Smart Girls Who Do Stupid Things



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Oh Dan. Life must be so easy for you when you’re right.


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Last week over at The Hairpin, Simone Eastman wrote a very simple, but supremely truthful piece on what to do if someone you know has just had a friend or family member die. I think the comments are a testament to how salient her points are; while there’s some disagreement, it’s primarily people sharing their stories of loss and what worked for them and has continued to work.

While 1, 2 and 4 are great, it’s really 3 and 5 that are the best, so I’d like to excerpt them here.

3. Ask how you can help, but be prepared to just do something without being directed.
This is so tricky, because your instinct will be to say something like, ‘Please let me know if I can help,’ and you’ll totally mean it but there’s a really good chance that your grieving friend is not capable of telling you what you could do to help…. There are things that you can do, though, without being asked, which will probably be appreciated. Anything that helps a grieving person take care of herself — literally take care of her person — is a winner….Being specific matters — offer a specific day/time or a couple options. When you’re in a crisis it can be so hard to make decisions about little things.”

It’s the necessity of specificity Eastman points out here that is often overlooked. Merely telling someone you are there for them is great, but it requires them to do the heavy lifting much of the time; they need to reach out, they need to do the work to make you listen to them. Offering specifics, or just doing the specifics isn’t pushy, it’s helpful. And if the person doesn’t like what you’re doing, it’s pretty likely they’ll tell you so, as a lot of tact goes out the window when someone you love just died.

5. Don’t disappear.
Sometimes stepping back after the immediate events that follow a death or crisis makes sense — you’re not gonna get up in your HR manager’s grill a couple months after her mom dies, you know? But if we’re talking about a friend, don’t disappear. They may not know how to respond in a gratifying way for a while, but they need you. It never bothered me when someone left me a message saying ‘HAY GIRL, just thinkin’ of you, you don’t have to call me back unless you feel like it.’ And sometimes someone offering to take me for a walk was an almost-literal lifesaver. Grief is very lonely, even if we all face it — it feels very, very singular and very alienating. Lots of crises do, actually. And if you can keep reaching out, you can help make it feel a little less lonely.”

This point is the most important one. Most people know to say sorry, to call, to send a card/text/email, whatever. What they say will vary, but most of it will be okay. What people seem unable to decipher unless they have experienced it (whether themselves or through past experience with death) is that pain does not drop away over time. It ebbs and shifts and the best way to be a friend is merely reminding people that you are there. This might seem in contradiction to point three (Didn’t I just tell you to DO things, after all?) but they live together simultaneously. Reminding people can simply be narrowing their options; remind them you’re there by offering to hang out or talk at specific times, and intersperse that with links or texts or whatever random stuff you’d send as friends anyway.

The bottom line is that you should attempt to know what people want before they know it themselves (I just totally cribbed that from Helen Mirren talking about how to be a good servant in Gosford Park, but it works so deal with it). And it’s good practice — many someones you love will die one day, even if you’re lucky enough to have avoided it thus far. Being a good friend when someone has had to deal with a death means stepping up your game and being more attentive. Otherwise you won’t see them anymore, and this might seem harsh, but you might not deserve to.

Lady Mags For The Month Of May

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Is there a reason why Amber Riley is the only one to get her own very personal coverline on the May issue of Marie Claire?

Lea and Dianna merely have to handle all the rumors! gossip! drama! But Amber has her own cross to bear: “I show girls how to be comfortable with their bodies.” Does this make her special, or just ostricized?

Relatedly, the new nude issue of Allure seems even younger than usual, featuring Ashley Tisdale, Keri Hilson, Bridget Moynahan and Kaley Cuoco, three of whom are in their twenties. Remember when they had more ladies like Elizabeth Perkins, or Jill Scott? I do, and as we know, I have the back issues to prove it.

“It’s my pig.”

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Ashley Judd spoke about her new book, All That Is Bitter and Sweet, at the New York Public Library on Tuesday for the Young Lions, and the occasional tag-a-long such as myself. The book is billed as “A Memoir,” which better encompasses, I think, an understanding of the book as Ashley’s life, instead of exclusively a story of her humanitarian work.

Judd spoke frankly about her writing, how writing became a way to deal with the sights and hardships she witnessed while traveling with the many foundations she works with. But even while discussing her heroic work, she seemed incapable of escaping her own self. She alternated between the seriousness of a woman forced into prostitution to support her family after her husband abandoned her, to a light-hearted “Aren’t my shoes cute!?” She spoke of the difficulty of visiting so many brothels and seeing so many people in pain, but then belittled her activities later when the summation of her reasoning became “What else do I have to do? I don’t really like shopping. I get all my clothes for free!” And though she speaks of humanitarianism as her calling, she also revealed she turned down the initial phone call requesting her involvement as a YouthAIDS Global Ambassador; it wasn’t until they called back with Bono that she was led to say, well, ok.

Despite her belittling, humanitarianism is in fact Judd’s life. In writing a book to deal with the lives she was witnessing, she also ended up dealing with her own personal trauma, and a history of abuse. Because of her personal history, she radiates an empathy with those she works with, of women and children and families born into inescapable circumstances, lives littered with pain, disease, and abuse.

Sadly, Judd’s words also expressed her inability to empathize with my world. She seemed proud to have entered a treatment program for depression, insomnia and codependency. Because, of course, when you’re from a famous family, how could you escape such things? The end result of the discussion as a whole was that I felt alienated. Though I know individuals who too grew up with alcoholic parents, suffering abuse and neglect, I know no one with the time and capacity to enter treatment. Though many people, I believe, strive to help others as they can, not getting my clothes for free and “having a hot husband,” makes the work that much harder, as we must overcome day-to-day trials more than international spokespeople do. At the end of the day, our bills must still be paid before we volunteer, we must still go to work before we enter treatment, and we do, unfortunately, have to pay for clothes.

At one point, she told the story of her aunt, a resident of Pacific Heights, CA, who owns a pig. Judd said that her aunt, when asked about the pig, uses the pig as her justification, saying simply, “It’s my pig!” The pig seemed a symbol of pride and power, individualism and personal choice. Judd then described her choice to be a humanitarian as her pig – something she does for an inexplicable reason. But I think the reason is quite logical: she has the time and the public image to do something good for the world, and she is choosing to do so. To me, in the end, her “pig” wasn’t her choice of vocation, but her inability to escape herself, and the power and weakness that comes from a life in the public eye. Or perhaps it’s my pig that I have a hard time listening to those who I feel take their fortune for granted, and those who disregard powerful moments (visiting presidential and government palaces all over the world!), because they seem “boring” compared to visiting brothels. I bet the brothels are more interesting, sure, but you really need the palaces in order to get rid of them.

I hope that this book is the journey Judd needed to understand her personal history, and that her fame becomes the tool she uses to bring attention and support to her humanitarian work, and not her justification and raison d’etre.

What’s Wrong With The Discussion About Defunding Planned Parenthood

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I have a couple issues with the language people that I agree with (LIBERALS) are using to talk about the (potential and likely) defunding of Planned Parenthood by Congress.

1. Emphasizing that abortion services count for only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services

To those opponents of funding Planned Parenthood, it doesn’t matter that organization performs relatively few abortions in proportion to their other services. Republicans might be harping on and exaggerating the number, but they’re doing this for dramatic effect. To them, the number could be .5 percent, or 90 percent, as one of our lovely senator’s claimed. It doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that abortion is an option at all that is the sticking point, whether they’re framing it like that or not.

Additionally, getting upset that defunding Planned Parenthood over one, tiny little thing like abortion because it would damage lots of other services like birth control is fair, but not helpful. Abortion isn’t the issue; it’s the tip of the iceberg. These people aren’t going to go halfsies with you on a PB&J; they want all or nothing, and they’re not going to stop until they can refuse women the right to purchase Plan B, or birth control, or anything that lets women take control of their own bodies. Abortion is just one small thing in a list a mile long of things Conservatives will try to take away from women and men to make their lives that much more difficult under the guise of being holding up “morals” and having a “conscience.”

2. Framing this issue as a “War Against Women”

I don’t disagree with the stance; Republicans are attacking women, who, let’s remember, count for over 50 percent of our population and are half the reason that we all exist in the first place. But framing this issue as a war against only women is isolating members of that other half. This is a war against everyone, men included, and a fundamental fight to the death about the way we should be allowed to live our lives. Painting Planned Parenthood as an organization that just benefits women (or, alternatively, only helps men on the macro scale) is not only inaccurate, it does a disservice to the millions of men who should also be up in arms about this issue because they are people too.

None of this changes where I stand. But history has shown us, time and again, that the way we frame our arguments during contentious times has long and lasting effects on the potential for broad-sweeping change in thought. And it doesn’t change what you should be doing this weekend: Writing letters, signing petitions, donating to Planned Parenthood, and generally girding your loins for what looks to be the hardest of fights.

I Have A Lot Of Thoughts About This

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Most of them just include “Fuck yea casting!” and “Oh dear god that title” with a smidgen of hominahominahomina.

Barry Watson’s Back (On ABC). From the Future.

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I give you: a not-to-be-missed tv world premiere event. And by not-to-be-missed I mean absolutely watch it later via the interwebs, with friends and alcohol:

My Future Boyfriend

NO seriously, watch that trailer. You will not regret it. Whether you love or hate Barry Watson, this preview will only further your feeling. And it lends itself to the easiest ABCFam original movie drinking game ever: drink whenever Barry Watson SPEAKS IN A ROBOT VOICE. (Be warned: that’s how we will speak 1000 years into the future! Eeek!)

I love finding out about new ABCFam movies…it’s like, what not-lately-seen ABC actors will be randomly thrown together into a romance? Aaaaha, Sara Rue and Barry Watson, of course. Oozing with chemistry, those two together. Do you think ABCFam has some kind of algorithm they use for casting?

I just recently began to like Barry Watson after years of dislike fueled by 7th Heaven (which, yes, I did watch all the way into college when the “series finale” revealed that the majority of the siblings would be procreating at the same time…and then the series ended up coming back for another season…which I also watched), through when I lived with Kate and she defended him and told me to watch What About Brian, till present day when I finally did watch What About Brian and then rewatched Samantha Who? (both on Netflix right now) and finally liked him. But ABC, please just give him another show and don’t make him play a robot-like future man who is made to wear a trenchcoat to represent his being from the future. I mean, I could go on about wardrobe and product placement in these movies, but you’ll have to watch for yourself– that’s HALF THE FUN.

This Is What I Did Last Night

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A) Rock the front page of the Chicago Tribune.

For a better shot of me in all my glory, go to image 16 in this slideshow. I’m the happy person in the back. My presence, along with Odette’s, on the cover of this stupendous paper, prompted my boss to include me in this blog post.

B) Work on this video.

The CityRoom: The Incumbent Loses from WBEZ on Vimeo.

CityRoom video: An election night to remember (starring Berny Stone) [WBEZ]

The Great Wave Is Too Real

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Practically everyday, when I read and write about Japan, I am reminded of this:

I am honestly comforted, however, by this:

TTMMW: Read, Look, Listen, Look & Listen

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Patti Smith is writing a sequel to Just Kids. Yes yes.

Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory and Lee Pace of Pushing Daisies under one roof? Yes please. (Also Ellen Barkin).

Is Roger Federer over? For Anna Wintour’s sake, I hope not.

Willie Nelson is both the subject of a documentary directed by none other than Billy Bob Thorton, and a drug bust for marijuana (again), where a judge JOKINGLY said that if he sang a song, he could go free.

Atlantis for realz?! I hope so.

There’s dramz involving Etta James’ estate. I really really hope this gets wrapped up in a way that would make her happy, because this is just too sad.

Miles Davis biopic. If anyone can do it, it’s Don Cheadle. Not to be a downer, but it’s rarely easy to sum up a life in a movie.

The funnest of facts about the Toy Story trilogy. But one of the most interesting facts isn’t even about Toy Story or its sequels; did you know that Alice and Wonderland is the sixth highest grossing movie of all-time. Yea, that weird Tim Burton remake version.

The New York Times is reviewing children’s books online. Legitimating the genre, or responding to Park Slope parents?

Young hollywood hotties looking old and vintage. About half of these are from Vanity Fair‘s “Vanities Girls” series, so there’s no deep-digging here, but it’s still nice to look at.

Take me here now please. More shots at the jump. It’s Switzerland, of course.

Live in an airstream; it’s the life.

This exhibit of photos of African American images of beauty from the 1890s to Present looks awesome

B. Deck’s cut her hair and it looks good!

I need more information about this product, specifically, where I can get one:

From her biography, which I still haven’t read; please, Jessie, just leave it at my house and I will roll through it.

These plans for the New York City waterfront look excellent.

Black Orpheus is an amazing movie, and this breakdown of how to “live in it” can make you too feel as though you’re in Brazil during Carnivale.

Jello is super cool. Here are a few more reasons to love it. I fondly remember my family reunion in Iowa in ’98 where we were served green jello with marshmallows and I just…gaped.

To Paul Simon’s new album.

Cab drivers are required to pick you up if their light is on. KNOW THE LAW.

New York, way back when. It looks almost fake.

Marcel gets his own show…on SyFy. Dear god. It gets better: the show is called Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen.

Nicole Miller tv. She was the first designer I remember being enticed by through advertising. I wanted that skirt made of ties.

Jennifer Aniston “sex tape.” Not to take away from her accomplishments, but I do wonder if she would have been as famous without Brad, and vice versa. Probs not. It really is the Eddie Fisher – Elizabeth Taylor – Debbie Reynolds love triangle of the 21st century.

David Letterman is a creeper and you can see so yourself by watching these clips of him checking out his lady guests. But like, what else is new?

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