Sunday, September 25, 2011

novel: take-off!

finally, having had the first weekend in many where i have some me-time, i am pushing myself to begin to write my novel. i used to write short stories all the time, but as i grew older i somehow felt less creative, like it had all been done before.

now i feel like i have something to say–but to be fair, last year i didn't feel like i quite had anything to say yet. so. it takes time.

as i have never written a novel before, the idea is daunting, even while exciting. i'm starting by using the snowflake method, which is forcing me to think critically about the structure and message of my writing–something that's never easy for most writers, even though non-writers often seem to think that full novels and essays just leak out of our fingertips, onto the keyboard, without any editing required.

below is an excerpt from the couple of pages i have so far.
"Happily I go to and start clicking through to the Books section, and then into Astrology. I start scanning through cover images, occasionally clicking on interesting titles like The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need, and The Secret Language of Relationships. I’ve actually read this one—or by read, I mean I’ve frequently gone into Barnes & Noble to thumb through it about various astrological relationship combinations. I can’t bring myself to actually buy it, because it only contains about a paragraph on each combination, so you only need it for about five minutes if you’re only reading about your one romantic relationship. Buying it would be an acknowledgement that I’d be requiring it frequently in the future."

Friday, September 23, 2011

great hair never goes out of style

so Prada has an interesting new spring line, says ELLE: retro-leotards…for everyday wear?

they are pretty damn adorable--don’t they make you think of Rita Hayworth?

inasmuch as i’d love to go around looking like a 50’s Hollywood pinup, i’m curious as to in which public setting will these become de rigeur? they’re not quite bathing suits, but something tells me mom wouldn’t like to see me in church like that.

also, from new york’s spring 2012 fashion week, i can’t help loving this model's elegant, but abstract hairstyle.

something about tinged hair thrown back into twists elicits fond images of the eighteenth century, and of this image in particular:

nothing like getting together with your girlfriends and your favorite beau to do some primping and have a gossip.

* Rita Hayworth image courtesy of
* Beauty at the Best Shot image courtesy of

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

fall + fashion: a marriage of equals

fall is here! or at least, it will be officially on friday. and that means…new wardrobe!!

okay, not exactly. if you're like me, aka recently graduated from a master's and not exactly single-handedly supporting the economy through consumerism, you've probably had to cut back on how much you spend on shoes. you and the CEO of D.S.W. are equally chagrined by this.

but does this mean you've given up on dressing fashionably? of course not! well, i guess "fashionably" is up for interpretation; i say wearing big bows in your hair is fun, and some people say it's "loud."

at any rate, nothing can take away the semi-frisson of excitement in unpacking a seasonal wardrobe like the transition to fall. and fall is, in my opinion, the best fashion season because:
  1. everyone looks good in chocolate brown, a fall color-staple
  2. it's not too hot to start to wear layers = more options for mixing and matching tops, leggings, belts, scarves, etc.
  3. it's not too cold to have only layers on, without stuffing everything underneath a 40 lb. L.L. Bean down comforter coat designed for the arctic tundra, because some of us don't produce body heat in the winter and didn't realize Pittsburgh was so cold, haha!
opening your closet to once again take out those cute suede chocolate Steve Madden riding boots with the ruched toe therefore is emotionally akin, for the recent graduate, to pulling the most expensive pair of Pradas off the shelf at Bloomingdale's.

and sweaters! oh, sweaters. i love sweaters. sweaters are as much the best invention of clothing for Woman, as jeans are so often her Enemy (see my jeans rant for more of what i mean on this). i have so many sweaters, one of whose button holes i need to repair. luckily i was able to find matching thread at the most amazing fabric shop in the Strip District, LOOM, whose photo i featured above.

arg! i love this place! i want to roll around like a cat in catnip in their gorgeous prints.

also: Pittsburgh Fashion Week is here! i didn't get to go to the premier last year, so i'm excited to check out the entrepreneurial vibe of the steel city. i hope we see, in addition to high fashion, at least one Heinz ketchup bottle-spinoff.

Monday, September 19, 2011

karmic high school never ends

today i read an insightful editorial on cnn's belief blog, offering a priest's philosophical take on the value we can pull away from economic recession.

i do not consider myself particularly religious, but mostly because i am touched by the religious stories and customs of many faiths, and it's been my understanding that you're not allowed to claim to love religion unless you follow only one (ironic, no?). yet all faiths contain the same critical stories, the ones that teach us how to grow. in this case, the priest focused on the lessons of religion in not only how to build, but how to rebuild when everything is broken. how to build better after breaking down–a kind of growth that only comes from experiencing total failure, helplessness, and despair.

in Christianity, this is realized through humility and repentance. in Hinduism, this might be the work of Kali, the goddess who destroys all that is useless and outdated, making room for new growth. in astrology, it's recognized as the planetary alignment we are in now–when Saturn, the great teacher, is turned direct, forcing us to slow down, recognize our flaws, and go back to square one and work twice as hard to get to where we thought we were.

obviously, no one enjoys this kind of spiritual life lesson. in fact, the universe seems to be pretty damn good at picking the one thing you'd like least to have to deal with, and (surprise!) pushes you head-first into it, until you surrender yourself and are forced to become more flexible, more enterprising, and more tolerant. finally you admit that the way you are doing things just doesn't work anymore, and new ways and thoughts will have to take their place.

likewise this Catholic priest, while naturally channeling his thoughts through his Catholic background, insisted that suffering and loss are as much a nourishment of the soul, as are just rewards. this is because suffering teaches us empathy, and how to be receptive to others.

if you've ever met someone who you've tried to share something troubling or traumatic with, and they brush it off or tell you it's no big deal, they've probably just never had a major traumatic experience themselves, and have no concept of what that means. or if they've had one, they haven't taken in the lesson. they are probably not the best listener, either. whenever a catastrophic moment such as you've experienced finally does happen to them, though, they will experience total loss for the first time. it will then be in their power to take one of two paths: blame the world for this "unsuccessful" moment, further alienating themselves. or they can break down and admit vulnerability, reach out to others and learn to have compassion for difficult moments in life.

when we suffer, we have the opportunity to find each other. we also have the opportunity to realize where we were overconfident in our predictions, where we misjudged a situation, and where we have to go back to build better. even if the mistakes made weren't directly ours, we may still have to learn where and how to place trust. this is true in our individual lives as much as it in the economy. it's so hard to see this retracing-our-steps as a positive thing; you just want to get it right the first time and be done. nothing is more frustrating than feeling like you're going back to learn the same lesson again.

hmm. but what about those expensive tickets you bought, or that thoughtless comment you made? here's where you probably begin to recognize that you haven't really learned the lesson–or not entirely. this may even be the moment where you begin to recognize that you might be experiencing this lesson repeatedly throughout your life, karmically, built up in different stages and manifesting in different contexts, but always reminding you that you pretty much never stop growing. we'll always be spiritual students, our whole lives. karmically speaking, high school never does end.

it's hard for us to see this as necessary, but the mind and the soul, like the body, need constant rejuvenation. you know when you go to the gym and lift some weights, and then your muscles kill? you've essentially torn the muscle tissue to train it to build back tougher and thicker. but if you only lift weights for a week, don't expect that to set you up for life, especially if you like to hit up the bar on a regular basis. those guns need attention.

* photo of Kali is courtesy of Sanjay Patel's Little Book of Hindu Deities.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

how to make a top out of men's briefs

part of my journey into journalism has lately included taking up writing for Demand Studios, a pretty cool site that pays you per article to cover such topics as "how to make cat furniture."

behold, my first article written for them, which ended up being posted on How To Make a Top Out of Men's Briefs.

not kidding. it's surprisingly easy!

it's not just for the classroom!