Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Liebster time

Ok! So Tempest of Ellomennopee tagged me to do this Liebster Award deal where you post 11 things about yourself, than answer 11 questions posed by the awarder. This is a relatively serious post, especially compared to most of my posts, which have a slightly herp-de-derp feel to them. (I am proud of that.) It is also rather long. Just a warning. Grab a snack, go pee before you do this. Ok, ready? Here we go!

11 random things about me.

1. I love cottage cheese. omg, you guys, really. Large curd from Publix is it. When I was younger, and Wawa made cottage cheese, I ate like a tub a day of that stuff.

2. I feel like grad school has, thus far, been a waste of my time and money. I definitely understand why I've had to take the classes I have, but as a library employee for the past four (!) years, I wish there had been a way to place out of all the intro classes I had to take. Thus far, I've only really enjoyed two classes--one on music libraries, and one on young adult materials, which I'm taking now. I could go on and on, but point being that library school has been a necessary evil for me to continue on the path of upward mobility; I've reached the glass ceiling in terms of positions I can have without a master's degree. And this goes for almost any sizable public library. I have senioritis already, and I'm only barely halfway done!

Library school on the left, my brain on the right. FLEE, FLEE!

3. My very first favourite book was The Color Wizard. Oh, apparently it was a fairly new book when I first read it at 4 years old! How neat. Anyway, it was a sign of things to come. It's a story about a wizard who lives in a grayscale world and decides to turn the place into a colourful burg. I loved it and I definitely remember reading it ALL THE TIME. My second favourite book was The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses. Similar art style, & I loved tracing the pictures.

4. It's a summer of concerts already, y'all. My coworker A. and I are going to see Bruno Mars in August, and ex-neighbour/current friend & coworker T. and I are making the long haul to Raleigh to bid farewell to Streetlight Manifesto, who are taking an indefinite break from touring. T. and I are going to the Package Tour with New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees and Boys II Men in June. I'm hoping Kesha and Vampire Weekend run tours over the summer too. I'd give an arm and a leg to see Vampire Weekend live, and Kesha...well, you know.

No but really.

5. Aside from required weigh ins at the doctor, I can't remember the last time I weighed myself, and I have no problem with that.

6. When I was growing up, I almost never wore vibrant colours. I wore navy, gray, black and olive. Seriously. Even in college it was rare for me to have a tee shirt that was red or yellow or green. My mother used to call my outfits "drab". Not anymore, thankfully!

7. I have seriously considered shaving my head for St. Baldrick's. I still might someday.

8. I first started working in the library as a page, shelving children's books during summer reading. I was busted once for reading Madeline's Christmas. It was worth it.

9. In case you're just joining us here at Animated Cardigan (I was at Nicole's a bit ago and Audrey's sent over quite a few readers!), I am a massive Philadelphia Eagles fan. Despite that, though, I have never had the pleasure to see a game in person. I did, however, get to see the Phillies back when they were still in the Vet.

fly Beagles fly

10. I do not enjoy reading nonfiction. It is very rare for me to really want to read nonfiction, and it has to be the right kind of book--I liked Moonwalking with Einstein and found great appeal in The Philosophy Book & nonfiction graphic novels like Persepolis, but I vastly prefer fiction. I've been mocked for that, but I don't care. Life's too short to read what you don't like, and I get paid to figure out what novels people will like. Sometimes a patron will want recreational nonfiction, and I know a fair bit about that genre--just don't ask me to read it.

11. The most exciting thing about graduating from grad school is that I'll have time to ride my horse again. I'm sure he's pleased with the current situation, but he's getting FAT. That's a problem! There's no room for body acceptance when you're a horse whose breed has a history of overeating and and founder. Also he really likes being ridden, so I don't think he'll be too offended when we get back into the swing of things.


And now, Tempest's questions for me! I really like her questions. I feel like I'm being interviewed for a Buzzfeed article on small style blogging!

1. When you find a new blog in the sea of blogs, what are the characteristics that make you follow it? I'd be a real liar if I said photography doesn't play a part. I follow quite a few blogs, but the ones that I really read and follow with interest are ones that usually have some crumb of photographic skill. (You guys. Get outside once in a while. You can do it!) I also find self-photographed blogs appealing (remember Monkeyface? Miss her so!), because I receive SO much inspiration from those blogs and they push me further in terms of how I photograph myself. That definitely isn't THE reason I follow a blog though--there are some blogs with great photography and I just don't enjoy what the blogger writes, so I don't follow. The excellence of one isn't enough to counter act the failings of the other. Having a personality certainly helps, as does a sense of style! I tend to be offput by a constant c/o--I kind of look at my clothing as a collection, and I'm the curator, and there has to be a set goal (a representation of your self through clothing) for the collection. "whatever x, y and z sent" is not a collection. Style has to be personal, and that's what I want to see in a blog, through and through--from the design to the photos to the clothing. (I'm not as serious about it as I sound though!) For non-style blogs, I look for good pictures, good content, and a healthy sense of humor. If I want to read something dry, I'll read The Atlantic.

Take good pictures! You'll thank me (and yourself) later!

2. Will blogging be the next Myspace, disappearing into obscurity in a few years? I don't think so, because of the level of original content involved. Myspace was, for the most part, a very cookie cutter site--very little customization, spam and bot ridden, creepier than all get out, and difficult to navigate. Myspace offered little room for any original content to breathe and expand. There are still so many blogs for so many different things that have yet to be created. It's a bit like blogging is working toward its own version of Rule 34, but it has yet to reach that level of saturation. Personal style blogging is a little different because you can look at it both ways--it was immediately saturated with the first blog about style, or it will never be saturated because each person as a different sense of style. There will always be people who think style blogs are an exercise in vanity, but isn't that most of the internet these days? Like Facebook--it's an exercise in indulging your vanity and indulging the vanity of others.

3. Have you experienced any negativity on your blog and how did you deal with it? Sure have, and it was about my smile :D I was pretty hurt by the comment that ignited my smile critique, and then infuriated, and then insulted, and then I got over it, all in about 10 minutes. I addressed it on Animated Cardigan in one post and have addressed it a couple times in comments, but I feel over and over again that I have to defend myself and the fact that I'm not a grinner. I've found a few traffic sources that criticized my smile (one in German!) and it was just so frustrating. Which is why I now link to my smiling post in my profile info to the right--people can complain, but I'd rather they have the full story before judging my lack of smile. With instant gratification available for blogs thanks to sites like GOMI and Reddit, it's easy for everyone to be a critic, when in real life he or she wouldn't say a word to a blog owner's face. It can be tough, but growing up in the north and working as a public servant have given me a tough skin, which has served me well.

Grin and bear it. Or don't.

4. Which is more important on a personal blog, style or content? Are we talking about personal style here? Blog design? Well, either way, I think it's a combination of both. You have to have some modicum of style (both blog style and personal style) to visually attract readers, and then, if you want to maintain readership, you have to have solid content. The style of your content is essential, as is the content of your style. It all rolls together. When Salazar and I created Style Imitating Art, I really thought I'd get an email after week one saying someone had already done this, and had done it much better. A year later and still nothing, and I think it's been a very successful and enjoyable venture. I think Salazar and I have both learned a lot about art and blog collaboration in the process, and I love how many stylish, creative women we've encountered along the way. With this feature, style and content are essential to its success, and I think it's similar for many features and creative concepts.

5. What appeal do smaller, non-professional blogs have to readers, if any? I think there's a really personal appeal that blogs lose as they grow bigger and bigger. When it comes to small blogs, there's very little c/o (my interactions with eShakti are it, and really the only sponsorship I want), there's little monetizing, if any, and posts are longer, more thoughtful, and less canned. If I feel like saying something, I'll say it, and I won't be worried about offending a sponsor or losing readers en masse. (Or ending up on GOMI.) Writers of small blogs seem more attainable, more normal, more human. I read blogs like those written by Kendi and Tieka, and they're great, stylish women, but they're already so established in the style blogging world that it takes a significant amount of effort to even contact them and receive a response & their posts have reached a point of being relatively similar, although they talk about different things everyday. The content begins to stale for some reason. On the other hand, bloggers like Gracey and Heidi are easy to find, contact and connect with. I love Heidi's stories about life up in Minnesota, and Gracey's always going to some fun crazy party that probably involves dressing up like it's an episode of Dynasty. They're also really sweet people, and so easy to reach. The accessibility factor is really appealing for readers, as well as for people who are just starting their own blogs.

Would you ever see a picture like this on Cupcakes and Cashmere?

6. Do you find blogging fuels your consumerism? Well, yes and no. I imagine my consumerism would be well fueled, blog or no blog. I like to shop, but I don't chase trends (one look at my outfits probably reveals this). I know fit and flare is a trend now, but...isn't that the basic line of every dress since the 1950s? A-line? But back to the point--I am a consumer, plain and simple, and I probably always will be. In a way I'm very proud of the closet I have so carefully curated over the years (my style history has been a long struggle with my body and clothing and I deserve to be proud of what I've created), and I've finally gotten to the point where there are no major gaps in my wardrobe. I bought a great LBD in November, and I think that was the grand finale to things I really "needed". I will admit, though, that I do feel the pressure to keep finding amazing skirts! I think that's nice pressure for me though, because now I'm not willing to accept just any skirt--it has to be something special to appear on this blog (& as such it needs to be special for me to buy it), and in that way, Animated Cardigan has actually helped me rein in my consumerism and be more critical of what I purchase and how I wear it.

Really, so proud.

7. Does blogging and social media ever make you feel like you are living life through a camera? No, but I'm not very active on social media. I have a Twitter account & I use Instagram and Pinterest, but I update my Twitter once a week if we're all lucky, and I peruse Pinterest every day or two. Instagram I check regularly, because I don't have to invest much time. It's easier, with a small blog, to stay a step or two behind in social media. I respond to Dani when she tweets me, and I talk to Erin sometimes on Instagram, but I really don't get that involved. I find Twitter very difficult to follow, and I don't feel the need to invest in much else. I tried to be a member of IFB, but it was too much effort for me. With grad school and life at home, I don't really have a lot of time to devote to fucking around on Twitter, and I'm kind of thankful for that. I'm a little worried that I'll get sucked into social media when school ends, but hopefully I'll find other things to fill my time, like reading books and watching shitty reality tv. Oh, what's that? I do that already? OOPS

8. People evolve all the time, do you ever feel the need to edit old posts? Nah. I'm one of the few people I know who hasn't dug through old Facebook photos and untagged anything (except spam), either. If I end up at an old post and find typos, I'll fix them, but I don't devote myself to rewriting the past. I just think that's unrealistic, and I don't believe in trying to alter my past to look more favourable or different in any way. I am what I am and what I always have been, and if I have changed, then it's good to look back and see from whence I came. It might be embarrassing, but it's silly to get so riled up over it that you feel the need to edit your prior self to match your current self. Growth and change are two of the things that make us human. Also, opposable thumbs, but they have nothing to do with this question.

This is a legit picture of me on Facebook. Really, I don't untag anything. (A striped shirt! Look at me go!)

9. Do you ever feel shy to tell people about your blog and why? Yes, quite a bit. I don't have as much of a problem telling women--there's a level of vanity we've all reached where we can kind of understand taking pictures of our outfits--but one of my coworkers recently mentioned my blog in front of a male coworker/friend, and I turned red as a beet and was absolutely insistent that she not show him my blog. I don't know if she ultimately did or not (hi A. & W.?), but my slight fit over it probably didn't quell his interest any. But that base level of vanity that women have is often a level of vanity many men never attain or understand unless they're actively involved with a blog like this in some fashion (photographer, editor, model, etc.). I sometimes wonder, when I date someone, when the right time is to mention that I traipse around town with a tripod and take pictures of myself. Is that a fifth date thing? Tenth? Hide it until death?

10. How much do you think about your online identity and how do you decide what is too much information to share? This is something I try to be careful about, because I work for the government and I don't want to reveal the wrong information without knowing it. If I talk about my job on this blog, it's in mostly vague terms--I run a book discussion group, the internet went down, Nooks are obnoxious--and I never talk about coworkers in a negative light or patrons at all. I haven't revealed my exact location, though Cardiganland is in northwestern South Carolina, or my last name. I have an email address specifically for this blog. There are places where things overlap and wires get crossed and if people were really desperate to know who I was, they would find a way. But I doubt I'm that interesting. And my personality? None of that's fake. None of it is TMI. (Maybe the frowns are TMI, I don't know. Whatever!)

This shot is from a post I wrote on my real personality.

11. What is the most rewarding part of blogging? Knowing that I've inspired someone in some way. About a year after I started this blog, one of my best friends from college me texted me and said "I got the nerve to belt a cardigan today, and it's because of you". I was blown away. I've gotten comments and emails from friends, family, and complete strangers about my style and how it has allowed them to inch a little bit outside of their comfort zone, and that's just incredible. I try to help with photography tips when I can, because I know that among small blogs, Animated Cardigan is one of the self-shot blogs that has a real emphasis on photography first, outfit second. Which has bitten me in the ass a few times, but I loved photography first! But anyway--being able to show someone how to compose a photo or figure out the difference between shutter and aperture is amazing. Helping people--women in particular--realise that they can be self-sufficient and run a blog like this one or dress like me or even take better pictures, all by themselves, now that's an exceptional reward.

And that was the end of that.

Thanks to Tempest for tagging me for these questions! I had a great time answering them and getting a little introspective. I personally am not a big fan of tagging people in these kinds of things because it gets a bit exclusionist & I don't want to offend my fellow blogettes by picking some but not others, but I'd LOVE to hear everyone's thoughts on these questions, because they're absolutely fantastic! If you decide to respond to them too, please let me know so I can read them (my blogroll backup is very high because of school. Oh, woe.). You can also always leave a comment!

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