Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In Defense of Paula Deen...Sort Of...

I'll just jump right in and say it because I feel it needs to be said:

America, Paula Deen did not make you fat. 

Sorry, but, she didn't. 

She also didn't give anyone diabetes (except herself, apparently…)

Paula Deen did not (that I know of…) prevent anyone from exercising, did not force anyone (that I know of…) to eat fried butter and did not keep anyone (that I know of…) from attending regular doctor visits in which someone whose job it is to help a person make healthy decisions can give them advice about eating and exercising.

And now that we've got that out of the way...

Anthony Bourdain, I love you. I truly do.  I just don't think that the guy who smoked cigarettes on television on so many occasions is really the one to comment about anyone poisoning America.  The leg breaker comment, though, was f*cking brilliant—more on that, later.

As a grown up, I just don't get it.  I don't get the whole "Paula Deen Is The Devil" business.  I've been making my own decisions for an awfully long time now and I must tell you, neither Paula's cooking nor Tony's smoking has ever inspired me to do anything I didn't want to do.  I may be a sucker to some of the more subtle advertising messages that I see in the media, but with the giant, overt "isn't this yummy?" stuff, I've managed to maintain some level of control.  I like to think of myself as typical.  Don't we all?  And I don't think you'd find too many people in this country who would say that they do only what they see people do on television.  When we do find those people (there are a few out there…) we call them what they are:  Idiots.

If I want to eat fattening food and spend sickening amounts of time on the couch, guess what?  That's my doing.  Am I stupid to do that?  Duh.

Just like I was stupid to smoke cigarettes, which I also did and somehow managed to not blame Anthony Bourdain…

The notion that we don't have enough healthy role models in this country is ridiculous.  Anybody check their email around the New Year?  I personally had Eleventy Billion businesses offering to help me get healthy and lose weight.  Every grocery store in town had their "healthy diet" stuff on sale, and every Walmart/Kmart/QuickyMart had closeouts on exercise equipment.  I got so many emails from Jillian Michaels, I figured her next step to get me to sign up for her web site would be to reach through the computer and drag me in--and she was just one of dozens of such people touting fitness.  We have so many people telling us how to be healthy, we actually have to devote additional hours of television and other media to helping people sort which of the healthy information is the most healthful for their personal needs.  We're choking on information about healthy lifestyles.  For that reason I say, if you can't find healthy lifestyle role models in the United States of America, then you're not looking. 

And what I'm ultimately saying is, we're not fat because of Paula Deen.  We're fat because we choose to eat poorly and not exercise, even though we know better.

Does that make us stupid?  Duh.  Now stop pointing at "bad guys" and look in a mirror, fatty.

Now then….about the leg breaker.  In what can only be described as an incredibly bad PR move, Paula Deen has chosen to become the spokes person for a line of pharmaceuticals geared toward diabetics.  Yep, along with her many other products, the woman is out there shilling insulin.  In response to this announcement, Mr. Bourdain tweeted: "Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later."

Which is funny as hell…

I don't subscribe to the "we have a pill for that" attitude in this country—never have.  It used to drive my doctor crazy—I'd tell him if he diagnosed me with some random crap for which there was a convenient, accompanying pill, I'd fire him.  We came perilously close to a fibromyalgia diagnosis in the early days of the Chiari saga, but I put my foot down.  Whatever we could do that didn't involve a pill, we'd do that first—that included, among other things, traction (Woo!), quitting smoking (Didn't work!  Go figure!), neck braces and a host of "at least it's not a pill" methods.  Eventually, it was a combination of things, all of which involved changing my life, that brought me to a level of relief that was tolerable.  Also worth mentioning?  It took years to figure all this out, and figure out what kind of Chiari patient I would be.

If I had chosen the pill route, this post would probably have been written (or more likely not written…) by someone addicted to narcotic pain relievers, because that's about the only "cure" for Chiari malformation that the medical community has up their sleeve--except for surgery, which is not a guarantee of pain relief.

I see Paula making baby steps toward "lighter" meals and the possibility of maybe admitting to a thing or two about the food.  She appears next to her son on his show "Not My Mama's Meals" while he dissects her fatty recipes, makes lighter versions of them and gives her a grief about it, right there on TV, in front of everybody.  Baby steps.  She's no different from any other woman that age, including my mother, who was diagnosed pre-diabetic and faced a change in her life, too.  It's hard.  It sucks.  No other way to say it—having to change what you've known your whole life, sucks.

The best PR move for Paula would have been to take the three years she's been on TV not talking about diabetes and use that time to slowly lighten up—people would have hardly noticed you were serving steamed veggies after a 36 month lead-in.  Unfortunately, she didn't go that route, but again, she's not so very different from any other woman receiving that same diagnosis—how would you have reacted?  How long would it take you to change everything?

While her missed opportunity is a bummer, and it's a little boneheaded from a business standpoint, it certainly doesn't make her a bad person—nobody's forcing you to eat bacon, so lighten up, America.  We're all responsible for our own choices—we always have been.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Neither Bored Nor Wealthy....Damnit.

I hate yarn stores.


I mean, I don't "hate" them, I just....*sigh*....I.....well.....I sort of do hate them.


I don't hate people who have yarn stores--what's not to like about a person who sells yarn?  Honestly, I think I'm a little nuts not to like yarn stores but hear me out--there are a couple of things that yarn stores tend to do that you don't see in every retail establishment and those things are huge consumer turn-offs.  I'd dislike any place that lapses into bad habits, no matter what they were selling.


Number one have to put prices on things.  Yes, I know, I're a small and friendly shop and gosh, if people want to know how much something costs, they can ask you because you're a nice person and have no problem talking about yarn because you love it so much and you love helping people and you can't imagine why such a little thing would ever be a problem.


It's a problem.


While I am certain that you are a lovely and helpful person, the truth is, I walk into your shop with a dollar amount in mind--that dollar amount is virtually always under $50, and sometimes it's under $30.  I'm not in the position to come in and clean you out of all of the chunky alpaca you have on the shelves, not that I don't want me, I want to.  If I see something beautiful and perfect and I want it and I know that I will need three of them and I don't see a price tag so I ask, and you tell me that they are $21.95 each and I was hoping for something more in the $10-$12 range, I'm going to be disappointed.  Do you take some delight in disappointing me?


I say, if you're going to have a "If you have to ask, you can't afford it" yarn shop, please post a sign on the door so I can skip you entirely and go back to the internet to buy stuff.


Number two, and, I know that this is highly subjective, but I'm just going to say it:  I can't tell, walking into a yarn store, if the people who work there assume that I don't know what I'm doing or if they are afraid that I know more than they do.  I tend to assume it's the former, and I realize that might be a personal problem.


I'm a person who goes with their gut on most things. I don't invest heavily in the outcome because I enjoy the journey.  This is especially true in my knitting.  Sure, maybe I thought I would make an X in a specific way, but as I designed it and solved the various problems that occurred along the way, my X turned into a Z.  So what?  I'm OK with that.  I still made a really spectacular Z, but more importantly, I learned HOW to make a Z, all by myself.  That experience is immensely satisfying to me.  It's more satisfying for me to make something that is uniquely mine than it is to be able to exactly follow a pattern.  So when I say that I'm going to make a thing, and that I'll need around 600 yards of "something chunky, I'll know it when I see and touch it", you don't have to ask how many stitches per inch or what kind of needles I'll be using, then cluck when I say that don't really know and I'm not worried about it.


I know you're trying to help.  I get that. 


I also know that I have dozens of pairs of needles—full sets in every style—and if the 15's don't work on the swatch, I'll try something else.  I know that I am ridiculously stubborn, too.  As such, I'll just keep working with that yarn until it turns into something cool.


So relax, would ya?  I got this.  I'm old…been doing this forever.


The other, really important thing that I know is that it is my money that I'm spending, and while advice is welcome, judgment can go f*ck itself.  Ultimately, it's none of your business what I do with that 400 yards of OH-MY-GOD-THAT-STUFF-IS-SO-SOFT-I-IMUST-HAVE-IT!  If I'm going to go home screw up my design and project because of my poor planning and/or thought process, what's it to you?



There.  I feel better.  I've wanted to say those things for a while now, I just happened to have been in a few yarn shops over the weekend and was reminded of why I "hate" yarn shops, so there you go.  If you are a yarn shop owner, please know that I say these things with love.  I want very much to love your store, I'm just too much of a starving artist to shop at a place that seems to be geared toward bored, rich hobbyists.  Clearly, that type of shopper is much better for your bottom line than I am, so I don't blame you one bit--it just isn't me.  Damnit.