Monday, February 09, 2009

The South Shall Rise Again.

For those of us who like a calm orderly universe where the good get rewarded and the not-so-good get fungal infections, it’s been a bad winter. Over the last three months, no fewer than five people I know have lost their jobs. This wasn’t supposed to happen to people like them, people who abided by all of the rules we were told led to success in life. They studied hard in high school. They worked hard at Ivy-league colleges. They got degrees in the useful and the profitable. Abiding by the rules worked until 2008 when someone let loose a pack of Irish Setter puppies in the high-rise of cards that was our financial and banking system.

As Simon and Garfunkel wrote, “I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered/I don’t have a friend who feels at ease.” Everyone I know -- from small-business owners to (oh, delightful irony) a bankruptcy lawyer -- is fighting a rising sense of panic. People are making drastic choices. Families I know are considering moving out of state, someplace cheaper. Some families are thinking about moving back in with their elderly parents, a plan that doesn’t scream “Hi! Everything’s going SO VERY WELL!”

The weather is weird. Iceland is bankrupt. Banks can't explain where they left three hundred billion dollars. Paris Hilton is still insisting on herself. We’re all a little fragile right now. Fragile people need cheering up. I’m going to give you my happy place and then, if you feel so inclined, you will leave an email with a suggestion for how you’re getting through all this. The only rule: it’s got to be free. Maybe someone will be helped by what we offer.

Of course, what I offer is weird and embarrassing. Honestly, did you expect anything else from me? A year or so ago, someone with the snappy name of Monogram Momma wrote a comment on my blog. Because I will do anything rather than write, I decided I had to check out her blog. It was a lively, brightly colored place where people put needlepoint collars on their dogs, discussed the finer points of sweet tea and created holiday-themed crafts which didn’t look like something you’d find stuck to the bottom of a shoe. Her life, unlike mine, appeared attractive and probably smelled like cinnamon. Ever eager to not write, I read some of her comments and discovered this world previously unknown to me, that of the preppy Southern mom-blogger. Oh, even typing those words sends a shameful blast of serotonin to my brain.

Nearly all of the blogs have the words “Plaid” or “Magnolia” or “Monogram” in the title. They start worrying about Christmas card photos in March. They put up pictures of fearsomely-coordinated outfits they are going to wear. They belonged to sororities. They bleed college sports. They are members of the Junior League. Their weddings took only slightly less planning than the Hadron Collider. They are, in a phrase, not me. Except for the Junior League part.

[Yep, I was in the Junior League; didn’t see that coming, did you? It’s a long story. I’ll write about it another time.]

These women don’t appear to be going through the same financial crisis as the rest of the country. I don’t know why and, candidly, I don’t care. I don’t mind if they’ve actually been eating government cheese and living without heat for the last month. As long as they maintain the charade that they can afford all the Vera Bradley and Bonnano sandals they want, I’ll be a devoted fan.

In any given day I read the paper, I listen to the news in the car and, because I’m not quite stressed enough, I download NPR podcasts which might as well be titled “We’re All Doomed.” I flip through emails from people desperately trying to sell furniture or place pets they can no longer afford. That’s when the buzzing begins in my head and I race off for the soothing shores of Madras, to pretend for a while that these women are what’s real and the other stuff is just a very ugly dream.

Cute animals are good, too.

http://icanhascheezburger.com/
http://www.cuteoverload.com/

As far as the preppy women go, start here:

http://clemsongirlandthecoach.blogspot.com/

She has links to most of the other blogs, all of which link back to one another. It’s wondrously ingrown.

Now, it’s your turn. If cats who can’t spell and women wearing pink lipgloss and a headband to give birth don’t soothe your aching head, what does? We all need to know.

30 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quinn,

Cute animals are ALWAYS good. But even better is when they're dozing: Try http://www.cutethingsfallingasleep.org/ for a smile.

Kathi

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly? You do, Quinn. Your posts never fail to make me laugh out loud and wish I knew you in "real life."

Other free things that make me happy are sundrymourning.com, dooce.com, dadgonemad.com and jennsylvania.com

Keep your posts coming!

11:12 AM  
Blogger Char said...

ahh, well - I'm a southern blogger and don't belong to the Junior League, have children or even a husband. I have, however, been recently laid off and am moving back in with my brother to keep from screaming at the top of my lungs in a full-out panic. I've worked (until 12/31/08) full-time since I was 17 years old. Times are tough. I'm trying to get through it with a big of grace and dignity and figuring out how to make the best of a bad situation. If I give in to the panic - you can stick a fork in me because I will be done. I'm not a magnolia or a camellia...but, like that stubborn ragweed - I will keep on trying.

11:42 AM  
OpenID eveling said...

Quinn, your blog is so human, so well-written! I've been reading for awhile, and love your way of writing about your life. Now,free things to help get through this? include a blog called zacsunderland dot com--a young man/boy sailing around the world alone. This is a real escape when I want to leave my own life for a bit. In real life, when I want to get perspective I go for a longer walk with my dog. I'm actually not a dog person; I have 3 cats. Ended up with the dog in the divorce. He's a total sweetheart, and seeing his excitement over being in the world really helps me.
Thanks for sharing your life...
Eve

12:57 PM  
Blogger Monogram Momma said...

Quinn, you have me laughing out loud at this one! I am tickled (dare I even say it) pink and green that you mentioned me on your blog!
That being said, I can assure you that the Monogram's have not been unscathed by the tough times everyone else is going through. As you previous commenter said though, I am trying very hard to get through it with grace and dignity, with a smile on my face. My husband is in the automotive industry and yes, we've been hit hard. Damn hard. But I can't let it redefine who I am and how I was raised to be. I just have to keep moving forward and use my writing and crafty, creative outlets as a way to escape a bit. Thanks as always for your support! XOXO

1:18 PM  
Blogger Not The Rockefellers said...

I am a big fan of all things quirky. Offbeat humour, arcane references...bring 'em on.

I find this webcomic hysterical:

http://www.toothpastefordinner.com/

and this one:

http://www.nataliedee.com/

And this one too:

http://www.marriedtothesea.com/

And for maximum time suckage:

http://snowflakes.barkleyus.com/

Enjoy!

Peace - Rene

1:46 PM  
Blogger marthaberry said...

Try http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/
I love seeing these hilarious excuses for "professional" cakes.

another fun and inspiring place I enjoy reading about is http://thepioneerwoman.com/

Here is my favorite of all, beside yours, Quinn.
http://somersetseasons.blogspot.com
just an everyday woman talking about her hens, her kitties and her life in Dorset.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

I too love clemsongirl & all of her friends. I hadn't realized why I love them so much, but you're probably right about the reasoning.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Dawn Maria said...

My favorite way to forget about the troubles here on Earth is to be away from the planet for a spell. So I head over to-

http://www.galacticawatercooler.com/

where we discuss and celebrate all things Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Star Trek, Heroes (I think you get the picture). It's a great community and I've met incredible people. I always get a good laugh too.

3:09 PM  
Blogger kelly bee said...

I'll offer up my favorite online soother. Jane Austen fan fiction...http://meryton.com/ is a good place to begin. Who doesn't love Mr. Darcy?

Oh, and we're for real. It's warm here. Our heating bills are cheap and we wear Bonnano sandals from March to October.

3:40 PM  
Blogger CDP said...

I'm going to visit the Monogram Momma posthaste. I have plenty of time, having also lost my job last month when my company went out of business. I know very few families that have not been affected by this mess! Thankfully, we're OK, but I think that 2009 is going to be rocky for everyone. An electronic version of the old Pappagallo store in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware sounds like the perfect antidote.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I love browsing photos here:

http://www.flickr.com/commons/

Recently there have been a bunch of black and white photos of sheep. Sheep are soothing.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hilarious, as always. Sure wished you had your own TV show!

5:35 PM  
Anonymous --Deb said...

Knitting blogs are good, too. Funny, yet warm and cozy with handknits abounding. Have you ever read the Yarn Harlot? (www.yarnharlot.ca) She's hilarious. You know, kind of like you!

6:27 PM  
Blogger bethany actually said...

I don't care about fashion at all, see very few movies these days that aren't rated G, and never ever watch reality TV shows...but I love Go Fug Yourself.

8:00 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

I love Clemson Girl's blogroll. I've never seen one of those blogs before, but they seem to love Magnolias a lot. I can't wait to plow though them.

I'm big on design blogs these days. I'm reading fewer and fewer mommyblogs, mostly because I'm just done with poop and potty training. DONE.

http://www.moderncat.net/

http://desiretoinspire.blogspot.com/

http://design-milk.com/

http://poppytalk.blogspot.com/

http://decor8blog.com/

http://teaforjoy.blogspot.com/

http://oliveaux.blogspot.com/

All are smaller design blogs but they have a nice comfy feel to them. Not so scary with all the mid-century modern dreck that I grew up with.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The QC report is a great source of "serotonin blasts" for me! Thanks for great posts. Check out the irreverent, but legal activities of Destructo, Spitfire, and Dart Guy for a fun read at: http://www.whynotthree.blogspot.com

EM

6:14 AM  
Anonymous josita said...

Yep, another vote for the QC Report. I also hide out in the world of Halloween prop making - specifically, the astounding papier mache props made by a guy who calls himself Stolloween. Papier mache is cheap, satisfyingly messy and versatile. Just look at his dragons, here: http://www.stolloween.com/?page_id=51

6:56 AM  
Blogger stash haus said...

A couple of things:

(1) the public library. Free books to read, free events...free, free, free (until the funding runs out...). However, to keep anxiety to a minimum, avoid the newspapers and any news magazines.

(2) Being a knitter, I read knitting blogs. One of the more funny - and with not much knitting content is Crazy Aunt Purl.http://www.crazyauntpurl.com/

(3) More cute animal websites:
http://www.stuffonmycat.com/
and more disturbing
http://www.catsthatlooklikehitler.com/cgi-bin/seigmiaow.pl

(4) And for the Swedish Martha Stewart see http://www.chezlarsson.typepad.com/

9:37 AM  
Blogger priscilla said...

I thought I was the only one who secretly cruised those preppy blogs! I have too many bookmarked to list here, but Monogram Momma is one of them. Their lives couldn't be any more different from mine (even though I am admittedly trapped in the South), but I cannot help myself. It's the same sort of attraction I have to Martha Stewart.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quinn, You never cease to amaze me. Just when I think I have you pegged- you throw me another curve ball. Preppy Southern blogs? Never would have guessed. I go more for the animal photos - check this one out for a laugh- http://automatedredemption.com/flavorcountry/dogblog/

4:25 PM  
Blogger Dodi said...

I, too, admit to being a southern belle blog lurker! They have so many qualities that I will never have.

Also? if I need a laugh I head over to cakewrecks.com. She is really funny.

I like digital scrapbooking, and
"Scrapping with Ikea Goddess" always has lots of "freebies" to browse through: http://ikeagoddess.blogspot.com/

7:42 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Go Fug Yourself is my favorite escape, but for something completely soothing and totally different, go to Min Lilla Veranda. Completely visual, white therapy. Knowledge of Finnish language not a pre-requisite. I also enjoy the Dilbert Blog and cartoons. While he doesn't abstain from blogging about our recent troubles, he has the forward thinking humor of a nerd who sees things in a weird enough way to depersonalize the problems we're going through. I've laughed out loud at Gawker, too. Landmine soaps, anyone? And Stitchy McYarnpants is a hoot and a half. The blog that brought me here originally is Jew Eat Yet? He has lovely posts about the Hollywood stars of yesteryear, and he and his family are an interesting bunch to read about, too.

And again, thank you, Quinn, for entertaining me so thoroughly. I think I'm going on my second year of reading your blog, and I SO appreciate you being here doing what you do!

9:19 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

Another vote for both QC Report & Cake Wrecks (because once you're hooked, you'll never go to the supermarket without your camera again, so it technically qualifies as a hobby).

I also love http://failblog.org/ because it reminds me that no matter how bad I screw up, someone else has done it worse, and that it's probably actually pretty funny.

I also like cracked.com, though it is sort of hit or miss, and it is certainly not for the easily (or sometimes even not so easily) offended. Still, when they hit, they really hit.

My favorite distraction, though, is webcomics. I follow far too many of them to possibly list them all here, but let me just say that the best comics out there are definitely not in the papers.

Oh, and Stephen Fry's blog.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous jeff said...

My favorite blogs outside of your own that bring me joy and escape are www.aprilwinchell.com and http://prettyontheoutside.typepad.com/
mainly for the perfect Real Housewives caricatures. And if you dig a bit you'll spy a caricature of me and my beloved in two different posts.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Newlywed said...

Found you via a random Google search, and I am an East Coast prep transplanted to the South :)

You are quite adorable! I can't wait to read more!!!

2:48 PM  
Anonymous --Deb said...

You are always so entertaining--there's a reason I just gave you a Premio Dardos award over at my writing blog. Please come see! PunctualityRules.com

7:38 AM  
Blogger epiphenita said...

I was going to post right away but got lost in that snowflake making site.

Okay, my keeping-joy-from-getting-squashed list includes mentally "adjusting" twitter feeds so they're not so...tedious, reading blogs when I should be cleaning up for company and looking at gorgeous recipes when all I have in the house is condiments. And a beer.

And laughing. As much as possible. At others, sometimes, if they warrant but also at myself when I get too worked up about foolish things.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhh Quinn. SUCH a good idea. Here's my contribution. Get a (free) copy (from your public library)of Jill Connor Browne's "Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love." It will make you laugh out loud. It's Southern, it's sassy, it's what we all need.

Spenser

4:43 PM  
Anonymous La BellaDonna said...

I like Jane Austen, written or on video. Good Jane Austen: The Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice, NOT the Keira Knightly ... interpretation.

I go to Erin McKean's http://www.dressaday.com/dressaday.html.

I watch documentaries about the Black Death, because at least in comparison, things look better.

7:40 AM  

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