Blog Love: Tell it like it is

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

At last. The next exciting instalment of Blog Love. On reflection, I think I was being a bit ambitious trying to post every month; you can't manufacture love, or conjure it up out of thin air. You have to feel it in your gut, and that goes for blogs as well as boyfriends. So from now on, I'll be sharing my blog loves sporadically (does anyone else think of Clueless, otherwise known as the greatest film of the 1990s, when they hear that word?) and only when I am really, truly loving something.

Right now, as someone who often finds herself floundering in the depths of career indecision and uncertainty about the future, I'm loving bloggers who tell it like it is. Or at least, how they think it is. They're blunt, painfully honest, and I might not agree with everything they say, but at least they have the balls to give it to me straight. I need some of that in my life, and I reckon you might too.


Oof. Where to start with Penelope Trunk? She is ostensibly a careers blogger, distributing no-holds-barred advice to troubled Generation Y-ers, confused entrepreneurs and desperate stay-at-home mothers alike. Following in the cowboy-booted-footsteps of The Pioneer Woman, she left big city life behind to live in rural Wisconsin with her two children and the Farmer, her imaginatively-named and long-suffering second husband. But be in no doubt; Penelope Trunk is no Ree Drummond. This is not a saccharine, over-photoshopped vision of rural perfection. This is screaming fights and getting run over by her husband in a tractor. Divorce, Asperger's, goat-farming and abortion, all somehow tied up with a bow and presented as careers advice.

If there's one thing I admire, it's a writer who can delve into seemingly unrelated topics, collect all the shimmering threads together and weave them into a colourful tapestry of themes and ideas that shouldn't go together, but somehow do. And if there's one thing Penelope does well, it's ideas. Big, juicy, shocking ones. She even has a sidebar devoted to them: Don't do what you love. Choose sex over money. Job hop more. Blueprint for a woman's life. And last but not least controversial, don't report sexual harrassment.

I'm not for a moment saying I agree with her on all of these, or even some of them (although her thoughts on the quarterlife crisis and prioritising your ovaries over your CV both gave me pause for thought). But she writes with such conviction and hard, brutal honesty that, as an indecisive soul myself, I can't help but be oddly fascinated by her. I suspect much of her punchy style and chronic over-sharing is inextricably tied up with her Asperger's Syndrome - it's impossible to tell whether she's being deliberately provocative or if that's just her personality - but, for me, her unpredictable, out-there take on things only makes her more engaging. Of course, it makes some people hate her with a passion. Which is understandable, too.

I feel compelled to point out that I first heard of Penelope Trunk via Lisa of Privilege, whose opinion I respect (and who, incidentally, really must be the subject of her own Blog Love post some time soon. Mental note), so I'm inclined to believe there is something of value there. And it's dangerously easy, in the vast space of the internet, to live an easy life reading only things you already know you'll agree with. Perhaps the value of reading Penelope Trunk lies in her ability, if nothing else, to make you think.

Or she could just be completely insane. I'll let you be the judge.


And now from one extreme to the other. From rural Wisconsin to New York city. From a blog where the minutiae of daily life are spun into grand ideas, to a blog where grand ideas are simmered down into sweet, delicious stories. From searing honesty to heartfelt truth.

Eat the Damn Cake is the latest addition to my ever-expanding Google Reader. I can tell you exactly when I started reading it, because it was the day that Kate Fridkis' moving and fabulously-written wedding graduate post appeared on A Practical Wedding. After devouring that, I went hunting for more, and I was not disappointed.

In a homogeneous blogscape populated by scores of scrawny fashionistas, Kate's blog shines like a beacon of wit and intelligence. She talks frankly about her body image and her journey from blissful belief in her own unassailable beauty, to the miserable doubts that bubbled to the surface when she went to college, and the long trek back towards self-acceptance.

While her subjects range from marriage to homeschooling and everything in between, she maintains an overarching narrative about the modern female body image by including at the end of each post a tiny snippet called an "un-roast" - a sentence describing something she likes about her appearance on that particular day. It's so wonderfully refreshing to hear someone declare, breezily and without irony, "Today I love the way I look in jeans shorts." Or, "Today I love the way my toes look with gold nail polish." It's brilliant. I think I'll try it.

Today I love...

Hmm, maybe later. I'm Scottish, after all. I need to work up to it.


And finally a quickie, because I'm pretty sure that many of you will already be long-time devotees of the snarky indie wedding queen East Side Bride. Her legendary Dear ESB posts (now also featured on 100 Layer Cake) see her giving no-nonsense advice to brides on fashion, wedding planning and life in general. 

I'm talking advice like, "Please tell your fiancé to remove the stick from his ass," and "Fuck the obligatory invites. Cross them off of the list right now," and "CHOP IT ALREADY. Jesus." (This latter being in response to a bridal hair quandary, in case you were wondering.)

ESB also has a very distinctive eye for photography and style (just check out her pins), which sets her apart from other, more weddingy wedding blogs. She might occasionally be guilty of trotting out one skinny model too many, but at least they're in interesting poses and not strapped into identical fluffy white ballgowns. Why have another dreamy shot of a bride in a veil when you can have a  picture of a creepy old lady wearing a crown? Why, indeed.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your lot. I'd love to know what you think of these three, and shout out if you have any other recommendations for straight-talkin' sharp-shootin' bloggers (I don't know why I've suddenly turned into John Wayne there).

Un-roast: Today I love the way I look wearing a flower crown and lots of eyeliner while gazing wistfully out of a window. Oh, wait. That's not me. Dammit.

15 boats moored

  1. Penelope Trunk freaks me out. I found her through Lisa a few months ago and I read compulsivley until suddenly I started to feel a bit dirty, like I was watching car crash tv. I still kind of love her but I can't read. Much in the same way I can't watch reality tv auditions.

    I've never read Eat The Damn Cake, I will though, just because you say so, and I'll report back.

    ESB, I heart her. Obv. She is a breath of snarky fresh air. She also gives the best hugs in the world. True fact.

  2. This is good, I LOVE ESB, but haven't read the others. More blogs to feast my eyes on.



  3. Lyn of jumps to mind. She's stellar.

    Already an ESB fan, but the other two are new-to-me. Awesome.

  4. I LOVE Eat the Damn Cake. And I have to hand it to Penelope Trunk for saying it straight, with no qualms.

    Your un-roast made me laugh my face off.

  5. New blog loves this the first time snarky has been used on your blog Kirsty? x

  6. I LOVE this blog love post.

    LOVE P. Trunk and ESB (obvs). Never read ETDC, but it's being added in about 2 seconds.

  7. Nice. This is the kind of tough love I need in my life right now. Sometimes I feel like writing to ESB about my whole wedding/career/life plan, but I feel it would be a step too far and I couldn't deal with her snarky comments back at me!

  8. Just discovered Penelope Trunk yesterday because of Zan, and was curious what you had to say about her, gotta read more and will let you know... and ESB is just hilarious and wise at the same time.

  9. I also love blos that say things just as they are!!

  10. I find ESB so refreshing. She's always one of the first bloggers I go to in my reader. I haven't heard of Penelope trunk, but I am off to go check her out now. ETDC i have followed for a long time, and at first I loved her close-to-the-bone thoughts on her body image. But then I got to the point where I couldn't keep up, there was just so much introspection and I'm not the kind of person who enjoys thinking about her body all day. I'd rather just be oblivious some days, you know? So now I don't read her as often. I did love her wedding grad post though.

  11. Genevieve - I LOVE Lyn. Everything she writes, I think, "Damn, I wish I had written that."

    Lucy - I had to check, and in fact it is NOT the first time. I used it here, but funnily enough I was talking about esb that time too. There's just no other word.

    anotherringcoming - That's interesting, I haven't been reading ETDC for too long but I can see what you mean, the novelty might wear off - I'll keep you posted!

  12. Ooo. ETDC does write like a dream but I would agree with anotherringcoming. Still dip in on occasion.

    Penelope Trunk so scary amazing. Will check her out now!

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