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Wednesday Advice Smackdown

Yesterday's all-day meeting went well, or at least was going well until I had to open my gigantic trap and propose some big huge idea that is so absolutely brilliant that Very Important Work People who previously thought my name was probably Annie or Jaime or Blond Girl are now personally congratulating me on my brilliance. Which is all well and good, except that I woke up at 5 a.m. this morning wracked with terror and stress and oh-my-God-what-have-I-done because now I have three months to make all this brilliance happen and I HAVE NO TIME FOR EXTRA BRILLIANT PROJECTS.

You have no idea how much extra work I've made for myself. I am really so very stupid sometimes.

So every day until the baby gets here will pretty much feel like this.

But since I'm really, really (REALLY) behind on the advice questions, I'm writing a column anyway. And I started it at 5 a.m. after waking up in the aforementioned panic with an overwhelming urge to make to-do lists, but instead started banging out advice while half-asleep. So yeah. It's probably all shit. Sorry.

Amalah, Lovely Soul:

I have a blog. I am not linking the blog here, for reasons that will become readily apparent, but suffice it to say (what a dumb phrase, but I'm always using it) that it's become a pretty major-big part of my life/self over the last couple of years, what with all the expressing going on. (I don't mean that in a lactatory sense, I just mean it like "look at me oooh I'm all verbal and talkin' about my life and stuff!")

I've gone to some (reasonable) lengths to keep family/employers/other people who I wanna freely bitch about away from the precious blog, with much success. But here's the thing - people find it anyway. Strangers. Strangers who just show up to read about my life. And I got a stat counter thingie and it's turning into a LOT of people. Gone are the days of like 6 friends reading my blog to keep up with what's going on in my life. Strangers are reading me. For entertainment.

Kinda like how I read you.

So - my question: how the hell do you deal with it? Does it not fuck with your head a little, to know that some nameless, faceless girl in a city hundreds of miles from you is swigging ginger ale, eating a far too large hunk of swiss cheese, and reading how much you currently weigh? I don't mean this in a personal-safety sense (though I suppose there is that) - I just mean it in the sense of "eek! Go 'way, I'm nekkid!"

Or is it just me and I should hide my journaling away if I can't stand the attention? But I love my blog. And I love that it often seems to bring people some kinda pleasure/enjoyment. (YAY) But I'm sitting here at the end of a long day and wanting to talk in this self-dialogue way that I have, and I can't help but think of the many, many complete strangers who will read it, and then I think "Fuck it, I'll just tell everyone about this cool foot cream I got, hurrah for pedicures."

Clearly, I am conflicted. Please advise. Or just smackdown.

~Increasingly Freaked Blogger

PS: I am glad that people like you are breeding. Gives me hope.

Okay, here's the thing about me and journaling. And this may shock and confuse you.

I'm...not a shy person.

I know! You're totally floored.

So when I started this site in 2003, I made a few basic safety precautions (a third-party registrar, an unlisted phone number, etc.) and then forged ahead using my real, full name and photo. The original motivation was so old classmates/friends/boyfriends/mortal enemies could Google me and be all jealous of my awesome life or whatever, but now it's mostly a sign of how seriously I take my little hobby.

My name is Amy Corbett Storch and I write things down on the Internet, a lot of people read the things I write, and I'm proud of the things I write. Don't steal, feel free to contact me regarding freelance work or book ideas, and tell me you like my hair.

On the other hand, I don't really think too much about the people who read my site. I know they read it, and I know most of them seem to really like it, but I don't obsess over my referrals or break my stats down by IP address and location. I don't use Sitemeter or Statcounter or any of the tools that can tell you tons of information about your readership and just how often John P. Stalkerdude of Provo, Utah hits refresh every hour. Frankly, I don't want to know.

So I just write, without giving my audience a second thought. They're out there, but they're just this big nameless, faceless mass of people. I like to think that most of them are a lot like me. Normal and sane and not crazy people with high-speed Internet and a little too much free time at work.

(Not like I will have free time at work EVER AGAIN. GAH.)

"But Amy, don't a lot of your real-life friends and coworkers read this site? And your family? Don't you worry about what they'll think?"

Again. Not a shy person. People who know me in real life know this. I will talk to you about nipple chafing during pregnancy. I will tell you how I took Clomid. I will say "fuck" in polite conversation.

And the people you don't want to read your blog? Will ALWAYS FIND YOUR BLOG. Coworkers, bosses, etc. Since I chose to write non-anonymously, I was always forced to assume that people at work were reading. Thus, I didn't say anything stupid that would get me fired or blatantly post during work hours or refer to real-life people with vaguely-veiled nicknames. (See Exhibit A: Washingtonienne, The.)

Last night, after our big all-day meeting with Various Important Work People, we all went out for dinner and I admitted to the entire table that I, Amy, keep a blog. (It was relevant to the work-related conversation, I swear.) My boss already knew, and I swear he was smirking at me ALL DAY because we had many work-related conversations about blogs and have you ever heard people who really don't know much about blogs try to talk about blogs? It's MADDENING, and I think my boss was just WAITING for me to snap and yell out that I KEEP A BLOG AND YOU SHALL LISTEN TO EVERY WORD I HAVE TO SAY, FOR I AM INTERNET ROCKSTAR.

So now my boss' boss knows about this site, as well as the author-type person I edit for. *Waves* Hello, author-type person! This is my site. I swear I have never trash-talked you here, and please excuse the horrific grammar and sentence structure on display, but know that I will NEVER ease up on you about proper comma usage.

Do I care? Not really. Should I? Probably. Enough with the rhetorical questions? Most definitely.

So really, I don't know what else to tell you about dropping the paranoia other than to drop the paranoia. It's the Internet, for God's sakes. They're just people out there, who you don't know, and whose opinion about you totally doesn't matter. Especially since they probably like you.

And just be relieved that they aren't your boss, your boss' boss and your author-type person who are currently looking through your archives and reading about your vaginal discharge. That's all me and my brand of crazy, baby.

Hello Amalah,

Hmm...I am very nervous as I am writing this email. I feel like I'm writing to a celebrity or something, which you are of course! I love your website, love your writing, and everything else. I am a really big fan (Not a stalker ;)).

Okay, my question for the advice smackdown is this. I am going on vacation to Egypt in a month. I am not rich or anything, heck I am actually a really poor student. My father is paying for this vacation, which I really desrve btw.So I decided the best way to react to me going on vacation news, is to go shopping and by me a new bag, an expensive one. I share the love of Coach bags with you and I got my first Coach bag last year and I think its time for another one. Do you have any advice on what to buy? I need something that will carry my cute little laptop (its a small Sony Vaio) and other stuff us women carry, especially with travelilng and all.

Help me Amalah, the Queen of everything, spend my money!

Your loyal reader (And yes, your site is my homepage on my computer)

el-amiro, also known as Jinan

Well, I certainly cannot say enough lovely things about the bag I purchased over the weekend: the Coach Patchwork Signature Shoulder Tote. (Which HOT DAMN, is already sold out at the Coach site, but is available all over eBay for...well, a lot more than I paid, especially since I? Had a coupon. Suckers.)

You may still be able to find it in the stores, however, so call around and see if you can find one. It retailed at $378 (in case you want to look for a bargain-priced one on eBay) and is large enough for a Vaio and bottled water and a wallet and plenty else, but it isn't so obscenely huge that you'd only use it while traveling.

If you can't find that bag, my other favorites from the current Coach line are the boxy totes with the funky metallic trim, the Scribble tote (which is a little expensive for a bag with so little actual leather on it, but damn, it's cute), and anything from the Signature Tie Dye line, because they? Are fun.

Dearest Amalah –

In watching reruns of “Raising Helen” on Starz while attempting to unpack our house, a black bag on the show that Kate Hudson carries keeps catching my eye. It is of the larger tote variety with silver hoops on the straps. I have had no luck trying to Google it. With your designer eye, I thought maybe you’d be able to spot which designer it could possibly be and point me in the right direction.


Having never actually seen Raising Helen, and only remembering it for the obnoxious Uggs/Hot Pants poster of Kate Hudson, I had to Google a bit to find a photo of the bag in question. I believe this is it?

Honestly? No idea who designed that particular bag. The style (over-sized suede hobo-type bag with funky hardware) is reminiscent of dozens of designers' 2003 lines: Prada, Gucci, Tod's, Marc Jacobs, Bulga, etc.

The fact that this exact bag does not appear to be available on eBay (that great designer bag clearinghouse in the sky), tells me it was probably vintage, or more likely, a super-limited-edition couture bag priced only for celebrities and collectors who aren't parting with it. (Unless, of course, a wise reader knows more than I do, which is highly probable.)

But when faced with unattainable haute couture, you just need to find a reasonable imitation of the item you covet.

(Let me stress, however, that an "imitation" does not equal "knock-off." It's one thing to find something cheaper that took inspiration from something extravagant, but it's quite another to buy a fake because you're too pretentious to admit that you can't afford Louis Vuitton, and too much of a sheep to find something lovely and original in your price range, so you just buy a plastic bag that looks nothing like an actual Louis Vuitton design but sort of has the right logo, even though you are FOOLING NO ONE. If you love the look of a certain brand, save your money and BUY THE ACTUAL DAMN BRAND and be a proud and happy label whore. If you don't want to spend the money, that's totally okay too, just BUY SOMETHING ELSE.)

Man, I hate those fucking LV fakes.

What? Oh, right.

The over-sized hobos are still out there, so keep looking. The Gucci horsebit hobo is nice, and widely available on eBay (just check the seller's feedback and read all the fine print regarding authenticity before buying), as is the Stella over-sized hobo by Posh. And just this weekend I spotted a gorgeous over-sized pink suede hobo/tote kind of bag with double metal rings on the strap at the Lucky Brand store in Georgetown that was just $58. $58! It was totally awesome (and unfortunately not available online, dammit).

Meanwhile, right down the street, dozens of girls were haggling over designer knock-offs and paying $40 for ugly plastic sacks because they had a Kate Spade or Prada logo stitched crookedly on the flaps. Baaaah.

Hey Amalah,

Probably irrelevant background details: I'm 20 and I live in Ireland. So anywho, I'll be visiting Washington in July with my parents and my two younger sisters. We'll only be there for about 4 days.

Now, I'm already an expert on the touristy, monumenty, governmenty stuff to be done around Washington, but I'd love some advice from a local on the other stuff. Mainly, I'd like to know:

a) where we can buy outrageous amounts of clothes, makeup and other stuff to fill the giant empty suitcases we're going to bring (we have a genetic disorder that causes compulsive shopping...or that could just be a really implausible excuse. you decide)

b) if there's an "essential Washington experience". Preferably positive...

c) 21? Seriously? Over here you can drink when you're 18! (Okay, that's not really a question. And google "Ireland"+"binge drinking" to see how well that plan's working out for us.)

d) if you know of any really good (and not v expensive) hotels in the area? I don't mean to treat you like a human guide book but...actually I do.

Guidebooks don't have unbiased and up to date taste in stuff, or husbands with informative blogs. Make up your own vaguely related questions to answer if I'm asking the wrong ones for Washington.

Thanks a million!

Overjoyed about shopping, not about humidity.*

*my pale Irish flesh can't take it.

a) Easy one. Georgetown. There's just about every store on earth, plus a massive, two-level Sephora. Here's just a partial list of shops.

b) Essential Washington experience? Well, most I can think of probably involve alcohol, which yes to c), the drinking age is 21. Getting drunk in Adams Morgan (NOT at the "famous" Madam's Organ, by the way, because TOURIST. TRAP.) and then hitting Amsterdam Falafel with the stoners would be high on my list. Goddamn, that falafel is to die for. I want some. Dessert at Cakelove. Lunch at 2 Amys. A late-late-night run to Ben's Chili Bowl. Breakfast at Eastern Market. No, I don't know why all my essential experiences involve food. This is what you get when your tour guide is pregnant.

c) Yep. Seriously. I get carded all the time too, so...yeah, sorry about that.

d) Um. God, I don't know. When you actually live in a city you tend to not spend much time in hotels, and our families don't like us much and never visit. HA! We've spent nights at the Renaissance Mayflower(NIIIICE), the Hotel Helix (mehhhh), Hotel Rouge (pfffft) and the Georgetown Holiday Inn, which was...well, a Holiday Inn. Family members have stayed at the Westin Embassy Row ("very old-fashioned-like" was the review) and the Park Hyatt on M St. NW, which was very, very nice, but probably very, very expensive.

Dear Amalah,

I really enjoy reading your blog. I just started my own, so I thought I'd put yours as a link so that the 2 people who read mine will go and read yours also.

One question for the Advice Smackdown: What color shoes do I wear with a yellow silk dress to a casual beach wedding?

Yes, I know the picture is tiny but I can't figure out how to make it bigger and I can't find the original picture because the website I bought it at has sold them all. Sorry for the run-on sentence. If you could give me some advice, that'd be great.


Damn, that picture WAS tiny. I'm not even going to make the effort to upload it because everybody would just squint and squint and be all, "Bwah? What is that?" And then maybe somebody would hurt their eyes and God knows we've had just about enough of that around here.

Anyway. Yellow. Summer. Beach. Wedding.  You wear white strappy shoes with a low heel, or maybe some natural-colored-yet dressy espadrilles if you want some height. (White shoes with a high heel will look vaguely bride-ish, plus, you know, SAND.) Don't go all matchy-match with the yellow.

Dear Amy-

I have a problem with updating my website frequently, or more specifically, not updating it very frequently. If you look right now, you'll see I haven't posted in a long time. My friends all loved it and whine to me all the time to write something new, but I have just run out of interesting or funny thing to write about. How do you do it, with these long and really great entries all the time????


"Long and really great entries?" HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

Okay, I'll agree with you about the "long" part.

Post-Its, my friend. Post-Its. I keep a little pad of Post-Its and a pen with me at all times, and whenever something that could possibly be even a tiny part of an entry happens -- a botched Starbucks order, an ad on the back of a bus, that one song you ALWAYS THOUGHT was a Sublime song and how you just learned that it wasn't and really, it doesn't sound a thing like Sublime but just came out around the same time Sublime was really big and MAN, you're such an idiot -- I write it down on a Post-It.

Sometimes it's just a topic ("Slim Jims"), and sometimes it's a whole sentence that struck me as funny or clever for some reason ("All day long, the wind, it whispers, "Diana.")  Most of the time I end up trashing these ideas, but every once in awhile inspiration will hit, and it will stick, and 15 minutes later I've got an entry up and written about being late for work that all started with a Post-It note that read "footie sock on car AC vent to dry haaa."

Annnnd...that's enough for today. if you want to send in a question of your very own, although I have no idea why anybody would really want to do that.



You? Not shy? You're kidding... Now I am shy, but have no problem in littering a conversation with all manner of profanities. Often when small children are present. This may be a habit I need to break.

See, it only took about four posts for the topic of vaginal discharge to make a comeback. There should be some sort of warning for all the men who read this.


You seriously rock. I'm amazed at your energy :)


I would never ever want to step on the great amalah's toes, but I think the bag that is in Raising Helen is Kenneth Cole. I only know this as my fashion forward friend has the same one but alas it is no longer available.


For the Irish lass, as a long time DC resident who is about to move away, one thing I will truly miss is people watching in Dupont Circle on a nice day. Also, just stroll around some of the side streets around the circle. The houses are pretty. If you want to go out at night, see if the 9:30 Club or the Black Cat are having bands that you like. I'm pretty sure they are 18 and over.


2 story Sephora? Seriously? I MUST visit D.C.

I haven't told my family about my blog either, my husband knows but really, that's it. My parents wouldn't understand what it was but they'd read it anyway and be like...damn...where did our daughter's dirty dirty mouth come from? Then they'd get all mad and well, that's a pain in the ass. My husband didn't really understand what it was either but he reads it every now and then.

But seriously Amy, you? Not shy? Surely you jest. Although starting tomorrow the internet world will get to hear all about my lovely stint as crazy psycho Clomid wife.

Fun times.


Holy... cow. I had no idea that third-party domain hosting existed. I just looked up my site, and there was all of my personal information. Apparently, I am a moron. Also, now scared of stalkers.

Thanks for that info, Amalah.


To our irish friend from a DC friend: Make a trip to Mazza Gallerie if you can, in Chevy Chase. You can ooh and aah over the super expensive stuff at Nieman Marcus and then go to Filene's and get the labels much cheaper. Loehmann's is right across the street too. There's a Filene's next to the Mayflower Hotel too (but it's not as good, shhh, don't tell anyone).

For hotels: try Mariott Wardman or the Washington Hilton. They have deals!


"footie sock on car AC vent to dry haaa." I'll be laughin' at that for the rest of the day. You rock!


Sometimes I'm not as smart as I think I am.

(I just paid the 7 dollars to make my domain private because I'm an idiot and didn't know about that crazy WHOIS thingy)

Real Girl

Love those coach bags...I just found this bag online and had to buy it because of the TWENTY-FOUR DOLLARSness of it. And the cuteness.

After having been email stalked by an ex-boyfriend, I kept my blog way anonymous until I recently posted a photo. Baby steps for me. But I admire your forthrightness in every arena!


Ooh good work on the bag question! There's a bag I spotted on a show that I will have to ask you about b/c I love it and have NO idea who makes it.


Oh, Amalah, Amalah, Amalah.
There's a word for this, darling. Its called NESTING. Get used to it. It only gets worse, until the very day Squishy is born, and then all projects you have started before then will never be mentioned again until he goes to college.

During my second pregnancy my husband came home from work to find me standing on the toilet painting the powder room Laura Ashley Berry Red. During my first pregnancy, we moved across the country 12 weeks before my son was born, so my nesting instincts were able to manifest with unpacking boxes and rearranging candle sticks.

Love the Smackdown. Love it all. You can do it. We can help! In a non-stalker, we're behind you 100% kind of way, of course.


This is a great blog for shoes:

this is great one for purses:


A TWO-STORY SEPHORA?? Jeez, we can't even get a teeny, tiny little bathroom stall of a Sephora here in New Orleans. grumble


Amalah. You are totally awesome. I love your blog - did I say love? Meant "addicted". My mornings now require coffee and Amalah or Amalah and coffee - whatever...


thanks for the living proof that americans really are materialistic and shallow as hell.

378 for a bag, I might understand if it was extraordinary, unique, defined your style.
But 'Coach'?


Just wanted to say hi, I love your blog which I just happened upon. You make such a beautiful pregnant woman which makes me instantly hate you since you didn't turn into the fat blob that is currently me at 36 weeks. But you're too entertaining to not read so I must set this hatred aside and get over my fat-assed self. Congrats on the pregnancy!


sj, it isn't nice to make reductive comments on

If you were really concerned about proving to the world that americans are shallow and materialistic, your proof should include something a bit more substantial than one person's choice to buy a purse.

That's just...well, shallow.


hi there. new reader by ways of diarist awards. i'm now, officially, a HUGE FAN. you make my day! thanks for the giggles :)


I went and spent the money to make my Whois anonymous also. Thanks for the info!

Beth Quittman

Just a note - it's cool that there's a great Falafel place in DC named Amsterdan Falafel because the falafel in Amsterdam is, actually, totally awesome.


Noticed the hotel question. I've been traveling to DC on business lately and I like the Topaz on N St. (Another Kimpton place, like the Helix and Rouge, but with a different schtick.)


Oh my, sj. Nice try at a smackdown, but you are wrong. Not to dispute Americans being shallow and materialistic, for I am one and I like, um, nice stuff, BUT your bag remark is way off the...mark.

I've been living in Japan for a year and the ladies here all carry $1000+ bags. There are huge stores devoted to the selling of these outrageous bags (and the bags are awesome).

Also, most of the super-high-ourageous priced designer bags are made by European designers for (equally materialistic) women worldwide.

So why shit on Amalah? Smack-DOWN!


Seriously, like American women are the only ones who spend ridiculous money on bags? Suuure. Ever been to Spain?
Respect Amalah's bags, and respect the fact that she *saves* for that shit and buys a quality bag she loves that will last for ages, instead of getting a crap knock-off with stitching that will fall out in 10 seconds and have to be replaced a hundred times.


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