Another Open Thread

Because I am fat and lazy. And still kind of sick, and only just finished with editing the book. Posting will resume eventually.

In the meantime, here’s a quote from a Rilke letter, which was one of the readings at FJ’s wedding. A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me to do a reading at her wedding — and asked me to choose what to read, since I had the English degree and all. I pored over my Nortons and poetry books and a gazillion websites for days, and I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t nauseating. Then I ran across this passage, and I decided it was perfect — none of this “two become one” shit, but a genuine insight into how a long-term relationship actually works:

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.

So I read that. And it went over like a lead balloon. Granted, we were outdoors with planes flying overhead, so it’s entirely possible that no one heard anything but “merging of two people is an impossibility,” “hemming-in,” and “robs… both parties of their fullest freedom and development.” Still, I felt I’d chosen poorly. Especially since, right after I finished, the justice of the peace said, “Today, L & J become one!” Oops!

But I still loved the reading, dammit, so I was tickled to see it come up again at a wedding where the couple had chosen it. What do y’all think of that sentiment, Shapelings? Are two people supposed to “become one” when they get married? Or is it better to always see “each other as a whole and before an immense sky”? Obviously, you know where I stand on that question.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Quick Hit: Post-Wedding

I’m sure there will be more of a wrap-up and at least one photo later, but I just want to share a couple of things.

1) Fillyjonk’s wedding was AWESOME. Really, they don’t get much better.

2) And I say that even though I’m sober, ’cause I got stuck driving. Which is a long story I will not share now, but I do have a shorter story.

3) In the cab on the way to the airport, I said to Al. “I forgot something. I forgot something important. I know it.” But I couldn’t figure out what the hell it was. I knew I had my i.d., dress and shoes, so I figured I could buy anything else I was missing in Baltimore. *shrug*

Sitting at the gate, about 5 minutes before we boarded the flight, it hit me. I FORGOT TO PACK BRAS.

And wait, it gets better. Because I recently read this story about a woman with a rack o’ doom whose underwire set off the metal detector at an airport, I was wearing a sports bra. That was the only bra I had with me. To go to a wedding. In a low-cut dress.

Fortunately, the miracle of the internet led me to this place, which actually had some of my size in stock — and on sale, no less. So it all eventually got sorted out. But seriously, of all the fucking things I could forget to pack, bras rank pretty much right under i.d., in terms of replacement difficulty. My cup size is too big for straight lingerie stores, and my band size is too small for plus stores, so if I’d been in a city that didn’t have a specialty lingerie shop like that? I would have been at the wedding in a goddamned sports bra.

Also, the second I realized I didn’t have bras with me, I texted Fillyjonk, because what every bride needs to deal with the day before her wedding is a friend’s underwear crisis. And bless her heart, she actually took the time to ask everyone she could think of about local lingerie shops. (I just wanted to know if she knew of a place off the top of her head!)

All of which is background to this: Just one of the many things that made this wedding unique and memorable is that about half the people I introduced myself to immediately said, “Did you find a bra?!?”

You just don’t get that at every wedding, y’all. You just don’t.

Douchemail of the Day

From an “internet marketing specialist”:

I was looking at websites under the keyword bra stores and came across your website http://kateharding.net. I see that you’re not ranked on the first page of Google for a bra stores search.

I’m not sure if you’re aware of why you’re ranked this low but more importantly how easily correctable this is.

Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m ranked that low because this isn’t a fucking bra store. 

Our specialist continues:

P.S – If the tables were turned and somebody I didn’t know came to me with a proposition, even one that was appealing, I would be hesitant because I would be wondering – what’s the catch? What does this guy know that I don’t.

But then I would think he does know something that I don’t know. He does have thousands of high PR websites, he does have hundreds of thousands of pages indexed and ranking in Google Yahoo and MSN. 

And here’s something I know that you don’t, buddy. I live with an actual Internet Marketing Specialist, who would very much like to see fuckwit spammers like you die a thousand deaths. I’m inclined to agree.

Holy MFin’ Baby Donuts, The Book Is Done

In case anyone thinks I’m exaggerating when I say I’m a person who works best at the last-minute, it is 5 minutes to 4 p.m. central time — i.e., 5 p.m. eastern — and I have just this second put the final touches on our manuscript, which was due today at, oh, 5 p.m. eastern time.

Okay, technically, our editor said we could turn it in on Monday, because she had a half day today anyway, but 5 p.m. on August 1 is the deadline I’ve thought I was working toward for the last five months, so 4:55 on August 1 is when I finished my half. This is how I work, y’all. I have already told Marianne that if there’s another book, she and our editor should pick a just deadline together and tell me it’s a month (or, I don’t know, a year) earlier than that date, ’cause the chances of getting me to step it up any other way are pretty fucking slim at this point. Everyone should send Marianne lots of healing thoughts and dumb internet hugs to help soften the sting of having me for a co-author. 

But holy motherfuckin’ baby donuts, it’s done. IT’S DONE!!!! Baby-flavored champagne all around!

Baby, Remember My Name

So Rebecca Traister has an interesting post up over at Broadsheet about the recent bloggy kerfuffle over the NYT’s coverage of BlogHer. There’s lots to talk about there, but I want to highlight one point that I don’t see discussed very often (although I might actually have mentioned it here before — I think that was in comments, not a post, but if I’m repeating myself, fuck it):

A blog about personal experience and illness certainly needn’t be named with an eye to political urgency, but what about starting from a place of self-regard and personal authority and naming it after yourself, like Kos, or Drudge, or one of the women who does get taken seriously online, Arianna Huffington? Think about how much easier it would be to get the respect that some of the BlogHer women crave if they started taking themselves more seriously.

I think it’s a bit of a leap to equate not naming your blog after yourself with not taking yourself seriously, especially when one of the primary reasons why so many women bloggers don’t name their blogs after themselves is because there are very real risks that go along with that. Even if your name is an open secret, there’s a difference between that and naming the blog after yourself. People refer to me as Kate Harding whenever they mention me, but they refer to The Rotund as The Rotund, for instance, even though she doesn’t hide her real identity. And Heather Armstrong has “I’m Heather B. Armstrong. This is my website” right at the top of the page, but how often do you hear other bloggers refer to her as anything but Dooce? Naming the blog after yourself, as opposed to merely blogging under your real name (or not hiding it) does make a real difference in terms of your online visibility — which can be a blessing and a curse.

That said, I did name this blog Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose — and decided to keep that name* even after the co-bloggers came along — for pretty much the reasons Traister is getting at. As much as I’d like to pretend I started blogging strictly out of the goodness of my heart, the fact is, I was not only a budding fat acceptance activist but a writer looking to establish a readership and brand myself. I could have called myself “Lucysol” (after the dogs), which was my online handle in the very few places I hung out online before I blogged, but that wasn’t the name I wanted people to remember if, ahem, I ever got a book contract or something. And honestly, what pushed me over the edge — apart from the fact that I was already using kateharding.net — was seeing blogs with men’s names show up on WordPress’s top blogs list every damned day. I don’t even know what any of those blogs were about, but I know those names were burned into my brain just from checking that list periodically. And I thought, hey, why the hell isn’t my name burned into people’s heads? (A little over a year later, Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose currently appears at number 18 on that list. Ahem again.)

Having said all that, I still struggle with feeling like keeping my name up there is too egotistical — conduct unbecoming a lady blogger! — especially when I’m not the only (or best) writer here. The fact that my co-bloggers don’t use their real names makes that somewhat less problematic, as it’s not like I’m inhibiting Filllyjonk’s or Sweet Machine’s efforts to brand themselves. And I did start this shit from scratch and blog all by my lonesome for some time, so I can justify it. But I can’t help feeling that if I were a guy, I wouldn’t even be thinking about justifying it. I wouldn’t be worrying that having my name up top might affect the community spirit or make FJ and SM feel unappreciated, or whatever the fuck. I’d just be thinking, “Yep, that’s my blog.”

Of course, any number of male-owned blogs, including some Traister mentions, aren’t named after their founders. But the fact remains, I can easily name a dozen eponymous male-owned blogs off the top of my head, and pretty much no female-owned ones other than this here blog and the HuffPo. (Help me out in comments, ’cause I’m sure I do know of other lady blogs named after the ladies, but I’m drawing a blank.) You almost never see Jane Doe’s X or Mary Smith’s Y, no matter how internet-famous Jane and Mary may be. And that’s exactly why I ultimately went with Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose, even though it felt a little oogy — because it fucking pissed me off that it did feel oogy. Why should it? It’s my goddamned blog.

I mean, of course it’s also Fillyjonk’s Shapely Prose and Sweet Machine’s Shapely Prose and — in a different and arguably even more important way —  Shapelings’ Shapely Prose. But I think (hope, anyway) all of that is quite clear even with my name at the top. Meanwhile, in less than eighteen months, I actually have achieved the goals I set for myself when I started this — a significant readership and paid writing opportunities that flowed from blogging. On one level, that still surprises the shit out of me. There was a whole lot of luck, good timing, and indeed privilege involved. But on another level, I do think it’s partly attributable to the fact that I took myself seriously and believed I was producing something valuable even when I had about 12 readers, 11 of whom I knew personally — and naming the blog after myself was a big symbol of that for me.

Of course, I’m nowhere near as internet-famous as a Heather Armstrong or an Allison Blass — the blogger whose title set Traister off on that train of thought — and I couldn’t live off of blogging or my checks from the book and Broadsheet. I feel like this has been a hugely successful project because I’ve exceeded my own wildest expectations — which weren’t actually all that wild — but by real-world standards, I’m still pretty much a starving no-name. So, you know, take all this with an entire salt lick.

But I’m still fascinated by the question of why so few women bloggers have eponymous blogs. What do you think about that, Shapelings?

*You might have noticed that the last couple of headers haven’t said “Kate Harding’s…” but that’s because I was putting my name elsewhere and felt stupid doing it twice. If you look up at the top of your browser, you’ll see KH’s SP remains the official blog title.

Fat scrubs, anyone?

Shapeling RedSonja is hoping some of you have some expertise in finding some shapely scrubs.

I work in a veterinary hospital. Uniform is scrubs. Unisex scrubs. Unisex scrub pants that have a high waist in the front, and low in the back. This is just wonderful when I have to bend over to pick up a dog….. And unisex scrub shirts that tend to ride up as the pants sag down. Argh. So my question is — do any Shapelings know of any scrubs specially designed for fat people? Not just unisex sized up, but that can actually accommodate the Rack of Doom and the Thighs of Doom?

Since our bloggerly expertise is more along the lines of a different kind of Scrubs, I’ll turn this over to the commentariat. Any medical Shapelings out there who can recommend a scrubs source?

(This kind of request, which we occasionally get, makes me think we should have a category for basic “where do I find this fatty item” questions. Fat Google? Fatopedia? Any ideas?)

Note to WordPress 2.6 Users

This doesn’t affect Shapely Prose, but Lindsay asked that I pass along this note about a bug she’s encountered in WP 2.6, since much of the fatosphere is probably using it.

There is a bug in the recently released version of WordPress (2.6). As far as i’m aware, it’s not affecting blogs hosted on wordpress.com, but it will create interesting problems for people using the standalone version of WordPress on their own domains.

Basically, if you’re using a custom permalink structure, when you upgrade to 2.6, the links to posts, pages, and the RSS feed will leave out the “index.php” part of the URL. This means that if you’re on the main page and try to click on a post or page, you’ll get a 404; if you’re subscribed to the feed, any posts that have already come through will give the same errors if you try to access that post directly. If you’re subscribed to the feed with the broken URL, no new posts will come through.

There’s a workaround that can resolve the problem as far as the posts and pages are concerned, but i have not yet found a resolution for the problem it creates with the feed. The word on this issue is that it will be fixed in the next release of WordPress; so i would HIGHLY recommend that anyone wanting to upgrade their standalone blog would be well advised to wait for 2.6.1.

More information can be found here.

And yes, i did find this out the hard way, lol.