katharine’s promotional round-up

As you know, I make lots of things. Sometimes I sell those things. Sometimes I give those things away. Right now I’m doing all of that.

Last month I finally started participating on Goodreads. To celebrate, I’m offering 4 print copies of 30 Failures by Age 30 in a Goodreads giveaway. The contest is open to residents of US, CA, and GB and runs through March 16.

In December, I loaded Robot of Leisure onto Apple iBooks. A few weeks ago, iTunes started offering vendors a handful of promotional codes for review use. I am giving away promo codes for Robot of Leisure 1-4 (ebook only). (Small print: This is valid only for the Apple iBooks store for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch devices running iOS 4.2 and higher.) If you email me directly with a solemn promise to rate the Robot of Leisure books in the iBooks store (and on Goodreads, if possible), I will email the promo codes for all four Robot of Leisure volumes. Quantities are limited and this offer is only open for another two weeks-ish. (You only have to claim them within these two weeks, not read them.)

Already got copies of all or some of my books? Now’s the time to share your review/rating/opinion of them. If you’ve got a Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, or iTunes account, please visit my book listings and leave a rating. Obviously I hope it’s a good rating, but I’m more interested in getting honest reactions. As a creative person without a stage, most interactions with audience/consumers ends at the exchange of goods. I rarely get an update of how my “babies” have fared in the scary real world.

And just in case you missed it, I’ve been toiling away on Robot of Leisure: Boris 366—a daily series of Boris in dressed up in all manners of costumes and headgear for your amusement. Here’s what you missed in January:

HGTV [House Hunters] Drinking Game

If, like me, you’re prone to spending several hours watching HGTV, why not make it more interesting? Here’s a little drinking game to help ease the stress of watching other people choose homes they cannot afford.

House Hunters Drinking Game (can be altered to fit any HGTV program)

Take one sip:
When potential homeowner approves of the home’s granite counter tops
When potential homeowner approves of the home’s stainless steel appliances
Camera shot of double sinks in bathroom
When potential homeowner complains about closet space
When potential homeowner complains about room size
When potential homeowner bitches about paint color
Husband “playfully” pushes wife into walk-in closet
Anyone describes a room/home as “spacious”
Potential homeowner whines that home’s location is not close to trendy restaurants and shops

Take two sips:
When realtor shows potential homeowner a home way outside of the budget (three sips if narrator claims this to be at the “top end of [potential homeowner]’s budget”)
When potential homeowner complains about a home’s lack of granite counter tops
When potential homeowner complains about a home’s lack of stainless steel appliances
When the potential homeowner calls their new home perfect (despite making many compromises, going over budget, etc.)

Whenever anyone claims a space is “perfect for entertaining”
If the episode ends with potential homeowners NOT buying a house
If it’s an old episode with Suzanne Whang
If it’s the episode of the Mackays in Australia (because you’ll probably hear “bull shark” eight hundred times during the episode)

katharine has interests (but probably doesn’t share those interests with you)

A few weeks ago on my Tumblr dashboard, the curator of themodculture shared this experience:

“I once posted a picture of Jimmy (Quadrophenia) on Facebook and people wrote: “Oh look, a hipster” – the only thing I replied was with the Wikipedia page for “Mod (subculture)”, which should be a good start for the ignorant.
But the only answer I got was “I don’t want to get into something I’m not interested in.”
Well, that’s a pretty sad attitude to life, isn’t it?”

Sad, indeed. And yet that’s our collective attitude. If we’re not already interested in something, forget it. If I don’t already know and love a particular thing, it does not exist in my world. And furthermore, it is not welcome in my world. I developed all of my interests and beliefs at age 12 and remain firmly committed to them all. There is absolutely no room for me to grow or evolve or take the time to discover something new or different that might lead to a better understanding of humankind or merely superficial enjoyment. No. Shut it down. Remove all foreign concepts and notions from my sight. I’ll not give any consideration to your interests, ideas, beliefs, culture (pop or otherwise) for they might lead me astray or broaden my horizons.

That reaction seems a bit extreme, doesn’t it? “Keep an open mind,” you say. “Don’t shut yourself off from possibilities,” you say. “You never know until you try,” you say. But what say you if I ask you to listen to some celebrity dubstep or seapunk or bluegrass ballet? How might you respond to a YouTube link of witty Britcoms or baby mimes or “hilarious” crotch kicks set to Philip Glass? Would you be willing to attend my one-woman space opera and foosball match? Where’s your open mind now?

I feel that I’m fairly well-rounded and broad-minded. I know what I like. I know what I’m willing to tolerate. I understand the need for certain things at certain times. And I get that sometimes easier to bend to peer pressure and go along with the majority. Even if the majority heralds crap. It’s my perception that it is crap. What I believe to be rubbish is my taste. There is no longer “good” and “bad.”

Well, there is “good” and there is “bad.” It’s just that quality no longer factors into one’s determination of something being good or bad. More often it’s personal preference that dictates the perception of goodness or badness. A thing can be technically perfect and still perceived as “bad.” A thing can be politically incorrect and morally offensive and still be perceived as “good.” But can I really say something is bad simply because I do not care for it? Is something bad simply because I have been exposed to similar things which I considered to be better? What makes them better? What makes me better?

Maybe someone else’s interest isn’t rubbish. Maybe I’m feeling overextended within my own interests and hobbies and am simply unable to take on one more thing. Is it possible to like too many things? Maybe I’m cultivating an identity around a core group of related interests and don’t want to stray too far from my “brand,” lest I confuse future peer groups. We’ve gotten so snuggly in our own bubbles. We’ve splintered off into niche subcultures and urban (or cyber) tribes. We love to self-identify as stereotypes of our own inventions (Pinterest Mom is the new Soccer Mom). Maybe I just can’t relate to the steampunk-goth burlesque princess or parents who write poetry about the dreams of their food-smeared children.

We often consider our own tastes to be superior to others, sometimes developing a prejudice for a thing without properly experiencing it. We decide that we don’t care for the idea of something and dismiss it. I don’t know that I think dubstep is “bad” or that baby mimes are “stupid.” But I am choosing not to explore and find out. It’s a preconceived notion based on what I know of my own mind and pre-existing interests. Some people may roll their eyes because I like old things like The Monkees and Henry Mancini. I roll my eyes because people like Beyoncé and Bon Iver. At least I feel like I’m choosing my interests rather than allowing the tastemakers of the day to decree that I subject myself only to what is “hot” and “in.”

How do you know what you’re already interested in? At what point did you stop exploring and discovering new things? How do you know that someone else’s subculture doesn’t overlap with your own? What is a hipster anymore, really?

katharine takes inventory: wardrobe

25 argyle tops
• 14 argyle pullover sweaters
• 6 argyle cardigans
• 2 argyle t-shirts
• 2 argyle short-sleeved knit tops
• 1 argyle mock sweater vest
3 pair argyle tights
19 dresses
9 pairs jeans (two unworn, back-ups)
6 zip-up hoodies
2 bunny hugs
6 pairs black pants (rarely worn in 11 years thanks to white cat)
1 pair corduroy pants (hate wearing because they make noise when thighs rub together)
1 pair calf-high boots that are too tight on my calves (were not too tight when purchased, still too tight after losing 15 pounds)
1 pair rain boots with cracked rubber toes, no one has suggestions for repairing
3 pair black heels (impossible to walk long distances in)
3 pair ballet flats, various colors (bought instead of taking taxis)
1 pair red patent leather pumps (one of many pretty mistakes)
1 bowling shirt
2 bowler hats
17 pairs of sunglasses
3 winter coats
1 plastic bin full of business casual attire (rarely worn, mostly button up shirts that make me look boxy and mannish)
various shirts and knits from Old Navy (serves double-duty as day wear and sleepwear)
36 possibilities waiting for opportunities
various shapeless, sexless fabrics indicating to passers-by that the wearer has given up
6 turtlenecks to poorly disguise chin acne
12 hats waiting for an occasion
1 black blazer that gets the lint roller treatment for the too rare job interview
5 pairs chenille socks
257 memories
14 obligations
20 fantasies and delusions
multiple combinations of potential and optimism