Saturday, June 21, 2014

Why I write, as explained by Dear Coquette [formerly Dear Coke Talk]:

Ugh coke, what happened to you? you used to be witty and funny in your cynicism. now you just sound like a jaded old dried out cunt whose lost her thunder.
I was never a cynic, fucknuts. There just happened to be a moment when you and I disliked the same things, and during that time you thought my writing was witty and funny.
Now that we don’t dislike the same things anymore — or more likely, we happen to disagree on one particular issue — I’m suddenly a “jaded old dried out cunt whose [sic] lost her thunder.” How convenient. (Keep reaching for those clichés, by the way.)
Over the past five years, I've grown very in tune with the cyclical nature of both building and maintaining a large base of readers. Most people think growing an audience is a steady upward climb. It’s not. The metrics are far more fascinating than that. What actually happens is that you gain readers in discrete bursts and you lose readers in discrete bursts. It’s an elaborate wave function.
Folks who pay attention to this stuff are usually satisfied to gain as many readers as they can during a positive burst and lose as few readers as they can during a negative burst, thus ensuring the maximum readership over time.
This type of behavior consists of two basic public relations postures that are fairly easy to spot. During positive bursts, the posture is one of relentless self-promotion followed by repetition of whatever gained popularity (otherwise known as “publicity.”) During negative bursts, the posture is one of apologetic self-flagellation followed by relative silence (otherwise known as “damage control.”)
So yeah, aside from the consistent output of quality content, the only trick to engaging your largest possible audience is knowing when to say, “Look at me!” and when to say, “I’m sorry.” (I’m not going to discuss deliberate attempts to gain readers in discrete bursts. That’s called marketing, and paying for it is called advertising. Either way, it’s artificial growth, and people can tell when you’re doing it.)
Now, I bring all this up, because while most people who do this kind of thing are interested in building the largest possible readership, that’s not always the goal. It’s certainly not why I do what I do here. Sure, I love having a large audience, but large is not the same thing as wide. I’m much more interested in keeping the right readers over time than I am in keeping the most readers over time.
The trick to doing this is in my ability to spot the negative bursts as they happen and then use them to my advantage. Case in point: Yesterday, I dashed off an angry response that ended with, "You should kill yourself."
Despite the fact that I was being sarcastic in the face of outrageous misogyny, I immediately felt the initial rumblings of a negative burst. (So be it. You can’t control when these things happen, but I do find it hilarious that no one seems to remember that I ran an entire side-blog called “Just Kill Yourself” back in the Dear Coke Talk days.)
If my goal had been to maintain maximum readership, I simply would have replaced the, “You should kill yourself” line with, “I hope you die in a fire.” (This in itself would have been a subtle dig at the silly whims of political correctness, because while it may be fashionable to scold people for joking about suicide, no one gives a shit about the delicate sensibilities of burn victims.)
I abhor political correctness, and tumblr is awash in hashtag activists and social justice warriors who take immense delight in their duties as semiprofessional finger waggers. Those are exactly the kind of people I don’t want hanging around, so later that afternoon, I loaded the top three answers of a fun-sized advice with incendiary language to provoke a deliberate response. Right on cue, my inbox fills up with whiny self-righteousness. I picked the submission that best represented a certain type of person, and then crafted an ad hominem attack specifically designed to personally offend that certain type of person.
It worked. It always works. (If you've read this far, you’re probably a regular reader, and you can remember any number of occasions when I left my ring on during a bitch slap.) Point is, I’d much rather have a say in the type of readers I lose when it inevitably comes time to lose them. I lost a couple hundred followers with that last post, and probably pissed off a thousand more. That’s fine with me. I’m glad they’re gone.
This isn't something I do because I disagree with a particular point of view. It’s something I do because every once in a while, it’s good to clear the echo chamber of all the whiners. It becomes so much easier to hear the relevant conversations when they’re not around.

I originally posted this without comment... but have decided to share why. I came across a few people who began mansplaining about my content, my site's look, my photos... etc, which made me tweet something to the effect of: If it were up to other people, all my writing would be haikus, and I'd be photographed in tiny dresses gazing longingly into the distance, on a minimalist website.

But that wasn't enough. You see, I had to post this to make it clear that I'm not here for you, and I never was. This blog is about me, and always will be. And the right people will understand that. Coquette is completely right when she says that interest ebbs and flows. If you're interested in maintaining quantity, you have to develop this manufactured, faux modest, perfect post at the ready persona. You have to be on crack to think that I would ever do that to gain the favor of people. EVERYONE IS DOING THAT. I am not everyone. And that has been the reason I have always stood out... and that will be the reason that I continue to. I too am much more interested in maintaining the right readers, over maintaining the most readers. Attracting quality has ALWAYS been my modus operandi, it's why I'm so selective in life, and it's why I write whatever the fuck I want online.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Into The Gloss Top Shelfie - the extended, up close and personal version

Many of you may have landed here from my feature on Into The Gloss... which I was honored to write. It was a such a thrill to have my words right up there with the likes of Cindy Crawford, Pharrell and tons of talented beauty editors and fashion people.

I mentioned only my very favorite products in an effort to condense my Top Shelf and not make it unbearably long. For those who are curious, and perhaps share my same skin tone, skin type or hair type; here are some tips and random details I omitted, plus an extended list of all the products I own skincare wise and beauty wise. [As an aside, I'd like to do a huge stash clean out, so all items with a star next to them are yours for the cost of shipping, USA only – aren't I ever the entrepreneur?!]

Details about me:
  • It was my birthday on Sunday :) so this whole thing is like a super awesome, belated, virtual gift. Who knew my obsession with skincare and finding effective products would bring me here?
  • I'm a writer which means this here blog, scattered contributions all over the web, a poetry book/teenage memoir, a novel about ambition and a screenplay about breaking and being unable to save yourself – the last three being works in progress.
  • I'm an entrepreneur, which means: I'm a life coach, champion ebay seller, and a gracious airbnb host... for now.
  • ITG edited out a lot of my snark [and curses!]... it was probably for the best.
  • I have tried products from practically every line on the market, the ones I mentioned are truly the best of the best.
  • Due to the inability to find a moisturizer that is JUST RIGHT, I am developing my own. Be on the lookout for that!
  • I am working on producing some new photoshoots and videos/video blogs – starring myself, and would love any help. Photographers, videographers and other creative types, give me a shout!
  • You can find me on facebook, twitter, tumblr, instagram, vimeo, right on this blog [all under 'KnownasBlue'] and all the links to those things and more on my main site:
Tips & Tricks:
  • I use Makeup Artists Choice Mandelic Acid Cleanser as a body wash on my neck, chest, back and shoulders. It keeps things clear and smooth and bright.
  • Mad Hippie products are highly effective and a great bang for your buck.
  • Etsy has some great sellers who really know their stuff, I like Fig + Yarrow and JJLabs.
  • I cut and file my nails one day, paint them the next day and hop in the shower right after painting. Any polish on my skin ends up rubbing off.
  • Yuli Skincare's best product [in my opinion] Cell Perfecto PM broke me out [due to the jojoba], but I really believe it's amazing and worth the money. You should definitely check it out if you have scarring or a bumpy skin texture.
  • Sunday and Thursday nights are my spa nights, in other words, treat yoself time. Sunday is right before the week begins, and Thursday is right before the weekend. I take this time to deep condition my hair, clean up my eyebrows, polish my nails, trim and shave, gaze at myself longingly in the mirror, and do a full body scrub. After I'm all done, I slather myself in oil and take a nap.
  • Deep conditioning your hair... apparently it helps to put a shower cap on and wrap a hot towel around your head on top of that. I can't say I've noticed any spectacular difference, but it sure does feel comforting.
  • For hyper pigmentation I can't recommend Makeup Artists Choice Peels enough – I like the Mandelic and Lactic Peels... the former for my face and the latter for my body. MSM and Turmeric also help, internally or externally.
  • Rolling scars, box scars, pitted scars can all benefit from MSM or Vitamin C applied topically. I saw improvement in my own skin in just a few days. JJLabs has a great 'high efficiency' serum that combines both ingredients as well as a host of other effective things. I ordered the 25% version because I'm intense, and it was only $18! Total lifesaver.
  • I steam my face sometimes before doing a mask. Nothing crazy, I just turn the coffee pot on with no coffee, pour the hot water into a bowl and hover over it with a towel over my head all the while inhaling the scent of java. Mmm. Five minutes is enough, or else I start getting claustrophobic and sweaty.
  • I put all of my toners in spray bottles to mist on my face when I'm hot, parched or in need of luxury.
  • Matter of fact, get yourself some nice bottles to put all your oils and toners in. It'll make you feel dangerously fancy.
  • Don't spend a ton of money on things that literally go down the drain, like cleansers. Spend the most money on things that stay on your skin, like treatments or moisturizers. 
  • Spend the most money in general on things that you want to look their best. For example I have super finicky skin so I don't mind dropping serious money on skincare as well as a gorgeous foundation. I'm typically running around the city for long stretches of time so I spend money on fragrances that last. Eyeshadow and lip stuff on the other hand? Who cares.
  • I LOVE hydration and exfoliation and masks. If you really want to keep it simple, do these three things and you will be A-OK.
  • Sometimes I take a break... I'll get of the shower, towel off, throw on a loose shirt and just let my skin and vagina breathe. It's important to have fresh air.
  • I don't sleep with jewelry on, hair ties, underwear or a bra - and you probably shouldn't either.
  • Figuring out I was allergic to so many products was BIG for me. Not only was I suffering from hormonal acne but then all the products I was using were exacerbating my skin condition!!! I was pissed! Whiteheads and tiny red spots, as well as large swathes of red or flaky skin are generally indicators of irritation. Pay attention to this, and compare and contrast ingredients to pinpoint your triggers.
  • I enjoy being brunette and would never dye my hair red, black or blonde, but I have found that Revlon's Colorsilk Luminista "vibrant color for dark hair" takes my hair to a light chocolate-y color, that's as accurate as the shade on the box.
  • Baby wipes. If you don't think you need them, you're wrong! I use them for everything, and that's not a lie.
  • This isn't a beauty tip, but I really adore these clear toothbrushes from Muji [as well as their plain bottles and organizational containers]. These toothbrushes are the only ones I use, and I buy them in bulk.
  • And lastly, I don't exercise at all [unless you count dancing in high heels for three hours at a nightclub, or walking around the city endlessly], but apparently health and fitness are important, so get into it or something. I may just be bored enough to try this aqua-cycle thing one day.

Stars are born, not made

Power has got to be the most intoxicating thing in the world – and of all forms of power, the most intoxicating is fame.”

Oh the illustrious Diana Vreeland. What a game-changer. She's right. Fame is so scarily seductive that it was always hard for me to admit I wanted it. “Not fame as we know it,” I'd say. Something else. But ultimately, I want to be known, and I want to influence people to do better, think or just laugh.

I read that as a young girl, she had always looked for the perfect woman to idealize, and having never found her decided “I shall be that girl.” In many ways, this describes my life and my journey to where and who I am now.

I grew up in a small, dead end suburban town, skinny with perfect diction, surrounded by girls who favored squeezing their still developing bodies into tight denim, who spoke with nasally Nuyorican accents reminiscent of Rosie Perez. We were different, and upon entering middle school, and later High School, I immediately knew. I liked books, they liked boys – and we shared no common interests, which luckily, meant that no one bothered me, and I definitely didn't go looking for them.

Sometimes in certain classes, we took turns reading. Whenever the teacher called on me to read, I would listen for the familiar deafening silence between my words, the class listening intently to my husky for my age voice and effortless pronunciation. It was then that I knew the respect that my presence could command. I was regarded as quiet, but certainly not a weakling, and definitely not dumb. I spoke when necessary, otherwise deeming everyone and their teenage toils as beneath me. I excelled in classes that naturally held my attention, while slacking off in others, innately knowing that no human had to be good at everything.

As I began to grow, I took the things I learned through books, through carrying on with new people, through unfiltered observation and I began to assemble myself. At some point, the kind of girl I wanted to be became a paramount occupation. I started to daydream, imagine and wonder. And I knew there was no other place for me but the city. Paris was a contender, but it was too far. I figured I would start closer to home.

- ravishing personalities are the most riveting things in the world -- conversation, people's interests, the atmosphere that they create round them -”

Over the years I have become a unique and alluring personality, adept at reading and reeling in others with a relative ease. Who I am is a perfect blend of what I was born with, and the neat things I picked up, like an interest in chic style and neutral palettes, an extended vocabulary, and reverting my consumption to most things natural.

I skipped school and I'm not a Beyonce fan, and I don't see the point in small talk and I moved to the city of my dreams with $200 in my pocket. I do what I say I will and I know myself, and I always have. I think connection is one of the most important things in the world, and I make money because it makes my life easier. I am not indecisive, and when I say I am brilliant and gorgeous and I am utterly in love with myself, I'm not lying.

I don't care about what's popular, I care about what's actually good, what makes sense, what has soul and passion and flavor and depth. Does it move me? Does it show my brilliant mind something I haven't heard before? Does it make me better? Does it expand my perspective? I care about what's relevant to my interests, and I'll readily admit that those things are of limited scope.

Diana Vreeland was a neon mind in a world of gray. She was the woman she was partly due to what she was born with, and partly due to what she learned on the way. This world forces you to dream to get through it, it forces you to shape shift to get by in the outside world, but also to survive your own. Diana became who she did out of pure necessity, it's obvious to me that part of her mental fantasy was a colorful attempt to stay vibrant in our dull reality. As a result, she became intoxicating. I think there were some people who found her overwhelming, fantastical, commandeering. She never obtained lasting power, but she was able to attain fame, and I believe she felt that suited her. After all, it was the top tier of power, and when it came to herself, Diana only wanted the best of the best.