Friday, June 8, 2012

Weekend Update, 7pm Friday

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - Four young women in their mid twenties were seen on the 1000 block of N Carol Street boarding a black Cadillac Escalade with California license plates at approximately 2p.m. Friday. The four women - a brunette, a redhead, and two blondes - are thought to be between 5'6" and 5'7" weighing roughly 115-125lbs. The excess of baggage in their possession is thought to weigh approximately 600lbs. The women were last seen with a man of medium dark complexion, approximately 50 years of age and roughly 5 feet tall.

HIGHWAY 15, CA - 4pm Friday - Eastbound vehicles are reportedly experiencing bumper to bumper traffic between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. SUVs packed with remarkably tan and beefed up men with greasy hair taking pictures of themselves while blasting techno music comprise roughly 30% of vehicles on the road.

BARSTOW, CA - Four well-dressed women were seen exiting a black Cadillac Escalade outside of the Chipotle parking lot, just off of Hwy 15 at approximately 7pm Friday. It is thought that the women belong to an up-and-coming Australian pop singing group. An older and very stout gentlemen with dark hair and whiskers was seen photographing the women as their multi-hued heads of hair blew glamorously in the desert wind. The women reportedly spent a mere $14 cumulatively at Chipotle, but a whopping $64 dollars at the liquor convenience store across the parking lot.

Further sightings of the alleged pop stars will be reported from Las Vegas, NV as the weekend festivities go underway.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Best Friends

After a Sunday spent meandering the streets and shops of San Francisco with my best girlfriend, I came home to this heartfelt work of street art, complements of some of the best friends I've met in San Francisco.  

To my friends, James, Jason, and Matt... I'm so lucky to have met all of you.  You've been a part of me seeing the world more beautifully, and I can vouch for the fact that I know it's more beautiful with each of you in it. Love.

Friday, June 1, 2012


"What defines us is how well we rise after falling."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Light

"There's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

Friday, May 11, 2012

Existentialism and Butter

"When I think about forever, I get upset. Like, the Land o' Lakes butter has that Indian girl... sitting, holding a box. And it has a picture of her on it, holding a box with a picture of her on it, holding a box." 

- Sally Draper of Mad Men, "Blowing Smoke"

Friday, May 4, 2012

Beautiful Nothings

"It might have been living in the country that was making him cry. It was killing him with its silence and loneliness, making everything ordinary too beautiful to bear."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Life is Beautiful, 1

So, so far beyond behind my updates... My apologies.  With no further adieu, I will resume as though no time has passed... although, I must say it's been a lovely few months.  Days, weeks, and then months became occupied by new friends, a newfound (or reborn, rather) photography interest, as well as creative spirit poured into a new professional endeavor at Bay Area start-up,  A relocation to the towering heights of the SF cityscape has provided me with visual inspiration and sensory stimuli to begin each morning as though it's my first and last day on Earth.  No longer do I struggle to rise in the mornings, though I cannot help but dilly-dally long enough to have to sprint down the block to the bus stop each morning.  In my haste, with hands full of phone, keys, and glasses while frantically trying to wrap my scarf, I never fail to take a solid m-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i to look down the street, into the morning sun shining across the urban paradise beneath the hill of my abode.  Un-f-ing-believable... Every. Single. Day.
Up and down, up and down, winding through the metropolitan mountain range I ride the bus, taking in the diversity of faces that populate the streets around me, and the encyclopedia of flora that flourishes at arm's reach of just about everything, living or non-.  Just as I pass the neon coral house on the top of the hill as we approach Portrero, I look across the street to find our route reaching the edge of a massive cliffside overlooking the southernmost parts of San Francisco, the East Bay in the distance, and shipyards galore.  

Part Une of my daily mecca to Mountain View ends as I step into the adorably quaint Caffé La Stazione at 22nd and Pennsylvania for some form of breakfastly indulgence à la almond latté, a bran-blueberry muffin of otherworldly proportions, a banana, or something spontaneous.  Well, each choice started out as spontaneous, I guess.  Better to try new things in a new place than remain a creature of old-habit... better to give a chance for new habits to form every now and again. 

"And those without an alternative mode of transit shall im/patiently wait until the coroner clears the scene."
"Bored Here," my commuter-friend jokes, but in fact there's quite a bit on which the eyes can feast.  The concrete monstrosity of the 101 towers over and provides shelter to the commuters awaiting arrival of the Southbound Caltrain.  Dry we remain in the case of occasional rain, and warm is she who stands close enough to the tracks to bask in the gleaming sunlight of morning.  Even on a brisk day, the sun warms.  First through junkyards of crushed vehicles, graffitied freight cars, and mangled stems of iron, then flying trees, cascading topography, water like glass, and an ever-changing sky, we barrel into the south bay.
The mornings are quieter... Eyes rest.  Thoughts drift.  We coexist in a cocktail of anticipation for the events of the day ahead, and reflection on the night's sleep that preceded.  Any given car is a perfect embodiment of what one could imagine a Silicon Valley commuter train to be... Laptops, tablets, a dizzying list of smartphone WiFi networks available for toggling, and an alphabetic rainbow of tech-company branded apparel.  This is just one piece of the constituency that's creating, manufacturing, and running the technologies, softwares, hardwares, products, and services that have become an integral part of our world and cultures.  Nearly every single person around me is an active and contributing piece of what's becoming.

Please note that the wood chips are nearly in focus, along with the flower.  In other words, please notice how f-ing GIGANTIC this rose really is.
Mountain View greets me, flowered and bright.  The two block walk from the train station to the office takes me past microcosms of world cultures in the form of independently owned restaurants and eateries... Turkish, Japanese, Chinese DimSum, Indian, Italian, Thai, Korean, Peruvian, Jewish, Mexican, and Greek.  I arrive at DITTO and meet my team that's similarly diverse.  Our brand color palette may be a minimal white and grey with pops of red, but we hail from Spain, India, Russia, Czech Republic, England, and not least, Midwestern America.
Light casts from between the blinds, illuminating an open space full of large white desks, enough computer parts lying around to make a head spin, and whiteboards tattooed with everything from webpage layout sketches, to packaging diagrams, brainstorming word webs, and what appears to me as ancient scrawls of scientific gibberish, equations, and formulas.  This space is home to a constant creative process; no voice is unheard and no stone unturned.

This is what I look forward to each day, and I couldn't be more grateful for it.  More to come on DITTO's schtick and the rest of the day later this week.  Until then, you must patiently...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Mini for Target

"A subculture in a kaleidoscope of fashion," the Harajuku Mini Collection is brought to you by Gwen Stefani, for Target.  I am not a fan of commercials - who is - and I feel I generally do a pretty good job of tuning them out most of the time.  There's one though, every now and then, that slips through my filter and not only catches my attention, but gets stuck with me.  Whether it's the bright colors and flying gummy hamburgers, the adorable little kids, the pixelated video game graphics juxtaposed against a modern cityscape, the vintage Super Mario Brothers -esque sounds crossed with a disco-pop tune, or just the tutus - this commercial has me hooked. 

I watched The Office OnDemand the other night and it was the only commercial sponsor for the entire episode.  Needless to say, I've never been so excited for commercial breaks.  The thing about commercials is, usually, even when I remember the concept or the jingle or the slogan, I don't then go out and buy whatever is advertised.  Today, however, just three days after my first sighting of the commercial, I went out a bought one of the tutus.  If I could wear it myself, I would.  Unfortunately, it's a 2T with bloomers sewn in.
For a 美少女 !
Aside from the tutus, those flying, pixelated hamburgers really got me going.  I, for one, can say that I prefer gummy hamburgers over the real ones more often than not.  I found this gummy meal picture via Google Images from the blog Art+Candy.  Talk about "super kawaii - that means 'super cute' in Japanese.)"

Super Kawaii! かわいい

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fortune Telling

My girlfriend babysits for a couple of kindergarteners named Karch and Wells.  These charming little boys were asked to write fortunes on small pieces of paper to be put into a wishing hat for a school activity.  Apparently, this is what 5-6 year old children see as fortunes:

I mean, I totally appreciate the (a) non-conformist approach and (b) visual imagery.  Who really needs another fortune saying, "you will receive a large sum of money."  No, I really wont.  But, perhaps I do need glasses...

Chloe Sevigny x Opening Ceremony dress, Pre-Spring 2011.  Photo by Kyle LaMere @IshootRockstars //

Monday, October 24, 2011

Quote // Mickey Drexler

Food for thought, pun intended!  My favorite quote from J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler's interview with

"If Drexler wanted his meatballs on his pizza, he would have ordered them that way. He didn’t, partly because he doesn’t believe in confusing things: food or fashion, you need to be clear about what you stand for."

I completely agree with this statement, though I think it is worth elucidating that opting for a genuinely eclectic style is still a distinct point of view in and of itself.

Talk about food and fashion, here's a Jeremy Scott throwback to a collection that quite literally embodies both (and meatballs, to top!).

Find out Why Fashion is Like Pizza, according to the CEO of J. Crew via Vanessa Friedman for  Ms. Friedman is the Fashion Editor for the Financial Times, for which she also writes a blog.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Samantha Sleeper // An Exclusive Interview!

Out of our darkest and most trying moments, often arises our most beautiful and creative accomplishments.  As with many of us, this has in more ways than one been the case with New York based fashion designer, Samantha Sleeper.  Here is an industry where not only do the best alone survive - the best entails a wildly inimitable combination of talent, technique, heart, and guts.  

Born with the hands of a goddess, the eyes of an extraheavenly Creator, and a mind as sharp and deep as Everest is high, this left Samantha with one-down-three-to-go as of her birth in 1987.  Graduating second in her class from Parsons in 2009 with work experience at one of the oldest couture lace factories in France under her belt is enough to say she achieved the training and expertise in technique.  

So what about the heart and guts?  Here's the firsthand word of Samantha on the subject of her passion, inspiration, and the courage it takes to make a mark.

EM: When did you decide you wanted to become a fashion designer?
SS: I decided I wanted to be a designer when I was 8... flipping through Vogue while my mom was getting her hair done on Oak St. in Chicago.  At 11 I visited Parsons and FIT and chose my future school!

EM: With age, experience, and exposure, how has your inspiration evolved over time? 
SS: A lot of inspiration stays consistent season to season, like the Bauhaus.  Growing up in Chicago, I was surrounded by Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies Van Derroe buildings which undoubtedly formed my design point of view.  I find inspiration everywhere; a lot of times it comes from an emotional place, a dream... There's an underlying darkness in the "story" that's created for each season; an impending doom, or the possibility of something not being quite right, but then it's resolved by having really beautiful surprises.  Lots of quiet, elegant moments thrown in.  My inspiration has evolved to include a lot of other artists, painters, and architects.  Historical costume references and textures.

EM: To whom do you aspire most?
SS: I aspire to be like my mother, to build a business like Ralph Lauren and retain artistry like Lee McQueen.

EM: What is one of the most important lessons you learned during your time at Parsons?
SS: At Parsons I learned discipline, and to show up on time!  (I'm still working on that one).  And to work extremely long hours on little sleep.

EM: Can you recount the conceptual inspiration you explained in the design of your first collections out of college, for the label N PRPA? 
SS: For the launch of N PRPA, I had a dream of a girl who lived in a post apocalypse world and she had these flashes of memories: manicured lawns, housing complexes.  She turned these flashes into a vocabulary of texture, and armed herself with it, wearing it on her sleeve.

EM: What's the story behind your debut eponymous collection?
SS: This season I was inspired by Rothko, Jasper Johns and the nostalgia of a classic American summer.  The color palette stayed true to the red white and blue with pops of firework color.  There is a great balance of hyper feminine dresses and handsomely tailored separates, playing to the duality of women as well as creating aspirational and utilitarian pieces.

EM: Admitting there's no right answer to this difficult question, what do you feel has been your greatest professional accomplishment thus far?
SS: It's been two years since I graduated and there are very different highs.  Seeing my work on the cover of Women's Wear Daily or on a celebrity provides one sense of accomplishment, but I think the greatest high is acquiring a list of stockists that you love.  It's thrilling knowing that real women will have the possibility of wearing the pieces, and with each new store, the line gets exposure to a whole new group, and that I'm very thankful for.

EM: When it comes to building a wardrobe, what's your philosophy?
SS: When building a wardrobe, I think having incredible accessories is so important.  Pieces that carry you from season to season and are a true reflection of your personality.  Then there are key pieces every downtown girl needs, like a motorcycle jacket.  Ultimately its about having an authentic personality.  If you are confident and happy, you'll be radiant in what ever you wear.

Below some images form Samantha Sleeper SS12:

Here, view the complete Samantha Sleeper SS12 Collection.  You can also check out her complete website here.

The Cultivate has published a few wonderful articles - plentiful of collection and backstage photos - on Samantha Sleeper: her ideals, her career, and her collections... All definitely worth checking out.  On her design techniques, her background, and her MO: The Cultivate introduces Samantha Sleeper.  On her SS12 presentation, complete with backstage peeks: Samantha Sleeper SS12 Presentation"The Cultivate is a platform providing access to cult brands and the designers behind them. Discover and Own. ("

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quote // Cecil Beaton

"Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary."

-Cecil Beaton

Dedicated to the man in my life, Christopher James Hartley.  This is your modus operandi.

An oldie but a goodie... <3

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

SS12 Recap // Greatest Text of All Time

"Indigenous prints just won't quit-at Margiela and others. Kanye west show looked like Herve got in bed with Bebe and Baby Phat- some good ideas but nothing a woman wants to wear. The shoes were musts-they were Giuseppe. GIVENCHY continues their hot streak with camel colored everything. Color blocking popped up here and there and will for sure be a mini trend. Galliano was safe, lady like and boring and archival in nature. In general, 50s silhouettes are back. Lots of metallic in accessories. Balmain brought me to tears: new guy nailed it. Balenciaga looks like lego clothes and manish arora looked wearable for the first time in years. Ann demuelemeester is, forever and always, the cool kid- perfectly blending great gatsby with goth sensibilities. Obsessed. Tassels and fringe are having moments. And everyone needs to watch out for this awful chartruese/mustard color that they are pushing HARD. EVERYWHERE!  Will undoubtedly make all white people and asian people look like they have jaundice. Ok. Night."

Sent via a dinosaur phone, this is, without a doubt, the best text message I've ever received.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gotye + Kimbra // Somebody I Used to Know

A friend of mine recently showed me this tune, and I just can't seem to get any part of it out of my head.  The lyrics resonate so soundly with prior life experience.  The best part, though, is the duet composition - allowing both sides of this crumbled love affair to be expressed in the first person.  All too often the stories we hear, whether recounted by friends or presented in fiction, concern only one protagonist's perspective of the experience.  Every story of such has two sides, but rarely are we allowed to empathize with both.  As I always say: it is all about perception.  No one can make another person feel anything.  Our feelings are based on our perception of what's been said to us or how we've been treated.  Here we see two people, clearly hurt, and clearly with their own ideas of what has happened.  What is love's demise if not some dose or version of misunderstanding?

Do you think the rose-colored tint on the lens is intentional?

Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it's an ache I still remember

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end
Always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I'll admit that I was glad that it was over

But you didn't have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened
And that we were nothing
And I don't even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger
And that feels so rough
You didn't have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records
And then change your number
I guess that I don't need that though
Now you're just somebody that I used to know

Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I'd done
And I don't wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know...

But you didn't have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened
And that we were nothing
And I don't even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger
And that feels so rough
You didn't have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records
And then change your number
I guess that I don't need that though
Now you're just somebody that I used to know

I used to know
That I used to know


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Romy Schneider // What's New Pussycat?

So pleasantly surprised to see Romy Schneider while perusing my daily dose of NOWNESS!  The NOWNESS article catalogued A Knotty History of Hermés; here, the actress is wearing the "Les Cycles" silk scarf.  I first took a liking to Romy because of how irresistibly darling she is in the film, What's New Pussycat (1965); her beauty is fresh and very approachable.  Here she's pictured with Alain Delon, with whom she feel in love on the set of Christine (1958).  Partners until the early-mid '60s, Delon has said that his "greatest love story was with Romy Schneider."  You can read up on both Romy Schneider and Alain Delon here - a blog I came across while searching for images.  The picture here channels early images of JFK and Jackie Onassis, although the particularly youthful look of Alain Delon here prevails the tone of the photograph.
Romy costars in one of my favorite retro comedies, What's New Pussycat (1965) (above) - Woody Allen's first full feature original screenplay, and his first Hollywood acting role.  Allegedly, "a film that perhaps sums up mid-'60s pop culture better than any other" (IMDB).  My first experience with the film was on a flight from Paris back stateside.  With very little expectations in place, the viewing had me beside myself in laughter.  My abdomen was in a knot, and I imagine the person in front of me would have had something to say about it, had it not been for his pinot gris and Ambien cocktails.  Starring the hysterical Peter Sellers - king of one of my favorite films of all time, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) - and the dashing Peter O'Toole alongside a roster of beautiful actresses including the original Bond Girl, Ursula Andress, the film is satirical and ridiculous, not at all realistic, but entirely entertaining if you enjoy the absurd.

Here, Peter O'Toole and Romy Schneider:
Here, most of the cast, and the culmination of the plot:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Journal // Change and New Beginnings

>>i've moved across the country, and i feel happier than ever. after a year of literally every aspect of my life going through an intense period of flux, all of the pieces - at once conflicting, consorting, and ready to combust - have fallen into place. i left my home of six years to start over somewhere new because, in short, i was just... ready for a change. i left a good job to look for a new job, i left great friends to start over with new friends. i left the city i knew like the back of my own birthmarked hand to build a life in a new city i hardly know. time-zones, climates, mentality, architecture, ethnic breakdown, vegetation, and industry - hardly anything is the same from what i once knew. yet somehow, i feel more whole than i have in quite a while. i am fully invested, and my returns are matched on every front. i left a wonderful relationship earlier in the year because, in short, i felt i couldn't commit my life to a person before committing myself to a life. as of now, i don't know what i'll be doing for full time work, i don't know exactly where i'll be living once i find my work, and i'm not even positive i know what i WANT to do for work!  but somehow, everything feels just as it should. when we lose or leave our jobs, we lose our sense of purpose, our sense of worth. isn't that how it usually goes? i feel more alive than ever. i feel ignited and impassioned and in love, once again. we parted ways only to find ourselves with a regained sense of independence and appreciation, and pursuing new career paths in the same state. now my pursuit is happiness. i want to create it, i want to sustain it, i want to share it. rejection is motivating, criticism is productive. i'm reminded again that it really, really is all about your perception. <<

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Model as Muse // Less is More

Photograph by Irving Penn (American, born 1917).  Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in Cristóbal Balenciaga Mantle Coat, Paris, 1950; as featured in Vogue, September 1, 1950.  There is something about this photograph that I absolutely adore.  The drape and weight of the fabric looks irresistible... a piece I would love to own on a brisk autumn day in Chicago.  The manner in which Ms. Fonssagrives-Penn poses, with her body turned slightly away from the camera, and her neck and head craned elegantly toward the center, not only compliments the design interest of the garment, but adds an air of sophistication and poise that contrasts the unstructured simplicity of the design.  Rather infrequent I find nowadays a photograph where the model's presence is a complimenting accessory to a garment, which serves as the focal point.  Kin to Balenciaga's preference for simplicity in design technique, Penn's photograph here shows that, without a doubt, less is more.

Another photograph from possibly the same issue of Vogue in 1950 (I know this much for sure), also Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn photographed by Irving Penn, this time in Christian Dior.  I am inappropriately obsessed with the magnitude of this collar. The position of her feet in a transitioning pose and her smile peaking from behind the collar capture perfectly her charisma.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Arcade Fire for Nostalgia

After a markedly low point one evening, my dear friend, Francesca Noero, shared this link to a small group of our friends.  Needless to say, after we each visited our childhood home, the air lifted and the commitment to a beautiful proceeding set in motion.  We ended our evening watching the sun rise over the San Francisco bay.

This month marks the one year anniversary of Arcade Fire's release of its third album, titled The Suburbs.  Chris Milk, in collaboration with a number of creatives and their friends at Google, wrote and directed a "video" of sorts featuring the Arcade Fire song, "We Used to Wait."  As you enter the site, you will be prompted to enter in your childhood address of where you grew up.  Tip: if at first the engine does not recognize your address, enter another address from where you grew up (such as your school) or just go ahead and proceed... it should find something nearby. 

Below, find the link to an interactive viewing experience conducive to epic bouts of nostalgia.

The Wilderness Downtown

My postcard: "Keep doing what you're doing, and trust your heart.  It will lead you to the right place."  And as the sun rose later that evening, I couldn't feel more sure that I am in the right place.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Florrie // "Experimenting with Rugs"

If my style and my best friend, Nasu, had a baby, it would be Florrie in this video.  Love the editing, love the hair and makeup, love the styling, just plain loving Florrie.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Louis Vuitton // FruitStripe Zebra

While getting my dose of Vogue Daily, I came across a pair of shoes for which I swooned:
I am enamored by the sense of levity exuded by these jaunty numbers - not to mention the prospect of mirthfully stepping out of a cab in these lovelies. Needless to say, these Fruit Striped Zebras from Louis Vuitton SS11 now grace the wallpaper of my BlackBerry.  You can see more of Phil Oh's street style snaps from summer market for Resort 2012 collections in the Vogue Gallery.  Also consider checking out his street style blog, Street Peeper.

Wait, back up a second... "Fruit Striped Zebras," you say?  Yea.  Remember this?
 If you don't remember Fruit Stripe gum, it is either because you weren't a kid, or didn't have kids, or grandkids, or didn't babysit, and maybe just didn't own a television, in the mid '80s and through the '90s.  It was fruitier and more sickeningly sweet than Juicy Fruit, and the time for which it took the gum to loose all its malleability and feel like a rubber ball in your mouth was about a tenth of what would be considered the norm in sugar-loaded gum.  But damn, that gum was sexy.  The pack was tantalizingly multi-colored, the gum itself had colored Zebra stripes corresponding to the flavor of the stick, and best of all, it came with tattoos.  From what I can remember, these lasted about as long as the flavor of the gum.  Oh memories...

Back on track, these Louis Vuitton Zebra heels are available for sale in a gold/deep red/merlot color palette, as seen on Emma Watson.  However, as much as I do enjoy the stylings of Miss Watson, I personally prefer the heels in the FruitStripe "magenta" color combo.  And, unlike the quickly fading flavor of FruitStripe gum, I could enjoy these here and there for years to come.  Throwback thrown forward.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Penguins Collide Into Darkness // Scandal!

Leona Lewis just released a new single, "Collide," which features sampling from the piano melody of Penguin Cafe Orchestra.  One of my favorite songs of 2011, and possibly of all time, is "Penguin" by Avicii, which samples the same piano melody from Penguin Cafe Orchestra.  Evidently, there is either a scandal, or if not a real scandal, then certainly confusion brewing and stewing over the producing credits and sampling credits of Lewis' new release.  In case you haven't heard yet, have a listen of all three songs so that when you do, you'll have the ear of reference!

Penguin Cafe Orchestra // "Perpetuum Mobile"
Avicii // "Penguin"
Leona Lewis // "Collide"
Avicii // "Fade into Darkness" - vocal remix of "Penguin"
And just one more version, from my adored Avicii... "Penguin" Club Mix
Still standing strong for #TeamAvicii, here is Kap Slap's Mashup, "Penguins Collide into Darkness"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dear Miroslava Duma,

Teach me how to get to where you are at the age of 25.  I've got one year to the week to catch up to you!
 Miroslava "Mira" Duma, at the mere age of 25, has a boasting repertoire as a young female, first and foremost, but thereafter, a writer, style icon, humanitarian, and even a mother!  A former editor of Harper's Bazaar Russia, and currently a freelancer for various publications in Russia, this explains why she is constantly photographed at various fashion weeks around the globe, and for style blogs such as Scott Schuman's The Sartorialist and NY Magazine's fashion blog, The CUT.  You can see a day to day montage of Miroslava's style on her own Look of the Day blog portion here: Buro 24/7 // Look of the Day.  Miroslava also founded a charity fund called Mira's Planet, or Planeta Mira.  Much to my dismay, I am only able to find a link to this organization that is entirely in Russian.  If you can read Russian beyond the twenty or so words I know only how to speak, you can read about Planeta Mira here.  

In case all this talk about Mira's coveted style, beauty, and success is having you feeling a little overwhelmed with envy, I will provide you with a telling sample of the words I know in Russian, in hopes of reassuring you that not everyone is as amazing or cool as Mira.  Sour cream, or сметана, pronounced "smee-tana"; I love you, or я люблю тебя, pronounced "ya lyu-blyu tebya"; bitch, or сука, pronounced "suka"; good-bye, or до свидания, pronounced "do svidaniya"; sausage, or колбаса, pronounced "kolbasa."  

Mira, if you read this, please note... I am not asking that you sophisticate me in Russian, I am happy to stick with my current Western/romance language arsenal for now.  Spasibo and pakka!  (Thank you and [informal] bye!)

"Sunshine" and Rhythm // my dream feat. Rye Rye and M.I.A.

I can't help but think I would have much better rhythm if this was my playground beyond the first few years of my childhood. I am proud to say, though, that I currently own, or have owned, a version of almost every article of clothing and accessory featured in this video. Safe to say that where I missed out on acquiring enviable rhythm, I compensated with more than enough late '80s / early '90s prints and gear. The one thing I do not own, and although I probably would never wear it, I'd like someone to own it: M.I.A.'s shirt that says "Fuck Google, Ask Me." She's a bad ass, and Rye Rye is totally adorable. What else can I say?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tell me about this place... // Helsinki

Helsinki?  Where do I start... I've been seven times!  I've been only once in the winter... The city sits up on a bay of the  Baltic Sea.  The ocean freezes over along the shorelines up to about a mile out.  You can walk on the ice; people are scattered about ice fishing as well... Huge cargo ships have these massive metal claw-like contraptions on the bow that break apart the ice as they barrel through the waters.  You can stand about 100 feet from them on the frozen sea while they break through on their way to the docks.   It's unlike anything I've ever seen.

I've never been up north to Lapland.  In the winter, on the shortest days of the year, the sun doesn't rise.  It never gets lighter than dusk and twilight outside, and that's only for a few hours mid day.  Helsinki is dark as well, but the sun shows its face for a few hours, though the days are short.  Everyone - young, old, rich, poor - has a sauna (they were invented in Finland).  It is an age old tradition to sauna in the dead of winter, then run out onto the ice of a frozen lake and jump into a hole carved in the ice, then climb out on a make-shift wooden latter and sprint back to the dry heat of the sauna.  (You thought snow angels after hot-tubs in Idaho was bad-ass).

The buildings in Helsinki are pastel shaded and colorful, as characteristic of many of the surrounding places that experience long, dark winters.  The thought behind this is that it helps to brighten up the streets in a place where darkness is so prevalent, at least for a part of the year.  The streets aren't as narrow or windy as you'll find them in many European cities, even in Stockholm, but they do run at odd angles.  Many streets are cobbled with bricks, which quaintness is contrasted by runs of tram tracks.  Within the core neighborhoods that make up the city, the public transportation is widespread, and highly utilized.  There are lots of parks, providing a fair offering of greenness, as well as dog-friendly space.  Pests like flies and ants may as well be creatures of myth.

Many may fight me on this, but I will argue that Helsinki is one of the best cities on the planet to see in summertime.  All that darkness goes completely reverse!  On what is celebrated as the longest day of the year, June 25th (called Juhanos, and also the day of my birth!), the sun sets around 11pm.  Twilight lingers for a bit longer than we're used to Stateside, and then a light darkness falls - ever so briefly - before the sun rises again around 4am.  The general rule of summertime thumb is that it's dusk when you enter the nightclub, and a slightly brighter dawn when you leave.  In a time and place where darkness is more or less obsolete, questions of safety and numbers wandering about the streets fall largely to the wayside.  Free to roam and wander in the light, boundaries begin to melt, and the fluidity of people between and among groups rises, aided by slightly discrete, public alcohol consumption - coined "pusikaliya".

Between beaches, parks, paths along the water, the bazaar and farmer's market on the bay, coin-op rental bikes stationed like ZipCars throughout the city, and semi frequent city-wide festivals, the summer is brimming with energy and activity.  People do not take for granted the warmth and light for a second.  After enduring a longer and more wretched winter than most of us have ever known, even an hour of Santa Barbara-like weather is idyllic.  The joviality is tangible, even for one who has not undergone the winter. 

Out of all the places I've been, Helsinki has earned a place in me that I will always love.  Should you be so lucky to visit, you will not regret it.  Quick tip: "Moi" (rhymes with 'boy') is hello.  "Moi moi" is good bye.  "Joo" (yo) is yes (informal).  "Ei" (ay) is no.  "Kiitos" (keyyy-tose) is thank you.  "Toi oli ihan naurettavaa" is 'that was absolutely ridiculous'.  The latter phrase can be used in a remarkable number of instances - I highly recommend practicing the pronunciation and reciting.  

Pus! Moikka! [(poose! moy-kah!) Kiss! Bubye!]

"Peep Peep!"

Beep, beep!  As I opened my eyes to the sound of my alarm, I woke to see sun pouring through my window.  Despite only a few hours of sleep, I was able to hop out of bed after only one snooze - a rare occurrence in my book.  With only a few minutes to get out the door, I ran across my bed from one side of the room to the other, no less than four times, trying to locate my outfit for the day.  I was looking for my vintage Kenneth Jay Lane ivory and gold rams heads bracelet - the one I manage to wear with just about everything - over by my dresser, and I noticed this black line on the side of the dresser ... "what the f*** IS that" ... I stood on tip toes in between two piles of clothing on the floor - [the floor is my clean closet, and no one dare set a toe on it] - and balancing with my left hand on the front of the dresser, I craned my neck, leaning in for a closer look at this black line.  Do you know what it was?  It was, (not even kidding you), a half-inch thick river of ants crawling up and down the entire length of the dresser.  I flipped my sh*t!  I frantically started trying to determine the origin and destination of the ants, trying to rifle through perfume bottles, jewelry, and ticket stubs, without spreading the ants all over the dresser surface, and then... there it was.  There was an unopened package of PEEPS on top of my empty Chloé perfume box, and I looked inside at the little yellow chickies, and they were black - covered in ants!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I started screaming, grabbed the package, and went running outside in my thong and tank top and dramatically threw the package into the driveway.  I'm sure someone saw.  Probably some poor child taking her first walk all by herself to the Catholic girl's academy down the block.  It was disgusting.  I went back upstairs and sprayed ant kill all over the whole river - they were like a colony of settlers, for goodness sake.  They all died, and then I had to wipe them all up and flush them in eight separate flushes.  Eight!

The only positive thing to come from all of this was the surprisingly delightful floral scent that masked the bedroom after the wrath of the ant kill spray.  On the other hand, in addition to feeling as though this gorgeous, sun-soaked morning-getting-ready-sesh was pooped on by ants, I'm really having doubts about my ability to ever eat Peeps again.  Do you know how many boxes of Peeps and Cadbury mini creme eggs I bought this year for Easter?  Neither do I, but if I had to guess, I would say it averaged out to a box of Peeps per day for the entire duration of Easter candy's stay on the drugstore shelves this spring.  Not usually a big fan of candy, I must admit there's just something about that ole Easter Bunny that gets me going.  In all seriousness though, I really cannot believe how many ants there were in that river, and engulfing those poor Peeps.  Can you imagine if they made little "peep peep!" sounds?  Oy vey... Nightmare extravaganza.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kyle Mulle: In the Valley of Eden // #proudsister

Just yesterday, I bid farewell to my love, my brother, seeing him off on the journey of a lifetime.  A whole catalogue of emotions ran through me as we parted and I made my way back to my comfortable and familiar apartment thereafter, but the strongest of these was pride.   I am proud of my brother, and I am proud to be his big (hardly) sister.  Hence I share with you an excerpt of his very first blog entry.  Should his words engage you the way I believe capable, check out the rest of his blog when you have the chance.  For now, here's a glance.

Taxi to the East Side

"This is my first blog, and I am writing from the desk of my apartment in Amman, Jordan. Likewise, this is the first time I have traveled to Jordan and for that matter the Middle East. For the next month I will be studying at a language school across the street from the University of Jordan. On June 30 when I depart, I will fly to Beirut, Lebanon and will live among Palestinian refugees in the Shatila camp on the west side of town for another month. In addition to my own studies, I will be teaching English to youth living in the camp.
Eden is geographically attributed to an area near the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which is Iraq, though it is also purportedly in the area of greater Syria, which includes Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and traditional Palestine. In the Book of Genesis, God charged Adam with tending the Garden of Eden, where there lay two trees; the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. As the story goes, Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, and then God banished them from the Garden forever and hid the Tree of Life. In the Book of Ezekiel, he claimed that the Trees in the Garden came from what is today Lebanon.

Today, I am not only in the part of the world where this fabled utopia once existed, but I also am on a philosophical journey seeking both knowledge, and in many ways my own path in life. It is for these reasons that I title my blog 'In the Valley of Eden.' I hope that you all will enjoy my writing and that I can share some of my knowledge and experiences with you."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Journal // Comfort

 >>one of those nights where you all of a sudden realize where you are... realize where you were a year ago... it's like black and white, then and now... and you wonder, could now and then possibly be any more different?  the comfort ceases to exist when reminded of what was once comfortable.  tonight... suddenly, i'm out of my element.  i am where i was then, but stuck in now... wondering how and when everything changed.  where was i when black turned white? a split second incognizable to the conscious mind... or a gradation of shades so infinitesimal that a distinct point in between is unidentifiable... where the drastic change of black to white is discounted to a gray state of consciousness - vague to memory, and in the essence of every moment.  tonight is a night where all i have is white, and nothing will suit me but black.<<

I journaled this thought on the 23rd of January, 2007.  Despite all cards in hand being entirely different, I couldn't feel more similarly at this very moment.  Looking back on the cards in hand then and now, something tells me the feeling will be more transient on this day than it was four years ago... but it could not feel less so at the moment.  In moments like these, the magnitude of feeling behind the flow of consciousness is such that you cannot, in your heart of hearts, mind of minds, imagine feeling any other way.

One of those nights... where you find yourself... incapacitated.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Untitled // Unabridged

April seven, two thousand-eleven,
By way of a dream I journeyed to heaven:
My heart is beating out of my chest,
This feeling will not allow me to rest.
All I can focus on is the feeling at hand,
The feeling you have before seeing the man,
The man who you've held, for so many years,
But never close enough, to bring you to tears.
Suddenly I'm here, in this new domain,
Knowing only as much that this feeling won't wane.
But what to expect outside of this conviction,
Is unknown to the extent of lovely affliction.
Uncertainty is enlivening in one way or another,
While steadfast the hope you'll always have each other.
Optimism wares when its roots are insincere,
But the truest kind leaves you with no ounce of fear.
So I stand my ground and patiently wait,
Minute after minute, nerves start to abate.
Then all of a sudden, I sense, I feel...
Oh my god, it can't be real!
I turn around and our eyes lock,
Before I know it, my body's in shock.
His arms around me, his kiss, its paralysis!
I wonder what this is but can offer no analysis.
The loss of all meaning of time and space,
Everything disintegrates as our hearts together race.
My legs feel like jelly, my arms feel light,
What's pumping through my veins is the furthest thing from fright.
This feeling running through me is purely euphoric,
This energy between us is highly caloric.
I relish in the moment, I savor his lips,
The surge carries down, into my hips.
Our bodies are close, together hearts beat,
It takes all of my energy to stand on two feet.
The beauty of it is, I'm not afraid to fall,
My heart believes he'd catch me, flaws and all.
Now who can say what the future will bring,
But in the moment right now, its not even a thing.
Nothing else bears weight as we stand here eye to eye,
I feel so happy, I'd feel ready to die.
This is the thing I've been waiting so long for,
Its everything I hoped for, but so much more.
The prospect of what's more to come,
Makes me feel both deaf and dumb.
Its overwhelming, all of this,
But I'd trade the world to stand here and kiss.
Lucky for me to trade there's no need.
The stars have aligned, they have indeed.

Suddenly I stir, and then I wake.
"Not a chance in the world that that was fake!"
But so it seems, this moment has passed,
So far-gone, who knows, but alas...
Here I am, nowhere but here.
This dream for me was quite a sheer.
A turn for the better from what has been,
Almost hard to go back to "real life" again.
Albeit vague, the time and even the face,
In my heart, this dream will hold a place.
Whether it was real or completely not,
This experience has bore on me a spot.
A spot of which I have no desire to rid;
A spot for which I would take no bid.
A moment had is never mislaid,
Only better moments can cause it to fade.
So cheers to life and forward motion,
Reviresco from your lovely potion.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Journal // Perception

>> "to each our own" we experience the world. through a lens uniquely crafted by our upbringing, we see the world... this world we all share. these lenses not only determine how we see the world, but how we experience it - these lenses define our outlook, and thus who we are, or rather, who we see ourselves to be as individuals, and as a part of the world. culture, beliefs, values, people, morals, philosophies... every nuance of perception is determined by our lens: how these things diverge uniquely and differently through the lens of each individual. so to change one's lens... is to change how you perceive the world as it comes to you. what change in a lens catalyzes a change in your perception of something like... freedom. commitment. foreigners. love. justice. let's think some more about that. <<

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Epiphany

Recently I had a little epiphany.  One of those momentary revelations where you "suddenly" realize something; something so significant, it feels as though you've consumed it - quite literally.  These occur every now and again, from the smallest of realizations, to grasps of new consciousness far greater in scope.  Albeit in varying measures, they always feel profound.  Now, the source of such a little epiphany is the inception of an idea that unifies - makes sense of - your current state of being.

In the moments before your epiphany, you realize where and how you are in this moment.  Then you realize where and how you were, say, six months ago.  It’s like black and white, then and now!  You feel like a new being, reborn somewhere in between “then” and “now.”  The essence of you is still there, nothing has changed... its just, suddenly... accessible.  When and how did this happen?  Where were you when black turned white?  Was it a split second unrecognizable to the conscious mind?  Or a gradation of shades so infinitesimal that a distinct point in between is unidentifiable...

On that note, we’re going to make this a little less vague and slightly more specific by applying this theoretical “little epiphany” to the one I’ve most recently had.

As baffled as I felt by the changes that had come over me, or come out of me, rather... it was not a mystery this time how the change came about.  For lack of better words, I will transcribe here the letter I wrote that provides my best attempt at an honest account of the change from black to white; the grey, if you will.

Dear Journal,

I have something to get off my chest.  Its not going to come out entirely now, but I promise it will all come out eventually.

Over the last few months, I have begun to acknowledge a void in my life that I have felt in my gut for some time.  Overall, I've felt there were far more good things in my life than bad things, and so I chose to ignore my gut.  There are a number of things that helped me to start realizing and rationalizing what I was feeling, or what I was not feeling...  But out of everything, I began to distill that the dissatisfaction I was feeling was not transient, but rested at my core.  Writing my thoughts, pen to paper, over the last couple months has helped to shed light on what I felt dissatisfied with in my life - in the fewest words possible.  I realized that the substance of what I feel missing in my life, I feel is defined by my writing to you - in the most abstract sense.

On Sunday I decided to turn my world upside down.  It was a terribly awful and difficult decision to make, but I know it is the right thing.  I feel grateful that I’ve been able to be more honest and reflective lately; I think I would have stayed in this for longer just because it was the easier choice.  With as many things in the world that are in flux right now, this was something stable and consistent that I've thrown to the wind... but I think it will bring more freedom than I ever could have imagined.  In some measure, I thank you for that.


So, yes... I am able to identify a catalyst partially responsible for my divergence from “black” that would ultimately lead me to “white.”  What I am not able to identify, is how it all began.  What was the seed of the feeling of dissatisfaction?  What was the seed of the acknowledgement of a void?  At the most inconvenient timing and with no words for a clear and concise explanation, I made a life-changing decision with conviction.  From within me this decision came, and for that reason, I knew it was right.  I felt it in my bones.  Yet feel it in our bones we may, we like to understand what it is that makes us so sure.  We like to rationalize, to verbalize.  Nothing I wrote bore relevance to any bone of contention in my life.  It was the act of writing itself that brought about this feeling.

A week has gone by since I turned my world upside down.  As I walked down my street in the crisp cold of evening, my pink scarf blew in circles in front of me as I walked... glowing against the blue tint of twilight.  I realized I had worn a bright colored thing every day that week.