Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Physical Demands of Cubicles

While performing the duties of this job, the colleague is regularly required to sit; use hands to operate a computer keyboard; talk and hear. The colleague is occasionally required to stand and walk. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision and ability to adjust eye focus.

The noise level in the work environment is usually quiet, with neighboring colleagues seated in offices or cubicles.

I stumbled upon this absolutely and deliciously ludicrous description while reading some job descriptions on Linkedin. So, essentially, applicants should understand that this is a job in an office, where they should understand how to maneuver and behave within a cubicle and how to use a computer work station. I would have hoped that some of these attributes or demands would be implied in the more relevant details, but I suppose spelling everything out to broaden the pool to those unaware that office settings generally involve sitting, listening, speaking when appropriate, and typing. There is no mention about proper foot placement or posture; I like the idea of kicking back, so maybe I will submit my resume. Fingers crossed!

(image taken from Kitschy Kitschy Coo) 

Advertising Weakness, or, Mirroring my Mother

Sprucing up my trusted business casual staples the other week with doubling pearl necklaces, I was simultaneously mocking and celebrating my eventual attentuation and attraction to stereotypical mature woman brands. Those franchised fashion institutions that were the target of condescension and scoff during my undergraduate years, when bold and ironic magenta eyeliner was a not uncommon flair. Inevitable attitude of youth: I will never. Never wear pleated slacks, never wear button-downs. Never wear sterile white, totally practical cross-trainers, outside of the gym. Never wear matching sweater sets. Never wear mock-turtle necks. Never die. Psychologically, I am certain some bored and myopically-focused graduate student could link this sartorial mentality to the desire to deny senescence and mortality. Or already has. Free thesis idea to anyone with the bandwidth and grants.

The next day after that self-deprecating meditation on trying to not look completely business bland, I placed quite an impressive online order at Talbots; to redeem myself, I admit that all pleats and sets were adroitly avoided. This time. Seeking affirmation that I am not yet irrelevant, or old, or my mother, I sought out my sister for some superficial approval. She assured me, condoned my choice of shop. Herself a shamed but loyal advocate of Eileen Fisher, she knew just what I needed. These, for us, are the truly hidden gems; we find incredible pieces, wear them, unabashed and proud, knowing their true brand identity will remain a mystery to our peers. Anyone can find something on trend at Zara, or discover that perfect amalgamation of professional and fun at J. Crew; combing through the occasionally shudder-inducing selections at Talbots requires real innovation. 

Perhaps hypocritically and unfairly, we both still good-naturedly poke fun at our mother's style, and favorite stores. Then, earlier today, reading this article like a drone, I found myself perusing the wares available online at J. Jill, the very place that is typically the substance of our jokes, easy and innocuous. Earnestly shopping, not pausing to glance for grins. I was ensnared. So many pairs of shoes that I could legitimately envision myself wearing, nothing like the broad, square loafers my sister and I so innocently tease. Cognac leather ankle boots, metallic ballet flats, classic black bows. 

Blame could be easily laid on my weakened constitution; sitting in one chair for too long, hunched, eyes peering at a single screen, softens the mind, numbs its once nimble neural firings. With such mental mush, how could I possibly resist succumbing to the wily, irresistible sucrose of digital media advertising? Or, worse, has Refinery29 cracked the code: while it may not be discussed openly, in polite conversation, those mature, business professional women's brands have some sophisticated and sneakily fun merchandise. Am I now going to be competing with other eager young women for those sales on cashmere, for those discounted wool pencil skirts? J. Jill joining J. Crew to vie for our affections?

(images taken from J. Jill)     

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Frye Fever...

So, after some rather unnecessary deliberation and balking on the expense before decided to take the plunge with my first pair of Frye boots, I cannot stop. A rabid leather-loving, craftsmanship-caring, details-desiring beast has been born, and nurtured by the simple fact that online perusing new boot styles while bored at work certainly passes the hours. Since my wardrobe is already more than saturated with chocolate and honey tinted brown boots, my next material prey will be black, flat, and motorcycle-inspired. In about a month, I am taking my first vacation of the year, jetting off to London with one of my best friends, to visit another dear friend. Beyond excited, I know from experience that European touring requires sturdy, comfortable footwear. While in Paris last spring, my tall ombre riding boots were critical for mounting tall cathedrals, maneuvering winding cobble stone streets, and shopping without tiring through the various markets. Since my expert packing strategy for international adventures typically involves choosing a single primary neutral and choosing fun, interesting basics around it, and since black is generally the most accessible neutral in my closet, these boots can definitely be impractically justified. Totally. My hunger is rational.

(image taken from Zappos)

Iconography: The Village Vanguard

For Christmas, I treated the filmmaker to a date night at the wonderfully renowned Village Vanguard; last Friday, we saw Al Foster and his quartet, and the experience was perfect. Cramped and intimate, in the basement-belly of the building, the room almost seems a time vacuum, untouched for decades, other than the constant new vibrational waves of song from rotating performers, and the dissipation of the clouds of cigarette and cigar smoke of bygone eras. Scattering network of tables, nearly touching, the interior is reminiscent of traditional Parisian cafes.  Walls decorated with magnificent jazz masters, there is an immediate and palpable aura of tradition and rich history within.

The group wore sharp suits, fitting suits for their general demeanor; crisp for the upright bassist and the pianist, a bit dulled and crumpled for Mr. Foster. While they played their set, he maintained on his face a look of pure ecstasy; it is a safe assumption that he loves nothing more than he loves his drums. In subtle melody nods, they paid homage to the great late Dave Brubeck, and while Mr. Foster was certainly the front man, each infused their pieces with personality and, occasionally, borrowed the spotlight. For anyone in or near the New York area, especially any true lovers of live music, the Village Vanguard is a must destination.

(images taken from NPR)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Snow Day

One of those sneaky and scrupulous adult secrets, purposely hidden from children, is that unfettered, relaxed snow days no longer exist. When snow trickled down and formed a thick film on the earth when we were younger, endangering school bus drivers and clumsy pedestrians, we stayed in our pajamas for much of the morning, slurping down sickly sweet hot chocolate from ceramic mugs. Then we slathered our sated bodies in layers of down and wool, and we romped and rolled down icy hills on our sleds until our fingers and noses were raw with all the delightful exertion. Today, a dusting of snow mostly means I should wear my snow boots to the office, unless I want to slip and potentially plummet to an untimely death on the treacherous foot bridge from the parking lot to my office building. Normally, I wear skirts on days like this, despite the cold, cold air; today, I wore pants, which, although slightly warmer, means stuffing them into my boots and getting them wrinkled. It also means spending about ten minutes cleaning my car off, while futilely trying to remain dry and presentable, before I can leave. Staying at home during inclement weather is an option, but the expectation is that we work, productively; constant connectivity through a variety of devices ensures this. Finding a proper excuse for missing that client teleconference or not crafting a response to their query is difficult, and could place us in professional jeopardy. 

Laptop, cell phone, streams of incessant email firing on multiple devices mean that escaping the drudgery of the office is impossible. Languidly enjoying a day off, a boon from the natural climate forces, means detaching from our digital limbs, shutting them or at least turning them to silent and hiding them under a pillow. Just once this winter, I would like to decompress in the cold, amidst the snow, perhaps glide carelessly along some frozen ice, just skate on by swiftly and assuredly like I did as a small girl.

(image taken from BibliOdyssey)   

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Shielding the Cold

Providing any further comment on how cold the weather has been in recent weeks in the northeast, and frankly most of the country, is entirely unnecessary. This past week, my stratagem for combatting the big chill has been layering cowl neck sweaters with turtle necks, something possibly visually redundant, but unsurprisingly quite effective. Heather gray and glittering gold is one of my favorite color combinations; in this case, I felt toasty warm as well as polished. The trick, for this type of layering, is to partner a looser sweater, preferably one with kimono or dolman-style sleeves, with a tighter fitting cotton tee underneath.

Cold weather or no, my steel gray lucite bangle was an ideal accompaniment to my layers of metallic and neutral fabrics. 

Roommate and dear friend Katherine gave me these golden rhinestone earrings while we were both still in school; the shape always reminds me of perfect crystalline snowflakes. After living together for years, she certainly understood my aesthetic likes intimately: classic retro design, simple yet bodacious and memorable, and a respectable amount of sparkle. Currently far away in California, wearing these always causes me to pause; I miss her terribly, and hopefully a trip will be in the works once the air thaws slightly.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Beard Salve for the Filmmaker: Polished and Protected

The other weekend I spent an afternoon relaxing with my sister Elizabeth, posturing as a stereotypical DUMBO yuppy: we sipped mochas and idly perused the expensively alluring kitchen and home wares at West Elm. The shop is like an adult playground for those with liberal arts degrees and disposable income, with a wide array of tantalizing accessories like specialty locally produced mayonnaise, infant-sized cast iron skillets, and oak wood cheese serving boards. On a sale shelf, I found a small tin of Beard Scent, and Elizabeth convinced me to pick some up for my filmmaker, whose beard generally ranges from tame Brooklyn artist length to tame grizzly mountain man length. Moisturizing and aromatic, the perfume is a synthesis of rich, old forest and fresh citrus. I was dubious, at first, as to how much this product would be used, given that my man favors spending money on books and music and art over wardrobe and grooming any day. He seemed mildly unenthused, at first, but finds the salve perfect for sculpting down wild, wiry beard hairs that grow unruly during a shower or after a face-in-pillow sleep. It is also a great product for dry and itchy skin, a completely undesirable and almost inevitable effect of these freezing winter temperatures. For any man, or lady, of distinction who wishes to alleviate and soothe skin irritation, control body hair into smooth submission, and smell smart, this product is ideal.

(image taken from Dapperism) 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Outfit for a Tuesday: Classics

A striped blue Oxford button-down and cashmere cardigan are among the quintessential business casual staples, basics with an exuberance of tradition and effortless classic style. I remember, after accepting my position right after university, going shopping with my mother at a local Talbots, to retrieve an army of business attire, heavy on the button-downs. Certainly more conservative than I am about many things, she had convinced me that button-downs were the route to the ideal first impression. Mostly, I felt dowdy and lame, and not like my true self. While my photographic memory of the event fails me, I can say with some certainty, even as an almost-adult, there were some angst-driven eye rolls and heavy sighs involved. 

After my first few weeks on the job, after acclimating to my office environment and the general permeating corporate personality, I realized that a strict button-down uniform was not necessary or expected. I was, and still am, young, with fresh ideas and an invigorated, dynamic outlook on life and its challenges; I wanted my exterior to reflect that. I could both look professional, even don the stereotypical professional pieces, and infuse my sense of personal style. Essentially, layering and slathering on accessories, in the form of lush scarves and bright necklaces, dressed up this new wardrobe of mine in a way that seemed more authentic. Most likely, my mother would balk at this, but, honestly, I have found that in engaging with anyone, socially or professionally, feeling yourself, even a modified version of that self given prescribed dress code constraints, leads to stronger, more fruitful relationships. So, I have continued to add Oxford work blouses to my closet, and have grown to love them and feel comfortable in them, with the right pairings.

Tuesday morning, I decided to spruce up my business casual staples with a cascade of pearl beads in a bronze champagne and traditional cream. Both necklaces were originally from J. Crew, and discovered by me at two different local consignment shops. While I generally admire the modernized vintage appeal and, typically, decent craft quality of J. Crew jewelry, the price is usually pretty absurd, since nothing is constructed from veritably precious material. Most of my jewelry was made in a now distant decade; while I am aware of which costume jewelry brands bring more cachet, or exhibit more intricate design quality, I pick based on preference, not on name. 

For each of these necklaces, I was attracted to the hue of the beads, the reminiscence to a bygone time, and the careful knotting between each, which helps to prevent the entire strand from snapping and each sphere rolling away like balls of mercury, an exercise in entropy. So, I extend my many thanks, to the women out there in the world who are willing to pay exorbitant prices for mass-manufactured, albeit classically and aesthetically, brand recognized jewelry and who then decide to donate or re-sell these pieces to their local consignment store. My thriftiness is eternally grateful.

Standing in that Talbots almost four years ago, trying to envision myself coming to an organized office each day and sitting in a work cube, before a work laptop, I did not initially foresee much need for my beloved animal prints. Such a wildly inaccurate assumption. Particularly with accessories and shoes, leopard print has, for me, remained an equally formidable work wardrobe staple, almost on par with my favorite cashmere sweaters and my trusted striped Oxfords. This leopard lucite cuff in particular, discovered in a small shop up north in Providence, has been in serious heavy rotation. Against a neutral camel and blue on white stripe, the lucite and the pattern add some welcome texture. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Emerald Lust

Last night, my dear, and regrettably far away, friend Lily sent me a tempting and taunting Pinterest pin, capturing these modernized art deco-inspired earrings, unintentionally making me green with envy. Rightly so, she noted in her message that the design immediately reminded her of me, though, the lively snake green color is not one that I regularly embrace. With such an exhaustive jewelry collection as mine, gleaned from various dusty corners of consignment and vintage shops from across the country, I do have a few pieces in emerald green. So, though I do not have anything resembling the sharp angles of these earrings, I can alleviate this pin-induced desire with something emerald in my jewelry box at home. 

Until this point, I have remained strong, and have resisted joining Pinterest and falling into the time-suck mesmerized vortex, while still maintaining a mild pulse on the digital noise, to stay cognizant of the contributions to social media marketing and general digital visual dialogue. It has been quite the trial of will and stamina. Lily, again unintentionally, is not exactly bolstering my already tenuous fortitude, to preserve some of my time and reduce procrastination. For now, Pinterest will stay in the background, but emerald accessories will definitely be brought to a prominent forefront. 

(image taken from Bauble Bar) 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Daze and Glaze

Through some unknown, in origin and legitimacy, grant, my company has been award program management training courses, intensively overviewing the blatantly self-evident and numbing "theory" and some equally obvious but more directly pragmatic general processes and templates. Basically, this all translates to me dozing, like a coiled snake with eyes open, or sitting in a comatose but mildly conscious daze, utterly disinterested. It is funny, to find the theoretical foundations of one area so fascinatingly compelling and enthralling, and of another so frustratingly tedious. For me, discussing theoretical physics, chaos theory, sociobiological models, all hold my attention easily; analyzing project work flow and whether a specific series of activities represent start-to-start or finish-to-start serve solely to stunt my neural synapses. For today's session, my dazed fantasy has been a lackadaisical afternoon in a crystalline, sky blue pool, too many drinks imbibed and one in hand. Spinning and toying lazily with an inflated inner tube. I rarely, if ever, flagrantly zoned out during classes, through grade school or at university, a nerd to the core; thankfully, I am a quick learner. 

(image taken from This is Marilyn)

Monday, January 21, 2013

When Life Gives You Oranges....

Last week began rather sourly, but, thankfully, concluded remarkably sweetly. After a few marathon days in the office, a true trial in physical and mental endurance, as the lurid glare from my laptop screen and the processed chemicals of my Chinese take-out meals enticed me to snap, to meet a tight deadline, I escaped early on Thursday, taking Friday off with the rest of the team. A rare event, I was able to head into New York for Thursday evening, first meeting my dear friend Diana for dinner at Terroir, then catching up with various university friends at a collection of decadently debased stomps in Williamsburg. At Terroir, I was delightfully sated with oxtail risotto balls, lardo bruschetta, sherry samplings, and some Spanish reds. From there, the evening continued to slope slowly downward in terms of class and elegance, but never once wavered in terms of fun and laughs. Mostly, two of my best girlfriends and I gallivanted about, admonishing lowly hipster bartenders for their inadequacy in preparing gimlets and coquettishly terrorizing fellow, male, patrons. It was a testament, once again, to how my dear friends imbue a simultaneous insanity and sanity in my life.

It was a treat well deserved, given I was beginning to view my cubicle as more familiar than my bedroom. Thursday morning, to combat my weary disposition, I selected a rather uncharacteristic color: bold blood orange. Deliciously vibrant and zesty, this sweater is a wild swerve away from my winter wardrobe as of late, consisting mostly of gray and black. Dolman sleeves are also atypical and scarce in my closet; they exude a carefree fluidity that seems to contrast too sharply with my now regular disgruntled demeanor. Evincing the wings of soft butterflies, perhaps there is time for me to embark upon a metamorphosis. 

Color and draping may have conflicted mildly with my recent, admittedly tedious, style comfort zone, but these subtle button embellishments jived perfectly. Even with standard staples, like work sweaters, I admire and seek out detailing.

These coral earrings always remind me of a stereotypical and archetypical grandmother, a quality that is easily associated with most clip-on earrings, my collection being no exception. Such a bright orange is generally less overtly painful for me in small doses; still, the effect of seamless matching between sweater and accessories gave me a spiritual lift in the morning. The long hours logged may still have been visible on my face, but at least my color palette was cheerful and chipper.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fancy Fashion for the [Fickle] Filmmaker

Some of my public bemoaning of the filmmaker's seemingly unnatural aversion to both chinos and denim has been less than subtle, as, I suppose, really any public rant is. While I certainly cannot argue against the comfort and general versatility of corduroy slacks, my only significant point of contention has been their inability to dress up formally; typical corduroy texture can look clean and polished, but can carry a man to formality only so far. This past weekend, my brother-in-law David introduced me to an ingenious, and compromising, solution: horizontally patterned corduroy. At one of his favorite shopping indulgence stops, David had scored a pair of severely reduced, midnight navy corduroy dress slacks, the horizontal piping evincing almost a sheen. While these new duds could easily assimilate into any classic and easy solo white button-down look, they would also pair perfectly with a charcoal or light brown sport coat. Herring bone, especially, we found to be an ideal match, in terms of juxtaposing texture. I feel as though, once blind, I now see; my condescension and frustration can dissipate, and my filmmaker can, mostly, spend all his life in corduroy, if he chooses. Still, a little adventure, into the realm of the new, despite the initial discomfort with the foreign, never hurt anyone.

(image taken from SF Gate)

A Cigarette and a Hug

Tonight, rather morning, is my third in a row, spent languishing in the office as the minute hand strokes midnight. Looping, eyelids drooping, I could use a soft embrace, and a long hot drag. My dress, very pretty, is stained with oil; working too hard, for too little. At the very least, my mind is not completely lost, though agility has been numbed; alluding to early Depeche Mode lyrics is an art not yet decayed.

(image taken from Awesome People Hanging Out Together)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday in the Office

Last Sunday, my original plans of lazily watching football while sipping beer, like the generic typical American I am not, were postponed, swapped instead for spending the day toiling at work in our large conference room. Since I was joined by the rest of my team, I opted not to wear faded black leggings and an over-sized men's French cuff shirt, also my original plan, and as a professional courtesy, threw together an outfit that was reminiscent of a prep school student. If coerced into confronting the view from my cluttered cubicle on a Sunday, that ordained day of rest that nearly everyone other than Chinese take-out restaurants and hospital emergency rooms celebrate, I will forgo the old stretch pants, but never a soft chambray shirt dress.

This hering bone-patterned chambray dress is old, but a comfortable and loved staple, and it still surprises me that, worn though it has been, it has rarely been used as a layering piece. Underneath a classically striped navy and red sweater, my dress seemed refreshed, even as I was tired and feeling a bit figuratively thin.

Dedicated to the iconic preppy look, as dedicated as I am to my work projects, I adorned my lobes with some simple pearls and rhinestones. When spending what would otherwise be a relaxed afternoon in the confines of corporate crap, some accessorizing infuses superficial enthusiasm. The fake it until making it approach is as tried as this dress, but equally as effective.

Tones of navy flourished with red are always great working partners with pure cream.

Proper pumps are perfect for the regular, prescribed working days, but for clocking in the hours on the weekend, these wretchedly old and scuffed cowboy boots meet my objectives: soft, easy, familiar. Although the winter has been unseasonably warm, still, tall thigh socks were cozy, a tight cotton embrace for those pesky building air conditioned drafts.

Sunday evening soundtrack: Lovers Melt 3 Flying Lotus mixtape

Friday, January 11, 2013

Outfit for a Tuesday: Gray, Gray, and Polka Dots

When feeling lazy and lackluster, the simplest method for exuding an appearance of simple sartorial sophistication is dressing monochromatically, choosing a single color and varying its tone and texture throughout the look.  This week, my team had an aggressive, nearly unrealistic, timeline to complete the first phase of a project; all cylinders were anxiously oiled and pumping furiously. So, as my neurons schemed over the nuances of this, mostly neglecting the basic Maslovian functions, food, shelter, clothing, I wanted to combat the natural, immediate response to look like an office bum. Here, I layered a subtly silver metallic loose sweater with a gray-taupe bohemian shift dress and completed with a soft cotton heathered gray blazer. All gray, each piece still contrasted a bit in hue, adding some dimension.

It always helps if a palette of gray is paired with copious sparkling rhinestones. Glitteringly bold accessories alone are ideal for feigning an aura of being pulled together, calm and poised, meticulous in all manners, even in the most frantic and crazed of weeks. Integrated with a monochrome, especially, as in this case, mirroring the selected color, help anyone feel polished and shining, even if their mental self feels anything but. My thick rhinestone bangle and aluminum foil-entrapped lucite bangle always infuse any look with a sharp glint, a play with light and reflection. The vintage oval rhinestone earrings are at once simple and ostentatious, my favorite amalgamation.

Perhaps subconsciously mourning the discontinuation of Blair Waldorf's fictional life, that absurdist fantasy of an elevated socioeconomic echelon and an infinitely enviable wardrobe, I had to wear these charcoal and black polka dot tights, with these low steely gray heels, embellished with a plain silver bow.

Friday morning soundtrack: First Utterance Comus

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Shooting Stress

After spending my entire weekend hunched over my computer, working feverishly on maniacal minutia to prepare some medical marketing tactics for bureaucratic drudgery that is the pharmaceutical industry medical-legal review process, something I always akin to the Wonderland caucus-race, I toiled in my office until nearly midnight last night. Bleary-eyed, hair oily and frazzled, I drove home, only to be pulled over by a police officer, for the first time ever, for yet another piece of, ultimately, inane paper-pushing bureaucracy. Naturally, my emotional stability or lack thereof already tenuous and questionable, this sent me into a full-blown mental melt down. Thankfully, at least as far as documentation violations go, all can be resolved with some cold, hard cash for the state. As of late, I feel as though I am constantly drenched, wet and sopping, but running in the crashes of the tide, hoping that the faster and the more rigorous my gait, the more likely I am to dry.

Today, after a teleconference meeting with one of our most beloved but demanding clients, one of my colleagues offered a suggestion: team kick-boxing and cardio-boxing lessons. Essentially, release of our emotional aggression and aggravation, metaphorically mashing meat, making bruises, bruising our own knuckles in a sort of masochistic, self-deprecating manifestation of inner turmoil to superficial physical distress. She has a valid idea, though, perhaps, for me, the incorrect outlet. Shattering glass, preferably something expensive, comes to mind as more personally cathartic. As does shooting, a gun large and long, ideally unwieldy almost to my inexperienced grip, something wild and bucking and chaotic and, with the right guidance, controllable. Consolable. Learning to shoot skeet, or really any gun, has been a dream of mine for years. Perhaps, with this insurmountable mounting stress, this will be my year.

(image taken from A Well Traveled Woman)

Sunday, January 6, 2013


The spine, forever sumptuous, sultry, seductive. Unlike other parts of our interior body so often metonymized and metaphorized, the heart, the lungs, the brain, the spleen, crucial organs in collective colloquial culture, stuff of poetry, the hint of curving spine is visible, nascent beneath a layer of thin skin, as though crouched and waiting to erupt. Beneath this slight membrane barrier, our skin, the largest and most domineering of the organs, it seems more tangible, concrete, and then, simultaneously, less so. 

Vertebrate heritage is strong; chicken, chimpanzee, frog, fish, whale, woman, when a gestated fetus, the same arch. At this stage of development, being cooked, in womb or in calcified egg, bodies are without limbs, and all spined creatures are nearly indistinguishable. Throughout our evolution, humans, we have crafted a specific symbolism, spine as steadfast strength, conviction, moral and intellectual fortitude. Our immediate material world, physical and digital, seems so grand, so vast, so rich; amidst a sea of nebula and stars, we are small, a strong spine, unifying, little solace for a mysterious beyond. 

(image taken from Sex on Fire)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Outfit for a Thursday: Gilded Age

Normally, the golden-threaded sweaters are reserved for the holiday season, packed away by the first week of January with an arsenal of moth balls, until the mistletoe and egg nog are hung and served next year. December was such a whirlwind of deadlines, and the first two days back in the office have indicated that the beginning of January will be no different; I barely felt festive then, at least not during the drudging weeks of anticipation and expectation, and now, again, is no different. The white snow has been pummeled by cars into a gray pulp and there is still a barrage of packages and bags surrounding my door. To combat these typical, annual post-holiday blues, and grays: gold.

In addition to being frantically busy at work, I have also been incredibly banal, at least in terms of sartorial embellishment. Stumble out of bed, throw on a crumpled sweater, step into some shoes, leave, repeat; a hackneyed routine. To mildly alter the steady, regular ebb and flow of this cycle, one that has become embarrassingly comfortable, I paired my gilded sweater and plain camel skirt with a chunky double gold chain and with a knotted pearl rope. For a final flourish, my ever trusted leopard cuff.

Lately, also part of my routine is coupling my monochromatic neutral dressing with cleanly bright, bold tights; with the golden camel, deep red wine is an elegant pairing. Flats are especially functional when skidding along the stale January ice, and they still manage to have a bit of shine.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Resolution: Refining Dining

Last year for Christmas, both my mother and younger brother treated me to sets of beautiful beeswax candles, iconically golden honey yellow, to use in my new glass candlestick holders, also gifted. Our family has long indulged in the beauty of natural lighting during many dinners, a manifestation in ambiance of the tradition of slowing down in the evening, coming together to share, and enjoy, a prepared meal. Over these months, I have nearly used only one single set of the candles; the rest lay in anticipation, silent in their original boxes. Though I have not checked in the nether regions of my closet in awhile, I can be nearly certain that a light coating of dust decorates the packaging, a metallic sheen that would be charming, were it not so dirty and disgusting. 

The neglect stems not from ingratitude toward these gifts, or lack of desire to admire food by candlelight, but simply an incessant panic of schedule, of travel and hustle and attention to other, often inconsequential, detail. In other words, I blame work. Living the single life of a young working woman, meal as ritual, as social celebration, seems a lovely, albeit ridiculous, fantasy. Despite my inclinations for acquiring quaint dining accoutrements, my table remains cluttered and heavy with various general life detritus: rent statement, some letters, earrings awaiting repair and desperate for a touch of glue, some hosiery, library books, a notebook of two pathetic poems. Last night, home from the office late, I abandoned any wild ambitions of using my stove, ate a bowl of cold cereal, standing, shoeless, seemingly mindless.

This year, in addition to working to plan my meals in advance, actually cook some vegetables and some meat to avoid a feast of simple and sugary carbohydrates, I want to clear the crap, from table and from mind, and actually have a meal. Sometimes, the filmmaker will join me, sometimes, it will just be myself, but, regardless, it should be a quiet and pleasant moment, or moments, tranquil and with an added, simple pizazz. So, I will be on the look out for a few books of cardboard matches; then I can finally bring some more light in.

(image taken from A Well Traveled Woman)     

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Politely Drunken New Year

After surviving two separate train rides north, traveling three hours through snow and chilled air, the filmmaker and I celebrated the transition to the New Year up in the Berkshires with a group of my closest friends. We have all celebrated the past three years, at least. Amidst the almost ritualistic tradition of merry-making as the dawn of another new year encroached, guzzling rich red wines, mixing cocktails, gorging on local meats and vegetables and cheeses, in our party dresses and our red lips, I could not avoid reflecting on being surrounded by those so dear, so wonderful. Such excesses in sentimentality, surely, can be forgiven during this time of commercially constructed, and chronologically convenient, rebirth. Most in our party I have known, now, nearly eight years, my entire adult life,  significant in terms of actual quantity, as well as with regard to corresponding to years of the most critical neuronal and emotional network formations. Although inevitable circumstances of reality, jobs, careers, advanced schooling, family, relationships, geography, have altered the frequency we see one another, little else has changed. Together, we tell stories, we laugh, we dance, we cry, we eat. And we drink. Having met one another at various social events, from the fun to the ridiculous to the utterly absurd, drinking together has been a seeming constant. As we age, and make more money, though, it has been a welcome evolution that our palettes and expectations refine, and our choice of libation reflects this.

I can remember, not too many years ago, a wide-eyed and mildly foolish sophomore, concocting disgustingly sweet and potent green gelatinous vodka shots with this very group of friends, shoveling packets of sugary food dye gelatin and something resembling alcohol only in odor and effect into plastic cups. While that night of tomfoolery leaves me still here fondly waxing nostalgic, the morning after is equally vivid, gruesome in the grotesque manner in which my body exiled all cheap and foreign particles from my stomach. The other night, we abstained from all liquors banished to the bottom shelves, deigned only South American reds, Italian proseccos worthy of our tongues. At the stroke of midnight, we clinked glasses, veritable glass, actual polished sand that would shatter if broken, carelessly dropped, passionately thrown. Naturally, we were still quite silly, a bit tipsy and excessive, still laughing and flailing our limps wildly to loud tunes, but successfully dodged the haunting, harrowing hangover, that monstrous ill, taunting your vices, which only grows stronger and more wily as age creeps on. Fresh and all rather chipper, considering the holiday, we prepared breakfast as a family, at least a family of friends, familiar and intimate, eating and joking around the table in one large circle.

(image taken from Retronaut)