Extra! Extra! H&M Opens US Online Store!

Something amazing happened yesterday. Something I’ve been waiting for a very a long time.

I wasn’t always a lover of clothes and fashion. Growing up, my mom always picked out my outfits for me. If they were cute, great. If not, whatever. And for my first couple years of high school, my family was living in South Africa and I still didn’t give a hoot about fashion. I mean, I lived in Africa. I had more important things on my mind, like my family’s next safari vacation. Hellooooo! Then, between my sophomore and junior year, my family had to move back to the States. I was devastated to be leaving Africa, but that’s a story for another day.

We found ourselves in Northern Virginia, and I was so intensely bitter about that move, that I tried everything I could think of to make myself happy. And that is when I really discovered clothes. I discovered that, in my new high school, if you weren’t wearing American Eagle or Hollister or Abercrombie, you might as well have just eaten in the bathroom by yourself at lunch. (Yeah, my high school experience was eerily similar to Cady Heron’s. OMG Karen, you can’t just ask people why they’re white!)

So, anyway, back to… South Africa. Virginia. Clothes. And more specifically, H&M. What a discovery H&M was! I lived 10 minutes from it, and I didn’t even realize that some people didn’t have H&M in their lives until 2 years later when my family again moved… this time to Utah. And lo and behold, there was NO H&M in Utah. Say whaaaaaa? But it’s ok, I can just shop online. Except, uhm, nope. There was no such thing as shopping at H&M online. For the next 6 years, I managed to get by on just a few H&M shopping trips: every time I passed through Vegas, every time I was in Scottsdale, one time when I was in Seattle.

But yesterday, you guys! Yesterday, H&M finally opened the very long-awaited (at least by me) U.S. online store! And I already am coveting about 89% of the things I’ve seen on there. I managed to pick a few of my favorites for you gals and your guys, and I have included them below. (Getting it down to just these few items was rough, trust me.)

But honestly — wallets be warned — if you haven’t been to the website yet, just go now!

And if you want to thank me for the heads up on your new wardrobes, my wish list is below. I kid, I kid.  Oh, and also, my birthday is next month ; ) Jokes.

HMwomen HMmen

Things You Need to Stop Doing On the Internet Part III: Airing Dirty Laundry

“Dirty laundry”, you see? To fit the theme of this week? Don’t fault us for inconsistency, that’s for sure.

This one’s going to be short and sweet today, because when it comes to airing dirty laundry over the public arenas of the internet, stop it.

Don’t update your status with it. Don’t tweet it. Don’t blog it.  Just don’t.

How am I defining dirty laundry? Anything that’s personal and generally negative in its nature.  The internet is not therapy and it’s not your journal.  There’s already therapy and journals for that.
I think it’s a good trait to be willing to talk about these things, I do. But do your best to talk  in person or over the phone with the people who love you and know you best.

And if that’s not an option at the moment? And the internet is there, and you want to feel better right away?

Don’t know if you’re aware, but there is a LOT on the internet that can help you put things in perspective, or maybe just take your mind off of what’s bothering you. Watch an inspiring video. Win an eBay auction. Anonymously send someone pizza. Read this hilarious and brilliant post about life giving you lemons. Brush up on your small talk by reading a few strange and intriguing Wikipedia pages.  Take a Google Street View stroll through Rome. We’re not even scratching the surface of the surface here.

I don’t know, this one feels like I’m being a little too redundant and condescending.  You probably don’t do this, and good for you.  Maybe a discussion needs to be had about how to respond to others when they choose to over share?  Do we ignore? (That’s what I do, truthfully.) Do we try to help? Do we link this post? (Subtle. So subtle.) I’m interested to hear your thoughts, mes amis.

Things You Need to Stop Doing on the Internet Part II: Using Social Media to be Antisocial

Today’s post is part two in a series we’re doing about things we all do.  On the internet.  That need to stop.  Today’s topic?  Using Facebook for good and not evil. See Part I on plagiarism here. Got an idea for this series you’d like us to write about? That “Leave a reply” button is all yours, babe.

I’ll preface this by saying that today’s post is rather brief and certainly not earth-shattering.  Just a dose of some good old common sense. However, it’s one that I’ve been needing to hear, so I did me a favor and gave myself a good talking to. Perhaps it will come in handy for you, too.

Sometimes I imagine if things that weren’t tangible suddenly became so. For instance, if every 30 minutes I spent wrapped in my own little bubble of self-indulgence and entertainment became an actual, physical object, I know for certain there would be days that my house would filled, Hoarders-style.  But that’s part of the challenge presented by time spent on the internet – the consequences are rarely that visible.

Another little exercise to put things in perspective: Are you the type of “friend” in the virtual world that you’d like to be in real life?  If Facebook were a party, would you walk in and immediately start complaining about things that have annoyed you that day?  Would you not say a word to anyone but walk around and listen in on every conversation, silently judging/envying everyone around you?  If someone at the party shares something funny, clever, or interesting, would you just give them a thumbs up and move on?

Maybe some days you would do those things, but I’d suspect that you’d want to engage with your friends a little more than that.  We have that opportunity every single time we log into Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., so use it. (And of course I’m speaking to myself as much as you. You know this.) Start simple, of course. Say an unsolicited nice thing, post a photo of a good memory, ask someone about their grandfather in the hospital.  It’s so easy.

But won’t that girl I knew my freshman year of college think it’s weird, you know, that I’m commenting on her vacation photos from 2007?   Umm, maybe.  That’s certainly a possibility. But that’s fear speaking, and fear gets in the way of a lot of good things happening. Perhaps the best way to look at it is to ask what you yourself are getting out of your social media time. Are you feeling connected to anyone?

The antidote:
When I need a jolt out of my internet antisocialness, I like to watch this TEDtalk from Ze Frank.  It’s a great reminder of what we’re capable of when we truly are trying to connect with the world around us rather than just consuming it. And since I’ve fallen into a slump myself, you can bet I’ll be making the effort to “get out there” on the internet. Hope to see you doing the same, and if I do, I’ll be sure to say hello!

Things You Need to Stop Doing on the Internet Part I: Plagiarizing Instead of Being Inspired

Today’s post is part one in a series we’re doing about things we all do.  On the internet.  That need to stop.  Today’s topic?  Knowing when not to copy another’s work. Got an idea for this series you’d like us to write about? That “Leave a reply” button is all yours, babe.

Try stealing THIS photo, dude.

A little anecdote for you.

I learned the word “plagiarize” when I was in second grade.  I learned it because it was something I had done, and my mother felt the need for me to understand that plagiarism is a big deal – illegal, actually.  And to be clear, I had very intentionally stolen something that I in no way had written myself, and not because I wasn’t capable of writing, or because I hadn’t done the assignment and needed something to submit. No, I stole because I really, really liked it.

It was a poem my older brother was working on memorizing as a fourth grade class assignment.  He would walk around the house reciting it, and it wasn’t long before I knew it by heart, too.  So, when my own assignment came to write an original story, I knew that the poem would be such a good fit. I eagerly wrote it down, and made a few additions of my own.

My teacher, of course, loved it. She was very impressed, so much so that she asked me point-blank, “Did you write this?”.  I told her I had, because 1.) It was in my handwriting, so I had written it, and 2.) I had made the additions, see, so it was my work. She told me it was very, very good, and even had me take it down to the first graders to read it during their story time.  She called my mother to tell her I could be published.  My mom knew me a little better, and knew to be a little more skeptical.  It wasn’t long before the truth came out, and it was embarrassing all around.  I will never forget the apology letter I wrote to my teacher (on Babysitters’ Little Sister stationary, FYI), and how nervous and ashamed I was handing it to her across her desk.

So yes, for me, plagiarism has very strong emotional associations of, “No! Bad! Don’t do it!”.  Still, plagiarism hits another nerve for me as someone who tries very hard to be original.  The internet today – with its Google Images and Pinterest and Etsy – can easily take every good idea you’ve ever had and make it widely accessible to anyone.

And don’t get me wrong, that’s often a good thing.  It’s quite possible that someone who has never met me is reading this (holla at me in the comments, don’t be shy!), and that’s thrilling.  That’s the 21st century.

Pinterest and its friends do wonderful things, and being inspired to make something is not bad.  I’m not saying you should never copy something you see on the internet; tutorials are, well, tutorials, after all.  My days as a theatre student were littered with the phrase, “You’re only as good as who you steal from,” and there’s a lot of truth to that.  We probably have never encountered a truly “original” idea, and a site dedicated to the sharing of ideas can be an incredible resource for creativity.

But what happens when we come across something that we just love so much, and we want it for a photo collage we’re making, and we just can’t believe someone would charge $30 for a print of it and dangit, all we have to do is crop out that watermark and it’s perfect?  Just there for the taking.

You walk away is what.  Every good idea you see came from someone who is probably very proud of that idea.  And they are likely using that creativity to help support their family, or themselves, or even just support their own self-esteem.

Aight, this post is getting all kinds of preachy, and I think you get the point I’m trying to make here, but let me leave with one last (super soapbox-y) point before I offer some solutions: I firmly believe that what I create helps define who I am.  Were I to choose to present or use another person’s work as my own, I fail to do that.  I would know less and less what I believe and stand for, and eventually I would lose the foundations of who I am.

The antidote:

Do.  Do things of your own thinking. Create for yourself.  The more you do it, the more you will realize you’ve got a lot of great ideas, too. And the more you will realize how much work goes into creating something original. So then, on those occasions when something really is so wonderful to you, you will be all the more willing to back up that love with appropriate support to its originator.  Sometimes that will mean money, sure, but more often than not it’s just citing things properly.  Reach out to that artist/writer/crafter/photographer and let them know how much you like what they’re doing, and tell them about what you would like to do with their work.  Cooperate. Collaborate. But don’t steal.