Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A big post for a big weekend

I have been MIA for a few days because I had to take a wonderful road trip to my adopted home-state of Minnesota! Geoff and I went up there for a friend of mine's wedding and we had an amazing time. Having never explored the land of a thousand lakes, Geoff was eager to see some sights. So clearly the first place I took him was the Mall Of America.

We shopped a lot, met some of my friends at The Afternoon (which basically is the best store in the mall) and ate at my favorite place to eat at the mall, the Twin Cities Grill. Geoff approved of the food:

I also got to have coffee with a friend of mine there and after  awhile we drove over to my dear friend Megan's to stay for the rest of the weekend. Meg and I were college roommates and I have missed her like crazy. She and her husband Gabe showed us an amazing time, complete with pizza, scrabble, and their new addition to the family, Susannah:

Day two was wedding day and Meg scampered off to take amazing photos (you can see a sneak peak here at Wildlovephotography) and Gabe, Geoff, and I had pastries and a little vintage shopping. Turns out Scout Vintage, Two Birds and Salvage Strawberry threw up a vintage sale right next to where we breakfasted. I got a really fun sweater, an old singer sewing machine tin, and a key holder and Geoff got a snazzy tie and a zip up sweater.

Geoff and I got fancy for the wedding and went off to Delano. I had a blast and Aaron and Christa looked amazing and beautiful. Aaron has been my friend since we did college improv together and he is one of those people that is just so genuine and loving that I do not think you could leave a conversation with him without a smile on your face. I had not had the chance to meet Christa before, but she was everything Aaron told me she was. I am so happy for this couple.  Here is the groom and I:

And a couple more, of Megan and Geoff and myself:

 Day three was basically just breakfast with Meg and Gabe and another college friend, Laura. It was just a great trip and I am so glad we went.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Girl, why are you bleeding out of your head?

Tonight I wanted to talk about one of my favorite photos of myself. The photo in question is this:

I have sent this photo to my my and have used it as my Facebook profile photo. I was thinking about it the other day and wondered to myself about why it is that I  (and others) take photos of ourselves bleeding or bruised or otherwise hurt in some way.

I have gone through several friend's facebook pages and have found similar photos taken after skateboarding or wearing heels and some in an ambulance. Photos of scars and surgical stitches from collapsed lungs and head wounds, all carefully photographed and shared. Even fake injuries are represented, bruises painted on at roller derbies for example.

In my photo I am bleeding from my face as a result of ripping of a scab I acquired from falling on the pavement. And I think this is one of my favorite photos of myself. But why? Is it because of the stunning bathroom background? My amazing photography skills? No. But I love it. And I think it might illustrate a lager issue that I have dealt with my whole life and maybe others are dealing with too. .

Being damaged is interesting. And whatever the way one has to convey that damage, be it in this case, physical, emotional, spiritual, whatever, is an interesting way create identity. I could (and might later) wax poetic on my affair with emotional damage as a defining character trait, but that's not what this photo conveys to me.

I'm bleeding yes, but I have let the blood run down my face and am in no hurry to patch it up. And while I may be a little whiny at times about getting hurt, this was taken at a time where I was 99.9% on my own and had to deal with things myself. Because there was no one there to clean me up and put a band aide on me I realized that I really did not need one.

There is an element of pride in an injury. An aspect of not getting through life with a body perfectly intact and in the original packaging but one that shows direct confrontation with life. While my cut face isn't from anything terrible exciting, it does make for a good photo.

Monday, August 22, 2011

To Gram's house I go

I went to my Gram's yesterday for a long overdue visit. She made us dinner and she and I talked about quilts for a long time. She has closets full of quilts that she made as a girl and that her mother made and so on. They are all so pretty and fun and I'm really glad that she is teaching me to do the same. How cool do these old sewing books look?

She sent me on my way with a bag of her fabric scraps, pages copied from quilting books and a copy of Quilting magazine.

Today is my day off and I am just hanging out watching season four of Dexter and relaxing. I shopped around at the Goodwill today and picked up a few things, like this lovely green dress. I also planted a little chili plant I got at the farmers market:

I have another plant I grabbed this weekend but he isn't in the right pot yet so you'll have to wait for a photo of him. But I will give you a photo of my new drinking glass:

This reminds me of the drinking glasses my gram would always have for us kids.  Anyone else do any thrifting this past weekend?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin

I just read Already Pretty's blog post on body hair and really loved it. Women talking about body hair seems to never happen, especially about certain areas, such as gasp, chin hair and mustache bleaching. Sally talks frankly about her experience without trying to hide parts of herself. And reading it made me feel better. I get obsessed plucking and waxing and shaving and it is such a hassle that ends in ingrown hairs, rashes, and that one damn spot on my left leg I always miss. And that one time that the lady waxing me scratched the hell out of my inner thigh with her big fake nails. 

While I am still doing the whole not painting my nails thing this month, I'm not sure that I could be one to not shave my legs and other places. I would however, like to reach a point in my life when I don't stress at work that someone, somewhere will notice that I have a stray unwanted hair.

What do you think of this article? Do you feel out of whack when you forget to shave your legs/pluck your eyebrows/wax your tummy hair?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Without a cat, my home felt pretty empty. My first grown-up pet, Jack the cat, had run away after someone let him outside. After months of searching for him, posting up fliers, searching local shelters and looking everywhere, I had to come to terms with the fact that Jack was probably not coming home.

While I loved Jack dearly, he was not what you would call a nice cat. He would rub up on you and purr while you pet him one moment and then pin his ears back and bite and claw the next. He destroyed four DVD players and peed on a lot of things. But he was my cat.

I began my search for a new friend online. I looked at the local animal shelter and breed rescue and gathered info on getting a cat that would likely be nicer than Jack was. I read a lot about Maine Coon cats and was interested.

While trolling on Craigslist, I saw an add for a Maine Coon that needed a home or he would be shipped off to a shelter. His name was Noonie and he was gorgeous and within a 20 minute drive. I picked him up two days later.

The first night, Noonie hid under my bed until I was half asleep. Then he crawled up and snuggled his 18 1/2 pound body next to mine, with his whiskers tickling my face, purring louder than I have ever heard a cat purr.

He was renamed Taft after William Howard Taft because he is extremely large and likes to hang out in  bathtubs. Plus there is the resemblance:

Taft is a real trooper. He has been moved around a lot with me, from Illinois to Minnesota back to Illinois over to Ohio, back to Illinois and now in Wisconsin. But he makes my home home. He snuggles and night, talks all of the time and just follows Geoff and I from room to room, wanting to be near.

We are looking now at adopting another cat so that Taft is not so lonely while we are at work, but I think with all of the moving changes right now I'm going to wait. I don't want to overwhelm him with too many changes. It is looking likely that we will adopt another Maine Coon because of how amazing Taft is.

Going and looking at all for the abandoned pets breaks my heart. I cannot imagine ever being without Taft. He is more than just my pet, he is my friend and when I took him in I wanted to guarantee that I would not get rid of him because of life changes. And I mean to keep that with him and with my next pet as well. Keeping animals is a commitment that many do not take seriously and I feel for those poor critters.

If you do get a pet, please consider adopting one. No breeders, there are adult cats that are still kittens at heart (Taft was 2 when I got him) and they need a loving home. And spay and neuter them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Things in my mailbox

I got a little bit of super awesome mail today from CaPow's etsy shop. I won a giveaway she did for Little Chief Honeybee. I was so excited to win and picked out these two photo prints:

I can't wait to get these into frames and put them up in our new place. I think that this one is going up in our bedroom. 

And this one is going to probably go in the kitchen, or over the bar if I get my way and find a cool old stand alone bar someday. Love me some Minty Juleps. I also love me some give-aways, clearly. I think I enter at least 8 a week on average and have gotten some great stuff from some great people so far. If I am wasting time on the internet, I might as well be entering to win things. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Put down the cheese

While already feeling a little chunky lately, I went home and tried on my wedding dress. You can guess where this is heading. I think I need to lose about 8-10 pounds before I can comfortably zip that sucker up. Which is frustrating.

After being vegan for six months, I moved back to Madison and promptly began eating all of the brats and cheese that came my way. And I no longer fit in my skinny jeans.

However, I do like the way my body looks most of the time. I've always been a curvy girl and always will be. And I have been trying to promote self-love and I've been reading about feminism and loving what I have been reading so the idea of making myself loose weight to fit into a dress seems a little weird.

However, the dress cost almost 2 grand, so I think I have to suck it up and put down the Havarti.

Because please tell me if there is any other day in a woman's life when she is looked at more, with more scrutiny and intensity than when she shows up at the end of a wedding aisle? I can't think of one. Whenever anyone talks about any girl getting married it always seems like how the bride looked is a huge deal, but never how the guy looks.

So I am trying to find a balance between not wanting to go on a diet and still loosing a little. We're looking at gyms this week and I'm hoping some regular exercise will help. Plus it will give me a chance to listen to Lady GaGa without Geoff looking at me funny.

But that pull, that deep pull to stop eating everything I like and go back to nibbling on toast and popcorn is there. While in my dress unzipped, I can't help but think of myself as a Junior in undergrad when I had lost so much weight from depression. And I'm looking back fondly on that time because at least I would have gotten in my dress now - I fail to realize that I would not be able to hold it up though. The whole thing makes my stomach queasy because of how hard that compulsive need to diet and obsess about one's weight is just hammered into our little heads.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


For whatever reason, I woke up this morning thinking about NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. It is an organization that encourages people to do their best to write a novel in the month of November, start to finish. I have tried past years and have never finished due to 1. lack of discipline and 2. my computer melted down and then I melted down. But I'm hoping this year is the year.

The main thing that appeals to me about this is that is forces you to break from the inner editor that is always on my shoulder. Whenever I finish a chunk of writing, I cannot help but go over and over it, without bothering to write the rest of the damn thing.

I'm really hoping that I can get off my butt and get some serious writing done on this story that has been rattling around in my brain for forever. I don't have expectations of it being read by anyone but myself, I just really want to find out what happens.

I used to write so much all of the time, and now I really only think about stories instead of writing them. But I miss the pen on paper, and hope that this can jump start me again. Because apparently every website needs a profile page, here is mine on NaNoWriMo.

Anyone else with NaNoWriMo experience? Or just writing advice?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Nancy Wake

Nancy Wake died at age 98. She was a World War II hero and there is a great remembrance article of her over at the Bust blog. She led troops and even killed a Nazi with her bare hands. This lady had sass in spades and was not about to sit at home when there was a war on.  My favorite anecdote of her exploits is this:

"On the night of April 29th, 1944 she was parachuted into the Auvergne. Upon discovering her tangled in a tree, the captain of the local maquis remarked, "I hope that all the trees in France bear such beautiful fruit this year," to which she replied, “Don’t give me that French shit."
She sounds like such an interesting lady and I really hope that they come out with a biography of her because I would love to read more about the White Mouse (as the Gestapo called her).

The best farewell to you, Nancy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Reach out and touch me

So the election went by and 4 of the 6 incumbents are still in office, but we do have 2 new state senators that seem to be pro-choice and pro-family and pro-not-taking-everything-away-from-the-working-class. I'm a little discouraged, but you just have to move on and do what you can do.

I wanted to check in with a little something I noticed while volunteering at PP the other day. I am a bit of a loner I guess and while interacting with a bunch of girls (and one guy!) I realized that I do not touch people often. With the most notable exception being my partner, Geoff. I was not always this way. In high school, my girlfriends and I would constantly hug or snuggle or tackle or punch or whatever. In college and afterwards I had girls and guys who I could hug without needing a reason. And now, well there is Geoff and Taft, who are wonderful and amazing, but I miss the touch of a friend.

And nothing big when I say "touch" but at this meeting, one of the girls running things would just put her hand on my shoulder when talking to be and another girl put her arm around me at one point and it was just really nice to feel connected on such a basic level to a person. I usually get weired out when people invade my personal space bubble, but since moving away from many of my close friends and growing apart from others, I am missing that contact. And maybe that is why, in between phone calls at PP, I found myself doodling a line of women with their hands entwined.

While I would never advocate touching strangers, I think it is worth thinking about who we touch on a regular basis and what that touch means to us. For me I believe it signifies a longing for female friendship and the need for a community of friends I can be comfortable around.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Get out and VOTE

Despite my confusion last night, I was able to get up and go downtown to help make some calls for Planned Parenthood today. I went to one of the downtown offices and met some amazing people and made some calls to encourage people to vote for candidates that support things like Medicare, Badgercare and Planned Parenthood. Most of my calls went really well and all in all it was a great experience. I got some buttons and stickers and am geared up to help out a lot more in the future.

I love this coffee cup! And check out this girl's purse - it is decorated with condoms (in the wrappers still)! She was telling me that she had also made a tie and a skirt and was trying to figure out a way to do the same to a pair of heels. I love it

And one last picture, while in between calls I was doodling away and drew a line of ladies all holding hands. One of the gals at the office really liked it. What do you think? Sorry that it's not a very good picture.

Now I am home and ready to chill out and relax with some pizza and a good book. What are you up to?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bad News Bears

I was super excited to volunteer tomorrow with Planned Parenthood and then in one of my confirmation emails it says Milwaukee instead of Madison. I am really confused as to if I initially signed up wrong because none of the prior emails said Milwaukee (although they didn't say Madison either) and I've sent emails but I'm not sure if I will get a response in time.


On the plus side, I got an email about this other organization I really like, Madison Area Down Syndrome Society (MADSS) about their annual Walk and I am going to be doing volunteer work not just the day of but leading up to as well. This organization is near and dear to my heart so I am excited about becoming more involved!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

mini post

I tweaked the blog set up a little bit so check it out and tell me what you think. There's a poll on the side that I'd really like to have some input on too! 

And, here is a photo of my haul from Goodwill today.

I almosts hrieked when I saw this Carebear garbage can.How cute is it? I loved them as a kid and this is going in my bathroom for now.The little turtle planter will probably hold a catus or some such plant soon. He was too cool to pass up for 90 cents.

SlutWalk and me

In my new issue of Ms magazine, there is an article on SlutWalks which is a topic that I find very interesting. I have been looking on tumblr at some ladies who have been to some SlutWalks and liked how empowered and positive their experiences seemed. So I did a little more research and then experienced a major facebook blowout.

SlutWalk started in Toronto when a police officer made the comment that,

Amazingly, this did not go over that well. Unfortunately, this viewpoint is not uncommon. Victim blaming is so prominent and the idea that women who dress like they are asking for it (whatever that means) deserve to shoulder some of the blame for being brutally assaulted is still very prevalent. Many rapes go under reported by police and rapists are not prosecuted due to backlogs of  rape kits which is not some kind of a kit that goes to the victim like I thought, but is the evidence gathered from the victim's exams such as hair and fluids that needs to be DNA tested. These kits are just sitting in some states, and nothing is being done about them.

And so a group of people started SlutWalk. A protest style march to show that women (any gender really) should not be blamed for crimes committed against them. From SlutWalk's website:

"We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault."
These events have gotten a lot of flack from feminists and others for the use of the word "slut" and stating that trying to get that word to a more positive connotation is a waste of time.To some extent I agree with  the fact that "slut"probably is not ever going to be a positive thing. HOWEVER, I think that misses the underlying point. To me this is about creating an event that will have a lot of media coverage(which obviously it has) in order to show that people are upset and fed up with how our culture treats victims of rape.

Which brings me to a Facebook argument that revolved around a man's point of view that this is a waste of time and he would go to ogle the ladies (note: it is not required in any way to dress "slutty" for these walks) and that if a woman goes out drinking dressed provocatively (which he never defined) then he "hope[s] rape was worth it." Can we say unfriended?

SlutWalk's Minneapolis info page here
SlutWalk Toronto's main page (with links to planned walks in other cities) here

Geoff and I are both signed up to go and I am really pumped. I think all I can do is get as educated as I can and try to pass that information along. Has anyone gone to one? Thought about going?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Check out that girl's armpits

So I get a lot of emails and while most of them end up in the trash, I got one from Dove today that I opened. I have mixed feelings about this company. While I really love that they have used non-tradition models for their add campaigns, I'm not wild about their camaign to help ladies have more beautiful armpits. Because I was really worried that my arm pits weren't attractive enough. So when I read the following from my Dove email:

"Around the world, 72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful, according to new research conducted by Dove®. And when girls feel bad about their looks, the majority will avoid everyday activities like giving their opinion or even going to school."

It makes me kind of want to scream. First of all I would bet that that percentage is higher and second of all, maybe the feel this way because of your marketing strategies!

“If we don't continue to invent products that improve consumers' lives, we'll have trouble growing our business,” says Kevin Hochman, a marketing director for Procter & Gamble Co.'s female beauty brands, told the Wall Street Journal. (from the Globe and Mail article)

It seems to me (and a lot of people) that while they are inventing products they are also inventing problems. And it seems like this company is taking 3 steps back for every step forward they take. I love the idea behind the Real Beauty campaign and wish we saw more diverse and non-airbrushed models out there. I love that as a company, Dove seems to be doing work to promote self estem. But with the other hand they remind you that parts of your body need to be felt bad about. 

All and all, I think I'll stick with Toms of Maine.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I have had a blissful mini-vacation which consisted of my normal 2 days off and a bonus mental health day I used. I took some time to myself when the guys went to work and just chilled. I put my favorite music on, which consisted mostly of Neko Case, light some candles, poured some wine and curled up with some books.

Strange Tales is a wonderful anthology of bizarre tales of Marvel characters in crazy situations. If you are intrigued by the thought of Iron Man fighting Bologna Face, this is for you. Plus look at how cute Spidey is.

The other day I checked out a book from the library on Feminism and was baffled by random post-it notes scattered throughout it. I peeled each one away and kept them in a pile, unsure why they were there and what I should do with them. As I was ding something, I had a light bulb moment and new. Operation Beautiful is an on-going project to promote loving your body one sticky note at a time. So I wrote some simple and hopefully uplifting things on them and plan on posting them at every public bathroom I go to.

When I was in college I was studying in the library and I went to pick up a crap piece of paper and realized that it was already written on. It read "To whoever finds this: You are good enough just the way you are." I can't put into words how much I needed to hear something like this at that point in my life. I have carried that scrap of paper around since then and wish I could thank whoever wrote it.

Anyway, back to my mini-vacation. I think the best part of it was taking a bath with just a bunch of candles and a glass of wine, with Neko singing in the other room. I'm trying to radically amp up my self-love and just being comfortable in my own skin, even for the length of a bath is great. I feel re-energized and ready to go back to work tomorrow and tackle new challenges.

My biggest challenge for myself is the story book I am doing for my sister. I really want her to have a book that shows kids with Down Syndrome without focusing on their difference from other kids. And I just love drawing her. I did learn the hard way today that I need to spellcheck before I ink things. little

Monday, August 1, 2011

rant, rave, and compliment

I've been reading a lot of books about feminism lately and doing research into parts of culture that upset me enough to actually take action and/or do more research and make life choices.

I am signed up to volunteer at Planned Parenthood next week. I will be calling local residents and letting them know about the impact of women's issues on the upcoming election. I expect to be hung up on a lot but I also hope to just plant a seed in a few people's minds. I am thrilled to meet the woman I have been emailing with about this and others who are driven to get out of their houses and help out. Planned Parenthood is about so much more than abortions and while I understand people's reservations about the idea of abortion, I cannot understand reservations about choice.

I have also been questioning seriously the meaning behind taking Geoff's last name when we get married. I've been struggling with the pomp and circumstance that seems to be expected of every wedding but frankly what turns me on about the day is not swan ice sculptures and a string quartet, but the fact that I am celebrating the commitment I am making to my best friend. As for the last name thing, the more I think about it the more weirded out I am by the idea that I need to change who I am in some way to be married. And it annoys me that I am expected to make this change and the question is never posed to the guy. Geoff and I have talked it over and he has stated that he doesn't care what I do as long as I am happy and married to him. And so I think I will stay Amy Henderson. I'm not super attached to my name (and still cringe when asked to watch Harry and the Hendersons) but it is mine and it is part of me. So it is sticking around. Plus I really hate filling out paperwork and it seems like a lot of work to change a name.

Things you can do:

  • Take part in National Love Your Body day. It is coming up, October 19th. Try to ignore the ever present message that your body is not good enough and appreciate it for what it is. Here is a list of suggestions on what to do that day from NOW. This is my personal favorite of theirs. I might have to come up with a few things myself, maybe even do a Love Your Body Week here on the blog.
  • Sign this petition to get Facebook to remove groups that promote rape such as "It's not rape if you like it" and "Screwing your girlfriend while she's asleep" This sets me into a fit of rage much like the one I had yesterday over Twitters trending hashtag of #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend.
  • Check out Planned Parenthood in your area - get any info that you need and if you have a spare 2 hours, volunteer. 
  • Next time you are at your bookstore of choice, pick up an issue of BUST, Ms. or Bitch
  •  Compliment a lady friend, not on the way she looks (even if she is looking great) but on her character or actions. We could all hear a little more of that.

We still have a long way to go, but we can get there, baby.