Avengers 1.5: Against All Odds

Forget about the Chitauri, there’s a new enemy in town..

Cap Addresses the Troops

This is how it’s going down. Stark, I’m going to need you to put some science behind all this. Thor, you’re on shampoo detail. Romanoff–you and Barton are doing laundry in HOT water. Hulk, whatever you do…don’t smash!

Our heroes struggle with this relentless new enemy.

Picking Nits Hawkeye

–Dude, why do I have to pick the nits?
–I may be a vaunted warrior of Asgard, but I am not the one with the eyes of the hawk.
–Hulk SMASH lice!

And tentative allies become closer friends.

--Good thing you're hair's short now. --Why do you think I cut it after Iron Man 2? Went undercover in a Ukranian preschool. I liked Budapest better.

–Good thing you’re hair’s short now.
–Why do you think I cut it after Iron Man 2? Went undercover in a Ukranian preschool and the little punks gave me this stuff. I liked Budapest better.

But some of the Avengers are close to the breaking point.

Enough is enough! I have had it with these muthafuqqqqin nits on this muthafuqqin helicarrier!

Enough is enough! I have had it with these muthafuqqqqin nits on this muthafuqqin helicarrier!


Until an enemy makes an unexpected offer.

--Brother, what are you going to want for this? How can we trust you? --Thor, I only want the suffering to stop. I am the god of mischief....not torture.

–Brother, how can we trust you?
–Thor, I only want the suffering to stop. I am the god of mischief….not torture.

Stark’s idea comes late, but will his technology prove to be the perfect back up plan?

--Uh, guys? I know the prototype is a bit big--I mean, that is my style--but what do you think about this?

–Uh, guys? I know the prototype is a bit big–I mean, that is my style–but what do you think about this?

Find out more in Avengers 1.5: Against All Odds, a story that will hopefully never come to a theater–or home–near you.



Heart of Darkness II: The Plot Thickens

I may have to buy this. This is a thing, y’all!

Confession time: I have actually enjoyed parts of Heart of Darkness this time around. Maybe I had to read it when it wasn’t required? Maybe I had to do my time with Faulkner before I could stand Conrad’s dense prose? Who knows. I’m not going to throw an “I Love Heart of Darkness” Party any time soon, but I have found some aspects to appreciate. Here are my random thoughts:


  • At this point, I’m thinking Marlow’s obsession with Kurtz, a man he hasn’t even met, is a bit much. I keep thinking of a Foreigner parody. “I wanna know who Kurtz is…I want you to show me.”

    How Marlow feels about Kurtz?

  • Conrad uses some permutation of the phrase “heart of darkness” at least three times in this little section. Such overuse still makes me roll my eyes.
  • Good use of description: “In a few days the Eldorado Expedition went into the patient wilderness, that closed over it as the sea closes over a diver.”
  • Also “Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings.”
  • Also mad props for “There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine.”
  • Boo hiss for “The earth seemed unearthly.”
  • Am I supposed to be scandalized by the cannibals? Is it wrong to hope the cannibals mutiny and eat everyone on board?
  • More good stuff: “No fear can stand up to hunger, no patience can wear it out, disgust simply does not exist where hunger is; and as to superstition, beliefs, what you may call principles, they are less than chaff in the breeze.”
  • But then after that excellent quote. Conrad keeps going. *Face Palm*
  • Every time I start to like Marlow he fanboys over Kurtz and I gag.
  • And then this happens “They—the women I mean—are out of it—should be out of it. We must help them to stay in that beautiful world of their own, lest ours gets worse.” To this I say, Bite me. I’ve given birth twice. I’ve got your beautiful world RIGHT HERE.
  • What the what is this supposed to mean: “Of course you may be too much of a fool to go wrong—too dull even to know you are being assaulted by the powers of darkness. I take it, no fool ever made a bargain for his soul with the devil: the fool is too much of a fool or the devil too much of a devil—I don’t know which…” and HE KEEPS GOING. For the love, Conrad, when you make a point don’t belabor it. Let me help you: Some people are too stupid for evil.
  • Am I supposed to like Marlow more because he grudgingly likes his helmsman? I don’t. Look at Huck Finn. He, too, exists in a world where everyone who isn’t white is a second class citizen. He owns his friendship with Jim. (Side note: according to SparkNotes, Marlow compares his helmsman to a poor British man. I didn’t see that on my own. Maybe I’m a poor reader. Maybe this book and I just don’t get along.)
  • Bonus points for “He positively dances, the bloodthirsty little gingery beggar.”
  • Also bonus points for Marlow pointing out that the steam whistle was more effective than shooting into the brush.
  • I do like the joy over the returned Towson book because…book.
  • “This man has enlarged my mind!” Yes, I rolled my eyes. Again.

This is me every time a character fanboys over Kurtz.


So here’s my take. There is a good story in this novel. I still firmly believe it’s hampered by all of the filters (first person narrator telling us about another man tellingus a story which is presented as a flashback) and by Conrad’s writing style. I can’t stand how Marlow and the other characters treat the indigenous people, but I know that’s part of what Conrad is getting at. The middle section has better description and better pacing than the first, so that’s good.


I would still be okay with the cannibals winning, though.

In Which I Discuss One of My Inspirations

Nellie Bly, y’all.

When I think of the books that have shaped me over the years, I always go back to The Value Tale of Fairness: The Story of Nellie Bly. That woman inspired me. She marched into the office of The New York World fearlessly. She promised to feign insanity in order to infiltrate an infamous asylum on Blackwell’s Island to report on the conditions. Later she made her own journey around the world in 80 days. I would’ve called it the value of badassery, myself.

But there was more to Nellie’s story that I didn’t know.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1864, her real name was Elizabeth Cochran. In addition to working as an investigative journalist, she was also an inventor and a novelist. But I get ahead of myself…

Elizabeth got her first job when she wrote a scathing response to an article in the Pittsburgh Dispatch entitled “What Girls Are Good For” and signed it Nelly Bly.* The editor liked the writing so much, he invited in the man who wrote it to come speak to him about a job. Once Nellie showed up, he tried to renege, but she managed to talk her way into a job anyway. Since it was a dangerous time to write under her real name, she kept the Nellie Bly under which she’d written that first response.

Of course, once she got the job she was relegated to the women’s pages. So she did what any sane woman would do (not), she traveled to Mexico to report on

Nellie threatened to stand in the World offices forever if that's what it took.

Nellie threatened to stand in the World offices forever if that’s what it took.

conditions there under Porfirio Diaz. She didn’t pull any punches about his treatment of the Mexican people and almost got arrested. All of this at the tender age of 21.

She made it back to the States, and you’d think the newspaper in Pittsburgh would promote her to regular news reporting after her heroic stories from Mexico.

You would be wrong. Back to the women’s pages she went. So Nellie went to New York and started looking for a job there. She found one at The New York World, and one of her most notable assignments, as mentioned above, was to pretend she was insane.

The story may simplified what Nellie went through, but the image speaks volumes.

The story may simplified what Nellie went through, but the image speaks volumes.

I remember the pages about her treatment in the insane asylum very well. You see, once Nellie convinced everyone she was insane, she quit acting. The people who worked at the asylum, for the most part, didn’t seem to care. Patients had to sit on stiff benches without talking or interacting. They were fed nasty gruel and spoiled beef and forced to endure cold showers. What Nellie endured for the opportunity to tell a story that might stir compassion really impressed me as a kid. You can read more about the experience in Nellie’s own words here.

After her trip to Blackwell’s, Nellie next embarked on an attempt to beat Phileas Fogg’s 80 days around the world a la Around the World in Eighty Days. She took a dress or two, several changes of underwear, and toiletries—nothing else no doubt to help prove a woman can travel without luggage. She got to meet Jules Verne, visited a leper colony, and bought a monkey in Singapore. Now, the Value Tale didn’t tell me that another female journalist, Elizabeth Bisland, was racing her to see which would get there first, but we’ll get to the problems with the Value Tale version in a minute. What you need to know for now is that Nellie made it in a little over 72 days. She also did it by herself, going against the social norm that women needed a chaperone.

Then things on the Wikipedia page got interesting and sketchy. The 30 year old Nellie married a 70 year old manufacturer. She has at least one patent under her belt. When embezzlement (um, I’d like to know more about this, Wikipedia) bankrupted the company, Nellie went back into the trenches to cover both World War I and the suffragist movement. There’s a tale about a woman leaving Nellie a baby? I’m going to have to find some better biographies, that much I know.

Oh, yes. This is happening. 

So let’s talk about what you do when you want to find out more about a figure that history has largely forgotten. Blessedly, there’s a new book called Eighty Days that tells of Bly and Bisland’s race to make it around the world. That’s hovering near the top of my TBR pile, and you can be sure I’ll write a review and or blog about it. Then there are primary texts like the one about the asylum above. I haven’t finished that version, but it’s surprisingly readable considering its age. I also have my eye on a biography by Brooke Kroeger. I want to find out more about a woman who would do just about anything in the name of a good story!

And, while I suppose this was pretty progressive for 1977, I’d love to get a picture of who Nellie Bly was without this

What the what? Girlfriend just went around the world. She is NOT going to be coy.

What the what? Girlfriend just went around the world. She is NOT going to be coy.

sort of illustration creeping in. Here’s to Nellie Bly. When I write about pole dancing, Mirena, or whatever craziness I blog about, she’s an inspiration. What about you guys? Any crazy things I should try out or any inspirational folks you remember from childhood biographies?


*Nellie signed her name Nelly after the Stephen Foster song Nelly Bly. Her editor misspelled it, and the spelling you see stuck.

P.S. Psst! I just discovered the Complete Works of Nellie Bly is 99 cents on Amazon.

Heart of Darkness, Part 1

This isn’t the version I have. For some reason the one with all of the critical essays isn’t all that popular….go figure.


As I was rereading Heart of Darkness for the fourth time, I thought of something one of my KSU professors would say. Ralph Wilson taught us to talk about what he “resisted” in each other’s poetry. This is a much nicer way of saying what we think stinks. No, seriously. I love the expression because it allows me, the reader, to be subjective without devaluing the work that I’m reading. That said, I resist Heart of Darkness hard core.

I always have. I have a feeling I always will.

But the challenge is this: Can I read Heart of Darkness and not hate it with every fiber of my being like this

I’m not quite as willing to strangle a faux French maid over the book, but let’s keep in mind I’m not done yet.

The jury is still out. Now as I approach Part One, I need you, Gentle Reader, to understand something: I remember almost none of this book. I have the traditional “The horror! The horror!” I remembered there was a thing and a deal and a boat and the Congo River and Kurtz. Everything else I think I suppressed. I say that to say, my impressions may change as I go along because I might as well be reading this blindly.


I’m going to talk about this in PROs and CONs–otherwise this is going to devolve. Let’s start with the CONs since I’ve had FOUR (did I mention I’ve attempted this four times? This is more than a fair shake on my part, I believe) read throughs to collect those:

  • lugubrious drollery–What the what? We’ve got native Africans forced into servitude and horrible living conditions and we are distracted from this by Conrad’s admittedly stellar vocabulary. Look, even I don’t use the word lugubrious. Or I didn’t until I read that passage to The Hobbit only to have him decide he likes this particular expression. Bonus: explaining what an oxymoron is.
  • paragraphs with no end–Another distraction from Conrad’s writing
  • dialogue insanity–I understand that the current method of setting off dialogue isn’t the only method, but it sure is a heckuva lot easier to read
  • framework–I can only imagine an editor/agent today getting this manuscript: “Gee, Joseph, why don’t you tell the story in real time? I understand you’re looking to compare and contrast the river situations, but don’t you think all of the Romans coming up the Thames description has been laid on a bit thick? Now, why are we filtering this story through a flashback and a random sailor dude again?”
  • woman bad–For. The. Love. With historical things, I try to be lenient. But then I run across lines like this “Then–would you believe it?–I tried the women.

    Marlow, unlike Animal, does not want “Wo-man!”

    I, Charlie Marlow, set the women to work–to get a job.” OR “It’s queer how out of touch with truth women are.” or the accountant who tries to teach the native woman to iron his clothes but she has “distaste for the work.” Yeah, me, too. Lots of distaste going on. I can’t help myself.

  • hit you over the head imagery–Yes, there’s darkness. We’re going into the heart of it. I get it already. I can see Jenni McQuiston critiquing with Conrad and saying, “Did you know you used the word darkness 25 times in the first section alone? And, yes, flabby. We get it.”
  • I disagree–Marlow has a distaste for what he’s seeing in Africa, but it’s for all the wrong reasons. He doesn’t lift a finger to help anyone. He throws around the “n” word which, again, I try not to be all upset about because it was a different time and blah blah blah, but I hate that word. Along with the “c” word (got too much of that one in Gone Girl) and “GD.” Those are some of my buttons. I’m old enough to understand that now.




Now for some PROs

  • description–If you are into description, Conrad gives some good ones. Here’s one that caught my eye: “A narrow and deserted street in deep shadow, high houses, innumerable windows with venetian blinds, a dead silence, grass sprouting between the stones, imposing carriage archways right and left, immense double doors ponderously ajar.” Whew. I think I’m out of breath typing that. I could put this under CONs because….so not a sentence BUT I could see the scene he was setting. The words are more like poetry. Overdone maybe, but powerful.
  • Fun times!

    head-measuring doctor–This amused me. I don’t know why, but it did. Is the doctor thinking Marlow’s head will come back shrunken?

  • figurative language–every now and then I had to grudgingly tip my hat to Conrad. Now that I’ve done more writing myself, I can appreciate: “We called at some more places with farcical names, where the merry dance of death and trade goes on in a still and earthy atmosphere. . .” I also liked his description of the bricklayer as a “papier-mache Mephistopheles.” At first I didn’t, then I decided it worked.
  • rivets–I have to admit I enjoyed how Marlow toyed with the brickmaker and plotted to get his rivets. As of the end of part one it hasn’t worked, but I had to give him a little cheer for working the system. One day while in the middle of a meal, I’m going to say, “I demand rivets!” Just because I can. Bonus points if Ryan starts talking about a hippo with a charmed life.

    Beware the hippo!


So that’s what I’ve got so far. I only zoned out twice and only closed the book with a frustrated “grrr” three times. Maybe I’m maturing as a reader. Who knows?

Anybody want to join me? You know I’m always looking for a dissenting opinion and some solid discussion on these things. Nothing like four+ years of studying English to remind myself my opinion is not the end all and be all. That said, you’re going to have to do a LOT of convincing if you want me to think this novel is the worth the hype it receives. I have even heard people say it’s the best novel of all time. No way. I’m not buying it.


Why Mirena, Aunt Flo, and I Will Never Be Besties

Never had a period? This sums it up.

Addendum 3/27: Y’all. This is my “this is the way it is” post. I’ve appreciated all of the suggestions and sympathy, but I feel a little guilty. As bad as this may read to some of you, I know quite a few women who have it much worse. Think about that for a minute, and please think of them. I can handle this. It’s not pleasant. It’s not ideal, but I can handle it. This isn’t a topic often discussed so please think of my ladies who suffer so much more but aren’t as addicted to TMI as I am. 

By popular demand, it’s time to level with you about my Mirena. I’m going to make a plea, too: please, please, please feel free to share your experiences. If there’s one thing I wish the medical community understood about women it’s that the more we’re alike, the more we’re different. For some reason, women have the widest range of reactions to medications. On the other hand, we’re also often ignored or brushed off for reporting symptoms. Oh, it’s fun to be a girl, all right.

Gentlemen, this little trip isn’t for the faint of heart. It’d probably do you some good to learn more about the intricacies of female plumbing, but if that ain’t your bag, baby, then you need to come back on Friday. As I said before, that’ll be uber manly Heart of Darkness day.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Once upon a time there was a girl who went through all of the normal period-related things. Then she had two children. Then her lady parts decided they hated her (the feeling is now mutual) and decided to have a really heavy flow and to pinch a nerve that ran down the back of her legs on her heaviest days. Fun times. I bet Ryan can remember a day when we were waiting for the monorail at the Grand Floridian and I couldn’t stand, sit, squat, or hardly breathe—that’s how bad that pain down the back of my leg was. I believe that was also the trip I got to treat myself to new underwear because my supplies were no match for my monthly visitor. Ah, nothing like a trip to an amusement park on one of those days.

So, like a good patient, I told my doctor the problem, and he suggested the pill. I said, “You need to understand something about me and the pill. The pill makes me want to kill people.” He laughed. I was only half-joking. I get so hateful on the pill that I don’t even like myself. So then he starts pushing the Mirena. Justifiably, I’m not too keen on poking things through my cervix. I know, I know. I’m so old-fashioned like that. Then he breaks out the big guns. “Maybe you need to have uterine ablation.” He hands me a pamphlet. I see the word “blanch.” I, in fact, blanch at the idea of scalding my innards. Again, this doesn’t strike me as the best idea, but I like to keep an open mind. I take all the literature home and read over it. I talk to the womenfolk in my life taking an informal survey of my options, such as they are. I read things on the Internet and scare myself shitless.

I try the pill after being promised that this one, this pill, will be different.

By the three month mark I wanted to kill people. When I went in for my “are your anxiety meds still working for you” check up, my GP asked me if I were having suicidal ideation. I said, “Homicidal maybe, but not suicidal.” She laughed. I, once again, was only half-joking.

So I went off the pill. Again.

My monthly cycle ramped up until I was beginning to feel I had a deadly tsunami inside me. There would be days when I feared to leave my house for fear I would repeat that embarrassing day in junior high when I had an “accident.” (As a side note, can we stop calling them accidents? Makes me feel like a toddler who’s potty training. Seriously. This is the miracle of life. It ain’t an accident.)

Faced with the choice of blanching my innards or being poked with a plastic T, I caved to the Mirena. At least 3 women I knew loved theirs. (I’m hoping they’ll chime in with their success stories below.) The first month was. . . Interesting. I had spotting, but no cramping. I think that’s the last month I had the debilitating pinched nerve down the back of the leg.

Month 2: More spotting.

Month 3: More spotting.

Month 4: The spotting gets better—yay! But the moods….am I detecting a hint of the homicidal?

Month 5: The spotting gets worse—more unpredictable. I still haven’t been able to figure out a schedule, and my cycle usually runs like clockwork if left to its own devices.

Month 6: weird things, man. Things I’d never seen, and let’s keep in mind I’ve given birth twice. My OB-GYN humors me and does an ultra-sound to prove that everything is where it should be.

Month 7: I expect things to get better since that’s what the literature promised. The literature promised that things would even out around month 6. They promised!

Month 8: I’m on day 14 of a light period/spotapalooza. I want to club baby seals. By next month I will be the Wicked Witch of the West.

So here are the top things I would tell you about my Mirena experience.

1. You will lose some hair. The OB-GYN looked at me and said, “I haven’t heard that one.” Obviously, he hasn’t been reading the Interwebs because it’s there. I only freaked a little. Okay, I freaked a lot over just a few missing strands. Essentially it was like when you lose hair after having a baby and has since leveled off.

2. Inserting the Mirena will hurt like a sonuvabitch. At least it did with me. It was a sharp pinch, but it would be worth the hassle if the thing worked. I merely feel compelled to tell you it was not pleasant.

3. No panties are safe. Just put up your pretty panties. You’re going to be living in the granny panties you save for those special days. You’ll never know when or where Aunt Flo will show up. Periods on Mirena are like ninjas: popping up when you are without supplies then dashing away and leaving you off balance as to which particular feminine plumbing product you really need.

4. The hormones are there. If the birth control pill makes you so pissy that Oscar the Grouch starts to look like a better companion, then the stuff in the Mirena will eventually catch up to you. It took me about five months, but I’m squarely in Ranty-McRanterson-Let’s-Go-Punch-Puppies territory.

5. Getting rid of it will be a pain. So that’s where I am. I want to pull the plug on mine, but that will mean a fifth trip to the gyno in less than 12 months. Look. Once a year is enough. I’m currently trying to wait it out for another 4 months for 2 reasons: 1) I could get my pap smear and be OB-GYN free for another year and 2) like the ever-optimistic sap that I am, I hope for my periods to go away. Read the fine print on the Interwebs, though: only 1 in 5 women see their periods go away after the first year. What awesome marketing to promise women the possibility of getting rid of her periods! I think it’s all lies. I think the boys at Bayer all have their pants on fire. And yet I still hope. That’s how much I don’t want to return to the days of the elephant tampons.


That’s where I stand with the Mirena. I spend about half the month spotting and the other half living in fear that I will start. And things seem to be getting heavier instead of lighter.

But that’s not the scary part.

The scary part is what’s to come. Based on my Internet research, I took a risk. Many women report the real problems begin when you take the Mirena out. Now, some of you are asking why I would even try the Mirena in the first place. My answer? One gets sick of using the aforementioned elephant tampons and still having to have a pad as back up. As my friend Janette and I have often said, “That is not okay.”


*Steps up on women’s studies soapbox*

People, look at how many drugs there are to cure erectile dysfunction:


Gold diggers everywhere must weep at night.

Gold diggers everywhere must weep at night.

Now take a look at the options for women who have trouble orgasming: (BTW at least one studies suggests 10% of women have never orgasmed. Ever. And not from lack of trying.)

Not a lot of options, eh?

Not a lot of options, eh?


Now here are your options for heavy periods. Note how many of these are invasive. I bet even the few men intrepid enough to read this far will have to cross their legs.

I'd like a magic pill, please.

I’d like a magic pill, please.


I have a little suggestion: how’s about we study women a little more? How’s about we put some time and energy into figuring out why some women have wacky heavy periods and how to treat them? Or how to help women orgasm? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that men would get greater use out of those ED drugs if women could a) orgasm, b) have periods that really only lasted 3-5 days, and c) didn’t turn into raging homicidal hate monsters due to the hormones in their contraceptives.

I mean, bad enough we have to put up with people making comments like “Are you on the rag or something?” any time we get the least bit irritated, it’s another that sometimes we genuinely have every reason to be irritable and can’t show it. And, yes, I’ve gone off on a tangent. Just think about how strong women really are to put up with the regular b.s. Of life as well as periods and child birth. We got this.


Oh, and suck it, Mirena. Bring on the damned elephant tampons.

In Which I Devolve into a Hormone-Fueled Rant Against Clothing Designers

Warning: I’m going to mention lady parts in a vague sort of way and refer to my mysterious cycle. If you find this off-putting, join me on Friday when I talk about the uber manly Heart of Freaking Darkness.


I’d planned to write a post about my IUD. In fact, I did write an entire blog post about my Mirena. Suffice to say, it’s full of frustration and pent up rage. If my lady parts and I had a theme song it would be “We Used to Be Friends” from Veronica Mars. Since I don’t want to expose you to my Mirena rant YET, I shall air my grievances on another subject that is near and dear to me and many of my peers: a lack of suitable clothing.

I had this coupon from Target for $5 off an apparel purchase of $25 or more. I thought to myself, “Self, since you’re pushing 40, you should probably have a few shirts that don’t feature cartoon characters.” My self wasn’t sold on the idea, but I went to Target anyway because a coupon is a coupon, you know.

I’ve been through two Targets now with the same results: the only things I want are the screen tees.

No. Just no. Even Jackie O would’ve said no.

(And to have the body for one of the bikinis, but that’s a separate post for another day) First of all, it’s all crazy prints. Then there was this quilted jacket that made me think of Jackie O. And chartreuse, a color that makes me look like a malaria victim. Finally, I found some cute skirts. Having the fashion sense of a lemur, I checked out the handy signage and found the top the model was wearing. Into the dressing room I go, and the top is sheer. Sheer, I tell you! What. The. Hell?

Disgusted, I take Her Majesty (Have I mentioned lately how futile it is to go shopping with Her Majesty? No? That, too, is another post for another day) to H&M. What should I find but more sheer tops. More quilted things. A beautiful dress, but it had only one strap—hence, no bra or a strapless bra—and one of those elastic waist bands that would hit me in just the right place to have random strangers asking me when I’m due. Since I care about humanity and don’t want to go into a homicidal rage because someone asks me if I’m pregnant, I put the dress back. I’ll confess I gave more than a passing thought to the metallic gold skirt, but the rest of the patterns were. . . Hideous. OR the button downs required ironing.

People, I am living on the edge thanks to the 12 day period that has me thinking I’m going to have to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment to get it to go away, and you want to taunt me with clothes I cannot wear? Really? You think this wise?

For the good of humanity, I need a fashion designer to please heed these suggestions. We ladies will buy your clothes if you will do this. Make a web site. Tell Target that these are the clothes women really want, and, trust me, WE ARE ALL SHOPPING IN TARGET ANYWAY. (Okay. Okay. You know what, you would be punchy, too, if you were on day 12) Let me tell you what I want, what I really really want:


1. Can I wear a bra with this? This is the first question you should ask. Sure all those skinny minnie twenty-somethings look so cute in backless, strapless things with their perky breasts and flat stomachs. Good for them. I drink red wine, enjoy steak, and have boobs, Ed. Know what else the vast majority of twenty-somethings don’t have? Money. I have money. I paid good money for this extraordinary Victoria’s Secret push up bra, and I would like to wear it. Here’s what you need: Wider straps or—gasp!—sleeves, higher backs to tops and dresses, but you can dip the front a little bit. I’m married. I believe in accentuating the positive.

2. What body type will this work for? Let’s not be coy. We ladies know what we want to hide so just put on the label: this will camouflage your stomach or your hips or your linebacker shoulders.  We are busy women. You come up with a brand where I know all of the red label clothes will help minimize my gut? I could be your friend for life.

3. Chill with the damned prints. Look, I don’t want paisley or huge flowers on my butt. Maybe some of your models need to have prints so we can find their butts or fringe so they can pretend they have boobs, but I might as well put a target on mine if I wear something loud on my posterior. Also, horizontal stripes? Who the heck wants to wear those? Cut it out! Would it kill you people to make solid color dresses with sleeves or to use subtle prints? Bonus points for slimming prints and flattering designs.

4. How about something that falls in between hoochie mama and geriatric—especially for petites? Dude. I can’t wear Daisy Dukes for fear of showing off the varicose veins I got from teaching. I’m also not ready for seer sucker bermudas. Is this what the world wants women to be? Sexy….until they’re not? Why do my choices have to be either obnoxious or pastel? Lady of the Evening or Lady of the Rest Home?

5. More choices over size 14. Look. Women who are shopping in the “PLUS” sizes don’t want big cats on their shirts. They also don’t need for you to add decorative flowers. Give them the same choices but in a larger size. What about wrap dresses WITH SLEEVES and sleek pants. Nice solids and subtle prints, help a sister out here. If the average woman is 5’4 and weighs 150, then you have quite a few customers who wear a size 14 or larger. Quit catering to the skinny Barbies who get all the good clearance rack deals because none of us can wear a size TWO LONG.

6. Wash and wear. Did I mention we’re busy women? These clothes need to be wrinkle-free and NOT DRY-CLEAN ONLY. There’s a special place for you people who create dry-clean only clothes. It’s purgatory for y’all who design hand-wash only. Gentle cycle people? You’re living on the edge. On the edge, I tell you.

7. Reasonable price. Look, if you make a product that’s flattering, wears well, and fits these criteria, I’ll pay a little more. Kudos to Alfani for a pair of $50 pants that I have literally worn out. I’m not paying $100 for a pair or pants or a shirt or even a dress, if I can help it, but I will pay $50 for another pair of Alfani pants because they served me well. They haven’t lasted as long as I would’ve liked, but I have to admit I’ve worn them A LOT. Now, you other people, get with the program and make me some tops to go with them.


*Sniff* Thank you for bearing with me today. Now, I’m going to go find a pair of jeans and a screen tee.

Why would I ever want to dress like a professional when I could wear this? Where’s my lasso of truth?