Coffee Date: Bethany Amanda of House of Figs

This week’s Preppy Post Grad Exclusive Interview is with Bethany Amanda from the blog House of Figs.  Bethany’s blog went viral when she wrote the post The 56 best/worst similes.  I found her blog when my friend was staring at her computer hysterically laughing at the The 56 best/worst similes and I begged her to read it aloud.  I would be doing you a great disservice by not including the post in the introduction before proceeding to the interview.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do!

The 56 best/worst similes

February 22nd, 2011 § 301 Comments

Borrowed from this blog.

  1. Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center.
  2. He was as tall as a 6′3″ tree.
  3. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
  4. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.
  5. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
  6. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
  7. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
  8. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
  9. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
  10. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
  11. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.
  12. The lamp just sat there, like an inanimate object.
  13. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
  14. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
  15. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at asolar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
  16. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
  17. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
  18. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.
  19. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
  20. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
  21. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.
  22. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.
  23. Even in his last years, Grand pappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it hadrusted shut.
  24. He felt like he was being hunted down like a dog, in a place that hunts dogs, I suppose.
  25. She was as easy as the TV Guide crossword.
  26. She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.
  27. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
  28. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
  29. “Oh, Jason, take me!” she panted, her breasts heaving like a college freshman on $1-a-beer night.
  30. It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.
  31. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
  32. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
  33. The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can.
  34. Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.
  35. Her date was pleasant enough, but she knew that if her life was a movie this guy would be buried in the credits as something like “Second Tall Man.”
  36. The thunder was ominous-sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play.
  37. The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon.
  38. She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.
  39. Her pants fit her like a glove, well, maybe more like a mitten, actually.
  40. Fishing is like waiting for something that does not happen very often.
  41. They were as good friends as the people on “Friends.”
  42. Oooo, he smells bad, she thought, as bad as Calvin Klein’s Obsession would smell if it were called Enema and was made from spoiled Spamburgers instead of natural floral fragrances.
  43. The knife was as sharp as the tone used by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) in her first several points of parliamentary procedure made to Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) in the House Judiciary Committee hearings on the impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton.
  44. He was as bald as one of the Three Stooges, either Curly or Larry, you know, the one who goes woo woo woo.
  45. The sardines were packed as tight as the coach section of a 747.
  46. Her eyes were shining like two marbles that someone dropped in mucus and then held up to catch the light.
  47. The baseball player stepped out of the box and spit like a fountain statue of a Greek god that scratches itself a lot and spits brown, rusty tobacco water and refuses to sign autographs for all the little Greek kids unless they pay him lots of drachmas.
  48. I felt a nameless dread. Well, there probably is a long German name for it, like Geschpooklichkeit or something, but I don’t speak German. Anyway, it’s a dread that nobody knows the name for, like those little square plastic gizmos that close your bread bags. I don’t know the name for those either.
  49. She was as unhappy as when someone puts your cake out in the rain, and all the sweet green icing flows down and then you lose the recipe, and on top of that you can’t sing worth a damn.
  50. Her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.
  51. It came down the stairs looking very much like something no one had ever seen before.
  52. Bob was as perplexed as a hacker who means to access\aaakk/ch@ung but gets T:\flw.quidaaakk/ch@ung by mistake.
  53. You know how in “Rocky” he prepares for the fight by punching sides of raw beef? Well, yesterday it was as cold as that meat locker he was in.
  54. The dandelion swayed in the gentle breeze like an oscillating electric fan set on medium.
  55. Her lips were red and full, like tubes of blood drawn by an inattentive phlebotomist.
  56. The sunset displayed rich, spectacular hues like a .jpeg file at 10 percent cyan, 10 percent magenta, 60 percent yellow and 10 percent black.

[UPDATE 12/1/11: While the post I borrowed this from identified these gems as having been written by high schoolers, it has come to my attention that most, if not all, of them are actually submissions to a Washington Post contest. As a journalist, I felt it necessary to correct that misunderstanding. The original post also called these analogies instead of similes — I left the title as it originally was for awhile since I was borrowing it in the first place, but enough people objected violently in the comments that I opted to change it.]

The Interview:

  1. How did you come up with the idea or focus point for your blog?  If my blog has an idea or focus point behind it, I don’t know that it’s a very clear one or one that’s directed to a particular audience. I’ve been a writer since I could write a complete sentence, and an avid journal-keeper since junior high. I think it was the summer before I started college that I decided to start blogging. At first, I think I envisioned it being this really profound collection of all the wisdom that I, as an 18-year-old, thought I had to offer the world. Over the last few years, though, it has morphed into something of a scrapbook of my life in words instead of pictures. I share quotes that I find meaningful or funny, I occasionally post videos of songs I’m obsessed with (usually choral pieces), sometimes I re-share things other people have written, but mostly I just write about things that I’m currently musing about. I try not to just write about myself and my life too much, primarily because I don’t think everyone on the Internet wants or needs to know about that (and if I’m only writing it for myself, why post it online?),  so I decide before I write anything whether it might be of interest to at least one other person. That’s something that has changed as I’ve gained more followers.
  2. If your blog had a mission statement what would it be? First and foremost, it would be to keep myself thinking and to continue developing my writing skills. Secondly, it would be to (I hope!) at least give others something interesting to read, and at most get others thinking about things in a way they might not have thought before. We do a lot of absorbing nowadays, but, in my opinion, not enough thinking about what we absorb, and I’m trying to at least have a tiny part in changing that
  3. What advice would you give to people who have just started or would like to start a blog? The very first thing is to decide who you’re writing for, why you’re writing. If you’re just going to use a blog as a diary, that’s great — but think carefully before you post, because once it’s on the Internet, you never know who will see it, and you may never be able to take back something stupid you write in a fit of passion. If you want to write for other people, decide who, and then post consistently. That’s the biggest, biggest thing. The better a writer you are and the more interesting your content, the less frequently you can probably afford to post, because you’ll be able to hook people anyway, but try to post at least a once or twice a week, even if it’s something short. That will not only potentially help you gain a following, but it’ll also give you practice so you can become a better and better blogger. Ultimately, though, the most important part is that you enjoy whatever you decide to post.
  4. What forms of social media or widgets do you use to gain readers and followers?I have a widget on my sidebar that allows people to sign up for emailed updates, and I also have my blog linked to my Facebook and Twitter accounts. If social media trends are any indication, linking to those two sites drastically improve your chances for attracting attention, whereas not linking may relegate your blog to the annals of the forever undiscovered.
  5. How have you been able to gain friendships with other bloggers?This is something I’m actually still working on. Currently, the only bloggers I could fairly say I have friendships with are people I already know in person. I’m trying to do better with following the blogs of people I don’t know, but who post things who interest me, and leaving comments. The comment thing really seems like common courtesy; if I like what someone else has to say, why not tell them?
  6. What goals do have for your blog? Really, all it comes down to is I want to use it to become a better thinker and a better writer. Getting any kind of exposure or recognition from it is just a nice bonus.
  7. How do you get inspiration for posts? It’s usually as simple as getting ideas from things I’ve read or seen recently or conversations I’ve had. That’s another personal benefit I get from blogging — it keeps me paying attention to things.
  8. Your blog post The 56 Best/Worst Similes went viral. I found it when my friend was staring at her computer laughing hysterically and begged her to read it out loud.  How did you come up with this idea? How do you think so many people found this post? Which was your favorite?  Oh my gosh, that post! I stumbled across that on another blog, which I mentioned in the post, and thought it was so hilarious and needed to be shared. From my site stats, which tells me where most of my hits originated, I think what happened was it got circulated a lot on Facebook and then eventually started showing up on aggregators like Digg and Reddit. I posted that almost a year ago, and a few months later I started having occasional days when that post would go pseudo-viral and give me a few hundred hits, but then on December first, suddenly the hit count skyrocketed well into the hundreds of thousands, which was absolutely astounding. My jaw literally dropped when I checked my stats around 6:30 a.m. and I was already at about 80,000. I think I owe a big thanks to whoever originally posted it. It’s so hard to pick a favorite from that list! My top three — today, anyway — are probably #5 (“John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who also had never met.”), #12 (The lamp just sat there, like an inanimate object), and #51 (“It came down the stairs looking very much like something no one had ever seen before.”).
  9. Has having a post go viral changed your blogging experience?  It has absolutely changed my blogging experience. Before, I only had a few dozen followers, and most of them were personal friends, and on a good day I might get 100 or so hits. Now, I regularly get at least 200 hits, mostly traffic brought by the “56 Similes” post, and I’m at 263 followers and counting. People came for the similes post and saw something that made them want to stay for the rest. It’s flattering, of course, but at the same time it’s pretty intimidating, because I actually have an audience now, and that audience has expectations that I’ll need to meet whenever I post something new. I feel an added pressure to be clever, or witty, or profound, but if I let that get too much into my head, I’ll probably produce something awful, so I’m trying to pretend my readership is no different than it was a few months ago and to keep writing the same as I always have. If people keep sticking around, I’ll be overjoyed. If they don’t, that’s okay, because I love writing regardless of whether people are reading.

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