Smart Girls Who Do Stupid Things

Sometimes…

Old People Swimming, Young People Swimming

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1. Forget Michael Phelps. Ever since whenever he was hotter than Phelps (answer: always) Ryan Locte has been the main man who does a beautiful backstroke. Also he and Michael are friends who sing along to the same headphone music, so we’re all good, right?!

I want to personally thank Edith Zimmerman at The Hairpin for reminding me of Lochte’s existence (the former competitive swimmer within me only really comes out in full-force during Olympics season), as well as pointing out this video, during which we learn that Ryan has his own sequined green sneakers that say LOCHTE on the bottom of them

SwimOutlet.com I buy my suits from you! Now stop playing the “take your marks” noise, it’s making me flinch and almost prepare to dive.

2. So synchronized swimming is pretty different from other swimming, but the Aquadettes do share some skills with me, mainly, being badass and loving the water.

Aquadettes from California is a place. on Vimeo.

“But that’s when I got started on the medical marijuana, and it was the difference between staying alive and killing myself.” Woah. Did not see that coming. You go Margo. She says, “control is a really important part of my life.” I feel that.

I need a pool.

Truth-Telling

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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.

Me, Maybe

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I love those articles that hit so close to home that they make you incredibly uncomfortable and also make you wish you were less self-aware, but then you feel idiotic for thinking you’re self-aware, because let’s face it, there are probably lots of things that you do to which all your friends are like “Dude, how do you NOT see that this is what you always do?” or “You always do that thing where you think you hit all the points and you do, but by doing that, you don’t, you know?”

Well I’ve gathered a few of said articles to let those of you out there who don’t know me from Adam (how can you know someone from Adam? Where was Eve? Was the Rib not taken out yet? Was this like the five-minute break between when Adam came breathlessly into this world and God was like, let’s get you a ladyyyyy and so cruelly tore Adam’s torso apart, but it’s cool, because then he was going to get. some.?) get to know me from Adam, and if not, then at least from Eve:

Though I am from New York City, and at said point in my life, never plan to live in a place where I have to upgrade my permit to a real live license (much to the chagrin of my mother, a real Californian, as much as she likes to deny it, she will look at me when I’m “too pale” and fight the urge to hand me the lotion with built-in self-tanner, as is her baby-oil childhood instinct),I found this article on DUI’s and living in LA particularly poignant. Though the best thing about cities is the greater opportunity for taking the train while intoxicated at any time of day, I do appreciate a good list about things I can do while drunk that don’t include driving. Some highlights?

“Play Sports: Especially great if you were a high-school athlete that could’ve actually been something if you didn’t discover weed and boys junior year. It will be the most fun you’ve ever had breaking your ankle, guaranteed.”

As someone who blogs, as painful as that can be to admit sometimes, I really am trying to totally get behind this Onion article “Pop Culture Expert Surprisingly Not Ashamed Of Self”:

“Shelham, who spends 10 hours every day consuming news updates on various entertainers and then commenting on their activities on an entertainment website, has reportedly shown no signs of humiliation or self-hatred over the way she spends the bulk of her time, and is also apparently not disgusted by the fact that this is actually what she does with her life.

‘Basically, I like to look at what’s going on in pop culture and comment on it with a sort of fresh, wry voice,’ said Shelham, who by all accounts still possesses the ability to look at herself in the mirror every morning. ‘I try to find things that I think are really lame and vacuous and then just tear them apart.'”

Too real. Especially this part:

“She also composed a scathing, 800-word critique of the upcoming motion picture Burlesque that she suggested, with actual pride, was ‘some of [her] best work.’

‘I’m sorry, but it might be just about time for [Burlesque actress] Cher to go away now,” wrote Shelham, who does not seem to find anything self-degrading in the fact that she earns a living by deriding people she does not, nor will ever, know. ‘I know you’re doing your best to make us forget that we actually found you charming in Moonstruck, but let’s just call it a day already, shall we?'”

Reading this piece several weeks ago did not stop me from writing this piece. Live and learn? Let’s not.

And not to get too existential, but what does it mean when the humor you have based your entire life around can be decoded by a machine? Is that like when you know someone has really learned a language because they get jokes in it? So is my humor no longer funny because a computer gets it? Don’t answer that.
“This is the most important software ever invented. Of course, if a computer using the Semi-Supervised Algorithm for Sarcasm Identification read that last sentence, it would immediately detect the sarcasm.”

Despite the fact that I do not literally blog all night, I do lead a different schedule than most of my peers, one that favors the night hours, when it is literally entirely dark in my apartment while I write this and I am left to only my thoughts, my Google Reader not endlessly ticking articles along that I MUST READ at the fastest pace possible. The night time is actually the only time left for the modern human that hasn’t been entirely overloaded, and I say this in the least bitter way possible. When I press publish on this, I will go to sleep, but I will still be sleeping when you wake up and read it, and thus be saved the horror of taking myself too seriously and preventing myself from being around for the reactions heard ’round the world on said posts. Author Josh Dubroff says of his stint as a nighttime blogger, “More significantly, I increasingly felt like I was part of this rare and special tribe. Working at night by myself when no one was on the Internet made me feel like a solo spaceship pilot, like every post about Sarah Palin or James Franco I churned out was going to ensure we stayed on course. I was careening through quiet forgotten Internet space, a vast calm all around me. And while all my friends were at work during the day—gchatting and fidgeting in their itchy button-downs—I was scarfing hummus and preparing for this noble take-off.”

I honestly haven’t read a more poignant piece in ages (especially the reference to “the classic Katherine Heigl film 27 dresses“). There is something to be said for people who prefer the night, who are good sleepers, and by something to be said, I mean we get the flack. We are considered the unproductive, the weird, the vampires of our society. I don’t know when sleeping until 1:30 in the afternoon became weird, but it was at some point during college, where I became chastised for being able to do a certain amount of work in less time. Is it jealously? No, probably more misunderstanding. But to our friends on the West Coast, we’re not weird, we’re just someone else who is awake while the rest of the nation sleeps.

P.S. To prevent from ending this on too much of a serious/downer, please note that potatoes are great for you, there! I have been proven right. I can now go on an all-potato diet, with maybe the occasional dairy product thrown in and also lose 60 lbs. See you later, haters.

When A Door Is Closed There’s Some Window Open Somewhere

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Edith Zimmerman has left NYMag’s Vulture. Which makes me super sad, because she’s the jam. BUT she’s now blogging over at The Hairpin, which is a brand-new and awesome subdivision of The Awl. You know they’re legit because my homeboy David Carr just did a piece on them and how they won’t be going out of business! And boy do they have the best (weekly?) feature ever, entitled Letters to the Editors of Women’s Magazines

An excerpt: R.I.P Diane
An Issue So Big It Hurts!
I bought your September issue in preparation for a 14-hour road trip. In my hotel room, I dropped the issue on my foot. The magazine was so big, it broke my toe! You weren’t kidding when you said it was your biggest issue in 20 years! Keep up the good work.

Jillian K., Yardley, PA (Glamour, November 2010)

I thought you were joking about the magazine being the biggest in 20 years, so as a prank I put it on top of the door and asked my friend to come into the room. Without going into too much detail, I guess I’ll just say that both my friend and I learned you were not joking. I just sort of quietly walked out — it wasn’t my house. R.I.P. Diane.

Lindsay P., Gary, IN”

It’s like comments + ladymags = winning combination.

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