Wednesday Advice Smackdown
August 31, 2005
But first, a few questions that cropped up from Friday's post about the Big Fancy Photo Shoot:
Q) Come on! Post the Polaroid!
A) No. Am not allowed. It technically belongs to the magazine and they've told me not to post it, so I won't, for I am Obedient and Good.
Q) Will you scan or link to the article when it comes out?
A) I will be allowed to scan the article, but not until the magazine is off newstands (late October). The Washingtonian's website doesn't offer the current issue's contents online, and I'm not sure if they even archive fluffy little articles like this one after the next issue comes out. So basically -- I will let everyone know when the issue is available, but non-locals will have to wait a few weeks before I can scan it or (possibly) link to it. In other words: chill out, I'll do the best I can.
Q) Fuck this photo shoot noise. WHAT DID YOU BUY AT SEPHORA?
A) My apologies for leaving out this scintillating piece of information.
This is everything I used. From the top: Marc Jacobs perfume (because smelling good totally makes you more photogenic), Sephora volumizing mascara, Nars Creme Blush in Turkish Red, Nars Duo Eye Shadow in All About Eve, Tony & Tina herbal eye base (apparently discontinued, wah), Sephora slim eye pencil in Chocolate Brown, LORAC eye shadow in Garnet, Nars Lip Lacquer in Eros, and my old reliable standby, Sue Devitt Triple Seaweed Gel Foundation in Tanami.
And this is me, trying to figure out which side of my face should not ever face the camera.
I look kind of holy.
I have the same love/hate relationship with Ikea that you do. Yet I can't say away! And their big catalogs are like porn!
Anyway, I have been coveting the Hemnes bed for many years but was never sure if it could be used with both a mattress and a box spring. The display model always just uses the mattress and I honestly don't trust the word of the Ikea employees (because they clearly never warned me that those curtain rods and curtain rod holders I bought that one time WOULD NEVER EVER WORK AND WILL MAKE ME CRY.)
But I do trust you, Amalah. Will the Hemnes bed hold both the mattress and box spring?
See you in the Ikea returns line!
(By the way, the number one sign that I am indeed trapped in an abusive relationship with IKEA: while dozens and dozens of you chimed in yesterday to bash IKEA, all I wanted to do was jump in and DEFEND THAT DAMN STORE. Sure, we're going through a rough patch right now! But I have dozens of wonderful things from IKEA that I love with all my heart! The expensive pre-assembled actual-wood baby furniture was fucked up too! Besides, it's all totally my fault for not checking the boxes before we left the store! I brought it on myself! I deserve crappy furniture!)
(And on Monday I bought a hot dog there for 50 CENTS, PEOPLE, AND IT WAS DELICIOUS.)
Anyway. The HEMNES bed. No, it won't really work with a boxspring, unless you don't mind having your mattress tower over the footboard. The footboard is very low and a boxspring will practically come to the top of it, and then the mattress will be completely uncontained by the bedframe and will look really weird.
But here's the thing: You don't NEED a boxspring with the HEMNES bed. It's kind of hard to explain, but the bedframe kind of is a boxspring. You buy these wooden slat-things along with the bed (in your choice of "firm" or "springy") and a metal midbeam thing, and they support the mattress beautifully.
We've been using a boxspring we inherited from Jason's GRANDMOTHER every since we've been married (that's how maniacally cheap we are when it comes to furniture), and for years have complained about our crappy mattress. Five minutes after ditching the boxspring and collapsing on our newly-assembled bed, we looked at each other in confusion. Did the bed feel...firmer? What?
Honestly, our mattress feels SO MUCH BETTER now that it's supported by those beam things instead of the boxspring. I can roll my huge pregnant self over without grunting and moaning in agony. Jason swears the last two nights of sleep have been the best he's had in years.
So there you go. IKEA can be mean and spiteful, but DAMN, he's good in bed.
Eeeek. I've never in my life written to an advice columnist, but after lurking around your blog for a long time and reading many of your Wednesday Advice Smackdowns, I finally felt compelled to take the plunge--mostly because you're the first advice columnist I actually felt could help--or, at the very least--entertain me. Anyway, I think your blog is one of the very few worth reading. You're an intelligent, entertaining, and regularly delightful writer, and I truly enjoy salivating over and admiring the pictures of your adorable pets and equally adorable and enviable products, as well as the descriptions,picture, and links of your various gorgeous handbags, clothes, and make-up products. And I think your advice is bizarrely pithy and intelligent.
Best of all, your writing regularly makes me laugh out loud (on a side-note: Yah for Snarkywood!). So, thank you for sharing a part of your life--I think it's a life worth sharing. And of course, congratulations on your pregnancy! I'm hoping to have a baby some time in the near future, and your blog has been a constant source of encouragement and, yes, education--light years better than any self-help book I've had the misfortune to come across.
Okay, enough already with the ass-kissing. Now comes my plea for advice: As much as I love your whip-smart writing, I must admit to feeling a bit (ummm... bitterly) fixated and--well, to be even more blunt--blinded by jealousy regarding Jason's sweet propensity to shower you with flowers for no apparent reason (well, besides his obvious love for you).
So here's the question: How does a woman encourage her otherwise dear, loving, and considerate partner of two years to give her the occasional bouquet of flowers? I mean, short of stomping into his office, hands on hips, and demanding that he give me the occasional damn bouquet of bright, lovely, sweet-smelling flowers--hell, at this point I'd even settle for those sad, wilty arrangements they sell at the grocery store.
In fact, at this point even the occasional bouquet of wildflowers would suffice. I've tried everything short of the most obvious solution: making a reasonable and straightforward request that he occasionally hand over the flowers. Maybe it's silly of me, but I resist that scenario because it seems to detract from the romance of the experience. I've bought flowers for myself and made a big production about how much they delight me (part of a desperate attempt to send him a much needed--and ill-headed-- message). I ruminated on this subject with my mother, grandmother, and aunts, who sweetly, regularly, and pointedly compensate by sending me lovely arrangements--and again, I always make an extravagantly effusive and dramatic production of conveying my delight for these thoughtful gestures, futilely hoping that my unbridled enthusiasm will send him a message. Recently my mother suggested that perhaps I'd just have to buy my own flowers. But buying flowers for oneself just isn't the same as being surprised by receiving thoughtful and unnecessary gestures from one's significant other.
I've even resorted to buying flowers for myself and then oohing and awing over my purchases, as well as pointedly informing my partner that the only other time I received flowers from a man was when my psycho ex bombarded me with six dozen roses--a deeply depressing experience, as my tiny apartment reeked with the sickly sweet smell of desperation (and the next day I eagerly donated these flowers to a nursing home). This rather depressing experience, I think, reasonably calls for some kind of nice, compensating flower experience from a man I truly love and cherish, and to whom I am whole-hearted committed. But alas, I've made no headway. Apparently, from what I've been able to drag out of him diplomatically, he would rather give gifts that last for longer periods of time: necklaces, rings, clothes. He thinks that flowers are wasteful because they have such a short shelf-life. I don't mean to suggest that this is a one-way street; I really enjoy giving him little tokens of my love.
So what should I do? Personally, I would like to receive a pretty bouquet when it's not the requisite holiday time: just a little something every now and then, particularly when I'm having a rough week. Here's the rather silly quandary: a good part of the allure of receiving flowers is that, at least according to my own perhaps misguided thinking, they should come as a sweet surprise, and not as a grudging acquiescence to an emphatic demand. I would really appreciate your advice on this matter. Bottom line: I want flowers! Not all the time, not huge expensive bouquets, not the the obligatory dozen roses on V-day or my birthday. Maybe you or your readers could give me some advice. In the big scheme of things, I grudgingly acknowledge that my complaint is embarrassingly bourgeois and maybe just a little petty.
Nevertheless, I want flowers! Thank you so much for any advice you or your readers might offer, and I hope you have a joyous pregnancy and a delightful experience with the new-born babe.
I'm of two minds about this. One, you acknowledge that you want flowers because, to you, they represent a "thoughtful and unnecessary gesture." This means something you HAVEN'T demanded or nagged about or done any sort of clever trickery to "get him" to send you flowers. If you have to resort to subterfuge (i.e. signing him up for email coupons from ProFlowers, inventing a coworker who's flirting with you) or flat-out demands, then the flowers you'd receive would actually not mean anything and thus be besides the point entirely. Right?
The best thing to do is to simply TELL HIM that if he's ever thinking of doing something nice for you, he should know that you would really, really love to get some flowers. And then DROP IT. If he doesn't send you flowers, you need to accept that he is just not a flower-sending-kinda guy. And then move on and don't read into this as him not listening to you and withholding affection and blah blah blah but HER boyfriend sends HER flowers pout pout pout.
But of course, I do have a secondary opinion. And it's that guys should send girls flowers if they want them and shut the hell up about it. That whole "I want to give you gifts that LAST" thing is a fucking cop-out, especially since 90% of you aren't actually out there buying those elusive gifts-that-last on a regular basis.
(It's like people who refuse to celebrate Valentine's Day or Mother's Day because they're "Hallmark Holidays" and "we should be expressing our love and gratitude every day," which, FINE, BUT ARE YOU? NO? THEN BUY A BOX OF CHOCOLATES AND A CARD ALREADY.)
Face it, girls like flowers. We know they don't last and they seem silly to you but we like them. They're pretty. They smell nice. They make other girls jealous and we feel special and spoiled. So get on ProFlowers' email list and buy your significant other some damn flowers when they send you coupons.
However, are flowers essential? Is a guy who won't send flowers deeply damaged and insensitive? Should you chuck him to the curb like an extra LACK side table? No. You should probably just get over it.
(Says the girl who gets flowers all the damn time, for no damn reason. Shut up, Amy.)
Dear Q of E,
I just read that entry where you told us all an amusing story about lying to your parents at Christmas time. I know you would NEVER do that, good daughter that you are, but it made me feel very guilty because I remembered the worst lie I ever told.
I was sharing a flat and fell in love with a Catalan guy who lived with me. I didn't tell my mother, of course. I left the flat in July because I was going on holidays and my heart was breaking at leaving this guy (we actually live together in Barcelona now so happy ending). So my Mum brings me into town. She goes shopping and I go to pick up my deposit. She leaves me the keys to the car cos I say I'll be back first and promise to be back at the car in an hour. I go to pick up my deposit. Get it in like five minutes. Go up to my old flat to spend time with boyfriend. Make out and cry and promise to love forever etc. for way too long. Realise time is passing but say Fuck it, I CANNOT LEAVE THIS MAN. Finally Mum calls, says she's back and where am I? I lie, say that the landlady delayed giving me money, say I'm on my way. Kiss some more. I get back to the car and my dear mother who gave birth to me and fed me and loves me is standing outside the car soaked wet because? We were in Ireland, it rained a lot, she was waiting in a big carpark with no shelter and her stupid ungrateful bitch of a daughter was late because she just HAD to kiss this guy 1500 times.
On our drive home I stuck to my story about the landlady causing a delay and not giving me the money right away. My mother got all defensive on my behalf and promised to go see that lady and teach her a lesson in manners. I felt shame. Deep shame. But I could not tell her the truth and I still don't dare to.
So my question to you, pretty mother-to-be (enough sucking-up or should I continue?) who is wise and caring (enough yet?) and knows all, is this: Should I tell my mother why I was late that day? This question was really lame. I am very sorry. Feel free to ignore. And send me sweets :-)
No. What good would it do?
It would ease your guilty conscience, of course, but seriously, that's a selfish reason to confess a sin. (We'll completely ignore the cosmic/spiritual ramifications of unconfessed sins, because I'm really tired and don't feel like getting into it.)
Basically, you know you did a shitty thing and you feel badly about it. You won't do it again. Your mom will probably be hurt by the truth (unless she completely LOVES your significant other and has a sense of humor about young-things-in-love-and-the-stupid-shit-they-do). And even if she DOES have a sense of humor about things like that, no mother wants to hear about her daughter's make-out sessions. I would just leave it alone.
My husband and I were recently in DC, as he was interviewing with several graphic design firms in the area. We totally fell in love with the city, and swore we would live in one of those cute apartments near the zoo. And then we found out that living in a run-down 1 bedroom shack near the zoo can put someone behind $1900 smakaroos a month. That might not be a lot of money for some people, but A.) My husband is an entry level designer and won't be making enough to cover that kind of rent, B.) I'm 4 months pregnant, and seriously doubt someone is going to hire me when I'll be out on maternity leave in 5 months, and C.) Did I mention we won't have a lot of money? One of the firms my husband interviewed with is flying him up there to interview him again, and it is looking more and more like we'll be moving to the area. Here is where I throw myself to your mercy, Amalah, Queen of all things, and ask of you, is there ANYWHERE in DC proper, that's cute, safe (relatively at least), and... affordable? Bear in mind, we'll need 2 bedrooms (child on the way). I'm quickly realizing that there may be no way that we can live in the cute and wonderful town of DC, and may have to *gasp* commute! Please, PLEASE help!!
Oh man. Renting in DC. It's a fucking nightmare.
We haven't tried to rent in this area for about four years now, but DC real estate in general is absolutely insane. Everybody wants to live in the same tiny, overcrowded neighborhoods and somehow, everybody seems to have millions and millions of dollars. I am not sure if these people actually HAVE millions of millions of dollars or if the entire population is mortgaged up to their eyeballs. We bought our tiny condo (technically one bedroom, one bathroom + loft, which means legally speaking, we can't even list as a two-bedroom unit) several years ago for a price that seemed horrifically high to us -- and the damn place has still practically doubled in value. Our next-door neighbors sold their near-identical unit for a fucking half million dollars.
A HALF MILLION DOLLARS. FOR A CONDO. WITH NO PARKING AND NO ELEVATOR AND THE POSSIBILITY OF ROACHES. JESUS GOD IN HEAVEN.
And while we're tempted to sell at these prices, there's kind of the little question of where we'd move TO, since anything slightly bigger than our unit in the neighborhoods we like seems to have extraneous zeroes in the price. So we're staying put and just trying not to elbow each other in the head too much in the bathroom every morning.
Anyway. While I'm no expert on the DC rental market, I'll do my best to suggest neighborhoods based on what I know about housing prices. Everybody wants to live in the same cool neighborhoods in Northwest. Dupont, G'town, Adams Morgan, Cleveland Park. So you need to find the uncool, up-and-coming neighborhoods. They might be slightly sketchy right now, but GODDAMN, we almost bought a place on U St. NW but thought the neighborhood was kind of ehhhh, and now U St. is totally awesome and that tiny place is probably worth a hundred billion dollars or something.
(For non-locals who may be trying to follow this nonsense for some reason: DC has four quadrants. NW, NE, SW, SE. At one time, anything other than NW basically meant Drive-by Murderville, USA, but that's rapidly changing. SE is still pretty fucking terrible, but everybody hopes the new baseball stadium and waterfront attractions will change that. But still. I wouldn't live there with a baby. Yet. I mean, some people still want Marion Barry to be mayor again, and I'm sure he's just itching to bankrupt the city and destroy the Anacostia waterfront a second time.)
Northeast is really getting nice, but a lot of people can't shake the prejudice of having "NE" in their mailing address. We've considered moving there, but have yet to find a neighborhood we really like.
So I was going to suggest a few neighborhoods (Mount Pleasant, Takoma Park, Columbia Heights, Logan Circle) that are considered up-and-coming, but then I just did a quick search for two-bedroom apartments at The City Paper and Craigslist and holy shit, you're lucky if you can stay below $2,400 a month for anything that's not Southeast.
This isn't very encouraging, but we were never able to rent in the city before we bought our place. We rented in far-out 'burbs like Germantown and Gaithersburg to save money. Our commutes were terrible and the neighborhoods were your typical chain-restaurant-strip-mall suburban nightmare, but after going to rental after rental in the city to be the seventh couple to turn in an application for a run-down one bedroom that cost $1700 a month, we gave up and decided to stay in Maryland and focus on saving for a downpayment.
Then we moved into the city and proceeded to procreate. We're backwards like that.
I'm not sure what you're actually looking to spend in rent, but it does sound like the super-cute and super-safe neighborhoods in DC are out of your price range. I'm hoping some local readers can chime in and suggest a neighborhood that's slipped my mind for some reason or offer additional guidance, but for now? Get on Craigslist, get searching, drive through as many neighborhoods as you can and see as many places as you can. Oh, and use that pregnant belly to get preferential treatment.
(Let me say one more thing: Just like I will love and defend IKEA to the death, so will I defend living in DC. I love this city. Irrationally so. The suburbs make me nervous and twitchy and I have a reverse commute with no traffic and I can walk to everything on the planet. So there.)
(We also have to keep up our city cred for the other blog in our household.)
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