Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Clothing Sizes, The Rant

It irritates me that many women have so much invested in a number printed on a tag inside their clothing. Seriously, who cares if it’s a 12 or a 16 if the garment fits you well? NOBODY CAN SEE THE TAG.

Wait. Breathe. Breathe.

Okay. I think I’m better now.

Recently two people in my tweet stream complained that they have three different sizes in their closet that fit them and why can’t sizes be standard? The answer to that question came yesterday; I was browsing for formal dresses online and a reviewer complained that she had to order a size larger than her pride said she should. Um, what the [bleep!]?

Women’s clothing sizes were standardized in the late forties, based on measurements of a large population segment — women getting out of the military, primarily WACs. Want to see the standard sizes? Here they are: Vogue / McCall sizing.

I can hear the chorus of outrage now. “But my waist is blankety inches and I wear a….” No, my darlings, this is your standardized size. That other — smaller — number that you think represents you? That’s vanity sizing. You get a smaller number than you’re supposed to so you can feel good about yourself.

Notice that a standard adult female cannot wear a standard size smaller than a 6; at Old Navy, this is a size 0 (three sizes smaller, for your ego). If you’re really a size 0, there’s something very, very wrong with you. Like you’re dead, or about to be dead.

Why would you want to be a size 0? Because every woman is no more than her freaking dress size? Forget whether or not the thing fits right, look at the size on the tag! Forget whether she’s intelligent, hardworking, amazing, and gorgeous. It’s all about the number.

AAaarrgghh! Breathe, Val. Breathe.

In a previous life, I was seriously interested in clothing history. I made historical clothing, I collected photos of existing clothes from centuries past (pre-1650 was my favorite, and it’s danged difficult to come by), I went to conferences about historical clothing. I still have a couple of thousand dollars’ worth of reference books stuffed in a closet. So I understand about fit. Tailoring. Wearing ease. Movement ease.

I understand that pre-made “ready to wear” clothing is largely an invention of the 20th century, and it makes me crazy when people (women) get hung up on these stupid numbers that are nothing more than shorthand for “this should sort of fit you if your measurements are close to these.”

Seriously. Go by the measurements and forget the [bleep!]ing size. You are not a mannequin. You don’t have to fit the clothing; it’s supposed to fit you. Seriously, you’re more important than a pair of pants. You should be proud of your accomplishments, your loved ones, stuff like that. Not a number on a tag inside your clothes where nobody will ever see it but you and your dry cleaner.

Remember Geranimals? Where you matched the animal tag to create outfits in children’s clothes at (I think it was) Sears? We need something like that for clothing sizes. Then maybe I can stop foaming at the mouth about it.

Thank you for reading. I feel much better now.

The Nature of Art

Michaelangelo signed only one piece, The Pieta. Because someone, in his presence, attributed it to another artist. Of course, he had a reputation for a volatile temper, but it wouldn’t be the last time an artist tried to get in one more word after his or her art was publicly displayed.

This post is mostly for writers, so normal people might want to tune out for a while.

Writers have a similar difficulty, it would seem, to Maestro Buonarroti. My debut novel was released in September 2009 and it got a review at Dear Author (I know! It was soooo cool). Unfortunately, Jane Litte didn’t have a strong reaction to it: she gave it a C+ rating, and actually misreported a minor fact about the plot in her review.

But that was her opinion, and it was how she remembered the minor plot point. If I didn’t explain things clearly enough such that she came away with the wrong impression, that’s my fault as an artist and a communicator. Once it was published, it became an artifact that had to stand or fall on its own merits. Perhaps someone should explain that to George Lucas. Just sayin’….

I don’t get to “correct” someone else’s opinion, any more than anyone is allowed to tell me I’m wrong for being completely uninterested in the Twilight series (I don’t care for vampires, werewolves, or passive female leads in general, so I’m just not in the target audience for the series no matter how good it might or might not be).

Once you release your novel into the wild, people will have reactions to it. They are human; they will form opinions. That’s a good thing. Some of them will like it and will have an impression similar to what you intended. And some of them will not like it. In fact, some of them will hate it with a capital Hate. They will not be quiet about hating it, either.

They are entitled to do this. You are entitled to take it and smile, ignore it and smile, or stick your fingers in your ears and go “Lalalalalalalalala.” Because you’re the writer who let your precious baby manuscript turn into a published book, and they took it as you sent it out. Objecting to their perfectly legitimate opinions makes you look like a fool or a diva, and not in a good way.

Here’s the dirty little secret of book reviews: Really bad reviews can be more effective at generating sales than really good reviews. If Sarah Wendell at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (another lovely person, whom I met in real life last Ocober) calls your book craptastic, her followers will buy it just to see if it’s really as bad as she thinks it is. They will pay you for the privilege of hating your work.

That bears repeating: A very negative review can get people to pay you (by buying your book) so they can hate your work. You can pout (silently) all the way to the bank.

And that’s all I have to say about that, so any non-writers still reading can start paying attention again. 🙂

Introducing Gypsy Roberts

Time for a cute dog photo. Meet Gypsy, the terrier-mix teenager who came home with us from the shelter last Saturday:

Gypsy 'the new kid' Roberts

She’s very nice when she’s not trying to chase cats. She’s very naughty when she’s trying to chase cats.

Stuart is terrified of her, Gizmo has stared her down. Tuffy hasn’t been seen in the last twenty-four hours, although we’re pretty sure he’s in the house.

Speaking of Tuffy, here’s a photo of his elusive self:
Tuffy in repose

Being Irish-American on the Feast Day of St. Patrick

I don’t drink green beer on St. Patrick’s Day. Why?

1. It’s stupid. Beer is not supposed to be green.
2. It’s the wrong color, anyway. Green traditionally is associated with Irish nationalism, blue with St. Patrick.
3. Real Irish beer is dark enough you wouldn’t be able to see any green dye in it. Think Guiness Stout, then go darker.
4. Thanks to my Celtic ancestry, I have celiac disease; I can’t drink beer at all. Just whiskey. You put green food coloring in an Irishman’s (or Irishwoman’s) whiskey and I won’t be responsible for the consequences. You have been warned.

However, we adopted a dog today. We’ve been looking for a companion for Hank for several weeks, for a couple of reasons. He’s going to be eleven this summer, and for a dog his size that’s getting old. A younger companion will help him get enough exercise and feel younger longer.

Plus, Spooky Man is going to be a total mess when Hank eventually dies, and he knows it (he noticed he was a mess when Syrina died last fall, and she was twenty which is very old for a housecat). He thinks another dog will help him get through the hardest part. I think it beats a stint in a psych hospital for severe depression.

So. Gypsy is two, a terrier mix, and she was homeless due to the death of her owner (the paperwork said). So far we’ve discovered she likes bones, likes to bark at everything, and really wants to chase cats even when she gets in trouble for it. These kids today. I’ll post a photo when I can get her to sit still long enough to take a non-blurry one.

Other than that, I made it through Hell Week at work (it felt like SEAL training, anyway) and the cold. Did I mention I came down with a cold the day after I got home from California? Okay, thanks, I forgot I’d mentioned it. That week was kind of a fog. If I didn’t still have the Carina e-mail, I might not believe that happened, either.

Last weekend I worked on the plot for The Nobinata Gambit, the follow-on to The Valmont Contingency. And I started the opening scene with the perfect first line: At least I’m not dead. I think this book might actually be fun to write. Fingers crossed.

Breaking Valradio silence for a moment

Carina Press wants to publish “The Valmont Contingency” (formerly known as “The Valois Contngency” if you want to read an excerpt of the first draft). The one day in the last year I forgot to take my cell phone with me to work and I missed The Call. I had to settle for The Voicemail and The Follow-Up E-Mail.

It’s an aggressive production schedule, too; they want an October 2012 go-live date. Good thing I’ve started the opening scene of the sequel, workingly titled “The Nobinata Gambit.” Grin.

In other news, I came down with a cold the day after I got back from the business trip. Drove home from work, dropped into a coma for a couple of hours, and woke up with stuffy nose and scratchy throat. Joy.

Missed my local romance writers’ meeting in the spirit of “let’s not infect everyone.” Some things are better when they’re not shared.

Thank you, exotic California rhinovirus (or else I caught it before I went there; in that case, sorry about the exotic Idaho rhinovirus, California).

However, now I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of zinc gluconate lozenges. I used them as often as I was allowed, and every time I finished one, I felt as if the symptoms had been knocked back several steps.

I’m almost over it after five days — and I’m normally a 10-day cold person with a fight to keep it from turning into bronchitis, the legacy of walking pneumonia in high school.

Maybe I should buy stock in Cold-Eeze or Zicam.

I Survived the Business Trip

SFO hates me.

Getting there on Tuesday wasn’t bad, although the pilot wanted the wings de-iced before we left (it seemed awfully warm to have frost on the wings, but whatever). In spite of taking off 15 minutes later, we arrived half an hour early, and had to wait for our gate.

Then the jetway broke. Yup. San Francisco International Airport had to push a portable ramp up to the airplane and we walked down the stairs like it was 1975. Ohhhhhkay.

Then there was the trip back. My “11:17” flight took off at 2:10, during a small break in the heavy fog. And by heavy, I mean a smallish jet that had its nose up fairly close to the terminal windows appeared to have no tail at all.

The California office was nice (much bigger than the Boise outpost), the people were lovely, the job candidates I interviewed were personable and highly qualified, the hotel was serene, and the airport either hates me or was having a really bad week..

That is all.

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