Happy Halloweeny

Anyone in my family can tell you, Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. Ever since I was little, I would plan out elaborate costumes months in advance. When I was younger my mom would actually make my costumes for me–a unicorn and a dinosaur being the

Northampton Zombie Pub Crawl 2011 ❤ Favorite part of the season!

ones I remember most, they were very well done and I loved them. Trick-or-Treating was pretty much the best thing ever, especially when I turned 11 and could trick or treat by myself without that pesky “only houses we know” rule. Ten pounds was my MINIMUM candy hoard.

I have a long-held passion for horror movies. I started reading Stephen King at age 10 when the Goosebumps series I deemed “not scary enough” and my dad handed me The Shining.  I LIKED ZOMBIES BEFORE THEY WERE COOL, DAMMIT.

Anyway, point is, I friggin love Halloween. And all things Halloweeny.

So, like the young-20-something female that I am, I’ve had my share of skimpy costumes. From age 18 to 23 I reveled in the “sexy” costumes, sometimes buying them at the store (mostly) or putting them together myself (2008 was an awesome Sarah Palin outfit). However, I am very much not a college student anymore, and I figured that at age 24 it was time to put the tiny dresses behind me and find something more suitable. I decided to go “pretty” over “sexy” and find something flattering, yet not completely skin-baring.

Early in the season I came upon a woodland fairy costume that looked lovely. I made a mental note to return soon and purchase it. Sadly, my free time became smaller and smaller and I didn’t get to the store until last night.

Do you realize how IMPOSSIBLE it is for someone to find a store-bought female costume that doesn’t show all your bits?? Why hadn’t I noticed this before? I don’t remember my costumes being nearly this bad in years past, though back then I hadn’t made the conscious decision to not show all the leg.

The closest I found was a skimpy Tinkerbell. Even my back-up plan, Medieval Princess, had a skirt so short I’m sure my ren-fair-going friends would scoff at me. They had a plus-size princess outfit that would have been lovely had it not been plus size (no way I could make it fit on me). I got the Tinkerbell anyway, since it was closest to what I originally wanted, but scolded myself for succumbing to the sexy costume yet again. Now I’m trying to figure out how to dress down this friggin doll dress. I’ll probably give up since most of my Halloween plans are with friends who will only minorly poke fun at me for having a “college” costume, but still.

I suppose it’s just another year that I pay way too much money for a costume I’ll use twice that just barely covers my tush.

I’m reminded of a Sex and the City quote:  “Miranda: The only two choices for women; witch and sexy kitten. ” Awfully fitting, isn’t it?

Anyway, Happy Halloween everyone! And if you see a brunette Tinkerbell desperately trying to cover her bum–it just might be me!

Some Links.

Some links I came across that really describe what it’s like to be a fresh-faced young college graduate these days.*

The Frenemy: When I’m in a Rut–This girl sat next to me during our Novel Into Film class at Emerson. This post is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. She’s fantastic and hilarious and living in the city I want to live in and has a BOOK DEAL, and still she’s a grumpy self conscious post-grad just like myself. This post definitely speaks to me and probably all the rest of us in the same shoes.

The Kids are Actually Sort of Alright–Yet another article on our generation feeling inadequate. Though the first page or two makes you kind of sink down in your seat and wish for better things… the rest of it is pretty dang uplifting. Or at least assuring.


*As of May I’ll have been graduated two years… when do I have to stop saying I “recently” graduated? AM I OLD YET?

Retail Miracle: In which I make an entire blog post about a shirt.

About a month and a half ago something mildly tragic happened: My favorite shirt was ruined.

Best picture I have of the shirt in question

Being the clumsy fool that I generally am, this is not the first time something of this nature has occurred. My former favorite shirt, a gorgeous cream colored sweater-like v-neck with sparkles down the front met its untimely end in the dryer (the one time I forget to pull it out to hang up) two years ago. A favorite dress of mine marinated itself in salsa that had spilled in one of my overnight bags. Many a comfy t has fallen victim to spaghetti sauce.

Note the trend. Ashley = clumsy = reason we can’t have nice shirts.

The current favorite shirt in question was a red American Eagle Long Sleeve Favorite Tee, in a size larger than my usual preference. Somehow it was roomy and comfy while hugging my curves in the right places. The vibrant red paired perfectly with my favorite turquoise jewelry and the boat-neck-esque v-neck gave it a little extra oomph. I could wear it to work with nice pants or throw it on to lounge around the house in on a lazy day.

Then one tragic night a potential suitor handed me a glass of red wine that had been clumsily poured, drips of the liquid rolling down the side. Before I could stop the inevitable, three large drops landed square in the middle of my chest. Being a little tipsy already, I made the mistake of thinking “Oh, this shirt is red, what damage could it do?” and decided to simply wash the shirt the next day.

Guess what happened.

My favorite shirt was ruined. I was way more sad about this than you could imagine. I seriously wore that thing three times a week! No amount of pre-washing and re-washing seemed to do the trick. And with the quick turnaround time of fashion at American Eagle (why I still shop at a store made for high schoolers I know not), I knew there was no hope of ever finding it again. All summer I ducked into the store at every mall trip, went out of my way to go to bigger stores with more selections, all fruitless.

Then, magically, last night when I was at the mall exchanging a few gifts from my recent birthday, I decided to use a coupon that was about to expire to get some jeans. I circled once around the store before I saw them: THE SHIRTS!! The exact shirt, in the exact color, of my beloved Favorite Shirt! I quickly grabbed two, just in case such a tragedy should ever happen again. AND THEY WERE BUY ONE GET ONE HALF OFF. This was a magic day. I even got one in blue, just to have options. I have plans to return and get a purple and perhaps a striped one as well.

Wouldn’t you know it, after pulling out my laundry and being ready to send the wine-stained favorite shirt to the Salvation Army pile (with my very last pair of size 2 jeans from a skinnier time–sigh!) I noticed the three stains had now become so dull the shirt was just wearable enough.

So. Lucky me, now I have THREE favorite shirts. RED WINE BE DAMNED. BRING IT ON.

Am I the 99%?

…well, technically, yes. According to my income I am in the 99%. I could benefit a lot from the changes they’re proposing, sure. But is this a cause I’m going to be passionate about? I’m still not certain.

I’m not a very political person. I tend to keep quiet about what I think and just nod along with the Liberals because I agree with a lot more things on that side than the other. I vote silently and stick the Obama pin on my lapel when I remember it. I think my gay friends should be allowed to be married someday. I think abortions are way more complicated than just “LIFE” or “CHOICE” and couldn’t tell you whether or not I’d ever have one if presented with the option but there are cases where that option should be available. Universal Healthcare is a nice idea. I don’t have money, so I don’t have much of an opinion about it. I would prefer less taxes so I can keep more of my money, but our country does need help and I wonder how else we would get money if we didn’t have to give it.

I don’t seem passionate about much, do I?

I’ve been lucky enough to stumble through two and a half “Occupy” protests (NYC, Maine, and one  very small group of people in a local town) and took some great pictures. It was interesting to be in the middle of all the commotion. I’d read a little bit about the cause online and hadn’t paid too much attention to it. A few of the “list of demands” I came across seemed pretty unreasonable–sure, I’d like all my student loans to magically be forgiven, but I feel like ignoring debt entirely probably doesn’t have pleasant results.

Then, on a recent visit to NYC a friend was protesting and gave me the tour of the park. It was interesting, inspiring, and a little silly. People slept in what my former roommate would have called “cuddle puddles” and other people held signs of anger, compassion, and humor and paraded around while cops yelled at passerby to KEEP WALKING!. There was a kitchen, a library, a med tent, various music groups, and an arts and crafts center. Meetings were held without microphones and was amplified by voices echoing the words. Everyone was very friendly. Most were my age.

That’s what got to me. These people are my age. Most of them are educated, newly graduated college students who are being hit hard by this economy. Some are older, who lost their jobs, and no amount of hard work is going to magically create more jobs for them to have. The rich get richer and we sit here, stagnant, unable to do anything because it’s all out of our hands. Our economy repairs itself and then breaks itself and for every one step forward there’s one step back.

And Bank of America is going to charge me $5 to use my debit card… WHAT?

This IS my cause. I’m not sure what part of it speaks to me most, but the fact that this is my demographic and they are being seen and heard and causing something to HAPPEN. People are listening, even if they don’t want to or don’t agree. I’m lucky to have a job, a good job, and one that I like. But my college loans keep me tied to Western Massachusetts where I cannot achieve my dreams to their full potential. I’m not using my degree that I paid so much for. I want the opportunity to be everything I want to be, I do not want to be stuck in my parents’ house forever because I can’t afford rent with my loans. My parents cannot bail me out when I run out of money, I’m on my own.

I still need to do more research on this, but I could definitely compose a sign if given enough time. I will probably donate some warm clothes to the local movement if it continues into the colder weather at the very least. I’m still not entirely sure what I think, but I know that this all is important. And I shouldn’t just ignore it.

I hope the Occupy movement accomplishes something. It would be nice.

Ashley Blom, “Emerson Whore”: DEBUNKED.

In February of 2011 I made what I thought was an innocent comment on an acquaintance’s blog. Little did I know that this person was being attacked by an anonymous group/person who was targeting her supporters. What happened next sent me into a state of panic and anxiety for the next few months.

Suddenly my name was on the internet: apparently, my comment, which showed support of this person’s blog about women’s rights, had somehow outed me as a “whore”–according to these faceless people who knew nothing about me. And they didn’t need to know much, just my name. The rest they made up on their own. Apparently you could call me for a good time, with my contact info conveniently posted nearby. Also it told tall tales of how I paid for my semester abroad (“prostitution” apparently sounds more fun than “worked three minimum wage retail and food service jobs for a summer”) accompanied by my picture with meme-font over my face describing my affinity for French men’s, ahem, butts. I also was supposedly the founding member of a questionable club at my college that glorified sex acts that I’m sure no woman in her right mind would ever find enjoyable. I don’t remember the rest, I was too scared to Google myself, and truthfully, still am.

This “person” posted blog entries and posted to message boards about me and the other people (all women if I remember correctly–funny how you don’t hear this happening to guys too often) who had been unlucky enough to be targeted. Smeared my name across the internet and called me names. Took my vacation pictures and plastered them with a modern scarlet letter. Never had that Impact font, which before I’d only attributed to Lolcats, looked so menacing. And, unlike that saying about sticks and stones, it did hurt. And there was absolutely nothing I could do.* My course of action was to immediately delete everything: my blog that I had written in during all four years of college, my Twitter that I occasionally posted to for nearly as long, my Flickr account with my Europe pictures, and went into panic mode on my LinkedIn and Facebook and locked them down airtight, deleting any person I didn’t know 100%. I hid, and hoped the anonymous attackers would eventually leave me alone.

Eventually I knew I had to do something. I realized that although I was afraid of future employers, dates, or friends Googling me and seeing all that trash, I had taken everything positive about myself down off the internet in an attempt to hide. There was nothing to counter the false statements about my character. Every social media seminar I’ve attended says this: “People don’t care what OTHER people say on the internet about you, they care what YOU put on the internet about yourself.” So I began to open myself up again. Took baby steps to rebuild my reputation. Now you can find me on Facebook, on Twitter, and on my cooking blog.

This domain and personal blog was the final step. This blog post was the final step. This is my positive energy, here is where I can tell you exactly who I am, in my own words. I am finally washing my hands of this matter and putting it behind me. If it happens again, at least this is here now too.

I’m Ashley, and if you’re hoping to “call me for a good time” you’ve found the wrong place.** Please be on your way. Thank you.

*Despite clearly being harassment and libel, the general rule of thumb is that all content, regardless of how hateful and hurtful it is, is freedom of speech and cannot be acted upon without an official cease and desist letter. This is time consuming and often expensive and the reason why it’s so easy to harass people on the internet.

**Unless, of course  by “good time” you mean noshing on tacos and watching reruns of The Office. In that case I’d totally be down.