Monday, December 27, 2010

I Am Victoria's Victim.

I'm not a genius or a prodigy or that girl who played Winnie Cooper, but I'm a pretty smart person. I don't follow most trends without thinking, I try not to use words I don't understand, I don't buy things off the TV. Still, with all my rationality and with all the raging feminism of my twenties, I do have my weaknesses. And one of them is Victoria's Secret.

I waddle through the mall, balancing the Christmas presents I need to exchange, arms laced with the straps of shopping bags. I see it in the distance, glowing pink. On either side of its entrance, posters fill the space from ceiling to floor with images of open-mouthed women and their extraordinarily long torsos. A scent, vaguely vanilla, seems to traipse into my nostrils. I strain to avert my eyes. Silently remind myself, It's a trap. They know what appeals to your young female brain. If you go in there, you'll spend money you don't have on items you don't need and then you'll be hooked and never, ever escape. But it is too late. I am lured into this wonderland of lace, glitter, cotton strewn about messily on purpose. I give myself over to the poppy music, inadvertently changing my footsteps to match the beat, until my zombie stride is identical to those of the other shopping prisoners. My smart-person brain is taken hostage. All my thoughts become one repeating mantra: This is sexy. You need sexy. Must be sexy. Buy the sexy.

I find myself twiddling through delicate fabrics, turning over pretty items in my hands. Suddenly, $70 sounds like a perfectly reasonable amount to spend on a nightgown. People who wear these sweatshirts have qualities that I need. My lumpy skin looks nothing like this mannequin, but maybe that's because I don't own this sparkly thing.

I need more money. I need to lose my belly fat. I need to brighten my skin. I need to slather on these creams, pat my face with this powder pompom, wear high heels, inexplicably, to bed. I need to pout my lips like her, I need to pose myself like her, I need to buy everything in this room so I can be exactly what their labels promise: a bombshell, a centerfold, a vixen, a tease.

And then I'm in line, palming an overpriced tube of lotion whose smell would not have enticed me half as much at Macy's. I fiddle about with miniature last-minute products strategically placed near the register. Perhaps I should be wearing lipgloss. Men must like oily, slippery magenta lipgloss, or else it wouldn't be called Beauty Rush, or else it wouldn't be here. Maybe I should get some and watch the woman behind the counter wrap it in hot pink tissue paper and then I can be desirable glamorous wanted worthy. But it's my turn to check out now, and the reality of making a monetary transaction zaps enough sense to my brain that I drop the lipgloss back in its container. I sign my unnecessarily pink receipt and I finally emerge from the store with only one bag. With each step toward the pretzel kiosk, I feel Victoria's grip on me loosen. I am no longer sultry. I am no longer a slave.

Why does that place have so much control over me? I got decent standardized test scores! I've bookmarked! In the real world, I am confident, comfortable, and proud of my body and the person inside it. I wear mismatching socks and I only own three pairs of jeans. I should be above these too-obvious marketing schemes, but I'm not. Not quite.

So I wonder, how do you deal with this kind of temptation to spend heaps of money on qualities that can't be bought? How do you convince yourself that sexiness has nothing to do with labels, and that being a good person has little to do with sexiness? Is it always negative? As often as it makes me feel inadequate, its products also make me feel sort of empowered and feminine. Where is the line?

I can't be the only smart girl who still gets sucked in by marketing once in a while. I'm interested in hearing your opinions on the subject. Until then, I hope you're all having a great week. I'm looking forward to reading your responses!

Chipotle burritos this year: 31
Subscribers: 41,613
Nail color: "Devilish," Revlon
Miles run today: 0, but I ate cheesecake, which is practically the same thing.

P.S. It is not sexiness that I have an issue with. Sexiness is awesome and ABSOLUTELY a trait that smart women can possess. My issue is with DESIGNER sexiness. My issue is with paying twice as much for something because it comes on a pink hanger. You know?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hayley G. Hoover and Charlie McDonnell

I've tried to ignore it. I thought that maybe, maybe, maybe it would go away on its own, and we could all just forget about it and move on with our lives... but I don't think I'm going to be able to escape this one for a while. It's time to address what it's time to address. There is a Charlie McDonnell song about me.

Three years ago, I used to talk with Charlie on a regular basis. We'd joke around on Skype about youtube and life (he was ahead of me on the subscriber charts, but there was no dramatic difference in our ranks within the youtube community at the time), and one day he sent me a silly faux-love song he'd whipped together in my honor, full of inside jokes and his usual quirkiness. It cracked me up. I played it for my mom and my best friend, but when it never made it into a charlieissocoollike video, I promptly forgot the song had ever existed.

Charlie and I fell out of touch quickly after he sent me the song-- I grew bitter toward him when "fiveawesomeguys" (his spin-off of fiveawesomegirls, which had just begun and was just gaining popularity) phased away from its original role as a companion and tribute to 5AGirls, and soon eclipsed the viewership of our project, despite the fact that it was significantly less organized, less original, and at many times a blatant ripoff.* The fiveawesomeguys soon ceased to credit us for the idea of their channel, and to this day, many youtubers believe 5AGirls-- a project to which I have devoted three years of my time and creativity-- to be an homage to fiveawesomeguys. This assumption is incorrect.

All that being said, however, I eventually got over my animosity. In his defense, Charlie had both mentioned me and posted a video response to my channel in the past, generously giving me a boost in traffic, and had never said a harsh thing about me. I will not act like my bitterness about fiveawesomeguys was unjustified, but it's not something that still bothers me today. I find Charlie's videos to be very entertaining and worth watching. I have had friendly relationships with other members of their channel, and I respect all of them as very talented and fascinating people.

So fast-forward to this December. I heard through the grapevine that Charlie McDonnell was releasing an album through DFTBA Records, and was startled to see my name on the track list. I had given him permission years ago to do with the song as he pleased, and it is funny and cute, so it shouldn't have been a major shock... but I was still bemused. I literally have not spoken a single word to Charlie since the short-lived success of his collab channel. He has not contacted me throughout any part of the process of this album's creation or promotion, and if it weren't for its success, I probably would never have heard that the song was being used at all. I'm not embarrassed about it, and I'm frankly very pleased to have gained new readers and viewers because of the song**, but I can't pretend I saw this coming.

Oh, and now to the fun part. One charming result of my unexpected love song comes in the form of the newly popularized google search "Hayley G Hoover political views." Charlie mentions in the song that, despite his phony affection for me, he and I "don't share the same political views." This is based solely on a few irresponsible things I happened to say around the time of the 2008 election (when I was, mind you, a high school senior, and therefore very naive and prone to iffy logic), about the fact that I tend to lean on the conservative end of the American political spectrum. I've since learned that it's useless to utter a single word about politics on the internet, because even the most flawlessly delivered arguments are still heard as "ME LIKE ABORTION" or "CAVEMAN HATE GAY MARRIAGE." But, to diffuse some of the rumors, I am neither a radical Democrat nor Republican. I am consistently much more liberal on social matters, but consider myself a fiscal conservative. And even still, I am only twenty years old, I'm financially dependent on my parents, and I understand that my opinions could change drastically in just the next five years. All I ask is that you not hear Charlie's song and decide from it that "since Charlie supported Obama, Hayley must be a Nazi," OR deduce that "since Hayley publicly supports gay rights, Charlie must be a homophobe." Both are shallow, neither is true.

In conclusion***, I respect and like Charlie McDonnell, find his song about me to be flattering and fun, and do not harbor negative feelings toward him. While I deeply hope the song will not forever be the number one result for my name in search engines, I am not embarrassed that it exists. I am also not a far-right fundamentalist extremest Karl Rove fan, nor am I Charlie's girlfriend of past, present, or future. Glad we've cleared that up.

Chipotle burritos this year: 31
Subscribers: 41,116
Nail color: "Devilish," Revlon
Miles run today: 3

*I considered wording that in a more polite fashion, but there really isn't any polite way to tell the story truthfully. On several occasions, the fiveawesomeguys announced weekly themes that were identical to the ones we'd created the week before. Charlie adopted a pet cactus plant, without so much as a nod in my direction, when I had been doing the same on our channel for a month. It's difficult to call that coincidence.

**Well, I'm not exactly pleased about being bombarded with comments along the lines of "wut did charlie see in dis fat bitch she iz so uggo he shud luv me insTeaD." But to those of you who have nice things to say-- or who just don't have cruel things to say-- hello!

*** "In conclusion." Lol. I feel like I'm writing an essay for high school English.

P.S. All I ate today was cinnamon rolls (3), a bagel sandwich (1), and chocolate chip cookies (endless, approximately 13). Livin' the dream.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On Writing

In case nobody's ever told you, writing a book is hard.

I was hesitant to even attempt National Novel Writing Month this year, as it fell right in the middle of my chaotic final exam schedule (from hell!), but sometimes I simply cannot be stopped. I went at it hard and fast for something like five days, and I finally resigned in a puddle of homework and misery just after breaching 15,000 words. So it goes.

Though, in case you haven't heard (which you haven't, because I've been neglecting this blog to the point that I BARELY EVEN RECOGNIZE YOU PEOPLE! *sob*), I'm currently home on Winter Break until the beginning of January, and have nothing but free time in which to make waffles and force the imaginary friends inside my head to interact with each other on paper. After extensive editing, my NaNoWriMo novel now stands at a solid forty pages, and continues to blossom and shape itself every day. Like a Chia Pet you have to think really hard about. I'm growing to simultaneously love and abhor my main character, who has a habit of fearlessly using words that embarrass me to even type, but who also has a very justified adoration for nacho cheese. It is deeply, humongously, extremely likely that this story will never leave my Microsoft Word document and that you will never read a single one of its sentences, but I'm still a superstitious person when it comes to writing, so I don't want to drone on about it too much. However, just know that I really like this idea. I think it could amount to something someday, and I don't say that very often about my creative projects.

But all optimism aside, can we talk for a second about how freaking difficult it is to funnel thoughts into story form? Writing is so much more than "this happened, then this happened, metaphor, simile, ending." You have to plan events ahead of time so that details can weave themselves throughout the plot, but be careful not to plan too much, or else you'll lose all the excitement that comes with the actual writing. You have to find non-irritating ways to introduce the physical characteristics of people and settings, while still including enough dialogue to keep the reader's attention. Different characters need different voices, even though they're all coming from the same author's brain. Who knew art could have so much logic to it?

Still, I'm very excited about the work I've been churning out lately. This book is happening. My new blog project, Presence, is in full swing, and already has a self-sufficient community surrounding it, which blows my mind and warms my heart about sixty times a day. On top of that, I'm about to take on another writing job that will provide me with some real, tangible, spendable money, which will allow me to, like, drive a car and eat food, and will also allow me to say with more confidence, "I am a freelance writer." No more of this "I want to write" nonsense. No more "I'm going to be a writer when I grow up." I'm finally doing it, bitches. Watch me go.

On that note, I'm gonna crawl back into my fictional world until I finish a chapter. I hope you're all having a great week, that you're eating well, and that you don't hate me too much for the video I posted yesterday. As a reward for sitting through it, you may watch my dogs play in the snow. I'll see you guys soon!

Chipotle burritos this year: 31
Subscribers: 40,706
Comments from new subscribers who only watch me because Charlie told them to: Priceless.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday on the Couch

For the past few months, I've avoided gushing about my relationship with The Situation online, for fear of driving people away with all the nauseating gooey loveness... but sometimes I just can't hold it back. I am so happy and so in love.

I'm lying on his couch, covered in a blanket, and he's crooked at the opposite end, asleep with his face against the seat back. My feet are pressed between his hands, keeping them warm. I never understood why people romanticize the act of watching someone sleep until right now. I like the way his shoulders sway up and down when he breathes. I like being able to study the contours of his face at rest. I like just being here with his body in close proximity to mine. It's surreal to think I've only known this person for a year, because nothing feels more like home than this.

Aaand I'm starting to sound like an obsessive basement serial killer or something. Which is exactly why I normally keep these thoughts to myself.

Chipotle burritos this year: 31
Subscribers: 39,831