Friday, November 30, 2012

Time Piece Lusting, Encore

After spending a preponderance of my precious cubicle time today salivating over large and stylized analog watches for men, I came to the embarrassingly slow realization that I should just put one on my list for jolly old Saint Nick. Alas, most of the beautiful time pieces I yearn for are also beautifully expensive. While, naturally, I have been horribly nice all year long, I may not have been that nice. So, the gleaning for something desirable, drool-worthy, mostly practical, and wallet-friendly continues.

Afternoon shopping soundtrack: These Things Take Time Molly Nilsson

(image taken from The Pursuit Aesthetic)

Femme Fatale

I think I would call your vibe, at times, "fatal attraction"... sexy and alluring, but with the possibility of some sort of evil and calculating genius/madwoman type behind those eyes.

I am not entirely sure that those words are not completely biased; regardless, definitely one of the more bizarrely beautiful compliments I have received in recent times. Murderous, no, but maniacal, certainly, at times; hopefully, stubbornly and relentlessly passionate and fearless, always.

(image taken from Virtual History) 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Outfit for a Wednesday: African Accessory

Straying from my typical consignment and vintage shopping haunts, I discovered this necklace in the corner of a small boutique in Stellenbosch, South Africa; an array of earthen-toned stones and natural materials, this piece adds a refreshing variety to my costume collection of garishly posturing gold and opaque bakelite. Though a spectrum of soft browns, this necklace is wonderfully textured and the weight of it alone seems to exude a powerful opulence. Some of the stones are polished smooth, pristine, while others are raw, as though freshly plucked from some cavern. It is unlike anything else I own, unique, and so, very superficially, embodies the experience I had in South Africa. When I was younger, I was foolishly actively repulsed by pairing what I deemed to be two neutrals; black and navy, or black and brown, or brown and navy, was some type of carnal sartorial sin. Now, particularly with warmer, lighter navy blues, partnered with either black or chocolate brown, I indulge in the joys of crazed chromatics. Yesterday, I chose a new casually silken DKNY navy sweater as the background for this sentimental statement piece.

While in Stellenbosch, lazily strolling on a late Saturday afternoon before heading to a fantastically decadent dinner at Rust en Vrede winery, we were a bit disappointed and surprised to learn that most of the quaint and darling shops were closed. Persevering, I still managed to find a number of trinkets and was able to sufficiently stimulate the local economy. 

For a completely international and exotic appeal, I also wore this thick cream bakelite bangle, a treasure miraculously cheaply salvaged at the old Marché aux Puce St. Ouen north of Paris. This is the easiest and most versatile bracelet I own, though, that may be a statement that depends on my mood; my bracelet portfolio runs quite deep.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Autumn Sweater

New day, new challenges, new frustrations; the sun has emerged, already leaving only vulnerable and scant remnants of the first true snow of the season. Yesterday, I lamented, wanting nothing more than a warm, tropical escape. Today, I still welcome and yearn for escape, but I realize it is more solitude that I seek, rather than a balmy environment. It has been years since I have strolled along a beach during the colder months, the wet, chilled sand giving pressure against the soles of the feet, the waves more violent and yet more tranquil. Bikinis and lotion are forgone, replaced with thick knit sweaters, cashmere scarves, heavy rubber boots. During the off season, or just in more cold climates, beaches always appear more desolate, more isolating. 

(image taken from A Conversation on Cool)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Snow Slush Summons Winter

After a short night of sleep, interspersed and interrupted with bizarre dreams, rampant with lawyers drinking light wheat beer from glass blender jars, I awoke to a wet, heavy blanket of slushed snow, matter in a strange transient state between solid and liquid. Groaning, reluctantly, I went about my morning, making coffee, selecting earrings, but made sure to incorporate a thick black sweater and thick black sweater tights into my outfit. Nearly every day while living in Ithaca, I, joined by my many peers, would traipse through clouds of gray snow and slush under gray skies; walking through the elements, though frigid, visceral, had an almost meditative quality to it. Collective, communal, simultaneous misery and revelry in the harshly beautiful climate, at once oppressive and refreshing. Driving through the elements is merely precarious and dangerous and threatening. As I maneuvered my car adroitly to the office this morning, watching the snow accumulate and stick, I wish for nothing more than a teleportation device, to whisk me away in time and space, to some isolated tropical beach, without cell phone or computer or other mechanized communication device to haunt and torment me. Just a blanket and a broad-brimmed hat and a bottle of coconut-fragrant lotion.

(image taken from Fred and Ginger Vintage)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Revlon I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down

A few weeks back, I verbally lamented the loss of my favorite true red nail polish shade, Frankly Scarlet from Revlon purchased ages ago; had I been able to foresee the future, the impermanence of this delectable shade and its ever brilliant name, I would have bought enough bottles to last a few decades. My despair and my disappoint subsided after my vehement rant and futile plea to Revlon. Last week, before boarding the train and heading home for the Thanksgiving holiday, I finally did scrape the last tinted dregs from my lone and lonely glass bottle, having to tilt it at odd, often precarious angles to coax the precious color from the dreaded bottom. It was finished. There were no tears flowing, but, I am sure more than one heavy sigh escaped from my drooping lips. 

Now, there are a few other shades from Revlon that I also trust and enjoy; I am particular about my nail polish, and avoid any color that departs too dramatically from a classic red or a deep wine. The desire for countless women to don awkward shades of olive and khaki and tan, giving their nails a look of fungus overgrowth, besides a perpetuation of obvious trends, continues to elude me. I had surrendered hope of finding a replacement for my favorite classic red, when, during a reunion brunch with my childhood friends Morgan and Joanna, I noticed that Morgan was wearing a nearly identical shade. Could it be that Frankly Scarlet was secretly being manufactured, packaged, distributed, and marketed solely on the eastern shore of Maryland, right to the local shops where she now regularly frequents? No; rather, OPI had released a similar shade, that perfect red with a subtle, subtle sultry hint of golden glitter. Revelation; my eyes were opened to change and to new possibilities.

Today, strengthened by the power of two margaritas and a hearty scrambled egg burrito brunch, I strolled with my sister to her neighborhood apothecary and scooped up three OPI bottles: two in my favorite classic red, one a newer, sort of Bordeaux wine. Admittedly, I did first glance through the Revlon racks, scoured quickly for that elusive and now nostalgic bottle, in vain. My betrayal with OPI soothed the pain.

(image taken from My Wedding Color)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Though You May Not Drive A Great Big Cadillac

Today, I am thankful for what I got: a loving family, an adorably beautiful baby niece, an infinitely supportive and kind boyfriend, fun and loyal and true friends scattered near and far around the world, and a lifestyle with a, mostly, balanced proportion of hard work and indulgence. I am thankful for continued travels, for new exciting adventures, for those people, big and small, strange and dear, superficial and profound, that I have met and engaged with along the way. I am thankful that I brought my old but trusted car into the shop just in time to replace my worn, and now dangerous, tires, that the mechanics there were honest and straightforward and exceedingly helpful. I am thankful that my mother and sister are such incredible cooks, always willing to share with me their delicious bounty. I am thankful for my education, which served to bolster and solidify a life of intellectual curiosity and passion, of learning and discovery. For timeless classics, for evolution and adaptation and flexibility, for tradition with new growth. For the words I speak, the stories I tell and those others share with me. For the clean air I breathe and a steadily beating heart.

(image taken from Dying for Chocolate)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Gracious Good-Bye, or, Dropping Like Flies

Life has, succinctly, been hectic lately: my car needs four new tires, which is a critical concern, considering I was a thin slice away from blow out; the Christmas season is blatantly looming, the first few popular carols already trickling out of the speakers of the pharmacy and the grocery stores, an incessant and cheerful reminder that I need to go shopping; and urgent, aggressively timed projects at work are now exacerbated in their already impressive capacity to induce sweat-dripping stress, as two of our esteemed and pleasant colleagues are leaving, onto greener professional pastures. For both, green as in more lucrative and more mentally and emotionally fulfilling. I, unable to resist certain genetically imprinted tendencies of human nature, am green with envy, meanwhile. Petty though this appears, at least I am able to honestly acknowledge it, and I continue to remind myself that happiness and success are not inherently finite commodities, a sort of limited well from which only a few can drink. The potential for happiness and success in others in no way could or should diminish my own future potential opportunities and adventures. It is saddening to see both women go, because they offer so much to our project team in terms of knowledge and competency, but more so because they are each wonderful, kind, generous ladies. They will be missed. And for now, those that remain standing are a lean and, though experienced and bright, somewhat anxious team; the future is always a tenuous prospect.

One of these colleagues is leaving the area, forging a new life further up north in Connecticut. She has been with our company a few years, coming on board only a few months after I have, so, in many senses of the word, she has been an enduring and true comrade in the often surreal world of our corporate culture, as well as that of our clients. Often, the group jokes at the parallels to popular situational comedies, featuring hapless or numb workers and benignly and blissfully ignorant leaders; the reality is frequently more ridiculous than the fictions designed to entertain. The seemingly daily farce can keep life interesting, with the right optimistic perspective, but it can also be wildly draining and uninspiring. We have worked together closely on a number of different projects, and I have always admired her passion and her formidable ethics. Her last day is today, wrapping up loose ends, as I sit abroad a packed, shaking train, heading south to Baltimore for the Thanksgiving holiday; on Monday, she presented me with these pearl and rhinestone earrings. I was pleasantly surprised, a bit taken aback; knowing that she is moving and attempting to consolidate some of the clutter that invariable attracts and clings to our lives, she saw these and believed I should have them, believed I would enjoy them. They are large, bodacious, have both pearl and rhinestone detailing, so, naturally, I swooned and beamed with joy. I wore them yesterday, with a new deep indigo knit dress.

While the act of giving a material item is always so rewarding, for both parties, the selecting of a token and the receiving of something new and shiny and novel, and certainly I was excited to flaunt these earrings, it was the thought that touched me, the careful consideration and understanding of what I like aesthetically, what I would appreciate. I shop consignment regularly, so obviously have numerous items that have resided in the closet or the bureau of someone else; my favorite, though, is an item owned by someone familiar. It makes the piece more familiar, imbues the material with something more of a narrative, of a soul, of the person I know and care for.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Lost Art, or, The Impending Holiday Season

My mother always jokes, a bit forlornly, that homemade pie crust is a lost art, a type of sculpting or mold of flour and shortening that is fading to no more than quaint memory. I remember being a little girl, watching as my mother massaged the dough, then rolled and rolled into a perfect flat plane, finally meticulously pinching the edges into a precise pattern of dough divots, a tessellation of sharp angles. It was not until a much older, bordering embarrassing, age that I discovered pie crusts came packaged and pre-prepared, ready to toast to a golden brown in the oven. My mind was opened to cartons of fake canned frosting at about this same time; they both always seemed so excessively and unnecessarily grotesque. I have yet to attempt, let alone master, such a feat, at once simple in concept, yet mythic and grandiose in my own biography.

My maternal grandmother died before I was born; she was no cook, so I am not entirely sure where my mother gleaned her own kitchen secrets, her exact proportions of shortening and flour, other than perhaps an older edition of a Betty Crocker cookbook, the fictional domestic matriarch beaming with baking knowledge. My paternal grandmother loved to cook, and, similarly, took pride in hand-crafted pie crusts, devoted her hands to the similar ritual of soft kneading, of rolling, of delicate persuasion into the pinched pattern. I remember her lemon meringue pies quite distinctly, but, naturally, this time of year would always be the traditional pumpkin. My last times spent with her were Thanksgiving and the Christmas season; there is, always, in these months a tease of melancholy for someone lost, now a contortion of memory and photograph.

While I was an early adolescent, just starting middle school, meandering those long halls, uncertain and gawky, my grandfather grew aggressively ill with leukemia; though my grandmother, Meemaw, had long been diagnosed with a throat cancer, he died before her, in early autumn. It seemed to only take days for his body to wane, to something faded, a sort of fog of the reality of the girth it had been. For her, I can barely remember her body before the superficial senescence, years of feebling bones and muscles and tendons. After his death, Meemaw came to stay with my family. Our last Thanksgiving together was quiet and solemn, the meal predominantly prepared by my mother, save the pumpkin pie dessert. Proud, despite the effort, her movements burdened with a dark mourning for her husband, burdened with dying cells, ironically maniacal in their growth as she seemed to disappear, she mixed the dough, rolled it slowly, a flat plane, repeated that final methodical pattern. Tired but pleased, she turned the pie plate as she shaped, with her sharp fingers pinching a complete circle of crust.

(image taken from A Well Traveled Woman)

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Bronx in Frankfurt

Today was one that was particularly trying and aggravating, the type of Monday where before lunch I wish I could abandon my slowly puttering computer and my tedious teleconferences for a liquid lunch. My first legitimate, genuine cocktail, which I distinguish by that which was served in an actual glass, made of something not tinged with a false bubblegum-inspired fruit flavor, and consumed not in secret in a dark basement or a hushed bedroom with my friends, was a classic martini. Fine chilled gin, a touch of dry vermouth, served up with a twist. I was still a few years shy of the legal drinking age, but, as I was generally responsible, and not raised by backwards teetotalers, this posed as minor prohibition. With my limited experience in the varied and lascivious world of libations, mostly dusty unwanted items smuggled from the liquor cabinets of my friends' parents, I was not entirely sure I could muster a martini; I was not entirely sure I even actually liked the taste of alcohol, without a heavy dousing of juice or soda. When the glass was set before me, I hesitated, for a moment. In a restaurant, surrounded by smug family members, I sipped slowly, and finished my drink. I will not pretend I enjoyed it thoroughly, but, I did began my appreciation for gin and for something well-crafted that evening. 

Since then, traditional, classic cocktail recipes have interested me, as well as, seemingly, nearly every other young professional in the general vicinity of a metropolitan area. While trends often cheapen a good thing, occasionally, they are welcome, if it means more attention, fresher and more lush ingredients, and better care are given to drink making. And more knowledge of the old-fashioned, original, and true recipes, ways of doing things taste impeccable then and now. Avid Wall Street Journal readers, my parents introduced me to the old How's Your Drink? columns by Eric Felton, weaving a narrative as he shares the purportedly perfect recipe for a plethora of cocktails, of any and all boozes, bitters, and garnishes. After reading his book of the same name, I learned extensive, but not dull or exhaustive, history of the art of mixing and drinking, and even felt a bit of nationalistic fervor in my love of cocktails, an American innovation.

While I still indulge in a martini, occasionally with a briny olive, frequently with the more classic twist, through Eric Felten I discovered another delicious and classic cocktail that is essentially now completely ignored: the Bronx. The Bronx, named after the zoo, not the borough, at one time ranked with the martini and the Manhattan; these three were the three in cocktails, the trifecta, the musketeers of making merry. While both the martini and the Manhattan remained mainstays in the cocktail circuit, despite, or maybe because of, the, to me, egregious and frequent substitution of vodka for the traditional gin, and the various concoctions since bastardized, the Bronx become antiquated and then forgotten. Still, when I reference the drink at some of my favorite, and reputed, cocktail bars, eyebrows are raised, or a I am met with an incredulous or condescending stare. Thankfully, the ingredients are basic and the proportions easy to remember, so, provided I have ample ice and a clean shaker, I can make my own.

1 1/2 ounces good gin
1 ounce fresh orange juice
1/4 ounce dry vermouth
1/4 ounce sweet vermouth
twist of orange to garnish
ample ice to shake

I have never once seen the Bronx featured on any cocktail menu, whether it was the true recipe or even some distant variation thereof. Never. Then, in Frankfurt, in a land known for sweeter white wines and strong heavy beers, on a quiet street, in an unassuming Thai restaurant, which boasted of cocktails, something to always be skeptical of in Europe, where wine and beer, rightfully so, reign supreme, I found listed, as true and classic as can be, the Bronx. I was flabbergasted. After their offerings of curries, the cocktail list was the most extensive on the menu, and featured a display of some of the best of the traditional indulgences. Gimlets. Mai tais. Bloody Marys. Old Fashioneds. And the Bronx. Amidst gilded Buddha statues, rainbow silken robes cloaking lithe and aged Thai servers, and precisely angry guttural German, a bit of American heritage. The beauty of travel and exploration is learning that I can continually be surprised and invigorated with the unexpected. 

(image taken from The Kitchn)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Recent Read: Waltzing the Cat

After reading the first few words of the freshman collection by Pam Houston, Cowboys Are My Weakness, I fell in love, fell in love with her controlled lyricism, her romantic tableau of open skies and tall mountains, her encapsulation of stoic and strong and hurtful men, her sense of unbridled and impassioned adventure, depicted in her highly autobiographical narrators. During a recent jaunt to the local library, I found her second collection, Waltzing the Cat, nestled in between a handful of adult contemporary mystery and crime and romance. Though slightly different in structure than her first collection, following one single protagonist narrator chronologically as she navigates her relationships with friends, lovers, family, and self, as opposed to numerous varied female voices, these stories did not at all disappoint. Enthralled, I journeyed with Lucy O'Rourke, famed adventure and outdoor sports photographer, as she tries to make a life for herself in San Francisco away from her beloved rivers and mountains, as she is trapped in a jalopy sailboat in squall with two men, as she inherits a dilapidated ranch from her estranged maternal grandmother. 

Houston writes with a beautiful precision and a profound sense of integrating the bittersweet humor and pain inherent in the life of a woman seeking compatible, physically and emotionally fulfilling companionship. Though her narrators are women, in this case one particular woman, who grows and lays her triumphs and mistakes on the page, Houston has a profound understanding of the masculine, whether that be manifested in the men Lucy loves and loathes, or the women. Intimacies, both transient and eternal, are portrayed elegantly and truthfully. I believe her stories and believe her characters.

Aside from admiring her astute craft, I violently admire Pam Houston, the woman, the type that I wish I could be and would want to be. A wanton wanderer, willing to take risks and adventure, refusing a stagnant path of security and monotony. Fiercely independent. Unafraid of disappointing her parents, her friends. Like me, born and bred on the east coast, she released the fetters of tradition and responsibility, so potent here, for the west; since being introduced to her work, I fantasize wildly about abandoning this life. I have run a white water rapid river, never summited a craggy peak, and I hope one day to at least relinquish my fear and try, but until then, I can always rely on the work of Houston for a visceral resurgence and a powerful dose of beautiful truth.

(image taken from University of Montana-Western)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Outfit for a Wednesday: Bad Lieutenant

On Tuesday evening, when I returned home after a long weekend of lectures and more lectures at a medical conference up in Boston, the filmmaker and I decided to relax and watch the original version of Bad Lieutenant, featuring the ever emotionally dominating and complex Harvey Keitel.  A perfectly beautiful downward spiral in soul and spirit, I enjoyed the film immensely, though, would not recommend viewing while in a state of doldrums or anxiety. While riveting, it offers little solace, and left me feeling rather disturbed.

Woven into the dark narrative is the tensely competitive World Series between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers, the seven games a constant in the background of the protagonist, who is also his own antagonist, as he places unsteady and wild bets on who will win, using most. Perhaps, subconsciously, the iconic red-orange and royal blue combination of the inconsistent Mets lodged itself deep into the recesses of my brain. Early on Wednesday morning, I was instantly drawn to this new bright sweater, and wanted to pair it with equally unsubtle royal blue melting into indigo tights.

Initially, I was uncertain about this shade of bloodied tangerine; generally, I am drawn to more teals, turquoises, blues,  purples, jewel tones, and, naturally, lots of black, navy, and cream. Occasionally, when feeling frisky, I feel inclined towards red, a color I always associate with a sanguine disposition, which, unfortunately, often does not reflect my own self-perception. Discovered in the dark crevices of the sale corner at Ann Taylor Loft, this sweater was extraordinarily reduced, and, to my surprise, made of a wonderfully soft cotton material, so I could not resist. Past experiences with Ann Taylor Loft, especially recently, have left me disappointed; every tag needs to be scrutinized because the producers have an unshakeable penchant for synthetic fabrics. Apparently, my plunge into a new chromatic realm paid off; my colleagues, in my now predominately female office, all swooned and insisted it complemented my skin tone well. This was my main concern, a sort of clash between fabric and my olive-tinted skin, so I was relieved the superficial risk was worth it.

With a color this bold and bright, it is important to balance the palette of the rest of the outfit; I did this by pairing with a demure wool camel skirt and the darker, slightly less vibrant blue. A color this impassioned and furious needs a neutral to ground it, otherwise, one teeters towards resembling an antiquated Rainbow Brite doll unearthed from a basement, or an exotic bird waiting to be discovered in the jungle brush. The second metaphor sounds rather glamorous, but, in practice, too many brights can be overwhelming and unflattering. Black would look great with this bright shade, but would leave it still a bit unfettered; camel tones everything down.

With golden curved lines, opalescent golden cream ovals, and a scattering of bright amber rhinestones, I found these earrings to be pleasantly sculptured, appearing as though they were designed by an architect. They were a treasure from a church sale I attended last year; church sales are my favorite places to scour for funky, inexpensive costume jewelry.

Muted camel in color, this softer hue dulls the sharper angles of the geometry, so that the original shape of this bangle is not immediately obvious. I found this beauty at a department store in Berkley, Jeremy's, when I visited California last November and spent time with my friend Katherine.

It was only a number of weeks after purchasing these slightly pointed indigo flats that I realized I had previously owned slight variations to the shoe for at least the last six years. The first permutation, also indigo, slightly pointed, nearly identical in shape, was a true leather; I adored these shoes, which I guess rationalizes why I essentially keep buying them, and foolishly mostly ruined them during a drunken parade home from a party one night at university. On some stretch of pavement, somewhere on my trek home, I skidded the toe, tearing the leather in a long, straight scar. I continued to wear them to death, despite the imperfection. The next permutation were more of a true purple and were textured with a snakeskin-like print; I believe these are still tucked in my closet somewhere. This patent leather pair, hopefully, now that I am older and mildly wiser, will not suffer the fate of their ancestors.

Cubicle morning soundtrack: Instrumental Tourist Tim Hecker and Daniel Lopatin

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Wandering in Westfield

Saturday afternoon, the filmmaker and I went ambling through a nearby small town, Westfield, each of us itching to stretch our legs, even under the ominous gray sky. The pavement was wet with melted snow, streaked patterns of alternating light and dark grays; after the hurricane winds, a cold permeating and sinking deep into the earth and into our bones, the sky cracked and spilled down below. Despite the early flurries, I have not been prepared to relinquish my autumn wardrobe, my blazers not ready to be resigned in my closet for another stretch of months.  Copious amounts of wool and cashmere are surely in my future, but, I would like to defer for at least a bit.

Though a bit chilly, I wanted to wear a pair tailored shorts, made appropriate for winter with some dark navy tights; these shorts have a thin pinstripe pattern with ever subtle pleats. Paired with these sleek schoolgirl preppy shorts, I kept warm with a colorful plaid men's button down shirt from Ralph Lauren layered underneath a navy and white striped sweater. Because the more navy, the merrier, I donned my trusted velvet blazer, something so worn and true; I keep intending to replace this with another velvet blazer, as its starting to show its age, but there is something so comfortable and familiar I keep holding on. Just to keep a balance with all this blue, I painted on a bright red.

My vintage handbag collection rolls deep, so, claiming favorites is either impossible or a lie; still, I will emphatically repeat how much I love this bag from the 1950s, a monument to intricately tooled leather and to soft pony hair. Typically, I avoid vintage shopping in New York, steep prices and ravenous vintage-vultures scavenging through the gluttony for most awesome pieces enough to keep me away. Surprisingly, I found this handbag at an outdoor market in Chelsea a few years ago, for a mere 40$.

After a heavy and cheaply decadent late lunch at the local diner, where I indulged in an impressive pile of a cheese steak sandwich, we braved the hordes of frenetic patrons at Trader Joe's, a trying challenge that was ultimately worthwhile for the delicious budget wines. In my neighborhood, there is a truly impressive and personable local wine shop, which I frequent regularly; still, I love stocking up at Trader Joe's since the prices are a toss away from wholesale. 

My new Frye boots, though still needing some more wear and tear to break them in, have quickly become my easy staple; these older Frye heels are still easy and, with the caramel leather, the simple rustic hardware, complement nearly every autumn and winter outfit.

One of the beautiful things about playing with layers is the palette of textures, in this case of lazy and lackadaisical meandering, soft, softer, softest.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Styling After Sandy

After enduring what was, thankfully, the relatively mild effects of the horrible Hurricane Sandy, and after suffering a bit of the ever insanity-inducing cabin fever, I finally ventured outside for a substantial period of time to retrieve a calzone with the filmmaker.  Copious amounts of melted cheese and red peppers and sausage was easily and obviously enticing, even if it meant venturing out, surveying the havoc and damage, braving the frigid air.

This warm caramel wool jacket, slightly stylized with a rounded black velvet collar, is definitely one of my most prized consignment shop finds; it is the ideal blazer for crisp weather, before or after any tumultuous storm. Although warm, frankly, it was a bit too little for this particularly brutal afternoon; there has been a stark cold streak, complete with snow and ice-rain. Unfortunately, my silky almost-sheer scarf, emblazoned with intermingling animal prints and tiger faces, also did not offer much sanctuary from the elements. Still, I survived the slight chill. Being consistently inappropriately dressed for the weather is, apparently, a great skill of mine.

This black and oxblood vintage carpet handbag, which formally resided with my sister in her wardrobe, is such a treasure. The soft texture and the deep, pungent colors of the floral combine in a way that is, in a bizarre, simultaneously subtle and unforgettable.

Evocative of some gilded bird nest, perhaps something suited for a William Butler Yeats poem, or a dusty frontier tumbleweed rolled in gold, I found these contemporary clip-on earrings at a small boutique in Paris last spring. They have since become a staple.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Celebrating Suffragettes

(image taken from Elizabeth May Writes)

(image taken from Feminspire)

(image taken from Telegraph UK)

Yesterday, I voted for the first time, in any election, excluding, of course, those pivotal and excruciating elementary school class president races. It is the day after, a day notorious for its sense of anti-climax, an argument that this rant is late and untimely, yet I care little; hard-fought democratic principles and freedom should not be celebrated only the first Tuesday of every fourth November. As I left the senior citizens center up the road from my apartment building, where I had been calmly escorted into a lackluster booth, one that was akin to a wardrobe changing station on a beach from a bygone era, made my informed selections based on ideology, policy, and integrity, I was imbued with a sense of accomplishment and pride, a sensation that, in fact, took me back a bit. 

Four years ago, when I technically first could have participated in the honor of American democratic process, I abstained, for a variety of reasons: I was, and continue to be, very skeptical of the electoral college system, in staunch opposition to the long and costly pageantry campaign tactics brandished and flaunted by the two firmly entrench political parties, and inundated with frustration at the myopic, fanatical, almost religious-like loyalty that is applied to the rhetoric of both main parties, without discernment, question, skepticism, or some healthy discontent. The notion of such a clean and simple dichotomy, on both sides, is, for me, unsettling at the very best, and absolutely petrifying and dangerous at the worst. While I do not exactly regret my decision to abstain from the election, I have evolved in my feelings on how to best manifest my political philosophies.

It is daunting and harrowing to think that almost one hundred years ago, women were fighting, with rhetoric, with civil, intellectual, and political argument, with action, with demonstration, sometimes with violence, for the right to vote. The United States is a country founded, and continually shaped and changed, by the revolutionaries, the very few willing to contest tradition and expectation, for, simply, what is right and what is good. Against tremendous opposition, these revolutionaries pushed against popular, complacent, accepted conditions, whether they were philosophical, socioeconomic, political, or biological, physical, connected to the very essence of being a human citizen on our earth and in our country. We are wholly indebted to them, and maybe, at some point in our lifetimes, there will be a very few of us, visionaries, who will confer further forward movement.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Home Bound

One of the many leftover effects of the unpleasant, powerful, and formidable Hurricane Sandy, aside from the staggering uprooted trees and scattering of large branches, has been a shortage in gasoline, leading to rationing across the Tri-State area. It had not occurred to me to fill up my tank last Sunday, before the storm, my hopeless naïvety when it comes to emergency preparedness evident. Thankfully, I live in a suburban town where walking to the essentials, namely my favorite Chinese joint and the coffee shop and deli where I can parasitically partake in their generous free wireless connection, is both possible and enjoyable. I have not driven my car, with its lowly quarter-filled tank, in over a week, avoiding the mile-long lines at the few available gasoline station, and also limiting my daily comings and goings to a small, local radius. Normally, I would welcome this type of salvage from the torments of necessary travel, the commute to and from work, the inherent responsibilities of the typical, monotonous schedule. Indeed, this sort of vacation from reality has been relaxing, though, it is an opportunity that was only afforded with great cost to my surrounding society, my favorite city, my friends, my neighbors. 

Between this natural event, and my recent vacation and general scurrying about for work, I have not seen my niece in over a month. She has nearly all her teeth, and, apparently, today sampled a delicious black and white cookie, a sort of crucial induction into the life of a Brooklyner. Her first birthday is this week, and I hope to be able to sneak into the city to help celebrate, provided the public transportation system is safe and can return to some degree of normalcy. Until then, I will stay relatively cozy in the confines of my apartment, reading, dozing.

(image taken from A Well-Traveled Woman)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Percent: Recycled, Repurposed, Renewed Jewelry

Now that Halloween has come and gone, almost lost and forgotten here on the east coast amidst the drowning deluge and furious winds, the slippery slope to the winter holidays has commenced, a slope of deferred shopping and generous gift giving. My lovely friend, Katherine, who I love to gush and boast about because she works on such incredible projects, has been making jewelry for years, from before we had even met one another, which, at this stage, seems like a beautiful eternity. Surprisingly, I have yet to shamelessly, and proudly, promote her incredible online shop, Percent. Since she just worked to obtain her business license out in California, allowing her to partner with some local boutiques out in San Francisco in addition to selling her wares online, and has also recently released some new designs, I decided to seize the coincidental opportunity. Overall, her life philosophy is to promote sustainable design and sustainable living; with her jewelry, she achieves this be recycling and re-purposing vintage and other materials, giving them a rebirth and a renewal with a fresh aesthetic eye. Each piece is hand-crafted and unique, individually designed to thoughtfully incorporate and illuminate the materials selected, a precious and admirable thing, in a world where it seems more and more goods are massively produced, at a scale where poor quality is the only expectation.

My current favorite is featured above, a bold but classic necklace of vintage Japanese lucite beads; vintage lucite is a staple in my jewelry collection and, being a taller lady, I love anything colorful that makes a statement. This necklace, for me, would pair perfectly with some of my knit black dresses and a pair of black pumps, a monochrome look that is not only slimming, but allows the necklace to glean all attention and focus. Very versatile, I would also love this paired with a simple white cotton dress in the warmer summer months, which already seem to be a faint whisp of a memory. Between the insane storm, impending work and personal travel, for conferences and then Thanksgiving, and my niece's first birthday celebration, drafting my list for Santa Claus has been quite the low priority; frankly, I am not even that certain I have been all that good. But, Jolly Saint Nick usually lets me slide; this beauty is definitely top on my wish list.

Whether perusing for some gifts for the nice and the naughty, or just procrastinating from cubicle doldrums, give Percent a gander. And if you are in the San Francisco area, check Katherine's blog, also called Percent, for her updates on local artisan shows and boutique store partnerships.

Gonzales Grieving

In the vein of the popular online meme White Girl Problems, which is concept of privileged and first-world whining and entitlement, not limited to white girls alone, I am going to gripe about the most superficial but no less significant inconvenience caused by the turmoil and tumult that was Hurricane Sandy: the cancellation of the free Gonzales piano concert at Lincoln Center. Scheduled for yesterday evening, the much anticipated, for me at least, event has been indefinitely postponed, for obvious reasons; inclement weather has passed, but the havoc of power outages and flooded public transportation will haunt the great city for weeks to come. According to the Lincoln Center calendar, the organizers of the free Thursday evening programs will try earnestly to set another date; I will watch like a hawk for any announcements, and hopefully, if all comes to fruition, no tornadoes or earthquakes or other natural calamities will deter me.

For years, Gonzales' first solo piano album has been a sort of meditative refuge; simply complex, it blends with any mood, any environment, any occasion. No matter how many times I play the entire album, I never grow tired of any of the languid yet energetic songs, never grow tired of the easy and familiar flow from one to the next. Recently, the acclaimed musician and artist released his second solo piano album; I was elated. Similar to the first, this second piano album features seemingly effortless melodies, exercises reminiscent of a perfect and satisfying geometry, cyclic and smooth, rising and falling, repeating in even and comforting tones. I listen to this work incessantly as well, when I am cleaning, while I am reading, when I am frustrated and want some solace, some soothing. 

I was prepared to don my rubber Ralph Lauren rain boots and stroll into the city to Lincoln Center, at least in spirit, to get to this concert. Hopefully, the opportunity to see this incredible performer live will return soon.

(image taken from Berlin Battery)