Twitter Tiffs, Retail Horrors and More Pregnancies (of course): What Happened Next, 2013 Blog Edition
by Alaina Mabaso
Many writers use New Year’s Eve to make lists of their favorite books, music, movies or whatever from the past year. I’d rather take a page from WHYY’s NewsWorks.org (where I’m a freelance contributor) and revisit some of the year’s most popular posts for anyone dying to know, what happened next?
On our way from Johannesburg to New York City last January, my husband and I got stranded in Doha, Qatar for about thirty hours, where there is only one airline, one departure per city per day, and no boarding announcements. From our sojourn at the “Doha Grand Hotel” to the moment that I lost my passport in the brutally chaotic ladies-only security line, I chronicled the experience for my first blog post of 2013, even though I worried that no-one else would find it interesting.
So of course, most of the readers I saw face to face this year at parties or events exclaimed over the airport story. I like to think that I may even have helped some other world travelers, as search terms indicate that I was far from the last person to get stranded in Doha. Good luck, friends, and don’t think of that Stephen King story where the characters in a train station don’t realize their train is never coming because they’re actually dead.
At the end of Black History Month, a video by Chris Menning’s Modern Primate that promised to “blow my mind” by explaining why we don’t need a “White History Month” left a bit to be desired. It was mostly because a litany of anecdotes from a white man about how no-one ever suspects him of stealing and companies always hire him on the spot isn’t exactly the hardest-hitting (or mind-blowing-est?) exposé on injustice.
So I wrote my response, noting that Menning’s points were still worthwhile. “He comes from his own perspective. This is my take,” I said. But Menning didn’t like the additional commentary.
“I’m not entirely clear what part of my video you take issue with,” he tweeted. “Are you arguing that I should not have made it at all?”
“Correct me if I’m wrong,” he continued, “but are you annoyed that a white man is telling other white people to check their privilege?”
No, pal. I just think the first thing you should understand, especially if you want to set yourself up as a progressive commentator, is that critical dialog isn’t the same thing as saying someone else never should have opened his mouth, or that his point is invalid.
But both Chris Menning and I somehow failed to solve the White History/Black History problem, as this holiday season Fox News declared it a verifiable fact that Santa Claus and Jesus are white men.
When a 2006 magazine article about Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries went viral earlier this year because of the retail titan’s claim that his clothes are only for slender, good-looking people, I smashed my mirrors, pulled a burlap sack over my size 12-14 body and went to live in a shack behind the local Wal-Mart.
Unfortunately, the flap didn’t teach other major American clothiers to stop hating on the average-to-large girls. Lululemon founder Chip Wilson (whose company sells yoga pants for approximately $8095.99 a pair) made similar waves this fall. He claims that a massive recall of pants that were manufactured with see-through fabric, as well as widespread complaints that the ruinously expensive pants’ fabric pills upon wearing, were all due to the fact that the women wearing them were too fat.
Alaina Mabaso Hits the Big 3-0 – Aug 7th
Yes, I turned 30 in August, so I’m writing this from my adjustable bed while I wait for the contractor to install my walk-in shower with grip bars. But the good news is that this blog post inspired an August 8th segment on HuffPost Live, hosted by the excellent Nancy Redd, titled “Turning 30 Doesn’t Have to be Dreadful.” This is one of several HuffPost Live shows I appeared on in 2013. Click here to watch the segment.
In September, I went shopping for some new jeans at Old Navy and I almost didn’t make it. This blog post chronicled the real agony behind the tagline, “a perfect fit for every body,” and it turned out to be one of the most-visited posts of the year.
And I enjoyed my size 12 short Sweetheart boot-cut jeans so much that I asked my mom to get me another pair for Christmas, which she did. But then my husband informed me that “no-one is wearing boot-cuts anymore.”
I heard journalism’s dead. Some days, PR is too – Sept 25th
This post about some of the wildest PR “professionals” I’ve met in six years of working as a freelance writer got picked up by one of my media colleagues in Philadelphia, who assigned it to her university class on arts marketing. The post garnered a great thread of questions that are worth reading for anyone thinking about getting into the industry, from “how do you pitch a busy writer” to the slightly more cringe-worthy one about whether PR is a form of “brain-washing.”
This fall, my friend and writing colleague Janet Benton hit the big time when her essay about reconciling feminism and motherhood made it into the New York Times’ Modern Love column. She stopped by for an interview about her process, and now, she confirms that Modern Love has indeed been a huge door-opener.
The experience “was so intense that I now get a stomach ache when I see the headline on the front page of the Sunday Style section,” she says now, remembering the five solid days she spent responding to readers who loved her piece.
The big news is that after the publication, she got inquiries on her in-progress novel, about a teenage Quaker mother in 1880’s Philadelphia. Janet has since signed a contract with an agent at Bresnick Weil Literary Agency and hopes to complete the next draft of her book by late spring – and she has notes for more: “five or six books at least.”
When I realized that I was pretty much the only young lady on Facebook who was not pregnant, I dealt with it the same way I deal with everything: writing about it. The comment thread was comforting, from similarly un-pregnant women to people who just got done being pregnant and wrote in to say, really, enjoy being childless while you can, and someone who waited til her mid-thirties and turned out just fine.
Since then, things are right on track. At least one of my friends gave birth and three more announced their pregnancies.
Hellthcare at Walgreens – Dec 4th
This was written in a rage after a bad experience at a company that claims to care about my well-being. In this case, I could not get my pharmacy insurer to process the claim for my daily medication, and the pharmacy techs at my local Walgreens were anything but sympathetic.
After a fourth trip to the pharmacy counter and countless phone calls, I was forced to buy the medicine out of pocket.
Meanwhile, the customer service guy at my prescription insurer told me I needed a prior authorization from my doctor, but he added that my ID card problem lay with my medical insurer and that I would be able to solve it if I just called them back and spoke to them “a bit more forcefully.”
After zero communication from the pharmacy insurer following my doctor’s authorization call, I got a letter in the mail this week saying that since they had not received the “additional information” they had requested of me (when!? how!?), “we have discontinued further action on this request.”
To top everything off, on my last visit, the guy at the Walgreens pharmacy counter said the problem was that my doctor was, quote, “dicking me over.”
“Yeah, your doctor’s lying to you,” he opined on why the claim could not be processed.
Thanks for being a member of the Alaina Mabaso’s Blog community in 2013!
According to my WordPress annual report, if you read the blog in 2013, you joined about 28,000 other visits from 156 countries. But my own Mom is still my biggest fan, leaving more comments than anyone else.
Join the party in 2014 and visit the homepage to subscribe. Happy New Year!