Monday, January 26, 2015

My blog will not be sponsored

Note: I've been thinking this over for a while now, and wanted to note ahead of time that this is not a critique of the thoughtful blogs I follow that occasionally feature sponsored content.  This is a critique on the ridiculousness of some businesses and their blind-throw-stuff-at-the-wall marketing approaches, and blogs that seem to take any sponsorship offer no matter how off-topic for the swagswagswag.  I've seen blogs turn into the equivalent of the dollar bin at Target -- some good stuff here and there, but largely full of crap I could find anywhere, and not worth my time, but dressed up nice to make me think it's worth my time.

So, onward to the main point: in the past few months I must have bumped up in enough reader feeders to suddenly warrant ridiculous sponsor pitch emails -- I guess I hit that magic number of, like, 35 readers or something!  Let me highlight some examples of the things that have landed in my inbox:
  • A service that will supposedly save me $100/month on shaving supplies! Or it would, if I spent $100+ on shaving supplies every month, which I most definitely do not.  I think the last time I bought a set of razors was three months ago.  For like $10.  And it's winter, which means the last time I even shaved my legs at all was like a month ago because I need all the leg fur I can muster to stay warm.  So yeah, no -- not going to have a sponsored post about that!  How could I possibly tell the truth?

Moving on, I also have:
  • A service that sends my husband a box of guy stuff because apparently I don't know what my husband likes.  Look, Box, unless it's going to be a box full of heirloom vegetable seeds and obscure metal albums, I don't think this service is going to impress.  So, nope, not going to feature them as a "sponsor" either.
  • A glass Christmas ornament company whose taste seemed more in line with the Red Hat Society than a 20-something techie.  ...No.
  • I love my glasses, and got a pitch from the company to post about their new frames.  I caved and I replied to that pitch asking for more details.  I needed a new Rx postpartum and said as much, but it turned out they just wanted the ad-space without having any carrot to offer me in exchange.  
I still need a new eyeglass Rx.  If the offer were to contain glasses now though, upon further reflection, I'd still say no.  My blog is not a way for me to rake in a few rando items here and there.  I don't need that swag.  I'm not posting pictures of my daughter alongside shills for stuff just because a company wants me to and offers me stuff in return.  She's not a working model, she's just a kid, and my life is not cheap ad-space.  I don't like the idea of posting stuff for someone else because they're giving me something to do it.

As long as my life is the main point of this blog, people can keep throwing stuff at my inbox wall, and I'm not going to let it stick.  Now, something I would (or already do) actually use, or is relevant, that would be another matter, and I'd STILL be picky about it.  The glasses pitch sounded good for a minute (hey, I wear them and like them) when it landed in my inbox, but then I dug deeper and was like, wait a minute, so you want me to just post about your stuff just...out of the goodness of my heart?  For free?  While you profit?  No, I don't think that's going to be a good fit for me, because my life is not for sale that easily.  I'm not a free billboard.  Thank you!

For a friend?  Sure, of COURSE I'd post their stuff with no thought to my personal stakes.  That's different from large businesses looking for some cheap ad space at my expense.

My blog isn't my main source of income, so I don't feel like I have to do whatever it takes to make sure it pays the bills.  I make $0 off of this blog, and I'm okay with that.  This is not a "well, FINE, I didn't want fame and blog glory and big sponsors anyway, stomp stomp!" post.  I like my career, and the longevity of blog-as-career seems questionable unless you're The Bloggess, bless her.  This blog is just my journal.  If LiveJournal hadn't gone so downhill (damn you Brad, damn you SixApart), I'd go back to literal LJ happily.

I'm not saying I'll never ever have a sponsored post, but by Grabthar's hammer, it would have to be really, really good for me to sway my position.  For example, funds to send me to the Cycling for Libraries Nordic 2015 tour-good (be still my heart, how I wish I could go, ahem ahem...yeah I don't think those sponsors are reading here).  Or a sponsorship to go to infertility advocacy events in DC, which would actually be on topic here.  I like sharing stuff I like and that might be relevant, don't get me wrong -- but sharing stuff I like just cuz is not as quid-pro-quo as some sponsor pitches (and posts I read sometimes) feel.  I've just seen a lot of blogs go downhill once they start accepting whatever, so I'm making a conscious effort to say no to whatevers now, as the stream of whatever keeps trickling into my inbox.  It seems like (dare I say the cliche) a slippery slope.

So keep on trucking, random businesses pitching the same thing to every blogger out there with 35 readers.  You keep sending those pitches, I'll keep chuckling and deleting them.  (Unless they're a cyc4lib sponsorship in which case HELLO NEW FRIEND I AM OPEN FOR BUSINESS.  wink wink.)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Things that are awesome at 6 months (I overuse the word "great"?)

(It takes a lot of attempts to do monthly pictures these days -- I've got quite the cute wiggle worm!)

  • The Happy Sleeper method (you know it's good and hip because they use the narrow YWFT Hannah font on their website) is working really great, and all of a sudden we are all sleeping for longer stretches of time.  I think my body is a little confused at the moment with the sudden uptick in sleep, because I've had insomnia a few times.  Come on self, it really is okay, you can sleep now, shhhhh.  But it's great.  Maybe I need to start using the Sleep Wave method on myself: "It's time to sleep now, self.  I'm right here.  I love you."  Hah.

  • Now that she goes down reliably between 7-7:30PM there's this whole new world of nighttime time.  The other night I plopped down on the couch with some wine, my Secret Garden coloring book (more on that another time but it is marvelous), new colored pencils, and A Bit of Fry and Laurie and chilled out with zero pacifiers to pop back in (because we took them all away like meanies).

  • My baby smiles at everyone.  It's great.

  • She's starting to show, like, preferences for things.  Like a real little human person!  Avocados are apparently no bueno, but sweet potatoes are a tentative go.  More avocado for me!  Everyone is happy with that arrangement.  (We'll try the avocado again soon.  You gotta like guac, kiddo, it's the top food in our house.)

  • Did I mention we're all getting more sleep?  I'm going to mention that again, because it is that great.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sybils, Marigolds, Somedays and Maybes

I need this hat

Well, nuts.

I liked the name Sybil and then it was a hit on Downton Abbey and I'm sure daycares are overrun with Sybils by now so when I was pregnant I was like, WELP, moving on!  So I hounded Patrick for months over the name Marigold.  I fought my Marigold corner hard.  I made pitches like, "We can even use the name Ermengarde which you love so much for some reason as a middle name if you only agree to Marigold!" and "What about Marigold Archimedes?" -- insanity, in the name of winning the Marigold Battle.  Alas, I lost.  I got my botanical in somehow in the form of a middle name (but not Marigold) but I could not sway the guy on Marigold.

And now Downton Abbey has a little one named Marigold, so now I'll never ever win that war AND daycares will be full of little Marigolds reminding me of that fact.

I say this of course like we're going to have gobs of little girls to name and this is some sort of ongoing war.  Far from it!  I'm not expecting or anything!  I go back and forth sometimes, thinking that I don't ever want to go through fertility doctor visits and IVF ever, ever again.  One and done, as they say.  But then I think about the embryo we've got on ice back in Brno, a trillion jillion miles away, and wonder what the ever living fuck we were thinking doing IVF abroad, because now it's always going to be there, waiting, waiting, waiting, very far away.  And it's not even a very good embryo!

It's odd.  Having one, you'd think I'd want to wash my hands of the whole ugly ordeals it takes for us (apparently) to have one, and I'd just be content.  But life and thoughts are messier than that.  Emotions aren't entirely logical, even for someone as cold-hearted and logic-fueled as INTP-me.  Don't get me started on how sometimes I wonder if maybe having one could have jump-started something into working properly -- like, I've had enough random bad luck that maybe I'd have some random good luck and things will just...magically work the way they should now, without a whole heaping pile of help and dollars!  Ah denial, hello.

Maybe someday I'll win that Marigold War.  Maybe.  Or maybe not.  Luckily for me, we can just keep paying rent on that embryo for now, and put the idea off a while longer.  But that IVF clock ticks faster than regular clocks, it seems.  Success rates and maternal age -- I'm thinking about maternal age and I'm not even 29 yet -- loom large in my thoughts.  What a bunch of hooey.

Anyway.  I'm putting a flag in Marigold, Downton Abbey daycare fuel or no.  I'm not quite ready to wave my white flag yet.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Weaning weepies (also, damn you Matt Groening)

I knew this day was hurtling towards me fast, but I didn't think it would actually arrive.  I think I'm done nursing my baby.  It was so hard, and she's been on mostly formula for something like two months now as it is, so you'd think the easing off of it entirely would be okay, but weaning is hard for ME.  I pumped once today and got 1/4 of an ounce.  When I tried to feed her, she would suck, but then after a second or two turn away, fussing (probably because hello, not much going on).

It's okay.  I made it past the 6 month mark.  Limping.  Crawling, really.  But I made it.  More on a technicality than anything, but I made it.  I'm just a little sad, at the end of the day.  I wanted so badly to make it to a year.  I'm sad to lose that snuggling capacity at night.  I know she will still cuddle with me, that I can still comfort her and that we have so much more to add to our mother/daughter relationship, and the loss os this one thing is just that: this one thing.  But I'm still sad to lose this one thing.

I just feel a little wobbly and weepy.  I came across the song that's played in the Futurama episode where Leela finds out her parents loved her all along, and I just quietly let the tears roll.  Sitting there in the rocking chair, big sad tears were streaming down my face because HAVE YOU SEEN THAT EPISODE?!  And also weaning.  Damn you weaning.  And damn you Matt Groening.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Baby's first metal band tour

Whirlwind trip to Philly for Patrick's Bearstorm show in bullet points:

  • Freddie is a great little traveler!  Granted, we left at like 4:30AM so she'd sleep in the car for most of the 5 hours, but even on the daytime trip back she was a little champ.

  • She is a very discerning young lady regarding her bedding.  We stayed at a super posh hotel which had beds like CLOUDS and provided a crib (and mini baby toiletries) but perhaps due to it being a new place after a long day of travel, she only wanted to sleep with me.  I'd say it was a wash since she didn't use the amenity that was a main reason for us staying there (that and proximity to the venue) BUT the place had a breakfast lounge with, like, a maĆ®tre d'.  Motel 6 yogurt cup "continental" this was not.  And they had a SPORTING CLUB.  I suggested we waltz into said sporting club but that only got a snort from Patrick.  I think we would have fit right in!  Anyway, babies do as babies do, and I'm happy to have a baby who just wants to snuggle with me (and the CLOUD BED, which means if anything she's a very smart baby and knew which sleeping place was the best one!).  That I'm preferable to a crib is a darn fine thing.  We'll look at it that way!  

  • People asked Patrick for a bowl and, when he said he didn't have one, was told "you don't look like the kind of person who doesn't have a bowl!"  This article is 100% not hyperbole you guys.  Happens EVERY.WHURR.  Insert laugh-cry emoji.  I feel like we have to start some sort of ongoing bingo game for paraphernalia that strangers ask him about in public.  

  • I'm not sure if we're cut out for any sort of larger pro-musician type of life -- he had a second show the following day back out near Charlottesville making this the tiniest tour ever.  I'm really happy to support my husband's band activities, but I think if they were to get much bigger I'd be very conflicted about it since when he's off setting up, drumming, and being polite and listening to the other bands (although at the CVille one he ducked out after their set to make it home), it means I'm on full baby duty.  I don't want to be a martyr about it though -- I want to be supportive of the stuff he does for fun, in the same way he takes the baby when I need to get writing done.  But band shows simply take more time.  But then you get into the whole 'are we splitting hairs here when we can just accept that our hobbies take different amounts of time?' question.  I like to think I'm supportive, but does it still count as being supportive if you don't really want them to get much more popular, or does that just mean life has changed and things look different now than they did before?  He's been with one of his bands longer than he's been with me (nearly 9 years now for us, 10+ for the other band) and Bearstorm for 4, so it's not like this is a passing thing for him.  I want them to be successful...but I'm also grateful that all the members have real jobs to keep them from some massive tour.  I'm very supportive of this as a hobby, basically!  PLEASE BE A SUCCESSFUL BUT NOT TOO SUCCESSFUL BAND, MMK?  I'm content with baby-sized tours!

Monday, January 5, 2015

BOOKS: 2014 favorites, 2015 anticipations, & the year of reading women

In 2014 I read 54 books.  Hooray!  4 over my goal!  Except I'm pretty sure, looking closer at my Goodreads list, a lot were such classic literature as Pocket Piggies Numbers!: Featuring the Teacup Pigs of Pennywell Farm (review: "PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEGS!") so I'm not so sure I should call my overachieving a rousing success...

Still, of the 54 books I read, these were my favorites:

  • The Magician's Land -- Lev Grossman -- This is the third in the Magicians trilogy.  It's one of my favorite favorite favorite trilogies ever.  Do you like Harry Potter and Narnia but are a smart jaded adult?  These are the books for you!
  • Kittens -- Laura Ellen Anderson -- Freddie LIGHTS. UP. at this book.  It's also surprisingly long for a board book!  AND ADORABLE.  The illustrations are bold and bright and the text is cute and clever.  Kittens love to claw at quilts, but it's so darn cute you can't help but smile.  At the end, everyone snuggles up to snooze.
  • Puppies -- Laura Ellen Anderson -- See above.  Ditto the snuggling up to snooze at the end.  Adorable!
  • Tubby & Toot -- Leslie Patricelli -- I get a kick out of the Baby series by Patricelli, but these two especially make me laugh.  The "we wash my hair" singular literal meaning/plural common usage duality kills me (since Baby only has one hair).  Also "mommy dries me // daddy dries the bathroom".  YUP.  And Toot's adorable questioning about farts is quite sweet -- Baby isn't sure if fishy toots, but is VERY certain doggie does.  I love that the wee one in the books could be male or female -- the ones I've read are very gender neutral (though they do feature female/male mommy/daddy parents -- not that this is a bad thing, just that the gender neutral-ness does not extend beyond Baby).
  • Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances -- Neil Gaiman (February 2015) -- I'm mostly excited because this supposedly features a special American Gods short story called Black Dog.  Between that and the Doctor Who story I think that covers all his bases for people who will want to buy this.  Tempting me with a Doctor Who carrot would be the opposite of attractive -- it's just not my thing.  But an American Gods story?!  LET ME AT IT.  WEEE!
  • The Buried Giant -- Kazuo Ishiguro (March 2015) -- Author of one of my favorites, Never Let Me Go.  It's been a while since he published, so I'm particularly thrilled.  Wait, has it really been ten years?!  Not counting short fiction...  Yep, doubly thrilled now.
  • The Fire Sermon -- Francesca Haig (March 2015) -- It's being compared to The Hunger Games (is there anything that's NOT going to be compared to HG these days?) and The Road (I doubt this, just because....THE ROAD!) so we'll see.  I follow Haig on Twitter and she seems nice.  I know, like that's an indication of a good book right?  But I'm digging it.  I'm in.  I can't wait to give it a whirl.  I hear it's already been optioned by DreamWorks.  At any rate, I feel slightly ahead of the curve on this one, and I like to be ahead of YA Big Series Stuff for professional reasons (I never read Divergent, oops...and I have a fandom-carryover-dislike of Cassie Claire, also oops).
  • All the Rage -- Courtney Summers (April 2015) -- I've seen this compared to LHA's Speak, so we'll see. 
Much like my friend Greg, I also want to try to deliberately read more books by women this year.  My to-read anticipatory shelf for 2015 is cut down the middle here, but my intention is to have the majority of the books I read be by women.  I've joined the GoodReads "2015: The Year of Reading Women" group so we'll see!

If you're still reading all the way to the end, here's one final shelf for 2014.

STINKY CHEESE SHELF  (That is, the shelf of things that weren't so great.)
  • As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride -- Cary Elwes --I wanted SO BADLY to love this book.  But alas!  This book repeats its stories ad nauseam. Often, one story would be told, then there'd be an insert from another actor telling *the exact same story* but in different words (and sometimes barely different words), right after it was told. Stories in this book are repeated to the point of nausea.  SEE WHAT I DID THERE?  That's this book.
  • Living with a Wild God -- Barbara Ehrenreich -- I really wanted to enjoy this, but the audiobook went on and on dissecting adolescent journal entries like they mean more than I think they do.  Everyone has boxes of journals from when they were ten.  It doesn't make them gold.  I tried, but couldn't finish this.  It felt like it wanted to be Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (LOVE) but...nope.

*I am using Amazon affiliate links throughout this post because why not**
**Why not Zoidberg?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Christmastime was here

Okay, enough with the holiday posts already, right?  I'm a few days late and a dollar short, as they say, but I couldn't help sharing a few of these.  That last one is what happens with a scraggly long-haired fellow when he smooches a baby's forehead.  I don't think he'd combed his hair yet, but he notoriously doesn't care about such silly things, so I'm free to post him not looking his best!  I wrote a column recently about people's reactions to him in public with Freddie vs without her.  It's called From Bad to Dad: Perceptions of my Husband in the Wild, over here.

So, 2015 huh?   We're starting it off with a whirlwind trip to Philly soon since one of Patrick's bands has a show there.  People without babies plan these things.  My grandparents live there so we'll be squeezing in a quick trip to see them, and possibly some other friends too.  We'll see.  It'll be the longest trip with the baby we've attempted so far.  Nobody's forcing me to go (I'm not even going to his show because I have paid my metal band show dues over the past almost-9-years together and it is so not my thing! And that's okay! It's okay to have things we support for each other even if the other person has to cover her ears!) so I have nobody to blame but myself if things devolve into madness!