Monday, March 31, 2014

billy joel, ya'll

Hey remember me? I am the slacker that writes this blog. Sometimes I feel like I do cool things that I should write about, but then suddenly, my best-laid plans are derailed by writing for Nerds and Nomsense or some bonkers search terms need addressing or I'll suddenly remember that I need to finish watching True Detective [Tangent :...WHICH I HAVE! SO GOOD! Sorry Louisiana, but this was not a ringing endorsement for your state. HBO has kinda made you all look like murderry devil worshiping swamp folk and/or vampires.] Anyway, there are lots of cool things that I've been up to...I mean a couple weeks ago I went to go see Billy Joel, ya'll. WILLIAM EFFING JOEL!

 As soon as I heard that Billy Joel was doing a limited tour to a few of his favorite cities, I knew price was no obstacle (ok...who are we kidding...I'm not Lady Von not a MAJOR deterrent). However, I have seen him live before and I recall the show being so high energy and fun that I wanted to attend with my mom and sister. I wish I could say I took winning action-packed photos, but we were far from close, so this is all you get.

When I saw him a few we years back, I recall the audience being a lot older, so I was happy to see that the fans were a mixed bag demographically. Anyway I shouldn't be surprised that people in my age group  were hooting and hollering [Tangent: I mean I know Lauren from Old Red Boots was there too because we bitched to each other via text about the random opening act.], I grew up with 80's Billy Joel [Tangent: Just the Way You Are was the only pre-programmed song on my Casio 100 sound effect keyboard so whenever I hear it, I mentally insert a barking dog and shattering glass. Also We Didn't Start the Fire enlightened me, as a then 7-year-old, about Bernie Goetz and Thalydamide deformities. The more you knooooow. ]  and as an adult learned by heart learned his double greatest hits album. He was ever present.

The show, obviously didn't disappoint. It was hit after hit after hit...lots of crazy laser lights....and a very jazzy sax player in a polka dotted blouse [Tangen: My sister and I agreed he was truly selling it...]...and Billy Joel drank the entire time from a Bill Joel coffee mug...presumably from the merch booth. It was awesome.  [Tangent: What wasn't as awesome was powering through the Widespread Panic fans filtering out of The Ryman on my way back to my car. A crowded gaultlet of people dispensing nitris balloons and grilled cheesies mixed with hyped Billy Joel fans is a bit of a cluster.]

Also, I decided as Billy Joel gets older, he is basically shape shifting into the friendlier doppelganger of Mike from Breaking Bad.

Or maybe they have always been basically the same person. Here is 70's Joanthan Banks [Tangent: Probably from his awesome/terrible instructional movie about periods] and 70's Billy Joel. Hubba Hubba. Bedroom eyes for days.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

blog search terms...running off the rails (AGAIN!)

At midnight the other night, I was rabidly sifting through my iPhone's photo gallery looking for things I could pitch to free up valuable space for crucial things  like game updates and more photos (seriously, I have carved it down to 1200 essential images. That's all I can do! ). To be quite honest, a great percentage of those pictures are not really pictures at all...but screenshots of things... Textchanges. Ridiculous ads. And mostly blog statistics that make me pee. [Tangent: In fact, "blog stats that make me pee" could likely be its own crowded sub folder on my phone.]

The ones that are funny, but still safe for the workplace, I post on my blog's Facebook page, while I usually save the bluer material for my fellow bloggers and pervy friends. The other day, while texting them around, Lladybird Lauren informed me that these were really too good to not share with the masses, so I thought I would unroll the archives of questionable search terms. Yes, some of these are appalling and ridiculous...don't judge me...judge yourselves.  [Tangent: If you have never read my search terms posts before. I'll explain what you were looking at. As part of my blogger dashboard, I am privy to all kinds of analytical data like what countries I am popular in...what sites are linking to me (like and have me questioning my bizarre Russian fan base.) and what google terms lead people to me. The latter is always both upsetting and hilarious. These are the vibes I am sending out into the ether. I can't make this shit up.]

I wish I could select a favorite from this list...and I also wish I knew if you could feed your chiweenie grits! That's one for yahoo answers.

all of these are SUPER normal everyday search terms....seriously.

Is this a question or a declarative statement? Yes, Kirk Cameron was sexy in 1988...since then he is terrifying. Next question?

hasidic flaming lips? I am all in.
so many winners...none of which have anything to do with my blog.

I wish I knew the answer to this one. Really. Can someone weigh in?

this phrase makes me giggle so hard. I am clearly 12.

WHO IS GOOGLING THIS!?!??!?! Also, what if it was an image search and my picture came up...I am horrified.

I now want to google this.

yep. totally normal.

I am really happy that in a 24 hour period- 4 people searched "jungle 2 jungle VHS".

Ok, And Just for good measure I will throw in a little gem I pulled out of my spam folder. It always floors me how they lure you in with flattery and then BAIT AND SWITCH...BUY MY PENIS CREAM!

How about ya'll? Any fellow bloggers get such sick enjoyment from this stuff or am I alone? I was told once by a regular reader that she found me inadvertently by googling "wheelchair zombie," which made me really really happy! Whatever works.  I am eager to hear what kind of weirdos you attract!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

free stuff from Influenster- j'adore vox box review

OK, so I am streets behind on a lot of things and I am the first to admit it. The other day I realized I hadn't done my February Influenster box review yet. [Tangent: Not that ya'll care...because let's be honest, you probably don't. I am sure absolutely 0% of you are waiting on pins and needles to know what I thought of my box of free products. However, I'm a weirdo and love a good product review. Reading blogs is how I have learned about a ton of cool doohickies and whatnots. I don't like to shell money out on something unless it's gotten the thumbs up from someone I trust. Also, I wanna keep getting free stuff from them. I am human, after all...and shameless.]

If you didn't read the lowdown from last time, I'll just give you the abbreviated version, Influenster is a product review system that is completely free and open to anyone. [Tangent: I love getting goodies in the mail but am too cheap/chickenshit to pull the trigger and subscribe to a paid one.] All you have to do is share your opinions, which frankly I am really really skilled at. It seems like a fairly even trade. Also, it is fairly thrilling to get a mystery box on your doorstep!

The box featured above  is one that I got in February around Valentine's day [Tangent: See..I told you...streets behind.] so it was loaded with things that apparently screamed chocolate and tea and fake lashes? There were some definite winners and then some not so winners.

selfies always make me mildly cross-eyed.
Kiss Looks so Natural Lashes ($3.99 retail)
Little known fact. I love fake lashes, however my lifestyle is one that doesn't call for them on a day to day basis (or ever really). They just don't go with yoga pants and thrift store t-shirts. [Tangent: I went through a phase many years ago where I wore them on most special occasions because their transformative power can take you from boring to Kardashian in 2 seconds flat.] Anyway, I finally broke them out over the weekend to wear for my friend Alex's wedding and I pretty much think I have found my lash soul mates. These are super affordable [Tangent: Which is good, because I could never rationalize paying top dollar for MAC lashes..I mean really it's a one or maybe two time use product, not worth more than $5.] and they don't scream "HEY LOOK AT MY CRAZY LASHES!" They feel very natural and soft and you pretty much forget you are wearing them. The one caveat is that you need to know how to apply the glue and trim them down as needed, or else they may look not so natural, afterall...aka your makeup will be a shit show.

Frizz Ease 3-Day Straight Flat Iron Spray ($9.99 retail)
OK, so I don't have naturally curly hair so my opinion on this can really only speak for ladies like me with chronically thick and poufy hair. Generally, I use a straightening iron to get the bulk out of my hair and get it to lay flatter. This stuff definitely did the damn thing.  You apply it while hair is still wet and then use it to set your styling for days at a time. Because I am lazy and like to go days without hair washing, I felt this was made for me. [Tangent: I was very concerned that it would be serum-y and make my hair greasy. My hair needs no help in that department. It was light and didn't add much weight or gunk.] I got lots of compliments on my hair...and that rarely happens.

Red Rose Simply Indulgent Teas ($4.49 retail)
The flavors intrigued me because they were lemon chiffon and creme caramel. I have never heard of/tried this brand, but it seemed pretty yummy and they smelled really potent...but in a good way. Overall, if you are a tea fan, they are worth a shot. I mean it's tea...what's not to love!

Hershey's Kisses- 18.5 oz bag ($5.29 retail)
Well...I mean it's kind of a winner because...well...chocolate!  However, on a personal level, I am not much of a milk chocolate fan so most of these have been ingested by other because I am completely spoiled by dark chocolate. [Tangent: I did think this was kind of an odd selection for a review box, because who needs a review of Hershey kisses?!?!? Seriously, I am pretty sure even cloistered nuns and the Amish eat these on a regular basis. It's not really something you HAVE to get the word out about.]

On the Fence about/Not so Winner
pardon my dour look.
Boots Botanics Shine Away Ionic Clay Mask ($9.39 retail)
Ok, you can tell by my expression that the Boots mask bummed me out a little. [Tangent: Don't get me wrong, it made my skin feel really good and totally deep cleaned, which is why I am not making a loser category...just a "not so winner"] This is the product I was most excited about when I opened the box because it was something I probably wouldn't buy on my own and I had really loved the Montagne Jeunesse mask in my last review box. My expectations were probably too high. When I opened it, the clay mask went everywhere...all over my counter and floors and clothes. It was a waterry mess. I tried to shake it up, and still, it was thin and very hard to apply without getting it everywhere. If only there was a better applicator or different packaging or clear instructions that you had to shake it like crazy beforehand.

Monday, March 17, 2014

5 things I have learned from 500 blogs

Hey ya'll. Today marks my 500th blog, which to me is bizarre. Completely 100% weird.  Since this milestone has been on the horizon, I have thought about what to do for it. [Tangent: I will not bore you with some weird screenshot montage set to Mariah Carey's Butterfly...although that is always in my back pocket.] Also...this is probably how I am more likely to be celebrating.

As you all probably have gleaned, I love a good diversion and that's why I started TGITW...that and it served as a catalyst to get me to write and as a selfish means to keep a record of things in my life. [Tangent: GOD KNOWS I LOVE NOSTALGIA!] Those were my main real agenda or expectations. I knew shit about blogging at the time, so needless to say these 500 rambling tangent-filled posts have taught me some really unexpected things. [Tangent: By no means am I an expert...AT ALL, but I often get a lot of questions from people who want to blog or who are new to the blogosphere and they usually want some kind of advice, so I thought I would heed the call.]

1. To grow as a blogger, you have to read blogs.
When I typed out my first blog entry, I went in semi-blind. There were a maybe two blogs that I followed with little regularity so I was working off the cuff. I consider this a blessing in disguise, because I was not influenced by anyone really except the voices in my head.

However, a blog is like a fish tank. It gets really stagnet if you don't change the water every once in a while and everyone since the beginning of time has said that to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. These maxims are true as hell. So many tips and tricks are things I have just learned by observation. This is how I learned about handy widgets like bloglovin and disqus that have made staying in touch with my readers so much easier.

Also, I quickly learned that the more you follow others regularly, the more they will follow you. If you want some great ones to sample, go to my reading list and find a couple that resonate. They are all ones I read daily and endorse wholeheartedly and there is something for everyone...whether you are a movie buff, bike enthusiast, seamstress, mom or fashionista. 

2. Embrace the community
This kind of goes along with #1, but it is a VERY important one. Although blogging is a solo sport, it is far from lonely. If you so choose, you can easily connect to others that share your enthusiasm for internet stuff. [Tangent: I try not to talk blogging too much with most of my friends. I feel like they would react in a similar fashion to how I react when my brother tries to talk football with me. My mind wanders and I just start humming the lyrics to old Disney songs in my head.] For this reason, don't be afraid to reach out to other bloggers or people that read your blog regularly. Making friends with virtual strangers is probably the most unexpected gift. The people I have met are incredible and so diverse and interesting. We truly rally like a community!

some Nashville Lady Bloggers out on the town

blatantly stolen from LLadybird Lauren's instagram

More than once a week I will get a tag or a link posted to my Facebook page of someone emails me to tell me a story that I might find funny. [Tangent: Especially in the disability world. When Lady Gaga got a gold wheelchair or when the story broke about the disabled Disney concierges, I was overwhelmed with people telling me, "YOU HAVE TO WRITE ABOUT THIS!!!" So I oblige because it makes me happy that people care what I have to say. That is all I dream about. ] I gotta say if you are a blogger and not using social media, please tell me your secrets!!! Because I have found Facebook and Twitter especially to be total game changers and they go so hand-in-hand with blogging that I don't understand how you can have one without the other.
pardon my was 100 degrees...but here is me with Beth of "In case of Fire, Use Stairs" and Alicia from "Spashionista", (Although Beth is not a blogging friend, she's a college friend :))
 I'm the first to admit this whole "Hello Stranger, I know all about you already and vice versa" thing is incredibly Brave New World and can be slightly creepy,  but it has resulted in some great connections. [Tangent: Anyway, I love that book!]

3. Google stuff 
Despite the fact that I have a sliver of graphic design experience, I knew absolutely nada about coding and html and all that jazz, I just knew that I DIDN'T want my blog to look like a 1999 geocities site, but I DID want to do it myself. How did I figure out how to code buttons and get all the additions over time...GOOGLING! It will carry you so far. [Tangent: If Jeeves were indeed a real person, he would be so over me asking him so many questions.] Don't be overwhelmed, the processes are usually pretty step by step because other thoughtful bloggers have idiot proofed them. 

4. Inspiration is everywhere
A lot of times people tell me they have writer's block, which I can fully relate to. Bloggers have all had weeks where they feel forced and like nothing they are writing is compelling. I guess what I have learned is that it doesn't have to be. Not everything has to be an opus. I have been inspired by everything from US Weekly articles to Facebook posts. Sometimes you don't wanna write about deep issue and feelings and stuff, you just wanna write about that weird commercial that is currently annoying the ever-loving shit out of you.

I look at it this way: Have you ever told a story to a friend or posted a status on Facebook that sparked a conversation and then later thought, "I had so many other things I could have added to that to make it more interesting." Bloggers have that chance to put in their two cents on anything! That is such power. 

5. Honesty is the best policy even if people don't like it
I was always secretly kinda jealous of bloggers that had haters, because to me you can't say you've made it until you have gotten hate mail or pissed someone off.  Sometimes you just wanna have your Beyonce moment where you toss your weave at the haters. [Tangent: Full disclosure, I don't have weave, but I would get some to have that moment!] Although hearing negative things is sometimes hard, it's par for the course. It's part of putting yourself out there, because internet trolls are real, ya'll. 

Luckily most of the emails and comments have been incredibly supportive (especially within the disability community), but there are always those that don't love my weird sense of humor or who think in fact that this blog is being ghost written by someone not disabled and that the wheelchair is a marketing ploy. [Tangent: That one was one I heard early on and is still crazy to me. I've always laughed it off even though it is in reality incredibly offensive.] 

Even though I try to choose my words thoughtfully and try not to be offensive, I don't stress too much over it. I curse sometimes. I use run-on sentences and lots of adverbs. That's one of the glorious truths about being a blogger; you have complete control and can present things any way you want. People will tell you that you are wrong or that your feelings are invalid...which is their right...even if it's wrong. All you can do is be honest and do the damn thing. I try to remember to just be natural and write the way I talk...The greatest compliment I can ever get is that my blog sounds just like me.  

Hopefully I can keep it coming for 500 more at least...or until you all are begging me to shut up and get off the internet. In the meantime...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

wanna get sticky? Sticky9 review and giveaway

Ok. So that was the worst blog title ever. I apologize! But it's my 499th blog, so I thought disturb you with a semi-gross title and then reward you with giveaways and discounts and stuff!! Fairly sweet deal, I think. 

 If you are super social on social media, you probably know that I love me some Instagram. In addition to being yet another time killer, I love the app because it makes me look like I have some semblance of photographic talent...when it's clear that I don't. The only problem is that these lovely images live in cyberspace and aren't always showcased like they deserve to be. Luckily, I got the opportunity to make some super cute magnets from the nice people at Sticky9. [Tangent: Sticky9 used to be Stickygram, and are currently undergoing a rebrand, which means cool things are in the works. If you follow them in social media, they will be unrolling them in the next week or so.]

I know, a magnet is a magnet is a magnet, right? Well, pretty much...but these can be personalized with your instagram images, and they make a pretty cute gift idea for someone you love (even if that someone is yourself). [Tangent: I thought it would be fun if you took a lot of instagram pics at a wedding or a party to make them into magnets as a gift after the fact. I could be alone in thinking this is a genius idea...but I do.]

 I was delighted to find that the whole ordering process was shockingly idiot-proof [Tangent: They accessed them directly from instagram, so no uploading was even necessary.] and the delivery process was super speedy...which let's face it- is not always the case with internet based companies. Really all you have to do is scroll through your feed and click on your chosen images and let them do the legwork. 

If you are like me, and your instagram is 75% pictures of your nails on a good day or screenshots from Family Feud, finding 9 worthy pictures may be hard...because that's not really the stuff you wanna showcase on your refrigerator. Because of this, I stuck to a theme, and made all my magnets emblazoned with my niece's face...because well, she is freakishly upsettingly adorable. I felt indulgent ordering magnets for myself, so I got them for my mom. Needless to say...she loved these babies (pun intended?). How could she not?

And if you can't find 9 images you want to immortalize via magnet, that's cool because Sticky9 have recently intro'd these new jigsaw configurations that spread one image over 9 magnets. [Tangent: Because I am a weirdo, I thought this would be coolest if you did a picture with a forward facing person, and then mixed up their features Picasso style.]

Ok. Ok. Enough with the magnets ...[Tangent: If you were playing a drinking game for the number of times I have said the word "magnet" in this post, I imagine you would be schmammered!]  If all of your papers are adequately affixed to your fridge or filing cabinet, Sticky9 also offers custom iPad and phone cases, too. Lots of ways to show off what a good photog you can be with the help of some filters and creative angles.

So what's in it for you? Well,  Sticky9 has given me the power to give away one set of magnets to a lucky reader by entering on the little entry thingamajiggy below before next Sunday the 23rd at Midnight  and even if you don't win, you can get 15% your first order with offer code: FRIENDUUX9

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Ok. I gotta go, I have a 500th blog to write. SCARY! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"you go, girl"'s still a thing

Part of the reason I started this blog, 498 entries ago, was to discuss disability/wheelchair-centric stuff from a realistic open mind without being a martyr or wet blanket. I wanted to approach certain things with honesty and make them easily accessible for even those that had no accessibility issues. [Tangent: If my blog was a building, I imagine it would have both ramps, slides, elevators and even completely ridiculous spiral staircases.] Hopefully, this post is gonna be one of those.

This past weekend, something popped up while I was downtown that begged to be blogged about. Going into the depths of downtown on a Saturday night on the first warm night of spring is something that makes me incredibly anxious. [Tangent: As I creep headlong into my 30s, and get more responsible (yawn...), my capacity dwindles for the antics of obnoxious drunk strangers on the lower Broadway/second avenue area.] However, it was a bachelorette party for my friend Alex, whom I love dearly, so I left my prejudices at home and decide to have fun!

 Despite our group of girls being flanked with hoards of strange youngins in midriff tops and a gentlelady wearing a blazer emblazoned on the back with a picture of her family, I was just having fun celebrating my friend and getting really excited when "Party in the USA" was pumped from the speakers. [Tangent: Truly, it's the little things.] All was going swimmingly until the first of many women approached me...patted me on the back and uttered the same three words: "You go, girl."

This glitter graphic is everything that is wrong with the world

Whew...the phrase epitomized on glitter graphics and Myspace pages from here to Timbuktu is still alive and well in downtown Nashville. Unfortunately the incident was not an isolated one, because it was said to me upwards of 4 times by DIFFERENT strangers on Saturday night...growing more and more tiresome with each occurance. [Tangent: When I texted Jamie to tell him about, his reply was that it was refreshing to see that sassy lady office lingo was going strong. He assumed they all owned hunky firemen calendars or "hail to the queen" coffee mugs.] I got it every time I attempted to let loose dancing or having fun, which kinda made me stop dancing...and having fun. Having a peanut gallery is annoying. Here's the thing, I appreciate the acknowledgement...I really do, but DON'T!

Before I start to come off as one of those disabled folks that is a complete cermudgeon and never pleased with anything, I'll admit that these drunken commenters probably mean well, and I guess if I can show them that disabled people come in all shapes and sizes and can be outgoing, fun people- then it's a good thing, right? Well, I guess.

I only wish they would keep their inner commentary to themselves instead of grabbing my shoulder and ruining my vibe with outdated catch phrases,  basically boiling down my having fun into some kind of weird inspirational PSA. The fact that it happened more than once in a span of a couple hours proves that the behavior is a bit rampant. [Tangent: After watching this video this afternoon I realized these utterances "you go, girl" are basically only slightly less patronizing than handing me a red balloon.]

There's the old adage "If you don't have any thing nice to say, don't say it at all." but I almost feel a parenthetical addition needs to be made: "(...and if you do have something nice to say, consider on a 1-10 scale how appropriate it is to the situation, how it may make the recipient feel and why you are making the comment in the first place.") What do you all think?

Monday, March 10, 2014

I'm so vain, I probably think this coloring book's about me (thanks crayola)

As you know, when I visited California a couple weeks ago, the real reason for the visit was to spend time with my brother, my sister-in-law and the world's most ridiculously adorable Armenian meatball...aka my niece Ellie. Over the 8 day visit, I spent a gratuitous amount of time getting in touch with my inner two year old. [Tangent: For that reason, I now feel like I can confidently explain to you in detail the intricate plot lines of Doc McStuffins and name all of the characters as well as their traits and inner motivations. Finally I can add this to my resume, so I will not feel so out of touch with the youth of today.] I also rediscovered my new zen activity: coloring. [Tangent: Several times I would lure my niece into the living room with a Hello Kitty coloring book to color with me. She would generally give up after about 4 minutes, but I would continue on for the next hour pouring my heart and soul into a picture of an adorable Japanese kitty who is exploring the space program.]

Ellie definitely helped with this one. I like to think she was adding a little David Bowie makeup to this cat. She's so hip.
Somewhere in the throws of adulthood, I forgot how completely calming and therapeutic the art of coloring in a coloring book is. The scent of waxy crayons, the ability to be thoughtlessly's as soothing as a glass of wine.  [Tangent: You get to pick the color palette and the picture to color, but there is no stress of how to go about it or how perfect it just are on autopilot for about 30-45 minutes, and it is spectacular. Not to oversimplify, but I daresay that if the folks in the Ukraine were tossed some boxes of crayons (like at least a 65 count) and some coloring books, tensions would ease considerably.] Because of my new discovery, I of course decided to buy some coloring books at Target last week, because frankly, every grown woman trying to remain sane and balanced should. Luckily Lisa Frank stuff was in the dollar aisle so I could use every last color in my new box of 96 crayons. 
yep. These street-wise teddy bears took my stress down about 40 notches!

But this isn't even the point of this blog [Tangent: I know. I know. I bury the lead...a lot. Story of my life.] The thing I felt the need to share with you weirdos is that there is currently a cool bonus to buying crayola crayons. With a code inside each box, you can be the "star" of your very own coloring book as part of their Story Studio campaign. DREAMS DO COME TRUE!

 [Tangent: I realize this crayola campaign is mainly marketed at parents of young children, but damn...why do they get to have all the fun?!? Who says I (as a childless 31 year-old) don't want need to be the center of a completely ridiculous storytime adventure that I can later articulate with color, while trying to calm myself while watching 12 Years a Slave? Because I DO!]  I tried to upload a picture and then see if it looked like me, but it didn't come out so fantastic. My results made me look a little like a demonic child, so I just decide to start from scratch and form my old "character" Mr. Potato head style by choosing features similar to my own and making a composite. When tasked with choosing my own adventure scenario, I, of course I decided, to place myself into a haunted house setting. Here's my newly colored avatar looking ecstatic that a jaundiced zombie is lurking. 
I am so jazzed!!
 While my 30 day free trial lasts, I am halfway tempted to make a homemade coloring book for everyone in my life....I'm starting with Jamie and working my way down the list.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

celebrate March 5th the right way...improve your vocabulary

Today was a national holiday; [Tangent: No...not national cheese doodle day...even though, it is indeed that... so go make your favorite sunglasses sportin' cheetah very pleased and consume his product.] Today was National "Say the word to end the word."

You may be wondering what word it is talking about [Tangent:...because frankly, if it were entirely up to me the term "slider" would be terminated. ] Today is a day that focuses on bringing awareness to the rampant and wrongful overuse of a word that is hurtful to many. The word is "retarded" or any form thereof. [Tangent: I don't take pleasure in even typing that word...but I will use it only once in the post, and hereafter call it "the word".] 

I am instinctively not politically correct, and I tend to be liberal on people's choice of words. I've never cared if someone calls me disabled or frankly even crippled. I was raised possessing a very sticks and stones mentality, so frankly until about a year ago, I thought people who got offended by such things were just overly sensitive. As someone who claims to have an extensive vocabulary, I shamefully admit that I would recklessly use "the word" to describe a lot of things I deemed dumb or pointless.(movies....people...phrases...books...the word "slider.")

Being a communications major and someone who writes, I know that words are powerful and sometimes you need a specific word to communicate a certain thing just the way you want to. I get it.  The problem is when the choice of words brings hurt to a person. Then all bets are off. [Tangent: Historically there have been a lot of words that fall under this umbrella. Words like the N-word were once commonplace and used by even the most educated of people, but today you would never dream of using that word because you know the pain it has caused.]

Maybe I never took the time to kick this habit because prior to last fall, I have never, as an adult, had someone in my daily life with an intellectual or developmental disability. I have never seen someone personally affected by "the word."  Then I met Claire....someone I can attest is neither "dumb" nor "pointless."

Isn't that one of the most precious faces ever ever to hit your eyeballs?  This little beaut is the daughter of my best friend, Kristen. [Tangent: When Claire was still cookin, her mom and dad learned that she was going to live her life with Down Syndrome. It was not an easy time for her family or those that loved her family...not because we weren't so excited to meet Claire and see that adorable mug...but because we knew that her life would be harder than most.]  At this point, she has been on this earth for almost 5 months and it's a little early yet for her to have been personally affected by "the word.". She has not been made to feel "less than" because of it. It hasn't had a a chance to make her cry or make her doubt the incredibly amazing quirk of nature that she is  [AKA Superbaby]...and I don't want it to.

The day I found out she was going to be living with Down Syndrome, I made a personal pledge to stop using "that word." Dropping one stupid hurtful word from my vocabulary has been a surprisingly easy habit to break...everytime it even tries to roll off my tongue...I picture this lady...

...then it is impossible to utter it. Since eradicating it from my personal dictionary, I have also become so keenly aware of how much it is used by people in my life. It's a term I hear daily in all kinds of environments. [Tangent:It's not always maliciousness...just sometimes people, like myself, who are ignorant of it's effects.]  Every time I hear "the word" spoken, it almost hits my ear in a strange a dog whistle. It hurts and makes me sad that I was not more careful of my words earlier. [Tangent: I tell my 2 year old niece to use her words. Why wasn't I taking that same advice?]

I consider myself very lucky to have her in my only makes me wish everyone had a Claire to make them better and teach them to use their words more carefully. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

a guest app happy review from my fella: french girls

So it's that time again where I have an idea for a blog...get lazy...then hand the reigns over to someone capable that I trust to do the leg work. [Tangent: Terrible wheelchair pun intended? You decide.] For a couple weeks, I have really been wanting to write an app happy review for the French Girls app, but all of the real estate on my phone is spoken for. Seriously, every last gigabyte is promised to cute pics of my niece or toward building a replica Springfield. [Tangent: How can I not cover this with my blog...just look at the studly bearded ginger logo!]

However, I decided to call upon the person I trust the most, my sweet fella, Jamie. He shares my sense of humor and from his half-assed tumblr,  I know he's brilliant.  And I kind of consider him a selfie expert  [Tangent: Y'all might know I met Jamie due to his selfies. We first crossed paths when I spotted him when commenting on my friends' pictures on the Moustache May website in 2011. He has since springboarded this "talent" into various other photo projects online as well as becoming the mascot for a Nashville's premier fake basketball team. Pretty impressive...for a ginger.]. Thus, he is the ideal French Girls candidate. One might think this makes him a vain prick, but truthfully he just plays one on the's his creative outlet and he's probably the most unassuming human on planet earth take it away, boo!

Recently on Instagram, a couple of my fellow former facial hair growers began posting some pics that immediately drew me in. Sure, they were basically just your typical Insta-selfie, but these came with a special bonus feature. They were accompanied by an artist's rendering of the photo in a handy split-screen layout! Whuuuuut?!?! The banner on these photos informed me that they weren't the result of some sort of iPhone voodoo, but were the product of an anonymous photo sketching app called French Girls. Naturally, I immediately headed to the app store to see what this was all about. I am now slightly obsessed.

I've never seen Titanic (no spoilers, please!), but I find the idea of having someone draw me like one of their French girls more than just slightly intriguing. Here's how it works: First open the app and switch to the camera function. Then, just take a selfie and post it once you're happy with it (there is no option to import, so all pics must be taken in-app).

Once your pic is added to the pool, just sit back and wait for an alert that you've been drawn. With the heavy flow of pics on the app, you may or may not receive a pic back. If you haven't received a sketch back in about 20-30 minutes, you probably won't. Just keep taking more pics. You'll likely be sketched soon. I've found that my pics are more likely to be drawn if I'm doing something more interesting than taking a standard selfie. I suggest using weird accessories, props, or poses to get your photo noticed more easily.

For the more artistic types, you may be more inclined to draw than to BE drawn. To live out your fantasy of being an amateur police sketch artist, just click the pencil. This takes you to the photo pool. Click the arrow to flip through the photos until you find your muse. Though not very frequently, you WILL stumble across some T and A...and sometimes some V...and definitely some D and B's, so be warned if that's not the sort of thing you're into.

Once you've chosen your subject, click the pencil to begin creating your masterpiece. If you ever played Draw Something back when it was a thing (is it still a thing?), you should be familiar with the basic layout here. Two color packs can be downloaded for free upon opening, while add-on packs/effects will cost 99 cents a pop. Once you've completed your portrait, submit your drawing and a message will be sent to the stranger you just drew.

Of course, not everyone is artistically inclined and this is obvious when scrolling through the gallery. Since all drawings are anonymous, many people abuse their untraceable status to write rather hateful things about people's photos. Some people are incredibly judgmental. Some are just flat out racist. Others never miss their opportunity to draw a big ol' donger. Then there are those who just write their phone numbers, Kik/Snapchat handles, and email addresses in hopes of receiving scandalous photos of the afformentioned T/A/V/D/Bs. This has made me start to consider getting a Snapchat account just to see how many people actually send photos to a total stranger. I would like to turn French Girls from a photo app into a social experiment.

there are A LOT of these.
 There are other social aspects to this app, too. If you're not in the mood to draw or take photos of yourself, simply pull up the photo pool and scroll through. I often do this to wind down before bed. (Once you're done browsing, just select a photo to draw, then trash it before you start drawing. This will take you back to the main gallery, since there is no home button.) It's interesting to pick out certain trends amongst these photos. 
For example;
  • How many lip/nose rings will I see? 
  • How many people are still doing the duckface/peace sign combo in 2014? 
  • How many teenagers will I see in that same Nirvana shirt from Target? 
Since this is a popular app worldwide, you can also spot certain international trends. I like to pay attention to the language on shirts and posters to see which countries tend to post at particular times of the day, and trying to see what fashion trends and photo techniques are popular amongst certain groups of people. It's like the timeless art of people watching on a global scale, but you never even have to get out of bed!

In the grand scheme of things, I'd say that French Girls is a top notch time waster. All of the juvenile scribbles and possibility of personal judgment are worth it once you get back a quality sketch of yourself, compliments of a total stranger from the other side of the globe.

I bet this guy was super annoyingly good at draw something.
 Sometimes I wish I knew who drew me, so I could personally praise them or go check out their other work. So, for you folks who have drawn me as a flower, a weird bunny man, or a set of Russian stacking dolls.....THANK YOU.....and to the young shirtless fellow holding up his Instagram name on a sheet of paper.....sorry I responded with a drawing of the Instagram logo that said "#nobodycares".

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