I (probably, eh, might have) increased the size of my brain – and you can too!

Back in 2010, I wrote a post called “I’m always right on the cusp of video game trends (of 15 years ago).” Yeah I know. Really nice, smooth title. Anyway, I wrote about how, after four months of playing Super Mario 64 with my little brother every time I visited home from college, we had finally beat the game. Well, I finally beat the game. Samuel supported me in his own way: by jumping up and down and telling me not to lose.

Despite how awful it might sound, it was actually an awesome way to spend time with my six year old brother. Now we mostly make vines together.

I’m content with how I spent my time at home during those months. What else was I supposed to do, study and pull my GPA up during my last semester of college?

Turns out, I may have done my brain some good anyway. A recently published study in Molecular Psychiatry found that playing Super Mario 64 for thirty minutes a day over a period of two months increased brain volume in the areas that control “spatial navigation, strategic planning, working memory and motor performance.” 

So, yes, mom. Playing Super Mario 64 was a valuable use of my time.*

*Just kidding, she never questioned our commitment to the game and might have even encouraged it because it at least kept Samuel in constant movement. He was very worried about me losing.


Why I don’t trust my Kindle’s recommendations


What I hoped it would be about

Um… something about a woman who goes on a three day mimosa bender, hopping around brunch places and stuffing her face with french toast and eggs Benedict.

What it is actually about

(Taken from the book’s description on Amazon.com)

One day can change your life forever…Three days change a painful past into a beautiful tomorrow… [Note: As far as I’m concerned, I could still be right.]

Once, Sam Perry had it all. A loving marriage, an amazing job she adored as a preschool teacher, and a beautiful home. [She sure sounds like a fan of mimosas!] She was safe, happy and secure. [Really, nothing placates a person like a couple glasses of fruity champagne.] Then the unthinkable happened… [She went to a brunch where she thought the mimosas were unlimited but really it was a pay per drink situation? …Okay, sorry.]  Watching his once carefree wife withdraw into herself was almost more than Brian Perry could handle. [What the – alright, before we introduce any new characters how about we get to the boozy brunch part?] The only thing that kept him going was knowing that he loved her more than life itself. [Have you ever had eggs Benedict with crab meat? Only asking because I might know how he feels.] Moving her out of New York to Chandlerville, a small, quiet suburb of Atlanta, felt right. [Um, wait, I’m not sure small towns really do mimosa brunches- ] Anything, to get her away from the memories of the buildings, and her world, crashing around her. [You know it seems like we’re really getting off track here. Tell us more about this Lane o’ Mimosas!]

Now, two sons and many years later, Sam cherishes the new life on Mimosa Lane that Brian built for them. [ WAIT. No! Mimosa Lane is literally the name of a street??]

Until lightning strikes twice… [Mention alcohol and/or breakfast next or I’m DONE.]

Called a hero by her small community, Sam feels more like a coward than ever. [Alright, that’s it. I’m not even going to- Oooh there’s an exciting noun in the next sentence!] Instinct draws her into an altercation at her children’s school—an instinct that also drives her away from the warm cocoon of her family. [I bet she fought a kid. Way to not appreciate your family’s warm cocoon, Sam!]

Brian refuses to lose his wife again. [Dear god! How many children has this woman fought??] He agrees to give her the space she asks for, but he soon realizes space isn’t something they and their children can afford. [You know what’s really affordable though? Try a four egg omelette, home fries, a mixed greens side salad, and UNLIMITED MIMOSAS for only $16.95. I’m just saying.] He knows their love can still conquer all. [Brian, I think she fought a kid though.] But this time he’ll need their entire community to help him win his wife back. [I’m guessing NOT with, like, a community-wide block party brunch?]

On my work as a “Background Artist” / “Intrusive stranger standing behind actual subject of photo”

I was waiting for the subway about a month ago when I heard a woman approach the girl standing next to me on the platform. She gently tapped the girl’s shoulder and said “Excuse me, I’m a blogger for Shy People Fashion and I just love what you’re wearing. Could I take a picture for the blog?” The girl laughed a little and said it would be fine.

After pouting for about two seconds that I hadn’t received such an enthusiastic compliment on my ensemble (Jeans, boots, scarf, striped shirt -> yeah, I quickly saw why I was ignored) I realized that this girl next to me was going to end up on a Subway Platform Style Street Style blog. I also realized that I would never be on one of those, unless I acted quickly.

As the blogger got ready to take the photo, I leaned forward a bit, as though suddenly immensely interested in the internet that was refusing to connect on my phone. I was determined to be in the photo.

And I was:

Me on a streetstyle blog

Check out the original post on Shy People Fashion.

Background of streetstyle photo

And you know what really gets me? I almost wore that exact same outfit!! Only then I realized that my “feather printed red zip up” needed to be washed and my “vintage leather boots that have a great ‘worn in’ look” had dog poop on them. That’s why I had to just throw on jeans and a t-shirt.

The rush I experienced from seeing my face out of focus on a small fashion blog reminded me of another insignificant media appearance I’ve made. Back in 2007, I spent a day as a background artist on The Wire, as a “debate team member.” I keep meaning to watch The Wire but I’ve never gotten around to it so I still don’t know the context, although I’m sure that this high school debate was about the least important thing on the episode, unless there was a drug bust in the auditorium and I somehow missed it. Anyway, all I know is that Mayor/Governor Carcetti tries to shake Howard Colvin’s hand and Colvin totally leaves him hanging (this all took place after the debate, in the school parking lot). I walk by them (celebrating my very successful debate win, I decided at the time) and, in a flash of blurry purple, give the audience a momentary break from the drama.

Me on The Wire 1


Me on The Wire 2

Now relax, and just stare at my Old Navy button down.

Me on The Wire 3


If you ever get a chance to work as a background artist, I highly recommend it, especially if you can do it with a group of friends. It can be a little boring, but it’s cool to see how a TV show is filmed, and if you’re with friends it makes the boring parts bearable. If you ever get asked to be on Street Style blog, cherish the experience! And also please call me because I’d like to position myself in the background of your photo.

The three faces Meryl Streep makes on movie posters

Has anyone see Hope Springs? Yeah me neither. I caught the poster though, and Meryl’s face really seemed familiar to me. Almost as though she had made it several times before…

Meryl Streep’s “The Coy Flibbertigibbet” ®

 Endearingly bashful. Always on the verge of a chuckle. Coy as hell. 

Hope Springs wasn’t the first time Meryl looked lovingly at a man with her hand over her mouth!

Usually this face is accompanied by either a head tilt or a hand over the mouth. And Meryl doesn’t need a man to show us her flibbertigibbetness (at least not on the poster). Here she is makin’ the face with microphones, violins, and door frames!

The violin makes Meryl feel the same way that Jack, Tommy, and Clint did.

Yep, Meryl had done that face before. But that’s not the only one.  Meryl is a versatile actress with no less than seventeen Academy Award nominations under her belt.  Obviously she has other faces in her movie poster repertoire.

Meryl Streep’s “Don’t You Effing MESS with Me Right Now” ®

Always appears to be thinking: “You’ve got to be kidding. Wow… what you just said?  Literally, like,
the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.  I WEAR GLASSES AND I’M REALLY SERIOUS.”

Perhaps the most perfect example of her “DYEMWM” face didn’t appear on the movie poster, at least in the US.

“You think this is the first time I was omitted from a movie poster? So predictable. There’s always some large trident-healed stiletto graphic gunning to take my place. But you know, they love me abroad, and inevitably I’m added to the posters upon the movie’s release in Europe. I never thought I’d say this, but I see a lot of myself in the Europeans.”

There’s one more face I’ve noticed, and its the most prevalent yet plainest yet *MOST AMAZING MERYL FACE OF ALL*

Meryl’s Streep’s “Enough Tension in Her Lips to Pop out a Diamond” ®

In Meryl’s words: The closed-mouth smile conveys the strongest sense of dignity one can
possibility expect to maintain on a movie poster. It does not distract from my eyes, 
however, which truly are the
breadwinners of my face. Each eye has it’s own Academy Award, and as of my 2012 Oscar win, I now have an extra.
Subsequently, I am currently workshopping a third eye that I hope to grow in the center of my forehead.

As you can see, Meryl has perfected the closed mouth smile. But unlike the rest of us, who mostly just use it when there’s a picture being taken and we’re like 80% sure there’s broccoli in our teeth, Meryl uses it to convey a range of emotions that take moviegoers on journeys of the heart. Takes these movies for instance:

She Devil
Meryl has to battle with the ex-wife of her current man, who from this angle appears to be Queer Eye’s Carson Kressley. His ex-wife (played by Roseanne, at what we can only assume was the high point of her career) has the super-human ability to burst into flames and loves to torment the couple. In a pivotal scene, Roseanne photobombs them when they’re just trying to get a portrait done at JC Penny.

The Iron Lady
Meryl is the wealthy widow of Jared (of The Jared Galleria of Jewelry fame). One day, after visiting her chiropractor to treat her debilitating neck condition that causes it to rest at a rather uncomfortable 70º angle, she refuses to spare a dollar for the homeless woman outside the office. The woman casts a spell that will turn Meryl into an iron statue if she doesn’t change her greedy ways.

The Hours
Meryl, along with her two imaginary friends Elle Prittyhare and Myrtle Frounsalot (guess which one is played by Nicole Kidman…) has to wait at the DMV to renew her license. While waiting, she meets a mysterious florist who promises her that he will change her life by the time she leaves. Meryl learns a lot that day about patience (everyone told her not to go to the DMV on the last day of the month!!), opening yourself up to love (first step: stop imagining friends), and horticulture (Meryl gets a life-changing tip on how to make cut flowers last longer).

All of this goes to say that Meryl has a mouth that’s interesting on its own. She barely has to do anything with her face and my reaction to 90% of her movie posters is still: I want to see that.

Lost phones & auto correct music suggestions

I lost my cell phone last weekend. Other than the pictures and videos that I’ll never get back, I’m not sorry its gone.  This is mostly because while the LG Spectrum has all the capabilities of a great phone, its battery life rivals that of a Tamagotchi. It wasn’t exactly a “grab ‘n go” phone.

It also had a bunch of really annoying quirks, one of which was the auto correct/auto complete function. The weirdest example was how every time I started to text a word with the letter “k” or the letter “i” followed by punctuation of any kind, my phone would jump in and offer “k.d.lang” as its best possible guess of what I was about to type. In a rush, I accidentally sent a lot of confusing texts.

If my phone’s auto correct dictionary worked at McDonalds, it would stop you after the first syllable of your order and say “Wait don’t tell me… you want three plain burger buns, half a chicken nugget, a ketchup cup full of Diet Coke, and a Fruit & Walnut salad thrown at your body.”  And while you’re standing there in shock at what they just said (although you probably wouldn’t say no to some candied walnuts) they’re just staring at you with an idiotic smile, proud to be an amazing order guesser.

I thought k.d.lang was like a hot young rapper or something. I assumed that LG had thought it would be really “cool” and “hip” and “in with the young crowd” to add this rapper’s name into the auto correct dictionary.  This explanation was good enough for me at least, so rather than investigate the matter I resigned to sending the occasional unintended k.d. lang name drop.

Fast forward to the day after I lost my phone. I spent the majority of that morning and afternoon calling every place I had been the previous night and simultaneously working with Verizon to get my old phone connected. (God it was such a fun day. I feel so bad that I didn’t invite you!!!) Towards the end of it all, as it became more and more clear that I wasn’t getting my LG Spectrum back, I remembered its auto correct quirk and decided to finally google “k.d. lang.” I wanted to get a look at this hot young rapper.

Turns out… k.d. lang is actually a fifty year old “Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter” not to mention “an animal rights, gay rights, and Tibetan human rights activist.” (thanks Wikipedia! try not to change this entry in the next month cause I just quoted you kthanks). My search led me to a video of her performing “Hallelujah” at the 2005 Juno Awards and WOW she is a talented performer. Ignore the fact that she appears to be wearing a fancy bathrobe and just listen to her voice.

Clearly, my phone was trying to tell me about her all along. Unfortunately, I was too busy going into rage mode over the inconvenience of having a small computer guess what I was saying in order to save me the time of typing it all out.  And even though my phone’s  auto correct was negative help, and even though it randomly closed applications no matter how well I was doing on my current Free Flow game, and even though it could barely charge up enough to power its GPS for a ten minute drive… I sort of miss it now.

NOT!  I’m glad to be back to my old phone and should have never let it go. DROIDS 4EVR*

*until I can afford an iphone.

Some things that I will not be buying at Gap

1) A Hunting Outfit

Taking a page from this season’s hunting sportswear, Gap has paired their “Super Skinny Twill Pants” with their “Stitch Turtleneck Sweater.”  What an interesting and fashionable reappropriation of the clothes worn by those who kill animals for sport! Finally, the voices of women country-wide have been heard.  I can’t even tell you how many times I have wanted to look like I am about to go out and kill deer and been so disappointed that no casual, everyday, non-regulation hunting clothes for women existed.

Just wondering – does Gap know that hunters wear bright orange with camouflage not because it LOOKS GOOD but because it is often required by law as a measure to prevent hunters from accidentally shooting each other?

2) At worst a straight jacket, at best a thing your four year old daughter made

I’m getting such a straight jacket vibe from this, although that may just be because I can’t imagine anyone putting this on unless it was against their will.

Here’s some of what Gap has to say about their “Military Jacket:”

“Long dolman sleeves” – Oh great, dolman sleeves! THOSE ALWAYS FLATTER.

“Rear shoulder yoke with folded edge”  – I can’t… what does that even mean? To break it down: the jacket has a shoulder yoke… in the rear…. and the edge of said yoke is folded. Okay… neat.  From what I understand, the yoke helps to shape and improves the fit of the jacket.  So I think the only important thing in this case is that THE YOKE FAILED.

“Relaxed, blousy fit”  – Uh, when it looks like someone could smuggle a sandwich tray under the jacket, I think “relaxed fit” goes without saying.

3) This sweater

Seriously, Gap, I’m not asking you to go all Ralph Lauren on your models, but when the picture comes out like this…

You need to do some light photoshopping!  Or just reshoot the model except this time have her wear a sweater that’s two sizes smaller in the waist then this one! Or just burn the sweater! I don’t know.

This woman is probably 6 foot tall and 110 pounds, but with the sweater on she looks pretty darn average.  C’mon, Gap, fool us a little bit!!!  If a gorgeous, impossibly thin model looks like a lumpy, bloated potato in this sweater than what the hell hope is there for the rest of us??

My Unibrow and I

There is no easy way to say it: when I was younger, I had a monster unibrow. I was teased so much that I was driven to start plucking the area in fourth grade, an act of fitting in that my mother quickly put a stop to.

“Madeline,” she would say in a loving voice, “you will be so THANKFUL for your dark, beautiful eyebrows someday.”

I could not believe the lie that she was telling me, but I usually chalked it up to the fact that since she was older she didn’t have what 9-10 year old Madeline would call “style” (bell bottoms, a crop top and “The Rachel” haircut).  Undeterred by my stubbornness, my mother worked hard to make me like my eyebrows.

“You have Brooke Shields eyebrows!” she would say.

At that age I had no idea who Brooke Shields was but when I finally saw a picture of her I had to agree with my mom: Brooke and I both had hideous eyebrows. But Brooke was allowed to wear a full face of makeup, and in my eyes, the rainbow of eighties hues sprayed across her face did a lot to redeem the unsightly situation below her forehead.  Meanwhile I remained makeup-less with just two shades of color on my face: “inky” (my eyebrows) and “Elmer’s Glue” (my skin).  Like a walking black and white photo.

See how the makeup totally takes the focus off of Andrew Garfield’s eyebrows?

I guess a small part of me was relieved that a celebrity had similar eyebrows, but it did little to change my mind about how ugly they were.  I went to drastic measures in the fifth grade when I attempted to skirt my mom’s “no plucking your eyebrows!” rule by applying Nair to the area in between my eyebrows.  The plan worked well; so well, in fact, that in addition to my unibrow I removed a decent amount of skin.  That’s right, I gave myself a chemical burn – oh, the price of beauty!  My mom must have felt bad for me because the eyebrow plucking prohibition was unofficially repealed.

Now my only problem were the two caterpillars above my eyes, a situation that I was too lazy and clueless to do anything about until I was fourteen.  At the end of 8th grade, on the night before a very important family event with lots of pictures, my older cousin dragged me into the bathroom and plucked my eyebrows for me. An hour or so later my face was transformed – the extreme thinness and noticeable “groomed look” of my new brows made me feel older and sophisticated.  The dozens of pictures from the event, however,  serve as historical records of the truth: I had a great time that day and there were sperm-shaped patches of hair above my eyes.

Thankfully, their shape has gradually improved over the years and just like my mom said, I’ve grown to really like my eyebrows.  I even get the occasional compliment on them, almost always prefaced with “this is going to sound weird but…” and said with the same hesitation as with a compliment to someone’s elbow or knee.

So I just want to say this once and for all: my eyebrows and potential unibrow couldn’t grow faster if I applied Rogaine to the area every night.  I spend a lot of time weed wacking these things so FEEL FREE to commend me for it.  I will happily accept each compliment because even though it’s completely superficial, the validation that I no longer look like Frida Kahlo is still nice to hear.

Give me a month though… it’s all the time my unibrow would need to come back with a vengeance.