Being Shamelessly Judgmental of Parental Behavior, Vol. 3: Baby Girl Names to Consider

Being Shamelessly Judgmental of Parental Behavior, Vol. 3: Baby Girl Names to Consider

I’m not a parent, but as you know by now, I don’t let that stop me from having shockingly insightful opinions on parenting strategy, which I enjoy distributing freely to the world. For the record, I’d also do it if I was paid to do it, but for now, I do it freely. And I also really want more blog traffic, and parenting is a topic where I can get maximum value out of very few key words because parents are naturally anxious and tired creatures who seem to be constantly looking on the internet for things to help them parent.

Anyway, as I’ve said before, I won’t come right out and make fun of modern baby names I think are dumb publicly (making fun is always available upon request in a private setting), but I do want to make some gentle suggestions about unusual baby names you would-be parents might consider, if you want your kid to stand out. Because retro baby names are so popular these days, here are some types of retro baby girl names I think we’re all missing out on. (Yes, I have so many brilliant ideas about what you should call your child that I can only address one sex at a time.)

Stripper Names of Yore. Remember back in the 90’s when you’d kick back and relax at a low-class strip club? Me neither, but I’m told it was a real blast. Hop in your time machine and consider names like Tawny, or Tiffany. These are real classics, in their own way. No one says how retro you need to go. Who needs Sophia when you can have a baby girl named Crystal? And you’re really setting your little Brandy up for a lifetime of exceptional individuality. Her name will be unusual in this day and age, and plus, she’s going to make so much money giving lap dances when she’s older. Just kidding. Maybe. I mean, her name is Brandy.

But look how much she enjoys her job!

Legit Grandma Names. People are starting to choose pseudo-grandma names for their little girls, but like what they wish their grandma’s name was. Names like Elaine, Harriett, and Nora are truly beautiful, but you know your grandma’s name is actually Ethel. It’s time to stop pretending, and just go ahead and name your baby girl Doris after your Mamaw. It’ll make her so happy! Embrace the monikers of the blue haired in your life. There won’t be another little Agatha in her kindergarten class, I can assure you.

Grandma needs all the cheering up she can get 

Still not retro enough for you? If your baby name list still says

  1. Amelia
  2. Harper

Then I have one more idea that may help you through this.

Names of Things in Your House. Take it back to how Native Americans used to do it. Pick something you can see, maybe in your kitchen, and lock it in like it means something really important to you. Name your little girl Paprika. Commit to it and act confident, and little Paprikas, Avocados, and Tofurkeys will be popping up left and right in a few years. Just walk around your house and make a list of possibilities. Little Ibuprofen might be frustrated when she can’t find a souvenir keychain with her name on it, but she’ll thank you later in life. Again, this may seem absurd, but all you need to do is hold your head high and set the trend… and maybe teach your child how to defend herself.

Inspiring, no?
Ten Steps to Success: Getting Fewer Emails

Ten Steps to Success: Getting Fewer Emails

There are certain job titles that include words like “coordinator” and “director” and “doormat” that ensure that you receive a crap-ton of emails. Perhaps you’ve thought to yourself, “I wish there was a practical way I could cut down on the volume of email I receive! How will I ever get myself out of this mess?! Is there some redheaded goddess out there who might be able to help me?!” Don’t worry. I’m here.*

  1. Incorporate excessive punctuation when emailing coworkers to ask for anything you may need, whether it’s a substantial need or a very minor need. You might feel inclined to type something cheerful like, “Happy Friday! Can you please give me an update on the documents you’re preparing for me? There’s no rush. Just checking in. Thanks!” But that friendly attitude is why you get so many damn emails, sucker! Instead, demand to know, “Are the documents ready yet???!!!” This line of aggressive questioning offends people and makes them not want to email you when they need things.
  2. Experiment with the aforementioned excessive punctuation. Push people to blow past feeling vaguely offended and urge them to explore new levels of annoyance with you. For instance, when a statement calls for a single period, choose to go with four question marks instead. Say, “I’m very busy filing right now???” And “You told me you were off today??????” Annoyance is a great deterrent, so be creative!
  3. Pit people against each other. If your coworker Jane emails you something sensitive in nature, such as a complaint about Joe taking forever to get her something she needs, reply and add Joe and all of his superiors to the CC list. In the email’s body, say something that appears to be helpful, like, “Joe, can you help Jane resolve this?” No one can really get mad at you for trying to facilitate office communication, but IRL what you did is annoying as hell and Jane will probably never email you again. Neither will Joe. Or Joe’s superiors.
    A photo I took of Jane the other day
  4. Has your email volume decreased yet? Not enough to suit you? Ugh, you’re so needy. Okay, time for the big guns.
  5. Always, always choose ‘reply all.’ A more sure-fire and simple email-reducer there never was.
  6. Select ‘request read receipt’ on every email you send, even if it’s something mundane. This will make you come across as a self-important ass. Don’t ever wonder if you should… you should. Even when someone asks you a simple yes or no question, and your reply contains a single word, just go on ahead and request that read receipt. People will start to avoid opening your emails, and subsequently reply to you less and less.
  7. End each and every email with “I will call to discuss,” no matter how straightforward your email was. For example, email Joe and say, “Someone left a letter on my desk, but it’s for you, not me. I will call to discuss.” And then either a) never call them, effectively ruining their day because they’ve been sitting there dreading your call because they’re starting to hate you, or b) call them 2 seconds after you send the email, ensuring that they haven’t had a chance to read it.
    How you want people to react when they realize they have to email you for something
  8. Abbreviate words that are already very easy to type, such as transforming “Thanks” to “Thx” or even worse, “Tks.” In fact, remove letters from already-short words anytime you feel inspired to do so. Reply to emails with things like, “Trd to call to dscss. Pls call me bck whn pssble, tks.” People who get emails like this will become so physically ill trying to decipher what you’re saying that they will avoid emailing you whenever they can.
  9. When people email you three or four simple questions within one email, answer just one of them, and then never respond to any emails that person sends you again. Even better, reply with just “No.” For example, say you get an email that asks you if you followed up with Jane on the due date for that client’s document, what the due date was, and if Joe had any concerns about Section 3A. You should reply simply, “no.” Bonus If you reply, “no?????” Bonus bonus if you say “No??? Wll cll to dscss” and then never call.
  10. Reply to emails with passive-aggressive comments, or with vaguely hostile comments accompanied by a friendly emoticon. (This requires some practice, but you’re becoming an expert under my tutelage so I’m confident that you can handle it.) This is a great tactic because it makes people doubt themselves, and causes general confusion and stress that deters them from sending future emails. So when you get an email that says something like, “Hi there! I saw you’re on the phone. Can you please come by my office when you have a chance?” you should respond with, “As you saw, I’m on the phone :)” They’re all, “didn’t she see that I already acknowledged that she was on the phone?! Is she pissed? What’s with the emoticon? What does it all mean? Emailing her was a bad idea.” Yes. Yes it was.


How I wish I got all my correspondence
So how’s that inbox looking? Did you just see a tumbleweed blow by? Great! When people start to get pushy and email you again, which they will, just repeat a few of these tricks until they go away again. I would say email me and let me know how things are going for you, but I really hate when you do that.

*Items 1-10 above are really just as likely to increase your email volume, and also get you fired, so if I were you, I’d ignore this entire post and try a different list.

Types of People Who Park at Target

Types of People Who Park at Target

I’m lucky to have a job that allows me to work at home most days, and when I do need to go into the office, it’s just a quick fifteen minute drive away. I get to avoid a lot of the road rage that other people are stuck with Monday through Friday, week after week. I have precious (okay, terrible) memories of my years as a commuter to share with you eventually–try to be patient, I know it’s exciting–but today I would like to share some insight about the drivers I do still encounter regularly. I’m talking about the types of people I see in the parking lot at Target. There are three primary offenders I’ve identified so far, in my travels.

  1. Slow Backer: This is a tiny woman in a giant SUV, who is finished shopping and is  easing out of a Target parking space with so much care that it takes a full ten seconds, and usually involves a lot of dramatic head turning and twisting of her body in order to peer behind her as she inches backward. Ten seconds might not sound at first like a lot of seconds in the great scheme of things, but go ahead and count to ten and see how long it is… 3, 4, yep, keep going, 5, 6, 7… and now it’s basically been an hour since we last spoke. How’ve you been? But seriously, what could that Slow Backer possibly be looking for? Are those four rows of seats obstructing her line of sight that much? Or is she concerned about running over tiny invisible insects? I personally think she lost the right to care about the environment when she got that enormous SUV. Today’s Target purchases: Set of useless antique candle holderswomen’s multivitamins.
  2. Back-In-Er: A guy who holds up all other cars to stop and ease back into an open Target parking space instead of just parking front-ways like a normal person, presumably to save himself the two precious seconds it takes to back out when he’s ready to head over to GNC for his protein shake supplements. And even though you know this guy backs into every space everywhere, because he’s a giant douche, it always feels like this is the first time he’s attempted to be a Back-In-Er, because of how much he sucks at it. He tries to back in, fails to line himself up properly, pauses for a few seconds, slowly inches forward, tries again, and then keeps at it while a dozen cars wait on him to get over himself already. Today’s purchases: These sunglassessome red and black mandals, this bottle of Impression of Calvin Klein’s Eternity by Perfect Scents.
    At the moment he realizes mandals impede his driving abilities. Or maybe he’s realizing he doesn’t have any fingernails. 
  3. Parking Spot Shopper: A person who will sneak up on you, because anyone could be a Parking Spot Shopper. Often, you’ll be accompanying a perfectly sane friend to Target in their car and realize that they are a major Parking Spot Shopper. This is the man or woman who circles the parking lot again and again at 2 miles per hour, their hands firmly positioned at 10 and 2, mouth set in a firm line of determination, as they look for any sign of a car near the store’s entrance that may be leaving so they can swoop in. They will not settle for a spot in the back of the parking lot, or even in the middle of the parking lot. They will do anything to avoid walking that additional 20 feet, even if it takes an extra five minutes to find that perfect spot. Today’s purchases: a shit ton of Diet Coke, expensive yoga mat because the doctor said to exercise. Note: When a Parking Spot Shopper is cosmically paired with a Slow Backer, you will want to kill yourself. When a Parking Spot Shopper also happens to be a Back-In-Er, just go ahead and leave Target, and try your luck at Wal-Mart.

Honorable Mentions: On-the-Phone Ignorers. I Think I’ll Proudly Let My Toddler Take Ten Minutes to Walk to the Entrance Instead of Carrying Him Quickly-Ers.

We all need to go to Target from time to time, or in my case, three times each week. Because sometimes you need wine and cat litter on Monday, vegetarian chicken nuggets on Thursday, and more wine cat litter on Friday. So try to be more of a Swift Trunk Loader or a Generous Lane Sharer. Or maybe (we all will thank you) an Amazon Primer.

How I would prefer to arrive at Target at all times
Here’s What Happened After Surgery

Here’s What Happened After Surgery

Okay, so here’s the story of what happened with Matt’s surgery. I write about this with a bit of hesitation, because I worry that I am tempting fate to wreak more havoc in our lives. Fate, if you’re listening, back off. Just enjoy the story and relish your successful infliction of stress, okay?

Before I regale you with my tale, I have a few disclaimers: We are very fortunate to have good insurance that allows us to have all the free operations we want. We are also very fortunate to have flexible work schedules and unbelievable friends that afford us the luxury of recovering comfortably from a pretty intense surgery and anything else life throws at us, like a surprise Sunday trip to the emergency vet (more on that later). Not everyone is as lucky as us. Well… if we were super lucky, we would have avoided all this in the first place, so I guess some people are definitely more lucky than us, but you get my point.

Matt and I decided to have his ankle reconstruction surgery done by an amazing surgeon at Duke Sports Medicine in Durham, NC. We live a couple of hours away, in Charlotte, so we knew this would pose a few challenges for us, logistically. But a couple hours after Matt had been wheeled back for surgery, I felt like things were going really well so far. Jimmy Johns had delivered a delicious sandwich to comfort me over lunch while I waited, and I had an emergency Xanax in my pocket just in case the sandwich didn’t offer enough support (it did offer enough support). When the surgeon came to the waiting area at last and told me that everything had gone very well, I tried to ignore the giant splatter of (presumably Matt’s) blood on his medical clog while he gestured at his own ankle and cheerfully explained what he’d done to my husband’s insides. (For the record, I feel like having a nurse or someone look you over for signs of gore would be nice, before you mingle with the folks waiting to make sure their loved ones remain living.) The surgeon said proudly, “I think he’ll be really pleased with his ankle” in the same way people say “I think you’ll be really pleased with your new Hyundai” as you sign the paperwork. I was optimistic that the worst part was over. Oh, Past Courtney. You moron.

This is just to give you an idea of what the pre-op scene may have looked like, except 1) Matt does not have as much hair as this man and 2) this man is definitely wearing his surgical cap incorrectly. I am not even sure how it’s staying on his head 

We were told we should stay the night in Durham, which we were happy to do because Matt was worried about the pain that would be headed his way. We’d been told that the surgery would lead to a painful recovery, so we felt safer knowing that he’d be surrounded by doting nurses armed with good drugs. The next day, we were sent home with something called a peripheral nerve catheter (Matt: “Hold on, did you just say ‘catheter?’) He had gotten a similar nerve block before, with a previous ankle surgery, in the form of a shot given to him to numb his entire leg for 24 hours. When that nerve block wore off suddenly, he was in a lot of pain, so he was a bit gun shy about the whole post-surgery process this time around. This gadget, said our army of nurses, was much better: a small portable container that gradually pumped pain medicine into Matt’s thigh by way of what looked like a little fishing line. They told us that the catheter would keep his ankle 30-90% numb for several days. I’d just like to say to the scientists who created this handy device… 30% and 90% are pretty far apart. We can grow an ear on a mouse’s back these days. I saw photos on the internet. Why not shoot for a 90%-100% success rate with the peripheral nerve catheter? Just saying.

When we got back to Charlotte, Matt was starting to complain that he was uncomfortable, but I was so relieved we were safely at home that I didn’t have room to feel worry or any other emotions. Matt hates being a passenger in a car, preferring to be the driver whenever possible. Unfortunately, driving was not possible immediately following ankle surgery, and he did not take my offer to crouch under the dash and work the pedals for him while he steered very seriously, even though we’d both have been a lot less anxious. So the drive had been stressful. We’d encountered downpours, which really helped the tense passenger/driver relationship, and had needed to stop to fill his prescription for oxycodone at a drugstore along the way because he was in pain. But no matter! Now that we were finally home, the worst part was over. Ah, those were more simple times.

Once Matt was settled, I left to go pick up our dinner. As soon as I left, a home inspector stopped by (we just finished a big renovation on the house) and banged on the door incessantly. She must have had hired help parked at all entrances of the neighborhood with walkie talkies, poised to alert her the very instant my bed-ridden, doped-up husband was alone so that she could make a stressful situation even more stressful. When it was clear that the knocking inspector wasn’t going anywhere, Matt somehow managed to crutch downstairs to let her in. She was sorry… A sorry excuse for a human.

Matt’s preferred dinner: Pain relief

The surprise home inspector made Matt very tired and cranky. Then, the nerve block stopped working. When I got home with our dinner, Matt said he could feel his entire leg, and wiggled his toes for me. This was alarming to us both, since we were assured that he would be 30%-90% numb for at least a couple days. The pamphlet we’d been sent home with, Going Home with a Peripheral Nerve Catheter, mostly consisted of large photos of all of the various catheter parts and detailed instructions for removing the catheter once you’re finished with it, which are quite possibly the least useful pieces of information for a person in major pain. He proceeded to descend into a state of utter agony in a matter of two or three hours. This state of agony continued for a day and a half, and no one would help us.

I’ll say it again: no one would help us. While watching your spouse writhe in sobbing misery can be an interesting change of pace, it also kind of sucks. His pain was so bad, we discussed going to the emergency room more than once, and I even had a bag packed for us. But he wasn’t sure he could make it to the car, much less wait to be seen for hours in a packed ER. I made calls and left several Terms-of-Endearment-style messages that evening and the next morning, begging various answering machines for a new medicine to try. Duke was no help, as they were in another city and getting a new pain medication required a paper prescription. Matt’s primary care doctor didn’t get back to me for the longest time, but she finally did prescribe something… more of the exact same useless medicine we already had. I was so desperate I even tried asking Matt’s former surgeon’s office for help, since they were local and could easily prescribe something new to try, and after explaining the entire harrowing tale of what was going on and why we needed help, the lady replied, “Yeah, we don’t do that. We won’t be able to give you any drugs, ma’am.” Translation: nice try, Nurse Jackie. I wasn’t born yesterday. Clearly this insane story is completely made up because how could this scenario ever happen.

After a total of about 36 hours of what can only be described as utter trauma for both of us, we had a breakthrough and Matt’s pain went from level “Maxed Out” to level “I Guess I Don’t Want to Die Anymore but God This is Still so Terrible I Can Barely Stand It.”

As we were rejoicing in this progress (Matt rejoiced by writhing in agony some more, and I rejoiced with the unused Xanax and a comforting sandwich), our contractor from the renovation stopped by without warning, because apparently those in the home improvement industry really have a knack for showing up at the worst possible times. Unwashed, jumpy, and in my pajamas, I opened the door and let him in, listening cautiously as he asked how Matt was doing. Relieved that he didn’t appear to plan on adding to my stress level, I explained that Matt wouldn’t be able to come downstairs and say hello because he was busy processing how it might have felt to recover from surgery two hundred years ago. The contractor said, “oh wow, that’s too bad! Anyway, I need to get the final payment from you. Could you get me a check?”

My preferred dinner: sandwich. I like this image because you get a surgery vibe alongside a sandwich vibe. And even though this is a super weird sandwich idea in my opinion, it looks pretty delicious

We’d been trying to get our contractor to wrap up the work on our house for about two weeks, so that we wouldn’t have to deal with any of this post-surgery, and the contractor had been told he wouldn’t get the final check until all items had been taken care of. So I was immediately uncomfortable about being asked for a check. But then I was pissed. I said, “We’ve been advised that Matt shouldn’t sign anything until he is off of the narcotic pain medication, lest he be taken advantage of. You can come back next week.”

Then one evening after we’d been home a few days, I thought, we did it. We have a routine, and we are tough, and the worst is over. Everyone’s fine. And we lived happily ever after eating soothing sandwiches from Jimmy Johns like we didn’t have a care in the world. Oh, wait, that’s not what happened. What happened was that all of our cats got into a huge bar room brawl out of nowhere. Matt was selfish and did not even offer to get up and help, so I took a bleeding, screaming fur child to the emergency vet (because of course it was a Sunday night, not a weekday during regular business hours) to hand over all my money and the last shred of my sanity in exchange for eight paw stitches and one cone of shame.

A week later, things have settled down and we are hanging in there. Cats and husbands are mending and we have to just laugh at this whole ordeal. I’m frustrated that we fell through the cracks of our healthcare system and Matt had to suffer needlessly that couple of days, but I’m so glad he feels better now, and glad I can see some humor in everything. I’m still eating a lot of soothing sandwiches, but I’m calling doctors and leaving frantic messages less. Which I’m sure they appreciate.

What several members of our household look like these days
Ten Steps to Success: How to Escape Athletic Achievement

Ten Steps to Success: How to Escape Athletic Achievement

You know how sometimes, you’re just really great at something? Let’s dive right in.

  1. Get started down the right path at a very young age. You can take a stand against athletic achievement before you can even talk. Don’t succumb to peer pressure when a grownup first tries to trick you into sportsing by tossing you that innocent-looking plush ball. Frown at every single tricycle. Flunk out of several YMCA swim classes during your preschool years, refusing to get wet at all and leading instructors to write things like “Courtney needs to work on her confidence” on your progress report.
    An early example of escaping athletic achievement, despite having selected the exact right shoes and socks for the job
  2. Delay those inevitable athletic developments that we all must achieve, eventually. Wait until you are at least 10 years old to learn how to ride a bike or swim. Be diligent in resisting skills like these for as long as you can, because they are marketed to kids as vital to self-improvement and traditional rites of passage but we all know they are actually just sports.
  3. Display extreme caution when practicing these inevitable athletic developments. This will ensure that you fail to improve, and will make the desired impression on any hopeful adults who may be watching you. For example, when you eventually learn to ride a bike, you’ll want to stick to riding very slowly on flat and vacant surfaces near your home. If you find yourself near another cyclist, a pedestrian, or a mailbox, be sure to weave around erratically in quick jerking motions before tipping slowly over and landing on your side. Cry for several minutes to express the sincere trauma that you feel. Read quietly indoors for the remainder of the day.
    Batman shirt + acid wash shorts + Barbie bike + fake smile = the tools for success
  4. In situations of organized group games in elementary school P.E. class, let your panic take over. Embrace it. It will help you shift your focus toward thinking of ways to avoid playing, which will assist you in your failure to learn even the most basic rules to kickball, basketball, and soccer. Explain to your P.E. teacher that time spent walking safely around the perimeter of sports activities by yourself is a very healthful activity. Reassure her that you are a real “team player” in art class. This will work approximately one in every ten times you try it.
  5. If absolutely forced to play an organized group game, attempt to use the powers of your mind to keep the ball from coming anywhere near you. This will work approximately zero in every ten times, so when the ball does inevitably come to you, hold it gingerly in outstretched arms as if it is a bomb that might explode at any moment. Walk over and hand it to whichever person is screaming at you the loudest, regardless of teaming arrangements. Excuse yourself to the restroom to ugly cry.
    You can pose a girl with a baseball all day long, but it does not make her capable of scoring a field goal. – Me
  6. As you transition to the middle grades, push yourself to fail in new ways. In seventh grade, when all your friends are playing sports after school and on weekends, consider that maybe you have been all wrong about this, and that maybe you could be a killer basketball player who just never realized her true potential. Try out for the seventh grade girls’ basketball team. Feel hopeful when your stepfather tells you everyone makes the seventh grade girls’ basketball team.
  7. Do not make the seventh grade girls’ basketball team. Sob loudly in the bathroom, ensuring that your lying stepfather can hear you.
  8. Continue to reach for impossible athletic achievements. In eighth grade, consider that maybe you could be a killer track star who never realized her true potential. Try out for the eighth grade girls’ track team.
  9. Do not make the eighth grade girls’ track team. Decide that the track coach doesn’t like you and that must definitely be the reason you didn’t make the team.
  10. Really push yourself to explore the depths of your nonexistent skills, even when you feel that your status as a non-athlete is set in stone. Opt to take the loophole “Introduction to Dance” class instead of P.E. in high school. Discover that you are also terrible at dancing, which is really just walking athletically. Explain to your dance teacher that time spent walking safely around the perimeter of the dance activities by yourself is a very healthful activity.
    Forget the 10 steps. Just look like this, and you’ll be all set.

If you follow my example, you too can enjoy a carefree life based on a complete lack of athletic achievement. I’m living the dream. But don’t ever get too comfortable. Sure, situations involving group games and individual athletic endeavors aren’t as common when you’re an adult, but you’ll still always have that one friend who is forever trying to get you to sign up for a 5k that involves drinking as much beer as possible, and begs you to go with them to a $49 workout class at 5:00 AM that seems to be centered around  medieval torture tactics.

So don’t ever catch the keys that are tossed to you. Run from any child who hands you a ball. And whatever you do, please remember to maintain a lifestyle that includes sporadic, low-impact exercise, because… well, heart disease is a silent killer.

A Tale of Surgery and Jeans

A Tale of Surgery and Jeans

I haven’t posted in a week or so, because my husband had ankle reconstruction surgery last week, and ever since we got home we’ve been trapped in a nightmare reminiscent of how I imagine life in a Civil War medical tent might be. Time that may have otherwise been passed by blogging has been spent asking the internet stuff like, “can you ever die from too much pain,” and “are there mobile opium dens in Charlotte”.

A photo of my home


I’ve always thought that my husband Matt’s feet could really use some aesthetic improvement, but for some reason he wanted to focus on making sure his ankle works correctly, like realigning bones, repairing ruptured tendons, removing bone fragments, etc., instead of pleasing his wife by having plastic surgery (replacing his feet with more attractive plastic ones). Since writing about the miserable first few days post-op would probably feel like the emotional equivalent of getting my own ankle surgery right about now, I’ll hold off on that and tell a random story about some jeans. Obviously.

In college, I worked at a small clothing store in the mall that sold bridal gowns, prom dresses, and boutique clothing geared toward the middle-aged woman. Such a woman could come into our store and choose a tasteful mother-of-the-bride gown in taupe or navy blue, try a bold cropped jacket bedazzled with semi-precious stones, or select a new pair of Not Your Daughter’s Jeans (NYDJ) from a variety of colors and styles.

These jeans were a hot new product at the time, and we even had a little TV with a NYDJ commercial on a loop at the front of the store featuring size-0 women who would never actually wear NYDJ raving about how good they felt in them. They exuberantly explained how the jeans were designed to narrow the waistline and hips, and we watched as a woman aggressively stuffed her flab into its new rhinestone-encrusted habitat, leaving her immediately more confident, slender, and attractive. “I think you look slim!” one MILF crowed to another MILF in the commercial that never died. The video lured women into the store in droves.

College-aged Courtney modeling some NYDJ in the store, while also clearly avoiding all of the hair stylists in the world

But let’s bring the focus back to where it needs to be (on me). Ever since I was in middle school and found myself stuck with a sudden pear-shaped figure to go along with my glasses and buck teeth, I have struggled to find jeans that look right on me. I was in my late 20’s before I found jeans I really liked. They were skinny jeans that were a little bit on the high-waisted side, and as I zipped them up in the fitting room, preparing myself for disappointment and trying to remember how much vodka I had left at home, I felt a surge of hope. As the zipper closed effortlessly, the pair of pants was transformed into a magical garment that seemed as if it had been tailor-made to enhance my beauty and prepare me for a better life.

At my high school graduation

I wore that pair of jeans like a boss, as often as possible, for several months, dismissing all lesser pants from my life without hesitation, before I realized they were Not Your Daughter’s Jeans.

Yes, really. And I loved these jeans so much that I even went back to the same store to get another pair. And then I went back again, like some kind of shameless mom-jeans-obsessed freak. And then one time I couldn’t find any Not Your Daughter’s Jeans in the store, and I started to sweat. Eventually I selected a friendly-looking associate and pulled her aside, whispering anxiously, “Excuse me. I hope you can help. I can’t seem to find the NYDJ section.”

Blank stare from the associate as my eyes darted around to ensure that no one was in the process of recognizing me.

“…the Not Your Daughter’s Jeans section, okay? It used to be right over here. So if you can just point me in the right direction, I’ll get some and be on my way.”

The associate looked at me sadly, eyes filling with that familiar blend of pity and suppressed amusement I remembered from my own days in retail, and said, “We stopped selling those. Maybe I can suggest a different brand?”

Um, yeah right. As if any other brand would do. My anxiety evaporated and now I looked at her with pity. Never would she know true love for a jean. She would continue to look tiny and adorable in her (insert any brand name here because they all would work for her) jeans and never have an appreciation for the struggles of a middle-aged-shaped thirty-something woman.

What have we learned? Don’t judge the fashion trends of the nearly-elderly, my friends. You might find yourself wearing semi-precious stones on your clothing any day now. Oh, and if you’re secretly interested in having your own NYDJ, Nordstrom sells these bad boys nowadays and they have like 100 varieties to choose from. Just squeeze yourself into some horrible pants that never fit quite right, and head on over and invest in some mom jeans.

How you’ll feel in your new NYDJ: like pushing low-hanging light fixtures dramatically

Author’s note: this is not an ad for Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. I do not know any representatives from NYDJ, unfortunately. If you are a NYDJ employee and you think that your boss would give me some NYDJ for free in exchange for my writing this blog post, I would be open to that.

How to Treat a Redheaded Stranger

How to Treat a Redheaded Stranger

In honor of the recent progress made on the front of emoji equality for those of us with a non-standard hair color,  which I clearly had a little something to do with, I’ve been reflecting on redheadedness. In particular, the pitfalls of leaving the house as a Redheaded American today.

When I was little, I was frequently accosted in public by well-meaning adults who felt it was important to ask me excitedly, “Where did you get all that red hair?!” The question was confusing to me back then, and now I wonder what kind of answer they expected from a five-year-old. Did they want a prepared list of my red-haired relatives, to confirm that I was legit? Did they secretly hope that maybe my mom was Molly Ringwald? And can you imagine if people applied this line of questioning to other physical characteristics? Stranger: “Where did you get all that ass?!” Me: “😐” (Although, this one is actually an easier question to answer. I could just point to the Cheesy Gordita Crunch that’s probably in my hand at the time.)

  Me a couple of years ago. Shut up, that's just a mark on the photo, and probably not cake on my face. I would never waste cake like that.
Me a couple of years ago. Shut up, that’s just a mark on the photo, and probably not cake on my face. I would never waste cake like that.

I got this question about where I “got” my hair so frequently, and continued to be so confused about the excitement behind it, that my mom eventually got sick of the rigamarole and taught me to respond by simply saying, “Both sides of the family.” To be clear, my scientific education at the time was really just limited to knowing not to touch fire and other hot things, so my understanding of genetics was rudimentary at best. I just knew that my answer made adults laugh delightedly as though I’d said something very adorable, and then they’d finally go away. I’d like to point out that I think my mom really missed an opportunity to get creative here. She should have considered teaching me to respond with “Lucifer himself” or maybe “Your mom.” 

As an adult, I still get comments about my red hair, and most of the comments are very nice. But sometimes it gets weird. Occasionally I will get cornered by someone who is clearly in the midst of having a bizarre emotional reaction to seeing my hair. One time, a couple years ago, I had a woman march up to me while I was washing my hands in a pubic restroom and demand to know if my hair color was natural. I said it was, and she rolled her eyes, spat “UGH! Well it’s beautiful,” and stormed out. Other women are less aggressive and just tell me how they’d kill to have my hair, at which point I start to sweat and envision myself at the beginning of an old episode of Murder, She Wrote. I start brainstorming ways I can leave clues for the police to find after my death, and depositing a stray red hair is all I can ever think of on short notice, but it’s actually kind of perfect, considering how much that bitch wants to be me. Anyway, moving on. 

 Example of a redhead, so you know what to look for. But I think it could also just be He-Man in the witness protection program
Example of a redhead, so you know what to look for. But I think it could also just be He-Man in the witness protection program

In conclusion, friends, be nice to the red-haired folk you may encounter in public. We aren’t that different from you… just far more rare and interesting. At least you won’t have to make the effort for very long, because as you know, we will be extinct in like 20 years.