept under the table because it’s simply too uncomfortable.  It’s such an emotionally charged decade to navigate,  rife with joy, sadness, excitement, jealousy and yearning.  And  just when you think you have it all figured out, for the 24th time in one month, a friend announces her pregnancy on Facebook.  A little snapshot of a sonogram that fills you with both happiness and yet a pang of loss and you begin to think “maybe I’ve got it all wrong”. Instead of reveling in your successes you feel like a failure as you zero in on the one thing missing in your life. And you may not even WANT it yet, but for some reason you feel you SHOULD want it….. paging the shrink.

The truth is, I’ve been trying to get pregnant for many months.  And it’s not happening for me right now.  Medically, we are healthy as horses but the universe has just decided it’s not time yet.  A smart universe, I might add,  as I have a friggin’ BOOK to write (oddly, due in 9 months- deduce what you will from THAT coincidental gem).  My incredibly busy schedule has kept me from feeling I was missing out, and also from starting any fertility treatment, as I felt in my gut that this is just NOT the year.  I have a lot to accomplish and I can’t be sick or “distracted” in order to cross this big item off my Bucket List.   The smart part of me says “Erin, one thing at a time, you’ll be a better mother if you succeed in accomplishing goals for yourself first.”  But then the other part of me feels so left out and that time is ticking for us, I am almost 34 after all, and Andrew is 40 (although I think he’s an emotional age of about 25…)  And I’ve never been the girl whose been just DYING to have a baby, my biological clock is more like a Swiss watch than a church steeple- consistent, but whisper quiet.  Our neighborhood’s obnoxious teenagers also seem to be serving as a sobering reminder that babies turn into screaming, annoying, angsty creatures….but even so, I know I want to experience motherhood in this lifetime, I very much do. It’s just a question of WHEN.

But it’s hard feeling like the odd girl out.  The only one without a baby saddled on her hip. A great job, husband and house- yes- but not that one thing that seems to bind women together.  It’s only natural for mothers, especially new moms, to spend more time with others going through what they are, but I can’t help but notice how motherhood sometimes draws a line in the sand between those with kids and those without.  People you used to meet for a drink or hang out with seem to disappear from your radar.  Dinner dates become fewer.  Emails less frequent.  It’s heartbreaking, yet understandable when it happens.  People latch on to those who are experiencing the same things as they are, it’s only natural.  I’m sure they feel that talking about the all the minute details of motherhood would bore those of us who aren’t going through it, and NOT talking about it would be like trying to write a novel without using vowels. Impossible.  So there is a natural separation. And there is also a specifically tough dynamic between those who get pregnant and those who struggle to. Remember how Miranda felt horrible telling Charlotte she was pregnant because she knew she was struggling and it happened to be (incredibly) easy for her?  That happens every day off the TV screen. It’s happened to me. I’ve always thought I was a Carrie, but apparently I’m a Charlotte too.

As Andrew said to me yesterday with a big sigh after I came into his office a bit despondent, ” Man, you have a lot of complex emotions going on right now.” Oh boy, do I. Someone pop the pinot grigio.

And it may not be a baby for you.  It may be a ring, or a house, or a job.  There is always something that makes you feel your life in not the one you had hoped or planned for.  That there is something missing, incomplete or off.  And the thing to remember is that it will ALWAYS be this way no matter what age you are. Instead of looking and the boxed left unchecked on our life “to do” list we should be looking at the ones we HAVE checked off.  Everyone’s life plan is different and we miss the joy of what’s happening to us right now if we consistently focus on what’s not.  It’s all very zen and “namaste” of me to say, but we do need to be more present. I need to be more present. Yes, I need to be vigilant about my health and have a plan so that I can make sure I can have a baby someday, but focusing on that is making me miss the wonderful things going on right now, of which there are many.

I am where I need to be.  And I’ll be somewhere else soon enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Business of Blogging

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It’s been almost six years since I started this blog and as I approach that mind-blowing anniversary I feel the desire to address something that’s come up time and again in the comments sections here, in conversation and all over the interwebs as of late.  And that is the delicate business of making money from blogging.  A few weeks ago I posted about some vendors I was using for my renovation and someone commented asking what I was “given/paid” to link to these people in my post.  I jumped to my own defense, perhaps in haste, as I felt incredibly offended by the accusation that I can be paid to post about a product or vendor- espeically when I’m paying a vendor to do work for me!  But it did make me think about the business of blogging and how there is a huge amount of confusion and dilution of recommendations in blogging due to the fact that we are now seen as a venerable form of media and getting paid for it.

I am sure there are some bloggers who love the swag so much they will post about anyone and anything to get free stuff or money.  There are bloggers who don’t take on advertisers and don’t make a dime off their blog.  And then there are the rest of us who walk the middle of the road- we post about what we love and if we happen to get paid for it, well that’s just great. Yes, I get sent free stuff. Yes, I get offered discounts.  Yes, I get commissions on some things I link to on this blog. Yes, I have advertisers that pay me a fee for a little button on the sidebar.  But here is the most crucial side note to all that- I have a very strict rule for myself in which I ask myself every single time I link/post/accept an advertiser- “would I blog about this person/thing/service regardless of compensation? Does this fit with my aesthetic?”  If the answer is yes, then so be it.  If the answer is no, then I turn down whatever they are offering me and you don’t see any of it. In fact, I turn down way, WAY more than I accept.  And if I’m sent something that I don’t like, I try to give helpful feedback to the company as to why I won’t post about their item and offer to send it back.  I cannot be bought, but I do think I (and all other bloggers) deserve to be compensated when it’s appropriate.

While I never, ever want to turn into a “sell out”, I also have come to accept what people have been saying to me for years- that I deserve to make money for all the hard work and time I invest in this blog. As long as it does not compromise my content and what I recommend and post, then it harms no one if I happen to make a few bucks on the back end. It in fact propels me to blog MORE.  After all, this is an entrepreneurial venture at it’s core.  Leandra Mendine, the woman behind the famous “ManRepeller” blog posted a great piece this week about how “blogging” has somehow become a dirty word and how bloggers have entered a world in which we will constantly be questioned about our motivation to post about a certain thing-even when it comes from a totally honest and natural place.  The true motivation behind all our blogs is to create a career for ourselves that wasn’t being offered up to us in the traditional manner of times past.  No one was offering me a job as an editor at a shelter or fashion magazine– and so I became my OWN editor.  And now that companies small and large see us as a valuable alternative to expensive print media- we are reaping some of the same benefits.  But it bothers readers more, I think,  because our blogs were born from a simpler place of influence-free opinion.  They want to be sure that they are still getting honest content and not being hit over the head with paid advertorials.  That concerns me too as a reader and writer.

I am not a housewife with a hobby (as I’ve been accused of as well- not that there is anything wrong with that I/my blog are just neither of those things)- I need to make an income in order to continue spending hours a day penning this blog.  And it’s been so amazing to see so many other people be able to quit soul-sucking day jobs because their blogs have provided enough business and income to allow them to live out their dreams of self-employment.  And others, like myself, who now employ other people because of their blogs.  We’ve created this fantastic new economy of creativity, opinion and entrepreneur-ism, but we all have to make sure that we never lose what got us here- our unedited enthusiasm and opinion. Just as readers need to support us in our hopes to become financially independent and sound.  It’s a fine balance, it really is, but I for one plan to continue to tow that line with all my might.

 

Note to Self

The other day my better half showed me a note he wrote to himself.  Initially I was kind of like “You wrote a letter to yourself? Weirdo.” And then I read it. And I got it. It was actually pretty tough to read as he was addressing all the things he felt he wasn’t doing well in life as well as pointing out his weaknesses. Which I admit I am a pro at doing myself, but hearing HIM say it about himself felt terrible.  Originally it seemed really negative, but then I saw the constructive side of it.  I am simultaneously really, really hard on myself but also really, really lazy about other things.  That combination can leave me feeling unfulfilled and constantly anxious.  So I decided I need to write a letter too- to hold myself accountable for those things I know I’m not doing well so I can begin to change them. Hey, the first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

Dear Self,

1) WRITE YOUR DAMN BOOK ALREADY.  You get so much joy out of writing and know that people enjoy reading what you have to say. Set aside time every week to work on it, however slowly.

2) Work harder on the blog. Spell check. Proof read. Take 20 extra minutes in Photoshop to make something look really good. Reach out to others to work on collaborations.  You have a good sized audience, respect them more and grow it larger.

3) Work out better. You go to the gym plenty, but a lot of times you half ass it. Go to new classes alone. No one is going to point and laugh at you.

4) Speaking of that, get back into yoga. You felt your best when you were hitting the mat three times a week, and having to find a new teacher is no excuse. There are plenty of good teachers. GO BACK.

5) Eat better. Plan menus ahead and buy good food, not food that is fast and easy to make.  You will feel SO much better.  Take the extra time to make sure that what is going into your body is fresh, healthy and yummy.

6) Drink less. And stop using the excuse that gorgeous French women drink all the time. Take three nights off a week from wine. Find another hobby- like yoga, or tea and WRITING YOUR DAMN BOOK (see #1).

7) Be a better wife. You kind of suck at being a wife. You are selfish and whiny and don’t give as much as you get. Listen closer, get off your computer and spend real time with each other and be supportive! He has been there for you through so much and you need to reciprocate.

8) Focus more on expanding your business. Resting on your laurels after years of wonderful luck (and yes, hard work) is not enough. Take it to the next level. Utilize the smart people in your life to help you come up with ideas and put them into action.

9) Embrace change and know it will bring you to places that will make you a better person.  You may not feel ready, but just go with it. You never know where it might take you- and it may not be a “bad” place, you Negative Nelly.

10) Care less about how you look. Stop focusing on it so much and letting it rule your emotions.  You look worse when you worry and much better when you smile.  Be comfortable with who you are, flaws and all.

11) Make more time for friends. You’ve lost touch with SO many people you care about and who make you smile. Reach out to them, carve out time and stick to plans.

12) Paint something. You used to do it all the time and majored in it in college for God’s sake. You have the supplies, now make the time. And not just to have things to sell, just for you.

13) Comparison truly is the thief of joy. STOP IT.

-Erin