Wednesday Advice Smackdown
August 10, 2005
Firstly, I want to thank everyone for the wonderful comments and emails yesterday. Y'all continue to amaze me with your unbelievable niceness. My mom's surgery is scheduled for next Monday. I'll be spending this weekend with her, as she is coming to attend the World's Tiniest Baby Shower, Another Pitfall Of Being Pregnant In The Summer and Also Having Friends With Social Lives and Plans and Vacations That Don't Involve You.
Secondly, I refuse to confirm or deny the existence of diamonds (singular or plural) in regards to my anniversary gift. Sorry. I'm obnoxious and all, but seriously, I'm a little embarrassed by the size and the sparkliness of the rocks that now adorn my earlobes.
Fourthly, today is your lucky day, as you can get TWO Amalah entries for the price of one (which is zero! click on some ads! they offer amazing work-from-home opportunities that are TOTALLY not a multi-level marketing Amway scam!). DesignPublic, a very cool online furniture/textiles/other-designer-things-I-want store, asked me to participate in this Baby Blogapalooza thing to celebrate their new Kids & Baby section. I think they may have me confused with someone else.
The topic was Kids & Design, and I wrote them an entry that is only about 9% recycled material. (It's the bit about the iron, because I thought it was wicked funny when I first wrote it but all my commenters decided to engage in a Serious Debate Regarding Where Amy Should Put the Iron instead of just laughing at me and my crazy iron talk.)
And while we're on the subject of weird and not funny, here's today's Advice Smackdown, brought to you by a girl who is currently wearing CHEAP BLACK PLATFORM SLIDES CIRCA 2002 BECAUSE THEY ARE THE ONLY SHOES HER FAT FEET WILL FIT IN.
Love your blog and Snarkywood. And congratulations on the baby! I’m insanely jealous…my biological clock is screaming at me to procreate and my husband isn’t ready yet. Sigh.
Anyway, I was hoping you can give me some advice on how to start a blog. I love them tremendously and think I might have a crazy enough life that I might be able to post things interesting enough that people will actually want to read. I’m just not sure how to get started.
Thanks for any advice and keep the snark coming!
Oh, for years I talked about starting a blog. I was totally going to start one! Watch me! Here I go, starting my blog!
Only I never did. I came close one time, when I actually went and registered the amalah.com domain name. And then still. I did not actually start a blog.
But since I had the domain name, I at least started researching all the different tools and platforms available for wannabe-bloggers. Typepad vs. Blogger vs. Diaryland vs. Movable Type vs. Diary-X vs. WordPress vs. oh, my lord, I need to lie down.
So I made a list of the things that were important to me:
1) My own domain name instead of amalah.something.com.
2) Easily customizable templates.
3) The ability to upgrade or move to something more robust later on without changing the site name.
4) Groovy sidebar thingies.
5) Something so easy a drunk monkey could use it.
In the end, I settled on a TypePad Basic account, learned the ropes, endlessly messed with and fucked up my design, switched from a blog to a journal format, upgraded to a Pro account and learned CSS and began horribly abusing my bandwidth amount, for which TypePad mysteriously neglects to charge me for. So far.
I also started actually "writing stuff" somewhere along the way.
For some people, their blog wishlist might look something like this:
So really, decide what bells and whistles (if any) are important to you and then sign up for a service that provides said bells and whistles. Then start writing. That's kind of the most important part. (But speaking for myself, my OCD and control-freakishness wouldn't let me begin writing until I had a site that looked like I wanted it to, so I totally get why some people won't just sign up for Blogger and be done with it.)
Don't worry about readers at first. (Trust me, in a few months you'll look back on your first entries and CRINGE and hope that nobody actually read that crap.) Don't email everybody on the planet with your new URL. (I guarantee you'll deeply regret telling at least one or two of those people about the site later on.) Don't expect every writer you read regularly to care that they "totally inspired you to start your own blog! Come check it out!" They might visit. They might not. Don't take it personally.
Link to the sites you read. (And for the love of God, DON'T EMAIL PEOPLE AND ASK IF IT'S OKAY THAT YOU LINK TO THEM. THEY DON'T CARE. LINK AWAY. CHRIST. AND DON'T ALWAYS EXPECT A RETURN LINK BECAUSE THAT'S JUST NOT HOW IT WORKS.) Comment on the sites you read. The best way to draw attention to your new blog is by leaving funny/witty/thoughtful/properly-punctuated comments on other sites.
And you know, keep writing about things. Blog audiences grow mysteriously and exponentially. Like big scraggly patches of Internet weeds. Don't worry about running out of material or not having anything interesting to say. Blogging is addictive, and pretty soon you'll be a freak like me with two notebooks and a pack of Post-Its in her purse so she can scribble down the sort-of funny sentence she came up with while peeing just now because she might want to use that in an entry maybe.
If you're still worried about content, just buy a digital camera. Photo essays ALWAYS shut people the hell up about not posting enough.
Dear Wise Amalah, Guru of Fashion, please help a desperate soul!
I need shoes. Desperately. I have cute dresses and skirts, as well as kick-ass pants, but my shoe collection SUCKS dead goats.
I am 28, a government employee, and live in the middle of nowhere in the Midwest. I want to look young and cute (because I am) but I have a very limited budget because I just bought my first house and, as I mentioned, I'm a government employee. So that's constraint number 1. Issue #2? I live in a smallish town where the only place to buy shoes is the department store. We have two in the mall, but I don't like J.C. Penney's and refuse to shop there. We don't have a shoe store in town (unless one counts Payless, and I don't). We do have a cowboy boot store. Oh! And as adorable as your cute heels are? I can't wear them. I have damaged knees from a car wreck 10 years ago and anything over about 1.5 inches gives me great pain from my knees to my neck.
So, great wise guru, with this wonderful list of issues, how do I find cute and fashionable shoes? What kind of shoes should I look for? Where can I find them? As much as I love my brown Doc Marten's lace up shoes, they do not go with everything.
Yours in need,
Behold, the Glory and the Powah that is Zappo's.
The first time I went to Zappo's, my jaw fell open. I drooled. My eyes may have rolled back in my head. 400 bazillion million pairs of shoes! Low prices! Sales! Designer brands! Knock-off no-name brands! And helpful sizing comments like "these shoes run big -- buy a half-size smaller."
I may have wept. And I live in a city with no shortage of shoe stores. But I could buy shoes online! Anytime I wanted! And I wouldn't have to deal with surly salespeople or that goddamn shoe department at the Hecht's in Chevy Chase that always sends me awesome coupons but then NEVER HAS A SINGLE SHOE IN MY SIZE, EVER, THOSE BASTARDS.
Zappo's lets you search by style, type, color, heel, width, whatever. Want sandals? Dress or casual? Slip-on or strap-up? Two-inch heels? Three? Flats? They have it all, and lo, there is free shipping and an awesome return policy.
My only problem with Zappo's is that sometimes? There are just TOO MANY DAMN SHOES. If I don't know exactly what I'm looking for (i.e. "I think I want something kind of...strappy. But not too strappy. Or maybe some kind of slide."), the hundreds of choices can send you into some sort of shoe overload.
So first, I check out what the designers are doing. I buy Vogue or InStyle or whichever mag is currently selling a "Shoe Issue! 475 Must-Have Pairs!" kind of thing. I look at Neiman's and Nordstrom's and see what's popular and what shoes I own must now be banished to the back of the closet because the toe is not the right shape or whatever. Then I look on Zappo's for something similar and (most likely) cheaper.
Right now, flats are still pretty popular, so your no-heel dilemma is not a problem at all. Beware of the ballet flats, however, as they tend to make even slender legs look stumpy. There are some beautiful moccasins and mules out there right now. (That I won't buy, because I am pretending that my feet are just swollen right now and will totally go back to their old size after I give birth so I don't need to get rid of all my shoes and buy bigger ones and I don't care that for some women the change in foot size is permanent, no no no, I can't hear you.)
Oh, and a preemptive response to the commenters who will be shocked that I did not mention NineWest.com as a great place for reasonably-priced shoes: Yes, it can be. Alternatively, it can be a nightmare of inconsistent sizing, back-ordered shoes that never arrive and one son-of-a-bitch-in-hell return policy. NineWest.com has angered me greatly, and therefore I will wait for Zappo's to put those kick-ass Donald Pilner pumps on sale instead.
O wise, pretty Amalah,
Okay, here's the thing. I have hair that sounds a lot like yours-- fine and stick-straight. After having it long and hippie looking all through high school, I got it cut into a basic bob my senior year, and with some mild length fluctuations, a regrettable bangs experiment, and a semester-length fling with boyish short cut, it's been that way ever since. I've added some highlights because the mouse brown was depressing me, especially in the winter in the northeast, but otherwise...it's been working for me.
Except...and here comes the problem...I just got engaged. Which means I'm getting married, and I'm beginning to think about how I want to do my hair on the Big Day. That's not my question...I've decided I want a french twist/chignon type thing. The problem is? My short bob that I love so much? Is too short for how I want my hair to look on my special daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. So I'm growing it out. Luckily I have a lot of time until my wedding day, but until then...I have to live with my hair.
And here's the thing: because my hair is so fine, and so straight, once it gets past my shoulders it's just...dishrag dull. No wave, no bounce, no personality, no nothing. I remember this from high school, and while part of the problem in high school was that I hadn't really discovered products, nor did I really take care of my hair, I'm afraid part of it is just...the way my hair behaves. So, wise pretty Amalah...what kind of a cut should I get that will be both (a) long enough to pull back and stick a veil into, and (b) still give my limp hair some...movement. I'm not really big into lots of products or hair time investment, but I'm willing to try just about anything, as my hair is rapidly approaching danger length. Help?
Well, for starters, I assume you'll be getting your hair professionally styled for the wedding? (Lord knows I can't do a decent French twist on my own head to save my life.) Because here's the thing: you actually don't need very long hair for a French twist. A professional updo stylist can do amazing things with relatively small amounts of hair. That's why God invented aerosol hair spray and bobby pins that come in packs of 100.
In reality, sleek and pretty updos are actually HARDER to achieve if your hair is too long. For my friend's wedding, I wore my hair down because I have so damn much of it, and any updo would have simply had to pile the like, seven extra inches on top of my head, most likely in a crazy poof of rural Pennsylvania-style ringlets.
For my own wedding, my hair barely touched my shoulders and was full of weird, half-grown-out layers, but my hairdresser still got it to do exactly what I wanted. (Which it is not doing in that picture, because of the 110-degree weather and humidity, but I forgot to scan a better photo.)
So if you can, you might want to pick your wedding stylist now and have him or her tell you just how long your hair needs to be to achieve the style you have in mind. Then get some tips on how to live with it in the meantime. I'm betting it doesn't need to be any longer than shoulder length, and I bet you could get a few longish-layers cut for body and movement in the meantime.
And my standard regimen for fine, limp hair applies: salon-quality volumizing shampoo on the roots, conditioner only on the ends, very small amounts of Pureology Root Lift spray mousse OR Bed Head SuperStar Queen for a Day Thickening Spray for volume. Blowdry your roots first, use a round brush to shape and use cool air on your ends. Finish with Bed Head Headrush spray shine to enhance your color and add texture.
Oh, isn't sad when you get to the end of an entry? And realize that you must wait an entire day before I update again? Or maybe even two days, because I'm so damn lazy? Not today! Now you can go check out my guest entry at the DesignPublic Blog, which includes a really horribly embarrassing photo of the shambles that is the nursery. Also, hot spackling action!
Questions for future Advice Smackdowns can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.