a spectacle of myself

Today, as everyone who crossed my path before 2 pm will readily tell you, was not a happy sunshiny Cute Overload kind of day. It was the kind of day that starts far earlier than I would like, did not include coffee, and then spiraled down into my leaving the house with twenty-four pounds of stuff* shoved into two bags and slung across my back for a good 25-minute walk. Uphill, for good measure.

And then I find out I must not wear my contacts for the next two weeks, minimum. In order to help make my eyes healthy and happy, they must be free from contact lenses until sometime in mid-October. Now, I do like my frames, but I also like having peripheral vision quite a bit more. When it's suddenly not a choice to wear glasses, but a necessity, it seems like a burden. Unfortunately, the prescription in my glasses is currently about four years old, so I've got the added aggravation of having to acquire an up-to-date set of lenses for my frames, which will undoubtedly involve a trip to (shudder) Wal-Mart for the cheapest solution. Nothing good comes of a trip to Wal-Mart, I promise.

*Why in god's name must I carry twenty-four pounds (oh, I made sure to weigh it when I arrived home) worth of stuff to campus for two classes? I can not give you good reasons, but the reasons cited by my Business Law teacher included an essay on jurisdiction that would possibly require our notes, our massive textbook, and a laptop. I want a wheelie bookbag, like those kindergartners with delayed muscle development. Sob.

I am consoling myself by browsing Tulle's website for pick-me-up pretties. Such as this dress, which immediately puts me in the mind of a 60's flight attendant via Thierry Mugler via Pierre Cardin.

And these gloves (in royal blue or graphite) which are an absolute necessity for wearing with a 3/4 sleeve coat.

And ooooh, this skirt, which is a very lovely ($34!) alternative to the J Crew patterned skirt that grabbed my eye this week.
Tulle, $34.

J Crew, $175. That's enough to buy the Tulle skirt, gloves, dress, and overnight shipping.
I think we can declare a winner in this.

(J Crew might win me on this mustard wool pencil skirt, however. Depending on its eventual clearance price and my self-control.)


art for art's sake

I fear becoming one of those sighing, dissatisfied people who constantly says things like "well, I'm just not impressed with X in this town". Admittedly, my summer in Chicago spoiled the hell out of me, and the transition back to smallish-town Cincinnati and academia was less than wondrous. However, I am extremely lucky, as the Contemporary Arts Center seems to be looking out for me and catering to my very picky and opinionated visual-arts needs at every turn.

I went to the CAC for last night's opening of two new exhibitions: a Maria Lassnig retrospective and Carlos Amorales' Discarded Spider. It's highly unlikely that you're anywhere near Cincinnati, but if you are, please go to the CAC and check it out. Discarded Spider was amazing, beautiful, fantastic, subversive, and completely innovative. It reinforces my love of the contemporary arts coming out of Mexico right now, and especially appealed to my vaguely disturbian sensibilities. As I was leaving for the night, I stopped to say goodbye to a friend who works for the CAC, and suddenly she was introducing me to Carlos Amorales himself. I probably stuttered something incomprehensible and inarticulate, as I am utterly in love with his work and therefore unable to function as a normal human being when actually meeting the artist. Swoon.



I should not have hesitated before clicking "YES I WANT IT BUY IT NOW" on Gilt Groupe's Marc by Marc sale today. Hesitate I did, and this gorgeous dress slipped away from me. (Let me capture the photo, Neiman Marcus! Come on!)

Sigh. Not that I had any need to drop over $100 on yet another black dress, but damn it, this one is perfection. Unattainable, must-love-from-afar perfection.


city mouse, country mouse

It is such a shopworn cliché: the city-dweller cannot sleep once away from all the familiar city noises. The country/small town is simply too quiet and bucolic to allow rest! (See: John Cusak in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.)

It's a cliché because it's true, goddamn it.
It's 2 a.m. and I am being kept awake by crickets. There seems to be a cricket-noise convention upon the front lawn of my building in Cincinnati, and the damn things won't let me rest, although I am exhausted. I am very seriously missing the random neighborhood noises of Chicago (loud bangs that are either a powerful firework or a gunshot, cars careening down our alley, reggaeton from the neighbors' backyard, police sirens at top volume) and the sleep that accompanies these noises. If someone would send me a mixtape of soothing city sounds, I would gladly embrace this simplistic, overly-broad characterization used by somewhat lazy writers if I could get some damn sleep.


leader of the pack

I'm currently staring with wonder at a pile of suitcases, boxes, rubbermaid totes, and laundry baskets. I'm supposed to fit all this in a Honda Civic? Plus the cat?

I'll be leaving for Ohio tomorrow morning, assuming I can cram myself into the driver's seat by shoving the laundry basket out of the way. I have no idea what shape I will find my apartment in upon my return, and more importantly, I have no idea how I'll be able to drag all this crap up three flights of steep stairs without assistance. I assume the next three days will be fully devoted to unpacking, freaking out about things I cannot find, and making multiple trips to Target.

And then I start my last year of grad school. And then I commence to freak out again. But for now, packing up the kitchen and vacuuming the floors wildly will keep me busy enough.


turning Japanese

Years ago, on vacation with some friends in Seattle, I was introduced to the wonder and brilliance that is a typical Japanese mega-mart (Uwajimaya, I love you!), and especially to their cryptically labeled snack foods. Do I want to eat something promising me "fresh lady delights"? If it's got a kawaii cartoon character on it and comes in a gallon jug, yes, I probably do.
After several trips to Uwajimaya to replenish our dwindling late-night snack supplies, some of us just began tossing random items into the cart, with not even a cursory glance at the label to figure out the intended flavor. When one of our friends suggested we slow down and actually try to pick some junk food we could recognize, my friend Steve uttered some magic words. He took a long pause, collected himself, and said: "Dude. Just trust the Japanese on this. They know what they're doing."

(It's true, by the way. I have not yet found a Japanese junk food that I do not find highly enjoyable.)

Thus, when I saw the Fiberwig mascara display at Sephora a few weeks ago, I had to trust the Japanese on this. I'd heard great things about these fiber mascaras so popular in Japan, read the review on Lipstick Is My Crack, and annoyed a makeup artist friend with my constant badgering: "but will I finally have eyelashes??!?!", I demanded to know.

This stuff is magic. I was formerly all about the Diorshow (oy, $24+ per tube!), and Fiberwig has converted me. Diorshow tends to run and smear at the slightest touch of moisture (sweat, a light mist, snowflakes), and the Fiberwig staaaaaays. Proven by my accidental four-mile jaunt through a rainstorm last week: I came home soaked, but with freakishly perfect eyelashes.

It does not thicken (or "volumize", in that fancy selling-expensive-beauty-products language), but it lengthens the hell out of my short stubby eyelashes. It's also superblack, which is very good for my dark brown hair, but understandably not for everyone. It's a little weird to put on and take off- this whole process of creating little mascara tubes around my eyelashes took a few practice runs, but now I'm good at getting the tips and corners without smearing mascara across my face. And yes, its $22. Which is hella expensive, but I close my eyes and chant "but it's cheaper than Diorshow!" over and over until I calm down.

Trust the Japanese indeed.



Due to the massive rain and some flooding in Chicago (thanks, Ike, you bastard), yesterday's trek to the Renegade Craft Fair* was... damp. Damp, occasionally raining sideways, and entirely inconvenient, as weather canceled the free Northern State show scheduled to cap off Saturday at the RCF that I'd been looking forward to all week.
Arriving with only credit cards and zero cash forced me to behave and browse rather than buy, as I figured that most vendors there would not have credit card processing ability. After stopping in the Love Lulu Mae booth, I had to grab a business card and run home to their online store to dream: fascinators!

Swoon. I was especially enamored of a pheasant-feather headband not seen on their online store, but at $60, I will have to admire from afar.

Are there really occasions in my life that call for be-feathered headbands and hair clips? Of course not. But damn it, I will acquire a fascinator and I will wear it to my Internet Marketing and PR class if I please. (And I will shrug off the inevitable, backhandedly bitchy "wow, aren't you dressed up!" comments with a sweet sweet smile and a "thank you".)

*Noah misheard "I'm going to the Renegade Craft Fair today" as "I'm going to the Renaissance Faire today". He was very skeptical of these plans.



You know how people tend to say "well, I don't really believe in astrology, but ohmygod my horoscope is right on I have to read you yours / I had my chart done and it was like, eerie / I really think that Mercury is messing with me right now"? And then you roll your eyes, because dude, it's astrology. You may as well start wearing dreamcatcher earrings.

Ok, so I don't follow my horoscope, but the Capricorn personality profile is fairly accurate for me ("you look good in neutrals and like lists and order and you are responsible and driven and a control/power freak" = you are booooooooring and slightly dictatoresque). And this post Gala did a while ago on astrological style is very lovely, and my stuff is dead on:

23 December – 19 January

Outfits By The Stars

Capricorns are often workaholics, & so they dress to fit with that. For them, work isn’t just a place they go, it’s an extension of them, & something laden with meaning. It’s not just corporate Capricorns either — the more arty Caps dress for their profession too. Regardless, they like to have the best. Their Louis Vuitton bag would never be a replica. Some of the Capricorn woman’s favourite things include classic tailoring, showing off their great legs, pinstripes & dressing down on the weekend.

Now, how about the universe getting it together and depositing those Louboutins, bangles, and that Fendi dress into my closet?


paved with good intentions, blah blah

I had such plans for the summer, friends. Remember when I thought that this summer would bring me "nothing but free time"? How hopeful and misguided that thought was. I'd planned to read the complete works of Henry James, and finally get more than a chapter into "Brideshead Revisited", and read a book a week recommended by the Sunday Times book review. I'd planned to take capoeira classes, and to run along Lake Michigan, and to bike with Chicago's Critical Mass.

Have I done a single one of these things? No. But I have overcome my trepidation of sitting on the second-floor sunporch sans pants, so I've been doing a lot of semiclothed porch sitting! Which may or may not go hand-in-hand with a new appreciation of cheap beer served ice-cold. I swear, when you pour a High Life Light into a proper glass, and have several, you'll barely even know it was $12 for a case.


progress. tasty, tasty progress.

Last summer, I started a list entitled Foods I Should Learn to Love. I've knocked off probably a half-dozen items since then (I am, admittedly, picky), including blueberries and jalapeños. Today, after years and years of wishing I could enjoy a good gin martini garnished with gorgonzola-stuffed olives, I declare victory. I have conquered my recalcitrant tastebuds, and have taught myself to like olives. Especially fancy olives from the Whole Foods olive bar.

At this rate, I should be able to eat onions and fennel by 2010.


in my 'hood

I'm going to pretend that this kick-ass hoodie dress* is not from the teen emporium that was once cool (oh, my wasted youth!), and that instead, it is some quirky Etsy find that I will toss on on Sundays for time in the library with my accounting homework.

*be warned: if you order anything from Delia's, and you wear above a size 4, you will have some mild shock when plugging in your measurements to get your "correct size". Like, XL-sized shock. Ouch.


target market

I went to Target this weekend to pick up some mundane things: toothpaste, blank cds, dish gloves, and so forth. I left Target an hour later with a Discover card receipt that indicates I found much more to purchase than just household basics; this may be a clue as to why Noah refused to go run this supposedly quick Target errand with me. He knew that Target has begun to tempt me with their merchandise in ways that can only lead to financial ruin, such as:

This dress, which I bought on Saturday. It is flouncy and short and has a sexy / bad-ass exposed zipper down the back, and although I'm far too old to really pull off the schoolgirl look, I plan to wear this with over-the-knee suede boots come fall and pretend Iggy Pop writes songs about me.

Perfect for bringing books back to the library, yes? Or bottles of wine and hunks of cheese to an impromptu cocktail party! I wish I'd bought this while I was there.

Also: oh, lord, the cosmetics section. I was (relatively) good and did not plunder the new fancy makeup lines, but I have a serious craving to go back and swab the testers (makeup testers! at Target! wondrous!) and find out if any of the new lines contain my holy grail of lip balm: a semi-glossy cherry red balm (sans sparkles for less of a Vegas effect) that does not smear all about, drip or get too sticky, or dry out my lips, and also does not require a separate brush and a hand mirror to apply. (I look at you, Benetint Balm!) Pixi, Jemma Kidd for Target, and NP Set all may have contenders. At $15 to $18 a pop for lip color, I plan to thoroughly scrutinize every potential purchase.

Damn you and your excellent marketing plan, Target.

pass the mustard

Worn Fri night to a lovely surprise birthday party:
Mustard trench coat, Modcloth (was there really any doubt I'd buy it?); vintage brown dress under coat, Edith Machinist in NYC; vintage brown mary janes, Mustardseed in Cincinnati.

Note: the fifteen-minute walk to the surprise party locale in this ensemble yielded four "hey, mami, you sexy!" catcalls and two teeth-sucking "approvals" from passersby. Sigh. Fuck off, random men on the street.


I could never spell "lingerie" correctly. Thanks, spellcheck.

I always have this happy little thought that I will come home from being out all day and change not into old workout pants and a hoodie and slippers, but into something silky and soft and pretty for lounging and reading and readying myself for bed and the next day. Do I do this? No, not really. Generally the old yoga pants win out, or the fluffy ugly robe. This is why it's best not to drop in on me unannounced, unless you have a thing for puke-green fuzzy slippers. (Yes, really. These slippers are so unappealing as footwear that the cat recognizes them only as a pelt of some sort, and is always grooming them in the hopes that they will turn into something soft and cuddly to play with, and stop being kicked off under the bed.)

But, in my mind, if I had the following, I would totally come home at the end of the day and swan around in glamorous things that define the phrase "let me slip into something more comfortable".
Oh, pardon me, did you say "cashmere"? Sold.

Maggie said it best about this slip: "...so you you have a little something going on when you ask him to unzip your dress." "Satin", in this case, equals 100% polyester, so not so good for the sleeping (and waking up three hours later with your sweaty slip stuck to you in its nonbreatheable way), but so, so good for flouncing about in.

Modal (bamboo): really good for breathability! And I don't really look great in a drop-waist anything, as my natural waist is at empire-waist level, but ooooh, it also comes in purple.

It's nylon, which is also sweaty-sleep inducing for me, but also ON SALE! Hey, Old Navy, if you can make that lovely "powdered milk chemise" seen in my previous post in 100% silk, why not just go all out in your factory and go all silk, all the time?

Oh, yum. It also comes in black, but this deep teal is peacocky and perfect, and hey, it's mostly cotton! It's $30, which puts this slip high on my list of things I will probably buy on the internet at 1 am on a whim.

I never, ever thought I'd go "ooooh" at a romper, but there you have it. Skinny Bone Jones has converted me to the romper and its all-in-one-ness, and when this says "silk", I'm really, really hoping it means "actual silk". I'm tempted to order and find out.

Yes, everyone in the world loves this romper from The Lake & Stars. Add me to that list.

"Trashy Diva" may be an unfortunate name for a brand, but I have this slip in beige silk and it's amazing. I trust them, name nonwithstanding.

I feel like this swingy little thing would be the most comfortable thing ever, if it weren't for the damn polyester component. Please produce this in a cotton blend?

Of course, a lovely robe, also from Trashy Diva (hello, it's called the "Hepburn robe"! Impossible to resist!) in silk crepe de chine should top this all off. And I need a new robe. (My current robe was stolen from my high school costume storage room in 1999. I think maybe its time has passed.)

Agent Provocateur won't let me grab a photo of the lovely garter belt that I lust over, so linking must suffice.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go do some heavy hinting about what might make excellent gifts for one's girlfriend.


gustatory gusto

I like to eat. A lot. Having recently converted back to carnivorousness after a decade-plus as a vegetarian in some form or another (as a friend once said "fishetarian/goddamn everything has chicken in it-etarian"), I am extremely excited about foods that involve sausage, ham, roast beef, bacon, sausage, steak, bacon, etc.
I was also a verrrry picky eater as a child, which led my parents to believe that I should not be exposed to things like asparagus, scallops, balsamic vinegar, cornmeal, and so forth. Thank god I eventually discovered the world out there, just brimming with artichokes and champagne grapes and lamb shanks and sourdough for the gorging. So yes, basically my relationship with food is finally something like "I want to eat that! I assume it will be tasty!" and less "Um, that might have touched an onion at one point in its life, and I cannot take that risk by eating it." I'll now try pretty much anything once- barring my lifelong dislike of all forms of potato and ketchup, that is.
This is all to say that I plan to be well on the way to a thorough enjoyment of the Omnivore's 100 (via Menupages Chicago/ Ready Steady Go/ Serious Eats/ Chocolate and Zucchini) seen below. Mmmmm. Maybe I'll finish the evening with some Pocky.

Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese (Maybe not? I like all sorts of meats in interesting forms, but c'mon, what was wrong with just plain sauasage?)
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (No, I am a wuss for the super-spicy.)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (Can they be covered in chocolate? Good.)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (Hell no. I hate McDonald's. Yes, I am un-American.)
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini (I have been craving this lately. Time to start drinking.)
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine (No. The potatoes are a dealbreaker.)
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (No. I am not about to eat clay or rocks. I do not have a gizzard, and therefore do not need to consume pebbles. Except Fruity Pebbles, maybe.)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (I'm pretty sure some of the deer jerky packaged up by various family members and mailed to me in large, 5-quart freezer bags may have been an accidental kill of this variety.)
76. Baijiu or shaojiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant (I'm waiting for La Belle Vie to get a Michelin rating. I think my first Michelin star experience was at WD50 this spring, but someone's cranky companion prevented me from ordering the tasting menu. Bastard.)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam (Jesus, did you not see that article about the neurological disease that is terrorizing Hormel plant workers in Austin, MN? Hell no to the spam!)
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (But only if I was able to block out that scene from "Indiana Jones". That shit freaks me out even now.)


get the "performance fleece" jingle out of your head

For someone with student debt, an unpaid internship, and the pathological need to keep stocking my closet with new dresses, I have been sadly and inexcusably ignorant of Old Navy's cheap summer wonders. I was enlightened just in time to realize that all my $20 or less obsessions are no longer in stores / the website does not have things in my size. I keep clicking over anyway to gaze adoringly at the following:

My dear Panda wore this dress out on Sunday evening. I cornered her about it, wondering if it was a Cynthia Vincent or French Connection. No- Old Navy. 100% silk. And it looks dead fabulous on. Of course, it is no longer online at all.

Frantic clearance searches on the Old Navy website led me to the sleepwear section. 100% silk- not an unbreathable synthetic blend!- and costs less than a bottle of my favorite cava. Is this real? Yes, this is real, and taunts me by not being a S or M. (oh, vanity sizing!) Sigh.

More lustful gazing at nightwear (including a romper, which I never ever thought I'd consider) to come, as I try to assuage my sudden need to spend money on loungewear instead of wearing old sweat-shorts to bed.


quelle surprise

How to throw a truly surprising Surprise Party:
fly the guest of honor to NYC without telling her of the destination until that afternoon.
fly in a dozen or so of her friends from all over North America for a long weekend.
converge upon Brooklyn and prepare yourself for some very girly squeals.

Surprise party activities included the Brooklyn Flea Market, at which I finally acquired a gigantic, tacky-fabulous cocktail pinky ring, and an unsatisfying excursion to the Barney's Warehouse Sale on Monday afternoon. I had completely run out of money (but not out of credit cards!), so I stepped out of the subway ready to do battle at the racks for markdowns. Once we saw the line- immobile, sweltering, and stretching down an entire block- we turned around and went back to Brooklyn without even attempting competitive shopping. (I had a limited time frame that afternoon before it was necessary to dry my tears and get to the airport, and spending three hours of that last afternoon in line was simply unacceptable.)

A gigantic pinky ring is an accessory for all occasions.

Other activities included an impromptu makeover, repeated assurances that my eyebrows are not that wonky-looking, and the invitation to sample fancy Japanese skincare toys that led to a "hmmmmmm" about this cleansing brush. Also, I'm going to start using an industrial amount of hairspray on my bangs each day to shellack them into place, as every photo taken seems to highlight my completely messed-up fringes and their inability to just lay down and be pretty once let out into the wild.

I mean, we'd just finished rollerskating at Coney Island in a very sweaty enclosed space, but still.