Monthly archives of “April 2011

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A Royal Full Circle

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Thirty years ago my mom, to the best of my knowledge, got up at 3am to watch the #RoyalWedding of the last century. I mean, she must have, she got up to watch the funeral, for chrissakes.

I, on the other hand, never really got the Diana thing. To little me, princesses should have long hair. And not wear suits like men. I was more of a Princess Grace fan.

I didn’t get it, but I still loved it. I was a little girl, how could I not love a princess and a fairytale wedding that happened before I was born? One of my favorite picture books is shown above, with whimsical (I hate the word, but really there is no better) illustrations of the life and times of Diana. Like most little girls born in the early 80’s I may have even alluded to marrying one of the princes once or twice. Before they  were old enough to be ugly, of course.

Ten years after I first read said picture book, the divorce of the century happened. By this time, I was already well on my way to writing off marriage as a viable route to a happy life, and the Diana/Charles business was certainly affirming that viewpoint. I felt sorry for this kind woman who seemed to have been beaten down and shackled to a life that she had no control over. Royal wedlock, above and beyond your ordinary marriage, seemed like a really shitty gig.

And then of course there was the whole tragic death thing.

Truthfully, it seemed like being actual royalty was really the worst life hand you could get dealt. I felt awful for those boys losing their mom. Of course, when I lost my own grandparents and mom in the following years  that I really got it at all.

It’s hard for me to get excited about this wedding because I won’t be up at 3am watching it with my mom. Instead I’m up at 3am, writing about watching it by myself.

Oh who am I kidding! If my mom was still with us, I would probably be rolling my eyes and calling her a nut. And I’m sure there would be multiple ways for Kate Middleton’s existence to make my mom’s input into my own wedding planning far more annoying than I already know it would have been.

There, now off to watch with a less fairytale-like perspective.

UPDATE: I guess someone else liked Princess Grace’s style better too.

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Highlights

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Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC
April 2010

 

I have been thinking a lot about "highlights" lately, although not in so many words until Meg posted about it.

 

I think it’s probably normal to think a lot about where you are coming from and where you are going when you are on the brink of something pretty huge and life-altering like a marriage.

 

[And if it’s not normal, please someone tell me how to stop! Because it would be a lot easier if I didn’t think about shit like this!]

 

As far as highlights go, I’ve had my share of pretty good ones:

 

Angst-filled high school days? Check!

 

Party-filled college days? Check!

 

Backpacking through Europe days? Check!

 

Starving artist days? Check!

 

Busting ass on film sets? Check!

 

Dancing all nite with celebrities in the Hollywood Hills? Check!

 

Following a band around the country? Check!

 

Following a band to another country? Check!

 

Falling madly in love? Check!

 

Flat broke, in love, and working at a bar days? Check!

 

So while I appreciate the hell out of writer Peter Martin’s statement in Esquire, "For me, the most gratifying part of finishing Kilimanjaro — of doing anything this challenging, this extreme — is that I know, for sure, that I can do it, that I did do it, and that I never have to do it again," and I do see the silver lining in it, for those things I really DON’T want to do again, I think maybe I’m more like the author’s colleague Rodney Cutler.

 

As exhausting as that sounds.

 

Because I LIVE for the highlights.

 

They are what make the caffeine-fueled sleepless nights, the torturous commutes, the months of eating ramen, the crying yourself to sleep because you don’t have the money to pay your medical bills worth it.

 

And it’s the current major drought of them what makes me worried about what lies ahead.

 

Looking back at my annual surveys of the last few years, I can’t pick out a single decent highlight. I don’t know. Maybe the highlights have gotten quieter, and my expectations haven’t.

 

What I do know is I have loved the hell out of all of my adventures. And I rarely (because

what 16 year-old isn’t angst-ridden?) felt my life was passing me by.

 

And now I do.

 

Now when I’m *supposed* to have it all, the boy, the house, the job, the [more] money, etc. I just want this back.

 

The last couple years–and almost all of my and my fiancé’s relationship–have been all about nose to the grindstone and making up the ground we lost when we were broke and happy–the bills, the health problems, the other things that creep up when you ignore the practical.  But now I no longer remember what we’re working towards, and I don’t see the end in sight.

 

And I’m afraid of not knowing how to get back to adventuring.

 

Except this time with a husband.

 

Now we’ve made some tremendous strides together, financially and professionally.

 

BUT.

 

I feel like the steps we’ve made have been decidedly into the direction of what’s “expected” and “normal” and “domesticated.” And I can see where it’s going from here if we don’t mindfully change course. (Babies. Twenty years in the suburbs. More office jobs.) But it’s a scary leap, as I’ve definitely gotten used to the relative cushiness of it, and am not really jumping to give that up.

 

So yea, things yet to be figured out.

 

I will say one thing about Martin’s philosophy:

It’s definitely freeing to approach highlights as the opportunity to do and try things while knowing it doesn’t have to become your "thing." Running a marathon, acting in a play, writing a novel. I want to do it all once, but none of it needs to be my calling.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Sometimes I worry that any philosophizing/navel-gazing I indulge in is very, very “gold shoes too tight”/”first world problems.” Because I have been through enough grade-A nightmares in my life that I should be oozing gratitude for every thing every moment of every day. But I’m only human, so I’m not. And that’s another post for another day.

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Wedding : Battle Plan

This is so embarrassing, I wasn’t going to blog about it. But some Twitters peeps made me realize I might not be alone in my #typea #planningobsessed #OCD.

 

I’ve been awfully relaxed about the whole wedding planning thing. Mostly cause a) we’ve had enough time to for me to move at my usual turtle pace, and b) because I was determined to silence all the whispers of “bridezilla” amongst my fiancé and friends.

 

See, I’m one of those crazy people who actually love researching, love planning, love being organized, love having a project, AND also love aesthetics, and design, and clothes, and getting her way.

 

See where I’m going with this? 😉

 

So we planned pretty remarkably casually from when things got serious last September. We found a venue, a photographer, a pizza truck, I found a dress.

 

And I have scraps of paper, and starred emails, and receipts in random places to the point where Scott is practically BEGGING me for a spreadsheet of who’s gotten what deposits.

 

So last weekend, I hunkered down, and I mapped it all out. And here are the results.

 

wedding workplan

 

wedding workplan sept

 

 wedding workplan list

 

wedding workplan list2

 

The general format was borrowed and modified from Mrs. Daffodil of Wedding Bee. (Something I had downloaded and saved since the days where planning was fantasy, not reality, and I read WeddingBee.)

 

As much as I disliked working in PowerPoint (I’m sure there’s a way to do this in Excel), I really like the overall look of the thing and I found it very helpful to visualize the pieces fitting together.

 

SO. MANY. PIECES.

 

In fact, I like it so much, I could really stare at it for quite a while. Which is good, because it’s getting hung on the home office wall so my not-Google-trained fiancé can stay in the loop.

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Spring Style : Kristin

P1000390 after!

 

My business partner and I have been casually toying with the idea of expanding our interior design consulting business to include personal style as well (any stylists out there looking to collaborate – get in touch!), so to start we got some friends to volunteer to have their closets rifled through.

 

My friends were very game and gracious about the whole thing. And what I learned was pretty surprising – some people are kind of unmotivated about clothes the way I am about cooking/eating.

 

Ok, that’s not really that surprising. Most of us live in a hectic whirlwind, and when something doesn’t come easily, it tends to get overlooked – for me, cooking/eating, and for others, shopping/dressing. Throw in a little body dysmorphia (I think most of us have a slightly skewed vision of what we see in the mirror), and suddenly a perfectly cute girl isn’t dressing up to her full potential.

 

Like cooking and eating, I think the key to foolproof dressing, in real life, are trusty pieces and combinations thereof that you can return to time and again, and tweak as needed.

 

When picking those items the single most important thing to consider is fit! Even a cute piece of clothing will still look awful if it doesn’t fit you, and vice versa. So when shopping take along someone you can trust to be honest, and whose honesty won’t hurt your feelings. It’s the only way you’ll really know how something looks.

 

I was surprised by how my friends were hiding under oversized clothes because of a perception of their perfectly smokin’ bodies that had been created when they were teenagers and never discarded. So I really cannot stress it enough – shop with someone who will tell you how hot you are, and who will tell you when something is not accentuating that hotness!

 

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before!

 

For this little experiment, I met up with Kristin, who is a perfect example of someone who was hiding under clothes that didn’t fit! Even if your office is cold, bulky sweaters can still hug curves, and are best when paired with skirts and leggings to balance out the look.

 

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during…

 

I critiqued a lot of her existing wardrobe in terms of fit (I thought this would be so hard, but surprisingly I found it easy to bust out my brutal honesty, and I was relieved that she found it helpful!), and we tried to create some new outfits from existing pieces that would be work-appropriate, but still young and stylish.

 

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after!

 

After our meeting, I made her a Pinboard on Pinterest of pieces I thought she could use:

 

pinterestkristin.bmp

 

I recommended a lot of work-appropriate separates – tops and bottoms that can be mixed and matched, and dresses that can be worn with a cardigan for work and without for after-work drinks and dates.

 

Heels are universally flattering, and can still be comfortable and manageable if they’re in the 2-3” range, especially if they’re wedges.

 

A modern cut, well-fitting suit is crucial if you have to wear one once in a while, but most offices and interviews are fine with dressy separates these days. My thoughts on suits are: if you have to wear them on a regular basis, you should probably getting paid enough to go get a couple custom-tailored for you. 🙂

 

P1000391An “okay” suit… and definitely not the worst I saw during my “makeovers”…

 

Stay tuned as I showcase my other two victims, mwah ha ha ha.

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Money, Beauty, and Self-worth

A lot of what I’ve been reading lately has made me come back around to this post which I wrote in December but was previously too chicken-shit to post, because ya know, there’s just oodles of people out there reading. 🙂

 

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my most favoritest picture, taken by sej

 

When I picked up Smart Couples Finish Rich I was NOT expecting to have a major life revelation. But for a number of reasons, some big issues that had been in the back of my brain were dragged front and center, culminating in an SCFR-induced meltdown.

 

It began with a post of Meg’s that talked about fashion and created a great analogy about taking risks, and owning your choices. I was really loving on it until I read a downer comment that got into how not cool the commenter thought bringing fashion into things was.

 

See, I have this thing where I am super empathetic. I have been told it is admirable, and many people like this about me, but man, it can get in the way sometimes. I read comments like this, and think, oh wow, this girl kind of has a point. She’s clearly very hurt, and while obviously it wasn’t directed at her personally, I see what she’s saying about the exclusivity and elitism of fashion.

 

But then I let the dust in my head settle for a while, and thought about it again. And this time my reaction went more like: "Uhh, noooo. Stop taking it personally! Look at the bigger picture! Fashion isn’t your thing, but that doesn’t mean you should demean it being anyone else’s!”

 

Because the thing was, I was sitting there feeling GUILTY about wanting to put more fashion on my blog, all because *this* girl didn’t like fashion?!

 

What had seemed particularly unfair was that the blogger Meg referenced in her uncommon references to fashion was someone who seemed very committed to making it accessible not elitist! And this is something I believe in strongly. I looove clothes, and shoes, and generally wearing them, and my friends tell me I’m pretty f*cking good at it, so why wouldn’t I post things about how I shop and how I pick and choose things, on my average Target-scaled budget, so that people who are looking for inspiration or advice, etc. might enjoy it?

 

It is crazy how intrinsically we women can let ourselves be intimidated by other women. If someone is better or has more experience at something that you are interested in than you are, then aren’t they someone to learn from, not hate on?

 

Lesson learned: Be proud of what you love and some people will respect you for it. Others won’t. You can’t be all things for all people. This I have difficulty remembering.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

It’s this mindset of scarcity that brings me to the next thing I learned. Meg said it best: yesterday:

I’ve been thinking about how, as women, we often undervalue ourselves, our life stories, and what we’re capable of, and that leads to lost potential. We think, "I can’t do that, I can’t dream that big, I’m being selfish to even think about this, I don’t deserve to earn (or have my company earn) that much money, I shouldn’t have delusions of grandeur." And when this happens, we all lose. Think of all those projects that could have been created, those businesses that could have thrived, that money that could be flowing back into our communities. When we cut ourselves off at the knees we lose all that, our communities lose all that, we all lose.

[Read more: http://apracticalwedding.com/2011/04/reclaiming-wife-women-money-and-self-worth-part-ii/#ixzz1IuH3j7A7]

 

So at the beginning of Smart Couples Finish Rich, they ask you to define your values. (I will save the discussion of how Scott and my values did and did not align and that portion of the subsequent meltdown for another day.)

 

It was the first time I thought openly about why I wanted to earn money, umm, ever. Usually I just chalk it up to my upbringing, and my single mother scarring me into feeling I needed a stable job that paid the bills. (The concept of depending on anyone else for any kind of financial support was totally out of the question.) But I’ve recently realized that some of my “wants” are scary ingrained. Like, why did 5-yr old me get hooked on Travel + Leisure and Architectural.Digest  before I could even read? So I think what my mom was really saying was that I needed to get a job to pay the bills so that I could afford what I already wanted deep inside.

 

Beauty.

 

It’s not easy to admit it, because I think culturally beauty gets tied up with vanity, and materialism, and greed, but it’s the driving force behind my life.

 

In the heat of the moment, here is what I wrote about my values:

 

I want abundance.

As in, I want A LOT of money.

There I said it, it’s out there now, and there’s no turning back.

See, I was once a little girl with big ideas.

And then somewhere along the line I was made to feel that those big wants and big dreams were silly and unrealizable.

And that little girl almost faded away, and I’ve been fighting to bring her back ever since I noticed she was gone.

But years of ingrained expectations and norms are stubborn.

Nice girls don’t need a lot of money. Much less A LOT of money.

That would be greedy.

Well, then I need to learn to own my greediness.

Why do I want all this money?

Because I love beautiful things.

Dear god, I just flat out said it, and there’s no stopping me now.

Beauty feeds my soul.

It sustains my very existence.

I want to be surrounded by it at all times, and you know what, that’s A-FUCKING-OK.

And I want to take my big ideas and DO THEM.

And take the people I love for the ride, and make a difference in the lives of others.

I want to save beautiful things and places from the brink of destruction.

And I want to be fulfilled by it, by knowing I made a mark somewhere.

And by the security of my success, of knowing that I can help anyone I love who needs me. Because so many people have helped me already.

 

And then I let Scott read it and he just looked at me and shrugged, in that boy simplicity. The “This is all the crying is about? Yea, ok cool.” And I kind of wanted to stab him, because, this IS fucking scary, this admitting for real what I want, what I need, out of my time on the planet. Even in the most general of terms.

 

Lesson learned: Admitting your deepest needs gives you everything and nothing. Because, now that I know, what next?

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Bedroom before & after, princess & the pea version.

DSC00914 Before.

I apparently disliked it so much I never bothered to take a good picture of it.

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Also before.

 

P1000745 After

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P1000728 Yes, I was too lazy to unplug my humidifier. Clearly this isn’t Elle Decor.

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We’re not good sleepers, the two of us. Scott has night terrors and I just have general sensitivity to feng shui or something. I seriously wish I knew what “or something” means so I could fix it, but out of the several bedrooms and myriad hotel rooms I’ve slept in, some just feel right and others just feel wrong. [And wrong often results in night terrors myself.] Thus, I can be a bit of a nomad, sleeping months at a time in odd places throughout my house or apartment.

 

Somewhere pre-digitalization are pictures from my old LA apartment, which I loved to pieces with the great exception of my bedroom. It was entered through a closet, had another door to the outside, and a giant picture window that could never be uncovered because it was just a huge view of the motley crew of ‘Nam vets who lived next door and smoked weed in their driveway all day long. And so, there was no good place to put a bed. For two years, I dragged my mattress to different places around the room and was never settled.

 

Needless to say, when I moved back into my childhood home, I was hoping moving into my grandparent’s former master bedroom would result in good sleep vibes, rather than bad ones. (My childhood bedroom fell into the latter category.) But alas, it was kind of a fail.

 

Even sadder, it took us 3 years (including an embarrassingly long time camping out on the living room floor – why is it so embarrassing? Can everyone else really just sleep wherever they’re supposed to?!) from when I “finished” the bedroom until we finally rearranged. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think this configuration is a winner.

 

Now I just need a firmer mattress. Sleeping on the floor can do wonders for your spine.

 

Also to do: Recenter my Tord Boontje pendant. Figure out a less random this-is-where-the-hook-already-was placement of the large dancer print. Get a flatscreen TV. Maybe paint the furniture lacquered white or black. Maybe add a row of chunky white hooks to the empty wall for weekly clothing storage….

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Wedding : Shoes, check.

P1000500 Packard by Harajuku Lovers

This whole winter’s last vengeance bullshit that’s occurring outside my NYC office window right now is making me lust for spring shoes even more than I already have been for the last week.

Shoes that do not require multiple pairs of socks and are decidedly NOT waterproof. Shoes like my “wedding shoes.”

I’m soo excited to be wearing a very awesome pair that have been sitting in my closet just waiting for the right occasion. And I JUST decided that white fishnets will be the perfect shoe to dress transition for mid-September. Yay.

[Doesn’t our floor look just fantastic. It’s tar with a hint of abestos.]