Big gushy thank you

I really don’t know what to say. I am bowled over at the response to this weekend’s featured post from Freshly Pressed. I never would have guessed that WordPress would bestow their highest honor on me with a post about a socially awkward smile. The discussion that followed (and is still on-going, mind you) was extremely eye-opening, hilarious, and thoughtful.

Basically, what I’m trying to say here is….I love you, man!

I have a plethora of new subscribers so I feel this relatively high amount of pressure on my shoulders to deliver solid posts. I am counting on you all to give me proper feedback. Oh, and welcome! For new readers, I will say that some of my post popular posts stem from my earlier years. Perhaps one day I’ll make a list of my Top 10 but for now I will keep mum. I have my favorites, of course.

My writing style has not changed much except I try to keep things shorter and sweeter nowadays. I also heretofore felt freer to use curse words. Now they are used in moderation to really punctuate a point but I try to keep it clean. (Big step for me.)

I don’t have a current photo of myself that accurately depicts my joy at the response this little blog has gotten so I am posting one from when I was 26; you can see the following: my goofy facial expression, I was wearing a Pr0n * (porn star) tee-shirt – I mean, really – and it is intended to be laughed at. I may or may not have ordered cards with this photo on it and sent them out to crack up my friends and family at the time. Thank you, Shutterfly.

Was I rocking this tee-shirt or what?

Again, I am humbled and grateful for your attentions and I look forward to creating more meaningful posts for your enjoyment.

The Netflix “Crisis”

Until I saw this video from Funny or Die this morning, I hadn’t really put into perspective just how tragic people find the recent Netflix price hike to be, nor how shallow it is in comparison to actual problems. And it’s not like I haven’t been dealing with my own share of issues. The Netflix price increase was, for me at least, kind of the icing on the cake to what I have dubbed the “Summer Blues.”

In any case, to paraphrase, the video makes a great point about an issue that is affecting millions of white people across America, deadpanned by the great Jason Alexander.

What’s interesting, however, is that my boyfriend and I have discussed this issue at length, with the most recent stint occurring last night before dinner; in this way, we definitely lived up to the stereotype that it’s all “anybody” can talk about – for days at a time. I sat at my computer, reading Netflix’s Facebook Page Wall (that’s a mouthful) and combing through the thousands of messages people have been leaving for them, while Kevin looked through various news articles on his laptop. We sat there comparing notes and tsking and figuratively shaking our fists in the air at this nonsense.

The bottom line is, people are outraged that Netflix is jacking up the price by 60% without discussing it with their millions of loyal customers first. I’m a little torn because I can see both the company’s perspective and the one of being the huffy consumer. (Aside: one woman wrote a scathing comment on the Netflix FB Page and several people proceeded to jump on her, making her out to be a screeching, mindless woman who had no right to be upset. It was pretty brutal.) Quite frankly, I just don’t want to have to choose between the discs or streaming. I want to have both! But I am unwilling to pay $15.99 a month for the privilege. It used to be that that price would get you three movies at a time, something which I never had the luxury of affording. I’m a one-at-a-time gal.

I do think it would have been nice to have some kind of survey or something sent out, or even a price hike in the range of say, $3.00, to continue enjoying new movies on DVD and streaming older (sometimes crappy) movies and lots of television shows. We don’t stream on more than one device at a time but many have left since Netflix has begun enforcing its streaming policy. Apparently Netflix only wants to allow you to stream on the same basis of how many discs you take out at a time, which really negates “Unlimited” streaming but also, what happens when you go to the all streaming plan?

I was thinking about how electronic subscriptions differ from say, magazine subscriptions. Netflix caught on to the fact that people were sharing their log-on information with family/friends and so to keep people from “stealing,” they are cracking down on multiple device streaming. Granted, I don’t own or run a billion dollar company, but if I have a subscription to Vogue and I give all my copies to a friend to read when I’m done, how is this different? Is that person “stealing,” too? Is this really a problem for Netflix when they have ousted a lot of its competition (namely, physical DVD rental places) and they are highly profitable?

The only other troublesome thing is that I think many people would have stayed on if Netflix had newer releases available to stream, at least, instead of the B movies of yesteryear. Granted, I have loved catching up on some older television shows, but when I want to watch something new that came out that I was unable to see in the movie theater, I believe I should be able to do that if I am paying a monthly subscription fee.

RedBox has gone through the roof with new customers. Blockbuster immediately set up a plan to soothe the wounded from Netflix. They offer hard disc rentals, streaming, games, and even Blu-Ray discs at no extra charge and are offering a 30-day free trial to the scorned. Check out all the details here. I don’t want to like Blockbuster. They used to charge $4.99 to rent a DVD for two nights. I can’t even say how much money my parents and myself spent in the 90s and early 2000s renting movies and games from them. Netflix was the solution! But this latest blow does give me cause to reconsider my options. While I believe I will probably try out the streaming-only plan come September, I can’t guarantee I won’t jump ship.

It’s hard not to think that Netflix only cares about the bottom dollar and now that they have eleven years in to this business, no longer care about Joe American Movie Watcher.

I’m on the fence. What will you do?

If you are looking for “Zoe Says Photography” —

Hi there,

I have been getting some web hits for those seeking out another person who apparently has her photography business name under “Zoe Says Photography.” It’s not me. Yes, I have a blog called Zoe Says and yes, I have a Photography category. I’m not the person who goes by Zoe Says Photography, though.

I don’t know who this person is, it’s just a nomenclature overlap. This should reinforce for us all a couple of things: unique names really don’t exist anymore; and without the internet, I never would have known about it.

After doing a bit of hunting around, I found out that the business is based in Texas, so at the very least, we are in different areas of the country. So, for any of you who landed here looking for that person’s website, sorry to disappoint (but perhaps you’ll stay a spell and enjoy one or two blog posts) but I am not the woman who will be taking your portraits. Unless of course you’re in the Illinois area. Then by all means hit me up.

This public service announcement has been brought to you by the blogger Zoe Says and not the photographer of Zoe Says Photography.

The obligatory courtesy smile

Humans are such funny creatures. We have all these social niceties and some of the “rules” in place are rather odd.

Something I wish didn’t need to exist is that weird smile – sometimes an accompanying nod – that you give to people (namely, acquaintances or office mates) where you flatten your lips and smile tightly as you pass each other by. It looks like this:

Thanks to Kevin for his gracious demonstration.

Humorous to look at it, especially out of context, but also awkward and kind of annoying. It’s like the only way you can acknowledge someone’s presence and also let that person know, “I don’t want to stop and chat so I’ll make this weird face.” It doesn’t matter how well you know someone, if you are passing by that person and you don’t want or have time to talk, you will make one of these grimaces. I suppose it’s better than in olden times when ladies and gents would bow, curtsy or tip hats to each other, no matter the time, no matter how hurried they were. Kind of quaint, if you think about it.

Some anti-socials are really adept at avoiding eye contact and stampeding right by you, social niceties and familiarity be damned. I have worked with several of these types and it’s always kind of fun to take the initiative to chirp out, “Good morning!” or some other common greeting, forcing that person to either be a dick and not reply, or gruffly respond. It’s the little things. I feel like if I have to participate in this ritual, everyone else should, too.

There really isn’t much more to this fluff piece than that. Just an observation, something I thought I could share with you fine readers. If you can think of other social rituals we participate in, by all means, please share! Enjoy your day/evening – hopefully socially awkward free.

Literally, the most misused word

Literally, the most misused word – The Boston Globe.

I literally want to hug this author for writing this piece.

This.

This.

This.

A prayer to the movie gods

A humble request to the lords who control those who enter the same movie theater as me when I am dying to see a movie like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II:

I beg of you to grant my wish that my movie karma kicks in this time around and I get to watch this movie in peace.

Please allow only those into the theater who are interested in WATCHING the movie and are not there to analyze the movie for film class, narrate along to tell the rest of us what’s going on, or worse yet, have every single reaction to the film out loud. Those who can not be separated from their cell phones for 2.5 hours need not come at all. What’s the point?

I ask that those who can not sit still without fidgeting constantly (i.e., kicking the back of my seat) sit in the front row or wait for the movie to come out on Blu-Ray.

If everyone could be in their seats waiting for the movie to begin on time, that would also immensely help. I’d love to not have to stand up to let someone through because they don’t know how to show up even twenty minutes prior to the start of a blockbuster movie on opening weekend.

Lastly, if you could put all those with weak bladders in one theater or maybe dissuade them from coming on opening weekend, that would also help me enjoy my movie-going experience.

Remember Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I?  Yeah. That was not cool when four people decided to walk in for the last ten minutes and begin talking loudly and telling everyone else to shutup when they were shushed. Pretty much the last scene with Lord Voldemort went unheard and my boyfriend was cursed out for having the cojones to tell these guys how rude their behavior was.

Usually I stay away from the theaters until I am sure the coast is clear from the chatty Cathys, people who insist on bringing their infants and toddlers to adult movies, and other inconsiderate freaks (see above). Please, please, please, let me enjoy tonight’s movie.

Your faithful, considerate, quiet, timely movie watcher,
Zoe

But I’m all…this is hard!

Before I get to the meat of this post, does anyone remember the scene from Will & Grace when Jennifer Elise Cox plays the valley girl nurse who freaks Grace out? I can’t tell you how many times I have recited the “This is hard!” line over the years (that’s what she said).

Note: I used to have a YouTube clip here that showed it but NBC had to yank it because it’s copyrighted and we’re not allowed to enjoy watching that scene for free.

It rarely gets any better than that, though Modern Family and Parks and Rec could probably creep up on that level of brilliance.

Anywhoosits, I don’t know about you fine folks but I have had a doozy of a week. Thankfully, it’s gone from worse to better as the week has progressed. Better than starting a week off great and heading into the weekend feeling sucky because…well, it just sucks. And hey, the final Harry Potter movie is out, so at the very least we have some decent cinema to see, right?

So as some of you may know, I started up a side photography business not too long ago. I’m a few months into portfolio building and have a couple of sessions under my belt, plus 4,000 other photos I have taken and edited on my own with an ever increasing critical eye. I am working diligently each and every day to get this kite (if I may liken my business to a kite) off the ground. But I’m all, this is hard! I’m a pretty patient person by nature, except I tend to equate hard work with results, which means that when I have put my blood, sweat and tears into something for a certain amount of time, I expect to reap the reward. If I were pursuing photography merely as a hobby, then I’d definitely be well into my apprenticeship, if you will, and I’d have no pressure on my shoulders to step out of my comfort zone and interact with <gulp> strangers.

However, since I am bound and determined to see this thing through for the long haul, I know I have to bide my time and put in the effort each and every day before the results will start trickling in. I don’t know a thing about running my own business but I guess any successful proprietor starts off that way. I’m learning a special skill (a trade?) and learning how to manage it all so that I may actually have, you know, a livelihood outside of my office career.

I’m not completely new to the whole side business venture, however. I tried Mary Kay out for a year and my two cents is if they changed their business model in just a handful of key areas, I think they could be way more successful than they have been the last fifty. That’s not to say that the original Mary Kay didn’t bust her tail but the corporate sales giant does not encourage making an honest living anymore. The products for the most part are pretty decent, although some can be vastly overpriced. However, because their business model is a multi-level marketing scheme, it’s not about the product at all but the member recruitment.

The profit margin is rather slim if you just want to hock product, unfortunately, which is all I ever wanted to do. After a year of trying to make it work, I turned in my faint hopes of remaining an Independent Beauty Consultant. If any of you fair readers out there have thought about entering into Mary Kay or want to do some serious research on the matter, check out Pink Truth. I won’t say more than that because I don’t want to discourage anyone who has actually found a way to make Mary Kay work for him or herself. This was just my personal experience, obviously.

In this recession we find ourselves in, business ventures and start-ups seem to be the hottest ticket right now. I know more than just a couple of friends who are working to make their side hobbies turn into full-time enterprises. Photographers, bloggers, bakers, candlestick makers, decorators, designers, Etsy store owners, you name it. It would be wonderful if we could all see our dreams through to fruition. I certainly hope to be one of them.

Shameless plug: and if anyone out there would like a photo session courtesy of yours truly….here’s where you can find me.

And into the weekend we go!

Update: I had to shutter ZV Image Creations in 2014 but I keep my portfolio on Flickr, as linked above.

You get what you pay for and other -isms

If ever there were a catchphrase that embodied me, it would be, “You get what you pay for.” I have stood by this time and time again and it continually rings true. That isn’t to say you can’t get a sweet deal at Dollar Tree – you can. (Especially at Christmastime – wrapping paper and tags helloooo!) But you know you’re not going to throw a fit if you buy a glass from Dollar Tree and it breaks in a week because hey, it was just a dollar. You can go back and get another. You can laugh and go, “Well we got a dollar’s worth of use out of it.”

I have yet to find a situation or product to which this aphorism is not apropos. When I bought my first real designer purse a few years ago (a Coach, if you must know), I got my money’s worth. There is a huge, vast difference between buttery, hand-crafted leather, heavy zippers, silk or satin lining, and quality hardware on a purse versus what one can buy at Target, Kohl’s or Marshall’s. And I rocked a purse from Target in New York City when I first lived there. I got my twenty-five bucks worth and then some; and then I was able to throw it away when it fell apart on me.

I purchased my very first Kate Spade bag in May and it’s everything I thought it would be and more. Totally worth making my credit card cry. It’s been a dreamboat of a handbag, if that makes sense. And! I know that by properly taking care of it, I will get years of use out of it.

My dearest dude Kevin thought I bought into this whole thing a little too much but even he has had to concede the point much more as of late. Like my search for good moisturizer, he has been seeking out a pair of sunglasses that don’t crap out on him within two days. He went through two different pairs in a week before he relented and let me take him to a couple of places where he’d have to actually drop more than $30 (or $80, or $100) on sunglasses. I know what you’re thinking. At a certain price point, sunglasses become overpriced plastic. And you’re right! But there is a “sweet spot” with sunglasses and dropping $100-150 for a pair isn’t unheard of. These designers know what they’re doing.

Though we tried and tried and tried to find something at a reasonable price, there was nothing to be found that would fit him well, be comfortable and be worth the money. We landed at Sunglass Hut where all the designer sunglasses strutted their stuff and eventually he settled on an “inexpensive” pair of Ray Bans. $160 later, he is the hap-hap-happiest cool shades wearing guy out there – and they look great on him, too. Anytime I see them sitting out, I nudge him (by mentioning their price) to put them back in their hard case. It’s very motivating.

If any of you do not believe that “you get what you pay for,” I’d love to hear why not! If you do, what are you willing to pay a high price for? Sheets? Makeup? Silverware? (For me, all three.)

~~~

Writing about that catchphrase got me thinking about other colloquialisms and aphorisms that are pretty common – some more applicable than others.

  • When it rains it pours. Pretty self-explanatory. And something I am currently dealing with, if I’m gonna get all personal. It can’t be just one thing, it has to be a slew of things happening all at once, right?
  • Everything happens for a reason. I want to punch someone when I hear this one.
  • A stitch in time saves nine. Whatever.
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. This one I actually kind of buy into, as well, because I am definitely a person who’d rather not take the risk and have something guaranteed, rather than gamble on gaining more.
  • Right church, wrong pew. I don’t quite know what this means but it’s funny and a friend knew it off the top of her head.
  • Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Yes! Though hardly anyone “gifts” horses anymore, if you do get one, don’t check its teeth. Just say thank you.
  • Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. A little confusing but basically it boils down to not doing something stupid and self-destructive out of revenge or hatred, because it’s just going to do you more harm than good.
  • Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. My mother LOVES this phrase. It is irritating to hear when I want to overgeneralize and overreact, however.
  • There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Ew. But…also true.

Add in your favorite in a comment below!

“Happy” Tuesday – at least I hope you all are having a good one. I’m still mucking it up in the rain.