Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spinner, Drawer, and Cutter of the Threads

(image taken from The Grindstone)

This past weekend was one that had begun with some rather haphazard but ultimately effortless and elegant plans; the filmmaker and his band, Double Ghost, have been on tour with indie group Fanfarlo, for the United States portion of their tour, so I had planned to catch up with him, see the show, and attend a Halloween costume party with some friends. As I was heading into the city from work late Friday afternoon, for a date night, and the costume party was scheduled for Saturday, I had to pull together a costume quickly and efficiently. Essentially, it had to be something that already existed and lived in my closet, and would be portable in my overnight Diane von Furstenberg weekend bag. My friend gave me an excellent and easy idea: Jackie Kennedy, or perhaps Jackie Onassis, depending on clothing trends and the era. I figured a simple, classically cut high-neck black dress would suffice, with some strings of pearls, some large-framed sunglasses, and a camel trench coat. I threw the ingredients together, hopped onto the train, and went with the filmmaker to the West Village.

Naturally, with my professional life in such seemingly calm and order, some tension and stress had to be incorporated somewhere, as the Moirae so frequently ordain. Friday evening, while listening to some jazz, quite spontaneously, my throat feels scratched and heavy. I am sick. In addition to ruining my entire weekend plans, I instantly grow nervous and anxious for other more important reasons, namely, my sister's impending labor and the birth of my niece I have been waiting for months to meet. To further complicate the ordeal, I am traveling next weekend to California, and would prefer to be completely healthy before being smashed into the back of a plane with various flotsam, jetsam, and nimrods from across the grand Garden State.

As I travel back to my town on the train, shivering and feeling wretched, a wet snow pours across the land, snow that is thick and congealing like blood. As soon as I arrive back to my apartment, my power fails, and remains out for over twenty-four hours. So, I spend most of the day cuddled into bed, sleeping. It becomes dark almost immediately, and stays that way for hours.

(images taken from Brooklyn Vegan)

Sunday, this evening, I was supposed to be in Brooklyn, at the Glasslands, watching the filmmaker and Double Ghost play a sold-out show, opening for Fanfarlo. Due to the inclement weather of yesterday, the unseasonable and tempestuous display of wintry pubertal aggression, the train service into Manhattan has ceased, until tomorrow. I sit here, alone, feeling unwell, and also feeling so disappointed to be missing this performance. There will be more, many more, in the future, however, I cannot help but feel forlorn, feel angry at this unforgiving act of the Fates.

Anthropologie and Church Sales

Last Monday, I paired this new floral skirt, a pattern admittedly evocative of vintage drapes and popular carpet handbags, a find from Anthropologie, with these large coral and brass earrings discovered at a local church sale. Such neat and precise complementing of colors was something I generally avoided a few years ago, fearing that such looks appear packaged and hackneyed; perhaps they do, but, nonetheless, as I dress myself for professional appearances, I find that more and more I tend to partner matching pieces. The skirt is silk and though longer, is surprisingly and successfully not matronly, despite pleats and the embroidered-like pattern. It has a movement, and with a neutral oatmeal cardigan and a silk shell, with a brown braided leather belt, it was autumnal office appropriate. Church sales have always been a source of some of my favorite pieces of statement costume jewelry; one hosted the other week by a local Methodist church did not disappoint. Coral has become a recent fascination, and pairs well with black, camel, brown, and an array of colors across the spectrum.

My relationship with Anthropologie has always been a complex, love-hate one. The impeccably curated, edited, manicured, and produced catalogue and store layouts exude a glamorous bohemian meets metropolitan intelligentsia professional lifestyle that, ostensibly, I should desire. Upon entering, I am greeted with a bevy of merchandise that is beautiful and unique, and seems to belong in an intimate boutique; then I immediately remind myself that this entire look and attitude is massively produced and consumed. The cherry atop this aesthetic and commercial argument sundae: the prices, even for occasional very well-made and interesting clothes, are a bit over the top. Although I can rationally recount all of these flaws, I am hardly able to resist the lure. One of my nearest and dearest, Katherine, will be working here; I am envious of her discount.

Sunday evening lounge soundtrack: "Sukiyaki" Kyu Sakamoto; "Blame it on the Bossa Nova" Eydie Gormé; "Still" Bill Anderson; "Two Faces Have I" Lou Christie; "Just One Look" Doris Troy; "Surf City" Jan and Dean; "Heat Wave" Martha and the Vandellas; "Bosa Nova Baby" Elvis Presley

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Plaid, Gold, and Leopard

Saturday early afternoon, after a late night out and about in the city, darting around SoHo and Brooklyn, the filmmaker and I were feeling particularly lazy and lax, but excited for a stroll in the brisk air to get a sandwich from local favorite spot C'est Cheese. Unfortunately, the sun mischievously deceived me, shining brightly for a brief moment as I dressed, before darting behind some dark clouds. I laughed at the thought of donning a jacket, and then quickly became chilled. Luckily, at least, I had a few layers to protect me from the elements: a thin gold sweater, a recent and favorite acquisition from Gap, atop a Ralph Lauren red, blue, yellow plaid button-down shirt. The sweater layered with button-down combination always simultaneously evokes very particular brand catalogues, and certain characters from northeastern universities. When I was younger, I found the look to be stuffy, suffocating, figuratively and literally, but now, with a more creative and sophisticated sartorial eye, I embrace this bit of classic styling.

Large golden round earrings have quickly become a jewelry favorite, and easy to grab from my perfume tray array of baubles, oddly enough, given that so many of my pieces are statements and verbose ones at that. Frequently at work, as though I am a sultry secretary from the 1960s, I take my clip earrings off to answer and speak on the telephone; these are prime examples of obtuse structures that can obscure adequate hearing.

I discovered this vintage handbag at one of those large warehouse, indoor-outdoor antiques markets in Manhattan when I was still at university, about six years ago. I remember my mother telling me she had peered at it, expressed interest, and scoffed at the price; I, on the other hand, went in for the kill, tearing into this leather and pony hair design with relish and delight. Paying around 40$ for this piece, a relic from the 1950s, with beautiful tooled leather featuring a prominent and austere chief, I believe I made the superior shopper decision.

Leopard loafers, with a decidedly men's wear-inspired shape and tenor, always versatile and always comfortable. Leopard, though obviously a pattern, is one of my favorite faux-neutrals, especially when it comes to shoes; just like a great red shoe or a nude camel shoe, leopard can be paired with a rainbow of fabric colors and textures.

No afternoon sandwich session is complete without some bodice-ripping prose to hasten the heartbeats, to tingle heavy pheromones with the quickening breath.

Olive focaccia bread, grilled chicken, pesto, tomatoes, red peppers, and melted fresh mozzarella, all warmed to perfection, partnered with a 7Up soda.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gallery Hopping in Chelsea

(image taken from Re-Nest)

The other weekend, the filmmaker and I drove into Chelsea to enjoy the beaming autumn sun, the coolly sultry wind from the river, and the plethora of intimate galleries that abound, austere and opulent, to indulge in a myriad of art collections. One of the first galleries we entered featured a large book igloo, a precarious curved stack of books constructed with a geometric and design perspective. More refined in both concept and execution, the structure nonetheless reminded me a bit of forts, wooden tipis near a stream by the home of our grandparents , built by myself and my younger brother, when we were young and full of spit and whim. Unfortunately, the name of the artist escapes me.

(image taken from Oh La La)

(image taken from Civil Clothing)

Above the first gallery, a Keith Haring exhibit had recently opened; in addition to featuring a variety of his illustrations, the gallery had a tiny corner boutique of merchandise, mostly clothing and a beautiful collection of shoes from Nicholas Kirkwood. The designer borrowed the iconic, memic images, replicating them across a number of heels, boots, and loafers. Though the lines and figures seem almost rudimentary in nature, harking to the earliest cave drawings of buffalo and hunting spears by our hominid ancestors, Haring's work actually has quite a thematic complexity. The pieces we were fortunate to see were wrought with a pathetic humor, as humans cowered from the tyranny of invading spacecrafts, assuming masturbatory poses, and with a lamentation, this primal response their only option at the threat of annihilation.

(image taken from Every Day Workshop)

The Grey Paintings by Agnes Martin are simultaneously overwhelmingly silent and brimming with a subversive and awful force. Walking about the large gallery space, staring into each one, it reminded me of a steel cable cord, pulled taut by something larger and stronger than human hands, so that the wire subtly vibrates and oscillates with the tension.

(image taken from We Love Scotch)

(image taken from Simplistic Art)
Freedom from Want by Aaron Johnson also imbued a humor, albeit one that was far more visually and conceptually grotesque than that portrayed by Haring; merciless, not to the power of external evil beings, but to the suffocating and unquenchable violence of our own commercial greed and desires. His paintings were bombastically intricate, indeed, nearly impossible to absorb in a sitting, composed of so many characters and scenes within a vortex of color and patterns. Elusive, seemingly three-dimensional, he layered his paints in such a fashion that provided an illusion of depth, giving an even greater perception of physical space in which the color and patterns and bizarre, wanton, disgusting beasts could bombard the senses. Although, as the filmmaker and I had discussed briefly, I completely understand that the art industry, like any other, contains a range of characters and rules, comprising an intricate system that ultimately, for some, not necessarily the artist, must and will generate a lot of money. Still, I found a notable irony in this subject matter and this thematic, in a gallery in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in one of the wealthiest cities in the world, where the attending patrons, myself included, donned designer clothing, handbags, accessories.

The main raison d'être for our gallery excursion was to see the Richard Serra sculpture at the Gagosian Gallery; immediately upon entering the space, I was struck dumb, simply amazed, wonderment. Trying to imagine and surmise how these structures were transported and organized into this space is nearly impossible; a pyramid mystery. I am sure some brief research on the internet could fill in the suspended details, but I would rather remain uncertain, my imagination permitted to meander.

After having visited the paintstick illustration meets installation exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art a few months back, coupled with the sublimely opulent Alexander McQueen exhibit, I was very anxious and excited to see the black lines, curved and calculated, in real steel. Traversing the solemn labyrinth between walls of orange, light blocked, an obtuse catacomb, the path would then open to a wide space, where one could soak in the terrain of the sculpture.

The filmmaker shot a quick video with his Android while we explored; it looked incredible.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Breakfast and Rituals

A number of years ago, as I was preparing my applications for admission to a list of universities, I wrote one of my entrance essays, ostensibly, on cereal, the rhythmic and ritualistic procession of this simple and fulfilling act. Cereal became the metaphoric vehicle with which I could explore the importance of new adventure and challenge, yet, the known and comfortable pleasure of certain routines.

Sunday mornings and early afternoons, once late summer dissipates and autumn seeps into the land, I love strolling over to the town farmer's market and indulging in the decadent crumb bun from the bakery tent. It is a violent detriment to my waistline, but is one of those soothing acts of gourmand worship that is near impossible to resist.

Sunday morning coffee soundtrack: Billie Holiday The Legacy 1933 to 1958 Billie Holiday

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Birthday Turkey Meatloaf

(image taken from the Examiner)

Frequently, I lament my lack of culinary prowess; there are few things I enjoy more than a nicely prepared, home cooked meal, particularly those artfully crafted by my mother and older sister. I understand that my rudimentary skills are from a lack of practice, and constantly promise myself that I will make more time to be more adventurous in the kitchen. One day at a time.

Last week, for the filmmaker's birthday, I decided to try my hand at making some turkey meatloaf; meatloaf is one of his absolute favorite dishes and turkey one of his favorite meats, so it appeared to be the obvious choice. He had implied quite clearly that lavish birthday celebrations were not of much interest; a quiet and pleasant dinner, especially in the middle of the week, was a welcome occasion.

Steering away from my beloved Betty Crocker cookbook, the edition from 1969, which proves valuable for basic baking but can leave something to be desired for palatable main dishes that do not involve cream cheese or other packaged foods popular during the era, I consulted the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, through the wonderful wide online world. Her recipe was fairly easy, though a bit time consuming, however, its proportions were fit to feed a village, at least one in a resource deprived area. I suppose the intent is to prepare this dish for a large social gathering; I halved the recipe and still found it to be overwhelming with the amount of leftovers, some of which ended up perishing in my refrigerator.

Ingredients (in the original proportions):
3 cups chopped yellow onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey meat
1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs (I used Italian; this turned out well)
3 extra large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup

First, the onions, olive oil, and spices are cooked until translucent, but not browned, a task that sometimes requires extreme diligence and vigilance when using a wanton gas stove.

When the onion mixture is cooked, add in the Worcestershire sauce, chicken sauce, and tomato paste, mixing well, then allow to cool to room temperature. The mixing well can take some particular elbow-grease with the paste, as it is quite thick and tends to conglomerate.

The turkey, eggs, bread crumbs, and onion mixture are combined in a large mixing bowl; this was my first time working with ground turkey, as opposed to beef, and I found the meat to have a very different texture and consistency, that tended to be moister and a bit more sticky. As a result, I added some extra bread crumbs, so that the mixture would not be too wet and would be more pliable and easy to shape.

A vague loaf was sculpted, the ketchup spread and painted across the top, and I baked in a large Corning dish, at 325 degrees for about 90 minutes. The recipe advised placing a pan of water beneath the meatloaf dish while it is cooking, in order to prevent cracking.

An easy side dish to partner: some potatoes, quartered and chopped, doused in olive oil and baked with onion slices.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Prague Ponderings and Pinings

As I sit here, finishing my long and arduous toil over a particularly trying and dull but purportedly clinically important executive summary for a client, the very client for whom I had the wonderful and exciting opportunity to travel to Prague, lamenting over the loss of summer and the capricious notions of vacation encompassed therein, thinking about my dear childhood friend who just returned from a number of months working abroad in Europe, I pine for this city. I spent such a short sojourn there, yet immediately was so struck and impressed and in love with the vibrant energy, the new culture, the art and the creation. Perusing through my photographs from the trip, I now realize that there are a number I failed to share in a timely fashion; the cyclic minutia of work, family, socialize, sleep, at times beautiful and at times a circadian rut, so quickly returns, normalizing any feelings of grandeur and wonder extracted from exploration of a new place. This will be ameliorated.

Pessimism has become languid, flowing and circulating with an easy rhythm, regular, rather than a burst of sharp and temporary energy. This makes me nervous and afraid. Looking to the impermanence of the body, and by default the mind housed within, pitted against the seeming stone eternity of cities we build, cultures and ideas we create, although daunting and also carrying fear, can be a calm, a sense of salvage. My mood, if I allow it, will pass.

My niece, in herself another piece of intricate and architecture, malleable in organic and inorganic, conscious matters, will soon be born. She will be fresh and new, but will all too soon become well acquainted with the matters of this world. I cannot wait to become her teacher and friend, and I hope dearly that we have a chance to travel with one another.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Gold Mosaic of a Wall

I have not enjoyed a proper, refreshing vacation in over a year, a vacation where I forgot how to draft appropriate client correspondences and where my prevailing concern is how long the sun will be out, and then, what type of mischief can be found underneath the moon, an oversight partially attributed to inopportune circumstances, partially attributed to my own vehement masochism. When my parents offered to host me for a few days at the beach at the end of September, I did not lunge at the prospect, but, after some thought, believed it would be pleasant and congenial, a chance to soak in salt water, read while lazing in the sand like an elegantly bulbous seal. Unfortunately, a business trip out to Las Vegas interfered, and my work streak prevailed.

While traveling to the eastern shore of Maryland is not quite an appropriate metaphor partner to sailing to Byzantium, a romantic and idyllic and fantastic world of art and artifice, it does indeed bring one in close proximity to the largest vintage jewelry shop on the east coast. This photograph is courtesy of my beautiful mother, captured while on a solitary antiques excursion to the neighboring seaside towns, meant to incite envy and forlorn. Succeed she did. My mouth waters at the prospect of a wall of rhinestone.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Beauty Bounty: Oribe Après Beach Spray

(image taken from Hits and Fits)

(image taken from True Beauty Store)

The last time that I was cajoled, a sucrose sweet coercion, into purchasing a salon product from my favorite and trusted hair stylist, I have to admit, I was not disappointed; I use the product frequently, and to my great satisfaction, it does wonders for smoothing and calming my hair as I blow it straight. During my most recent visit to the salon, I was again vulnerable, susceptible to the roving rhetoric of hairsprays, pomades, gels, and other such chemical and organic materials of primping and preening convenience. This time, the seduction was with the Oribe Après Beach spray; as the name would suggest, it lends the hair a tousled and sultry look, however, does so without imparting the saline sheen and crunch that many beach products seem to embody. My hair remained soft, and maintained its natural wave throughout the day, voluminous and wildly tame. The type of beach spray that evokes a long, pleasant ride about on a sailboat, or a yacht, as opposed to fighting the surf and succumbing to the force of the tides.

Outfit for a Thursday: Blue and White Wrap Blouse

When I was younger, the more funk and spunk I could infuse into an outfit, the better; while I did not emphatically and blindingly embrace trends, at all, I was more prone to transient styles as opposed to classic pieces. Since I have been working, and have prided myself in maintaining a sort of glamorous aura about my cubicle, at least as far as clothing goes, I have grown attracted to and come to rely on classical aesthetics. That being said, I still enjoy a twist, a slight bit of intrigue, an element of funk, subtly integrated into a look, especially an office look, to keep life interesting.

Blue and white striped button-down blouses are a bastion of professional garb; a veritable uniform. This particular blouse is a welcome and pleasant surprise, as it is a wrap blouse, featuring a softer collar line and an intricate sash turned bow. Though it is difficult to discern from the photographs, as I am not always the most diligent and attentive model in the early mornings, the blouse cinches at and accentuates the waist in a most flattering fashion. I am fairly certain this will be working itself into my wardrobe rotation on a regular cycle.

To pair with the new blouse, I chose a pair of wide-leg dark charcoal slacks, as well as a pair of dark gray and silver metallic heels.

I always seem to forget about particular jewelry pieces, then discover them once more, and find myself in a state of elation; this is a wonderful routine, especially as I stress and gnaw over other aspects of my life, those immaterial and emotionally weighty things. This vintage costume piece features pearls and rhinestones, a great glittering combination.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Autumnal Revelry: Apple Picking

The other weekend, the filmmaker and I endured gray, melancholic skies to traipse around in a local apple orchard. Being on a farm in the fall immediately transports the sensory and commanding central nervous system back to childhood; hay abounds, crunching under the bustling of an elementary class' feet, its pungent perfume mingling with the sweat from tractor engines, with pumpkin and apple flesh. There was always, during these school trips, such an overwhelming sense of new life, and of a bygone era that was quaint and somehow irrelevant to my typical quotidian life of crayons and asphalt landscapes near the playground, the topography for four square games, seemingly irrelevant despite enduring and exploring with my entire peer group a veritable physical experience there. Perhaps it was just a precocious cognizance of how commercial such operations can be. Sickeningly commercial, no matter; I continue to enjoy the simple and traditional pleasures that come with picking my own apples and pumpkins amidst a green field.

These boots are long past their prime, making them ideal for roaming about in muddy fields; it had rained the week before our excursion.

When I was younger, I grew fascinated at the concept that a piece of fruit is merely the ripened womb of a tree, a sentiment that persists today, though has grown more sophisticated and complex in its understanding.

We ended up picking up quite a loot of apples; I keep intending to make an apple crisp, a bit too modest and cautious to venture into the realm of the pie, as I am a homemade pie crust purist, however, a busy work schedule seems to serve as a perpetual impediment.

Sampling the wares while picking is one of my favorite portions of the afternoon.

Gourds come in adult and children sizes.

Again, the variety of gourd geometry is quite impressive.

The filmmaker and I had passed on the tractor ride about the field and back to the barn, a decision I mildly regret, though in retrospect realize meant avoiding the shrieks of toddlers.

Pumpkins scattered across the uneven ground, dew drops solidified, plump and pert.