Wednesday, December 11, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 16

I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.

Day 16: How many people are you “out” to with your mental illness(es)? Why?

Pretty much everyone I know. I don't walk into a job interview like "hi, I'm Liza and I have anxiety and depression," but I'm not afraid to share it if for some reason the topic comes up.

I do this for two reasons. On a personal level, I think that it helps that people understand that this is going on inside my head, and might affect how I act at times. I don't use it as an excuse to be terrible, but sometimes things happen and it's good to be able to explain why. I also think that it's important that as many people as possible are open about mental illness, so that others can see that we can still be functional, contributing members of society and hopefully eliminate stigma.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 15

I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.

Day 15: How has your life been effected by your illness(es)? (Some ideas are: relationships, career, school)

I had a very difficult time in journalism school, as far as making friends and connections, because my depression wasn't controlled at the time and was manifesting itself in sneaky ways. It made me withdrawn and negative and irritable, which made it hard to meet people and forge relationships.

 I have what my mother calls a wall up around me. I don't let people in. This makes social and romantic relationships nearly impossible. When I am in a setting with the friends I do have, I often feel less like I'm in the moment and more like I'm watching from within a glass box.

According to my therapist, it's common for people with PTSD to have a shortened sense of the future. I don't plan ahead. I can't visualize myself in 5 or 10 years. I can focus on the immediate -- finishing the semester, getting through the holidays, and starting up again in January. But I can't picture my comps, or my dissertation, or what I may do after I'm done. And I've felt this way for as long as I can remember.

Monday, December 9, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 14

I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.

Day 14: Have you ever experienced stigma? 

Not to my knowledge. People have reacted negatively to the ways I behaved during uncontrolled periods in my depression, but as far as I know there have not been any incidents where someone learned of my issues and then treated me differently.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 13

I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.

Day 13: If you know the criteria of your illness(es) which ones do you think you meet? Or what are your most common symptoms?

 The criteria for depression (from the DSM-IV-TR) are:

Depressed mood and/or loss of interest or pleasure in life activities for at least 2 weeks and at least five of the following symptoms that cause clinically significant impairment in social, work, or other important areas of functioning almost every day:
1. Depressed mood most of the day. 
2. Diminished interest or pleasure in all or most activities. 
3. Significant unintentional weight loss or gain. 
4. Insomnia or sleeping too much. 
5. Agitation or psychomotor retardation noticed by others. 
6. Fatigue or loss of energy. 
7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt. 
8. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness. 
9. Recurrent thoughts of death (APA, 2000, p. 356).
I have felt every single one of those, except number 3, at one point in time or another. Numbers 2, 4, 7, and 8 are the ones that are most consistently present in my life, while 1, 5, 6, and 9 creep up when I'm in an episode.

The DSM-IV-TR criteria for anxiety are:

A. Excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectation), occurring more-days-than-not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance). 
B. The person finds it difficult to control the worry. 
C. The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) (only 1 for children) of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms present for more-days-than-not for the past six months). 
1. Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
2. Being easily fatigued
3. Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
4. Irritability
5. Muscle tension
6. Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless unsatisfying sleep)
D. The focus of the anxiety and worry is not confined to features of other Axis I disorder (such as social phobia, OCD, PTSD etc.)
E. The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
F. The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism), and does not occur exclusively during a mood disorder, psychotic disorder, or a pervasive developmental disorder.

And again, I've felt all of those at different times. I am, however, interested to see how they change or subside when my stress levels are lower.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 12

I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.

Day 12: What do you think about your diagnosis in general? (Some ideas are: stereotypes, commonalities, misdiagnosis, over diagnosis)

I'm pretty much at peace with my diagnosis at this point. It feels pretty accurate and it's good to have a name for what I go through.

I was just at therapy yesterday and when we were discussing some things my shrink referred to it as PTSD. I had never thought of it in that light before, even though I associate a lot of my issues with the past trauma of being bullied. But trauma doesn't have to be from a single event, like war or a horrible accident or something. It can be from a buildup of things over time. I think that cleared up a stereotype or misconception for me.

Friday, December 6, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 11

I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.

Day 11: What is the worst thing in regard to your mental illness(es)?

I feel like I'm missing out on something by not being "normal." It messes with my ability to have a social or romantic life. It holds me back in a lot of things, including professionally.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 10

I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.

Day 10: What is the best thing in regards to your mental illness(es)?

I'm learning self-care and coping, and I think I'm a more empathetic person for what I've deal with.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 9

I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.

Day 9: What are some of the important events in your life, that may have effected your mental illness(es) for the worse or better? (You can make a timeline)

I mentioned yesterday that I was bullied as a child, and that seems to be a common thread in many of my issues.

Journalism school was hard for me. I suffered from anxiety constantly (I know that's normal for grad students, but I had a breakdown standing on a sidewalk in Manhattan, and that's not normal for anyone over the age of 4). I was extremely negative all the time, which I now realize is a symptom of my depression. It was a really rough time.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 8

I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.

Day 8: What age you were diagnosed at?  At what age do you think your symptoms began? (You can make a timeline)

Officially, I was diagnosed in summer of 2005, which means I was 21. But I think I'd been feeling the symptoms for years. I remember a constant sense of anxiety my senior year of high school. A lot of us felt anxious during that time, since I was a senior from 2001-2001, and we all know what happened at the beginning of that particular school year. I also think I felt some of these symptoms in a fledgling form as a child. I was bullied a lot, which I believe was a big trigger for me, so I had a lot of negative thoughts and feelings at that time.

Monday, December 2, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 7

I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.

Day 7: Do you think there are any triggers or patterns to how your illness(es) effects you? 

Yes. There are many, but I'll only share a few. My depression is often triggered by depictions of imminent death, and my anxiety is often exacerbated and triggered by social/romantic situations and times of high stress and responsibility.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 6

I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.

Day 6: Do you have a family history of mental illness or mental health issues?

Yes. My mother has dealt with anxiety and depression, and I believe there are people farther back on my family tree with illnesses, though they may not have been diagnosed because of the era in which they lived.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 5

I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.

Day 5: Do you believe nature (biology/physiology), nurture(environment), a mix, or something else has an impact on mental health?

I believe it's a combination. I majored in psych in college, and we talked about this a lot in my classes. It seems most logical to me that there are some people who are predisposed toward mental illness, and that in many of them, it requires some kind of trigger. This can be a single event or years of buildup.

Of course, there could also be exceptions. Maybe people who get PTSD don't have a predisposition, but the event that triggered it was so traumatic that it didn't matter, for example. The human mind is absurdly complex and we don't come anywhere near understanding it completely yet, so who knows if the current theories are correct, or even in the ballpark.

Friday, November 29, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 4
I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.   

Day 4: What are the pros and cons of having a mental illness(es) or your specific illness(es)?

There are a lot of cons. I have a dreadful time being social and dating. I am often completely unable to "go with the flow." I have periods of my life I barely remember. I have wasted a lot of time being sick. I often feel like a fraud. I lack confidence. I am sometimes unsure if my moods or feelings are legitimate or are symptoms. I have to live in a brain that doesn't want to relax.

I am having a harder time with pros. I guess you could say I'm more empathetic. I try to be understanding of others' needs, moods, illnesses, and so on. I am forced to exercise self-care. I work extra hard to be a good person in some kind of convoluted attempt to make up for the times my depression made me mean or negative.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 3

I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts. 

Day 3: What treatment or coping skills are most effective for you?

I'm still working on this, but I've found that writing down my feelings/thoughts and the triggers to be very helpful. Distraction also works, even if it's nothing major. My shrink recommended that if I'm feeling anxious, I start naming and describing random things in my surroundings ("that man has brown hair," "that taxi is yellow," and so on) to ground myself and come back to the moment. I've done that a few times and it does seem to help. I recently wrote about joining a chamber ensemble, which is in itself a distraction technique, because it gives my brain a few hours every week to be hyper-focused on music and music alone, which is almost like a little reboot. It's great.

More officially, I do talk therapy (semi-weekly, though there have been conflicts and holidays interfering) and take medication. I take Zoloft daily, and have Klonopin for as-needed anxiety help.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Day 2

I'm taking part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.  

Day 2: How do you feel about your diagnosis?

I'm glad to be able to give what is happening in my head a name, and diagnosing means being able to treat, so I feel good about having a diagnosis.

Do I wish like hell there was nothing "wrong" with me? Yes. But a diagnosis is an explanation. When reading up on my conditions, I actually felt a lot better seeing so many things I dislike about myself listed as symptoms, because then they aren't part of me, they're part of this problem that I'm working to contain.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

30 Days of Mental Health Awareness: Intro and Day 1

I'm going to take part in the 30 Days of Mental Health Awareness Challenge. Every day I'll post in response to their prompts.

I will also use the tag "30 day mental health challenge" so you can follow the posts if you want.

Today is day 1.

Day 1: What is/are your mental illness(es)? Explain it a little.

 I have both depression and anxiety.

They manifest themselves individually a lot, though when I'm feeling one I often notice traces of the other, so maybe it's more that I feel each more strongly at different times.

If you haven't felt these things yourself, they're very hard to explain. Depression is beyond just feeling down in the dumps, or even an extended case of the blues. It's an all-consuming feeling of worthlessness, hopelessness, dread, etc. You can't get out of bed or eat or sleep. You can't control your reactions. Everything is foggy. There are periods of time I hardly remember because my depression was clouding me so much.

Similarly, anxiety is a lot more than just getting nervous or stressed. It's a constant sense of heightened awareness, coupled with feelings of dread and terror. A lot of my anxiety is social, which means for me that there is a block that goes up whenever social interaction happens, or could happen. Add romance into the mix and that block becomes three-foot-wide reinforced steel bank vault wall. It's double checking every last detail of an event over and over so I know exactly what to do so I don't look stupid. It's having fight or flight constantly activated and not knowing how to feel at ease.

Chamber Ensemble: Survival Tool

A few weeks ago, I started playing my flute again, something I haven't done since graduating from college in 2006. I joined the Classical Fusion Chamber Ensemble, a community orchestra that meets weekly in Manhattan.

I'm not really sure what made me want to play again. Maybe it was the stress of school. Maybe I associate band with a social life, since that's where I made almost all of my friends in high school and college. Maybe it had something to do with turning 30 and getting nostalgic. Whatever it was, earlier this fall I realized I had an intense craving to make music again, so I started looking around for amateur community groups to join.

I landed on CFCE because their repertoire was a fun combination of popular and classic pieces and, possibly more importantly, they didn't require an audition. I mean, I used to be really good, but that was more than seven years ago.

In the three rehearsals I've been to, I've noticed something: I don't worry or think about school or any other obligations while I'm there. It's great. I have this chunk of a few hours every week when my mind is totally distracted and occupied by something fun.

This is the sort of thing I really needed. It's like I get a total reset once a week. I'm hoping it will help me in the long run to manage my anxiety levels.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Earlier this year, I embarked on a one-month experiment with veganism. I survived, felt great, and actually continued a few weeks past my end date, but ultimately I began adding egg and dairy products back into my diet.

And I kind of hate myself for it.

The main reason I stopped eating meat half a lifetime ago (seriously! I was 15, and now I'm 30) was because of a love of animals. Well, that and a Silverchair song. But mostly the animals.

As it is, I do my best to avoid leather products so I'm not wearing animals anymore. So how can I justify eating dairy and eggs? The animals may not be killed for them, but the process is cruel and inhumane, except maybe for the most tiny and ethical of independent farmers.

I keep thinking I should re-assume veganism. It wasn't that serious a leap when I did it back in February. My only concern is that the strictness of the rules made some old dieter feelings bubble near the surface. I'd like to be able to do this, but I need to figure out a way not to become disordered in my thinking and eating.

So I will likely progress slowly, cutting things out here and there. I'd like to do this for my body and the planet, but I can't sacrifice my mind in the process.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I Will Not Excuse My Body

I'm sure by now you've seen, or at least heard of, that "what's your excuse?" thinspo* photo. If not, it's a conventionally attractive, thin woman wearing workout attire with her three kids around her and the caption "What's your excuse?" Basically, she's trying to say that if she has three little boys and still makes it to the gym, everyone else should, too.

Except, no.

See, no one should have to excuse their existence. The word "excuse" implies that you're trying to justify something bad. You need an excuse to miss work. You provide an excuse when you apologize for wronging someone. You don't need an excuse to do you.

I recently submitted this photo to the Don't Need an Excuse blog:

They haven't posted it yet.

The blog is doing a great thing, but I hate the idea that anyone feels they need to excuse or justify themselves because of one random lady in a photo.

I don't have the time to spend hours every day in a gym. I don't have the desire to, either. I like to exercise, but don't need to do it constantly. If you don't like to exercise, that's fine, too. My priority right now is school. Then work. Then pretending to have some kind of social human existence. I'll find time to go swim some laps if I feel like it, but I also won't beat myself up if I don't.

We just need to stop policing each other. No one owes you a reason or excuse for the choices they make with their own body. Focus on whatever is important to you. If it's exercise, fine, but if not, that's also perfectly alright. Let's cut out the shame and just live our lives.

*I'm calling it thinspo and not fitspo because the photo only exhibited the woman's appearance. There was nothing to indicate she was any fitter than anyone else.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Skipping 2013's NaNoWriMo

I've participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the past two years.

In 2011, I actually won -- that is, I finished writing 50,000 words in November. That doesn't mean the finished product is actually any good, or that I'll be the next big thing in writers. It just means I spewed forth enough content to make a roughly 100 page novel (or maybe at that length it's still a novella).

That first year, I went in without a plan. I had an opening line ("All I wanted was a cup of coffee and a goddamn muffin.") and nothing else. I was pantsing it, as it were. Flying by the seat of my pants, no direction, no set end in site. What came out was a probably-cliché mystery about an aging rock star, his missing son, and the formerly-depressed writer/fangirl helping him.

It's not hard to figure out that my protagonist (Agatha) was a fictionalized version of myself -- she was chubby with red hair, a writer, and like me in 2011, had recently come out of a serious depressive episode that damaged relationships.  It's the kind of fluffy little story that could probably sell decently as a low-priced Kindle-only release. And maybe I should put the time and effort into editing it so it can be published. I don't know. I've never let anyone else see it, so I don't know how to gauge if it's actually entertaining.

Last year, I had more of a plan. I started with an opening line, again ("There used to be a waterfall"), but I had also sketched out a quasi-outline and some characters. It was going to be an epic dystopian trilogy, a la The Hunger Games, Matched, or Divergent. Hopefully with sales and movie deals to follow suit. There would be enough social commentary to make me feel good (Overt feminism! Anti-deregulation of businesses! Teenagers that have sex and don't become completely damaged by it!) and possibly get it banned from high school libraries in at least a few of the red states. It was going to be awesome.

I didn't finish. School got in the way. I swore that I'd use my free time over the summer to work on it, but that didn't happen either. Now it's been more than a year since I started and I haven't progressed past where I was at the end of November 2012.

I've often wondered why it is that I can churn out nearly 2,000 words each day in November but my work languishes untouched for the other 11 months of the year. I guess I thrive on the pressure and the social aspect (you can log your progress on the NaNoWriMo website, plus chat with locals, and I'm in a small NaNo group with some friends on Facebook), which doesn't exist the rest of the year.

If only NaNoWriMo were at a different time of year, maybe I'd be more successful. I get that November is when the weather turns cold and makes people want to stay indoors. But it's also the time when people are preparing for the holidays and finishing up their fall semesters. The first NaNoWriMo, back in 1999, happened in July. I like that. I think that would be more fair to people who are in school. Much like how November's chilly rain makes you want to escape inside to a warm laptop and your heater, July sends you running for the air conditioner. It just seems like a better option.

So I guess what I need to do is participate in Camp NaNoWriMo. It's smaller, though, and people in my private writing group don't seem to participate. It's not the main event, so it doesn't have the same widespread push and publicity.

But maybe I'll try it out. It could be just enough peer pressure to keep me honest.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Are we really doing this again, Facebook?

Remember back when it took a media shaming campaign to convince Facebook to remove a blatantly pro-human-trafficking page?

Well, it seems this time they're deliberately allowing a pro-rape image to remain on their site.

I'm not going to embed it, but it's a picture of a female doll being gang-raped by male dolls, with the caption "Bitches be like, I hang out with guys because they're less drama." It's pretty obvious, blatant, and terrible. If you want to see it, it's here, but that's your call.

And yet Facebook allows it to remain. It takes media shame to get a trafficking site removed, and now they're letting yet another rape-promoting post stay up.

The message is clear: the site doesn't care about women.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Oh Right, School

Well, it's that time again. My classes have started up for the semester, making me a lot busier and a little more frantic than before. I'm also working a few days a week at the Brooklyn campus library -- which means I get the nice GA position without the two-hour commute.

I'm taking two classes again -- Information Retrieval and Information and Society -- and they're both interesting to varying degrees of difficulty. I&S is what I would usually consider to be up my alley. It's theoretical, talks about widespread implications, and incorporates psych, sociology, and politics. If that doesn't scream "Liza," I don't know what does.

IR is a lot more technical and tricky. But I still think it's going to be good! The subject matter is actually quite interesting. I'm just not used to seeing equations. I haven't taken math since undergrad, and even then I barely squeaked by. But fortunately the professor said we don't really need to memorize the mathematical parts; we're mostly going to focus on the theory.

As far as professors go, I really like them both. My righteous feminist side loves that they're both women, and I find them each easy to listen to and understand. Not that I had any issues last year, of course.

On a more personal, non-school note, my anxiety has been flaring up monstrously this past week. I believe it's fueled by some personal stuff and is finding new and creative ways to manifest itself. But I'll save those for a later post.

Monday, September 2, 2013

From the Archive: Say Yes to the Dress Drinking Game

I published this on a previous blog, but I thought I'd share it here.

I am not a big fan of wedding shows. I find that they play into a bunch of super annoying stereotypes and traditions that exist in everyday life and are only exacerbated by weddings. But, my mom is a fan of "Say Yes to the Dress" so I've seen many, many episodes of it against my will. I was half paying attention to it today and I couldn't help but think it is so cliched and formulaic that there simply must be a drinking game for it. I Googled, but there really isn't anything good. So I'm going to write up my own. Here goes nothing.

Say Yes to the Dress Drinking Game:

Take one drink:
-When the consultants have a meeting.
-If the episode has an obvious theme like "fathers" or "curvy brides."
-If the bride has pictures from a magazine.
-If the consultant talks about how difficult it will be to find the right gown on such a tight budget.
-If the bride refers to her fiance as her "soul mate."
-If the bride tries on a gown by Pnina Tourne.
-Every time someone says "special day," "princess," "little girl" or "fairy tale."
-If someone says the dress should have that "wow factor."
-When Randy swoops in to save the sale.
-If a bride brings her father (two drinks if the father cries).
-If a bride brings her fiance (two drinks if he looks bored).
-If a bride argues with her mother.
-If the bride brings more than three people with her.
-If a bride has some kind of sob story.
-If a bride references dissatisfaction with her own figure (two drinks if she mentions how many pounds she has lost or wants to lose).
-If the wedding is going to be on a beach.
-If the consultant brings her a dress more than $500 over her budget (two drinks if she actually buys it).
-If the bride buys a dress that is sheer/looks like lingerie.
-Whenever anyone makes a joke about it being harder to pick a dress than a husband.
-Someone cries.
-If the bride leaves without buying anything.
-If the consultant looks really annoyed with the bride.
-If a bride is buying a second dress because she didn't like the first one.
-If the bride brings along someone incredibly overbearing or controlling who dominates the appointment.
-If the bride falls in love with a dress that's way out of her price range and her parents buy it for her anyway.

Finish your drink if:
-Someone buys a $20,000 wedding dress.

Please comment if you think there's something else that should be here! I'll add on.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

From the Archive: House Hunters Drinking Game

I published this on a previous blog, but I thought I'd share it here.

Oh, House Hunters. The show that puts clueless people who adhere to every gendered stereotype imaginable in the hands of the most grating and idiotic real estate agents on the planet and forces them to choose between three mediocre home options. Or whatever the official outline of the show is supposed to be.

Again, my mother watches this show all the time, and still being stuck living with my parents, that means I end up watching it all the time. Which is terrible. Looking for a home is tedious and annoying in real life, so I can't get into the mentality that would enjoy watching others do it. And much like Say Yes to the Dress, it is formulaic and annoying, so I have decided to write it up its very own drinking game.

Take a drink when:

-The episode focuses on a white, heterosexual married couple.
-If they have small children or the woman is visibly pregnant. (two drinks if they have children AND the wife is visibly pregnant)
-Anyone utters the phrase "growing family."
-They talk about using a space for "entertaining."
-The couple says things to uphold gender stereotypes, for example, the realtor talks to the woman about the kitchen.
-They use the phrase "man cave."
-When it's a young couple, the wife points out that a small bedroom would make a great nursery. (two drinks if the husband immediately looks terrified)
-The buyers comment on crown molding.
-Someone mentions paint, furniture or light fixtures (or any other feature that is impermanent and relatively inexpensive to change) as a plus or minus to the home.
-The buyers have an obvious lack of knowledge about real estate.
-They have expectations that are completely unreasonable for their price range.
-Every time someone says a completely inane thought out loud.
-They mention walk-in closets. (two drinks if all closet commentary is aimed at the woman with no regard to where the man will keep his clothing)
-They complain about a street/train/other noise element.
-They complain that a room is "small."
-They complain about a lack of privacy in the yard due to neighboring houses at reasonable neighboring distances.
-Any mention of granite counter tops or stainless steel appliances.
-Anyone points out what a great "office" a room will make.
-The realtor points out something glaringly obvious ("This is a kitchen." "Here we have the back yard.")
-Any mention of a "bonus room."
-Something they say makes you think you would never want them to move in next door to you.

Finish your drink if...
-They actually buy the home you would have chosen.

Comment if you have any more suggestions! I have already added some and will continue to do so.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Hey, Tim Gunn, Fashion Doesn't End at Lord & Taylor

Lately the internet has been abuzz with something Tim Gunn said: that fashion ends at a size 12. Here's the quote:
"Go to Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue, I think it's the eighth floor, and it's just a department called 'Woman.' It's rather devastating. You've never seen such hideous clothes in your entire life. I mean, it's simply appalling. Thank God there are no windows on that floor, because if I were a size 18, I'd throw myself right out the window [after seeing those clothes]. It's insulting what these designers do to these women."
He makes some good points. If you only go to Lord & Taylor or Macy's or any of those department stores, then yes, the prospects are bleak. But "fashion" goes far beyond a few stores.

There's no denying that the plus size market is lousy. Many designers flat-out refuse to make them, and the stores that do (like Old Navy, Forever 21, ModCloth, and, more recently, H&M) do so in a way that seems half-hearted and begrudging. They'll make the lines only available in select stores -- or nowhere in stores, forcing fat women to shop online. The clothes will be a sad comparison to the rest of the store's collection, and usually cost more with fewer options.

Even on Gunn's own show, Project Runway, when designers are asked to make clothes for "real" people (not always plus sizes; this just means "not models") they lose their minds. They have no idea how to design for people with breasts or hips, and usually shed lots of tears before throwing them into some shapeless sack and then blaming them and their horrendous bodies for making the clothes look bad.

That's a pretty good analogy for the mainstream fashion industry, really.

I'm not denying Gunn's assertion that the pickings get pretty slim (ha) above a size 12. Things are even worse -- nonexistent, really -- if you go above a size 24. He's totally right about that.

However, equating the eighth floor of Lord & Taylor with all of fashion bothers me. It ignores the many designers who make excellent plus sized clothes, and the boutiques that sell them. Lines like Kiyonna, Igigi, Domino Dollhouse, Lucie Lu, Monif C, etc. Stores like Re/Dress or Lee Lee's Valise.  Let's not discount them and the great things they do.

I love to see someone like Gunn on our side. But I think it would be good to acknowledge that fashion goes outside of a few big stores with the same big designers; that it can be and is coming from independent labels and shops. It would be great if mainstream designers put more than a passing thought (if any at all) into their plus labels. But since they don't, let's give some credit to the people who clothe us when throwing ourselves out a window isn't an option.

Friday Fashion: Bags!

Who doesn't love a good purse? Right now I'm into bright colors, and I always need a bag big enough to handle all of my things. Living in NYC, there's no car trunk to toss your stuff into, so you have to carry everything with you. And during school I have to lug around my books and iPad. A sturdy, roomy purse is essential.

Here are a few of my (reasonably-priced, non-leather) favorites:

{Susan Nichole, $150 regular or $48 in the sample sale}
{ModCloth, $74.99}
{ModCloth, $64.99}
{Target, $32.99}
{Forever 21, $24.80}

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pics of the Week -- August 28, 2013

{Today is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington}
{I just realized That 70s Show is on Netflix}
{Where can I get this button?}

Monday, August 26, 2013

Music Monday: Pop-Punk of Yore

Buzzfeed posted a list reminiscing about Drive-Thru Records the other day, and it sent me down a YouTube spiral of pop-punk songs from my high school and early college era. Here are a few gems I rediscovered:

Allister - "Residential Burglary"

New Found Glory - "Hit or Miss"

Yellowcard - "Way Away"

Sum 41 - "Motivation"

SR-71 - "Right Now"

Fenix TX - "All My Fault"

American Hi-Fi - "Flavor of the Weak"

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Fashion: Dress Obsessed

I have a thing for dresses. They're my favorite item of clothing, and I wear them all year round. Most styles can work in multiple seasons -- add tights and a cardigan to take a summer sundress into fall, or go for bare legs and booties once spring hits. They're versatile, comfortable, and downright adorable.

{ModCloth, $69.99}
{LucieLu, $76}
{ReDress, $58}
{ModCloth, $47.99}
{Forever 21, $22.80}

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pics of the Week -- August 22, 2013

{I've become obsessed with New Girl}
{Jon Stewart is wise}
{More squeeable puppies here}
{More food pronunciations at Buzzfeed}

Monday, August 19, 2013

Librarians remake the "Sabotage" video -- Amazing!

I don't think this video really needs much of an introduction, other than to tell you it's the video for the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" remade by librarians.

M&D 2013 Sabotage from Mike and Duane Show on Vimeo.

Awesome, right?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Fashion: A Late Summer's Eve

The past few days in New York have been pleasantly cool, so I'm crossing my fingers that we're getting into that really lovely part of the year that's just the right temperature. The part with enough sun in the day to still feel like summer, but with a breeze that makes it bearable and a hint of chill at night that requires a cardigan or light jacket. It's not quite fall, but the blistering heat of July has passed.

If that's where we are, then we need to dress for it. Summer clothes are great during the day, but you'll need something to cover up in the evening.

This skirt is a transition piece that can work bare-legged now, but still be great with tights come fall. {Target, $9.98}
Wear this over black leggings if there's a nip in the air. {Target, $24.99}
Wear a tank underneath so you can remove it if it gets warm. {Target, $24.99}
This biker jacket is denim, so it works well between seasons. {H&M, $49.95}
The color still screams summer, but it's easy to throw a cardi or jacket over this. {ModCloth, $59.99}
It's certainly not boot weather yet, but these low booties can span seasons. I dare you to try them with bare legs. {DSW, $59.95}

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pics of the Week -- August 14, 2013

Happy Wednesday! I'm bringing you a few memes and images I've come across this week that I enjoyed:


The NYC subway in 1980 {via - more pictures at link}
{© Kevin C. Downs/ News Pictures/}