Body Drama. Nancy Amanda Redd

I. Love. This. Book. Nancy Redd has written a book with “Real Girls, Real Bodies, Real Issues & Real Answers” as it says on the front cover. The book is divided into five sections: shape, skin, down there, boobs, hair and nails. Each chapter covers several different “dramas” such as “My face is a zit factory” or “It’s bumpy or lumpy down there.”

Aside from very informative text, there are also photos. Many photos of actual women. In the back there is a two-page layout of front and back naked views of several different women. There is also a spread (hee hee) of 24 different women’s vulvas. Nothing is airbrushed, and the constant message is that your natural body is wonderful. It’s like a more direct “Our bodies, ourselves,” but with pictures.

I’m pretty savvy in the body department, but I learned a lot too. Third nipples? There is a picture and explanation. Pubic lice? Yep. Stretch marks? Picture. The pictures were my favorite part though I also enjoyed the true confessions from the author. Now that I’ve devoured this book, I’m waiting for the boy’s version.

The Buffalo Soldier. Chris Bohjalian

I loved the two other books I read by this author: Midwives and Trans-Sister Radio. I liked the way he took an out of mainstream topic (home birth, sex change operations/NPR) and wove that topic into a gripping narrative. This book I didn’t love as much as the ones I read before, but I still found myself reading “just a little bit more.”

Terry and Laura’s twin daughters are killed in a flood. Two years later, they take in a foster child Alfred, an African American, who is not sure what he thinks of rural Vermont. The neighbors, a retired college professor and his wife, take an interest in Alfred and give him a book about the Buffalo soldiers. The other main character is Phoebe, who becomes romantically involved with Terry.

Though I really liked all the other characters, I didn’t like Terry for the majority of the book. This made reading difficult as I couldn’t figure out how in the world this story was going to end. There was a dramatic event at the end of the story that perhaps sold the ending to me, but it involved a bit too much coincidence for my tastes.

Bohjalian does not use quotation marks. This is incredibly annoying at times, because quotation marks weren’t just invented because the printer wanted more work, they were actually needed. At times I couldn’t tell who was talking and had to go back and reread. Overall, okay book.

Resolution 2008 Update. Bloom is off the rose.

So I’m at a stuck point in this resolution. At this point I’ve written to a lot of people I know and a lot of people I don’t know. I feel like I’ve run out of people to write to. Added to that, is the fact that I’ve not gotten many letters back, which I entirely expected as no one writes letters anymore. What I didn’t expect, is how depressing it feels to open an empty-except-for-bills-and-ads mail box every day when I’ve been writing so often. So I’ve been researching pen pals.

Pen pals. You remember those from when you were little, right? You had a friend from overseas and you wrote to them a few times and then never again, right? They were fun because they had funny terms for everything like “pen friend” and “girl guides” and “go on holiday.” I need something like that, but an adult who wants to send mail, not email. Not surprisingly, given that no one writes letters anymore, it was a bit difficult to locate such a thing.

I did an Internet search for “pen pals mail” and came up with a lot of crap. Let me tell you what I am not looking for when looking for a pen pal. I am not looking for love, nor am I looking for love from attractive women. So pictures of attractive women displayed prominently on a pen pal web site are not something that would keep me reading. Nor do I like flashing things on web sites. You think they are fun, but I think they are trashy and I navigate right away. I am also not looking for a site that is jumbled and cluttered and looks like Aunt Matilda revved up her new fangled computer and haphazardly built a site. Note that those last two things often go hand-in-hand.

I flirted with the idea of writing a prisoner, but the prisoner web site I went to was kind of skeevy. I did find a nice organization that connects people with Jewish inmates. Apparently, they make up a small percentage of prisoners, but antisemitism is rampant in the prison system so it is especially hard for them. Non-Jews can write to Jewish prisoners too. If you are interested, the web site is

I did find some promising things, they are as follows.

The coolest one I found was called postcardx. ( ) Here, you can click a link and send a random person a postcard. You can also add your address to get random postcards, and there is a link to discuss things. I will use this when I am totally desperate, and have absolutely nothing to send to anyone.

A long shot, though quaintly old-school is SAPE ( formerly known as the Soviet-American Penfriend Exchange. For the cost of a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope for those of you born after 1985) you theoretically get a list of a bunch of potential pen pals in former Soviet countries. I’ve already sent off my application, but don’t expect anything will come of it.

One of the most interesting leads I’ve found was the Letter Exchange. ( Here you subscribe to the Letter Exchange and three times a year you get a publication with some articles and “listings.” Each listing has a number associated with it. If you are so moved, you can write to the person who posted the listing, but instead of sending it straight to the person, you write the number from their listing on the front of the envelope. Then you put that letter (or letters) with correct postage attached, in another envelope and send the whole thing to the Letter Exchange’s address. Once they receive the envelope, they forward the letter to the correct person. Genius! The person can then write you back directly if you have included your return address, or if you have listed your LEX number, they can write you by sending a letter to the Letter Exchange which will be forwarded back to you. With your yearly subscription, you get 20 free words to make your own listings. Once you have used those 20 words, each word costs 50 cents. There are a variety of categories to list under.

I’m pretty excited about this option and have already printed out my subscription form and written my listings. They are:

1. In the category of “Women’s Studies”: Are women’s colleges necessary any more?

2. In “Insights”: I’m overweight, but I’ve never felt better.

3. “Nature and Gardening”: My best camping trip? Bruno Sand Dunes. Yours?

I’ll send my subscription off tomorrow. My listings will appear in the June publication and they will send me the current issue as soon as they get my application. I can’t wait!

Requiem for a calculator

I’ve had this calculator since my junior year of high school. It was the third calculator my parents bought me, as its predecessors kept getting broken because books would fall on them in my locker. (Notice the clever use of passive voice there–I certainly had nothing to do with those books falling.) My mother told me it was the last calculator she would buy me. And it was. I used it from then until tonight when I accidentally dropped it. The solar panel broke and the calculator, she is no more. Farewell, friend. You served me through many a math problem.

Read in February.

Only five books this month, though I dabbled in many more than that. This was a huge nonfiction month, both due to the Lint Project and to the arrival of a couple of nonfiction books that were on hold. I like nonfiction, but often find that if I read too much of it, I need to retreat to fiction, if only for a book.

The Mermaid Chair
Sue Monk Kidd

The History of Love
Nicole Krauss

Ready to wear: an experts guide to choosing and using your wardrobe
Mary Lou Andre

Comeback: A Mother & Daughter’s Journey Through Hell and Back
Claire & Mia Fontaine

If the Creek Don’t Rise: My Life Out West With the Last Black Widow of the Civil War
Rita Williams

The Pocket Stylist: Behind-the-Scenes Expertise From a Fashion Pro on Creating Your Own Look
Kendall Farr

Started but didn’t finish.
Secrets of style: the complete guide to dressing your best every day
Editors of In Style
I got started on this, but they spent too much time discussing how to disguise flaws, so my attention wandered.

The look.
Randolph Duke
I enjoyed this book. Randolph Duke had a nice section about “the line” which was good to read. He also had flattering name for body types. No “pears” were mentioned. I read through the work clothing section and wandered off when I got to casual wear.

Didn’t even start.
Truth and Bright Water.
Thomas King

(The remaining books were checked out for research purposes and I finished the research portion of the Lint Project before I got to the books.)

10 Steps to Fashion Freedom: Discover Your Personal Style From The Inside Out
Malcom Levine & Kate Mayfield

Business casual made easy: the complete guide to business casual dress for men and women
Ilene Amiel & Angie Michael

The Lucky Shopping Manual: Building and Improving Your Wardrobe Piece by Piece.
Andrea Linnett

Sam Saboura’s Real Style: Style Secrets For Real Women With Real Bodies
Sam Saboura

Chic Simple Dress Smart for Women: Wardrobes that Win in the Workplace.
Kim Johnson Gross

Resolution 2008 Update. Letters written Feb 11-29

This 2/3 of the the month saw me run out of people to write too, start to feel like a stalker because of the number of letters sent to the Oregonian, and miss my first days of writing. I’m glad I missed a day so early on. I once heard a tale (fiction, I think) of a senator who in his 30 year career never missed a vote. Near the end of his life he was even carried into the Senate chambers so he could cast his vote. When offering advice to a new Senator, his first instruction was to miss a vote early on. By missing a day in the first month of my project I have relived the worry that I would just stop writing. Now I know I can miss a day and still bounce back.

11 letters to people I know, 6 to people I don’t know, 2 days without writing. My three letters I’ve written to politicians in February didn’t sway any issues. Although I got a very nice letter back from Representative Kotek and she agrees with me, not enough of her colleagues agreed with us.

February 11 Jane. Get well soon card.
February 12 Sara. Postcard.
February 13 Nicole. Thank you note.
February 14 Commissioner Eric Sten. No on Island Expansion of the River District. This plan was approved.
February 15 Nestor Ramos (my movie review boyfriend).
**Letter back: Representative Tina Kotek. re: no on OSU’s palatial new basketball arena. She agreed with me and thanked me for writing. Sadly, the funding plan was passed.
February 16 Gaya at Savvy Plus.
February 17 MAunts. Postcard inquiring about state quarters.
February 18 Mary Lou Andre, author of Ready to Wear.
February 19 Jenna. Letter.
**Letter back. Alison Bechtel.
February 20 Territorial Seed Co. Thank you.
February 21 Kristi Turnquist. Letter agreeing with her Oscar article.
February 22 Dad & Barb.
**Postcard back. Sara.
February 23 Nothing. Completely forgot.
February 24 Nothing. Didn’t make time.
February 25 Leath. Letter.
February 26 Sara. Letter part I.
February 27 Sara. Letter part II.
February 28 Sara. Letter part III.
February 29 Barbara. Letter.

Update re: duct tape and parade/Randy Leonard letter from last time. You can now be fined for marking your space at a parade with duct tape. Well thank god Commissioner Leonard has saved us from that non-problem.

Davis Street Door

My walk from the Max to work takes me along Davis Street. I’ve walked the length of sidewalk between Second and Third Avenues more than 100 times and never looked to my left at just the right moment. Due to some welding that was happening on the side of the street I usually walk on, today I crossed street and I spied a doorway. “How long has that been there?” I wondered to myself.

It looked open, so I wandered in. I followed the brick path through a brick corridor…
…and ended up in a charming courtyard.
There was a handy sign to let me know that the Merchants’ Hotel was built in 1885 and not only was it a fancy hotel, it had one of the first hydraulic elevators in Portland. Between World Wars, the hotel housed a number of Japanese businesses, including the Japanese-Oregon daily newspaper. The sign does not go on to say that with the coming of World War II all of those Japanese businesses would be abandoned as the Japanese were “relocated”, but ideally you know that story.
Excited to have found a nook of history on a day that only comes around every four years, I turned around and happily continued my trek to work.